26 July 2016

tiny mantis

Preying mantis on leaf of the joe pye weed 'chocolate'.
I tried to get a few pictures of it but the insect was so small.
A few times it jumped on my hand and very quickly off again- it was about half the length of my pinkie finger. Here on the vinca.
Climbing a blade of grass.

apono textures

What I really admire is the texture on the aponogeton crispus leaves.
Some are rather plain
Others have texture that looks like the individual leaf cells.
I think it looks really cool.


There's a green bean plant growing in my pot of mint! It came up when I mulched the pot a bit with grass clippings must've been a seed in there somehow. Haha.

25 July 2016

water plants

Another set of photos from that big water change day. I took a lot of close-ups of different aquarium plants.
Java fern windelov in front of the dwarf amazon sword (or melon sword, still not sure which it is).
Little green crypts of unknown variety, with subwassertang in the foreground.
I'm still sad that I had to throw out the buce 'dark godzilla' but 'midnight blue' still in that corner is looking okay.
Watersprite stuck against the glass when the water level was down.
And seen from above, floating- tomato nerite snail (two years old now) and a female cherry barb under the foliage.
Alternanthera reineckii (or is it a ludwigia?) with rotala indica stems. Nope. I think I've finally identified this plant. Saw a picture on the forum which looked just the same. It's a hygro- hygrophila polysperma or hygrophila corymbosa or anther variant.

24 July 2016

seventy five percent

On friday when I had to do the big water change to remove medication (and possibly dead parasites) from the tank, I took the time for some photographs. Changing out seventy-five percent feels like a huge volume to me; I wanted to fill the new water very slowly to avoid shocking the fishes,
and I've always thought things look intriguing when the water level is lower than normal- plants draping at the surface, long stems and foliage filling the space densely, the fishes suddenly in a different landscape with their familiar plants.
You can see here when the water level was at its lowest, it was only two or three fish-lengths from the surface to substrate.
Left corner of the tank, five gallons topped off, then ten. Looks a lot more full and lush with the tall plants bent over.
Halfway filled again- this is the amount I normally take out and replace per week.
Almost there.
I never took a picture of this before, but I always thinks it looks kind of interesting when the hornwort stems hang down from the airline tubing they're clipped to, with the water level dropped.
I got a closeup of the otocinclus on the old feeding rock.

on the deck

I've been cutting some of the purple basil- Thai variety- to put in salads. Base of a flower stalk when pinched off, that had a few seed-cases left on, has the shape of a different kind of flower.
They're pretty, but hard to get a decent picture of.
I still can't believe how grand the foliage is on the pepper plant.
Bigger than my hand.
Coleus in pots are getting really lush.
I still have another unknown in a pot- these two plants I dug up out of the side yard. One has got the disease that makes foliage yellow and wither, but this one is doing well. I still think it looks like a rose.

23 July 2016

food trap

I've used my new feeding station/fish trap a few times now, very pleased with it. This was the best I could do for pictures, when I gave kuhlis one cooked pea, halved. While the tank was dark for medication.
So these images are poor- reflections from pictures across the room and such. There are a few things I would do different if I make another such trap someday- I think I overdid it on the flow holes, and I'd want to be more careful making them so the edges are very smooth. The kuhlis got a few scratches going in/out the first few times, they go kind of crazy looking for the exit hole at first and can't quite find it until calm down a little.
Also I accidentally got the soldering iron too close to the side once and it melted slightly, which made a curved shallow dent. It just looks funny.
Here's a barb on the outside behind the trap, two black kuhlis inside. The one on the right is slightly thin- see how the body is narrower behind the head. I found two other benefits to using the food trap- besides getting extra food to the fish I want to favor. The barbs get hungry smelling food they can't reach, and then they go off and pick hair algae off the plants. And I can actually see how much the kuhlis eat. Even the two striped kuhlis finally entered the trap to eat peas. They're feeling much better now- very active again. One pea half would be enough for all of them, I see. Two shrimp pellets are plenty and they absolutely stuff themselves- probably one of those would be sufficient as well. Betta micropellets on the other hand, they easily eat several of those apiece.

I didn't expect this, but the cherry barbs seem to be in better health after the round of levamisol. Someone told me on the forums that it boots their immune system. A few of my barbs- especially the two biggest males- have flat pale patches on their bodies (not fuzzy), and some of the females on the top of the head. It really shows in the blue moonlight. I've been thinking to dose them with an anti-fungal (which might mean pulling certain fish to put in QT) but after the levamisol the white patches are smaller and on some fish gone altogether.

22 July 2016

tenner maint

Very routine on this tank today. Just picking out the yellowing and disintegrating spirodela polyrhiza is not enough, it turns out. It filled in the surface completely, Oliver was having to search for a gap to take a breath. Will have to remember to take out a good handful or two each week.
I love watching fiddleheads of ferns uncurl- whether it's terrestrial or here, under the water.

mg or ca

I think I did the exact wrong thing, using epsom salts for mg. Probably didn't need to- and overdoing it could be harmful? I finally got a GH/KH test kit. My general hardness is 10, which I think means there's enough mg and ca in the water supply already- I should have figured as much, since I always have hard water residue on things. So what I had guessed was mg deficiency is probably a symptom of something else. This applies to my other tank as well. It's more likely I need to add calcium (the snail shells look eroded on their ends). Not sure. Well, the big wc I have to do this week after dosing meds will take out the extra mg I hope. Then I can figure it out.

The kH reading was 5- I read a bunch of articles and posts about gH and kH but still don't really understand what these numbers mean for my tank.
My big crypt wendtii looks greener with the lights off. If something's wrong in the tank balance, this plant seems to be showing it. Are crypts are more sensitive than the other plants in some way.

21 July 2016

in the dark

Just dosed the tank with Levamisole HCI. After a lot of asking on the forums, I dosed very conservatively because of the kuhlis and otocinclus- only 0.3 grams (as close as I can estimate that with the little measuring spoon that came in the packet). Turned off the tank light and draped the sides with black plastic to keep it dark. I did some of my regular tank maint today- trimming plants and rinsed prefilter sponge- so that tomorrow when I have extra work to do the bigger wc (75%) I can just focus on that. Will dose the plant ferts tomorrow. I kind of like how the tank looks in the dark-
I used a new fish trap/feeding station I made, yesterday. Don't have a picture yet but I'll get one next time. It has an entrance hole in the cap just big enough for a kuhli, and two exit holes at the other end. So I can feed the kuhlis and the barbs can't get it. Or I can catch which kind of fish I want, by having the cap on or off, blocking the exit hole or not. I was surprised how much those kuhlis ate- I gave them soaked betta micropellets. The black kuhlis ate three or four apiece- I could actually see the pellets going into their tummies. I looked back at old pics when I first got these fish and realized the black ones were much thicker in the body back then. I wonder now if they have not quite been getting enough to eat all this time, because the barbs compete as bottom-feeders? or because they are also carrying parasites. Wish I'd done this treatment a lot sooner, now. I feel bad for them.

The striped kuhlis would not come to the feeding station, but while the barbs were focused on trying to get in, I was able to give them a few pellets under the log on other side of the tank. I saw the skinniest one Snaky Fish eating, which is a big plus. This morning fed all the fishes as normal and he was out eating with the rest again too. Saw him climbing more in plants again yesterday. His behavior says he's feeling much improved!

And while all the fishes were swarming around the food trap, the smallest male cherry barb took advantage of the distraction to mate with a female. They were spawning behind the rotalas, in the thicket of elodea, up amongst the floating watersprite. Usually this little guy is really flirtatious but the bigger males drive him away. I thought this was really funny he got his chance.

The males' fins are ragged- poor water quality because I added root tabs last week? or from sparring. The biggest red male was also the most determined- long after the other barbs gave up trying to reach the food he kept at it, thrasing with all his might at the air holes where he could smell it. Also posturing and keeping the other fish away. 

When I'm dong with medicating the tank, going to look closely at the ferts dose, light intensity and feeding routine again. I want to make sure the kuhlis get plenty to eat now, without causing more algae issues from overfeeding. Maybe reducing a bit of ferts or cutting the light slightly can balance that... Also: some of my barbs have pale patches on their skin again. It really shows up when the moonlight is on, the areas show bright white under the blue. I'm afraid it might be some kind of fungus. To treat for that I'd have to catch and put them in QT again... Wondering now if some of my fishkeeping practices are still poor. I have separate buckets and containers just for use on the tanks, white buckets are for new, clean water, orange ones for the wastewater. But I often pluck small plants, bits of subwassertang, out of the orange buckets that got sucked with the siphon, and return them to the tank. Or rinse the filter sponges in the orange buckets. I should probably not do that, or make sure those buckets stay cleaner, bleach them out and rinse regularly. There is probably scum accumulating on the walls from the dirty water that goes in them. I wiped them down today and yeah, the rag was brown.

My filter is making slight grinding noise again. It's louder after restarting when I finished the tank work. Tomorrow I will try greasing the impeller shaft (vaseline).

snail concerns?

I'm not sure if I should be concerned about my snails or not. I noticed when they all came to the fish trap that most have the tips of the shells eroded. I hadn't looked at them very closely in some time.
The Dimple Snail in particular has a large patch missing on its end. It was like this when I bought him (a year ago) and I liked the shell color so much I got him anyway. I don't know why the blue-green color- it looks like cyano? in the tank there is a small patch of that under substrate where a root tab is pushed against the wall- nowhere else. Is my snail carrying cyanobacteria around on its shell.
There's even some in a little crack on the side.
Erosion on snails in the tenner seems a bit worse- here's the tomato snail (Marvin I think).
and my little sun thorn Bumblebee Snail.

I admit I don't pay much attention to my snails- they seem to get enough to each from algae and leavings of peas, and they are certainly living longer than I expected. But now I think I need to give them more care. I tested pH in the tanks recently- it's 7.6 which surely is hard enough for healthy shells? I have also put cuttlebone in again but maybe they need to eat something with calcium too. I should start feeding zucchini again- I had stopped because the otos never ate it, but in my 38 I know the barbs, kuhlis and snails would all benefit. Read somewhere that you can feed snails dandelion greens and all sorts of other things too...

20 July 2016

red and green

Pulled my first beets out of the ground, for the dinner table! I found a recipe for the greens- to blanch them and then toss in garlic and olive oil. It was surprisingly tasty. The next day cooked the roots themselves- the same boring way I always do it, just boiled and then rub the skins off and slice 'em. They were pretty tender and a bit sweet.