Nine Months

Well, it has been an extraordinarily long time since my last post. After the disaster detailed in my last post I have to admit that I’ve lost  an enormous amount of my motivation.

After the new tank got settled in, we went ahead and added some Oto Catfish and two Bristle Nose Catfish (after a week’s quarantine of course). However, that week in QT wasn’t enough and the entire 125 gallon tank succumbed to Ich. Two of the otos went into the 20 gallon and one into the 10 gallon so that both of those tanks would each have three total (Oto Catfish like to have friends) and neither of those tanks contracted Ich, so perhaps it was the Breistle Nose Catfish.

Regardless, we raised the temperature of the tank to 84 degrees and treated with Copper Safe. Unfortunately one of the Julii Corys did not make it. We knew 84 degrees was high for them, but you have to do what you have to do or they’d all suffer. The Copper Safe also decimated the snails in the tank. It didn’t kill them all, but most of them.

In the weeks after treatment was finished we lost another two Julii Corys. They never did look all that well in comparison to the other Corys in the tank so perhaps they had something else wrong with them. They now number at 5, however we hardly ever see them. They are no where near as social as the other Corys.

Speaking of other Corys, we moved the Bronze Corys from the 10 gallon to the 125 gallon because the Betta was too aggressive and was attacking the Corys during feedings. We haven’t added the final fish we wanted for the 125 gallon yet, the Marble Hatchet Fish. Mainly it is because we can’t find them, but also the problem of loosing motivation. It’s getting harder and harder to put the time and effort into changing the water each week, so I may just leave it as is to keep the tank under stocked.

The plants are all hanging on. I wouldn’t say thriving, but everything is living. We did add a bunch of new plants with a hint of red color in them so that everything in the tank wasn’t green. However, since we have a Duckweed problem and since the Water Sprite grows so darn quickly, the lighting levels below the surface of the tank are quite low. Every week I have to scoop out 75% of the floating plants so that some light will get down below. The Pygmy Chain Swords at first went mad sending out runners. Now only a few are, and they are not very strong. So the floating plants are doing fantastic, the substrate plants are merely hanging on.

Ups and Downs

General log update for the day.

The tanks are still chugging along, plants are thickening up nicely. In the 20 gallon I had to trim down and spread out the Wisteria as it has really taken off, one stem in particular has gone crazy. I’ve also replenished the root tabs as we’ve hit the 3 month mark. In the 10 gallon the Wisteria, again, had to be trimmed back. This is defiantly the all star plant for growth that I have.

I’m surprised that the Amazon Frogbit floating in the tanks hasn’t taken off. It’s growing, but slowly which I feel is unusual as people often claim they must thin it out weekly from their tanks. A couple possible reasons, not enough nutrients or the water is too soft (which is really again just a lack of nutrients). I’ve increased the dose of Flourish Comprehensive to twice weekly to see if that helps. I’ve also ordered Seachem Equilibrium to raise my water from 1.9-2.5 dGH to somewhere in the area of 4.9-5.5 dGH. I’ve read that 3 dGH is the minimum for plants so I want to bump that up and see what happens. Equilibrium is formulated in a way that it will only increase GH while leaving KH (and thus pH) alone.

In addition to the Wisteria taking off, my Red Tiger Lotus has also gone mad, shooting up a new leaf every 3 or so days, and all of them are staying fairly low to the substrate. I moved the sand castle that houses the Java Fern a little to the left and forward to give the Amazon Sword more room, and to keep the Java Fern from touching the heater. This is causing the Java Fern to somewhat shade the Red Tiger Lotus and it isn’t happy about that. It’s sending its leaves up to clear the Java Fern, but that’s okay. Believe it or not but I actually wanted it to send leaves up to the surface so they could provide shade, which is the opposite of what most people want it seams. Oh well, it’s truly a nice looking plant.

Here are a pair of photos showing off the tanks.

10 Gallon April 5 2012

10 Gallon April 5 2012

20 Gallon April 5 2012

20 Gallon April 5 2012

Red Tiger Lotus

Red Tiger Lotus New Growth

Unfortunately I did come across a problem. One of my Oto Catfish developed what I’m guessing is an injury. I can only assume that one of the Serpae Tetra chomped onto his back end because there is red going all the way around his body. It dosen’t fit the pictures for any disease that I could find, so I don’t believe he was sick. Unfortunately, he didn’t survive so I am down one Oto.

 

Hurt Oto Catfish

Hurt Oto Catfish

To see if it was a water quality issue I tested everything in the tank. The pH has dropped to 6.4 which wasn’t unexpected. It has slowly been going down from the 7.2 I started at since my KH is so low and 6.4 is a good number for soft water fish like what I keep. Ammonia is 0 ppm and Nitrite is also 0 ppm which is perfect. The Nitrates however were by best guess 20 ppm which is higher than I’d like, I prefer it to be more around the 5 ppm mark. It’s hard to tell though, on the color card 10 ppm and 20 ppm look far too similar. To be safe I changed an extra bucket of water during my weekly water change (6 gallons instead of my usual 4). I may have to continue doing a 3 bucket change to keep the Nitrates as low as possible. I know 20 ppm isn’t something to worry over, most people with non-planted tanks see values of 40 ppm or higher, but still, planted tanks should be fairly close to 0 ppm.

For the 125 gallon I haven’t posted any updates recently. The project is still moving along. New carpet is getting installed this week which is the first major objective to getting this thing on the road. The next is the stand, I have the basic frame 99% completed and even have the inside completely painted. The only thing left to make the frame 100% is to cut access holes in the back plywood for hoses and power cords to go through. Then to finish out the stand I need to skin it in oak and put the trim on. I’ve had the oak plywood on hand for weeks, but am just nervous on actually cutting it. The cost is very high for the plywood so any mistakes will make a huge dent to the wallet. I’ll have to get on that this week though so I can buy the trim and get the entire thing stained so it can hopefully be ready this next weekend to start setting up.

After the stand is completed, and the carpet is installed, it will be time to do the hardscape. I’ll need to shop around some local landscape supply stores to try and find some very coarse sand which is more like gravel but 1-2 mm in size. If I can’t find any, I’ll just go with play sand which is very inexpensive but does require an enormous amount of cleaning. The hardest part of the hardscape will be the terraces and I’m still not 100% sure on how I’m going to go about it. People have said styrofoam, but I’ve also read that it can break apart when kept under water and I don’t want to deal with that sometime down the road. I’ll probably have to find some bricks to use, small ones.

Then once all that grunt work is done, it will be time for the fun part, finally! Ordering plants and stocking with fish! I already have the equipment on hand. A canister filter, two 300W heaters, two floating thermometers, and a 48″ dual T8 light fixture with two 6500K bulbs. For the canister filter I have the Fluval ceramic pre-filter rings, a sponge, filter floss, and some bio rings. I don’t think the bio rings will be necessary with all the plants but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Wish me luck!

Malaysian Driftwood

We ordered an 8 pack of Malaysian Driftwood online from a store called SeaCorals. It was very reasonably priced at $48 shipped so we jumped on it. After all, we have that 125 gallon that needs plenty of driftwood in it. The major downside to ordering online is you don’t get to know what you’ll be getting until it arrives. The big fear is you’ll get a boring flat piece. Well, that’s part of the reason for the 8 pack, plenty of changes to get something good.

Here is a picture of what we got, I think we did pretty good!

Malaysian Driftwood

Malaysian Driftwood Collectiond

The picture isn’t of very good quality. I used the point and shoot instead of the DSLR, plus I think a certain 2 year old finger printed the lens. Anyways, I particularly like the branchy looking one, plus a couple have a nice arch shape to them on the bottom that should make for a very nice natural cave for fish to hid under. I can also make some good shapes by combing two or more together. I’m actually tempted to order another 8 pack ;) We’ll need to go out and buy a large storage tub that we can fill with water to start soaking these and get the worst of the tannins out. My wife has already laid claim to one of the smaller pieces for the 10 gallon tank…

More New Friends

We’ve got a few new additions for the 10 gallon betta tank to fully stock it. Four new Bronze Corys now populate the lower levels of the tank, and they absolutly love to sift through the sand stiring up a cloud of dirt. Hopefully, after numerous partial water changes, the cloudlyness will subside. You can see them in the picture below, they are the blurs as they zip around the tank. I’m sure as they get settled they’ll calm down. The betta has not cared at all, he seams more interested in trying to eat the Malaysian Trumpet Snails, which are smart enough to stay under the sand while the light is on.

New Corys

New Corys

This has convinced me though that when we go to a 120 or 125 gallon that we will not use play sand. While it works, and looks good, it is VERY dirty and takes forever to clean. I spent a good hour outside with the hose and a bucket stiring it up to kick up dirt, and dumping, yet it still clouds up the tank if disturbed. You can see in the front left that they have moved the sand back a little making a little dune.

In the 20 gallon there isn’t anything new going on, life as normal. Here is a picture of the blue mystery snail crusing the plants.

Snail

Snail Crusing Plants

We’ve got snails!

We’ve proudly added some new inhabitants to both of our tanks, and yes you heard correctly. Snails! Most people consider these guys to be pests as they multiply like rabbits and overrun their tanks. However, that only occurs if you over feed your fish. Snails will only replicate up to a population that can be supported. These often go by the names Pond, Ramshorn, and Malaysian Trumpet Snails. Each are very distinct in appearance.

Of course, you can also get mystery snails, also known as Apple snails, which are not asexual and require both a male and a female to reproduce. We got one each, a blue for the 20 gallon and a yellow for the 10 gallon. In addition to those two we got a handful of MTS, 18 to be exact.

The MTS also offer the benefit of burrowing into the substrate which really helps in keeping a sand substrate aerated. For food all these snails will happily eat dead and decaying plant mater, they will also consume any left over food from the fish (remember, over feeding means food for snails which means they’ll replicate to consume it all). They are the vacuum cleaners of the fish tank! Snails will also eat some forms of algae, but it is not their preferred form of food so don’t rush out to buy a mystery snail or two to fix an algae problem. I’ll have to write an article later about algae outbreaks, what causes them, and how to solve it. Suffice it to say it does not involve buying any invertebrates, or fish.