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Archive for February, 2016

So, a year after moving into my new place, I’m finally able to get back into one of my favorite hobbies, keeping tropical fish. Presenting “JJ&J’s Seafood Buffet:”

JJJ Buffet 01

Not much to look at right now, I admit, but it’s a start. The water in the tank has to cycle until there are enough bacteria to turn ammonia into nitrite and nitrite into nitrate before the first two can poison fish. That takes a couple of weeks, at best. (I’m using pure ammonia and a bacterial additive to get things started, my first time doing the so-called “fishless” cycle.) I hope to add some plants this weekend or next, and then I’ll give them about three weeks to get acclimated before adding fish, some of which could otherwise uproot the plants.

Of course, one wants fish right now, but patience is best.

It might be hard to tell from the above photo, but the left side of the tank was quite dark. It was both unappealing, and the light was too low to grow more than a few species of plants, and I’ve wanted to try some new ones. So, I figured “in for a penny, in for a pound,” and splurged (for me) on a Finnex Planted + LED fixture. The advantages are several, first and foremost being stronger light and better coverage. (The bulb in the old fixture was just 21″, two-thirds the length of the tank. The Finnex covers the whole length.) It also uses less electricity and runs cooler. Win-win, as they say.

Here’s a pic with the Planted+ running. I think you can see the difference:

JJJ Buffet 08And, yeah, I expect to have to go to war with algae, eventually.

I like the pieces of wood I’ve chosen: they make for interesting spaces. Here’s a front shot of the two on the left:

JJJ Buffet 02

I plan to fill in that divot in the foreground, but it does make for an interesting cave for timid fish or those wanting shade, or cave breeders.

Here’s a view from the left:

JJJ Buffet 04Sorry for the glare, but  think you can see this gives the critters more places to explore.

And get stuck in when they die, making them impossible to get out, which always happens…

And, speaking of caves…

JJJ Buffet 03

I really like this piece of wood for the cave it forms, and it just seemed to go with this plastic wall (1) I found at Petco (2).

That’s it for now. I’ll post updates when something interesting occurs.

Footnotes:
(1) Don’t judge me.
(2) Please.

PS: Why “JJ&J’s Seafood Buffet?” That’s Jasper, Jersey, and Juno, the three cats who own my writing partner and his wife. They already want a menu.

PPS: Tech specs for those interested — Lights are the Finnex Planted+ LED, heater is a Visi-therm 100w, to be swapped out for a Fluval E-series 100w. The Filter is an Aquaclear 50. Aquaclear is a great brand of hang-on-the-back filter. Forty lbs. of Eco-Complete substrate. Water parameters as of last night are temp: 78. PH 7.2, GH 143 PPM, and KH 3 degrees. Ammonia is ~1 PPM, nitrite 5PPM (and that spiked suddenly overnight), nitrate 5PPM. The nitrite spike surprised me, but that might be the bacteria going to town. However, too high a nitrite can shut down the cycle, so, if it doesn’t go down soon and nitrates don’t go up (showing an active cycle), I’ll do a large water change.

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If you’re like me, the annual sight of blissfully happy couples on Valentine’s Day makes you ill. Not because of their cloying sweetness and dopey “eyes only for you” looks (though that’s part of it), but because you never get to join in. If your romantic life has as boring as mine, you’ve often felt like that little kid looking in from outside the fence and wishing he could play, too, but never gets the chance.

Admit it: you envy these people their happiness, and every Valentine’s Day is an annoying reminder of that. Don’t deny it, revel in it — wallow in the mire you yourself have created! Give in to the dark side…

And, while you’re at it, enjoy this Valentine’s Day report from The Onion.

You’re welcome.

(Edited 2/14/16 to rewrite a portion the way I had intended.)

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