life, home

Revitalized

The past 9 months or so has been difficult for me and my fish tanks.  The carpel tunnel surgeries put a damper on how much I could work on my tanks.  Between the complete immobilization to the wound healing to working up my grip strength up to an acceptable level, I was letting everything pretty much go.  I was dealing with what is technically termed a funk.  Basically a low period in my depression that comes regardless of my medication.  Maybe it was brought on by the surgeries or maybe there was no reason at all, but I found my tanks neglected more and more each day, the only attention I gave them was to fill up the evaporated water because it was too noisy.  Actual water changes were few and far between.

I didn’t lose any fish but my plants took a beating.  I am less stocked than I’d like though; after all of the gourami issues I haven’t bought any new fish, mostly because I was waiting to be fully invested again.

I decided to buy the famous Finnex Planted+ 24/7 which I have been wanting forever.  That, along with new some new plants has really made me happy with the whole look again.  I am also dosing fertilizer again, a habit that gave up as my interest started to wane.

Full frontal!
I just really love this shot of the driftwood and the red sword plant in the foreground.
Giant/Tall hairgrass. Finally. There is actually a ton but the driftwood is blocking some of the view. I ordered 5 plants and easily got double that based on their root systems.
Limnophila aromatica-one of my favorites
Dad teaching his son how to snail. (Malaysian Trumpet Snail)
Dad teaching his son how to snail. (Malaysian Trumpet Snail)

For anyone who cares, here is my plant list:

Amazon Sword, Echinodorus bleheri and the Ozelot and red flame variation (Echinodorus ‘Ozelot’, Echinodorus ” Red Flame”)
Blyxa japonica
Limnophila aromatica
Water wisteria, Hygrophila difformis
Aponogeton boivinianus, Aponogeton crispus, Aponogeton ulvaceus, Aponogeton madagascarensis
Java Fern Windelov, Microsorum pteropus var windelov
Tiger lotus, red and green, Nymphaea lotus ‘Zenkeri’
Dwarf aquarium lily, Nymphaea stellata
banana plant, Nymphoides aquatica
glosso, Glossostigma elantoides
dwarf sagitaria, Sagitaria subulata dwarf
Purple Mudwort, Limnophila heterophylla
Tall hairgrass, Eleocharis montevidensis
water sprite, Ceratopteris thalictroides
various anubias: Anubias barteri, Anubias barteri nana, Anubias nana petite
possibly a stray stem of penny or money wort but I’m unsure.

Stock:

black kuhli loach
otocinclus
swordtail
neon tetra
peppered corydoras
glowlight tetra
black racer nerite snail
bumble bee nerite snail
copious amounts of malaysian trumpet snails

I’m nice and happy with my work at the moment.  The kids’ tank is getting back on track, too.  My Starry Night tank is out of commission at the moment but I’m trying to decide whether I want to get a breeder betta (not from a pet store) or if I want to go in the opposite direction and get a gold fish.  Or maybe a species only tank like for peacock gudgeons or microfish like daisy rice fish.

I’m a nerd.

children, crafty, entertainment, health, home, life

Photo Dump: April doesn’t exist

Your Lie In April was so good.

I did *not* let Robin watch this.

I spent all this time away from blogging to watch tear jerking all the good anime on Netflix.  So good.  So good.

And pretty.

I did set up my new 40 gallon breeder.  This is one of the first layouts I had.  It has changed a million times.  I’ll do a separate photo dump dedicated to fish later.

So symmetrical! It doesn’t look like that anymore.

I got a new 20 gallon long thanks to another $1 per gallon sale at Petco.  I wanted it for Zenith, but I gave it to the kids instead.  They wanted painted backgrounds.

Their interests are so similar I can barely tell them apart anymore.

Josh had a birthday.  He is 9.  MY BABY IS 9 YEARS OLD.

We had a theme. It was not laundry.

We celebrate Magnus’ birthday at the same time we celebrate Josh’s.

So dainty! One year and 12 lbs. Dainty, indeed!

My carpal tunnel, or supposed carpal tunnel, is in full swing.

My hands…

I’m cross stitching which is actually not the only thing contributing to the pain.  Writing, typing, carrying heavy things, living, dying–all of these things seem to bring pain equally.  I get to call a neurologist tomorrow for an appointment and maybe a conductivity test for my nerves.

I feel ya, Edith. I feel ya.
children, home, life

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.

entertainment, health, home

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!

home, life

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.)