Monday, December 15, 2008

Algae Battle & Surface Scum

Just a quick update... the algae battle continues as well as surface scum. I hate both of them. The good news is that plants are still doing very well (and the fish too). I am cleaning out algae maybe twice a week now and have to surface skim with a pop bottle almost everyday.

Aquarium Shot
Full Stand/Tank/Hood
Algae Problems

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I returned from a week of vacation to find my tank in complete ruin. Hair algae, beard algae and blue-green algae everywhere and even the water is green. I cleaned out some algae last night but it was already so late I could not do more. Today I have no time to work on it as well and this week at work will be crazy, so perhaps I can work on it a bit every night.

I was too panicked at the time to take a picture.

All I can think of is that the automatic fish feeder was dumping way more fish food in than I wanted. All the fish had very fat tummies so this is probably the culprit.

Sigh... and things were going so well.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

3 Weeks - Bristlenose

At 3 weeks most of the water sprite has been removed. The wisteria has grown in to replace it, which looks and smells better (water sprite has a foul odor).

My girls' favorite fish, the bristle-nose pleco. The video is more enjoyable if you make little munching noises with it.

My Coralife power strip with built in day/night timer broke after only 3 weeks of use! It would no longer switch to "night" mode. I could not find any warranty information so I opened it myself and found it easy to fix. There was a small wire running between the timer and the casing that had moved to block the mechansim that toggles the day/night. After moving this wire it worked again. I need to tape it down so it does not happen again. I would hate for this to happen during a vacation and come home to algae soap. While it was open I also realized that this unit does not offer any surge protection, so I picked one up this weekend.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

2 Weeks - Betta Wars - DIY Cooling - Golden Ratio

2 weeks photo
The narrow leaf chain swords are beginning to chain off siblings.

I added 4 more female betttas and my "harem" is now complete. The first few hours after adding the new females were pretty intense and several of them suffered some torn fins. Things have calmed down now and they have all figured out that there is plenty of territory for them all and that they can avoid/leave a confrontation rather than fight it out.

I found what may be the ugliest female betta ever and just could not pass it up. I added her to the tank for her "uniqueness" and character. The girls have named her "Cracker". I don't know what genetic experiments preceded her, but I think it is safe to say they failed.

A few more of the bettas. From left to right we have Buttercup, Crystal and Dragon (renamed from Princess because she is the real trouble maker).

My canopy was getting too hot. I measured the temperature at 105 degrees one evening, and I would think it gets higher than that during the day. I have been looking online at fan solutions and they are overpriced and I just have not been able to make myself buy one. Its pretty obvious that all the solutions are just computer case fans with an AC/DC adapter. So I grabbed a case fan I had here at home, found an old unused AC/DC converter (12v) from an outdated cell phone and spliced the two together. Fan worked, no fire. So I used some velcro tape to attach the fan and try it out. With in few minutes the canopy temp dropped by ~12 degrees. Not bad! Since this worked I am going to add a second fan and find a more permanent/secure way to attach the fans.

As as side note... when I was drawing up the basic plans for the stand and hood I was concerned about getting the proportions balanced. I have seen aquariums with over sized canopies or stands that are too short/tall and they don't look "right". An idea came to me from my website. My brother (a dentist) mentioned that veneers are done with the golden ratio in mind - DING! That was the answer to getting a balanced looking stand/aquarium/canopy. So I used the golden ratio based on the height of the aquarium to determine the height of the stand and canopy. You can't go wrong with the golden ratio.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

1 week

Photo at 1 week after planting. I gave up on keeping the water sprite down and just let it float.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Added 5 female bettas earlier this week, all have been named by my daughters:
Buttercup - a yellow/cream color
Princess - a crowntail
Blue-leaf - a metallic blue that likes to stay back in the plants
Cherry - a red
Black stripe - a pale blue with strong horizontal stripes

The day after, black stripe was MIA and has not been seen since. I can't even find the body, probably festering under a log. I have been monitoring ammonia levels and so far, no ammonia.

Here is a pic of blue leaf. I need to spend some time researching how to photo fish without them being blurry.

The plants are doing well. The crypt melt is still underway, but there is a lot of new growth as well. The radican sword is putting up a new leaf, veined with red - a good sign that the substrate is iron rich.

Moonlighting has been installed. Rather than shooting the beam directly into the tank I have it screwed into the side of the canopy so that the light shines across the top of the tank. I think it looks more natural this way and is not as intense.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Those high output T5 bulbs get HOT! Yesterday was the first day where I have had them on for an extended period of time and it heated the water to 81-82 degrees. I think it will be fine for the winter, but next summer will be interesting. I will have to add some vents and fans.

Did a fish count and all residents survived the night. The pleco still has its stress coloring, but it has been out and about so I'm not too worried.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fished what I wanted!

Today I went out to find my cleaner crew.
On the hit list were Ottos, some kind of cool cory cat and a dwarf pleco of some kind. Started out at Pets Inc. They were out of ottos and the bushy nosed pleco was 20 bucks... I had to pass on that one. I did find 4 panda corys though and they were trying to clear them out w/ a 25% discount. YAY. If they do well I'll have to pick up some more pandas in the future. After that, I headed to Petsmart on Kyrene (the best petsmart/petco in the area if you ask me). They had the Ottos I was looking for and I picked up 8. They also had 2 choice plecos for my planted setup. A rubbernosed pleco and bristlenosed pleco. I have had bristlenosed plecos before and really liked them, so I went with that one. The rubbernose has an unpleasant color.
They are all in the aquarium now and seem to be doing well. The corys had a bit of a shock but are recovering. Maybe I'll be lucky and not lose any.

My otto cats, already busy at work on the dwarf sag.

Pleco hiding in the drift wood.

My Pandas... still freaking out from the transfer.
My crypt melt is underway, but there are signs of new growth as well.

For the next few days I will monitor ammonia levels, but I expect them to be low. I have seeded the filter with mulm from my other aquariums.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Planting Day!

Aquarium with substrate:

My wire job on the lighting - this part took forever:

My plants arrived this morning from All were in good shape and I'm very pleased with the quality and price. The only downer was that they substituted a few plants because they were out of stock. Planting took about 2 hours and here are the results. Too bad this is the best the tank will look for a while. I'm sure many of the crypts will melt and regrow, some plants will die off...

And now, 2 days of darkness to encourage root growth.

Initial Setup for low tech, nonCO2 planted tank:
50 gallon All Glass Aquarium Substrate w/ Total fert pellets
Icecap 660 & reflectors with 2x39 watt HO T-5
Rena XP2 Filter
Rena integrated heater (200W)

1 radican sword
10 narrow leaf chain swords
10 broad leaf chain swords
5 green cryptocoryne wendtii
3 cryptocoryne lutea
3 cryptocoryne walkeri (sub for becketti)
2 red cryptocoryne wendtii
10 dwarf sagittaria
java fern
java moss
water sprite
1 bronze cryptocoryne wendtii

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Wow! After waiting... and waiting... and waiting for my AGA 50 gallon aquarium to come in at the local pet shop it finally arrived! It took about 8 weeks for the shop and his distributor to figure it out. Its all been very hard for them for some reason.

The same day the cabinet guy called and said the stand and hood is finished. YAY!

I'm very happy with the way the stand turned out, in fact, it is perfect. The hood has some issues, but overall I'm pleased with the way it turned out. Maybe sometime in the future I can have Lee build me a new hood. One thing I do like about the hood is that the inside is lined with formica.

Here is the tank/stand/hood full of water to test for leaks.

An overnight water test gave no leaks, but I did find something that has given me high stress. One of the edge seals is very poorly done (just my luck right?). If it were a standard tank size I would take it back and exchange it, but I can't really wait 8 weeks for a new tank to be ordered in since this is my sabbatical project. The bubbles in the seal have not changed and I think it will hold fine, but maybe have a shorter span. After much discussion and festering we have decided to press on with this one and then replace it next time we move, and of course, keep a close eye on it for changes.

The last 2 days have been busy wiring in the lighting, adding substrate, filter setup and plant order. The plants arrive Friday!

Friday, April 11, 2008


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