Wednesday, July 15, 2009

send in the clowns

Pair of Clownfish And by clowns, I do NOT mean another round of plumbers or bathroom renovators. In this case, I actually mean clownfish. Like these little guys pictured here. I bought a tank recently off a friend of mine who was getting out of the hobby. I bought it, put his freshwater fish into my livebearer tank, and converted his lovely acrylic 55 gallon tank to saltwater. I've had it up and running with nothing but rocks and sand in it for a month now, to allow all the right kinds of bacteria to dig in to the rocks and start converting nasty fish pee into harmless fertilizer. Did you know that fish tanks are basically composting toilets? I betcha didn't know that. Next time you meet an aquarium hobbyist, or even a conservative with a goldfish bowl, you can mock them for being freaky environmentalist tree-lickers with composting toilets. Because I know that's the sort of thing you all like to do.

Tonight, I put my first fish into my new saltwater tank: the two clownfish pictured here. They're supposed to be pretty hardy, so they ought to survive my learning curve. As a trained environmental engineer I know a thing or two about water chemistry, and so I always sound like I know what I'm talking about. I needed to bring up the pH of my tank water a little bit, and I seriously considered using baking soda, but then I remembered that I have no idea how much would be required and I didn't know if it would leaven my fish so I went and bought a pH buffer from the fish store. I still laugh about the bottles of "pH reducer" that pool stores sell for $25 each, when you can get a jug four times the size for $5 at the grocery store if you're willing to carry around something labeled Muriatic Acid. The contents of the two bottles are the same, but there's something scarier about toting a jug-handled plastic container with a skull and bones symbol and the word ACID in large letters on the front. Anyway, for all I like to adjust the pH myself with real acids and bases, I wound up with a very expensive little bottle of powder that looks precisely like baking soda tonight. My inner geek is probably going to compute the molarity and molality of baking soda solutions tonight while I sleep so that I can be freed from the tyranny of pet shop chemistry supplies.
Coral Banded Shrimp
I also got a little shrimp to keep the rocks and sand clean. If I can keep him safe from my shrimp-gobbling family, he should fit in nicely. His picture is a little blurry, but you get the idea. I'm something of a giant Amazon, being the size of the average dude, basically. So when I say that without the shrimp in my diet as a kid on the Texas coast, I'd have stopped growing at five feet tall, that's saying something. This particular shrimp has giant freaky claws that make him look a little more like a crawfish than a shrimp, so maybe he could defend himself if my dad came over to visit and got peckish. I dunno.

Last but not least, since I spent the last two posts blah-ing on and on about my bathroom renovation project, I figured I'd post a picture of the finished product. Hooloovoo Bathroom Here is my shiny new bathroom! Rose just noticed that I didn't pick on her at all in this post (since I read it to her on her way out of the office). In fact, I owe her credit for all the photography here. She picked that blue in the bathroom, and I have to say I like it a lot, even though I always want to refer to it as a "hyper intelligent shade of the color blue" just to see who remembers their Douglas Adams.


Anonymous said...

Is that Nemo? He's a twin? Was that in the movie?

Thalassa said...

Rose has been calling them Nemo and Marlin (the name of Nemo's father in the movie). I don't know if I am down with that or not. :)