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Aquarium Update #1 – Snail Tank

Posted 2009.11.09 9.05 in Aquaria by Stephanie

My 38-gallon aquarium, aka the Snail Tank, is where my apple snails live, along with some friendly fish. Not that I think people want to read all the nitty gritty details of my aquarium, so this is more or less for me, so if my memory goes, I will have something to refer back to.

The Snail Tank

There’s five apple snails in there right now. Speed Racer is my original snail, he (or she) is also the biggest. Then Big Blue, whom I am certain is a female, has been with me second-longest. Little Buddy is like a little brother or cousin to Speed Racer, and is definately male. Shelly is a pretty golden girl. And then the most-recent addition, a little golden male who doesn’t have an official name yet. I call him Munchkin though cos he’s kind of cute.

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Saturday Morning Ritual

Posted 2009.08.01 13.22 in Aquaria, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

I’m sure y’all are getting sick of fish and snails and stuff. Still – I’m enjoying it, and it’s my blob. So there.

Saturday morning is aquarium cleaning time. It might seem like a big chore at first but it takes hardly any time at all. Scrape down the glass with the algae scraper. Pull out any decorations that need cleaning (today it was the ‘caves’.) Use the vacuum/siphon to clean the gravel and drain about 25% of the water. Replace the water with fresh dechlorinated water. Rinse the ‘caves’ in the old water, wipe off the schmultz. It was time to clean the filter too, so shut it off, pull out the media basket. It was time to toss out the zeocarb bag, and the sponge seriously needed rinsing (in the bucket of ‘old’ water.) Then put it back together, sponge and bio-media into the basket and into the filter. Put the ‘caves’ back in, put the top back on, and hey presto, sparkly clean aquarium, happy fishies and happy snailies.

I pour the dirty water into the garden outside (the nitrates and organic matter is good fertilizer) and then rinse things off.  Less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Not only are the aqua-critters happy but it makes me feel good too.

Normally this would be a weekly chore but I do it twice a week. My aquarium is slightly overpopulated, and snails are super-poopers that need a lot of cleaning-up after.

But look how cute and happy they get!

Big Blue

I (Heart) My Aquarium

Posted 2009.07.30 18.02 in Aquaria, Photography by Stephanie

I’m sitting here in some partial darkness and I truly (heart) my aquarium. I love how it looks right now. I did a good cleaning last night, and added another plant this afternoon. Right now the water is crystal clear, the fishies and snailies are acting happy, and everything just looks hoopy.

Props to my sister for giving me the 23 gallon tank.  If only it were a 30. Or a 50. I’m addicted. More fish! More snails!

My Aquarium Right Now

I also (heart) my new camera. It’s super cool, and props to Kimberly for telling me something cool about editing RAW images.  Yay! Happy happy happy.

No matter how stressful work gets, my fishies and snailies help make it better. Wine doesn’t hurt either.

Cheers!

WTF is Non-Toxic Lead?

Posted 2009.07.20 16.29 in Aquaria, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Not long ago I went through a whacky adventure while trying to deal with plants in my aquarium that wouldn’t stay rooted in the gravel substrate. Lest anyone want to give me a slap and tell me that there are already products on the market that make plant-anchoring easy, I promise you I am already aware of them.

That’s the first thing I looked into, in fact – I went to my LFS (local fish shop) and tried to find a good product that would keep the plants down. There was one such product they sold. I looked at the packaging. I read it. I read it again. And then I asked, What the F***?

safelead

Click for a larger view.

The first bullet-point tells you that the product does what you want – keeps those pesky plants planted. Great!

The second bullet-point tells you that it’s safe and non-toxic. Also great! I don’t want to put dangerous or poisonous stuff in my aquarium, I like my fishies and snailies.

The third bullet-point… says it’s made of soft lead? Excuse me? Since when was lead considered safe and non-toxic?

What exactly is non-toxic lead? Is it some other metal that is like lead? Something tells me, if it was made of bismuth they’d have said bismuth instead of lead. No, I think lead is lead. It certainly is soft and would be easy to wrap around the stems, and it is heavy, so it would keep them down. But, I mean, really? If lead were safe and non-toxic, then we wouldn’t have words like Lead Poisoning in our vocabulary, our regional water processing people wouldn’t be making a big deal over Testing for Lead in our drinking water, and we wouldn’t make fun of the Romans for using lead pipes to deliver their water.

So.. how can they claim that a lead product is safe and non-toxic? Especially when you’re supposed to put it into a tank full of water in an enclosed system, and let it sit and soak in there…

I’ve sait it before and I’ll say it again – WTF?

Undo Button, Take 2

Posted 2009.07.15 7.17 in Aquaria, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Have you ever done something that started out as just a minor chore that you thought would take a few minutes and make things better, but then the further you got into it the bigger the job got? And by the time you realize it’s going to be a major endeavor, you’re too far into it and you can’t just stop or ‘put it all back’ so you have no choice but to carry on?

So I have live plants in my aquarium. I hate “fake” stuff, and just as important, live plants help with the nitrogen cycle by absorbing some of the nitrates in the water. However, I’ve been getting more aggravated with the fact that it seems nigh-impossible to keep some of them ‘planted’ in the gravel. They come loose, float around, or bits break off, or for the worst offenders, they continually shed bits that then sink, die, decay, and pollute the water.  Grrr!  Plus it’s impossible to get the gravel vacuum in around them without dislodging them all over again, so you can’t even clean up after them! They’re messier than the snails – and believe me, snails are little poop-machines with supercharged poop engines.

So I got the idea to take the plants out of the gravel, and plant them in wee little plant pots that I could fill with a substrate that is better-suited for holding plants down. Then I could put the wee little plant pots in the aquarium, and (in theory) that would hold the plants down, keep them from floating around, and make it easier to clean around them without knocking them loose. In theory.

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Say Cheese!

Posted 2009.06.13 16.00 in Aquaria, Photography by Stephanie

Getting a snail to sit still for the camera: Easy.

Speed Racer, the snail

Speed Racer, the snail

Getting a snail to wave and give you a big toothy grin: Priceless!

Big Toothy Grin!

Speed Racer, mugging it up for the camera

Speed Racer is an Apple Snail, Pomacea bridgesii Pomacea diffusa, with colour type Dark Striped Olive. Commonly sold as a ‘black mystery snail’.

(Also visible in the background is Shifty, a Zebra Danio fish.)