23 March 2019

goners

My angelfish fry all died. The parents' behavior told me right away. I did a large water change, matched the temp, added the water slowly. Thought it would be better to use pipette to get some mulm from the tank floor, around the wood pieces. I siphoned out the first few buckets of water with my hose like normal, then used the acrylic pipette to spot clean some areas that had mulm. I thought I was keeping well away from the baby fish, but when I was all done and the tank refilled, the parents were looking, and then sitting around as if they didn't know what to do with themselves. I only saw three fry then. Later in the evening, couldn't find any, and the adults came right up to look at me when I was near the tank, they're not hanging in the back busy herding baby fish anymore. I found one lying still on the filter, siphoned it out of the tank w/pipette. It barely moved. I think they starved. Its belly looked empty, if I can tell. I fed it to a paradise fish.

Well, now I know if I want to raise some of them, have to get the live foods for the babies. And figure a way to get the food to them, if I'm not going to take them out of the tank. Maybe turn off the filters when I put in the food. I think they just couldn't find enough to eat, in that big of space.

Other kind of note: my baby plants for the garden are looking great! I am worn out from hauling around and painting my bricks, but almost ready to refit my garden walls. Can't wait to plant. Waiting for fosythia to bloom, then the lettuces, chard, dill, parsley, leeks etc will go in. Still no lovage, or milkweed but the black cumin herb sprouted today.

tiny fries

I can't help obsessively keeping tabs on my few angelfish fry- even more so than when I had a baby cory in my ten gallon! Yesterday I thought the mother had eaten one- I was feeding the parents some flake, M Beautiful came up front and when she opened her mouth to eat, a baby she'd been holding tumbled out. It was kinda funny. She grabbed the flake, then saw and grabbed the baby, then took more flakes. I didn't know if she could keep them sorted in her mouth, and only swallow the flake? She then went down behind the anubias plants where they're more or less keeping the fry herded now. I counted ten fry this morning, so I guess that one is still alive.

The fry poke around low among the leaf litter in the rear of the tank. I do see them biting at stuff in the water. It's like when I had the cherry barb fry- can't see the tiny fish mouth, but I can see the movement of it, weird. One fry keeps scooting around on the tank floor- I'm not sure if this one is a "belly slider" or if it's just looking for food there. When a parent retrieves it and puts it back among the others, it eventually swims down there again.

I'm not yet alarmed that soft brown algae is showing up on anubias leaves. There are enough days with cloudy mornings it seems to keep it from getting too bad, so far. Nerites are often on the front glass, so that is clean. Angels bite at them, though. Crypts and buces look fantastic, my wendtii bronze has beautiful color. But the windelov fern is faltering and the java fern looks awful. I'm thinking of tossing all the java fern and putting more crypts in here, since they seem so happy. Might even tie some crypts on the driftwood anchors I had the java fern on. I haven't seen many people do this, but I read suggestion in a few places that some crypts can cling to hardscape just like anubias- wonder if it would work.

I'm feeling really motivated to do the necessary daily water changes to help these fry grow- I want to see if they turn out nice shape, or have the father's bent fin. But- won't that hurt my plants, to have the water column so lean of nutrients. Probably another reason the java fern is doing badly.

22 March 2019

at least ten

fry are still alive- I wasn't sure this morning if I accidentally siphoned some out doing the water change. I did run the siphon hose on the farthest end of the tank from the fry area, but the parents bolted and hid, washed out, behind the other filter instead of scooping up their wayward babies or attacking the siphon end, like I expected. So some of the fry wandered around while I was cleaning the tank. By the time I was refilling the water- very slowly, and using a candy thermometer to try and match the new water exactly- the parents showed their stripes again and were cautiously patrolling the tank.

Now the mother has them gathered in the back center of the tank, behind the driftwood chunks that hold up anubias. I can just see them if I peer between the anubias clumps. They're more or less swimming in a little drift around their mother, but a few keep going down to the tank floor among the leaf litter. I think I see them biting at stuff in the water column. I tried to give them a bit of hikari first bites twice today, but I'm not sure if they found it. I swirled a tiny pinch in some water in a little jar, then used the acrylic pipette to put it near the babies- but the parents attacked that. And I don't see their bellies getting fat with colored food.

I boiled and put a new handful of leaves in the tank, hoping its biofilm would also feed the fry. Can't tell if it is, yet, but the two nerite snails moved in on the leaves fairly quickly!

a few of the houseplants

Drop of water on my blue-green succulent after watering:
My kalanchoe are finally doing better, and I think I figured out why. I have to remember not to give it fish water during the cold months. Just straight plain tap.
New cyclamen is done flowering- but I love its patterned foliage.
Sansevieria has a new shoot growing!

21 March 2019

swimmers!

My angelfish fry are quickly becoming free-swimming. Yesterday just two were lifting off the leaf and hovering around, today it's nearly all. I count thirteen, maybe there's fourteen (yes, very small number of survivors I know). It's quickly become very amusing to watch the parents constantly collecting the wandering fry and spitting them back on the leaf- as soon as they do, a few more swim off and must be retrieved. Skye is definitely getting most of the food right now because the female only takes a few bites before going back to check on the babies. Once she had begun collecting fry (three or four in her mouth) when a food bit fell in front of her and she went to grab it, stopped herself, tried again, paused, took the babies back to the leaf, saw more that needed to be retrieved- never did come for that bite (Skye got it).

Quite a few babies get propelled up by the filter outflow to the surface where they lurk and cling among the pothos roots. I can't tell if they're feeding off biofilm there or not. I thought they would feed off the filter sponge but nope. Or not yet. I do have hikari first bites and gold pearls- but even that might need to be crushed further. I know micro worms or brine shrimp would be better- but didn't get any yet. I do see tiny specks moving around against current in the tank, so I know there's microorganisms- whether enough to feed this tiny batch of fry for a while, not sure.

My seven-year-old is delighted. She smiles broadly and is careful to approach the tank without bouncing, and says "oh Mom, I'm so happy for you. I'm so happy for your angelfish!" I hate to tell her they probably won't make it, or I might end up feeding the fry to my paradise fishes. If I notice defects like Skye's bent dorsal fin . . . I also feel kinda weird about the fact that my angelfish parents are siblings. If I'm going to let them breed, wouldn't it be better if they weren't related.

Meanwhile though, it is really wonderful to see them. The tiny nearly-translucent fry are just a pair of eyes, a stomach and a wiggly tail. Hilariously cute, and so endearing to see the parents tending them.

indoors things I will eat

Chives. This pot goes out during warmest part of the day, now. One half is thicker, straighter stems than the other, hm.
I'm about ready to trim salad burnet into a soup or stir fry again
Tarragon is definitely coming back, but its never enough plant for me. 
Not pictured: lemon balm. My one indoor pot of it is growing, but it doesn't look nearly as healthy as its parent in the garden. Leaves are smaller, tend to crisp on the edges. I think it doesn't like the draft from the door, or the dry heat from the vent. Maybe a different window location would suit.

20 March 2019

it's spring!

Time for an early survey of plants around the yard. Most of the pics are boring- little green springs against dull ground- so here's the prettiest first. Vinca
are one of the earliest flowers in my yard
My daughter was playing outside and suddenly yelled in delight: "Mom! there's purple flowers out here!" She'd discovered the hellebores. Which are a surprise to find, how they hang their lovely heads.
You have to really get down at a low angle to see them. How they've grown!
So have the euonymus I babied. This is the best one. I fed it lavishly this winter- with broken sticks and leaf litter, haha. Guess what, it seems to appreciate that.
The three near my compost spot are doing well. Not sure if it's because they get leached nutrients out of the pile, or more sun here. The other five further down the line are shorter, not as lush in color, bitten off- rabbit or deer.
Other little shrubs- the viburnum I dug up out of the back garden and transplanted are sprouting new greenery. Except one that got broken off at the base. I think someone stepped on it.
There's buds all over the yard if I look close- forsythia, hydrangeas, summersweet- very small- and lilac. When I dig through leaf litter I find new small shoots of the turtlehead, salvias (even the black-and-blue!) and daylilies. Looks like it doesn't matter if I cover the mums against freezing cold- the one bit I left outside the pot edge is fine
I have tulips coming up again, but no sign of crocus. I wonder if the squirrels ate the golden bulbs.
Allium. I don't remember noticing before, what pretty purple tips the leaves have.
Camellia made it through the winter just fine!
Rumex is still here. I ought to move it to the front yard, where the decorative strip needs more plants, and its colors could get seen.
Monarda is coming up everywhere in the back bed, I'm looking forward to its lush green thicket later in the summer. Would like to add a few more...
Echinacea is just sprouting, and some of the rudbeckia never even died back all the way!
There's a bunch of these sprouting all around the back bed, too. I am not sure what they are. I feel like I ought to know- I wonder if they are volunteer crabapple seedlings- probably spread by the squirrels.
Finally- ahem- here is my favorite blue-green weed!

spring garden

a little bit of it, anyway. It's the Equinox! I ought to be cutting green onions to make enchiladas, just because I can- a few at least- but it's not the kids' favorite so instead I'm thinking of doing a small new garden salad straight out of the coldframe. Well, here's the green onions in the still-scruffy garden:
Nearby, the rue plant looks rather disheveled coming out of winter, but it has lots of fresh new foliage at the base and I can see more sprouting along the stems. I don't know if it's a plant I should cut down in spring to encourage more new growth?
Happily, the two small ones inside are doing better- I am letting them take sun on the deck a few hours per day- but reluctant to yet put them out in the coldhouse because I found a few more cottony bugs- swiped them all off with toothpicks dipped in rubbing alcohol again.
Here's an odd thing- my sage in the garden looks dead. Just sticks. I thought at first I had cut it back too far in the fall. Then I was reading stuff about rue and happened to find that some people think rue inhibits the growth of sage. Well:
Here's the smaller, untrimmed sage that I put around my tree where the japanese salvia and dusty miller grow. It got no special attention or compost feedings, but has spring green leaves anyhow. So I'm thinking of moving rue into its own spot front corner of the garden and transplanting these sage into the garden if the older one doesn't revive.
I uncovered the lemon balm. Looks full of life!
Cut second-year parsley growth to the ground for a soup last week- it's already green again.
Rhubarb in the back bed is emerging- but I am disappointed. The shoots don't look nearly as fat as I recall from the one I grew in my first garden years ago. Wondering if I should move this one yet again, to a sunnier location. I was really looking forward to eating some this year, though.

flower seedlings

Moved my tithonias (a full dozen)
and zinnias into folded paper pots
more should get potted up soon- the tomatoes and fenugreek next-
but I've run out of space for more containers in shelter now. Unless I rearrange the coldhouse and fit more shelves in there, they're all full. Coldframe is nearly full too-
Anxious to plant the lettuces, kale and chard into the garden and sow carrots, beets, turnips- but I'm still painting the dang bricks for my new edging. I only have two or three hours a day right now while the temperature is right, and it's at the least convenient time, sigh.

I thinned a few seedlings out of the nepitella, epazote and celosia trays where they were a bit crowded together. Found one celosia that has three seedling leaves.

19 March 2019

angel wigglers

There's a dozen of them. I can see eyes and tails. I lifted a few out of the tank this morning- kind of accidentally. Saw there was a lump of white fungus, looked like a dead fry or two. Tried very carefully to siphon out the dead one with my long acyrlic tube, but it picked up a few live ones too. The parents didn't notice at first, they came topside when I lifted the lid looking for breakfast. Then they saw what I was doing, and attacked the tube. I slowly released the water back into the tank, M Beautiful retrieved all the wigglers and put them back on the leaf- including the dead one. It slid to the edge so I was able to get it out a second time without disturbing the live wigglers.

Parents have split pectoral fins, and the female's tail is torn. They both have small scrapes on their sides. Have been bickering again- over parental duties, I keep thinking. Skye is just as diligent as M Beautiful this morning, hovering near the wiggler's leaf and plucking at things.

Some of my anubias are getting brown algae on them, from the sunlight. The crypts and buces look great, though. Crypt balansae is taking off, crypt wendtii looks prettier than I've ever seen it, and the tiny bit of crypt retrospiralis I put in here on a chance, is regrowing (while another val has died).

18 March 2019

a bit new in the tenner

The dwarf sword I had in the 20H didn't look good- its outer leaves getting shabby, and finally the burrowing kuhlis knocked it loose and I saw it only had a few nice healthy white roots. I stripped off the worst of its foliage and replanted it in my betta tank, which gets more light and ferts. Already it looks better, though I'm not sure how it will fit into the space here.

This week I trimmed more leaves off the crypt parva and windelov that had algae-blackened edges, although that seems to have stopped spreading, or at least slowed down.
Cut one windelov rhizome that was growing off the driftwood about to collide with the fake skull, and propped it in the middle of the bunch with a pebble.
My kid thinks it's really cute to see Ruby the betta resting on an anubias leaf. I tried to get a photo of him doing that, but the moment I tipped the shutter, he darted off!

the "silly tank"

that's what my youngest calls my 20H now, because it's so fun to sit and watch when the shrimps and kuhlis swarm around after food. Most times, it just looks blank like this:
I rearranged the anubias around the rocks to try and make it look nicer. The kuhlis hide under them most of the time- tank just doesn't have enough plant cover for them to feel safe, I suppose. And the striped four are much shyer than the black ones- they bolt and hide if people bang the door nearby. The rotala stems keep coming uprooted, I need to find some other plants to grow in here, or maybe try moss on the rocks again.

When I replaced the sponges in the window tank, I cut the old ones in halves to make semicircles and propped them in here. It creates more hiding spots for the kuhlis, and the shrimps pick over the sponge material. For a while the striped four regularly hung out under and behind the sponges, but now they are always under the rock and I usually see five or six of the black ones under the sponge instead.
I had been considering getting rid of this tank, but my kid enjoys watching it so much, decided it should stay for now. So it needs more plants, to be more presentable and coax the kuhlis out. It still makes a good spare tank to hold an angelfish if needed, although I might re-home the seven black kuhlis and get a few more striped ones. I like the striped ones better, simply because I can tell them apart, so they have names. Plus, Albert I've had the longest- over four years- so I would feel guilty giving him up. The four newer black ones never got named at all, I can't tell them apart so although I admire their healthy appearance and amusing antics, I don't feel as attached to them.

coleus report

Looks like this year I will have an abundance of the purple-veined 'gay delight' coleus, and fewer of the red-centered lime one. Most of those I had on the window tank didn't recover from whatever ailed them, turned crispy and pale in jars and I threw them out. I still have a few
you can see how much bolder in color, the one that stayed as windowsill cutting all cold season
All the winter cuttings have grown nice roots-
so yesterday I potted them all up
Here's one 'gay delight' in its new pot, next to two much smaller, pale orange/lime ones (off the window tank) sharing a pot
Then I took a second set of cuttings from all my potted coleus. This 'exhibition limelight' lost its head
to make three jars of cuttings- there will be more of it in the perennial bed this year!
I'm not quite as fond of the 'wizard jade' but I took a cutting of that, too
Some of my pots are in a floor spot shaded by the big schefflera- the 'gay delight' here has very narrow purple veins
the orange/lime one is paler than its windowsill conspecific- so I know more sun makes them brighter
'watermelon' also changed its hues- the new leaves are from shade
Trimmed my 'kiwi ferns' in the kitchen window-
put secondary cuttings of those in jars, so I'll have two pots of them this summer!
and just because, here's a bit of the glorious schefflera that shades all my coleus in the dining room window: