31 December 2015


I recently trimmed my big jade plant, to give it stouter stems. Didn't bother to save the cuttings this time.
The smaller plant which got severely cut back a while back is starting to have better shape now
and the pieces that came off its top are all growing in one pot. So far this looks nice, I don't know what I'll do with it.

30 December 2015

pretty pink

The coleus in my windows have doubled in height since potted up.
I have given a few away and still have plenty for spring planting.
From the outside, they really fill up the dining room window!

29 December 2015

indoor peppers

Two are doing great. One even has produced fruit!
But the last one I pulled out of the garden at end of season, is looking diseased. I found sign of small white insects on the underside of the leaves. Wiped them all off with rubbing alcohol and rinsed well in soapy water. Lots of yellow residue on the paper towel. Not good. The insects don't seem to be reappearing, but it still looks sick. I don't think I can save it- this one is destined for the trash.

28 December 2015

full tank

It's finally looking decent, with the aponogeton crispus standing out.
I've still got the lights set on six hours with two-hour fade in/out, whites first and colors added later for full spectrum. Raised the light strip up a half inch on blocks, it seems to be working like this so I'll figure out a permanent way to fix them in that position.


I finally learned the name of this shrub in the front of the house- it's euonymus bush. The yellow variegated variety. I had no idea it would make these funny buds, until I saw them this week:

foliage round and straight

a few plants I took pictures of, that do so well uncomplainingly, I seldom take notice of them! Geranium is getting full of nice foliage
and my trained schefflera is getting taller, nice shape too.

27 December 2015


I think one of my male cherry barb has a parasite. I see a small white thing sticking to his back, just front right side of the dorsal fin. It looks to be pink near the base. He's so quick and it's so small can't see well, but I think it's an anchorworm.
I gave him a salt bath day before yesterday. Full thirty minutes in a gallon of water with 2 dissolved tablespoons AQ salt (fish tolerated it very well). I hoped the parasite would drop off from the salt bath, but no.
I fed garlic-soaked food the next day, then we were gone all day. Came back and the fish looked the same. This morning I checked on him, and it isn't sticking out as much. Now looks like a flat white mark on the body. I need a closer look tried to catch the fish in a small clear box and hold against the front glass,
but every time the fish paused enough for a close picture, he was facing the wrong way! I couldn't do that too long, stressful.

I'm trying to figure out how he caught a parasite (if that's what it is). I haven't introduced any new fish or snails to this tank in a while, but I did feed them extra trumpet snails a few days ago. And it's possible I forgot to wash my hands between tanks and transferred something from the QT or the tenner... Not sure. Have to get a better look at it tomorrow when the full tank lights are on, decide if it needs manual removal (tweezers) or meds to kill the thing.

spot swap

I have never ever before transplanted outside in the middle of winter. But I did last week. There are four nicotiana still green in the pathetic planting bed at the end of the backyard, and I took the two raggedy slug-eaten ones out of pots on the porch, put them in the ground.
It's been a week and they're doing fine!
In their place I dug up a handful of mock strawberry from a muddy spot near the compost bin, and put these in the pots on the front porch. Need something green. I do like their leaves and would like them close to be admired...

26 December 2015

fish stuff

My gray spotted oto died. I thought it was doing better. I was doing 20-25% water changes every day. The pale patches seemed to be diminishing. But it suddenly looked very skinny the day before yesterday, and then crashed on the tank bottom. Gone. I still have two- the more golden hued ones look fine. This one is sitting on top of the wisteria I just trimmed and replanted its top, to multiply the plant.
I also took a stone with windelov fern bit out of the bigger tank, moved it in here to the front corner that had vallisneria (put that in the back corner with the other vals).
Trying to think why that oto got fungus. It seemed to happen after the last time I put an algae rock in the tank. I do rinse those windowsill jars out once a week and put new tank water in, have been dripping in some liquid ferts too. I didn't think it was that scummy, but maybe something on there made the oto sick? Or a snail brought it in, but I think the fish was sick before the new snails...

Three cherry barbs in QT are doing well. They have eaten flake, spirulina wafer, green peas, garlic-soaked bloodworms. I do a small partial water change every other day, siphoning out waste from the bottom, to make sure it stays clean enough. Small male is harassing the females, flirting constantly and chasing them. I think when it's time I'll move him out first; the females hide so much from him I can't get a good look at them. But all appear healthy so far.
The other day my black kuhlis suddenly tried to cram under the rock. Must have been a bit of food (or dead snail) under there? Definitely something they scented and were eager to get at!

dried out

For the past few weeks, every time I open the worm bin, I find massed groups of worms just under the bin lid, on the rim. I thought they were seeking more food? I hadn't fed as much this past month, hoping they would consume more of the cardboard bedding (the bin was kind of full). I fed more often, that didn't help much. This week there were a ton of worms at the top.
They all look fine, though.
No bad smells, no sign of mites. So I dug down into the bin. It was really dry. I started sprinkling in handfuls of water every time I fed them (about twice a week) and now things are better. The worms stay down where they are supposed to.

24 December 2015

arrow vase

A while back I rearranged my arrowhead plant- cuttings that perpetually sit in a vase of water- into a smaller vase with just a few inches of water at the bottom. The stems resting up on a layer of stones. I like the look of it better. Also uses far less water, and no stem rot (I never had much of that anyway).

23 December 2015

cutting light

I don't think I was amiss in putting two more snails in the tenner; I haven't seen the tomato nerite in there move in several days and I think that one might be getting old (they only live a year or two).  I have been looking back on older images and posts, realized how truly awful my 20L was for a very long time, and then it was so lovely, and so striking with the black background (too striking, I prefer a more muted backdrop now), and such nice healthy greens just before the move. It was better with less light. Almost makes me want to go back to using T8 bulbs, instead of these fancy LEDs. I decided to cut the light coming into my tenner, because I remembered how nice and clean my anubias used to be. And the skull never had black smudges of algae all over it before, and the glass didn't used to get so gritty with BSA.

Less light. I took the extra plastic panel off the sliding top and used it to block some light from side end, instead.
Nicer to have the sliding lid unobstructed, too. I cut some plastic (recycled packaging from some item) into narrow strips just wider than the LED panel and taped them over it. It's already got a thin plastic pane there, this doubles and triples that. Packing tape over the whole thing and onto the black of the frame. An extra layer or two of plastic and tape on the left side above the anubias. That should cut some light significantly. I also put a sheet of white cardboard (recycled side of a box) over the back of the tank.
Doesn't look very different, but I do hope it will improve things. I'm still dosing dry ferts (macros) and liquid micros on this tank, because it usually has very low nitrates as so little goes in via fish food- Oliver eats so little, all the snails and otocinclus feed off naturally growing stuff in there!
I wonder about Oliver's overall health, now. He's always eaten great, looked fine, active enough. Aside from occasional cloudy eye, he's never been sick. Never had any fin rot. (The gray mottled oto looks better this morning after that water change- pale-maybe-fungus patches on him gone, tail still a bit ragged but I hope that heals up quickly). But he's also never made a bubble nest, not once. So is he content as I've always thought? Is he stressed at sharing a tank, in ways I can't discern? Or maybe he's just not interested in nest-building, never felt the urge. But his face is turning gray now, loosing color under the chin. My best guess he's at least two and a half years old.

21 December 2015

aloe drink

A few weeks ago my husband brought home a small bottle of aloe water from the grocery store, out of pure curiosity. It had a slightly sweet, tangy flavor. I read the ingredients: aloe gel, sugar, water, something else. I thought: I could probably make that. And I have this older plant which I think will never right itself.
So I looked it up. Lots of instructions out there. And cautions: you shouldn't drink aloe all the time- it can be an overly effective purgative. It does appear to have health benefits, although many purported healing uses are still unproven.... Well the main ingredient here is aloe gel, same amount of any citrus juice, water and a sweetener. I tried it.
First remove the small spines from the leaf edges.
Then slice off the top skin of the leaf.
Cut the gel out by sliding the knife blade underneath. It's actually referred to as cutting a gel fillet.
I cut open four leaves, they weren't full size so I only got a few tablespoons of gel.
Mixed with equal amount of lemon juice, added a few cups of water and blended it smooth in the food processor. Stirred in some honey for sweetener. It was pretty refreshing. Next time I think a little less citrus.
Not something I will do too often, but I did want to try another use for my aloe plant. I have enough babies around- one alone which recently got a larger pot,
these three together, growing quickly,
and the big plant has another pup just emerging.
So I have enough aloes growing, I'm not going to bother trying to save this large one from its collapse, but simply find uses for it and let the younger ones grow to take its place.

20 December 2015

all is not right

in my tenner. I thought it was looking lovely clean, because I took the trouble to scrape spot algae off the inside of the glass on friday. I hadn't realized how much there was, and it's really hard stuff. So I have to rethink the light- probably too strong still- maybe block it with layer of plastic or tape... or raise it up yet again. I'd hoped the duckweed would screen some light out, but it's not growing that fast.
Problem is with scraping all the GSA off, I think I contaminated the water column. The water doesn't test at alarming levels, but one of my otots doesn't look so good now. The speckled gray one. (Other two have more of a golden tan color). He seems to have a pale patch in front of the dorsal fin on one side.
And closer look the tail fin looks degraded, too.
It's hard to tell because his coloring is mottled, if that pale patch was there before. I'm looking back at past photos. But regardless, the tail fin is worrisome and if he does have fungus, needs cleaner water. I did a partial water change taking care to siphon some mulm off the bottom. Have to keep an eye on him. The other otos look fine.
I thought this tank was doing pretty well, but if the GSA keeps showing up I'm still not getting something right. Too much window light, too much from above maybe. I'll block some. And I was so pleased the wisteria has doubled in height, even put out a few side shoots near the base, the itty bitty windelov ferns seem to be getting a hold on the driftwood- rubber band busted off one but it has firmly attached itself. (Pics in earlier post with the ramshorn).
Now that I look closer, Oliver's clouded eye is recurring. So that also indicates poor water quality. Crap.
He seems to like hanging out below the broad anubias leaves, lately.
Oh and I added a few small handfuls of gravel to give the vallisneria and rotala stems more substrate to root in.