Odd n Ends

October 29th, 2008

The GWAPA meeting that I hosted has come and gone, and the weather outside has turned downright chilly, so it was time for me to tear down the pond for the year. I brought the Crinum americana indoors, as well, as a number of the other plants that had spent the last few months basking in the open sun. I also managed to net out about 4 dozen cherry shrimp from the bottom of the pond.

Cherry Shrimp

In addition to some outside maintenance, I’ve also been working to break down a few of my smaller tanks in hope that I can replace them with a larger “farm tank” to grow out a number of exotic plants that I’ve been acquiring recently. To that end, with the Jewel cichlids off to a new home, my 20H is completely empty. I piled all of the wood/rocks from that tank into my 20L quarantine tank.

20L - Odds n Ends

This suits me just fine because I had recently put 20 juevenille bristlenosed plecos from the Catfish Convention Auction into this tank. These plecos are adoring the algae-ridden wood that was in the 20H.

Bristlenosed Pleco

In addition to the plecos, that 20L now contains 3 I. werneri that I’ve been unable to fish out to move to my 75G, and a large number of trumpet snails that retreat to the substrate during the day, and emerge each evening.

Trumpet Snail

I’ve also torn down both of my 2.5G tanks that I had used for my first wormstrate/soil experiment. All that’s left is the 20L and two 10Gs, which I’ll need to consolidate at some point. I’m thinking of getting a 50 breeder, or similarly sized tank for my farm tank. Of course, we’ll see what deal comes along.

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GWAPA: October Meeting at My Place

October 26th, 2008

My wife and I hosted GWAPA’s October meeting at our home. We had around 30 folks show up on a very rainy day in Maryland for a meeting about photographing your planted aquarium. I did my best to give a talk structured after this post, and hopefully the other members came away with a little bit more knowledge than when they arrived about how to get a semi-decent picture of their tank.

We also asked for nominations for the 2009 board of directors. It looks like the board will remain largely the same, with just the recording secretary slot being new. The auction wasn’t as large as some of them have been lately, but a number of relatively new plants to the hobby showed up at this meeting. A new Glossostigma, Lindernia, and Rotala all made an appearance. Hopefully they’ll soon make their rounds to more and more folks.

75G - 10/22/2008

After the meeting was over, I fished out my Jewel cichlids, and sent them to a good home with another member who already keeps some Jewels. They were wonderfully personable fish, but were too aggressive to keep with much else. In the end, I plan to tear down a couple of my smaller tanks, so I needed to find a home for them. All in all, a great meeting!

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75G – Cleaned Up

October 22nd, 2008

As promised, here is a picture of my 75G after some trimming and cleaning up. I didn’t end up changing the aquascape very much, but that will hopefully come before too long. I have changed the fauna in this tank, however. I managed to fish out about 15 Corydoras paleatus, which I sold in the catfish convention auction.

75G - 10/22/2008

75G - Click picture for larger image.

I replaced them with about 60 Threadfin Rainbowfish (Iriatherina werneri) that I had kept in quarantine for the last few weeks. I also intend to fish out the Goo Obo Gudgeons from my 54G tank to turn this into more of an Australian/New Guinea themed tank. My hope is that the Gudgeons will breed without the Corydoras in there to disturb their eggs. We’ll see! Let me know if you have any suggestions for the aquascape.

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CO2 Dump!

October 20th, 2008

CO2 Canister & RegulatorAfter the catfish convention auction, I came home and started acclimating the new bristlenose plecos that I got. I putting them in a 20L quarantine tank, and when I turned around I noticed that none of the sunfish or killies that usually swarm the front of the tank were there. Eventually, I spotted a few of the sunnies dug into the Ranalisma rostrata, and a few others swimming awkwardly at the water surface.

Immediately, I knew what had happened; the CO2 tank ran out, and dumped a ton of CO2 into the aquarium all at once. Right away, I pulled out my Python hose, and did a 50% water change. I also borrowed an air pump from another tank, and threw an airstone into the 40G. At that point, all I could do is wait and hope that I wasn’t too late.

I’m happy to report that despite some really dire looking fish, nearly all of the fish survived as of today. I only have one sunfish confirmed dead, and all killies are accounted for. I was lucky.

So, now the question is what can I do to prevent this from happening again? Well, two things come to mind:

1. I could add a pH controller to control the solenoid on my CO2 tank. If the tank suddenly started dumping, the pH controller would shut off the flow of CO2 once the pH dropped below a certain level. Unfortunately, this is not the cheapest solution.

2. I could attach a low-pressure regulator to the regulator I currently have. This would detect the low pressure that causes a CO2 dump, and vent that gas to the room, instead of the aquarium. The downside to this is that I already have a 3-way manifold on my regulator, which is pretty heavy. I’m not confident that the low-pressure regulator could support that weight.

So, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. At this point, I should have at least 6 months to decide before this could happen again. It’s not even a guarantee that it will happen again. That said, I don’t want to take any chances. Does anyone else have any alternative suggestions for what I could do to prevent this from happening in the future?

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Catfish Convention Auction

October 19th, 2008

After an extremely busy couple of days preparing for and attending a family wedding, I managed to carve out some time to attend the All-Aquarium Catfish Convention auction. I was very pleased to be able to catch up with Dr. Devon Graham, who runs and operates Margarita Tours, which is the company I traveled to the Peruvian Amazon with in August 2007. In addition, from everyone I talked to, it sounds like the convention itself was a tremendous success. I’m very proud of GWAPA participating on Friday night with a workshop about planted-tank-friendly catfish, and representing with a beautiful informational display table. That was all made possible by the work of some very dedicated members.

The auction was huge, consisting of 10 lots of items. I brought 15 bags of plants and fish, and I suspect everyone else did similarly because there could be no less than 1000 items there. Plants, catfish, killies, cichlids, tanks, tools, equipment, it was all present. My only buy of the day was a fantastic grab, pulling 20 Bristlenosed Pleco juveniles for only $14. I have no idea what I’m going to do with all of those if they reach adulthood, but I’ll enjoy raising them up, possibly breeding them, and passing them onto other aquarists. I’d love to hear what everyone else in attendance came away with.

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Rotala ramosior

October 14th, 2008

While at the reservoir last week, I spotted countless stems of Rotala ramosior growing emersed all throughout the dried lake bed. Out in the full sun, the plants were all a deep red color, with many flower buds along their stems. The flowers of Rotala ramosior, often called Tooth-Cup or Lowland Rotala, are small white flowers, that grow in large numbers along the stem.

Rotala ramosior

Within a day or two of putting a few stems in my 40G aquarium, the plants began converting to submersed form, throwing out new green leaves. They also began side-shooting, forming side stems from the main trunk, also with green leaves. The leaves of Rotala ramosior have a very distinct vein down the center of the leaf, from tip to stem. The other veins are not nearly as prominent as the main central one.

Rotala ramosior

Being native to over 90% of the states in the U.S., it’s amazing that Rotala ramosior is not more common in the hobby. It grows well, creates a nice bush like most Rotala species, and is attractive. I’m looking forward to growing it out further, and adding it to my collection.

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75G – In Need of Attention

October 11th, 2008

I’ve been quite busy this week with a number of non-aquarium related things going on, so it’s no surprise that I haven’t been able to post, or tend my aquariums as much as I would normally like to. I have continued to dose my 75G every morning, however, and when I do that, without much attention, it soon turns into this overgrown jungle.

75G - Needs a Trim!

Click for larger image

The Stargrass, in particular, in the back right/middle has completely taken over the area, shading out everything in front of it. Fortunately, all I have are a bunch of crypts, anubias, and other non-light-hungry plants there. I hope to be able to clean up this tank a bit this weekend, so that it’s back in tip-top shape in a week or two. If I’m really ambitious, I might change up the aquascape a little bit because I’ve been wanting to do that for awhile. We’ll see. I’ll post an updated picture once I have it back to a more presentable state.

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Reservoir Trip

October 6th, 2008

This weekend, my wife and I took our dogs to a reservoir near our house that we like to visit this time of year. We probably would visit it more often, except that most of the year, it is completely covered by many feet of water. In the summer, they close off the dam upstream, and the reservoir turns from lake to field, with lots of open space for our energy laden dogs to run.


Our weimaraner/lab mix, Bella, galloped from place to place, clearly enjoying herself. Our lab/spaniel mix, Jen, enjoyed the area more at her own pace, but had a good time nevertheless.


Occasionally, Bella would decide to ambush Jen, which then brought on a flurry of tails, claws, and teeth, playfully pouncing upon each other. The field itself was laden with yellow wildflowers, stretching for a far as you could see.

Bella and Jen

Last year when we came, all of these flowers had already melted away, and we were left with hitchhiking seeds on our pants, shoes, and tails (dogs). I wasn’t really paying too much attention to the aquatic plants this time, but I did spot some Rotala ramosior, Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny), and a Polygonum species.


Combined with the beautiful, crisp weather, we had a nice time walking through the wildflowers, and looking for wildlife. We spotted a number of minnows, and a few bass in the brook and feeder streams.


We hope to get out canoeing here next year once the water is high enough. Hopefully that will allow us to further explore more of the area, even though I doubt our dogs will be allow for that trip!

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40G – Wormstrate – After 3 Months

October 4th, 2008

It’s been almost three months since I tore down my 40G aquarium, and restarted it with a substrate based on earthworm castings produced from my kitchen scraps. From the beginning I experienced great growth, but I also had a huge outbreak of hair algae. I’m still not sure whether this was leftover algae that came in from the previous setup, or whether it was spurred along by the earthworm castings. Either way, it’s gone now, and the tank it doing great.

40G - 3 Months Since Setup

40G - Click picture for larger view.

The aquascape has changed a fair amount, as I’ve pulled out a significant amount of the hardscape I originally placed, largely to find room for a smattering of new plants that I needed to house. The Ranalisma rostrata has just about filled in the foreground. The right side of the tank is basically just a growing out space for various stems including Ludwigia sp. ‘Araguaia‘, Rotala sp.Araguaia’, Blyxa alternifolius, Rotala sp. ‘Mini Type I’, and a Limnophila species. Due to all of these plants, I don’t envision this tank ever becoming a cohesive aquascape unless I’m able to setup a farm tank to transfer some of these out. The main thing, is that I’m quite impressed by the substrate sustained growth, with zero dosing. Comments welcome!

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Mermaid Weed – Proserpinaca palustris

October 1st, 2008

Proserpinaca palustris is a plant that I have long sought after, but only have recently started growing. The funny thing is that it’s actually a native plant where I live, but it’s not a plant that’s often kept by aquarists. The most interesting thing about this medium difficulty plant is the vast difference between its emersed and aquatic forms.

Proserpinaca palustris Emersed

Emersed, the plant exhibits leaves that look a little bit like rosemary, except with serrated edges. Submerged, however, Proserpinaca palustris looks like a totally different plant. The leaves are saw-toothed, being much more ornate than your typical Myriophyllum or Ambulia.

Proserpinaca palustris Submerged

Under intense light, these leaves can actually turn bright red. Proserpinaca palustris should grow under most conditions, but the bottom most leaves will melt away except until moderate light conditions. The advantage I see in Mermaid Weed compared to Ambulia or Myriophyllum is that it grows much slower, while the others tend to overtake your tank. I’m really enjoying this plant, and hope to use it extensively in one of my future aquascapes.

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