30 September 2017


I've taken cuttings of my cuban oregano. Here's the new pot of it.
A few cuttings of ice plant also
which I trimmed off to even out the appearance of the parent plant, and just stuck into soil in a new small pot.

what do you know

that tiny bit of pennywort I planted in a tiny pot is actually growing. Leaf size still small, but surprisingly it's doing much better emersed than ever in my tank.

final green

the water lettuce is starting to fade quickly outside. I took this photo a few days ago, now the outer leaves are turning brown. I decided against bringing the plants into my tanks. Been told they will just melt and die- only new plantlets would transition (maybe) well. But mine never made baby plants. They were lovely while they lasted! I'll get more in spring.

29 September 2017


It seems very hot for fall. No rain going on two weeks now. I'm starting to wash dishes by hand, just to have extra water to throw on plants and not use the hose so much. It's nice that the cooler nights are deterring many pest insects, but the heat is stressing some of my plants. Most of my tithonia are thriving, it's like a glowing wall of flowers-
but this one suddenly wilted. I think it was the cold- just don't know why the others around it are fine. Maybe it got a draft?
Pink coleus in the front yard also suddenly lost a lot of lower leaves; it doesn't matter so much because they are behind the line of mums- which are starting to bloom!
I notice the lime-and-orange coleus are doing best of all- they seem more tolerant of both heat and cold. And they don't flower. I never have to pinch flower spikes off the top like I do with the pink ones and the 'kiwi fern'.

Back to the torch flower: they attract lots of pollinators. Not so many wasps as the celosia, but there are always half a dozen or so skippers, and I frequently see a monarch or swallowtail. Yesterday there was a different butterfly- I think it's a painted lady.
Half open flower. Almost every day I go out to cut off flowers that are done and turning to set seed, so the plants will stay in bloom.
That one orange celosia finished forming its bloom- and it turns to pinkish hue on top. I think it's my favorite, and I only have one!

28 September 2017

plant changes-

in my aquariums. Main tank is still in transition- three of my aponogeton crispus gone, and the last two are sold, due to go out the door in a week and half. I was pretty despondent about that for a while- but I can already tell the other plants are responding to the absence- growing greener, thicker now they have more light. I didn't realize how much the aponos were actually crowding them. It looks pretty thinned out- two of those plants I removed were pretty massive for this tank size...

Today I moved in the largest of the bolbitis ferns I got from another member weeks ago- having finally taken down the QT. Also bought two gel packs of hygrophila corymbosa at the store- they were kind of pathetic- this was the total sum of stems from both packs.
I want more of these bright leafy stems in the center of my tank, and I figure the best way to find out if what I have actually is hygro was to get more of it and see if it transitions to look the same. The first pack I bought was labeled 'temple plant', this one was 'hygro compact' underneath said hygro corymbosa I think it's the same thing will find out soon enough and know for sure.

I am not sure if I will keep flame moss- it looks terrible. Thin and pale, wispy, black algae marks on the stones. Might just scrap that idea. Still have a bit of fissidens on the driftwood, but it is overwhelmed by the bolbitis (which is looking great!).

Elodea thicket is dying off, and springing up new shoots a much brighter green. Crypts are all putting out new leaves. I'm thinking in a week or two of buying some plants online- definitely want some more apono capuronii to fill in the space (they stay smaller, especially if I trim to train height right off the bat this time).
In my window tank elodea, crypt retrospiralis and hornwort all melting fast. But they all have new growth showing too, so I am waiting out their melt. Vallisneria doesn't flinch. Still nice green straps of leaves, and one is sending out a side runner already. Hornwort especially is a mess of disintegrating foliage, since it came out of the bucket back into the tank- but if it doesn't recover I will just replenish from the main tank.

this morning

Perry is still in isolation in the box. He has pooped out a bunch of tiny little triangles- swallowed those baby trumpet snails whole, I guess. I'm surprised it doesn't hurt his insides, and wonder if he got any nutrition from them- did he actually digest the soft snail bodies? I'm not about to rinse the remains to find out, though.

I took my new catfish back to the store this morning. Thought about it all night and still can't think of a way to keep Perry from gorging on the cories' food- and they eat a lot slower, so I think he really would hog it all. I don't want to see him choke on something like Pinkie did, nor to see the catfishes starve. Maybe they could subsist on the biofilm off the leaf litter, but I doubt it. It seems pointless to have one more cory in quarantine to add to the tank, when I'm probably going to have to take these others out and re-home them.

If it comes to that I will move the cories temporarily into my empty betta tank- although it is too small- while I find them somewhere to go... Very bummed about that. Second time trying to keep cories, and it isn't working.

Because I happen to like the aggressive species more. I'm not about to give up my paradise fish. No matter how cute the cories are.
Late afternoon I let Perry out of the box- the cories having had a good feed this morning on shrimp pellet. Paradise fish immediately went back to hunting. He eyes the trumpet snails carefully, tipping his body sideways to scrutinize each one, and only bites at the smallest of the small. So I guess he can be my snail control- few babies will get past this guy. When the adults get old to die off, I will just replenish by thinning out from the other tanks...

I did kind of stir his poo with a skewer when siphoned out the fry box before removing it. It mostly broke up- no more triangle shapes- with bits of broken shell in there. So I guess he did crunch them pretty well after all.

He also ate two cory catfish eggs off the glass. I didn't even realize they had spawned until I saw Perry eyeing these nice while globes stuck on the glass down near the substrate. He snapped one off before I realized what they were. He tried for the second, tore it in half. Then cruised on looking for something else. And cory eggs (I've read) are tough!

water lettuce

This plant supposedly doesn't do so well in indoor tanks. I've read reports that it doesn't like water dropping on the foliage. I watched once when I topped off the little pond from a tank wc- the water that fell on the leaves just rolled right down and dissipated thru the center of the plant. So I guess rain doesn't linger on the leaves to damage them, but maybe high condensation does?
I also noticed lately that the center of mine has three new crowns forming (unless they are flowers). I wonder if it is possible to divide the plant, or to strip off all the larger outer leaves, trim the roots and end up with a smaller plant to put in my tank? we are still having near-90 degree days, but night temps are dropping into the fifties, so I have to do something soon I guess if I'm going to overwinter it.

27 September 2017

one more cory, and a fish 'paradise'

Yesterday I moved my cories and otocinclus out of the bucket, back into the window tank, which is all replanted. They surely were stressed in those temporary quarters- the oto so pale it looked yellow.
To try and keep them calm while re-acclimating I put a bit of leaf and subwassertang in their bag (I've read that cories will release a toxin from their gills when distressed, which can kill them all). It seemed to work. At least, most of them were hiding under the leaf. And nobody died.
Once in the tank, they were all very animated and seemed happy to be home. Cories are frisking all over the place. Oto colored right up and is feeding on spirulina wafers alongside the cories again.
I bought one more peppered cory from the pet store today, he is on his lonesome for a short while- I wanted to take the opportunity while the QT is still set up and cycled. Watching him closely I saw something I never noticed before- that cories have short whiskers under their lower lip, in addition to the longer barbels on the sides of the mouth.
When he moved into QT, Perry my paradise fish moved out. The new cory is hiding under things in the QT, I draped the tank with towels to make it darker. Perry on the other hand, is not at all stressed by the move.
He has been swimming all over the tank excitedly, fins flared- jerking his ventral fins open on sudden stops so I can see the regenerating one has double in length again! He doesn't seem to mind the cories, but is acting aggressive to his reflection on the back wall haha. So I guess that answers my question could I keep a pair of them. As I'd expected, he colored up more in this tank:
And is looking fat now. I fed him this morning, but he still has plenty of appetite: nipping at trumpet snails making them fall down from high perches, biting limpets off the tank walls, and scrounging around on the bottom to eat all the bits of wafer food he can find.
I may have to strategize how to ensure the cories get enough food around this greedy tankmate. I'm very glad to finally have him in his intended home, though.

25 September 2017


I have new dill plants! Just big enough to start eating again.
My spearmint has bounced back.
Yes there will be broccoli.

24 September 2017

creeping over the wall

My least favorite herb, oregano, is of course the most lush in the garden patch right now.
It has grown over the edge of the garden and where it hangs down there is a clump of clover and mock strawberry
so if you don't look it seems as if the oregano continues, morphing its leaf form...
kind of how I merge the look of hygro compacta with rotala indica in my aquarium....

small updates

Every time I smack a mosquito or catch a fruit fly in the kitchen, Perry gets it. This morning he got a good serving of live mosquito wigglers, too. And later after dumping kitchen scraps in the outside compost, I brought him a small, fat soldier fly larve, rinsed it off well. Think he's had enough for today! Now when I walk by his tank he gets so excited he is practically doing loops back and forth at the front glass.

My cories are still in the bucket. I tested their water and small nitrite spike. Did another partial wc. It is still better conditions than in the home tank- which has a much higher spike as it (hopefully) finishes off the cycle. I am so ready to put them back in there.

And I guess it is a good thing I didn't get a new fish for the tenner, yet. If Perry turns out to be aggressive to the catfishes, I can use it as an emergency home for them... I'm kind of baffled how to manage this tank, now. It's the only one without fish, and it's the best-looking at the moment. Today tested at over 40ppm nitrates, but there hasn't been any fish food going in, so... ? why haven't the plants used up all the ferts I dosed last week... snails are still looking well, but they aren't cleaning algae off the glass, probably because they seem to like eating the leaf litter better. Almond leaves are decaying fast into a webbing of nothing. I will have to replenish soon.The other types of leaves last longer, for sure.

So today in this tank I did just 30%wc, and no ferts. I'm wondering if I should leave it alone, do bi-weekly 50%wc and fert dosing? or keep up with the weekly wc, but scale back on the ferts. Not at all sure- things really seem to have changed in here. But: the plants look great! I have more rotala rotundifolia stems than I'd realized, among the rotala indica. I keep staring at the buces, they are so lovely. Can't wait to take more cuttings of them. Only thing appearing sickly is the spirodela polyrhiza floaters. I'm tired of seeing the black, moldy-looking algae marks all over them, even though most of the clusters seem to have at least one nice green leaf. I scooped it all out today and replaced with healthier floaters out of Perry's QT. Which still look nice vivid green, although they've dropped all the root hairs. Will they grow back? or just generate new plantlets. Have to see.

23 September 2017

more than wigglers

I got into my little planter pond today to see if there were any mosquito wigglers. Lifted out the water lettuce and duckweed into one bin of water, the hornwort into a soup container. The hornwort is doing really well- it seems to appreciate the shade from those water lettuce, and isn't lacking for nutrients, sure. I wonder if the 'lettuce plants introduced some other life forms? I didn't find any wigglers.

I removed the ceramic pot cave and larger stones to look closer. Found what I thought was a worm- but it hitches itself along. Some kind of leech. Not very big- smaller than the red composting worms I've fed to Perry. I offered him the leech. It balled itself up. He bit and spit it out over and over- did it taste bad? or make itself difficult to swallow somehow. It fell to the tank floor. I got my long-handled aquarium tweezers to remove it, but when I turned back to the tank, can't see it anywhere. Did Perry manage to eat it after all? He looks fat and super excited to see me, wiggles all over when I approach the tank. I've only fed him peas and a few fruit flies this morning, so I would guess the excitement is if he did eat the leech and is hoping for more. But if it's still in there- ahhhh no.

Also found in the container pond what I'm pretty sure was a dragonfly larva. It was pale- I could see the legs, and the little eyes gleaming at me from the gloom at the bottom of container. I tried to catch it. Not to give to the fish- I wanted to take a photo. I like dragonflies. I'm glad it's in there if it is eating the mosquitos! But after two swipes with the shrimp net, I couldn't find it again. It moves fast. And hid- or climbed out? There was nothing in the pot now but a very thin layer of gravel- less than two grains of substrate thick- a bit of subwassertang, and mulm. Algae like green hair growing growing on the interior curved sides. Did it bury itself. I raked the substrate to spread it out, and siphoned out piles of mulm with a straw- this larva won't fit up the straw- I tried. But I couldn't find it again. I even left for ten minutes to sort the wigglers I got from my regular puddle (cories get the smallest, Perry the biggest and tumblers, serpae tetras all the ones in between sizes) and then came back, to see if it had ventured out from hiding. Nope. Can it change its skin color, and blend in? Oh well.

Also found two things that look like snail eggs, but it's flat and kind of a fat oval shape with pointed ends. Gleams a bit irridescent. I can see round shapes inside- organelles? eggs? They seem to move- in a straight line, smooth like propelled by cillia. I don't know what they are so haven't offered them to the fish.

I want to do things with the fish today- but the window tank isn't quite ready. Snails have begun crawling back down to substrate level- I counted thirty eight large ones on the glass last night- there is still a hint of ammonia and nitrites are spiking right now... Cories got a water change on their bucket this morning.

22 September 2017

temporary mess

today- going thru some transition. It breaks my heart, but I am selling my aponogeton crisups plants. Someone local came and picked up two today, another one is shipping out monday and a little later the last two are shipping out on a plant swap. I pulled three today during the wc (to siphon out as much disturbed mulm as possible) this one is still floating in the tank until it's time to pack it up.
They must have been hogging the light, mostly- because when I pulled them, the roots coming up disturbed a lot of fine pale stuff looks like material from the root tabs I put in five weeks ago. It was a big surprise to see that the two flower stalks were coming from the one largest plant. I didn't know it would put out two flowers simultaneously. I will really miss these plants but they are just getting too massive and don't look like they're done growing yet. (I think I will get a few more apono capuronii, though. With the thinner leaves I don't think they will overwhelm the tank as quickly, and if I remember to pinch them before hit the ceiling, should keep in check better.)

The fishes seem okay with the disruption this caused- they are swimming about excitedly as they always do during a water change. Not sure if I harmed any shrimps yet. Will be replacing the empty space left by the removed aponos with the large bolbitis I got in weeks ago. Perry should be moving out of that QT soon.

My window tank got torn down again today,
so water parameters are all bad. I haven't tested yet but the snails are climbing the walls...  I am still uneasy about the uneveness of my stand's top surface, so I bought a sheet of dense rigid foam insulation board to put underneath and distribute the weight. It's pink. I spray-painted plastidip to the edges to make them black, but- it kind of seeped into the foam and caused the edge to become slightly concave, plus little bits of the original color still show overall dull gray look. I hope it hasn't affected the integrity of the board? I'll have to get black masking tape or electric tape to cover it up still.

So my cories are still in the bucket. I am feeding them very lightly- half or less the usual serving, only once every other day. Water parameters still good in there. Some of them look pale, but no clamped fins and they move around animatedly when I drop in a food pellet or momentarily turn off the air stream to check on them (can't see well when the water is agitated by the filter).
I thought the elodea looked kind of cute all dropped in a cup together.
Here's that windelov I pegged to the wall with suction cups.
Right now I like this corner best... the java fern 'red' are starting to grow a few new fiddleheads- that's nice to see. And there's the bit of crypt retrospiralis and vallisneria I moved in.

new roots

I don't know why, I like seeing the new roots sprout in jars of cuttings. Reddish 'Kiwi fern' coleus:
the pink coleus:
the lime-and-orange one:
Salvia doesn't have roots yet, but the sprig of creeping charlie I put in water does, and so do the mint cuttings:

fern foliage

It really is doing better now. I need to find a spot for it with deeper shade, next summer. Or not put it outside...

21 September 2017

finally a full bowl

of cherry tomatoes! Just when the plants look about dead.
I might get a few nice broccoli heads though, especially if we have a long autumn season. You can tell it is too cold for caterpillars- newer leaves on my broccoli plants are so nice. The older foliage is completely in tatters.
We have eaten all the carrots- it was just two dinners' worth- and the green beans continue to be very slim pickings. I am thinking I will just not plant green beans next year- maybe whatever pest spreads this disease my plants will die out or move on. Bah.

I've hung soap to deter the deer. A friend told me they don't like the smell of 'irish spring' and it just so happens my husband uses that soap (I don't like it). I cut one soap bar into three chunks. Put each in a ziploc baggie with holes poked in the bottom (so smell would emit but enough rain stay out it doesn't dissolve quickly? that was my idea) and tied a string around the top. I hung one on my sad forsythia, another on a decor piece in the back garden (where a few plants look suspiciously bitten) and third in the garden right by the patch of swiss chard and beets. Whose tops had been getting nipped off by something. Now they appear to be growing more. Not sure if that's because weather is cooler, or because the forager is deterred- but just in case I'm leaving up the soap.


I am usually not too fond of marigolds (tagetes)- I grow them just because the scent is supposed to deter some insect pests. Mine are doing better this year than before- whatever plauged them last year is not so bad now. Most of them in the past have looked like these above- ruffly and fat.
Or like this one- mostly yellow.
But my favorites are a new kind I have- just one layer of petals, a deeper red edged with gold.
They really seem to glow against the green foliage (like my tithonia, the 'torch flowers'. That's what my brother-in-law's new girlfriend calls them. Well, not new anymore but I have only just met her. She is a gardener too. She calls the celosia 'brain flowers' haha.)
There are a lot more of these flat red tagetes blooms, too. And their petals have a very soft, velvety texture. I was feeling one when found this bug- for a moment I thought it had a weird narrow head but then I saw it appears to be eating an aphid? what is this insect? I think I was looking at its underside.
Hm, another little garden mystery to figure out.