25 July 2017

container pond?

Well here's this little experiment- I filled a ceramic pot with tank water and threw a handful of substrate and some plant trimmings in there, weeks ago. It has no drainage hole so attempts to put terrestrial plants in it have failed in the past, but it's such a nice pot I don't want to risk cracking it by trying to drill holes. I thought: why not a small container pond? Problem is our exterior outlet on this level of the desk doesn't work, so I have no filter running. That rules out fish. It's just over five gallons.
There's a terra cotta pot in there on its side- at first I thought a few endlers, guppies or mosquitofish could survive in here and have some shelter.... I threw in some watersprite, duckweed, subwassertang, hornwort and elodea. The watersprite and elodea outright died. Subwassertang got pulled for my fry box a few weeks ago. Duckweed is super happy. It's multiplying, has better color than in my indoor tank, undersides turn purple and roots are thicker.
Hornwort grows differently than from in my tanks. Needles are very fine, short and dense. It's rather pretty. A few days ago I cleaned out tons of dead, rotting stuff left from its transition period and now there are just a few bunches of it in here, but I'm sure it will keep going.
It's kinda scummy down in there, from the dying plant bits. I did toss in a few small malaysian trumpet snails just for the heck of it, don't know if they're alive. I keep a window screen over it most times, but don't mind gathering the few mosquito larvae that show up, to feed my tetras.
It doesn't get fed. When the water gets low, if it isn't raining I add a bit of tank water, that's it. I'd like to try water lettuce, I think it would look nice, but I haven't yet made the trip out to the lfs where I've seen it for sale.

24 July 2017

another new thing

for my window tank- I saw a few weeks ago that a branch up high in one of our maple trees had broken off. When it finally came down I cut it up into what I thought might be some interesting pieces to go across the back of the tank and hold the java ferns up higher, making kind of a shelter underneath them.
It looks pretty dry all through. I have been soaking it in changes of boiling hot water.
First round to get the bark stripped off, after that only two soaks seem to have removed most of the tannins. But I am not going to add the wood to the tank until I am ready to move it onto the new stand, and all that after the baby fish is big enough to handle the stress of such changes. Will do it all at once. More time for the wood to soak and waterlog.
Here's a quick pic of the tank, current state- last week I added another clump of windelov on a stone, from the betta tank- Fabio is resting in the background so not visible but the largest cory does a lot of 'glass surfing' so there he is, darting across-

flowers

Last week we had dinner guests and I cut some flowers for a vase- sweet peas, echinacea, gladiolas and some coleus tucked among them.
Now they are fading and going into the compost, but it was pretty for a short while.

23 July 2017

fish concerns

aren't there always some? My striped kuhli Sassy has never gained weight like all the others. She quit wasting away, but isn't actually improving. I have treated the tank several times now with different meds for internal parasites, not sure what else it could be.

Two of my peppered cories don't look well. I wondered if the smallest one was a runt or unwell, because it didn't grow like the others- four are now the same size, one has remained small. Perhaps it will always be smaller. But now one of the fullsize cories appears listless and weak- the current pushes it around and often I find it motionless among some plant stems, twice I have found it limp drifted against the pothos roots or underside of the fry box. I haven't treated with anything because I don't know what's wrong with it. I thought the frequent small wc I'm doing for the fry would help it- but it seems to be going downhill.

I also worried that something I did recently has harmed it. I added more pothos stems across the back of the tank (stuck through a strip of plastic that has regular holes, from one of the kids' building kits). And I'm using wood stain on the tank stand in progress- I'm working in the basement, running fans and keeping the doors closed between, but still I can smell the fumes in the house. But none of the other fishes seem affected, especially the fry I would think is more sensitive.
Mostly though I think Sam is going to have a short life.
He has been developing these lumps on his left side. Here's the good side, to compare.
At first it just looked like his scales were ruffled, but now I can definitely make out two bumps:
Also there appears to be a lump behind his pectoral fin or gill on this side as well- you can kind of see here how the gill plate is lifted
and from above, visible is a lump where his fin joins the body, and it looks white behind it.
I think it is lymphocystis, gah. Or possibly an internal bacterial infection. The only thing I know to do is try tetracycline if it's an infection, keep his water clean and wait to see if it goes away if lymphocystis; if some kind of tumor there is no cure. He still has great color, is active and eats like normal, so he can't be feeling too bad.

22 July 2017

it's pink

My second african violet has finally bloomed- and go figure, it's pink like the other one. All this time I was hoping for purple.

tank stand build

I am making a stand for my window tank. Tired of it being on a tv table, and have decided I do want to keep this tank going, it's not temporary anymore so it needs a decent support. First I drew up a design and asked for feedback on the forum- they said it will be plenty strong enough (overkill for a 20g really) so that's good.
We bought some wood. 2x2's for the corner support posts, pine and plywood in various thickness for the top, base and sides, mdf for the middle upright (which isn't weight-bearing) and one piece of orientated strand board for the back (very strong, cheaper and it won't be visible).
My husband has been helping a lot- especially with the power tools.
He's also better at making precise measurements than I am.
Top, base and supports screwed together:
Back panel screwed on:
Sides and middle upright added- with wood glue and clamps. (The shelf is sitting in there on the bottom left)-
Finger holes drilled for the doors- here just sitting in place to visualize
Shelf will go like this on the left-
The holes for screws were pre-drilled so screw heads would sit under the top/base surface. I cut small pieces of 3/4" doweling and pushed them tight into the holes, then sanded the tops off smooth and level.  (Also realized a real downside to pine- it is soft and already got some dings. Dang it)
Now I'm working on applying layers of wood stain- here to the shelf and doors-
and to the rest of it. When the stain is all done I will do two layers of polyurethane to seal against moisture, then screw on the shelf supports and door hinges.
So there are some uneven parts- there wasn't supposed to be a lip showing on the edge of the base on the sides, for example, and you can see above that the doors aren't perfectly square. But I am pleased with the results so far- it is very sturdy and pretty level considering it's the first time I've built something like this.

21 July 2017

some garden food

I have been neglecting the garden. For a while couldn't do much out there, and now that my doctor has given permission to get my hands dirty again, it's so hot I don't want to be out there. Just a few hours after dawn and at dusk when the temperatures are cooler. So production is not at best. I am still using herbs a lot, and starting to pick cherry tomatoes now and then.

The other day I pulled a bunch of carrots and steamed them. Very good! No more of that odd faintly soapy aftertaste I used to get with carrots. I wonder if it is companion planting with tomatoes that made the difference.
Green beans are pathetic again- this is all I got off all the plants. They look peaky from insect damage- leaf hoppers from what I can tell. But steady watering has got a new burst of flowers, so I am hoping for more in a little while.

mistakes

I made a few mistakes which could have cost me my fry.

Too many mosquito larvae. I got excited to see the fry could actually eat them, so last time collected larvae I took all the teeniest ones out of the main jar, and then after letting dirt settle, got the even smaller ones out of the stuff that went through the shrimp net. It was over twenty tiny tiny larvae. I could only see them because they wiggled. I thought the fry wouldn't find them all, some would escape the mesh box or elude the little fish and get eaten later.  But I guess that fry is good at hunting them down, or it only takes a few to fill its tummy.

Later I looked in the box and to my alarm saw the fry hovering very still at the top of the water column. Its stomach was twice as large as I've ever seen. It obviously ate too much. I didn't know what to do besides a water change might help it feel a little better, so I did that. And didn't feed pulverized foods that evening, let it just pick stuff off the subwasser if it needed.

Next morning fry looked normal again, moving around constantly on its search for food. It is getting better at swimming, movement more smooth not so jerky. I will only give it five or ten larvae at a time now.

Another day I started to get concerned about my cories. They have been looking pale and a bit pinched, especially the smallest one. I have not kept cories since I was a kid, and back then I wouldn't have known what to look for, so it's hard for me to tell if they are underweight or not. When they swim up against the glass it looks like there is a slight keel shape underneath just behind the head, that doesn't look right to me. And their tummies are not very rounded- not sunken, just flat. The other day the smallest one was sitting very listlessly on the bottom and I swear it looked like a snail was moving in on it.

Two things could be wrong- recently I put a piece of pantyhose over the filter intake. I thought this would keep out little trumpet snails, and when I release my serpae fry into the tank, ease worry at it getting sucked into the filter. But I think it hindered the flow too much, I noticed the current across top of water very slowed down. So I took it off and the flow back up immediately the little fishes are swimming around frisky again. I will just have to be sure the fry is big enough, and I'm sure a healthy one can stay clear of the filter.

But today filter was overflowing, problem again. This didn't seem to be affecting the fishes yet, but I gently rinsed out the media, lots of hornwort needles clogging it. And then when I started it up again there was a rattle. I had to disassemble again and tip upside down and rinse to get it out. A tiny trumpet snail had got down into the bottom of the filter, sigh. All is running smooth again. I worried these filter disruptions would affect the fry, but it looks okay.

Also having issues with feeding. It's the opposite of my prior problem. Now it is Fabio who hogs the food. When I drop in three or four shrimp pellets at night it doesn't help, Fabio finds them anyway and in the morning he looks engorged, the cories pinched. The cories don't seem to like the soaked betta pellets so I went and bought some sinking Hikari wafers made specially for catfishes and loaches, and some NLS pellets- both among the best fish foods you can buy. Fabio hogs this too, of course and it's not the best food for him. I slightly overfed last night in hopes Fabio would stop with a tummy ache and the cories get some. This morning my cories look plump and happy, Fabio sits motionless and fat at thè substrate. It's not good for him. I don't know how to keep him away from the food not meant for him.

~ Wrote that two days ago. Hornwort still shedding like crazy, but only half the stems- the others seem to have adjusted and are holding their needles. I cleaned the filter out again- decaying needles clogging the flow- and removed all the unhealthy stems. Also decided to only do the small wc once a day- maybe that will ease the stress on this plant.

19 July 2017

fulltank shot and more

Main tank- quick photo from yesterday, showing how much more open the crypt thicket looks with the subwassertang trimmed back in front of it.
Here's my young crypt wendtii (bottom center)- and there's another one further back sprouted up near the driftwood.
and a bunch of little crypt petchii
I don't know why this young one of the unnamed green cluster is still slower-growing than the others
My one buce in here- 'emerald green' - is doing surprisingly well, sprouting a new leaf.
Hygro thicket has gotten very tall, I've let it grow higher than usual.

serpae fry: two weeks

At best estimate, my fry is two weeks old now. I tried very hard to get a photo, but there's no way my camera can replicate what my eyes see. I can now make out the adipose fin and I can see its digestive tract. With the thick layer of subwassertang now on the bottom of the box, it's often hard to see the fry at first-
but it's fun to watch it hunting down mosquito larvae in the greenery. It's learned to find them at the water surface, too, and to take food bites there. In this picture the fry is on the left just above that strip of light, head up tail down.
This picture it's in the upper right corner of the box.
Closest I could get, fry just above the subwassertang.

18 July 2017

gone snail

Well I think I found out why nitrates were high. My blue ramshorn snail is dead already. Bummer. I noticed it hadn't been moving in a few days, and plucked it out of the tank into a small container of tank water to observe, but that night the whole room stank like rotten something. Snail is gone.

It must get the blue color from the body tissue? The shell when empty is all white.

17 July 2017

mosquito larvae: food!

I have read often about how great mosquito larvae are for fish food- perfect nutrition. Even about how to collect them, but I never really recognized them until I peered close into this puddle in my yard on top of a tarp, and saw tiny things jerking around in the dim water. Not too hard to get them with a gentle siphon of finger on end of straw. They're evasive, though- especially the bigger ones- if see or sense end of the straw coming, jerk down to the bottom and I have to wait for them to come up to the surface again. Their movement is very herky jerky. I've got some in my little idea of a container pond, too- in spite of having laid a piece of window screen over it apparently a mosquito got in.

I don't want to put the dirty water in my tank, though. To clean the larvae first I pour them through a fine mesh shrimp net, gets out most of the dirt. Then dump the trapped larvae into a small container of tank water. Let the remaining specks of dirt settle. Siphon out the larvae into another jar of clean water. Siphon back out of that jar individual specks of dirt that still get through. Then I hope it's pretty clean, or at least diluted enough. Doesn't take long to do.

Adult serpaes absolutely love to eat these little wiggly things. First time I gave one to Samblu he didn't seem to see it. Kept looking up to the circle of his feeding ring, wondering where the offering was, as the larva jerked down to hide among the plants. I watched but didn't see it come up again. So I don't know if Sam ever ate it. Later I offered him some when the tank light was on- he immediately snapped them up. Ate six. Ooh, he liked it when they wiggled around!

I really like this form of pest control! First time I did not realize that the roundish jerking things in same puddle were the mosquito pupae, which is the last stage just before they emerge as adults. I didn't collect them then, because I thought they were some other insect, and some are not good to introduce to your tank. When I knew what they were I make sure to get all of those from the puddle. I collect every other day, or every three days now. I must be doing a decent job of catching all the grown larvae before they hit the next stage, because last few times I didn't see any pupae at all.

I'm still unable to recognize the egg rafts, though. A fellow fish keeper gave me a tip: if I put the eggs in the fry box, when the larvae hatch out too small to see, the baby fish can eat them. But when I peer at the surface of the puddle, I don't see anything that looks like a raft of eggs. However today for the third time I collected from my jar the tiniest larvae (can barely see them at all) turned off the filter (so they wouldn't get sucked out of the fry box right away- they are tiny enough to go through that mesh) and dipped them into the water, then sat and strained my eyes for the longest time. I wanted to actually see the baby fish eat a mosquito larva, to know if it was worth the effort to gather up these tiniest ones- or if they were still too big for his mouth. Finally I saw the fry eat one. That was satisfying. I know I have good food for it now.

tenner update

Today I deep-cleaned the second half of substrate in my betta tank. First time around I had only cleaned the left side, avoiding doing all at once for how much ammonia that would create. The job went a bit easier this time- I still had to siphon out over 20 gallons of water to get it clean enough, then did two nearly-nintey-percent water changes to remove ammonia- in all refilling the tank three times. Samblu is in the temporary bin again. With a proper sponge filter this time that I squeezed in some of the dirty water- so that he will have the good bacteria to keep the bin parameters relatively steady. It all seems to have gone smoothly. Afterwards the tank only has 0.5ppm ammonia, and the bin itself 0.25. That's better than last time. So I think Sam might be above to move back into his home tomorrow, or the day after.

The tank looks the same as before; I didn't really rescape just put plants and harscape back where it was. Tuft of algae on java fern leaf tip is staghorn. It's the same gray fuzzy stuff was on the driftwood I took out. Typically shows up in tanks with low c02 and high ammonia, no surprise there. I hope my tank will stay in better condition, now. Would like to introduce a few trumpet snails again, but not sure if they will survive. I'm wonder if they simply starved- as there is no algae, and Sam eats every bite I give him, what is left for the snails. I had never thought to actually feed them....

16 July 2017

full herbs

Basil is nice, now. Surprisingly I haven't started eating any of it yet! I have cherry tomatoes, too.
This is that end of the herb garden bed that I cut back last month. All filled in again already.