Saturday, December 26, 2009

Santa was good to me! (OMG - She's Alive!!!)

Sometimes... Life just gets in the way!

Been extremely absent, I know. Ahhh, the Joys of Middle Age! One of those chapters they conveniently left out of The Handbook was the one about how your parents, at some point, turn into children that must be cared for.

My mom's been in and out of the hospital three times in as many months, and that has taken a LOT of time (and created a LOT of stress). And since I really don't want this blog to be a place for whiney-stuff, I've pretty much set it (the blog) aside.

Good News Is: Mom is on the mend now. But, having had the stuffing knocked out of her, she's got a LONG way to go to fully recover (and it's debatable whether she ever will recover fully, unfortunately). But she's getting ready to come home and we're all hoping things will continue to improve...

Too much "stuff" has transpired in the past several months to even begin to bring things up-to-date, so I'll just Fast-Forward to now :-)

I am embarking on a New Project. And we know how I loves me a Good Project! And it gives me a good, solid excuse to blog. So that's a good thing (I think)!

Okay, maybe a *little* background/digression is in order here:
Part of all the Goings-On while mom was sick, was me trying to find *some* way to relieve my stress. And while I was at the local pet store, picking up a bag o' dog kibble, I wandered into the aquarium section and hit on the "Brilliant" idea of buying myself a fish tank because staring at fishies is kinda relaxing, right?

Now I used to keep freshwater tanks when I was a kid, and I didn't recall that it was all that difficult. And the Pet Store had a 2.5 gallon aquarium "kit" for cheap. And a MONDO-COOL Tacky Tiki Sculpture! So, after confirming that the Tiki would fit in the 2.5 gallon tank, I bought them. A tank, tiki sculpture and a red Crown Betta fish who I dubbed King Frederick I. And a few itty-bitty Neon Tetras (whom I'd named 1,2,3 4 & 5).

King Frederick I - R.I.P.

Welllll... There's an amusing/sad/sick story that goes along with that. Seems I'd forgotten about the "Cycle the tank before you add fish" part of aquarium ownership. I also ended up deciding (rather quickly) that 2.5 gallons was a little too small. So I upgraded to a 5 gallon all-in-one tank. And my 2.5 gallon - which was destined for eBay - got converted to a Hospital/Isolation Tank.

It ended up being a Hospice Tank as poor King Frederick I died a very slow, agonizing death. I tried EVERYTHING (within reason) to save him. I surfed the internet and learned WAAAAAY more about Betta Fish than I ever thought I'd need to know! And between duplicating my tank setups, and buying assorted chemicals, medications and whatnot, I figure I spent close to $75.00 trying to save a $7.00 fish!

I watched him decline over a period of several days. Poor guy just laid on his side, on the bottom of the hospital/hospice tank, gasping for whatever it is that fish gasp for. Getting duller and duller until he was almost white.

At one point, DH berated me for allowing him to suffer so. "Can't you just scoop him out of the water and put him out of his misery? This is agonizing to watch!" And I burst into tears "I CAN'T KILL FRED!!!"

In the end, King Frederick I gasped his last gasp, and he got the Royal Flush...

So much for aquariums reducing stress, right?!

(I was telling one of my colleagues my Sad Tale and she suggested that maybe an Aquarium Screen Saver might be a more reasonable alternative!)

In retrospect, I suspect that Fred I was probably sick to begin with. Armed with my newfound knowledge of Betta Fish Ailments, and looking back at pictures I'd taken when I first got him, I think he had parasites because he was rather pot-bellied from the start...

Undaunted, shortly after Fred I's demise, DH and I headed back to the pet store and picked out a Delta-Tailed Blue Betta. He's iridescent blue with red streaks on his fins. Actually rather pretty - to tell ya the truth. Although he blends-in a little too much with the Neon Tetras (of which I only have 1 & 2 now). Anyway, Fred II is thriving and quite full of himself. Whenever I approach the tank, he flares his gills like he wants to fight me!

King Frederick II (Alive and Well)
(Corey the Cory Cat in the background - also alive and well!)

Oh, and I don't feed freeze-dried bloodworms because they cause constipation in Betta Fish (who knew?!!).

So annnnnnyyyyyywaaaaaaaayyyyy... The latest tank, an Eclipse 5 gallon corner tank (all-in-one) is doing just fine now. Fully cycled and all my numbers are in line. I did have a bit of an algae-bloom, but I'm treating that chemically. Anyhow, all is well and all tank inhabitants are doing just fine. That would be Fred II, 1 & 2 (Neon Tetras) and Corey the Cory Cat.

So I suppose *this* is the point where Aquarium Ownership would provide the Stress-Relief I so desperately craved, right?!


Yes, I am a Glutton for Punishment! Not only do I want a bigger, better tank. But I want to upgrade to Saltwater. Not only do I want to do Saltwater, but I want to do a REEF Tank!

During the Holiday Season, Rog and I have this thing where we maintain Wish Lists on Amazon. And anytime I see something that piques my interest, I can add it to my Amazon Wish List using the Universal Wish List button on my toolbar - even if it's not sold by Amazon. It's a pretty cool gadget, actually (and no, I don't get kick-backs for posting it!).

So first I stumbled onto this Aloha Tiki Aquarium. That link, BTW, is the cheapest price I found. I thought that was the coolest thing since sliced bread (since I *love* kitschy tikis!) so I Wish-Listed it. But then I got serious and decided I'd much rather have something suitable for running a Reef Tank. I consulted a friend/colleague of mine and he has a BioCube 29 Reef Aquarium. So I ended up Wish-Listing a Biocube 14.

Long Story Short (too late!). Santa brought me a BioCube 14 and I am Happy as a Clam (get it?!! Clam?! Aquarium?!! Arr Arr!).

Actually, it's pretty cool. No, it's EXTREMELY cool! I actually did maintain a 10 gallon reef tank about 20 years ago, in my apartment (Gawd, did I just say 20 years ago?!! Sh*t I am OLD!). And this was "back-in-the-day" before anyone coined the term Nano-Reef. In fact, back then, it was generally believed that you couldn't run a saltwater tank unless it was at least 50 gallons. Things have come a long way since then and the newer tanks are a WHOLE lot easier to setup and maintain (she says hopefully delusionally).

So I'm surfing the Reef Tank Message Boards and emailing aforementioned Reefer Buddy. There are quite a few modifications that folks have done to their BioCubes and I am hoping that I can set this thing up right - the first time!

My PLAN (hahahaha - don't hold your breath!) is to document my tank set-up here. I've already joined a couple of Reef-Tank message boards, so there *might* be some copy/paste action going on, but the general idea is that I'll post here about how things are progressing with the new Reef Tank Project!

I do loves me a Good Project!

So the status right now is: I've taken the BioCube out of it's box and removed the Bioballs (apparently they attract detritus which can cause nitrate spikes). I've ordered a media basket that will make it easier to tweak around with different types of filtration and not make TOO big of a mess! I also dug out an old TV/Stereo stand that seems to work just fine, size-wise, for the BioCube. That'll save me $100 (which will undoubtedly get spent on OTHER tank gear!). I need Rog to beef it up a bit by cutting a piece of plywood to cover the back, and I'll probably put a coat of sealant on it (b/c the rack itself is probably made of particleboard!).

Old TV stand - now a tank stand (excuse the dust!)
(and the mess - it's the day after Christmas!)

HA! I also have to re-decorate the living room. I want to move the 5 gallon tank to a corner b/c the Reef Tank will now take center-stage in the living room.

So basically there's no water in it. No nothing!

I absolutely DO intend to cycle the hell out of the tank before I add anything to it. It's one thing to kill a $7.00 fish (even spending $75 trying to save it!). It's another thing entirely to kill off several-hundred-dollars' worth of sealife (Trust me, the cost of the tank is probably the CHEAPEST part of setting up a Reef Aquarium!). I intend for the tank to be mostly corals and invertebrates, and maybe a couple-three fish...

So anyhooooooo... That's the Latest 'n Greatest! Hopefully this will evolve into something remotely interesting. Hell, maybe even educational!!!

Stay tuned for updates! :-)

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