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All Pets and Plants Survived a Weekend

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I had a friend from Seattle come for a visit, so I was away for the weekend. It gave me a chance to test my "vacation" mode for my plants and pets.

Big concern was my balcony vegetable garden. Last year I started growing tomatoes with great success. But when we went on vacation, they all died. Container plants need more water than yard plants. So this year, I built my container garden with "vacation" mode in mind. I set up a lot of my containers to handle "self watering" pots.

You know those Aqua Globes, as seen on TV? I found a used wine bottle works great, with more capacity.

This is an empty gewurztraminer wine bottle being used to auto water my pepper plants. This works on the same principle as the Aqua Globes. Insert into the soil so it creates a seal. Then as the soil dries, it pulls water from the bottle.

The cats just got a big bowl of food and water, and a clean litter box. Evidence abounds that they ate, pooped, and napped. They were healthy and well, and meowing at us happily when we got home. They have been following me from room to room.

The new pets, the fish and snail, also made it through a night unsupervised. I discovered before I left, however, that the betta was sick. It turns out his loss of appetite was not due to "hara hachi bunme", but due to the poor conditions he lived under in the pet store. Poor betta. My first clue there was something wrong was the second day I had him. The water was unusually clouded for a freshly poured tank. The water had a milky white haze, usually indicative of a bacterial or algae infection. That was pretty unusual for a brand new bowl - I just got it. I added the snail, thinking it may be an algae bloom. It got worse.

Time for evasive action. I separated the fish and snail. I put the snail into a small container. I noticed the betta had a funny white patch on his head. I changed 50% of the betta's water from his bowl every day, and changed 100% of it every 2 days, rinsing the bowl and all bowl ornaments with vinegar thoroughly. (Vinegar as long as it is rinsed is non toxic to fish, but washing with bleach can be bad, unless a dechlorinator is used before adding fish.) Basically trying to reduce or eliminate any infections from the water. I also added a single rock salt chip into his bowl with each cleaning. He's a freshwater fish, so it's crucial not to raise the salinity too much. Adding a single rock salt chip won't harm him, but is bad for any bacteria or fungus that might have hitched a ride. Before we left for the weekend, I fed him, then changed his water again, rinsed the bowl and ornaments with vinegar, and added a rock chip again. I left him with a pristine clean water. I left him with no food to decay and muck up with the water. (Bettas are fine without food for a day or two.)

The treatment seemed to work. When I got home, he was swimming happily in his bowl - which was still very clear and clean looking, even without a water filter. He ate all his food ravenously. The strange white patch is gone. I'm calling him cured! I bought medicine just in case my "home cure" water treatment didn't work, but looks like I didn't need it. Yay!

Maybe I should have been a vet! emoticon

BTW, betta is now regularly sleeping/resting/playing on his leaf "hammock".

I've bought an aquarium, and set it up with live plants and decorations. However, I'm having trouble balancing the pH of the water due to the live plants. I wanted to make a semi "natural" aqua scape, but it is presenting challenges I didn't expect. I feel like I'm in chemistry class again with all my water testing and pH tests!

The live plants are lovely, but they are making the pH too high. I've never had an aquarium with live plants, so this took me by surprise. I want to adjust it to neutral pH before I add the fish and snail. I have a piece of driftwood on order, which is supposed to naturally lower the pH. I'm trying to avoid chemical additives, as I want to try to make a semi "natural" balanced ecosystem. I also think the driftwood will look cool.

Here's what the tank currently looks like. I tried to make a slightly "asian" theme since the betta is from the rice paddies of "Siam".

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Sedgey: At some point I want to make a saltwater tank to remind me of diving, but that will have to wait until I get the kinks worked out of this one!

    Haha, I wondered if anyone would recognize the bottle of wine! ;)

    Ronna: I went to the pet store today to get some supplies. Data is lucky I rescued him. I checked the other bettas to see if they were sick like Data. Almost all were in a state of disease - most of them worse! Data was the healthiest one! I guess in my enthusiasm, I wasn't paying close enough attention. About a quarter of the display had dead bettas - it was sad. Especially since the store manager was standing right next to it, asking me if I needed any help - did he not notice all the floating fish??

    Anyway, I feel glad that I was able to bring Data out of that. I feel like I rescued him now! He seems to be healing, and the sickly white patch on his head is gone. I didn't really know for sure what was going on, but I figured he was in unsanitary conditions at the pet shop. I hoped that just a clean water change each day would be enough, and his immune system was healthy enough to fight off any infection. It seems that was the right thing to do.
    2622 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/17/2011 9:48:30 PM
    Wow! Good for you figuring out how to cure Data! You never cease to amaze me.

    I too will steal your trick for watering plants when we go away...if I ever manage to get any planted!

    The aquarium looks beautiful!
    2623 days ago
    Fetzer, nice choice. ;) I love that idea. I will borrow it this summer for some of my house plants and outside containers since we will (are) gone about a week at a time. This time of year is fine, but a few will need a little extra when (if) the weather warms up.

    Congrats on curing Data! I'm sure he'll groove on his new digs. Looks very nice and makes me want to go diving!
    2623 days ago
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