28 February 2018

peppered cories

Lucky on windelov
perched above Leo (adult male)
They're still spawning all the time. Found an egg stuck on the very tip of a windelov frond (it wasn't on the glass).
My fishes in here seem to be out of the woods- no more gill flukes (I hope, and if that's what it was). Improved conditions. But if any more fry grow out, it will be overstocked again.

27 February 2018

getting better?

Last week I saw there were a few lumps of white sticky stuff in the angle where leaves join stem, on my elephant bush plant. Mealybugs? I removed them and wiped down the area, haven't seen a recurrence but I bet it isn't that easy to get rid of.
Most of the tiny bits of tarragon I stuck into soil dried up and died. But it appears one or two have taken.

26 February 2018

early spring

at least, it feels like- with rain and warmer weather. I took a walk around the yard and a few photos. Green in the mud and dead leaves-

new leaves on vinca:
oops camera cord got in this picture
sedums coming up around the stump- very small foliage still
a few sweet peas sprouted on their own
several of my younger hellebores are budding!
rosemary is sad, looks barely alive
Nandina stayed green all winter. I hope it grows more this year.
Holly shrub by the lower deck is so lush it almost glows.
Lots of new leaves. Seems to like the dehumidifier water I dump on it.
I've reseeded some more bare spots in the front lawn, during this week of rain. Back yard has tons of moss invading the sad lawn- way more than any other year before. It's nice that it is bright green, but unless walking careful and flatfoot it gets torn up so easily. Hm. I did scatter vermicompost and ashes on the front yard this past fall, but not the back. I think it shows. Gah. I'm fond of mosses but really need to improve the lawn health instead.
A few tufts of moss have made it onto my roof. I kind of like that.

25 February 2018

tenner conditions

I doubled up my filtration. Added a second sponge- on the same airline, so it's not really more flow (further disruption of the surface could lower C02 levels for the plants). I used a splitter and put a valve on one line, to adjust the amount of air going to each filter, otherwise it all went thru one.
I don't really like the look of two rows of bubbles going in the background, but oh well. (One of the uplift tubes is white because I boiled it to sterilize after use in QT tank once).
The water column is a lot clearer now, and the plants are doing better too, especially since I went back to my regular fert schedule (note to self: don't change things!) Java ferns had been getting very pale, especially later in the day. Now they seem to have recovered, without going through leaf drop.
That new leaf on the buce 'isabella' in background is full size now-
To its left, water wisteria stem grew a lot taller. Looks better than ever.
Funny thing, if you look at the base, stem isn't actually in the substrate. Some of the lower end decayed but as long as the roots continue to hold it down, I don't mind.

23 February 2018

one less, one more

My serpae tetra with the lump on its face, Punk, took a turn for the worse this week. Lump had not quite reached the eye and I thought if it did, well the fish can probably function okay with one eye and its lateral line sense. But it started acting as if in pain, feeling irritation, or maybe it was having some kind of seizure? Head jerking rapidly, mouth held agape. Pale with its shoulder mark washed out, and keeping itself separated from the group. Didn't come to eat with the others. I didn't want to watch it linger on for who-knows how long in decline.... so I put a net in the water. The fish sure was spry enough when it knew it was singled out, and even though I followed it slowly to be gentle on the plants, it dashed around in a panic and wedged itself in the one spot that the fishes themselves always have trouble accessing- down among the bolbitis roots where I spot-feed the kuhlis. Smart to the end.

It turns into a very bad day, when I bury one of my favorite tetras under the forsythia. (Which is not blooming yet, so none of that to cheer me).

Later I was at the box home improvement store for air filters and I bought a plant... I was looking for a new african violet but didn't find one I liked (I'm not fond of extra frilly ruffled petals or white flowers either) Instead picked up this interesting plant, a kind I've never seen before.
Unhelpfully, the tag just says "foliage plant." I'm frustrated again to not have an identity. Some larger specimens nearby looked very similar, but the leaves longer, narrower and darker in hue. Also looking close, on mine the leaves grow in groups of three, on the other plant they were in sixes. The other one was called False Aralia but it doesn't help me if it's not the same one. However when I look it up online by name, pictures look like both. One site told me that as the plant matures the leaves grow longer and darken. I just don't know why the leaf arrangement would be different- does that also change as it grows?

Anyhow, I liked it because the foliage reminds of hygro pinnatifida, an aquarium plant I really wanted to keep that died on me. Now I have a houseplant that looks a bit like it.

Lucky inch

I am feeding Perry a bit more now- regularly two times a day, sometimes three. And a bit less the cories, only twice. I feel like that tank is getting too heavy a bioload, the filter can't keep up with it- I have to vacuum the substrate regularly and I just lightly rinsed the sponge filter midweek as well, and still there is fine debris in the water column. Maybe cutting back on feeding will help- or fewer fish would...

I think Lucky is okay with that now because the young fish is bigger than I thought! I eyeballed a buce leaf against the glass that was the same length as the little catfish, and then used a ruler. He's one inch long now.
Not yet socializing with the adults, but joins them at feeding time and doesn't let himself get pushed aside anymore.
He still occasionally looks pale and I don't know what's up with the white speck under the eyes. Maybe its normal?
Um, yeah: I wrote this a few days ago and since have plugged current specs of my tank into AqAdvisor (online aquarium stocking calculator). The little sponge filter I had was previously ok for one betta and some snails, but with these catfishes it's definitely overloaded. I'm doubling the filter capacity- adding a second sponge- running on split airline- that's already seeded from the 38's canister. That keeps things just out of trouble for now, but it's still too many fish. If I move out the oto it would be better- if it was warmer I could put him back in the 20H with Perry, but then he'd get lonely... I could relinquish him to the pet store, but I hate to feel like I gave up on this one fish. Like I have a duty to it for life- and it can live a good ten years... but without its own kind now. Sigh.

22 February 2018


ambient light

ludwigia proof

The plant itself is answering my question: ludwigia or hygro? The far right, smaller one in this picture is the same plant featured in this previous shot. Now that ferts have been adjusted (root tabs added again) it's finally growing more, and looks to be changing shape. Foliage is getting noticably longer, narrow and brighter green.
I absolutely know this was this stem of ludwigia repens that came out of my tenner months ago- it had the rounder leaf shape and darker olive green with purplish undersides. Well, I don't have to wait for chance flowers now to identify.

21 February 2018

foliage cuttings

A while ago my daughter bought herself a plant. I don't know what it is, and the tag only said "foliage plant". Not real helpful. It has a trailing, viny habit (came in a hanging container) and looks a bit like wandering jew (which I am going to start calling by its scientific name Tradescantia zebrina because every time I say 'wandering jew' my husband remarks unfavorably on the common name. Says it's racist). The leaves are different, darker green without a vivid stripe. Undersides purplish. Maybe it's related.

Anyhow, I took a few cuttings of it to grow out. Here they are:

baby violet

My tiny new african violet is just big enough to discern a leaf shape
Several days later. Taking this second set of pictures I saw there's more tiny shoots coming up on other side of the petiole! So it looks like I'll have two or three plantlets, or at least one with multiple crowns easy to divide when mature. Makes up for the fact that the second planted leaf doesn't seem to be germinating anything.

20 February 2018

fin rays

I was looking closely at a cory egg on the glass, and took the opportunity for a closeup photo of my otocinclus, on wisteria leaf.

air in a hornwort jar

I noticed something in my jar of hornwort last week. Two rather large bubbles, they really caught my eye. Stuck in the needles of the plant. I guess last time I topped off the jar, some oxygen introduced via the turbulence of water tumbling in through my fingers, trapped the bubbles. They stayed there all week! Like clear beads or jewels, in foliage.
Another thing I've noticed is that for once, the pegged hornwort stems don't weaken at the base and need to be re-tied. I have left this thing pretty much alone since it was set up, just clipping tops when it gets close to the surface, wiping off below the jar rim and topping off with tank water. There's two very small trumpet snails in there now, they seem to keep the algae cleared up. I think the lower parts of the stems stayed healthy because the jar gets light broadside from the window, not just strongest from above. Maybe I will keep this thing going. I kind of like it, and I often get comments on it from visitors to the house.

19 February 2018

basement lemons

The lemon verbena plant is still putting out new leaves! Bright sharp scent if I rub with my fingers. It doesn't seem to mind the dim, cooler location as much as its neighbors the coleus and pepper plant.

18 February 2018

main tank

The other week I put root tabs again- and quite a few of the plants are responding. I had totally forgotten there were a few fragments of crypt parva rhizome left in here- and two of them sprouted new leaves. (They could be bits of crypt willisii, but I think it's parva).
I am still a bit confused if these plants in the center of my tank are ludwigia repens or hygro something. Because so long ago everything was melting and dying and I never really knew which ones grew back. I'm guessing it's really the ludwigia, though- because the hygro corymbosa I put in here is pretty much all dead now. That last bit in this pic just melted away this week. I'm letting some of these stems grow tall enough to hit the surface- if one flowers maybe then I can tell.
Some of my crypts put root hairs up from the substrate. Not sure why. I sold in that batch a few of the babies, pulled up those that were growing very close to the parents or against the glass.
Full tank shot:
In ambient light (and before hornwort was trimmed for the week):