Sunday, March 22, 2015

Surface plants in one of my Aquariums.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

 Aquarium yesterday lit by the afternoon sun.  After two years the planted aquarium has been doing very well.  Algae is under control, water conditions stable.  I believe the heavily planted aquarium maintains optimum water conditions.  The plants help purify the water by utilizing the waste products of the living organisms like Ammonia from the fish and Nitrates from the nitrifying bacteria.  I made a poor selection planting larger varieties of Sword plants and the Nymphaea that are too large for the size of this aquarium.  I have to periodically trim away excessive leaves to allow light to the lower growing plants.  The surface of the aquarium though is filtered by the leaves competing for light and this is effective in controlling  Algae.  Since the beginning of setting up the aquarium I had problems with Algae covering the surface of the aquarium but in the last few weeks the Algae variety that was such a problem has gone away.

The Madagascar Lace leaf another poor selection for this size
of an aquarium blooms frequently and produces small plantlets
that I am trying to encourage to take root. 
In the Spring the Nymphae or Egyptian Lotus sends out runners.
 A small piece of Java fern attached to a large piece of driftwood when I first set up the aquarium took awhile to establish but now has covered the driftwood and the leaves are breaking the surface providing shelter for smaller fish and shading the areas where the algae was such a problem before.  I also encourage duckweed and surface plants like water lettuce and frog bit.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In addition to my 29 gallon community aquarium that I started in April of 2013 I have added two 10 gallon aquariums.  One was started in the spring of 2014 and an additional one started in the fall.  With the new aquariums I began one with a substrate of Amazonia aquarium soil and the other with organic potting soil and covered with standard sized aquarium gravel.  I planted them and then added water from my seasoned aquarium just enough to cover the plants and left them alone to allow the plants to become established.  I then slowly added water either distilled or collected rain water until the aquariums were full.  At this point the aquarium was allowed to mature with only plants and whatever snails and micro life introduced with the plants for about three months. I wouldn't add a heater and just allowed the aquariums to remain cool which was usually around 65-68 degrees F.  This helped the plants to dominate and suppress but not eliminate any algae overgrowth.  I don't think it is possible to totally eliminate algae.  I would then add a heater and introduce small freshwater shrimp to see if they could establish themselves before I added any fish.  The Red Cherry Shrimp seem to be the most tolerant and will survive and reproduce.  I then added a small population of Celestial Pearl Danios which did very well but did seem to keep the shrimp population in check. I only gave them supplemental food a few times a week and they seemed to be very well fed.  I only see the occasional juvenile shrimp that has grown large enough to no longer be threatened by the small CPD's.  The CPD's have reproduced but none of the young have survived for very long and this may have been by the adults eating the eggs and young.  I also had a bit of a snail problem which may also have fed on the eggs.  A single CPD fry did manage to make it in to the newer 10 gallon aquarium a month ago possibly when I moved some plants or water between the two aquariums.  Without any competition or predators it's done very well.  A week ago I added some Crystal Red Shrimp to seem if I could get them to establish themselves.  About half of them died but a few remain.  Their not as hardy as the Red Cherry Shrimp.  What I would like to be able to create is a small sustaining population of the CPD's and shrimp. 

I had to purchase new lights for the above set up.  I had been using a 6 bulb 4 foot unit for T-5 HO fluorescents that was really great but the ballasts kept burning out and were two expensive to replace to make it very cost effective.  I purchased two 3ft two bulb Aquatic Life lights that provide about 8 watts per gallon that I have on for 12 hours a day. These were expensive but hopefully will last longer.  The wattage might seem excessive by the standard rule of 2-5 watts per gallon. I use surface floating plants like duckweed, frog bit and water lettuce that I have to thin out which filters the light a bit. My 29 gallon aquarium has 4 24watt bulbs for about 3 watts per gallon and has done well but I think it would do better with a six bulb unit. I planted the 29 gallon with large swords and Egyptian Lotus that dominate the surface and have to be thinned.  If I could do it over again I would go with smaller plants for this size of Aquarium.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Aquarium set up. I set this up around two weeks ago using a couple of inches of organic potting soil as a substrate and aquarium gravel over that to contain the potting soil.  I added a mix of rain water and water from an aged aquarium and using a small canister filter.  I also added a 1/8th cup of crushed coral to the substrate to provide some water hardness.  I only have the aquarium about 1/3 full of water and have planted the aquarium.  I do this to hopefully reduce algae growth and to allow the plants to grow emergent foliage to take advantage of atmospheric CO2.  I am using a 4 foot 6 bulb T-5 HO light unit over two 10 gallon aquariums using a 6 hour light period followed by a 4 hour mid day dark period followed by another 6 hour light period and then dark for 8 hours.  The other Aquarium I started 8 months ago but instead of potting soil I used the ADA product Amazonia aquarium soil with a covering of aquarium gravel.  I planted primarily Cryptocoryn species.  As the plants grew I added more aged water from my established aquarium and eventually added Cherry Red Shrimp and 6 Celestial Pearl Danios.  I added the shrimp first and allowed them to establish themselves and then the fish.  I believe the CPD's are feeding on the new born cherry shrimp.  I have seen a few CPD fry.  I've added Cambomba, water lettuce and duck week in hopes of providing some cover for the young fish.  Snails from the plants have really taken over.

The aquarium at one year.

UV Sterilizer.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some recent photos of some of my favorite Aquarium inhabitants.  The bottom two pictures are of a Parotocinclus, very tiny catfish from South America. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Madagascar Lace Leaf detail

Java Fern

Nerite Snail

Threadfin Rainbow Male
Flower bud of Madagascar lace leaf

Ember Tetra

Pair of Betta Albamarginata

Hair Algae the bane of my existence

The Aquarium has been set up now almost for one year.  I recently replaced the 5lb tank of CO2 which at the rate I use it lasted almost one year.  I am now only infusing the aquarium with the CO2 for 6 hours a day when all four lights are on. I replace on average about 10% of the water once a week and monitor the water chemistry also weekly.  I had a problem early on with low but persistent levels of Ammonia which I believed was coming from the tap-water I was using so I switched to distilled water and have started collecting rain water during heavy rain storms.  In my filter I use a product called Purigen to absorb ammonia and crushed coral to increase the water hardness a bit hopefully to provide some buffering against extreme changes in the ph levels which I notice are influenced by the CO2 infusion.  I still lose a few fish each month for mysterious reasons.  I usually try to buy a minimum of four specimens each time I introduce a new fish variety, that way I end up with at least a couple of healthy ones and if they thrive I add more of the same type later. I've done real well with the Threadfin Rainbows, these seem to like my water conditions.  I also have one pair of Dwarf Gouramies that I've had for almost a year now and spawn frequently.  Recently I added two different wild betta pairs, Betta Rutilians and Betta alba-marginata.  I believe they are keeping my Endlers livebearers in check.  I still cannot manage the hair algae which will coat the surface of the aquarium if I let it.  Twice a week I pull out masses of it.  I keep the water circulating with a air-stone and a spray bar but this doesn't seem to deter it.  The masses of algae though does give pretty good protection for the tiny gourami fry.  I'd like to have several pairs of breeding fish that can sustain a small population.  I wish I had never planted Sagittaria it has taken over the Aquarium and pulling it up disturbs the substrate but it's really blocking out the nicer plants like the Swords, Lotus and Lace leaf.  Crypotcoryne is a much better choice as well as Java fern both are slower growing.  I'll just have to keep working at pulling out the Sagittaria and see if the other plants can then dominate. I may at some point remove all of the water and fish and plants that I want to keep in to a spare 29 gallon I have and then starting again with a new landscape with fewer choicer plants that I want to cultivate in a new substrate using the same Amazon aqua soil and gravel that I used before but preserving the water and the biological filtration that has become established.  I've learned a lot in the last year.

Sepia Toned
Recent work framed
Gold Toned

Using a Groupon and my 'artists discount' I had two photographs recently framed at Art Heads.  The framer showed me these silk mats which I really liked and on the sepia toned photo she introduced me to a 'Filet' a small thin wooden frame set around the photo inside the matting, a frame within the frame.  I was very pleased with the results.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Another Goby photo.  I find these fish very interesting and good algae eaters.
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