27 December 2017

aquatic plant update: tenner

Here's how my ten gallon is doing. Now home to four corydora catfish and one otocinclus. Temporary digs, for the cories, while I figure out what to do with them...
My favorite plant in this tank still is the buces. Here under a wall of windelov fern. Some of the crypt parva to the left.
I have moved the buce 'selena' into a row on the side of the tank- because I was thinking of filling the open area with more crypt parva, I just haven't got any yet. Newly-added oak leaf in center there.
Side view. Lower leaves of the anubias with thinner leaves- I've always thought it was 'lanceolata' but not sure- are getting spotty with algae but the newer leaves look nice so I think it is adjusting.
I also really like the looks of my java fern skull right now. The mouth is a cave (where my cories shelter) and the one frond coming out like a tongue has grown to touch the tank wall. I think it's the longest java leaf in the there!
The narrow buces are growing up and up. Here's a patch of them on a flat stone I moved it from the front to back a while ago.
And rotalas- both indica and rotundifolia- are really filling in!
Last of all- here's my water wisteria, which I really thought was going to disappear on me.
I noticed that a while back, when I was gone for a weekend so simply skipped tank maintenance- it went two weeks between water changes and fert dosing- that most of the plants looked better. I thought I could do the same as I'm trying with my main tank- do smaller water changes and use less ferts... but it didn't work in here. The root tabs I added, the substrate isn't deep enough in here and I think they leached out again. Next morning I found the water all cloudy, some of the cories looking distressed, and tiny white particles (of uneven size) scattered all over. Tried to siphon out with the regular hose but it was tearing semicircles out of leaves. Held further away, it wouldn't pick up the particles. I switched to using that tiny siphon I made with a syringe and airline- that worked but took a long time. Ended up doing nearly a fifty percent wc to clean it out. Fishes looked much perkier the next morning, and it's clear again now.

So I'm going back to using EI dosing here, sticking with what works.

aquatic plant update: main

Current appearance- I'm still getting used to it.
The fishes are too. I think they really miss the shelter those broad apono crispus leaves provided. They're a lot more skittish nowadays, often in a group and fleeing to the other side of the tank when I walk by. I'm hoping to fill it in with more hygro cuttings and apono capuronii, but it's taking time to grow-
I started cutting off capuronii leaves that were too tall on the mature plant, so that one is thinned out now as well. Don't like when they bend and droop over from the surface.
I lost one of the capuronii bulbs. The smaller one, that needed to be weighed down with stones. It simply got eaten into a hollow nothing by shrimps and snails, and then disintegrated. No roots.
The other however looks quite healthy, has two crowns, and is starting to take off-
here's a pic two weeks later. It's putting down roots now as well.
I moved a few plants around week before last. All the bacopa stems out of the corner- some are here in front of the apono capuronii bulbs. Also lined up the smaller anubias 'petite' across the back wall.
And I shifted all the tall fronds of bolbitis to the far right.
From the side the fronds kind of blend with narrower leaves of apono behind them.
A week later- You can see some of the fronds have grown out thicker, and there's more root mass below- which is great because I also moved the stones with 'windelov' java fern to sit between the bolbitis rhizomes and the rest of the tank at left. Hard to see the windelov because they're now behind the crypt thicket and leaf litter patch- but they kind of blockade the bolbitis into the corner.
Now it's fairly easy to favor the kuhlis- I just distract the tetras and drop sinking food into this corner. It's hard for the tetras to get through the stiff bolbitis stems, horizontal rhizomes and tangle of root threads, so it gives the kuhlis time to eat below. There's now some little fiddleheads coming up-
My crypts are pretty happy. I've found new baby plants coming off runners on either side. Had to take out some of the vallisneria behind them- runners of vals were extending into the foreground. Clipped them off and moved into the window tank (where of all plants, vals seem happiest).
But my favorite area of this tank right now is the driftwood covered in short bolbitis.
It looks nicer from above, to see the pattern of fronds.
Here's that entire short end- but I took this picture when still had a sick fish in the fry box.
Something different is going on in here lately. There was a week where I skipped doing ferts, and the plants looked fine. Healthier, even. I skipped in part because the nitrates were high. But the plants looked so good at the end of that week that I went lean another week- did a smaller wc (about 30% instead of 50%) and instead of dosing dry ferts, I just added some root tabs. Another week like this, and the plants still looked good- and there were still high nitrates. Which kind of puzzled me, because I hadn't added any KN03. Maybe it was the decaying apono bulb? or stuff from the root tabs that escaped into water column. I watched the levels. Next time I did the 30% wc again, and put in a few more root tabs just around the stems that looked kinda peaky- hygros, bacopa, and some of the crypt balansae. That's when vallisneria runners shot out from the background, and my crypt parva or willisii seems to be spreading too.

I decided to take a chance and try something new. I have this little bottle of Aquafertz root tabs I got once when ordering plants. Also got their long-handled applicator tool. This is the first time I've used the fertilizer tabs. I have actually put the tool to use just to nudge a leaf aside or poke something on bottom of the tank- because it reaches. But got frustrated trying to place the root tabs with it. No matter how I positioned it, the tab would not release off the applicator end and stay in the substrate. I ended up just using the regular long tweezers. Easier than the API tabs- these are smaller. I read the details of Aquafertz on the site- it's supposed to be used in conjunction with a substrate the company also makes- which is "a fired fractured clay substrate " that holds the ferts in for slow release. I wonder if the fired montmorillonite clay I used can work the same? So, I'm giving it a try. So far, so good. It's been another week, the plants all look the same. Hygros are growing a bit faster (I will have to trim very soon, they have nearly hit the surface for first time), nothing is slowing down or yellowing...

Side note: hydrocotyle is still in this tiny pot. I think it grew three new leaves. But I don't know if I want to keep it like this much longer. It does poorly when I forget to water it every day.

26 December 2017

water jar

A visiting friend admired my vase of hornwort so much, I thinned some out and gave him to start his own jar. I didn't lift the stems out this past week to trim. Just pinched the tops that had reached surface. New nodes coming out all along the lengths of the stems. There's still one trumpet snail in there cleaning up algae and adding its waste as a bit of fertilizer. It seems the right balance so far.

Outside the tiny container pond is frozen. Spirodela polyrhiza in there is still green, even encased in the ice. Water lettuce long dead, it didn't like being indoors. Sometimes it feels a long wait until spring already.

24 December 2017


I think I may actually be having success with tarragon. Have scrupulously avoided eating it, and watered sparingly- once every other week along with dracanea and creeping charlie. It has sprouted a lot of new growth, which drapes down over the pot side. Soon to garnish eggs again!

23 December 2017

serpae doings

For now, most of my serpae tetras seem healthy. Only Ziggy is still a little paler and thinner than the others- I think he might be bottom of the heirarchy right now.
Punk still has that white swollen lump on the nose- it's the middle fish in the above picture. Lump is now large enough can see it over the top of profile from the opposite side.
I can't tell if it bothers the fish... who still otherwise is in top shape- untouched fins, good color, spars among the others for top position.
Only this past week have I noticed sometimes Punk hangs back when the other fishes move together through the tank- I wonder if starting to feel unwell.

22 December 2017

basement window

Is in full use this winter, expanding the space I have for plants in sun. I have a cardboard panel there to keep the worst of the draft off. Here's my pink-centered coleus that was simply cut down in its pot, regrowing:
Ginger still has leaves, it hasn't gone dormant yet
some of the rhizome pushing above the soil.
My five-year-old pepper, the only one I saved to overwinter this year. It's kind of shabby looking, but doing better than I expected for a rather cool location.
I cut down the lemon verbena when it dropped all its leaves after frost. Cut it back and brought it inside. Didn't expect it to break dormancy until springtime- March or April perhaps. But here it is sprouting new leaves already.

20 December 2017

sweet potatos

I completely forgot about these. When I upended my pots of sweet potato vine in the fall, I found a few had actually formed tubers. I put them in the fridge thinking ha, we'll see how they taste! but being so small they got shuffled to the back, and went unnoticed too long. Oh well.
My vines on the window tank are still doing okay. For a long time I noticed that working in the tank would make my hands feel slightly tacky afterwards. I couldn't figure out why. Then I discovered the windowsill behind the tank was slightly tacky, too. Finally looked at the leaves closely- many were pale and anemic-looking. There were tiny little bugs on the underside of leaves. Aphids, perhaps- they flew up when I disturbed the plants- or maybe whitefly? Whatever the identity I think they are leaf-sucking bugs and leaving sticky residue.

I trimmed some of the sweet potato vine off the top of the tank, cleaned out the worst-looking leaves, and started pinching bugs to death. In early morning, when they aren't moving fast. When temperatures dropped more at night, the bug numbers fell too. I haven't looked for the bugs in about a week now, because the water quit giving my skin that tacky feeling so I think they are mostly gone.

19 December 2017

coleus report

I am particularly pleased with my coleus cuttings this season. Here's some progress picture spaced a few weeks apart. 'Kiwi fern' stems that I had simply cut back, left rooted in their pots and brought indoors for winter. Then:
and now:
On kitchen windowsill I have more cuttings of 'kiwi fern' in pots, alongside the old ruffled pink variety:
The lime green ones are double the size of the other two varieties- they lasted longest outside and are much more robust indoors as well. Really stunning.
In the basement window I had two pots of cut-back pink coleus as well- one has died, the other just started sprouting new leaves. Will get photo soon.

18 December 2017

more leaves

I've added more leaf litter to my tanks. They all got a few of the catappa (IAL), guava and jackfruit leaves a few weeks ago. This past week I put in collected oak leaves from my yard. Going by the shape, I think I have pin oak and white oak. I boiled them ten minutes, let steep another five in the hot water, then soaked a day in dechlorinated water with carbon.
I like to put them under crypts in the main tank- the stems kind of keep them from drifting around.
Can you see the kuhli in there?
It's Tiger.
The kuhlis really like leaf litter. I don't pull the leaves out immediately when they start to "spiderweb". I leave them in until just a bit of decaying stem is left. Because it's kind of cool to see the forms of kuhlis sliding under the screen of webbing made by the broken-down leaf.

17 December 2017

cory eggs!

Since my cories spawned, I've found at least eight eggs on the glass.
I keep finding another here and there.
The two largest cories look well, alert and flirtatious. The next smallest is often sitting breathing hard. The smallest of all -well, last night I thought it was going to die. It was collapsed on the substrate, fins clamped and looking very ill. I finally thought to check ammonia- yeah, had a spike in the tank. Realize when I added all four cories, it was probably more than the little filter could handle at once. Another water change and the smallest looks to be recovering, swimming about as before (still pinched but at least its moving now). Have to keep an eye on it...