Sep 112007

Nivita calls last night. The Jain fasting plan this year is every other day for the rest of the week. Good thing I got my gyro in last night. Today, just water. And maybe some booze after sundown, since Tim is in town.

Going back and reading my old Jain posts, I realize we have a fish update that is long overdue. And realized that I can quell my desire for food, while not having to worry about the boozing. Maybe I’ll be a 1.75 for today…maybe make up for it by fasting more. Maybe not.

The 5 new fish from the old post – they’re still around. The 1 survivor fish isn’t. I don’t even remember what it was. And the snail population got eliminated by our puffer fish. He grew and grew and grew. And then we forgot to feed him. So he became a skeleton. We switched to feeding dried worms to the fish – and the 5 others love those, but the puffer didn’t. And when we finally got around to getting snails for him (just lazy – took like a month!) it was too late.

And the puffer just went “poof” – we don’t know where his body is.

Then about a week later, the snails were dead too. For a while, Catherine wanted to create a snail farm, since the snails were like a buck and she didn’t want to keep spending that much on puffer food. But once the puffer died, that was a moot point and there was also this issue with the sex of the snails that Catherine didn’t figure mattered, but nature kind of says it does.

Regardless, we think the water might have been too salty for the snails.

I got a voice mail this morning – I fell asleep before Sal last night apparently – and one can hear Sal talking to me, then asking why I’m not talking back…and moms would convince him to keep on leaving me a message, and he would, till he’d get distracted with “Why can’t daddy talk?”

What a handful…

Jul 132006

Okay – took care of the monitor and the donut post in one shot.

Then wrote up the poker tourney post.

Will now explain the situation with the aquarium.

The aquarium.

Aquarium ecology is difficult. We started with 3 green tiger barbs. Then Catherine felt that they were too rough on each other, so you’re supposed to add more barbs. The idea is that in a school of fish, the bully will spend time bullying all the fish, so no fish is bullied too much. Some of my thesis simulated this effect, if you’re willing to use analogies (analogies are the mark of intelligence by the way).  Distributing pain and punishment though is a basic advantage of schooling.

So we got more fish.  Thing is, with more fish comes more fish waste. With more fish waste, we need more “helpful” bacteria. Those helpful bacteria though, take time to grow and colonize and reproduce.  Until they grow and reproduce and colonize, the fish are in some pretty unhealthy water. High levels of ammonia and nitrates and nitrites.

Also, when we got more fish, one of the new fish was a pretty serious bully itself. So even though there were more fish, there were more bullies.  The bullying (a more aggressive tank is more interesting – more action!) combined with the new tank and unhealthy water, leads to what is called stress. Stress also allows for ick. Ick is a parasite that locks onto fish and appears at little white dots. And unless you can reduce the stress, kills the fish.

So we had a little case of ick. The solution to ick is to salt the water a bit, increase the temperature and wait it out. After the first night, one of the fish got tired of waiting it out. He went on to clearer waters.

The next day was Saturday. The fish were looking a bit better, but they were still a bit loopy. Literally loopy. Not able to maintain their equilibrium all the time. Doing barrel rolls. Floating summersaults. Not good signs. Sunday we were to goto Las Vegas. Would the ick fish survive and recover? Or would they die and really poison the tank. One fish didn’t have any ick on him…

I made the executive Creator call. Sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. The 3 other ick fish also went to clearer waters. By way of trash can.  Emptied the trash before we left, put the light on a timer, and wished our solid little green barb friend the best of luck.

As it turns out, he took all our luck while we were in Vegas (I guess that’s another post to do).  He survived and seems pretty healthy.  Has a good appetite. Oh – ick reduces appetite too – another reason why it’s pretty devastating for the fish. And today, I got my pagodas and Fu Dogs.  Since I was going to rearrange the tank and redefine territories, it seemed like a good time to pick some new fish out.

Catherine picked blue gouramis. They’re pretty hearty fish – can take a lot of variance in their water conditions. Plus she thinks they’re pretty.  One is in the upper right in the image. The other is hiding in the pagoda. If you click on the image and goto flicker, I’ve added notes where the fish are in the picture.

So that’s the story of the fish up to today.

The biggest surprise recently have been the snails. We bought the live bamboo because we could see from the store that there were a few little snails on it. Snails usually are a problem, cause they reproduce like rabbits. Laying tons of eggs and it’s easy to get way too many snails.  So we got the bamboo (which really isn’t bamboo, but that’s another story…) and the snails and were happy with them. Except that after that first night, I didn’t really see the snails again.

Catherine felt that they were eaten by the hyper-friendly barbs. I hoped that they weren’t. That they were hiding in the rocks below. And one day I saw one. And the next day, I’d see another.  But that was it. They’re hard to find. Basically, you need to look for a pebble that moves. Which is kind of hard. Because it doesn’t move that fast.  Well, it is faster than you’d expect, but still, not that fast. Takes patience. Calm. Then you’ll notice the slow movement.

Anyway, today, as I was scoping out the re-landscaping job I’d have to do, we found around 7 good sized snails. It surprised me. I thought 4 would be a good number. But 7? There’s probably still more under the rocks too…

We’ll need to get another little puffer fish to start eating the snails soon. Then our lifecycle will be complete. I’m wondering a little bit about all the rotting left over snail parts and the shells, but we’ll figure that out when we get to it.

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Oct 182005

The aquarium was fun. Sal got a good kick out of it. And fell asleep pretty much as we finished up the entire free part of the place. He woke up to cry in the car, but that’s another story.

It was neat to watch him track the fish. And turtles – those were fun for him too. Jellyfish, though pretty – didn’t seem to be moving enough to be interesting. Track lighting was more interesting than jellyfish. And the eels and sturgeons stuff – well – how young can you be to have nightmares?

My favorite fish continue to be trigger fish. And puffers. We saw lots of both. The puffer reminds me of our little guy – three-pea. Its also how I picked Sal’s background. Three-pea and Sal have a connection, though neither really know it.

Catherine and I took along time preparing for a kid. Not sure it worked, but it was some sort of practice. We started out with sticks. Then plants. Then fish. We wanted to prove to ourselves that we can sustain lives other than our own. We had some barbs and they are hearty fish. We kind of stacked the deck. But then moved on to get little frogs. They’re really cute swiming up and taking an air bubble in and playing with their bouyancy. And then the store had a little fresh water puffer fish. He was tiny. And cute. When we got him, he was about the size of a pea and a half.

We were supposed to feed him live worms. We figured all the fish and frogs would thrive with the live worms. So we’d goto the store 3 times a week to buy live worms. We’d have a bag of live worms in our fridge. We’d drop the worms into the tank and let them float down and be eaten. We’d also slide them down a straw so that they’d get down to the frogs before being eaten.

Then three-pea ate the frogs.

The frogs were just gone. But our puffer had grown. It was a pretty neat exhibition of the conservation of mass.

And then a little while later, we had some algae issues – cause the worms had crawled into the rocks and died and decomposed and that wasn’t so good.

So we experimented with cleaner/sucker fish. They didn’t really help. So we got snails. They did help. Snails actually move kind of fast. Or – at least faster than I had thought. And it’s fun to watch them draw lines around the glass in the algae, eating it up.

Then one morning we noticed our snails didn’t have perfectly round feet anymore as the crawled along the glass. There were little chunks missing. Little bite marks.

During the day, three-pea would be fluttering around, cute as hell with his little flippers spinning quickly as he hovered around (he could swim backwards…) But at night, man, we never saw it, but he must have been a terror on all the other animals in there.

Barbs started losing fin parts. The gourami’s fins and whisker things were getting trimmed to. The snails had become only shells of their previous selves.

Snails are supposed to reproduce like crazy. They’re usually a bad thing in the aquarium, cause they lay eggs and then get out of control. We (me mainly…me and my god complex) figured that we could create an ecology that balanced the snails and our three-pea. But three-pea ate the eggs too. He was thorough. He was motivated to get up to three-peas.

I don’t quite remember how three-pea died. Lack of worms. Lack of other animals. Bad ph-balance in the water. But he did pass on. And then a year or so later we got Chapo (that’ll be a story for another day. it involves a little shadyness with a jewelry store) and we’ve just sort of been moving up the evolutionary ladder ever since.

Anyway – yesterday, as Sal was looking at the puffer fish at the exhibit (easily 20-30 peas big these guys were) I thought of how they were linked. And was reminded I’m a bit strange. Then Catherine commented on how cool the puffer fish were they way the moved – she called it helicoptering.

And I had this vision that got me all warm inside – well, it was a three part vision. First, I was buying a remote controlled helicopter. Then, I saw Marco and Sal building it. Then they were out at the park down the block flying it.? Marco’s always wanted a remote controlled helicopter…

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