Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Toothless Tuesday!

I do not think that I have mentioned the newest addition (even though this addition occured last fall!)... My bearded dragon, Toothless! She is a normal colored juvinile bearded dragon who is very sweet. She likes to "cuddle" and fall asleep on me and eats from my hand. Her favorite foods are fruits such as apples and veggies like bell pepper.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Piece of the Ocean: An Overview of My 20-Gallon Nano-Reef.

I have mentioned my coral reef tank on this blog before, however, I have never given an overview of what I have and how the whole tank is run. First off, I have a 20-gallon tall (24"L x 12"W x 16"H) aquarium with a black rim. The equipment is listed below.
Filters: 2 Aqua-Tech 5-15 filters with phosphate removing filter pads and carbon
Heater: Tetra 10-20
Lights: Odyssea 4x24 watt (96 watt total for those who don't want to do math!) T5HO lights with a DIY retrofitted moonlight LED (Tetra GloFish LED). Bulbs are all WavePoint brand (1 actinic "Super Blue460", 2 10,000K "Sun Wave", 1 purple "Reef Wave")
Protein Skimmer: Lee's Counter Current Medium skimmer run with an Aqua-Tech 40-60 air pump and limewood air stone (run from outside due to pH being low if run inside).
Powerheads: 2 Koralia Nano 425's
Corals: green mushrooms, blue mushrooms, kenya trees, clove polyps, zoas, acan, blasto.
Inverts: 6-7 blue legged hermit crabs, brittlestars, asterina stars.
Fish: Royal Gramma
Food: Ocean Nutrition Prime Reef (frozen), Brightwell Aquatics Zooplanktos-M, Kent Marine CromaPlex (very rarely used), Omega One Super Color Flakes.
Water Changes: ~2-gallons every week. I usually use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals or Aqua-Vitro Salinity salt mix with distilled water.
Parameters: Calcium 450-460ppm, Alkalinity 7-8dKH, pH 8.1-8.3, Nitrate 5-10ppm (most often around 6ppm), salinity/specific gravity 1.024-1.025
Here are a few pictures of some of the corals.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Protein in cat food. Myths and truths.

It is an topic with many opinions and questions: Should cat food have high levels of protein? Does that protein cause kidney disease? Do cats with kidney stress need low protein foods?
My opinion is that cats are obligate carnivores and therefore, are made to eat protein (and fat). However, the TYPE of protein and quality of that protein determines how that protein is assimilated and used. Cats, being carnivores, are made to eat protein from meats and not plants. However, many dry foods use plant proteins (corn, soy, etc.) which do not have as high of a biologic value (they cannot be used as well) as meat proteins. Meat proteins also contain required amino acids that plant proteins do not (taurine, for example, is only found in meats). So why is it that many pet food companies and some veterinarians say that excess protein is hard on the kidenys and is bad? Well, it comes down to this... when you include soy or corn protein (or animal sourced proteins like lower quality by-products and by-product meals), it becomes hard for the kidenys to assimilate that protein and deal with the waste that cannot be assimilated. Another issue is that low-quality meats and meat meals have more ash than high-quality meats and meat meals. This is also hard on the kidneys and will likely lead to problems in the future. In addition to all the above, protein delivered in food that is more natural to a cat (more similar to what they would natually eat) and has a high water content (cats have a low thirst drive) is much easier on the kidneys.

Many "senior" foods have less protein because as cats age, if they have been fed a lower quality food, they will have kidney damage and these foods are thought to minimize future damage. HOWEVER, senior cats actually need MORE protein in their diet due to aging processes that can cause muscle wasting.

So, what is the best way to feed a cat the protein they need without compromising kideny health? Feed your cat(s) the way they are meant to eat, with a food that has sources of high-quality protein at reasonably high concentrations. Dry foods are OK if they are of a high quality (and I feed one as a "base" diet as well) but, if possible, you should really include a canned or other wet food (I feed raw as well as canned) to your cat's diet to help maintain their kidney health for many years to come. However, if your cat has a medical condition, always talk to your veterinarian before switching diets.