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Category: Lifestyle

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:

IMG_4132  IMG_4118IMG_4113IMG_4122   IMG_4104    DSC_1055



We love our tank and our new tiny family members!



How to Travel When One Spouse Hates Traveling

I love my husband 100% and he’s probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but let’s be honest, the guy tends to stifle my travel dreams and sometimes it can be a real buzz kill. You know what I mean? How do you make it work with someone who doesn’t like to travel when you feel like traveling the world could be a full-time hobby? How do you keep your travel mojo alive when your spouse rolls his eyes every time you look into a new destination? Look no further my friends… This is how we do it! (“This is how we dooooo it. It’s Friday night, and I feel alright, the party is here on the West side…”)

  1. Find a job that allows you to travel more frequently. Managing federal grants means opportunities to travel outside of Alaska for mandatory grantee meetings, and for that, I am very grateful. Finding a job with frequent travel isn’t always easy, but if you are lucky enough to work for an organization who prioritizes traveling for training, education, and staff development, use it as an opportunity to explore a new city, for free! And while I do miss my husband when I’m traveling for work, it’s a great opportunity for me to get rid of some of my “I’ve been stuck in Anchorage for too long” anxiety.
  2. Visit a country with a scenery and climate you both can enjoy. Nothing ruins a vacation more than a complainer. “It’s too hot.” “It’s too cold.” “It’s too dry.” “It’s too dirty.” When planning a vacation, choose a destination you can both get excited about. There are 196 countries in the world and you’re telling me you can’t think of one country you’d both enjoy? Even though I am dying to visit West Africa (where my ancestors are from!) and go back to India to show my husband all of the wonderful things I experienced while living there, he hates the heat more than anything and won’t step foot in a country where there a more cockroaches than people. So, visiting India or West Africa with my husband probably won’t be happening anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean I can’t go with my girlfriends, right?!
  3. Travel with friends and family. If you really can’t agree on travel plans or your spouse can’t find the time to get away, talk to friends and family and see if they’d be interested in traveling with you. Aaron and I live 3,000 miles away from our closest friends and family, so planning a girls trip or mommy-daughter vacation would totally help me keep my sanity!
  4. Cut costs where you can. Aaron’s biggest deal breaker when it comes to travelling is the cost of doing it. Why spend thousands of dollars to fly to Mexico when you can get Mexican food at Don Pablo’s around the corner? Of course I get this, but Aaron doesn’t.  So what do we do to cut our travel costs?
    • We book vacations through Groupon, Gate1travel, VacationstoGo, last-minute travel deals, etc. Groupon has a plethora of discounted, all-inclusive travel options, and the accommodations always go above and beyond what we expect! When we first moved to Alaska, we booked a 7 day Princess Cruises, Alaska cruise for $300/person  through one of those discount sites!
    • We pack our own travel food. Fruit, crackers, cheese, vegetables, whatever. You’ll be happy you didn’t have to pay $30 for a water and piece of cheese at the airport.
    • We use public transportation. Most countries have some type of metro system and the cost of traveling around for an entire day is generally cheaper than renting a car.
    • We save our money. Living on two incomes, without children, has truly been a blessing, and it’s given us an opportunity to put my salary away for safe keeping.
  5. Upgrade your flight. This goes against everything Aaron stands for in terms of budget travel, but the guy has long legs and hates to fly, so what’s a girl to do? Besides, I make my own money, so I do what I want! And that means upgrading to economy plus or first class so my husband can be as comfortable as possible. If you’ve booked your flight well in advance, you can usually make the upgrade to economy plus, business class, or first class for an extra $40-$120/seat. First class is the bomb… You get food, you don’t have to touch the person next to you, you can stretch your legs out. It’s expensive, but if you’re trying to make a travel experience as pleasurable as possible for someone who hates to travel, just upgrade.
  6. Stick to a travel schedule you both agree on. As much as I’d like to be one of those travelers who travels for 6 months out of the year; living a carefree lifestyle with no responsibility… that is not my reality. And it never will be. Aaron and I enjoy working  full-time, and we’re satisfied with how far we’ve come in our careers. So like the majority of the world, we have to prioritize work, vacation, and family time and save some serious PTO before we get to go anywhere. So, in order to satisfy my need to be anywhere but in Anchorage, our travel schedule looks something like this:
    • One out of the country trip per year
    • One trip to visit family
    • Lots of tiny trips/weekend adventures in between
  7. Explore new things about your state. We’re spoiled. When you live in the State of Alaska,  there are always new adventures to be had and mini-vacations to take! Exploring around your own state can be a great way to satisfy your “wanderlust” (that’s the first time I’ve used that word and I think it’s kind of weird) without spending a lot of money or getting leg cramps because you’ve been sitting in a plane for 10 hours. Aaron went to college in Utah and I went to college in Idaho, and to this day we still complain about all of the exploring we didn’t do when we lived there! There is beauty all around, you just have to look for  it.
  8. Be patient. While it’s common to think that anyone with a pulse would quit their jobs at a moments notice to travel around the world (I sure would!), that’s just not an accurate representation of the total population. Travelling isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. When Aaron and I were on vacation in Peru, he caught me looking up destinations and getaways on Groupon. I know, who plans another vacation in the middle of a vacation? But I couldn’t help it. I love to travel! And Aaron doesn’t. And he can’t help it. And that’s okay. Because I love him and I am patient (at least that’s what I tell myself).
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