06 October 2015

tenner plants

Since I put a root tab under it, the watersprite has quit looking like it wanted to die, and stayed green instead. I expect these to be slow growers, with the light level so low, but waiting to see something happen.
The anubias seems to be proving my assumption that it got black algae marks from too much light when I bumped it up those two weeks gone. Newer leaves show no sign of ill. Third oldest leaf has the pale marks of Mg deficiency, I think that's corrected now as long as I put epsom salts in once a month. I'm gradually cutting off the older, black-mottled leaves (as new ones grow in) just one a week or so.
The smaller anubias are showing similar response. Except for the more narrow anubias lanceolata- the one on the right here- it still has really pale body to the leaf. Is it just responding slower, or something else amiss. It has come loose from the driftwood, I tried to fasten down again, but don't think the fact that it's not clinging like the others has anything to do with this.
Finally some duckweed multiplying - very slowly though, which suits me just fine. There are now three little clusters of minute leaves, instead of just one.
Java fern is really improving in here. Smaller plants have new leaves emerging now too.

05 October 2015

there, that looks better

This is more what I thought of, a little forest of bushy stems. Blurry and low light, pic taken while the light strip was fading out for the day, but I'll get a better one soon.
Fish still seem to be enjoying the new plant. I saw spawning again today.


So now my tank is full of green. Wow, this stuff gave the tank a visual punch. Even though it looks really disorganized right now.
I can see why people hate it though- it was a pain getting it into the tank. Sheds needles all over the place. (I was aware of that characteristic beforehand). I rinsed it in a bucket of tapwater to dislodge some pond snails (inevitable I'm going to get some of those now, a dip would probably hurt this plant) and then twice in buckets of conditioned water to inspect all the stems, rinse off more loose needles, and generally sort it out. My intention was to weigh down individual stems so I could have it looking planted throughout the tank, without actually rooting it into the gravel, because I intend to remove most, if not all of it later. (I want it in there to knock out the algae and give my other plants a growing advantage.)

I achieved that with some stems you see on the right there, but dang it was hard to do. The largest pebbles I had were too small and the stems break easily, so attaching ends to little rocks with tiny rubber bands didn't work so well. I finally gave up and stuffed most of the remaining stems of it into an aquatic plant pot (more like a plastic basket) which is that big mass on the left. I have two suction cups with little ring clips and I put a few stems into those, anchored low on the back wall. Those bunches look pretty, but can't really admire them with all the other stuff in front. And then I just threw the remaining short stems in to float on the surface.
I like the way it looks, but I'm going to get rid of half of it as soon as I can. If I can't find another aquarist to come get some, I'll just dry it out and feed to the worm bin.
Although it's not exactly what I want, and it does have its downsides, there is one thing: it shows me what I want to achieve. A tank full of lush, green, full growth. My established plants (not) aren't near that yet. It was putting in this vivid, healthy green that made me realize once again how poorly they are doing. The rotala and aponos look very brown/yellow next to the bold hornwort. Just last week I was thinking my rotala was looking green again, and now it doesn't. I think it was the filter mishap- when I opened up the tank to take apart the filter tube I had to set aside the light strip for a while, and then pulling out the sponge prefilter kicked a lot of debris into the water which settled on the fine rotala leaves too. Blocking out light to them. It might have been enough light reduction on that one day, that those leaves, already unhealthy, diminished yet again... I hope they bounce back still but if not I'll replant the tops (which still look relatively ok).

The fish sure are enthusiastic about the hornwort. They are darting all around and picking through it with lively action. I like to see that.

new experience

This weekend I did something I've never done before. I drove half an hour to attend a live fish auction. It was run by a local aquarium club- well, not local to me, but in the greater area. I'm considering joining the club- they hold a lot of interesting-sounding workshops on things like better fish husbandry practices, breeding methods, raising your own live food and so on. It's just a long ways to go...

It was really cool to be there. To walk into a room full of like-minded folks, very down-to-earth people in their plain clothes, toting styrofoam boxes and coolers to pack their fishes in. I always feel kind of silly when I go to the pet store with a lunch cooler in hand- but it does lessen the shock on the fish, whether keeping them warm against sharp cold air outside in winter, or keeping them cooler than the broiling temperature inside my car in summer (before the AC kicks on). But I digress.

I've been reading a lot on fish forums online, and it was something else to hear people around me talking about those very same things- fish behaviors, spawning triggers, the quality of finnage... I even got the jokes. And listening to the auctioneer I learned that quite a few fish and plant names (scientific and common alike) I've been pronouncing completely wrong, because I'd never heard them spoken before! I sat up close to the front just so I could see the fishes. They were laid out in bags on the tables (ready to be picked up and transported home) and I could only imagine the stress they were experiencing, although most people seemed to have prepped and bagged them properly. Most of them looked great, in fact. It was so cool to see bags of cichlid pairs with little tiny baby fry swimming around them. Many beautiful and interesting fish I had never seen in person before, but I was reluctant to pick up bags for inspection, which could stress the fish- I didn't want to contribute more to their handling. So I sat in the front to see them as they were held up by the auctioneer.

The one item I was hoping to get -hornwort- had been listed at a fixed price, but by the time I got to the venue that lot had sold. I saw four more bags of it on the table though, so I got a card and joined in the bidding. This is also something I've never done before, bid in an auction. I waited to see how the first bid went- the first lot of it sold for $12. I'd been hoping to pay $10 or less, so I thought: I can do that. I'll bid up to $12. But the auctioneers kept switching out (can you imagine how tired their speaking muscles get!) and when the next bag of it came up, the guy really touted its qualities as a natural algaecide. That lot went for $20. I didn't really want to pay that high, but I saw the crowd was thinning out and I did want to see more of the fishes, so I waited. I sat in that chair for about four hours, all told. When the third bag of hornwort came up, a lot of people had left already and I bet that some of those other folks interested in hornwort had gone home. I bid on it and got it easy for $8. That's a steal. Especially when I got it home and saw how much there was.

I know where I'm going when I'm ready to buy my angelfish someday.

04 October 2015

coleus pots

All the little jars of coleus have grown tons of roots.
They either grew faster than I've seen before (lots of aquarium waste water!) or I left them in the jars longer than I usually do.
I potted them all up a few days ago- two or three stems per four-inch pot (they like being root crowded).
Makes the windows feel cheery on gray cloudy days of rain.

03 October 2015

equipment mishap

All of a sudden I saw, in my main aquarium, that a bit of loose plant part was clinging to the intake tube. Not to the tube itself, to an elbow piece that fits on to hold the prefilter sponge off the wall. It was clinging and waving in current that was pulling it in. That's when I saw the elbow fitting had a crack in it. And I remember when it happened- a while ago I turned the fittings to adjust the angle of the prefilter to the wall, and heard a sharp snap noise. Saw nothing amiss and left it. I don't know how long it's been like this- a week, two? I don't know if it's been compromising the performance of the filter, but several things stand out.

- The nitrates have continued to be higher than norm (35-40 ppm) even though I'm dosing less ferts now.

- There have been small particles loose in the water- I noticed this just yesterday and thought maybe the prefilter was clogged with debris but I didn't want to rinse it yet because I'd just unintentionally rinsed everything the week before- so this friday I'd just done the small sponge filter. Wanted to let the bacteria levels recover after that mini-cycle.

I turned the filter off momentarily to lift out the intake tube and fittings. Removed the elbow pieces and put the prefilter/intake part back on straight off the main tube. So now the prefilter sponge part is resting against the back wall, I don't know how much that reduces its efficiency, but when I put it back on at first the filter wouldn't run. I unplugged/replugged it, nothing. I primed it, nothing. Saw that the water was rushing through overflow, why? I pulled out the main media sponges and gently rinsed the fine one in a bucket of tank water (still here from friday, thank goodness I hadn't watered plants with it yet). Put that back in the filter, plugged it back in, started right up and the current significantly stronger- I saw plants waving around that I hadn't noticed movement from in a while (not good).

- The fish immediately came to play. Barbs were running up and down the wall around the prefilter, flirting and chasing and displaying at each other.

- The tank clouded up with lots of fine debris when I lifted out the intake tube- the one thing I don't like about sponge filters- but to my surprise it cleared up again very quickly. By the time I was done fixing the cracked piece, the tank was nearly clear. And the fishes still darting about looking refreshed. Tells me it's been a problem for a little while, if they feel so relieved and spunky with renewed current. Gah. Why didn't I see it sooner?

Here's the crack:
It's an inch long straight and then curves.
I'm glad I have aquarium sealant on hand. And I know it's strong stuff- the hinge I made on the prior glass lid for the tenner was so stiff I could lift it off the tank by one panel and it wouldn't flex. I smeared it on both sides of the crack and pinched ends together tight for a few minutes.
Not pretty, but I don't care as long as it seals.
Now it has to cure for at least 72 hours.
In the meantime the tank intake is on a straight shot, but I don't think it will matter too much. I wonder if fixing this will help my algae issues any? maybe weak filter pull was degrading quality for the plants in some way.


Maybe it's getting closer to that.
(I put the darker backdrop on here because it makes the prefilter sponge less noticeable. I'd hide it with something, but I do like to watch the kuhlis snake their way up and down the grooves in the sides, foraging. You can see Snakey Fish doing just that).

Last week I saw GSA returning on the back wall of the tank, so adjusted the lights again, the brights come on at 2pm now- half an hour less brights/more color spectrum. It looks like maybe that did the trick- the green spot algae seems to be in check now, or at least not growing faster than my nerites can eat it. Still dosing less nitrates with the dry ferts. Growth with the plants is slow, but seems that all of them are putting out new leaves again, and to my surprise even the java fern looks better. I did have to scrape a few more spots of black beard algae off the driftwood, and there was a tuft of it on top edge of the prefilter sponge, I simply cut that off. If it keeps reappearing though I'll have to do something else.

Can see in this picture new growth on the watersprite (older stuff is yellowing as it dies back), rotala in the background greening up, and ludwigia (off center to the right) has new leaves, bright pinkish hue. The undersides are violet.

02 October 2015

steady otos

I think these little guys might be keepers now.
All three still look round-bellied and perky.
I haven't had complete success feeding them, though. Since I moved Mavis out again, I'm also am opening curtains in the flanking windows so the tank gets hit with a bit of indirect daylight and there's some algae growth on the end sides. I put a zucchini slice in once a week (day before water change in case it fouls the water too much)- my four-year-old says it looks like I'm "giving the fishies a popsicle". They never seem to eat much of it though- I keep an eye on them all day and only once or twice see an oto on the zucchini, not for long. It does always cause the glass to become cloudy with the start of algae bloom, which the otos happily scrape off in the next day or two. So at least that is keeping them fat. (Typically, according to other aquarists, a ten gallon tank can't harbor enough algae to keep otos from slowly starving. But I don't want to encourage so much of it that it gets unsightly, either).

I put aquarium river rocks in tank water with drops of flourish comp, in windowsill, in case I can grow a film of algae on that for them too.

28 September 2015

young aloes

These plants aren't that much bigger since the last time I took a picture, but I'm just happy with how they've grown.
The one that came from the older aloe that was in my apartment
is getting larger and greener too (it has lots of freckles!)

indoor peppers

I brought my two other pepper plants inside. Not enough room in the few windows that get direct sun (we have lots of trees shading the house) so these two are in the front room, with bright indirect light. Not sure how well they will do there. The second plant (potted up out of the garden in august) doubled in height once I put it on the deck, and gave us lots of ancho peppers.
The third plant I had also potted up out of the garden space and moved to the deck about two weeks ago. It doesn't have a lot of leaves because recently I trimmed off all the bitten foliage, so I can see if more insect damage occurs and know to look for a pest. This plant hasn't made any peppers yet.

27 September 2015

echeveria success

It's the end of summer and the pots of echeveria have really grown! Most of them did better than I expected. They mostly recovered from their sun scald. The big single one developed its flower spike further and has two pups coming up at the base.
The pair of crowns are health-looking, but didn't produce any new growth.
The pot of leaves I just stuck in the soil had a lot of failures. At one point I gently tugged on them all and tossed out all the ones that came up easy- those that held on from new little roots I let be. Some of these are now growing plants too.
Last pictured here is the pot of crowns I stripped of lower leaves, and flower stalks I stuck in the soil just for the heck of it. The stalk pieces all wilted and are gone (I expected that). These crowns had the most increase in growth, from where they started.
I really love the blue-green color of them all.