31 May 2014

green and red

Moved a few plants around again. The Ponytail Palm is getting a beating where it sat on small bookshelf- corner of a doorway and the fronds were getting bent by people walking by (or kids tugging on them) so I've put it aside and the Poinsettia in its spot.
Not sure where Ponytail can sit now. Suitable out-of-reach places are also further back in the room, might not have enough light...

28 May 2014


flowering plant, significantly bigger now. The ones I moved into planter first are quite large
the others got planted out a week or so later, still relatively small but I think will catch up.

26 May 2014

big enough to eat

swiss chard

21 May 2014

all together

Well, I've moved all the fishes (except for Flash, who got Pinkie's bowl with the skull cave) into the main aquarium. The two Cherry Barb from my QT went in last week, Pinkie a few days later. I watched him closely. He was definitely alert when floating in the plastic baggie, all the Barbs curiously swimming around him- but not displaying aggressively.
Upon release swam around with ease; comes up to the surface for air no problem, even swims behind the baffle on the filter through the current without trouble (a few of the Cherry Barb seem to do this on purpose- they will go through, turn around, go through again, repeat- even though they get pushed around). Pinkie seems to be at his full size- two inches- he's a bit bigger than the largest Cherry Barb. He tends to follow the biggest red male around, flaring at him occasionally, but I don't think he's fast enough to catch the other fish. When the Barbs chase each other, they move like little torpedoes.

It's gratifying to see Pinkie in the home tank at last.
I thought he might have trouble competing with the other fish for food, but he sits just below the surface and grabs bites as they float past. He's eating better than ever before, quite a varied diet now- every other day the fishes get one of three types of tropical flakes, or betta flakes, on other days get either shrimp pellets, algae wafers (both crumbled up to bite-size), betta bits, freeze-dried bloodworms, chopped zucchini or peas. They all seem to love the shrimp pellets. The Barbs come to the surface for food now, so that's gotten easier as well.

Pinkie seems to be showing his age, though. He has cloudy spot on his eye- maybe he bumped it? and still a crease in his tail. But the scales have healed, and he seems quite spry.

14 May 2014

green food

I ate the first bit of my Lettuce, a few leaves from each plant. Still small, but with the heat already upon us I might not get much else. It was a nice fresh taste.

13 May 2014

bye to my favorite plants

I have moved my pathetic Ferns out of the balcony pots and into my boyfriend's yard. He's got a shady, damp area against the back fence where planted his ferns obtained the same place/time as mine last year. His have come up wonderfully this spring with new bright green fronds.
Mine are still lagging behind, just a few fiddleheads showing
but not much else.
I took six pots over to his house the other day and planted them out; three showing emerging growth, the other might not even be alive. They probably have a better chance of recovering and surviving in the ground. I do still have my two pots of autumn ferns (dead to all appearances), and my Boston Fern (the only one looking good) but that's it for ferns now. Which makes me feel dismal. Ferns are my favorite plants, but I can't seem to treat them well. Bah.

12 May 2014

more cherry barb

I should not have been happy so soon about the new little Otocinclus. It died the first night. Looked great all afternoon and at last look in the evening, gone by morning. All the other fishes fine. Tilda destined to be a loner now, I'm not going to keep buying these fish that die so easily. So I went back to the shop for a refund / replacement- they had no more Otos. I got another Cherry Barb.
And figured while I was there, might as well buy the rest to finish off the school I'm forming; my QT tank has finally cycled and stabilized. Save me another trip to the shop, and see how well the fish do in both methods of introduction. So I put one female straight into the home tank, with the preventative dose of melafix, no-lights and no-feeding to keep the fishes calm for the first day or so. The other two new fish (male and female) went into the QT. They seem ok. A bit shy- hiding under the decor and in the tunnel- and this morning the female clamped fins until I did a partial wc, better this afternoon.
It's nice to see a good number of fish in the home tank now.
The biggest Cherry male is the boldest; he comes out first for food, and swims into all corners of the tank.
The females and smaller male keep to one corner, behind the Java Fern log and just in front of it center to the feeding spot. They never venture over to the other side where the Anubias are.
They are all eating better; I fed flakes (released underwater again) and minced cooked pea today. Not all the fish came forward to get the food but later I could see them picking through the gravel after bits that fell; soon after when looked in I could not see any debris leftover at all. I had been thinking to get some bottom-feeders like cory catfish or a loach but now don't think that's really necessary, if the barbs clean up this well.

My Snail seems to be failing, though. It is still alive, when I look into the aquarium every now and then it has moved position, but I never see it actively crawling around like used to. It stays still in one place for a very long time. Maybe it's getting old? I have found a small clear blob on the back of a driftwood piece; I think this is snail eggs. I've seen it before and scraped off but this time let it be; if the snail is getting old and dies I'd like to have some progeny.

10 May 2014

six barbs

My Cherry Barbs, on the other hand, have been doing great. I added three more today- a male and two more females. Here the bags floating to equalize temperature (one has the Oto in it).
Two of the fish are smaller. They don't act nearly as skittish as the first three did when introduced; I think having others of their kind already in the tank helps them feel at ease. It's nice to see the six of them calming moving around in the back sheltered by plants, picking at things.
No sign of stress or disease, no fungus. They are not as shy anymore, come forward at feeding time. I do have to dip hand in and release flakes into the water, as they won't surface for it. I bought some sinking shrimp pellets to try feeding them. I tried giving them freeze-dried bloodworms but the things won't sink, and if I released them under the water, the dried worms floated up faster than I could move my hand out when the fish would approach. So the Zebra Danios ended up pigging out on those. Will have to find another method of delivery for that food, or find something else... Also gave an algae/spirulina wafer the other night- the Barbs recognized it as food and the largest, bright male was picking at it energetically, chasing the zebra fish away. He would allow the boldest cherry female next to him, but sometimes chase her off as well. But in the morning most of it was still there, disintegrated (and needing to be siphoned out). I think when it was all one piece they couldn't get bites off, and when it got soft they weren't interested anymore? Next time will break some up into small pieces, see if they eat that... but I'm glad they are actively eating.

new little oto

My aquarium is not exactly as I had dreamed, but at least it is beginning to take shape. I lost another Otocinclus- the one called Leo- he quit eating, kept getting skinnier- didn't touch the zucchini, or cling to the glass, finally lay collapsed on the bottom. Died last night. Left me with just Tilda (for dwarf catfish). I think Tilda is a survivor, now- this fish always looks well-rounded and alert. But I don't want it to be lonely.
I had already planned to get a few more Cherry Barb today to fill out the group.  I was going to get four barbs, but then saw a lone otocinclus. It looked healthy and perky, so I got this one and just three barbs. Figured one more fish wouldn't overload the bio-filter, just replace the lost one. The new little Oto is more golden in color, and its stripe solid all the way through the tail. Maybe a different subspecies? After much reading I have taken a new track on introducing fish, although it's not highly recommended. I'm putting them straight in the home tank, with slow acclimation, hoping the reduced stress will prevent disease outbreak. Dosing with melafix again too, for a few days. Dropped a bit of zucchini into the bag while new Oto was floating- read a suggestion somewhere that this will calm them, having something to nibble on. Not sure if it helped. But soon after release the new fish was hanging out in heater corner with Tilda- it's a smaller fish by half, but already scraping algae off the wall.
Hope this one makes it. I don't want to buy any more of these fish, they are difficult to pull through the first weeks and it's getting discouraging loosing one after another.

08 May 2014


The Ginger is coming up! A few little shoots re-emerging. I've moved it back out outside, now that the weather is warming up.

07 May 2014

green nubbin

surprise from a Pepper plant! A tiny roundness that might just grow into a pepper.
It's also got new leaves sprouting up and down the stem:

06 May 2014

cherry barbs

I have three new fish:
Still unable to use my QT tank- Nitrite levels skyrocketing- this time I simply put the new fish straight into the home tank. With preventative dose of melafix, supposed to suppress disease outbreak and the reduced stress of moving straight into home environment helps with that too. So far they are doing fine, although I was upset at loosing Sparky.

The new fish are very attractive. The male is a bright pinkish hue
and the females golden orange and cream, with horizontal bands. They have little whiskers (barbs) and slightly downturned mouths.
They are much calmer fish than my Zebra Danios, and for the first few days hid in the plants. (The Aponogeton is thinned out some; I've had to start cutting out stems as the leaves die back. A few of them are already sprouting new shoots. I added a few root tabs of fertilizer across the back of the tank; the older Aponogeton had stopped at four leaves- no new growth in a week or two- but once I put in the root tabs a new shoot emerged just a day later).
Gratifying to see them eat a bit yesterday for the first time; the Danios are quicker and dash to the top for food; while the Barbs look for things at midlevel and bottom of the tank, not the water surface. Even though there are only two Danios and they're a bit smaller than the new fish, they easily hog all the food. Today I tried putting a pinch of flakes in by lowering my hand into the water and then releasing the food, but the Barbs were frightened of my hand and by the time they moved back to investigate, Danios had gobbled it all up. The Barbs did get a little bit, but at this point the Danios were overeating so I didn't give any more. I think when they get bolder it won't be such a problem, and I will try some sinking foods.

05 May 2014


Well, not everything sprouted in my greenhouse jugs. The only one I have left on balcony has these seedlings, nearly big enough to prick out. I think it's the flowering tobacco.

03 May 2014

more plant pics!

Just because I can't get over how lovely the aquarium is starting to look. It really is like an underwater garden now. The fish appear almost incidental, although I'm of course planning to get a few more soon!
Lighting difficult to get good photos; I'm in learning stages still. Here some photos taken with the aquarium light off. The look is quite different, softer, leaves more translucent.

02 May 2014

aquarium plants

Today was a major change-out for some plants; don't want to disrupt things anymore so probably the last time I will add plants in a long while. The plants came into today- more Aponogeton Crispus. Quite a number were small specimens, and some all the leaves browned. Only the largest fullest plants had a significant number of leaves still green. But I think the company compensated for that; there was one extra plant included.
To prepare the plants I rinsed them under running tapwater (chlorine) then dipped in conditioned tank water to rinse again. Next snipped the roots off evenly -about a third of the length- it stimulates growth and makes a lot easier to handle in planting as well. Removed the worst-looking foliage. I did have to trim off quite a lot.
From the tank pulled out all the Vallisneria, gave it to an acquaintance who also has an aquarium (mollies).

Here's the tank just after all the Val was removed, water level still low from the wc.
I have Aponogeton all across the back of the aquarium now, just like I wanted. They look really brown in the tank, especially next to the new leaves of the established plant- but still stunning in my estimation. Center one here is the largest, nicest specimen with most green remaining.
I moved a few other plants around (hoping this doesn't throw them into shock) and feel like the tank is finally approaching the look I've been imagining.
The smaller, straight-edged Amazon Sword are paired in front center now; I hadn't noticed before that one grew slightly larger than the other. Had a nice robust root system going, feel a bit bad for moving it just when it apparently was starting to take off. But now I'm not going to touch anything again. (Aside from neccessary trimming)
I like to look at the plants from above sometimes, too:
My Cryptocoryne looks leggy compared to photos I see online. I think its affected by the lighting. I wish it had a low dense growth habit but I am pleased nonetheless; I bought this plant because it can adapt to low light levels, and gives my aquatic environment some variety. I'm starting to love its blue-green hues, "hammered" leaf texture, pinkish stems.
Anubias is going strong, and looks lovely now that the Otos have begun to clean the broad leaves off. Roots going straight down striking into the gravel now; one even seems to have tunneled all the way through the driftwood.
I am very pleased with the Aponogeton purchase. Confident that as the dulled foliage dies back, new green shoots will spring up as the first plant proved to grow well.
Also enjoy very much now the variety of shapes, textures and colors of all the different plants in my tank. I think I have eight species now (not counting the algae, of which there are at least three types!)
The fish are interested in the new plants as well.