How to Treat Columnaris in Fish in 10 steps

I didn’t mean to get an aquarium.

I met a neighbor who had some aquatic snails. We hit it off, bonding over her lovely garden and the weird way mystery snails glide across a tank. When she moved, she asked me to take a few, and I figured I could keep them alive and well in a vase on my dining room table. I was only supposed to get two… when my husband came home with 24!

So I purchased an aquarium. Fast forward a year later, and now I breed snails and have fish!

Fish are far more difficult to keep alive than any cat or dog I’ve ever had. It turns out that fish get sick when they’re stressed, and when I moved my school from one tank to another, a few of them started showing signs of columnaris.

Columnaris is a bacteria that lives inside of most tanks already and comes in several different strains. One of them acts so quickly that the fish die within 24 hours so there’s nothing to do. When fish get stressed, they become more susceptible to disease and may fall prey to the bacteria.

There’s really not a lot of information out there about how to treat this disease. After hours of research, here’s how I did it:

1. Make sure it’s actually columnaris. My local shops had NO idea how to diagnose this disease so, in this case, Google Images is your friend.

2. Move the impacted fish to a hospital tank. It helps if you have two filters running on your main tank so you can just switch one to your hospital tank and it’s pretty much instantly cycled. I didn’t have a spare filter so I had to buy one. Make sure you don’t get something with UV or carbon because that’ll decrease the efficacy of the medication you’ll be adding later. Also buy a thermometer and heater. I recommend using a 10 gallon tank as your hospital tank because most medications are A) expensive and B) meant to be added in 10 gallon increments.

3. Address the reason your fish were stressed in the first place and fix it. It’s no good if you save your fish from columnaris only to have them get sick again when they’re back in the community tank!

4. I purchased aquarium salt, API Fin & Body Cure, gel Terramycin, a siphon and two new buckets on Amazon.

5. Every evening I siphoned out 75% of the water into a “dirty hospital tank water” bucket. I filled another bucket with lukewarm water, added Prime and filled the tank. (Columnaris likes heat so it’s best to keep your tank as cool as your fish can safely handle.)

6. I added aquarium salt to the box’s directions and a packet of API Fin & Body Cure, also to the box’s directions.

7. I added some gel Terramycin to two clean Q-tips and placed them aside. I scooped out the infection fish with a net and placed it on a clean cutting board. (I’ll sanitize the net in between fish.) I swabbed the gel onto the fish’s wounds and carefully placed it back in the tank.

8. Made sure to give the fish the tastiest food possible. Anorexia is usually part of columnaris so try to entice your fish with their favorite meals!

9. Once the infection is gone, move your little ones back into the community tank and sanitize everything you used in the hospital tank. (For me, the infection cleared up in two weeks!)

10. Celebrate!


Photo Source: Abhishek R.



How to Treat Brown Rot in Peaches

Hi! A few people in my AMAZING gardening group had questions about brown rot. I recently purchased a house and the two peach trees in my backyard have severe brown rot. SO I went on Google Scholar and read a lot of academic papers on how to best treat the disease. This is what I’ve learned.


  • The first thing you want to do is figure out how tall your tree is, approximately. That will help you create a budget. As much as no one wants to ever cut down a tree, sometimes that’s just the most cost-effective way to manage brown rot.
  • A little about brown rot… all peach trees are probably going to get brown rot (a fungus) at some point. It’s really a matter of just managing it. Other stone fruit trees can also get the disease. Brown rot attacks twigs and leaves but the main issue is when it gets to your peaches! Once brown rot attacks, it’s only a matter of days before the entire peach is mummified and destroyed.
  • The time to act is now, in the winter. Make sure you collect any mummified peaches that are still on the tree or have fallen to the ground. The fungus likes to overwinter in these peaches. Do NOT compost the dead peaches. Put them in a sealed bag and throw them away so as not to spread the fungus.
  • Identify branches and twigs that are dead and prune these off. The fungus lives in these dead areas and will come back during spring. Also look for branches that crisscross each other and prune one of them off. When the wind blows, the branches will rub against each other and create a raw spot that can then become infected by fungus or pests.
  • Use the right tools. I’ve done hours of research, and here’s what I’ve found works the best. It’s pricey, which is why you want to have a budget. And why can’t you just use the shears you’ve had for years? Rusty, dull shears won’t create clean cuts and it’ll take longer for the tree to heal, which leaves more opportunities for those areas to get infected. This is the best pair of basic pruning shears that gardeners on multiple review sites swear by. This is the best ratchet lopper for getting bigger branches. Here’s the best pruning saw for heavy duty pruning. And, if you have a tall tree like I do, this is the best extendable pruning saw that’ll keep you from having to climb a ladder while wielding a sharp object! Safety first!
  • When you prune, make sure to clean off the shears with a solution of bleach after EACH time you make a cut. This will prevent the spread of infection. Take the branches that you’ve pruned and put them in a bag and throw them away. Do not compost.
  • When the tree begins to fruit, prune off any new peaches that are too close together. Keep each fruit at least six inches apart. That way, if one becomes infected, it’s less likely to infect the others.
  • You’ll also need to buy fungicide. According to some recent academic studies, you can use copper fungicide with “moderate” success. Scientists recommend using a combination of fungicides such as: Merivon, Indar and Luna Sensation. Indar + Luna Sensation had a success rate of 91% when combating brown rot! The reason you want to use two to three different types of fungicide is that brown rot can very easily become resistant to a fungicide when it is applied often.
  • “Small handheld sprayers are suitable for a single tree and a larger backpack sprayer is preferable for spraying multiple trees at once. Spray all the surfaces of the tree thoroughly, as well as the ground underneath the tree; the fungus that causes brown rot overwinters throughout the tree, especially inside the crevices of tree bark and on any debris on the ground. A good rule of thumb is to use one gallon of the fungicide solution for every 5 feet of tree height and width. For example, a tree 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide takes about 5 gallons to thoroughly cover the entire surface area.” Source
  • You’ll want to spray three times. Once, right as the tree is budding. Another time three weeks later, and a third time about one week before the fruit is ripening, when it has color but it’s not ready to pick.
  • Finally, check your tree for cankers. Here’s how to handle them: Link here and this is the knife I’d recommend.

Let me know if you have any questions! After creating a budget for my trees and taking into account the cost of pruning and applying fungicide to 20-foot-tall branches, plus removing cankers, the most viable option is for me to cut down the trees and start over with dwarf peaches that I can care for more easily. I hope this research helps you make the right decision for your yard!

Photo Credit: Charles Deluvio



The Last Panic Attack of June

The last panic attack of June is pretty ho-hum. Almost embarrassingly so. I’m kind of rooting for it, to be honest. “Go out with a BANG,” I say, “not a whimper.” I truly expected better from the last panic attack of June.

If I had to pick a Hogwarts house for my panic attack, I’d toss it into Hufflepuff. It’s not strong enough, nor cruel enough, for Gryffindor or Slytherin. And due to its utter lack of brain fog, Ravenclaw is out. So it gets the leftover house. But when you’re a panic attack that resembles a lukewarm ham and pea soup, you’re lucky to get anything at all. It’s a letdown, really, this last panic attack of June.

If this panic attack were a dinner guest, he’d (yes, it’s a he) spend the whole evening picking his teeth with his not-so-clean fingernails and then flicking his treasure into the thick fibers of the shag carpeted floor when he thinks no one is looking—but, of course, everyone is looking.

If the panic attack were a lover, he’d be the type that struggles to unclasp your bra. He’d leave his socks on while you’re having sex. He’d still refer to sex as “doing it.” He’d be 43 and aspire to work as a CPA. Right now, he doesn’t work because reasons. You don’t want to hold his hand in public—or in private. It’s all very disappointing for the last panic attack of June.

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Be Less Polite

My therapist is constantly trying to get me to be less polite.

She says I need to open up, be more emotional, let it all out. I tell her she should hear me address a server after I’ve waited an hour for my food and it comes out cold. Or the screams of frustration when a customer service representative puts me on hold for the 10th time. That’s bad enough. No additional innocents need be subject to my wrath.

But she insists. And it’s been a theme in our chats for a while now. “What if you just let go,” she asks, “and tell me what you really think?”

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How to Write a Will (even if you don’t have a lot of money)

Having a will is a GREAT idea—even if you don’t have a lot of money—in fact, especially if you don’t have a lot of money.

That’s because, if you die unexpectedly without naming your heirs, your money is going to get tied up in litigation, and lawyers are expensive. No matter what amount of money you have, some of it’ll be wasted on fees if you don’t have a will. Plus, your family won’t be able to easily access it to, for example, help with funeral costs or medical bills.

Then there’s the potential for in-fighting over your stuff and the burden of figuring out logistics. Do you really want your family to spend time dealing with your finances and assets when they’re still grieving? And who gets your cat? your dog? your goldfish? These are all things that can be easily, and relatively painlessly, figured out with a will.

How to Write Your Own Will

Getting started was overwhelming for me. This WikiHow link was helpful when it came to understanding the terminology I wanted to use in my will—and how wills are written in general.

Some states have a state-provided boiler plate will so Google search with site:.gov and see if you’re one of the lucky ones! I live in Virginia, which doesn’t provide a boiler plate will *sobs. But my state does subscribe to the Uniform International Will Act.

What’s the Uniform International Will Act, you ask? Basically, a bunch of countries got together in the ’70s and said, “Hey, we should have a universal will so that way people moving around a whole bunch don’t die and leave court systems/their families with a lot of headaches.” That’s in layman’s terms. Since we’re getting technical here, this is a write-up on its actual requirements. The act goes a little overkill on signatures, but it’s pretty easy to fill out once you get going.

Now, the Uniform International Will Act isn’t for everyone. Unfortunately, not all states or countries accept the act so if you’re planning on moving, make sure you’re still in accordance! This is a good blog post explaining the act and its other pitfalls.

Because my will is very uncomplicated, I will be using this act. However, the act alone isn’t a will. So you either have to write your own language or borrow from someone else. I used the California boiler plate will because I like it and then I updated it to suit my needs. Here is the finished product for free in a GoogleDoc so you can use it, if you like.

NOTE: The will must be filled out in your own handwriting. NOT on a computer. The will does not have a section that refers specifically to pets, but I made sure to add a line that leaves my cats to a friend who has agreed to take them in should something happen. I would hate for them to end up in a shelter!

How to Write an Advance Medical Directive

While you’re at it, fill out an advance medical directive form (free from AARP) that will tell your family what you want in terms of end of life care, organ donation and pain management.

Make sure to tell your family members where they can find copies of your will and your directive in case of an emergency! And, for extra bonus points, write out a funeral plan and keep it with your directive. It won’t be a legal document, but it will help your family in a BIG way. They won’t have to guess what you would’ve wanted, taking a huge weight off their shoulders.

Yeah, this is all a pain in the behind to think about—not to mention actually follow through on. But, just remember, you’re doing a good thing for your family, and that makes it all worth it.

MOST IMPORTANT NOTE: I’m not a legal expert, and none of this should be taken as legal advice.

Photo Credit: Melinda Gimpel



Best Free, Bodyweight Workouts on YouTube

I hate working out. It’s SO. DAMN. BORING. and fraught with social interactions I’d rather avoid.

I tried running. I really did. I got the phone apps. I got fitted for the shoes. I joined training programs. It was multiple-exclamation-points-terrible.

Running around outside makes me feel like an idiot. I’m dripping sweat in a ratty T-shirt and shorts that are probably too short as I pass office workers heading into the city with makeup and expensive suits. Or, running at night, I end up as fodder for the scourge of mosquitos that follow me around in a cloud as soon as I step outside.

Jogging on the treadmill at our apartment’s gym is almost as bad. Thank god for climate control and the absence of insects, but dear lord, it’s just so monotonous, and there’s only so much a workout music playlist can do before it becomes completely useless.

So that leaves an actual brick-and-mortar gym. And, for a long while, I was a gym rat. I went every day for at least an hour. But, the problem with going to a gym that frequently is that you start to make friends.

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