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Dominion: What does it mean?

As a content creator, specifically as someone whose content revolves around talking about Dominion at this point, it’s important to me to be able to speak clearly and be understood. It’s also important for me to follow what all communities I have access to are saying about the game, even if I don’t choose to directly engage. I want to make sure I’m giving the best commentary possible, but also make it accessible to anyone who could be listening or reading.

A while ago I did a survey on the community’s use of the word “engine” as it applies to Dominion. What sparked this was the fact that I wasn’t ever able to communicate what I meant when I used the word to someone who didn’t already know what it meant, and I wanted to see if there was some kind of clarity, or more accepted definition or focus that I could latch onto.

So I posted about the results and over the last year or so I’ve been trying to figure out how to reconcile the fact that I don’t think the term “engine” is useful for me in spite of the fact that many people still choose to use it. I think I’ve arrived at the idea that the word is OK to use in the context of describing a certain deck, as long as the deck is adequately described in other ways, and then labeled as an “engine” for ease of discussion. Talking about “engines” as a class or archetype of deck isn’t useful because it’s not clear what that means, and the best analog I have found for discussion is the distinction between drawing your deck and not drawing your deck.

During that time, I’ve tried to pay close attention to the language I use and that other people use and find other words that may or may not have accepted meanings and try to adjust the way I talk about Dominion to be clearer. I made a second poll asking about three terms, and the results are in.

Let me be clear, this is not an attempt to shape the way that others talk about the game, but rather an exercise for me to hone my ability to be understood by everyone who reads or listens to my content. If that’s not a priority for other people, it’s certainly not my place to tell them not to use certain words. The only reasons I’m publishing my findings in this article are:

  1. I feel like I owe it to the people who kindly filled out the survey to show them that it wasn’t for nothing.
  2. There has been some interest in the results.

If you don’t like the data, well sorry, it’s just data. If you don’t like my conclusions or interpretations of the data, you’re entitled to disagree. In fact I’ve had many constructive conversations in the past about the “engine” survey from people who disagreed, and that has shaped the way I now talk about the game. I’m hoping the same thing happens here, and I believe the process has already started.

So let’s get to the results and see what we can learn.

This survey asked three questions:

  1. What does “swingy” mean in Dominion?
  2. What does “cycling” mean in Dominion?
  3. What makes a card/event/project/etc. “good” or “strong” in Dominion?

I’ll address each question separately, but I’ll start by linking the raw data spreadsheet and posting the composite image of the results before going into more detail. The survey had about 40 responses for each question, and every response that appeared more than once got a category that can be seen in the image below.


This is a word that has been used in many different contexts throughout a few different games. I had an idea of a few different ways it could apply to Dominion and I had heard a few different things, but I wanted to see what people really meant by “swingy” when they were talking about Dominion. The results were actually more unified than I thought they would be, and there is a narrative to how a few terms fit together here that seems to be clear enough and somewhat educational.

A majority of the responses referenced two main concepts. First, that swingy cards had a component of luck, or some factor outside of the player’s control; and second, that the difference in outcomes between the best result and the worst result, based on this luck component, was large. So a swingy card could be great or awful for you (or anywhere in between), and you won’t know which it is until you’ve invested some resources into buying and playing the card.

There are two other responses on the list. “Powerful” may have originally referenced other games where swingy cards could provide turns where a player who was behind could “swing” the game into their favor, but in Dominion it stands to reason that any card that doesn’t at least have the potential upside of being very powerful for its best outcomes won’t be such a large force on the game, even if it is swingy as referenced by the other definitions above.

It also stands to reason that if powerful cards have large random effects, that it could result in luck determining more of the outcome of the game than normal, as opposed to skill. While this is a logical consequence of the rest of these categories, the fact that it isn’t well-represented in this poll is probably because I see this more commonly referred to as “high luck” or “low skill” cards rather than “swingy” cards.

In fact, there are metrics that can be used to measure the skill component of card over a large set of games — you simply see how well the leaderboard could predict the winner of a given game of Dominion, and see which cards are involved more often when the game result doesn’t match what the leaderboard predicts. Current data from online games has been used to calculate this, but unfortunately due to a technical limitation of the online client, only games including players from the very top of the leaderboard (a small fraction of the total games played online) have their games included in this data, and the bias in this data calls the accuracy of these statistics into question.

But as far as “swingy” goes, it seems we at least have a narrative here and some language that can be understood by just about everyone without too much confusion. Hooray!


Going into this I had my own way of looking at cycling — we had done a podcast episode where we labeled “cycling” as something specific — anything that helps you play your best cards more often — but of course it wasn’t a universally accepted term. I wanted to get some hard data on what people think of when they think of cycling, even though I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the results.

My expectation was that in most peoples’ minds, cycling was tied to the effect of moving cards from your deck to your discard, which is equivalent to shuffling more often, and indeed the data supports this with 3 out of every 4 answers specifically mentioning this effect. It’s not that I’m terribly surprised to see this, but it does mean a few things to me personally, in that it will probably affect the way I speak about these ideas moving forward.

The reason I wanted to use “cycling” to mean what I had was because I found it more educational to focus more on the “why” rather than the “what” of the matter. There have been discussions around what constitutes “good cycling” and “bad cycling” and I’ve seen these concepts cause confusion in people who can easily lose focus on the overall goal. It’s similar to my issues with the way “PPR” is presented. Memorizing effects and lists of situations/exceptions where those effects can be good or bad is not a good way to internalize a concept; explaining the goal and inviting the listener/reader to take in the situation and figure out the answer for themselves is not only a more approachable concept, but it’s more directly relevant to real games of Dominion, so it’s not surprising how much success I’ve had using this method.

Given this data, though, it seems that I can do better in clarifying my message by using a word other than “cycling” to get my point across. It seems that within the Dominion community, the definition of “cycling” is standardized to the point where trying to assign a different viewpoint or definition to the conversation around that word can potentially be more difficult than it has to be. On top of that, other card games use “cycle” or similar things as keywords, which have a somewhat easy analog to this concept in Dominion of shuffling more often, so I think it’s best to try not to step on that.

The solution for me is to find another term to use for this concept. While I haven’t figured out exactly what it should be yet, once I find that term it should be clearer what I’m talking about, which is the real goal here.

“Good” or “Strong”

I’ve been doing card ratings for a while, and after all this time it’s been pretty clear to me that I haven’t seen a universally accepted way people have for determining if Dominion cards are “good” or “strong” — I haven’t even come across anything that’s even internally consistent unless it doesn’t have much bearing on real games of Dominion. This is pretty similar to the way I felt about using the word “engine” in the past, but I was hoping that the poll for this term would either show a few things that are more prominent, or at least spark some discussion on some things that work or won’t work.

The data doesn’t show anything that’s very clear. There are a few metrics that can potentially be helpful in a card’s effect on win rate or gain rate, and these can at least theoretically be calculated without bias; but unfortunately due to current technical limitations, it’s not possible to get enough data to get good numbers here and I don’t think it ever will be.

It’s also clear that this isn’t the full picture and that the problem is much bigger. There are subjective ways of looking at what cards do, and there are many different ways of weighting different statistics that could lead to different results. I’m not sure that the data by itself is enlightening of anything (other than that it reaffirms my belief that conclusions based on card ratings should be viewed extremely skeptically) but hopefully something more educational can come from discussing these results.

For example, discussions after the “engine” poll revealed to me that the main relevant distinction to be found is whether or not a player is drawing their deck. This helped to put many things in perspective, including separate concepts that were at least clearer to me. Hopefully something similar can be done with the results of this poll too.

Dominion: Renaissance Cards Revisited

It’s been a few months since release and I conducted another poll on the Renaissance cards to see how opinions have changed after some time playing with the cards.

For those who are interested, here’s a link to a Google Sheet where I’ve compiled the results from all of the card rating polls I’ve ever done, except for first impressions. It includes all of the cards, but for this post I’ll just focus on the Renaissance cards, comparing them to the first impressions poll. Sample size for these polls was about the same as for Nocturne, with around 40 entries for the first impressions and about 20 entries for the revisited poll.

If you’d like to hear the opinions of Jake and myself, you can check out these two podcast episodes where we give our first impressions, and then our revisited takes.

All right, now that we’ve defined the scope of this discussion, let’s show the data and start talking about it. The “Mean” is the average of all of the revisited scores, the “1I mean” is the average of the first-impressions scores, and the “diff” shows the change between the two — the list below is sorted by the absolute value of this “diff” column, with the top of the list representing the cards whose valuation has changed the most since the first impressions.


Card Name	Mean	1I mean	diff
Lackeys		7.47	4.81	+2.66
Silk Merchant	8.26	5.62	+2.64
Cathedral	8.61	6.62	+1.99
Road Network	3.44	5.22	-1.78
Capitalism	6.5	8.18	-1.68
Sinister Plot	7.89	6.24	+1.65
Star Chart	8.22	6.58	+1.64
Seer		8.37	6.83	+1.54
Scepter		5.11	6.55	-1.44
Treasurer	7.74	6.47	+1.27
Recruiter	9.05	7.8	+1.25
Spices		6.53	5.35	+1.18
Sculptor	6.37	5.19	+1.18
Barracks	5.83	6.93	-1.1
Scholar		4.53	5.57	-1.04
Acting Troupe	4.42	5.43	-1.01
Improve		6.05	5.06	+0.99
Guildhall	6.39	5.4	+0.99
Swashbuckler	6.42	5.66	+0.76
Priest		7.63	6.89	+0.74
Research	5.37	6.11	-0.74
Innovation	7.5	6.77	+0.73
Academy		6.78	6.11	+0.67
Inventor	7.79	7.15	+0.64
Sewers		7.39	6.82	+0.57
Cargo Ship	6.11	5.55	+0.56
Old Witch	7.79	7.28	+0.51
Patron		5.74	5.24	+0.5
Fleet		7.11	7.58	-0.47
Citadel		6.89	7.33	-0.44
Border Guard	5.53	5.13	+0.4
Ducat		4.11	4.51	-0.4
City Gate	4.67	5.04	-0.37
Exploration	3.44	3.8	-0.36
Piazza		5.56	5.89	-0.33
Experiment	6.05	6.34	-0.29
Mountain Village6.74	6.45	+0.29
Fair		5.33	5.6	-0.27
Canal		6.5	6.73	-0.23
Crop Rotation	5.17	5.36	-0.19
Silos		5.78	5.62	+0.16
Pageant		5.72	5.62	+0.1
Villain		4.21	4.15	+0.06
Flag Bearer	5.26	5.28	-0.02
Hideout		6.53	6.51	+0.02


So the two biggest differences are Lackeys and Silk Merchant, both very underestimated cards, and both with the distinction of giving Villagers on-gain. Silk Merchant’s ability to give Coffers on-gain was probably underestimated as well, with the other card capable of doing this (Spices) getting a significant increase.

With a bit less of a bump, but still a significant increase in perceived power level, we see Cathedral; then to a lesser extent, Sinister Plot, Star Chart, and Seer. I’m guessing that Cathedral’s required trash spooked many people into rating it lower (it still has a very high variance so this hasn’t completely gone away).

Some overestimated cards seemed to be Road Network and Capitalism. To be quite honest, I’m not sure how Road Network was originally rated so high. As for Capitalism, it seems that in spite of the huge effect it gives, the fact that it isn’t relevant in a reasonable portion of games where it appears caused opinions of it to drop.

So these are the cards that had opinions on them change the most. As for the most powerful cards in the set, it looks like that distinction goes to Cathedral, Recruiter, Seer, Silk Merchant, and Star Chart.

The Ratings main page will be updated with the complete list of all cards and their ratings, and the poll will stay open so people can submit their ratings if they want. I’ll periodically update the numbers on that page and if there’s another expansion in the future I’ll be sure to capture the opinions of the community on that as well. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Winter 2019 Cincinnati Dominion tournament

Game Swap Mason, OH

1065 Reading Rd, Ste E, Mason, Ohio 45040

Facebook event

Join us for my tenth Dominion tournament at 1PM on Saturday, January 12, 2019 in Mason, OH (near Cincinnati). RSVP is not required — you can just show up, but it helps me plan if I know who is coming in advance, and if you’re traveling in from far away I can make sure you don’t get left out if you get stuck in traffic or weather or something.

This tournament will consist of two-player games, and have a $5 entry fee. I’m not able to give out promo cards or qualify the winner for GenCon, but I will have sandwiches for everyone who enters. Portions of the prize pool (80% of the entry fees) will be given to the top finishers. This time, prizes will be given out in cash (as opposed to past tournaments where prizes were given in store credit).

The winner of the tournament will have the opportunity to play a “trophy match” against me. You may pick any kingdom you like and you may go first; if you win, you get to hold on to the Scout trophy (pictured in the Facebook event) until the next tournament. If you lose, you still get the standard first-place prize for winning this tournament.

All expansions (including Renaissance!) and promo cards may be used, I won’t be using any of the removed cards from Base or Intrigue, though. All kingdoms used in the playoffs will be designed and playtested by me and some helpers who will not be playing in the tournament.

I anticipate we’ll be done by 8PM, and if you are eliminated early on in the tournament you could be done earlier — everyone who enters is guaranteed at least four games in the tournament. During and after the tournament, there will be the regular Saturday board gaming event.

You can RSVP on the Facebook event or send me an E-mail at if you plan to come, or just show up. Hope to see you there!

Dominion: Combined Card Power Levels

This post is just meant to combine data that I’ve presented in the past: I plan to update this in-place as more card power level polls are completed in the future. I’d just like one place to have a ranking of all card-shaped objects in Dominion because this data can be useful if it’s not misused.

Please keep in mind that the concept of card power level is subjective by nature, and this data was based on user input. While I think it’s reasonably accurate, it’s not precise by any stretch. What this means is that even though King’s Court appears above Donate at the top of the list, that’s not nearly as important as the fact that both of them are at the top of the list so they’re probably very strong (whatever that means).

I’ll link to all of the posts I’ve made of previous versions of the card power level lists for reference or in case you want more data. The next time I plan to capture data on this is immediately after the release of Renaissance (so probably the beginning of November 2018).

First Post – everything through Empires
Second post – Nocturne first impressions
Third post – Nocturne cards revisited

Without any more fuss, here’s the list:

1 King’s Court
2 Donate
3 Mountebank
4 Chapel
5 Goons
6 Page
7 Cultist
8 Wharf
9 Ambassador
10 Peasant
11 Fortune
12 Tournament
13 Governor
14 Rebuild
15 Scrying Pool
16 Witch
17 Avanto
18 Ferry
19 Lost Arts
20 Grand Market
21 Torturer
22 Border Village
23 Inheritance
24 Minion
25 City Quarter
26 Pathfinding
27 Masquerade
28 Dominate
29 Margrave
30 Sauna
31 Overlord
32 Familiar
33 Highway
34 Vampire
35 Wandering Minstrel
36 Steward
37 Fishing Village
38 Wild Hunt
39 Junk Dealer
40 Lost City
41 Den of Sin
42 Remake
43 Villa
44 Royal Carriage
45 Ghost Ship
46 Ironmonger
47 Sentry
48 Counterfeit
49 Hunting Party
50 Cursed Village
51 Upgrade
52 Keep
53 Black Market
54 Urchin
55 Crown
56 Bridge
57 Encampment
58 Groundskeeper
59 Save
60 Tomb
61 Shepherd
62 Bridge Troll
63 Plunder
64 Werewolf
65 Laboratory
66 Monastery
67 Butcher
68 Alms
69 Museum
70 Rabble
71 Hireling
72 Swindler
73 Alchemist
74 Haggler
75 Amulet
76 Throne Room
77 Wall
78 Fortress
79 Knights
80 Count
81 Stables
82 Plaza
83 Peddler
84 Magpie
85 Gear
86 Port
87 Tactician
88 Vineyard
89 Swamp Hag
90 Jack of All Trades
91 Worker’s Village
92 Soothsayer
93 Herald
94 Wolf Den
95 Hunting Grounds
96 Bonfire
97 Legionary
98 Forager
99 Young Witch
100 Borrow
101 Bandit Camp
102 City
103 Smithy
104 Menagerie
105 Horn of Plenty
106 Lurker
107 Raze
108 Altar
109 Sacrifice
110 Training
111 Bandit Fort
112 Possession
113 Militia
114 Apprentice
115 Sea Hag
116 Spice Merchant
117 Blessed Village
118 Bazaar
119 Nobles
120 Envoy
121 Coin of the Realm
122 Summon
123 Caravan
124 Haunted Woods
125 Tower
126 Orchard
127 Patrol
128 University
129 Village
130 Ratcatcher
131 Travelling Fair
132 Bustling Village
133 Council Room
134 Conclave
135 Replace
136 Journeyman
137 Artisan
138 Hamlet
139 Marauder
140 Scheme
141 Storyteller
142 Devil’s Workshop
143 Catacombs
144 Baker
145 Moneylender
146 Hermit
147 Enchantress
148 Stonemason
149 Archive
150 Exorcist
151 Jester
152 Plan
153 Ghost Town
154 Bishop
155 Trade
156 Apothecary
157 Embassy
158 Prince
159 Mining Village
160 Market Square
161 Distant Lands
162 Conspirator
163 Quarry
164 Delve
165 Forum
166 Procession
167 Dungeon
168 Ill-Gotten Gains
169 Idol
170 Farming Village
171 Advisor
172 Castles
173 Royal Blacksmith
174 Temple
175 Monument
176 Chariot Race
177 Salvager
178 Relic
179 Triumph
180 Festival
181 Fool’s Gold
182 Triumphal Arch
183 Outpost
184 Watchtower
185 Band of Misfits
186 Merchant Guild
187 Artificer
188 Golem
189 Seaway
190 Bank
191 Transmogrify
192 Salt The Earth
193 Remodel
194 Mountain Pass
195 Cemetery
196 Lighthouse
197 Tragic Hero
198 Catapult
199 Ironworks
200 Charm
201 Advance
202 Ranger
203 Walled Village
204 Market
205 Trading Post
206 Vault
207 Forge
208 Inn
209 Expedition
210 Engineer
211 Warehouse
212 Obelisk
213 Pixie
214 Defiled Shrine
215 Mill
216 Treasury
217 Courtier
218 Wine Merchant
219 Lookout
220 Fairgrounds
221 Capital
222 Colonnade
223 Fountain
224 Emporium
225 Battlefield
226 Bandit
227 Courtyard
228 Duplicate
229 Cartographer
230 Guide
231 Tormentor
232 Squire
233 Library
234 Duke
235 Crossroads
236 Expand
237 Labyrinth
238 Treasure Trove
239 Ball
240 Changeling
241 Palace
242 Native Village
243 Giant
244 Diplomat
245 Crypt
246 Pooka
247 Arena
248 Farmers’ Market
249 Mission
250 Hoard
251 Doctor
252 Night Watchman
253 Skulk
254 Basilica
255 Wedding
256 Gladiator
257 Mystic
258 Smugglers
259 Guardian
260 Shanty Town
261 Poacher
262 Loan
263 Graverobber
264 Gardens
265 Sacred Grove
266 Horse Traders
267 Island
268 Pilgrimage
269 Necromancer
270 Merchant
271 Rogue
272 Cutpurse
273 Cobbler
274 Scouting Party
275 Secret Cave
276 Scavenger
277 Trader
278 Windfall
279 Mint
280 Candlestick Maker
281 Caravan Guard
282 Aqueduct
283 Leprechaun
284 Armory
285 Storeroom
286 Conquest
287 Patrician
288 Settlers
289 Wishing Well
290 Tunnel
291 Develop
292 Druid
293 Pawn
294 Oasis
295 Baron
296 Venture
297 Oracle
298 Sage
299 Tracker
300 Miser
301 Workshop
302 Messenger
303 Secret Passage
304 Merchant Ship
305 Farmland
306 Silk Road
307 Tax
308 Ritual
309 Haven
310 Feodum
311 Vassal
312 Rats
313 Harbinger
314 Vagrant
315 Taxman
316 Royal Seal
317 Cellar
318 Death Cart
319 Harem
320 Nomad Camp
321 Pillage
322 Rocks
323 Trade Route
324 Fool
325 Faithful Hound
326 Moat
327 Talisman
328 Explorer
329 Mine
330 Tribute
331 Quest
332 Banquet
333 Feast
334 Raider
335 Baths
336 Contraband
337 Woodcutter
338 Bard
339 Embargo
340 Spy
341 Coppersmith
342 Poor House
343 Noble Brigand
344 Mandarin
345 Treasure Map
346 Stash
347 Fortune Teller
348 Raid
349 Masterpiece
350 Annex
351 Saboteur
352 Great Hall
353 Pirate Ship
354 Navigator
355 Beggar
356 Pearl Diver
357 Herbalist
358 Counting House
359 Philosopher’s Stone
360 Cache
361 Chancellor
362 Bureaucrat
363 Harvest
364 Thief
365 Adventurer
366 Secret Chamber
367 Duchess
368 Scout
369 Transmute


Some changes to the blog

Hi. So yeah it’s been more than four years since I’ve updated this last. I still have the fish tanks but I guess I don’t feel compelled to blog about them anymore.

On the other hand, I’ve been doing a lot of other things with my life, mostly focused around tabletop games. I’d kind of like a place for me to publish things that I want to write, so I decided to re-brand this blog and put it all here.

So this blog is just going to be a place where I write about stuff, whatever it is. It probably won’t be too much about fish anymore (though I may decide to post fish pictures here if I want to). You’ll probably see lots of posts about Dominion, other tabletop games, or whatever else I feel like writing about.

To start, I’m going to take everything I’ve attempted to publish in other places and move it here. That means the entire Power Grid strategy blog will get dumped here, and all of the Dominion articles I’ve written. All of that has been transferred over and I’ll be publishing it shortly.

I have several topics I’d like to write about in the near future. Many of them are Dominion-related, but not all of them. So you can expect some content here in the near future, and let’s see where this goes!

4/7/2011: News, but no pictures

Hi. I have news; some good, some bad. I don’t have pictures, but I have some pretty good excuses for not having pictures.

Saltwater tank: I noticed that Ruckus’ eye looked bad again, I also noticed both of Butch’s eyes were popped out really bad, and several other of the fish were “flashing” (that’s a sign of having the ich parasite). I was really worried, but then I woke up. What a terrible dream. Everyone is fine in that tank.

I haven’t seen Sunny in a while. Granted, he’s disappeared for a long time like this before and ended up in the overflow cup before, so I’ll have to do a thorough search before I say anything definitive, but Dantrell has recently taken to swimming across the tank just to attack Sunny, so hopefully he’s OK.

Planted tank: Yesterday the shrimp arrived in the mail. However, a majority of them were DOA. Someone is getting negative feedback on eBay! I’m might try and find a local breeder for Red Cherry Shrimp, but maybe enough made it to start a colony anyways. I’ll have to wait and see.

My excuse for not having pictures: I couldn’t catch any of the fish out of that tank without moving some of the plants, which stirred up the gravel and made the tank really messy and cloudy. Not to mention that any surviving shrimp were hiding pretty well because they were probably very stressed. Any pictures I would have taken would look like an empty, cloudy, dirty tank.

55G tank: All of the fish, including Torpedo, were moved to this tank last night. Torpedo seemed pretty disoriented at first, but I’m sure he’ll enjoy all the extra room he has to swim around. Except for the rams, this tank is now stocked. It will be really nice to get some more aggressive fish in this tank, because I’m not seeing much schooling behavior at the moment.

I should mention, that there have been a couple of casualties so far in this tank: two glowlight tetras. It’s unreasonable to think that I can buy 50+ fish and not lose any of them due to the stress of moving, but that doesn’t make it any less sad. Hopefully I won’t lose any more.

My excuse for not having pictures: the pictures I want to take of this tank involve really seeing the lighting. In order to get the best pictures of that, I have to wait until the sun goes down so that light pollution doesn’t get in the picture. I was busy the last two nights in that window between the sunset outside and the sunset in the tank.

Yeah, I know I could adjust the lights manually to get the pictures I wanted, but how would you feel if someone turned on the lights in your bedroom and woke you up in the middle of the night to take pictures of you?

Quarantine tank: two more days! The two tangs are adjusting back to “normal” marine water conditions pretty well. It’s not their favorite thing in the world but they’re doing fine.

My excuse for not having pictures (well, video): I mentioned last update that I was going to try and get a video of something cute the tangs were doing. Well, they aren’t doing it anymore, so I’ll just write about it.

I’ve noticed a big turn-around in the Atlantic Blue Tang’s personality over the past four weeks. He used to be really, really timid, and wouldn’t even come out to eat until I left the room. He even let the Powder Brown Tang push him around, even though he was much bigger. This may sound crazy, but I think some of it had to do with losing the Naso Tang — The Atlantic Blue really liked him, and I think he was really upset for a while, he seemed that way, especially when the Naso died. He snapped out of it all of a sudden, which is why I’ve had to separate them. Well now they both get excited when I enter the room, and they actively beg for food, which is great.

A little education on the coloration of fish, specifically the Atlantic Blue Tang: Almost all fish have what I call “daytime colors” and “nighttime colors.” The nighttime colors are usually darker or more drab, and sometimes show patterns. For example, most of the tetras and the cardinals turn to a solid grey; Sarge, Ruckus and Butch turn mostly black, but Filet gets this brown circle with a white line through it on both sides of his body, and Dantrell gets covered in white spots. These colors show up when the fish are “sleeping”, but also when they are stressed for some reason. Basically you know they’re awake and happy if their colors are radiant, and this is increased by having a day/night cycle in the tank. That’s something I learned from keeping saltwater fish. The Atlantic Blue Tang’s “nighttime colors” are the deep purple that’s in all of the pictures I’ve been able to get. He’s basically constantly stressed because he’s in a small tank, and there’s another fish in the tank that he wants to be aggressive towards. These colors will most likely go away when he goes into the big tank and we’ll see his “daytime colors.” Now his daytime colors are interesting by themselves. As a juvenile, he will be a pale yellow, with some faint vertical stripes, but as he matures, his color will change to blue. The tang I have is still in the “yellow phase.”

So what the Atlantic Blue Tang was doing that I thought was cute — he’ll just be chilling in the tank, looking through the barrier, wishing he could harass the Powder Brown Tang. Then I walk in the room and I show him the can of food. I’ll see his colors briefly turn back to his natural yellow, and he gets really excited for the food, at least until I get too close to the tank and he puts his guard back up. It was just a great example of how you can use those colors to tell exactly how a fish is feeling. I’m really excited to see how he takes to the big tank and how that affects his colors.

2/12/2011: Two new tangs!

Well it’s been a long time planning it, but today was a big day! I’ve been doing a fishless cycle on a quarantine tank so that I could get two new tangs for the saltwater tank, and it was finally ready this weekend. I have two new tangs! They will be in the quarantine tank for about 6 weeks (at least) before they go into the main tank. Hopefully they will be fully recovered from any parasites they might have right now, and we’ll see who emerges as the dominant tank between these two and Filet. Here are some pictures:

In the picture of both of them, the one on the left is a Blonde Naso tang. He’s clearly the boss of the two of them in the quarantine tank. The other one is an Atlantic Blue Tang. The young ones are more yellow and as they mature, they turn blue. This one is very stressed out, and he might stay that way for a while. If it gets too rough in there, I might have to put a barrier in between the two. I’ll try and update as things to along with more pictures too.

12/22/2010: The move was officially a success

Well, it’s been over two weeks since I moved, so if there was going to be any sort of tank crash or major problems, I would have seen some trace of them by now. I think it’s finally safe to say that the move went successfully with no fish lost! Some of the plants in the freshwater tank are looking a little stressed, but for the most part I’ve been able to get the algae under control and I’ve seen new growth on almost all of the plants.

I’ve made a couple of minor cosmetic and plumbing changes to the saltwater tank, and I’m working on cleaning off some of the old sand and putting it back into the tank, but there’s nothing too interesting to write about. In the next couple of weeks I’ll be getting some more snails, since I only know of one that’s still alive. Also, I hope to get some more tangs too, since Filet seems lonely and needs someone to pick on.

I’ve taken a bunch of pictures of the saltwater fish. Enjoy!

Update 11/22/2010

Hello. Not too much new this time, but I did manage to recover the video I was talking about last time. It’s the best footage of the life down in the refugium. These guys are called “pods” because they’re usually some type of copepod or amphipod, or some “pod,” from everything I can tell, though, they are the beneficial type that keeps Manny well-fed.