Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tales from the Tank #30


In the last couple days, we've lost two of the larger fish we have in two different tanks. Weird.

Tonight I came home and was getting started on the laundry when I decided to turn the light on the tank downstairs, turn on the Xmas music and plug in the tree.

And what to my wandering eyes should appear ? but a blue large cichlid floating nose down - stuck between the log house and the tank.  OH NO! not another dead fish?

I quickly sent Terry a text " Dead Fish - downstairs - large blue".

So I rushed upstairs to get a net - and then back down to fish it out of the tank.  I took it into the bathroom we have downstairs, and plopped it into the toilet.

OMG...he started splashing! He's still alive! I had to fish him out of the toilet!

Then I grabbed the first bowl I could find and ran some water in it and then plopped him into that. At first he started to swim upside down so then I put a little salt in the water and ran back upstairs to grab the green peas.

By the time Terry got home from his union meeting - he was gone.  I probably gave him heart failure dropping him from a warm 72 degree tank - into the icy white waters of the porcelain lake. Well, at least he got to go out with all his fins and eyeballs in tack. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tales from the Tank #29

There are reasons people who work in pet stores are "experts".

If you have been a regular reader, you know that in addition to our tropical fish, we have become caretakers of Matthew's gecko.

The other night I posted on Facebook "@ Matt Schrafel" if your silly lizard dies, it won't be because I haven't tried to feed it. 

A few seconds later my phone goes "Whoo Hoo - Somebody sent you a text message" (yep it really says that).  Matt was texting "Is he really gonna die???"

Well of course not - you know how Moms react when little ones don't eat...we panic. 

A facebook friend posted "have you tried crickets".  Well no, I was lead to believe that crickets were the potato chips of the gecko world...and full of fat...fat.. fat.

So tonight I went to the pet store. Low and behold there were two people at the lizard display and I started asking questions. (I'm good at questions).

Q1.  I have a gecko that hasn't eaten in four days. Response "Is he thin" "Does he look sickly".
 (to myself I say "don't all lizards look sickly?)

Q2. Someone recommended crickets.  Response "crickets or worms...he could be getting ready to shed his skin - when the do that they get a little lazy" (to myself I say - yeah and they have to make room in their tummy because apparently they eat their shedded skin - EWE). And people don't think the Internet is educational!

Q3. Do I really need to give him a "bedding" area under his rock? Response = It helps them shed their skin and keep them hydrated.

I also indicated that during my research,  (lizard blogs - go figure),  I read that if they drink and poop then they are "eating".  Well, I told the gals, he's been drinking - but there is no new poop...so I know he's not eating.

THEN I found out - they are not supposed to have "tap water"...too many chemicals, blah blah blah...he's been on tap water for 2 years. 

I walked out of the store with the gecko water conditioner, moss for his bedding, and 10 crickets. Then a stop at the grocery store for more "spring water". 

I warned him as I stripped the tank....ok Loki, you are getting an "extreme home makeover".

Everything comes out of the tank, I wash the green carpet, tear off some moss, wet it down (to create humidity), put the new "treated" spring water in the pot...and drop in the 10 unsuspecting crickets (and put the top on quickly).

OMG...I just gave Loki has a new nickname...Elmer Fudd.  "a huntin cricwets we will go". 
( I have video coverage...but due to technical issues...I can't get it to upload). Stay tuned.....

Tales from the Tank #28

Wiggler Update 12-06-2012

There aren't any.

By the time we decided to "separate" the babies from the parents - there were just a few left. They were so small they could get past the tank divider.

A little past the "caviar" stage for the other fish in the tank, but they were probably still a scrumptious snack!

It was still an amazing thing to watch.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tales from the Tank #27

Date: Nov 19, 2012.

Subject: Wigglers

Yep. Houston...we have wigglers. Lots of wigglers. Itsty Bitsy Teeny Tiny Wigglers.
They were on the side of the glass, and as I was watching them, the parents began to move them to a log we have in the tank that has a slight flat spot. According to our source...the parents will move them back and forth until they are free swimming to keep them away from predators. These parents are definitely working overtime.
When I got home from work, I checked the tank - THEY WERE GONE. No longer on the log, no longer on the tank...OMG did they get eaten? Bad Parents...really BAD parents.

Wait! What's that fuzzy stuff on the heater? It's the babies!  In about 12 hours they went from little clearish nothings to little grey fuzzy things hanging on the top of the heater.

Now you need to understand that during the last few days, Terry and I have been having the conversation about "letting nature takes it course" because I was not setting up a separate tank and raising brine shrimp and making paste in order to feed them.  So we now have a "gentleman's" agreement to "No heroic measures".

Then Kathi stopped by to see the little miracles.  During the course of the conversation I mentioned about the whole nature taking its course - and what did my most devote animal lover friend say?  "You've come this far - it would be a shame not to watch them grow".  Ok, so $16.00 later...so much for "no heroic measures".

So off to Petsmart I went... to get a tank divider. After the divider was in, we put the filter net over the intake valve - so the little suckers don't get sucked into the filter. 

Yes Virginia, you can baby proof a fish tank.LOL

By the time we went to bed, they were back on the log. It's so funny to watch. One parent was moving them to the glass and one parent was taking them from the glass and putting them back on the log.

I guess that's how you argue over the kids when you're underwater.

Tuesday they were even a little bit bigger - and a little more thinned out.  Hum...some of them must not have survived the tug of war their parents were having.

I must say that I thought Angel fish were very peaceful fish, gliding around, barely moving a fin...but to watch these two continually hound, pound and force the other fish - even the pleco - to stay on the opposite side of the tank - my opinion of these first time parents has steadily risen (except of course when they eat their tank mates). 

The tank is more peaceful, but the parents are still moving them back and forth - last night to the air tubing. This morning to the log and tonight back to the heater.

I wonder where the little buggers...opps I mean wigglers will be tomorrow. 

Tales from the Tank #26

Hello November 2012.

It's has been approximately one year and eight months since we began our adventure with Angel fish. 

In Tales from the Tank #15, you got to hear about how we ended up with our... oh, i don't know...third tank filled with five itty bitty little marble angel fish about the size of a dime.

Besides a couple cases of "swim bladder disease" it's been a pretty healthy happy tank.

That is  -- until now.

During the first week of the month, one of the Angels, (we'll call him Junior for this story), was discovered one morning floating on his side....again.  So in goes the "baby net" in order to quarantine him from the others and out come the frozen peas and blood worms.

After about a week or so, he was swimming fine and Terry said, "When are you going to put him back in the "general population?". Oh...soon I said.  So on November 11th, 2012, as I was getting things ready to have a few friends over (can you say Mary Kay?), I found half a fish.

Crap.  If you are faint of heart - skip this part.  When I say half a fish, I literally mean half a fish. There was just one side of his "skin" left even with the empty spot where his eye would go.  Sick right?  I've decided that all fish are carnivorous - especially when you're weak or sick.

I quick grab the net and "fish" it out (pun intended) and of course - flush it, all the while I'm ticked off for putting Junior back in "general population".

Then last Sunday Jared came over and I dont' exactly remember why we were looking at the tank, but Jared noticed this white spots on the glass.  He said "those look like eggs".  To which I replied "no way"....it's probably some kind of weird disease thing knowing my luck."

Then Terry gets down on his knees at eye level and starts really looking at the stuff.  Then he says, "Junior isn't gone....it's the Smokey one that's gone".  Low and behold, he was right. I assumed it was Junior that was eaten - but some how the pretty smoke colored angel we had gotten at the last auction (a "breeding" pair), had been eaten and I didn't even miss him. Geez.

So right away we ran to the computer and googled "what do angel fish fry look like" and low and behold there popped up about a gazillion videos of Angels and their fry. 

After watching a few videos, we diagnosed the little white spots as actual Angel fish eggs. Yep. We have entered into the twilight zone of Tales from the Tank #15, where I said I did not want to become an Angel fish breeder.  So for the last few days we've been watching this amazing miracle take place.

When the eggs are clear, those are "viable". When they are white - they are not.  At about day five they start to develop "wigglers" where as the fish grow, they eat part of the egg sack and they begin to look like a little tadpole stuck to the side of  whatever and wherever the parents put them.

Since we hadn't noticed when the fish laid the eggs, I told Terry, according to the video - worst case scenario is that we are day four and they will begin to hatch soon.

I hate it when I'm right. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tales From the Tank #25

As I sit here playing my gazillioth game of Bejeweled Blitz, and people are liking the post I just put on Facebook, I realize I haven't posted any new "Tales From the Tank".

To be philisophical, one could think my posts are about life within the five fish tanks we have, or it's about life within the "Tank" that keeps us warm and dry during the rain and cold weather....(ie: our house) LOL.

But little did you know that a year ago (during Christmas break)  Matt decided to buy a "spottled gecko" (two actually).  I tried to talk him out of it, I really did - but as a parent you know this just might be one of those "lessons"you have to let happen.

Afer break, Matt took my two new "grand-geckos" back to school with him.  This last spring I got a panicked phone call at work. "MOM! - I think there's an egg in the tank".  (oh wait - I forgot to tell you they live in a 10 gallon FISH tank).

Apparently it's just as difficult to "sex" geckos as it is fish - so you never really know what you're getting.  So I ask "How's it feel to be a parent".....? He replied, "I don't have time for this, I can't take care of three! What am I going to do?"

I told him, find the pet store in Oskaloosa, they'll take her or him (deciding which one you keep) in -and her/him a new home as an adoptable pet.  "Will they buy him"? he asked.  "No Matt, they can only buy from reputable pet breeders. You will just giving her/him up for adoption". 

"Well, what do I do with the egg"? he asked.  Being the ever-thoughtful Mom, I said "Flush it down the toilet. That's what we do with the dead fish". 

So when summer was over, and I went to Pella to move him from the rental house back to the dorms, he said, "With football camp starting, I need help with Loki (the name of the gecko). Can you bring him home and take care of him for a couple weeks"? 

Being the ever-thoughtful and considerate Mom I said "Sure".

So for the last few months, we've been taking care of our grand-gecko. Switching the daylight and nightlight, filling his water dish, cleaning up his poop (just like the dang dog), filling his water dish and giving him worms.  Geez....he eats a lot of worms for such a little guy.

I am thankful though...at least it's not diapers and formula. I think DHS would have a word or two with me if I kept a baby in a fish tank.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tales from the Tank #24

Today's post contains material that may not be suitable for all readers.

We will begin with the definition of the word FISHKILL. From Answers.com: Mass death of many fish, usually in a restricted area.

Well, the restricted area is a 40 gallon fish tank positioned in the corner of our living room.  I can't say that it's been a "mass" death although we've lost about six or seven fish total.

Apparently, when you don't stay on track with regular water changes (ie: become LAZY) - your tank may become "unbalanced" where the nitrates are too high and the Ph is too low. This can cause the death of your fish. We've lost about six of our Kenyi African cichlids (see photo), one electric yellow and we're pretty sure an Auratus, because we can't find her.

Last Sunday we finally cleaned the tanks (yes all the tanks), and then Tuesday we found another dead Kenyi.  Then on the morning of the 4th, we found a dead electric yellow cichlid - and a carcass (you know part head with a little bit of skin left). So I called the pet store and they were open (for a little bit) - so we hopped on the motorcycle and took a water sample out to the pet store (which is how we found out about the unbalanced tank).  It was recommended to us to do another 50% water change and add some organic coral (which is a natural Ph balancer) to the rock bed.

We were told to rinse it really good, because no matter what it will turn your water milky. (Which is a complete understatement). When we got home we emptied the tank of all the decor, and then Terry added the coral.  We then had to work in the dark (I mean milk) to place the decor back in the tank and then wait for the filter to do it's job in clearing the excess stuff.

So far so good....no more dead fish.

Oh I forgot - we have a pleco in the tank but you can never see him. So when we emptied the tank we shook all the decor to see if he would come out and he never did.  When we got back from the pet store- he was in the bottom of a the 5 gallon bucket (in about a 1/2 of water) - so at least he didn't die.  I have figured out that even though the fish are fun to look at (peaceful and serene) - there is just not the same emotional attachment to them like you have with a cat or dog.

After all, you can't flush your dog.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tales from the Tank #23

Princess and the Pea

It's been a while since I've actually written anything down - until now...

This past weekend Matt was home from Pella. He stays down there during the summer to work full-time, hang out with other guys on the team and weight lift.

On Sunday morning, he walked past the tank that has our Angel fish and yelled "Mom! Why is this fish floating on it's side?".

I rushed out of the office and over to the tank and reached in to touch the fish. It looked as though it was having trouble breathing and it's little tummy was really bloated - but he was still alive.  So I yelled for Terry and he came running upstairs.

 "I bet he has swim bladder disease since he can't do anything but float on his side. I said "I don't really want to flush him while he's still alive - that's like fish murder. What are we going to do, the extra tank is still filled with the baby cichlids" "Go get the baby net" he replied.

I ran (the house isn't that big so it's really a fast walk) into the other room, found the little net we use to separate the brand new babies (so they don't get eaten), and put the sick little Angel fish in it.  As I was doing this, Terry booted up the computer and started his research.  He said we need to put a pea into the net with him.  "A pea? Really?"

So I went to the freezer and low and behold...NO Peas!

Well, we were going to HyVee anyway for stuff to grill - so I would pick up some peas.  Off to the grocery store we went (Matt and I).  Came back with some steaks, and a sweet potato for Matt.  Let me digress here.....Matt works at the HyVee in Pella and is always calling me to say "have you tried a Pomegranate yet", or a Ugli fruit, or etc. You can imagine my surprise when he wanted to try a sweet potato.  If HyVee would employ kids when they are 2-3 years old - no kid would ever refuse to eat their fruits and vegetables! LOL.

When we got home, and I unloaded the bag of groceries, Terry said "Where are the peas?". CRAP.
I totally forgot to buy the peas.

I got home and Terry said we have to warm the peas in our hand so we can pop the pea guts out of the skin - so I did.

Monday morning he was still swimming on his side. Then Terry said one of the articles he read said they hand feed their Angel fish since he couldn't swim down to the peas.  So I reached in to hold the fish - not an easy job mind you - and feed smashed peas into a fish about the size of a silver dollar with a mouth the size of a pin head.  Really?  Yes. I did. Even worse, Terry got a toothpick and was trying to hold it's mouth open while I force fed peas to an Angel fish. OMG.

Tuesday morning...he was still swimming on his side.  So I just squished a couple more peas into his net.  I figured the fish has to be like the dog...or a kid. If it gets hungry enough, it will figure out how to eat on his own. 

Wednesday morning - he was swimming right side up. Go figure. The moral of this short story?

If you are feeling a little upside down and bloated - eat frozen pea guts.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fish jokes...from my Sister...

The Blonde's Goldfish

A blonde gets carried away at a pet shop and ends up buying over a hundred goldfish. When she gets home she finds that there are so many of them that the
only place she can keep them is in her bathtub. One day she invites her friend over to see all her beautiful goldfish. The friend is impressed and remarks, "They surely are beautiful, but what do you do when you want to take a bath?" "Oh, that's not a problem," the blonde replies, brightly, "I blindfold them."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Barbs' Sunday Adventure

Another One Bites the Dust

On Sunday morning my phone rang. Kathi asked me if I wanted to go horseback riding. My reply, "YOU BET!"  She said, "Be at our house at 11 am, we're going to Matsell Bridge".  (Please note: I've been three other times).

Then I called Terry (who was busy being a great provider and working), and asked if he cared if I went riding, to which he replied "Heck no, why would I care?".  I left Matt (still home on break) a note explaining where I went and that he needed to 1. empty the dishwasher and 2. fold the bath towels and put them away.

When we got to Matsell Bridge park, we met up with seven of their friends. As Joel and Kathi got the horses out of the trailer, I did what I could to help, but sometimes it's best if I just stay out of the way. LOL 

I never used to think I was short, but I either need a stool to get up on the horse, or somebody has to give me a boost. (Must be the lack of upper body strength). The sad thing is I was on Prince, who is a bit shorter than either of the other horses... Go figure.  I must say being outside in the early part of January with just a few layers on a bright sunny day is sometimes just what you need after being cooped up in a office cubicle all week.

Over the river and through the wood, to all kinds of clearings we went. The horse knew the way to carry me that day, through the brush and fallen trees. (yes..you know the tune, and yes I'm taking liberties with the words). 
Over the river and through the wood, wow! all kinds of trails we found. The horse knew the way to stay with the pack, except when the log was too tall to cross. 

Yes, this is where the bright sunny day takes on an ominous hue....apparently Prince did not want to cross over the log and wouldn't take or didn't like the gentle nudging to move forward. Now, if you've never ridden before let me give the first most important lesson of the day. DO NOT pull back on the reins very hard or very many times. Whys that? Well, a gentle tug back will tell the horse to back up.  A hard pull on the reigns is a bit like being choked from behind and they just don't like it.
As I, the inexperience rider started to panic, Joel began to yell, "DON'T PULL BACK", but it was too late. 

Yep. I pulled back on the reigns...and apparently that's horse talk for put your front legs as high in the air as you can and then the person choking you will fall off your back and that will be it. 

Apparently I landed between a couple trees, leg on one, head on the other. Joel's sister (who thankfully is a nurse), ran over and said "Don't move"....then gently started making sure nothing was broken, told me to open my eyes, and follow her finger...and wow was the sun bright. First thing I said...."I don't suppose any of you got that on film did you". Which must have meant my brain wasn't too rattled cuz I didn't lose my sense of humor.

So I gently got up, sat on a log, got some water and ibuprofen (gee...does this happen a lot?) All while the guys were trying to make Prince (who really didn't want to step over the log) finally step over the log. 

After about 20 minutes, they brought him over to a little rise and I got back on.  As we started back on the trail I said, "Wow, now I know what it really means to "get back up on the horse".  


Friday, January 6, 2012

Tales from the Tank #22

UmmUmm Good!
 (click video while you read)

When we started becoming aquarium hobbyists....little did we know that eventually we would be opening a fast food restaurant. Really? you ask. Why of course - but we didn't realize it until a few weeks ago.

Did you know that sharks and catfish are Ominvores?
Although the term omnivore literally means "eater of everything," omnivores really cannot eat everything that other animals eat; they can eat only things that are moderately easy to acquire while being moderately nutritious. For example, most omnivores cannot live by grazing (not nutritious enough), nor are they able to eat some hard-shelled animals or successfully hunt large or fast prey (difficult to acquire).1

As you know a month or so ago, we moved our community fish to a 55 gallon tank (that's when we lost the clown loaches).  Then we bought a couple new fish for the tank, Golden Gouramis, and some extra red Surapine Tetras (cuz they like to school).  

Low and behold....one by one our fish began disappearing.  Yup. Gone. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. No bones, no floating carcass....not so much as a spec of tail fin.  So that's when we decided it must be the sharks - or maybe the catfish we NEVER see (he feeds at night).  Sharks ALWAYS get a bad rap. Doesn't matter that there are at least three or four fish in the tank that are about 4-5 inches...the catfish has a pretty big belly. 

So we are down at least seven fish...so I see a shopping trip in my very near future.....I was thinking some of the $0.13 cent goldfish to distract the big guys when I put in the other kind of fish.  One can only hope right?

1. wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnivore