Skip to content

The not-so-pretty side of aquariums

Every day I learn something new about some aspect of fish keeping so I’m constantly changing my mind about how I want to set up my tank.  I think that’s the fun part about this hobby.  The planning and possibilities.

The one aspect that I didn’t consider (until now) is how terrible it is to keep fish.  They’re shipped from all over the world.  They’re captured from the wild and many die in the process of getting to your home.  Or they’re raised in a farm and fed a diet of other fish that are captured from the wild or raised in a farm.  They’re kept in tight quarters.  They’re loaded up with antibiotics and antifungals due to the overcrowding.  Then if they’re “lucky” they might end up in a somewhat comfortable tank that will never be big enough because whatever your tank size is will never match the Amazon River.  Not to mention the amount of electricity and water to run the show. All in all, it’s not a great thing for the planet or for the fish.  Any pets really aren’t good in general.  I’ve made my peace with this though because I really enjoy having pets and I want to do something selfish.  Still, I’ll do my best to minimize the impacts and resources and just be cognizant of these factors.

With that in mind, I researched which fish are farm raised and I think I’d rather stick to those fish.  I know it’s not as simple as farm>wild but I think I’m more comfortable with the idea.

Current plan:

  • 29 gallons
  • Substrate – Pool filter sand
  • Hang on back power filter with fishless cycling
  • Plants: Anything easy to grow.  I’ll need to add plant tablets for fertilizer since I’m not using flourite.
  • Possible fish –
    • Acara cichlid
    • Angelfish pair or Dwarf ram cichlid pair
    • Corydoras (4 to 6) – panda, aeneus, adolfoi
    • Gold algae eater

Maybe obsession is an understatement

Maybe what I have is a case of crazy.  It is 3:30 AM and since dinner I have rearranged the furniture for the gajillionth time to try to find a suitable place for an aquarium and then spent the next 7 or so hours reading aquarium forums.

I have been taking photos of our entire place in the hopes of finding that perfect corner.  Literally trying to picture it.  Last night before falling asleep, I figured it all out in my head.  I even managed to find a spot that’s hopefully big enough for the 29 gallon tank.  Originally, I thought I only had space for a 10 gallon which would make it a nano (supersmall) tank that can barely hold anything.  And by anything I mean cory cats.  I want cory cats because they’re cute.  Like little mice in the tank.

So after getting second and third opinions and even trying to poll an unsuspecting coworker who has no idea what my place even looks like, I have finally got it all figured out.  It involved moving a bookcase, a nightstand, a coffee table, two lamps, the couch, some plants, the dining table and chairs, a large mirror, and an end table, to get the 29 gallon tank in here, but it fits and I plan on picking up my tank and equipment this weekend.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to figure out the substrate situation.  I want about a 2″ foundation where I can grow aquatic plants and that will provide a nice visual effect. Originally I was planning to use Seachem’s Flourite Black Sand.  But after reading Planted Tank’s forums, I’ve learned that blasting sand that you can get at hardware stores or pool filter sand is much cheaper and just as good.  But then I considered the cleaning issue – it’s hard to vacuum sand (as opposed to gravel) and the sand could clog our drains, so now I’m back to gravel.  Supposedly, cory cats like sand.  I’ve read that sharp gravel can cut their barbels and I’ve also read that it’s not true.  There’s non-sharp gravel, and I’m leaning towards that.

I’m also browsing around for aquatic plants.  I have no idea what to avoid or what’s easy to grow.  But one thing I don’t like is the ubiquitous presence of snails and other cling-ons that come with the plants.  The last time I tried to bathe my anacharis to get rid of the cling-ons, I killed it.  I don’t know why anyone would bleach their plants.  That’s a death sentence.  I learned today that a saltwater bath would do the trick.  I’ll try that next time.  There are also aquatic plants that are cultured meaning they’re raised in air in a gel medium and they don’t have any buggies on them.

I’m so tired right now I can hardly think straight.  This is a sickness.

Obsession Revival

I got re-bitten by the aquarium bug.  I was discussing watering house plants and how fish tank water is the best stuff and then BING! I started thinking, maybe I don’t want chinchillas.  Maybe I want fish.  Then it was South American fish!  Tetras!  (Aquatic) Plants!  Power filters!  Substrates.  I even rearranged the plants and furniture again to make a corner where I might put said fish tank.

Current plan:

  • 10-20 gallons
  • Flourite black sand
  • Hang-on-back power filter
  • Sponge filter with air pump (Maybe)
  • Aquatic plants – java moss
  • 4-5 Peppered Cory Cat
  • 2 Dwarf Gourami
  • Ghost shrimp (10 to 12)





It’s Autumn.  Woohoo.  I’ve been waiting for pumpkin spice whatevers and the mild temperate weather.  I have 2 kinds of pumpkin beer (ACE pumpkin cider and Pumking) chilling in the fridge.  I just went to Trader Joe’s and got canned pumpkin and a jar of pumpkin pie spice.  And the weather is actually acting like the season.  I’m ready to make my seasonal clothing swap this week.  The A/C has been off for 2 or 3 weeks now.  It felt like the season was slow to come and then woosh, it arrived.


Yesterday we ate at Temari Cafe because I had a kickass onigiri at the Tokyo Fish Market and I remembered that Temari has it.  And I also remembered it to be pretty decent.  Not so.  The rice wasn’t seasoned.  The seaweed didn’t cover the rice. and it was soft/soggy rather than crispy.  And the filling wasn’t as flavorful.  We also got a lot of appetizers and an unagi donburi which also fell short.  Everything was just not good to the point where I’d just rather not have it at all.  It wasn’t even close.  Maybe in a few months I’ll think it’s okay again, but given the wait and the mediocre food, I’m not sure I’ll bother to find out.  I really REALLY wanted to like it though.  I wish our 7-11’s here were half as good as the ones in Asia.  Where else can I find a half-decent onigiri?




We paid the West Coast a visit recently. This time, the air was noticeably dusty and dry. I could feel the drought! It’s the first time I visited where I didn’t wish I lived there. There was a persistent haze. Maybe that’s why for this trip, suddenly I was noticing all the cons. Like it smelled of pee. And the sidewalks are cracked, raised, overgrown. The neighborhoods are a hodgepodge of disheveled and maintained. They’re not ones for order. I still love the walkability. The succulent plants and gardens everywhere. The sun.  The food.  Of course, the food.
We ate at:

  • Ippuku

Ippuku – Bittermelon

  • Cancun Tacqueria – I almost always come here.  Excellent veggie burrito.
  • Asha Tea House – I only got here once during this trip.  I wish I had gone sooner so I could go more often.
  • Kamado Sushi – Big sushi selection.  Delicious.
  • Venus – Great breakfast place.  Probably my fave of the 3 we went to (Crepevine and Guerrilla were the other two).
  • Tokyo Fish Market – I could spend all day here shopping and eating.  They have the best natto onigiri (Full disclosure: I’ve only ever had theirs.)
  • Gather – I wish I was hungrier when I came here, but I could only stomach tomato soup after a big farmer’s market lunch.
  • Kaz Ramen – Veggie ramen was great.  Much better than the one we had in Quebec City (which at the time, I really liked.  It was just too salty).
  • Farmer’s Market – Everything is good here.  Just eat your way around the place.
  • Mi Southeast Asian Eatery – Standard chowfoon style noodles.  Tasty, but heavy.
  • Pepples – Out of this world banana or apple fritters and cinnamon swirls.
  • Philz – Smooth coffee.  Perfect with sweet pastries.
  • Crepevine – Second best breakfast place.  They have steamed vegetables.
  • Out the Door – 8 tiny morsels of mung bean dumplings for something like $10.  They were delicious.  I was so glad I got them, they were very good.
  • Huong Lan Sandwich – I made sure to try Banh Mi DC’s veggie banh mi before coming here.  Huong Lan’s veggie banh mi was better.  They’re more generous with the vegetables.
  • Loving Hut – A bigger menu than the Loving Hut here, but they needed more servers.
  • Mission Heirloom Cafe – bulletproof coffee seems gimmicky to me, like the Paleo or Atkins diet.
  • Guerilla Cafe – Unless you want their one vegan breakfast offering, you’re out of luck.  I had a side of fruit and then made a pb&j after.  If there’s one thing I hate, leaving a meal hungry.

Sexy Safeway

I think my friend misinformed me when she called the flagship Safeway in Georgetown, “Sexy” Safeway. I think it was actually coined “Social” Safeway. I don’t know by whom, but regardless, it was neither sexy nor particularly social. And I feel like I’m a pretty good judge of grocery stores because I spend a lot of time in grocery stores.

So anyway, after I heard and read so many wonderful things about this social sexy Safeway, I planned a weekend excursion to go there. We were going to hit Shophouse Kitchen for lunch. Then to the Old Stone House. And then the pièce de résistance – Sexy Safeway.

Shophouse – I really wanted to like this place. Anyplace that has vegan options in this town gets bonus points in my book. But it just wasn’t very good. First of all, their salad mix had raw chopped napa cabbage. I have a hard time accepting the fact that napa cabbage can be consumed raw after seeing a pet iguana chowing down on some. I ate them anyway, but it didn’t feel right. I have the same misgivings about raw kale and cabbage too (even though I love slaw). But that alone wasn’t that bad. Overall, it was just too salty and the dressing tasted not good.

The Old Stone House was closed so we just walked a little bit around the gardens and then off to Safeway!


I’m only comparing it to other Safeways I’ve been to, and while it is very nice, it didn’t stand out to me either. I got Nabisco Chocolate wafers – Oreo’s without the cream. Wonderful with coffee. And some avocados. They have a very nice beer/wine section and prepared foods section. They carry plenty of kombucha options. And their produce looked top notch. Maybe what made it not so appealing to me was how empty it was, hence – not-so-social. Where is everybody?!? What else is there to do on a Saturday night? So even if it didn’t seem to live up to the hype (which, was a tall order) I had a great time. Okay, maybe it was a little bit sexy.