31 December 2014


to myself. I've improved a few small things with my fishkeeping- silly probably, but don't want to forget.

For a long time now I had wondered if the timers on my tank lights were not working properly- they always seem to lag behind after a while. Finally I realized- duh!- that whenever I turn the power off for tank maintenance, the timer will lag by however much time it was off. Of course. I'm not yet in the habit of resetting it every time (I should), but when I notice the aquarium is turning on/off a lot later than I want it to, I readjust.

Since I quit doing gravel vac I have been using a designated plastic "fish cup" (the ugliest kid's drinking cup in my house- covered with bright, garish pictures) to scoop water for removal. But I don't think this is the best method- I wonder if the bright color distresses the fishes, and they definitely feel the disturbance of the water rocking around. Instead last week I took the hose off the vac and used that to siphon out the water. Why didn't I do this before? It's a perfectly smooth operation, takes less effort, and instead of hiding the fishes come up curious. Pinkie even nibbles at my hand and once bit at the end of the tube- until he felt the suction pull! Now he doesn't approach so close.

I'm still growing java moss in jars on my dresser- from bits I find in the big tank and from trimmings off the skull in the tenner. My method has been to put the skull in the 2 gallon fish bucket with some removed tank water, trim in there, then fish out the trimmings. By hand. Which is tedious and tricky. Much easier to simply siphon out the bits of greenery with a straw- like how I used to retrieve dropped pea bits from the betta bowls. Again- why didn't I think of this before?!

Also to note- I've been reading more about fishkeeping- got hold of a few old (seven years at least) aquarium hobby magazines. I'm learning a lot. Things that don't really apply to me yet (or ever) like that the miniature octopus that some aquarists keep as pets have a poisonous bite! Or that the temperature fish eggs hatch at can affect the male/female ratio in the brood. It's fascinating to read about collection techniques in the wild, too. I'm also dreaming more and more of a future 40 gallon tank for angelfish- have learned that it ought to be established at least a month before the angels are introduced, and that the young fish should be put in their destined home tank from the beginning- because they can reach full size in just a few months. I was planning on that anyways, but it's good to know!

I am actually excited for maintenance day this friday, because I now have all my macro ferts! The response of the plants to just the potassium sulfate and micros has been wonderful, so I can't wait to see how much better they do with the balance. Java fern seems to be lagging now (no new fiddleheads in a while) and the amazon sword is looking peaky. Watersprite has hit the ceiling- three large stems spreading out, so much dense growth below when the fishes hide I can barely see them- and yet no stems turn brown (hooray!) I think the fishes are enjoying the improved cover- it's been a long time since I've seen any posturing among them, but yesterday they were picking through the watersprite, nibbling on the leaves (or some microorganism on them) and the largest female Freckles- she has a dark spot on her anal fin- was jerking her fins wide and tall, turning sideways to other barbs in display. I thought I saw Buster or Sangre wiggling their fins eagerly at females among the foliage too.

A bit worried that Buster seems to have a very small gray patch on one side- the size of a few scales- that might be fungus? I am keeping a close eye- maybe should pull him out and put in QT but he is behaving perfectly normal so far. One of the large females had a similar patch on her back for several weeks but now I can't see any fish with that so I think it's healed. Pinkie has a missing scale on his right side near the belly- I think he might have gotten poked by a kuhli spine- he likes to cram under the log in the space they occupy too- and maybe there was some excitement during a feeding or water change and he got poked. I can't think what else would have caused it.

And that's all my fishy thoughts for the day.

30 December 2014


The older leaves on my avocado plant are starting to look tired and shabby.
But the newer ones are full-size now, and more shoots arising. I am wondering if I should trim off the older foliage, it just might branch again.

28 December 2014

arrow leaf

The original arrowhead plant has finally produced a new leaf in its pot.
But I still prefer the bouquet of green in a vase- I think I will keep it this way, and move the potted plant out the door once it is bigger.
Its roots have reached the bottom of the vase, are curling around.

27 December 2014


Cyclamen likes the colder weather. On days when the sun isn't too bright, I put it in the windowsill. I have fewer crowns now (some died off when it was repotted a while ago) but what is left rosy pink stems and healthy dark patterned leaves- so pretty.

26 December 2014


I keep taking pictures of the underwater plants, to compare their progress. Can't help myself, being so pleased with the improvement. Today during maintenance only trimmed off a few bleached out leaves of java fern and deteriorating amazon sword in the big tank, none in the tenner. I think the plants are still going through a bit of adjustment and letting their older, damaged leaves die off- the new growth continues to look good. I just ordered the other two macro nutrient dry ferts, so next week my plants will get the complete dose. I haven't taken a picture of the entire tank in a while (dismayed at how awful it was doing for so long) and it's hard to avoid a glare in the center for some reason, but here it is:
I'm so pleased that the watersprite has become a thicket dense enough that one of the striped kuhlis likes to hang out under it.
From the side you can see how quickly its grown! Touching the ceiling.
It's nice to see the plants becoming a green background to the group of cherry barbs.
The most mature apono in the corner is starting to really show its ruffled beauty
Funny that it has such a different growth habit from the others- it has narrow leaves
while the second-largest (quickly catching up) has broad, darker leaves:
and this one in the corner with narrower leaves seems to turn around itself
Also found a tiny leaf of val that got stuck in the gravel layer- but is growing tiny roots! (hard to picture)

22 December 2014

fish pics

It has been a very long time since my bettas saw another of their own kind. I propped a small mirror against side of the aquarium to let the fish see himself. They are still feisty fellows! Pinkie showing his colors:
I think this is the first time I've seen Oliver display. He has more red color in his dorsal fin than I realized (the red showing under opened gill covers looks alarming, but is normal.
This photo shows his form nicely, but disappointed there's bad reflection of my own hand in the glass
And I like this one backlit which shows the shape of his finnage against light
I finally got a photo of the two new black kuhlis together- one hanging out in the rotala stems!

19 December 2014

kuhli power

is in numbers! I have two new guys who just got introduced to the tank day before yesterday. They're black kuhli loaches:
They like resting in curves on the crypt leaves where they touch the glass
And they really like the rock cave, but can't quite fit inside it!
They're much more robust than my striped kuhlis.
And they have made the first kuhlis bold. I noticed immediately that I'm seeing kuhli squiggles all over the tank, even during the day:
I'm very impressed with these guys. They have given my original kuhlis enough confidence that for the first time ever, they came out to compete against the cherry barbs for spirulina wafers. I won't have to sneak food under the kuhli log anymore, they were hogging the food from the other fishes!
Even Pinkie shoving his way in didn't deter the kuhlis.
Yah kuhlis!
(All these pics taken with aquarium lights off, to let the new guys settle in. I'll get some better photos soon).


Not much happening with plants in winter- and the potato didn't grow it rotted, so will try that again later. So I keep posting about fishes. Oliver is not as accepting as I thought. I never see him actively chase or threaten the platies, but they were fine last week
and now one of them has a bitten tail.
I'm going to have to find them a new home... Maybe Oliver would do better with cories. Or shrimp. Or just snails (ie: nobody!) I've noticed that since Sammy moved out, Oliver the black flag hangs out in the sheltered driftwood spot more. Is this because the kuhli is gone, so he's moved into that area- or that he doesn't like sharing the upper levels with the platies, so sticks near the bottom.

13 December 2014


I didn't mention fish yesterday because nothing much was new- same ferts dose, continued improvement in the plants (see the lovely apono growing up in the background here? It's really taking off!)
a few java and crypt leaves trimmed out (blanching white, I think the plants are pulling nutrients out of the older, damaged leaves as they recover from the deficiency and put their energies into new growth). But something was slightly off- there was no happy kuhli dance. Nerite on the water line too, although he's often there so I didn't think much of that (this one is Mavis in the small tank)
This morning I woke sudden in the middle of a dream, before the alarm. First instinct was to check the aquariums- temp fine, nobody in distress. But the filter output on the main going through overflow. So I turned it off and did a little maintenance. There is no clog- it's still fairly clear of debris (I found a few tiny trumpet snails in the filter media, I guess they're doing their own kind of cleanup in there) but the loose filter pads tend to ride up in the box, and I think that's obstructing the flow somewhat. I had cut them off the plastic base to run without carbon during a prior treatment, but the media pads don't stay in place without the plastic backing, so they were wedged in there behind it again. Now I've loosely stitched the two extra pads onto the plastic backing again, so they stay where supposed to. Flow is fine now. Will be easy enough to cut the threads if I want them off again. I also put the baffle back on, so Pinkie doesn't struggle in that corner so much- he still has a crease in his tail.
(he's also acting camera-shy lately, so I tried to sneak a few shots while he was cruising across the back of the tank)
And this time, when I plugged the filter back in, I got the happy kuhli dance! Little wiggle squiggles around the edges, they're so fun to watch.

Bonus picture here of Mavis' underside. You can see her mouth parts scraping the glass!

12 December 2014


The pepper plant well into its second winter. One last pepper never grew full size, instead it turned red. There are still white flowers and baby peppers forming- I doubt to get more fruit but the colors are festive.


We put out the pinecone feeders for the birds- but they fell down. I tied them to the balcony railing- and now the squirrels are coming. I haven't seen any birds around at all, but we don't mind. My youngest is thrilled to have squirrels visiting every day!


Made pinecone feeders for the birds- peanut butter and shortening slathered, rolled in seed. But we didn't get any birds- instead a pair of squirrels have been frequenting the balcony. They trample my pots a bit, but it doesn't matter as the nicotiana have finally succumbed to the cold.

11 December 2014

in water

I'm happy with my arrowhead. Roots have reached the bottom of the jar already. Next to it I'm starting a new growing project- sweet potato vine. Had this idea in the back of my head for years, but I never tried it before. It took a lot of picking through to find a red sweet potato with some eyes on it at the grocery, but it might not sprout (they're commercially treated to prevent sprouting). If this one fails I'll look for an organic one.

10 December 2014


plants, these flowering tobacco. In spite of the cold, and some drifting snow, most of the smaller ones are still alive.