Monthly Archives

November 2017


Greg Hoffman Fish Tank

November 15, 2017

I’ve had freshwater fish tanks on and off since 1995. It started with a 29-gallon tank from Wal-Mart with plastic rocks and Neon Tetras that quickly died. I soon discovered plants and algae. I’ve grown my share of both over the last 20 plus years. I tried saltwater once and failed miserably.

My obsession reached new heights a few years ago when I upgraded all technical aspects of the tank, including filtration, lighting and an advanced CO2 system. I’m using the Green Leaf Aquarium GRO-1 CO2 Regulator with a 10lb aluminum cylinder and a Milwaukee MC122 PH Controller. This means I’m pumping CO2 into my tank to help feed the plants. The CO2 is coming through an in-line diffuser on the outtake line and there are zero bubbles.

The CO2 has been off for the last eight months so you won’t see the monstrous growth in the picture above. I should have great results to show in about three months. In the past, the plants exploded in size and need to be trimmed often, which I didn’t do as much as I should have. I’m also dosing with dry fertilizers each morning. Mixing the fertilizers involves precise measuring with a digital scale in the kitchen. This also reinforces my nerdy geek status with the kids in the house.

My signature fish is the Denison Barb, or Roseline Shark. Information varies about the size when fully grown but I have several close to six inches long and at least two years old. They are massive compared to the Tetras and Angelfish I’m using to keeping. They tend to stay near the bottom of the tank and are extremely shy. They dart away as soon as my chair starts to roll in the office. The other fish include Cherry Barbs, Harlequin Rasboras and seven very busy Cory Catfish.

I’ve always loved planted tanks. I’ve moved away from stem plants in the last few years because they grow too fast, get too straggly looking and make a mess when they lose leaves. I don’t have time/take time to perform maintenance as much as needed. I prefer the Jungle Val seaweed looking tall plants, Java Fern on wood and the low-level cryptocoryne plants. When the Red Lotus has enough CO2 and iron, it’s magnificent and takes over as the highlight of the tank.

The standard rule on fishkeeping is to measure the fish by inches and never have more inches than gallons in the tank. I’ve been able to cheat this system a little by keeping healthy plants and two filters. The combined flow rate of my two Fluval filters is more than 500 gallons per hour. My estimation is that I have about 77 inches of fish in a 70-gallon tank. My chemical levels are always in check. It’s a well-balanced system.

I added water during the summer because of evaporation. I changed one filter around June but other than that, I didn’t touch the tank for eight months this year. I only lost one old yellow barb during that time. But, the lights are on a timer and I fed them every day. The tank is happy.

This is a list of the equipment and fish. It’s much more for my benefit than yours. I want to remember what I’m using.

70-gallon tank 36x24x18
Cherry cabinet with cover
Fluval Ultra Bright LED Aquarium Strip Light
Fluval 306 Canister Filter
Fluval 206 Canister Filter
Flourite Premium Aquarium Plant Substrate – About 30 pounds
Hydor ETH 300 In-Line External Heater 300w – Temperature 75° – 78°
Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump
Top Fin Air 4000 pump

6 Denison Barbs – 4 to 6 inches each
6 Cherry Barbs – all male
1 Yellow Barb
10 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Siamese Algae Eaters
7 Green Cory Catfish
4 Otocinclus Catfish
1 Dwarf Puffer

Dozens of Jungle Vallisneria
2 Amazon Swords
1 Dwarf Lily
1 Red Tiger Lotus
Java Fern
African Onion
Cryptocoryne wendtii
Various other Cryptocorynes
Various Anubias
Aponogeton longiplumulosus


Success with Inbox Zero

November 10, 2017

My definition of inbox zero may differ from yours or any gurus that claim to have coined the phrase. Every morning, I clear out newsletters and overnight updates from various sources. I leave the important client-based emails that need action or responses. That’s my starting point by 8 a.m.

This morning, I cleared 24 emails and was left with two, both from a new client on the West Coast. I’ll have to get to them later. I know what my schedule is today, I have two work calls. I also know what my todo list looks like since I wrote it out yesterday afternoon in my Field Notes. Some of that list has been carried over from other days/weeks.

Against all productivity advice, I leave Gmail open all day. I work on three screens. One for Slack communication with my team, one for Gmail and the other for my ShareASale dashboard. When emails come in, I deal with them immediately. If I’m writing a blog post or analyzing reports, I fight the urge to check that Inbox (1) notification. If I do check it, I can usually get back on task pretty quick.

Most of the email that comes in gets deleted manually and immediately. My Gmail account goes back to 2006 and I have nearly 16 gigs with 165,726 emails archived. I know you might look at yours and see 10 times that amount. I’m not a digital hoarder. My spam is empty. My trash is empty. My junk email is empty. I’m also very good at trying to stay off subscription lists. Occasionally, I use I don’t want a service to automatically filter out unimportant emails. I don’t want to miss anything that might slip through.

Boomerang for Gmail has been a huge gift though. For those emails that never get a reply, I don’t forget them anymore. That’s my way of delegating and being able to archive that email. If I don’t get a reply in a timely fashion, I get the Boomerang reminder and I make the determination on how to handle that message again.

When I don’t want to deal with an email and it’s best suited for someone else on the team, they get a simple forward. No explanation needed. They know they have to deal with it now. And, when they do, they know I appreciate being copied. Not using reply all appropriately is a pet peeve of mine. It’s a constant struggle in business life.

So, every day, I strive for inbox zero. I try to visit my computer once more before I knock off the night and clear the inbox again. Some days/weeks, it’s impossible to get to inbox zero. But my goals are always the same, crush the todo list, create tomorrow’s todo list and be as responsive as possible. Even if the rest of the world isn’t, I want to shock them with my response time and careful consideration of their needs and requests. Inbox zero is my definition of customer service.

Now, I can get back to my todo list and wait for replies.