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RIP: 54G Aquarium

November 28th, 2009

Well, my native plant aquascaping experiment has come to an abrupt end. The night before I left for vacation a few weeks ago, I was feeding the fish and noticed that the left side of the stand was a little damp. Upon closer inspection, the inside of the stand had some water pooled up, and upon even closer inspection, the bottom rim of the aquarium was overflowing with water dripping out of it.

54G - New Native Aquascape!

I think, “wonderful, I’ve got a siphon somewhere in my auto-doser setup that’s leaking out.”  – Nope

I look, “maybe the powerhead is forcing the water too hard against the top rim and it found a gap in the silicon up there, and is dripping down the side into the bottom rim.” – Nope, the black posterboard background was only wet along the bottom, so nothing dripped from top to bottom.

“Crap! My tank has developed a leak from some new rocks I put in it a week prior!” – Bingo!

I scrambled to net out the fish, siphon out the water, remove the plants, remove the substrate, and clean up the water on the floor. While this wasn’t how I planned to spend 2 hours of my evening prior to catching a plane in the morning for 2 weeks, I’m so thankful that I noticed this leak before I left for vacation. Had it leaked out during the 2 weeks I was on vacation, the floor around the tank surely would have been ruined, and the fish dead. My wife and I have been looking to move that tank out of the our living room for awhile, and since I don’t have anywhere else to put it while it was being repaired, I was fortunate to find another GWAPA member to take it off my hands, and put it back in service. It was a nice tank to have, and I hope it does well in its new home!




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AGA 2009 Contest Results Released!

November 26th, 2009

The results of the Aquatic Gardener’s Association’s 2009 Aquascaping Contest have been released. Michael G.W. Wong’s tank below one 1st place in the Large category, and took Best in Show. The folks from Hong Kong have really been cleaning up the aquascaping contests lately. The contest itself has a number of fantastic entries, including ones that didn’t win any prizes.

2009 AGA Contest Best in Show

I’d suggest you click over to the AGA’s website to view all of this years’ entries:

http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/2009.cgi

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Joshua Tree National Park

November 23rd, 2009

During our trip in California we spent a day in Joshua Tree National Park. This wonderful desert park is named after the tree below, which got its named from 19th century Mormon settlers who thought the tree looked like the Biblical character, Joshua, who raised his ends up to the sky in prayer.

Joshua Tree National Park

In addition to the very interesting trees, which are actually in the lily family, the park is home to some absolutely incredible rock formations. As such, we saw quite a few rock climbers trying to conquer the rocks.

Joshua Tree National Park

Inside of the park there is no water or gas stations, so you need to fill up before entering, and carry in anything you would need. Remember that this really is a desert, and the sun was definitely out, even though we were there during some of the cooler months.

Joshua Tree National Park

Just because it’s a desert doesn’t mean that there wasn’t plenty of life. The park is home to several different varieties of wildflowers, and of course, cacti and also succulents were present throughout.

Joshua Tree National Park

In addition, little squirrels and chipmunks were all over the place. You could see some of their holes dug out in the hard sun beaten earth.

Joshua Tree National Park

It’s really amazing that some of the rock formations were naturally formed. Take the one below (which would make a fantastic aquascape btw). How in the world did some of those gigantic boulders just happen to rest atop of the mass of other humongous boulders?

Joshua Tree National Park

Then of course, there were the larger “rock piles” that were just as striking. Again, if we could find an aquatic plant that looks like a Joshua Tree, this would be a great scene to try to replicate in an aquascape.

Joshua Tree National Park

The rock formations weren’t all boulder piles, however, as deeper into the park we came across these more water-shaped formations. We hiked a short distance to see a naturally formed arch, but I thought the rounded rocks were more impressive than the arch.

Joshua Tree National Park

During our hike, we would hear rustling in bushes as we walked by, and every time it was one of these lizards scurrying through. I was perfectly okay with this, however, as I wasn’t necessarily hoping to come across a rattlesnake.

Joshua Tree National Park

Proof that this desert has been traveled for centuries past is visible on several rocks in the form of Petroglyphs, inscribed by prehistoric Native Americans.

Joshua Tree National Park

Once we crossed out of the Mojave Desert, and into the Colorado Desert, the Joshua Tree ceased to grow, and were replaced by acres of these very spiny cacti. The Mojave Desert is slightly wetter than the Colorado Desert, which is why the Joshua Tree is able to survive in that area.

Joshua Tree National Park

Nevertheless, these cacti are still interesting to look at, exhibiting nice yellow flowers, which were also covered in spines.

Joshua Tree National Park

As we were driving the last 10-20 miles out of the park to the south, the sun was setting on our right, and on our left the moon was rising. We stopped the car, and enjoyed this beautiful scene below. All the while, bats starting flying overhead, and we eventually headed out of the park and to our hotel.

Joshua Tree National Park

We have lot of other pictures on Flickr here, if you’re interested…

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San Diego Zoo – Photo Set

November 15th, 2009

I was fortunate to be able to spend the past couple weeks in California, and while I was there my wife and I visited the San Diego Zoo. I’ve always heard wonderful things about the zoo in San Diego, and after visiting, I have to say that it is a top-notch zoo and deserves every accolade that it receives. The variety is incredible, with lots of pathways with more creatures than you could possibly visit in a single day. Unfortunately, that’s all the time we had to spend there, but nevertheless I took hundreds of pictures. I wanted to share a few of them with you below:

San Diego Zoo

Gorilla

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San Diego Zoo

Turtle

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San Diego Zoo

Giraffe

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San Diego Zoo

Ant Eater

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San Diego Zoo

Camel

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San Diego Zoo

Meerkat

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San Diego Zoo

Elephant

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San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

Polar Bear

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San Diego Zoo

Zebra

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San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

Flamingo

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San Diego Zoo

Panda Bear

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San Diego Zoo

Snow Leopard

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San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

Boar

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San Diego Zoo

Koala Bear

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San Diego Zoo

Koala Bear

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San Diego Zoo

Flamingo

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Pelvicachromis pulcher ‘Super Red’ Fry

November 9th, 2009

A few months ago, I picked up a nice looking trio of Pelvicachromis pulcher ‘Super Red’ adults hoping that they would be ready to spawn quickly. I was very pleased when I noticed that they had done so about a week ago! I set them up on my 40G farm tank, but for awhile they didn’t really seem all that interested in each other.

Pelvicachromis pulcher 'Super Red' Female

Then I realized, that being a farm tank, it didn’t have a single piece of wood or rock in it. I rectified that by making a small cave out of some porous mossy rock, and shortly thereafter, two of the fish paired off and took up residence in that cave. It wasn’t long until the female sequestered herself, and then shortly thereafter a swarm of fry emerged with the parents.

Pelvicachromis pulcher 'Super Red' Male

The parents escorted the fry throughout the tank, allowing them to feed on detritus on the substrate, and small organisms on the plant leaves. In addition, I used some frozen foods to supplement both the fry and parents diets, as the frozen cubes thaw and have a fine mist of brine shrimp pieces for the fry to graze on. I could visibly see the bellies of the fry bulging with food, so that always a good sign that they’re getting enough to eat.

Pelvicachromis pulcher 'Super Red' Fry

Hopefully, the fry will continue to grow up fast, and I’ll have a small colony in the 40G. I’ve tried keeping these fish in the past, but for one reason or another, I’ve always lost the females before they would breed. I guess a male and a female fish don’t always pair up.

Pelvicachromis pulcher 'Super Red' Fry

The fry don’t have any of the color on them that the parents exhibit, so I’m looking forward to seeing that develop as they get bigger. Once they’re big enough for blackworms, they should grow like crazy. (I hope). Comments welcome!

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