Monday, January 23, 2006

Yea, fish!

I inherited a fish tank from a co-worker of mine. This was several months ago, and I was very excited at the time about starting to keep fish. Unfortunately for the fish-keeping hobby, my life got busy. I kept intending to do some research, find a fish store, figure out what parts I was missing from the pump apparatus, set up the tank, stabilize it, research fish, buy fish, acclimate fish, cycle the tank... and I got overwhelmed. Plus, there was a fair (>$100) investment involved, and I could never squeeze that into the budget. It just didn't have enough priority.

Anyway, thanks to Dad (he rocks!) I had a little Christmas Cash burning a hole in my pocket. As luck would have it, I had a Saturday in my own hometown this weekend. It was the first time since well before Christmas, so I decided to be lazy at home most of the day and run a few errands, like getting my oil changed. I tried to get my oil changed, but the wait was obnoxious (3 hours before they could start on it!) and I didn't want to sit on uncomfortable lobby chairs reading for that long. So I headed back home, but I had to make a loop around the mall parking lot to get to an exit that would actually let me out with a light onto a useful major road, it being a Saturday afternoon and all the sheeple being out jamming the roadways leading to the mall. As I looped, I noticed an aquarium/fish store (called, simply, "The Fish Place") that I'd never seen before. I knew there was supposed to be one in the area, but it was kinda tucked back into a strip of small stores along the fringe of the mall, so I'd simply never encountered it before. I had a bad experience with the first aquarium store I tried, the employees there were woefully ignorant of aquarium equipment, and it really sidetracked my initial enthusiasm. I literally knew more about my tank gear than the employee who was trying to help me at the first store, and all my knowledge came from idly poking around two beginner sites on the internet.

Anyway, moving along... I went in to The Fish Place, with my DaddyCash burning a hole in my pocket. I was thrilled to find myself shopping a wide selection of not just kits but actual bits and pieces of hardware that I could customize my tank with. That was exactly what I needed, because I had some bits from kits, but some bits were worn, broken, or missing. The employees (not just one of them, but all of them!) were friendly and knowledgeable. They listened to me when I explained in lay terms what pieces I had, patiently explained what I possessed, what it was for, what else I needed and why, and helped me choose the right sizes and brands of bits to work with my tank. I ended up having to go back the next day for a few pieces that I missed, and even though some of the staff were different, and the store was very busy, they were friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient in assisting me. I'm so stoked to have found a place like this!

I had a friend come over and help me rearrange furniture in my office so I could set the tank up. Thanks, K! She laughed when I explained that I'd planned out the furniture arrangement by making a scale model of my office and my furniture, but everything fit where it was supposed to... As I explained to her: when you live alone, and you're longer on brains than brawn, it makes sense to make a scale model so you can try out arrangements on paper before you go shoving furniture around.

So I set up all the tank gear and I'm very proud of myself. I did it all in the right order the first time! I dug up a power strip so I could supply my tank with all the Little Green Men it takes to run an air pump, water filter, tank heater, and lamp. I put some seed bacteria stuff in the filter, and let it just run. Today, the water is cloudy and rather green. I guess that's the seed bacteria and algae growing and getting worked into the bio-filter. I'm supposed to wait a week or so and then take a water sample to the fish store, where they'll test it and advise me. Hopefully, I'll get myself some fish soon! For now, I'm enjoying the sound of water falling into the tank from the filter. It's soothing...

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