VHALKYRIE   16,233
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Fish Training: That Was Fast!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Well, getting the betta to sit on the "leaf" was easier than I expected.

I'm starting to get him used to the idea of purple ring = food. I was hoping to use that to lure him into sitting on his floating "leaf". Apparently, it didn't take much coaxing.

I put the purple ring in this morning for his first feeding. I put in the leaf afterwards. This evening, I put the ring back in and a little more food. He's still getting used to his new environment, so he isn't coming as soon as I drop the food in. This is quite different than my past bettas, who were on it right away. Fish really do have their own personalities. This guy seems to be a bit more independent and reserved. Or maybe he just isn't hungry.

Anyway, I dropped the food in and walked away. I watched him from my vantage point at my desk. He ignored the food at first, but came to investigate after a minute or two. He cautiously sniffed around the ring, then took a nibble. Then he paid more attention to the leaf. He swam under and over it, checking it out. Then he finally sat on it.

Score! Here he is sitting on his "hammock".

The interesting thing to me is he only likes to sit on it when I have the light on. When I turn it off, he rests at the bottom. I guess he likes "sunbathing"!

He's sniffed around his "roommate" the snail a few times. At one point, the snail put his tentacles and feelers out, and Data came over to check him out. He honestly seemed quite curious about his "roommate". At one point, I was concerned whether he would attack the snail (some bettas are hostile to everything), but he just took a sniff, then swam away. The snail "Spot" is now stuck to one of the side walls. Data has come over to socialize with it a few times. The snail doesn't seem bothered. It hasn't felt threatened and disappeared in it's shell.

The snail just cleaned the leaf, like a vacuum cleaner. What a good roommate! Why did I never have a roommate like this! LOL

Anyway, now that Data has already discovered sitting on the leaf, I guess my next move is to try and teach him to sit on the leaf when I "point" at it. I'll do it by dropping food over the leaf over several days. Then gradually see if I can get him to do it when I touch the water, followed by a food reward. I'm going to skip his feeding tomorrow so he is nice and hungry for the next day. He doesn't have much of an appetite yet.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 4/11/2011 12:15PM

    ARCHIMEDESII: Haha - yes I did!! I totally need to get a starship to go in the tank - hahaha!

The cats are indifferent, so far. The one cat noticed something moving around, and she made a minor attempt to try to get on the bookcase to investigate, but gave up. This is the overweight, lazy one. It was too much effort - lol.

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ARCHIMEDESII 4/11/2011 12:11PM

    You named your fish Data and snail Spot ? And I thought I was a Star Trek geek !! LOL !!!! Great fish tank.

So, um, how are your cats taking to the new house guests ???

emoticon emoticon

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VHALKYRIE 4/11/2011 12:07PM

    Sedgey: I only know how to train animals with food bribes! I have no idea how I would reward a snail with food for doing tricks!

I've taught my cat to sit up and beg, and bat my hand lightly when I rub my fingers together. Whenever she begs me for food, I do this. She sits on her hind legs and stands up to bat my fingers. Then she gets a treat! Only thing is, she is shy. She will only do this trick for me. She won't do it if other people are around, so I can't show it off! She also won't do it for my fiance. Only for her mom. :)

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JSPEED4 4/11/2011 6:14AM

    That's cool!!!

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GIVENTOFLY_ 4/11/2011 3:04AM

  "The snail just cleaned the leaf, like a vacuum cleaner. What a good roommate! Why did I never have a roommate like this! LOL"

This made me smile! I had two bettas growing up (Forrest Gump and Jenny), but they didn't do a whole lot; I didn't even know you could train them!

It's actually pretty smart to train them with the feeding, I guess; my old fish had such irregular feeding schedules that sometimes they weren't hungry, and the food would just go to the bottom and get goopy :( Not fun to clean!

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SEDGEY 4/10/2011 11:44PM

    Well, he's obviously a particularly intelligent specimen. I can't wait to see what advanced tricks he learns. Maybe you could teach the snail something too. ;)

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IMALADI 4/10/2011 11:15PM

    I love this, It sounds like something that I would do, please keep me updated on training the fish! The only fish that I knew was trained was my daughters goldfish which would come and sit in our hands to be taken out of her bowl so we could clean it. This is utterly fascinating

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Teaching a Fish New Tricks

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Remember the "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment on David Letterman?

I am going to try teaching Data the Betta some tricks!

First, meet Data the Betta if you haven't already.

He says, "Hi!"

What kind of pet tricks can I teach him? I'm not sure. But I'm going to start with something pretty basic. I bought a 'feeding ring' that I'm going to try to teach him means "Dinner time!"

I also got a few gadgets to check his water temperature and the ammonia levels of his water. Can't have a fish named "Data" without gizmos to collect data!

I installed his water temperature gauge. A perfect jacuzzi temp of 79F for him.

Here's a betta "leaf". I'm hoping if I can successfully teach him to eat with the ring, I can get him to sit on the leaf.

I'm envisioning this is going to go a lot like toys for the cats. They'll play with rubber bands and plastic bags from the grocery store, but aren't interested in the fancy pet store toys. But we'll see!

Here is the food ring in the bowl.

I have a half dome shaped bowl to fit on my bookshelf. I'm going to need to make a custom cover for it so I can slip in the food ring and feed.

I have an old plastic kitchen cutting board sheet that needs replacing. I'm going to use this to cover the top of my bowl. I have had bettas jump out of the bowl before, so I am making sure to cover it up. I'm using a circle template from my sewing projects in order to cut the shape I need.

I cut a matching piece that will slide over the top when I don't need the hole for feeding or the LED light to prevent unsupervised acrobatics.

Now I need to cut a circle so I can fit in the feeder, and also have my LED light shine through it. This fishing line was exactly the right size, so I use it as my template. I used a rotary cutter, but an exacto knife probably would have been better. However, it seems my SO ran off with my exacto knife for something and I can't find it. *sigh*

I needed to cut it just a little wider for the ring.

Now it fits, and I can put my purple ring in when it's feeding time! The ring also has the benefit of keeping the food in place, so it doesn't run all over the top of the water.

Once he's used to seeing the purple ring = food, then I'll try to coax him to sit on the leaf. I have the leaf in the bowl now so he gets used to it being there.

Also, Data has a new roommate! I got him a snail friend who will hopefully help keep the bowl algae free. His name is "Spot".

It's playing dead here, but it is already crawling around the bowl. The water only looks murky here because of the yellowish light of my bathroom. I'll try to take pictures this evening with the LED light, if they are active and feel like being photographed.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SEDGEY 4/10/2011 7:25PM

    Awesome! I know cats can be trained so it follows that fish might be also. This'll be fun to follow along with your success. :)

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RESOLVEDTOWIN 4/10/2011 4:14PM

    If you are not familiar with animial training, there's an old book called Lads Before the Wind that you might really enjoy. It is by Karen Pryor, who was one of the early people to do training of dolphins in captivity.

I believe in the book she mentions one employee who had previously trained his goldfish to jump up over a match stick.

Best of luck with Data!

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JMAYS831 4/10/2011 3:57PM


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IMNENA23 4/10/2011 3:40PM

    What fun!

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New Family Member - Data the Betta!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

It's was a lovely day in the South. Today we went for a walk on the beach. On the way home, we stopped for dinner at Five Guys. We both had the 'little burger', shared fries, and a zero calorie drink. Total calories was approximately 600 calories for our dinner. I had a piece of toast for breakfast this morning and a chef's salad with no dressing for lunch. Despite our hamburger dinner, I'm still doing alright on calories.

After our meal, we stopped at a PetsMart. We intended to buy catnip for the cats. Instead, we came home with a cat tree and a fish!

I've had bettas at various points in my life. I had one who lived 4 semesters at college, and was transported back and forth to my parents house for summer breaks and Christmas vacations. He was my desk buddy, entertaining me while I chewed on my pencil in frustration.

One winter in the coldest day in Colorado during a blizzard, the power in my apartment went out. Bettas are tropical fish, and cannot survive water temperatures much below 70 degrees. I had to get in my sleeping bag in order to stay warm through the night. Without power, there was absolutely nothing I could do to save my little fish. I wrapped a towel around his bowl hoping it would be enough to keep him warm, but it wasn't. He froze to death.


I haven't had one since. I'm not sure why. I got a cat instead, I suppose.

A few weeks ago, I was teasing the fiance saying we should get a fish to entertain the cats. Then I thought to myself - hey, why don't I get a fish?

While we were in the pet store, a betta display caught my eye. Almost without thinking, I just grabbed an aquarium and put in the cart. Fiance was giving a disapproving eye. I didn't care. I was going home with a betta!

I found this little guy darting around in his cup. I checked him out, and his fins all looked healthy. He had a lovely blue coloring. I put him in the cart. I added some glass rocks and a plastic plant for him to hide in.

The fiance put a cat tree in the cart. While at the checkout, the girl at the counter was telling me she taught her betta tricks. So now I want to teach my little guy tricks!

While on the way home, fiance asked me what I was going to name him. I hadn't even thought about it. We started listing off a number of names, many of them silly.

Fiance wanted me to call him "Chips". I was thinking CHIPS, as in Erick Estrada CHIPS. But that didn't make sense, I asked him why. He said, "You know, Fish and Chips!" I burst out laughing! I almost went for it!

But then I thought of "Data", as in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Also I'm a software engineer, so I thought a fish desk buddy named Data would be apropos.

Fiance said, "You mean he's going to be Data the Betta?" Again, I burst into laughter. It was decided. Data it would be.

I washed the aquarium and rocks, then added Brita filtered water to the tank. I added betta water treatment solution, then let the water come to room temperature. I put a LED light on my bookcase so it would shine down on the bowl.

Once water temperature was about 77F, I moved him into his new home.

He seems to like it. He was zipping around checking it out.

Where he lives on the bookshelf with my african violets.

With the LED light.

I think I picked a good one. He seems to be quite lively.

Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm to get a fish, I forgot about the scenario when we go on vacation. I'm already working on methods to take care of my plants, but now, what do I do about fish? We don't have neighbors or family we can ask to come over. I'll have to do research on some sort of fish autofeeder.

I'll figure something out. These are hardy little guys, except in case of blizzards in Colorado that can't be helped.

I'm excited about my little friend, and looking forward to him amusing me while I gnaw on my pencils.

BTW, so far the cats are indifferent to him.

emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    He's beautiful!! I used to have one when I was a kid too, they're the best. You're making me think of getting another one!!

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KRAEG3 4/10/2011 7:31AM

    I love the betta (data). They are very hardy and we keep our house between 58 and 64 in the winter. We have had it for 2 yrs and it seems fine. When we go away on vacation I put a dissolving fish feeder in the tank this does the trick.

I have a couple of questions for you.
1. What does the betta water treatment solution do I have never heard of it?
2. How do you get your african violets to bloom? My african violets have great foliage but no flowers.


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THINRONNA 4/10/2011 2:25AM

    What a gorgeous fish! The tank looks beautiful too! You will be teaching him tricks in no time!

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KELPIE57 4/10/2011 2:06AM

    Loved the blog!

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SEDGEY 4/9/2011 11:56PM

    Welcome to SparkPeople, Data! We look forward to hearing about your exercise plan and new tricks. ;)

P.S. He's a beautiful color!

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The Cat is Munching My Chives!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Yesterday I caught one of the cats chewing on my chives. There were a few chives that looked shorter than they should be.

Silly cat! I read that onion and garlic based plants can cause health problems in cats. I'm going to have to get another plant stand to put the herb planter on to keep her from chewing.

I might also pick up some catnip to grow so the cats have something they're allowed to chew on.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ARCHIMEDESII 4/9/2011 1:39PM

    Cats are strange. When I was growing up, our cat did the same thing i.e. munch on the plants. Of course, she also tried to eat the goldfish. At least, that is cat behavior to me ! LOL !!

emoticon emoticon

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THINRONNA 4/8/2011 2:40PM

    Catnip is good unless you have neighborhood cats that can get to it. I had it once in Chicago where I lived and all kinds of cats showed up!

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PETUNIAPIG 4/8/2011 9:51AM

    Once I planted wheatgrass for my kitties. They loved it! You can buy it in pet store or a seed shop. It is healthy for them as it contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc.

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EAP1115 4/8/2011 7:55AM


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An Update on my Friend's Cancer

Thursday, April 07, 2011

I just got the word on my friend's cancer. I dared not ask him directly what his prognosis was because I didn't want to sound like I was asking, "So how long do you have to live?" Fortunately he volunteered the information today. He has a very aggressive lymphoma, but he says his prognosis is very good. They caught it early, his young age and good general health are all in his favor. These things are never 100%, but the 6 month treatment of chemo should do the trick. He is sounding very upbeat and positive, keeping a good sense of humor.

It's still very serious, but I feel better.

He's been posting pictures of his now bald head and just got a PICC installed today. It's so tough to see, but I'm so proud of him for being so brave.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LADYIRISH317 4/10/2011 11:32AM

    Glad to hear the prognosis is good. His attitude sounds wonderful, and he's blessed to have a friend like you.

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OUTDOORSDC 4/8/2011 6:43AM

    You sound like a wonderful friend.

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THINRONNA 4/8/2011 2:28AM

    I am so glad to know that his prognosis is good. A sense of humor is important in times like these.

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KELPIE57 4/8/2011 1:52AM

    Continuing to send positive thoughts, just to top his own up.

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