24 April 2017

temporary shrimp move

Turns out my fifth shrimp didn't die after all (I looked up the lifespan- they can live five years or more!) so what I found must have been a shed exoskeleton, one of the largest and most complete I'd ever seen thus my mistake. I started dosing the tanks for internal parasites today. Striped kuhli Sassy is looking thin- the head definitely bigger than the narrow body, where all the others have nice girth. Conflicting info online about whether General Cure would harm shrimp so better safe than sorry I pulled them out. Set up one of my little plastic tubs with a few gallons of tank water, small sponge filter, bit of fake decor for them to hide/climb on, and a handful of gravel for the good bacteria.

It was not easy to catch them. I'd seen in someone's video how they catch shrimp by simply placing the end of a wooden skewer in front of the shrimp which would climb onto it and then he just lifts them out. Mine would not do that. Every time I approached them with the tip of a skewer they move away. Then I tried sinking small clear plastic cup to lie on the bottom, and gently chase the shrimp into it. They are very quick and skittish though. Easiest way turned out to be just guiding them into open areas in the front of tank, and then catching from behind with the cup. And I found all five.

Fishes proved they have very good memories. To my kuhli loaches it must have looked like I was placing a food trap- they swarmed all over the plastic cup when it was on the bottom, going in and out inspecting all the corners, it was actually pretty funny.

I decided to dose the window tank as well. Last time did a cleaning siphoned out a lot of pale poo. It could just be from what they eat- I've noticed the swordtails pick a lot at the white scum that grows on the rubber base of the heater. But also could be internal parasites, so not taking the chance.

the final start

of seeds for my garden. I planted into trays, pots and toilet paper tubes zucchini, cucumber, bush green beans, butternut squash, icebox watermelon, parsley, chives, echinacea and tithonia. Also on a whim some seed I collected from my mother's place years ago, off of a cedar shrub and a cypress. No idea if they are viable or would sprout but I'd like to see.

23 April 2017

yay for borage

Either it is a continuing coincidence, or this plant really is doing a job keeping the squirrels away. Since planting the rest of them out, I have only had one or two squirrel holes spaced days apart. Far less than any other year and much more tolerable.
Grown out second-year plant quickly flowering and going to seed.
Seen from above, looking down off the upper deck.
Have to get low to see the flowers well.
More buds forming- wow the prickles.


We've had several days of thunderstorms and rain, it's a bit cooler. The peppers, large coleus, sweet potatoes, geranium and stevia all came back inside to sit in the window sun spot again.
Most of my young plants stay tucked up in the coldframe, I set them out and crack the door again when the sun breaks out.
Top is indistinct. Second shelf has nasturtiums, bottom sweet potato and some pink coleus.
Green onions on the left, basil on the right.
Young peppers! Basil behind.

So far the coldframe is working out better than last year- I seem to have fewer drafts, less mildew from moisture getting in too. Still need to get a thermometer to hang in there.

22 April 2017


Well, that was quick. QT idea for serpae tetra did not last. Soon as there were three in the window tank, Witchy Fish was cowering on the substrate again. I saw one of the tetras persistently chasing Fabio, nipping at his trailing fins. He seemed rather desperate to get away.

I watched that for ten minutes, then moved them out. After the disruption was over, the two swordtails drift calmly around their tank again. The six serpae tetra look splendid in the main tank together. I had a small concern that the new ones would teach the old ones nippy behavior, but they are all busy flashing their fins at each other. Striking at food at the surface now, too. I fed a bunch of small moths to the cherry barbs, wondered if a serpae could eat the moth, their mouths look smaller. One of them gave it a good try, lost its grip, and a barb nabbed the insect from him.
Now that tetras are out of the window tank, have lowered the temp for the swordtails. It's at 72 now, and they look if anything a bit more active.
I added a small clump of subwassertang on a stone, and the baby java fern off leaf in the main.

Main tank got a bit of trim today- bacopa stems cut and replanted, also some of the hygro (which I think now is a ludwigia hybrid?). I don't know what this green crypt is doing, some leaves stay bright green, others are getting longer and dark like the Becketti petchii! On the same plant. There's a bit more BBA tufts showing up in here, always on older leaves. Not sure if that is from some imbalance while I was gone and fishes unfed, or from adding six more fish in the past weeks, or because had a few small deaths.
Horned nerite snail died, and so did one of my Amano shrimp. Probably it was old. I found the carcass. One serape has an odd bump on its lip- looks like a cyst. Don't know what it is.

21 April 2017


My lilac is looking wonderful. It's doubled in size since last spring!
Forsythia has also taken off- pruned it for the first time this week. (Picture taken before the trim job).
Hydrangea nice big foliage growing lush. The second one has finally sprouted new leaves, too- but weeks later, and only on its top half.
I am really happy so far with the rhododendrons. The light glances blue-green off the foliage they hold horizontally, very nice can see it from the house window.
But the third one, which had poor roots when I first took it out of the pot, half of it died. I cut off all the dead stems, not sure if it will recover.
Summersweet is the last of all to leaf out, but I see a little green bits on all the stems.
My one little azalea has busted out pink flowers all over. This makes my five-year-old very happy.

one more

Third new serpae tetra added to the window tank yesterday.
Pictures with black felt background make the feathery green of hornwort more visible.
This second photo isn't as focused, but I moved the chair that was making vertical pale stripes, and got myself out of the reflection.

I'm beginning to notice the difference in service and care at each of the pet stores in driving distance, now that I visit them regularly. Went to lfs next town over, because I really want to give them my business. But they only had one serpae tetra left- it looked emaciated and listless (only sick-looking fish I saw in the store!) so I didn't buy but talked to the owner excitedly about the gorgeous angelfish he gets from a family-run hatchery in Florida. Someday I will go back and get my own pair, when I have a bigger tank...

I hopped over to the PSmart in that town- it was very clean and I was impressed with the fish they had in stock, compared to the one by my house. I got this tetra from them. A few days ago when I bought a pair, was a bit irked that the guy tied the bag shut, so when I got it home took some work to undo the knot, jostling the fish around. I didn't want to cut it off and have the bag too short to handle easily while acclimating (I still do the old-school float method, adding portions of tank water, then dump in a bucket and scoop the fish out to put in the tank). Yesterday pleased to see a rubber band used (I put them to new purpose). Also the lady splashed a few drops of stress coat in the bag. But then she wrote ID for the cashier on it with a permanent marker. I don't know if it would get anything into the tank water but taking no chances I transferred the fish again at home into a clean quart ziploc to acclimate...

20 April 2017

serpae pair

A few new fish in my window tank- two serpae tetras destined for the main. Wanted them in here for a week or so to observe and treat if needed for anything. They look great so far. A little skittish but I put a backdrop on to make it darker and they calmed down.
Swordtails actually seem excited to have a few companions- or are just curious about the newcomers.
Plants in here are plugging along. Hornworts are starting to fill the tank floor to ceiling with the wispy green lines of their needles. Java ferns grow really slow, but still making new fiddleheads and baby plantlets on leaf margins- there's two now. I added some java fern 'red' a few weeks ago. Those two bunches
separated out into this much.
Tied down onto little stones.
They are lined up across the back wall- nice to see the leaf texture backlit from window- but doesn't show up well in photos of the tank yet.
This red variety is supposed to get taller than the standard java fern, but it will probably take a long time to see that as I expect slow growth in here. However there are a few small fiddleheads coming up already, so I am hopeful.

38 status

My three serpae tetra in here are still doing well- as far as behaving themselves goes. They are actually quite shy. I don't see them eat much- when they cherry barbs go crazy at food offerings, the serpaes hide from the ruckus and then slowly drift out of the plant cover as if to see what's going on- so I reserve a bit of food and when they start to emerge I dip my fingers in the tank with a pinch and release some. They never come to the surface for it. Of course with the second pinch of food the barbs come swarming, so I only ever see the tetras getting little nibbles. Kuhlis however are getting fat with the extra offerings- if I try two or three times to make sure the tetras get some- all except one, Sassy, who is starting to look alarmingly thin. Still eats but loosing weight... so I am going to treat this tank for parasites again. Sassy is one of the newer striped kuhlis I got several months ago; didn't go through the round of parasite treatment I did when lost Snaky Fish.

I want to start with a dose of General Cure but don't have enough on hand- my pkg is almost done and I could not find any at the local stores. I went to both looking- at PSmart the label was on the empty shelf so I asked when more would come in? a supply truck was arriving that night, I was told. Went back a day later, still nothing. I asked an associate if any might be in the back and he tried to sell me some liquid that regulates pH. My pH is fine- it's 7.6- and this is probably parasites- how will that help? He insisted that the pH adjustor would "fix everything." I left without buying anything. At the other store- they didn't have it either I asked anyway. They tried to sell me an immune booster but admitted don't really sell medications anymore- just these natural type cures like melafix. It was disappointing, now I have to order online and wait another day. I know I used to find this kind of stuff at the shops- why have they quit carrying it?

Anyway, I got two new serpae tetras yesterday. They are in the Window Tank with the swordtails for now. It's kind of going to be a QT for tetras- if need some treatment I'd rather do it in there than in the main tank. Want to get their numbers up to make the serpaes feel secure- but not exactly sure how many I can add before it is pushing the stocking level... I've plugged stuff into AqAdvisor but I don't know how much to account for trumpet snails as there must be hundreds in here...

19 April 2017

here they come

Every year I delight in watching the hosta plants unfurl their great leaves.
Somewhere I have saved the tags that have their names....
My favorites are still the blue ones.

a few herbs

I planted out into my deck railing boxes some of the herbs that like cooler weather- dill, cilantro. I really like dill and I don't even grow cukes for pickles- love the flavor in certain kinds of fish and eggs. That and summer savory.
I have one deck planter filled with cilantro
two more with dill, and the fourth reserved for summer savory (which is still in the coldframe). This year I'm going to try and establish a nasturtium patch in the yard, plant sweet potato vine in pots, and keep basil in the garden beds (all plants that were in these boxes last year).
Not sure why some of my dill has dried, brown edges. Perhaps it got too hot last week, or not enough water? Plants aren't that big yet because already twice I have cut and eaten it- even before they were out of the communal tray!
I want to get two more planter boxes for the railings, but have to find the right ones- not this which bows out in the center it doesn't have stiff enough walls. In fact if I can find the other kind which has thicker walls and straighter corners, I'll probably get three and replace this one.
Since I'm mentioning herbs, here's a pic of my herb corner in the garden beds, seen from above. There's sage, parsley, thyme and oregano. Barely can see the green onion.
Sage in pots is growing back but doesn't look nearly as nice as the ones I have in the ground. I think it has more setback from the cold.

17 April 2017

witchy fish

It is so gratifying to see the female swordtail swimming around the tank normally after that initial week of worry I had, thinking she was sick.
The bold orange and black makes my kids think halloween, and her dark trailing fins are like straggly hair so we gave her a new name: Witchy.
The male Fabio with his gorgeous long fins,
is constantly following her.
If you could call a fish such a thing, he's a stalker.
She puts up with it pretty well.

16 April 2017

hellebore plants

I've noticed that the hellebores I moved last year, have grown splendidly in their own spaces.
So I think I really need to dig up the space in front of the tree and separate out the rest.

15 April 2017

more young plants

Potted up my new peppers- aurora and wisconsin lake. One of the year-old ones that's been in the house looks diseased, so I might not save as many overwinter again.
Okra got potted up out of the seedling tray recently, too. These are still coming in at night with the basil, from the cooler temperatures.
Next have to move up the celosia seedlings. They're gaining size rapidly!