25 May 2017

goner

Looks like I lost a shrimp recently, too.
I found it when I was watering plants outside, saw something on the soil like a bit of red leaf? picked it up, it was a shrimp from my tank.
This time I'm pretty sure it's not a shed exoskeleton, but the shrimp itself. Surprised how red it is. Must have siphoned it out of the main tank by accident last time I did a water change, and didn't notice it in the bottom of an orange bucket. Until I watered plants. So now I only have three or four amanos in the tank, depending on whether or not the last one I found accidentally sihponed really was a shrimp or its shed skin...

one less and many more

The female swordtail Witchy Fish in my window tank, died sunday night. She'd been rather inactive for several days, laying on the bottom and not coming up to feed... I guess it was her time.  I was not sure how long her body had been in there overnight so did a 30% wc after the small burial (under the forsythia).
Fabio swims with the cherry barbs now... That same day I moved three of the male cherry barbs out of QT into the window tank, and tuesday I moved the last two over, so I could put some new serpae tetras (destined for the 38 gal) into the QT (while it still maintained the cycle).
Now the window tank is fully stocked- and the cherry barbs seem to really like it in here. When I was floating the males in a plastic bag to equal temperature, they weren't stressed or nervous or pale at all. They were darting at the sides to get out, and wagging their pectorals eagerly at the females! There was a lot of initial chasing, flirting and spawning going on.
There were so many baby windelov ferns growing on tips of older foliage, I finally plucked them all off. Some from the betta tank, too. A good dozen were just large enough to fasten down, so I started another windelov stone. Two views of it.
The rest are still too small- I have them floating in a tiny plastic cup, to grow a bit bigger. These are still on the tips of an old leaf,
and I was surprised to find some very tiny ones growing at intervals along those feeder roots the java ferns put out. I didn't know they could grown plantlets off the root hairs! You can just see a few top and bottom of this picture.
Here's the new little windelov stone, in the tank-
I rearranged the hornwort stems a bit to make a space for it, front left.
The regular java fern bits that I fastened onto rocks a while back, some of them came loose and the ones left are really starting to grow out. They're situated just under the filter box.
The java fern 'red' across the back wall, older leaves are starting to decay away, newer ones are growing up- the brighter green.
I removed the arrowhead cuttings. They just weren't doing well. Pothos is thriving though, and the root mass from the cuttings is substatial enough now that it kind of wedges itself into the corner and I don't have to find a place to set it down when taking the lid off (still just a sheet of plastic from an old storage tote), it more or less stays in place.
The tank regularly has two 'looks'. Usually it's like this, now- I have a backdrop of dark gray felt over cardboard, and the window curtains held open, so bright ambient light comes in through the top but not the back of the tank. Hornworts do great with this as long as they're in the center or near front of the tank, java ferns seem okay in the back. On cloudy days, I keep the curtains closed and lift the backdrop off instead, so then the whole tank looks bright and airy and the java ferns get a good amount of light. (This is actually more because on cloudy days I prefer to keep the curtains closed if we have lights on in the front room, but it seems to work out well for the plants, too.) There is still no sign of algae aside from some diatoms, which are easily managed. Subwassertang remains healthy so far, I've added a few more bits of it (but not sure how well it will do when temps drop later in the year). Anacharis (elodea) always faltered in here before, but now the few stem pieces I have are actually growing- so I might add more when the thicket in the 38 needs a trim. Perhaps it is doing better now because with the added fish load, there are more nutrients in the water for the plants. I haven't checked nitrates in a while, it will be interesting to see where they are at in a week.

24 May 2017

ashes

I have fed the grass. Always pick up sticks off the yard and save them up for late fall/winter when we enjoy using the fireplace a few times a week. I used to stir the ashes into the compost pile, but then learned that it can alter the pH in a way that slows down decomposition. However, that same shift in pH is good for grass! it's the lime content. Last fall when it was time to clean out the fireplace I sprinkled a bucketfull of ashes on the back yard- to see what resulted. I swear this spring the moss is dying out and grass looks a bit better.

Just a few days ago did the same to the front lawn. My fireplace was full of ashes, I hadn't shoveled it out since the last use this past winter... It is not so easy to do, spreading the stuff on your lawn. Have to wear gloves- avoid skin contact. There must be no wind, not even a slight breeze- don't want to breathe it in, or have it blown away. Must rain (or get watered in well with the hose) to wash the ash off the grass blades and into the soil. And/or rake it in.

So I scattered ashes in the rain. I had my nearly-full five gallon bucket on the sheltered porch, an umbrella and a plastic scoop. Each scoop got scattered as evenly as I could over the grass, under the umbrella so my scoop wouldn't get wet and clump it up. Then I ditched the umbrella and raked it all in. Tedious, and I'm sure the neighbors wondered what the heck I was doing. I've seen a few people around here push a spreader, most folks seem to have a lawn service, I don't know anyone else who scatters their fireplace contents. (Which, by the way, can only have wood burned in it now. No cardboard, and very little paper- because only the wood ash is good for the grass). I think of all those scenes in nature programs that show the sweep of a wildfire, the blackened devastation, and then the flush of new grass, fertilized by the passage of flames...

My other change in methods is to mow at 4", every other week when growth is fast. The slightly higher grass is supposed to shade out crabgrass seedlings. I have always dug up crabgrass clumps when I could, and cut all the seedstalks before they scatter open. There was still always lots of crabgrass. But now almost a year after changing the mowing height there is far less crabgrass. I'm still digging up dandelions and other weeds by hand (although I leave the violets, plantain and clover patches). Also leaving the cut grass to fall on the lawn and feed it naturally- that's why I noticed my compost pile had way fewer greens- I'd been leaving them on the lawn.

I have a control, too. I'm not touching the hellstrip. It gets the altered mowing height, but no feedings of ashes or compost. I dig fewer weeds there, too. Place where I read about these methods said changing the frequency and height of mowing alone could solve 90% of your weed problems. Well, let's see. If the hellstrip improves too, that's about right.

14 May 2017

ant eggs

I have a new treat for my fishes out of the garden. Good things come from pulling weeds- I disturbed an ant nest. All the ants made a scramble to move their eggs back into the dark, and I ran to get my little fish-dedicated tweezers and a container, and started picking them up. Ants grabbing a singular egg to haul it away only made it more visible to my eyes, the moving dot. It was not too hard to clean them- I just drop the eggs into a cup of tank water, swish it around, and pluck the eggs back out with a toothpick or the little tweezers. Then store in the fridge for a bit.

I don't really think of ants as a pest- they don't bother me- but I don't necessarily want them setting up housekeeping in my lettuce bed, either. So I don't feel too bad about stealing their offspring, if it makes them change location...

13 May 2017

tiny celosia flower

I don't know if I mistimed the start of celosia seedlings this year (too soon) or it just got too warm in the coldframe enough days in a row- but a few of my celosia plants are already forming little fans of flat flower heads. They are still in four-inch pots. I don't want them to bloom this small!

upright plants

In the main aquarium. Yesterday completed the levamisole treatment, so I did the huge water change, down so low I had to shut off the horizontal heater and the filter wouldn't even pull flow (with a fifty percent change I usually just leave it running to trickle, so I don't have to prime again). The fishes all dashed about excitedly, kuhlis very active. During treatment I fed them extra per instructions (so if it's a certain kind of intestinal parasite which gets paralyzed by the meds they poop out the carcasses) and all my healthy kuhlis are positively engorged. Some of the black ones could barely swim, but still try rooting around for food particles in the substrate. They really would eat themselves to death, fishes. The worrisome Sassy at least does not look so thin anymore- head and body in a straight line- but it will probably take her some time to catch up to the others, especially since I feel I have to hold off giving sinking foods as much so the others don't burst themselves!
From the one day of darkness, most of the crypts were standing taller to reach light, which gives the crypt wendtii a very different profile. And here's a serpae tetra.

12 May 2017

arugula prickles

Arugula started bolting in the garden. I found the top of several, looks like a mass of dense prickles. At first I thought an insect was making a nest or cocoon in there, but it appears to be flower head forming. Like a thistle. Another plant habit I'm unfamiliar with. Not ready to see what it does yet- I cut their heads off so we can keep eating the greens.

a green flower

I didn't know hellebores would do this. Thought the one white flower had faded and fallen off, but out there in the yard the other day noticed a paler green among the foliage, different shape. The flower itself has turned green. So curious.

11 May 2017

tank notes with no pictures

Did tanks maintenance today because treating the 38 gal w/levamisole which means today it got a 50% water change and tomorrow a 75%. That feels like a lot of work. Also wrapped in black plastic for darkness. And noted on the calendar to repeat in three weeks. Today I moved one of those unidentified crypts in the front corner- to the back of the grouping- so that bolbitis fern that is slowly growing out more visible. I want to see it. Also trimmed off a few of the longer leaves, just to clear the view. I was a bit surprised to find there was very little algae, very few dying-back leaves to trim off, hornwort mostly looked healthy with longer, strong needles and even watersprite is improved. Usually I take a few of the lower leaves off each watersprite bunch, that is browning. This week- none.

I'm wondering if the difference is the lighter fish load (since cherry barbs all moved out). Because I mistakenly thought I had the bigger filter, I had plugged into aqadvisor and it was telling me more fish okay. I did think the tank looked too busy, a bit crowded; I hadn't pushed it to the limits of the stocking calculator's suggestion, but it was close. Now that I realize I'm a size smaller w/my canister know that I can only put four more serpae tetras in there, to hit the limit. Which is fine with me!

It also might be a factor of feeding more live and fresh foods recently. I do see a slight film on the water surface when looking up from below- like fine dust- it doesn't bother me too much- I think it's from fine debris even though I rinse the bugs and whatnot, or from hairs off their bodies? (for example, the tiny moths are furry) Not sure. I thought the film meant the live food made the water a bit dirtier, but it's not actually disintegrating into dissolved mess like some of the flakes and pellets do...

Irritating was to find a freshwater limpet on the glass. I noticed earlier in the week there were two small, very fine scratches- on the inside- that hadn't been there before. The week before I had cleaned the glass inside w/algae scrubber. I bet I got a tiny limpet caught in the scrubber- and scratched the glass with it. Must have transferred some over here accidentally from the betta tank. Gah.~
~

In the window tank, it does seem I was right guessing why the swordtails had been laying low again. Now that the filter has more sponge media stuffed into it and the flow rate is slowed down, they are moving about as normal again. Still not as quick chasing food as the cherry barbs, but they are in the midst and do get some.

The tank has been getting some diatoms, it looks like- pale brown haze on the glass, mostly on the back wall against the window, and some on front right corner. It's easy to wipe it off just with my finger- in fact, easier than using algae scrubber because I can rub it off the silicone in the corner as well without damaging anything.

I took the aponogeton capuronii trimmings of long leaves out of that tank and put it in the male cherry barbs' tenner. Instead of hornwort, which was shedding needles all over and melting into a scattered mess. I had been cleaning up most of it each week and tossing in new trimmings, but getting tired of that. To keep a bit of floating cover in there, I tried putting these long capuronii leaves draped across the surface, and the handful of s polyrhiza culls from the betta tank. I know those will probably die just as quickly- there's simply not enough ambient light in this location- but maybe not as much of a pain to clean up each week.

All the cherry barbs' tails are over halfway grown back, now. Some of the females they almost look complete in form, just the new fin tissue is clear. I've seen a few of them grow back from nips and tears in the past, and eventually the new fin part colored up again, so curious to see if these all do as well.
~

My betta tank continues to slowly improve. I moved some rotala stems from the front corner (now crypt is mostly focal point of that spot) to space across the back. Bacopa still kind of faltering, more dying stems than thriving. I'm considering taking that plant out of here entirely. Have started slowly pulling out the dying marislea hirsuta. Only one clump today, because things were already a bit disturbed. (Not as if the fish cared. Samblu was so close to my hand while working, I didn't see him and accidentally he got sucked into the cup I was using to scoop out floaters- by the pressure of backwash. I noticed when he thrashed in the still-partly-submerged cup) Because of moving the rotalas, there was more mulm kicking into the water column than I could get out with my tiny siphon, and some of it settled back on the foliage afterwards, but I know what was the cause this time and still think it's doing better since I started vacuuming more thoroughly. One nice thing about how gentle the tiny vacuum is, I can put it right over a clump of fissidens and get fine debris out without dislodging the moss.

09 May 2017

cleanup

Cleaning the tank was kind of glum last week. Hornwort was doing great- I had enough trimmings to throw more into the cherry barbs' tenner. But I found a lot more BBA cropping up on leaf margins- on aponogetons crispus and capuronii, on crypts retrospiralis, wendtii and beckettii. Even on some little fronds of bolbitis fern, which I hated having to trim off. Thinking of taking out some of the weird green/brown tall/short crypt, so I can actually see the bolbitis, now that it is growing more. Also found that the leaves of anubias afzelii were specked with tufts of BBA. I took them all off (the plate of tank trimmings was piled high today) and it only has two leaves left. Can't see that plant anymore for the green/brown tall/short crypt in the way, so I moved it to back wall behind some aponos. Maybe it is getting a bit too much light. Irritated that BBA is showing up again so much- does it have something to do with the sudden reduction of fish numbers in here?

Serpaes are getting quicker to come to the surface for food- but funny thing, when I tried to feed them dandelion green again they wouldn't eat it. Not sure if they weren't hungry, or didn't like it because it wasn't as fresh? (kept a few days in the fridge sealed container in damp paper towel) or if it was because I hadn't blanched it as long- basically just dipped in boiling water and then into freezing... Today offered them blanced garden lettuce- this time I boiled it a good two minutes, and minced fine. They ate that. So from now on for greens I will only pick one small leaf at a time, and make sure to dip it in the boiling water long enough.

I was worried about one. Noticed a few days ago one of the older ones had poor color, looked pale and a bit thin. It was hiding and not coming out to eat as much. Also getting picked on by the others. Whether it hides and doesn't eat because it gets chased, or gets harassed because it is unwell and acting differently, I don't know. It is also the fish that has had cloudy eye and popeye. I didn't realize how bulging its eyes were until had the newer trio to compare. Just yesterday the swelling started going down- now one eye looks almost normal. I wasn't really expecting a lot of improvement, so glad for that.

Frustrated- at myself- over the filter again. I went to replace the canister with new part today, since I needed to pull a piece of sponge out for the 20H- one of the smaller, extra pieces stuffed in there. Figured since I was going to empty the canister halfway to get the sponge piece, might as well swap canisters. It wasn't until I had the canister all the way empty and put in the circular grid for the bottom that realized I had the wrong size replacement can. My filter is a 2215, not a 2217! So I put it all back together and called up the company to do a return. Well- good thing the epoxy job I did on that crack is still holding fine.