31 January 2017

main tank pics

I installed my new filter on the thirty-eight.
I am very happy with how streamlined it is in the tank- no more bulk on the back showing, the intake is narrower and the spraybar fades into the background. I wrapped the thin piece of sponge that had been blocking the HOB outflow around my intake tube, so it won't suck up shrimps. It just barely fit.

It took some fiddling to get the right position with the spraybar. At first I had it directed straight out across the tank, and flow was too strong. All the fishes were struggling against it, shrimps getting blown around some. Then I pointed it angled upwards, so it broke the water surface an inch or two out. But I felt like that was creating too much surface turbulence- maybe it would gas off too much C02? Finally I twisted it around to point straight backwards, so the spray hits the wall at close quarters. That makes a nice gentle ripple. The plants still sway slightly around the tank, but the fishes are all relaxed- lively even. I think they appreciate the increased filtration already!
No more bubbles in the corner- I don't think I need it anymore. A bit nervous taking out so much sponge material from the tank itself- but I squeezed them all strongly into the filter, and put all the flat pieces of media and ceramic rings from the HOB in the canister. No ammonia spikes, not even much increased nitrates with the change. I do have an irrational worry that one of those hoses is going to leak- from initially having one not pinched by the screw piece properly- but it's been humming away nicely for several days now without issues.

My youngest is fairly astute- she walked by the tank last night and probably noticed that it was much quieter- no splashing sound from the bio-wheel turning- and saw the HOB parts stacked in a bucket waiting to get put away. She said in obvious alarm: "Mommy, your tank isn't running!" She's only five, but apparently she's picked up on how important it is for the aquarium filter to be working! I showed her the new one under the stand. She was duly impressed.
I think this side pic is kind of funny because light from the nearby window I was trying to block w/a curtain shows in such a way it looks like it's beaming up onto the male fish. You can see here how much skinnier this intake tube is than the old one- and I got a thin enough piece of sponge around it that I didn't have to put an elbow piece on to keep the intake off the wall. Shrimps can't get into the intake. I suppose a baby trumpet snail could, except there's no way for them to reach it unless they crawl up a crypt leaf that's touching.

You can maybe see from that full-tank shot that I redid the driftwood corner. Nervous at pulling so many large plants out of the substrate, but I got a siphon hose and used it while I pulled each one slowly, so it sucked up a large part of the mulm and substrate ferts that got released. Here's a shot of that short end-
I undid the new java fern and the bolbitis from my log and swapped their positions so bolbitis is in the front where I can see it, and the taller java fern is on the back end. Replacing it in the tank, I moved it further back so the java fern end is nearly against the wall. Leaving a gap behind its elbow where the filter intake now is in the corner. I replanted the crypt retrospiralis in that corner. Placed the crypt wilisii 'lucens' forward of those, between the log and the tank wall, and put the crypt balansae on the other end of the log on the tank back wall. Rhizome pieces that I hope will sprout new crypts are rubber banded onto pebbles so they will stay sunk, and put near their respective species.

I also moved all my little anubias nana 'petite' clumps into the far background, behind the apono crispus row under the heater. I like that arrangement better. Now- not to touch anything for a long time! Just let the plants grow and grow.


Took apart the plastic strips I was trying to grow flame moss on. Trimmed off all the grown-out strands (not many) and undid what I could from adhering to the plastic. Instead I glued it down onto more small stones.
Here's the first two stones I did- the larger one got its first trim, and the small one I added some to the sides.
I rescaped the corner of my tank that has the driftwood piece (post upcoming). While moving some plants, noticed that pieces of the rhizome or root that curve up off the ends of my crypt retrospiralis are growing new shoots!
I've successfully multiplied my anubias and buce plants by cutting pieces of rhizome, so I figured it could work with these too. Also cut one rhizome piece of crypt balansae, and a few small ones of wilisii 'lucens'.

new java fern

I added some java fern to my main tank. Usually at the store can only find the narrow needle-leaf java fern, or sometimes windelov, they never seem to have the regular standard one.
This week I came across some and bought two tubes.
I really could have just got one. Separated out there were ten rhizome pieces with two or three nice leaves each
and a few small bits I banded to a pebble in case they grow.
Initially I tied them onto the front end of my driftwood log, side against the glass.
But after a day or two realized I'd prefer them more in the background...
Also added a sprig of rhiome and leaf one of the windelov fern clumps in here- that got trimmed out of the tenner.

29 January 2017

tenner overhead

Usual view, top of my betta tank.
Samblu coming to see if there's food.
I cleared off the duckweed and took the trouble to set up lights for an overhead picture. Last one is here.
Windelov fern is encroaching on the anubias and bacopa in its corner. I cut off a piece of rhizome that was growing off the log, added it to a stone in the main tank.

26 January 2017

almost a flood

I am very glad I set up this new filter on my QT to test it. Unhooked it all to add the filter media and make sure I know how to clean and restart it, and found that one of the hoses wasn't snug enough on the fitting to get pinched tight by the piece that threads up over it- glad I discovered that early on, shoved it on more tightly. No fear now.

I took off the spraybar and the intake hose to coat them with plastidip- makes it black with a thin coating of rubber. I don't have a lot of practice using spraypaint (this applies the same way) so didn't get it on very evenly- some parts look nice and smooth, other areas it is beaded up or thin and the green of the pipe shows through (if you look close). However I don't think it will be too noticeable once the parts are back in the tank.
For the time being, the pieces are sitting out- they're supposed to cure 3-4 days before going back in the tank. I wanted to keep the filter running meanwhile, so I'm temporarily using a hose clip to keep the intake hose in position. I've only got one hose clip though. At first I held the output hose with the suction cup clip for the spraybar, but the hose is slightly wider than the spraybar and I don't want it to stretch that clip out too much. So I wrapped a rubber band around the neck of the suction cup and around the hose.

This morning the rubber band came loose. Luckily I was in the same room and at the sudden gurgle and rush of water, I ran over there, flipped the closest shutoff valve and unplugged the filter. So glad for those valves- stopping the flow was immediate. No damage done- I mopped up the puddle and the few items under the cabinet that got wet were easily dried. Made my heart jump for a minute though! It's two more days before I feel confident to put these fittings in the main tank (surfaces still a bit tacky)- so I'm going to get another hose clip at the store today (they're cheap enough).

20 January 2017

tenner details

All the buces in here are looking better than ever!
For the first time ever, I have been able to propagate my bucephalandra 'Selena' via a cutting. It's in the center here, the one with the young pale leaf. The plant on the stone was getting taller, and I noticed long roots coming down from the stem, but there were four or five nice leaves below that- so I thought why not cut it...
Soon I will do the same thing with the taller buce 'blue bell' on this stone- see where the long roots are coming down from the rhizome? there are leaves growing below that, so I can clip it off and replant.
This small creeping one on the log has busted out a bunch of new leaves (top right of image at an awkward angle).
Can see here it isn't actually grabbing onto anything- I'll have to peg that one down.
Fissidens moss is filling in nice thick tufts on top of the log-
And I can just glimpse the anubias afzelii behind the log and skull, here. I hope it grows big enough soon that I can divide it and put more of it back in the main tank!

new filter

All that extra work I did a few months ago, finally got paid and I bought a new filter for my main tank. Mostly to solve the kuhli escapist problem once and for all. It's an Eheim Classic canister filter- the 2217 2215 model. It's supposed to have a flow rate of about 140 gallons per hour, which means it will turn over all the water in my tank 4x/hr. Good flow rate is supposed to be 4-5x so I think this will be a big improvement. It makes me once again feel ashamed of how poor my filtration is-
this thing is a beast! It has easily five times more (and then some) the amount of media inside the canister, as my HOB. It will minimalize the amount of hardware visible in the tank too- I won't need the sponge filter in corner anymore.

I've got it running on my empty ten gallon QT right now. To test for leaks- the only flaw I've ever read about was people finding the plastic fittings cracked during shipping. And to make sure I know how to setup and use the thing before drilling holes in the back of my aquarium stand to install it. So far so good. I rinsed and filled with the new media today, in used tank water. Threw some hornwort in the QT and a few handfuls of trumpet snails. Just in case their waste helps to start seeding the media with bacteria.

I'd put it on the tank tomorrow, but I want to paint the spraybar and intake tube black. Got Plastidip, but it's cold and raining and small as it is, that's a job I want to do outside... then it has to cure for a day or two before safe to go in the tank. So right now this thing is humming in the corner.

Not much to note on the main tank itself, this end-of-the-week. Nitrate levels, water change and fert dose as normal. Plants continue looking great, I do think it's an improvement that I'm leaving a gap between dosing the macros and micros. An hour, today.
My aponogeton balansae in the corner is sending up another new leaf- and this one is broader than the last. I really like this plant.

Fish look well. Oddly, they don't seem to care about zucchini anymore. I had an organic zucchini the other day, saved a slice in the freezer for the fishes, thawed it in some warm water to soften, rubbed off the skin and sunk it on a line. Everyone gets excited for a few minutes- but after a while the cherry barbs drift off and only a few of them stay to pick at it. The black kuhlis were all over it at first, but by lights-out nobody eating. Maybe they were all full already? Albert and Tiger came late to the party as usual, and left early. Sassy never came to eat. I always expect to see snails all over it in the morning- I found one shrimp is all. They hadn't even eaten the center out of it this time.

They all go crazy for peas every time, though.

19 January 2017

new subwassertang project

The other day I saw a video about making moss trees (something I've never really wanted to do in my tank but they do look cool). The way the guy bulked up the 'tree' top with foam before gluing on moss to get an instant visual effect gave me this idea.

There's a spot where the log in my tenner has a little elbow ledge that sticks out at the base. I wanted to grow some subwassertang there, but don't have a stone that will fit nicely in the narrow spot. Tried before and it just fell off. Don't want to tie the subwasser on, because it would be nice to lift it out for trimming.
Instead I took a piece of sponge and cut it to fit in the area. Made slits in the sponge and wedged some pebbles in there to make it sink.
Glued subwassertang bits on top.
It's not staying in place on the ledge, though. I need to add pebbles or trim some of the sponge to refit...
I was so pleased with the result I made another one for the main tank.
Nice little bush shape. The initial enthusiastic kuhli inspection failed to dislodge any pieces of subwassertang.
I still had plenty of plant bits in the jar
And more scrap sponge material- pieces too small to use in the filter. One long rectangular shape, I rounded the corners and cut two cavities underneath. Made it into a kind of hedge with little tunnels for the kuhlis.
It doesn't look so good yet- this sponge is coarser than the other one I used, so I had to press harder to get the pieces to adhere and the glue spots show. I wasn't able to cover it up well with plant material (ran out), but now whenever I trim or siphon off bits out of the tank, can attach them to this until it is filled in.

18 January 2017

taming the capuronii

I just started reading an aquatic plant encyclopedia I bought myself last year. And found instructions for keeping aponogetons from getting too big. Trim back the outer leaves before they reach full height, it says. Then all the new foliage that grows out following that will stay smaller. If you let the first set of leaves grow to full height, the plant will always grow new leaves to that same length. I don't know if it's too late to train my aponogeton capuronii to stay smaller. Quite a few of its longest leaves hit the surface and curve back down, now.

I trimmed out the tallest today-
longest leaf including the petiole was 21.5".
It feels like such a shame cutting off so much nice, healthy growth though.

17 January 2017

green in winter

Well there is something to be said for dianthus. When everything else is dull brown and dormant, this plant is a fresh green spot. I think I will divide it in spring to have more around.

16 January 2017

tenner notes

In the tenner I trimmed back my subwasser clump on the driftwood for the first time. Did it very carefully with the tiny stainless steel sewing scissors- just enough so it's not hitting the wall of the tank or encroaching on the anubias nearby. Samblu likes to swim low around the corners so now he won't feel stuck and thrash around.
Some of my windelov ferns are hitting the wall here, and getting bent leaves where they flatten against the glass. Also quite a few are extending rhizomes off the stones or logs I've grown them on, so soon I will trim them back and either start a new stone or sell the pieces...
One bit for now I've fastened to a pebble and placed on the driftwood log where there's a little ledge on the backside, just in front of the skull. I was hiding the fake skull behind the log but it looks kind of cool in dim ambient light- with the fangs looming out of the shadows under a crown of java fern greenery.
Yep, marsilea hirsuta is going to have plain, round leaves after all. New ones coming up among the 'hand' shaped ones are single-lobed.
Quite some time ago I planted rotala rotundifolia out of a packet. Most of it died but I tried to keep the few stems left in a group separate area of the tank from rotala indica, so I could tell them apart.
Now the group of five or six stems I have of rotundifolia has grown to a decent height. This first pic is the rotundifolia, the second pic is of a rotala indica stem. They look almost exactly alike to me.
I took a picture of the flame moss cushion almost two weeks since the trim. Can't quite tell if it has grown in thicker, but it is definitely growing faster than I expected.
Mirror shot: if the glass were a bit cleaner, I think this would be a cool picture.
full tank shot