Sunday 30 September 2012

Fall colours in Ontario

We took a tour around Lanark County on Saturday. The colours are well on their way again. It seems only yesterday it was Spring!
With the furnace vents cleaned, two dead mice removed, and the furnace is on today. It is time for fall.

We took the back roads, and some narrow unpaved gravel roads, coming home via California Rd. and Darling Rd., near California, Ontario. You know, the kind of road where you climb up a hill and cannot see over the other side. You pray there is no one else coming uphill towards you!




Saturday 29 September 2012

Aquarium guide for goldfish

Shirley 2 and her buddies outside, plus the hybrid alewives.
They are partly dark - partly bright orange!

The late Oliver on my 20 gallon tank -
Shirley 1 and her late friend
Here is a bit of a guide. I've been keeping tropical fish since I was 15. 
We have the most expensive 'free' goldfish ever as we had to upgrade our tank to accommodate our new fish! Found in a ditch, with hundreds of their friends, a friend thought they should be rescued in her water bottle. She took home 4 but she was finding it hard to manage them. Our Shirley 2 needed buddies, I thought 'Why not?' Who knew they would mate with the Alewives?

They grow to the size of their container, and being in the goldfish pond, ~600gallons, they grew over the summer. We bought a 60 gallon tank, on sale as they no longer make them. This one is very tall and I'll need a step ladder to reach the bottom!
Shirley 2

Generally, common goldfish are pretty easy, if big poopers! Tropical fish require a much more specific environment. I know of some goldfish that have survived in sump pumps in basements, covered over, until they began renos, etc. 
Generally, store staff will tel you that you need a gallon per ince of fish. What happens is there is a build up of ammonia from their urine. 
You give them a pinch an inch each per day is the standard. Generally, you give them only enough food so that it is gone in 5 minutes. They're able to eat algae and other stuff in the pond, including whatever babies and bugs they can catch, so I haven't fed them outside except when I wanted to see them!
Obviously, you can probably find a complete system on or from someone who is selling theirs. I bought my 20 gallon stand, aquarium, filter, lights, the whole shebang, all for $150 used from parents who were holding it hostage for a son who moved out west. Ironic! 

30-49 Gallon Aquarium requirements

It looks pretty!

  • Aquarium with Hood & Lights - to keep out little hands, dust and prevent evaporation. I had a glass top made to keep out Oliver, if you recall! You give them a template, with the holes cut out for the filter. This is much cheaper than the ones you can buy! The light just sits on top. Measure the tank and figure out how many gallons, that's how they sell them usually. 
  • Aquarium Gravel - enough to cover the bottom of the tank 3 or 4 cm or so. It collects the unfiltered poop and keeps the balance in the aquarium. It's good to buy this new and wash it well in a strainer before you put it in.
  • External power Filter - you don't the charcoal in them. I think with these big guys an external filter is best. Mine is a 'hang-on' filter. You can buy filters separately, as they get dirty. I was washing mine, and reusing them, especially when I couldn't get to the store to buy new. The size of the tank determines the filter you need. Can't hurt, with these big guys, to go one size up. Sales staff should know.
  • Plants & Décor - they do like to hide. I use a clay pot tipped on its side. I have lots. The bigger they are the more likely they are to overturn plants, though. I wrap paper around the back and the one side of the tank to give them privacy! The plastic plants are best, if you think you have space, as the real plants you can buy tend to cause problems and/or bring bacteria or ... 
  • Heater & thermometer - this is not necessary for goldfish, who prefer cooler temperatures, but tropical fish have specific heat requirements.

  • Maintenance Equipment
  • Clean dedicated fish bucket to use for adding and removing water. You cannot risk contaminating the bucket with chemicals. Their urine has amonia in it, which is a bad thing! You need to remove about 10% of the water every two weeks, depending upon your water source. In Muskoka, I found it went green mid-winter. Don't know what was up there. 
  • Scrapers/sponges - to clean algae off the equipment. The theory is that the fish eat it, but they do prefer the high protein fish food in the tank!
  • Fish net  - just in case, and for transfers or to remove debris.
  • syphon to remove water into the bucket. The large end picks up poop but not heavier gravel - if you look at the photo. 
  • Water Dechlorinator - if you're unable to let the water sit for 24 hrs. and you are on city water. We're on well water and we don't need this. This is a little bottle of drops and you add a few per gallon. 
  • Friday 28 September 2012

    Stopping the Illegal Export of Canadian Wildlife

    Bear near Gravenhurst
    This is food for the long gun registry. I am all for the Federal Government giving the data to the provinces. Why waste all those tax dollars?

    Quebec is in the process of suing the federal government for the records. Seems a shame to throw away the data.

    News Release
    Stopping the Illegal Export of Canadian Wildlife
    OTTAWA, Ont. – September 21, 2012 – Environment Canada wildlife enforcement officers launched a coordinated series of interprovincial and international border inspections in the summer of 2012 to look for evidence of illegal hunting of black bear and other species. 
    • The operation took place in 29 locations throughout Canada.
    • Over 700 hunters and 125 fishermen were inspected while travelling between provinces or leaving the country. 
    • Inspections resulted in 79 infractions. 
    • Of these, 44 were related to black bears while 35 involved other species of wildlife.
    • officers issued 54 contraventions, 25 warnings and confiscated 9 bear carcasses. 
    • Various animal parts were confiscated: skulls, bear and seal meat, a liver, bacula and eagle parts. 
    • Species inspected during the operation included wolf, bison, beaver, duck, mountain lion, deer and fish. 
    The operation was coordinated with provincial government departments responsible for wildlife enforcement, Canada Border Services Agency, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the United States Customs and Border Protection.
    While the operation targeted unlawful exports of all Canadian species, particular attention was given to the export of black bear. Canada has one of the world's last remaining healthy populations of bear, which is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. Hunting, harvesting and trade are strictly regulated by provincial and federal governments so that bear species continue to thrive in Canada.

    Thursday 27 September 2012

    Dragonfly rescue and wash-up

    I was cleaning my goldfish pond, when I spotted a dragonfly that had been sucked onto the surface of the water. I rescued it, placed it on the log, and it did a bit of a wash-up. Rather amusing!

    Wednesday 26 September 2012

    Rant you this!

    He's the pro of ranters!
    What do you think? Do you think we don't rant enough?

    Rick Mercer: Why I rant. And why you should too.

    Ranting is a ‘skill’ the comedian learned from his mother—and he says Canadians don’t do it enough

    That's what Rick Mercer says. I disagree!
    Many rant. Many cannot get press - at least those in the public.
    We give too much space to those who are nameless, and the media does not listen to those of us with opinions.
    Opinion polls have lost their veracity.
    Anyone who reads me, knows I like to read, research, and reflect on issues.

    We bought his book. I'll let you know how it is!

    A Nation Worth Ranting About: Rick Mercer Report from Across ...

    Book Description. Publication Date: Sep 18 2012. An all-new collection of furiously funny rants from the most recent seasons of the Rick Mercer Report plus ...

    Tuesday 25 September 2012

    Caterpillars, butterflies, moths

     These are my photo collections. Soon many of my photography subjects are going to leave us! The butterflies, for the most part have gone south. The caterpillars are eating their wee faces off!
    It is very tricky trying to name all these critters. I've done much research, and attempted to verify their names and species for each photo. Moving to S. E. Ontario has been fun, with a whole new groups of critters I have never seen before (e.g., the huge Imperial Moth below).

    Sunday 23 September 2012

    How do you get rid of fruit flies?

    This is sooo sticky!
     Drosophila melanogaster, called the common fruit fly. I had hundreds from the composter, whose lid was askew. Me bad!

     I tried an experiment. The old-fashioned sticky tape vs. a wasp trap. I popped them in the window.
    The problem with the sticky tape is it is REALLY sticky! Afterwards, I had to put baby powder on my fingers as the thing broke, I was forced to handle it and uncurl it manually.

    I thought that if the wasp trap worked for the fruit flies, I wouldn't have to feel guilty killing the wee things. It wasn't their fault that I forgot to clean out the composter!
    The hole is big, but maybe their wee brains won't let them figure out all they have to do is fly down.
    A few pieces of apple inside
    & I had captured dozens!
    Sure enough.

    I have had to empty the wasp trap numerous times, so far. It was far superior to the sticky tape. The only thing was, when I took the jar down down, they managed to figure out how to get out!

    I walked quickly and took the trap to outside, and set them free! The nocturnal gray tree frog was sitting behind the BBQ, but wasn't any help at all! Zzzzzzzz

       Now, of course, the next big thing is to get close-ups of them. Easier said than done. They have abdomens with bee-like stripes. Who knew?!

    Extreme close-up!
    I began to be curious about Dr. David Suzuki's fruit flies. He studied them back in the day.
    There isn't much valuable information on-line. I don't trust e-how or Yahoo answers. Who knows who these people are or their credentials?

    One pest control company writes of the life cycle: egg, larvae (maggot), pupae, adult. They
    look similar to house fly maggots, but smaller. I found a New South Wales PDF fact file, if you want to see the photos! These fruit flies harmlessly lay eggs in soft, ripened fruit. An irritation, especially in the house, it's not such a big deal.

    This one was on the bathroom mirror
    Fruit flies live about two weeks, and the female can lay about 500 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs have a gestation period of 24 hours. I had a hundred, at least, in the kitchen. At least they don't buzz like mosquitoes, or sting, for that matter.

    The abdomen is striped!
     This concerned me, however. I found something from the Ontario Government about Spotted Wing Drosophilia (SWD). These bugs have ovapositors (egg depositors) that can saw through field fruits and damage a farmer's crop. Different than Common Fruit Flies.

    Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is an invasive vinegar fly from Asia that can cause extensive damage to soft-skinned fruits before harvest. First detected in North America in 2008, this pest has spread quickly. SWD has been found in Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, as well as many American states and in Europe (e.g. Spain, Italy and France). SWD is different from other vinegar flies because it lays eggs in healthy ripening fruit, rather than overripe or damaged fruit. 
    SWD -
    from gov't PDF file

    More Information on SWD: