Paludarium 2: Tragedy Boogaloo

It’s the end of an era, and by era I mean a handful of months of trying something new and watching it not quite work. Today, I officially lay my paludarium ambitions to rest for the foreseeable future. It was okay while it lasted, but the test did not yield the desired results and it is over. I am pivoting.

So, what happened?

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Paludarium 2: Tragedy Boogaloo
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Home Cladograms – The Evolution of a Menagerie

Evolution is a powerful thing. In the span of generations it turns scuttling reptiles into towering sauropods and soaring birds, and it has made and unmade more living things than humanity will ever know. Understanding the relationships between the lineages of living things is one of the grander ways in which humans understand our place in the infinite assemblage of life, and it also tells us an enormous amount about how everything is related to everything else. For the right ultra-specific kind of nerd, it’s also barrels of fun. Fortunately, we have just such a nerd in attendance.

So I made cladograms for all my pets and plants.

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Home Cladograms – The Evolution of a Menagerie

Operation Paludarium

For the past several years, I have known that I had space for exactly one more aquarium in my office and my tank-maintenance routine, bringing the total in my home to three. I have been hemming and hawing about what, exactly, to do with that space ever since. My original hope was to set up a marine system designed for a mantis shrimp, in fulfillment of a childhood dream, but my research into that quest showed it to be far more expensive and challenging than I was prepared to take on, especially as a third system. I ultimately settled on a different childhood dream to pursue: a paludarium. Continue reading “Operation Paludarium”

Operation Paludarium

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

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?

The Satisfaction of a Good Optimization Problem, Or, That Time I Obsessed About Some Wires for A Week Straight

I’m a tidy autistic. Compared to most of my friends, my home is uncannily organized; my routines are rigid and often inflexible. When I last moved house, my new home was 90% unpacked within the first week and firmly lived-in by the end of the first month, thanks to packing my previous home with destination rooms in mind and having a new floor plan for my furniture worked out in PowerPoint a month before moving day. With tape measures, notes, and detailed pro/con analyses, I worked out the best places for my sofa, television, display cases, desk, aquaria, and each individual houseplant, along with which new items to order and where those would go. Waste is sorted immediately and removed on a schedule, and cups never accumulate away from the drying rack. Mess makes me anxious and staying on top of these things is both a gift for and the result of my executive function, not done for others but to keep my home liveable for me. I pride myself on that level of masterful order and accept the neuroticism that comes with it as the price of success.

Continue reading “The Satisfaction of a Good Optimization Problem, Or, That Time I Obsessed About Some Wires for A Week Straight”

The Satisfaction of a Good Optimization Problem, Or, That Time I Obsessed About Some Wires for A Week Straight

Octo-Nope: Six Reasons Not To Get A Pet Octopus

If you’re building a marine aquarium and the thought of putting an octopus in it crosses your mind, consider not doing that. Consider not doing that so hard that you put this ill-conceived notion to permanent rest, no matter how much fun Finding Dory made it sound. An octopus makes for a difficult, finicky, and potentially even dangerous marine-aquarium inhabitant, best left to nature and specialists.

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Octo-Nope: Six Reasons Not To Get A Pet Octopus

Skepticism in the Aquarium Store, Part 1

Earlier this year, I gave a presentation at Ottawa Skepticamp 2013 titled “Skepticism in the Aquarium Store.”  It definitely got some smiles out of people, not least the radio host who interviewed one of the organizers about Skepticamp and spied the unusual title.  My presentation took the axiom that skepticism is vital to virtually every human endeavor and brought it to one of my dearest hobbies: aquarium keeping.  And now I’m bringing that to you.

I like fish.  Fish provide a truly astounding variety of shapes, sizes, and behaviors to observe, comparable only to insects.  Their diversity puts more conventional pets to shame, and they have the added perks of being confined to specific places in people’s homes, being hypoallergenic, and providing relaxing waterfall background noise.  There’s an artistic and collection-building aspect to fishkeeping that isn’t present with other pets, which appeals to me.

One other thing that differentiates fishkeeping from many other pet-related hobbies is that there isn’t really a fishy equivalent to a dog rescue.  Sure, one can pick through Craigslist and Kijiji for people giving away their kits or their animals, but that’s a time-consuming and risky method.  For better or for worse, fishkeepers are stuck with pet stores, and that means getting stuck with a lot of bad advice.  Like car dealers and the slimy cads who sell people fancy audio cables, the underpaid and often unprepared sales associates who staff the fish section often have priorities other than the best life for their livestock.

Aquakeeping, like car sales, treating disease, and politics, is an endeavor that requires a little background and a lot of…skepticism.  And it starts right at the beginning.

Continue reading “Skepticism in the Aquarium Store, Part 1”

Skepticism in the Aquarium Store, Part 1