Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Friends

Sometimes the best playthings are those that didn't cost a thing.

My Jack Russell-Basset Hound mix, Lucy, loves water bottles. The new water bottles are flimsy and make a lot of noise when she plays with them. Whenever I finish a bottle, I always put the cap back on and give it to her. She has become adept at taking the cap off. Next, she removes the label. Then she runs through the house with the water bottle in her mouth, making it crinkle and pop.

When I finish a jar of peanut butter, I put the top back on and hand it to one of the dogs. My mastiff (God rest his soul, he died nearly 10 years ago) loved to figure out how to take the top off the jar (which was plastic) and he could be kept busy for hours trying to get every last bit of peanut butter out.

I have also purchased real bones and once the marrow has been eaten out of them, I've stuffed them with peanut butter.

During teething, you can place the bones in the freezer so whatever stuffing you used is frozen. This calms the dog's gums while he tries to get every last morsel out of the middle.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What to do in a power outage - Part 3

One of the issues facing any aquarium owner is how to keep fish waste to a minimum. This is particuarly true during a power outage because the filters you've depended on to keep the water clear and clean are not operating.

Step 1: Stop Feeding Your Fish

Humans often overfeed their fish. In reality, humans need a lot more food than cold-blooded creatures because we generate our own heat. Fish do not. Their bodies become the same temperature as their water.

When fish are being shipped, especially across great distances, breeders will often stop feeding them for 2-3 days prior to their departure. This keeps fish waste to a minimum when they are in small bags.

Your fish can actually go without food for as long as a week if they are in good health. So during a power outage, stop feeding them. If the power comes back on in a day or two, they'll be no worse for the wear - and your water will be cleaner.

If you have an extended power failure and you must feed your fish eventually, feed them half as much as you normally would. If you're accustomed to feeding them twice a day, feed them only once a day.

Step 2: Depend on Chemical Filtration

When your filter isn't working, you can substitute a chemical substance to keep your water clean. One option is to use Prime, which eliminates chlorine, nitrates and nitrites. With angelfish, you must use this sparingly - if they begin to hover near the surface and gasp for air, they are being deprived of oxygen - and that can mean too many chemicals in their water. Replace the water with fresh water, and you've eliminated some of the chemicals.

Step 3: Water Changes

If you have ready access to water, the best way to keep the tanks clean and the water aerated is frequent water changes. With angelfish, try not to replace more than 33% of their water at any one time because they are much more sensitive to water fluctuations (temperature, Ph, and water quality) than many other types of fish.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What to do in a power outage - Part 2

Yesterday, I talked about keeping the temperature steady in an aquarium during a power outage.

Fish also need oxygen in their water and oxygen comes from water movement. In my aquariums, I have air wands that provide a curtain of bubbles along the back wall of the tank. During a power outage, those air wands are still - which means oxygen is depleted very rapidly.

If you find your fish hovering at the top of the water surface gasping, it means they need more oxygen.

There are at least two ways you can keep the water moving and aerated.

I live in an area where hurricanes and tornadoes can occur. So I've purchased battery operated aerators in the event that my power goes out. They work the same way as a normal electric aerator - they just run on batteries. This keeps the water moving and oxygen going to your fish.

If you don't have battery powered aerators, any movement will create air bubbles, oxygenating the water. Yesterday I mentioned poking small holes in a gallon water jug and allowing the water to drip into the tank. This will also have the effect of oxygenating the water. If temperature is not fluctuating, you can use a gallon of water out of the tank itself; getting the jug filled up creates air movement in the water. Then the steady drip on the surface of the water will keep the water oxygenated.

Tomorrow: keeping fish waste to a minimum.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What to do in a power outage - Part 1

I have several aquariums in my home and some of the species, like the angelfish, are very sensitive to changes in their environment - from temperature to water quality to oxygen levels.

So what happens when the power goes out?

This week I'll address various things you can do to keep your fish alive and healthy during a power outage.

Temperature Fluctations

If your power goes out in the winter, the most important thing to do is keep your fish from freezing. Take some heavy blankets and drape them over the tank. This will do two things: keep the temperature from dropping quickly and also keep your fish from being too active. The more active your fish are, the more likely you are to have more waste in your tank, so you want to keep it dark and keep them more still.

If your power goes out in the summer, the water needs to remain cooler. Fortunately, water temperatures shouldn't rise rapidly unless you are in the midst of a severe heat wave. In that case, you'll want to keep cool water flowing into the tank. This can be done by taking a gallon of water in a plastic jug, poking small holes in the bottom and propping it across the top of the tank. The small holes allow the water to flow in steadily but not too quickly. This is assuming the water flowing in is cooler than the tank water.

Tomorrow: how to keep the water aerated.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Friends

For all the dog lovers who follow this blog, here's a list of things that are toxic to dogs:

1. Chocolate

2. Grapes and raisins

3. Sugar-free gum or candy and food containing xylitol

4. Fatty table scraps (bet you didn't know that one!)

5. Onions

6. Compost

7. Macadamia nuts

8. Household cleaners

9. Antifreeze

10. Unbaked bread dough or cookie dough

11. Alcohol

And of course, never give your dog human medications unless prescribed by a veterinarian. Even with those that dogs can take, the dosage is entirely different.