A male and female bluebird just scoped out the bluebird house!

They may or may not ultimately use it, but at least they know it’s there. The male is sitting on the edge of the rain gutter as I speak, looking too color-saturated for words. This is the first time I’ve seen bluebirds in the yard–they hang out along the street, but they’ve never come into the yard before.

Back from Stellarcon, with mixed results. The con was fun, enjoyed hangin’ with buddies, but my profits were minimal–enough that I didn’t lose money, but not really enough to justify working the weekend.  Still, this is my last con until Heroes, so I get a break for awhile while consumer confidence regroups.

Also, Kevin got a snow-leopard print fez. Which he wore with the kilt. I began calling him Haggis Effendi. He wants a smoking jacket and matching sporran now, which will make him look like a particularly bizarre Bond villain. (Raised by Scottish monks in the hills of Turkey, Haggis Effendi dedicated himself to super-villainy at a young age…)

Two more Pest Bobs appeared in my tank while I was gone–given their size, I suspect one grew from the remains of the first Pest Bobs, and the other hiked in from another part of the rock that I can’t see very well. I’ve also got hydroids, a relative of the jellyfish, tiny stinging beasties that look like minimalist drawings of tube worms. This, my buddy Wes (also a reefkeeper) tells me is nothing to worry about, they’ll go away once the tank matures a bit and I’ve got a clean-up crew pulling nutrients out of the water.

I just shouldn’t touch them, because they sting. Everything stings. I wear gloves when I look at the tank now.

Most alarming of the new developments is a type of algae called "bubble algae." This is a nasty invasive that could take over the whole tank if not removed. Removal is accomplished with that arcane and specialized tool, the turkey baster. Clean-up crew is again required to prevent spread (if the "bubbles" explode, they release spores everywhere. That’s bad, on the one hand, but if you have a good established tank, there are so many filter feeders that it has a much harder time getting a foothold.) Emerald crabs, one of my planned clean-up crew, are supposed to be good at eating the stuff, but I need to add snails first. (One species at a time, very carefully…)

I’ve got a whole lot of spionid worms, which look like this. They’re a good thing, they’re part of the filter feeders that keep things going. Since there’s lots of food at the tank cycles, the worms are comin’ out of the woodwork. Most of them are quite small, building little tubes with sand grains on them, their tentacles only as thick as a thread, but there’s one that I spotted last night that’s…well…hung. I mean, for a worm tentacle. I’m not even sure if it’s the same species, although it looks the same, (partly under a rock, so I can’t get a good look at his little tunnel) but the tentacle’s got four or five times the girth of one of the smaller spionids.

Part of the reason I’ve got all these bad things showing up at this stage, I suspect, is that I’m basically constructing an ecosystem, and you always get crabgrass before you get redwoods. Part of reefkeeping is artificially speeding up the process of natural sucession–your goal is a working miniature ecosystem, but since I’m having to slide in one species at a time so the whole thing doesn’t fall down and die, there’s a lot of weeds popping up in the meantime.

Today, if I finish the thing that needs to get finished, (stick stick stick) I get to go to the fish store and buy a couple of snails (carrot carrot carrot.) Time to get to work!

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