11 October 2017

it looks rather empty

sold

My last two aponogeton crispus. How I am going to miss that plant. As the smaller one was even smaller than I had estimated - I would have priced it lower had I seen it better before removing from the tank- the buyer accepted some bacopa cuttings to make it up.
I usually re-use plastic containers from fresh herb purchases- I save them up- and a small box cut down to fit them will travel first class. But for these plants I took the tops of several plastic egg cartons, snipped the short ends to fit them together. (I usually save these to use as drip trays- they are the perfect width to fit in the windowsill, with three or four small pots. The box ends up a bit oversize so has to go priority mail but I don't mind- it will get there safely.
Now my bacopa thicket is short and stubby- but multiplied in size. I took the cuttings just above where leaf die-off had occured on the lower portions. Then cut to the ground and replanted the short bare tops. They ought to regrow. I've spread the bacopa thicket thus to the left, under the capruonii. Which really has space now. My two new apono capuronii bulbs had to get shifted while I pulled the apono crispus- as I expected, they hadn't grown any roots yet- and they are both sprouting!
Siphoned out ten gallons of water while I was removing those plants- and still there was mulm and unearthed ferts from root tabs scattered through the water column. I tried to clear it all out. The shrimps look fine, and the tetras are not irritated- but some of my kuhlis are. When later I fed gold pearls the kuhlis went nuts digging after the bits in the substrate, and some of them would suddenly jolt back up as if shocked- I think they ran into fert particles?

I've replaced my heater, too- the prior one, although barely two years old, had water bubbles inside the glass. I removed it and dried it off and a day later there was still water inside it. Which means it's leaking somewhere I guess, and would fail soon. I got a new 100w aqueon pro, now adjusting in the tank. It's nice and sleek, unobtrusive with the black housing.

ps: Perry in the window tank is shut up in the fry box again. So he can ease his bloated stomach over several days' fasting, and I can give the cories shrimp pellets without interference. I think I'm going to get tired of this soon, and have to re-home the cories - sigh-.

fatty

I fed the window tank fishes after dark, again. Perry was faster nipping his individual bits of flake off the surface, then he immediately went to the cories' corner. I'd soaked their half a wafer in a bit of tank water before sliding it in, so they'd have a better chance to eat some before the competition arrived.
But it looks like Perry got most of it anyway.

10 October 2017

going back

to doing a few things the way I used to. Thinking how much better my old garden did than this one. It's not just the lack of attention I have given the garden this year- although there's surprisingly few weeds, considering. Mulch does a good job. But I used to dig in the compost every spring, not just top-dress it. I think that makes a difference. No-dig method hasn't panned out, for me. I'm going to do some serious digging come spring, see if working the soil over well results in sturdier plants. More weeds, probably- but I used to like weeding, as well. (I know it sounds odd, but I did).

Also going back to a previous thing with one of my tanks. In the window tank, some of its plants haven't been doing so well. I reverted to the old backdrop I'd originally used. It was just a piece of cardboard with dark cloth draped over, that sat behind the tank and usually tipped so the top part leaned away from the tank onto the window pane. That let more light in from above. I think the plants have been missing that extra amount of light- so I took off the black plastic that was currently taped across the back of the tank tank wall, and returned to using the tipped cardboard. This means there's a now strip of light across the top:
but most of the time I view the tank from an angle above, like so. It is still not bright, but definitely more light in there now so I hope the plants that were faltering improve.
With the late-season heat this week I've been finding more caterpillars in the garden, and a few more mosquito wigglers. Yesterday I gave Perry at caterpillar that I thought might be just a bit too big for him to handle. He bit at it repeatedly, with that little excited waggle of his tail. Finally got it down. He likes fighting for his food! He's doing loops across the tank when I approach again. 
Today I gave him a few mosquito larvae. The biggest one I dropped right in front of him, the smaller ones I tipped in altogether- so they scatter. He was so excited at getting the first one, started zooming back and forth across the tank, blasting past the other larvae as they drifted, herky-jerky, down through the water column. It was funny. Finally he noticed one of the smaller wigglers and then slowed down, started intently hunting for them across the bottom of the tank.

seed saving

I rubbed seed off the orange/pink celosia flower. Here's a tiny tuft of it.
Also this week gathered tithonia seed from a few flower head I missed when deadheading- so it had gone all the way to seed.

09 October 2017

monarch

butterfly on tithonia. they are frequent visitors, but this is the first time I managed to get decent photos.
Next year I am planted a bigger tithonia wall.

my cat treed a chipmunk

I saw the cat outside looking at something intently in the grass. I went over, thinking it had found a snake or large insect. It was a chipmunk. Behaving odd- it was leaping up and down short hops with its back arched, not moving away from the cat. Once it jumped up against the cat's side, who just turned his head to look at it, confused? I thought for sure the chipmunk had a severe injury, nerve or brain damage. Then it suddenly bolted up a nearby tree. My cat tried to follow but the chipmunk went pretty high.
It was up there for hours- I kept going out to look. I didn't see when it come down. I don't know if the cat was still waiting there, or if the chipmunk escaped and made it back to its hole.
It sure was acting strange, so I kind of hoped if it was seriously injured, the cat ended its life quickly.

08 October 2017

acorns

I'm still occasionally finding a pile of deer droppings in the back yard. The hanging soap seems to be working? at least, my chard and beets quit getting eaten, and the forsythia doesn't seem to have any new damage. I'm pretty sure the deer are attracted to the acorns- we have quite a few oak trees and they are producing a bumper crop of mast this year. I gathered up the acorns- raking hard and then sifting through the grass with my fingers in patches. Sorted them- wormy and obviously rotten ones and loose caps went into the compost. I also tossed ones that were sprouting. Toyed with the idea of leeching out tannins and using the good acorns- but I don't know what kind I have. If they are good for eating as nuts, grinding into flour, or pressing for oil- apparently there's a significant difference. Plus it's a bit of work and I remember how un-rewarding the harvest of hickory nuts seemed after a while...

So I ended up just carrying the acorns on a walk into the woods behind our neighborhood and leaving them there for the deer and squirrels. I figure if they're not on the ground in my yard, maybe the deer will quit coming. I'll have to gather more- they're still falling down.

I found out later, that the sprouted ones are actually edible, sometimes even sweeter. So although squirrels and deer might avoid the sprouted acorns and only go for new ones, I could have saved those for myself, if I wanted to clean and process them for use. Maybe another year...

07 October 2017

tenner...

Well my ten-gallon has one fish in it now-
This week it was getting too cold at night; I moved over the little otocinclus. Here he is- at an angle against the wall. His fins are perky, but he's not very active. I don't know if because there's not quite enough algae, or is he lonely... I bumped the temp back up a little and now he moves around more. Put a new catappa leaf in there, too. He's been nibbling over that.
I swear my rotalas haven't looked so healthy since I had the old 20L. And replacing the floaters worked- the new lot of spirodela polyrhiza in here is slowly multiplying, and growing out healthy roots.
But my favorite plant is still the blue buce 'selena'.
I'm trying to spread out the crypt parva, since from a distance and certain angle it looks like a green cover across the substrate- but the one I ordered was smaller quantity than I thought. So I pulled a few that were kind of not-well-rooted on the left of the tank, and replanted them here on the right.
(Even the short rotalas in the background look nice compared to what they were before).
And wisteria is finally regrowing- I thought that one was a goner, again.
Java fern 'tongue' in the skull-

06 October 2017

new plants! came in the mail

for my main tank. I ordered from a different company this time- WetPlants- figured it would get to me quick as they are located relatively close in NY.

Aponos are not out yet... but their replacement is capuronii bulbs, which probably won't grow out the roots in the few days' overlap. So they can start to adjust in the tank, and get moved into their location after I pull the crispus. Hm, these bulbs don't quite look like the one I got before (from a diff seller). They look- kinda yuck. But hey, if they grow I'm fine with it.
I was also a bit surprised at the crypt parva- I guess I should have paid more attention to the description and ordered a grown pot of it. I got two crowns, and they're three times the height crypt parva grows in my tank. Probably it will melt and revert to smaller size... I was looking forward to separating out tons of tiny plants to fill the foreground of my tenner with this... not happening now.
Here it's in the tank- there's an established (if that's the right word) crypt parva just in front of it on the left. (Nice bolbitis behind!)
The crypt balansae is really robust looking! Its strapping leaves twice the width of mine in tank- but the roots are really scrawny. I wiggled them down into substrate and they held okay.
Well, I don't have a full tank shot yet because it's looking really disorganized now.... in a few days I'm finally pulling out those aponogetons, and re-situating some of these new plants, and then -waiting for it to grow in again.

window tank...

Night before last I fed Perry his flakes topside, then slid a few sinking wafers in for the cories, after dark. Perry must have noticed after he got all the flake bits that the cories were feeding on something. I watched them closely, saw after a while he had located the wafer and was trying to carry it around. It was too big for him, but he must have gotten a large portion when it softened; in the morning his stomach was distended. I fasted him the next day.
The cories seem to be more reserved- I saw Perry jerking his fins open at them a few times yesterday (his re-grown feeler is almost full length now); I hope he is not going to attack them over food. Yesterday I caught a few mosquito wigglers outside- the puddle is not very productive anymore- I only found five. I was in a hurry and after rinsing just dumped them in the tank, not individual dips like usual. Perry missed them entirely and was watching the surface. I had to leave, but figured he'd locate a few. Cories came out to scout for them, too.

When I got back from errands, found Perry with a dark area dented on top of his head. I think he must have found a mosquito wiggler at surface, lunged for it just under the support bar and hit his head. He doesn't seem bothered by the injury; I will do a few extra wc to keep clean. I'd been using a piece cut from coathanger wire again, to support the lexan lid (it sags in center). This one was starting to rust through and I'm out of coat hangers... so the week before I sanded the rust off and coated it with plastidip.
Today his tank got an extra layer of substrate- I needed more on the short end to support crypt roots
and across the rest it's just slightly thicker.
I got some new plants in today, the java fern 'trident' was intended for this tank- it's got very tall fronds (I expect will grow out shorter)
one leaf had broken off I let that float anyway, to see if it sprouts baby plants. I've also moved in here the anubias congensis, from my other tank.
Top of the tank, pothos is doing better than sweet potato vine. I think the sweet po' doesn't like the chill off the window at night.
It's still kind of a scruffy tank, but I like it.

04 October 2017

look at Sassy now!

This is the striped kuhli I was so worried about, always thinner than the others. Not any more! I really think it is from two things: once or twice a week feeding of sinking hikari wafers, and addition of leaf litter. Not sure if the kuhli is feeding off the biofilm on the leaves, feels more secure underneath them, or benefits from properties in the tannins, but nevertheless I'm very pleased!
I made sure to get more of these guava leaves in my next order from Tannin Aquatics- it's so cute to see the kuhlis underneath them, little leafy shelters.

03 October 2017

plants in the main

I'm noticing more changes since I took out those large apono crispus. (Cool weather is the best to ship plants- I mailed subwassertang trimmings to someone today -the bunch that had been in my fry box- and next week after sending out the last two aponos I'll be getting a few new plants myself.) Removal of the aponos has caused more black algae spots to crop up on buce and larger anubias. I took out the last of the buces this past friday. After removing the algae-riddled leaves, half of it (it was one smallish cluster that easily divided into four plants) went into the window tank, half into my tenner where they seem to do best. Thinking of doing the same with anubias afzelii and anubias congensis...
Also removed the last, smallest crypt retrospiralis- I want a clear view of the bolbitis fronds on the driftwood from the short end of the tank. They are getting quite a bit taller. I shone a light from the side during my last maintenance trim, so I could see where the fronds were blackened with algae- older leaves I assume- and I trimmed those all out.
The two bolbitis pieces I experimentally put in the window tank don't look so happy- at least, they are not doing anything. No growth, no obvious decay either. But the larger rhizomes and fronds I put in this main tank- they all have new fiddleheads coming up! I am so happy. You can just see one here in the center of the photo, above the subwassertang.
I love fiddlheads. Here's a tiny one coming off the java fern 'windelov', has just uncurled:
My other windelov in here is starting to 'walk' off the anchor stone.
It happens to be right next to those flat pebbles of flame moss, which are still doing poorly but might recover now they have more light. I trimmed them back, waiting to see. Meanwhile, I could just push one of those pebbles next to the windelov, let its rhizome creep over and cling of its own accord. Then cut between the two and have a new windelov piece... Behind those pebbles are the new stems of hygro corymbosa I planted. I'm waiting to see what shape the new leaf growth has. If it keeps different form than the other, I'll assume my older plants are hygro polysperma? (I'm not the only one confused about this- found several forum conversations where people are trying to figure out exactly which form of hygrophila their 'temple plant' is. Maybe it's a hybrid).
Here's another pic of it- original hygro thicket in the rear, new stem planting in front of it.
And here's one that show the bolbitis fronds:
I've noticed with removal of those aponogetons, there is better current in the tank. I think the long leaves were obstructing the flow! More plants sway gently now, and I hadn't seen that effect in a long time. Also elodea is showing much better color than it has in a long time, and hornwort on the surface is growing long, nicely spaced needles again. I don't know how the apono leaves could have kept light from hornwort, as the stems floated above them. I suppose they were simply competing for nutrients.

My fish seem to appreciate the more open space to swim around in. But they also seem to feel a bit exposed- when I walk near the tank they bunch up, all dart off in the same direction. Seem to feel the need to stick together now. I actually like seeing that- it is pretty to see the fish moving together in tighter group. I hope they don't feel too distressed with the increase of open space, and do intent to plant more apono capuronii, crypt balansae and a few other plants soon, which I hope will fill it back in (without being overwhelming like the apono crispus where).
Last pic: a quick overhead shot I took of the left corner, when the tank was lit with a bedside lamp I set up to see better while trimming.