Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tales from the Tank #21

These are the "Days of our Lives"...

October 2011:

  • Barb and Terry acquire another 55 gallon tank and start to collect cichlids.
  • They decide one tank of cichlids is not enough so they adopt out their silver dollars, matt's common goldfish and move all the "community fish" from the 40 gallon tank comprised of mollies, platys, sharks, gouramis, etc into the 55 gallon tank in the office. (Terry says so the sharks will get bigger).
November 2011: 
  • One of the clown loaches dies...not sure why. Suddenly the 55 gallon tank is infested with ick (remember ick from earlier posts?).  
  • One by One...all of the most coveted clown loaches die from stress. :-(
  • Stress? Seriously you say?  Well yes, if you were used to having three big brothers and all of a sudden they moved into a new place and your 30 cousins dropped into live with you - you'd go into shock as well and probably die from lack of privacy and the sheer commotion the little brats cause.
  • We say goodbye to all our clown fish and send them to that big pond in the sky (insert flush).
  • We create a second cichlid tank upstairs with the "babies" we are fostering from Kathi J. a mix of Obi and fish with eyes like goggles.
  • We buy more cichlids.  I keep thinking .... shouldn't we be concentrating on acquiring Christmas presents? Oh wait...that's right...we are acquiring Christmas gifts...ours!
December 2011:
  • Barb turns 50 on December 10th and some of her wonderful friends decide what a great thing it would be to put a giant plywood sign in her yard that says "HONK" Barb is 50. Starting at 5 am the day before her birthday.
  • I must admire the talent all my friends and family have for LYING!.  The only reason I found out who did it was because in the true definition of a NAG...Terry was really tired of me asking for the 800th time...Who did it?
  • One day...I said to Terry, "Boy, for some reason it looks like we are missing fish in the 55 gallon tank in the office".  So we sat down to inventory.
  • Platys? Nope. Swordtails? Nope - wait there's the big orange and black one. Whoa --where the two yellow Gouramis? Oh, whew, there's one.  Well where the @#$% is the other one - a two inch fish just can't disapper? 
  • Oh...did I forget to tell you the silver fin shark is growing?  Hum.....can you say live bait?
  • Oh Yeah...didn't Terry WANT the sharks to GET BIGGER?
  • So now we have about 18 fish as compared to 30. 

  • Barb gets a riding lesson on the scooter she gets for her birthday. Turning is not a pretty thing.
  • Terry brings home motorcyle permit study guides.  
  • Barb & Terry go to take the permit test on Dec 23.  We were pretty sure of ourselves - but we both flunked. Oh well...there's next year. LOL
That pretty much sums up the last two months.....My 2012 write more often and keep the humor alive.  Merry Christmas to my family and friends. I am blessed to have you in my life.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tales from the Tank #20

You Say Goodbye...I Say Hello...Hello Hello

On a Saturday this past October, we said goodbye to the three common goldfish Matt purchased for about .30 cents each (when he was in high school). They were healthy happy but were being evicted from their home because some other fish needed to move in - and out of our house. So the three Fantail's moved into the 10 gallon tank in Matt's room...and got ready to be transported to their new home.

In the meanwhile, the 29 gallon tank was filled with the new cichlids because we didn't have the new tank yet.

Jared had arranged a spot for the tank, so we loaded up the truck and moved to Hiawatha (just the fish silly).

A gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds. so we emptied the tank about 1/2 way so it could be carried up three flights of stairs (yes they live on the top floor). Got the tank over to Jared & Ashley's, but when Terry said where are we putting it...and Jared pointed to the glass end table..(insert screeching breaks here)..Ah that won't work. Fully loaded the tank would weigh 80 pounds and bust through the glass.  So Terry and I hopped in the truck in search of a 10 gallon tank stand.  After about an hour and no luck, we return to Jared's and said, we'll get a stand, and then bring it back.  So the goldfish are now back in Matt's room until we can find a black 10 gallon stand for Jared & Ashley.   Hello Craigslist!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tales From the Tank #19 Part 2

Continued from prior post...

As you know from our first auction adventure, we didn't really know what we were doing (as if we ever do). But we a bit more selective this time around. However, just before Jared arrived with our lunch, Terry was getting pretty disgusted at how cheaply the bags of cichlids were he whipped out his cell phone and called up KJ and said.."lets make a deal".

He sold KJ the 29 gallon tank (that the goldfish were in) for the babies and decided to keep the 55 gallon were were trying to buy for ourselves.  He said to me..."I thought you always wanted a tank with cichlids?"

I have to say...he got me there.  I am mesmerized by their different colors. Somewhat like I am with the angel fish.  Well, then the "auction bug" caught Terry and he was in his element now...bidding on bags of cichlids.
This is all before we knew what the heck the experts were talking about.  KJ always said you can't mix African cichlids with South American cichlids.

Since Terry likes to keep the action going, he bid $1.00 on a bag of baby fish no one wanted, got a bag of yellows for six bucks, a catfish for $9....we spent less than we did the first auction and came home with about 27 fish.

By this time, Jared had shown up with our McDonald's and we had been discussing where to put the 55 gallon tank he was trying to get and where in the world were we gonna put the three gold fish because if we put them all in the 10 gallon tank in Matt's room, then we are back to the problem that started this whole mess...some goldfish picking on the others. Geezzz.......

Ah Hah! would you like to have some goldfish?  We have the perfect tank for you...all ready to go, we can even give you food and gee, won't Chance (the cat) LOVE to watch them all day long when you guys are at work?  (Hee Hee).  Of course, he is his father's son (mine too) so he called Ashley and they talked about it.  Her response was...."you have to take care of it so it doesn't smell". "I can do that" he said.

So everything was going to work out just fine! BUT WAIT....what do we do with the three original goldfish in Matt's room??

Terry said, "well you know...Petco has a tank for adoption fish. We (meaning me) just have to take them out there and give them up." Seriously?  give up fish for adoption?  No way....

Tales from the Tank #19 Part1

OOPS...Here we go again!
It's been a while since I've posted an update.  Nothing much has really been going on. Lost a few fish here and there...but this past October things have been going on, so I'd better get back to updating this "diary" of adventures!

Our fish partner in crime KJ - has quite a few baby cichlids. Cichlids, if you are unaware, are some of the most fascinating and colorful freshwater fish you can get without going to the saltwater variety!  As she is aware of Terry's penchant for creeping and crawling on craigslist, she set him to the task of finding her a larger tank for her "babies". (One can't house the babies with the larger cichlids, because if it's not their mom and pop...they are fish food for other large cichlids). I personally think this is where the term "Fish fry" comes from....groups of baby fish are called "Frye".  So when you eat the baby essentially have a "fish Frye". LOL!

Of course, Terry was successful and found a great tank for a fair price and told Kathy all about it. A 55 gallon with a large pleco, three clown loaches and some platties. She replied that although it was really bigger than she wanted - she would take - and we would get the fish. Meanwhile, while we were waiting for the seller to reply and since we were unable to attend October 1st football game in Pella, Terry said..."By the way, the October EIAA fish auction is this Saturday". know where this is going right?

Saturday the 1st of October was a beautiful day - the kind you want to spend outdoors doing yard work, or just about anything. But Noooo, not the Schrafels. Now that we are  "amateur aquarium hobbyists" we had developed of list of "items" we wanted to find. (Filter supplies, nets, decor, etc - not really fish. Didn't really need any of those). So, armed with our list and our checkbook..and determined not to spend a lot of cash...we headed to the auction .

After we got to the auction site and began previewing items that we thought we could "use", noticed there were tons of cichlids to purchase and not much of anything else. So we just were waiting for the supply items we wanted to come up. Then Jared (our oldest) sent a text and said, "I'm at your house, where are you?". I replied "We aren't there, we are at the fish auction".  His reply: "OMG. by the way....I'm washing my car at your house". Remember in an earlier post how I thought our water bill would go down once the kids were gone?  Yeah right.

I told him, "when you're done, you can always come hang out with us" and BTW if you do...let me know and you can bring us McDonalds' and I'll buy yours too".  (any red-blooded 22 year old can't pass up that bribe).

To be continued....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tales from the Tank #18

Free to Good Home

I have to tell you...Terry still views craigslist all the time and now shows me pictures of all kinds of puppies.  Sure, I'd like a puppy, but no, he's only showing me because they are cute -not that he wants one. (I'd have to clean up the poop and feed it anyway).

Tonight (Saturday), we were out and about and he dropped me off at Michaels craft store (need to make another watch band) and he went to the Pet store to "look around".

Not too much later I came out of the store and he's waiting in the car for me (very old peopleish right)?
He hands me a bag of fish! Two red tail sharks about 4 inches long. Apparently one of the pet stores has an "adoption" tank and so he adopted two fish to bring home and put in the 55 gallon tank so the silver dollars and the other tetras wouldn't be so lonely without Hoover and Tiger.

Awww....that's so sweet.  Fish adoption is cool!

Tales from the Tank #17

Water Water Everywhere

It's been while since I've had anything to write about. No big adventures or interesting things...until this past week.

Last Saturday we adopted two plecos from an ad on craigslist. The first new addition went into the 29 gallon Goldfish tank (which was looking kinda green), and the second went into the 37 gallon Angel tank. They have done an amazing job cleaning up the algae.

We haven't done any tank cleaning for about a month, so Monday I ran out and got filters and then after dinner we began the monthly ritual of cleaning tanks. We started with the Goldfish, and everything went just fine.

Then we moved the operation upstairs. Normally we siphon about 25-35% of the water (while cleaning up the poop and leftover food), but since we never really cleaned the 55 after we got it, I took it down to a 50% water level. Terry has started just suctioning the water and letting it run into the tub (cuz the process goes faster). So once the 55 was done, I moved out into the living room to start the community tank.  We got started siphoning and the next think I know, Terry is yelling to shut the siphon off....the bathroom is flooding!

And when I say "flooding", this wasn't like before, this was a full on flood with at least an inch of water on the floor.  "Grab towels" he yelled.  Thank goodness I had the foresight to take a day of vacation and get all the towels in the house washed, because we used about 10.  The rugs were wet, the carpet in the hall was wet and then I went downstairs.  Did I mention wanting to go to bed early? (yeah right).

It was like a rain forest downstairs. There was water dripping from the ceiling in two rooms. Water puddled in my sewing box, water on the floor in two rooms and running down the walls. We figure the hose popped out of the tub for about four minutes.  Let me tell you, four minutes of dirty fish water is a lot of water. 

Once the water was cleaned up, I sprayed the floor with Clorox Cleanup and wiped it up again. Terry is running around cursing..."how in the #$% did this happen? I was only out of the bathroom for a minute!"

Oh well. got the mess cleaned up and started to fill the tanks back up. Filled the 40 and then the 55. Got the chemicals added and was starting to put away the filters and supplies when we noticed the Tiger barb in the 55 swimming erratically and one of the tetras was swimming sideways.  Then to my horror....Hoover, the albino pleco was belly up on the bottom of the tank. 

"What the heck?" Terry!!!! the fish are dying!  "Did you put the chemical in" he asked. "of course I did". So we went back and forth a bit on who did what...but in the end we had to say goodbye to Hoover, Tiger and one of the red tetras and send them to the big pond in the sky.

After talking with a pet professional, seems that taking the tank down to 50% change out and then adding back the water so fast may have shocked my favorite pleco and Terry's Tiger who would nibble on your fingers if you put them in his way.

It was a sad night Monday.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hobbies can be dangerous...

Abracadabra! You can buy pressed and dried flowers on the internet! During all my "research" I found a few websites that offered fully pressed and dried flowers for as little as $1.29 for 10.

"Did you buy some?" you ask. "Well of course I did".  (remember me?...impatient person who wants dried flowers RIGHT NOW!) I spent a whopping 20bucks on three packages of itsy bitsy tinsy weensey little flat and you thought I'd say bikinis didn't you?).

Boy...are they brittle. If you woman handle them (cause I don't man handle)...they crumble into little bits of nothing. (lesson learned on a leaf half the size of my thumb) LOL.

Now that I'm offically addicted to pressing and drying flowers, I have to admit I have a VERY indulgent hubby.  I'm constantly looking for new and exciting flowers...FOR FREE. So on the way to Brenda's yesterday I saw some really cool yellow flowers that looked like daisys (Yes, in the ditch). So he very kindly pulled over to the side of the road, (Yes on HWY 34) AND handed my a pair of needle nose plyers so I could cut some flowers.

Then about 10 miles down the road, I keep seeing these blue flowers.  I need blue flowers. So what does he do? Yep, he pulls over again and lets me out and I grab some of them, plus some purple whispy things too.  However, as indulgent as he was, he never misses an opportunity to pull away and let me think he's leaving me on the side of the road.  He did it.  So I cut some more blue flowers. 

When I got back into the truck with my hand full of flowers...he began to sneeze.  Hah! That's what you get for trying to leave me. 

Anyhow, we get to BK's and I cut the blooms off and press them into paper towels..I can't tell you how excited I was, and of course how much she laughed when I told her we would have been 30 minutes earlier if we hadn't stopped to "cut the flowers".

As I continue to eye all the different kinds of flowers around, I'm getting dangerously close to taking them from peoples when I saw the most perfect sunflower (on the side of the road next to a corn field) - I gave BK the plyers and made her cut it off. She's the town librarian, nobody gets mad at the town librarian!

So when we got home last night, Terry help me get something heavy enough for the sunflower and this morning when we checked it, he said you might have to "shave" some of the back of to get it to lay flater.  So I grabbed the knife and as I was thinking about the best way to "shave some off", he said, "give me the knife, you make me nervous", and proceed to shave my perfect little sunflower - but alas, he "shaved" too much and it completely fell apart.

So much for stealing flowers...

Hobbies can be addictive

It's been awhile since I've written, but it's not that we haven't been busy! Anyone who is familiar with the downtown farmers market here in CR might understand where I'm at with this story.

During last year's market, I saw an old window. It had dried flowers in it and was covered with some type of paper.  Low and behold, the owner wanted $165.00 for it.  I'm not cheap by any means, except that Terry and I have this terrible habit of saying "Geez, I could make one of those myself", and we move on to the next booth where you pick up a bottle of wine, or a pound of tomatoes.

As Timon in the Lion Kings says, "It begins"...

Over July 4th weekend, we were organizing and packing up some of my sisters things for her big move, so on a whim, Terry climbed into the top of the old barn (no one had ever done it in the 20+ years she's lived there).  We found some old windows, so I've decided to make my own window(s).

As Sophie and I walked the trail by our house (before the heat wave), I took my garden shears and cut some flowers, Queen Anne's Lace, Lillie's, etc.  Brought them home and put them between paper and put books on them. THEN I started researching how to dry/press flowers. Most instructions say it takes about six weeks for the flowers to dry.

WHAT? So I started to read more and look for other ways to dry flowers. Meanwhile I have piles and stacks of books all over the living room and the family room and my house is starting to look like the boys moved back home. (I do love you boys!!).

Meanwhile back at HQ, I've moved everything downstairs, commandeered the 8 foot table we use for Easter dinner, the card table and Sophie's kennel for table space. I spent the weekend before this scraping paint off the other windows and putting new glazing in so the glass doesn't fall out.

Found out the windows are backed with rice paper. No one in CR sells rice paper.On the
way back from Minneapolis (and Antiques Roadshow - which is another story), BK and I stop at Hobby Lobby in Waterloo. But of course they are not open on Sundays. Go Figure.

I was getting so antsy, that I took a day and a half vacation, just to organize my piles and go to the Iowa City Hobby Lobby for the rice paper. Found out there is the stuff called Silica Gel, which you can use in the microwave to dry your flowers instantly! Eureka! ...that's the ticket... INSTANT gratification.   (Apparently, I'm not a patient crafter).

The next day I picked a couple black eyed Susan's from the back yard. Followed the instructions with the Silica Gel, and ended up with instant FRIED flowers. According to the directions you are supposed to lay the flower on a half inch layer of gel, and the completely cover the flower. Cook on medium power for 1-2 minutes.  When I took it out of the gel it complete;y disintegrated. Crumpled into nothing in my impatient little hands.

Over the course of the last week or so, I've pretty much tested all power levels and time lengths for microwaving flowers.  If you do power level 2 and 35 seconds, they come out just a little dry so you can then put them between some paper and let them finish drying. I haven't checked them yet, but hopefully it will cut the drying time to less than six weeks.

Oh well, there are still fish to feed!

PS.. First one done...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Too Many Cooks....

Too Many Cooks.....

Last Sunday we hosted my family for Easter dinner and had a wonderful time.
Matt was home from school and received a little bucket of goodies from his best gal but left them on his desk when he packed up to leave on Monday morning.

As any good and thoughtful parent, we swooped down on the bucket, promptly text Matt and let him know he forgot the goodies.  He was sad, but did allow us to have them.  So we promptly split the three scotcheroos - one for Terry and two for me.  (I let him have the other candy).

Now...for the interesting part of this story.

Tuesday evening we went to the grocery store since we had only stocked up on Easter dinner necessities. And as we were walking up and down the aisles trying to decide what to make for dinner...I promptly picked up a bag of milk chocolate chips and butterscotch make....SCOTCHEROOS!  The peanutbutterychocolatebuterscotchrisekripietreat that everyone LOVES!

As I reached for the HyVee brand rice krispies...Terry asked what those were for so I had to admit what I was trying to "sneak" into the cart.  He replies "if you're going to make those - you have to use Kelloggs...they are better". To which I replied "Kelloggs probably makes them for HyVee - you cereal snob".

He wouldn't waiver on the rice I switched out the HyVee brand for the "good" ones.  Then he spied "milk chocolate" chips and demanded that we switch them to Nestle Semi-sweet chips.  I put my foot down. Chips are chips and the Nestle are a $1.50 more a bag.  So I caved in and switched them out for the "semi-sweet" non brand name chips.  Then he asked "Do you have the syrup". "Yes. I know there's syrup up on the top shelf of the cupboard".  Terry replied, "yeah but it's probably been there for 4 years so you better get a new one".  Off in search of the karo syrup we go...and as I reach for the off brand...he says NO!

"You must get the Karo brand - it has more vanilla" he said.  (and is at least a dollar more).  Karo syrup is karo syrup I he started to compare the ingredients.  OMG. 

Thank goodness we had a new jar of peanut butter at home. Can't imagine comparing Jiff to Skippy. I know choosy mothers choose Jiff, but what in the heck to choosy fathers pick?
After dinner is over, I start to get all the ingredients ready and he says..."don't start without me".  Can you see me roll my eyes right now?

As I'm getting ingredients out, he's watching a freakin You Tube video by a teenager on how to make scotcheroos.  "Dude, this is not my first rodeo" I tell him.   He says, "yeah, but i think the last time you made them they wouldn't come out of the pan".  "Well" I said, "that's because if you boil the syrup and sugar too long, it turns to hard ball stage"..."and you don't want that".  "Come watch this" he says.  The girl in the video is boiling the syrup so long that it's expanded to the top of the pan.  I find my recipe and he goes on line to fine a comparable recipe and decides mine is ok - we'll use it.  Have I mentioned that he's getting much better and finding stuff on the computer?  (Shh.. don't tell..but sometimes it's annoying).

As he tells me to "butter" the pan, I reach for the butter flavored crisco. He has a fit and yells "Stop!. I said "BUTTER" the pan. Get me the real butter - I'll do it." he says.

So needless to say...we work as a team to put together a entire 9 x 13 pan of scotcheroos (which should be outlawed by Weight Watchers).  Didn't boil the sugar/syrup mixture too long, put the peanut butter in and then mixed it into the cereal - all without further incident.

Once we melt the chips and spread them on top the bars, he starts to bang the pan flat on the counter. "What in the world are you doing that for?" I ask.  "I'm getting the chocolate to be even across the top, why?"
I replied, "No reason, I've just never done that before".

"At least this way the chocolate will get down into the little openings" is his reasoning.

OMG...can you say Scotcheroo nazi?  (reference Seinfeld's Soup Nazi episode).

At least they are edible.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tales from the Tank #16

Ashes to Toilet...

Came home today, sat down to pay bills and when I was done made the rounds of turning on the aquarium lights.  As I opened the top to the 40 gallon community and dropped in some food...there was one of the female pineapple swordtails floating on the top - minus all of her fins.

I yelled for Terry...and he came bounding up the stairs from the basement. "What are you yelling about"? he said.  I replied "one of our fish died and someone ate her fins!" 

To which he replied, "What do you expect? She probably tasted like pineapple". 


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tales from the Tank #15

Now...for the rest of the story...

The bidding on the hex tank's in at $10, now $20, $25-$30..gets to $45 and Terry jumps out and it sells for $45. I was pissed off. I said "we could probably had it for $50". He said,'s not that great anyway. I said "So what do you suppose we do with 5 angel fish? That's pretty expensive shark food if you ask me" (insert snotty tone here).

Next thing I know he's off talking to some dude and Kath says "I think he's buying you a tank". What? We don't need another tank. I'll just set up the 10 gallon tank.  Yep. He comes back and says "There. I just got a tall 37 gallon tank for $35. We just have to go pick it up tomorrow. Don't lose this phone number".

OMG. Seriously dude. Where in the heck are we gonna put another fish tank?

We finally arrive home with all our treasures about 5pm. YES..we spent an entire Saturday at a fish auction.   I proceed to float the bags so we can introduce the fish and realize that in the mix of swordtails there are some very tiny ones. But lo and the box of "stuff" was a breeder tank about 3 x 6 which you float at the top of your tank. So the angels and the baby swordtails are saved! No shark food for you. Hah.

Sunday am, we get up and are just taking it easy and Terry's cell finally rings. The dude is ready and we can come get the tank.  As we were getting ready to leave, the phone rang and I said "don't answer it". Terry was in the other room and said "What?" I repeated "Don't answer it. It's Sears protection".  He says "Who?" I said "Sears Protection".  He comes around the corner and says..."I thought you said Fish Intervention".

I said I think we need an intervention, but I laughed all the way to Shueyville anyway.

So the man we bought this tank from is actually a breeder of tropical fish. Angels no less.  He has a room dedicated to breeding Chiclids, plecos, and Angels.  We learned alot in the hour or so we visited with him and as we pulled away from his drive way I told Terry to stop. Before he turned left to head to the interstate I said "We need to agree on something right now". 

"What?" he said.  I replied "I refuse to become a breeder. Don't want to go there. Don't want one room dedicated to fish. If the fish have babies it will be as in nature - survival of the fittest.  Not gonna have a tank to put babies in, not gonna learn how to grow my own brine shrimp for feed. Nope. not going there.  If that's your intention, we might as well get divorced now.  The dudes family room smelled like amonia.  Not going there.  I want fish for the pleasure of watching them, learning about them, decorating their tank, learning how they interact with other species blah blah blah. Nope. Not gonna do the breeding thing."

He said "Ok. But I still want 120 gallon tank".

I give up.

Tales From the Tank #14

You're in at $10

Last Thursday Terry said  "So, what are you doing on Saturday"? I replied "Nothing - but at least sleeping past 5 am - Why?".

Wanna go to a Fish Auction?  What?? Seriously??

Yep...a Fish Auction...hosted by the Eastern Iowa Aquarium Assocation.  I said "What do they auction?". He said he had no idea, but "viewing" is a 9 am and the auction starts at 10 am.  Wanna Go? 

I said "Sure"..."Why not".  So we invited our Fish partner in crime, Kath, and proceeded to make plans for the day.  I visited the EIAA website for more info ( )and found the "rules" of the auction, and if you were interested in purchasing live fish, you would need to bring a cooler. A Cooler? What are they...on ice??

So Saturday morning, we got ready, picked out a cooler to take along ( the playmate which holds a 12 pk) and I said - "are we taking the car or the truck"?  "Well, the truck of course", (which was the reply)...just in case we find a tank". OMG OH NO.

So we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly...Fish Hills that is...(just kidding).

First on the day's agenda though was every hungry man's dream:  Breakfast at Riley's on Centerpoint Rd.  Pretty good home cooked food and lots of it.  Who knew what we for in for so we needed a nutritious filling breakfast.  Met up with our fish addiction enabler (Hi Kath!) and once we were done with breakfast - set off to find the church the auction was hosted in.  Can't be that bad since a church was hosting right?

Got to the church about 9:15 where we found nine tables of various items of fish aquarium paraphernalia. There were heaters, floating logs, air hose, filter floss for DIY filters and fish double bagged so there would be no "leakage" during the day.

So the procedure was to look around a write down on a tablet the number of the item(s) you were interested in. That way, when they came up during the auction, you knew which items to bid on.  So I drew a line on my 8x10 piece of paper and it quickly filled up with both Kath's numbers and Terry's numbers.  So about 30 minutes into the viewing Terry said..."How bout I go out and get you the notepad that's in my truck? That way you have more paper to write on." Good thinking big guy!

You can see where this is headed right?

Buy the way, you should probably know that auctions are really Terry's thing. He LOVES them.  So once the viewing was concluding, Terry got in line to get a number. Surrendered his drivers license for "security" purposes and brought me a lovely yellow paddle with luck number 136 on it.

I should mention that people are still bringing in items when the auction finally starts about 10:30. Periodically Terry gets up and finds another number to add to the list.  Kath had to run to a meeting but gave me strict instructions not to go more than $2 per fish on the bags that she wanted...and no more than $30 total.  She said I'll text you when I'm done with my meeting to see what you've got.

By 11:30 they had only finished one table. I should also point out that Terry loves to help the auctioneer get things started by early bidding.  One of our first purchases ends up being a box of "stuff" he got for $2.  (He usually gets a couple of these during the day). Would you believe the next one had drift wood in it and after I signed for it, the guy who brought it came up and told him - that it would probably take a while to water log it because it was in a reptile tank. So geez...another but load of driftwood that won't sink.  It's now posted on craigslist for sale. LOL.

So the auction is underway and up comes a new top for a 55 gallon tank (which we just happen to need).  OMG I want that - but wait - It's not on the list!  Terry starts to bid at $5 and get's out at $13 so I look over and he's in line to get a friggin hot dog!  So I jump into the bidding and get that sucker for mere $18.  He comes back and says "Did you buy that?" I sure did. It's the steal of the day. 

Pretty soon, some of our numbers finally start to come up and Terry starts bidding and jumps out as the bid goes above what he's willing to pay.  This is soooo exciting!  So I start bidding on stuff - and the auctioneer says "do you two communicate"? cuz your bidding against each other. Of course the room errupts into laughter and its just a fun atmosphere.   So I had to start paying attention to when Terry was bidding and keep the paddle down.  It's not fair cuz he was just bobbing his head up and down.  Must be some kind of silent "guy" language at auctions.

So the live fish come in every so often and the hotest item of the day seemed to be these beautiful baby angel fish - about the size of a nickel.  I so wanted some of those - but Terry made we quit at $8.  He said "We really have no place for angel fish because they need a tall tank". 

I said, "That's ok. There's a tall hex tank in the back - at least 30 gallons and I wrote the number down so I can bid on it."  HAH! By this time, Kath returned and it became a lot of fun watching her try to bid on fish. She has a beautiful tank of African Chiclids all different types and colors.

Apparently Chiclids are the hottest fish in this area - so the few tropicals that came up were bid on furiously. But as I said, auctions are Terry's thing and six bags of fish later (that's 18 total fish)  we were going to add Neon Green, Blue pearl and Pineapple swordtails to our community tank.  At the end of the day, he bid on a got a bag of Angel fish (5 total). They are so cool - orange, black and silver.  So the plan was to bid on the hex tank - yep another tank.

OMG - Matt was right - we ARE becoming fish hoarders.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tales from the Tank #13

Games on Facebook are Educational

I know, you're asking "what on earth is educational about games on facebook?".

When I first started a facebook page, I got involved with a little game called "ZOO". You build your zoo by completeing different levels from the number of bee's in an exhibit to how many animals you adopt, and how many "zoo friends" sick animals you help and or heal.

So how does this intertwine with Tales from the Tank?  This past week, we found the black Dalmatian Mollie swimming vertically in the 40 gallon tank.  He little side fins were moving opposite each other and his poor little top fin was down and his back tail was sort of curled up.  He just wasn't able to propel himself around the tank. We decided he must be sick.  He doesn't look like he has "ick" the detective work begins.

That night we began to "investigate" what could be wrong.  Ya gotta love the Internet. Tropical fish can suffer from all sorts of disease - just like people. From tail rot and fin rot to anchor worm and yes...constipation. You can also take your fish to the vet and yes...if they die, it is recommended you freeze them if you intend to have an autopsy done to determine the cause of death.  BK do you think dad could make a pine box small enough?

The disease Terry liked the best was "swim bladder disease".  Apparently with swim bladder disease your fish swim erratically, lose their equilibrium and are unable to maintain buoyancy.  This isn't what's wrong, because it affects mainly goldfish. Dang it. I really was hoping for some type of rare and exciting disease.  With my luck it's probably constipation.

So like any good parent or caretaker, the only thing we could think of was to quarantine him (just in case it was ick), so out from the basement came the extra 10 gallon tank the last seller "gave" to us because he was so happy to get rid of all his fish stuff. Are we suckers or what? 

We put about 3 gallons of water in it, Terry rigged up an air hose (for oxygen) and we put the needed chemicals in it - even some "cure all" drops, that were a bit dried up - but stain your fingers like green food coloring anyway.  The only thing we don't have is an extra heater.  I told Terry, "I'm not spending $15 dollars to buy a heater to try and save a $3 dollar fish." So we agreed....we would just quarantine him and if he lived that was good. If not....oh well. 

Then we had to get the fish out of the big tank.  Ever tried to catch a 2 inch fish in 40 gallons of water with rocks and plants and a frigging bridge in the way?  Well it ain't easy mister!  But as always...working as a team we tricked the little sucker into the net and hauled him out and dropped him in the 10 gallon tank.

The I took water samples to the pet store - go figure - the water is just fine.  All the Ph, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia blah blah blah is just fine.  So what could be wrong with the fish?  The pet shop owner said just put a little salt in the water and he should come out of it - but make sure you keep the temperature warm.  (OMG I am not buying a heater). 

So as I relayed this information to Terry over the phone, he said...we'll just plug in the little ceramic heater and set it outside the tank - it should keep the water warm enough (not to mention it made the the living room a sauna).  Then one of our friends came over to drop off girl scout cookies and Terry proudly showed him our little "HOSPITAL".  Frankly he thinks we've completely lost our minds. 

So... just like the Zoo on Facebook if your animals get sick from ick or constipation,  you can take them to a "HOSPITAL" or create one if you don't have one.   All you need is a little ingenuity, and extra 10 gallon fish tank.   If you need an extra 10 gallon tank, call me we have two.    

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tales from the Tank #12

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish - How many Gold Fish are too Many Fish?

You can probably already figure where this is going. In my husbands' addiction to craigslist, he is finding all types of interesting items for sale, from puppies, RV's and yes of course...FISH!

But not just any fish.  These were Gold Fish. The person posting needed to find a home that would adopt her two Ryukin Goldfish.  She had a Black Moor that was picking on them.  So the discussion started "Should we adopt them? Could we adopt them? Would they fit in with our current fish family?"  Of course the discussion lasted as long as it took me to type the reply "We will take them if you still have them".

So last night, I met the young lady who was putting them up for adoption and brought them home. They are beautiful. One is a shiny gold with a large fantail and is very plump.  The other is the more colorful black, gold and white and looks a little off balance when swimming.

I introduced them to the tank and they started to swim around their new home checking things out.  It wasn't too much longer though, when the three current residents of the tank started to chase the large gold one around.  It was almost as if they were attacking it - saying "this is our tank-you stay away".

When ran out to get pizza and some groceries, and when we came back we went downstairs to check the fish.  The three resident fish, who we'll call Winkin, Blinkin and Nod, were chasing the heck out of the gold ryukin. So the super connoisseur of the Internet ran upstairs to Google goldfish.

Apparently the gender of goldfish is a bit difficult to determine.  It has to do with fin size (imagine that), at if the fish is plump or more slender when looking at them from the top of the tank (hum...).  Apparently we pretty much dropped the honey pot of all goldfish into the tank.  When you have multiple goldfish in the tank, the goldfish being chased is likely to be female and is omitting some type of pheromone that either attracts or repels the male of the species.

Realizing this is somewhat "normal" behaviour for fish (you would have thought we learned it with the mollies), I went upstairs to put my jammies on and Terry stayed to keep an eye on the fish.  About 10 pm he comes upstairs and says, "if those three goldfish kill her I'm gonna flush them all". "She better not be dead in the morning or I'm flushing those fish".

So I jumped up, and thank goodness we had left the 10 gallon tank in Matt's room.  I grabbed a 5 gallon bucked and started putting that tank back together.  Terry said, "What are you doing?" I replied "I don't want any fish to die so I'm gonna move them back". So we got the pump and the tank going, added the chemicals and then went downstairs to the tank.

Working together we successfully captured the two most aggressive goldfish and put them into solitary confinement - back in the 10 gallon tank they've been out of for two weeks.

So much for bigger digs....

Tales from the Tank #11

Water Water Everywhere...

In the last post, you found out that we purchased yet another fish tank. A lovely 29 gallon tank to hold just three gold fish. Granted they had "outgrown" their former lush 10 gallon home, and needed a bit more room to swim in.

We got the tank all set up, applied the chemicals and planned to move the fish on Tuesday, giving the tank 24 hours to cycle the water treatment.

On Tuesday morning, Terry got up for work, went down to check on the tank and found soggy carpet.  Yep, you guessed it - water next to the tank. So when he got home he emptied the tank, moved it and re-filled it while it sat on the linoleum floor (to see if it leaks).  He pulled up the carpeting, took off the panelling, and started to dry out the basement.  I should explain:  Our basement is a solid wall poured foundation - and we have NEVER had water in the basement in the 20+ years we've lived here.  Not even during 2008 when Cedar Rapids was hard hit by all the rain and flooding.

The next day, after letting the tank run 24 hours in a different spot, it was determined that it doesn't leak. There was no water anywhere on the floor.  So two days later, once the carpet was dried out and the walls put back in place, he emptied the tank and moved it back to where we wanted it.  And filled it again.  I'm waiting for the utility company to call and say "Mrs. Schrafel, we think you have a water leak somewhere, you haven't used this much water since Jared moved out and stopped washing his car three times a week". LOL (Love you Bear).

Since the boys are both gone and there is no explanation as to how the carpet got so wet, we decided to blame the dog.  ;-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tales from the Tank #10

Calling Dr. Drew....

I admit I sometimes watch Celebrity Rehab on VH1 with Dr. Drew. Not sure why, but trying to understand how and why people become addicted is educational...and fulfills some voyeristic need I apparently have.

Last night, I realized that my husband is seriously addicted to fish tanks.  He was scrolling craigslist again and found another tank.  He apparently was holding out hope he would somehow still find a larger tank for Matt's - I mean our - Goldfish. 

So last night I responded to the advertisment for him and within a few minutes his cell phone rings.  After a few questions, negotiating the price...OMG....we are now the owners of another fish tank.  This time we did not have to move the fish...just the tank, and all the trimmings.  So last night after quick bites of dinner, here we are again, setting up yet another fish tank.

I finally told him.."WE ARE DONE!".  You have one in just about every room in the house except the bathroom, our bedroom and the kitchen.  Enough!!  "But Honey," he replies, "You could get a mini tank for the kitchen" this time all I can do is laugh. He's like a kid in a candy store and seems to enjoy it.  I do enjoy sitting watching them. It's rather peaceful -- not that I need anymore peace and quiet. I seem to recall that is what got us into this mess in the first place. Thank goodness Matt is coming home this weekend.  Maybe he'll talk some sense into us. Jared thinks we've gone off the deep end.  All he could do last night is shake his head. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tales from the Tank #9

To Boldly Go ....

After six months, fifty-two days, thirty-seven minutes and thirty-two seconds, he found it.  Had to have it so badly he ventured into the unknow world of yes....EMAIL. After scouring pages and pages of items on craigslist he finally found the fish tank of his dreams...for a price he was willing to pay.  I wasn't home to reply to the email so this man, who is now addicted to acquiring fish tanks, did it all on his own.  Boldly entering into that unknow abyss call the INTERNET.

He hates to email, he hates to text, but this fish tank was calling his name.  So he opened up his g-mail account and created his own email reply to the ad.  It said, "if you still have the fish tank, I'm interested. I don't email well, so call my cell'.  When I got home at 5pm, he said, "I think I did it right, but come check it".  He did an awesome job, but was worried it didn't go through, so he sent it again.  I checked it and told him "yes honey, the email sent, you did a good job".  Two hours later he said, "Should I send another? What if it didn't really go through?"

I replied "Terry, not everyone comes home from work and relaxes in front of craigslist.  Give the guy a chance to get home and eat dinner and look at his replies".  Finally at 8:30 he got the call.  They still had the tank, but Terry's was the first response - so it's his if he still wanted it.  So, after a few minutes all I heard was "Yippee, Wooo Hoo!!".  I'm getting the tank and everything goes with it for a mere $75.00".


Then it was "Don't make any plans for Saturday - we're going to pick it up - fish and all at 9am".  All I could say was "You better see if Jared can come and help".

After that, the investigation was on.  What's the best way to move a tank, how much of the water should we keep, do we know anything about these new fish....yadda yadda yadda.  So we borrowed seven 5 gallon buckets and bought two new ones (for the fish), made arrangements for Jared to help (bribed him with breakfast and gas (the kind you use in a car - LOL).

So at 9am we show up to get our "new tank". (Although unlike a brand new tank that you have to "dirty up", this one was already to go.  We just had to move it - UGH.)  So 35 gallons of water later, we are again the proud owners of a 55 gallon tank which is now at home in our "office", and contains 3 silver dollars (not monetary kind) about 5 inches wide, four red tetras, one red and black tiger barb and a large pleco who has become very very lazy about eating algae and cleaning up his environment. Humm..... 

The tank also came with some interesting rocks and a piece of driftwood  (OH NO - not driftwood you say?) But YES! it sinks!! it's also smaller and weighs less than the slate it's attached to. Go figure.

We hadn't quite finished setting it up when Kathi and Joel came to see it, but when Terry mentioned he didn't like the mirror on the back, Joel whips out his handy pocket knife and they pull the tank away from the wall, and before I could say...don't cut yourself - they had the mirror off the back.

We of course needed more air hose and a pump because we had to put a bubble curtain in the back, and then we needed a background, and of course more plants (I like plants).  Oh and isn't that bridge cool - plus it's on sale, and ohhhh look at that purple plant - it's 50% off and would look great under the ultra violet light when it's on at night.  Basically, another $75.00 or so later, we were up and running and the fish were back in their "home" hiding behind the new plants and did NOT want to come out an play.

So since the large pleco is lazy - we moved Hoover into the 55 gallon tank to see if (a) he can help and (b) grow and (c) so the Gold fish leave him alone (they won't let him eat an algae tablet on his own). did the heater fall off the back?  Ut Terry takes it out of the tank and says...can you wipe this off and it's OUCH...that thing is hot and then he puts it back in the water and CRACK SNAPLE POP  - the heater cracks, I see electricity and it shorts out. It was still plugged in.

Apparently you can't remove the heater from the tank unless it's cooled off and you definately can't put it back in the water once it's out (and not cooled off).

So....Happy 50th Birthday to my wonderful husband....happy fishing and may you never crack another heater.

Tales from the Tank #8

Caution: Material Contained Below May Not Be Suitable for Young Readers!
In this edition of today's update, we have successfully created a nice community of fish in the 40 gallon tank. Although we successfully added more fish, Terry kept wondering why the large male black Dalmatian Mollie kept chasing the smaller female white & black Dalmatian Mollie. After repeated questions to various fish /pet store employees, the consensus is clear:  He's just trying to "get a little" from the female in his life. Sound familiar?

Apparently having just one female to male ratio is not good in a community tank.  The male will never leave the poor female alone and according to the local pet store, the poor thing can have up to three pregnancy's at one time. YIKES!  Alas, she is getting fat we think she is expecting.  Makes sense since the male never leaves her alone. 

So it's no wonder that the other day I finally saw a baby Mollie.  So I was so excited - instead of being "Grandcats" to Jared and Ashley's Chance, we were going to be fish Grandparents. off to the pet store we went to get a breeder net.  You use breeder nets to separate the females from the males so the other fish don't eat the 'fry' before they get a chance to reach the safety of cover (such as the live plants we've added and some extra ground cover so they can hide).  Haven't seen it since, so I'm thinking the sharks had a juicy midnight snack.

Terry has been very diligent in his quest to learn all there is about freshwater fish in our tank.  Just this week he read that a 1:1 ratio is not good for the mollies. You actually need to have more females in the tank than males, otherwise the females are never left alone - which we have seen first hand.  

So off to the pet store we went....and came home with four females. Two dalmation mollies and two of the red swordtail mollies so the males we added a while ago have something to do instead of chase each other.  LOL.

A bit later, we were observing the activity and the black male mollie seemed to be swimming around aimlessly and rubbing his head against the bridge and acting weird. Terry said "I wonder what's wrong with him?". To which I replied "Well, there are more fish in the sea to choose from now". 

Apparently we are now promoting "fishing" around...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tales From the Tank #7

New Fish
Finally, after waiting a several weeks and getting rid of the "ICK" in our tank, We have been building our "fish family".  We added two dwarf male gouramis and a bushy nose pleco that we named Spot (he tends to blend in with the rocks). They have been swimming happily in our tank for a while now.  So last week we sort of went a bit overboard and added a few more. Seven to be exact. Oh yeah...and we found an 'albino' pleco we added to the gold fish tank in Matt's room (which he now insists is my tank - go figure).  We named this pleco "Hoover" because within 24 hours he had sucked up most of the algae in that tank (which was pretty nasty). 

I've decided that if we keep "smaller" fish - we can have a tank filled with different varieties of the same species or different species as long as they are of the same size and temperament.  So we went shopping.

Our little fish family has expanded to contain two swordtails (mail and female), three fancy tailed 24 karat mollies, and two bala sharks.  Terry thinks the sharks are cool. As long as they don't eat the other fish I'm ok with them.

Things must be too quiet.
So, since the tank seems to be settled and adding fish is not causing problems....we revisited the piece of driftwood we got with the tank originally.  I don't remember if I posted about it or not. But basically it's a large piece of wood with lots of character and after attaching 10 pounds of granite....still wouldn't sink.

So thinking that it just needed to be "water logged"....we filled the 10 gallon tank we had downstairs and put it inside and proceeded to let it soak for a week.  (We had to put a 5 pound weight on it to keep it in the water).

Two nights ago we decided it was "do or die" and we were going to put it in the "big tank".  So we added even more granite and I proceeded to take out some of the plants....and told Terry "if this kills any of the're next buddy".  So he proceeds to carefully put our "water logged" log into the tank and low and behold.....IT FLOATS!

We gave up.  He said he was taking the #$*@ thing out to the garage and throwing it in the trash.  I said ok and proceeded to put the plants back in the tank.  Next thing I know he's back in the house with the log, and says "throwing this away isn't good enough"..."When it warms up we're gonna burn it in the fire ring.  If it doesn't sink, it better burn"...or something to that effect.

Our next task for the tank: (1) find some type of fake log that will definitely sink...and (2) more sharks.