Aquarium Update – Driftwood and Live Plants

My aquarium has undergone some major changes in the past couple of months. I’ve been constantly tweaking it to make better looking, functioning, and self-sustaining. I’ve been maintaining it quite heavily since I know the changes I make stresses out my ecosystem. I’m constantly checking the water quality, doing small water changes when necessary, and also observing my goldfishes behavior to make sure there aren’t any signs of stress.

I know a ton of people are thinking and some are also telling me to leave my tank alone. “Let nature do it’s thing,” they tell me, but as a new hobbyist, I can’t be helped! I’m learning so much that it’s hard not to give my aquarium all this attention! I’m pretty proud that my tank is quite natural as well. The only thing I add to the water is aquarium salt and water conditioner. My filtration system is made up of sponges and ceramic bio media – that’s it. I do have a few plastic aquarium decorations in my tank, but I plan to eventually replace those with something natural – rocks, driftwood, live plants, etc.

Here are the transition of my tank… I didn’t take photos every step of the way because I was always “in transition”, but these are the gist of it.

First:
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Second:

before

Third:

After

One of the first thing I did was remove the tree trunk on the right side of my tank. My goldfishes LOVED playing around it, but it has many sharp and jagged edges that hurt them. It had to go!

I also had to take out a ton of the gravel. Zoro is MUCH slower than the other two so if I didn’t put enough food into the tank to let a few of them drop to the bottom, he’d never get any. With the gravel being so large, food would easily fall through the cracks and be unreachable to my. So it, too, had to go.

A piece of driftwood was added to my tank last week and the other was added last night. I attached a piece of Anubis to the piece on the left and Java Ferns to the piece in the middle. I’m planning to add a few more plants. Maybe another Anubias to replace the plastic plant on the right and hopefully some that will float freely in the tank. Not sure what I’m going to add yet, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to grow some lilies. I’m not sure if this is possible since I have a tank cover and overhead lights, but I definitely want some plants sitting on top of the water.

I’m gonna have to take a better picture of my tank when I get home. Probably a photo with faster shutter speeds so the bubble wall doesn’t look so crazy ;P

Just wanted to do a quick lunch update! I hope everyone’s holidays are going well!

Bye :)

Christmas Mouse

For my younger sister’s birthday, I made her this adorable little mouse!

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The mouse’s tail had broken off during baking. So did it’s “waving” hand. I had to do the same thing I did with the tiger’s ear to get it to bake in the right place. I used a bit of liquid polyclay to reattach the broken pieces. This wasn’t an easy process since I had to hold it in place while it was semi-baking. It got pretty hot! ;P

I skipped glazing with Kato Liquid Polyclay with this mouse. It was too messy with the tiger and I didn’t want to go through all of that again. Although, it probably would have been fine if I glazed it after I baked it and then re-baked it for the glaze to cure… but I didn’t think about that until I had finished glazing it with the polyurethane.

I notice that the tiger came out shinier because of the liquid polyclay. I dipped the mouse in the Polyurethane Gloss finish twice hoping that it’ll make it shinier, but it didn’t.

So, a few more lessons learned from this project!

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Christmas White Tiger

My eldest sister and my youngest sister both celebrated their birthday this week and I had decided to make them a Christmas ornament for their present. This white tiger was given to my eldest sister because of her Chinese Zodiac.

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This White Tiger was MUCH harder to execute than I had planned for. When I sketched it, I had only sketched the front side. When I started to sculpt it, I realized that I had no idea how I wanted to do the back side! So… I had to improvise.

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I read that Kato Liquid Polyclay makes for a nice shiny gloss glaze so I decided to try it out. I applied it using a brush. When I was done, the left ear kept sliding off the side of the head! No matter how hard I tried to keep it in place, the side of the head was too slippery from the liquid polyclay. I don’t know what happened, but I eventually got it to stay in place and baked it. So, note to self: Apply Kato Liquid Polyclay AFTER baking and then re-bake for about 15 minutes after the liquid polyclay has been applied.

When the timer went off to signal that baking was done, I had found the tiger’s left ear had baked onto it’s body. The ear had slid down the side of the tiger during baking!! I had to pry it off and re-attach it with Kato liquid polyclay. It kept sliding off regardless so I held the ear in place inside the oven until it was stopped sliding. It was a nightmare! Luckily, the ear stayed in place during this last round of baking.

Afterwards, I glazed it using Rust-Oleum Varathan Polyurethane Gloss Glaze/Finish because it wasn’t as shiny as I had wanted.

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Overall, I’m happy enough with how this turned out. I learned a great deal from this one!

Things I Carry Daily

A friend of mine liked an article on Facebook called “Things People Carry Daily”. It popped up on my news feed and I couldn’t help but to click. Check it out here: http://nedhardy.com/2013/11/29/things-people-carry-daily-25-pics/

I clicked the link because I wanted to see if the things I carried were normal. I wanted to see how different I am from others. My favorite was the “Toronto Hooker” photo, but mostly because I thought it was creative :)

Show me what you carry daily, I’m interested in knowing! Here’s mine:

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  1. Chase Freedom Credit Card
  2. Drivers License
  3. Extra pair of daily contact lens
  4. Measuring tape
  5. Wedding Ring and band
  6. The warped ring was given to me by my mom when I was in high school
  7. Body/hand lotion
  8. Cellphone
  9. Eyeliner
  10. Compact foundation
  11. Lip balm
  12. Car and home keys

Do my items seem normal? Anything un-normal? What kind of conclusions do you draw from my items?

Night!

Light Box!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I was going to write a post on all the things I’m grateful for, but I honestly don’t think anyone really cares. Not in a, “No one cares about me, boo hoo” kind of way. Actually, more honestly, I just didn’t really feel like getting into it. I’m thankful for everything in my life. The End :)

Anyways, now that I’m stuffed with turkey… I wanted to share with you guys what I’ve been working on yesterday and a little bit of today. I’m REALLY excited to show you my process! I took photos, instead of making a video, to show you what I’ve been up to. Enjoy!

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Relentless Ammonia!

For awhile now, my water tests have been coming out consistent so I haven’t been testing it frequently. I did a 20% water change a little over a week ago and the following Monday, started my goldfishes on a new diet (http://wp.me/p1Btyv-qO). When I tested the water on Wednesday, I got ammonia readings of 1.0 ppm. This is strange because my tank is cycled and the only thing I should be seeing is a rise in nitrates. I immediately attributed the ammonia reading to the new diet. Blood worms and brine shrimps get pretty messy so I’m not surprised that it would pollute my water.

I immediately did a 10% water change. The next day, I tested the water and got the same results so I did another 10% water change. On Friday, the ammonia was still reading 1.0 ppm. So, I did a 30% water change. Saturday I fast my fishes so I’m hoping that would help with any ammonia issues. I was wrong! Sunday I got the same reading so I did another 10% water change and today when I tested it, it looked a little higher than 1.0 ppm. So… I did a 20% water change. I’ve been doing small water changes every day and nothing is bringing the Ammonia levels down!

I started to feel defeated and was worried about what would happen to Zoro, Nana, and Freddy when Chae and I leave for our ski trip. I won’t be here to do water changes! I’m grateful that my brother agreed to feed them while we’re gone, but asking him to also do a water change is a bit much! I had imagined the horrifying call I’d get from my brother when he discovers them belly up, “I’m sorry Kim, they’ve gone to Fishy Heaven.” :(

API Products

I’m not sure what prompted this, but I decided to do a water test on my tap water. More specifically, my tap water that has been conditioned with API Stress Coat+ and a tablespoon of Aquarium Salt (in 5 gallons of water). I also did a water test on the water from our RO filter.

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The results SHOCKED me. The test tube on the left is my conditioned tap water and the test tube on the right is water from our RO filter. Our tap water contains ammonia. At least I know that our RO filter removes ammonia. So, mystery solved! The reason why I wasn’t able to get the ammonia readings to go down was because I was putting ammonia back into my tank! I’m still a little mortified as I’m writing this post.

When we first set up our fish tank, I tested our tap water and only trace amounts of ammonia showed up. The results were very similar to the RO water. Our RO filtered water comes out of a small spout and it takes a really long time to fill up a 5 gallon bucket. It also gets extremely hot after about 5 minutes (or less). Since the readings were coming out similar to tap water, I decided to use tap water. Tap water comes out of the faucet much faster and the water stays cool the entire time.

If you look at the photo below, the spout to the right is our RO filtered water. Just to give you an idea as to where it’s located and what it looks like :)

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It looks like I’ll be doing a fairly large water change tomorrow. I have one 5 gallon bucket filled with RO water that I hope cools by the time I do the water change. I’ll have to pick up some distilled water from the store tomorrow. I hope I can improve the water quality before leaving for the ski trip.

New Diet for the Goldfishes

I read that variety in a goldfish’s diet will help them grow big, happy, and healthy. I’ve been feeding my goldfishes mostly Omega One Small Sinking Pellets. I would soak them in tank water for about 10-15 minutes (to soften them) before giving it to my goldfishes. Once a week I would feed them frozen blood worms. Not too much variety! I decided to take this article’s (http://tinyurl.com/mzwjqc3) advice and incorporate more variety into their diet.

Their new diet looks something like this:

Monday
Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: frozen blood worms

Tuesday
Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: baby spinach

Wednesday
Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: frozen brine shrimp

Thursday
Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: baby spinach

Friday
Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: frozen blood worms

Saturday
Goldfish Fasting; no feeding goldfishes!

Sunday
Morning: de-shelled peas
Evening: de-shelled peas

Every week day morning I feed my fishes Omega One sinking pellets. This is mostly because it is fast and easy and very little preparation is needed. In the evenings, I feed them frozen blood worms or frozen brine shrimp in the evening on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, I give them baby spinach. On Saturdays, I fast my goldfishes; they aren’t fed. On Sunday, I feed them de-shelled peas (once in the morning and once in the evening). The peas are suppose to clean out their digestive system and also help prevent swim bladder issues that are common in most goldfishes.

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My first attempt to feed them baby spinach did not go very well. I took a medium sized leaf that had a nice long stem and put it in a microwave safe bowl. I covered it with water and microwaved it for a minute. I put the long stem under a heavy pond stone in the aquarium to hold it in place. At first, Zoro, Nana, and Freddy just kept on nibbling on my hand and ignored the spinach. They didn’t know the spinach was food! When they finally did, they couldn’t take a bite out of it. They would nibble on the spinach leaf and get nothing! I later realized that it wasn’t cooked long enough and so it wasn’t soft enough for them to eat. Once we heated up the spinach longer, they were able to gobble it up!! It was really fun watching them eat it :)

I should have taken photos or a video, but I didn’t. I was more concerned that they didn’t get “hurt” while eating the spinach. There was an incident where the baby spinach leaf got tugged out from under the pond stone and Nana had the entire stem in her mouth! She was swimming around with a spinach leaf coming out of her mouth. It looked a little like she was waving a green flag around. Anyways, she couldn’t eat the stem because it was too hard. It took me awhile to catch her and pull the spinach out of her mouth. I really wished I took a photo because it was RIDICULOUSLY cute, but… I was scared she was going to hurt herself so there wasn’t time for photos.

Sorry for the lack of photos. This post was not the post I had intended to write tonight so I wasn’t prepared for it!

The post I had intended to write is here: Relentless Ammonia!