21 July 2017

some garden food

I have been neglecting the garden. For a while couldn't do much out there, and now that my doctor has given permission to get my hands dirty again, it's so hot I don't want to be out there. Just a few hours after dawn and at dusk when the temperatures are cooler. So production is not at best. I am still using herbs a lot, and starting to pick cherry tomatoes now and then.

The other day I pulled a bunch of carrots and steamed them. Very good! No more of that odd faintly soapy aftertaste I used to get with carrots. I wonder if it is companion planting with tomatoes that made the difference.
Green beans are pathetic again- this is all I got off all the plants. They look peaky from insect damage- leaf hoppers from what I can tell. But steady watering has got a new burst of flowers, so I am hoping for more in a little while.


I made a few mistakes which could have cost me my fry.

Too many mosquito larvae. I got excited to see the fry could actually eat them, so last time collected larvae I took all the teeniest ones out of the main jar, and then after letting dirt settle, got the even smaller ones out of the stuff that went through the shrimp net. It was over twenty tiny tiny larvae. I could only see them because they wiggled. I thought the fry wouldn't find them all, some would escape the mesh box or elude the little fish and get eaten later.  But I guess that fry is good at hunting them down, or it only takes a few to fill its tummy.

Later I looked in the box and to my alarm saw the fry hovering very still at the top of the water column. Its stomach was twice as large as I've ever seen. It obviously ate too much. I didn't know what to do besides a water change might help it feel a little better, so I did that. And didn't feed pulverized foods that evening, let it just pick stuff off the subwasser if it needed.

Next morning fry looked normal again, moving around constantly on its search for food. It is getting better at swimming, movement more smooth not so jerky. I will only give it five or ten larvae at a time now.

Another day I started to get concerned about my cories. They have been looking pale and a bit pinched, especially the smallest one. I have not kept cories since I was a kid, and back then I wouldn't have known what to look for, so it's hard for me to tell if they are underweight or not. When they swim up against the glass it looks like there is a slight keel shape underneath just behind the head, that doesn't look right to me. And their tummies are not very rounded- not sunken, just flat. The other day the smallest one was sitting very listlessly on the bottom and I swear it looked like a snail was moving in on it.

Two things could be wrong- recently I put a piece of pantyhose over the filter intake. I thought this would keep out little trumpet snails, and when I release my serpae fry into the tank, ease worry at it getting sucked into the filter. But I think it hindered the flow too much, I noticed the current across top of water very slowed down. So I took it off and the flow back up immediately the little fishes are swimming around frisky again. I will just have to be sure the fry is big enough, and I'm sure a healthy one can stay clear of the filter.

But today filter was overflowing, problem again. This didn't seem to be affecting the fishes yet, but I gently rinsed out the media, lots of hornwort needles clogging it. And then when I started it up again there was a rattle. I had to disassemble again and tip upside down and rinse to get it out. A tiny trumpet snail had got down into the bottom of the filter, sigh. All is running smooth again. I worried these filter disruptions would affect the fry, but it looks okay.

Also having issues with feeding. It's the opposite of my prior problem. Now it is Fabio who hogs the food. When I drop in three or four shrimp pellets at night it doesn't help, Fabio finds them anyway and in the morning he looks engorged, the cories pinched. The cories don't seem to like the soaked betta pellets so I went and bought some sinking Hikari wafers made specially for catfishes and loaches, and some NLS pellets- both among the best fish foods you can buy. Fabio hogs this too, of course and it's not the best food for him. I slightly overfed last night in hopes Fabio would stop with a tummy ache and the cories get some. This morning my cories look plump and happy, Fabio sits motionless and fat at thè substrate. It's not good for him. I don't know how to keep him away from the food not meant for him.

~ Wrote that two days ago. Hornwort still shedding like crazy, but only half the stems- the others seem to have adjusted and are holding their needles. I cleaned the filter out again- decaying needles clogging the flow- and removed all the unhealthy stems. Also decided to only do the small wc once a day- maybe that will ease the stress on this plant.

19 July 2017

fulltank shot and more

Main tank- quick photo from yesterday, showing how much more open the crypt thicket looks with the subwassertang trimmed back in front of it.
Here's my young crypt wendtii (bottom center)- and there's another one further back sprouted up near the driftwood.
and a bunch of little crypt petchii
I don't know why this young one of the unnamed green cluster is still slower-growing than the others
My one buce in here- 'emerald green' - is doing surprisingly well, sprouting a new leaf.
Hygro thicket has gotten very tall, I've let it grow higher than usual.

serpae fry: two weeks

At best estimate, my fry is two weeks old now. I tried very hard to get a photo, but there's no way my camera can replicate what my eyes see. I can now make out the adipose fin and I can see its digestive tract. With the thick layer of subwassertang now on the bottom of the box, it's often hard to see the fry at first-
but it's fun to watch it hunting down mosquito larvae in the greenery. It's learned to find them at the water surface, too, and to take food bites there. In this picture the fry is on the left just above that strip of light, head up tail down.
This picture it's in the upper right corner of the box.
Closest I could get, fry just above the subwassertang.

18 July 2017

gone snail

Well I think I found out why nitrates were high. My blue ramshorn snail is dead already. Bummer. I noticed it hadn't been moving in a few days, and plucked it out of the tank into a small container of tank water to observe, but that night the whole room stank like rotten something. Snail is gone.

It must get the blue color from the body tissue? The shell when empty is all white.

17 July 2017

mosquito larvae: food!

I have read often about how great mosquito larvae are for fish food- perfect nutrition. Even about how to collect them, but I never really recognized them until I peered close into this puddle in my yard on top of a tarp, and saw tiny things jerking around in the dim water. Not too hard to get them with a gentle siphon of finger on end of straw. They're evasive, though- especially the bigger ones- if see or sense end of the straw coming, jerk down to the bottom and I have to wait for them to come up to the surface again. Their movement is very herky jerky. I've got some in my little idea of a container pond, too- in spite of having laid a piece of window screen over it apparently a mosquito got in.

I don't want to put the dirty water in my tank, though. To clean the larvae first I pour them through a fine mesh shrimp net, gets out most of the dirt. Then dump the trapped larvae into a small container of tank water. Let the remaining specks of dirt settle. Siphon out the larvae into another jar of clean water. Siphon back out of that jar individual specks of dirt that still get through. Then I hope it's pretty clean, or at least diluted enough. Doesn't take long to do.

Adult serpaes absolutely love to eat these little wiggly things. First time I gave one to Samblu he didn't seem to see it. Kept looking up to the circle of his feeding ring, wondering where the offering was, as the larva jerked down to hide among the plants. I watched but didn't see it come up again. So I don't know if Sam ever ate it. Later I offered him some when the tank light was on- he immediately snapped them up. Ate six. Ooh, he liked it when they wiggled around!

I really like this form of pest control! First time I did not realize that the roundish jerking things in same puddle were the mosquito pupae, which is the last stage just before they emerge as adults. I didn't collect them then, because I thought they were some other insect, and some are not good to introduce to your tank. When I knew what they were I make sure to get all of those from the puddle. I collect every other day, or every three days now. I must be doing a decent job of catching all the grown larvae before they hit the next stage, because last few times I didn't see any pupae at all.

I'm still unable to recognize the egg rafts, though. A fellow fish keeper gave me a tip: if I put the eggs in the fry box, when the larvae hatch out too small to see, the baby fish can eat them. But when I peer at the surface of the puddle, I don't see anything that looks like a raft of eggs. However today for the third time I collected from my jar the tiniest larvae (can barely see them at all) turned off the filter (so they wouldn't get sucked out of the fry box right away- they are tiny enough to go through that mesh) and dipped them into the water, then sat and strained my eyes for the longest time. I wanted to actually see the baby fish eat a mosquito larva, to know if it was worth the effort to gather up these tiniest ones- or if they were still too big for his mouth. Finally I saw the fry eat one. That was satisfying. I know I have good food for it now.

tenner update

Today I deep-cleaned the second half of substrate in my betta tank. First time around I had only cleaned the left side, avoiding doing all at once for how much ammonia that would create. The job went a bit easier this time- I still had to siphon out over 20 gallons of water to get it clean enough, then did two nearly-nintey-percent water changes to remove ammonia- in all refilling the tank three times. Samblu is in the temporary bin again. With a proper sponge filter this time that I squeezed in some of the dirty water- so that he will have the good bacteria to keep the bin parameters relatively steady. It all seems to have gone smoothly. Afterwards the tank only has 0.5ppm ammonia, and the bin itself 0.25. That's better than last time. So I think Sam might be above to move back into his home tomorrow, or the day after.

The tank looks the same as before; I didn't really rescape just put plants and harscape back where it was. Tuft of algae on java fern leaf tip is staghorn. It's the same gray fuzzy stuff was on the driftwood I took out. Typically shows up in tanks with low c02 and high ammonia, no surprise there. I hope my tank will stay in better condition, now. Would like to introduce a few trumpet snails again, but not sure if they will survive. I'm wonder if they simply starved- as there is no algae, and Sam eats every bite I give him, what is left for the snails. I had never thought to actually feed them....

16 July 2017

full herbs

Basil is nice, now. Surprisingly I haven't started eating any of it yet! I have cherry tomatoes, too.
This is that end of the herb garden bed that I cut back last month. All filled in again already.

15 July 2017

from friday

Main tank nothing exceptional this week, except that my Amano shrimp have molted again- they look huge! Because one serpae tetra with bitten fins had what looked like a bit of white fungus on the torn dorsal, I have been doing small partial wc, daily. The fishes loved it (and the suspected fungus spot disappeared by thur- now it looks like healthy clear fin growing back). Some of the plants didn't. Hornwort has converted to short, denser needles again. Crypts are dropping some leaves. My serpaes are so quick and enthusiastic to eat the mosquito larvae I gather for them, there is none left at all to fall to the bottom. I'd feel bad for the kuhlis, but I know when I feed aphids it will be their turn to gorge.

Subwassertang is one plant happy enough with the lower nutrients; its grown up so much starting to lift off the basket mesh surface. Time for a serious trim. There will be plenty to give to the baby serpae in the window tank, so it can feed off the aufwuchs.

14 July 2017

coneflowers plus

Echinacea in full bloom. There's five or six flowers per plant, and I'm really hoping to fill this area of the back bed in with more. If I do a full tray of seedlings and end up with just half a dozen to make it through their fist winter each year- well, eventually it will look like what I envision.
Astilbe (done blooming) and daisies in the background.
Rudbeckia (black-eyed susan) next to the echinacea is flowering now, too- didn't get a focused picture though.

fry update

Turns out my baby fish is older than I'd thought- it must have been a week already on tuesday. So I don't need to feed it three, four times a day and it doesn't need infusoria or egg yolk, it's already big enough to take pulverized food. I was pretty glad to ditch the egg and dump the jars of infusoria I'd tried to start (only the potato one was starting to go cloudy with life). I'm feeding it two or three times a day now, I see it picking at microorganisms pretty regularly and as long as the tummy stays round I think it's okay. Even in just a few days it is getting easier to see.

I upended all my fish food containers onto a sheet of paper (separately) and dumped all the powder residue into an empty container (poor quality flake I had thrown out a while ago but kept the can). Mixed all the powders together, I figure then the fry will get variety with each feeding. I'm told to feed it very sparingly as one fry won't eat much, so I cut the end off a toothpick to make it blunt, get it damp and dip just the tip in the food powder. Then into the water. It seems to be enough, yet even that little bit attracts the grown fish- yesterday two cories and Fabio were mouthing the bottom of the mesh box.

Snails are attracted too, they climb the sides of the fry box. (Maybe they are after the decaying hornwort needles that get trapped between the box edge and tank rim- I gently moved the box the other day to clean that area out). I have put a few more snails inside to help with cleanup- now I siphon out their poo more than food residue, but I think that's less toxic for the fry. (The baby fish is dwarfed by an adult trumpet snail- it's less than half the size!)

When I feed the fry in evening the room is too dim to actually see it. I put a little flashlight on the tank lid over the mesh box, so I can see if it is eating. Seems to attract it to the food area too.

I'm still doing small daily water changes, for the sake of my baby fish, as the nitrates are higher than I'd like- not sure why. Hornwort is struggling to adjust, dropping tons of lower needles and altering its top growth. Looks terrible- but I know it will recover or be replaced easily with more trimmings. None of the other plants visibly affected- I bet it's because the hornwort is such a fast grower, an 'indicator plant'. I think the regular wcs have depleted nutrients for it, but then its dying foliage pollutes the tank.