31 July 2017

failure note

It was my fault. The fishes looking poorly in the window tank. This morning one cory seems to have small white marks on its fins- fuzzy- and Fabio definitely has fungus on his torn fin, and the fry's gills look red. Since the day I dumped a trumpet snail out of the filter box, it's had a dull rattle- not very noticeable so I did nothing. And flow seemed slower- I thought it was from the media components, but they weren't clogged. And there's been more small particles in the water than I ever saw, and that dusty film on surface.... water was looking cloudy. Now I'm surprised I hadn't killed all the fish with this neglect already.

Because just now I emptied the filter box again during a water change to try and help the fishes- and found that the impeller was loose. I tried to fit it snug again and increase in flow significant- and all the fish immediately swimming around active- Fabio doesn't hang out in front of the filter output anymore and I feel so bad I hadn't caught what the problem actually was, earlier. All the cories are exploring around the tank without those frequent quick dashes to the surface I'd been seeing so much lately. I do believe they were oxygen deprived- I had checked the water for ammonia but didn't think about oxygen or flow. Hopeful to see if the film dissipates (it's gone now) and the fish health improves.

orange in the garden

My aurora peppers aren't just purple- there are yellow and orange hues in there, too. It really is quite decorative.
Cosmos (which I didn't plant this year, it seeded itself) is blooming all over the back of my veggie plots. It brightens the whole area.

30 July 2017

are things better or worse

I think Fabio is near the end. He doesn't look good. Paler around the mouth and top of head constantly now, spends all his time either swimming in place at the surface or in front of the filter, or laying on the bottom in the back of the tank and there's a hole in middle of his tail fin and which is getting bigger every day. I don't know how that started. Seems to have lost his appetite too. The other fishes look fine- I'd think if anything the fry would be affected but no, so I think it's just Fabio hitting his old age. I tested the water- zero ammonia, zero nitrite, less than 20 nitrates. Even so I did a 25% water change this morning, but he looks no different. The cories are frisky again, though. And the cherry barb fry is growing a lot. Looks to be almost a quarter inch long now.
~ Wrote that earlier today. Keep puzzling over what may have happened to make Fabio go downhill, was it something I did to the tank. Lately there have been a few changes (all of which I assumed would be beneficial): I added the wood. I removed some sintered glass media beads from the filter compartment (it was blocking flow) so now the flow looks diminished but is evenly spread out instead of flooding over the top of the filter box. I think that is an improvement worried however the beneficial bacteria had a setback but water tests at zero ammonia so I guess it's okay. (I should have learned my lesson long ago about messing around with filter components). There has been whitish film on top of the water I have been lifting it off with paper towel and did the wc this morning- guessing it's from the live foods (mosquito larvae mostly) or from fumes in the air when I stained the stand in the basement? Which is now in the garage to finish curing.

Today I replaced the temporary strip across the back of the tank (from kids' building kit) with two narrow pieces of lexan I had leftover.
Just the right length to wedge snug on either side of the filter box. I drilled holes to put the pothos and sweet potato cuttings through. The holes are just slightly wider than the stems themselves, so it is easy to prop them more upright and keep the stem part out of the water, just root going down in. More plant cuttings added now. I especially like the pothos leaves so have a few more additions in windowsill jars to get ready (leaching their sap).
Not sure if any of these changes also affected the fish- that one weaker cory looks bad again today. It has moments when it drifts limply against things in the tank, once I found it floating behind the filter box tail hanging. I feared it would die by the end of the day, but don't know what's wrong. The other cories look okay and were all eating sinking food I dropped in. This one joined them a few times, but seemed to be just resting among the others breathing hard, not eating.

However aside from Fabio none of the other fish are gasping at the surface or looking sickly, so I keep telling myself it's nothing I did, it's just the swordtail getting old. And maybe that one cory has always been weaker or sick with something.... Fabio looks so poorly I have a towel for burial and long aquarium tongs set near the tank for removal the moment he goes...

most definitely

it's a baby cherry barb


from above- I thought this was a nice-looking combination of leaf hues and textures. Basil, marigold, broccoli- a bit of cosmos top left, too. Too bad the broccoli keeps sustaining holes from caterpillars munching.
I do have a few that are nice and clean, have starting picking bugs regularly again. Older leaves won't repair the insect damage but newer ones grow out clean. Lovely blues.

28 July 2017

fish and sticks

Put the peeled, boiled and soaked maple sticks into my window tank. Not as the arrangement will finally be, and I haven't yet attached the java ferns to them- right now just held down with some stones to waterlog more. Later when it's time to empty the tank and move onto the stand, I'll take the trouble to fasten the plants on, as I'll have to lift them all out then anyway.
I have more plant cuttings across the back- including a few sweet potato vine now, and am making a new lid that fits better, using pieces of lexan leftover from when I made the sliding lid on the betta tank. I kind of like the lighter, orange/tan hue of the sticks in there. It makes the orange of Fabio's long fins really stand out, and the smaller little orange shape that is the baby fish-
Cherry barb fry is loose in the tank now.
Fabio doesn't make any moves to eat it- the fry is big enough now, or quick enough to move out of the way. I am not sure if the fry itself is getting enough to eat. Belly doesn't get as big as when I could target feed it three times a day. I do see it picking at stuff- but not necessarily what I try to feed it. A few times I have dropped in the powdered food near where the fry was, and watched to see if it found the bits of flake. It took bites but spit them out again. Why? I also dropped in tiny live mosquito larvae again, and watched them move herky-jerky up and down the water column for a while. The fry found one and ate it, so at least it is getting that.

For some reason it won't eat the gold pearls I bought. I got size 300-500 microns, maybe it is too big. The fry doesn't eat them. I offered them twice when it was in the mesh box, and just found the little orange dots stuck to plants later. Even after I thought they would have softened and started to disintegrate, the baby fish didn't eat them. I had to siphon it out. However it's not a total loss- when I put a tiny pinch in the main tank, the adult serpae tetras scrambled to grab all those bites. So I can feed it to them...

While talking of feeding, I've been giving my betta Samblu the NLS pellets once a day, alternating his other flake and betta micropellets for the mornings and live food (moths, mosquito larvae, caterpillars) midday too. It's pretty sad but I didn't realize all this time my betta has been slightly underweight. Viewed from the side he looks fine, always has. Viewed from above the head is quite a bit wider than body. I never thought of it. Until saw similar above-view picture on another blog and someone's comment "your slightly skinny bettas" and wondered. Then reading a high-end aquarium magazine which featured beautiful bettas, even the overhead photos were lovely, and I realized yeah, my betta is skinny compared to these. So I'm trying to feed him better, with better food, so it won't pollute the tank- and he is getting filled out now. I've also started treating him for what might be bacterial infection. On a round of kanaplex right now- still has great color and appetite- if no improvement I also have tetracycline to try- if that does nothing I will assume it's a tumor or lymphocystis and just wait it out...

27 July 2017

baby oak

kids are thrilled it's growing
still don't know what I'll do with it

26 July 2017

celosia blooms

This is kind of a tardy post; my celosia around the mailbox spot have been flowering for a week now. The thick pink one is my favorite
I also have red ones in thin plumes
and this one is kind of orange-and-pink.
Lots of volunteer seedlings have come up- some in the crack between the bed edging (which is just loose stones) and the curb.
A few of the young volunteers are almost as big as the older plants and almost ready to flower. There's some along the backyard fence too, where I scattered seed in the fall. But none of the plants I started indoors are big and impressive like last year- they are barely a foot high. It must have been the timing.

fishies update

My cories seem to be fine now. The one that was listless perked up after a partial wc, and when I dropped sinking food in the tank at night. I think sap was seeping out of newly-cut pothos stems and affected the little fish.. I'm also adding a few cuttings of sweet potato vine, but have these in a jar of water changing out for a few days, to make sure the cut is healed before I add them to the back of the tank.
I am certain this baby fish is a cherry barb. If a tetra it's just three weeks old, if a cherry barb it must be near two months now!
Got slightly better photos using my daughter's phone. Disappointed it's not the fish I thought I was raising. I'm letting it go in the tank to take its chances. If it survives until temps drop in the fall, I'll move it into the main tank and see what happens....
On another note, I can't believe this, but I seem to have misplace my 'sun thorn' nerite snail. It was in the betta tank. When I did that deep-substrate cleaning, I had the snail and the fish out of the tank in a bin for a day. I replaced the hardscape, plants and fish, cleaned out the bin, rinsed off the plastic plants, stored everything. Only days later realized looking in the tank, that I hadn't put the snail back! Where is it? Possibilities: it is in the tenner, or in my window tank (I moved a stone with windelov fern to that tank) and I just haven't seen it yet. Or it is in one of those tanks but was on the underside of a piece of harscape I placed, and I smothered it. Or it crawled out of the bin and is somewhere on my floor (but there's no stink). I can't think what else might have happened.

25 July 2017

container pond?

Well here's this little experiment- I filled a ceramic pot with tank water and threw a handful of substrate and some plant trimmings in there, weeks ago. It has no drainage hole so attempts to put terrestrial plants in it have failed in the past, but it's such a nice pot I don't want to risk cracking it by trying to drill holes. I thought: why not a small container pond? Problem is our exterior outlet on this level of the deck doesn't work, so I have no filter running. That rules out fish. It's just over five gallons.
There's a terra cotta pot in there on its side- at first I thought a few endlers, guppies or mosquitofish could survive in here and have some shelter.... I threw in some watersprite, duckweed, subwassertang, hornwort and elodea. The watersprite and elodea outright died. Subwassertang got pulled for my fry box a few weeks ago. Duckweed is super happy. It's multiplying, has better color than in my indoor tank, undersides turn purple and roots are thicker.
Hornwort grows differently than from in my tanks. Needles are very fine, short and dense. It's rather pretty. A few days ago I cleaned out tons of dead, rotting stuff left from its transition period and now there are just a few bunches of it in here, but I'm sure it will keep going.
It's kinda scummy down in there, from the dying plant bits. I did toss in a few small malaysian trumpet snails just for the heck of it, don't know if they're alive. I keep a window screen over it most times, but don't mind gathering the few mosquito larvae that show up, to feed my tetras.
It doesn't get fed. When the water gets low, if it isn't raining I add a bit of tank water, that's it. I'd like to try water lettuce, I think it would look nice, but I haven't yet made the trip out to the lfs where I've seen it for sale.

24 July 2017

another new thing

for my window tank- I saw a few weeks ago that a branch up high in one of our maple trees had broken off. When it finally came down I cut it up into what I thought might be some interesting pieces to go across the back of the tank and hold the java ferns up higher, making kind of a shelter underneath them.
It looks pretty dry all through. I have been soaking it in changes of boiling hot water.
First round to get the bark stripped off, after that only two soaks seem to have removed most of the tannins. But I am not going to add the wood to the tank until I am ready to move it onto the new stand, and all that after the baby fish is big enough to handle the stress of such changes. Will do it all at once. More time for the wood to soak and waterlog.
Here's a quick pic of the tank, current state- last week I added another clump of windelov on a stone, from the betta tank- Fabio is resting in the background so not visible but the largest cory does a lot of 'glass surfing' so there he is, darting across-


Last week we had dinner guests and I cut some flowers for a vase- sweet peas, echinacea, gladiolas and some coleus tucked among them.
Now they are fading and going into the compost, but it was pretty for a short while.

23 July 2017

fish concerns

aren't there always some? My striped kuhli Sassy has never gained weight like all the others. She quit wasting away, but isn't actually improving. I have treated the tank several times now with different meds for internal parasites, not sure what else it could be.

Two of my peppered cories don't look well. I wondered if the smallest one was a runt or unwell, because it didn't grow like the others- four are now the same size, one has remained small. Perhaps it will always be smaller. But now one of the fullsize cories appears listless and weak- the current pushes it around and often I find it motionless among some plant stems, twice I have found it limp drifted against the pothos roots or underside of the fry box. I haven't treated with anything because I don't know what's wrong with it. I thought the frequent small wc I'm doing for the fry would help it- but it seems to be going downhill.

I also worried that something I did recently has harmed it. I added more pothos stems across the back of the tank (stuck through a strip of plastic that has regular holes, from one of the kids' building kits). And I'm using wood stain on the tank stand in progress- I'm working in the basement, running fans and keeping the doors closed between, but still I can smell the fumes in the house. But none of the other fishes seem affected, especially the fry I would think is more sensitive.
Mostly though I think Sam is going to have a short life.
He has been developing these lumps on his left side. Here's the good side, to compare.
At first it just looked like his scales were ruffled, but now I can definitely make out two bumps:
Also there appears to be a lump behind his pectoral fin or gill on this side as well- you can kind of see here how the gill plate is lifted
and from above, visible is a lump where his fin joins the body, and it looks white behind it.
I think it is lymphocystis, gah. Or possibly an internal bacterial infection. The only thing I know to do is try tetracycline if it's an infection, keep his water clean and wait to see if it goes away if lymphocystis; if some kind of tumor there is no cure. He still has great color, is active and eats like normal, so he can't be feeling too bad.

22 July 2017

it's pink

My second african violet has finally bloomed- and go figure, it's pink like the other one. All this time I was hoping for purple.

tank stand build

I am making a stand for my window tank. Tired of it being on a tv table, and have decided I do want to keep this tank going, it's not temporary anymore so it needs a decent support. First I drew up a design and asked for feedback on the forum- they said it will be plenty strong enough (overkill for a 20g really) so that's good.
We bought some wood. 2x2's for the corner support posts, pine and plywood in various thickness for the top, base and sides, mdf for the middle upright (which isn't weight-bearing) and one piece of orientated strand board for the back (very strong, cheaper and it won't be visible).
My husband has been helping a lot- especially with the power tools.
He's also better at making precise measurements than I am.
Top, base and supports screwed together:
Back panel screwed on:
Sides and middle upright added- with wood glue and clamps. (The shelf is sitting in there on the bottom left)-
Finger holes drilled for the doors- here just sitting in place to visualize
Shelf will go like this on the left-
The holes for screws were pre-drilled so screw heads would sit under the top/base surface. I cut small pieces of 3/4" doweling and pushed them tight into the holes, then sanded the tops off smooth and level.  (Also realized a real downside to pine- it is soft and already got some dings. Dang it)
Now I'm working on applying layers of wood stain- here to the shelf and doors-
and to the rest of it. When the stain is all done I will do two layers of polyurethane to seal against moisture, then screw on the shelf supports and door hinges.
So there are some uneven parts- there wasn't supposed to be a lip showing on the edge of the base on the sides, for example, and you can see above that the doors aren't perfectly square. But I am pleased with the results so far- it is very sturdy and pretty level considering it's the first time I've built something like this.