Sunday, June 27, 2010

Puffer dentistry and June bugs

Today I accomplished my second successful dentistry on my neon puffer, or avocado puffer, or golden puffer, or Auriglobus modestus. The puffer "community" largely accepts this species as one of the few purely freshwater varieties in the hobby trade.

Interesting note: apparently there is some concern and debate about use of clove oil on puffers for their dentistry as some hobbyists have reported after repeat dentistry work the puffers become slower and slower to return to normal after the anesthetization wears off, and after enough treatments brain damage is believed to have occurred or the fishes never wake back up.

Oh, about "puffer dentistry:" you knock the puffer out in a bowl of tank water with a drop or two of clove oil, ratio depending on volume, wait until the fish looks like it's dead, about a minute and a half, then scoop up the fish in your net and peel back the mouth and trim the beak, which is much like a parrot's beak but it continually grows without crustaceans to feed on regularly. I'd used baby nail clippers in the past but this time used a tiny pair of cuticle clippers and that worked great.

I don't want to get too controversial today but trust me, I'm going to dedicate a whole blog post one day about puffers, my 5 year experience with a wide variety of species (when I say experience don't mistake that for "expertise" as I am no way an "expert" and in no way hope that you consider me one and only take my words with a dose of common sense mixed with the experience and "expertise" of other hobbyists), and the bullshit I've encountered online.

Now for the second topic of today's post: June bugs!

I actually embarked on a 21 day vegan detox/elimination of all processed foods/ weight loss venture/ body spring cleaning a year ago. Long story short, I lost weight but felt awful practically the entire time. I had to "cheat" by eating eggs twice or three times a week. And I actually experimented with a number of june bugs and made june bug flour out of sauteeing the critters. Yes, it tasted great, but I was in a pretty psychotic state of mind you'll note if you'll watch the video diary we made.

I know I said I wouldn't get controversial, but I will never go vegan again. In fact, I consider veganism dangerous nutritionally for anyone longterm, and I seem to be particularly set to requiring small amounts of animal protein pretty regularly. If you're interested in this sort of stuff, I've provided a couple links to what I believe and consider scientifically sound and also based in evolutionary common sense.

Anyway, June bugs show up in our neck of the woods here in southwestern/southcentral NC mid to late June/early or mid July, depending on the heat and rain. They are about the perfect insects nutritionally for your freshwater fish, especially your big fish when the adult bugs start flying around and hitting you in the face like drunken kamikaze bumblebees. Plus you get a cool bonus as June bugs are iridescent and emerald and golden colored -- your fish will bless your substrate with flakes of shinies for months after the June bug cycle goes dormant again.

June bugs are also good eats for your local back yard chickens, as can be attested by Ming-Ming and Tuck below.



More info on paleolithic nutrition:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mandarin Impossible

Sadly I must report some troubling news on the new green mandarin.

After close observation over a 20 minute period, now that he's swimming freely front and center of the tank, it's clear he's taking mysis in his mouth, holding a good amount like a chipmunk holds pieces of nuts, then spitting out everything or most everything after a minute or two.

Another alarming observation: his skinniness is not improving. When a mandarin starts eating, you should notice a full belly within an hour (remember these fish like to take their time eating).

This experience highlights why it's so important to observe mandarin fish before purchasing them and know exactly what to look for.

  1. There should be no lines in the side, and the abdomen should be flush or rounded, never concave. Also take a close look at the back. A fish with a skinny back is in very rough shape.
  2. A healthy mandarin should constantly be grazing -- picking at the live rock and taking things into his mouth. If the fish hovers and never pecks at anything, this fish will likely never eat -- not even copepods in a 200 gallon plus tank with 180+ pounds of liverock.
  3. Ask the store to feed the mandarin mysis, and also ask to have the filter turned off. Mandarin mouths extend like the trigger snicks of seahorses. It's very clear when they eat.
  4. Finally, watch the mandarin for 2-5 minutes to be sure he's swallowing and not spitting out the food. The fish can apparently store food in their mouths.
All this has reinforced my theory that the major problem with starvation and mandarins is not due to their exclusive feeding on copepods but the means in which they are caught. Cyanide harvesting is a common practice in oceans around the world. It is my belief that the majority of mandarins are caught via this method and that this impairs their ability to eat. I've observed scores of mandarins in various stores and many simply do not eat at all; they exhibit no grazing behaviors whatsoever. Unfortunately, this likely means the fish is doomed regardless of tank size and volume of live rock.

So remember the steps I outlined above if you'd like to keep a mandarin. Regardless of tank size, be prepared to experiment with a number of foods:

  • Frozen mysis shrimp
  • Frozen Cyclop shrimp
  • Sushi (flying fish or capelin) roe
  • Marine Cuisine
  • Bottled amphipods and copepods
  • Live brine shrimp (only temporarily as these are nutritionally void)
It's also my belief that tank size and live rock are not the key, but a desire to closely observe your fish and do everything you can to meet his eating needs after you've found a specimen that is healthy and eating (prepared foods or live rock critters like pods).

As the mandarin is now comfortable in the tank, I'm going to attempt filming the eating process so you can see exactly what I'm writing about.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

New mandarin dragonett

Just a quick note. Last Friday I picked up a male mandarin and introduced him to my ten gallon FOWLR system that previously only held a clownfish. Skinny, had the tell-tale line in the abdomen and concave stomach, but had full cheeks and did not look emaciated--a good sign.

Turns out he eats mysis. Confirmed, saw him snick up a whole frozen mysis shrimp then chew it.

Mysis is much better nutritionally than pure roe; also it's a lot easier to get a hold!

So, in honor of this, here's a classic song sung by a classic muppet:

And the history of mandarins and me:


Sunday, May 23, 2010


BP keeps shitting on the situation and playing spin and cover-up. They know they can't do jack shit and instead they piss on a fire already burning a building down, from high pressure hoses a safe distance away. Our federal govt does nothing while the moron son of Dr. Ron Paul comes to BP's defense, and that's the coverage the media focuses on over the weekend.

Good news, I guess, is this personally has woken me up to the dangers of an undiluted libertarian platform. After all, the age of Dickens was the highpoint of the libertarian economic philosophy, with total "free-market business." And the gilded age of the United States was also an excellent example of Ayn Rand's sophomoric bullshit put into play.

Boycott BP petrol (gasoline for palin lovers, if any of my readers subscribe to that moron). Boycott their subsidiaries and products: Castrol, Arco, Aral, am/pm, Amoco, and Wild Bean Cafe.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Oil spill

The BP oil "spill" in the gulf of Mexico makes the Exxon-Valdex tanker rupture look like a premature ejaculation. Yet the media doesn't even pay half as much attention as they did to Michael Jackson's funeral.

The only real organized interstate boycott of BP is going on via facebook. Around 50 K members.

I joined and did something I never did before on facebook. I suggested the very reasonable boycott page. Not a single facebook "friend" joined.

Looks like I'm playing for the wrong team.