31 July 2016

lost a snail

Zebra nerite in my main tank died. I'd had it almost a year- two months shy...

Several days ago I saw it lying sideways in the back of the tank, against a plant stem. I put it in the front of the tank right-side-up, and it climbed up the wall a few inches but then stayed motionless in that one spot on the glass for a day. Found it the next morning upside down on the substrate again. I flipped it upright and left it there, to keep an eye on it. It didn't move for two more days. This morning I realized it was dead when I saw the kuhli loaches trying to get under it- probably they were trying to eat it. I lifted it out and the smell was not strong, but the body came out so yeah, it is gone.

I tested the water- Ammonia was 0.25, Nitrite 0 and Nitrates 40. I did a ten gallon wc.

I'm feeding the kuhlis betta pellets soaked in garlic today, in the food trap. Cherry barbs are getting little bits that float out through the air holes when the food disintegrates and the kuhlis dart around. Waiting for one of the striped kuhlis to go in, then I'll add a few bites to the trap again. Albert looks normal now, has gained his weight back. The thinner black kuhli is looking a bit better, but Snaky Fish is still very thin, although active.


Harvested some carrots today. Short 'n Sweet variety- these were definitely all stubby, though their girth at the soil line tempted me to pull them.
The greenery alone looks fantastic. I've banded it and saved in the crisper, will look up some recipes tomorrow. Maybe sautéed greens, or carrot soup?
These I tossed in a bit of butter and flash-steamed in a pan with nutmeg. The kids wanted to eat the "funny ones" with twisted forked roots raw, out of hand. Thought that one looked like a dancing figure, and another like a short fat man.

30 July 2016

baby plants

Hand bumped against the little kalanchoe plant while I was watering, and to my surprise a few of the little plantlets on the leaf edge dropped off. I looked closer- others had already fallen
They have tiny roots growing into the air.
Several are on the soil now- around the mother plant (who is so young). Soon there will be more!

pizza toppings

From the garden- a pile of cherry tomatoes.
Fresh-picked oregano and two kinds of basil.

I used the heat of the sun outside to raise the dough again too. It was good. My five-year-old knows the different between home-grown and store-bought now. I had chosen the largest, best-smelling organic heirloom beefsteak tomato at the store for some hamburgers the other day. At the same time picked a few fresh cherry tomatoes from outside for a salad. Gave my daughter a cherry tomato and she said "wow! this is so yum! it tastes like pizza!" (haha) Then I gave her a slice of the fat beefsteak, which I thought was quite nice for a store-bought tomato. She frowned and wanted to spit it out: "this tastes like... nothing, mommy. It tastes like nothing!" Now she knows.

29 July 2016

tenner highlights

Nothing much to report on Oliver's tank today. Params the same, as they have been for a while. Nitrates 20-30ppm, fert dose remains steady. Very little plant trimming to do- only a few dying leaves, and duckweed to thin out. One rotala stem getting close to the surface, I cut it in half and replanted.
Subwassertang looks real nice in this tank. It has no signs of algae, perfectly healthy. I will probably have to trim it next week to keep in shape- it's grown all out of proportion to its stone anchor and will start grabbing substrate particles soon.
I do think the phoenix moss has begun naturalizing on this knobby end of driftwood. There's three or four tiny bits there, front and below the main clump, that I don't remember tying down.
Out-of-focus picture here for most of it, but you can see the little tiny green sprig on the left, an individual by itself.
The real thing of note is bucephalandra. My 'emerald green' cutting has drifted up against the 'selena' one.
I let it be, for now. This pic in ambient light- you can see the 'emerald green' has a root going down, and two new shoots coming up.
From the other side. I can't decide which picture I like better so I show them both.
The little plantlets growing on stem pieces tied to a rock are getting bigger! Last pic for comparison was taken just over a month ago.
From slightly different angle can the leaf texture. I do believe there's a tiny bit of fissidens stuck among them, too.

I cleaned Oliver's sponge filter today. It rarely needs it- one fish and a snail population don't seem to create much waste in here to clog it up. But I did notice there was a lot of brown mulm in the base where I have bio-cubes. Figured a long time ago, if I need something in there to weigh it down, why not something that can house the bacteria? I rinsed out the bio cubes today, they had a lot more mulm than the sponge itself. Added three more- there was just enough space.

thirty-eight plans

I want to get more variety of plants for my main tank. I keep thinking of ones to try, from lists and articles of good low-light species. But in spite of the decent growth and greenery in here, there are still problems if I look closely.
Would like to be able to see the blue buces on the log better. They actually seem to be taking on nicer color now.
My biggest crypt wendtii 'tropica' is actually four rosettes clustered together. I'm considering taking one or two individuals out, and shifting the main cluster over to the right, so it is no longer blocking view of the buces. But I'm wondering about its health. In dim light- see above- the colors looks a nice deep green. But in other pictures, it looks quite brown under the tank lights. I don't know if it has a thin film of algae, needs a slightly different nutrient balance to stay greener, is naturally kind of brown (most likely) or just the red in the LEDs makes it look so.
The aponos are really filling up front and center. Much as I love them, I'm starting to think they need to get moved into the background. I have gently pulled up two smallest ones- because I figured they would disturb the substrate least- and replanted by the back wall. The first I pulled slowly all the way out- wow those roots were long. The second one I pulled out just enough to expose about two inches of roots and cut them off. It didn't kick as much mulm into the water column and I'd have had to cut the roots to replant anyways.
Bacopa in here is starting to look pretty. It's two-thirds the height of the tank now. I'm starting to think maybe I will trim and spread it, and cut back on the thicket of elodea in the corner to make room...
I'd like to try more crypts in here- still don't know the name of this one.
(The kuhlis always make me nervous when I see them draped motionless over something like this. I start thinking one is dead. But they are just resting.)
There's a baby crypt coming up! just in front of the kuhli's tail-
Thinking of smaller varieties with thin leaves that look like grass. I'm wondering if I can grow some anubias nana petite in the shade of the bigger crypt wendtii. I like the look of bolbitis heudeloti (african water fern) and hygrophilia pinnatifida but read conflicting reports on how they do in non-c02 tanks. I've found another apono variety- aponogeton capuronii which just looks stunning, but not sure I have room for it. And that's just the start of the running list I have compiled, mostly from reading stuff on plantedtank.net.

But I think I need to stick with what I have for a while, and get things tweaked precisely to nix the thread algae and BBA that keeps cropping up here and there. It seems to be mostly on older buce leaves, now, which I am slowly removing one by one.

Filter was still not quite right- yesterday I noticed a trickle coming down the spillway, and this morning it was a steady little stream. So during maintenance I turned it off and pulled the media out again- no clogs. Lifted out all the bio-cubes and had a thought. There's ridges in the bottom of the HOB box, both sides of the panel, maybe they have a purpose. Smaller bio-cubes settle down between them. I took them all out and replaced with larger, ring-shaped ceramics. (Half were already those type anyway). Put it all back together and voilá! No more overspill. Not even the smallest amount. I forgot to replace the loop of fishing line that held the sponge and poly batting onto the panel, but it doesn't seem to matter- the flow holds them in place. Very pleased. Fishes are playing again.

celosia fuzzies

The crazy celosia flowers are starting to emerge.

28 July 2016

filter fix

Last week I put a question up on the forums. I decided to add polyester batting to the filter to remove fine particles, and thinking about where to put it- after the sponge, before the ceramic bio cubes- made me question how I've arranged all the media in there. I drew a few quick pictures to ask about the flow-
does it go mostly back-to-front around the corner of the filter box,
or bottom to top?

General consensus was that it goes both ways- but the picture I put up of my current media arrangement also got me some feedback that I have it in there wrong. For my particular model, the box shouldn't be crammed full of media, it needs space behind it for the water to spread out and flow through all parts of the filter panel. I felt terrible, and embarrassed, to know that I've been using it wrong all this time- over a year.
The fix: I bought some polyester quilting batting (called the company to make sure it has no flame retardant or other chemicals) and cut it to fit the media panel. I pulled out one sponge, and realized the two pieces I had in there were both shorter than the space, letting the water flow around it. So I really took out three-quarters of one sponge- the other part of it I cut to fit the width- flipping both horizontal and stitched together with fishing line so to make one larger piece the right size.
Sandwiched the sheet of poly batting between the plastic panel and the sponge, and held it together with two loops of fishing line. Just loose enough I can slip them off again for rinsing. It's good I did it that way.
I also put the bio cubes back in there, in a space in front of the panel below the outflow wheel. Tried to hold them in the spot in a mesh bag. Later in the day noticed some overflow through the spillway. Took it all apart again several times- it turns out the flow was blocked because the poly was doing its job! In just a few hours it had turned from white to dark gray/brown, and was clogged with gunk. I rinsed it out in tank water in the bucket, but still had a little overflow until I took the cubes out of the bag and just dropped them in the spot.
The tank water does look cleaner- visually there are far less particles- but when I tested it surprised at the result. I expected to get ammonia or nitrite spike from removing part of the sponge, but instead found high nitrates 80+. Maybe there was an ammonia spike and it resolved quickly into nitrates, or I inadvertently fouled the water when messing with the filter on/off. Regardless, I did a small partial wc and brought nitrates down to around 40. Tomorrow will do another wc.
The flow is a lot stronger. I might have to put the baffle back on. As soon as I had it going properly again, the cherry barbs were very active in the watersprite plants just below the outflow. I wasn't watching them closely but I am pretty sure they were flirting, sparring and spawning again. Next morning dismayed to find one of the females is missing half her tail. I can only think one of the other fish bit it in a fight. Keeping the water cleaner will help her heal. I'm also hoping this improvement might be enough to do away with the bits of thread and hair algae I still get. Will wait a week or so to see, before I try adjusting lights or ferts any.


has finally broken. It's only 81º right now (predicted high of 93º) and feels like such a relief. My lysimachia looks like it's dying (no worries about that plant becoming invasive!) the hostas and salvia have sunburnt leaves, bee balm is wilted and daisies have finally quit blooming and turned all brown. I water as much as I can but still only use repurposed (dripping taps, tank wastewater, dishwashing and the kids' occasional cavorting with the hose) as I expect the landscaping plants to hold their own through the summer without much attention. If they don't make it, I'll plant something else until I get what thrives.
Like the flowering purslane. It just looks happy, no matter how scorching hot the day is.

26 July 2016

tiny mantis

Preying mantis on leaf of the joe pye weed 'chocolate'.
I tried to get a few pictures of it but the insect was so small.
A few times it jumped on my hand and very quickly off again- it was about half the length of my pinkie finger. Here on the vinca.
Climbing a blade of grass.

apono textures

What I really admire is the texture on the aponogeton crispus leaves.
Some are rather plain
Others have texture that looks like the individual leaf cells.
I think it looks really cool.


There's a green bean plant growing in my pot of mint! It came up when I mulched the pot a bit with grass clippings must've been a seed in there somehow. Haha.

25 July 2016

water plants

Another set of photos from that big water change day. I took a lot of close-ups of different aquarium plants.
Java fern windelov in front of the dwarf amazon sword (or melon sword, still not sure which it is).
Little green crypts of unknown variety, with subwassertang in the foreground.
I'm still sad that I had to throw out the buce 'dark godzilla' but 'midnight blue' still in that corner is looking okay.
Watersprite stuck against the glass when the water level was down.
And seen from above, floating- tomato nerite snail (two years old now) and a female cherry barb under the foliage.
Alternanthera reineckii (or is it a ludwigia?) with rotala indica stems. Nope. I think I've finally identified this plant. Saw a picture on the forum which looked just the same. It's a hygro- hygrophila polysperma or hygrophila corymbosa or anther variant.