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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Aquarium

For my birthday this year Carina got me an aquarium. This was something that I wanted for a long time. I spent a bit of time, before it arrived, thinking about how to set it up and which organisms to add. It is now 13 weeks after I set it up and I am very happy with how it looks.

Below is a video of the current state, the creatures in it, and the progress since the beginning.





One of the things that is not shown in the video is the way the large granite rocks are kept in place. I found these next to a bridge close to our house. After some scrubbing to get them clean, I left them in the sun for a few days. I built a "model" of the base of the tank to test some arrangements for the plants and rocks.
Planning the layout


After I found a suitable arrangement, I thought that it might be a bit risky to have the rocks stand upright without any support to keep them in this position. They weight approximately 5 kg and although they can stand on the gravel unassisted, it was not extremely stable if the tank needed to be moved.

I planned to have the base substrate and gravel approximately 10 cm deep. I made two perspex bases for the rocks that would be buried, to give additional support. These were epoxied to the rocks and left to cure for a few days.
Gluing the base to the rocks


The bases were designed in such a way that the rocks would be able to stand in the position I wanted, even without the support of the gravel. With everything in place they are very secure and I am not worried that they will fall over.
Rocks standing on their own - looks almost as if floating in the air


The setup of the tank was a lot of fun and in only a short while the plants seem to thrive. I had to trim them a few times already.
Setting up the tank, substrate for the plants, covered by gravel
Slowly adding water
Plants after only a few weeks 
A few more weeks
   
There was one week where the sun shone directly on the tank in the afternoon. I was not aware that this was happening and a small algae problem arose (during this time I was on holiday). After I noticed that this was happening I closed the curtains and the problem resolved itself (I did spend a bit of time cleaning the glass and also got 2 Netrite snails to help with the problem). Currently the sun does not shine through this window and the problem will only occur for 3 weeks, twice a year where I should remember to close the curtains in the afternoon.
The small algae problem


Recently I got a few Rams-horn snails from a friend, who also provided me with a lot of information on keeping fish and lending me several books to help me get going  - Thanks Per.

I am quite pleased with how this whole project turned out and slightly worried more aquariums may show up in our house in the future.

R&C

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Specifications:
The tank is a Fluval Edge 46 liter. I use rainwater and tap water in a ratio of 2:1. This keeps the pH at approximately the right level but also ensure that there is few minerals in circulation. I do not add other chemicals and do a 15 % water change once a week.

Sock:
- Chilly Rasbora - 7 (added first and the only inhabitants for approximately 4 weeks)
- Celestial Perl Danio's - 5
- Pygmy Corydoras - 5 (they are quite shy and tend to stay under the plants - they also find the hole to gulp air without any problem, I was worried about this at first but after a few days I think they learned where the hole is)
- Endler's Livebearers - 14 (I only got 5 BUT they spawned 3 times and now I have too many. Luckily this is easily remedied and I will sell/give away some of them soon)
- Cherry shrimp - 5
- Red onion snails - 2
- Rams-horn snails - many.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Scotland!!!

We visited my sibling and her husband during the first part of July 2017 in Scotland. This was an excellent holiday! Below are some of the highlights in picture format.

In Edinburgh - Castle on the Rock

Ate at a few places - World's End Pub in the Royal Mile

Enjoyng the atmosphere at the end of the world.

The real Dolly - stuffed. 

Scottish Haggis with Tatties and Neeps

On our way to the Highlands we stopped at the Kelpies.

The North sea at Nairn.

More food - fish and chips. 

Urquhart castle on lake Loch Ness 
Quite windy at Culloden moor. 

Carina's favorite dish of the holiday. White pudding was the highlight.  
The Classroom Restaurant is highly recommended if you are in the Highlands. Here is their website: http://www.theclassroombistro.com/

Cowdor Castle - Another beautiful castle in the Highlands. 

Fort George - for all your British security needs. 

Neslon's opposite the Nelson monument. 

A whisky tour - recommended when in Edinburgh. 

On our way to the tidal island at Cramond. 

Open tidal flat viewed from the island.

We recommend a visit to this beautiful country.

R&C

p.s. eating some of the loot back home (haggis, blood-pudding and tattie scones)







Thursday, December 22, 2016

Changing careers.

Apparently it is quite common for people these days to have more than one career. With this information I decided that it is time for a change. Up until now I have been a scientist and yesterday was my last day. This is a exciting career that I would highly recommend. I really enjoyed it.

However, from now on a whole new set of challenges awaits as I will try to grow a small business into a stable sustainable source of income. I will be making and selling designer wooden objects and hope most of this will be via commission. I started a small store on Etsy where some of the products are available - have a look here (some example items below):


Thus a new phase begins, also let me know if you are interested in something.

R&C

 p.s. Both Carina and I became Swedish citzens recently - Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Camouflage not required.

How is the hunting of a black cat affected when the whole world is covered by white snow? See the video below for the answer:

Kwagga lost her prey for a only few minutes. There are more footage of the hunt which I can upload for those morbidly curious. The outcome is however predictable and there is now a partly frozen half eaten rodent body in the snow somewhere.

R&C

Some snow in November

We had some snow early in November and the change from summer to winter seems very sudden. It almost feels like these two photos were taken within one week.



Hope the winter stay this nice.


R&C








Thursday, August 4, 2016

Greenhouse

One of the problems with living in Sweden is the proximity to the North Pole. This cause the winters to be long and cold and which in turns makes growing plants a bit tricky. To help extend the growing season a bit we decided to build a greenhouse. It will definitely help at the end of the season - we had many almost ripe tomatoes at the end of last summer that needed only a few more days, but the frost got too them and we lost a large part of the harvest. Carina is also quite eager to start planting seeds in the greenhouse and replanting the more mature plans - at the beginning of the growth season. Lastly, there have been a few losses due to the wildlife, that may be prevented to some extend.
The greenhouse we built.


Our house came with a old smithy from the 1600's on which a garage was build (probably around the 1950's). Onto this a chicken coop was build (between 2010 and 2015). We decided convert the chicken coop into the greenhouse.
The chicken coop.


I thought that the main work would be to cover the structure in glass or hard plastic. However, during a visit by Carina's parents her Dad mentioned that we should use soft greenhouse plastic. We went online and found that this is an excellent option. We could order it online (here) and it was not too expensive for enough to cover the whole structure (although we calculated wrong and had to order more a second time ).

The main work thus became clearing out the trees and stumps that were in the chicken coop and building a floor. Unfortunately we did not take any photos of how it looked before we removed the plants from the coop. I can however mention that we had to start by using a bow saw to remove the newly sprouted shoots from the stump and the rest from the roof. Then we needed to cut away a few wires from the roof to remove the bit that grew into the wire-mesh. This was followed by taking the weed-eater with a blade attachment into the space to remove the rest of the undergrowth. Carina spent several hours after that removing the rest of the plant material and leveling the floor a bit. We were left with a floor sloping up to the garage and only 4 big stumps. To prevent the weeds from sprouting immediately we poured some salt onto the floor.
The floor - level-ish and most of the plant material removed.
Adding some salt.

We drove through our town one day looking for pallets. We found a few as well as several packing crates that we took home. I spent one afternoon sawing the boards from the packing crates.
Pallets found in town.

Crates sawed into boards..


We placed the pallets on the floor trying for a reasonably level surface.
The floor in making


We used the boards from the packing crates as floorboards. Everything was nailed together and the floor turned out reasonably well.
Flooring done.
A chicken coop with a wooden floor.

The next step was to add the plastic covering. We started with the roof since it was the most awkward shaped and the largest section (note we overlapped all the pieces from the top downwards - thus even starting with the roof the wall sections are tucked in under the overhanging bits and water should not flow inwards). Another problem was that we were not able to reach the garage wall at the top of the roof - the reason being that we decided to leave the wire mesh in place. A ladder could not be placed on the inside and the mesh and roof in general is not strong enough to carry my weight. We therefore stapled the one section of the plastic to a wooden beam that we attached to the wall (we could at least reach the sides of the beam while standing on ladders).
Cutting the sheet of plastic - for the roof. 


To ensure that the plastic did not rip on the wire mesh we covered all the edges with silver tape. Once the roof was dragged into place we added a few staples all round to keep it there while cutting the next sections.
All the sharp edges covered in silver tape.

Seems like it fits!


The rest of the covering was quite easy. We just needed to cut the piece to size, fold it under the previous section and staple it to the wood.

We covered the stapled sections with clear packing tape to help reduce the stress on the plastic and seal the overlapping sections.
Covering the front - the excess was removed after stapled to the bottom.

Covering the sides. 

We decided to add a window. I added a wooden beam where the bottom plastic section needed to attach. The top section was only stapled on top part and a wooden broom handle was stapled to the bottom. The sheet can be rolled up to open the window and is kept open/closed by small hooks. I added some overlapping plastic for the window sheet to fold into on the sides which makes it seal quite nicely.
Working on the window panel.
Double seal when window is closed.

Rolled up. - open window-
The final piece to cover was the door.

The last step in this project was to move all the plants. We have a lot of tomatoes a few chilies and miscellaneous other plants.
Carina and Donkie moving plants into the greenhouse.
More plants.

I hope that the greenhouse works well. There are a few things that may make it a bit sub-optimal. For example it faces east. This means that it gets a lot of sun in the morning and nothing at all in the afternoon. Ideally I would have liked it to face south if it could not be freestanding - but this is the structure that we had... I also hope that the wood used for the flooring does not decay too easily in the warm humid environment. This is something that we will deal with if it becomes a problem. Lastly, I am slightly worried about snow on the roof in the winter. The wire-mesh will support the plastic sheeting but I think we may need to remove some snow if it becomes to heavy for the whole structure.


Other than that I am happy. More important, Carina is happy. Now we can look forward to more produce from our own backyard.

Current view inside - next season it may be too small...


R&C