Sunday, December 21, 2014

Limiting land use is Important too

After getting through a few good environmentalist books recently I have realized that: my biggest gripe with the environmentalist movement today is they seem to under-value the importance of using land efficiently.

For example, if it is possible to feed the world with organic food but the total land required will be 25% higher than with conventional crops that is a loss for the environment. The gains which come from less pollution will be completely eaten up by the fact that we will need to bulldoze over native habitats.

In the energy world, if it is necessary to cover large areas of the earth with wind or solar farms we would be far better off by simply going with nuclear power. The small risks from a bunch of radioactive elements stored in a desert mountain are negligible compared to the damage which will come from ripping up desert ecosystems for space to put solar panels.

With urban planning, higher density cities, which environmentalists have historically fought against, require less land to be destroyed to make way for homes and offices. Manhattan style tall skyscrapers packed close make the most efficient use of space, leaving the most space possible for nature. Also, subways are the best form of transit because not only can they be operated off of electricity but because unlike cars they take no land away from wildlife.

Five thousand identifications

My odds of beating the all time high record of 6695 identifications in a month are looking good. Right now I am sitting at a total of 5447 identifications with another week to go.

Unfortunately the all time record is not going to come so easy, right now another person is at 5,327 identifications so my lead is a slight one. One of us will have managed to beat the record during the next few days, but I am not sure which one.

The only way I was able to get as far as I have is that a user under the name Maractwin has an absurd number of really high quality images of fish.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Aquarium List

I have been trying to put together a list of things to buy if I get an aquarium. I will update this over the next few weeks as I figure out what I want. This is probably a year or two off as I have a hard time doing something that isn't over priced.

The first choice is the tank. I measured the spot I want it in. It really needs a 4 foot by 2 foot tank. This probably means getting a 120 gallon tank which is 4ft by 2ft by 2ft. However there is also a possibility of a 150 gallon tank which is 4ft by 2ft by 31in tall. The price difference between the two seems like it might be more than I can justify though.

For filters, I don't think I can resist trying an algae turf scrubber. Unfortunately there are very few commercial products, so I am probably stuck with one from Santa Monica. Perhaps the HOG 1.3. Then I need a protein skimmer.

For rock, I am unwilling to go all out and buy a ton of live rock. However there are some dry rocks which are the same type of rock and should grow into good live rock in time. I will probably use some sort of cement to make a more porous structure with lots of hiding spots.

For livestock, I am thinking to start as fish only with live rock, then upgrade to soft corals if I think that the fish I get won't completely destroy corals. I have a few ideas:

Traditional predator tank:
  1. White Tail Triggerfish or Zebra Lionfish
  2.  Tobacco Basslet
  3.  Snowflake Moray
A tank with a grouper, moray, and triggerfish always sounded like a neat tank to me. Unfortunately the four foot tank is rather limiting but the above species seem like they could all work in a 120 or 150 gallon four foot tank.

Box of little terrors:
  1. Neon Dottyback
  2. Bicolor Dottyback
  3. Maroon Clownfish
  4. Arc Eye Hawkfish or Blood Red Hawkfish
  5. Blue Damselfish
  6. Four Stripe Damselfish 
  7. Rainbow Wrasse
  8. Indigo Hamlet
That group of fish includes some of the meanest fish below six inches. After some thought, I removed the Domino Damselfish and Lyretail Dottyback from the above list. Both of those species are famous for clearing out whole tanks of fish so they can live alone, even in that tank I might end up with a large tank holding one fish who is too mean to allow any other fish in the tank with him. If they were a little more pretty, I might have kept them on the list but older Domino Damselfish get fairly ugly, and the Lyretail Dottyback is one of the less colorful Dottybacks.

The advantages of that list of fish is that it is some of the most colorful fish, and hardiest fish. So if they don't all kill each other than it should be an impressive tank. Also, it is a reef friendly group of fish. The number of fish is low enough I should be able to keep corals without too much trouble. I probably can't keep all that many invertebrates, but snails should be able to survive if nothing else.

The roof is on fire:
  1. eight to twelve Firefish.
Firefish are schooling fish, and I just think a Firefish tank would be fun. I could go all out on corals and invertebrates with that tank because they are fairly peaceful. Doesn't sound as fun as the box of little terrors though so I probably won't proceed.

Crab Crushers:
  1. Snowflake Moray
  2. Blue Spotted Puffer
  3. White Tail Triggerfish
  4. Coral Hogfish
The local Asian markets have all sorts of odd seafood which is kept live. I always wanted a tank I could toss live clams, shrimp, snails, and maybe even blue crabs into as food. That tank is unlikely to work with corals though.

The price has be afraid enough to try and make a price list.
  • Aquarium - $400-$900
  • Stand and canopy - $500-$1300
  • Lights - $200
  • Heater - $30
  • Dry live rock - $200
  • Sand - $80
  • Sump - $250
  • Sump Pump - $100
  • Protein Skimmer - $200
  • Algae Turf Scrubber - $200
So if I get lots of used parts and go cheap on the tank and stand I might be able to pull it off for $2,000. If I get what I actually want I am talking something in excess of $4,000. Unfortunately I am reluctant to buy the tank, stand, and canopy used. Those turn out to be the most expensive components and the ones I cannot put off. If I wanted to it would be easy to wait on all filtration until a couple fish are in the tank.

Looking at the total makes me think that just going ahead to get the 150 gallon, instead of the 120 gallon probably makes sense.  I would use the same filters, stand, and lights for either. May as well squeeze some extra out of it. It also makes me think just going saltwater makes the most sense. I was originally thinking a 120 gallon planted tank, but with the cost of the tank and stand being so high I may as well go all the way.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Two thousand identifications

iNaturalist has a lot more people submitting pictures than confirming what is in those pictures. So I decided to spend some time confirming the entries people have sent. After a while I noticed that the site keeps a list of the people who have made the five most identifications each month. So I decided to try to make the top five.

Right now I have twice the number of identifications as the second place person. It is only four days into the month and I have more identifications than the fifth place person had last month. Perhaps I need a higher goal. The record high for a one month period was 6,698 identifications. That might be a worthy goal to attempt.