30 November 2013


yet again. I learned more about the particular plants I have, that the Val will be better as a background plant, and the Water Sprite (or Wisteria, I think it is) as middleground. Plus, the Wisteria ought to be spread out, so I did just that. While I was at it, untangling the tender plants, I removed a lot of dead stems and strand algae that was tangled up in there.
It now looks like this:
I may have to remove that big piece of fake coral. The rough edges have torn up my net already, so I fear might hurt fish fins as well. And the pH in my tank is slowly, constantly rising. Not sure what's causing it, but my first suspect is the decor of uncertain history. I'm going to remove that and test the water again, to see...

24 November 2013


I had to tear down the whole setup (well, almost. To the last few inches of water and gravel) and turn it around on the dressertop because the lid didn't fit right, I had the tank sitting back-to-front. Tried to put everything back in the same arrangement.
I've attempted to put in layers, staggering the ornaments and plants so that the fish will have different avenues to hide behind, as you can kind of see in these pictures from the side veiw:
Tried for a few better pictures of the plants. Rotala Indica:
Water Sprite:
Jungle Val:

green cuttings

Taken cuttings from my Arrowleaf and Pothos plants. Sitting in water jar and small drinking glass.


This is no longer just a dream.
I now have an aquarium!
I bought a 20-gallon long tank, secondhand and went through a few frustrating days trying to get it all set up. Spent more than I'd planned on, because although stuff was tested before I purchased it, some of the equipment failed when I got it home and had to be replaced. Also, I had it at first situated on my kitchen countertop
but it was not level so I moved it to the heavy dresser that sits off the side of the living room, next to my bookcases. I was concerned that the dresser top sags a bit in the center and the middle of the tank is not flush on the surface. I got these plastic/wood composite shims at the hardware store and jammed some in there.
Moving it was an entire day of work to empty and then set it all up again. (It would not really take all day but I have two kids who need attending to as well!) I think it looks very nice and really brightens up a dim corner of the room.
I put some sheets of white paper behind to hide all the cords and stuff.
There are no fish yet- I have to cycle the aquarium first, to get the good bacteria established. So I'm testing the water and keeping track of the fluctuations until it stabilizes. Lots of reading up on this process. Reminds me of doing chemistry in high school!
I do have some live plants- not very many yet but I hope they will grow. These are supposed to be easy plants to start with. This one is Jungle Val (also called eel grass or tape grass)
this is Water Sprite
and the last, my favorite, is Rotala Indica
I have a learning curve to go through with live aquarium plants. I am giving them liquid aquatic plant food and have changed the light in my hood to a full daylight spectrum. I might need to change the substrate and get sand or finer gravel so they can root well? Not sure but will do more reading on that, too.

And now while I wait for the tank to stabilize I have more research to do. The fun part is "window shopping" at the pet store and reading books, trying to decide which fish I like best, and which will do well in my mini-habitat and water conditions.

mint tea

nice instead of coffee once in a while, for my mornings
the pot of it is still doing fine in my windowsill

23 November 2013

small things that are beautiful

I checked on the Schefflera cuttings and do believe there's new growth in there!
Yes! - a tiny new leaflet growing on each of them
this one it's even harder to see, but there in the center.
A cutting won't put out new growth until it has roots (as far as I know) so now these two are good!

21 November 2013

here is me being silly

This is for why I moved a bunch of plants around the other day. I'm going to get a real fish tank soon! A 20 gallon narrow. I wanted to be sure I am okay with the way it takes up counter space in my kitchen (there are a few other places in the apartment I could put it, but this is my favorite idea for a location) before I fill and stock it, because then it will be trouble to move again. So I cut and taped some cardboard into the same dimensions and put the fake tank in place, to give myself an idea of it.
I'm visual and kinisthetic like that.

20 November 2013

java moss!

Yesterday I drove to someone's house to purchase a handful of Java Moss. Couldn't find this anywhere in the local pet stores but read online that it does well in betta containers, and doesn't need much light -in fact will grow darker green in low light levels. So I'm hoping this will work, and my fishies can have a little bit of live plants in their bowls. I've also given Pinkie a fake skull full of hidey holes.
Of course Flash is still difficult to photograph, avoiding the camera. And his water still looks darker from the medicine treatment. Himself is doing fine! I've tied the Java Moss down to the top of the decorations in each fishbowl with a bit of thread. By the time the thread rots in the water, the moss should have anchored itself. The man I got it from said the moss will adhere to most anything that has a bit of porous or rough surface, and spread in a mat.


Moving plants around, to make more counter space. I've put the microwave on top of a free-standing side cupboard, and atop that the Aloe Vera (now starting to stand more upright)
and the Ponytail Palm
The Boston Fern has taken the palm's place on the little bookshelf. I really like how it looks here! It has a real presence in the room.
I've also moved my Spider Plants from their high spot atop the kitchen cupboards to two different nooks in lower light- one on this cute corner triangular shelf (my two-year-old insisted on being in the picture)
and the other shares my dressertop space with the larger Pothos.
They were looking very pale and ghostly, so I think were still getting too much light in the kitchen. I didn't notice it until I lifted them down for watering last week.

18 November 2013


This morning when interacting closely with my fish- feeding them the weekly pea- I noticed my betta Flash has a small tear on his right side near the tail fin, or maybe a row of missing scales. I looked back through previous photos and don't see it in any early ones, but it's visible in this picture taken a few days ago when I did their regular water change:

So I think it's a relatively new injury. I guess it happened when he was darting around and scraped himself against an edge of the bridge decor, or a plant root? I trimmed away some of the Pothos roots and to help him heal, did a 50% water change today.
I dissolved in a half teaspoon of aquarium salt -to promote healing- and a tenth of an anti-fungal tablet that the package says treats bacterial infection or fin rot too.
I gave Pinkie a 50% water change too, just because it is easier for me to measure the water conditioner by the gallon, and I figure it doesn't hurt him any to get cleaner water. But the medicine and salt only went in the half gallon for Flash. Who seems fine, otherwise. Swimming, eating like normal.
I also put up the visual barrier between the fishbowls. Really, I ought to keep this in place most of the time. While it's delightful to see the fish flare their fins and show off their beautiful colors, they're doing it because they see the other betta as a threat, and some say that can be stressful too often. So I'm leaving the cardboard panels in place all the time now until I see that Flash is healed.
I tried to use my macro setting and get a closeup of the injury. But Flash was very wary of the camera. He can obviously see well. He avoided coming across the glass right in front of the camera and kept displaying and flaring at it, then darting away. This was the best I could get. Definitely looks like a scratch.
Pinkie, on the other hand, is not shy at all and I got an awesome closeup photo of him. I have noticed now that one of his ventral fins is shorter than the other, and curled. It wasn't always shorter. I feel bad I never noticed what happened to it.

SIP stuff

Most of my plants in recycled soda-bottle SIP planters seem very happy now. The root system of my lovely Poinsettia is spreading through the reservoir! This one is getting a bit top-heavy so I think come spring I will replant it into a wide-base SIP made from deep drip saucers or empty cookie buckets set together (like the Pothos).
Every now and then I clean out the lower part of the planters. This is pretty easy- it just means setting the plant in its planter over a drinking glass or some other container for support
and wiping out the green algae that grows in the reservoir, with a paper towel.
But this week I discovered that my oldest mini-Geranium has moss growing in its planter and coming out of the ventilation holes! I'm not sure if this is actually bad for the plant, although it probably means I'm keeping it too moist.