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Wild Angelfish

January 29th, 2010

I just wanted to share a couple photos of the new inhabitants in my 75G aquarium. After finding a good home for my Blue Spotted Sunfish, I decided that I would like to keep Angelfish again. This time, rather than just getting the various commercially bred color variations, I wanted to get ones with the wild coloration. I feel the natural coloration with the vertical black bars are the most elegant looking Angelfish of all. I was fortunate to have another GWAPA member turn me onto a breeder.

F1 Wild Angelfish

The breeder imports and breeds wild Peruvian angelfish to keep the gene pool healthy for their other various color variations. They also sell of some of the offspring from their live imports. Finding this out, I bought 7 first generation (F1) domestically bred wild angelfish. The breeder sent 8 fish, and they all looked fantastic, even in the bag.

F1 Wild Angelfish

At first in the tank, the fish hid every time I came into the room, but after a week of feeding them, they have really warmed up to me, and are starting to follow me up and down the tank when I’m working in my fish room. Right now, the Angelfish are the only mid-level swimming fish that I have in this aquarium. I still have my Nannacara, red-lizard catfish, and L279 bristlenosed plecos, so the bottom level is covered. I’m having a hard time settling on a small schooling fish to act as attractive dithers for the Angelfish. Suggestions welcome!




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Algae: Spot Treatment Techniques

January 20th, 2010

While I have compiled a reference on getting rid of Algae in the Planted Aquarium, I did not talk extensively about spot treatment techniques to get rid of individual sections of algae where you just can’t seem to get rid of it. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to target your attack:

Syringe Treatment:

This method uses a cooking syringe like you would use to inject marinade into a turkey, but for the marinade, you use either Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or Seachem Excel. First, it is very important that you temporarily turn off all of the flow in your aquarium. While circulation is incredibly important to maintain an algae-free aquarium, when you are spot-treating a specific area of the aquarium, you do not want H2O2 or Excel to disperse throughout the tank. Generally, I like to do spot treatments when I’m doing water changes, simply turning off the flow for the duration of the water change. Load the syringe full, and squirt the troublesome areas of your aquariums. I usually try to limit my spot treatments to a single syringe dose once every 2-3 days. Use caution, particularly with Seachem Excel, as prolonged exposure to over-dosing of these chemicals can injure or possibly kill your fish and invertebrates. I like to do a spot treatment to weaken the algae, and then let natural algae eaters like Amano Shrimp finish the job for me. Combined with water changes, proper CO2/nutrient levels/circulation, and an algae-fighting-crew, you’ll eliminate your troublesome algae in no time.

Old Toothbrush/Wire Brush:

Sometimes algae such as Black Brush Algae (BBA) completely covers hardscape items, making the syringe treatment seem excessive to fully rid yourself of the infestation. In these cases, it is often effective to vigorously brush the algae from the rock/wood with an old toothbrush. For large patches, it may be worth removing the hardscape item entirely, and scrubing it with a wire brush in a 5G bucket of water.

Bleach Treatment:

When you pull items from your tank, you have the opportunity to use harsher chemicals such as a watered-down 1:20 water/bleach solution to kill the algae. Never use bleach in your tank, except for completely empty aquariums — it will kill all of your plants and inhabitants otherwise. Ensure that whatever you bleach is rinsed thoroughly until you can no longer smell bleach on the item.

Spray Bottle:

For hardier plants such as Java Fern, Bolbitis, Anubias, etc you can remove them from the tank and spray them with H2O2 or Seachem Excel. Simply fill a small spray bottle with your solution, and lightly spray the plant. Always do this in a well ventilated area, preferably with a mask to protect yourself from any fumes. With this method, you do not need to inundate the plant, but simply a couple sprays, and then add it back into your aquarium. Alternatively, you can fill a small container with H2O2 and dip the plant for 1-2 minutes.

Conclusion:

Using a combination of these methods, along with the ones I’ve already outlined in my Algae in the Planted Aquarium article, you should be able to defeat any algae that enters your tank.

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Vietnamese White Clouds

January 15th, 2010

Last fall, I bought a dozen Vietnamese White Clouds in an auction at a Capital Cichlid Association’s meeting. I have never kept these fish before, but was always tempted by them in the fish stores. The one thing I never realized was how magnificent their fins can be until I put the group in my 20L and the males started displaying. In the stores, the fish just seem to hover in place, but in my tank, the males are constantly chasing each other around.

White Clouds

Supposedly these fish are very easy to breed, but I have not yet seen any eggs or fry in my aquarium. It’s possible that some loaches are taking care of any eggs that might be in the tank. These White Clouds seem to be fantastic fish for the planted aquarium. In addition, they can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures, so you don’t necessarily have to keep a heater in your aquarium. There is also a long-finned version of this fish which is even more impressive.

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Emersed Setups Need Attention Too

January 13th, 2010

I’ve often talked about the wonderful benefits of having a place to grow your aquatic plants emersed:

  • A place to store plants you don’t want in your aquariums anymore but don’t want to lose
  • Ability to see flowers that you wouldn’t otherwise see
  • Algae-free!
  • Easy to maintain since growth is slower
Overgrown Emersed Setup

Overgrown Emersed Setups

While all of these statements are true, this doesn’t mean that you can just setup and forget about an emersed setup. A prime example of what can happen is in the picture below. Look at the setup on the right, and take note of what a tangled mess the plants are in there. Hyptis lorentziana and Pogostemon stellatus var. ‘Broad Leaf’ are the two culprits, taking a little while to establish, but then going absolutely insane in growth over the next few months.

Pogostemon stellatus var. 'Broad Leaf' Flower

Pogostemon stellatus var. 'Broad Leaf' Flower

I did get a number of Pogostemon flowers, but unfortunately the overgrowth shaded and outcompeted virtually every other plant I had stored in this setup. I surely would have had more plant-mass if I had grown these plants submersed in my aquarium, but I should have done a better job occasionally pruning back the stems as you would a weedy plant in your garden.

Murdannia sp. 'Red' Flower

Murdannia sp. 'Red'

In the other emersed setup, I’ve had a different problem. I made the mistake of introducing a pot of plants that was in my pond, and I believe the soil contained spider mites. I originally tried a DIY organic spray of vegetable oil and dish soap, but that ended up killing more plants than it did the intruders. I wanted to avoid using pesticides since I am not keen on spraying chemicals inside of the house (or outside for that matter), so I am now in the process of completely emptying out both emersed setups, submerging the plants in a bucket for 48 hours to drown the spider mites, and will then repot and set back up the two setups anew.

Murdannia sp. 'Red' Flower

Murdannia sp. 'Red' Flower

I will begin this process just as soon as the plant sold in the hobby as Murdannia sp. ‘Red’ finishes flowering. Above is a picture of a flower just before maturation. I’ve hoping that my friend will be able to use the flower to research its true scientific name. The long and short is that emersed setups are still valuable tools to grow and store aquatic plants, but they still require some maintenance. I suppose that if I didn’t keep any stem plants in my setups that the length of time between maintenance could be significantly reduced. Comments/suggestions welcome!

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Rico’s New Aquascape

January 11th, 2010

On Saturday, a fellow GWAPA member, Rico, invited a few of us over to help him aquascape a new 75G aquarium that he had just bought. Originally, we were going to aquascape his 90G aquarium, but a leak developed in that tank, and he had to replace it with the 75G. My friend Cavan and I showed up mid-afternoon and helped Rico finish transferring stuff out of his 90G, bring in the the new 75G, and off we went. Rico had some manzanita wood and dark river rocks to use as hardscape items.

Rico's Tank

It took us a little while to figure out what direction we would take with the hardscape material at hand. The problem we originally ran into was figuring out how to get enough height in the hardscape, but we ultimately discovered the right combination of manzanita branches, zip-tied them together, and solved that problem. After the wood was in place, we filled in underneath it with the river rocks. Never having scaped with river rocks before, I wasn’t exactly sure how it would turn out, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The rocks match Flourite Black Sand almost perfectly!

Rico's Tank

For plants, we used Ranalisma rostrata in the foreground, which should fill in as a nice short grassy lawn. In the mid-ground, we used Blyxa japonica and Hygrophila sp. ‘Kompackt’. As a transition plant between the foreground and mid-ground, we used Staurogyne sp. ‘Porta Vehlo’. Finally, in the background, we used Blyxa aubertii and a broad-leafed Sagittaria species. Ultimately, I hope Rico will remove the Sagittaria altogether and replace it with just Blyxa aubertii, but we didn’t have enough of that plant to do it in the beginning. Finally, for a little bit of color, Rico had some stems of Limnophila aromatica, which aren’t visible in the picture, but should be very nice to the right of the B. aubertii on the left.

Above is the picture a few hours later after Rico filled it up and added back in the fish. Please ignore the three rocks placed on top of the manzanita to keep it from floating — those will be removed in a few days after the wood is waterlogged. So, how did we do? Comments/suggestions welcome!

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75G: Small Update

January 10th, 2010

I wanted to post a small update on my 75G since my latest post. In that post I talked about how my original intent was to make three separate mounds with pathways between them. I still have that, but the more I looked at the tank, the more I felt that the right side wasn’t strong enough. So, I pulled out the remaining pieces of African bogwood that I had, and started toying around.

75G - Arch Added

75G: Click for Larger Image

What I ended up with was an arch connecting the two mounds on the right. The mounds themselves haven’t changed, but the archway adds more height, making the right side the dominant side of the aquascape. The arch also mirrors a smaller arch on the left side. The only downside is that this essentially turned the scape into a two mound aquascape again, which is what I was originally trying to avoid. That said, I think it’s unique enough to let it grow in for awhile. Also, the  Glosso is starting to spread rapidly, and the Cryptocoryne and Trident Java Fern are slowly starting to recover from being moved around and hydrogen peroxide sprayed for algae. Comments welcome!

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210G Aquascape – More Photos!

January 8th, 2010

Back in September, a fellow GWAPA member, Michael, asked me to come and take pictures of his beautiful 210G aquarium so that he would have something to submit to the AGA competition. I previously blogged about this experience, but at the time, didn’t want to post the pictures until after the AGA competition had been decided. Below are a few more pictures from the shoot:

Michael's 210G Aquarium

The 210G gallon aquarium acts as a room divider between Michael’s living room and dining room so that it is visible from three sides. This provides the unique challenge of making all three sides equally pleasing to look at. The picture above is what Michael considered the “front.” This shot was a lot of fun to take because I was behind the camera holding a flash up in the air toward the ceiling to bounce light from the ceiling into the tank. His wife was holding a hair dryer over-top of the water, creating the ripple effect, and Michael was to the right of tank trying to coax his pet discus to line up in a nice row like you see.

Michael's 210G Aquarium

The “front” side of the aquarium is dominated by a beautiful stand of Nymphea lotus, with a really nice portion of Lagenandra meeboldii ‘pink’ to the left of it. The “back” of the aquarium(above) was much less vibrant in coloration, but still showed tremendous growth in the Cryptocoryne lutea and Blyxa aubertii. I’ve since heard that he has drastically thinned out these plants to provide more space for the discus.

Michael's 210G Aquarium

The full cabinet that the aquarium sits on was custom made, and is very well done. I don’t know how he keeps the white stand looking so nice, but he does. I also really like how he used emersed growing Anubias to obscure drip-tube that provide new water to the tank daily.

Discus

Finally, with quite a few nice discus shots, I couldn’t help myself from trying to get a little bit artsy with one of them. I especially liked the shot above because it reminded me of the pictures I looked at as a child in old black-and-white aquarium books from the library. In any case, I promised that I would share more photos was the AGA released their results, so I wanted to keep good on that word. You can find more technical information about Michael’s aquarium, as well as, the AGA judges’ comments on the Aquatic Gardener’s website.

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Baby Bristlenoses Update

January 7th, 2010

Sometime before the holidays, a pair of my generic bristlenosed plecos dug a hole under one of the rocks in my 50G aquascape and produced a spawn of 15-30 baby plecos. I knew they were nesting because I could see the parents initially fanning the ceiling of the rock where they dug their cave, presumably keeping the water fresh around all of their eggs. A couple of weeks later I noticed a slew of baby plecos clutching to the top glass all around the tank.

Baby Plecos

They hung around the glass for several weeks, but now they seem to have dispersed throughout the tank. In the picture above you can see three plecos cleaning the top of the largest rock in my aquascape. Obviously, the fish are still not huge as they are dwarfed by an adult Amano Shrimp. If anyone has any suggestions on what to feed these guys to grow them up a bit faster, I’d love to know. So far, I’ve just been feeding them algae wafers, and I feed the other fish in the tank frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp. Comments on anyone else’s pleco breeding experiences are welcome!

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Riparium Update

January 5th, 2010

It’s been a little while since I’ve talked about my Riparium, but it’s been doing fairly well as of late. The biggest improvement has come after I suspended a 4x24W T5 + 250W MH pendant overtop of the tank, which used to light up my old 54G aquarium. This fixture is definitely overkill, but the plants, particularly the terrestrial ones, have really responded growing up above the rim of the 20-high. I’ve started dosing some ferts in this tank also, as I believe the aquasoil has run out. That, and since I added more light, I needed to make sure I balanced that with proper plant nutrition.

Riparium Update

The Zebra Danios are still doing well in this tank, but my favorite fish in here are a pair of Rainbow Darters that I got in the Aquafest auction. They’re really odd, but strangely personable fish, that I feed frozen or live foods directly from a pair of tweezers. When I come into my fish room, they will often skirt right up to the glass and watch me, anticipating being fed.

Rainbow Darter

I feed them via tweezers to ensure that they get fed, as they are not nearly as quick as the danios in the tank. As for the Riparium Supply equipment, I haven’t had any problems. All of the suction cups are still holding everything in place, and the plants anchored in the plastic cups are growing well.

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75G – Tank Move & New Aquascape

January 3rd, 2010

Happy New Year! —  I hope everyone had a nice holiday! I’ve been mostly offline for the last two weeks painting about 90% of my house. We’ve lived in our house for 8 years and had done a fair number of home improvement projects during that time, but somehow, painting wasn’t one of them. As you can imagine, aquariums can make home improvement projects such as these quite difficult, as a full aquarium is not very amenable to moving so that you can paint behind it. Therefore, a couple days before Christmas, I moved my 75G from our family room into my fish-room where all of my other tank are now congregated. This was the perfect time to do a quick new aquascape.

75G - New Aquascape

75G - Scaped 12/20/2009 - Click for Larger Image

I decided to try and make this aquascape fairly low maintenance, so besides the Staurogyne sp. ‘Porto Vehlo’ and Glossostigma elatinoides used in the foreground, I didn’t use any stem plants. The past couple of aquascapes I’ve done seem to consist of two mounds on either side of the aquarium, one larger than the other, with a pathway down the middle. I decided to try something a bit differently this time making three mounds, several pathways, and a fairly low profile so that the pathways could continue directly from the front to the back of the tank uninhibited. I reused most of the hardscape and plants that were previously in the 75G, and unfortunately, many of those had hair algae. Being distracted by my painting task, I pretty much neglected to dose for the last two weeks. Plus, I used some extra used Aquasoil I had in a bucket to make more of a slope in the mounds, which added a lot of silt to the substrate, creating cloudy water anytime one of the fish was spooked. So, I’m now faced with the difficult task of eliminating algae in a planted tank with slow growing and newly planted plants which likely won’t be able to outcompete it for the next little while. I’m hopeful that frequent water changes, Seachem Excel and H202 spot treatments, and cranked CO2 will hold the algae at bay and get the Glosso and S. ‘Porto Vehlo‘ going to outgrow the algae. Right now the Cryptocoryne and Trident Java Fern are looking a little sad from the transplanting, but hopefully they’ll fill in and create a nice lush aquascape. Comments/critiques welcome!

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