20 January 2018

Lucky catfish fry

The big thing today was that for the first time I saw the fry swimming out in the open. And up to the surface for air once, like the adults.
Hanging out on higher points of plants, instead of sheltered in the windelov thicket most of the time. On the tallest crypt leaf!
Perched on anubias. See the adult male (Leo) in the first pic?
I like this photo in spite of the java fern thread going across it, because I can see the baby fish's spine.
Lucky in the 'blue bell' buces:
Not the best focus, but here's Lucky on a buce 'selena', with Momma underneath a nearby one.
Lucky is about the size of a smaller trumpet snail now. I feel like the fry is growing really fast!
That photo from a few days ago, of Lucky under a leaf? Showing it again with a comparison pic- Felix in front of the same leaf.

plant breakthrough

At least, that's what it feels like today. Things were looking- slightly off, earlier this week. I thought: they lack something. Going leaner with ferts and lighter on wc probably not a good idea. Midweek I gave a half dose of ferts, and started to worry about one of the cory cat's barbels. Today I spent a good three hours on the tank. Cleaned out some melting windelov fronds, some anubias and buce leaves that were attracting algae, some crypt parva root hairs that were going all over the place, dug up by mts (I think). All of a sudden it looks much cleaner.
Then I did a very meticulous cleaning and rearranged some plants. Very slowly to avoid harming the fry. Fifty percent wc at the end of it, plus a gentle filter rinse. Here's a ton of photos, because I was so happy with the results. First off, I cut out the java skull's tongue. It was just starting to obstruct the view, so to speak.
The ferns themselves look remarkably better today. I clipped out a few fronds that were looking anemic, trimmed one piece and refastened it to the front. Going to clip the rhizome in center too, to encourage more sprouting.
It's hard to get a photo that really shows it, but this narrower anubias lanceolata on a small piece of wood, I cut and re-fastened part of that too. It got its rhizome cut two weeks ago, and a new sprout is showing. Trimmed the end that was growing off the wood, and re-tied on the other side. Now it has three pieces on there.
Here's the full short end. I don't show up to the surface because I trimmed and replanted lots of the rotalas, so they are all mid-height right now.
One of the main things I did today was moved and cleaning up all the buces. I trimmed off ugly leaves, divided some, cut back straggly roots, and replanted deeper (hoping they won't get uprooted again). Moved most of them to the sides, 'Selena' on this end- and anubias in the corner-
View of that edge from the other side:

I'm not sure what these buces are called, anymore, lined up now on the other short side. They seem to keep rounder leaves than 'Selena'
But they could just have a different growth habit from being in a different part of the tank? This one looked so delicate compared to the other 'Selena' I thought it was another variety. But it was growing in deeper shade under the windelov fern for a long time, so maybe that made it narrower in leaf? It's got the same color, I replanted it with the others.
My current favorites, the 'blue belle', are grouped in front of the skull cave
and on the other side still in the background- kind of hard to see, but they're in back center here:
Photo of the other short side.
Since I moved most of the buces from where they crowded in front of the driftwood piece, it's created a kind of tunnel under the fronds.
I was hoping the cories would still feel sheltered under there and move through the space freely, without having to fight thru thickets of buce foliage and roots. Where I can see them easily.
I did leave a few buces there, so they feel safe from my eyes (or the camera's mouth). Moved up snug against the glass, so the fish will use the open space between.
I've moved most of the leaf litter to sit below the driftwood/windelov overhang. Cory in there.
From above- the main anubias on the driftwood is now in several pieces, too. Its younger scion long enough now got its rhizome clipped, and the main piece has walked completely off the hardscape and is headed towards the skull. I cut its rhizome just where it leaves the wood- but didn't move any pieces. The free piece of anubias is still standing like that, held up by its roots that go all the way down into substrate. Too bad I can't show you that effect, its on the other side.
Last but not least, I still have subwassertang in here. It's healthier than the subwasser in my other tanks. I pick up loose bits of it to move into Perry's domain. You can barely see it here, growing on the ridge backside of driftwood, between the crypt stems and the windelov fronds
I dosed dry ferts, but only potassium and phosphate. Nitrates were high enough I didn't feel the need to add any of that. Micros will get dosed tomorrow morning. At the end of it all, my plants (especially the windelov fern) were pearling like crazy. I haven't seen that effect in quite some time. I think I finally made another step forward.
I don't know how much difference this has made, but I also upped the flow on the sponge filter. And am keeping it rinsed weekly, so there is better surface agitation. I wonder if that helps with oxygen and C02 levels.

driftwood piece

Today I did lengthy work on both fertilized tanks. I didn't plan to do a lot of work on the main tank, but kind of got carried away. Started out moved around a few plants- subwassertang (also not very happy in here right now), windelov ferns on stones. Trimmed off some crypt leaves, am starting to cut out the older of the taller bolbitis fronds. The younger ones are growing in nicely upright, but the tall original fronds lean over and pull the whole mass sideways.... I want to gradually remove those and see how the younger stuff grows in. Replanted some bacopa stems, cut a few in half. Left hygro thicket alone this time.

Then I saw one of the bolbitis fronds on the small side- rooted on driftwood piece- was starting to reach off the hardscape. I clipped it and tried to re-fasten in a different spot with rubber band. Very tricky. Got frustrated and ended up lifting the whole thing out.
It was much cleaner than I'd expected underneath- no buildup of mulm (I wonder if I have busy shrimps to thank for that?) And I was kind of surprised- and very pleased- to see how healthy and filled- in these plants are. Even the java fern that is kind of forgotten in a corner, looks pretty good and has a few tiny baby plantlets growing on root threads! see lower right corner
and here:
I'm pretty tickled with this. It's been a long time waiting for this plant to grow in. A year.
I refastened that clipped rhizome piece with rubber band, and found another longer one growing into air on the back side, trimmed that one too. Simply wedged it back in among the others in the middle.

This tiny bit of windelov fern showing up in the thick of it all. I remember when it was a tiny little thing!
I'm having second thoughts about just doing the root tabs. Some of the plants don't look quite right, although nitrates are still on the high end (40-50ppm at end of week). So today I went back to the old routine: fifty percent wc, dosed dry fert macros (lean) and liquid micros. And things are pearling.

cory pics

Last night I got some better photos of the cories when rooms lights were off and tank light on. They don't see me as well then, so don't spook as easily. Adults feeding
Little Lucky:
In the windelov, as usual.
First time ever I got a photo of the fry and adult together.
The fry kind of flattened itself against windelov leaf when more adults bustled through below.
And then it came down and was feeding on substrate, near the adults. It's to the right just behind them, intersected by crypt stem.

19 January 2018

Leo and Felix

I've named the two peppered males Leo and Felix. I'm a bit concerned about Felix.
His barbels are slightly shorter than the others', and have rounded tips, not a nice slim pointy end. I'm getting out my tiny syringe/airline siphon again, to carefully clean some of the gravel bed on maintenance day, along with another 50% wc and filter rinse. Hopefully keeping things a bit cleaner will help.

cory egg and fry

I did a bunch of online reading, particularly looking for photos of corydora fry in various stages. When they first hatch, they look like little tadpoles- head and a tail with continuous fin around the edge. Mine already had distinct fins by the time I saw it, so I think it's already over two weeks old.
I took the loop and looked at the one surviving cory egg against the glass- which I first spotted five days ago.
(The eggs Momma stuck under a buce leaf day before are already gone, but the cories are spawning again this morning!) I could see what looked like a cluster of cells inside the egg- very cool. I looked at others' macro photos of cory eggs; a four-day-old egg was just like this. The next day when I looked close, the cell shapes seemed arranged instead of evenly spaced, and I could see a tiny pulse. I was excited to keep observing the egg every day- but now it is gone.

It was at the base of this wisteria, to the left of the roots. Twice yesterday I saw Momma mouthing it, and bumped the glass there with my finger, to scare her off. But I guess she got it. Or it hatched- timing of that is three to seven days, so it's possible I'll see another fry emerge from the thickets in a week or two... maybe.
Not going out of my way to pluck eggs from the tank or set the adults up to spawn in my spare 10g. If one or two fry survive to grow up and increase the number of cories, replacing those I've lost, that's fantastic. I wouldn't know what to do with hordes of them.

I'm still eager to take daily photos of the baby cory, Lucky. Here's the best from past two days. Under a white oak leaf:
Sheltered by buces:
In the windelov fern:
My favorite is this photo of Lucky perched in the windelov. I swear it's growing visibly larger every day. I'm making sure to feed the cories gold pearls a bit more regularly now, because of the fry. They all like that stuff anyway.

18 January 2018

the paradise fish tank

Came down in the morning and saw Perry resting in the vallisneria. I wanted to get a photo of her among the plants, but she moved up to the glass as soon as she saw me, of course. It wasn't as fun giving her the worms yesterday, as I'd anticipated. I gave her the largest of the small worms and she snapped them up quick, no struggle at all. The serpae tetras, on the other hand- the worms I'd selected were just a bit too big for some of them. I had to get involved- chase a fish who stubbornly wouldn't give up its worm, snip them into pieces so the fish could actually eat it. It was kind of funny. They were very excited. Loaches loved it, too- and the cories in the tenner ate theirs too, once they were done spawning.
Did cleaning and water change on the window tank today. I redid the back strip of the lid. The sweet potato vine has been dying. Looking very anemic and loosing foliage. Periodically I've been finding tiny white bugs on the undersides, pinch them when I can. Finally got tired of the unhappy-looking plant. Removed all the stems and while the support strip of lexan was empty of plants, I took from the tank and cleaned off the hard-water scale. The few pothos stems on there got trimmed back, from the bottom up- the roots were starting to look unhealthy and lower edge of stems blackened. Cut them back to good tissue and replaced the missing sweet potato with new pothos cuttings off my houseplants.
Here's the sad remnants of sweet potato vine. It's pathetic. I dunked them in soapy water for twenty minutes. If that gets rid of the bugs and these revive, I can start over with one of the prettiest plants. I think part of its trouble was lack of sun in that location.
 In the tank, looks as if windelov fern is doing okay after all. Appears that the dieoff is finished, and the remaining younger leaves appear seem enough.
The clump on the biggest stone is much reduced, though. I snipped the rhizome in half where it is bare, to make it sprout more leaves.
Perry did not like all the disturbance when I removed her screen of pothos and sweet potato roots. I know they'll grow back; in the meantime she is hiding often under driftwood sticks. Loss of nitrate uptake while they regenerate their roots, but I hope the vallisneria will make up for that. To avoid too much upset, I'm not rinsing out her filter until next week.
Subwassertang in here doesn't look very good. It's all ratty on the ends. I think it doesn't like the cold. This tank is down to just 60° some mornings now. 
I'm not surprised that some of the random stem pieces I got in that recent batch of plants have died already. Bits of windelov, anacharis and watersprite are still fine. Moss tangle in the cage is still green. To my surprise, although it is melting leaves, the stem piece I thought looked like bacopa isn't dying yet. It sprouted two new leaves- you can see left and above in the first windelov picture. I think if it does survive in here, it will look leggy and unattractive, but am waiting to see.