Friday, June 27, 2008

Because I am a nerd. Ode to fish.

When I'm not doing school work or lavishing attention on Yankee and Gracie I spend most my time on fish. So this is my obsession and it deserves a moment in the spotlight regardless of how dorky it is.

I've always loved fish going back to the ten gallon community fish tank that my parents set up in my bedroom as a small child. I don't remember much about it other than a Firebelly Newt that I named Getaway because of his propensity for escaping. I would often wake up in the middle of the night to find him gone, run screaming into my parents' room that Getaway had once again gotten away and we would organize a search party. We typically found the newt close by, slightly dried out, but none the worse for wear. I the suppose the fact that my father was an importer and our basement was routinely full of saltwater fish waiting to be sold to the local fish stores may have also had an impact. Of course I'm being facetious when I say "may." I remember colorful fish in all directions, octopus and of course my favorite, the baby nurse shark.

In high school I again ventured into the fish world, picking up a small blue fish at Walmart to add to an aquarium which currently held a common Betta. The small blue fish turned out to be a Cichlid, which quickly dispensed with the Betta. I was enamored with the little fish and started to read about Cichlids in general. I kept several more throughout the following years. Probably a couple hundred or so.

In 2005, I decided I needed an eel. No idea why but for some reason it just had to be. I went around to local fish stores and inquired as to what they had in the way of eels. Steve at Mark's Ark pointed me toward a small spotted freshwater Moray Eel. That was it. He came home with me and was a great companion throughout the next couple years. I named him Flotsam and planned to acquire a Jetsam when I could afford a larger aquarium.

When I moved into my condo in SLC I adopted a Leaf Fish. This guy had major personality and responded to me almost as well as the cats. I loved the way he'd beg for food when I came home from school in the afternoon.
In May of 2007 I saw an online contest for planted aquariums. I was completely bowled over by the beauty of these setups. I went to Fish 4 You and walked up to their "planted show tank", promptly telling the owner Chris "I want to do that." He sent me home with a 10 gallon aquarium, a bag of substrate called EcoComplete, a few plants, a bottle of fertilizer and three small fish that he called Rasboras. He told me later on I might want to pick up some Cherry Shrimp. I had never done anything like this and had no idea what to expect. Within a few months I had this..........
A far cry from the pictures I had seen online, but I was just told to give it some time. I added a few more plants and in August went looking for Cherry Shrimp. None at the local fish stores, but one of the employees told me I might find some one who breeds them on I looked up the website and found that the local planted tank enthusiasts had a club called NACU(National Aquarium Club of Utah). I asked if I could come to the meetings. I learned a ton on that first night like who Takashi Amano is, the importance of light and filtration, and how awesome adding CO2 is. I followed advice and within a few months the aquarium looked like this.......
The Cherry Shrimp quickly became a favorite. I even named one of them which made even the guys in NACU laugh. Pictured here is Big Red. I could always tell him apart from the others by his size and coloring.

A berried(pregnant) female Cherry Shrimp.
It wasn't long before I was bitten by the shrimp bug entirely and started to research freshwater shrimp to find all the different varieties enthusiasts were currently keeping. I set up a second planted aquarium just for shrimp and brought home Amano Shrimp, a great algae eater
Mandarin Shrimp, very pretty but do not reproduce in fresh water
And Tiger Shrimp from Fish 4 You.
Soon after I came across what I decided was the cutest fish I'd ever seen, a Scarlet Badis or Dario Dario. I put four of them in with the shrimp.

My next planted aquarium came along in December. An odd size, it was a bit of a challenge but still fun.
One of my favorite pictures of Jason's niece with the aquarium.
Riccia pearling.
I added Blackberry Shrimp to this aquarium.

As well as another unidentified little red shrimp.
This small "pico" tank was set up in February 2008 with the hopes of someday adding the one shrimp that captivated and terrified me. The Crystal Red Shrimp. The plants are much thicker now.
One of my many terrariums when I stripped out the soil to convert it to a paludarium(half water). I'm waiting until it looks a bit better to take pictures with the water.
In March I started a new planted aquarium with a specific purpose in mind. I used this for a school project and documented every step. This was the best aquascaping I had done and I had stayed on a strict fertilizer schedule. The aquarium flourished. I added Amano Shrimp and Nerite snails to control algae and eventually a few Pygmy Corys, bigtime favorite. I wish I could get a picture of the Corys but they move too darn fast. Take my word for it though, they are a great little fish.

This little Cherry Shrimp was accidentally bagged with the Amano Shrimp and the tiny orange Pleco to his right was won in an auction at a NACU Meeting.
When I came across this brilliantly colored little Badis I had to have him even if it meant making poor Amber at Fish 4 You chase through the tank for the exact fish I wanted.
Facing off.
For my dad's birthday I promised to set him up a small planted aquarium so he could have some of the shrimp I had grown to love so much. It took a few months but, in June, we finally put this little beauty together. We hope to add some colorful little guys soon.
And here we are, to my first Crystal Red Shrimp. He's tiny and his coloring is not immaculate but I am thrilled to have him. He's been in the Pico for a couple weeks, eating well, and growing.

Three nights ago I picked up these beauties at the NACU meeting which was held at Fish 4 You this time. They called them Zebra Shrimp and they were reasonably priced. They hide constantly and I had to sit still, waiting for quite a while after dumping a favorite shrimp food into the aquarium to get these pathetic pictures. Hopefully you can atleast get the idea.

So this is my fish tale up until June of 2008. I'm a nerd. What can I say?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Our new animal friends

Last Saturday we were at Megan and Adam's house. Half way through the evening they told us they had a goat living in their back yard. Apparently the neighbors had bought it to eat but had left it tied to the tree in M&A's backyard for 3 weeks. The dad had said he had gotten too attached to the goat to kill it himself. Hopefully he's gotten too attached to kill it at all. I wanted to steal it and take it to Matt and Michelle's house . Isn't he just the cutest little thing?! I love that beard.

The next day we took Stigma to the park. She loved playing in the water.
Jason screamed like a girl when I found this little guy stuck to his pants. What an adorable little worm.