Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Delay in Fish Shipping

Well this has been a bad day.  My two new butterflies were supposed to arrive but they didn't, and I have no way of knowing when they will get here.  Last night I got their QT tank all set up and running in preparation for them, and then this morning I woke up early in case they arrived early in the morning.  By the time 2:00pm came around, I was getting nervous.  Then 4:00pm passed by and I knew there was a problem.  So I called USPS to inquire into the whereabouts of my package; I was still holding out hope that they might arrive today.  I was told the package would definitely not arrive today, but they had no way of knowing where it was or when it would arrive.  On the phone I made it clear that these are live animals that are pretty much priceless to me, and I asked if there was any way to at least find out where the package is right now.  The customer service representative didn't care that the package contained live fish, and he was not helpful at all.

I'm in disbelief that this is happening again.  Yes, again.  I have gotten lots of fish in the mail before, but I have only used USPS as a carrier twice (this being the second time).  You might remember that in my previous post I mentioned a white butterfly telescope that I bought in 2011, and it was mailed to me through USPS.  Well just like this time, they messed up and the shipment was delayed by two days.  The box was marked all over with "live fish" but apparently that didn't phase the USPS workers.  That white butterfly arrived dead, along with the red butterfly that was in the same bag.  The only fish that survived from that shipment was the black butterfly, who was bagged separately.  I think being bagged separately is what made the difference between life and death for that fish.  Even though the two butterflies bagged together were very small, I can only assume they ran out of oxygen during the extended shipping and suffocated. 

You're probably wondering why I chose USPS again after that first bad experience.  Back when the first incident happened, I heard from others who used USPS many times for live fish without any problems.  So I figured my incident was just a fluke and not likely to happen again.  And who knows, maybe both of these incidents are flukes, and I'm just a really unlucky person.  I'm still hoping that the fish will show up alive, but I don't know what's going to happen and the suspense is killing me! 

Just to be clear, I am not faulting either of these goldfish sellers in the least.  In both instances the sellers did everything in their power to rectify the situation, even though the error was on the part of USPS, and I am very grateful for that!

Here's the QT tub; all set up and ready, but no fish.  :(



Monday, November 26, 2012

New Fish on the Way

I'm excited to announce that I have two new fish on the way!  They are butterfly telescopes; one is all-white and the other is red and white.



I have wanted an all-white butterfly telescope ever since I first started keeping goldfish a few years ago.  I bought one from Rain Garden in 2010, but unfortunately I was still very much a newbie to goldfish-keeping, and I lost her due to my stupid beginner mistakes.  Then in 2011 I bought three small butterflies (one of which was all-white) from a seller on the Goldfish Keepers Forum.  Sadly, the shipping service made a mistake and the package took longer to arrive than it should have.  As a result, the white butterfly and one other butterfly were already dead upon arrival.  It was the first (and so far, only) time I've ever had fish arrive dead, and it was really awful.  So all this time I've been keeping my eyes peeled for white butterfly telescopes, but I couldn't find many offered for sale, and when I did, they were not quite the quality I was looking for. 

It was just a happy accident that I happened upon this white butterfly.  I contacted a seller on aquabid about some red/white butterfly telescopes he had listed online, and I ended up discovering that he had a white butterfly available too that wasn't listed!  So I bought the white butterfly and one of the red/white butterflies.

This is super exciting because; 1) it's the first time I've gotten new fish in over a year, 2) I will finally have butterfly telescopes again, and 3) I'm finally getting my coveted white butterfly telescope!  I love my ryukins of course, but butterfly telescopes have always been my favorite type of goldfish and I was looking forward to the day that I would have some again.  Hopefully shipping will go as planned and they will arrive in good condition.  I'm tracking them online and right now they're in a sort facility in New Jersey, and expected arrival is sometime on Wednesday.  Until then, I'll be preparing their quarantine tank and waiting in anticipation! 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Decorating Your Goldfish Tank for Christmas

While decorating your home for the holiday season, why not decorate the fish tank too?  Here are some ideas to get you started!

For Inside the Tank
As always, choices for decorations inside the tank are limited because you need to make sure the decor is safe for your fish.  Goldfish in particular tend to be pretty clumsy swimmers, so avoid anything with sharp edges and rough surfaces.  Also remember that hollow decorations are not ideal because water can become stagnant inside them.  With that in mind, here are some aquarium-safe decor ideas!

Flat Glass Marbles
For a quick and easy pop of festive color, I like to lightly scatter some glass marbles on the tank floor.  For Christmas choose red, green, and/or white colors.  Whether you have a bare-bottom aquarium like me, or you have substrate in your tank, these glass marbles add accent colors that really help establish the theme of your decor.













Glass Decorations 
There are many different types of home decorations made of glass.  As long as they are solely glass with no extra paint, glitter, or anything on them, these are aquarium-safe.  Peruse your local thrift stores to see what glass treasures you can find!  Santas, reindeer, Christmas trees, and snowflakes made of glass would all make great aquarium decorations!  I found some solid glass Christmas trees and some hollow glass Christmas trees at my local thrift store.  The hollow ones can be made more aquarium-friendly by putting something heavy inside of them so they sink, sealing them with aquarium silicone, and allowing the silicone to cure fully.  This seals the glass decoration up tight so that you avoid water getting trapped inside it and becoming stagnant.  Alternatively, you could consider drilling small holes; one at the base and one at the top, of the hollow ornament and placing an air stone inside it.  This will allow water to flow freely through it continuously.  Please take extreme caution when attempting to drill holes in glass objects, and if you aren't comfortable drilling glass, then either get help from someone experienced or do not attempt it.  When in doubt, opt only for solid glass decorations. 
Solid Glass Christmas Trees:


















Hollow Glass Christmas Trees:


















Christmas-themed Decorations Made for Aquarium Use
As we near the holiday season, some pet stores may begin carrying Christmas-themed tank ornaments, and any of these would be fine for your aquarium.  As always, take care to stay away from sharp, rough, or hollow ones.


For Outside the Tank
This is where we can get a little more creative because decorations outside of the tank pose little to no threat to the health of your fish.

Fake Snow and/or Frost
Avoid using spray-on fake snow on the outside of your tank because it's not a good idea to spray aerosols near the aquarium.  Also, it may be difficult to fully remove from the glass when the holiday season is over.

If you want the fake snow look without using spray-on snow, you can opt for a roll of cotton fake snow.  This can be cut in pieces and assembled together on your tank to resemble rolling snow-covered hills.  Or you can wrap the base of your tank with the fake snow.  The possibilities are endless!

To get that frosty window look on your aquarium glass, you can actually use epsom salt!  Epsom salt is non-toxic and can be found in the pharmacy department of many stores.  All you need to do is dissolve some epsom salt in hot water, add a little bit of dishsoap, allow mixture to cool, and paint it onto your aquarium glass (on the outside of course).  As it dries, the epsom salt forms crystals that resemble frost on windows.  After the holiday season is over, the glass wipes clean with a wet rag. 
Here is my video tutorial that shows how to do this:



Window Clings
Window clings can be found in a wide variety of Christmas themes, and they also come in either gel or vinyl forms.  Use snowflakes, santas, Christmas trees, snowmen, or any number of Christmas-related window clings!  If you are DIY inclined, you could also make Christmas-themed cutouts with construction paper and tape them (using an easily removable tape) to the glass.

















Christmas Stockings
For a personal touch, you can buy or make some miniature stockings for your fish!  They can even be customized with the names of your fish either by using fabric pens or by stitching with thread (as I have done).  Then just hang the stockings from either the tank or the tank stand.  Here are my handmade stockings.


















Get Creative!
Get creative and see what else you can come up with to decorate your tank this Christmas! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Stockings for My Fish

Okay, so I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet and nobody wants to think about Christmas, but I have already been brainstorming about ideas for my Christmas-themed tank decor!  I thought it would be super cute to have miniature stockings hanging on the tank with Clover and Callisto's names on them, and today I made it a reality!  I hand-sewed a couple of tiny stockings out of red and white felt, and then I stitched on their names with green thread.  I like how they turned out to have a handmade and cutesy look!  I also picked up a few more items for my Christmas-themed decor, but I'm going to keep those a secret until the big reveal.

I think I've reached a whole new level of obsession. 



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nerite Snails Update

My two nerites have been doing a pretty good job of eating the algae and diatoms in my tank so far, but in the big picture, they still haven't really made much of a dent yet!  It's been really fun seeing their little bite mark trails all over though, and that tells me they are working away at it.  I ended up scrubbing the algae off the front glass for a better view of my fish.  Then a week later I scrubbed the algae off the bottom too, since I noticed the snails never really went on the bottom of the tank anyways.  My ryukin Clover sometimes rests on the bottom when he's sleeping at night and since I wasn't scrubbing it clean regularly, he started getting little red spots on his belly.  It was nothing major, and it has already cleared up thankfully!  So from now on I'll be cleaning off the bottom and front glass panes and leaving the rest for the nerite snails. 

I noticed that the zebra nerite in particular had spent a few days cleaning off the overflow box and then one of the filter outflow pipes.  But the second outflow pipe hadn't been discovered by the snails yet, so it was just covered in thick diatoms.  It was driving me crazy!  So finally today I picked up the zebra snail and placed him on the diatom-covered outflow pipe.  He got to work cleaning it right away, and within a few minutes he had already cleared off one corner of it!  These snails sure can eat a lot! 
















Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Vet Switches from Fish Bowl to Tank

When I brought my puppy to the vet about a month ago, I noticed a little fantail goldfish in a 1 gallon bowl on the reception desk.  I didn't say anything to them at the time because my puppy was being difficult and I was too preoccupied.  But since I was a new client, they sent me an online survey to fill out later.  Perfect opportunity!  At the end there was a comments section, so I briefly explained why goldfish shouldn't be kept in a bowl.  I included links to this blog and my YouTube channel for more information, and I also offered to help them if they decided to upgrade to a tank.
Well to my surprise, they actually did take my advice and even took me up on my offer to help!  They called me and asked lots of questions about setting up the tank, and today I went over there to help them out.  I brought some cycled media from my established tank, an extra air pump I had, and a sample of Saki-Hikari goldfish food for them.  They were so appreciative and a couple staff members even mentioned the possibility of setting up aquariums in their homes too!  I'm really happy that now all their clients will see an example of a properly cared for goldfish when they visit the office!  :)  This also lets me know that this vet office is a great one, since they so clearly care a great deal about all pets, even fish!  Here is their website: North Shore Veterinary Hospital

Here is their fish, Betsy, in her brand new spacious home!  She was so cute and active, happily swimming laps in her new tank!