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    Mono Lake Cichlid at CCA Meeting 75G Hardscape
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50G Update

January 5th, 2014

After battling BBA for a couple months, I think it’s finally starting to subside as the plants grow in my 50G aquarium. Shortly after setting this tank up, the combination of intense lighting, too few plants, and a couple CO2 outages resulted in black brush algae to cover most of the rocks, and many of the plant leaves. I also had a brief bought with green algae, which I believe was due to an insufficient bacteria colony to help break down the organics in the tank.

50G Aquascape

Recall that this aquarium was basically started afresh, removing very old Aquasoil and replacing it with Seachem Flourite Black. I also made a couple of equipment changes, adding an inline CO2 atomizer on my filter outflow and a surface skimmer on the inflow. This has helped a longtime problem with surface scum. I’m planning to keep up on the manual removal of BBA until it’s gone. Let me know what you think of the aquascape in the comments.

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EcoQube – Veggie Filtration for your Nano

December 1st, 2013

I came across this kick-starter project today, and thought it to be pretty interesting. I seen other aquarists run dedicated aquariums in their racks that were veggie filters, but I haven’t seen a filter designed to incorporate this idea inherently. The EcoQube setup include the tank, filter, LED, and seeds for the plant.


The medium itself stay hydrated from the filter water, replenishing nutrients from the detritus of the tank. In this picture, they’re growing a basil plant, although, I wouldn’t recommend consuming any plants grown in this way, particularly if you’re using hobby-grade substrates and chemicals.

EcoQube - Adjustable LED and Plant Media

Take a look at their kickstarter video to get a sense of what their inspiration is for this project.

The guys behind this filter and setup are the folks from Aqua Design Innovations, who have been working with planted aquariums for some time. If you like the concept, consider donating to help to this product into production.

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Ancistrus sp. (L279) Fry

November 21st, 2013

When I pulled out all of the wood in my 75G while rescaping, I felt something slimy. Turning the wood over, I noticed a clutch of bristlenose eggs belonging to the Huacamayo Dwarf Ancistrus (L279) in that tank. I removed the eggs and put them in my shrimp tank, figuring that either the shrimp would eat them, or I’d get some fry. Well, I got fry!

Ancistrus sp. (L279) Fry

I noticed several of the eggs were hatching, with the head and tail first coming out. They then wiggled constantly try to further separate themselves. See the video below:

No matter how many times I find fry in my fishroom, it’s amazing to sit and watch them hatch.

Ancistrus sp. (L279) Fry

The Ancistrus fry truly are miniature versions of the adults, and they immediate suction themselves to the glass and scavenge for food once hatching.

Ancistrus sp. (L279) Fry

It’s even more amazing to see their hearts beating and blood pumping while still hatching out. See the video below of three young fry still hatching:

I probably have 20-40 fry in this batch. In the past, as long as I feed them well and keep up on water changes, most can survive without any problems.

Ancistrus sp. (L279) Fry

If I’m lucky, they’ll all grow up to look like this.

Ancistrus sp. L279

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75G: Rescape

November 19th, 2013

This week I rescaped my 75G angelfish aquarium. I wanted to open up the tank a little bit, while still preserving some of the classic anglefish biotypes by including sword plants as key focal points to the scape. I reused several plants from the previous scape, namely the Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia and Anubias barteri var. ‘nana petite’.
75G - Nov 2013 Rescape

This is the first aquascape that I’ve done using Brightwell Aquatic’s FlorinVolcanit substrate. I completely emptied the aquarium of all of the previous substrate, leaving only the eggcrate to prevent rocks from directly contacting the glass bottom.


Then, I placed the hardscape into the aquarium. I choose to use several pieces of manzanita laying over quartz/slate rock, to simulate a fallen branch in the river, wedge between a rocky riverbank. I wanted to simulate a stream bed where the dying tree branches gave life to other aquatic plants, namely the Kleiner Prinz Sword plants.


Lastly, I filled in the foreground with white pool filter sand. I did plant some Staurogyne sp. ‘Porto Velho’ in the sand that I hope will break it up a bit, but hope to keep most of the plain foreground intact, as it provides a nice contrast to the darker wood. Overall, I’m looking forward to seeing how this new aquascape progresses as the plants grow in. Comments welcome!

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Review: Current USA Ramp Timer

November 10th, 2013

SingleRamp-Angle[1]I recently received a Current USA Ramp Timer to test out with my Satellite+ and TrueLumen LED fixtures. The ramp timer is an inexpensive digital timer that plugs in-line to the LED fixture and provides On/Off capabilities as well as a sunrise/sunset option that gradually ramps the light up and down at the beginning and end of the cycle. It also features a nice large clock display that can be helpful if you don’t already have a clock in your fish room.

I initially tested the ramp timer on my Satellite+ LED fixture. The on/off capabilities work as expected with this fixture, however, the sunrise/sunset option has mixed results. When the LED fixture is set to full power modes, the sunrise/sunset feature works perfectly, gradually increasing and decreasing the brightness. I often program my Satellite+ to dim the output slightly. In this mode, at the lowest levels, the ramp timer causes repeated flickering, which can scare your fauna and be distracting. With the TrueLumen fixture, none of this flickering is present. You can see these results correspond to Current USA’s official supported fixture listing:

Compatible LED Lights Single Ramp Timer
Satellite+ LED Fixture ON/OFF Only
Satellite LED Fixture ON/OFF Only
TrueLumen Pro Kits Yes
TrueLumen Pro Strips Yes
TrueLumen Strips Yes
TrueLumen Lunar Lights Yes
Panorama Marine Yes
Panorama Actinic Blue Yes
Panorama Pro LED Yes
Stunner LED Strips Yes

Ultimately, if you’re looking to add some nice effects to your existing Current USA light solution, the ramp timer can provide what you’re looking for. Just understand the limitations with the Satellite fixtures. Finally, see the video below for installation instructions to see how simple it is to hookup and use.

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