In my head, getting pet rats is a long overdue idea. For the following reasons:

  • They’re cute.
  • They’re smart. Not calculus smart, more dog smart. Like will hang out with you, come when called, and can be taught tricks. They also use litterboxes.
  • They live on average 2 years.
  • Can be fed without killing other animals.

In reality, I haven’t any because:

  • They’re hard to come by. Because they only live 2 years, I can imagine most don’t get adopted away. They die before the owner gets the chance to change their mind. So then the alternative is to go to a rattery, because pet store rats probably came from the metro, behind some restaurant dumpster, or worse, a factory breeding farm. I’m hoping someone at work has some rats that got mis-gendered and they get pinkies by mistake and one day I’ll see it on the bulletin board in our office kitchenette, baby rats need a home.
  • They pee everywhere they go – small scent marking dribbles. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. I plan to have a pee blanket to lay out when I play with them.
  • Litter. I remember having to clean litter and it’s a chore. Not onerous, but just another chore.
  • Space. I don’t know where to put them at the moment. The place their cage could ideally go is currently ocupado – aquarium.

By 2020

Twenty twenty has a nice roll off the tongue. Tuh-wen-ty twen-tee. Five or six years ago, 2020 seemed like a nebulous faraway place. I’d daydream of this or that and say, by 2020. These are the cans that I kicked down to 2020 (and am probably not going to achieve):

  • Move to a place with a yard.
  • Get a dog
  • Get a cat
  • Get a chinchilla
  • Get an alpaca, llama, Brahman cattle, chickens, goats, apiary…

Yes, I see now that my life goals involve owning others. How not-so-subtly possessive. But alas, given that 2020 is less than a year away, I probably won’t achieve my despotic wishes by then. I’ll have to rethink my priorities.


After my fish died, with the unfortunate water filter mistake, my shrimp came out of the wood work and multiplied like crazy.  I realized there’s no such thing really as shrimp-friendly fish.  Anything that fits in its mouth is fish food.  So I dedicated my tank as a planted shrimp tank and they have taken off like crazy.  Today, I doubled down, adding 4 blue velvet’s and 2 amanos.

Amano Shrimp

According to aquarium forum’s amano’s are supposedly staples in planted tanks.  They keep algae at bay. The amano is on the right. The little guy on the left is a half-sized cherry shrimp.

Blue Velvet Shrimp
Blue velvet’s are essentially like cherry shrimp. They look exactly alike except one is red and the other is blue. The aquarium staff told me they will interbreed too so I may get some weird hybrid version, which is kind of a bummer. At $10 a pop, I would’ve preferred to keep some pure bluebloods. But hey, love conquers all I guess.

The guy at the fish store also put a piece of hornwort in the bag for the shrimp to hang onto during transit. I don’t have hornwort in my tank so I’m hoping this little piece will grow. It’s supposed to be invasive-species-level very easy to grow. Last time, they gave me some java moss which I already have.

My new nephew

This is Watson. My fur-nephew. He’s a rambunctious pup.


He’s smart – knows to ring a bell to be let outside to potty.

And he’s dumb about just about everything else. He knows nothing but love and play and food and naps.


And in all that stupid puppyness, he’s cuddly and friendly and totally lovable. Look at those floppity ears.

I killed my fish and shrimp!

Last night, I changed the drinking water filter in our sink and used the first 5 liters of it to top off my tank thinking it was freshly filtered water. And even though I knew it was filter flush water, I figured if it was good enough to water plants with then it was good for my planted fish tank too. Apparently not. This morning, I found both of my fish dead. And some shrimp too. I don’t get it! People put carbon filter media in their aquarium filters too. Same basic principle of drinking water filters. How did my fish die?

I still have some tough survivor shrimp hanging about, chowing down on their dead brethren so at least there’s that. And the plants seem okay as well. I don’t know what’s in the water filter but now you know, animals should not drink new filter water. Especially small animals.

On a side note, I learned that some locations of Whole Foods or Mom’s Market will accept used water filters. Look up Preserve Gimme 5 for your nearest collection site.

I think I took how easy it was to maintain my fish tank for granted. I started to think they were indestructible because of how the shrimp and plants were flourishing. Invertebrates tend to be more sensitive to water quality. But they really handled my low tech, minimal intervention/work methods well. I didn’t really so much change the water as just used the tank water to water house plants and then top it off with regular untreated tap water. Chloramines and all. At most I would let the tap water sit for a week before using it, but not always. So they did well with infrequent water changes using untreated water. What’s kind of scary is, I put 5 liters of this Union Carbide water in a 100 liter tank. That’s only 5%. What am I drinking?!

On the plus side? If there is one 🙁 my cherry shrimp which are usually always hiding because of the fish are now always out and about. Their predators are gone and they feel safe. So I may just leave this a planted shrimp tank.

My goodies bring all the cats to the yard

Neko Atsume. It’s a non-game kind of game. You place goodies in your yard to try to attract cats. That’s it.
Goodies include toys, food, snacks, scratch posts, cat trees, pillows, and other things cats like. Cats who come to your yard leave you sardines and you use those sardines to buy more goodies and expand your yard. It’s such a nothing sort of a game but I keep coming back to it. I keep checking every few minutes to see if another cat has come or if the one that’s there has left me gifts. I’m a virtual crazy cat lady.

Daffodil and Buttercup

I don’t know why I bothered naming my fish straight out of the bag.  I didn’t even know them at all yet. When I named them, in my mind, my fish were dainty little fish that gracefully swam in and out of the plants and enjoyed the lovely garden I planted for them.  Now that I’ve had them for a couple of weeks, I see that they’re just hungry hippos.
They’ve quickly gotten the hang of brine shrimp flakes and algae wafers and in between meals they act like they’ve never been fed.  Ever.  The shrimp are the same way.  Constantly on the hunt for food.  I added epsom salt to the tank and got some noticeable algae growth in a day.  I can’t believe I’d ever be trying to encourage algae to grow, but the flagfish and shrimp like to eat it.


Wakey wakey

This morning I turned on the light and my fish were asleep and so were the shrimp.  They were all lolling about on the bottom of the tank.  The two sisters were sleeping on the log.  When the lights came on, one shrimp jumped.  After a moment, the two fish slowly started to move about.  I also saw shrimp shell remains from a molting the night before.

Yesterday when I tried to feed the fish, they ate and spat out brine shrimp flakes and also ate and spat out freeze dried bloodworms.  I suspect they were raised on live foods as fry in the hatchery so they don’t know how to eat non-live food.  So far, they’ve been living off the buggies swimming around and algae but I can see there isn’t much of either left in the tank and eventually they’re going to have to eat the food I offer.

Buttercup, Daffodil, and 10 Ghost shrimp

I finally got some animals to put in my planted tank!  2 female American Flagfish which I’ve named Buttercup and Daffodil.  One has a dot on its dorsal fin (Daffodil) and the other one does not (Buttercup). And 10 ghost shrimp.

When I came back from the cruise, I noticed there were tiny little specks of buggy looking critters swimming around the tank.  Tons of them!  I think they might have been eating algae because the once-growing patch of algae on the glass was shrinking.  So when I released the two girls, you can imagine their excitement.  They were feasting on the buggies.  I’m not sure if they’re daphnia.  I think they’re too small to be…  Maybe they’re ostracoda or copepods.  The shrimp started looking for food around the plants too.  I’m not sure I’ll need to feed them for a while.  That’s the nice thing about having a planted tank.  It’s almost self-sustaining.

Before introducing the animals to the tank, I tested the water’s ammonia levels first.  0. Good.  It better have been 0 since I’ve had this tank running for almost 3 months.  It would’ve been smarter to test the water before bringing any animals home because otherwise I’d have no plan B of where to put them. But I sort of assumed my water was clean because of the little buggies thriving in the tank.  It’s generally a sign of clean water.  Next, I floated the bags of fish and shrimp into the tank to get them used to the temperature.  After 30 minutes, I drained some of the water out of the bags containing the animals into a discard bucket, and added a little of my tank water into the bag.  Another 30 minutes later, I again discarded some of the water in the bags, and replaced it with more tank water.  Another 30 minutes, I put the fish and shrimp into the tank, trying to keep as much of the the bag water from going into the tank as possible.  I watched them for a few minutes, hunting for food, and then I turned off the lights.

In the future, I hope to maybe get cory cats, but I’m probably going to wait a while to see how well everybody settles in before doing that.