I have some good news and some bad. The bad news is, on November the 18th, my gerbil Lewis died. I don't know the cause. Gerbils are supposed to live a fair amount longer than a year (most live 3-5 years) so there must have been something wrong with him. Now Clark is by himself and is very lonely. I am strongly considering getting another gerbil to keep him company (and soon) because gerbils don't like to be alone.
On a brighter note though, I finally got my under-tank heater for Gex and I also am setting up a 10 gallon reef tank, which is currently cycling. The contents of the 5 gallon (live-rock, polyps, mushroom coral, and all the equipment and sand) will go into the 10 once it is stable. I'll post pictures once there is something to post pictures of (right now it is pretty boring looking because all that is in the tank is sand, water, equipment, and 4 rocks) which will hopefully be soon. I am going to use (I have to order them) 2 Finnex 26watt power-compact screw in (regular socket) bulbs for the lighting.
For my saltwater tanks, I don't use protein skimmers at all because I think the natural method works better: you don't have to dose lots of elements back to the water daily (skimming removes them so you have to add them back), you don't remove the food that the corals eat, and there is less expense. My method involves doing monthly water changes of about 50% (to keep nitrates down), feeding Kent Marine Micro-Vert every day, feeding whatever fish are in the tank a very small amount of good quality food (usually frozen) doing filter maintenance every couple of weeks, and finally, realizing the limits of whatever tank it is (I don't even try to keep SPS corals because I know they are demanding in their water quality needs).
Smokey and Sunny have been extremely cuddly lately and have been (for the most part) sweet. Smokey has learned how to UNZIP stuff lately and has managed to do this twice! I had her in her carrier the other day and I turned around and there she was so I went upstairs (expecting a torn up carrier) and found out that she had unzipped it and gotten out! If I have to take her to the vet or anywhere else for whatever reason, I'll have to make sure she can't do that!