Guest Toad at the Pond

May 26th, 2007

Toad - Head Shot One evening this week, I glanced outside at my raised brick pond, and noticed that the spring foliage and pond had attracted a little toad to our patio. After my dogs gave it a thorough inspection, the toad remaining perfectly still to avoid absolute detection, I thought it would make the perfect photo subject. I grabbed my camera, slapped on the macro lens, got down on my belly, and shot the little guy for about 5-10 minutes. Besides the motion of inhaling and exhaling, he didn’t move a muscle. He didn’t even blink when the flash went off. I hope this guy sticks around for the duration of the summer. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Toad - Full shot

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Beautiful New Tank and Stand!

May 25th, 2007

Unfortunately, it’s not mine! On Weds, I helped my friend and fellow GWAPA member upgrade his stand from a wire-frame stand to a much sturdier wood stand that he had built himself. This, all in preparation to hold, among others, his brand new and shiny ADA 90P tank. If you’ve never seen an ADA tank up close before, you’re missing out. Seamless design with expertly done silicon, without any messy silicon drips, even on the bottom of the tank. Plus, the glass itself is incredibly clear, and nicely polished on the edges. Yeah, I have tank envy!

Aaron's new ADA 90P

Before we could setup the tank, we had to get his new, nearly 7 foot, stand up a long flight of stairs and setup in his fish room. Besides the small obstacle that all of the ceilings in his apartment were not uniformly taller than 7 foot, we eventually got the stand upright, and in position. A few blocks and wedges later, and it was level and ready for tanks. Aaron proceeded to put down the padding he bought to cushion the tank, and cut it to size. With the tank now in place, I can’t wait to see how he scapes it. There’s one small caveat, he’s not using Aquasoil. He’s setting up an ADA tank with a soil substrate. Should be interesting…

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GWAPA – May 2007 Meeting

May 23rd, 2007

On Saturday, I attended GWAPA’s May meeting at Ghazanfar’s home in Virginia. Meetings at Ghazanfar’s house are always exciting because everyone wants to see the latest adjustments to the aquascape in his huge 215G tank built into his basement wall. As always, he never disappoints, showing us the beautiful aquascape you see below. It’s hard to get the full impression of its size without being there in person.

Ghazanfar's 215G Tank

In addition to spending a lot of time staring at Ghazanfar’s tank, we all prepared for a much smaller endeavor by picking up our 2.5G aquascaping tanks and equipment. You can see my progress on this tank at my previous post. There seemed to be a rush on downoi and HC in the auction at this meeting, presumably to use in the 2.5G contests. There must have been at least 5-6 bags of each sold at the auction. I picked up one of the downoi bags, which will hopefully fill the back corner of my 2.5G tank without too much trouble.

Fishing for Cherry Shrimp

After the meeting ended, Ghazanfar was nice enough to give the few remaining folks there a tour of his shrimp factory, also known as the 215G tank seen above. He has pretty much ruined the local area price for Cherry Shrimp by bringing thousands of them into our local fish store. Ghazanfar claims that at any given instant, he can siphon out his tank’s canister filter, and pull out 50-60 shrimp. We asked him to backup his claim, and so above you see him dumping filter water into a 5G bucket. To his surprise, not a single shrimp appeared. I’m not sure where he’s getting them from, but there’s no denying that he’s farmed a ton of shrimp! (My guess is that he’s finally starting to win his thus-far futile war to eradicate the shrimp from his tank.)

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2.5G Nanoscape – First Look

May 21st, 2007

GWAPA’s aquascaping contest is currently underway after we handed out the equipment at our May meeting. So, what did I do? I went straight home, filled my tank with aquasoil, popped in some new bulbs into my old fixture, and setup the aquascape below.

2.5G Nanoscape, Just Planted.

Obviously, this is a mound style of aquascape, using the downoi and blyxa japonica to highlight the rocks. In the middle is anubias barterii nana var. ‘petite’ with crassula helmsii in the foreground. I have a little bit of ranalisma rostrata in the back right to transition to a better height from the blyxa japonica. I’m still deciding how much I like this scape, but I hope to have it grow in with enough time to take a picture and try another scape before the October deadline. Hopefully that’s allowed. 😉

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Pennywort Flower

May 14th, 2007

Brazilian Pennywort FlowerOver the winter, I kept a 10G aquarium chalked full of various plants I was hoping to transfer outdoors to my pond. One of these plants is Brazilian Pennywort. I’m hoping that it to grow immersed in the pond, and vine down the brick sides. So, I’ve been letting the Pennywort in the 10G tank grow out of the tank, and up onto the windowsill immediately above that tank. With some good Spring sunlight, I was pleased to find this lone flower stalk coming from one of the nodes. I’m guessing that this will turn into a seed cone like a sagittaria subulata flower stalk does. I transplanted this runner out to the pond this morning, so we’ll see if I get any more flowers popping up in the full sun.

Brazilian Pennywort Flower

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Aquasoil Woes…

May 11th, 2007
Apistogramma Viejita Male
RIP apistogramma viejit

As posted a couple days ago, I rescaped my 20G high tank with some fresh Amazonia aquasoil and manzanita wood. I’ve rescaped a number of tanks in the past with aquasoil, and I’ll usually add the soil, plant and scape the tank, fill with water, allow to cycle for a few hours, and then add in the fish. Most times, the filters are preexisting, or some of the plants/hardscape come from other tanks, so the biological filter should be largely pre-established. I’ve never had any problems with fish loss using this method.

Now I’ve read and heard about other folks experiences about how new aquasoil temporarily causes the pH to crash. Since my methods above have always worked, I’ve never paid them much heed. True, the pH does drop, but never to an extreme degree that the fish couldn’t adjust to. So, with this 20G setup, I followed my same methodologies. I removed the apistogramma viejitas that were in there, placed them in a bucket with airstone, and proceeded with the change. A few hours after setup, I moved the apistogramma back into the tank. I was actually hoping that the pH would drop down a fair amount and induce spawning since I haven’t been able to get them to breed at a 6.5 CO2 induced pH. They seemed happy enough that night. Morning came, and they were still swimming around, not looking distressed. Then, I get home from work, and one is on the floor, and the other is upside-down in the tank. What changed?

Well, I’m not sure. This is the first tank I’ve setup with fresh wood in a long time. Is it possible that the tannins from the new manzanita dropped the pH further in conjunction with the aquasoil-induced drop? I don’t know. In any case, I think I’ll let my fish spend an extra day or two in an aerated/filtered bucket next time I redo a tank with aquasoil. Rest in peace apistogramma viejita.

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20G High – First Manzanita Scape

May 9th, 2007

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with any number of things lately — mowing the yard, preparing the vegetable garden, spending more time taking pictures outdoors in the nice weather — that I haven’t really spent a whole lot of time paying attention to my aquariums. Well, that changed a little bit today when I put together my first scape using the new manzanita wood that I ordered a few weeks back. Below is the first show of the new aquascape. I was so eager to get a shot, that I forgot to fill the tank all the way up.


One of my goals with this aquascape is to provide something that looks nice, without requiring too much upkeep. Lately, stem tanks have been too much for me to keep up with. So, to that avail, my foreground is ranalisma rostrata, background is bylxa japonica (yes I know, it’s technically a stem plant), to the left are some cryptocoryne, and in the middle are some anubias barterii var. nana. Finally, fissidens moss is adorning some of the branches.

Please let me know what your first impressions are…

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GWAPA – April 2007 Meeting

May 1st, 2007

I had the good fortune of hosting GWAPA’s April meeting this past weekend. Preparing for any aquarium-related meeting is always a challenge because in addition to the usual cleaning and setting up when any folks are coming over, you also want your tanks to look their best. This can sometimes require planning as much as a few months ahead. For example, in my 75G (updated picture below), I replanted the glosso about six weeks before the meeting, anticipating that it would take about that long to fill in.

75G - 04-29-2007

Then, for the two weeks prior to the actual meeting, you have to time your water changes, and trimming sessions exactly, so that your stems plants will reach their perfect “bushiness” on the meeting date. Combine that with increased glass scraping, and more consistent dosing, and you’re looking at a bit of work. I’m not complaining because I enjoy all of it, and find that my tanks look the best because of my increased effort. The rest of the year is a crap shoot, however!

This month’s meeting had another nice turnout, reaching 15-20 folks. The weather was beautiful outside, which made talking about my raised-brick pond, much more enjoyable. It’s still too cold outside to actually grow many of my aquatic plants, so I had to cheat a little bit by covering the surface of the pond with lots of Phyllanthus fluitans from my 54G tank. I promise that I really do grow plants outdoors later in the year. I went through a brief overview about how I constructed the pond, and what my experiences were last year. After my pond talk, we all went inside for our auction, which was large and lively as always. The manzanita wood that the club purchased was met with very much interest, as were most items in the auction. I came away with a few goodies, namely an Eriocaulon species that I haven’t tried before. I also added another Red Lizard Catfish to my 75G. (Thanks Cristy!)

More pictures and info can be read on GWAPA’s website.

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