Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sleeping With the Fishies

Everyone who knows me, also knows that there is one, completely undeniable fact about me: I love animals. With the exception of that one insect that shall not be named, but that grows to the size of large rats in the south (and in NYC, I’m told), I pretty much have affection for all animals. I don’t scream at spiders. Find field mice kinda cute. Huge dogs get the same (often times witless, all things considered) love as their tea-cup counterparts. Horses are like heaven. Rabbits, frogs, gerbils, snakes…all of them have a piece of my total devotion.

Cats, unfortunately, cause me to experience anaphylaxis, but I still appreciate their beauty and sphinx-like behavior. I also sometimes try to touch them…even though I swell up like a fat kid after eating pounds of salted butter…just because it’s so hard for me not to.

I’m not allowed to have animals where I’m living now…except fish. So…after dealing with work, fighting with high levels of anxiety, and doing a lot of research; I finally decided to get myself a fish tank.

I decided on a planted tank for a few different reasons. For one, there’s a whole symbiotic thing with plants consuming CO2 and producing oxygen…and the fish consuming oxygen and expelling CO2. But, more than that even, a lot of the fishes’ waste products help the plants grow healthy. (And with the plants dealing with a portion of the waste…the tank stays cleaner. Yea for less tank cleaning!) Also, the plants are pretty, and their movement adds a lot to the tank. Makes the fishies happier too, ‘cuz they get lots of places to hide out.

The tank ran for about two weeks with nothing but the plants, gravel, and add-ons. (The snails quickly became rulers of the landscape.) After two weeks, I added a male and female Zebra Danio. Those two are the aquatic example of ADHD. They literally play tag with one another. I’ve tried to take pictures of them about a million times, and all I ever get is a streak of zebra stripes, or a big, fuzzy blur. Their names, btw, are Mr. & Mrs. Stripy Pants.

After having them for a week (while I tested the water every other day), nothing seemed to be spiking or freaking out at all, so I went to the store to pick up a moss ball, and a couple cherry shrimp. Both of these things made me very happy, because neither species is without its quirks.

The moss ball, while being technically a plant, is actually tight-knit algae that floats around, moving up and down depending on its need for light. It’s a really deep green, which is nice, because the majority of water plants are notsomuch of the dark green as a chartreuse. It also collects a crapload of…well, crap.

The cherry shrimp (I have since added another, giving me three) are fun because they change colour depending on how happy/stressed they are. When all is well, they’re a lovely, deep red, full of freckles and solid splashes of colour. When the opposite is true, they go a translucent clear/white. I’m happy to report that my cherries are almost always a lively red. I can’t tell them apart, and the one that came in loaded with her neon green eggs has since (I think) dropped them. I use to call her “the Mamma,” but now they all just seem to be the same. They’re fun to watch, their little legs move a mile a minute, and they scarf down food like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

Fast forward slightly. I added two ghost shrimp to help out with the cleaning of the tank, and because it’s cool to have see-through animals. One has already kicked the bucket (more on that, in a second), but the other one is doing much of the same antics as the other cherries. I’ve since learned that ghost shrimp are rarely very healthy animals, so I’m not too sure whether I would get any more…even though they are so cheep.

So…to re-group, I have two danios, two ghost shrimp, three cherry shrimp, lots of plants, some Malaysian trumpet snails. (Must be nice to be able to get your freak on with yourself. Um…er not.)

I’m super into Loaches of the bizarre variety, and my tank was starting to look a little gross, so I picked up a Hillstream Loach, and a couple Kuhli Loaches. (I asked for two, but ended up with four; only paid for two, and I’m happy now that I have the extras as they seem to like to hang out together.

The Hillstream looks like a ray to me, but I rarely see anything but it’s underbelly (as its usually stuck to the glass like this). This isn’t as boring as I might have thought, because the organ functions are visible in that way. The heart beat fascinates me. (You can sort of see its little oval heart in the picture, almost center and slightly metallic.) It’s a very peaceful little fish, and has totally done its job making sure that the sides of my tank sparkle. I call him RayMan.

The Kuhli’s are cool, because they’re very eel-like. Their bodies are long and skinny, and they shimmy like snakes when they swim around. Mostly they like hiding under stuff and hanging around. (Literally. My first week with these guys, I constantly thought they were dead. One would be hanging over a plant sort of like a limp snake in a tree, I’d go to take it out of the tank, and it would freak out, swim around the tank like a freaken headless chicken, then scurry under some gravel and peak its little head up and glare at me like, ‘Bitch!”) They are collectively known as “the Freaks.”

Finally, with my snail population starting to replicate out of control, I obtained a dwarf puffer fish. (They eat snails.) I read a lot of mixed reviews on these little guys. Some people said they attacked everything in their tanks, while others had them in with shrimp, fish, frogs, and other riffraff without problem. I figured I’d try one out, and see how it goes.

Now, the day I put in the puffer (Name TBA), I had to rush off to a baby shower for my favorite work preggo. When I got home, I had a dead ghost shrimp. (It was so weird, because it was the color of milk, with an orange face. I’d like to look into the chemical changes that caused the reaction, but not enough to do it now, for the blog.) One could use reasonable deduction to determine that the puffer ate my shrimp, and yet, I’m not too sure I should be holding the guy responsible. I mean, he still seemed to have all his legs…there was no obvious chunk missing out of him…if the puffer did try to eat him, you’d think the shrimp would be, you know, eaten a bit more. Also, none of the other shrimp have been touched, and I’ve personally seen some of the cherry’s waving their little antennas close enough to him that—if I were the puffer—I’d bite them just to get the damn things out of my face. In the words of the immortal Kuzco, “No touchy.”

In a few weeks, if all is still well, I plan to add a male/female pair of Dwarf Gourami’s. At that point, the tank will be done.
I’d like to post a bunch of pictures, but none of them are coming out very clearly. I’ll try to take some more soon…

Okay all, that’s it for now.

Love ya!
Ms. I

Quote of the Moment:
[after a slide/tackle into second base (and the woman covering second base)]

Ms. I: “Ugh, my face. I think I used it to stop sliding. I’m going to have a nice bruise tomorrow.”
BILL: “Just tell ‘em you forgot the safety word.”
Soundtrack of the Moment: Miley Cyrus, See You Again
TV/Movie Quote: Finding Nemo: “I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy. Come on, Squishy Come on, little Squishy.”

No comments: