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.

Seachem Stability Review

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This will be a review of the nitrogen cycle starter, Seachem Stability. To learn about the nitrogen cycle please visit my page on it here. Because I was starting a new tank and my previous fish had died of a disease I could not risk transferring the infection over by using any cycled substrate or water, so I had to start fresh. There are many different brands of tank starters available, but I chose Seachem because it is a well-known, respected, and trusted brand.

I have also used Seachem Prime which dechlorinates and detoxifies ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, and provides a slime coat. When I was first cycling my first tank I was worried about ammonia poisoning so I used this product and as far as I can tell it worked. So I decided to check out their other products. Stability had good ratings so I thought I’d try it out.

Review:

I started using this product and within two days my tank was reading as cycled. I continued dosing my tank per the instructions. In the 8 months I have owned my tank I have never had it fall out of balance. I haven’t even had to do any water changes. Everything has been balanced perfectly, almost like a self-contained ecosystem. I keep doing readings to be sure, but as of yet there has been no need for water changes which seemed crazy to me but has been fine. I have done the occasional water change within those 8 months, but not on a regularly basis like I had needed to do with my old tank. I got to say this stuff is amazing and I will always use it whenever I need to cycle a tank. 5/5 stars for sure. Highly recommend.  

New Fish Tank Review

After the unexpected death of my female betta fish I figured it was time to move on into male betta ownership. I didn’t feel comfortable placing an adult male in a 2.5 gallon tank. It was just too small. For my 1 inch long female betta it worked out great, but with a potential 2-3 inch male betta it would be really inhumane. So I purchased a new 5 gallon tank. Here is the amazon link. I really like the look of this tank. Here’s my pro and con list for this aquarium.

 

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Pros:

  • It is very modern and sleek
  • All the equipment is housed in the compartment in the back
  • It comes with one filter pad which I haven’t had to change yet (8 months)
  • It is tall and thin instead of short and wide so it doesn’t take up as much table space
  • The LED lights are really nice and have multiple settings

Cons:

  • The filter provides too strong of a current for a betta
  • The filter slot is at the top so the dirt at the bottom of the tank is not sucked up
  • It’s a bit hard to decorate the tank because everything has to be tall and thin
  • The back compartment cover is loose
  • The lid doesn’t quite fit and you have to fiddle with it
  • The back compartment is dark and it’s very narrow so it is hard to adjust items inside

Overall I’m happy with this tank, but I probably wouldn’t buy another one or one like it. I really like decorating my tank and mixing it up, but with this one most of my old decor doesn’t fit and I have to stick my entire arm in up to my elbow to adjust items at the bottom. If you’re not into changing your tank decor then this will be a non-issue for you.

If you are planning on purchasing a fish that doesn’t like strong currents (such as betta fish) this tank probably isn’t for you. I didn’t realize until it was too late. The part of the tank that spits out the filtered water has a removable fan shaped attachment. By removing this attachment it does help slow the current a little. Even if you did not remove this attachment and set the filter to high speed I still think the dirt at the bottom of the tank would remain untouched. It is just too tall for any current to pick the dirt up and filter it to the top of the tank. I have a bit of a hard time feeding my betta because the second I drop a pellet in the current pulls it away and then eventually the pellet sinks.

The back compartment is great because everything is hidden and out of the way. All the cords come out the back and can be hidden fairly easily. The downside is that this super dark narrow compartment is hard to navigate when you first set up your tank. Trying to adjust tank flow in that little compartment is very hard. I also purchased a tank heater. Most website I visited recommended that you keep your heater in the main chamber of any tank to prevent the heater from melting any plastic and leeching chemicals into the water. The heater I purchased has many safety measures to prevent such an event from taking place. Also, since my tank is so narrow it would have been very apparent and would have taken up valuable space, so I chose to keep it housed in the back. I tested it out and made sure everything was working fine and so far I haven’t had any problems. I do have a suction cup thermometer placed at the front of my tank to monitor temperature levels.

The final major issue I have with this tank is the lid. Now according to reviews not everyone has this problem so it must be an inconsistent manufacturing issue. The cut of my lid does not fit the shape of the tank. I have to really fiddle with it to ensure it doesn’t fall into my tank and potentially kill my fish or crack my tank. My lid is made of glass while others seem to receive a mesh top. The lid only slides as far back as the back compartment, so if you need anything more you have to fully remove the heavy glass lid.

The light is really nice. It has two settings: day and night. The night setting is actually a blue light that will cause any “glow” decorations or decor with white on it to light up. The day setting is very illuminating and lights up the whole tank. You can easily flip the light up or remove it for cleaning, etc.

Here is a link to my gravel if you’re interested. All the decorations are by Top Fin and cost between $1-4 dollars except the tree which I believe cost between $14-20 I can’t remember. I purchased everything at my local PetSmart.