A Quick Tour of Alyssa’s 125-Gallon Aquarium

I’m trying something a little different today. By popular request, I’ve filmed a video going over the contents of my 125-gallon (473-liter) aquarium. Come for the aquarium insight, stay for my clothes, leave knowing more about turtle penises than you ever wanted to know. Have fun!

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A Quick Tour of Alyssa’s 125-Gallon Aquarium
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Lessons from an Aquarium Upgrade

I made a big decision recently. I replaced my 55-gallon (208 liter) aquarium with a shiny new 125-gallon (473-liter) beast that now defines the layout of my home office. This was no small task, and I offer this series of thoughts as guidance for anyone else attempting a similar upgrade.

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Lessons from an Aquarium Upgrade

What’s to Love about Aquariums?

Everything.

Aquaria are beautiful, diverse, interactive, complicated, and so many more adjectives. Their sounds bring peace, their sight brings smiles, and millions of people around the world bring these boxes full of water into their homes. But why? What are the joys that aquaria provide to those who keep them? I’m so glad you asked.

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What’s to Love about Aquariums?

When Animals Farm: It’s Not Just for Humans

Agriculture is rightly recognized as one of the turning points in human history. The practice of tending to specific animals and plants to maintain and even increase their utility helped drive humans into city-building and, from there, into the large, complex, settled societies we know today. Humans, however, are not the only animals that have discovered agriculture. Everything from snails to elephants has some ability to foster and guide the evolution of another creature for its own use. Agriculture, it turns out, is a subset of ecosystem engineering, and a lot of creatures are engineers.

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When Animals Farm: It’s Not Just for Humans

Frita Cubana Burger, Alyssa Style

Cuba, like every country, has distinctive street food, and one of the crowning achievements of that tradition is the frita cubana, a style of hamburger that has taken on a life of its own in the years since its invention. Supposedly invented in the 1920s and spread through Cuban food carts and hotel chains, the frita cubana is perhaps now best known as a signature offering of Miami’s Cuban-American restaurants, celebrated by burger connoisseurs but little-known outside the places where it is routinely served. That is positively criminal, as this burger has few equals.

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Frita Cubana Burger, Alyssa Style

Life from Death in the Desert of Wet: Whalefalls

The deep ocean is one of the most impoverished biomes on the planet. It encompasses more area than all of the world’s land biomes combined but exists hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away from the nearest solar ray, a lightless void punctuated almost entirely by the wispy phosphorescence of the creatures within it. Such light cannot sustain an ecosystem, for the energy that powers it comes from within that very ecosystem. Nearly all of the resources available to the creatures that call the deep ocean home fall from above, nutritious plankton remains forming the dense sludge called “marine snow” that coats much of the seafloor. There is productivity at the seafloor, involving chemical reactions at geologic sites called hydrothermal vents, and these locations occupy an outsized portion of the public imagination. But there is another deep-ocean ecosystem that is no less fascinating for its obscurity, and is proving to be instrumental to the persistence of hydrothermal vent life: the whalefall.

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Life from Death in the Desert of Wet: Whalefalls