24 May 2018

scaevola

My last new plant of the year is this scaevola- "fan flower". It originates in Australia, so doesn't suffer from any pests here and likes the heat. I totally bought it on a whim because I was so intrigued by the flowers.
they have petals on just one side of the throat
My pot is mostly blue-violet, with a mix of pink in there
I have it on my front porch right now but am considering taking cuttings and using it overhanging the small wall in front of the house that was an original edge to the planting space. . . .

nasturtiums

Not from seed this year, I bought two pots of 'jewel mix' at the nursery.
I've already had to put stones in this one pot- the squirrel (or chipmunk) dug an entire plant out of it- so aggravating
Other one is situated on the stump (gracefully flanked by turtlehead and sensitive fern. I really like how this looks!) It sported the first, yellow-orange flower
Which we ate in a salad. I had never eaten nasturtium flower before, so conservatively just put one in (carefully cut into a few pieces) as I read it has a sharp, peppery taste. It wasn't very strong so next time I might use a few more. If I can keep my kids from picking all the flowers to sip the nectar first!
It went on a tossed mix of two kinds of young lettuce leaves, arugula and salad burnet. I cut a large handful of chervil to go on some fish- too much. So mixed the remainder (minced very fine) with lemon juice and olive oil as a simple dressing for the salad. It was quite good!

flowers!

These are already done- I'm so busy outside to get everything in the ground before the real heat hits, haven't had time to sit down and post much. My lilac was beautiful this spring! I had to stop by it frequently just to inhale the lovely, nostalgic scent. Then a rainstorm beat all the blossoms to bits (same to the peony, whose flower heads I just cut off)
Next to it, the black-and-blue salvia is starting to open its flowers. Like dark glowing flags. So delicate, and subtle. The plant has recovered from its move, but the new foliage is all brighter green than when I first brought it home.
Citrus geranium on the front porch- also has very subtle flowers- they are very small.
My clematis- wow this was gorgeous while it lasted.
The blooming period seemed so short- or perhaps the petals got beaten off by the rain as well.
Now it is just a nice climbing vine but I'm excited to see what a show it puts on next spring!


In the garden space, my green onions have poufy flower heads.
quite a few have fallen over and hit the ground. I learned this is actually a biannual plant, so I assume those heads might re-seed and continue the patch going.

(Every time I walk through the garden I ruffle my fingers through the rue to disperse its scent- but really I think my scattering of a hot mix is more effective right now in keeping the squirrels and chipmunks out. I combine a good amount of crushed pepper flakes, chili powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper- over a cup total- and scatter it through the garden - with disposable gloves on, as it irritates my skin too).

22 May 2018

snails in the 45

my new tank started off with the ramshorn snails. They are hard to spot. Like to crawl around under the leaf litter, of course. Here's one in the background on the underside of a buce leaf.
I kept an eye out for them the first few days, to make sure they were okay with conditions, and got a few closer pics
Then transferred in the apple snail- it's grown so much bigger! but I was concerned because for a day it didn't move. Floating at the surface. I took it out- no stink (and found out they just happen to chill like this sometimes).
I dropped in a piece of blanched spinach on a glass bead sinker. Apple snail was in the corner for hours over that spinach.
(and when I pulled up the fragment of spinach it left behind, found a tiny ramshorn was enjoying it, too)
Now I find myself in the basement a lot, watching the apple snail crawl around the tank...
particularly interesting when it navigates narrow sticks
or the underside of leaves
I never thought I'd be so taken with a snail... if it decides to eat plants, well I hope it goes for the subwassertang and leaves the buces alone. I can't imagine it would munch on tough anubia or java fern.

While speaking of snails, here's two I lost recently. The biggest pond snail from my window tank. I've seen a few smaller ones show up since... And the other is my last 'tomato' nerite snail. I found it when re-rooting a crypt parva, the tweezers clinked against something in the substrate and I nudged out the loose operculum. Didn't recognize what it was at first. Then went looking and found the empty shell.
Oh well. It was at best guess over three years old.

my 45 for angels

It's up and running! Started off just half full, this was because I didn't have a filter with capacity for the entire water volume yet, but wanted to get it going and put the cories in there so they could have the bigger footprint already. So I had it set up with fifteen gallons of water, a 50 watt heater and three filters running on airlines- my 20g capacity corner filter stuffed with media taken from the 38g's canister, and my two small extra sponge filters. These came straight out of the 10g quarantine tank, and all the contents went in here too- plastic plants, driftwood sticks, rocks, fake decor (pipe, bridge, clay arches).
Leaf litter is new- I sorted (to get the cleanest) oak leaves from the yard, boiled them twenty minutes, soaked in dechlor water with carbon for twenty-four hours as prep. I hoped with all that stuff carrying over good bacteria on its surfaces, I'd get an instant cycle, and you now what I think it worked again. I've been testing daily and the tank has zero nitrite, zero ammonia, 5-10 ppm nitrate steady. Started with handful of ramshorn snails as inhabitants and test subjects. They did fine. In fact, I found an egg case already, ha. (More on the snails later).
I also put in a lot of expired fish flakes tied in a pantyhose to provide more ammonia, and have been dropping in daily fresh food equal to the amount I'd feed the first fishes I plan to put in here (brochis splendens- emerald catfish): one algae wafer, two or three shrimp pellets. Of course this means the snails are multiplying but the plan is for them to be food to the fishes, anyway. (Perry is getting fed some of the extra little ones, for now).

On to the plants! Perry's tank donated a few rocks and small sticks, and this one free-floating vallisneria. Which is now lightly tied down to a fragment of driftwood, and seems happy enough. It's grown a bit in the few days been in here.
I thinned a bunch of plants out of the betta's tenner. Various anubia, including a large cutting off this one barteri that has been obscuring the skull cave (the tenner doesn't look much different except now I can see the skull more, and the shrimps are easier to spot in the background).
Most of the anubia lanceoata, congensis and afzelii.
This smaller barteri on the left, is this one I grew from a rhizome piece. It still has a long way to go! (Plants in the back corner here are fake, I just put them in to bring over more of the beneficial bacteria)
Some buces tied onto rocks.
Leaf litter! I am planning to keep this tank more or less bare bottom- with a layer of oak leaves. Next time I prep leaves I might cut them into smaller pieces, though. I know the fishes will kick them around, the pants should more or less stay in place (most are epiphytes on rocks)
Buce green wavy leaf is in the background.
Here's the larger barteri cutting out of the tenner. It looks so much bigger in here. (It's on a chunk of pink quartz.).
I've tucked subwassertang into a few corners- even though I know it probably won't stay there!
I used to dislike using this corner filter for the annoying blub-blub sound. Fixed that. Had to remove a bit of the media- I think I stuffed it too full at first (this was several days after setup) so I threw away the wad of flake food that was getting stinky in the pantyhose, and loosely tied the media I took out of this filter in there, instead. Also helpful to rinse when it seems to slow, and take care to work all the air pockets out- that's tricky- before replacing in the tank. But what really silenced it was sticking a folded bit of mesh into the output pipe. It breaks up the outflow into finer bubbles.
So at that point my partly-filled tank looked like this:
and then two days later it went to this:
Because a friend of my husband was tearing down his last tank (retiring) and gave me all these plants, and some driftwood. It had algae that cleaned off easy with a bit of scrub, and got a soak to boot.
I put the additional anubia lanceolata or whatever they are with the others in front to make a denser group. I like it.
I'm really pleased with the java ferns- here in two different kinds of lighting. Java fern never does great in my other tanks, seems to need more nutrient so I feel a bit dubious how it will do in here. But perhaps it will get something from the breakdown of the leaves?
And then I realized my fifty-watt heater wasn't keeping up with the volume. It was on constantly. I had to fill the tank already to put in my 200-watt heater instead. My fishkeeping friend loaned me this much larger sponge filter. I kept the two small ones in the tank, just sitting around- but now with this puppy running and the 20g corner filter- I feel good about it for now.
Here's the final look. Hornwort floating is bright and even pearling- I don't like that it gets pushed all to the center, but intend to get a canister and then shift the media from the three smaller filters into it...  Also the largest anubias is fairly dead center- but when it grows, new foliage will extend to the right, and when I move that sponge filter out, can shift the driftwood over too. I'm more pleased with it off the bat than I really expected to be. (I was going to keep it very minimalist-  but seems I can't help putting plants and plants in there!)
It just needs a tangle of sticks now. And then some fishes. (The cories got adopted before I got this far, so for now it is one big snail and a bunch of little ones).