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Archive for the ‘Aquariums’ Category

Finally. At long last, after several years without an aquarium, after weeks of cycling and letting plants take root, after going fish shopping last weekend and being disappointed, we have fish.

Meet the first new inhabitants of JJ&J’s Seafood Buffet:

JJJ Buffet 017

(Letting the temperature adjust for 30 minutes, then in they go.)

These are from one of my local Petcos where, frankly, the fish looked better and the staff were friendlier than my local tropical fish store. These were labeled “Sunset Fire Platies,” and I bought one male and four females.

They’re out of the bag, now, exploring their new home, and pooping. If fish are eating and pooping, they’re happy. After some initial signs of stress, they’re swimming around and snacking on algae. The male seemed to take the longest to adjust, hiding in the Cardamine, but he seems to be doing fine now. I’ll give them and the tank a week to adjust, then go shopping for another species next week.

On the plant front, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that I’m still getting good new growth. Here’s a snap of the Cardamine and the Hygrophila Stricta:

Cardamine in the front, Hygrophila in the back

Cardamine in the front, Hygrophila in the back

And the Echinodorus Tenellus is sending runners. Both plants have several “daughters.” In fact, I may have to “harvest” some, soon. They’re invading other plants’ spaces.

That bad news is that my lovely Marsilea Hirsuta, which had been growing like wildfire, has had a major die-off in the central portion. Here’s a recent “before” picture:

It was a great start

It was a great start

Here’s how it is today:

What happened?

What happened?

This makes me sad. 😦

At first I thought it was just old leaves dying during the transition, but even new leaves are rotting. I’m really not sure what’s happened here. I started dosing the full Seachem liquid fertilizer regime last weekend, including Excel. I’ve heard of other plants that have a problem with Excel, but I’ve not read of Marsilea being one of them. Maybe they’re unrelated. Regardless, I think this weekend I’m going to rip out the dead plant portions, snip off the runners that still seem good and replant them

Speaking of Seachem products, as I mentioned, I started the full regime last weekend, including Iron. I think most of the plants like it, especially the Cardamine. Even the Alternanthera is getting redder and showing new leaves. I’ve also noticed the algae that had been bugging me (hair and the beginnings of brush algae) looks like it has vanished. Frankly, I’m surprised.

I’ll be starting CO2, soon (“Do It Yourself” with citric acid), and I’ve decided to add a 2nd AC20 filter to the tank at the other end, to increase flow there. And the extra biological filtration couldn’t hurt.

That’s it for now, more when developments warrant.

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So, a year after moving into my new place, I’m finally able to get back into one of my favorite hobbies, keeping tropical fish. Presenting “JJ&J’s Seafood Buffet:”

JJJ Buffet 01

Not much to look at right now, I admit, but it’s a start. The water in the tank has to cycle until there are enough bacteria to turn ammonia into nitrite and nitrite into nitrate before the first two can poison fish. That takes a couple of weeks, at best. (I’m using pure ammonia and a bacterial additive to get things started, my first time doing the so-called “fishless” cycle.) I hope to add some plants this weekend or next, and then I’ll give them about three weeks to get acclimated before adding fish, some of which could otherwise uproot the plants.

Of course, one wants fish right now, but patience is best.

It might be hard to tell from the above photo, but the left side of the tank was quite dark. It was both unappealing, and the light was too low to grow more than a few species of plants, and I’ve wanted to try some new ones. So, I figured “in for a penny, in for a pound,” and splurged (for me) on a Finnex Planted + LED fixture. The advantages are several, first and foremost being stronger light and better coverage. (The bulb in the old fixture was just 21″, two-thirds the length of the tank. The Finnex covers the whole length.) It also uses less electricity and runs cooler. Win-win, as they say.

Here’s a pic with the Planted+ running. I think you can see the difference:

JJJ Buffet 08And, yeah, I expect to have to go to war with algae, eventually.

I like the pieces of wood I’ve chosen: they make for interesting spaces. Here’s a front shot of the two on the left:

JJJ Buffet 02

I plan to fill in that divot in the foreground, but it does make for an interesting cave for timid fish or those wanting shade, or cave breeders.

Here’s a view from the left:

JJJ Buffet 04Sorry for the glare, but  think you can see this gives the critters more places to explore.

And get stuck in when they die, making them impossible to get out, which always happens…

And, speaking of caves…

JJJ Buffet 03

I really like this piece of wood for the cave it forms, and it just seemed to go with this plastic wall (1) I found at Petco (2).

That’s it for now. I’ll post updates when something interesting occurs.

Footnotes:
(1) Don’t judge me.
(2) Please.

PS: Why “JJ&J’s Seafood Buffet?” That’s Jasper, Jersey, and Juno, the three cats who own my writing partner and his wife. They already want a menu.

PPS: Tech specs for those interested — Lights are the Finnex Planted+ LED, heater is a Visi-therm 100w, to be swapped out for a Fluval E-series 100w. The Filter is an Aquaclear 50. Aquaclear is a great brand of hang-on-the-back filter. Forty lbs. of Eco-Complete substrate. Water parameters as of last night are temp: 78. PH 7.2, GH 143 PPM, and KH 3 degrees. Ammonia is ~1 PPM, nitrite 5PPM (and that spiked suddenly overnight), nitrate 5PPM. The nitrite spike surprised me, but that might be the bacteria going to town. However, too high a nitrite can shut down the cycle, so, if it doesn’t go down soon and nitrates don’t go up (showing an active cycle), I’ll do a large water change.

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At least until he decides to invade the neighbor’s fish pond:

And his bunker is under the ugly pink fake-coral castle his owner bought at Petco…

Edit: Sometimes the tweet and picture show up, sometimes not. Usually embedding works better than this.

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Because I had the misfortune of dealing with a company that shipped the items I bought promptly via a carrier that delivered them precisely on schedule to my place of business, I won’t be able to get them until Monday. Curse them!

I mean, it’s not my fault that I forgot today is a state holiday, we’d be closed, and Fedex would be forced to reschedule… 😦

All whining and kidding aside, I do recommend Foster & Smith Aquatics and FedEx Ground highly. I’ve never received less than great service from either.

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Sigh. I just pulled another dead panda cory out of my aquarium. Over the last two-three months, seven out of the nine I’ve bought* have died. That’s it. For whatever reason, poor care on my part or weak stock or something else, I just can’t keep these pretty little critters alive. Not only is it a waste of money, but it makes me feel bad as a fish-keeper — I feel sometimes as if they’d have been better off if I left them in the store.

So, no more Pandas. Not for now. The whole point of that tank was to house a pet betta, and it’s been almost three months since Rocky T. Betta died. Tomorrow I’ll get another, and hopefully he’ll last longer than three months.

Some aquarist I am.  Sad

*(Over three batches as replacements for ones that have died.)

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That’s a relief. After today’s earthquake, I was scared to death I’d have a destroyed or at least severely damaged aquarium on my hands. Instead, I get home to find not even a drop has spilled, and the fish are doing their usual thing, wondering where the food is.

Whew! 

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Bits and bobs

My writing partner and I had a good morning working together today. Our spec script for Without a Trace I think is in pretty good shape, but now we’re at a point where we need outside eyes to tell us what’s working and what doesn’t. Sadly, our current writer’s group is pretty useless. I wish we could find a stronger one.

The Without a Trace web site has a neat section: a link to this week’s featured missing person. Click here to have a look.

We’re down to five panda cories: another one bit the dust a few days ago. This is frustrating: I can only assume these two were weakened in some way, since I’m 99% sure I’m giving them good care. But still, I didn’t get back into this hobby to bring home fish to die. I’ve just fed them and, watching, three are swimming around searching for food, but two are hanging back, under the driftwood. I hope that’s not a bad sign.

I recently let my membership to the US Chess Federation expire. (Chess has been one of my main hobbies since I was a kid, but I’m an awful player. Anand has nothing to fear.) I just grew tired of the toxic politics and, since I play only by correspondence or Internet, and since the magazine is being gutted by the chuckleheads who dominate the Executive Board (Revenues are declining … I know, let’s cut services! That will bring people back!), I just felt it was no longer worth my dollars. So, I’ve joined CCLA instead. (It’s been around in one form or another since 1897.) Mostly to avoid being dropped from an ICCF event I’m playing in, but I think, with its lower dues, CCLA will be a better value for me.

As long as people don’t cheat by using computers. Waiting

So, I’m taking this Monday and next off. How am I enjoying my two three-day weekends? By burying my nose in books and writing like a madman to meet a deadline for a book project. Whee. Sure, it pays money, but I’d really hadn’t planned to be cooped up at home. Of course, if Your Host hadn’t been a dope and left most of the work for the last minute….

Oh well. At least in this modern age it’s okay for me to take no personal responsibility for myself and instead blame others.

So I blame George Bush. Doesn’t everyone? Winking

Time to get dinner on the table. Steak night — yum!

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