20 September 2017

window tank: new stand!

My cories were spawning again yesterday. Later I saw an egg stuck to the glass- but it was exposed for over half an hour to air so I don't know if its dead or not. It was a bad day for them to spawn! However I am pretty sure they are going to keep doing it, so no loss... That day I put my custom stand under the tank. It took a good amount of time. Emptied the tank- plants and some hardscape in one clean bucket- fishes, leaf litter, more plants and the running filter in another.
I got the stand in place and leveled, but a bit worried because it turns out the top surface is not perfectly even- the tank rim only rests solid on one corner and the middle of the span of long sides. I am not sure if this is safe to avoid the glass cracking, even though it's a fairly small tank... quick photo of it next to my thirty-eight, and the white bucket off to the side: that's where my fishes are right now. The cories look okay- although one of them is pale with stress- they were all sitting perfectly still on the leaf litter until I dropped in one shrimp pellet and then they started cruising around the bucket animatedly, looking for the food.
I was going to trim the roots back of all the stems in the lid, but decided not to in case it temporarily decreases their uptake of ammonia- definitely want them to do that job right now. I'm testing tank waters to see when ammonia goes back down- it got a spike from all the disturbance. Trumpet snails are a good indicator- they have been crawling up the walls of the tank since changes. Yesterday after setting everything back up, ammonia in the tank was at 1.0- this morning some snails are crawling around on the bottom going for plant debris like usual- and test shows ammonia 0.5- so probably after one more day the spike will have subsided (and snails will be under the gravel again)
Cories in the bucket now just have the leaf litter, loose subwassertang and cover of hornwort stems- all the other plants and hardscape back in the tank. It's replanted in a bit of a different arrangement- I decided to quit keeping hornwort pegged down, all as floaters now. I have a few more elodea stems- they grow a lot slower but stay in place much better than the hornwort- and when a few windelov pieces came loose from their stones, I fastened them to the wall of the tank with suction cups. Yeah, I know I tried this before with hornwort and didn't like the look of it. Maybe different with this other plant. Trying to get some height of greenery in the tank. There's also vallisneria I introduced, and some crypt retrospiralis, in the back corner where it gets most of the window light. Going to get a picture when the light is better.

There was a round bit of filter sponge just sitting on the bottom in Perry's QT. I took that out and put it on a sponge filter fitting, ran it in the bucket alongside the window tank's filter while I was working on teardown. As soon as I had the tank back up, moved the corner filter back in, to help clear the water- leaving the cories with the little sponge. I tested the bucket's ammonia levels this morning to make sure they're okay and it is slightly below 0.5 (still way better that their home tank right now). Partial wc for them in the meantime.

clematis!

It is a beautiful thing. I did not know my clematis had opened a late flower until today. There is only one so far and wow, it is stunning.
So glad this plant recovered from what ailed it earlier (I am beginning to think summer is just awfully hard on many of my plants- they suffer from heat and it weakens them to the insects...)

19 September 2017

notes on the main tank

It's nice to have a decent school of fish in here again. They seem to have figured out most of their disagreements- I don't see chasing as much anymore, just a few displays now and then- and all the torn fins are growing back. The newer fishes are learning quickly to come to the top corner for food when I tap- and they all look health- nobody sick since the introduction.

The other day I tried feeding crushed shrimp pellet bits to the tetras on one end while I dropped a whole pellet for the kuhlis on the other end. One serpae tetra grabbed the whole pellet and was dashing around trying to hide with everyone chasing it. I was afraid this fish might choke like Pinkie did- his mouth was streched painfully wide with half the pellet sticking out. He was so busy avoiding the other fish didn't see me with a net so I caught him against the glass- that startled him enough to drop the food so I guess it wasn't actually stuck in his mouth. I stuck the food piece under a log where the swarm of kuhlis kept the tetras at bay for a while.

Something is off with my plants- I don't find as much black algae spots on the glass this past week but more is showing up on plant leaves: various crypts, aponogetons, the echinodorus. I have a third aponogeton sending out a flower shoot. But some of the apono leaves and more of the bacopa have holes- looks like decay. I have a suspicion the aponos are finally overwhelming my tank, blocking light and hogging nutrients from the other plants?

I'm considering removing the three largest, or even all of them.... but not sure yet as it will be very hard to get them out w/out making a big mess of my tank... and I am not actually sure if they are the real problem.

still no fish

in my ten gallon. It's been almost a month. I actually saw a betta I liked last time I was at the pet store, but I was looking very close at him- another double-tail plakat and he had a bend in the tail just like my old Sam- not as severe but it was there- and also the edges of his scales were slightly lifted- like the beginning of dropsy. I did not want to bring home a sick fish... so I left him there.

The tank is still doing good- snails are still thriving. I slacked off on water changes and let it go almost two weeks without fert dosing- until I saw some of the anubias and crypts were looking a bit peaky. Rotalas and buces still look better than ever. Gave it ferts today. Wondering if I should try some other kind of nano fish in here...

Floaters still look awful. I wonder if replacing the plastic over my light strip has made a difference. Might just replace the duckweed with some from the QT or the little pond, start it over in here.

14 September 2017

spawning catfish

This morning serpae tetras in one tank and cory catfish in the other, were spawning. I noticed yesterday that the cories looked a bit more active than normal- kind of dashing around the tank together, then stopping short with fins held wide quivering excitement- but I didn't think about it. Today when I fed them I saw one female had her pelvic fins pinched together. She was carrying eggs! There was a flurry of activity among them in a bunch of plants, and when she came out again the fins were empty. But a few minutes later I saw the group of cories rushing around together, mouthing each other and following close, and then she appeared to have two or three eggs in the "belly basket" again. You can barely see one here.
I saw her cleaning the underside of windelov leaves, and go through the motion of sticking an egg on them, but later could not find an egg in that spot. However there are definitely at least two placed on the subwassertang-
Not sure how well they got fertilized- I only have one male now. Past weekend I euthanized the one that had a bent tail. I found it lying on its side, patches of fungus and a lump on the side of head. Labored breathing, rolled upside down when it tried to swim. Looked really bad. It did not move away when I nudged it with tweezers, very weak. Symptoms reminded me of the serpae tetra that died the moment I separated it into a QT container. This one I folded into a paper towel and put my foot on it. Then took a shovel to the backyard, all in the space of a few minutes. I felt horrid. 

The one male I have now is to the left in this pic- and if you look close can see the egg under the female, in her fins just to the right of the food wafer:

around the window tank

Sweet potato vine has grown so much I now have to periodically trim foliage off, because it is blocking the light that gets into the tank.
There was a second, smaller windelov fern growing on that little rock behind the larger one. The rubber band broke before it took hold, and now the leaf is floating somewhere in the tank. I was going to tie it back on, but then I saw the larger windelov cluster on the other stone is reaching for it. A rhizome growing off the rock has started to take hold on the second, smaller stone. This is kinda cool so I left it like that.
I have one tiny bit of pennywort (hydrocotyle tripartita) still alive- but it is not doing well in my tank. I saw someone on the forum just grew it in a pot kept very damp, and it looked amazing with lovely round scalloped leaves. Worth a try, so I stuck mine in a little pot. It is so small. That pot is only two or three inches across.

13 September 2017

ants and fins

Yesterday I found the ants had set up housekeeping inside my mailbox. I went to get the mail, and there was a lumpy pale mass with black moving specks in the rear corner. It took me a minute to realize what it was- the ants had piled all their larvae back there. I guess because it was dry? It was a perfect opportunity for fish treats- I simply scooped out the larvae with a spatula into a container, and then plucked out the ants as they scurried around. It only needed one rinse, there was hardly any dirt. I checked this morning- my interference has deterred them; no ants returned. I hope they remember the devastation of loosing all their offspring and stay away from my mailbox!

So I fed ant eggs to my fishes this morning. Perry was very excited, giving little wiggles of his tail after each bite, and opening his ventral fins alertly- usually these are folded against the belly. Then I saw that the missing one appears to be growing back! You can barely see it here (to the right of the orange one)- yes it is regenerating. Very glad.

trimming work

I've started bringing my mini geranium and stevia inside for the night, to avoid chill. Cut back the stevia down to the lower foliage that has sprouted at base (which also looks healthier than the top half). The tops I hung to dry for use in winter- it wasn't much, really.
Geranium looked like this after I cleaned off all the dried dead leaves on lower stems.
And so- after its annual trim.
Its leaves are rather small right now.
I see them right when I step outside the door onto my deck, with the little pond container between. It's so simple with just water lettuce and greater duckweed- but actually got a few compliments on it, my husband for one noticed and said "hey, that's pretty, the little pond."

planted fish tank

Got a nice shot of the main aquarium, with all ten serpae tetras in view.

12 September 2017

cuttings and cuttings

Nights have got a bit colder, so I have taken cuttings from my coleus and a few of the salvia, before night temperatures kill them outside.
Two jars of each kind- the chartreuse or lime-and-orange one; the pink-centered one that got me started, and the 'kiwi fern'.
Some of the pink ones had much rounder leaves, I particularly took cuttings of these to see if the shape stays the same when it grows out.
The salvia is doing pretty well outside, I only took two cuttings to grow a few more out to plant around yet another tree in spring. The leaves are long and narrow this time.

11 September 2017

charlie plant!

I have been wanting this plant for years.
I found one this morning in the supermarket. I would have been happy to pay the full price, but it was on sale! Looks a little flattened, but the foliage seems pretty healthy I hope it will perk up and that I can care for it properly this time.
I tried a few times before to grow one from cuttings my mother gave me, but they always failed to thrive. Once more. When cleaning up the plant when I got it home and removing some dead leaves, I accidentally broke two stems. So stuck them in a jar of water, just in case they will take.
The scientific name is plectranthus australis, the label calls it 'sweedish ivy'. I learned that I had been overwatering (no surprise) it should be watered only once a month in the winter, and once every other week in warmer months. No fertilizer in winter (in my house, that means remember to give it tapwater instead of tank water). Also, it is related to coleus! Makes sense, when I look closer at the leaf and stem structure.

frog visitor

The other day during heavy rain I was moving a few plant pots on the deck under the table, to avoid a beating. Found a small frog in my spearmint pot. I think it is a gray treefrog.

08 September 2017

photos of a fish

I was trying once again to get some pictures of Perry. They were coming out like this:
Until I thought to offer him a single flake of food-
that got him to pause still long enough.
I swear his colors are bolder when he is excited about food. This pic blurred but I like the form.

07 September 2017

glowing celosia

I rather like how the celosia patch looks around my mailbox, right now. Turns out the height is just right- they have gotten large enough the blooms are impressive now, but aren't so big to fall over easily when the ground is soft after rain. Most of them have this fan shape with the wildly ruffled top edge:
But there is one individual plant that has tightly crinkled globe-shaped blooms (like pictured on my seed packet).
And in the planter box where I replaced cilantro with celosia seedlings- they are puny and thin, but bright and pretty regardless.

06 September 2017

coleus here and there

I noticed that of all my coleus plants, the ones in pots on my deck are leggy, unhappy and leaves going pale. I think too much sun. I cut those back and moved them to a shady spot against a fence, at the end of the tithonia row where I can still see them and keep an eye on how they recover or not. Whereas the pink ones in reliable shade under trees in the sideyard are doing the best. They look great (and those in the front of the house that get more sun are just okay)
Next to it is the joe pye weed 'chocolate'- hasn't grown very large this year but it looks like it's doing well since the transplant.
The 'kiwi fern' coleus is looking awful at end of summer like usual- pale rusty appearance to most of the foliage (healthy stuff is the redder, purplish color). I think again it is from too much sun.
I moved one of these to sit between two mint pots, and the other to sit next to my large jade, both shadier corners of the deck.
The spearmint got moved to a sunnier spot and cut back severely- it looked all scraggly and awful.
Choc mints got a trim, too- but they are doing much better (which is great, because I like them!)
I kept a bunch of cuttings from the trim, to start new plants (probably they will be gifts). Love how the light shines through them in the windowsill.
And this plant doesn't really fit the post, but look how well my jade has grown out since its struggles with bugs earlier this year. If I can just transition it to go back inside for winter, without introducing pests to my houseplants again...

05 September 2017

some yard plants

Checking up on them. I pruned my flowering crab apple tree in the front yard today- for the first time ever. Tired of getting hit in the face by low-hanging branches when I mow, if I forget to duck. I used clippers and a handsaw. Cut out all the branches that are too low, then took out a few larger and higher ones that were obviously dead. I tried to keep it looking balanced. I was cleaning up when a guy who had been working in someone else's yard across the street approached me and asked if I was done- offered his services "for next time" including what I'm sure he thought was a plus: "we haul it all away when we're done!" I shrugged at him: "that's okay, I use it. I do composting and burn the branches in my fireplace in winter. I don't need anything hauled off." And I prefer to do the work myself, if I can. He looked a bit surprised, probably most people don't want to do the work I guess.

Cleaning up elsewhere in the yard- taking out older stems of daisies, clipping spent flowers on the tithonia so it will keep blooming- I saw some things that look particularly nice so went back around with my camera. Turtlehead is blooming! The dark foliage tends to blend into the background, so it looks as if the pink flowers are floating, sometimes. I can't quite get that effect with the camera, though. Around a tree:
Next to my veggie garden:
Flanking that, the sensitive fern is still lovely.
Of all the areas where I have planted salvia, this one by a tree in the backyard near a fence is doing the best. It has larger leaves and is untouched by insects. The parent plant I took cuttings of for all the rest, is doing worst right now. I don't know if because it needs to be refreshed (dug up and divided) or because growing near the columbine which attracts pests, it gets the brunt of insect damage.
My clematis was looking so terrible earlier in the summer I thought it had died. But now it is growing a new tendril and even has a few flower buds again. It doesn't hold well onto the decking post. I think I need to tie some more strings up for it to hold.
I don't know what happened to the sedums around the stump in my front yard. Lower parts of stems the foliage has all blackened and died. Is it something from the rotting wood affecting it? or a bug, or a sickness... New foliage seems to be growing, however. I need to clean the dead stuff out and cut it back.
The cuttings of it I transplanted to another spot behind my lilac, are doing great. No withered leaves here. You can see it is quite different from the stonecrop I planted it among- and I kind of like the mixed look.