Figuring out what to give my mom for Christmas isn't too hard, we pretty much like the same things, but this year I wanted to give her something she would really love. And the thing my mom really loves (after her family) is animals...are animals...what is grammatically correct here? Anyway, she is a friend to the animals.
Lots of people say they love animals, myself included, but my mom loves them more than us. For reals, once she saw some baby ducks trapped in a storm drain at a strip mall and she rescued them by calling animal control and waiting until the ducklings were safely removed. And that was when I was a little girl, before we had cell phones to call for help and whatnot.
In her old neighborhood there were a bunch of feral kitties so she took to trapping them, paying to get them spayed or neutered, and then releasing them back into the neighborhood. But she felt bad for them so she put food out for them all and ended up adopting a couple to go with the ones she had rescued from the shelter. My dad loved that, fierce feral kitties hiding in the guest room! Even though she doesn't have any cats right now, just two dogs, we all know there's a crazy cat lady waiting inside her to get out.
What else? Oh, she leaves baskets nestled between the eves of her house and the pergola over the patio for doves to nest in. When she sees a gopher in her garden she is equal parts irritated and delighted (which is crazy). She has an eagle eye and spots every animal we pass on the road, deer, foxes, wild turkeys, coyotes, you name it, she sees it! And she gets so excited. Every single time.
Plus, her dream vacation is to cruise to Alaska and watch for whales.
With all this in mind, I decided the perfect Christmas gift for her would be a betta fish. A betta fish in the cutest little live biosphere ever! It came out so so adorable that I wanted to share it so you might gift one to the animal lover in your life, or maybe even make one for yourself.
It's actually very easy and I was able to get all the supplies at Petco. Here's what you'll need.
1. Betta food. They only need a couple pellets a day and it only costs a couple bucks.
2. Water conditioner. A few drops makes normal tap water safe for your betta fish by neutralizing the chlorine in the water.
3. Live aquatic fresh water plants. I had room for two in my vase.
4. A little net for catching your fishy.
5. The prettiest betta at your pet store.
6. A large glass vase or apothecary jar.
7. A bag of small aquarium rocks. I chose ones a little bigger than gravel, because it looks nicer, but smaller than the ones labeled "river rocks" because the plant roots aren't secure in the larger river rocks.
8. Betta buddies! I am in love with these adorable live moss balls. Their real name is Marimo Moss but they were called Betta Buddies at my Petco. There was only room for one in my vase.
9. A vase. I actually bought one at Petco, but I'm sure I could have got a better deal at Hobby Lobby or TJ Maxx. It wasn't labeled, but the one I chose looks like it holds a little less than a gallon of water.
Here's how you put the whole thing together.
1. Wash the vase with warm, soapy water and rinse well.
2. Put the rocks in a colander and rinse with just water. Put a couple of paper towels over the sink drain to catch any rocks small enough to sneak through the colander holes. You don't want those going down the drain!
3. Put the rocks in the vase about an inch or so deep.
4. Follow the instructions on your live aquatic plants. Mine were packed in a bit of gel medium that had to be rinsed off of the roots. Make a small "well" in your rocks and gently place the plant inside it and push the rocks back over the roots to secure it. The plant will be a little floppy until you add water but that's okay.
5. Carefully add tap water to the vase to the level you want it.
6. Float your cute little betta buddy in there. Call it squishy and it will be your squishy!
7. Add water conditioner according to the directions on the bottle. You won't hurt your fish by adding too much, so if you are unsure of the amount err on the side of more rather than less.
8. Here is the hard part. You need to let your vase sit for several hours while the water comes to room temperature. I set my little fish in his little plastic cup from the pet store next to my vase full of water overnight so that they would be the same temperature in the morning.
9. Carefully pour your betta into its fabulous new home! It will be the happiest betta ever!
My mom seemed awfully excited about this gift. After all, she is the lady who spent one summer rescuing baby bunnies every time they hopped into our backyard and our Great Dane caught them.