14 December 2017

small update

I did a 30% wc on my tenner yesterday. Water is no longer cloudy, but when the light was on I was looking closely for a fish and saw that behind the driftwood the subwassertang and other surfaces are still sprinkled with fert particles.

Three of the cories look well, they're very perky, out and about. They must have spawned after the wc, but this morning I found five round eggs on the front glass. If babies hatch I have no room for them to grow up in here! I did not see the smaller cory after that wc- it was hidden so long I feared it had died. This morning I saw it again- I dropped in two shrimp pellets and pretty soon three cories came out of hiding to feed, tails wagging about eagerly. The fourth one was soon visible as well- but not feeding with the others. Swimming back and forth in the center level of the tank again. I see its barbels aren't eroded- it's just holding them close to the underside of head, and a few others fins held close as well, so looks listless and pinched. It's obviously unhappy or sick, but I don't know why... so unless I can identify the issue, just going to keep up with extra wc.


bolbitis into the window tank

Couple of weeks ago I noticed that while java ferns are dying off in my window tank (I put pieces of the 'trident' one into main tank to float- see if the baby plants will grow out there), the bolbitis rhizome I tied to a piece of wood is sprouting new fiddleheads. Slow, but it's growing!
So when I moved some plants around in my main tank recently, I clipped some of the new shoots that were growing off the main rhizomes. Their root hairs already clinging to some substrate.
I haven't tied these down in the window tank, but kind of wedged them on top of driftwood pieces where the sticks cross each other. I can't tell if they've taken hold yet, or if any new fronds are emerging, but they're still green, no die-off.

So even if all the java ferns disappear in here- windelov is slowly but surely loosing its larger fronds- it looks like the tank will still support subwassertang, vallisneria, crypt retrospiralis, hornwort and some anubias. Not too bad, for no ferts, no heat...

13 December 2017


The smallest of my four cories doesn't look well. He's been a bit less active than the others since the move, yesterday I noticed looked rather listless and frequently going to the surface for air. I thought his barbels looked a bit shorter, too. Today the barbels are obviously worn down, the fish looks skinny, holds its tail kind of bent and is swimming aimlessly around in the middle of the water column. I don't know what's wrong with it. The other three look fat and happy, alert, nice long whiskers... maybe this one just never overcame the shock of moving?

In my main tank, I fed the tetras the last of summer caterpillars (frozen) and dropped sinking wafers in a secluded corner for the kuhlis. It worked well- by the time the tetras worked up their nerve to push through plants into the corner, kuhlis had eaten enough their tummies very thick and rounded. Wafers were softened so by the time a tetra grabbed one and dashed off with it, the food was disintegrating so other fish grabbed some as well and the first one didn't choke down an entire wafer. Shrimps also moved in to take some, I always laugh at how once a shrimp is holding a wafer, the other fish don't seem to see it. Would be so easy for them to move in and snatch, but they don't. They only take it away if the shrimp drops the wafer when trying to carry it away.

So I had a good close look at my kuhlis and shrimps, as they were all crowding into the corner against the glass to feed. One of my older amano shrimp and one of the malaya shrimp, their insides look pale and cloudy. I don't think that's good. I've seen this mentioned on the forums before, and it's probably an internal parasite or they are just old and near death. Bummer. I'm not surprised they are two of my oldest shrimp- the amano is over a year old and the malaya I've had six months. Not sure if I should pull them out of the tank, looking up more info to see if it's contagious...

I was watching the kuhlis feed- their little heads pressed together over the food wafer- and there's something alarming about Albert (four years old- not that long for a fish that ought to live to ten) it looks like he has eroded sores on the sides of his head, just behind and above the eye.

I tested water in both tanks. Zero ammonia, but nitrates are a bit higher than usual, about 35ppm. I usually don't worry unless they're over 40... but since two fish look unwell I'll do some extra water changes.


My avocado plant went into shock again. It got severe droop. I think a chill from being in the room with sliding glass door, where there's a draft when people go in and out. I moved it into another room. Now it gets bumped a bit when my husband gets in and out of his display cabinet. But it is starting to perk up again and has sprouted some new leaves- pictures soon.

12 December 2017

another fish shuffle

It's time for some updates on my tanks. Last friday I moved some fishes around. My two serpae tetra that had been in QT (a good long five weeks) still looked pretty good. I didn't see any reason to keep them separate any longer. They were pretty eager to get out of the bag while floating to equalize temperature,
and the other tetras came to check them out. That's Spark bottom left corner, with the rich liver color.
They grouped together immediately. New pair a bit paler than the others for a day or two, now I have to look at their markings to tell them apart.
On the same day I moved my peppered cories out of the window tank, into the tenner. My poor otocinclus in here has been looking listless and thin. I think it was lonely. Over the past week since I introduced the cories, the oto has plumped up a bit again, looking perky and active once more. I wonder if it remembers the cories as individuals, recognizes them? or is just glad of company.
Oto is hanging out regularly with the cories- nibbles alongside them on algae wafers again, even when they are feeding on shrimp pellets or catfish wafers, the oto is often nearby on a leaf.
It's really hard to get a photo of the cories. They are pretty skittish in here- look content and alert but if I approach closely with camera, they flee and hide. Here's a quick photo from the day I introduced them (lights out).
Them seem a lot happier in here. They are out and about frequently, not seclusive as in the window tank (so I think Perry was harassing them to some degree)- only hide at the camera (someone mentioned on fish forum that the dark camera lens must look to a fish like an open mouth approaching!)
Here's one in the front corner. It's nice to see activity in this tank again- their tails waving about as they seek food on the bottom. It's fun to see them flock out of the skull cave together. The other day I saw them spawning. They are definitely getting more to eat on a regular basis now. I know the tank is too small, and their numbers too few, for long-term success in here, but it's better than where they were and I will have to figure out to get new digs for them, or re-home at some point.

08 December 2017

some are happy, some are not

A small survey of a few of my houseplants. My kalanchoe have done poorly. Top leaves started to droop and wither brown. I thought I was over- or under-watering and tried adjusting the schedule. I thought they were getting an overdose on nutrients and gave them tapwater instead of tank water. Over the past several months they had more leaf drop until finally I gave up and threw them out. This was the last pot of them:
I'm pretty disappointed. I really liked this plant and not sure where I went wrong. Funny thing, I had given pots of young kalanchoe to two friends of mine- and theirs also withered and died around the same time. Perhaps the plants were sickly, something in the soil I used?

I have a few babies left, that sprouted up in nearby pots of jade and elephant ear. Have to read up a bit on kalanchoe so I can try to get these to grow larger size without failing again.
The jade nearby has fully recovered from its bout with pests last winter. I should probably repot it into a larger container soon. I have a few of its offspring in two smaller pots nearby, as well. Thinking to make gifts of those soon (running out of space with good light again).
Quick snapshot of my boston fern:
It never really got lush and full this year, but still lovely when I see sunlight through the fronds.
And a complete surprise in its pot, near the edge: I swear this is a baby cactus. Sure looks like one, above the seedling leaves. I don't know how it got there- my teenager has a cactus in her room upstairs, but it has never flowered. The fern sat outside most of the summer, perhaps seed drifted in from somewhere? it's a puzzle.
My foxtail fern looks really happy on its pedestal near the worm bin. Quite a few of its arms are near touching the ground!
Charlie plant is also doing well in its new location on the "rock table" in our front room. The spot was unoccupied because a few months ago I gave away my bird's nest fern. I was so glum about that I didn't mention it here... the plant had been in a slow, steady decline in spite of my attempts to give it special treatment- humidity in the bathroom, washing dust off the leaves periodically, watering lean on a schedule- it drooped more and more severely, looked very sick so finally I decided its best chance for survival was in someone else's hands.

Creeping charlie wins: it looks much better here than its previous spot. I placed it up on a short pedestal (upturned plastic container I usually keep as a deep plant saucer) and I even got a compliment on its appearance from my husband. He likes having plants all over the house but doesn't often remark on them. He seemed unimpressed when I first brought this one home- couldn't understand why I was so happy to finally have one. So I'm glad he noticed its improvement enough to say something!
I am still not sure what this plant is. It's getting taller, and still looks healthy. I'm hoping it will sprout a flower someday, that will help me identify it.
Another loss is one of the lithops- my kids call it "the butt plant". They were growing leggy so I moved to a spot with more light. Following instructions, I kept holding back when I wanted to water it on twice-weekly schedule with the semi-succulents. I gave it just a small bit once a month, and only tapwater. Maybe I should have used rainwater, or given even less? One of them has withered and died. I hope I can keep the other alive but not too confident about that, honestly.

06 December 2017


My younger african violet has also been flowering.
I recently traded it with my daughter for a few leaves off her violet which blooms purple. I'm hoping at least one of those leaves will sprout a baby plant for me.
And my larger one, which bloomed pink for two months and just recently quit, I've potted up into a larger container. It really needed that.

05 December 2017

dracanea flowers!

Past two weeks a stunning thing happened in my living room. My big old corn plant bloomed. Earlier post, just the buds were out.
It must be a plant that in nature gets pollinated by night-flying insects or bats. The flower scent was almost overwhelmingly sweet and heady- and it permeated the house at night. I'd start to notice the smell late afternoon, it was really strong in the evening, and gone by morning.
Now it's the first evening in a while I don't smell them at all, and when I look close the flowers are fading and beginning to drop narrow, withered petals. Well, that was exciting while it lasted!

15 November 2017

empty garden

- mostly. It's cleaned out and blanketed with dry leaves. I have a few plants still hanging on- some swiss chard and beets- I've pulled a few and they are rather small-
Self-seeded borage that came up end of summer:
Sage needs a trim-
Parsley and thyme got trimmed back and mulched; oregano doesn't seem to suffer as much from the cold.
I still have green onions, and in spite of how it got ignored, my leeks actually did okay. They aren't very robust, but the foliage grew quite long and I pulled some to use in place of onions in a dish (my kids prefer the slight sweetness of leeks). They were good!
Tomatoes are all done for, the vines cut down and cages stacked away. I dumped the end of the green bean pots and pulled the withered marigolds. We got a few small broccoli heads and the rest froze. And next year there will be another garden.

perennials facing the cold-

I replenished their leaf mulch a day late- we'd already had a hard frost I wasn't looking at the weather report close enough. I maybe have lost a few plants... and my leaf-shredder broke- the motor burned up- so instead I am just piling leaf litter and making a big heap of in a four-foot wide wire enclosure to break down into proper mulch for next fall. Here's the blue hostas tucked in:
I'm glad that the hellebores stay green through winter, it's nice to look out back and see something holding form in the back bed. All the ones I spread out have doubled in size. It's odd these have different leaf shapes, though (they all came from the same parent plant). I don't know if it's individual variation, or due to slight differences in light exposure or nutrients received?
To my surprise after cutting down the tithonia wall I found the nice green upright leaves of gladiolas. Either I forgot gladys would stay green later into fall, or these were sheltered enough by the tithonias to make it through summer.... definitely continuing the combination of that planting next year. I like how it worked out.
Nandina are still alive, and slightly bigger. I like they keep their foliage too- I really hope these get close to their potential size- a good six or eight feet- I'm trying to help them along with generous mulch, frequent tank wastewater and compost feedings.
Volunteer shrub came up by fence on the side yard, and I left it. Or maybe it spread through from the neighbor's yard. It looks very familiar but I can't put my finger on the name right now.
Hydrangea are dropping their leaves, but the last fading flowers are a kind of a pretty dusky rose.
I am becoming quite fond of turtlehead. The plants are taller than last year and they stay green later into the cold season than other perennials in my yard.
The seed pods left after flowering remain interesting, when a lot of the garden is fading fast.
Around this tree between the front and sideyard they are making a nice statement.
I didn't cut down the monarda yet. It's not nearly as afflicted with mildew and insects as the year before, remains a nice spot of green. Behind it you can see more turtlehead under the farthest tree.

14 November 2017

it froze outside

so serious cleanup time in the garden (more on that later) and I half-emptied my little container pond on the deck.
I don't like to just throw away healthy plants, but I am reluctant to put these in an aquarium... so to enjoy their greenery for a while I tethered all the hornwort stems to stones and put in a filled vase. Here's a few more pics of that:
from another angle the light is very different:
I trimmed dying outer leaves off the water lettuce and put them in a separate vase with handful of substrate. Water lettuce is not happy. Leaf edges turning crispy- from cold or lack of light or shock of moving to a new situation I don't know. I don't expect it to be pretty- if it could just limp through the winter I'll give it a new start in spring... but I expect these will probably die and I'll just replace in March.