Tropical

Today I decided to pop to one of the reliable aquatic shops and look at tanks and was looking at a nice tank, but the sales guy Graham told me of another tank that was £50 more, but it was bigger, the filter heater and lighting was better, and all round a better-looking tank. I had a good look and it was rather stunning, so threw caution to the wind and bought it. I could have gone for shaped tanks, corner tanks, and orb ones, but decided to stay traditional.



I built the cabinet this afternoon, placed the tank on it and added the river sand, but need to get more for it as 10 kilos does not cover much. Everything is in position, so tomorrow I will go back and get some more river sand and 100 litres of RO water, then when home mix with another 100 litres of tap water, then leave all the equipment to run for a few weeks until it has fully cycled and all the levels are perfect. When this happens, I will remove about 20 litres of water and add 20 from my current tank to the new one, and let cycle for a few days and then move all the fish over.

Once this is all done then the hard work starts with the old tank. I will need to do a full clean of both the tank and the glass sump, get rid of all the stones install plastic “egg box” grid to support the rock features, add ocean sand, live rock, RO water, and more equipment. I also need to replace all the sump media too so it will not be cheap, but when it is done it should be stunning. I estimate it will take about 4 to 6 months to get it perfect, but I am more than happy to go slow, get it right, and most importantly no lose any livestock, anemonies or coral.

Once I have transferred the fish to the new tank I will post some photos, and of course, write about my experience of building a reef tank.

Marine

This week I went to the aquatic shop and got a few more fish for my large tank, and whilst there M and I had a look at all the marine fish, coral and anemones. What an incredible sight it was to see. I have visited this place many many times but never gone into this side as I had no reason as my tanks are all tropical. However, M decided to go and have a look, and when I had purchased my livestock called me through to have a look at some of the fish. As I mentioned, they were amazing, and it started me thinking again about setting up a marine reef tank.

The large tank I have was originally a marine reef tank of my Mum’s, however, I decided to use it for tropical. So, with that I have been thinking of getting another standard tank and putting it in the hall next to the spiral staircase and transferring all the fish to this, then cleaning out my reef tank and setting it back up as it was originally intended. I have found a few tanks that I like that come with cabinets. Some great bargains too, but wouldn’t you know, out of stock. I am going to visit a few of the aquatic stores to see what is available. I am not going to rush things either as the fish are perfectly happy in their home, so there is no need to make decisions in haste that I may regret at leisure.

Watch this space, who knows where this may go.

Not Today Satan, Not Today…

Or words to that effect.

I have a few aquariums about the house, and one was a small one by my desk.  Within this where all my baby fish and other small ones, very cute indeed, and added to that was rabbit snails, apple snails, cherry shrimp, wood shrimp and a large Cameroon shrimp.  However, there was a problem, a big one.

I got up and turned on the day lights to this small tank.  I have automatic lighting on the other tanks, but this was a little cheap one.  For some reason the day before the water was too warm, so I turned down the thermostat, but this day I checked again and the water was too cold, so I reset the temperature to 28c, which is optimal.  I went out and within two hours M called me to tell me that the water was literally boiling and lots fo the contents were dead.  He worked fast to get the water temperature down by removing hot and adding cold but it was too late for most of the tanks inhabitants.  9 fish survived and the rabbit and apple snails survived along with the Cameroon shrimp, but all other life had expired.  To say I was gutted really does not cover my feelings.  I had spent hundreds of pounds on the livestock, and much more to get the tank looking good including bog wood with plants woven in the gaps.  Unfortunately, when I put the live plants in pond snail eggs must have been on one and they multiplied at an astonishing rate.

So, the heater had failed, it was not that old, about 2 or 3 years old and was a good brand.  As I had a few survivors I needed to get a new heater, but I was not fond of the tank as it was awkward to get into due to the lid, so I got out one of my other tanks, this one is a large cube on a plinth, and set that up, complete with new expensive heater, new plants, stones, ornamental sea rock and new livestock.  As I have tanks that are already established I used the water from them to stock three-quarters of the tank and topped up with fresh along with the other tanks.  Doing this meant that I did not have to cycle the tank for a few weeks to establish.  I also added water from the tanks that held the livestock at the fish store, so all in all when I tested it, it was perfect.  Thankfully.

In the new set up I have added guppies, mollys and platys.  I did get a few wood shrimp and the old Cameroon shrimp are in there.  I have seen some little frogs that I may get, but it is early days. and I do not want to go too fast with stocking it up.  Also, one of the female mollys is pregnant.  I will post a few photos when I added more.  But, so far so good.

Natural Food…

bowl_beef_squareMy regular visitors will know that our dogs are our lives, we quite literally live and breath for them.  When it comes to food, the same applies.  Years ago we did not know any better and thought that the leading brands of dog food were the best, and as such we always fed our dogs the top brands, along with dried kibble.  However, there has been large-scale campaigns, adverts and other media surrounding what is really in dog food.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the food that we were feeding the dogs was good, but when you look at the composition of it, it is meat/animal derivatives, lots of grains and, alarmingly things I would never give my dogs.  Lilu who was the first dog we had together, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, supposed to live only to 12, was 17 when she passed away, so we were doing something right.  She was given lots of other food apart from standard dog food, including tuna, salmon, cod, fresh meat, vegetables etc.

With the new campaigns, we have looked long and hard at what we feed our dogs which coincided with us getting Mazakeen.  We have moved from the so-called top foods that contain stuff we do not like to feed them, to a natural diet.  We have always fed the dogs both wet and dry food, let’s face it, no one would like to eat just dried food all their life, therefore we mix both.  Today I have taken the next step in the process and have been cooking kidney, rice, sweet potatoes and carrots to add to the store bought natural foods that have to be a minimum of 60% meat/poultry/fish the rest vegetables, minerals and vitamins, and gluten-free, oh yes, no derivatives, just propper meat etc.

Mazikeen is not the best eater as being an English Springer Spaniel, they are not food obsessive.  When training her I have been using 100% natural treats like sheeps lungs, squid, pigs intestines, tripe and other stinky dried items, and she loves them, but with her dinner, she’s never too interested, unless we make it into a game, or have Harper sit next to her and tell her that we’ll give Harper her dinner, and put the bowl next to Harper when disinterested, then Mazikeen eats.

Today was a triumph as I mixed some steamed rice, sweet potato carrots and some kidney in a dish with Scottish salmon oil (both have always had the oil for their coat and joints) and put it down for Mazikeen.  I have never seen her finish her food so fast in all her life.

As Mazikeen has had lots of protein in her diet she has always been very active, and of course, puppies need lots of it, but we are now adding more bulking foods to her dinners as she is very slim, and at six months she needs to put on size now.  Every four weeks I have taken her to the vets to see the puppy nurse for weigh-ins, check-ups and worming treatments, and she has put on weight each time, but I think she is still skinny.  Maybe I am used to large and bulky dogs rather than slender ones, but my 48 years of having dogs tell me that she is skinny, and it is not just that she was the smallest of the litter.  On saying that, if I was to run about as much as she does I would be skinny too, but alas I am not.

I have bought lambs livers for the next cook-up and will be adding more sweet potato, carrots and peas along with some rice for starch.  But I have also been perusing the internet for recipes for dog treats and other delights they will love, and at this rate, it may become a full-time job.  I may post some of the recipes I make if people are interested.

Sweater, Fish & Other Updates

It has been a very busy week, not only with the pup but I had to go to the dentist in the next village and the heart and chest hospital for tests on my heart which was an hour drive each way (not that I mind I enjoy driving).

I have managed to get some knitting done, and have finished one sleeve and have started the next one which so far is just the cuff and a few lines (13cm).  Once this sleeve is finished I then have to do the neck then sew the lot together, which will be fun.  Then the best bit, wearing this bad boy.  Today, I decided to do some more, but then I had an urge to carry on reading one of the novels I am halfway through called “The Dynamite Room” by Jason Hewitt, so down went the knitting.

The pup has turned into a vampire dog that’s in fast forward mode all the time.  She is not the first puppy we have had, so we know the drill, but it is amazing how in three years you forget all the sleepless nights, biting and cleaning up you have to do.  She is learning fast, she uses the puppy training pads 90% of the time, with the odd accident, or just plain missing the pad.  I think she is getting used to her name and she seems to respond to it, or the fact that she just responds to our voices, who knows.  I can get her to sit on command if she thinks she is getting some kibble but all in all she is just a wild animal.  We have managed to get her to use her crate.  All our other dogs have loved being in their crates whilst being puppies, but Maz just did not like it.  Yesterday I read online an article about getting puppies to change their minds about being crated.  We moved it to the lounge and put her lounge bed inside along with some toys and put in a few treats.  Popped her in and as she could smell the treats she started to search for them, once eaten she lay down all snug waiting for more.  The article stated that the crate should be a place where nice things happen, so I closed the door and popped kibble though to her, this was a great game and she loved it.  Not to panic her I opened the cage door again and there she stayed.  Later she was in and out, and when she was knackered off she went into it.  Bedtime though was a different story and she was not too interested in staying there, so she slept on the bed again.

We received Mazikeen’s five generation pedigree certificate yesterday too, so now need a frame for it.  It was interesting seeing all the details and that all her ancestors are champion gun dogs, she will be letting the side down, but I know that a lot of her siblings have gone to working homes so the line will continue.

Yesterday and today I have taken Harper out on long walks, just the two of us.  Yesterday we went all around the forest and walked about 5 miles.  Today we only managed 3.5 miles as we were walking along the streets, so there was nothing exciting for her to see or investigate, apart from saying hello to the odd dog out walking with its human.

Since Friday I have been in a fight with Amazon.  I have an Amazon Echo unit and three Echo Dots, and the large Echo kept falling off the network, and I would have to go through set up time and time again, it got to the point of having to do this five plus times a day.  I called them on Wednesday, and the guy said he would send out a new one, however, on Friday what arrived was a refurbished unit.  I called Amazon and the guy blatantly lied to me telling me it was a brand new unit until I pointed out that it stated refurbished on the box and had no cables, instructions or other things that should be in the box, and the outer sleeve that should be in it was not there either.  He backed down after I insisted he was lying and that I would now go to trading standards as they have to exchange like for like, i.e. a new one not a second hand one.  He then told me the only option was for me to send both units back for a full refund, and I could buy a new one if I wanted.  I told him that I just want him to replace it with a new one that works as per the guarantee.  He insisted that was not an option.  I told him that they were now breaking the law and I will report them for this on Monday, and I would shame them on social networks and go as far as I could.  He told me he would then go and find out what he could do and call me back, needless to say, he didn’t.  Now my problem with having a full refund and buying another one was this; I bought the unit on Prime Day, so got it for £79.99 rather than the standard price of £149.99, so in essence, I would lose £70 in purchasing a replacement.  I had told him this and he was not interested.  After a few hours I called them back again and spoke to a lady who agreed that the unit needs to be replaced with a new one, and decided that she would give me a £25 credit towards a new one, and when I send the old unit back would get a full refund of the price paid.  I decided to go with this as it seemed to be the only solution to getting a new one and left it at that.  Then in the middle of the night, I woke and thought, they are going to give me a refund of the price I paid back on Prime Day so I would be £45 down.  I decided to email them expressing my concern and telling them that I had spoken to a solicitor friend and wanted full confirmation as to what will happen when I get the new unit and send the old one back and that I had already sent back to refurbished/second-hand unit.  His answer was confusing:

“I understand that you’ve been charged for the replacement item. I’ve checked your previous correspondences with us and seen that one of our colleagues had provided you with two options. One is issuing a 25GBP promo using which you can purchase the order again and the other being issuing a full refund in the amount 149GBP once the order is shipped to your address.
In this regard, I’d like to inform you that since the order is still on the “Shipping soon” status we don’t have an option to issue a refund for this purchase. As soon as the status changes, we’ll issue a full refund for the order.”

He gave me the order number associated with the latest unit and said I would get a full refund, so I am happy with it if it works out like that.  But this was not the end of my arguments with Amazon.  I should have had a dog whistle and a book delivered on Friday, but for some reason, they never arrived.  I called again and asked where my stuff was.  I had ordered them on Wednesday and the screen stated delivery Thursday, but as soon as I paid for the item it said delivery Friday.  The lady apologies for this as it was bought with two hours left for next day delivery, and as for the missing package, she said that she would monitor it and if not arrived by 9pm she would schedule delivery for Saturday.  Surprise surprise it did not arrive on Saturday either, so today I had to call them over this again and told the lady to cancel the order immediately and give me a full refund on a gift card so I could reorder the items for delivery tomorrow.  She put me on hold for a few minutes and then told me she was refunding me in full to my bank and it would be there in about 4 days.  I quickly tried to interrupt her as she had not done what I had asked and in the end shouted at her as she continually talked over me.  I reiterated that I wanted it as a gift card so that I could buy them again for tomorrow delivery, she sighed and put me on hold again, then when coming back said she had done as I requested.  An hour later the money was on the gift card and I purchased the items again.  However, not content with the service and the fact that this is the 10th order that has been “lost in transit” I emailed them to say how pissed off with this particular delivery office that has lost all 10 packages, and broken one of my items.  I accused them of stealing the items as they are tracked and the barcode scanned when they are put on the van, so how in hell have they been “lost” from the van.  They have a delivery schedule that tells them which item to deliver next so it has to be on the van or stolen, there is no other way it could go missing.  For my efforts, they apologised and said they would investigate this despatch office to see why things are going missing all the time.  My partner has also lost many packages too.

My final chore of today was to clean out the sump for my aquarium.  Those of you who have been following my blog and read about my “Wet Project” will know that I have put a lot of work into building quite an advanced system and balanced environment for my fish.  Cleaning out the sump is dead easy, but, and it is a big but, I had live baby fish in there.  They had been born in the tank, managed to get into the weir and then taken a death-defying ride through the drainage pipes into the sump.  I thought there were only a few, but over an hour of watching and catching them, I ended up with over 30 babies, and have now put them in one of my little tanks in the kitchen to grow and thrive before putting them back in the aquarium.  One final thing that has stumped me with my aquarium is that my reedfish has vanished.  I have checked the weir and he isn’t in there, or in the giant Inca head or the Inca temple, and he could not have escaped from the tank itself as there is no way out apart from the slide doors on the top which are closed all the time, and if he had managed that he would be on top of the tank and could not have got off there as there is a surround that is 6 inches high.  He could have made it through the pipes from the weir to the sump, but he was not there either.  Total mystery as he was there on Thursday.

So that’s the week so far, and I get to do it all again from tomorrow.