About Me

“Who are you and why should I listen to what you have to say?”

In the nerd-o-sphere I go by Ray Brantley, and you can find my horror and speculative fiction thoughts and commentary over at my other website, or on Twitter @peonyfoxburr. I live, work, read, write, and keep fish in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada. As for why you should listen to me, that’s… a valid question. I’ll get back to you on that. /finger guns

In the summer of 2020 my husband and I were fortunate enough to become homeowners. I decided at that point that, as I had no intention of ever moving anywhere again (ever), this would be the perfect time to get a single fish tank. My husband was game. It was just one fish tank, after all.

Okay. Two, max.

(My fish room, June-ish 2021.)

…famous last words. (Yes, I have seven permanent tanks running at the moment.)

I learned a lot during my first year keeping fish–both about the hobby, and about myself. I’ve learned how to step up to a challenging problem instead of shying away from it, and when to err on the side of caution. I’ve learned both not to take every opinion held by every other hobbyist I encounter on the internet as sacrosanct, and also when to defer to the years and years (and years!) of experience that build the foundation of knowledge used by seasoned fish keepers. I’ve made my own substrate balls for growing terrestrial plants and herbs within my own aquariums–and I’ve frantically scrambled to simultaneously prevent water damage AND re-house a betta after her aquarium glass cracked overnight and leaked water all over my condo floor. I’ve successfully reared a spawn of wild betta rubra to adulthood, and in the same week lost a beloved licorice gourami to a disease I just could not treat.

In short, I have learned that even with the tremendous number of resources available to the newbie hobbyist today, the best way to learn anything is by trying it yourself, making mistakes, and getting your hands wet.

“You made a whole website to tell us that?”

Well, yes. …No.

Through trial, error and happenstance I landed in the somewhat niche world of wild bettas, parosphromenus, and all the beautiful and frustrating factors that come together to help them thrive in home aquariums. I discovered a lot of wonderful resources along the way, but also a number of key knowledge and resource gaps that left me struggling to solve problems I encountered, sometimes in the midst of managing an emergency.

This website is my attempt (as a hobbyist and not as a veterinarian or ichthyologist) to close some of those gaps, and to treat every mistake–even those mistakes that sadly result in the loss of fish–as learning opportunities, and the chance to do better in the future.

“That’s great, but what specifically am I going to find here?”

To business! I like it.

  1. Spawn logs. Not of the extremely formal variety, as I am not breeding fish for business but for species preservation in captivity and to share species with other hobbyists, but so I can keep track of the genealogy and history of my fish. I will separate these logs by genus and species, and you can find those links on the main menu.
  2. Species-specific journals. As an example, at present I am predominately working with betta rubra, trichopsis pumila (aka sparkling gourami, or dwarf gourami), and parosphromenus phoenicurus (aka phoenix licorice gourami). I am going to blog about my past experiences setting up tanks for these fish, their water parameters in my aquariums, any tank mates that have worked well with them… or haven’t, experiences with spawning them, etc.
  3. Pictures of fish. Lots and lots of pictures of fish.
  4. Tank builds. How I set up a specific tank for a specific species, its parameters, substrate, additives, etc. What worked/didn’t work.

This list will likely grow over time.

“Okay but–Fairy Potato? What does that have to do with aquariums?”

“Love us, human thrall.”

These are the fairy potatoes: Mrs. Moo and her adoptive son, Jasper. Call them mascots, brand ambassadors, whatever–they are the real bosses behind this operation. Also, my fish room is in their designated lounging zone.

Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell. Thanks for stopping by.