19 January 2018

cory egg and fry

I did a bunch of online reading, particularly looking for photos of corydora fry in various stages. When they first hatch, they look like little tadpoles- head and a tail with continuous fin around the edge. Mine already had distinct fins by the time I saw it, so I think it's already over two weeks old.
I took the loop and looked at the one surviving cory egg against the glass- which I first spotted five days ago.
(The eggs Momma stuck under a buce leaf day before are already gone, but the cories are spawning again this morning!) I could see what looked like a cluster of cells inside the egg- very cool. I looked at others' macro photos of cory eggs; a four-day-old egg was just like this. The next day when I looked close, the cell shapes seemed arranged instead of evenly spaced, and I could see a tiny pulse. I was excited to keep observing the egg every day- but now it is gone.

It was at the base of this wisteria, to the left of the roots. Twice yesterday I saw Momma mouthing it, and bumped the glass there with my finger, to scare her off. But I guess she got it. Or it hatched- timing of that is three to seven days, so it's possible I'll see another fry emerge from the thickets in a week or two... maybe.
Not going out of my way to pluck eggs from the tank or set the adults up to spawn in my spare 10g. If one or two fry survive to grow up and increase the number of cories, replacing those I've lost, that's fantastic. I wouldn't know what to do with hordes of them.

I'm still eager to take daily photos of the baby cory, Lucky. Here's the best from past two days. Under a white oak leaf:
Sheltered by buces:
In the windelov fern:
My favorite is this photo of Lucky perched in the windelov. I swear it's growing visibly larger every day. I'm making sure to feed the cories gold pearls a bit more regularly now, because of the fry. They all like that stuff anyway.

18 January 2018

the paradise fish tank

Came down in the morning and saw Perry resting in the vallisneria. I wanted to get a photo of her among the plants, but she moved up to the glass as soon as she saw me, of course. It wasn't as fun giving her the worms yesterday, as I'd anticipated. I gave her the largest of the small worms and she snapped them up quick, no struggle at all. The serpae tetras, on the other hand- the worms I'd selected were just a bit too big for some of them. I had to get involved- chase a fish who stubbornly wouldn't give up its worm, snip them into pieces so the fish could actually eat it. It was kind of funny. They were very excited. Loaches loved it, too- and the cories in the tenner ate theirs too, once they were done spawning.
Did cleaning and water change on the window tank today. I redid the back strip of the lid. The sweet potato vine has been dying. Looking very anemic and loosing foliage. Periodically I've been finding tiny white bugs on the undersides, pinch them when I can. Finally got tired of the unhappy-looking plant. Removed all the stems and while the support strip of lexan was empty of plants, I took from the tank and cleaned off the hard-water scale. The few pothos stems on there got trimmed back, from the bottom up- the roots were starting to look unhealthy and lower edge of stems blackened. Cut them back to good tissue and replaced the missing sweet potato with new pothos cuttings off my houseplants.
Here's the sad remnants of sweet potato vine. It's pathetic. I dunked them in soapy water for twenty minutes. If that gets rid of the bugs and these revive, I can start over with one of the prettiest plants. I think part of its trouble was lack of sun in that location.
 In the tank, looks as if windelov fern is doing okay after all. Appears that the dieoff is finished, and the remaining younger leaves appear seem enough.
The clump on the biggest stone is much reduced, though. I snipped the rhizome in half where it is bare, to make it sprout more leaves.
Perry did not like all the disturbance when I removed her screen of pothos and sweet potato roots. I know they'll grow back; in the meantime she is hiding often under driftwood sticks. Loss of nitrate uptake while they regenerate their roots, but I hope the vallisneria will make up for that. To avoid too much upset, I'm not rinsing out her filter until next week.
Subwassertang in here doesn't look very good. It's all ratty on the ends. I think it doesn't like the cold. This tank is down to just 60° some mornings now. 
I'm not surprised that some of the random stem pieces I got in that recent batch of plants have died already. Bits of windelov, anacharis and watersprite are still fine. Moss tangle in the cage is still green. To my surprise, although it is melting leaves, the stem piece I thought looked like bacopa isn't dying yet. It sprouted two new leaves- you can see left and above in the first windelov picture. I think if it does survive in here, it will look leggy and unattractive, but am waiting to see.

17 January 2018

worm check = fish food

I saw a few worms made a break for it and died on the floor near the bin. So delved in (gloved hands make this easier) to see how they're doing. Turned up and loosened some compacted bedding from the bottom, but for the most part it was in good condition, damp enough, no awful smells. The worms are slow, but have good color and their skins nicely moist. I think they were just too cold. I put another layer of cardboard between them and the outside house wall. And picked out this small handful for the fishes.
Worms are getting less food lately because I am getting more picky about what goes in the bin- any onion skins or citrus peels of course have to be set aside for outdoor compost. No heaps of broccoli or cabbage trimmings either- that stinks. The kids are good about putting food scraps in the collection container, but I only ask them to remember no meat or cheese, so often there's orange peel mixed in and instead of picking it out I just toss all into the outside bin. Which means the worms eat leaner. I don't think they're as active in the winter now, anyway.

To clean them for fish food, I do several rinses in tank water. The first to remove compost bits. Then let them sit in a shallow container - one that has a raised center, they can crawl out onto the island if really make an effort- and check it once or twice a day. If they've extruded some waste, I dump the water out and replace, until it stays mostly clean.
The fishes have no idea what goodness is coming to them tomorrow. Perry will waggle her tail over the fight. Yesterday I gave them boiled snails. Some of the trumpet snails in my tenner are very large- inch and a half, I think- and I see them churning up the substrate. A lot of the buces at the front of the tank have got their roots exposed, which is starting to look messy. I don't know if it's caused by the MTS activity, or the cories bustling about. In case it's the snails, I took out the largest and fed them to the fishes - boiled ten minutes to hopefully kill pathogens, and then crushed with back of a spoon. (I would ship them to another aquarist, but it's too cold for a journey thru the mail).

Perry ate her bites, not terribly enthusiastic, but she did. Most of it I dumped into the main tank. Serpae tetras went nuts. Trying to steal pieces from each other, darting away to hide in dense plant thickets with their spoils. Shrimps sneaking in for their share. But really the kuhlis got most of it. Funny thing, the tetras couldn't seem to see the snail portions that lay on the substrate. They'd be looking right at it, but not see it until a kuhli found via scent and started eating. Then the fish quick would steal it and dash off, chased by others. Kuhlis still got plenty, though. I haven't done this in a long time because it's rather messy to prepare the snails, so it sure was a treat for them. And of course I'd rather give my extra snails to someone than boil them, will do that in spring if I need to cull again.
The cories however, completely ignored the snail mess I dropped in. Glad I didn't give them a lot. I was surprised- I thought they'd be eager. However they were distracted- spawning again! I actually saw Momma flipping over and depositing eggs under a buce leaf. Of the two eggs I still had an eye on yesterday, only one remains. So the one little fry I eagerly look for every day, really is Lucky.

what I did with moss

So- I deliberately cleaned java moss out of my tanks quite some time ago (don't like the tangled mess if it grows freely, and can't seem to keep it trimmed nice if tied down). I did like the fissidens, but a lot of that died off when my tanks had problems, I think there is still a bit on the driftwood in my main tank and the tenner, but its hard to see it. Flame moss died out- I think my main doesn't have enough light, or C02 levels aren't right for it.
But now I possibly have a new one to try. The bucket of plants I got several days ago had a thick clump of moss in it. I painstakingly untangled them all and cleaned out dead stuff, algae strands. I thought at first it was java moss, but some of it grows in a kind of triangular frond. Looking closely at some comparison pics (there are nineteen different species of aquatic moss) I think it may be Taiwan moss. Which would be cool because Taiwan moss doesn't require C02 and can grow in cooler temperatures. Most sites list its temp range from 65° to mid seventies, but I've seen a few that say it can tolerate as low as 58°. So maybe it could live in my unheated tank. I'm trying it.

Closeup of the strands
First attempt was to tie it down on driftwood twigs. It was difficult, took a long time, annoying with wet thread and mesh. I remember why I don't like working with moss. And the next morning realized I don't really care for the look of moss-covered branches in the tank. I'd prefer it growing on ledges of rock or larger driftwood chunks.
So decided that temporarily, I will enclose it in a wire basket and see if it survives. Let it grow out a bit while I look around for a rock or hunk of wood to attach it to. I still have these little wire bait cages I tried using to keep Perry from the cories' food.
I cut the leader and the little spring-hinged door off one. And using plant tweezers, threaded longer strands of the moss through it. It looks messy right now, but later I can trim it back to encourage denser growth. Probably without shrimp or fry in here to pick through it, will gather algae and debris. But I hope before that gets too ugly I can find something I want to attach it to.

16 January 2018

cory fry day 4

Out of the five or six eggs I saw the other day, only two are now visible. I thought- did they already hatch? then some reading informed me: peppered cats often eat their eggs and fry. So this one avoided that fate. Now I think it's just large enough to be safe. It's very good at hiding in the windelov thicket:
I should name it Lucky.

shrimp pics and snails

My older amano shrimps are almost constantly berried now. Here's one from above. I can't imagine keeping the tank without them anymore- I'd like to have them in the window tank but Perry would probably eat them!
The three malaya shrimp are getting very dark in color. I don't know if that means something about their age or health...
I have a feeling the two nerites in my main tank are getting old... At the pet store today to get some food, I picked up two more zebra nerites. With some trepidation as in a few of the tanks I saw some fish with signs of ich... . . one of the prior outbreaks in my tank occured the day after bringing home snails from a pet shop so I have suspicions the disease can be carried on snails. However, snails don't develop the cysts (I think) and the free-swimming stage dies after 48 hours if it doesn't find a fish host.
So to be safe I've put my new snails in a QT plastic tote with some aquatic moss and about a gallon of water. I acclimated them usual method and then plucked out of the shop bag to place in the water- no shop water into the tote. I put the tote on top of the fridge for warmth. Going to give it small water changes daily and move the snails to my tank at end of the week.

15 January 2018

cory fry- third day

I don't know how old the baby fish is, since I don't know when it hatched- but it's the third day since I noticed it so that's how I'm counting. I feel slightly anxious every morning now when I look in the tank, until I see it:
Often have to walk away and come back later to look again. So many places it can hide.
The adults were spawning again yesterday. I saw the shimmy and t-formation between two fish. Female in the morning light:
Found that two of my photos were taken from almost exactly the same spot- one with an adult among the plants, second with the cory fry on the right in foreground (under red stem part of the buce 'selena'). I patched them together so you can see size of fry to parent. And taking another look at the picture realized there's an egg in there. I went back to the tank and count five more on the glass in different spots.
I held some in my fingers a few days before seeing the fry, actually. I'd always heard they are tough and can be removed from a spawning mop by hand, but it's something else to handle them - I did so by accident. I had lifted out the sponge filter for a rinse and saw two or three tiny semi-translucent globes on the airline just above the sponge. It wasn't until I plucked them off that realized they were cory eggs. Mother had put them in a perfect spot for oxygenation! I dropped them back in the tank.

I've noticed the baby fish has a dark line from the eye to its nose. It blends in so perfectly with the substrate I usually notice it by seeing a smooth motion or wiggle of the tail fin. Or I see the stripe across its eye. Here's a photo from the other day - I just realized the fry is in it, too:
If I keep getting live fry, will have to figure out how to re-home some of the fish. Already feel a bit nervous about doing the next water change, don't want to accidentally siphon out the baby cory. Will put a netting over the end of the hose and go slower than usual...

window tank planting

The tank has a new look now. And it feels so right- so close to what I'd hoped to achieve someday (can't wait for those vals to grow up taller)- that I'm not surprised when I walk past it, just very pleased.
Trying to decide how to provide enough light for the plants without encouraging algae, I removed the dark panel and put a double sheet of plastic across the back of the tank. Now there's three layers of plastic film between the tank and window and on very sunny days I can close the curtain as well. I like how the new background softens the light.
Perry is pleased, too. More plant cover: better fish color.
I started out with planting by moving the leaf litter to the front of the tank- fish is taking a look at it.
Most of it got tucked back into corners around the anubias later on.
And then the vals went in- one at a time. Added some substrate siphoned out of the main tank. It's always odd to me, seeing the other tank through the side here.
Here's a view of the other short side. It doesn't look so different, unless you compare to a pic I took a few days ago of the same view.
Had to move a few things around. Didn't realize I still had three of these tiny crypts in here.
Windelov ferns still look peaky and dropping older leaves. If the increase in light doesn't help them, it's probably temperature- I hope they grow back out more come spring. However I don't really mind if there's some fluctuation in plant mass due to seasonal changes in here...
Parting shots: it's harder to get photos now. My eyes can make adjustments to the light coming in thru the plastic backdrop that camera can't handle. The best it can do is this:
Unless I prop dark background up again to block the window light-
It's not difficult, just something I have to remember to do when I want to take a photo.

more plants!

Day before yesterday an acquaintance from the fish club brought me some plants from another guy who was emptying his tanks for a move. From what he'd listed as available, I'd picked plants that might do well in my unheated window tank: vallisneria and some anacharis. It turned out to be a lot more plants than I'd expected.
They'd been in Jay's tank temporarily for about a week in holding- so some were in poor shape. I spent two or three hours just going through them one by one, cutting the runners loose (easier to handle), stripping off damaged and dead foliage, removing snail egg clusters (pond or bladder snails). Ended up with enough vallisneria to easily plant the back wall of Perry's tank:
Discards (a dinner plate full):

So along with the vals-
I also found in the bucket two little bits of elodea and what looks like windelov fern babies
a piece of what I think is asiatic water fern (bolbitis?) with two baby plants on it
some pieces of stem plant- bacopa, maybe
bits of watersprite
and something with finer leaves and denser growth than vallisneria- sagittaria is my guess
Also some tiny threads of what might be riccia, but could also be algae so I discarded that. And a tangle of moss- more on that later. valAll these plants are going into my window tank because even with a dip and rinse, I don't know what they might have been exposed to and better to just risk one fish... I tied the windelov ferns to a rock, planted the best stem piece (if it's bacopa won't live thru the cold temps in here) and let the elodea and watersprite float. Spent hours planting the vallisneria. Now my window tank looks like what I'd been imagining if the vals ever grew in.... See next post.