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Misc Invert Pictures

July 25th, 2009

Last weekend, while I was trying to get pictures of the Apistogramma baenschi “Inka” in my 20L, I also snapped a few shots of the Nerite snails and Amano shrimp while waiting for the Apistos to come out of hiding. I wanted to share a few of those shots.

Nerite Snail

Olive Nerite Snails are by far one of the best algae eaters you can add to your aquarium, but many of them are quite pretty as well. I love the spiraling parallel lines patterned over many of their shells. I thought this guy (above) looks pretty good against the orange tones of the rock.

Nerite Snail

One of their key attributes is their willingness to slither along the glass, cleaning it of green spot, or other tough algae. You can see that this particular snail’s shell is slowly eroding away due to the lower pH and hardness of my water. This is fairly common in planted aquariums, especially when CO2 is injected as the carbonic acid is hard on their shells. I’ve known some hobbyists who used reef epoxy to fill in these holes, prolonging the life of their invert inhabitants.

Amano Shrimp & Algae Wafer

Amano shrimp are the other must have invert in nearly every aquarium. They can clear a field of hair algae in a matter of days, if added in proper proportion to the size of the tank. (That, by the way, is probably roughly 1 shrimp/2 gallons.) Too many, with too little algae, and they will start eating your moss fronds, or other delicate leaved plants. To minimize that, I feed mine algae wafers. The largest Amano in the tank usually swims right to the wafer, and holds it captive until he’s eaten his fill. Then the rest of the invertibrates in the tank swarm the leftovers. A day of the life of an invert.




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50G: Same Hardscape Replanted

July 23rd, 2009

My 50G had turned into quite the farm tank, but I’ve finally been able to reclaim it as an aquascapable aquarium. I really like the hardscape, so I’ve decided to leave that in place, but simply replant it with some different plants. Previously, the aquascape was dominated by Blyxa japonica, where now I’ve only retained that in the middle to the right of the large piece of wood.

50G - Replanted

I’ve added a number of stem plants, and I’m hoping to trim them into bushes, kind of dutch style, behind the rocks to the right. I’m still deciding whether or not to keep the Eleocharis sp. ‘Japan’ in the foreground, or to rip it out and go with something more vintage like Glossostigma elatinoides. Comments welcome!

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Sphaerocaryum malaccense Flowers

July 21st, 2009

Previously, I talked about Sphaerocaryum malaccense, and how it can be a unique and beautiful plant in an aquascape. I had the good fortune to take some pictures of my friend’s, plants, who let them grow emersed and managed to get flowers. Below are a few of those pictures. From the flowers, you can clearly see how this is a grass plant.

Sphaerocaryum malaccense Flower

The flower stalks are fairly condensed before they open. The white flowers themselves are very tiny and delicate. I didn’t notice any significant fragrance from the flowers, but they’re nice nevertheless.

Sphaerocaryum malaccense Flower

I really do enjoy seeing how the aquatic plants that we grow submerged look when kept out of water. Hopefully, I’ll have several more flowers to show later this summer.

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Apistogramma baenschi “Inka”

July 19th, 2009

A couple months ago I ordered a pair of Apistogramma baenschi “Inka” off of Aquabid. This is one type of Apistogramma that I’ve wanted to keep for a long time, after seeing pictures of it online. I love the mohawk that the males have, as well as, their very pretty coloration.

Male Apistogramma baenschi

Just like Apistogramma panduro, they have a red ring on their tail fin, with a caudal spot on their body just before their tail fin. This particular fish is still a juevenille, but even so, you can see the brilliant irridescent coloration on his dorsal and pectoral fins. Blue, yellow, orange, and red are all represented on the same fish — who said freshwater fish aren’t colorful?

Male Apistogramma baenschi

I have a much larger male Apistogramma baenschi “Inka” in another tank without a mate, but I didn’t want to put these significantly smaller fish in with him. That male, however, has a mohawk that is much more feathery and while it can stand straight up, he often lets it ripple to the side in the current. It’s very unique looking, and if the guy ever sticks around for a picture, I’ll post it.

Male Apistogramma baenschi

For now, these fish are in my newly rescaped 20L, and pretty much have free reign of the aquarium. I have another pair of Botia sidthimunki loaches in there as well, but will try and fish them out when I can so that they don’t poach on any Apistogramma fry. So far, these fish seem rather straight-forward to keep, so hopefully they’ll breed for me. If anyone has any tips/experiences specific to this species, I’d love to hear them!

Apistogramma baenschi “Inka”
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54G – What Happened?

July 11th, 2009

I’ll start by saying that this 54G aquarium is giving me more trouble than just about any aquarium I’ve setup before. It’s not the aquarium itself, but I just can’t seem to get the darn thing balanced and happy without ending up with beautiful views like the one below. I am using a few things that I don’t usually use in this aquarium. It’s my first time using a metal halide pendant, so I’m still figuring out the best light duration. Additionally, I’m using leftover parts for my CO2 system, and not the filter I’d prefer to use. So, those are my excuses.

54G - Uh Oh, Algae!

Now, what I’m trying to do about it. At least according to my test kits, my nitrate is at 10ppm and phosphate 1ppm, which is exactly where I want them. Nevertheless, I’m not sure I can trust those values because the plants aren’t looking like they’re that happy, although the algae is. I also decided to rearrange the rockscape that I did have in this tank, adding a large rock with much more character than the previous one. This allowed me to add a bit more height to the rockscape than I had before. Before repositioning, I pulled all of the rock out, and scrubbed them to get as much of the black-brush-algae as I could. I’m sure it’s a matter of time for it to return, but hopefully I can get my water parameters inline before then.

54G - New Rock Arrangement

I may be forced to bend a few rules for this tank if I can’t rectify the situation entirely through water/light/CO2 adjustments. Unfortunately, there are no native plecos (or other suitable suckerfish) to Maryland, and grass shrimp are just quick treats for the bluespotted sunfish. If I have to add some bristlenosed plecos, it probably wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I’m going to try and avoid that for the time being. Comments welcome!

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Quarantine Aquascape

July 7th, 2009

I got some new rocks from a friend in GWAPA, and wanted to try them out in a tank. Unfortunately, the only free aquarium at the moment was my 20L, which was used primarily as a quarantine tank and place to hold some extra low-light plants. My friend is lucky enough to have these rocks buried in his yard. They seem to be a composite of quartz and slate, with some having very attractive orange bands through them. Overall, they have a fair amount of character up close.

20L Quarantine Aquarium

20L - Click picture for larger view

The aquascape isn’t tremendous, but  I think it could have some potential if I paid much attention to it. This tank has previously been a major farm of cladophora algae, but after moving about 20 Amano Shrimp from my 40G into here, they’ve really done a tremendous job of getting it under control. If they can keep it that way, I may very well enjoy maintaining a small scape in this aquarium. I just have to make sure I can easily fish out any quarantine fish! Comments welcome.

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Raised Brick Pond: Summer of the Flower

July 4th, 2009

After hearing Sherry’s talk about her pond at the last GWAPA meeting, I decided it was time to post an update about how my raised brick pond is progressing this summer. I’m happy to say that things are going pretty well. I had a few plants come back after being frozen solid through the winter, particularly some Potamogeton and Ludwigia palustris. Neither is incredibly unexpected, however, as they’re both native plants.

Pond - July 4th, 2009

After a few seasons, I’ve had to replace the solar pump as the old one just wouldn’t turn anymore. I think detritus got into the motor, but unfortunately, it’s sealed tight, so I can’t get inside to service it. Fortunately, I had a spare, so that’s going right now. IMG_5819

You’ll notice that I have several bricks lined up along the front edge of the pond. This is to keep a certain dog, Bella, from constantly trying to take a drink from the pond water. She’s got a huge bowl of water just up the steps in the house, but she loves the pond water for some reason. I guess it must have a more complex flavor, but nevertheless, I don’t need a sick dog on my hands, so hence, the barrior.

Pond - July 4th, 2009

Without the barrier, it looks like this. Notice the large zucchini plant to the left of the pond, which is producing lots of tasty fruit already. I also have a couple cucumber vines growing which I’m trying to train up, over, and along the pond. In back of the pond, you can just start to see the tomato plants, which should eventually form a solid wall of green as a backdrop.

Pond - July 4th, 2009

In the pond, this year, I’ve placed every species of plant I have that I don’t know the true scientific name. I have a good friend in GWAPA who does a lot of research into trying to figure out that Limnophila sp. ‘Mini’ is really Limnophila repens, and similar cases, but it’s nearly impossible to do that without seeing the flowers. So, I’m hoping that all of these plants will convert to emersed form and flower, so that I can help him identify these plants.

Pond - July 4th, 2009

To accomplish this, I’ve propped up a few pieces of eggcrate on bricks, and set some tubs of substrate just below the water surface. I already have a number of species converting to emersed form, but only my large Crinum americanum has flowered thus far. As for fish, I threw in a few zebra danios to control mosquitos earlier in the season. Big mistake! I’m going to end up pulling out tons of these fish if the number of fry present are any indication. I’ve also put a few Threadfin Rainbowfish out to hopefully breed. Comments welcome!

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GWAPA: Ponds and Container Water Gardening

July 1st, 2009

Sherry Mitchell hosted GWAPA’s June meeting last weekend, where she took us around her beautifully landscape garden, which included a huge reflecting pool/pond. Appropriately, Sherry then described her various methods for successfully settings up a pond or container water garden.

Pond, Reflecting Pool

As you can see in the picture below, Sherry plants all of her pond plant in containers. Instead of using the overpriced pond-baskets, she recommends using plastic under-the-bed boxes which can be had for a dollar or two from any Target or similar store. She has a large colony of goldfish in her pond, many which she has rescued from situations that were not befitting of living creatures.

Goldfish

To filter the few thousands of gallons of water in her pond, Sherry uses a homemade “Skippy Filter,” which she built using designs from SkippyStuff.com. Essentially, water flows in the bottom, and is lifted through a series of filter pads before returning to the pond. The benefit of this system is that it’s comparatively low-priced, reasonable in terms of the maintenance required, and does a great job.

Skippy Filter

In addition to the filtration, she also believes in doing 50% water changes each month. The water does not go to waste, however, as she has a drain on the filter which automatically waters plants in the rest of her garden, using the nutrient-rich water from the pond.

Lilli

There were a number of lillies blooming while we were at her pond. She has a well-proven system for potting her plant. Instead of using a standard aquatic plant mix, she uses a combination of Osmocote fertilizer with top soil, kitty litter (for clay), and pea-gravel to keep the other stuff down.

Sealed Planter for Water Container

She’ll use the same methods in smaller containers for growing out plants, or when setting up a container water garden. Sherry mentioned how it’s often difficult to find large containers that don’t have drainage holes. She seals those holes using margarine lids and aquarium cement on either side of the hole. From there, the container should be water tight, and ready for use!

Frog on Lillipad

This was a wonderful meeting. In addition to the beautiful outdoor features that Sherry described to us in detail, she also had a nice fishroom inside. We had another large auction, and raffled off some pond and plant supplies. I’m going to have to apply many of the principles Sherry described to my raised brick pond when I get the chance.

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