Fish Tank Experiment Week 4

The algae in the fish tank is still stable, possibly a little worse.

During the water change today, I noticed that the filter was not operating properly. It was running but no water was going through. That might explain why the Vibrant is not very effective. Also cyanobacter prefer still water so perfect conditions.

I cleaned out all the accumulated gunk from the filter and reinstalled it. It took a while to get the pump primed and running, but now it is doing well.

Foggy Morning

It was a delightfully foggy morning in Narrabri today. Fog is always good as it means there is plenty of moisture in the air.

The visibility was down to about 50 metres which is about as thick as fog gets around here.

Fish Tank Experiment Week 3

This is week 3 of my test of “Vibrant.”

Each week I have been adding 10 ml of “Vibrant” to my tank when I do my usual weekly water change.

This week I think the growth of algae and cyanobacter has stabilised. As far as I can see, everything is similar to where it was last Monday.

I would have expected a much bigger growth of cyanobacter and the black “sticky” algae.

It appears that the Vibrant is having an effect.

Worms Love Cotton Trash

This is great news for the cotton industry and for wormkind!

From the ABC:

Cotton waste composter uses earthworms to turn waste into high-grade fertiliser

A long mound of white and brown fluffy cotton waste in a field.
Cotton trash can take years to break down naturally.(ABC Landline: Tim Lee)
From afar, the Worm Tech composting facility in southern New South Wales resembles a run-of-the-mill domestic rubbish tip.

Key points:

  • Australia’s multi-billion-dollar cotton industry produces waste that can take years to break down
  • A NSW entrepreneur has created a composting business to turn the waste into fertiliser
  • The process uses earthworms to break down the tough cotton residue

Look closer and you’ll see lines of white, woolly material.

It’s cotton trash, the residue leftover from processing, and it has long been a problem for Australia’s multi-billion-dollar cotton industry.

But as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

To Adrian Raccanello, cotton residue is the backbone of his burgeoning composting business.

“It’s got a lot of properties,” the former viticulturist said.

A man in a high-vis jacket kneels on the ground, holding soil in his cupped hands.
Adrian Raccanello displays some of his millions of earthworms.(ABC Landline: Tim Lee)

“The broader the mix of organic material, the better the end product.”

In the past year, Mr Raccanello has trucked out about 50,000 tonnes of high-grade fertiliser.

Soon he expects to produce 200,000 tonnes annually.

Much of it is going back onto the region’s cotton fields in the form of fine, granular worm castings.

A spreader puts compost back onto a brown, bare cotton field.
Cotton compost is spread back onto a cotton field.(ABC Landline: Tim Lee)

Using an underground army

The business began as a bare field in a vast paddock adjacent to the Rivcott Cotton Gin at Carrathool, in southern New South Wales, in 2010.

The aim was to find a way to turn thousands of tonnes of cotton residue into fertiliser.

The secret was getting the right mix, one that could maximise a natural asset: earthworms.

A close-up shot of a man's hands holding wet soil with red earthworms in it.
The cotton compost mix promotes the growth of earthworms, which break down the materials.(ABC Landline: Tim Lee)

So Mr Raccanello won some contracts to process domestic organic waste from regional towns, such as Mildura and Wagga Wagga.

He blended the waste with cotton trash and carefully tended his rows of waste material to ensure optimal conditions for worms.

He soon found the perfect recipe, and so was born a unique compost product that will soon be available to the retail market as well.

“We basically just feed the top 4 to 6 inches [10 to 15 centimetres],” Mr Raccanello said.

“Then the worms work their way through it and just break it down.

A green harvester in a field of white cotton.
The cotton industry is now proudly part of what’s called the ‘circular economy’.(ABC Landline: Tim Lee)

From waste to valuable resource

Some cotton gins have their own composting programs in place for cotton residues, but in a good year, there’s simply too much to handle.

Local cotton grower Peter Tuohey is thrilled to see the Carrathool venture succeeding.

“The gin produces thousands of tonnes of the cotton residue and Worm Tech have been able to take that product and convert it into a very, very valuable commodity that we buy off them and spread back out on the land,” Mr Tuohey said.

A man in a cap and black jacket stands in front of a cotton bale.
Carrathool cotton grower Peter Tuohey is a keen supporter of the nearby worm farm.(ABC Landline: Tim Lee)

“So it’s really waste to resource,” added Mr Raccanello.

It’s rather startling what this unseen underground army of worms is capable of chewing through.

Cotton trash is fibrous and left out in the weather, it sets into hard mounds that can take years to decompose, between eight and 10 years in its natural state.

A mound of brown and white fluffy material.
Mounds of cotton trash have long been a problem for the industry.(ABC Landline: Tim Lee)

“We’re combining it with other waste to give it diverse ingredients and we’re doing it in about eight weeks,” he said.

His plan to dramatically upscale the business means he’s seeking more organic waste from municipal councils across southern Australia.

“We want to be a receptacle for untapped organic waste,” he said.

A yellow farm machine loads a brown, powdery material into a spreader.
Mr Raccanello’s cotton compost is now sought-after.(ABC Landline: Tim Lee)

Once, people thought he was mad when they saw him alone amongst the cotton trash heaps in the midst of winter. Others simply thought he would fail.

Now those same people are lining up to buy his organic fertiliser.

“I haven’t had to advertise, it’s all been word of mouth,” Mr Raccanello said.

Watch this story on ABC TV’s Landline at 12:30pm on Sunday, or on iview.

Jo Nova: “Everything you have heard about koalas is wrong.”

Koalas are meant to be a highly scattered population. There is no rick of koalas becoming “extinct” in NSW. Jo Nova writes:                                                                                                            

Koalas extinct? Hardly. “Nearly everything you have read or heard about koalas, is wrong”

Since Europeans arrived Koalas have been booming and busting

The calls were out this week saying that koalas will be extinct in New South Wales in 30 years. But they didn’t mention that Koalas thrive and multiply so fast that in the right conditions scientists talk of ‘plagues’. On Kangaroo Island last year, there were so many koalas, the South Australian government has been trying to sterilize or relocate thousands of them over the last twenty years.  Periodically scientists even discuss whether we have to cull them (the horror!).

They’ve survived twenty megafires in 200 years. They can recover. Ponder that Koalas were only introduced to Kangaroo Island in the 1930′s but by the 1990′s there were 14,000 of them and even though they are considered a tourism asset they are also considered a problem and pest too.

“Nearly everything you have read or heard about koalas, is wrong” — Viv Jurskis

Photo, Koala eating young gum leaves.

Koalas favorite snack  |      Photo by pen_ash

Viv Jurskis is a veteran forester and fire expert who studied them for years. He’s written The Great Koala Scam, Green propaganda, junk science government waste and cruelty.

Jurskis estimates that thanks to European settlers there are more koalas now than there were 250 years ago.

He describes how koalas have been booming and busting for two centuries. Before the first fleet arrived, koalas were so rare that the new settlers didn’t even see one for fifteen years! But after the indigenous cool burns programs stopped, dense forests grew which were choc-full of tender new shoots that koalas love to eat. So koala populations would flourish and boom right up until a fire wiped them out. In other areas farmers cleared land, but the “paddock” trees would get sick and resprout continuously, which also worked out pretty well for koalas. So koalas boomed in the valleys too. Sooner or later a drought would come and the valley koalas would starve and get sick themselves.

Jurskis recommends we use koala rescue funds to start doing better forest management with cool burns so the megafires don’t incinerate the next oversupply of koalas. It’s a man-made cycle of pain and suffering.

You’d think The Guardian and The ABC would be able to give us a more rounded view, especially since they covered the boom stories and the Koala Wars.  Here’s the ABC in 2002:

Scientists say the only solution to this crisis is to begin culling Koalas. Against the scientists are people who believe we need to be creating more habitats or the koalas. The Australian Koala Foundation are planting wildlife corridors to link koala habitats. But the scientists say this is just going to feed the problem – wherever the koalas have been introduced they thrive and eventually destroy their habitat.

Last year gave up sterilizing them to stop the plague on Kangaroo Island:

Koala and kangaroo culling considered as numbers become ‘overabundant’

  A report from a parliamentary inquiry has recommended the state’s environment minister make an immediate decision to declare koalas, western grey kangaroos, long-nosed fur seals and little corellas overabundant in some areas. The committee heard that sterilisation of the Kangaroo Island koala population had had little success.“Population numbers on the Island continue to rise and their impacts are threatening its biodiversity,” the report says. — The Guardian, 12th July 2019


Read the rest of the article here

A Fish Tank Experiment

For many years, since I was 18 years old, I have kept a saltwater fish tank. I love the colours of reef fish. Over the last couple of decades, the hobby has moved on, and many people keep reef tanks with living corals and other invertebrates. The equipment required for keeping the pristine conditions and lighting necessary for corals is beyond my means so I have stayed with the FOWLR system- fish only with living rock.

I have never really found algae control a problem, although in the current location we get a fair bit of light coming in from outside. In this picture you can see a lot of green algae on various parts of the aquarium. The reddish material is actually bacteria called cyanobacter.

In the image on the right, there is a small black blob- out of focus- just above the low point in the sand. It is a very sticky algae which adheres to the glass and literally has to be scrubbed off.

My procedure until now is every week I do a 9 litre water change, clean the inside of the glass and remove about a third of the ornaments for cleaning with a hose connected to my rain water tank. During the water change I try to siphon off as much cyanobacter from the sand as I can.

It’s all good. In less than an hour a week I keep the water quality good and the tank fairly clean.

Last week i read about this product:

I ordered some after seeing a video test on Youtube which looked quite impressive. They took some very badly algae encrusted test tanks and dosed them with Vibrant twice a week. Over about 6 weeks the algae of several different species just about disappeared from all tanks.

I am going to dose my tank once a week and see how the tank responds. I will not be cleaning the sand or rocks, but just doing the regular water changes.

Vibrant is a culture of various bacteria that has been developed for use in marine tanks. There is a version that is for fresh water tanks.

What I like abut it is there are no poisonous chemicals involved, so it should be safe for the fish.

We will see how it goes over the next few weeks,

Doing My Head In.

Vibrant is an additive for aquariums. A bacterial culture, it helps to eliminate algae from tanks. I’ve seen Youtube videos showing the vast improvement in various aquariums over a number of weeks.

I am looking forward to using it and recording my experience in photos over the next few weeks.

The instructions are straight forward: use 1 ml per 10 gallons each week.


You can’t mix unit systems like that! Every High School maths and science teacher knows (and constantly hammers it into the heads of their students) you have to use consistent units- always.

To make matters worse the bottle is labelled as containing 16 oz- which is a weight measurement. It should be fluid ounces or fl. oz.

I’m not even sure whether we are talking imperial or US gallons here. An imperial gallon (the real British unit) is 4.5 l while the poor cousin midget US gallon is just 3.9 l. Since the product is manufactured in the US it’s probably safe to assume it is US gallons.

The US and UK systems start at a good point. A fluid ounce is the volume of 1 ounce of water- an ounce is, of course, 1/16th of a pound.

So yes a US fl oz and a UK fl oz are the same. Yay for consistency!

But it crumbles rapidly from there. A pint in the UK is 20 fl oz while in the US a pint is just 16 fl oz. Congratulations to the US for a bit of internal consistency- a US pint of water then weighs 16 ounces or 1 pound. A UK pint is 20 ounces or in the words of the rhyme I learnt as a child- A pint of pure water weighs a pound and a quarter.

From there, in both systems a gallon is 8 respective pints.

What we call a 44 gallon drum in Australia is a 55 gallon drum in the US or 200 l everywhere. Of course, the standard drum can hold 218 l, so your actual volume of product may vary a little from what we call standard.

Back to the aquarium.

For many years I used to have a standard 4 foot tank (about 120 cm long), or as my wife says “120 by 14 inches.” I used to calculate a volume of 140 litres of water for the purposes of medicating the fish. You have to allow for the volume taken up by rocks, gravel etc.

My current fish tank is 118 cm long by 59 cm high by 43 cm deep. So a quick calculator gives me 299 l or 79 US gallons. That suggests it is meant to be an 80 gallon tank.

So my dosage will be 1 ml per 10 gallons or 8 ml.

That was simple.

Jacinta Price: Black Lives Matter masks the truth behind Aboriginal deaths

Jacinta Price makes some some solid arguments about BLM and Aboriginal deaths in custody. From Centre for Independent Studies


Black Lives Matter masks the truth behind Aboriginal deaths

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price


The tsunami of virtue-signallers and protesters on our news feeds and social media platforms translating the American “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) movement and police ­violence issues to Australia is shifting focus off the far bigger problems facing indigenous ­Australians.

Recent riots in the US, ­triggered by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, have centred on the idea that racism is widespread in America, and embedded in US political and civic institutions.

Indigenous advocates have imported this narrative to Australia, focusing on indigenous deaths in custody, leading to massive protests in Australia.

While there are also good ­reasons to question the assertion of widespread racism in the American context, assuming this narrative applies wholesale in Australia is also overly simplistic.

While it is true that Aboriginal Australians are incarcerated at a disproportionately high rate (3 per cent of our whole population and yet 25 per cent of the prison population), simply blaming racism obscures the deeply problematic issues in a number of indigenous communities.

First, it is important to realise the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody actually found that indigenous people are not more likely to die in custody than other Australians, when the higher incarceration rate of indigenous Australians is taken into account.

This is a point emphasised by former director of the NSW ­Bureau of Crime Statistics and ­Research Don Weatherburn in ­Arresting Incarceration: Pathways Out Of Indigenous Imprisonment.

And far from police violence being the primary cause of death in custody, the royal commission actually found natural causes were the leading factor for black deaths in custody. Suicide was also another major issue.

Second, as is the case in the US, Aboriginal Australians are far more likely to die at the hands of other ­Aboriginal Australians than at the hands of white people or in custody.


Worse still, activists, politicians, and ‘progressive’ commentators, who are only too quick to condemn white male perpetrators of domestic violence, too often excuse indigenous offenders on the basis of racism and colonisation.

Indeed, what activists fail to admit is that the No. 1 cause for high rates of incarceration for Aboriginal Australians is due to violent assault and acts intended to cause injury. And the primary ­victims of these assaults are other ­indigenous people.

Aboriginal Australians are far more likely to be victims of crime than non-indigenous Australians, often at the hands of other indigenous people. In 2018 in the NT alone, 85 per cent (4355) of Aboriginal victims of crime knew the offender. Half were victimised by partners. Aboriginal women made up 88 per cent (2075) of those victims.

The focus on interactions between indigenous offenders and police is obscuring the real pain of these Aboriginal children and women, who are the victims of child abuse, neglect, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Aboriginal children make up 5.9 per cent of the entire child population in Australia yet are five times more likely to be hospitalised as ­a result of assault than non-indigenous children.

Aboriginal children suffer higher mortality rates for injury than non-indigenous Australian children.

Between 2007-2011, 26 per cent of all deaths among Aboriginal children aged 0-17 were a direct result of abuse ­injury — that’s three times the rate for non-indigenous children. Furthermore, the leading cause of death between 2014-2018 for Aboriginal children was suicide. This is a quarter of all child suicides in ­Australia (or 85 out of 357).

There is no evidence to suggest that systemic racism is the leading cause of suicide. However, there is overwhelming evidence that child abuse, neglect and sexual assault lead a child to want to take their own lives.

Realising that there are fundamental connections between child neglect, child sexual abuse, Aboriginal victims of crime and the high rates of incarceration will allow us to address these critical issues affectively.

While this does not, and should not, excuse police brutality and ­misconduct, addressing the causes of violence in indigenous communities — including alcohol abuse, poverty, family dysfunction, and poor health and education outcomes — would do far more to close the gap between ­indigenous Australians and the rest of the country.

Moreover, there is little doubt that this would significantly reduce indigenous incarceration and ­thereby address the concerns of local BLM advocates.

Abused children from broken homes are put on a path of destruction. They often become abusers themselves, repeating the hurt they suffered at the hands of their abusers and end up incarcerated. Or they continue the pattern of being ­victimised with the possibility of ­becoming a homicide victim.

If their lives really matter, we should be looking at the real ­problems they face.

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is director of indigenous research at the Centre for Independent Studies and an Alice Springs town councillor.

Thousands join outcry against NSW Premier’s religion crackdown

From Family Voice Australia:

Thousands join outcry against NSW Premier’s religion crackdown

NSW restrictions meme for website4

Pressure is building on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to end her discriminatory COVID-19 church crackdown.

Over six thousand people have signed a petition launched by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney on May 27.

Presently in NSW fifty people can meet at hospitality venues. But as few as eleven people are prohibited from meeting at a church.

“Churches have cooperated at every stage with the Government’s public health directives during this pandemic,” Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said.

“We understand that the shutdown was necessary to flatten the curve, but it came at a cost – not only to the economy, but also to the spiritual and mental health of our people.

“They miss gathering for worship and praying in a sacred space. I am at a loss to explain to Catholics in Sydney why our reasonable requests to the government are not being granted. 

“Contrary to what has been said throughout this pandemic, we do not consider church attendance to be non-essential; indeed, nothing is more essential than the practice of our faith,” reads the petition.

“Catholics are not asking for special treatment, we are asking for equal treatment.

“This unequal treatment of religious worship leads us to ask whether the Government is listening to the concerns of Catholics and other people of faith or indifferent to the effect the closure of our churches is having on people during these difficult times.

“The freedom to practice faith is necessary for human flourishing and a great contributor to the common good.” 

FamilyVoice Australia National Director Peter Downie said, “Governments have been heavy-handed and unjust in their treatment of churches during the COVID-19 crisis.”