Fish day tomorrow!

There’s have been some changes in the fish delivery. The fish now arrive on alternate Thursdays instead of alternate Wednesdays. This change is reflected in the page on deliveries.

What’s coming in tomorrow? Well, that still remains to be seen, but I can tell you what we’ve ordered.

We’re expecting three kinds of gourami – chocolate, golden honey and red honey.

We’ve ordered our usual neon tetras, and also neon gold barbs, as well as male and female bettas.

Look for long-nosed loaches, microrasboras, otocinclus and assorted platys, as well as some Metynnis silver dollars. We’re also expecting Thailand glass catfish.

And of course we’ve ordered the crickets and other feeders, including ghost shrimp.

Please remember that the order usually doesn’t arrive until around three in the afternoon.

You could call it eco-effort

Plastic is the Big Bad these days. If Columbus had brought his lunch in a plastic bag in 1492, it would only now be decomposing.

The other kind of plastic is, of course, the debit and credit cards we have all learned to rely on. Debit cards at least have the advantage of taking money straight out of your account, so you know you’ve spent it. You can overdo it, but there’ll be no nasty surprise at the end of the month – no, your nasty surprise will come much, much sooner!

At Animalia, we’re now offering a 10% discount for all purchases made in cash. Yes, we have ulterior motives; whether or not consumers realise it, retailers pay a price for taking debit and credit cards. We’d like to cut our costs, and help you cut yours a bit at the same time.

All right, it doesn’t take any actual plastic out of circulation. To do that, we’d like to suggest that those of you who feed crickets or mice to your critters invest in a reuseable container. A coffee can will work for mice – just punch a few holes in the lid. For crickets, bring a cricket keeper or a plastic bin. We’ll give you five cents of any hopper or adult mouse you buy if you bring your own container, and five cents off any cricket purchase.

And that does help keep plastic out of the landfills.

Bunnies!

This week we received nine dwarf bunnies. The parents look like they weigh two pounds maximum. These little guys are really small – definitely one-hand bunnies – and in a variety of colours, including black and white spotted. 

We also have some large striped Raphael catfish in the pond fish bins near the front of the store, and we’ve moved the large tiger shovelnose cat up there, too.

Now that fall is here and people are back from vacation, things are picking up in the pet store. David’s made good use of the summer quiet to get the store arranged. It’s airy and open, easy to move around in. There are lights on the reptiles and fish now, and Victoria is getting the stock sorted and arranged.

This new location is much better than the old one. Next step – paint! We want to get away from the dull greyish green we inherited and move to some brighter, more cheerful colours.

The cricket orders are starting to increase again. We still don’t know when we’ll get the large crickets in, but we are getting more of the medium ones. This has been rough on everyone, and we appreciate the patience of our customers.

We’ve sold all the specially-priced aquariums. All right, there might be one left, if you get there before someone else does.

Fries with that?

Just kidding – tomorrow is fish day, and David has both fresh- and salt-water fish arriving. Here’s what’s on order:

In freshwater, flower horn cichlids. We don’t get these very often. We’ve also ordered fancy guppies, figure-8 puffers and green-spotted puffers, glass catfish and clown knifefish in addition to tetras, barbs and mollies.

In saltwater, it’s invertebrate day. We’re expecting five different kinds of anemone, and four corals in addition to assorted mushrooms and feather-duster worms. We’re also expecting a sea apple. If you haven’t seen one of these brilliantly-coloured invertebrates, pop around and take a look.

On the fish side, two different triggers, a tang, a rabbit fish and a white ghost eel are on order.

Remember that if you buy fish in the bag, before they go into our tanks, then we give you 10% off because you saved us the trouble of catching them. You also save stress on the fish, particularly marine invertebrates, because they don’t have to be dripped twice in one day.

Crickets, mealworms, feeder fish and frozen rodents are also on this order, and we have ordered two dozen silkworms and hornworms. These go quickly when they come in.

And on this farm he had a cricket, E-I-E-I-O

Breeding crickets is a full-time job. In the pet store, where we have, at most, 20,000 crickets in ten tanks, cleaning and feeding is perhaps a half-hour’s job. (Victoria can do it in fifteen minutes.) But we’re not in the business of breeding crickets. All we have to do is keep them alive until they’re sold. Breeders keep over 100,000 crickets, and they can’t crowd their crickets like that if they want them to breed. They need a lot more space, and have to do a lot more work.

I’ve heard cricket breeders referred to as “cricketeers”. That’s an incredibly light and cheery word for someone who spends his or her time feeding, cleaning, sorting, counting and shipping crickets. I’d say “cricket farmer” myself. After all, the word for a building where crickets are bred is “barn”.

There are some differences between farming crickets and farming, say, sheep. For one thing, you can’t train dogs to herd crickets – the dogs keep stepping on them. Also, as crickets have no external ears, ear-tagging is a bitch. On the upside, you don’t have to erect and maintain electric fence, and I daresay if I’d been farming crickets instead of sheep in the nineties I wouldn’t have been chasing my flock all around the Wharncliffe cemetery from time to time when the fence failed.

Flippancy aside, cricket farming has its trials. The barn must be heated, because crickets are cold-blooded, and will go dormant, or even die, if the temperature drops too low. A cricket farmer needs ear protection; the thousands of crickets mature enough to breed are also chirping nonstop.

One thing all farmers have in common, though, is this: If you have livestock, you have dead stock.

A couple of months ago a disease wiped out almost all the breeding crickets in the cricket barns of North America. I can’t say I’d ever thought the phrase “because of the cricket shortage” would ever cross my lips, but it did, and still does. Some breeders took the hint and switched to another field. For weeks, now, our cricket orders have been short-shipped, and the crickets have been smaller than usual. We’re not the only ones to whom this is happening. Our supplier, who buys from a breeder in P.E.I., told us a few weeks ago that a flood in the breeder’s barn had wiped out all his recovering stock, just when he was ready to ship larger crickets again.

Some pet stores have been able to get larger crickets from a different supplier, but our supplier says that’s not going to last long. One of the cricket barns in the States that was still able to ship large crickets has closed.

So far the reptile keepers who are our cricket customers have been understanding. We offer other food animals, such as mealworms. Now that summer is here, it’s possible for reptile keepers to catch insects outside, provided they can be sure the insects haven’t been exposed to pesticides. All in all, it could have turned out a lot worse than it did.

Our cricket shipment is due today, along with the mealworms, silkworms and hornworms we ordered. Whether we’ll get our whole order, and how large the crickets will be, remains to be seen. But we keep our fingers crossed and hope for good weather for the cricket farmers.