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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Starting a Saltwater Fish Tank

I bought a 29 gallon BioCube for Aaron last Christmas and  we finally got around to setting it up (7 months later)! We’re obsessed with it, to say the least, and spend the majority of our time now staring at our fish like they’re newborn babies. It’s been curbing my baby hunger!

IMG_4135Setting it up and oogling over all of the beautiful coral and fish at the fish store has been super fun! And we feel like trained biologists with all that we’ve learned!


If you’re interested in starting a salt water tank but have no idea what you’re doing, here are my suggestions:

  1. Be willing to spend some serious money. We’ve spent a little over $1,000 just getting the basics. I’m sure the set up is the most expensive, but at 29 gallons our tank is tiny. I can’t imagine what the costs would be for anything bigger. That one little anemone in the front of our tank was $150 and our pair of clowns were $200. Who spends that kind of money on a fish? I guess we do.  
  2. Bottom feeders are your best friend. Bottom feeders are great for assisting with maintenance and upkeep. We have a few sand sifters (A goby, 6 hermit crabs, 10 nessarius snails), a fire shrimp, and some algae eating snails (don’t remember their names but they’re cute with white shells). We also have a couple of emerald crabs and a porcelain anemone crab! They don’t do as much as the snails do in terms of maintaining upkeep, but they’re fun to look at!
  3. Not all fish and not all corals get along. I like what has to say about coral compatibility within a salt water aquarium:

    “Competition for space, or, more accurately, the lack of space, is one of the most important factors limiting populations on the hard substrate of a saltwater aquarium. This is why sessile colonial saltwater organisms such as anemones, sponges and soft and hard corals have developed various mechanisms for defending their space and for moving into new ones. There are three primary mechanisms that such organisms can use: rapid growth to “shade-out” competitors, the development of aggressive structures such as mesenterial (gut) filaments, sweeper tentacles and acrorhagi, and the release of toxic compounds into the water. There is no evidence of any species utilizing just one of these mechanisms — generally they use a variety of tactics.”

  4. You’ll wish you had remembered everything you learned in science class! In order to maintain appropriate water quality and before adding additional species to your tank, the pH, ammonia, calcium, nitrate, magnesium, and probably 100 other levels need to be measured and kept within a certain range. Go here for a nice cheat sheet:

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We love our tank and our new tiny family members!



Exploring Machu Picchu

I have’t written anything about our trip to Peru because we did so dang much that I don’t know how to re-cap! We ended up booking a 10 day tour with Gate1Travel; a super cool all-inclusive travel company! The group took us to Lima, Cusco, Puno, and some other tiny towns.

Machu Picchu was probably like #3 on our list of top 3 coolest things to do in Peru, but I might as well start with it… because why else do people visit Peru?!


Ahhh the beautiful summer estate built for the Incan Emporer between 1438 and 1472 (or so they say). We visited in early May, so the weather throughout most of Peru was perfect! At 70-something degrees and 12,000 ft., however, Machu Picchu ended up being a little too hot for Aaron and my sensitive Alaskan skin. But we were happy to get some sun and appreciated the few clouds in the sky.  Aaron and I have quickly learned that we need adequate lighting to get a good picture together – either I look like a dark blob or he’s too light to see.

Our journey started in Ollantaytambo, a cute tourist town we had visited the day before. We woke up bright and early to catch the 6:00 am train and enjoyed listening to our travel companions stories during our 2 hour ride to Machu Picchu. One woman worked for an entertainment facility and talked about all of the celebrities she had met who were a$@holes. Apparently Janet Jackson stole a rented ottoman that she just “had to have” (she’s still my girl and I would have taken it too if my name were Janet Jackson). I think a round-trip ticket is between $60 and $80 U.S. dollars, depending on the season. But we didn’t have to worry about all of that mess because we had an all-inclusive package! You can get tickets here.


Look at that pretty view from the train! Can you see the glaciers on top of the mountains? We spent a lot of time driving through Peru’s terrain, and with every new mountain range, I couldn’t help but think Peru was giving Alaska a run for its money!


We finally made it and spent a couple of hours taking lots of pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Like, Aaron got annoyed that I was taking lots and lots of pictures. But who doesn’t want to take too many photos at Machu Picchu?! How many times were we gonna be there?!


Our amaaaaaazing guide, Julio, showed us all around the site and reminded us NOT to take any jumping photos. He didn’t want us to embarrass him. But really, did you hear about the old guy who just died trying to take a jumping photo at Machu Picchu? Thanks for saving my life, Julio.

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We got to see the beloved Coca leaf in its natural habitat. Altitude sickness is real people! Or so I hear… I was too busy drinking coca tea every morning for breakfast! Aaron refused, because of his high profile job, but had stomach pains every night. So if you’re not opposed to possibly having traces of cocaine detected in your urine, drink the tea! Or, load up on a couple bottles of water every day to stay hydrated! A few of our fellow travelers got pretty sick, too – we assumed it was from all of the drinking they had been doing. Anyway, don’t drink alcohol, stay in shape, and drink coca tea!


IMG_3407We loved Julio, but after touring for a couple of hours we were ready to get in some hiking. We ended up doing the Sun Gate hike – a quick 45 minute-1 hour hike along Machu Picchu mountain. Aaron was bummed we didn’t have time to hike Huayna Picchu, but the views from the Sun Gate did not disappoint.

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See the little city way back there? Like I said, Machu Picchu wasn’t our favorite thing about Peru, but it was still a once in a lifetime experience that we will never forget! Plus the llamas are cute.

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