JKfish's NPT/ Holistic Pet Keeping Journal - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old 05-31-2012, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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JKfish's NPT/ Holistic Pet Keeping Journal

Hey all, since it's summer time, I figure it is the perfect time to make a lot of changes to my pet keeping in general.

So far, I have two distinct goals that I will be documenting via this thread. 1) convert my two 10 gallons into NPTs using the Walstad method. 2) Switch my diabetic bichon over to a raw diet based off the prey-model.

NPT1: Heated and cycled 10 gallon
Fauna- Panache the HMPK, too many pone snails, too many MTS
Flora- Aponogeton bulbs, moneywort, wisteria- all dying
Substrate- Flourite
Lighting- bad bulbs, in need of replacement XD
Filtration: Aquaclear 20

NPT 2 : Heated, and cycled 10 gallon
Fauna- Draco the CT and Salabite the vt, too many pond snails
Flora- Aponogeton bulbs and too much algae....
Substrate- flourite
Lighting- Natural light and a 15 watt full spectrum light strip.
Filtration- Aquaclear 20
1) find a good potting soil (The one I just bought has too high of a clay content)
2) buy a lot of plants
3) Get better lights
4) get cherry shrimps and maybe platies for NPT1
Here is a letter I wrote to my vets on 5/23/12, it explains what raw feeding is, why I wish to do so, what is preventing me from switching him, possible medical issues that need to be adressed before continuing, etc. ... Still no response from them (I obviously excluded my name and those of my vets for safety)...

This is JK, and I just want to reach Dr. G or Dr. S because I have a few questions regarding Rex and his diet.

For the past five months or so, I have been doing more research on diabetic dogs and their care. I have come across some interesting facts, but what caught my eye was a slightly more holistic way to deal with diabetes. During my research, I found out that many dog owners have had immense success switching their pets over to raw diets based on the prey model. From what I have read and seen, it results in healthier dogs with better coats, cleaner teeth, stronger muscles, and more energy all around.

At first, I was a bit skeptical, but after looking into it, I realized that it made sense. All of my questions about the risks of salmonella, food poisoning, a lack of a balanced diet, and such that I assumed would accompany raw feeding were addressed. Dogs and wolves have the same digestive system, the same teeth, the same way of processing foods. They process food ideally in under 6 hours, as most carnivores do, to quickly process the nutrients and quickly shed bacteria and other pathogens before they can actually attack the body.

People who feed raw recommend using a variety of different protein sources, i.e beef, pork, venison, etc. when feeding 2-3% of the dog’s adult body weight a day. 80% of the food should be meat, 10% should be bone, 5% should be liver, and 5% should be some other organ. So long as weight bearing bones of large herbivores are avoided (dogs can break teeth on those dense bones), there is nothing to worry about in the diet. The benefits clearly seem to outweigh the slight inconvenience of having to measure out portions of meat per day. When fed raw, they receive a lot of the nutrients that are cooked out in the process of making kibble. The process of biting meat acts to clean their teeth, seeing as all teeth are being sunk into the meat and scraped against bone as opposed to crunching on kibble with the teeth tips. On top of that, I have contacted several owners of diabetic dogs who feed their dogs raw. All say that the raw diet decreases the big swings of glucose levels that occur when the dogs are fed kibble and that raw feeding drastically decreases the amount of insulin needed to keep their dog healthy.

I want very much to swap Rex over to a healthier diet and by doing so, improve the quality of his life. The only part holding me back is that when I switch him over, his insulin needs are going to change. I have read that using a glucose meter at home can help guide the owners to making educated decisions, with the aid of their vets, as to how many units of insulin their pets require. Is there any model of glucose meters that you would be able to recommend for their accuracy? Also, would you be able to recommend how many times I would have to test Rex’s glucose levels a day to get an idea of his curve? I am not too familiar with how to determine whether or not the insulin levels are appropriate based on the glucose levels, so I would appreciate your input. Thank you in advance for your guidance and support.

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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
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NTPs :
So, I had bought organic valley potting soil. To be honest, it sucks.... way too much clay >.< I guess that's what I get for living in Georgia. I'm going to try and convince my mom to drive me out to homedepot while she's doing her errands, maybe I can pick up some non enhanced top soil. From what I hear, top soil tends to be easier to use simply because it doesn't have all the additives that most potting soils seem to use. If not top soil, somebody has suggested that I use Miracle Grow Organic Assorted Potting Soil. He says it is full of additives, but if I mineralize it, or at the very least rinse it out several times, that most of the additives will wash out safely. Seing as the potting soil I have currently is so full of clay, I could probably mix it in with whatever else I get to add a bit of iron :)

I ordered my plants today from Planted Aquarium Central and they should be here Monday ( YAAAAAAY!) . I figure I bought enough for the two 10 gallons, seeing as the plants currently in there have decided that life simply isn't for them XD .

The order:
1 bunch of Alternanthera reineckii "roseafolia"
1 Nymphaea stellata bulb (dwarf lilly)
2 bunches of Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Pennywort)
2 clumps of Lilaeopsis mauritiana (microswords) for NPT2
1 bunch of Myriophyllum Pinnatum (green fox tail)
1 potted Hygrophila corymbosa Stricta
1 potted Cryptocoryne undulta
1 bunch of anachris

It's a little bit of everything, and I'm still planning how I want to set the tanks up. NPT2 has my little siblings' fish in them, so they asked for certain plants, like the microsword and the dwarf lily.... we'll see how it looks :)

Since they're coming, I need to make a trip out to petsmart or something that sells tank hoods and light strips soon... NPT1's lights are a disgrace, and I can't stand the hood, the feeding flap is itty bitty. :/ I was hoping that I could find some for sale relatively cheap on craigslist, ebay, etc but nope... the ones that were up were priced higer than the new ones O_o .

Oh, and I'm hoping to find some "driftwood" in the forest behind the house soon. There's an old dead oak or two back there, but it requires a long walk down a steep slope through thorns ... That little excursion will have to wait until my sprained ankle heals.

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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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Here's a starting pic of the two tanks. Forgive the emptiness... In the past month or so my plants have been dying off. :P I've been forgetting to add the ferts (the flourite is now well over a year old, and I don't think it's got very much left in it to give to the plants), and the lights are/were funky

soon to be NPT1 (Panache on the left.... nobody on the right)

Soon to be NPT2(Salabite on the left, Draco on the right)

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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 02:26 PM
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Sounds like a good plan, and since you have a forest out back...why not collect your soil from that area to use. I like to collect my soil on the side/slope of my hill in my forest/pasture area...I scrape off the top layer to expose the soil-then dig the first few inches-then sift to remove any large organics.

What floating plants are you going to use.....

Look forward to pic...hope your ankle heals up quickly....

Edit-Unless you have proper lights the plants can't use the food.....
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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks OFL :) I just changed out the light strip for the second tank.... the lights didn't say exactly how many kelvin it was, but it is 15 watts and claims to be full spectrum... I'm going to stop back at petsmart and buy another light strip for the first tank (and this time ask an employee if they know exactly what the spectrum is ^-^ ). Both tanks are in well lit areas by windows,(you just can't tell in the first one because it was cloudy out), so with the added sunshine the 1.5 watts per gallon will hopefully be enough.

Hopefully the soil is good... the one thing that worries me is that the forest is literally right behind a large subdivision, and only about a quarter to half of a mile away would be a middle school; it's a thin stretch of woods, which makes me wonder if the soil could possibly already be contaminated by run off pesticides, weed killers, and all that nasty stuff. :/

As for the floaters, I have to ask my dad for a few water lettuce from his aquaponic systems.

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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 03:01 PM
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When in doubt...don't use it....

Yes, that added natural light will help a lot...when you are using dirt the high nutrients can handle the natural light and even recommended....

That proper color temp bulbs..as you already know....is so important for photosynthesis....Daylight bulbs are what I like to use 6500k...I get them in the lighting dept not the aquarium section...cheaper...lol....

Light strips I use the cheaper ones I found in the lighting section-one was an under cabinet type and another was for growing plants...they don't look all that great-but get the job done...lol...I remove their plastic covers and replaced bulbs-but I also keep open top tanks for best light penetration to the plants-I use yard sticks cut to fit on the inner lip of the tank for the light strip to rest on-pretty strong too...they can hold up a 15lb cat...lol....heat seekers...laffs....this way I can place two light strips over the tanks and creates a hood of sorts-plus more light....

Hopefully, along with the added natural light and the extra CO2 the decomp will naturally create-your Roseafolia will stay red...nice plant by the way..but can be picky sometimes....

Water lettuce is a great choice....
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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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:) Okay... I'll have to check out lighting sections in Walmart and Homedepot then~

Lol, I can't imagine a 15 pound cat balancing or laying on a yardstick right over a tank! XD That is one brave kitty.

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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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So, I decided to rinse out/ halfway mineralize the potting soil, and I have to say that I'm pleased with the results. I stuck a lot of the dirt in a tub, added water, stirred it up, and let it settle. There were a lot of floaters, so I poured out most of the water, and with a little bit over the soil, I used my fingers to sift through the top surface. The little bits of bark and twigs were on the top, and the heavier mud/dirt was on the bottom, so removing all of the unwanted extra wood was easy enough to get rid of. After that, I dumped and smoothed everything onto stretched out garbage bags. I'd say at least half of it was washed away in the process, but what's left is significantly less red/clayish. :) I mean, there is still a lot of clay clumps, but I'll deal with them. The mud is approximately 1 cm deep, so it'll dry quickly.

Pics of the drying mud-

i'm still considering trying to get a bag of the Miracle grow top soil, or some other top soil mentioned in a previous post. Maybe after rinsing it down/off several times, I can mix the mud and top soil 50/50 to create a nice mixture of clay-dirt and real dirt for the plants.

Last edited by JKfish; 06-01-2012 at 06:02 PM.
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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old 06-02-2012, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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So, I got an email late last night saying the plants are on their way over! Now I'm feeling a bit nervous.... I hope by the time they get here my ankle will be healed enough to empty the tanks out. I can definately walk on it now with a brace, but I don't know how well carrying 5 gallon buckets will work out. :/ I could always empty the tanks out a gallon at a time, but that'd be a pain in the butt. I also need to find my API master test kit... It's missing D: I suppose I could either buy a new one, or just play this by ear/sight/how well the fishies are doing. Both tanks are cycled, so I don't think I have too much to worry about once I turn the filters back on.

Worryworting aside, I'm ready. I've got approximately 4-6 sterilite containers. One is holding the dirt, two will hold the old flourite substrates from the tanks that will go ontop of the dirt, one can hold all the plants in some water, and if I have another two, they'll hold some old tank water with the filters running in them to keep the cycle alive. If not, I have buckets :)

I'm thinking that I will be moving my tank with Panache in it down to the main floor, simply because the main floor gets a wonderful ammount of light (natural and artificial), much more than my room. It'd look really nice in the family room once all the plants have grown in.

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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old 06-04-2012, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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So, today was the day for my NPTs!

The plants arrived by 1 o'clock
I was freaking out... They were packaged great, and a few extras were tossed in :D. The Pennywort was getting a little yellow around the edges, but then again, any plant would be after several days in a box. :)

I decided to tear down the divided NPT first, because I wanted my little siblings to be able to pick and chose whatever plants they wanted.

What was distressing though, is I didn't have enough prepared soil for both tanks! (I never did end up getting the Miracle grow potting soil, we'll see how this goes)...

My little 7 year old brother did his side first. It has pennywort, the roseafolia, the dwarf lilly, the foxtail or narrow leaf anacrhis (they both look remarkably similar), an aponogeton bulb, and one of the hygrophilias.

Unfortunately, my dad had gotten rid of all the water lettuce... I have no floaters! D: Water changes will have to be at least once a day for a while in order to keep the nutrient levels managable until the plants start to grow for me.

This was the end result. It's cloudy, so I'll do another water change if it doesn't clear up in a few hours. I must say, I'm proud of my little sister (12 years old). :) She arranged her side (the right side) very well. It has the same plants as my little brother, but with microsword instead of the dwarf lilly, and the crypt instead the the hygrophilia.

Since I didn't have enough soil for my tank, I had to lug out the potting soil and rinse enough to fill it. I made a mess, but figured it'd be okay. Then, on top of the mess, I moved my tank to the main floor, where the most natural sunlight is. Even though it's the family room, my grandpa spends the most time there and had forbidden the tank from being on the main floor... well... there is the saying "sometimes it is easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission." That experience has told me that it is a load of bull! XD My mom was furious, my grandpa was a bit peeved, and I had to go scrub down the house and deck because I tracked mud around.

Here's my tank. By the time I got around to setting it up, I was feeling a bit shakey because I'd only had a light breakfast. I probably could have been a bit more careful when setting it up together, but I was hungry, so I sort of tossed it together. Hopefully it'll look better as the gaps fill in my slapdash effort. It is also cloudy and has no floaters, but I'll be doing water changes until it is clear andd the plants start to grow. The plants are pennywort, hygrophilia, some wisteria, one little itty bitty stalk of moneywort I rescued from my tank, an aponogeton bulb, a tiny clump of microsword that my little sister missed, anacrhis narrowleaf/foxtail, roseafolia, etc.

The bettas are all in their respective tanks, happy, and exploring. I tossed in all the mts that I could find in the gravel, but I'm not sure how happy they are with me. It's been a few hours, and they're all still clumped up in their shells and not moving. The pond snails are just fine But they don't burrow. Hopefully my mts will get to burrowing and keeping the soil from compacting. If I see them in the same place tomorrow, I'll run to a petstore and wheedle a few from the fishlady. She's really nice, and I doubt she'll be upset if I take a few from the plant tank, it's simply crawling with all sorts of snails! XD.

.... It's odd looking at my NPT, because I'm so used to it being divided. When it's not split in half, it looks so much bigger! Panache is incredibly happy with all the extra space, but it looks really empty.... maybe when the tank is stable and fills in, I'll pick up a few shrimps. If not shrimps, then I'd be stuck between a group of cory cats or a small group of platies. I love the way cories look and act, but the gravel might hurt their barbels. I love the platie's colors and the fact that they'd stand out, but unless I pick up all male, I'd have an explosion of fry. Decisions, decisions XD

Last edited by JKfish; 06-04-2012 at 09:20 PM.
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