30 September 2014

poinsettia green

It's starting to grow back new foliage already. Moved into kitchen window.

29 September 2014


Moved the boston inside. It has some very long drooping fronds and a few upright ones, new fiddlheads still growing.
Lots of long fuzzy tendrils, too. I think these runners will root and grow new baby plants, if given soil....

25 September 2014


My fish's fins are definitely growing back! It's hard to see, in photo the edge looks white or gray, but with close eyes you can tell it's new fin, the rays nice and even, the tissue clear.
She looks very sprightly and alert. Wiggled her tail a lot first day put in the home tank, but now swims almost as smooth as the rest of them.

24 September 2014

out the door

I had too many plants. All these second-generation ones filling my countertops and windowsills, and with colder weather coming I know the sunniest spots in the apartment will soon be in demand. So I just sold a lot of them on craigslist- twenty-six plants. A few were nice-size or pretty, most still small. They're all offspring of my established plants, so I'm not really missing any- I can always grow more.
The lot included: african violets, jade plants, one ponytail palm, some mini geraniums, two small pots of coleus, one schefflera and a few spider plants. It doesn't pain me much. In fact, the space feels cleaner here now, the remaining plants standing out, more noticeable because they're not all so close together but instead one standing here, another over there- focal points by themselves now.

20 September 2014

fish report 8

There are no more signs of ich. No fish loss. Yesterday was the last water change to remove salt. Leaves dying on aponogeton, but new ones growing just as quickly- a fresh shoot coming up even before the most recent leaf is full-sized to the others- I've never seen the plant do that before. I'm still bringing the temperature down, just a degree a day- it's 81° now. Turning down the air flow to the sponge filter when the light is on, soon I will turn it off altogether.

I moved the cherry out of QT
and back into the home tank. I had to move the QT setup entirely off my counter. Routine pest prevention was applied in my kitchen and I can't shift even the four gallon container if it's full- so I had to move her anyway. Plus I was starting to worry about ammonia poisoning after testing the QT water and realizing that it was over safe levels, even after a 25% water change. I guess the sponge filter in there wasn't seeded well enough, or maybe the meds killed the bacteria. Or the fish didn't poop enough to keep them alive. Something. (Here's Pinkie inspecting the bag as it floats to equalize her temperature)
She looks much less stressed now. Got her color back, swims around actively, even jerks her fins open to display sideways at other females- reaffirming their social order I guess. But her tail fin, while looking less ragged, still has a white edge to it- fungus or bacteria. I'm keeping up with small daily wc to maintain clean water for her.
Also for the sake of this platy:
I have to look so closely my eyes hurt, but I think her tail fin is growing back in. I see a small light patch closest to the body, but it doesn't look fuzzy and I think I see a fin ray in there, so hope it's the fin growing back, not fungus. I've read that when fins grow back they are often colorless. She is still my smallest platy, looks thin.

18 September 2014

garlic food

I've been feeding my fishes some of their dry foods soaked in garlic juice. If this works at all, it's supposed to be effective only with fresh garlic- I'm assuming canned is just as good-
It doesn't take much- just a few drops of garlic juice (heady scent) is enough for the small amount of crumbled food. In this case, broken up shrimp pellets. The fish like it- they gobble quickly. I think even after the fear of more ich is gone, I will once a week soak their freeze-dried bloodworms or the betta pellets in this. Supposed to help keep them healthy, and the dried foods are better fed hydrated- so it doesn't swell in their tummies.

16 September 2014

plant spa

It's been a long time. But the temperature is dropping at night, so finally it felt comforting to have a long hot bath rather than just sweaty! So nice and relaxing to sit in a room full of green life. Participants this time included schefflera, pothos, poinsettia, sansevieria, avocado, spider plants, parlor palms,
dracanea, croton, coleus and arrowhead
It's pretty much the same lineup as last time, minus the boston fern who is still outside. Fun to look back at the older photos and see how much some of them have grown, particularly the croton, schefflera and palms.

fish report 7

Well, things seem to be at an impasse and I am not sure which way to go. I have not seen ich spots reappear on fish for 10 days, but in the past several days occasionally see fish flashing- it's not a constant behavior though, they do it for a little while and then I don't see it again all day. I'm gradually bringing the temperature down and doing serious gravel vac to try and removing any remaining ich. If I don't see any more symptoms in the next week, I'll assume it's gone? but if I do, going to try medication. Which means I'd have to pull out the snails, at least as many as I can.

In the QT my cherry is hanging on, but not improving yet. Her tail is the same short length, still ragged edge, not much fuzz. I've quit treating with melafix and salt, continuing the twice daily water changes to remove it- in case I have to put snails in here. Lots of people say frequent fresh water is all a fish needs to heal anyways.

So then I have a quandry- who is more important to save, the fish which are more personable but I don't really want to keep the barbs in particular, or the snails which are not so interesting to me, but important to the health of my tank and favorites of my kids? If I put snails into QT with the cherry barb and they're carrying ich, and she becomes a host, someone will carry it right back into the main tank again. Or I could move the cherry back home and let her take her chances. Or just put her out of her misery. If the snails do go into QT they'd have to stay long enough without a fish host, for the possible ich on them to die out, before I bring them back to home tank.... so I guess the barb would have to be out of there anyways....

Positive note: I did a large water change on the main tank today, put fresh water in without salt, to start removing it. I think the kuhlis appreciated that, I saw their little faces poking out of their hideout under the log, they were wiggling around in there. Also the bitten platy's tail seems to be clean, at least. No signs of fin rot or fungus developing there yet.

fall crop

That's a phrase to laugh at. All I have in growing edibles is the parsley:
And I thought my bell pepper plant was done for the year, some leaves are starting to yellow. But it's got one last burst of flower so I just might get a few more peppers.
I'm debating whether to bring it inside for overwintering again. Afraid to spread disease to my houseplants, if it's carrying whatever killed off most of the balcony plants.

15 September 2014

not over yet

the ich in my tank. Crap crap crap. It had been five days without symptoms, so I thought ok to lower the temp. Once it got down to 85°, barbs flashing again. Raising temp again. If it goes on longer than another week, I guess I should switch to meds- but will have to pull the snails- and where else to put them but in the tenner? afraid it will put ich in there too. I guess I could put them into the QT....

I had other plans- to move the female with tail rot back into main tank (once she's healing), move Pinkie into QT, let him live in solitary until I've switched my barbs all out for platies- still want to. Then see if Pinkie can move back in after the new fish are established. Perhaps he won't be as aggressive then. If I keep seeing bitten fish, I guess he'll have to live out his life alone. I really don't want to maintain three aquariums, though!

But first I have to solve the ich problem.


I have not been in a gardening mood lately- tending houseplants and a box of worms does not feel like real gardening to me, and things are discouraging out on the balcony so I never had many plants there this year. But I did save a few seedpods off my favorite nicotiana plant this week- the one with leaves a slightly different shape, a bluer hue of green.
Not sure if offspring will have same color flowers, but I'd actually prefer if they come up something other than white.

14 September 2014


This morning I fed the fishes, then turned away from the tank to do water change on the QT. Went back to the main aquarium just a few minutes later and saw this:
I know that fish didn't have a chunk missing out of its tail earlier- I have been looking at them very closely each day for any signs of ich. My only guess is that Pinkie bit her.
He has often made threatening lunges at the other fish, but the gesture seemed half-hearted to me, just a warning I thought. Maybe he really was serious.
I have been mulling over what to do with the female barb in QT- if her tail starts to heal, I want to move her out of QT (must be stressful, being alone almost two weeks now) but have misgivings about putting her back in here so soon. She can't swim well now, I worry she won't be able to compete for food or keep away from Pinkie. I've thought of putting her in the smaller ten gallon, that one has a gentler current- but don't know how Oliver might react.

Now I wonder if I should put her back home, but take Pinkie out and put him in the QT. After a few days in solitary he might not be as aggressive to the other fish.

Incidental or not, this platy has been looking thinner than the others lately- belly not as round. I wondered if it was getting bullied away from the food, bottom of the pecking order. But noticed today that it keeps biting at the other platies- maybe feeling irritable from the injury?


My two parlor palms have gotten large enough that they look better situated on the floor.
It's nice to look down onto the opening foliage.

13 September 2014

small happenings

in my fish world. I am still doing daily wc on the 20 gal, keeping a close eye on the fishes. Thought I saw one cherry barb female flashing last night, but it was out of the corner of my eye. Could have been a barb darting at another, who just as quickly darted up away. I watched close for some time- no more glancing, no spots. Keeping up the treatment longer, though. Full report when all done....

In the meantime- I moved the java fern log to tether down a piece that had broken off. The day before I set it atop the log with pebbles to weigh it down, but by morning it was floating free. So I used a small rubber band this time, and attached it to an end of the driftwood that's narrower.
(first pic lights off, second with it on- still experimenting with the camera)
Pinkie hangs out in the java fern cave a lot, so of course he came over to inspect the changes once I got my hands back out of the tank.
Here you can see him darting to bite at it!
When I lifted the end of the log my two kuhlis scurried out, and they moved all around the bottom of the tank for a while, so I was able to get a good look at them. They kept trying to hide in the base of the larger crypt, under stones. So when they had moved away I lifted the largest flat stone and made a hollow under it. Not long after one of the kuhlis came back over and wedged himself under there again. This time he fit, and stayed! I even got a pic of his little face looking out:
I do want to make more hiding spots for them, and probably to move Sam in here so they are together. I think I will see them out and about more then. But waiting until things are stable in the main tank with no more ich symptoms, heat back down to normal and salt out.

the tenner 2

Things seem to be going right here, although I still have some a bit of hairy black algae on the leaf margins, a bit of brown debris on the foliage. Still unsure if this is diatoms or debris stirred up off the driftwood. I don't gravel vac anymore, there's at least two small trumpet snails in there so let them do the job.
 The java ferns are starting to look nice. I am pleased with how tethering them to the stones worked out. Makes it really easy to move the plants around if I need to (you're supposed to move the decor/plant arrangement around when introducing new fish so that the established occupants are more concerned with changes in their environment and territory, than in hassling the newcomers. I've never really done that because all my plants were rooted in the substrate or tied to large driftwood pieces that I had no leeway for- if I moved them, they'd be over the rooted plants).
Anubias seems to sprout a new leaf every week, so I know its happy.
Saw the kuhli loach last night- I've named him Sam. I drop in a fraction of an algae wafer after dark- several hours after dark- and then peer into the tank in dim light a little later. Before the kuhli ventures out to eat, the barbs follow scent to the food (Oliver didn't this time) so they all pigged out. Same thing in the larger aquarium- I dropped a fourth of an algae wafer into the java fern "cave" several hours after dark- but when I looked later, all the barbs were swarming in there. I did see a glimpse of striped loach body, so my kuhlis are still alive- but I don't know how to feed them without the barbs getting more than their share- if I go lighter on feeding the main community, the platies loose out (one looks skinny today). I need some space small enough for the loaches to get into, but keep the other fishes out, if I want to feed them by themselves. Maybe a tunnel of some kind....


For some reason this plant never went fully dormant this year- maybe because I didn't have it outside so it didn't feel the bite of coming cold weather.
It is starting to look straggly though, so I gave it a trim:

12 September 2014

fish report 6

The good news: female barb is not dead. Decay seems to have halted- I got more aggressive with her treatment, doing water changes twice a day, melafix dose and salt each time. Salt back to 1/2 tsp per gallon for her. The tail has not gotten any shorter in the past two days, although it still looks inflamed. She's still eating, hiding less. I hope might be turnaround.

Also: my plants in the 20 gal seem to be doing better. All of them have new growth. Even the rotala is looking greener, leaves getting larger. Most of the aponogeton have new shoots coming up. I think I am finally on the right track for them. Still some algae, but it seems to be slowing down.
Bad news: I saw one or two of the platies flashing again last night.
I sat in front of the tank for twenty minutes watching, and saw them flash several times. Noticed it because I saw one moving deliberately near the airline, eyeing it sideways. I thought the fish was going to eat some algae off- it's funny when they do this- the lips stretch out and smack on the surface like a kiss. But instead the fish twitched its body forcefully against the line. With repeats. My stomach sank. I watched all the fishes and only saw the few platies do this.

I have begun feeding them garlic- supposed to boost their immune system and can prevent the parasites from attaching to the fish. I soaked the freeze-dried bloodworms in garlic juice yesterday, soaked betta bites in it today. The fish love it. Eat eagerly. Tomorrow will soak zucchini in it... flakes I think would be too messy.

In the morning checked on them again, haven't seen any more flashing, no sign of spots either but I bumped the temperature back up 86-87° and am gradually adding salt back in as well. It could take a day or two for the spots to show. I am glad I took meticulous records on paper, I was able to look at how much salt was added in the beginning, how much put back for water changes, how much concentration lowered when I did the wc without salt recently, to calculate out the amount of salt that's still in there. I figure it had 1 tsp of salt left in the tank, so I planned to add back in 4 tsp to get the concentration at 1/4 tsp per gallon today, then add more to raise it back to 1/2 tsp per gallon. Pinkie looking stressed after I had dissolved and added in only 1 more tsp (hiding under his log) and the barbs hanging out near the substrate again, so I've held off putting in the rest of the salt dose. Will do it very gradually, only a little bit at a time when they look more recovered.

Maybe they are reacting to the plant removal. Because the tank also had too much nitrate- it was 30-40 yesterday when I tested. Today I gently rinsed out the filter media, did a 25% wc and also trimmed some leaves off. So much new growth, the older leaves have lots of algae and decay. I wasn't sure of the best approach here- removing decaying leaves will help lower nitrate levels, but it also takes away plant mass which is eating up nitrate. Some of the leaves still looked healthy on the undersides, just the top mottled with algae. I took out the worst ones. When new growth has increased I'll take out more old foliage. The newer aponogeton and java fern leaves don't seem to be collecting algae as quickly as before, so I hope the plants are getting healthier now to out-compete the simpler life form.
Nitrates are back to 20 again, but maybe the fishes feel shy and exposed, since I took out many large leaves.
I did not dose with liquid plant food today. Holding off on putting in root tabs, too. Don't want to change too much at once. Try one little thing at a time, see how it goes...  But I think the watersprite at least needs it- this plant is doing worst, even though it keeps putting out baby leaves, the stems rot away (smothered by algae?) before they reach the surface, not growing roots well either.
Some pieces broke off and I let them float to see if they would do better that way, but the platies have nibbled off all the feeder roots, so I think it will die.