21 August 2017

I got my paradise fish!

Macropodus opercularis- related to gouramis and bettas, but looks rather like a small cichlid.

Went to the lfs yesterday- I have had my eye on their tank of blue paradise fish for months- and I was right to be anxious to get one in time. They only had three left. Two were cowering in a corner- one had ripped tail fin, the other a small body wound. I saw the third paradise fish- who looked to be in good condition- darting at the other two when they tried to move around the tank. I bought the aggressor.

He seemed to be ignoring the other fishes in the store tank- tetras- so I hope will not bother my cories. However for now is in temporary quarters. His QT tank is still draped to keep it dark (reduce stress), so I don't have any pics yet but will soon. But this fish doesn't seem to need my careful treatment. Immediately on release into my QT he was exploring around, even approaching the front when I stood nearby. He shies away when I reach over the surface, but comes right back out. Very bold!

I don't usually feed new fish on their first day with me- giving them at least twenty-four hours to settle in. They don't want to eat when frightened and being hungrier on the second day are more likely to take unfamiliar food, I think. But this guy was already nipping at things in the tank and since I had just been in the garden I offered him two small caterpillars. He gobbled them. I gave him a leaf hopper and about ten mosquito larvae. He ate them all.

It was really cool to watch him hunt down the wigglers. My serpaes dash frantically after those and eat them all in seconds. The cherry barb fry looks for her share, but seems to find them more by chance than anything else. This paradise fish hunts with intention. I can see his eyes searching. He glides very smooth, pauses, looks around, glides again. Moves across the tank bottom or through the bolbitis fronds searching methodically. (I am kind of putting the bolbitis meant for my 38 through quarantine, too. It came in with a few pond snails- I hoped the paradise fish might get rid of the baby ones that hatch which I can't even see yet and I think he's doing that. Definitely see him nip at things on the plants).

Not to spoil him right off the bat with live foods, I gave him some bites of pea this morning (the other fishes all got it after their day of fasting). He went after those just as avidly. Stopped feeding him when I saw his tummy all rounded, but he is still keen to eat (of course). When I smacked a mosquito that landed on my arm, dropped it in his tank. He snapped that up too.

I am thinking of names already: Floki, Melvin, Tazzie, Xing, Sirus, Ryker ...

20 August 2017

hydrangea

These shrubs look prettier than I had hoped. The blue-green actually is nice against the neighbor's red fence, instead of clashing. This one is starting to gets its panicle-shaped blooms.
The other one they stay rounder and loose, but have a nice pink shade.
Closeups

19 August 2017

thirtyeight: leaf effect

My main tank got some leaf litter, too. 1/2 loquat, 1/2 jackfruit, one each of catappa and guava. I can tell the shrimp and kuhlis really like this addition: every time I glance in the tank there are one or two shrimp methodically picking over a leaf surface.
And the kuhlis have immediately taken up hiding under them- perfect space. It's cute when two or more wiggle under together and just their little faces poking out. They seem to like sliding across the smooth top surfaces too.
Sassy is now hanging out in that area of the tank, often against the front glass- that's Tiger behind.
Here's Albert, under a leaf of echinodorus. Funny, mottled kuhli. He's got almost no stripes now.
There is a subtle difference in the behavior of some other inhabitants: my nerite snails appear to be more active.
Biggest thing I noticed is that today all my serpae tetras are out and about.
Usually it's just one, two or three in the foreground and the rest are hanging still in corners or behind plants during the day. I never thought I'd get a photo like this, with all seven together in the open!
Maybe I'm imagining things, but it really does seem as if they also feel better with the addition of the leaves. I didn't even think any of them were sick! Why hadn't I got leaves sooner.
I took all these photos with ease- the fish didn't run and hide, or if they did dart away from camera motion, it wasn't for long. Even the oldest, shy one Spark is in the center of this picture:
and facing the viewer here:
Last week I added root tabs to the tank- it had been a while. Echinodorus had some fading leaves, windelov fern and elodea looked poorly too. This week everything looks to be in good health, and for the first time in this tank, the windelov has baby plants on its leaf tip:
I have two aponogetons sending up flower stalks now! I wonder if this makes it more likely to get baby plants?
The second one came up a day later, and is just poking above the water surface here:

spawning!

I didn't get any photo because what I saw was so brief, and I haven't found the evidence yet: but my peppered cories spawned! The day after I added leaf litter to their tank (half a loquat leaf, one catappa, one guava and half a jackfruit). As in the other tanks, I don't see any difference visually in water hue, or pH with the test kit- but is the spawning so soon after just a coincidence? Hm. I'm tempted to add a few more leaves!

None of the cories came to the front corner for their breakfast- unusual. I watched the tank for a while. Three of them burst out of a thicket looking especially flirtatious, then I saw the 'T' formation between a pair. When the female was backlit for a moment I saw that she was carrying three eggs under her belly in the fins! The next moment she disappeared among the plants and when I saw her again, only one egg in the fins. Later in the day the fishes are calm, no eggs in the female's 'basket'. I don't see them stuck to plants or glass anywhere, but she's definitely stuck them somewhere safe. I am really happy they've found my tank so much to their liking, and wonder if I'll get any corydora fry?!

18 August 2017

tenner difference

Yesterday- a day ahead of schedule- Sam's tank got a water change- he was looking poorly. I honestly expect him to die soon- he has been getting listless, sometimes the current pushes him. Lump behind gill/fin is larger. I prepared the kids for possibility of loosing him.

Well, at least the plants in his tank are healthy- I did clean out more staghorn algae and some leaves that had BBA on them- but when done it didn't look like much on the discard plate. I hope they were just still adjusting from recent move. A bit surprised to find high nitrates (maybe because I fed the fish more)- so I didn't dose ferts this week.

The buces look great after removal of those old leaves:
Here they are from another angle (ambient light)- these are mostly 'selena' with 'blue bell' on the far right and 'emerald green' is the rounder one front left.
This one (buce 'isabelle') is probably sprouting a new leaf- but it looks suspiciously like a flower spathe to me
Anubias has a new leaf sprouting
I added a few leaves to the tank- Sam got half a jackfruit and one catappa leaf. Placed behind the driftwood.
And I swear this morning there was a difference. Water test shows no noticeable change in pH and the water isn't tinted. But the fish- suddenly he is sprightly and alert again, coming to the glass to greet me, looking for food, not so weak and disinterested. Is it just the recent wc? or did the leaves really make a difference? (I don't think he will heal, but I can tell he feels better).
Only plant really doing poorly are the floaters. Either the frequent water changes during treatment was hard on it (lack of nutrients) or the medicine itself harmed the plant- spirodela polyrhiza bleached out. However it looks like one leaf of every pair is okay, so I think they will all recover. Hesitant to try another med too soon, but I do want to dose with tetracycline and see if that helps poor Sam.
I cleaned out the patch of rotala this week. Half the stems had small, stunted leaves and ratty looking growth; some of them only on the lower half, I bet the upper portion grew better when tank conditions improved. I cut those all down to the substrate and replanted only the nice tops. Looks better already.

live food

I'm still regularly collecting mosquito larvae for my fishes.
It seems to take five days for the larvae in the puddle to reach the stage of 'tumblers' (right before they become proper mosquitoes and leave the water) so I harvest every four days. I've set out a deep plastic dish to replace the puddle with- because I want to get rid of the object tarp is covering- and I alternate between the two, collecting from one or the other every other day.
So far the new dish doesn't have a lot of wigglers, so I'm also collecting from the little container pond. This pic of it after I'd scooped off most of the floating spirodela polyrhiza to have a clear view. I also usually lift out all the rocks with hornwort stems attached, so it's easy to get my hand in there and track down the larave. Never very many- I do keep it covered with a screen- but I keep checking because somehow a female finds her way in every so often. The hornworts in here continue to look healthy and pretty with their dense, soft foliage:
I found this time that at least two malaysian trumpet snails in here are still alive- in spite of the heat! I siphoned out mulm with the straw, and topped off with old tank water. Don't do this very often, definitely not on a regular basis, yet the few plants in here seem to thrive. Bit of buce is still alive, subwassertang floats around- none of it attached to the sides or pot like I'd hoped- I guess I'd have to tie/glue it in place. Happiest plants are the greater duckweed and hornwort, for sure.

serpae names

I am finding it easy to identify the individual tetras now. They each have a black mark behind the gills, with a distinctive shape (roughly the same on right and left side for each fish, too). Interestingly, I've noticed that the serpaes I got from different sources had similar kinds of markings- one group in particular they are small blots. I bet it's because they are from a single spawn- I've seen when there is a new tank of angelfish at the lfs they all have some very similar features in things that are variable- because they're siblings. So I was super curious if I actually had a fry from these tetras, would I be able to guess at the parents by the size/shape of its marking. But I digress. Here's my fish by name:

This is Diamond, the 'boss' fish, dominant in the aquarium. You can tell because all the fins are in perfect condition- no torn or uneven edges. Nobody touches Diamond. Its mark (I still have trouble telling apart males and females) has very crisp edges at the bottom, ending in a neat point. I've also noticed when it swims, momentarily there's a bright horizontal line where the tail fin creases on itself.
Spark is my oldest serpae tetra, the only 'adopted' one I have left. Its mark is similar to Diamond's but not as crisp. It is often rather faded, more of a liver color. It also sits more in the back hiding under aponogetons, and usually comes out last to feed (but then eagerly, as if it had just woken up). I call it Spark because it was among those who first triggered my interest in keeping this species. Also it has a few individual scales on its flanks that really gleam and reflect the light- one on the left and two on the right side. These photos are a bit blurry but I was trying to catch that gleam.
Dot- name is self-explanatory. Shy fish. Hides a lot. Usually in the back with Spark unless its feeding time.
Broad. Or sometimes, just Wide. The spot on its side is so wide compared to the others. Really stands out. Like someone blotted it with a fat sharpie marker.
Lino. This one's mark by contrast is very narrow. Like a line.
Truck. His marking is roughly square with two circular blots underneath. I used to think of it as 'Note' but Truck is better. He's pretty bold.
Punk- this is a very poor picture since it is one of the more active fish- seems to have the biggest personality. This fish is displaying and showing off to the others all the time. It tries so hard to be important in spite of being smaller (is my thought). It jerks the dorsal fin wide and swaggers around- once my daughter's friend was visiting and looking at the fish laughed: "that one looks like it has a mohawk!" Punk's marking is rather indistinct, kind of like Truck's but with just an uneven smudge under the squarish shape.
The name of this photo in my files is punk gleam spark and even though it's blurry, shows the distinctive features well. Spark above- you can see the gleaming pair of scales. Punk on the bottom has his fins jerked wide as possible in display and I caught on camera this particularly striking move. The displaying fish tilts its body perpendicular to the water surface so the light bounces off its side. They flash and shine- bright like brand new pennies. It's wonderful to watch.

17 August 2017

bolbitis!

I keep picturing a thicket of bolbitis fern on the left side of my main tank, so when an ROAK came up on the planted tank forum, I got a box. It was way more generous than the bit I got from an online seller in november. Laid out in the bottom of my eight-gallon QT bin here- so you can see the size.
How lovely green
In my package there were four very nice-sized rhizomes, plus three smaller ones and a tiny baby frond growing off one of the main pieces.
I thought bolbitis fern mainly grew by extending the rhizome, but this one surprised me (just like the windelov)- the baby plant has a tiny rhizome growing off of a root hair.
The algae and necrotic tissue I had to clean off was minimal. I found only one pond snail, and while wiping leaves with my fingers, dislodged one egg mass:
For now the plants are in the QT bin with aeration- I have to figure out where I will move the crypt retrospiralis to, before I can plant them in that spot in the tank.

under trees

Most of the salvia I transplanted as cuttings last season is looking good.
Smaller one in a newer spot.
Original 'mother plant' in the back bed is riddled with insect holes and wilts in midday heat. I am not sure if it is in a poor location or just happens to be in a spot that got infested.

mushrooms!

I looked out the window in the morning and saw a bright orange patch behind the back bed, under trees. It's those bold orange mushrooms again. Same place, almost the same time of year.
Not quite so many as before.
Nearby there were these tiny reddish ones- tops smaller than a quarter-
and very flat
Also in the back bed some round ones:
This one looks kinda like one of my lithops:
Fungi galore! I wonder if the recent heavy rain has triggered their appearance.