30 June 2015

yard plants

My coleus has never looked so big and beautiful. It's even larger than this now- I just moved it up into a bigger pot. (Cut the flower shoot off too).
The rose out front has gotten eaten by caterpillars a lot- I picked off as many as I could (my kids like holding the "green worms") and then cut flowers to put inside for display. I wasn't expected the plant to respond like this- it grew some new foliage where I cut the stems when removing blooms.
I have a new lilac shrub! "Miss Kim" variety- I looked it up- it keeps a more compact growing habit, I think it will do well on the front side of the house (where I'm trying to eliminate a narrow strip of lawn next to the driveway). It was a wedding gift from a friend- thank you, thank you!
Newly planted, with Irwin lounging in the background. So far it's doing really well. I can't wait for the blooms next summer- the scent of lilacs is so nostalgic for me.
Of the mock strawberries I stuck in pots only one remains. Lost the one that had more standard-shaped leaves, I moved it to a different spot and then forgot to water, rain didn't reach it and it dried out. This one is still pretty though.

garden plants

Everything is growing growing, though I've had no time to post about it. Tomatoes have gotten quite tall, lower deck ones above the top of the tomato cages.
Pepper plant looks very happy. It had an adjustment period where the leaves were pale from sudden increase in sun exposure, I think. Now all nice dark glossy green. There's even lots of new pepper flowers, and another pepper on it too.
Tomatoes are starting to flower also.
Green beans have climbed the railings all the way up past deck level, I love it. I need to get a pic from the other side, it looks great from the lawn.
And I bought a new rosemary plant at a farm stand.

29 June 2015

spider aloft

I've always thought that spider plants are meant to hang in front of windows. But I've never actually kept one that way. Well, now I do!
I tied string under the saucer lip, threaded it through holes made with hole-puncher in rim of plastic pot, tied three lines together and strung it up.
This is my second-biggest, second-generation spider plant. See its baby plantlet growing on the right
It's in the dining room window above C's lovely monstrous huge schefflera. I think this is one of my favorite pictures right now!

28 June 2015

forty second day

with the fishes in it. First thing in the morning checking on things.
The filter burble in Oliver's tank did not sound right- I found a crack in the airline so the flow through filter was diminished. Replaced it with new airline tubing and now it sounds/functions right again. Got my old bio-wheel filter on the big tank now; it doesn't splash as much as the aqeon HOB that came w/the tank did, is very quiet actually and if it does splash, that alerts me that the water level is low. Both tanks don't quite smell right, they don't have the nice musty bacteria smell but instead smell kind of acrid. I remember noticing this on my 20gal when it was first set up, though. I tested the water parameters- pH just where it's supposed to be, no ammonia, no nitrites, looks like the biofilter is working well. But yikes the nitrates were high! somewhere 50-60ppm. I guess I should have tested to see what the levels were before automatically dosing ferts this friday- substrate must be holding nutrients plenty well.
Did a water change this morning- about twelve gallons-, that got the nitrates down to about 30ppm. I'll check it again tomorrow. The fishes look fine and dandy.
There are no clamped fins, and only Sangre still looks a bit pale. Nobody is hiding or appears stressed at all, and they came up to eat without hesitation. I like the way things look in ambient light-
When the lights first come on, it's really warm colors
I took keeley cook's suggestion and cut out spaces on the cover of my filter box
to fit two cuttings of arrowhead plant in there. Will take up more nitrates and thrive, I'm sure.
Aponogeton this morning
I did put my hands in the tank again to move a few things, now that I can see everything clearer. I've sloped the substrate up quite a bit from back to front (maybe too much) and behind the rotala is a higher ledge that can see the kuhlis resting on (they think they're hidden behind the screen of plants, but in plain view on a kind of horizon line). On the opposite side, behind the fake root piece the substrate drops down kind of a ditch under the heater, a good hidey spot. Bit of rotala and the vallisneria planted in that corner.
and last but not least, a few better pics of the watersprite root hairs.
Even the tiny baby bits of plant have wild strong roots growing, which makes me think these are really going to do well now.

tenner progress

Last week the anubias in Oliver's tank looked like this:
now the upper leaves all coated brown algae. Too much light for this plant. I put plastic wrap over the glass just on the one side to see if it helps. If not improved in another week I'll either adjust the photoperiod or consider getting a different cover.
Other things are improving, though. For the first time ever, the java ferns in this tank have little fiddleheads coming up! They are responding either to the new substrate or the new light, not sure which but I'm definitely pleased.
I've never seen them look so well, and hope they continue to thrive.
Oliver is improving too, his eye less cloudy but still has a red spot on the right lens not sure what that is.

forty final setup

In my newer aquarium the plants are adjusting as well- the anubias has browning leaves but also a brand-new shoot so I'm waiting to see what it does.
The watersprite had lots of older foliage dying, I plucked that all off and what remains is bright, healthy green. The leaves are wider than I've seen before and spread themselves out- for the first time I see how nice a floating plant this can make.
It's hard to get a good picture from below. They have lots of fine root hairs growing like mad as well- feeding from the water column I believe (yesterday was the first time I dosed the tank with dry ferts, before only had what was availble from the fertilized substrate).
But the biggest news I have is that yesterday I moved the inhabitants from my twenty gallon aquarium at the apartment, into the forty here in the new house. It's quite an undertaking to move fish! I transported the plants and fishes in my clean fish buckets (five-gallon size but each only held about four gallons, so it wouldn't slosh over too much. Even so I drove very slowly to avoid jostling them too much)
The aponogeton here were in the gallon pitcher I use for refilling tanks.
Planting the tank was actually kind of fun. I took a few photos of it in progress- here I've got some rotala in the back, aponos front and center, vallisneria on one side behind the root piece, floating mass of crypts ready to go. I hadn't realized how big many of my plants had become until now seeing them spread out into their own space. Elbow room to grow, so to speak.
I put the crypts around the base of the fake root piece, and on the far right edging the space.
I planted in all the rotala root halves (trimming roots of all plants to encourage new growth) then put the tops in. Then trimmed all the taller ones down to the same height, so they can grow uniformly. Also trimming promotes growth and branching as well.
Largest aponogeton is already a centerpiece (even though its kind of shabby right now).
Crypts seen from the short end of the tank.
more crypts flanking the root piece
I moved the fishes first then last, then first, then last again. They went into their bucket first with the cleanest water, and I kept the sponge filter running on it the entire time I was removing the plants and gravel, then moved everything else out to the car, fishes went into the car last so they would be unfiltered for the shortest amount of time. Once at the house I took them in first of all, plugged in the airline, and let them sit in the bubbling bucket while I planted everything else. Let the tank filter and settle a bit before finally moving the fishes in.

I also kept a bit of gravel bed in the bottom of their bucket, and all the cut rotala stems floating on top, for some familiarity and sense of security and shelter. I think this was helpful- in spite of the hours (yes, hours!) they spent in a five-gallon bucket, they came through just fine (so far). I did notice in the middle of planting they were starting to look stressed- realized the bucket water had gone colder so I floated them in baggies in th tank to warm up to same temperature.

They don't look stressed as fishes have before when I moved them- did I do it all properly this time, or do they know everything around them is the same, even if in a much bigger space? surely they can smell that this is their old familiar plants and logs and substrate...? Regardless, they did not dart off to hide in corners as I expected, but just started swimming about picking at things. The kuhlis were palest of all (most stressed from the amount of time it took to catch them probably) but even they were wiggling up and down the sides, climbing among plants and up the fake root piece almost immediately. Here I got a quick pic of Moe and Sid together under a crypt in the front corner,
then moving off again
Trumpet snails crawling about doing their thing
I think it's so cute to see their little feelers sticking out
One of the larger, mature adults here
Water is still a bit cloudy and lights are off for the rest of the day; I will take more pictures soon when the lights are on- already so happy with how this looks can't wait to see it brighter. Hope I can get it right this time (my twenty was failing fast still all yellowed with algae I'm still not sure what I did wrong with it that past month. Too many adjustments in the wrong direction probably).