28 February 2015


Tested the water this morning, a day after maintenance. Nitrates lower, around 40ppm. I'd rather have it at 20. Pretty sure now the distrubance I made caused this, caused the algae that's showing up. Maybe even caused Pinkie's injury- he has two or three torn scales on his side. He seems to be chasing the barbs more. Perhaps feeling territorial after I moved stuff around. Or being curious, exploring the changed space, ran himself up against the filter intake again.
Looks like I had a small ammonia spike, too. The plants look okay- most of my aponos even have new leaves coming up! And that one I brought out of the corner seems to be standing up straighter. Lots of rotala have hit the ceiling. I want to trim next end-of-week and replant the cuttings to fill it in, but now afraid to mess stuff up more. I will have to figure out how to remove the fishes, and do all the rest of my planned rescaping all at once. (A quick daylight shot here, so bad reflections)
So worked on my fish trap today- making holes in the sides so current can pass through and fish won't drown. It could work as a feeding station for the kuhlis, too. Most times enough food sinks (released underwater) they get some, but they've never gotten any bloodworms- those only float and the barbs gobble them up so fast.

27 February 2015

more adjustments

Winter is dull. Nothing going on with any plants- except those in the aquarium, so here's what. I have some foliage going dull and dark on watersprite, some algae on apono leaves, rotala turning yellow on the base of stems and smudges of algae upper leaves. I think it's because I kicked so much mulm into the water column last week; the nitrates were too high- 60ppm at the end of the week. I adjusted the ferts- gave just a little bit of KN03 (less than a smidgen), 1/8 tsp K2S04 and 1/32 tsp KH2P04. I received a lot of advice on fish forum when I first posted my confusion with dosing dry ferts- several different approaches were recommended and now I'm trying another one (dose full on macros and micros, but substitute K2S04 for the KN03- giving little to none of that- as I've already got nitrates in the tank obviously).

I moved a few more plants- put all the rotala stems in the back of the tank, moved one smaller aponogeton forwards. I had sponge filter running high while I was moving plants around, and the fishes did not react much at all- were swimming around curiously when I added in new water, I even received happy kuhli dance up and down the sides!
Then I noticed the apono was too far forwards, so I nudged it back a little bit- kicking up a bit more stuff from substrate. Not enough to see, but the fishes slowed, sat still in the water with their noses down for a while. So answered my own question about why the fishes sometimes look stunned when I do maintenance. I'm guessing I also got some algae because of extra nitrates in the water... must be more careful when moving things about. Still have two or three stages to go, before I get everything rearranged the way I want it. (That female bottom right of the pic is either a dominant fish hogging food, or holding eggs- look how fat)
I also pulled up the smaller watersprite plants, leaving just the three largest rooted. But did not throw the smaller away- trimmed off dying leaves and let the good parts of the plants float. So they can continue to take up nutrients and help my tank. It looks more spacious in there, now.
This apono was in the back corner, I think its leaves always pulled down by the sponge filter. Maybe they can straighten out again- or at least new growth will.

21 February 2015

beautiful green

I was trying for a better tank shot- it never looks as nice in my photos as in person. Failed again, but got a few nice ones from the short end. Showing how I'm rearranging the plants so aponogeton is featured in the midground, with more elbow room (turns out those plants don't like to be crowded) plus I can see them better this way.

20 February 2015

maintenance day

Once again unsure if I'm doing things right. The 10gal looks relatively good- the rate of death in java fern slowing down, moss is taking hold, anubias putting up new leaves. But these looking pale, and on the smaller plant tips curling. I looked it up- could be the light is too high for that plant. Put the spider plant back atop the tank to shade its corner. Since Oliver is pretty much solo now, I do see him out and about more. Downside is that debris collects on the flat anubias leaves again, without small fish picking and gently disrupting surfaces. I've been reading up on miniature catfishes- pygmy and dwarf corydoras can make good betta tankmates in a 10gal. So far corydoras hastatus (tail spot pygmy catfish) seems the best choice, but introducing some will have to wait...
I have moved a few plants around in the 20gal. It stresses the fishes. I turn up the airflow on sponge filter and run it while I'm moving stuff, then do the water change after to take crap out of water column, but afraid either my main filter is off too long, or pulling up a few crypts has released bad gas or ammonia into the water. Pinkie recovers first, the barbs hung around much longer, still and clamped. I worried, but they started to swim around normal about an hour later. Much later the kuhlis seemed to recover and started wiggling around.

(Buster had a mishap last week. Got pulled through the siphon hose in a split second I had turned my head. I felt the resistance as he went through. He flicked his fins about fine in the bucket, but when I returned him to the tank, was clamped for a while. He's okay again now).
I trimmed the crypt roots when pulled up, to encourage more growth (it was only smaller plants). Why do some roots look orange? I still don't know if this is normal. I thought healthy roots are white.
Plan to eventually shift all the rotala to the background and bring the aponos forward. I'm afraid to do it all at once- could easily catch the barbs and Pinkie to house in a bucket while I work, but the kuhlis are another matter. So I'm just rearranging a few each water change day. I've got the left corner more or less how I want it now.
The tank looks rather unbalanced; java fern are still not growing well on the log. Also I've found a few big crypt and apono leaves blackening again, some watersprite turning brown too. Is it because the plants got damanged when I moved them (but I didn't move any watersprite)? because I changed the lid to glass and they're responding to change in the light? or because I had adjusted my ferts- was dosing half the amount of micros last week, to match the lower dose of N03 and KH2P04 as suggested on the forum. I don't know. But the brown watersprite stems looks like it did when plants were starving, so this week I dosed the full amount of micros again, but backed off a little bit on the N03 (nitrates are still near 40ppm, while in the 10gal it's at 20ppm, just where supposed to be).
This sure is a long-term learning process. I wonder if I'll ever get it right.
However the vallisneria doesn't seem to mind anything! A month ago this foreground plant was just a sprig against the glass, now its sending out a little offshoot of its own.

15 February 2015

poinsettia turning

small new leaves on my poinsettia turning red of their own accord- about the same time as last year
these pictures a few days apart

14 February 2015

favorite kuhli pics of the week

Sid resting on an apono leaf (not so long ago this particular plant looked like this- I'm pleased at the improvement)
Albert and Snaky Fish:
Snaky Fish turning around under the little rock cave:
This one is Sammy
funny kuhli mouths
Moe on top of the log in a fan of java fern ( this used to be my favorite clump of the plant, now its getting all mottled too- bah)
Sam climbing up high!

13 February 2015


My big aloe keeps getting injured by passerby.
I've decided I might as well make some use of it, and hope that its offspring reach full size as eventual replacement. I've occasionally used aloe gel for burns, but there are so many other things you can do with it. I decided to try something new, after looking up a few how-to's online.
Made a simple face wash. It's just aloe gel mixed with raw honey. First step is to cut off the spines of a mature leaf
and peel off the skin
I never did this before. Strange to see the translucent gel inside the leaf.
Then dissolve the gel a bit in boiling water. I don't think I did this step right- too much water or I didn't simmer it long enough- I still had clumps of gel when done. Mix with the honey in a small jar and keep refrigerated between uses.
I've been cleaning my face with it for the past two weeks. I can feel it tingling, but haven't really noticed a difference in my skin- lately have gone back to using my regular cleaner in the mornings, and the aloe gel/honey mix at night. But I have seen an unexpected result: decreased hair loss. I wasn't looking for this at all. I have very thick hair, so it's not something I worry about. I just noticed that the week I started using the aloe face wash, the amount of loose hair I comb out in the shower was significantly less- I'd say by seventy percent. And I didn't even put it on my scalp!

So I looked it up- yes, aloe is also used to promote healthy hair and combat hair loss. People make conditioners and rinses out of it. I was not at all expecting it to affect my hair, just from what the skin on my face absorbed. Interesting. I'm very curious to note if more hair will comb out again after I stop using the aloe face wash.

12 February 2015

waiting for spring

There is no sign of life in my greenhouse jugs outside yet, but a few suggestions of spring indoors. A ladybug we found crawling on the windowsill (early out of hibernation?)
young leaves on some houseplants- avocado:
boston fern:

avocado veins

so pretty against the light
and half in shadow interesting

10 February 2015

10 gal

Playing with camera settings again, plus took small spider plant off the cover glass. Was shadowing the anubias a lot. If it gets algae, I'll put spider back.

so many mts

This stands for two things in the online fishkeeper's jargon: Multiple Tank Syndrome and Malaysian Trumpet Snail. I've got the latter.
In large enough numbers now that I had no qualms about giving two dozen away to a fellow aquarist last week. Two of the big original adults, and a bunch of medium-sized ones. Have seen the tiniest one yet- smaller than the head of a pin, I do believe this is a newborn!
This one is just a bit larger than an air bubble-
There are lots of the tiny snail babies in my 10gal now, although I haven't seen the adult in that tank for a while. Their lifespan is about a year, so I wouldn't be surprised if she's passed on. I've had them six months. But there's plenty little ones to grow up.  Even after plucking about 25 out of the main aquarium, I still see more than ten the next day, and that's a casual count (not looking hard, or around the back of the tank). I enjoy the challenge of getting photos of them- most times my camera refuses to focus on something so small!

09 February 2015


enjoying the winter sunshine