Moar little fishes

I added a half-dozen panda corys. They are a little disoriented. There were like forty of them in the pet store tank. So in my bigger, all planted up tank they can actually lose track of each other. I think I have to get more.

But it is so cute – the golden minnows keep coming down into the plants and staring at them.

And fishtank update

I got a lot of different kinds of plants. I’m sort of thinking I may even do a second tank later, so I could use these to propagate plants for it. See, that makes splurging on them now practically fiscally responsible, right?

Well, anyway, the tank is now properly set-up with a layer of potting soil, then gravel, then very generously planted and filled with water. The new LED light came, and it is pretty nifty. For one thing, it stays cool. Also, in theory, I can program it to turn off and on, but it isn’t being simple. The directions say  I press the set button and I get a green light and start setting on and off times, except that I don’t get a green light. Sigh. I will work on it some more later, because it would be convenient to not have to fuss with it, but for now it turns off and on just fine so we are go.

I did a number of water changes when the first lot of water picked up a yellowish tinge from the soil, and now it seems over that. We’re not down to zero ammonia yet, but the planted-tank gurus tell me I can go straight to adding all my fish – the plants theoretically gobble up the ammonia. Instead I’m being wimpy and treating it like cycling a new tank, and so adding fish gradually, watching the water chemistry and planning on some more water changes if needed.

I did get a bunch of golden white cloud minnows, and they are hanging out comfortably, doing fish stuff.

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So ten of these guys. Mostly they just school around, except that there is always one fish that isn’t sticking with the crowd. I can’t tell yet whether it is always the same one guy, or whether the outlying fish thing is a rotating position. But it is cool to see them exploring.

If things seem stable, I may add some more fish over the weekend. I just don’t quite know to what extent I really Believe in the experts and all. We’ll see how it goes with these guys in place. At this point I’m thinking ultimately these minnows, a bunch of maybe miniature corys, and than a school of cardinal tetras, after I’m sure the tank is working. Then also maybe something else, maybe a betta or maybe a couple gouramis. I think I’ll hold off on things that tend to multiply until I have a second tank available. Maybe.

And maybe I will set up a betta in a small tank on the table, since Tom seemed a bit unhappy that I moved the fish tank over to the window. It would give him something to interact with in the mornings. But when I look up bettas online, it says the fish likes to be quite warm, but then I see them in stores at room temperature. Hmmm. It would be easier to set him up there if he only needed a light, but I wouldn’t want to be treating him poorly.

No rush on that, though, since I don’t want to overwhelm Tom with fish, but I think he might like a small betta tank, like five gallons?, with a light and plants. Maybe when I’ve got this one all set. And I’m not yet discussing a possible second tank in dining room at this point….

There was this accident

I had a fish tank. For years. Your basic tropical fish, sitting on the kitchen table so you can watch them over your coffee. Or they can watch you. I’d been ignoring it, rather, for a while, but once you set up a tank and it is chugging along, it doesn’t take much for it to keep going. I’d been thinking for a while that I might just pack it in, so I was just waiting out the last fish in it, who were starting to get elderly. Then the heater went wacky, and killed them all. I came down in the morning to find an absurdly warm tank with my last six fish all dead. Sigh.Thinking about it, I realize I’d bought the thing in like 1995, so it isn’t astonishing that it failed. Still, I would have imagined a heater that broke would just stop working, rather than the thermostat failing to turn it off. It made me really sad. So I think all this might be guilt. Anyway, I’ve cleared away the old tank entirely, and I’m starting over. New, bigger tank (thanks, Criagslist!), and an entirely different set-up. This time I’m going to try setting up a Walstad tank: http://www.theaquariumwiki.com/Walstad method. I’ve always had a rather planted up tank, but method supports the plants better, and generally uses less chemicals/machinery. Basically, running with this method you have a tank full of plants, with fish, being a little eco-system where the plants are consuming the fish waste and there is no need for an external filter. We will see. Now I’m waiting for the new light to arrive – LED, cheaper to run and programable, so the plants remain really happy – and to get some more plants before I start adding fish. Also I’m putting it right at the kitchen window to make use of the sunlight as well. Once I get some fish, there will be photos! Though there won’t be anything too fancy. Too many of the coolest fish end up getting really big. Instead I tend to like mostly smaller, and fortuitously relatively cheaper fish: platies, mollys, corys, and sometimes even guppies. The kind of guys that hang out together and seem less bored. So I am back in the fish tank biz – R.I.P. little previous corys. I I

I haz a rain barrel!

Though, of course, it isn’t raining here these days. But I have plans. It’s taken days to set up, but so far here’s what seems to be working.

I threaded a hose underneath the sink out the same hole as the drain pipe, to empty into the barrel. At the top I’ve got it attached to what used to be the faucet of a small drink dispenser that is now sitting in the sink. This way I can just rinse things directly over it, and drain the (relatively) clean water out to the barrel. Many people just toss rinse water out the back door, but you can’t really reach any plants easily from there, and it scares the cats. The little dribbles will add up and eventually water stuff along the side of the house.

I’ve also got a hose with a funnel set up by the tub, and I’m hoping I can syphon cleanish water into it. For now it just drains directly onto the other side yard.

Maybe I can keep things relatively green. Maybe. We shall see.

Another rain barrel is in the works, to go in the laundry room and capture rinse water. I’m thinking I can thread a hose out where the dry vent goes through the wall. That’s for the back yard.

This drought really, really, sucks.

Useless cats

That’s pretty much what we have at this point.

Nikki is locked in now, because we kept getting calls from people worried about him wandering around out in a busy street. That and two unexplained major injuries that I sincerely hope were accidents. So he’s in, but sulking. And — cats have their own rules on these things — he appears to think he’s not allowed to sit with us, and instead beds down in the front hall where he can pounce on the other cats at 2am.

Sextus is also locked in, but he keeps escaping. When he’s outside he reverts to feral and won’t let anyone come near, and it takes days and days to get him back in. Then he sleeps on my face for two days straight, because indoors he is my cat. I think maybe something is off in his brain.

Sisko and Doc have their own code for asking to go in and out, and seem to be reasonable enough in their comings and goings to be okay. Sisko just wants to sit on the front porch and watch people go by.

Wolfie watches for the door when Doc or Sisko are coming and going, and comes in to nap and visit. He’s a very satisfactory little kitty.

Habibi is a drama queen and attacks the door viciously to indicate her desires. She used to sit on my lap in my chair, but seems to have forgotten how.

And the visiting feral, Loper, sits in his cat bed by the front door, getting patted around 1am. I also feed him, but about half the time he ignores it, and it ends up going to the possum I refuse to consider a pet. (Possum is willing.)

But I shouldn’t call them useless, because someone gifted me with a rat yesterday. Probably Sextus and Doc working together.

It suddenly turned back into winter

It even rained today (YAY), and will rain again in a couple of days, they tell us.

The house is cold.

The couch is filled with cats. They aren’t really buddies, so they are equally spaced, all curled up with the comfy blanket in individual nests.

Guess who can’t find a spot to sit now?

I’m going to try to be here more often

It’s just, mostly, life, with a side of laziness, of course.

But I am going to make an effort to pick up all the dropped stitches and carry on. A lot of distractions have lessened, so it’s time to get organized, decide the things that matter to me, and get at them again.

I have a fair amount of updating to do. Sair and her girlfriend Alex got married here, in August. I’ll do a separate post for that later, but for now I’ll just say it was a lot of work, and wonderful fun, and they were beautiful, the ceremony was beautiful, and I am utterly impressed with Sair’s new family. I just wish they weren’t on the opposite side of the world.

I did scads and scads of cleaning and fussing with the house for that – we put up a good half-dozen out-of-town twenty-somethings on couches and floors. Again, great fun, and I’d be happy for them all to come back again sometime. Except maybe I’d want to add another bathroom first. I did a lot of work making the backyard a more welcoming space, but with the drought I can’t really landscape it much. Maybe there will be rain next winter. Maybe.

Nikki the Adventure Cat made a miraculous return from his Odysseus-like travels. It’s a bit difficult fitting him into the current cat family, but slow improvements are coming.

I’ll get into more detailed posts anon, this is just sticking my toe in to test the waters.

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