Friday, February 27, 2015

Beach Day

Matthew was home from school today because yesterday I picked him up with a fever and he had to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning. I decided to take advantage of a day with all three munchkins and go to the beach! The weather was definitely not the best, but we decided to make a go of it anyway. We brought our buckets and chairs and found that there was this super cool sand shelf all along the beach. The sand was a little wet and there were sand "rocks" all along the shelf that Matthew quickly discovered were great for sand fights! I had brought my book, but it was a little chilly to sit and read so I decided to get warm by chasing the kids around and having a sand fight! Then we made lots of sand castles and other shapes with our toys.

The kids were getting hungry so we took a break to eat. Caroline is afraid of sea gulls because one stole a cheese stick from out of her hand not too long ago. I assured her that the sea gulls wouldn't bother her today. I couldn't have been more wrong! We circled up our chairs and huddled together to eat and those crazy aggressive birds started flying and hovering right over our heads! Caroline was crying and sitting on my lap, and we thought it smarter to go eat lunch in the car. After our car lunch we headed back to the beach for some more sand fights. Then the kids remembered how fun it is to run from the water. They had a great time screaming and running and I got to read that book I brought for a few minutes. Somehow they all ended up wet and of course freezing, but I still had to pry them away when it was time to leave. It was a great day of quality time in the midst of the chaos.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Yes, I am still blogging about fish

While it may not seem like it from the amount of fish-related posts lately, there are more things going on in our lives than these little creatures. However, they definitely provide the most writing material!

Today I got home from Playaway, looked in the fish tank, and saw a baby! I knew they were mating! And now I of course have no idea what to do with this baby. Who knows if there were more or when this happened. I immediately call Brian and ask him what on earth am I supposed to do with this baby fish? He, in all of his infinite wisdom, tells me to Google it. So I did. And, surprise surprise, keeping baby fish alive is no easy task! Not only do the other fish eat them, but they also require much cleaner water and more food and sometimes special food. I am still baffled as to how so many fish survive in the wild waters of ponds and rivers everywhere when they seem to require so much maintenance in a tank.

It seems that the best option is this little net/tank hybrid that you place in your existing tank and it keeps the babies separate from the adults. Just as I'm about to load the girls up in the car for yet another trip to the pet store, I realize that the baby fish is nowhere in sight. So apparently they eat their babies quickly. I then have to explain to Caroline that fish sometimes eat their babies. Making that sound normal and not depressing is no easy task. But she takes it like a champ and returns to playing in her room.

Well now I'm in my investigative journalist mode and trying to figure out which fish gave birth. Based on a variety of clues, I think I know which one it is. Which is super surprising because we kind of thought it was a boy fish. To our credit, we were undecided, but due to its chasing behavior we went with male. Now I think it was chasing the other fish away because it was pregnant and hungry! So which fish was it you ask? It was Cootie Car, Caroline's fish, who also by the way has ick or some type of fungus that we've been treating it for. Is this related to the babies? No idea. Is it just one more thing that makes fish high maintenance? Absolutely.

So after much computer research and analyzing here is what I learned about our fish today. Mollies and Platys (the two types we have) are live-bearing fish. Which is why we never saw eggs. The gestation period is about a month, which is about how long we have had them. Cootie Car did have a larger belly which I was suspicious of a few weeks ago before we decided that he was a boy. Apparently my suspicions were correct, and when I looked up what a pregnant fish looks like that was her. She's also been acting kind of strange and just hanging out at the top or bottom of the tank. I was originally attributing this to the ick fungus, but now think the girl was in labor! Also, Cootie Car looks much thinner today than yesterday. She and Jet Pack were the same size, and now she's noticeably smaller. Which means, you guessed it, I'm pretty sure Jet Pack is pregnant. So apparently there will be more babies to come. Help me now!

Update: When I picked Matthew up from school I told him about the baby. He was super excited until I told him it got eaten. Then he might have been a little disturbed. But, we got home and I spotted the baby again! That sucker can hide! It blends in with the rocks on the bottom. So maybe it will survive after all. We will probably get one of those divider things for the tank since I'm pretty sure Jet Pack will be having babies, and obviously we all know how much Banana loves Mandarin. Is it bad to take our one male fish to the pet store and trade it for a female? I'm not sure how much more of this I can handle!

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Fish Saga Continues

Ok people, I am warning you, seriously think before you get fish. Easy pets they are not! So after we killed our first four fish, we waited a few days for our water to settle. We went back to the pet store to have the water tested and bring home more fish, only to have them tell us that our ammonia levels were still too high. We waited another few days, and finally a week after the first fish massacre we brought home three new fish. Lily chose another yellow one and kept the name Banana. Matthew chose a red one with black fins that he named Jet Pack. Caroline got a silver and black speckled one and named it Cootie Car. This time, success! The fish lived through the night, and the next night, and they are still going strong!

One strange thing we have noticed is that Lily's fish pretty consistently chases Matthew's fish around, almost like it's bullying it. Then about a week in, Cootie Car started getting in on the action too, especially when it was time to eat. I kept having visions of waking up to find Jet Pack eaten by the other too, but thankfully that hasn't happened. Well, apparently Brian was intrigued by this and did some research. It turns out that Banana is a boy fish and Jet Pack (much to Matthew's dismay since he loves all things boy) is a girl. We think Cootie Car is a boy too, which is why they were both ganging up on poor Jet Pack. According to what Brian read, one way to help this situation is to introduce more females into the tank. So when they picked me up from the airport yesterday Brian presented me with his research and a plan to get more fish. Back to the pet store again! (Side note - our tank can hold quite a few fish, but you have to introduce them slowly in the beginning until the nitrogen cycle finishes. They actually want you to wait 4-6 weeks, but you know how we like to live on the edge. More fish after 2-3 weeks? We're in. Please don't die!)

The very nice and helpful pet store employee tested our water again and gave us permission to bring home two more fish. I mean, I brought two kids home from the hospital without anyone's permission, but apparently fish are more fragile? Difficult? Important? I don't know. Although with our track record I'm not sure i should complain. So, we chose two female fish to bring home this time. In order to make sure no child ended up without a fish, these two belong to Brian and I. My fish is orange with a pretty long fin on top, and Brian's is white and almost see-through with some orange on it's fins. I know you want to know the amazing names we are adding to our tank with Jet Pack, Cootie Car, and Banana. Well, my fish is named Mandarin and Brian's X-Ray.

We followed the pet store employees recommendations about feeding our existing fish and changing out 40% of the water before adding our new ones. Seriously people, what happened to the whole "I won a goldfish at the fair and it lived for 15 years in a tiny bowl" fish maintenance that I was familiar with? So, we add Mandarin and X-Ray to the mix. Everything seems to be going well, they are swimming around and exploring. No one tries to eat each other. (By the way, did you know that fish food is made out of fish? Eating each other doesn't seem totally unreasonable for them at this point.)

A few minutes pass, and then all of a sudden we notice Banana is again going a little crazy with the chasing. And this time he is very focused on Mandarin. Must be her pretty fin. Next thing we know, he is totally trying to mate with her! And our kids are watching! Please do not ask about the birds and the bees right now children! You are too young! We quickly distract them with the promise of chocolate or candy or something shiny and off they go. Crisis averted. Except that Banana is VERY persistant. He is chasing Mandarin ALL THE TIME and getting all up in her business. If we end up with baby fish I don't even want to think about all the maintenance and rules that are going to come. I mean, I'm pretty sure fish eat their babies! Help! Can we please go back to the little Beta fish in a bowl idea that started this whole thing?

Banana chasing Mandarin up top and Jet Pack hanging out at the bottom

X-Ray swimming around

Apparently Cootie Car doesn't like his picture taken because he kept swimming away from me