I'm wrapping up the big year-end seed swap for one of the Facebook groups I'm in. It's far too stressful, and I think this will be my last year participating. Every year they add more rules and more hassle to the process. It's getting to be a bit much. I really should have bowed out this year, but I'm going to stick with it and get it done to add some new varieties to the collection.
After that I'm going to take a break. I'm stretching myself too thin and I'm stressing out more than I should. Between social things and kids and pets and seed swapping and my own brain being a bit of a butt (stay on task.... resist the urge to wander off.... resist... aaaand my mind has gone off track again....)... I just need a couple days to go nuts with crafting ideas, or watching educational videos, or doing something fun that doesn't involve cleaning the house, replying to emails, or fighting to get kids to clean their bedrooms or go to bed at night. It's time for some re-set time. Like, a few days of reset time. I plan to be a complete sloth most of this weekend. Yes, I'll have to suck it up and catch up on what falls apart while I'm down and out, but it'll be worth it to reset my sanity.
We picked up a box of mini Pringles cans for the kids' after-school-snacks. I took one of them (after the chips had been eaten), and filled it with soil, then sprinkled some Tom Thumb lettuce seeds in. I put the lid back on and set it in a window sill. If sprouts come up, the lid will come off and hopefully I can grow my own salad for over winter. I do love fresh home grown salad. Yay for indoor gardening during the harsh Minnesota winter months!
Yesterday I siphoned and refilled both the aquarium and the turtle tank. For those who don't know, that's quite a rare occurrence. I only clean out the fish tank maybe once a year, and I only siphon off the debris on top of the gravel. That tank has been up and running longer than I've been alive. It belonged to a relative who left it to me when they passed away. I am honored to keep it running. The tank is 100% natural. I vastly under-stock it, which means the two fish in the 30-gallon tank don't need frequent water changes. The long established beneficial bacteria in the thick gravel takes care of almost everything. Aside from topping off water lost to evaporation and cats drinking from it, and the occasional addition of live bacteria cultures, the tank is largely self sustaining. We have one female bristle-nose pleco who keeps the algae in check (as the tank is in a window), and we have one weather loach (technically a bottom feeder) who cruises around and entertains us.
The turtle tank needed to be siphoned as the water was turning orange. I added a piece of driftwood we found down by the lake. I didn't bother to sanitize it because it wouldn't fit in my oven and the shape wouldn't allow for it to fit into a pot to be boiled. Inevitably it leaked tannin into the water. Totally normal, not a big surprise. It didn't seem to bother Minnow, but I want to make sure she had good clean water. It's still tinted yellow, but I'll give it some time to see if the driftwood leaks any more tannin before I change out more water. I ended up taking out eight gallons. She lives in a 55-gallon tank that was about 3/4 full. If I did my math right, an 8 gallon tank change was roughly 20% of the water. I also added more water (now the tank is nearly full) and pushed the driftwood down the rest of the way to fully submerge it. It had about 1-inch sticking up above the water before. It looks nice over all and I think once we add more goldfish for Minnow they'll have a nice natural area that will make a little more of a challenge for Minnow when hunting. Overall, not bad considering I was changing the water with a gallon jug by hand, walking back and forth across the length of the house.
Yes, I accidentally created a blackwater aquarium for my turtle. Which wouldn't be so bad really - it does mimic an aquatic turtle's natural environment. This is why I am not overly worried about siphoning it again right away. So long as she seems happy, and she's still eating and basking, it's really more about the aesthetic of the tank.
For example, did you know that plecos need wood in their diet to remain healthy? There should be driftwood in any aquarium that also houses a pleco. The pleco will pick at and clean off the drift wood, and in return will be healthier. Did you know that plecos and cichlids (and lots of other varieties of fish) love to have a cave or a tube to hide in or swim through? I knew this one but it had never occurred to me to actually build one myself.
My first planned project will be a simple one meant to build my confidence and give me a simple start with using silicone in a caulking gun. I plan to make an above-water shelf for the fish tank to allow the cats to perch in a safe place to drink from the aquarium. I'm hoping to do this project within the next week, but it depends on if we have the extra money for the supplies or not.
Once I've got that project done and I'm feeling a little more confident, I do plan to start trying my hand at a couple different caves and/or other hides with different materials. I have so many ideas! I want to incorporate all kinds of materials that have been suggested in numerous hobbyist videos and forums. I'm so excited. And if all goes well, maybe I'd even offer some of my creations for sale. Again, timeline on this depends on when we have some spare money to buy some supplies.