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More Tetras
New Fish - Corys
Someone Set Up Us The [Electrical Storm]!!
Fish Tank
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February 21, 2008

More Tetras

Kristin and I were finally able to track down more tetras on the other side of the city tonight, so after getting lost and turning around several times, we finally cleaned out the cardinal tetra stock at the 2nd petsmart in nashville. Now there are none in like a 30 mile radius. jeeeezz they are hard to find sometimes. But they are cool little suckers.

Fish are very sensitive to their water conditions, and these fish are kinda sensitive in particular. Sudden changes in things like ph, chemical composition, temperature, hardness, and cleanliness can stress fish out, even if its a change "for the better." So its best to slowly adjust the fish to their new water.

The most commonly-suggested way to do this is to float the bag that the fish come in at the top of your aquarium for about 15 minutes and then add the fish. The theory here is that the temperatures will be equalized and that is the most important part. That may be true, but it is a much less than perfect method. The water can be heated by the florescent lamps and this method does nothing to adjust for chemical differences which can really freak fish out. If they aren't used to the water chemically, they can have a hard time breathing (through their gills, ya know?) and that's not good for anybody.

We did this last time with our cardinal tetras and the fish had a rough time making the transition. A couple of them actually were belly-up for a few seconds before they came to. Not what you like to see.

We found a better way of doing it. You put the fish in a small quarantine container and slowly take out some of the old water and replace it with the new water. Badda-bing, badda-boom, your fish are a WHOLE LOT LESS FREAKED when you add em.

After we added the new guys, they immediately started schooling with the old guys. They're super-cute. There's one guy, we call him "Lemon," he's the littles of the bunch and when we added him, his dorsal was clamped down a bit, and he had like no red or blue/green color - he was all pale yellow. In like three minutes though, he started getting some color back and perking up. He'll always be little Lemon, though.

Oh, and here's some more pictures of the corys feeding.

See the one in the front here?

That one's ol' blackeyes. Or blackie. He seems to be the smartest, least psycho of the bunch. All the other corys will be freaking out, swimming up and down the side of the tank, and blackie will be eating excess food off the log. Good ol' blackeyes. What a good fish


That's all I got for now. The [submersible] fish cam will be coming soon[-ish].

Posted by pedalboy at 12:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 14, 2008

New Fish - Corys

We added four more fish to our tank... slowly, we'll have it fully stocked. The four new guys are cute little Corydoras (C.trilineatus). They are little catfish-like schooling dudes that come from peru and ecuador. Here's what one looks like:

Cory close up

The pet store had them incorrectly labeled as Corydoras Julli, but they are apparently commonly mislabled this way. When we first put them in, for the first few days, all they did was swim up and down and up and down along the right side of the tank, like a dog chasing its tail. They were acting all crazy.

They've calmed down a bit now, and spend most of their time looking for food along the bottom, or on the driftwood, or on plants.

They scurry about very cutely. And when they get spooked (which happens easily, sensitive little dudes), they kinda play dead.. they just go real still along the bottom of the tank and wait it out for a bit. kinda neat i guess.

all four corys hanging out

Anyway, for those of you who are actually nice enough to have read this far, i've got a little treat for you, i think. Assuming it works, I've posted a video of me feeding our tetras. They zip and zoop like crazies when there's food in the water... its pretty cool. Check it out.

Posted by pedalboy at 11:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 11, 2008

Someone Set Up Us The [Electrical Storm]!!


My recording computer bit it. I suppose I got off easy, though, when you consider that the same storm that ripped through several states in the south, killed several people, and leveled homes only managed to fry some components in my again Athlon 2800 pc. Especially since Kristin and I were driving home that night in the exact location of the tornadoes... I'm glad that we're all safe and that nothing else got fried.

But still - now I'm faced with a dilemma: how much money is prudent to sink into a new computer? I don't think it would be wise to throw a lot at trying to figure out exactly which component(s) is/are fried in the old one, so I'm going to have to build a new one. As usual, Digidesign (the makers of ProTools, my current recording software of choice) has some pretty specific requirements for pc components and chipsets, etc... ruling out the most cost-effective alternatives. I want the thing to perform well, and hold up under stress (for the relatively few but critically important times I do simultaneous recording of 16-odd tracks of audio), but I don't want to sink huge gobs of money into what is essentially a rapidly depreciating asset.

To complicate things further, i might as well take this opportunity to attempt to build a much more quiet computer. Doing so on a budget is a bit tough, but i'm looking into coolermax "silent" power supplies, a particular WD harddrive that silent pc review recommends, a heat-sink-cooled video card, perhaps a fan controller, and no overclocking anywhere on the system. I think that should bring about a dramatic reduction from my current fuzzbox of a computer. I'd really like to swap out the 20 inch CRT i'm still using for a 20 inch widescreen lcd, not only because they are much more awesome, power-efficient, etc, but because CRTs emit electromagnetic interference, which gets picked up by my guitar pickups ALL THE TIME. I end up recording with the monitor off half the time. Its a hassle. But i'm not sure i can convince the wife of the necessity of that purchase just yet.

So I'm looking at a Core2 Duo, perhaps an Allendale, even... 2 gigs of ram (initially), and a 250 or 500 gb WD drive, and a crappy-ish pci-e 16x 256 meg video card. But even with this spec'd down system, things are still not exactly "cheap."

I've also got sourcing issues: NewEgg has a warehouse in TN, so I would have to pay the nearly 10% state sales tax on the system if I ordered through them. I'm considering TigerDirect as a substitute. Does anyone know of any other good alternatives?


Of course, due to this minor hiccup, the "song-a-week" project is on hold indefinitely. I still have the sessions for the music I was working on safe on a grand total of three hard drives, so no data has been lost - yet.

Posted by pedalboy at 3:33 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 6, 2008

Fish Tank

[WARNING: If you're not interested in reading a sorta long and maybe boring story about how kristin and I set up a fish tank, you may want to skip to the bottom of the post to see some neat pictures. If you remain undaunted, you may proceed...]

Kristin and I decided we needed a pet - but a really low-maintenance one. My dad has a fish tank with two beautiful discus in it and when we were home, we always liked to look at the fish happily, gracefully swimming around. So - we decided fish were for us.

There are a number of reasons for this. Next time kristin and I decided to randomly leave for a week or so, the fish may not even need food, and if they do, there are automatic feeders. Kristin and I are also Zoo Nerds (we're members of the Nashville Zoo and hang out there now and then. We also have buddies in our cubbies), and like learning about the natural world. I'm sort of a science geek. So a fish tank (which is more-or-less a small ecosystem) is an interesting thing to learn about. It's not as simple as just dumping fish in (see the nitrogen cycle, for instance), so its perfect for those of us who are still interested in a little science now and then.

We settled on a 55 gallon tank kit from Walmart. It's actually a kit made by Marineland, a respected name, and just rebranded for Walmart. The kit included a filter, heater, thermometer, lid, lights, and some small packets of dechlorinator and food to get you started. Pretty nice kit.

Of course, take into account that water weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 lbs per gallon... And you realize you've got to get a fairly heavy-duty stand for the sucker. So we bought a nice black stand. Another chunk of change.

Then I heard from my dad that I could get like 30% anything from this online store for a while, so I loaded up on supplies from them... We actually were able to score an upgraded filter, usually $70-$80, for $30. This was a good score.

We bought some books and read a ton on what fish go with what, what kind of water certain fish like, all about the nitrogen cycle, beneficial bacteria, planted aquariums, and the like... Ph, hardness, buffering, diseases, water changes, and the like. I like to thoroughly research my hobbies :-)

We set it all up, put in a mixture of plain gravel and plant substrate (flourite) in the bottom, and bought some mopani wood (like driftwood, but does not decompose. a two-color dried african wood), and planted some aquarium plants (Amazon Swords and Java Ferns). We ran the sucker for a few days, and then it was time to get some FISH!!!

There were a couple options for us... We really liked my dad's Discus fish, but we also read about this one particularly awesome kind of fish called Oscar Cichlids. They are cute in a very homey sort of way, with huge mouths and a mixture of drab and bright colors. They get to be over a foot long, and are very inteligent social animals. They recognize their owners, wagging their fins when you approach. If they get bored, they'll tear apart the decorations in teh tank and rearrange them to their liking. Some of them even like to be petted. They can live to be 8 years old. They're like a small dog - albeit one that has to be kept underwater all the time. We really kinda wanted one, but a 55 gallon tank was a little small for them (we couldn't really put any other fish in it), and we will probably be moving at some point, perhaps selling our fish, and it would be hard to find someone willing to take such a large pet-like fish at the last minute. So we decided on discus. We'll have an Oscar at some point, though...

Usually discus aren't recommended for beginners. But my dad did it, and Kristin and I probably do a lot more research than most beginners, so we figured all would be well. We started to think of what kind of fish to stock with the discus. Turns out they really like to have schools of cardinal tetras around - it makes them feel relaxed. We decided to start stocking the tank with some of those. Petsmart only has four at a time, pretty much, so we bought them out. They are about an inch long, and grow to be up to two inches.... So these four tiny fish have this huge tank to themselves currently. Lucky little guys. We'll be buying a few more tomorrow, to bump up the size of the school.

I've been doing water testing nearly every day to check for buildups of ammonia (to track the progress of the tank's cycling) - but there is just not enough fish in the tank to register anything on my tests yet... However, somehow the ph jumped .4 after it got in the tank... The water is also cloudy, due to the fact that the substrate we used needs to be washed just ridiculously well (and we only washed it well). I think the two are related. The particulate in the water could be adding to whatever the ions are that make a high ph, and once i get the cloudiness down, with more water changes and gravel-vac'ing, the ph should come back down too. As the water comes out of the faucet, its 7, but the tank always reads 7.4-7.6 - this is pretty high for both discus and cardinal tetras - so something's gotta come down sooner or later.

Without any further ado, here are some pictures!!

Fish tank, no fish.
Fish tank all set up, no fish yet. Note the cubbies at top left.

Cardinal Tetras by the Java Fern
A couple tetras, hanging out by the Java Fern. The Java Fern is currently tied to the mopani wood with string. The string will keep it in place until the roots take hold.

another shot of a Cardinal Tetra
Another shot of our cute little Cardinal Tetras. Soon there will be a whole school of these suckers in our tank.

Posted by pedalboy at 11:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack