Succulents

So recently I have become OBSESSED with succulents. It all started when I accidentally came across some really cute succulent seeds on Amazon. The obsession launched from there. I will list all the items I have purchased from Amazon and Etsy. I will do separate posts reviewing the Etsy sellers I have purchased from. This post will just be a general/misc conglomerate of random knowledge I have accumulated about succulents over the last two months.

Facts about Succulents:

  • Odds are you will find the most individual sellers of succulents in California. In fact, I haven’t come across one from anywhere else as of yet. This is because California is the perfect environment for succulents to thrive, nearly all year round.
  • Succulents love three things: sunshine, well draining soil, and minimal rain.
  • Succulents and cacti can be grouped together. Most people know that cacti live in hot, dry climates with minimal rain, like in a desert. Well succulents are similar. You barely ever have to water these hardy plants, making them convenient for the forgetful plant owner.
  • The variety of succulents is almost endless! There are so many different types and colors to choose from. Not to mention if you like cacti there is a wide variety of them as well. You might be surprised! I recently purchased a cactus whose spines are soft like a baby hair brush!
  • You can find succulents locally, but it may be harder than finding your common perennials, or annuals. You may also find only one or two of a type at your local store.
  • Ordering succulents offline is convenient and you can find a wide variety of plants. Downside? Shipping costs can become astronomical. Look below for my tips on buying succulents online.
  • You can easily propagate, or grow new baby plants, from your current supply of succulents through leaves and cuttings.

Buying Succulents Online

You gotta be careful buying succulents online. A little research and you quickly discover that many Etsy sellers use the same “stock” photos and descriptions of succulents. These photos may just come off Google, but they are pristine examples. Odds are the plants you will receive are not going to look that pristine and symmetric as the photos. So don’t buy from a seller because their photos look nice. Instead look at reviews, return/refund policies and in particular shipping costs. Sometimes two different sellers will have the same plants, but different shipping costs. Bottom line, when it comes to buying something online it can be a hit or miss. If you order from one seller and receive at least two bad plants, I would move on to the next seller. Also check and see what the return/refund policy for each seller is. When I received two bad plants I reported this within 24 hours of receiving it and received a replacement and refund from my seller. If your seller has a 24 hour policy it is within your best interest to know and not delay. Also pay attention to whether the seller lists the plant as barefoot. A barefoot plant is just a plant without a pot or soil. These tend to be a little cheaper because the cost of the pot is removed.

Quarantine:

When purchasing any succulent, online or in-person, be sure to quarantine the plant for at least a week. This will allow you to detect any unwanted pests or rot before it can be spread to your healthy plants.

Soil:

There is really only one type of soil you can use. You must use a well draining soil. There are specific pre-mixed cactus and succulent soils you can purchase, or you can find various recipes online so you can mix your own. I’ve used this soil here ($10.90) and here ($11.80). The first soil I purchased from Amazon. It arrived with the soil ever so slightly moist; enough to allow you to pack the soil down. The second type I purchased in-store and was very damp. Damp enough to register a 3 on my moisture scale. I won’t have to water the plants I used that soil with for a very long time. Both soils seem fine, very similar, and have been working for me.

Pots and Containers:

Pots are a bit more complicated! Broadly there are two different pot types. There are ones with drain holes, and ones without. The ones without drainage holes are sometimes labeled as terrariums. Examples of pots without drainage holes would be containers like these that I purchased off amazon. These are two different sizes with the larger of the two listed first.

51XR+AVtupL._SX425_Amazon link ($13.72)

71Z7zNoke3L._SL1024_Amazon link ($10.50)

I used these Command hooks ($3.77) to hang them without damaging my walls. This is a perfect alternative for a college student! Here are pros and cons to containers without drainage holes. A quick note, both these globes had a dimple on the front like many reviews complained about. Despite my slight OCD it doesn’t bother me that much. If you think it would bother you maybe try to find containers like this in person so you can inspect them before purchasing.

Pros:

  • You can get really creative with containers! There are hanging containers that you can hang from your ceiling to create a really interesting display.
  • You can recycle old containers you didn’t know what to do with, but were too nice or pretty to throw out.
  • You don’t have to water you plants as often because the moisture is held in
  • You can hang them on walls which allows you to fill an otherwise empty space with beautiful plants, while saving counter space at the same time!

Cons:

  • It’s easier to kill your plants. Without a drainage hold you can easily over water your plants and accidentally water log your plants. The extra water will lead to root rot which will slowly kill your plants, roots first, meaning that by the time the rot rots a visible part of your plant and you detect it, it’s too late to save it.
  • Best for more experienced succulent owners because of the special watering needs.

Basically it’s best if you can drill your own hole into your container. There are many tutorials online for how to do this. I haven’t personally done it because my wall hangers can’t have drainage holes or I’d ruin my walls! From what I’ve read it’s an easy process that can be done on most any material.

There are many beautiful pots with drainage holes that are perfect for any succulent owner, beginner or otherwise! I found these two adorable pots which are perfect for one small succulent.

81MVmjEJtHL._SL1500_Amazon link ($9.99)

41WyZj7jjxLAmazon link ($12.99)

I am an animal lover so of course I had to get these two! I own hedgehogs so that little guy is my favorite of the two. Mine currently hold my little cactus. My hope is that over time the cactus will grow and fill the pot and make it look like the spines of a hoggie.

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This is another container ($14.99) I have purchased. This container, like the ones above, are ceramic coated. There is a difference between the different container types.

Ceramic:

Ceramic containers have a glaze coating that makes them shiny and smooth. This coating is non-porous which means nothing gets in or out from either side. It holds in moisture keeping the lower soil damp longer. This means that over watering can easily lead to root rot which I mentioned earlier. With this kind of pot you have to be sure to use some sort of covering on your topsoil to retain water and prevent early evaporation.

Clay (terracotta):

Clay pots commonly referred to as terracotta pots are the best pots to prevent root rot. Clay is a porous substance which means it absorbs. The water is absorbed through the clay and evaporated out the other side evenly. This prevents water from pooling and water logging the roots. I still suggest a top covering to prevent the top from over drying.

Plastic/Nursery:

These are the plastic pots ($9.99) I purchased off Amazon to use during the quarantine period. Many of the plants I ordered came barefoot and needed a pot to be put into. 61-b6zipmqL._SL1500_

Sometimes pots like these are called nursery pots because these kinds of pots are used in nurseries to grow plants. These are a little nicer quality than a typical nursery pot and have a TON of drainage holes to allow for super even drainage. I like the various colors and like to match them up to the color of the plant it holds. Contrasting colors to your plant can also make your little guy pot. Each container has a saucer which is super convenient for watering to help keep your counters watermark free.

Fertilizer:

Succulents need very low levels of fertilizer or they’ll be over fertilized and die. I would recommend using only succulent specific formulas to be safe, but if you want to dilute your own there are recipes online. I use this formula ($9.85).

Watering:

So most every site I’ve visited has recommended using only distilled or bottled water. This type of water has been filtered of chemicals and the water is neither basic nor acidic. If you can’t get either at least use filtered water. Never tap.

I really like this watering can ($16). It’s a good size and has a nice flow. You don’t get too much water at once which might flood small pots.

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If you plan on propagating or growing from seeds you are going to need a spray bottle. Any bottle will do. Try to get one that has a fairly fine mist. You don’t want to knock you plants down, or spray them out of their containers (this has happened to me when I spray too aggressively!). The only other time you would ever want to mist a succulent instead of watering it is when they are attached to something like driftwood. I will explain how to do this in a different post if you’re interested.

When it comes to watering you want to imagine your plants are growing in their natural habitat, the desert. So your plants would normally go through long periods of no water, and then a rainfall, and then back to no water. You need to thoroughly soak your soil till the water runs out of the drainage hole and everything is wet. Then you just wait until it COMPLETELY dries out. Now this can be quite the challenge, unless you have one cheap and handy tool. I don’t know what I did before this (actually I do, I killed quite a few of my first succulents over watering them. After I got this handy guy I haven’t killed anything…yet).

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This bad boy is a moisture meter ($7.99). By sticking it into the soil you get a perfect reading of how wet your soil is, especially the soil you can’t see or get your finger down into. Now ever meter is slightly different; some meters come with a chart listing what level each plant should be at. This one didn’t, but through a quick Google search I discovered that it should be reading in the dry level for most of the time. It will of course read wet right after watering it, but it shouldn’t retain that high level of moisture long or else you might get root rot. Once the meter doesn’t register anything anywhere (check the top, middle, bottom, left, right, and center) you can water again. If in doubt, don’t. This is a good motto to live by. These really are desert plants and can go weeks, if not months, without water and still be fine. You’re far more likely to over water instead of under water.

Lastly, succulents go through active and dormant periods. Most are active during the spring and summer, meaning they create new roots and grow, and are dormant during the fall and winter time, meaning they go into plant hibernation. Each plant species is different though so be sure to Google everything to make sure you have the right dormant/active periods. Some species are dormant in summer so you can really screw the pooch making assumptions. During the dormant period your plant really is in plant-hibernation. This does not mean, however, that you should never water them. You need to keep up with the same advice I listed earlier in the watering sections. Water when the soil is dry. In the winter if you keep your plants indoors and heat your house, you may actually have to water more frequently in the winter than in the summer because the heat dries the soil out quicker than your nice cool air conditioning.

Lighting:

You want your plants to have between 12-16 hours of sunlight a day. You don’t want too much direct sunlight as it can actually burn the leaves of your succulents, similar to a human sunburn. Instead you want them to get the most early sunlight and indirect afternoon sunlight when the sun is at its brightest. If you’re like me and you don’t live in sunny California you might opt in for a grow lamp. Even if you live in a generally sunny area, it still might be good to have one for the wintertime when you might have less sunlight. I would recommend LED for sure as they burn the coolest and take up the least energy. Here are the two lamps I currently have:

51Z7l48Y-EL._SL1020_Amazon link ($22.88)

81+oADIJ8GL._SL1500_Amazon link ($22.89)

Personally I like the first light better. The second lamp has a loose nut which makes it hard to position. I’ve tried tightening it but it loosens frequently. I have mine set on a timer ($11.99) for 16 hours on. This timer has two outlets so I can use it for both lamps without taking up extra outlets.

Temperature:

Succulents are desert plants so they like things warm (warmer than 40 degrees F) and dry. Most succulents are not winter hardy so if you live in an environment that gets below 40 you will have to bring your plants in until it warms up again.

Propagating:

Propagating is when you take part of a plant and use it to grow another. You are most likely familiar with using seeds to grow new plants. Well those seeds came from a parent plant first. Propagating succulents is similar to that. Most succulents you can just carefully pull or twist a leaf off. Some succulents don’t propagate from leaves so instead you just behead your succulent and use that cutting to propagate.

Most importantly you need to let your leaves and cuttings callous over. This means you need to let the exposed part of the plant dry out and create a barrier. Without this barrier your cuttings will absorb too much water and rot. To speed up the process a little you can place the exposed tips against a cotton pad or paper towel. This will help draw out water and speed everything up a little. It can take from a few days to weeks to dry out a cutting depending on size and water density within the plant. I generally just leave them out until I notice roots forming. If the cuttings seem to be shriveling up you can mist them with water to help keep them from dying too soon.

Next what you want to do is lay all your leaves out in rows on top of a few inches of soil. You can nursery specific containers like this one ($11.40 for 3), or you can use a deep plastic egg carton, or one of those trays you can pick up at a local greenhouse. Just lay your leaves out on top of the soil. You do NOT have to insert the tip into the soil. Some people actually recommend against doing this because they believe it promotes rot. I lay mine out, and once the roots are pretty long I’ll just bury the roots and some of the tip under a little bit of soil. The roots MUST be covered with soil, or they will dry out too quickly and die. Once roots are established be sure they get covered.

Now it’s time to forget everything I’ve told you about succulents. When it comes to propagating you actually have to water the new cuttings quite frequently. I mist mine as soon as they dry out. Since I’m only misting (the roots aren’t long enough for me to bother truly watering them) the soil dries out every day. New roots need a lot of water. Just about everything new in nature needs more care; human babies eat constantly and so do baby plants. Keep them wet or they’ll dry out and die.

The coolest thing about propagating succulents is that they actually grow new babies that look like miniature versions of the parents. You will see a tiny flower forming at the end of your leaves. The leaf acts a bit like a placenta. It feeds the baby until the baby doesn’t need it anymore. The leaf will slowly shrivel up as the plant gets bigger and will eventually die and fall off. I highly recommend against pulling the leaf off at any time (even when it’s all shriveled and brown) because you can hurt the baby and kill it by accident. Just let nature take its course. It’s truly an amazing phenomenon to witness.

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You can see in the bottom right corner of this image an echeveria growing off a leaf. It is so freaking cool I can’t even tell you. You can see the tip of its leaf starting to shrivel and die.

Your cuttings are actually pretty hardy, despite what I’m kinda suggesting. Just the other day I found an abandoned leaf on my desk. Without water, soil, or even really sunlight, it had managed to not only grow roots, but start forming a new flower. I promptly planted it and it’s still doing good.

The only downside to propagation? It doesn’t always work. In fact, most posts I’ve read suggest that you’ll lose about half the batch, if not more. Sometimes roots form, but no bud. Sometimes roots don’t form at all. Sometimes a bud starts forming, but not enough roots. So don’t go destroying all your plants to make new babies, because there is no guarantee it’ll work out for you. If your plant is getting leggy, too big, or you happened to knock off some aesthetically important leaves when planting (I’ve done this way too often), you can just pull most of the leaves off (leave some on the top to absorb sunlight), behead it and start from scratch. This way you don’t 100% lose out.

Miscellaneous:

I would recommend having a pair of tweezers around. They have been my most helpful tool so far. You can use them to easily manipulate soil or the plants themselves. You can use them to carefully pull dead leaves off the stem, or pick them up off the bottom of the pot without accidentally breaking other leaves off in the process. During propagation I use the non-pokey end of the tweezers to create small indents in the soil to set leaves into. Here’s a little kit ($6.99) I just purchased off Amazon. I haven’t used it yet, but I already know it’s gonna be a life saver!

Hummingbird Feeder and Swing (Blog/Review)

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As a child my parents hung a hummingbird feeder in our kitchen window. We loved seeing one suddenly appear while we were eating. Sometimes we would have two or three birds come at a time! Then we didn’t hang it up one year. The birds came and when they saw there wasn’t any food anymore they left. We never hung it again. The room I spend the most time in didn’t have a location to hang a hook. In our kitchen we hung the hook on the roof gutter, but my room was on the first floor so that wasn’t an option. I had no way to hang a hummingbird feeder! This year I was determined to change this. I decided I was going to find a way to hang a feeder no matter what! A quick Amazon search divulged this feeder ($17)! It has suction cups that can stick the feeder to any window. So I immediately purchased this bad boy. Here is a front view:

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As you can see it has everything you could need in a feeder. It has a little perch so the hummingbirds can rest, three opening that they can drink from and an ant moat to prevent any ants from getting in. I currently am not using the ant moat and I am not having any problems so far. A few more Amazon searches later and I discovered suction cup hooks ($11.46)!

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So if you wanted you could purchase a standard feeder and use a suction hook like this one. I tied a red ribbon and hung a hummingbird swing ($15) on mine.

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I think the red jewel refracted light and attracted some birds because a few days after hanging it I got my first visit. I haven’t had any birds use the swing yet, but I have high hopes! I think it would be so cute to see a hummingbird on this swing!

Lastly, I bought some hummingbird feeder nectar ($7.18). There’s really no need to because it’s really easy to make some yourself, but I’m lazy and so I decided to buy it. I bought a red colored one, but I have found out that people DON’T recommend red dyed food because we don’t actually know how the dye effects the birds. Some say their kidney’s can’t process it, some say it just plain kills them. I haven’t read any actual studies on the subject, but there are a lot of rumors. Here is a picture anyway:

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The company claims there is no basis in these accusations, but that may be a biased opinion. I already bought mine, so I’ll go through it and then stick to the standard nectar mix of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. I’m thinking of maybe doing a half and half mix to help water it down a little. I feel bad, but I really don’t feel like I can toss $7 out into the garbage. So don’t make my mistake. Just make your own, pop it in the fridge and use it up!

Review:

So far I haven’t had any problems with either of my suction cups. It’s late Spring early Summer here and we have had some HEAVY, HEAVY rainfall and strong winds and so far the suction cups have stuck perfectly. The feeder’s holes are on the top, but it doesn’t seem to let much if any water in when it rains. The position of the holes also prevents the them from getting gunky and clogged because the nectar doesn’t sit against them. The part that holds the nectar easily detaches from the base without you ever needing to remove the suction cups so don’t worry about that. It also comes with a screw mount you can use if you wanted to mount it to a window or wall. I cleaned my window with Windex prior to hanging and I licked the suction cups to make them stick better. You can use water, but I just didn’t have any on me. The little bit of liquid on the cups helps form a better seal against the window.

The swing is well built and seems like it will last awhile. I love the large red jewel and I have no complaints.

The hook has stuck fine and I haven’t had any issues with it.

That’s it for my hummingbird feeder/swing review! I hope you enjoyed.

Owning an Ecosphere

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If you have read my first post then you’ll know this whole tank thing started because I saw an ecosphere on Amazon. I thought it was way too expensive and I could make one on my own. Didn’t really work out. I didn’t get the right shrimp, or substrate, or plants. So major fail on that front. Finally two years later I caved and bought one. I paid $47.99 on Amazon (size small). The prices fluctuate so be sure to keep checking back if the prices are high. I want to put in a disclaimer here. Many people are very opposed to ecospheres. They say that they are inhumane and you are in fact slowly starving the shrimps to death. There are some people whose spheres survive many years and others who only last a couple months. Honestly, I had wanted one for so long I didn’t really care. So I bought one. Please don’t go off in the comments about how awful these things are. If you care you can Google it and see both sides of the argument. Now on to the review:

So I purchased my small ecosphere on May 15, 2016. It is June 14, 2016 and everything has been fine. Granted I’ve only owned the sphere a month, but I will continue to update. I have really been enjoying my little sphere! Mine is the small size with a 4 inch diameter. You don’t realize how small 4 inches is until you see it sitting in front of you. It’s tiny! I love small things so this is just the cutest to me. The shrimp themselves are super tiny too to fit in the sphere! The biggest shrimp is still smaller then 1 cm! The smallest is going on 1/2 a centimeter. My sphere came with 4 shrimp. The small sphere comes with 3-4 shrimp so I got the maximum.

The sphere comes with a magnet on the inside and they provide you with a card with a matching magnet attached so you won’t lose it. You can use this magnet to adjust the decorations.

Conditions:

I keep my sphere in a room that ranges from 72-80 degrees F. This room has really bad air flow so it tends to get very warm. There is almost always condensation on the glass. The warmer your sphere the more active your shrimp, but the quicker they’ll die. I keep the sphere out of direct sunlight about 3 feet from a south facing window. The algae facing the window has grown, whereas the algae on the other side has long been eaten. The little shrimps eat the algae floating around the bottom and the algae growing on the sea fan. They are so cute! They eat together and swim around and are just really entertaining.

Interesting things:

So something really interesting is that when I turn the lights off the shrimp turn red. Then as soon as the blinds are opened they start going clear very quickly. Lamp light makes them start going red, but not the deep red they are when I open blinds in the morning. I’m not sure why this happens, but it does! In this photo you can see a red shrimp at the bottom eating, and right above him to the right a little a clear shrimp is sitting on the sea fan.

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Stand:

So the ecosphere sells a stand you can buy, but I wasn’t spending more money! They’re really expensive too. So instead I purchased a set of 4 cork coasters for $4.99. I only ended up using 3 of them to prop my little sphere up high enough for me to see my shrimps.

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Update 6/29/16:

So the almost unheard of has happened! My shrimps have had little babies! The shrimps themselves are already tiny, but the baby are almost microscopic! One of them happened to swim past the front of the sphere and catch my peripheral vision. Upon closer inspection I discovered tons of teeny tiny little baby shrimps! Now at first I was super excited because I’m really into genetics and biology and I love when anything has babies (we have a hamster incident a few years ago and I loved the tiny babies then too!). The only problem is that I realized the sphere isn’t really meant to have that many shrimp in it.

So now comes the sad side of this. The ecosphere is supposed to be a self-sustaining ecosystem. So for things to return to equilibrium things will go into flux. First the level of food will diminish quicker than it can be produced. The lack of food will eventually result in starvation. After shrimp die off, the amount of food being consumed will be reduced. This reduction of consumption will allow for production rate to increase. Eventually the amount of food being produced and consumed will balance out as enough shrimp die (and stop consuming). It is really sad to think about. I debated cracking it open and housing all the shrimp in an open tank, where I can regulate food, but at this point the baby shrimps are too small and would easily be crushed by the gravel. I also wouldn’t want to be messing with them at such a small size and maturity. Even disrupting them a little could kill them. So I’m just gonna let nature take its course and we’ll see how it goes. Through Google searches I’ve discovered that sometimes the baby shrimp will end up outliving their parents. I suppose this makes sense. When receiving your sphere you have no clue how old the shrimp are. You know that these baby shrimp (as long as they are kept in optimal conditions) should live for many, many years.

My only fear at this point is that all the shrimp survive. You might think that’s a weird thing to say, but if they do all survive that would result in extreme overcrowding, which is cruel. I guess if they all do survive I’d really have to remove them from the sphere which is a shame because I really like the sphere. If I have to, I bought a new marimo jar (I’ll update that page soon with pictures) and I can remove my marimo and put the shrimps in. Or leave the marimo and shrimp. I’ll have to research whether marimo can survive in salt water. I guess time will tell.

Non Typical Tools

I thought I would list some tools that I’ve found really helpful, but aren’t listed in any tank manual.

  1. Straw
  2. Chopstick
  3. Baby nose/mouth cleaner
  4. Dr. Clean magic eraser original

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I use my straw all the time. It’s useful for pulling up food that might have fallen to the bottom or snail poop. You can also use it to scrape off small specs of algae. If you have a large tank, it of course becomes more obsolete as straws only come so long.

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I use my chopstick all the time. It is a wooden chopstick that is dishwasher safe. It is not one of the disposable ones you get with take out. Those are more porous and take in bacteria, which is why you are supposed to dispose of them. You can buy them fairly cheap online or stop by your local Asian market. Mine is called H Mart, so you can check your area for one. It’s a very popular large chain store. I use my chopstick to move or adjust decorations, scrape algae or dislodge a stuck snail.

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I’m not sure what the official name for this is so I’m just gonna call it BNMC for baby nose/mouth cleaner. I picked this up from Target for $1.99. I use the BNMC for tank checks. It holds a lot of water and I use it to fill all the little test tubes in my water kit. I also use it for my Marimo holder to remove all the water.

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Lastly I recently discovered Mr. Clean magic erasers. The originals don’t contain any chemicals but the kitchen and bath versions do so be careful. The eraser is great because it doesn’t scratch acrylic like the magnet scrapers to. You could also use a regular sponge if you so desired. I like this sponge instead because it dries quickly and doesn’t smell.

If I think of anymore tricks I’ll add them here as an edit.

All Posts In Order

This is a list with links to all my posts in order by date. All links open in new tab. Just click the title. Any titles without links have not been posted yet. Check back at the scheduled release time.

  1. How It All Started – Nov. 23, 2014
  2. Buying A Tank – Nov. 24, 2014
  3. More Necessary Expenses – Nov. 27, 2014
  4. The Nitrogen Cycle – Nov. 28, 2014
  5. Marimo Moss Ball – Nov. 30, 2014
  6. About Me – Dec. 1, 2014
  7. Tank Cleaning – Dec. 2, 2014
  8. Feeding Your Fish – Dec. 3, 2014
  9. What Your Snail Needs – Dec. 11, 2014
  10. Owning a Tank at College – Dec. 27, 2014
  11. Non Typical Tools – Dec. 27, 2014
  12. New Fish Tank Review – Jun. 11, 2016
  13. Seachem Stability Review – Jun. 18, 2016
  14. Snail Ownership – Jun. 25, 2016
  15. Everything About Snails – Jul. 2, 2016
  16. Owning an Ecosphere – Jul. 9, 2016
  17. Hummingbird Feeders – Jul. 16, 2016
  18. Succulents – Jul. 23, 2016
  19. FarmHouse Fresh Review – Jul. 30 2016
  20. Air Plant Display Case – Aug. 6, 2016

About Me

I thought I’d do a little bio about me, so you’d know a little bit about who you’re reading about.

My name’s Hanna and I’m 20 years old. I’m a junior in college, and attend a small liberal arts school. I am an East Asian Studies, Japanese, and Anthropology major. I’m still not sure what I want to do. I study hard and keep my grades up.

I am a major pet lover. I have many little critters at my house besides my little betta fish. The first pet I got was in 2007. We got a little girl puppy and we named her Marche’ (<– that’s an accent mark for the e. pronounced mar-shay). She is a Coton de Tulear, a rare breed from Madagascar. She’ll be 8 January 25, 2015. This picture is her from the back, but her back is super cute!

Marche

The next pets we got were dwarf hamsters. We got two girls that turned out to not be two girls. December 16th we had two hammies and 4 babies. There were 3 girls and one boy baby. Once they were old enough, the pet store that sold us the parents had their vet sex them for free (because they f’d up). We gave one girl away to my sisters best friend and the rest we kept. Here’s a picture of the mom, Sweetie. All hammies passed away by January this year.

sweetie

Our next pets were guinea pigs! We got a four month old pig first. His name is Pudding and he just turned 3 years old Nov. 28, 2014. He is a texel guinea pig. He is more true to his breed in his body type. He is short and compact, whereas most guinea pigs are long and thin. He is a real sweetie and love giving kisses and begging for treats.

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The next piggy we got was only 5 weeks old! He was so tiny! We obviously named him Pie. The cutest thing ever was when we had introduced the two, Pudding took to him. He didn’t mind sharing his house and was eating food. Pie, just weaned off milk, went up to Pudding and tried to feed off him! Poor Pudding kept bucking his back feet up in an attempt to get him off. Pie just kept trying. Finally Puddy gave him a little nip and Pie never tried again. Pie just wanted milk, but that darn Puddin was a boy pig! Here’s PiePie. The bottom picture shows a size comparison between a 6 month and a 1 month pig. Pie’s our little scardy cat. He hides at any sound and runs away when you try to pick him up. Once you have him though, he loves cuddling up by your neck. He has a higher pitched voice than Pudding and his wheeks are very cute! Pie is also a texel.

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Our last pig was bought later the same year we bought Pie. On Dec 2. His name was Tibbles. He passes away at 2 years old on August 23, 2014. He died extremely expectantly. He literally died overnight after a bout of diarrhea. The vet thinks something happened to his GI track. He was our funniest little guy. He was only a month younger than Pie. He was the loudest wheekiest little pig ever! Any little thing would set him off! He was precious and I miss him everyday. He was a Peruvian.

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Now one would think that’s enough, but I’ve barely even started! Next up, I got a rather peculiar pet. Not sure how it started but I ended up watching a lot of Youtube videos with hedgehogs in them. Eventually I couldn’t stand not having a hedgie! Turns out a pet store near my house is one of the only ones in the state that sells hedgehogs! We got our first little guy from there. His name is Pikachu, but I mostly call him Chu or Chuchi. He is an African Pygmy hedgehog which is the domesticated breed you can purchase.

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Next up is hedgie number 2. I had to get another one of these cuties. This time we found a breeder in our area. I wanted a dark colored hedgie this time and she had a new litter. We got a one month baby. The pictures below are of the day we got him, so he is very little. That way you can see how small they can be! I named him Puppy, because he seemed like a Puppy to me. He is much larger now! He has a fat, soft tummy. He passed away 2/16/16 of leukemia.

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We aren’t done yet! We got our latest furry edition about a week before Tibby died. I had suggested that a hammy might be fun to have. Parents were hesitant because we already have a ton of little guys. I decided to pursue it anyway and visited pet stores around the area. At each store I held the hammies they had. My mom say a picture of a long haired hamster online and didn’t even realize it was a hammie. I told her what it was and she was shocked to learn that they come in a long haired breed. I was at a store, kinda out of the way, and saw they had long haired Syrian hamsters. They were really cute, so I called my mom to tell her. Turned out she was coming to the same shopping complex to go to a different store. So she came in and we held the two hamsters. One of them was incredible. He didn’t jump, bite, or even fuss. I held him a solid 5 minutes and he just chilled. We knew we had to get him. I’ve never seen another hamster like him before. He is so chill. He isn’t scared of anything; our dog, loud noises, anything.  His name is Gizmo. Gizzy also passed away sometime in 2015. It was probably cancer. He died at home in his sleep.

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Lastly I have my fish and snail. The snail right now is Snaila and the female betta fish is Thalia. (Thalia died October, 2015 of some disease and the snail is also no longer with me). I currently have a male betta named Lunar and an unnamed black mystery snail. That’s all the pets right now!

Marimo Moss Ball

So today I went onto Amazon to check black Friday deals. Instead I found A Marimo Moss Ball tank. It’s so cute and everyone in the reviews seemed to really enjoy theirs.

(Marimo fun facts at bottom!)

I currently have a tiny tree, and a cactus on my desk. I didn’t want to add more clutter to the side of my desk near the window. Marimo mass balls don’t need a lot of light so I can keep it on the other side of my desk that’s away from the window. I decided I would make one myself and save some $$$.

I went to two stores to try and find a container. I tired Target first and I found a tall drinking glass for $1. Check the bottom for pictures of that.

The next store I tried was Bed, Bath & Beyond, which was right next to the Petsmart I shop at. I hadn’t even thought of it until I got there. I found an almost perfect container. I wish it were a tad bit taller, but I still think it looks pretty cool. I found it in the bathroom section. I walked the whole store once and found nothing. I figured that there had to be something in that huge store. That’s why I went on a second walk through. I didn’t think I’d find anything in the bathroom section, but it was one of the only places I hadn’t looked.

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So this is the container. Its got a cute little rope handle and wood lid. I bought two. One for me and one for my dad for Christmas. The following will have two pictures; all left are the same, all right are the same jar. So next I went next door and got some river rocks in 3 different colors.

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Next I put them in, darkest to lightest (left to right in the picture above).

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Then I added the Marimo balls!

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Here’s one more picture of the jar from the left, the one I’m keeping at home.

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It’s pretty cute don’t you think? I’m going to try and find stands for them. Maybe a tall wooden rectangular stand type thing or a squat circular stand. If I can find one, I’ll add it as an edit to this post.

They are a little expensive at Petsmart. You can buy them cheaper offline, just be sure it’s not a fake. They sell “moss balls” for reptiles (not sure why reptiles need them but hey). They are just an endoskeleton with moss wrapped around the outside, not a true Marimo.

Pricing:

  • jar = 14.99
  • stones x3 = 1.99
  • Marimo = $8.49 (sale price)

If you buy all three stone colors the total is = $29.45

If you buy one stone color the total is = $25.47

For a cheaper version, just use the stones and a cheap cup. Here’s mine:

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The total with all three stones is $15.46

The total with one stone color is $11.48

Which one do you like better? Jar or Glass? Let me know because I like both and can’t decide which to use.

Fun Facts!

Marimo are Japanese. Mari = spherical, mo = moss.

Here’s the word in hiragana まりも.

In English we pronounce it mary-mo, but in Japanese it sounds like ma-ri-mo where ma’s “a” is soft. Almost like mario with an m in there.

They only grow in certain places because of currents. The algae is constantly being swirled in circles so it becomes a little ball.

Marimo can live for 200 years and the biggest they become is 12 in in diameter!

Owning a Marimo is supposed to bring you good luck.

Edit Dec. 1:

The Marimo ball produces little bubbles on its surface as it photosynthesizes. Sometimes it floats because of that. It’s really cool to see them appear. I take the little guy out, squeeze gently, and roll it around in my hand. It’s really soft. Then I put it back in. A few hours later there are small bubbles all over; on the glass, stones and Marimo. Nature at work!

Edit Feb. 14:

I found the perfect container for my marimo! I got it at Target. I think it was $12. Here’s a picture. I think it’s super cute!!

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It’s a little hard to see but there is some sand at the bottom and the marimo. The rest is just fake flowers that are affixed to the bottom. So I get a cute decorative plant, and my little marimo gets a home!

How it All Started

My journey into tank ownership all started with a self-sustaining ecosystem. I saw a self-sustaining ecosystem on Amazon. It sounded really cool and looked really cool, until you realize how expensive they are. You can see one here (all links open in new tab). I really wanted something on my new desk, so I researched how to make my own. I found this website and this video and created my own mason jar ecosystem. I used two little ghost shrimps and a conical snail. I used an old dechlorinator from our old fish tank to treat the water.

Mason Jar

  • mason jar = free
  • shrimps = $.39 each
  • snail = free
  • plants (I don’t remember species) = $3.99
  • gravel (GloFish aquarium gravel pink) = $5.99
  • algae thins (Top Fin) = $3.99
  • top fin fish net = $3.39
  • TOTAL = $18.14

The only problem was that I couldn’t get any pond algae and the system failed. I tried twice before I decided to move the system into a larger tank. So back to the pet store I went. I only go to Petsmart because they treat their animals much better than other pet stores.

Originally I was afraid my plants hadn’t been producing enough oxygen, so in addition to live plants, I also got an air stone. An air stone is a little thing, that comes in a lot of shapes, that connects to a pipe, that connects to an air pump and produces little bubbles. I also needed a new dechlorinator as mine had expired and a bacteria supplement to help keep the tank clean. I purchased suction cups to keep the piping against the sides of the tank. I bought 4 shrimps because they are known to be very delicate and die easily.

  • half gallon plastic tank = $4.99
  • air stone = $.99
  • 8ft of aquarium piping = $2.49
  • air pump (Top Fin) = $8.99
  • suction cups = $.97
  • money wort (plant x3) = $2.79
  • dechlorinator (Top Fin) = $3.99
  • bacteria supplement (Top Fin) = $3.99
  • shrimps = $.39 (x4)
  • real shell decorations (all living things decorative hermit crab shells) = $4.99
  • TOTAL = $36.34

So now I had a real tank, kind of. It was little and cute. I liked watching the little shrimps playing around together in the tank. Soon though, my plants started dying, and algae started growing all over. I tried to keep up with it, but it was impossible. I put the tank in more direct light, hoping to save the rest of the plants. My only hope was to get a snail to eat the algae. So, once again, back to the pet store for me. I purchased a golden mystery snail.

  • snail = $2.79

So the snail turned out to be a girl. I never in a billion years would have thought that having a snail would be so fun! I loved watching her move around and eat with her little mouth. I’ll write a whole blog dedicated to her and why you should get a snail!

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The snail was awesome, she ate the dead plant matter, cleaned up the algae and was super cute and fun to watch. The downside? Almost overnight, she ate everything. All the plants, dead or alive, were eaten. The amount of poop was insane. I had to suction it out with a straw everyday. She tripled in size because of it. With no plants filtering anything the algae took on a whole new level. The tank was cloudy and gross, a shrimp had died, and I knew there was no recovering it. So back to the freaking pet store I went. All this happened within a 6 week period.

It was time for a real tank.

To be continued….