04 October 2015

coleus pots

All the little jars of coleus have grown tons of roots.
They either grew faster than I've seen before (lots of aquarium waste water!) or I left them in the jars longer than I usually do.
I potted them all up a few days ago- two or three stems per four-inch pot (they like being root crowded).
Makes the windows feel cheery on gray cloudy days of rain.

03 October 2015

equipment mishap

All of a sudden I saw, in my main aquarium, that a bit of loose plant part was clinging to the intake tube. Not to the tube itself, to an elbow piece that fits on to hold the prefilter sponge off the wall. It was clinging and waving in current that was pulling it in. That's when I saw the elbow fitting had a crack in it. And I remember when it happened- a while ago I turned the fittings to adjust the angle of the prefilter to the wall, and heard a sharp snap noise. Saw nothing amiss and left it. I don't know how long it's been like this- a week, two? I don't know if it's been compromising the performance of the filter, but several things stand out.

- The nitrates have continued to be higher than norm (35-40 ppm) even though I'm dosing less ferts now.

- There have been small particles loose in the water- I noticed this just yesterday and thought maybe the prefilter was clogged with debris but I didn't want to rinse it yet because I'd just unintentionally rinsed everything the week before- so this friday I'd just done the small sponge filter. Wanted to let the bacteria levels recover after that mini-cycle.

I turned the filter off momentarily to lift out the intake tube and fittings. Removed the elbow pieces and put the prefilter/intake part back on straight off the main tube. So now the prefilter sponge part is resting against the back wall, I don't know how much that reduces its efficiency, but when I put it back on at first the filter wouldn't run. I unplugged/replugged it, nothing. I primed it, nothing. Saw that the water was rushing through overflow, why? I pulled out the main media sponges and gently rinsed the fine one in a bucket of tank water (still here from friday, thank goodness I hadn't watered plants with it yet). Put that back in the filter, plugged it back in, started right up and the current significantly stronger- I saw plants waving around that I hadn't noticed movement from in a while (not good).

- The fish immediately came to play. Barbs were running up and down the wall around the prefilter, flirting and chasing and displaying at each other.

- The tank clouded up with lots of fine debris when I lifted out the intake tube- the one thing I don't like about sponge filters- but to my surprise it cleared up again very quickly. By the time I was done fixing the cracked piece, the tank was nearly clear. And the fishes still darting about looking refreshed. Tells me it's been a problem for a little while, if they feel so relieved and spunky with renewed current. Gah. Why didn't I see it sooner?

Here's the crack:
It's an inch long straight and then curves.
I'm glad I have aquarium sealant on hand. And I know it's strong stuff- the hinge I made on the prior glass lid for the tenner was so stiff I could lift it off the tank by one panel and it wouldn't flex. I smeared it on both sides of the crack and pinched ends together tight for a few minutes.
Not pretty, but I don't care as long as it seals.
Now it has to cure for at least 72 hours.
In the meantime the tank intake is on a straight shot, but I don't think it will matter too much. I wonder if fixing this will help my algae issues any? maybe weak filter pull was degrading quality for the plants in some way.


Maybe it's getting closer to that.
(I put the darker backdrop on here because it makes the prefilter sponge less noticeable. I'd hide it with something, but I do like to watch the kuhlis snake their way up and down the grooves in the sides, foraging. You can see Snakey Fish doing just that).

Last week I saw GSA returning on the back wall of the tank, so adjusted the lights again, the brights come on at 2pm now- half an hour less brights/more color spectrum. It looks like maybe that did the trick- the green spot algae seems to be in check now, or at least not growing faster than my nerites can eat it. Still dosing less nitrates with the dry ferts. Growth with the plants is slow, but seems that all of them are putting out new leaves again, and to my surprise even the java fern looks better. I did have to scrape a few more spots of black beard algae off the driftwood, and there was a tuft of it on top edge of the prefilter sponge, I simply cut that off. If it keeps reappearing though I'll have to do something else.

Can see in this picture new growth on the watersprite (older stuff is yellowing as it dies back), rotala in the background greening up, and ludwigia (off center to the right) has new leaves, bright pinkish hue. The undersides are violet.

02 October 2015

steady otos

I think these little guys might be keepers now.
All three still look round-bellied and perky.
I haven't had complete success feeding them, though. Since I moved Mavis out again, I'm also am opening curtains in the flanking windows so the tank gets hit with a bit of indirect daylight and there's some algae growth on the end sides. I put a zucchini slice in once a week (day before water change in case it fouls the water too much)- my four-year-old says it looks like I'm "giving the fishies a popsicle". They never seem to eat much of it though- I keep an eye on them all day and only once or twice see an oto on the zucchini, not for long. It does always cause the glass to become cloudy with the start of algae bloom, which the otos happily scrape off in the next day or two. So at least that is keeping them fat. (Typically, according to other aquarists, a ten gallon tank can't harbor enough algae to keep otos from slowly starving. But I don't want to encourage so much of it that it gets unsightly, either).

I put aquarium river rocks in tank water with drops of flourish comp, in windowsill, in case I can grow a film of algae on that for them too.

28 September 2015

young aloes

These plants aren't that much bigger since the last time I took a picture, but I'm just happy with how they've grown.
The one that came from the older aloe that was in my apartment
is getting larger and greener too (it has lots of freckles!)

indoor peppers

I brought my two other pepper plants inside. Not enough room in the few windows that get direct sun (we have lots of trees shading the house) so these two are in the front room, with bright indirect light. Not sure how well they will do there. The second plant (potted up out of the garden in august) doubled in height once I put it on the deck, and gave us lots of ancho peppers.
The third plant I had also potted up out of the garden space and moved to the deck about two weeks ago. It doesn't have a lot of leaves because recently I trimmed off all the bitten foliage, so I can see if more insect damage occurs and know to look for a pest. This plant hasn't made any peppers yet.

27 September 2015

echeveria success

It's the end of summer and the pots of echeveria have really grown! Most of them did better than I expected. They mostly recovered from their sun scald. The big single one developed its flower spike further and has two pups coming up at the base.
The pair of crowns are health-looking, but didn't produce any new growth.
The pot of leaves I just stuck in the soil had a lot of failures. At one point I gently tugged on them all and tossed out all the ones that came up easy- those that held on from new little roots I let be. Some of these are now growing plants too.
Last pictured here is the pot of crowns I stripped of lower leaves, and flower stalks I stuck in the soil just for the heck of it. The stalk pieces all wilted and are gone (I expected that). These crowns had the most increase in growth, from where they started.
I really love the blue-green color of them all.

25 September 2015


The parameters are ok in the thirtyeight now. I changed out 15 gal today (not the norm friday 20 gal wc because of so many small wc this week) and fed the plants usual ferts dose (still with skewed higher K2S04 and almost nil KN03 for nitrate levels).

The plants are far from happy, but I think I have figured something out (I know I can get this right because the tenner seems relatively balanced now, and my twenty was in a good state right before I moved and started messing with things). Reading on the forums, finally found a thread discussing the exact LED light I have- it's not a very popular one, turns out- and someone had taken the trouble to call the company and got the PAR values, so now I know for my tank height the light level is med. That's important to know! and a good thing too. I'm not just limited to low-light plants, as long as I don't crank things up high enough to need C02.
Someone else chimed in on that thread and remarked that the white brights had been too much for his tank, he kept it on the max fade in/out time, more color channel and very little brights. I had the opposite going- a very short fade in/out (half hour), short color channel (1 hr) and color-plus-brights for 6 hours. What I didn't realize before was that the fade in/out feature starts after your first channel is set to turn on, and then extends the light period on the other end of the photoperiod, so it really doesn't add or subtract any time, total.

It's all the more confusing since the light strip didn't come with any instructions whatsoever. I had to figure it out from reviews and comments posted online (by other equally frustrated aquarists). So I looked at where I was before- when I first set up the light I had it on the longest fade in/out- 2 hours- and eight hours max of color-plus-brights. I'd reduced the colored channel and the fade in/out just for aesthetic reasons, because I didn't like the lights looking so yellow, but didn't stop to think what was best for the plants. I think that's when things started going downhill- looking back at my photos, it was doing okay here. Now it's not. Worse since readjusting after the trip.

So I've reset the lights once again. Considering the feedback I got on the forum, and where things were at with the first setup I had going on the timer. I put channel 1 (colors) to start at 11 am and run until 7pm, channel 2 (white) to overlap that, running from 1:30pm to 6:30pm, and the fade in/out to do 2 hours. So it fades in from 11am to 1pm, color only 1 to 1:30, color-plus-brights 1:30 to 6:30pm, color only again 6:30 to 7pm, fade out 7pm to 9pm, then blue/moonlight 9pm to midnight, darkness midnight to 11am. That's 8 hours total light, but 2 of that dimming in/out, another 1 hr color spectrum only, all of which I think isn't as prone to algae, and 5 hrs full lights. I'll see how that goes. It's more dimming that I had the second time I changed things, but less brights that the first time around. Remembering that when things were going badly on my prior tank, what fixed it was reducing the photoperiod.... The only way to know if this will work is to try it! Wait a week or two, take more pictures and judge by the plant response.

The other thing I can do is stuff more plants in there that consume the excess nutrients. With that in mind I added more watersprite and some ludwigia (I really like its reddish hues and purple undersides). I wanted to get hornwort (in spite of its reputation for shedding needles; it's supposed to be great for controlling algae outbreaks in a new setup) but I couldn't find it available locally.
You can see my poor aponogeton is doing awful- this is the biggest one here. I found out the bulbs are not supposed to be buried, so I planted them more shallowly this time however they're not holding down well yet.
From above can see I now have more plant texture/colors, just have to keep them alive.
Even still there is one piece of wisteria (left, at corner of the sponge prefilter) and hygro compacta (center here, kind of hidden by the watersprite).
Here's the bits of windelov java fern I tied onto rocks.
And surprisingly (or not) the only plant that looks decent right now is vallisneria. So I'll stop with that one. To end on a good note.

24 September 2015

fish behaviors

The relatively newer barbs don't rush up to the surface when I approach the tank- they never learned that my presence equals food topside, because more often than not I give sinking foods (for the kuhlis' benefit) since they've arrived. The older fishes remember the pattern from before though, and whenever I stand near the tank they eagerly come near. If I move to stand by another corner, they flock to that side, too.

The fish don't seem alarmed when I put my hands in the tank (they come and nibble on my freckles) and only shy away briefly if I accidentally bump something. But they dash and hide when I clean the outside of the glass with vinegar and a rag, is it something about the squeaking sound? Rubbing the glass on the inside with algae pad doesn't get the same response.

For a while every time I came in the bedroom I would glance at the aquarium to make sure an oto wasn't stuck head-down in the filter outtake tube again. It's never happened since that one time. Sometimes I see one on the airline, working its way up or down, but never into the tube. I think the one who had that mishap remembered and stays clear.

The fishes know that I put food under the flat stone. Sometimes when I drop sinking food in another part of the tank the kuhlis start rushing around to pinpoint the scent and one or two will go over and squeeze under the stone to look there even if it's not where the food went, they check it out.

On another note, I've noticed that there are very few malaysian trumpet snails in my tenner now. I picked some out a while ago to make sure most of the algae and biofilm would be available for the otos, and now when I look for the snails I only see two or three, small ones. I suppose it's because Oliver eats so little, there's not much food waste in here for them to scavenge.

The first time I fed a few crushed mts to the barbs, they went crazy for it. Next day I saw one female barb grabbing live trumpet snails and trying to bite them. She knew they could be food- but of course can't get them out of the shell. She gave up soon, but it was funny to see her going for the snails!

Oliver doesn't seem to like garlic flavor anymore. He spat out the soaked betta bites I gave him last week, I had to siphon them out and feed him plain ones. Gave him two garlic-soaked bloodworms this week and he spat out the first several times, let it fall. Ate the second one, though. Maybe he's getting picky. He does gobble the flies I offer him though, when he used to just ignore those. Perhaps his taste changes as he gets older.