Monthly Archives: August, 2003

Well… an eventful day or so

I noticed the neon in the qt wasn’t looking very well yesterday: his fins have been looking ragged for a few days, and today I saw along the length of him (looking from the tail) for the first time: and he was covered in somethingNo idea what it could be; I looked on TTT and it could be velvet, but I don’t know. So this was a bit of a problem. Then, after coming home from a meeting, I looked in the qt and couldn’t see the neon – but could see a white thing on the floor of the tank, with something that looked blue attached to it. I figured it was the tetra – that Hektor had finally caught him (he’s been trying for a while), and had eaten him very quickly. I was a bit surprised, but didn’t think too much of it.

When I looked in the qt this morning, there was the neon! Still looking not very healthy, but certainly alive. So what I thought was the neon’s spine must have been plant material or something, and the light fooled me as to colours. I have no real explanation, actually. So anyway, the tetra was alive. I came home tonight, though, and there he was – dead; floating on top of the water. I looked at the body but couldn’t see anything wrong with it; he also hadn’t been nibbled at. So – he died anyway – jsut a day after he had. Poor fellow.

The rest of the qt, bar another molly babe, is fine. I wonder if Hektor will eventually kill all the babes? I do feed him, so he doesn’t have a huge incentive… I doubt if he will get the biggest one: she is the only one left from the Christmas batch, and is about half-grown I guess. I’ve been wondering whether She in the main tank will be having babies again, but she’s not looking enormous at the moment and she also doesn’t seem to be getting harassed by the males nearly so often. I still try to catch her now and then, but to no avail.

I saw a gourami and an SAE have a go at something in the gravel just now

On closer inspection, it turned out to be the mostly-eaten carcass of a neon tetra! I have no idea how that can have happened. So much for my fail-safe method of always checking the filter intake, assuming bodies will always end up there. The neons are very hard to keep up with and keep track of…

Forgot to mention I euthanased the dropsy gourami last week

He was on his way out – barely breathing, floating vertically – so I figured it was for the best.

Now I know I intended for Hektor to eat the molly babes… I just never expected that I would watch it happen… but that’s exactly what happened two days ago. It was quite weird – and a little gross, when he actually started to eat it. James keeps telling me I am not allowed to complain at all. Hektor is a beautiful fish!

The harlequins have grown stacks. They are the same length as the neons, although they have much larger stomachs.

Well… we got a betta today

We did some more reading, and decided that the tank should actually be ok. So we got a cobalt blue crown tail, and he is just superb (splendid, in fact). I have named him Hektor, after the glorious Trojan warrior. I put a couple of mollies in there with him. Mum (happy birthday) thinks I’m too cruel for words for doing that, but I figure I don’t want to keep them and there’s nothing else to do with them, so they should be doing something useful. He’s not all that big, though, so I think most of them are going to be too big… although he certainly seemed to be stalking the larger molly I put in there. And I’m pretty sure he took a chunk out of the smaller molly; at any rate she died, and on closer inspection she seemed to be missing her bottom fin. He hasn’t been doing much, which I know is probably him getting used to the place; it could also have to do with the water temperature – there’s no heater, so it’s around 18C; the guy at Coburg said above 15C should be fine.

Later that day

I’ve decided it’s just too cruel to keep him in a tiny and freezing tank, so I’m transferring Hektor to the qt – qt no more! Oh well… =] I think he should be much happier there – and it will be heaps easier to look after, too, rather than having to do frequent and enormous water changes on the tiny tank.

Some babies – maybe four – have died in the last few days

Ammonia is 0, but pH has dropped a little, to maybe 6.2 or so, maybe because of rotting plant material (the bits I’ve put in from the other tank, and haven’t fished out yet). I’ve just added some bicarb to deal with it. As well, James is convinced that some of the larger babies are eating the smaller ones – there do seem to be fewer… but I’m not convinced.

We have unfotunately decided that the small tank is too small for a betta, which makes me a bit sad, but it would probably be too cruel. James is saying we could get another 10g tank, like the qt, or just put a betta in the community tank, but I don’t think I’m going with either of those ideas.

Home after three weeks of teaching practice

Sick gourami is dead – but according to James, that’s happened since Thursday (this being Sunday), that being when he was last here. So they haven’t actually been alone all that long: they’ve been fed 1-2 times a week, by James. Two babies were also dead. And we came home with a 7L tank that used to have James’ danios, many moons ago… for a betta!

The Templars

Another book I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time. By Piers Paul Read, it looks good – a history of the Order, trying to sort fact from fantasy and hysterical accusations; not an easy task. I’ve only read 25 pages, but something in those pages has made me very happy: finally, a scholar who is sensible enough to quote from a contemporary Bible, rather than the King James! It’s a bit sad when people seem to think that you can only read the Bible with thee and thou and -est in it. Read is using the Jerusalem Bible, published in 1966; it is indeed a refreshing change. So, too, is the fact that Read does not make – or not yet, anyway – judgments about Christians and their beliefs. I’m not actually sure whether he’s a Christian being scrupulous about not making that too obvious, or whether he’s not Christian and tolerant enough to allow the Christian voice to be heard without condemnation. Either way, he’s presented a view of Christ and the early Church that’s one of the most straigh-forward and accepting I’ve ever read. Accepting in terms of ‘people believe this and who am I to nay-say’, I mean.

What this has to do with the Templars may be a good question, and it’s another thing for which I respect Read. He’s talking about this – the origin of Christianity, relations with Jews, early persecution – to give context to the formation of the Templars, and explain the background for some of the later events. As he says, some writers expect knowledge that some/many readers just won’t have, so to reach a wider audience you need to cater for them all. Even knowing half the early stuff, it’s good to be reminded, and also to read it in this context so it’s present in the mind while you read the later happenings.

Basque History

Not an Op Shop book, but one I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time. Mark Kurlansky’s Basque History of the World is very well written and researched. I’ve been vaguely interested in this group of people for a while – I think I may even have done an assignment about them in early high school – and it certainly fits into my love of fairly obscure history. No Basque would thank me for saying that, I guess, but what I mean is that it is obscure in terms of the generally understood history of the world. The Basques as a nation do not seem to have had a huge impact on the world (although after reading this, I will passionately argue anyone who says that): to most people, they wouldn’t even seem to be a nation, since you can’t look up Basqueland on an average map and find defined borders. But, Kurlansky points out, they have had a huge impact – particularly on France and Spain (he concentrated mostly on the latter), and also on the rest of Europe and, consequently, the world. Who set up the Jesuits? That would be St Ignatius – or Ignatius de Loyola, a Basque, just to name one. Many of the other Basques who have had an impact are not acknowledged by name anywhere much, but their impact is certainly felt.

I love that Kurlansky included recipes in this book: although I don’t think I’ll ever use one (not knowing where I might find baby eels, and not being sure that I’d like to eat them anyway), it adds powerfully to the fact that this is a history of a people, who are still alive and very much kicking, rather than just being an academic look at some isolated, irrelevant people.

I really liked Kurlansky’s Salt, and I must get around to finding me his Cod.


We borrowed the DVDs of the first series of 24 from a friend… We saw the ads for it, when the series first started here, and thought it looked like a great series. Not having a TV, though, we decided to try and ignore it so that we wouldn’t feel too left out. We mostly succeeded, although occasionally seeing ads would spark the typical “we really need a TV” comment from one or both of us. When we saw them on DVD, we agreed that sometime we should borrow them out… And then this friend came through, totally out of the blue! Terribly convenient, really.

Anyway, we’re both tired at the moment because the show is totally addictive. I’m glad that episodes aren’t actually 60 min long (also glad that I don’t live in the US, since their ad breaks are clearly much longer than ours), since that would mean staying up an extra 15-20 min per episode. We started on Sunday night and, this being Wednesday, we’re up to 11am. We don’t actually have anything planned tonight (the other three nights we’ve watched after having someone over for dinner, or after church), so we hope to watch quite a few episodes. I’m very glad that James is just as enthralled as me, else there could be issues…

It really is very well done. Visually, the split-screen effect is highly effective, and drives home the point that it’s all happening at the same time. The plot is pretty standard – it’s the sort of novel I’d read or movie/TV show I’d watch – but setting it all in one day really adds an element of panic, frenetic activity, and stress over a dead-line. So much has to happen in each episode that it would be easy to make it over-complicated, but it doesn’t seem to have done that so far. We were wondering how they’d sustain the plot over 24 episodes since they do have to keep the pace at break-neck speed, but they do it well – switching between situations, implicating one person then clearing them, and just now they’re starting to bring in new villains, and phase out the earlier ones, which will allow for the pace to be sustained: it also doesn’t allow the audience to get bored with a baddie, or predict their movements too easily.

I’m totally hooked, and I hope someone I know buys the second series on DVD…