Sunday, February 22, 2015

Late Winter Post

It's been a warmer than usual winter for us on the Western Slope of Colorado.  This has been a nice break for us since we've previously experienced bitter cold inversions that lasted for weeks with grey sky, no snow, but arctic temperatures.  This winter though, especially for January and early part of February, we've been enjoying daily highs in the 60s and 70s.  Maybe too good to be true...

Nothing like warm sunny days to inspire us into gardening and spring cleaning around the house, is there?  I decided to start by cleaning my 3 fish tanks - 29G, 39G, and 72G.  Two of the smaller ones are on the ground floor, while the 72 gallon one sits downstairs in our basement (and I don't own those suction/vacuum device with a long hose...).  It's good workout carrying my 2 gallon bucket up and down the stairs for water change! :D  It's a pain in the rear when I have anything like foot injury. :(

Anyhow, the fish tanks needed serious cleaning on the inside glass as algae had obscured the view while I was too busy/too lazy to take care of them during the months leading up to the holidays.  I did regular water changes, and these tanks are almost 10 years (fully mature), so things are stable and no fish died or even came down with any sign of illness.  Just got unsightly. ^^;

It's kind of funny how I can be OK with green algae on the front glass for months, but once I got one tank cleaned, I just had to get the other two equally clean ... all in one day! :D  It just looks so nice when they're clean.  What really kicked me into action, though, was the busted pump downstairs.  It started making noises and it got louder and so annoying that I was ready to dish out $70 to 80 for a new one.  Once at the LFS (local fish store - in our case, an old friend of ours), the owner showed us I only needed to buy a replacement part for it for a fraction of the cost of a brand new unit. :D  For less than $15, I was able to get it fixed and running like brand new.

With the downstairs tank getting plenty of air (I used to keep goldfish, but I only keep small tropicals.), I decided to replace the old sorry pump upstairs with the same model I have downstairs the next day.  While getting a new pump, I had to go check out the fish tank area of the shop.  Saw some healthy Emperor Tetras, so I got four for my 29 G, since it had all but 3 little fish living in it after most of my Diamond Tetras had died over the last few years (From what I can find, their longevity is about 5 years, so mine lived a full life.).

My camera was set on auto-flash when I took the pic above. ^^;  But you can see the Emperor Tetras.  Although I now have a lot more in this tank. 

After adding the fish, I had to add some plants (I have both fake and live plants along with a marimo.).  This tank was looking pretty sorry after not seeing much action for so long.  I also picked up a nice Malaysian driftwood and put it in there as well.  It was fun when hubby walked into the kitchen one day while I was boiling the driftwood.  "What the heck are you cooking in here?" LOL

I've bought a marino last year on Etsy, and that one lives happily in my 39 G tank with 6 angel fish I bought from my LSF when they were 1/2 inch long.  After a little over a year, they are all about 2.5 inches in body length (not counting the tail).  Marimo was bought at about 2 and a 1/4 inch, and it's now about 2.5 inches across.  Decided to buy 3 2.3 inchers from a seller on eBay.  You can see one of them in the pic above.

I put the remaining two in the 72 G tank, but after looking at them for a while, it just seemed weird to have two green balls of the same size side by side.  I took one of them that looked rather oblong out, along with some aquarium water, and cut away about a 1/3.  Then trimmed the two large pieces to achieve a roundish shape, and gently rolled the trimmings into nano marino balls.  Now instead of 1 large marimo, I have 1 largish, 1 medium, and 15 little ones ranging from 5 mm to 1 cm. :D  I leave these guys under my desk lamp, and they start to photosynthesize, tiny pearls of bubbles appear on surface, and they float to the top of the water. :D  Cute little moss balls.  I might bring one of my unused tanks into action and use it as a marimo propagation tank.  ^_^

So I buy the stuff I can't find at my LFS online.  I like looking at stuff on eBay.  Live stuff, I tend to stay away, but I've been looking to add Java Moss, and since my LFS does not stock it, I decided to buy online. This is what I received from the seller in Montana.  I guess I should have looked more closely, especially about the location.  It's been warm here in Colorado this winter, but in many parts of the US, it's bitter cold.  It's winter after all.  So my guess is that the moss started the trip in the USPS system, looking green and healthy.  After 6 days in the mail, with no light, they just kind of lost their color.  I gently took them out of the bag in a bucket of conditioned water and gently untangled them.  Some bits of vibrant green are in there, but good 95% is dark green/almost brown. ^^;  I keep seeing everywhere that these suckers are almost impossible to kill, so I'll give them some time to bounce back and see what happens.  

Meanwhile, I've tucked some on the driftwood in the 29G tank.  This pic was taken without the flash (on the same day as the previous aquarium pic at the top of this post), so you can see the brownish Java Moss sitting on the wood.  You can also spot a little brownish spots on the marimo - I believe that is from getting blasted by direct sunlight the first morning after being put in the tank.  Owner error.  Not worried about it too much.  As I write this (Day 2 of Java Moss), it looks maybe, just slightly, greener, but it could be my wishful thinking. XD

On the other hand, my African root driftwood purchase on eBay was exactly as expected.  I'll take a pic of my 72 G tank in the coming weeks to show.  It's a beautiful piece of wood with LOTS of character, but now I feel I need to buy more! ^_^  I also bought a Mopani wood (for my 39 G) on eBay from a seller that had a WYSIWYG listing.  There are so many Mopani wood listings with stock photos where you don't get to pick nor get to see what you're getting.  I think I'd go to Petco before I'd buy blind (for the fear of getting a totally boring wood by chance).  Anyhow, the fish tank nerd is back in action! :D

The other news around the backyard.  All five chickens are now laying!! :D

Since the winter was milder this season, I didn't use the heat lamp in the coop at all.  Last year, though, we had it on once it got brutally cold - it's not fair to have temp lower than Alaska in Western Colorado! From what I've learned, chickens need 14 hours of daylight to produce eggs.  Warmer temperature also helps.  So no wonder our girls didn't lay much for the past 3 1/2 months or so!  They went through molting in fall, which is also the time they stop egg production because generating feathers requires so much protein.  Then the shorter days and colder temperature came, so no eggs!  Vanilla, our young Easter Egger, kept laying light pink eggs pretty much all winter.  I've noticed she's also the one that's up and out of the coop first - way before the rest of the ladies.

Now that all five are laying eggs, we know who lays what color of eggs. :D  We knew that Fiona laid olive green eggs and Dorito laid brown eggs.  And we also new Vanilla laid pink eggs.  I'd also seen small light brown eggs from Sage.  Imagine my excitement when I saw the blue green egg in the coop!  Mocha, whose feathers are very similar to Fiona, but with more black, lays this beautiful color of eggs.  That's got to be my favorite egg shell color. :D

We had to supplement by buying eggs at the grocery store during later fall and winter when girls weren't laying regularly.  It looks like we'll be able to start sharing with neighbors again soon!  Love spring~!!

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