My sister’s cat

It’s coming up to the one year anniversary since my cat died. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m still really sad about it. I went home this weekend and I brought some roses with me to place on her grave. I thought maybe it would provide some comfort. But it didn’t. I still ache. I still can’t accept it. I look at her grave and it just doesn’t make sense.

My parents are looking after my sister’s cat right now. So she was there when I was. My father kept calling my sister’s cat by our old cats name and it’s hard to say anything when he does it, because it’s awkward, and it’s sad.

My sister’s cat is a delight. She was a little wary of me on Saturday, but then on Sunday she crawled into my lap and passed out there. Several hours passed and my legs went numb but it was perfect, to feel her warmth and her weight. I kept following her around all weekend, pestering her to allow me to cuddle her and pet her, because I miss it. I miss my cat. I miss having a cat.

For a time the neighbours cat was here, but he did move away. And I know it’s for the best, he was getting too clingy, but I do miss his presence. He was a good substitute. It was good to have his company, his warmth.

I tell myself she was just a cat, but it doesn’t quite work.

I’ve felt lonely since she died.

I started out with two shrimps, attempted to have four shrimps, failed, and somehow decided to buy more shrimps. All in all I have now bought 6 shrimps, and yet just like my last post, I still only have one. For a time, I definitely had two. I saw my red one around and sometimes I saw one of the latest two I’d bought, a small yellow cherry type. I’d bought a pair of yellow ones as I thought they’d blend in better, therefore reducing chances of getting eaten. And one of the pair disappeared, but there was one left that I could spot now and again. It seemed utterly fine. On Tuesday night it was swimming around and it came to the front of the tank for the very first time, allowing me to take some pictures of it.

On Wednesday morning I looked into the tank and it was dead. It didn’t seem like it had been attacked, there was no sign of damage, no sign of disease. It was just….dead. I was hurt and confused. How could it just die like that, overnight? It was ok. And then it was dead.

I’d had a danio death just on Monday so this was a bit of a blow. But I know my tank is clean and stable so I’m mostly confused. The shrimp seemed too young to pass of old age. I think I need to test the water for copper? That could be a reason. (But the other one is fine so you’d think they’d both be in trouble if there was something anti shrimp in the water… ) The only other thing could be stress from the water change I carried out on Tuesday, but I didn’t cause a massive flux in tank temperature. I did gravel clean, maybe it was too disruptive?

I thought shrimp were meant to be easy. But I’ve definitely lost two, probably lost another, and I’m missing another two.

The real question is – how is that one red shrimp thriving still when all its mates have died? I look at it and I’m amazed at it’s resilience. It swims about the tank amongst the fish without fear (perhaps trying to blend in to prevent attack?) And it’s big and healthy…

These creatures baffle me. I need to resist buying more…it’s just expensive fish food by this point (I left the yellow shrimp in the tank on Wednesday just in case I was wrong but of course all that happened was my fish ate it. Partially. So I had to take out the remains…. )

Checked on my fish tanks this morning to find that my Betta fish had built a huge bubble nest. Overnight. It certainly wasn’t there last night….But look at it now! He has sort of built these nests in his old tank but never at this scale- it was usually nothing more than a small clump of bubbles. Look at this thing though! I’m a little taken aback by the size of this, and the timescale of it (overnight!!). I’m taking this as a sign he really likes his new tank.

(Technically this is a breeding behaviour ingrained into the fish. They build these nests to keep the eggs in and keep said eggs oxygenated – yes, the males look after the eggs. According to some websites, Bettas will build these even in sub par conditions as it is such an instinctive behaviour. But then other websites say they’ll only build them if comfortable and happy. So who knows, really…the internet is a confusing place for research. I should probably buy a book or go the library…easier to Google though! 😅 )

Change

Changing the theme around. Things may be little wonky for now (I can’t remember how to CSS tbh). Please bear with me.

I took the day off work today. The weather was beautiful and I was sure I should enjoy it, but after taking a lie-in and doing some chores I found myself at a loss to what to do with myself. I kept checking my work emails, looking for an excuse to get dragged back in. I didn’t get one. In the end, after some time sitting in my favourite chair, absentmindedly flicking through social media, I decided to get started on my Betta fishes new tank. He was housed in an undersized 12L. I had incorrectly stated it as 19L on this blog, but it was actually only 12L. With a heater and filter it wasn’t too bad, but it was far from ideal. I had wanted to upgrade him to something larger and I was thinking perhaps something fancier too, but bigger, fancier tanks are expensive, and my father pointed out (rightly) that my floors might not like two very large tanks. So in the end I picked up a cheap 24L kids aquarium – basically the larger version of his current tank. That way, I could keep my existing heater, wouldn’t have to pick up too many new decorations…and there wouldn’t be too much extra weight on my floor.

I decided for his new tank that I wanted to add some wood. His tank always seemed a bit plastic and although I wasn’t about to put in some real plants – I didn’t want to buy lighting, or deal with snails/algae/dead plant matter like I do for my big tank- I wanted something organic. A big slab of wood seemed a good choice to add something natural. I picked it up last weekend- crouching on the floor of the pet shop looking through all their samples for the perfect piece, I’d even brought a tape measure with me to check the sizes- and I had been soaking it all week to remove the tannins. These tannins leech out of the wood, turning the water brown. It’s harmless to the fish, but I didn’t want that kind of look for my tank. But the tannins wouldn’t go, so in the end I found myself spending my afternoon boiling this wood in a big pot on the stove. Exciting, right.

It seemed to do a good job getting those tannins out though. And the boiling would also have killed any potential bacteria or fungus in the wood, which is good too.

After that, I rinsed out the new tank, rinsed the new gravel (I was going to combine black gravel with the lighter gravel in the existing tank for a fancy looking substrate), emptied out the existing tank partly so I could move it to one side and put the new one on the table. Then I began to pull apart the old tank, poor fish still in it and looking quite bemused, and build up the new one. Finally, I moved the fish to a bucket so I could finish taking out the items and substrate in the existing tank and empty the last of the water in the new tank. (Poor little guy was definitely having a time of it through this process. Thankfully in the wild, as far as my research suggests, betta’s have to deal with these situations now and then. They have a gland that lets them breathe in air to get oxygen to help them deal with stagnant water conditions. So he could deal without a filter and a small space, only for a time though, as it would be stressful for him to actually live this way. That’s why you shouldn’t keep betta’s in those pathetic 7L betta tanks with no heaters or filters. They may survive it, but it’s stressful for the fish to live like that…I found this article on the Betta’s natural habitat very interesting. You can find a picture of a betta in the wild here, which is also interesting.)

I removed the old tank, pushed the new tank into position and put the fish back in alongside his bucket of water. (I decided to risk using the new tank straight away, due to needing to place it in the same location.) Slowly, I filled the tank, watching as my fish explored every nook of his new territory. Finally, I got the heater and old filter on. I still need to create a baffle for the new filter so I can get that established. I need to buy a new background for the tank. The fish looks happy though, albeit still a little bewildered by all the new space.

He is finally in a proper sized tank. Finally, his tank doesn’t look so pathetic next to my big 120L.

I’m very pleased with it too, though I do think I want to make it even more heavily planted going forwards…