home, life

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.

crafty, home, life

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.

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, home, life

The Day-That-Must-Not-Be-Named

Fathers and mothers alike shield their children from it.
It looms, growing ever larger by the hour. Minute. Second.
Panicked whispers.
Just be normal. Everyone, just be normal. Regular day, right? Right?
NO NO NO don’t say that!
Dear God, you fool! You’ll doom us all!

The children! Won’t somebody please think of the CHILDREN!

La, la, la, anyway…so much to discuss!  Our house is a zoo lately.  Summertime boredom/lazies.  I’m taking off the remainder of July to prep for the upcoming school year.  My plan was to start on the first Monday in August, but that seems…lofty.  So my plan is to start some time in August-ish.  We still are doing daily journal, TKD, violin, and summer reading challenges.  I’m tired and need a break and the kids as well.  We’ve also had some distractions!  The good kind!

The itty of the bittys.

Meet Magnus.

Magnus Finnegan Chesterfield  12 weeks new.  We adopted him from the Society of Humane Friends at PetCo adoption weekend.  SO. MANY. KITTENS.  Normally there is a $100 adoption fee but there were so many kittens they cut the price to $50.  I used to think this was high but holy cow, Magnus’ mom was gone (died? ran off?) so he and his siblings were bottle fed until weaned.  Bottle feeding a kitten is a time consuming adorable process.  For that adoption fee, he’s also neutered and vetted.  No worms, no fleas, no serious issues.  Well, he’s got the most AMAZINGLY HORRIBLE DIARRHEA AND HE’S ON $48 VET FOOD but yeah, they really do a ton of work with these animals.

I can haz limited tolerance.

Jake is still my baby.  My jealous baby.  My hairy baby.

He is awfully hairy.

Poor Jake.  He’s being really nice but he gets mad when Magnus tries to go to the bathroom with me (that’s Jake’s job).  Jake has taken to calling for me and demanding hugs and cuddles.  He doesn’t sleep on my head anymore, though.  He sleeps at the foot of the bed near Magnus.  Like he’s trying to set an example or something.

Magnus is full of energy.  Annoying energy.  Fireplace?  I WANNA GET IN THAT!  Waterbowl?  I WANNA TIP THAT OVER!  Small gap in the cabinetry below the double ovens?  I WANT TO GET LOST IN THERE AND FREAK YOU ALL OUT!  Still worth it.  He’s also super cuddly and adorable.

**fear me**

But wait!  There’s more!

The snails died and I have no idea why or how but gross.  I think I’m done with snails for quite a while.  I needed to get something to eat the choking algae in my tank so I thought I’d get a plecostomus and then hope he didn’t grow too fast.  Yes, that was my plan.  Yes, I know plecos get huge.  They don’t get huge overnight or anything and decided that I would deal with that later.  So, I went down to PetSmart (shop smart, shop PetSmart?) and waited and waited for help in the fish area and nothing happened.  One of those feeder goldfish jumped out of the tank and flopped around until it died, but other than that, complete silence.  So I left because it was hot and the kids and I were all so whiny.  On the way home, I impulsively stopped at a place called Nemo’s Aquarium.  It’s literally a little tiny place in a big shopping center and I’ve seen it a million times.  I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t expecting anything really but HOLY COW.  It was full of amazing coral and salt water fish.  Beautiful and amazing.  There was a small section of freshwater fish and the clerk helped me find something amazing:

His name is Flapjack.

He’s a butterfly loach.  He’ll get about 3″ max so he won’t be some kind of monster beast.  I was going to name him Butters (not South Park Butters, Polka Never Dies Butters) but Flapjack is more appropriate.  HE’S THE COOLEST OMG I LOVE HIM!

I think he’s the neatest.

So there’s the news.  I have more to discuss but I’ve been overly obsessed with Civ IV because I’m old and boring.