Jamestown Island

November 5th, 2007

I recently spent a few days down in Colonial Williamsburg, where I had the opportunity to visit historic Jamestown Island, the location of America’s first colony. Of course, while I did pay quite a bit of attention to history at hand, I also enjoyed the beautiful watershed that surrounds the entire area.

Jamestown Island Watershed

A number of creeks and rivers come together at this area near the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the area is brackish, with extensive marshes lining the banks all around, providing some really beautiful views.

Jamestown Island Watershed

In the skies, above the pine trees, lots of large waterfowl circled overhead occasionally dive-bombing the water for fish or other tasty critters. I tried to get some pictures of these birds, but I didn’t come away with anything I was proud to show.

Jamestown Island Watershed

We also saw a number of fish jumping from the water, and fisherman on the banks trying to catch them. There were nice beaches to walk along, but unfortunately that serene environment was ruined a little bit by signs reading that the water is unsafe to swim in.

Jamestown Island Watershed

According to some of the roadside signs, the Jamestown area was originally full of hardwood trees, which were quickly cut down by the settlers for building and export. While a few hardwoods still remain, most have been replaced by the fast-growing pines we see all over the eastern United States.

Jamestown Island Pine

I’m not sure if they’re native or not, but in the historic Jamestown area, walnut trees were quite prominent. The walnut fruit and nuts lined many of the pathways and grassy areas under the trees.

Jamestown Island Walnut

A number of swampy areas also were present throughout the island. Where the reeds and rushes were not, there was no shortage of mud, especially during low tide.

Jamestown Island Marsh

As I was walking along a path, I noticed a large number of holes and pits in the muddy banks. Then, I swore that I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye, but every time I looked, there was nothing there. Eventually, I saw clearly what was scurrying along. Fiddler crabs came out of the holes to sit in the sun, until they detected movement, in which case they hurried back into their holes.

Fiddler Crab

While I wasn’t really searching through the water itself, the only freshwater aquatic vegetation I recognized was a plethora of duckweed. Being a national park, it would be illegal to collect any plants there anyways, so I was more than content simply enjoying the beautiful views.

Jamestown Island Watershed

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AGA 2007 Contest Results Up

November 4th, 2007

Just FYI, the AGA Aquascaping Contest results are up on the AGA website. There are some really great tanks in this year’s contest, as the competition seems to get tougher and tougher every year.

Check them out:


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75G – New Aquascape

November 3rd, 2007

I finally did it! I removed all of the Soilmaster Select from my 75G, and went with Aquasoil/powersand using the manzanita I ordered months ago. This is really the first aquascape I’ve down with manzanita wood. Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true since Jeff and I aquascaped the AquaFest demonstration tank with it about 4 hours before I setup this tank, but I don’t think that counts.

75G - 1 Week

A few goals for this tank are to actually get a good Utricularia graminfolia foreground growing well, have better circulation (and less algae), and perhaps fewer stems than I had before. So far, I’ve got quite a few crypts in the tank with C. affinis, C. wendtii ‘Dewitt,’ C. wendtii ‘Green Gecko,’ C. willisii x lucens ‘green,’ and C. moehlmannii. I’ve also got my share of anubias with A. sp. ‘garbon,’ A. heterophylla, A. lanceolata, A. barteri var. ‘nana,’ A. sp. ‘Eyes’ and A. sp. ‘Gasser.’ I do still have some stems in here consisting of Pogostemon stellata ‘broad-leaf’, ‘needle leaf’, and regular. Plus, P. yatabeanus, Ludwigia arculata x repens, and Rotala macrandra.

I’m still figuring out what species of fish I want in this tank. So, far, the three bags of fish I got at Aquafest are in here, so some Nannochromis nudiceps, Ancistrus sp. L279 “Huaco Mayo,” and Corydoras Paleatus. I’m thinking about getting some other West African dwarf cichlids, but I haven’t decided on the exact species or color morph yet.

It still has a lot of growing in to do, but I’d love to hear some initial feedback.

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40G Scape – 3.5 Weeks

November 1st, 2007

Here’s my 40G tank after being setup about 3.5 weeks ago.

40G - 3.5 Weeks

The Blyxa aubertii is still plagued by some hair/staghorn algae, but that’s because I still haven’t gotten a powerhead to add some more flow to that part of the tank. The Rotala macrandra var. ‘green’ is looking fantastic in the back middle, as is the Blyxa japonica.  I’m still trying to determine whether or not I’m able to use the Potamegeton sp. from Florida as a scapable plant. It’s to the right of the R. macrandra ‘green’ below.

Potamegeton sp.

It grows a bit too fast to easily time for a photo, but in a huge mass of stems, I think it would look like a stand of crypts with red/browns/yellows/greens throughout. When we first collected it, it looked very much like a bed of crypts with the leaves coming straight from the substrate, where the roots spread by runners. I’ve yet to replicate that growth in my tank, where the plant grows much more as a stem with a few long leaves coming off at alternating nodes. A foot long stem to the surface might only have 3-4 leaves, each of 4-5″ in length. I guess that’s why they called Potamegetons “pond weeds.”

I’d love to hear comments about how the tank is progressing, and would welcome any suggestions for the future.

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