And then it is Panther Chameleons. Plus Super Effective Craigslist Search Technique.

So its quite remarkable the types of animals I’m drawn to. Aesthetic, obscure, and easily stressed. I don’t know why the stressed part. Perhaps so I have to earn it.

I’m to the point with discus that I pretty much get it. I still have a lot to learn but I pretty much get it. Water changes, water changes, did I mention water changes. Not that that setup is going, its not taking up much of my mental energy. Kind of dangerous. This weekend I knew I was in a good place with the discus because I got to thinking and craigslisting and my mind zeroed in on panther chameleons, an old obsession going back to early high school.

Panther chameleons are one of the larger chameleon species native to Madagascar and  come in many color variations associated with their geographic origins on the island. I haven’t had any in the past because they eat an incredible amount of insects and need a stable, warm climate. The last couple years we’ve been living at a turn of the century shotgun house out in the Louisiana country. Cold, cold, cold in the winter, heated by propane wall-burners and drafty through the walls and floor.

Anyway they are back on my radar. I search craigslist nationwide to see what babies hobbyists have recently hatched and what adults being re-homed. Definitely use my nationwide search strategy if you are looking for something that there is little chance of finding on your local craigslist and your not willing to pay full price for. It works like this:

1. Go to google.

2. Type in the item your looking for.

3. Then type

4. Press enter.

5. Then narrow your search on the left side to the past month, and enjoy.

My search looked like:  panther chameleon  I came across some awesome Nosy Be Panther Chameleons. They are definitely my favorite. They are a Smurf Blue, sometimes with some white or green stripes. Only the males get super colorful. Like discus, it takes them a couple years to get their colors and are an ugly brown when young. And the adventure continues…

Photos courtesy and copyrighted by author of


Catch-up on Last Saturday’s Wild* Discus Chase

So working backwards, we have the eight new 2.5″ juvenile discus and my older 5″ discus settled in after a week in their new home. The tank is definitely startling to anyone not familiar to discus. It seems the fish equivalent of prison. Concrete and a steel toilet.

Though it seems harsh, they are thriving. Discus evolved in the clean water of the tributaries to the Amazon River and cannot tolerate organics disolved in the water. Therefore in captivity they need their water to be replaced daily or near daily, especially while they are growing from juveniles. If they had gravel, it would collect their waste and uneaten food and quickly deteriorate the pristine water. Forced to choose, discus would go for pristine water over tank aesthetics, fins down.

Once they are full grown at 6″+ or the size of a saucer, substrate and plants can be added. Serious enthusiasts, however, stick with the traditional bare bottom tank. The thinking is that the art of the maximally flourishing fish beats the art of the planted aquarium with less flourishing fish. We’re talking minute degrees of distinction, but to the aficionado it is everything.

Last saturday, I left the Capital Area, braved the possible madness of the Saints’ game day furry and headed for New Orleans. The clouds were gorgeous above the causeway along Lake Pontchartrain with the city off in the distance.

I had to make a quick stop in Kenner at my favorite little coffee shop for lunch. Basking in the favor of the gods I enjoyed a huge bowl of shrimp creole and a cafe au lait. The shrimp creole: awesome. Creole spice stretches my notion of what food can be. Like I’m losing my innocence. Being opened up to a whole new world of beauty and sensation. The cafe au lait is a rich, deep coffee with chicory and steamed milk.

I’d never had the dessert before. The name was too alluring to pass up. Turns out, wasn’t for me. An almost solid too sweet custard center with an a flaky crisco feeling crust. Fun anyway. Looked up directions, got my fish, locked my keys in the car, paid the the vocally pissed-off tow-truck guy to miss the game and let me back in my car, drove the fish two hours, and acclimated them to their new paradise. Went to bed energized, excited, and more than satisfied. Now for the two years for them to reach maturity.

*Truth in advertising, it was actually a domestic discus chase.

Current Obsession: Discus

So my current obsession is the King of the Aquarium: Discus Fish. I am obsessed with these fish. I don’t exactly know why. I never got them before. They were barely on my radar. But a couple of years ago I came across the Aquarium Design Group (ADG) online portfolio of aquariums. I was surprised by the number of aquariums that had Discus in them.Fast forward to last spring. I decided my cardinal obsession was growing and it was time to move up from a 25 gallon tank to a 50 gallon tank where I would be able to have 30+ cardinal tetras schooling. In order for them to school, I needed to have some bigger fish in the tank, and got to thinking Discus might just work for what I needed.

I craigslisted for an aesthetic tank, found a nice Aluminum trimmed contemporary tank 8 hours  away. Made the drive and got my new tank. I knew nothing about discus, ordered some books on amazon and started googling. This past fall I picked up a pair of discus from a local guy looking to sell his.

The funny thing about discus is that they are round like a discus and super thin. When happy they kind of just hang out suspended in the tank almost like a piece of art work. They are a schooling fish so they like to be in groups of 6 or more. Less than that and they fight. So my pair didn’t work out too well. The big one constantly harassed the little one, biting sores into his side. I sold them to a local hobbyist who had a school of discus and I am about to start my own school. This weekend I will be picking up 7, 2.5″ baby discus and with care and a little luck, will raise them to be 7″.

Intro my Greatest Strength and Possible Character Flaw: I am a Serial Obsessior

I am a serial obsessor. I get an idea in my head for a project and it consumes me. Sometimes I am able to investigate the topic and then quickly move onto another, setback only days or hours. Other times I pursue them insofar as I am able and then save them for another day. Others I work to realize ahora.

When I become obsessed with an idea I heve to learn more about it. I get to the computer stat, and start researching. I google and google and sometimes EBSCO. As  I become more informed my research turns to scheming. I go detail by detail, identifying what needs to be done and how to do it. The project is usually eccentric. The obstacles, numerous. Therein lies the fun and the challenge. The end result can vary anywhere on the spectrum from disaster to aesthetic masterpiece.

Last year I found the holy grail of the the aquarium world on craigslist for $200. As soon as I saw it, I swung into action. I made a call, garnered the blessing of my wife, drove the two hours to pick up the tank, and returned with it riding shotgun.

Above is the ensuing Michelangelo-like creation of beauty contained in 6,000 some-odd square inches of freshwater masterpiece. The obsessing and scheming paid off. And so the next obsession begins: The King of the Aquarium.

The tank photo includes: 13 Cardinal Tetras, 6 Rummynose Tetras, 2 Siamese Algae Eaters, Philipine Java Fern, Narrowleaf Java Fern, Anubias Congensis, 2 Anubias Haistfolia, Anumias Lanceolota, Anubias Pygmy Nana, Narrow Leaf Chain Sword, & Jungle Vallisneria.