04 September 2015

overcoming setbacks

New setups are a good two months old now. I had a setback in august when I was gone on vacation for two weeks and a day. Leaving fish alone and unfed for up to two weeks is fine, but I didn't know how to leave the planted tank, which usually gets dosed with nutrients weekly, and mine always suffers at any deficiency. There are lots of different opinions on what to do. I took a different approach with each tank. In the tenner I bumped up the light period, because my worst fear was that the otocinclus would starve- trumpet snails being hungry without food to scavenge might become competitors for algae. I put the photoperiod at ten hours. Came back and that tank is doing relatively fine. (It's been gradually reset, now at 7.5 hrs) The broad anubias leaves do have some black marks, but newest leaves seem unaffected and I hope to get it looking good again soon. All the other plants in here look good (more on that later).
The 38 was a different story. In that tank my struggle lately had been getting rid of algae. I didn't want to come home to a huge mess. So my thinking was: if there's no food, there should be less light so the plants aren't driven to growth they can't handle and suffer algae. Thus I reduced the photoperiod to six hours a day. It was the wrong approach (or maybe my plants just aren't established enough to handle two weeks' neglect no matter what I did). When I came home yes, the green spot algae was a bit less but there's also lots of dying foliage and more black algae. And for the first time ever I spotted grey tufts on my driftwood- the dreaded black beard algae. I wanted to spot-treat it but don't have hydrogen peroxide in the house so instead scraped off the surface of wood where it was located, hoping to remove some manually.
Maintenance day after a week back I find it's not so bad as I first thought. The newer plants had the worst algae and blackening leaves, but perhaps that's just them adjustmenting. My crypts in particular seem to be mostly over that phase- they look much better and when I rub the leaves I don't feel any algae slime or thin weak leaves but strong plant tissue.
I wonder if my newer snails have something to do with the improvement- Ramsi is usually all over plants and maybe this one is extra helpful in keeping the leaves clear of algae.
The picture doesn't capture it well but the underside of the leaves are starting to get nice rosy color again.
My aponos suffered the most, they don't seem to do well at all when they go hungry. Since the biggest plant has started bouncing back with new growth, the older leaves are now dying off at a faster rate. Little ones are catching up.
Java ferns are still just sitting there, more or less. But my newer variety, the windelov, is still full of baby plants and baby leaves at base.
I took some plantlets off (wanting to trim away the decaying fringes of the original growth) and tried tying them onto stones- although I'd rather have this on bits of wood.
Rotala wall is growing steadily.
Taller rotala bunches in the back inspire my striped kuhlis to climb.
Vallisneria threw another runner- it hit the back wall and I think will come up around the corner (behind heater).
The one that's doing terrible is temple plant. There are a few bright new leaves but I think the snails are eating it? it actually has bite marks on the edges, which I've never seen on plants before.
And wisteria in this tank looks shabby with dark algae, but it does have some new leaves too (left) so I will wait and see.
Of the grassy stuff, which I think I've re-identified as cyperus helferi, one bunch had new growth in the center. I cleaned off the decaying material, it broke in half, I replanted those. The other bunch was all rotting. (I think maybe that's why my nitrates were higher than norm this week). What's left looks like maybe it will  recover.
That's all of them. Overall most look as if they're getting established and re-adjusting to my conditions, and doing better with the algae/nutrient issues I've had with the new tank.

I like this overhead shot of the aponogeton, star-like whorls.

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