Solstice Octopus!

I got an Amazon giftcard for the solstice and I used it to get this octopus. It’s very soft! And made by Wild Republic.

Cuddly octopus

Cuddly octopus from the top

Cuddly octopus is watching you

(The photographs show a realistically-shaped octopus toy. It sits resting on its tentacles. The main part of the body is short fur fabric, with a mottled light brown and black pattern. The underside of the tentacles is pale fur fabric. The eyes are light brown with black horizontal slit pupils, like real octopus eyes. It’s sitting on blue towel fabric, and is well lit.)

Story/Art at Unlikely Story

Cartoon Honeybee

In my (probably) last story of the year, “On Shine Wings” is up at Unlikely Story. It’s part of the Journal of Unlikely Entomology and it’s all about bees! In space!

Story Link: On Shine Wings

You’ll also note the artist for the story has a stunning resemblance to me, making this my first art sale. The art piece is titled “Spacebees”, because my ability to title doesn’t when it comes to pictures. It’s acrylic paint, tea and ink on watercolour paper.

New Fighter Fish – Shimmer

My new tank now has a resident. Shimmer is a female fighter fish, and is probably between six months and one year old. She’s white, with iridescent blue highlights on the fins and tail. As it’s her first day, I didn’t hassle too much with photographs. The best I got was this one:

White female fighter fish by an anubias plant

I also took a few videos, which I’ll likely put together later in a setting-up-a-tank video series. But here are a few still shots from them. The last shows how blue her tail can look as she moves:

White female fighter fish with light shining through her

Back view of white female fighter fish, with her tail shining bright blue

She’s generally settling in well. She’s clamping her fins a bit (not so much in the shots, but other times), which is usual after a scary day moving to a new tank. She’s really enjoying picking off little critters from the driftwood and plants, so I can recommend spending a little extra time on setting up a proper soil-based planted tank. It’s not that my previous fighter tanks were bad, but this one is much more awesome for the fish.

In about a month, I’ll introduce amano shrimp. The place I get my fish keeps the fighters in with other fish, so I’ve had a chance to see how she deals with tankmates. She had some very tiny fish in with her and was ignoring them, which is a good sign for being a tankmate-friendly fighter.

The Cockroach Invasion (Video)

Baby cockroach on an egg boxA common question raised by my bio is, “Do you really keep cockroaches?” As though it might be a quirky thing I invented just for the bio. Yes, I really keep cockroaches. I started with one cockroach (Sparkle), then got two (Ash and Gem) and this time ordered five (but I have eight). Mostly because I used to have a community fish tank. Now I don’t, I’m filling that space with cockroaches.

Other things people often ask:

What type are they? Madagascar hissing cockroaches. (There are several species called this, which interbreed, so most likely they’re a bit of a mix.)

What do they eat? I give them dry stuff (fish food, cereals, nuts, seeds) and fruit/veg (most stuff, except they don’t like cucumber and I avoid irritant things like onions and chillies). Sparkle was an odd one, in that he’d only eat dried food (and wouldn’t eat if it’d been moistened). Most of them like their fresh stuff though.

What are they called? I’ve named the one bigger nymph. They’re called Pancake, because they’re unusually broad for their length. My guess is Pancake is a bit older, as they’re hanging out on their own more and look less nymphy.

Do you breed them? No. Cockroaches breed a lot, being cockroaches and all, so that’s a lot of babies to handle. A lot of people also have reptiles, so feed unwanted babies to those… but I don’t have space for lizards.

How do you avoid breeding? Keep males and females in separate tanks. For the batch this time, I’ll split them as they get a little bigger, then sort out their final tanks when I know what they’ll be.

Do they get lonely (when kept in a tank alone)? No. Cockroaches live in colonies, but they’re not attached to each other like bees and ants. My biggest concern with the new babies is they’re rather small and the weather’s hot, so they’ll help retain moisture by staying together. I won’t be splitting them until they grow a bit (except Pancake, who’ll move after some settling time).

Why?!!!!? They’re clean, friendly and easy to keep. They tame well and live about as long as a hamster (in approximate ages, my previous ones reached four, one and a half, and three). I love their little antennae!

Can I see them? Here’s five minutes of my cockroaches being cockroaches…

Rainbow Lights: Cover Reveal

Rainbow Lights is almost here, but not quite. In the meantime, after the ritual smearing of chalk pastels on my face, it’s time to reveal the cover:

The original picture was drawn on A2 white card with chalk pastels and charcoal. I took a few progress shots as I went along, for those interested in the process:

That’s all for now. The actual release, with obligatory cupcake pictures, will be soon. Most likely by the end of this week, where I’ll have a few tales to tell of things that got in the way (none of them bad). Until then, if you have any questions about covers, squid or chalk pastels, I’m your mushroom.