Thursday, September 9 2021

recharge friday, marissas addiction, and trusting nature

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday. I just learned yesterday that my work is giving us a day off this Friday. My work calls it a "recharge Friday", and when the CEO tells you to take off on a Friday in September, you don't ask questions. I guess that makes today my Friday, and it also makes this an incredibly short week.

I'll still do my best to get a Friday journal entry out. I might be able to take a day off from work, but who else is going to announce the day of the week, ramble about bugs, and capture each slurp of coffee with onomatopoeic italics? I may not have work tomorrow, but I still have a job to do.

Sip. It's good to be here, isn't it? I hate to ruin all the good vibes we have going, but this Thursday journal entry is really a cry for help. I'm worried about my wife Marissa.

It all started when she decided to get into fish. We sprung for two clown fish, she dropped them into a new fish tank, and all was well. The fish were happy to swim around in the tank, and we were happy to watch them. Then she started getting into corals: that's when the addiction began.

At first, she got about five corals. We welcomed them into the family, and they made their home in the fishtank. Rodney even gave them names. But new corals kept appearing on our doorstep. Long corals. Spikey corals. Fluffy corals. Small corals. Big corals. Even Rodney gave up trying to come up with names for each new member of the fish tank.

There was one morning I found a browser bookmark on our computer for a website called "Corals Anonymous". I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, I thought. Marissa has realized she has a problem, and she must be reaching out to find help on her own. But clicking around the website, I learned the hard, cruel truth that Corals Anonymous isn't a website that helps people get over their coral addiction. It was her coral dealer.

"Look, they even give you coral bucks," laughed Marissa. "I almost have enough to get free shipping."

My stomach twists into knots. I feel so powerless watching Marissa slide backwards down this slippery slope. All this time spent browsing deals, researching new species, and accumulating Corals Anonymous bucks, and all we have to show for it is a beautiful fish tank filled with interesting specimens.

Please, if you have any loved ones that dabble with saltwater fish, check on them. I know for a fact my cousin Tammy is also a coral addict. Marissa made her own choices, but I can't help but also blame Tammy for getting her interested. My heart goes out to Tammy's husband Josh - I know the hardship of living with a coral addicted wife all too well. Be strong, Josh. You can only fit so many corals into a tank. The madness has to end eventually.

I kid, of course. I thought of this silly coral bit in the shower this morning because I didn't have much else to talk about. And the website Marissa orders corals from really is called Corals Anonymous, and that makes me think saltwater coral addiction transcends our little running joke.

We had a big fish tank day yesterday. Marissa ordered her first amenone. After acclimating it to our water in a plastic bag all morning, Marissa released the bizarre, gelatinous alien into her beloved tank. The top of the amenone blossomed into a colorful flower. The bottom looked like an inflated elephant foot. It flopped over sideways, crawling along the sandy bottom.


"It's wandering around looking for a new home," explained Marissa.

We watched the anemone anxiously. "This one can't touch the other corals or they'll die," explained Marissa. "Part of me is kind of worried I'm going to wake up and he'll be the only thing alive in the tank."

"Well that wouldn't be blood on your hands," I laughed. "That would just be murder, you can't do anything about that."

You've got to learn to trust nature. I've been reflecting on this simple truth in struggling to get my super worms to reproduce. I'm having serious doubts in my set up. Currently, I have the larva worms and the adult beetles separated into two tanks. The beetles are supposed to lay eggs that hatch into worms, which I would later move back into the worm tank during daily checks. But the fickle little worms fight me at every stage of the process. The beetles don't want to lay eggs, the eating worms want to be pupas, and the pupating worms just want to keep eating.

In the wild, these worms don't benefit from an anxious overlord like me. When they hatch, it's their job to get their fill of food, then burrow deep down into the ground away from the other worms and beetles. If they can't separate from the pack, they are cannibalized by the others and life goes on.

So I'm planning a new super worm enclosure, and the idea is radical enough to fly in the face of all super worm breeding wisdom I've come across on the Internet thus far. I'm picturing a tall, narrow plastic bin half filled with substrate. The deep layer of substrate should provide plenty of room for the worms to burrow and form pupas. With Marissa's help, I could attach a plastic tray to the inside of the bin where I can drop food as well as a stack of empty egg trays - this is where the beetles could live and breed.

Everything I've read says that the worms and beetles must be separated. But everything I've observed says they naturally want to do that anyway. Throughout the day, the worms remain deeply buried in the substrate while most of the beetles huddle together in the safe darkness of the egg crate. My hypothesis: if kept in a single enclosure with enough space, the two competing organisms would establish their own turf - the worms would dig below the surface and the beetles would remain above the surface.

Isn't science exciting? I think I just found the perfect project for this extended weekend. Stay tuned for findings.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Thursday everyone.