31 July 2015

a few more plants

added to my aquarium on maintenance day. Overall it is not much impact, but I hope they will grow and fill in and outperform the algae.
I got two bunches, one of windelov java fern and the other of hygro compacta (temple plant). When I teased them out, the windelov had six rhizomes pieces in it, the hygro six individual stems. Windelov java fern is funky looking, the top end of the leaves divide into a bunch of fingers.
I like the color of the hygro compacta, but not how lanky it is. All the pics I see of this in other tanks it is much lower-growing in habit and full. I think it has to adjust to be submerged, and once I see new growth I will trim it and replant the cuttings to multiply.
I hope it keeps the nice color- even this blurry pic from above you can see how different the hue is.
Other notes on plants: I ruthlessly cut out a ton of ugly dying crypt wendtii leaves last week, and pleased to see that most of the remaining stuff and new leaves are staying nice- I had a lot less algae to rub off this week, and only clipped out one poor leaf. Of course they're all a lot smaller now, but growing steadily. One has even sent out a new shoot, a baby plant emerging from the roots, off to the side. It's too small to even photograph yet.
Newer leaves are puplish- see just below the hygro here, not sure why hope that's a good thing!

Vallisneria still getting taller- this back corner is starting to fill in somewhat.
I took the small aponogeton crispus out of Oliver's tank and put it in here. The smaller aponos are gradually catching up.
The small java fern bits I had fastened onto top of the root decor piece with little rubber bands (off fish bags) have begun to cling on their own, too. They're not any bigger though.

29 July 2015

new ramshorn

I was disappointed (but should have expected it) when the third oto died. I don't want to get more that die, although the pair in the tenner are doing great. I thought I'd get another nerite, but couldn't find any live ones at the pet shop- all the pretty shells turned up empty. But then I saw a small brown snail crawling across a rock. It was a ramshorn. I asked for it and since the guy didn't know what it was "is that one of those pest snails?" he gave it to me free.
Funny, so many people have trouble with these snails- they get overrun and yet when I wanted more after Snaily Snail, none for me. That first ramshorn even laid eggs on the glass, but they didn't hatch. Well now I have another. So tiny. (If I get an explosion of snails I'll just bait them with carrot or zucchini and smash them to feed the barbs, ha).

28 July 2015

27 July 2015

my fault

and perhaps it is what did in the otos, too. Tank has been not looking quite right- black stuff spreading, leaves on the apono curving downward- one made almost a complete circle. I've never seen that before. But the newer leaves on plants continue to look good, so I thought I just had to wait it out.
Then read something about filter media and bio-cubes. I had added some bio-cubes to my filter recently, thinking it would only do good to house more bacteria. But I put them in the wrong place, in front of the sponge pads, and didn't realize this would be a problem. Here's why: the cubes get clogged with debris that's bad for the bacteria- supposed to have the particles filtered out first- the order of flow should go: through coarse media, fine media, bio housing, back into tank. I had a frustrating morning solving this, because when I started plucking out the bio-cubes accidentally dropped one down into the impeller housing and then couldn't put the filter back together, but couldn't see in there to realize why until I took the entire filter off the tank and emptied it. (Why aren't these made with white insides?) I put the cubes back in where there's a gap under the wheel, on the outflow side of the plastic screen that holds my filter media in place. Don't want to just toss them because I had to cut some of the old filter pads off (crammed some in place to hold the plastic panel off the wheel) and don't want to loose too much bacteria at once. I took out the useless carbon floss (that gets clogged quickly as well I found out) and put in the fine sponge instead. (If this arrangement of media types works well, I will add more bio-cubes in that gap as I phase out the old blue filter floss).
And then since I had some water out of the tank anyway I did a small partial wc (5 gallons) because so much stuff got kicked into the water when I had the filter apart, and since I had my hands in the tank I pulled a bunch of dying leaves off plants, tired of looking at them and want to prompt more of the nice, new growth. The crypts look a lot smaller, now. Purplish leaves here in center of the plant are newer.
The ones on the end look pathetic now with such reduce foliage, but I'm pleased with how the rotala in back corner is growing up.
Another shot of that. You can see my rotala wall coming back!
I also moved the anubias so it is under the big root thing, it prefers shade.
I've probably done too much now stop. Take hands out of the tank. Refill the new, clean water, all the fishes are darting around looking like they feel refreshed. Don't like that I removed some water so soon after dosing ferts so I added back in a half smidgen of potassium (it's harmless to overdose on this), a fourth the dose of micros and a pinch of magnesium. Because that helped my smaller tank so maybe it will be good for this one too, plus I read the leaf curl can be from lack of this element.

An overall shot- you can see two kuhlis wiggling up in the back left corner. I also quit using the filter baffle. Seems the flow doesn't bother anyone in here.

24 July 2015


I'm always thinking of things I want to improve with the aquariums, and this past weekend I tackled one. Tried to make a sliding lid for Oliver's tank. Read about it here. I did not use glass, I got some lexan (a polycarbonate) panels cut. It's supposed to be stronger than glass, nearly as clear (loosing only 20% light transmission as read by a PAR meter according to some) but I don't mind that because I want a bit less light here- I lowered my light again (the legs had been propped up higher) and took the annoying sheet of plastic wrap off, hoping I don't end up with algae overgrowth again. So. The clear panels fit into a plastic edging thing that has a channel and an upper lip- it wasn't exactly the item recommended but I couldn't find that so got what looked like would work. The panes overlap in center- back one stays stationary and front one slides under it, in the channel, to open/close. Already I like this simple mechanism much better than a hinge, but there's just one problem. Two, actually. I didn't get it cut to size right so had to trim some off at home (ruler plus box cutter, old steak knife, pliers to bend/crack it and sandpaper). Now there's some scratches, because I can't do it exactly careful, bah.

And the overlap was too much at first, so I cut again to reduce that.
And it bows down some. You can actually see the light bending behind the tank. I don't mind this as long as its not dipping into the water or sticking in the channel, and I know its not going to break, but from a certain angle it just looks imperfect. I think the piece I got was just not thick enough to avoid sagging slightly in the center. If I do this on the forty (which I'm already imaginging!) I would do two sections, meeting at the support brace not spanning it, and try to find thicker panes.

something went wrong

with my water change- I was pleased with this morning's work, until I walked by the tank a little later. Several of my black kuhli loaches are lying around motionless- I think they just have tummyaches from overeating last night- when I nudge the aquarium tongs near them, they dart away. But my lonely oto died. He was hanging out near the surface right after the water change, then I found him unmoving on the bottom. Not sure why- was the difference of a 50% wc too much for him? I did not forgot the dechlor, I matched the temp pretty close. I did rinse the prefilter sponge and that always kicks quite a bit of mulm into the water column, but it cleared within twenty minutes and no one else seemed ill. One of the female cherry barbs has been occasionally flashing- I feared ich at first but no one has shown white spots, and she's the only one doing this. It happens after I dose ferts, and once right after I put a half-thawed zucchini slice in. I wonder if her skin just gets irritated more easily?

one month

since I set up these fish tanks in my new place. I think it's going in the right direction- very pleased that this maintenance day I didn't have to clean any algae off the glass- things must be balancing out and what is there the snails and otos take care of. Brown algae on the plants is worst on the older leaves, fresh new stuff continues to grow. Nitrates remain steady around 20ppm at the end of the week when I feed the plants again, and I haven't lost any more fish.

The biggest apono is starting to look decent in the forty gallon
and the little stray one in the tenner has a new leaf- it's much narrower than those in the bigger tank. Anubias keeps putting out new leaves here, too, and the java fern is starting to have presence.

crammed under a rock

I inadvertently created the most hilarious situation in my fish tank last night. I have been trying to sink foods to get extra to the kuhli loaches, Albert still looks too thin. An hour after dark the blue "moonlights" come on, I can see into the tank but supposedly the fishes can't see. Approaching quietly, all looks still- the barbs are resting near the substrate, drifting quietly. Trying not to alert the cherry barbs, I dropped a shrimp pellet in the back of the tank, through a gap in the skirt that admits the airline. Didn't even lift the lid. It landed near a black kuhli loach and immediately he started zinging around seeking the food. When he found it he began shoving it alongside the tank wall. A second kuhli joined him, a few barbs of course scented it and came over too, but then the first kuhli pushed the food pellet into the front corner and it went under the flat rock that was a little kuhli cave. And then all four black kuhlis were trying to jam their bodies under that rock.
Mostly succeeding. They looked so squished.
Tails in the air at right angles to the glass, heads and whiskery barbels poking around then disappearing into the crush again.
The barbs kept trying, very determined, thrashing their tails into a blur, shoving their noses at all the gaps but they just didn't fit. I could see their mouths questing, questing against the sides of the kuhli bodies in the way.
At one point all four black loaches were under that rock, looked so tight they couldn't even move, I was afraid some of them would suffocate or scrape themselves, but every now and then one would shove a new way out through the gravel, or wiggle backwards.

The shy striped loaches stayed back at first, but eventually Snakey Fish came in and got under there too,
and then Albert the skinniest one- you can see his narrow belly in a curve here on the right under a black loach, how much smaller it is.
I couldn't stop laughing at their desperate antics to reach the food. Figured out how to get my camera setting to capture some photos in the dark, but of course it was all blue under the "moonlight" that's hard for the eye to interpret so I made these pictures monotone to show.
Really must fashion some kind of kuhli enclosure only they can enter, to target feeding. I have a plan involving the bottom of a water bottle... I'm glad that the smaller, striped guys got under there and hopefully got their share this time.
~ I checked on them an hour and a half later, just to reassure myself no-one had gotten stuck under the rock. Only one black kuhli remained poking around under there, with lots of room to maneuver now. I could tell they really stuffed themselves, because this morning when I dropped in fish food for the barbs, the kuhlis did not start scrambling around as usual. Just casually poked about, in no hurry at all to find errant flakes.

22 July 2015

aloe babies

one in the windowsill from my now-gone monster mother plant
and little one in C's pot are nearly the same size now.
Both seem to be doing fine! The one with its parent is growing quickly.

21 July 2015


The two little otos in Oliver's tank have started hanging out together. It's so cute to watch them follow each other up and down the tank sides, resting and feeding as a pair. I wonder if they are different otocinclus species (or subspecies?) one has a mottled gray back and spotty/broken midline stripe- the other is a more even gray, its stripe a clean line.
The single oto still looks okay in the forty gallon- his fins are clear and even, his skin nice texture, his belly round- but not too happy. I think he's lonely.
I put a zucchini slice in each tank yesterday. The barbs nibbled bites off for part of the morning, then lost interest. The black kuhlis were all over it, they liked to slide underneath, lie on their backs and eat from the underside upside down. It took a while for the striped kuhlis to discover it, they came over for a little while but not as enthusiastic as their bigger cousins. I left it in all day hoping that after dark the lonely oto might find it, but he never did. (My two striped kuhlis are looking a bit better- one is still too thin, but both seem to be growing their barbels out again. Albert's were so short it looked like worn off completely, I was concerned. Some folks online say its sharp substrate edges that cause the barbels to disappear, others that its just poor water quality...)

In Oliver's tank it took half the day for the smooth-striped oto to find the zucchini. Oliver himself saw it right away and kept slowly circling it, inspecting, taking curious nips but never wrenching off bites to eat like Pinkie used to do. When one of the otos finally found it and started nibbling away (yay!) Oliver glided over and the oto abruptly moved off. He hasn't gone back to it. But I did see him eating, so I plan to keep offering zucchini and other greens a few times a week, to supplement their diet and know what I can feed them if the algae runs out.

20 July 2015


Glad I often pause to watch the fish. Noticed today I'd only seen one otocinclus busy around Oliver's tank- the smooth-striped one has been all over the fake skull today. Nibbling even on the insides of it, upside down on the cave ceiling of an empty cranium. Where was the other. Then I saw him headfirst down the output tube for the little sponge filter. Just his tail sticking out. He must have been feeding down the airline, or went in after the green algae that I can never completely rub out of the inside of the tube- pretty determined against the pressure of water flowing out! I left him alone a short while to see if he'd try to come out, not sure how long he'd been in there.

I jiggled the filter a little- he wiggled his tail but didn't budge. I turned off the air flow, he wiggled his tail more but still couldn't (or wouldn't) come out. So I lifted the filter up near the surface, turned it horizontal, was trying to gently pull the pieces apart when he wiggled again and slid out. Seemed a bit distressed- he sat in a lower corner against the glass not moving for a long time. Now out and about the tank again, so far he hasn't approached the filter I hope he doesn't repeat the maneuver and get himself stuck again!


whatever afflicted some of the plants, seems to be killing my poinsettia

round and green

geranium seems happy enough outside. It's put out a plenty new growth since last week.

19 July 2015

plants greener

or at least, so I imagine. Main aponogeton definitely keeps cranking out new leaves, the smaller plants flanking it appear greener and a bit bigger now too- feeding the plants on standard schedule has helped! Must not think I'm experienced enough to tinker with it yet
The vallisneria is growing a lot, every time I take a picture I swear its doubled in height.
I still have to rub a lot of brown/black algae off the crypt leaves, but the lower, new foliage doesn't feel as soft/slimy and the bigger leaves seem to be keeping their green, algae growth on them between fridays doesn't seem quite as pronounced.
Rotala is becoming a presence in the back corner, the wall of it I cut down is sprouting new tiny leaves but just barely there, not big enough to photograph yet.
Java ferns on the fake root are finally sprouting the tiniest leaves-
I marked them in a pic below- and one has a fuzzy root hair growing into the water column (bottom left)
the little anubias in here is putting up a new shoot too!
so I think the plants are gradually improving, in the tenner also- java on the skull there has another fiddlehead uncurling
and the anubias lanceolata, which I haven't seen do anything in forever, has a new leaf that looks just perfect
I did add a very small amount of magnesium with the ferts last week (1/32 tsp of epsom salt) and looks like it helped- veins are no longer darker than the rest of the leaf.