Tag Archives: fish

Why use two words, when you can use several?

19 Feb

From the “none of us are as dumb as all of us” department, I happened to see this post and smiled. Recently, I’ve had to endure a lot of environmental legislation, so someone thinking that “no fishing” wasn’t encompassing enough puts a lot more faith in humanity than I do.

Contaminated fish IS a serious problem. Trust me, I’ve seen so many different diagrams about how pollutants accumulate in the bodies of plankton, which then accumulate in higher amounts with fish that eat the plankton, that accumulate higher in creatures that eat the fish (including us). The point being that most fish that you pull from your local rivers are not safe to eat… or at least, not safe to eat a lot of it.

So… how safe is safe? The national water quality standards for eating fish (to avoid pollution) in the US is 17.5 g. Most of my readers outside the US would think, “Damn, that’s small,” but although scientists use the metric system here, most Americans don’t. My mind (and most voters) don’t know from grams, so I would transpose that into ounces. Seventeen and a half ounces seems perfectly fine–and it is–that’s 500 grams. So when setting the water quality standards, most people would just shrug at 17.5 g and move on.

It took a lot of work by environmental groups to educate the public that 17.5 g was NOT acceptable. The most effective way is the dinner plate graphic that I show here. When you see the amounts of fish on your plate, suddenly it makes a lot more sense. They used that information to convince Washington State lawmakers to change the standards. And if you happen to be tribal or Asian or urban poor and feel the need to fish to add more protein to your diet, this is a major concern.

Which brings us back to that overly verbose sign–someone thought “If we just say, ‘No Fishing,’ then someone will say, ‘Well, I used a bucket, that’s not fishing, right?’ So best to cover all bases.” They didn’t go to the obvious “Some idiots won’t read your sign.” I remember when I lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I was walking along the canal and saw someone taking old chicken wings and using them to bait crab traps. There was a sign that said “no fishing” within easy sight distance. This fisherman didn’t think, “Why don’t I just fry up this chicken?” No, he said to himself, “I want crab and I don’t care how I get it.”

Eating crabs or fish from the Elizabeth River probably wouldn’t hurt if you did it once in a while. If you did it all the time, you’re gonna start losing hair. So why use two words when you can use several? Because people are trying to avoid frivolous lawsuits. There’s nothing on the bottle that says you can’t use Gorilla Glue on your hair, but if you took a moment to think about it, you wouldn’t.

I should go into a rant about “poorer but wiser,” but I should save that for another post. But what do you think? Are you start fishing off the city pier? Should we be stricter about water quality so you CAN fish off the city pier? Should we have any signs at all? Let me know in the comments below!

So Many Fishies Left in the Sea…

8 Jul

No one told us that getting pet fish was so complicated… or that snails are so much fun to watch! Here is our fishy saga into watery world of aquarium care.

My daughter started out with a betta fish (also known as a Siamese fighting fish), and although he was beautiful, and loved greatly by my little girl, he also only lasted a couple of months. Apparently this is pretty normal. So to avoid this in the future, we got seven little tetra fish… and they all died within a week. At first, we thought this was because they were suicidal and couldn’t avoid getting sucked into the filter. However, the snail survived and thrived, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

As with all pets, my daughter begged and pleaded to get a bigger fish tank, and sure enough, the parents are the ones who have to take care of the damn thing. Turned out that the problem with our fish tank was not suicidal fish (good band name), but our water. Our city water comes from the Salt River, so you can imagine, it’s very salty. So we have a prepper-quality water filter that can filter five gallons of sewer water through charcoal and get clean, drinkable water.

Turns out there’s a catch. The filtering process raises the pH of the water to over 8.0 (normal water is 7.0) which will kill most fish… except for our snail. So we bought another snail, because what we discovered is that snails are fascinating to watch. Apparently we bought a female snail, because within hours, they were humping like there’s no tomorrow. We know this because they laid eggs soon after (above the water line). They’ve done this three times – none of them have survived to hatch, but while the male has continued to get large on a diet of algae, the female has not grown. If you were constantly pregnant, you would probably be too exhausted to eat too.

So we’ve had to buy a whole testing kit to check pH levels, ammonia, and nitrate levels (NO2 and NO3) to figure out what the hell is going on. So we’ve had to solve all three levels being too high – we bought plants (adds oxygen), driftwood (to lower pH), and lava rock (to grow algae and handle… something). Finally we felt confident enough to buy four Corry fish, which apparently handle higher pH better. Well, one of them died instantly, but otherwise, the other three have survived quite nicely.

So far, the ongoing science experiment continues all right, the fish and snails seem to be doing okay, and if our pH keeps fluctuating from average to high, we’re on top of it. Have you had this problem before–where a pet suddenly becomes a hobby? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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