a thoughtful web.
Share good ideas and conversation.   Login or Take a Tour!
comment by veen
veen  ·  41 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: April 7, 2021

The past month has seen the two big projects that I've been working on since last summer dwindle. One is effectively over, but still has a bit of work that's left to finish, and the other is in a lull as deadlines have been pushed back. I can work ahead somewhat, but it's obviously a lower workload.

The past month I've been struggling with feelings of inferiority because of my lower workload. If I'm busy all week, I rarely question whether the work I'm doing is fulfilling or not; I mostly hit the gas and keep going and going. As soon as I have the space in my calendar and the room in my head to ruminate, I will ruminate. On a rational level I can accept that after months of busting my ass of, it's good to have it a bit easier again. It's normal for there to be room to deload and take stock. But that doesn't stop my inner calvinist demon from making me feel inadequate because I'm not working the most I could at this particular moment.

The dumbest part is that it's not even a useful feeling. I shouldn't be near-overworking, it's not when I am at my best. I do my best work when I am not in a hurry and have a lot of free time, because then I can do what's most important instead of whatever's next in my calendar. I do my best work when I have the room to dive down interesting rabbit holes or can spend an afternoon digging into a problem.

I'm also much happier with the calendar that I have this week than the one I had two months ago. For the first time since... last summer? have I felt the energy to pursue side projects again. There's almost nothing that makes me happier than to dive into a new obsession and scratch my itch, so to speak. I still want to do something with generative design, so I spent the better part of my Saturday wrestling with Autodesk.

The past three days I've been obsessing over the Walstad method of keeping aquariums. My SO has had a tiny 20L (5 gal) aquarium stored in a box, which I was at first hesitant to use because it's so small. Most aquariums are either fake-sad nature, or expensive hyperregulated pump-galores, and I do not want to subject livestock to either. But I found this wholesome corner of YouTube where a one dude is getting millions of views documenting his effectively all-natural micro tank, a wonderful little ecosystem that he keeps in balance with some care, but almost no maintenance.

So now I'm reading the source book on the Walstad method, which is a chemist explaining how to maintain the chemical balance in one's tank to sustain an ecosystem. It's be a while since high school chemistry, but the basic rules and ideas are not that hard. Excited to go to the pet store soon and buy some stuff, see if I can grow some plants myself. In true Millennial fashion we already keep a few dozen plants alive in the house, so this fits right in with that.

kleinbl00  ·  41 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I have been keeping aquariums for... 40 years?

Initially it was all about German books. Then it became about Japanese books. Then it became about dumb shits on the Internet doing something completely gonzo and everyone else taking three years to figure out that they're desperately full of shit. Now? Now it's dweebs on Youtube fastforwarding through all the bullshit they have to go through in order to get macro shots of shrimp eggs.

Ask three aquarists for recommendations on methods and you'll get six opinions. None of them will talk about what didn't work except dismissively. All will swear by their current method to the death. Ask them next month. their opinion will have changed. You're talking about a hobby where the internet claims Discus will live fifteen years in captivity while pet stores will declare victory after six months.

I've been describing planted tanks as "pet ecosystems" since 1986. Here are a few tips and truisms that I haven't changed my mind about ever:

1) The bigger the tank the easier to take care of. Bigger tanks have more capacitance. They're less prone to shocks. Easiest tank I ever took care of was a 72 gallon. Most pain in the ass was a 7. 72 gallon I changed the water every couple months. 7 I changed twice a week.

2) "Biological" filters are largely bullshit. Their performance depends heavily on the health of their microflora, which can change in an instant.

3) "Natural" considerations are hopeless because none of the fish or plants you can buy share continents, let alone rivers. Shit, most of the plants you can buy aren't even true aquatics. Example:

- Pearl Grass (Hemianthus micranthemoides) is a North American ground cover that prefers not to be in aquariums at all. We had some in our green wall for about a year.

- Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum is a true aquatic spread to six continents... but naturally, it's 1-3m tall.

- Guppy Grass (Najas guadalupensis) is another North American plant that lives in ditches from Alberta to Belize.

All three of these plants are full-sun - in other words, they want about twelve times as much light as any aquarist will ever give them. In your example, a Vietnamese gourami and a bunch of Japanese shrimp spend time with a South American snail in a perfect melting pot of... not nature.

So you need to acknowledge that you're doing shit every bit as synthetic as keeping South American parrots with Japanese kudzu and weird interactions will happen. Also, what you've got coming out of the tap will govern what's going to work and what isn't. Until it doesn't.

Most successful small aquarium I've ever seen was my father-in-law's. In order to prove that his methods were better at keeping algae down than mine, he snuck a UV sterilizer into his filter. Sho'nuff, he never had to scrape his tank and his fish never got sick. I had great plants and no algae until the local water authority decided to change their phosphate injectors and poof I had green soup. The hardcore aquarists I know literally start with RODI water which has not only been stripped of everything, it takes ten gallons of water to get one gallon of RODI.

So if anything? Take it easy, don't let the purists on Youtube push you around, and consider victory to be whatever causes you more pleasure than aggravation.

steve  ·  38 days ago  ·  link  ·  

the sheer volume of knowledge in your head about any given topic is actually amazing.

kleinbl00  ·  37 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Bah. I just keep my mouth shut about stuff I don't know, which means people think I know everything. The breadth of things I don't comment on far outstrips the things I do.

uhsguy  ·  41 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Method is simple but a bit expensive to stock and setup due to light and plant costs.

Nutrient export happens via plant removal but also water change. It’s also pretty slow growth due to low co2 available. Very doable tho

Daffodil  ·  41 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I love Foo the Flowerhorn ♡ If you want to take on this method be sure to watch a lot of his videos. I feel the narrator does a good job of explaining what works and what doesnt, and why he chooses to change particular aspects.

I would not however consider this method "no maintenance" if you watch the dates up in the corner, although the caretaker tends to fast forward through tank changes he does them about once a week. Every week he boils almond leaf water, uses it for a 50% water change, trims the vegetation, and once a month he vacuums the rocks on the bottom and uses a magnetic sponge to clean the inside of the glass. He has tidbits of his process spread out throughout the videos. I've never kept fish, so I am not sure how this method compares to traditional in terms of level of maintenance though.