75G Scape – Holiday Update

December 29th, 2007

Here’s an updated picture of my 75G tank. As you can see, it has really started to fill in, and besides needing a trim, I’m pretty happy with how it’s looking. The Utricularia graminfolia in the foreground has started growing over and on top of itself, and the Ludwigia and Limnophilia aromatica on the left/middle have started to layer themselves and bush out quite nicely.

75G - 12-29-2007

I’ve still got a little bit of black-brush-algae on some of the rocks and wood, but it’s being kept in check by my algae crew, and actually gives the tank a bit of a natural flare. (Or that’s the story I’m going with for now.) The Blyxa japonica looks as good as it ever has since I’ve been growing it, and the Blyxa aubertii is actually starting to look a tad nicer as well, since I moved it from my 40G. All-in-all, I’m looking forward to shaping this scape slightly with some trimming, and fine tuning, but the initial work is done. I’d love to hear your comments/critiques!

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40G Scape – Holiday Update

December 22nd, 2007

It’s been awhile since I last showed a picture of my 40G tank. I’ve been trying to fight an algae problem in this tank by adding more circulation. I recently hooked up an old Fluval 304 canister filter that I had sitting in the basement. It did a good job for awhile, but just yesterday, I noticed that it had air-locked, and was not circulating any water. I have no idea why that happened, as I’m not injecting any CO2 into this filter — that still goes through the Eheim 2213 — but it happened nevertheless. Hopefully that won’t be a reoccurring situation.

40G - 12-22-2007

Additionally, I recently added Didiplis diandra and Rotala rotundifolia to the back, right-hand, corner, so that’s why it’s a bit bare back there in this picture. (It still hasn’t grown over-top of the rocks.) I need to trim the Rotala macrandra var. ‘green,’ but I’m very pleased with how orange it is getting, with nice bushy growth. I still can’t say enough nice things about the Eriocaulaceae sp. ‘Type 2’ as it doesn’t shoot to the water’s surface, regardless of whether I trim it or not. I love how it wraps around from the foreground to background, and can be trimmed to pretty much whatever mid-ground height I want it to stay at.

On a different note, I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday! Cheers!

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Pelvicachromis Pulcher Super Red

December 17th, 2007

After much consideration, I finally decided upon this Pelvicachromis pulcher ‘Super Red’ pair to occupy the other side of my 75G from the Nannochromis nudiceps. These fish are a color variation of your common P. pulcher kribensis that are far redder than the normal variety.

Pelvicachromis Pulcher Super Red Male

Purchased from SCALES in Silver Spring, MD, I was informed that this pair had already spawned in store, yielding a small group of fry that were taken home by an employee. Already in my 75G, I witnessed plenty of fin flashing and body wiggling between the pair. Even weirder, I’ve seen the female display the same motions toward the male N. nudiceps. Clearly this female is both confused, and ready for motherhood!

Pelvicachromis Pulcher Super Red Female

The female is by far the more beautiful fish of the pair. Her belly is a ripe red color, with some really nice spots on her fins. The yellow is also quite intense. The female kribensis has a very interesting body shape, as her belly seems slightly out of proportion from the rest of her. Hopefully I’ll be able to report a successful spawning sometime soon!

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40G: Odds and Ends

December 16th, 2007

This weekend, I finally decided that both Hygrophilia sp. ‘Sarawak’ and the Potamegeton sp. from Florida were not working well in my aquascape. I wanted to add some smaller leafed stems, and happened to see Didiplis diandra and Rotala rotundifolia at a local fish store, so I bought a few stems of each. Ripping out the previous two plants ended up sending debris all throughout the tank, as you can see on the Anubias leafs below.

Olive Nerite Snail on Anubias

Speaking of the Anubias barteri ‘coffeefolia,’ it is growing quite nicely in the tank right now. It’s sending up new leaves rather frequently, and the Olive Nerite Snails, are doing their job keeping them largely free of spot algae. (If I could keep some hair algae out of this tank, that would be fantastic!)

New Anubias Leaf

Additionally, probably about 3 months ago, I purchased a bag of Windelov’s Java Fern at a GWAPA auction. As soon as I stuck it in the tank, it completely melted. I’m glad to see that the rhizome did not die, as it’s finally sending up some new leaves, as shown below.

Windelov Java Fern

Any time I get around this particular tank with a camera, the fish either go perfectly still, or hiding in the back corners. Luckily, this time, I caught this group of Melanotaenia praecox hovering, watching me and my camera very closely. Every time the flash went off, this fish got a little bit spooked, so after 1-2 shots, I let them be.

Melanotaenia praecox

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An Aquascapers Holiday Wishlist

December 12th, 2007

It’s the holiday season, and the time where many show their friends and family that they care by exchanging gifts. Not surprisingly, those trying to buy for the aquarium keeper, particularly the planted aquarium keeper, are a little baffled by our wish lists. And who can blame them? The iPod, Elmo, or latest bestseller are great for many folks, but they’re not exactly useful in an aquarium. Let me help everyone out by supplying a short list of perfect gifts for the aquarium keeper.

Dirt – Yes, that’s right, dirt. And, if it’s fancy ADA kiln-fired dirt from Japan, that’s really going to tickle their fancy. Of course, if cost is an issue, nothing shows love like “homemade dirt,” dried and aged topsoil, free of humus, that will happily supply nutrients to root feeding plants without causing green water.

Fertilizer – No, you probably won’t end up on Homeland Security’s watch list for buying this for us. (No guarantee’s though!) Simple fact, the plants need it, and we need to supply it. It might not seem like the warm and cuddly gift, but we’ll use it daily, and our plants will thank you.

Air – What could be easier? It’s all around us, but if you could simply separate the CO2 out and bottle it, we’d be most appreciative. Nothing says love like a bottle full of nothing!

Worms – Creepy, crawly, and utterly delicious, or so I’m told by my fish. Avoid the candy-coated nuts, and fine chocolates — they’re just a sticky mess in the aquarium. The worms will do, and the fish will thank you!

Technology – Finally something you’re used to, right? Well, this stuff can’t be found in any big-box gadget store. We want pH readers, state-of-the-art lights, pumps that push massive amounts of water, water heaters, and water purification systems.

Sticks – This gift does indeed grow on trees! But, don’t think it’s as simple as going out and sawing down a Christmas tree. Oh no, this needs to be a special piece that’s dried out, free of sap, full of character, and boiled to perfection. And after all of that, if it sinks it’ll raise a smile.

Stones – Always wanted to fill someone’s stocking with rocks, but never had the guts? Well, here’s you’re opportunity, and they might even thank you for it! Please don’t waste your money on any fancy, shiny, polished rocks from the jewelers. We much prefer rocks that are course, unrefined, and look like miniature mountains.

So there you have it. I hope I’ve helped clarify what every aquarium keeper dreams to find inside their gift-wrapped package. Make your slightly eccentric loved one happy, by giving a gift they’ll truly appreciate. Good luck, and Happy Holidays!

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An Illustration of Shade

December 10th, 2007

I maintain my 54G corner tank in a very low-tech fashion; I don’t use CO2, and I allow Phyllanthus fluitans, or Red-Root Floater, to help suck up any excess nutrients. What that means is that after about a months time, the floater has completely covered the surface, shading out everything below.

54G - 12/10/2007

Look at how much darker the tank is above with the floater, verses below, without it, albeit, this is probably common sense. This tank is easy to forget about as it generally maintains itself, but it always reminds me to do a water change and remove some of the floaters when the tank is quite dark. It’s a nice visual cue.

54G - 12/10/2007

And just because he was out and about while I was taking the above pictures, here’s another picture of my Irian Red Rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisus).

Red Rainbowfish

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Utricularia graminifolia

December 8th, 2007

The Utricularia graminifolia is starting to grow in in the 75G tank. It’s still not really that full, but you can start seeing some little leaves pop up from the aquasoil substrate. My theory is that this plant takes longer than others to get going because it requires a more mature tank with more microorganisms to get caught in its bladders. Of course, I can’t say that I’ve grown it predictably enough to have it fully understood at this point.

Utricularia graminifolia

What I know is that that once I start seeing “trailers” like the ones below, that that plant is well on its way to filling in. I’ve also had a number of “trailers” growing up into the water column, making the foreground look too tall and shabby, but I’ve gradually cut those off and replanted them in the bare areas to try and get them going.

Utricularia graminifolia

Additionally, the Nannochromis nudiceps seem to have gotten over their digging fascination, so they’re no longer pulling up, or covering up, the Utricularia graminifolia directly in front of their “underground lair.”

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Welcome Home Red Lizards

December 6th, 2007

After nearly 6 weeks in 20L, I finally returned my four Red Lizard Catfish, Hemiloricaria sp. ‘Red’ (L10a), to the 75G tank. I’ve been leaving them out for two reasons: I wanted the water chemistry in the 75G to stabilize, and I wanted the Utricularia graminfolia to get partially established before I reintroduced them to the tank.

Red Lizard Catfish

These pale reddish catfish are quite lazy fish in my tanks. They spend a large deal of their time lounging on the substrate or hardscape. It would be fantastic if they actually ate some of the black-brush-algae they’re laying on in the pictures. Fortunately, the Amano shrimp are slowly mowing that down.

Red Lizard Catfish

Despite their less-than-ideal appetite for algae, they stay small, and they’re colorful, so I enjoy having them in my tank. They’ve already seemed to settle back into their larger home. The 75G is quickly turning into a catfish tank with all of the corydoras, Ancistrus sp. L279, and these guys.

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GWAPA – Nov/Dec 2007 Meeting

December 4th, 2007

Viktor kindly hosted GWAPA December meeting this past weekend. Since the holidays are so busy, GWAPA combines the November and December meetings into one meeting; this year a holiday potluck. Besides being fantastic aquarium keepers, we’ve got a few good cooks in the club too. I really enjoyed a number of the salads that were brought, Dave’s sausage rolls, the various dips, yeah… pretty much everything. Oh, and the desserts were good too — especially the fudge!

Viktor's low-tech tank

Besides eating and socializing, we also finalized the GWAPA board. I was fortunate enough to be elected the club president, which is a challenge I’m really looking forward to in 2008. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want the driving focus of the club to be this year, but with a few local stores already expressing an interest to work with us, I’m hoping to help get some workshops off the ground.

Of course, one of the treasures of GWAPA is our members’ ability to create beautiful tanks in many different ways. Above, Viktor has created a wonderful planted aquascape without CO2, without a designer substrate (soil), and that doesn’t require constant attention or water changes. Yet somehow, he always has extra plants in the auction, which is a great testament to his ability to grow them. With four new members at this month’s meeting, the talent within GWAPA is only growing.

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