A short lesson in customer service

Most of my employment experience has been centered around customer service.  In person, on the phone, whatever.  I’m actually very good at it; that and technical writing, believe it or not.  Which goes to show that just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you like it.

I sent out two emails today inquiring about price and availability of some fish and snails I want for my tank.  Here are the responses I got:

Gee, thanks.
Gee! Thanks!

Big difference in those gee’s.  I’m sure you can guess where I’ll go to shop.  Like that guy couldn’t have said that he’d get back to me on Wednesday, rather than make it my responsibility to get back with him?  Come on, people.

I got a cross stitch done that took SO MUCH LONGER THAN I EXPECTED because I’m an idiot and get panicky and then screw up.  I’ve also been searching for ‘just the right stuff’ to put into a care package that’s being sent to Singapore and I’m stressing out about that because I’m an idiot.  Oh, a fun thing?  Yes, let’s do this fun thing!  AND FREAK OUT ABOUT IT.

Magnus is the cutest about trying to get fish.  He’s terrible at it, mind you, and can’t even touch the glass where the fish actually are.

Look at all the fish I killed!

Okay, first, the bad news.

I’ve had 2 deaths, and they were horrible.  HORRIBLE.

Since I have the new 40 gallon tank up and running (more on that in a bit), I put the 10 gallon tank downstairs so the kids could have a couple of betta fish.  We spent time deciding what type of betta, how to best divide the tank, how to decorate, etc.  We cycled.  We did our proper due diligence.  We spent way too much money.  And it was beautiful.  Let’s preface this by saying it’s a tank for a 9 year old (HOW THE FUCK IS HE GOING TO BE 9 IN 6 FUCKING DAYS HOLY FUCKING BALLS) and a 6 year old, so the idea was to keep it simple so they could eventually take care of it themselves.

Guess which kid has which side.

On the left you will see Smaug’s home complete with gold nuggets, a treasure chest, a busted up castle, charred plants and scorched earth.  Plant’s on fire, yo. On the right, you will see Lily’s abode with treasure clam shell, sparkling jewels, lush, silky and plastic-y foliage and an umbrella of genuine dwarf water lettuce.  Bellisimo.

Smaug
Lily
Second shot showing how purple Lily’s body is.

Smaug was named after the famous dragon and Lily is a girl’s name even though Robin knows he’s a boy.  Lily was a good fit anyway, he was beautiful, as was Smaug.  We bought them, along with a betta for me, on Friday, along with all of the goodies to go into the tank.  Total somewhere around $180.  I know, right?  “What the hell did you buy at the pet store?”

Four days later they were dead.  Motherfucker.

Tank parameters were spot on.  I racked my brain all day and as a family, we came to the conclusion that it was the gravel and or the decorations.  Aquarium gravel toxic?  No way!  Yes way.  In the most horrible yes way.  When I was rinsing out the 20 lbs of black gravel, my hands were stained black.  This has never, ever happened before and I’ve bought tons of gravel over the years.  I washed until everything ran clear.  Same thing with the gold gravel.  So much glimmering water.  It took me about an hour to rinse them both.  My first reaction was holy shit, I can’t use this, but instead of listening to my gut reaction, I listened to whatever dumb ass part of me said “it’s made for aquariums, it’s not going to do anything!”  There was also glitter in the tank which I believe came from the treasure chest.  This is all just the dumbest fucking shit ever.  HOW DUMB OF ME TO PUT AQUARIUM GRAVEL IN THE FUCKING AQUARIUM.  WHAT A DUMB SHIT TO PUT AQUARIUM DECORATIONS INTO THE AQUARIUM.  To be fair, no where does it say that I am supposed to add fish to an aquarium, so there’s that.

The kids were not upset as much as they were disappointed.  They didn’t blame me even though I blame myself.  Josh was the most upset as he has had his heart set on a Smaug for weeks.  We searched for WEEKS.  Weeks might as well have been years in kid (and overly excited Mom) terms.

My guilt is compounded because my betta is still alive.  Meet Zenith:

Not like the VCR

He wasn’t in the poison tank, obviously.  He’s in the main tank actually, in a mesh box.  Gabrielle is going crazy because she has a crush on him.  He’s beautiful.  My guilt is tremendous, though.  In a way, I wish he had died, too.  That way it wouldn’t have been my fault, but that they were sick before we got them.  Or, if anything, because it would be fair somehow that all the fish died.  Crazy, I know.  I don’t wish him dead, but I do wish this guilt would go away.

Everything is out of the tank; heater, filter, tank and thermometer have been rinsed with boiling water.  The media was thrown away.  New substrate, new media (from the 40 gallon) and a re-cycling of the tank.  I need to get some carbon to make sure any residual death is taken out.  Once it’s cycled again, I’m going to put a little tetra in it for a week to see if it dies.  That makes me sound like a monster.  I don’t really know what else to do, though.

On the upside, I haven’t killed any of my fish and my new tank looks great.  I’m working on Zenith’s tank so I hope he’ll be in his tank by the end of the week.

Lousy Smarch Weather

The 13th month of the year is the *worst*.

Oy, heat and air heat and air heat and air.  My poor energy bill.  And then it rained too much.  It never snowed. Boohiss.

I’ve been cycling the ever living shit out of that new tank; it’s been just shy of a month and it’s been cycled for a couple of days now.  I may or may not have screwed it up, though.  We’ll see tomorrow when I test the water again.

First, I have excellent news.  Loach the Loach has three new friends that I picked up recently:  Coach Loach, Loach Approach, and Stagecoach Loach.  They’ve literally been celebrating ever since, swimming around the tank and excited for pipes and rocks and plants and stuff and other fish!  They dance all night (nocturnal) but still zip about here and there during the day.  They stack on top of each other when they take a break.  It’s truly amazing.  The best part:

Loach the Loach just comes out to hang around. No more hiding!

I also got two more swordtail, Haineko and Minazuki.  They’re not as big as the Grande Dame Benihime but they’re still new.  And for good measure, a nice picture of Otto:

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM

I still need more of these guys; waiting to get Bot, Graph, and Matic.  Maybe a Bahn or a Bus in there, too.  We’ll see.

In full nerd fashion, I decided to experiment with lighting since I want to plant the new tank.  I am not interested in a CO2 set up right now because I’m poor and lazy.  Amazingly, more poor than lazy.  So I bought a properly watted and colored daylight bulb and started testing how it would affect the plants.

Day 1: I do not know how to properly photograph through glass.

On the driftwood are some generic anubias, micro sword, pygmy chain sword, and red ludwigia.

Day 6: New plants and new fish and most importantly, nothing is dead.

Same plants, but I’ve trimmed and replanted the ludwigia.  Water lettuce on top, new female betta up there, too.  Her name is Gabrielle!  She’s fine in the community tank but when I tried to add another female (Oscar) it didn’t work out.  Oscar was getting picked on a lot by the swordtail so I took her back.  So sad.  She was a beautiful yellow girl, very vibrant.  I’ll set up a sorority when I can afford to; until then, Gabrielle gets to hang out peacefully with everyone else.

NEW LEAF! 2/3 of the way from the left. The little curled up thing. IT’S BEING BORN!
Gabrielle inspecting the ludwigia.

Since I took pictures last I bought some anacharis and something called rorippa.  Amazingly, plants are more expensive than fish and I don’t particularly care if they die.  It’s only a pain to clean up.  I’ve gotten 50 lbs of blasting sand into the bottom of the tank and will hopefully finish adding the rock hardscape soon.  Then black flourite.  Then plants.  Then swordtails.  Then tetras and betta.  Then otos and loaches.

So, the important thing is that I’m having fun and have something to occupy my time.  Like washing sand and testing water parameters every day.  I really, really can’t wait to have something to show for my efforts.  More soon!

First: Catch Up [Blog Draft]

[BLOG DRAFT] 12/20/15

I’m dead. After a long blog break, I usually say “I’m not dead” but nah, I’m dead. I’m writing this from beyond the graaaaaaaaaave! OooOOOoOooOOooooohhhhhh scaaaaaryyyyyyyy!

1.) Halloween was nutso. Robin was easy–one of many Elsas out that night.

I’m the party star,  I’m popular, I’ve got my own car, I’m popular

It was our first experience with a wig and I have no idea where it is now. Probably completely torn up or at least unbraided somewhere.  All I had to worry about was make up.  Which is embarrassing, as I don’t wear myself.

Absolutely and painfully accurate.

On the plus side, I know how to use paint brushes and Robin is super laid back so it was easy.

She was a perfectly happy Asian-y Elsa.

Josh on the other hand…was a “challenge”.  That’s the nice way to say his whole costume was a pain in the fucking ass.  He wanted to be Kurosaki Ichigo, specifically in his (first) bankai state with hollow mask.  Easy, right?  RIGHT?

Yeah, no problem. Let me whip that right up.

Oy.  The jacket.  Lined with red and white and fitted and straight shouldered and HOW IN THE HELL IS IT EVEN CLOSED IN THE FRONT.  Hakama (pants)…NOT just ruffly pants.  And let’s talk about that mask.

No, let’s not.

But I love my kids and I did my best.  I FUCKING TRIED GODDAMMIT.

Serious Ichigo is Serious

I didn’t do too horribly.  But after working on the hakama for hours he decided he didn’t like it and just wanted to wear black sweats.  I couldn’t blame him, really, but I really wanted to cry.  Sometimes I need to remind myself that I’m doing things for others, it’s for others, not me.  Believe it or not, my kids’ happiness is important to me and the little things add up.  And no, I’m not going to get him straw sandals and tabi socks.  The face make up did come out pretty well considering the cheap make up we used.  I used this wonderful tutorial for a guide.

Amazingly, we met another Mom in the neighborhood who knew exactly who he was and even requested a picture. So glad to have met another anime nerd, and so close to home! [END DRAFT]

02/20/16

Daaaaaamn, I’m bad at this blogging thing.  Did you know (why would you, but I’m just making conversation here) that this is my 10th year blogging?  I’ve been blogging longer than my children have been ALIVE.  You’d think 10 years worth of blog posts would add up to something but you’d be horribly, horribly wrong.

So, let’s see…October had Halloween, November had Thanksgiving, December had Christmas, January had New Year’s, February had Chinese New Year’s and now you’re up to date!  See?  Like 5 months of information in two sentences, give or take.

Since I have very little to say at the moment, have a gif and be on your way:

I…I don’t know what to do with this information.

Yay!

I have so many drafts going it’s ridiculous.  And even more ridiculous is that *this* is the topic of my first blog post in a million years.

I just went shopping!  In January I bought a new aquarium and tonight I finally ordered the first supplies to get the water cycled.  I know it’s dorky but this is the first thing I’ve been excited about in forever.  I’ve had so many failures in the past (so, so, so many) but I’ve resolved to do it right.  My current tank has been active for over a year and the fish have been doing well.

My current little set up.

She is cute, no?  Currently I have 1 kuhli loach [Loach the Loach], 2 swordtail [Zangetsu and Benihime], 5 neon tetra [Spaghetti and Meatballs], 2 oto catfish [Otto and Auto]  I started with 7 neons: one died before we got home and the other one [Meatball #4] died a few months ago from neon tetra disease.  Amazingly, none of the other fish got sick so I don’t consider that too bad.  Loach the Loach is all alone and he hides all day.  Probably because he’s alone.  I didn’t know until recently that they should be in a school of 5+ and then I read that if he hides all day it’s because he thinks all the other loaches have been eaten.

–Loach the Loach, probably.

Also, I found out that my swordtail need a 1:3 ratio of male to female because the male will pester the female too much.  This is 100% true.  That poor girl can’t get a minute to herself.  The oto catfish started as a trio but one of them died within a few days of being home so that one is not my fault.  Sadly, it worked out because I couldn’t think of a trio of oto homonyms.

Magnus is approximately 2.5 gallons.

My current tank is 10 gallons but I just bought a 40 gallon breeder tank and I’m bouncing off the walls ready to set it up.  I’ve painted the back of it black and will paint the 10 and 5 gallon tanks when they’re empty (or at least empty of fish).  Ichigo the betta died and it was totally my fault for being neglectful and I feel awful.  That didn’t last long at all.  I don’t know that I should ever get another betta even though I’d love to have one.  Maybe in another year when I’m more responsible.  I seriously feel awful about it.  *sigh*  Anyway, the 10 gallon tank will remain as a quarantine tank for new fish and the 5 gallon tank might get something like shrimp or snails if I actually think I can keep them alive.

Schematics to scale.

I’ve been going over and over and over what I want to do with the new tank.  I’m compiling a notebook with drawings, notes, lists and floorplans.  I’m a mess.  I just want to do it right.  I want to do a good job and hang up my fish-murdering hat.

Right in front of the dishwasher, the most convenient place of all.

Here is what I bought today: ammonia for cycling, master test kit (I have only been using the strips like a commoner), 2 bags of black sand Flourite and the AquaClear 110 because more filtration is better than enough filtration.  I’m sticking with Flourite even though it’s a bit more expensive.  It’s what I already have and I’m not confident enough to try something new.

Loach the Loach in a rare moment of visibility.  The algae is for the otos, thankyouverymuch.

As soon as my goodies come in I’ll start cycling the tank.  I am still trying to decide what “centerpiece” fish I want but that won’t be for a couple more months at least.  I need to cycle, plant, move the old fish over, set up old tank for quarantine and THEN I will get the new fish to complete the schools I already (should) have.  I am also considering switching the neons out for cardinal tetras instead.  I also know that this last paragraph is pretty boring for anyone who isn’t into fish keeping.

I know what you think of me.

Anywho, I’m just glad I’m excited about something and I’m hoping I do it right for once.  In other news everything is more or less the same so not bad.  Chinese New Year is right around the corner, not that I do anything for it but that’s an entirely different matter.

(For those who are curious, I’m interested in a Striped Raphael Catfish or a Gold Gourami or both.)