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Member Spotlight on Susitna-Flower

Online Aquarium Fish Magazine | Member Spotlight - Susitna-Flower (April)


Red Line Sharks Hi everyone, Susitna-Flower here, known to friends and family (even fishlore family) as April.

I am a "homestead" girl, we moved to Alaska in 1959, to the area 120 miles north of Anchorage, where my Mom and Dad found the most lovely piece of ground on earth. The picture in my signature is what you can see from our land. We live at the end of a road, 7 miles from pavement (Downtown Trapper Creek). I would insert a LOL here if I wasn't on my boring e-mail. Trapper Creek is a thriving town of about 300 people. We have an elementary school with 4 class rooms. A NEW library and ambulance building, this serves as highway and community emergency service for an area over 100 miles across. There are two small stores/cafe/gas and WAL-MIKES which is not to be missed if you ever drive through! This little hole-in-the-wall stop has junk of all description, jokes and gags, and a unique owner MIKE who wears a bear claw necklace and has more stories than you have time to listen to.

I have shared with several here that when we first moved here our farm was used as a gathering place for locals, since we had the landing strip where the bush pilots could land when the health nurse came, or if someone had to go to town. We flew with Don Sheldon, and I am going to include a picture of me and a neighbor girl with Don when he delivered us home from a trip to Anchorage. We had been hosted by a family in Anchorage to attend the Shrine Circus. Quite the adventure for my sister and I, and neighbor girl. The trip started with flying to Talkeetna, a 120 mile train ride, and staying with a family we didn't know. Would anyone trust their children to do this today?

Growing up we eventually moved to Anchorage so my parents could find work, and this brings me to the point of my first encounter with fish. Like many here, a goldfish. Poor thing. He lived in a round fish bowl, you know the kind. It was about 2 gallons, and murky by the end of every week. I would pour out all the water except just what little he was left in, and refill with water out of the tap. Lucky for the gold fish it was at least well water!

He lived for me for 4 or 5 years like this. Cold in the winter as I slept with my window open. Here in Alaska that can mean my room may have been down in the 40's at night. To tell you the truth, I don't know what happened to him, as I moved away after graduation, and left him with my parents.

The only other fish experience that I had before getting involved 4 years ago, was an Angelfish tank I kept in my 20's. It was a 20 gallon tank, and the fish lived for a total of about 4 weeks. I guess I found out about the nitrogen cycle, but at the time all I knew was that the fish died, and I shut the tank down never to worry about it again. I am NOT proud of this, but you know how it is in your 20's. So many things to do, work, friends, and no family yet!

Well, as I tell my children I have lived 3 lives (like a cat), and two they will never hear of, same goes for you!

Which brings me up to about 4 years ago. My babies were starting to leave home. I was a big time sports mom. Both of my girls graduated valedictorian of their classes, and left for college one year apart. They were both in Cross-country running, skiing, and track in high school. One went on to compete in college as well, and went to Jr. Olympics as a skier twice! I had been SO involved in their lives then they were gone! I started into some serious depression, and decided to get a fish tank.

THIS time I decided to learn about it first, and started off with a 55 gallon tank. I set this up IN the wall between my living room and kitchen. That makes water changes a snap. Well it went pretty good, I started right off with fish though, still hadn't learned about the nitrogen cycle. But this time I did learn, and got the API Master test kit, and did lots of water changes. I started off with a community tank with many different kinds of fish. Some died, some didn't. I tried dwarf gouramis, and rainbows, cory cats and cardinal tetras. Of all those fish I still have most except the dwarf gouramis. The gouramis all over time developed tumors, and died. I have added MTS snails from Carol, and Ghost Shrimp.

Before long I got a case of MTS (the other kind), and started looking for other tanks, used. About 2 years into my 55 gallon tank, it was desperately overcrowded. I had bala sharks, a Black Ghost Knife, two plecos, and all the other fish. Testing the water, it was usually up around 80 nitrate, and I was doing a 50 percent Water changes every other day. The fish HAD to have some relief. I took a trip up to Fairbanks, and came home with another 55 gallon tank.

This one is now my cherry shrimp tank, with rainbow platties, liberty mollies, pygmy corys, and yes MTS snails. I LOVE this tank, it is so simple, but is completely alive with movement. You have to look with a magnifying glass - just about - but there are always about 20 - 50 fry and hundreds of shrimp. Both of which I now take to my LFS.

The problem persisted however with an overcrowded tank and when I found the used 125 gallon up in Fairbanks again, it was an easy decision. They were asking $900 for it, an "oak" cabinet and hood, lights, and no filter. I talked them down to $700, and after picking it up wondered if it was such a good buy, it was a particle board cabinet covered with "oak" laminate. I wouldn't even set it up until my husband built a cabinet for it. There was no way to trust close to 1000 lbs to a particle board stand.

It took awhile to get the filter and all the decorations. Everything costs, and believe it or not FEDEX does NOT deliver to Trapper Creek! Neither does DSL, and UPS only comes up here once a week! We do have a post office, but you know what, lots of places don't deliver through the post office! They won't believe me that I don't have a real address!

So now my big tank is set up and I put my Royal Pleco, the Black Ghost Knife, raphael cat, and two Bala sharks over. WOW you should have seen them smile! This tank has been set up now for almost a year and the balas have grown from about 5" each to almost 10". I have added my redline sharks and white sailfin mollys. There are also two Bristlenose plecos and two cory cats (there were three). Once again I find I'm a bit crowded, and have to look for another tank.

Just this weekend I found a 180 gallon in a town about 100 miles from here. The problem is that it comes with 3 fish, 2 X 24" knife fish and a 15" pleco. None of which I really want. So I am not sure this is the next tank to spread out my collection.

All my tanks have some plants. I wouldn't say I have planted tanks. I have java ferns, java moss and Crypts. All the tanks have various rocks and driftwood. but I have to bow to all the fishlorians out there who have really lovely planted, or Saltwater, or even the Freshwater tanks with themes that make them so interesting.

I feed all my tanks a mixture of different foods. The new homemade food is working well. I feed that in the morning, in each tank. Then all tanks get an evening feeding of tropical flakes, shrimp pellets and an algae wafer. Every other day I feed bloodworms in the evening, (after dark for the Black Ghost Knife). The fry tank gets baby brine shrimp and crushed flakes when the fry are really small.

All my tanks now stay at 0 for ammonia and nitrite, and between 5 and 20 nitrates, which is accomplished with water changes, as many as it takes, which varies with each tank. We are on well water, it tastes better than any I have ever had, and no chlorine worries.

Aquarium Photos

Bala Sharks Freshwater Aquarium Pleco

Future Plans
My life in the near future is about to take a big change. One way or another, and it is unclear at this point just how my fish will play into it.

First, I am running for the State House of Representatives for District 15. I have stated in my biography that politics is one interest I have. Well, I did this two years ago with mild success. This time however I have a really good chance. There are so many issues here in Alaska right now that need attention and the man currently in this seat is nothing short of a goof.

Sometimes here on Fishlore you may have noticed I get involved in a "HOT TOPIC". I hope if I have ever offended anyone you will forgive me. Most times I like to generate good debate, and really feel a lot less passionate about subjects than just playing the devils advocate.

The opportunity to go to Juneau as a Representative would take me away from home an average of 90 to 120 days each year, but would give me an opportunity to earn a better living and retirement/health insurance which my husband and I neither have. My sweet husband Mike, who puts up with me so well, has just been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, 6 months ago, and it is progressing very quickly. We have had a general construction business for the past 5 years, and will have to get out of this line of business soon as he is almost to the point he can't work that hard any more.

The OTHER option for us in the near future, is to move to Fairbanks, if I don't win the race this summer. Our oldest daughter, Christina (who's kitchen we just rebuilt up there this first part of March) is graduating from college this May, and having a baby about a week or two later and she has been accepted into the PHD program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a full assistance ship for a 5 year program in Clinical Psychology! She and her husband will both be working/going to school full time, and I might go up to give them child care. My husband could remodel houses up there, and we would live in their basement apartment.

Now this sounds kind of dreary compared to the option of a State Representative, but you have to see it from my eyes. A basement with cement floors, steam heat (very warm all the time, like 78 - 82F). I can just see all the fish tanks I could have! The apartment has almost 1000 square feet and is only a couple miles from one of the best LFS in Alaska!


I have a philosophy in life and that is to be ready to move when God wants you to! Look forward to good things, and be ready to make a difference. When I get depressed because of the snow or dark in winter, I love my fish, and you folks, and would just like to say THANK YOU for being there, and sharing this forum with me. I have many here that I look up to as wise teachers, and also many I consider good friends. THANK YOU.

In the end I also have to thank my family, my husband for not complaining about the cost of fish food, and who never says anything when a new fish comes home. My son Philip, who tries, even if he did kill a bunch of fish when he was left in charge! He is the only kid still at home and at 18 will be flying the coop soon. Renae, my middle daughter/athlete, mother of my lovely grand daughter Heidi (first word was shish) she loves grandmas FISH! And Daughter Christina who has a warm place for us to go with these tanks. I'm gonna have a Doctor in the HOUSE!


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