17 August 2017

bolbitis!

I keep picturing a thicket of bolbitis fern on the left side of my main tank, so when an ROAK came up on the planted tank forum, I got a box. It was way more generous than the bit I got from an online seller in november. Laid out in the bottom of my eight-gallon QT bin here- so you can see the size.
How lovely green
In my package there were four very nice-sized rhizomes, plus three smaller ones and a tiny baby frond growing off one of the main pieces.
I thought bolbitis fern mainly grew by extending the rhizome, but this one surprised me (just like the windelov)- the baby plant has a tiny rhizome growing off of a root hair.
The algae and necrotic tissue I had to clean off was minimal. I found only one pond snail, and while wiping leaves with my fingers, dislodged one egg mass:
For now the plants are in the QT bin with aeration- I have to figure out where I will move the crypt retrospiralis to, before I can plant them in that spot in the tank.

under trees

Most of the salvia I transplanted as cuttings last season is looking good.
Smaller one in a newer spot.
Original 'mother plant' in the back bed is riddled with insect holes and wilts in midday heat. I am not sure if it is in a poor location or just happens to be in a spot that got infested.

mushrooms!

I looked out the window in the morning and saw a bright orange patch behind the back bed, under trees. It's those bold orange mushrooms again. Same place, almost the same time of year.
Not quite so many as before.
Nearby there were these tiny reddish ones- tops smaller than a quarter-
and very flat
Also in the back bed some round ones:
This one looks kinda like one of my lithops:
Fungi galore! I wonder if the recent heavy rain has triggered their appearance.

16 August 2017

leaves!

I have been thinking for a long time about adding a bit of leaf litter to my aquariums- in particular I wanted to get indian almond leaf, or catappa, for my betta tank. It's said to have antibacterial properties that help keep the fish healthy, as well as lowering pH which is more like the waters they naturally come from. I found a company that sources leaves, seed pods, driftwood and other natural materials from around the world specifically for use in natural style aquiarums: Tannin Aquatics. They very kindly sent me a sample package. Reading on their site I found out about more kinds of leaves that are good for fish health, or grow microscopic biofilm that feeds shrimp and cories. Also learned that tetras like the tannins and softer water the leaf litter creates, too.
My package included three jackfruit leaves, one loquat leaf, four guava leaves and seven catappa.
As per recommendations on the site I started prep by gently boiling some of the leaves- loquat for twenty minutes, guava and jackfruit for 10-15 (added in stages).
Then put them to soak in freshly dechlorinated water with carbon (for cleansing). The catappa leaves are more fragile- I didn't boil them but just put in the soak. I don't have loose carbon in a bag but I do have some cartridges with activated carbon for a filter I don't use anymore, so I put one of those in the bucket:
I'm starting with a very minimal amount of leaves because I'm not sure how much it will change the pH, and I don't think I want the tank waters stained dark. I'm kind of testing that effect beforehand- as I change out the water from the soaking bucket, I save some in a little jar so I can see each day how the tannins reduce. First changeout the water was quite golden.

I'm also planning now to keep the little oak tree I have growing in a pot- see how long I can keep it going trimmed back to stay small- and each fall collect the leaves for use in aquriums. They're best collected after drop off the tree naturally, because then most of the sugars and proteins are drawn out of the leaf, so it won't cause nasty mold and bacteria in the tank. Also of course without toxins from pesticides and such on the plant, which I can be sure of if it grows in a pot under care.

new arrangements

A while ago I made a few alterations to the window tank- with the plants. Which ended up taking me over two hours- tying plants onto sticks and things is tedious. First I took out the sticks from the tank- they're now waterlogged enough to sink unaided.
Gathered up all the small graphite rocks from back wall that had the 'red' java ferns tied on- a lot of leaves have died off but most of them grew new ones, too.
Fastened onto the maple sticks with rubber bands.
Added some clumps of subwassertang (saved from the fry box).
Set in the background of the tank- the java ferns much more visible now. Especially when the lights are low or window curtains shut.
And the cories seem to like having space under the sticks- a shelter in the background.
I do have a nice little thicket of elodea forming. Cleared out a bunch of dying, melting foliage and lower stems, quite a few are growing new tips out I was even able to divide some.
I also took all the baby windelov ferns off the pale rocks- don't like how they stand out- and re-tied onto darker rocks (taken from the small vase that holds arrowhead I grow in tankwater).
The mother windelov fern is so much bigger than at first! Some of the rhizomes are starting to wander off the rock and come loose- when I empty the tank to move it onto the stand going to refasten, or pull a few off as needed.
I do think most of the buces in here are doing alright- this one has recently grown a new leaf.
Some of the little creeper ones got re-tied onto darker stones as well.
Here's another pic of that one, with the cories.
This little strip of windelov ferns had been fastened to a rock but the glue came loose- with the ferns on it.
It has kind of been drifting around the tank and I just left it alone. I keep wondering if it will ever put down root hairs to hold itself in place before a fish pushes it aside again- so far, not yet. Not pictured (still too small), but worth noting: the little bit of crypt retrospiralis (or wilisii) rhizome I put in here has grown a second leaf. And the other bit is sprouting a leaf, too- yay!
The sweet potato roots have grown like crazy. They act different from the pothos roots, which go straight down from the stem. I thought these would do the same- go straight down responding to gravity, looking for substrate. Instead, they go horizontal across the water surface away from the window light (towards the front of the tank), and then start growing lots of root hairs hanging down.
Quick full tank shot.

in the front and side yard

Some plants I thought to take pictures of. The mums have come back! (whereas aster on the other side of the house did not). I am not sure if I should trim them to get better shape- right now I'm just glad they're green.
The lime-and-green celosia I grew from cuttings and put across the front really stands out- so vivid.
funny- this one stem has rounder leaves than the others.
Big hostas I moved to be against the house wall on the shade side continue to thrive. They just finished their flower spikes.
Nandina is not really big enough to be noticeable yet- but I'm glad that the shorter one recovered from whatever made its top die off.

15 August 2017

young rhubarb

Well, it has survived its transplant. It looks a bit leggy. I continue to pile on compost and give it feedings of tank water. Hope I can cut some in a year or two! if it gets more robust.

some fish notes-

I'm planning to get a few new fish soon- paradise fish for my window tank, another tetra (or two or three) and maybe a few amano shrimps for the main. This time I want to properly seed the quarantine filter- before I have always just taken substrate out of the betta's sponge filter, or swapped out the sponges- but I still often get a cycle on the QT tank that's not good. I've ordered another corner box filter for my QT. Opened up my canister midweek to add some sterilized pieces of extra sponge between the layers in there- in the process doing a small partial wc on the tank of course, and rinsed out the upper layers of sponge and poly. I didn't rinse out the lower coarse sponge or the ceramic rings but poured out the water- wow it was dirty! Maybe I should stick with my once-a-month routine of cleaning this filter.

I thought last time I did something like this I had pulled out all the extra sponge pieces, but found some were still in the canister. When the box filter comes in, I plan to set up the QT tank and run it with those sponge pieces- they've been in the canister for weeks if not months now- the ballast (also final layer the water flows thru) will be gravel from the destination tank and sintered glass media out of the canister- both well-established- so I hope this will avoid a cycle.
~

Funny thing recently about the kuhli loaches. I've been giving the cories Hikari sinking wafers every other day, and started offering some to the kuhli loaches too. I try to feed the tetras on one side of the tank, and drop the wafers in a thicket of plants on the other side, in hopes of keeping the tetras from finding it as quickly. They aren't as avid to feed off the bottom as the cherry barbs were, but will shoulder their way in and dart for a bite. I think they've bitten a few of my kuhlis, too! some have pieces of their tails missing, darn. This time I fed after lights-out, hoping that would keep the tetras from finding the food so easy.

I want to keep giving these wafers because something notable happened. After an entire year of remaining skinny while the others gained weight, my striped kuhli Sassy has changed for the better this week. Sassy used to hang back and approach slowly when food was offered. I was starting to wonder what other kind of treatment I could give, after doing several many rounds of parasite meds already... Then yesterday I saw that this kuhli wasn't looking quite as thin, almost normal body weight (the others are getting hefty). Today I saw that when I dropped in wafers, Sassy moved quickly across the substrate beelining for the thicket where the food was. I haven't seen that fish move so fast in ages. I do think something about this food is better for it! or more enticing.

But it cracks me up how the amano shrimp steal it. A wafer is as big around as the shrimp's entire body circumference, but the amano takes the whole thing! I've seen a shrimp do that twice now. Three or four kuhlis will be crowded around the wafer nibbling on it, all their energetic wiggling- and the shrimp calmly walks up between them, picks up the wafer, and simply walks off with it. Haha! I have to get a photo of it next time, it looks like a huge amount of food for one shrimp.
~

I got a new air pump rated to 40gal for the window tank. Cories are done with their treatment. I worried for a bit that they are still kinda skinny, but have been assured look okay. No longer so flat in the belly but getting rounded out some. Three biggest ones look to be females? their paired fins are wider and rounder. The smaller cories have pointy anal and pectoral fins. It's cute to see them flock out to feed in the front corners where I drop pellets and wafers, so I can watch them. They're acting more flirtatious with each other.

One actually looked fat this morning. I had dropped in soaked NLS pellets but although three cories were in front nosing around, none really seemed to be eating it. Later I saw the biggest female in the back under driftwood- looked quite pudgy. I think she ate all the pellets- what was meant for five fish! I guess she likes them and the others don't- I've seen other fishkeepers notice that their cories have individual tastes- so I'll remember to only offer one or two of these pellets at a time... She's in the middle of the photo here:
Looking back at older pictures notice the hornwort isn't doing as well now, by comparison. Nor the elodea- it seems to be dying off quicker than growing new leaves. I thought at first because I have fewer fish so less waste... but then realized I had also changed the lighting situation recently- to reduce algae on the front glass I was keeping curtains closed. I've put things back to how they were with curtains open during the day so the tank is more brightly lit from above, and put a plastic sheet across lower window pane to diffuse it. Not sure yet if this is a good solution. I put plastic sheet over the other lower window pane flanking the 38gal- and that one is getting less dark algae spores on the short ends of the tank so I think it will be an improvement.

14 August 2017

some flowers

Nasturtiums didn't do well where I planted them this year- this sad one is pretty much the only one left.
Rudbeckia / black-eyed susans like their spot. They're doing much better than my echinacea which is just to the left there- lots of echinacea stems are falling over. Soil too wet?
Turtlehead is almost ready to flower!
The ones under backyard trees did particularly well.

kuhli loaches!

I really do like these guys, and haven't featured them in a long time. Here's one of the black ones- I think it's Sid- resting in the bolbitis fern.
Sid again- on substrate at front of the glass. A bit out of focus, but I'm always pleased to see their barbels in nice condition.
Another resting in the windelov ferns. (The plants look red because the light fixture was ramping down in 'sunset' mode).