Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bolivian Ram fry!

We got this pair of Bolivian Rams a year ago from an individual. They are really nice specimens and we assumed they were a pair. After our successful Discus breeding, we moved them into the breeding tank hoping for similar success. But what we saw was fighting, and when researching how to sex them we found it is nearly impossible to reliably determine it from appearance alone. We did also discover that it's not uncommon for a pair to fight, even after they have free swimming fry to protect!



To increase the odds of having a female we bought two more at a local store after spending a significant amount of time trying to find ones in the tank that looked different from the rest. Since temperature and breeding conditions can affect the percentage of male and females in a brood, it's possible a fish store could have all males. But we gave it a try and kept this pair in a quarantine tank for a while before adding them to the big tank. It turns out that apparently we ended up with a pair as several weeks later we have fry!

Bolivian Ram fry

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rescaping the 72g and 150g tanks

The 150g tank is my oldest tank. It has gone through periods of looking pretty good and other times where it was not so good. It was time for a change and I had recently discovered a source of the sand blasting substrate Black Beauty which is really nice looking and dirt cheap. I have used it in some smaller tanks with success so decided it was time to try it in bigger tanks. Over the last weekend, I scooped out all the old substrate and replaced it with 200lbs of #3 (medium) Black Beauty for about $30.
Rescape of 150g tank

The 72g tank has always been an afterthought. It was going to be wht the 240g became, but partway through the build I determined it was too small to do what I wanted. I was then going to make it a cichlid tank but it's kind of small for African ciclids and I never really got it to a point I liked for South American cichlids. So with inspiration from some Amano articles in recent issues of Tropical Fish Keeping magazine, I replaced the gravel with 100lbs of Black Beauty #4 (fine) for $15 and redid the hardscape.
Rescape of 72g tank

For both of these tanks, I treated all the wood and rocks with hydrogen peroxide or bleach to kill off a growing infestation of black beard algae (bba). Hopefully with good fertilization and high CO2 I can keep it at bay. For my other tanks, I'm trying to get rid of it without wholesale change in the tank. The 60g I'm just using high CO2 and the 240g I treated with Flourish Excel and following with high CO2.

How it's Made

It's been a long time coming, but I've finally begun to document in detail the planning and work that went into the construction of these tanks. I started with the 240g tank since that's the most interesting and complicated. I will expand it in time to cover all the things that I learned and developed as part of this hobby.

Check it out: How it's Made.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What a difference fertilization can make

I've switched to using the Estimative Index form of fertilization for our larger tanks. So far it has made a tremendous difference in this tank as you can see by these plants. Granted, it's the tank with our Discus fry so it sees near-daily water changes as well. But the deep red in the plants is likely a sign of an increase in available iron for the plants.


8 weeks and counting




Saturday, September 27, 2008

Discus fry update - 6 weeks old

All fry are in the 60g tank now. The parents defending the fry in the 240g tank were stressing out the other fish in the tank so we moved the fry over as well. We switched from decapsulated brine shrimp eggs to cichlid growth meal today. They're on an automatic feeder and they eat energetically at every feeding.

Discus Fry - 6 weeks old

Discus Fry - 6 weeks old

Bristlenose Pleco Fry - 3 weeks old

On the 2" diameter suction cup from a feeding clip:
ancistris fry

On the glass
ancistris fry

Just last night we noticed some additional fry from some new eggs! I don't know if more eggs were laid or if they are like some fish eggs that hatch at different times to increase their odds of survival in the wild (due to flooding/drought/predators/etc.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Discus fry update - 1 month old

We moved most of the fry into our 60g tank after the unfortunate passing of our angel fish. It is a big tank for them to grow in. A few remained behind and when we moved the parents back into the 240g tank some of them went along for the ride. They seemed ok so we removed the few remaining ones into that tank as well. The parents continue to be very protective of the fry, chasing off other fish who come near. You can see the fry in the pictures below.



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bristlenose Pleco Eggs


Some surprisingly large Bristlenose Pleco eggs in our 12g Nano cube tank. The pleco "cave" is 3/4" PVC that was capped on one end, coated in silicone and rolled in gravel.

A bit of re-scaping on the 240




Thursday, August 28, 2008

Discus fry update - 2 weeks old

Proud parents
2 week old Discus Fry

The fry have taken on the Discus shape
2 week old Discus Fry

Friday, August 22, 2008

Updated pictures of the big tanks

The 240g Discus tank

Close ups:




The 150g Rainbow tank after replanting this past weekend

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Esquire House Aquarium Build

I wrote about this aquarium some time ago. It's a really amazing installation on the scale of a tank I dream of owning some day. I found a thread on another forum that discusses the building of it including pictures of the process and wanted to share it. Here are some photos that a local club member took of the tank during the build.

6ft long anacharis plants!

6ft long anacharis plants!
Originally uploaded by mcr25823

These have been growing mostly floating in our 20g cherry shrimp tank for months. I didn't realize how long they had grown!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Discus Fry

Some time ago, a pair of our Discus paired up and started spawning in the 240. They kept eating the eggs once they reached wiggler stage ( not unexpected ), but they were persistent so finally, we decided to set up a spawning tank for them. In order to make transferring them back and forth as simple as possible, and minimize stress on the fish, we set up a 20 gallon tank next to the 240 with a siphon to fill the 20, and a small pump running back into the main tank so the tank turned over 3-4 times an hour. This gave them identical water conditions, and almost identical lighting conditions, as well as making maintenance simpler, and giving us a huge buffer against unexpected changes in water conditions ( 260 gallons instead of 20 ).

For those of you who aren't familiar with them, Discus are great parents who have evolved a very unique means of rearing their young. They are usually found in stretches of water that have little in the way of infusorians and the other micro foods fry need to survive their first several weeks of life. In order to assure that their spawn don't starve in those early weeks, they have evolved to produce an unusually thick slime coat on their sides that the fry can feed on instead.

This works very well in the wild, and it makes for a great experience to witness as an aquarist, but in the close confines of a tank it can lead to undue stress. In an aquarium, survival rates are much higher and the parents can not easily escape the fry when they get too old and too big. As a result, the fry can begin to strip away the slime coat faster than the parents can produce it, leading to fin and scale damage seriously high stress levels. In order to avoid this, it is often necessary to separate the parents and the fry after 2-3 weeks.

Transferring the parents was difficult. You can see the layout of the 240 in an earlier post - it is not conducive to catching fish that do not want to be caught. After the move, they didn't seem inclined to spawn for the first couple of weeks. Then, about 3 weeks ago they had a small spawn, but apparently still felt nervous enough to eat the eggs.

However, last week, there was another spawn that went to wigglers, and now we have a small school of fry following the parents around. Many 'serious' breeders will probably laugh at the fact that the spawning tank has a substrate and is heavily planted. However, since we aren't commercial breeders, and maximum yield from each spawn was not really a major priority for us, and we have entirely too many plants anyway, we saw no reason to needlessly subject them to the stress of a bare tank.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Clown loach!

Near perfect Clown loach shot from the 150g tank.

Why not saltwater?

People regularly ask why we don't have any saltwater tanks. For as complicated as we make our freshwater tanks, saltwater is many times beyond that. If it were merely that, I would be up for the challenge, but it comes at tremendous cost as well. One mistake and you might kill everything in your tank. While such mistakes can be made in freshwater, it is generally more forgiving and even if it does happen, your losses are a fraction of what they would be in a marine tank. Saltwater fish generally start at the high end of what we pay for freshwater fish, and corals average twice that and up up steeply from there. Different fish and corals require different minerals and chemical parameters to be dosed/monitored. As with anything, you can make it as complicated as you want, and allot depends on the specific fish and corals you wish to keep, but the photos below are an example of what it takes to do it right:

(photo source)

Here is another one, it's clearly a high-end tank, but it has great pictures of its equipment room.

Saltwater is cool, and someday I will probably have a marine tank, but not until I can afford to do it right, and possibly hire someone to do the maintenance.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

60g tank photos

Second only to the 240g tank, the plant growth in this tank is doing great!

Angel parents standing guard to their eggs:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

240g tank

I'm still working on a high-dynamic-range photo, so for now...

Tank properly exposed:

Bog properly exposed:

Bog up close

Discus in the tank:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Found objects

It's always neat to see what found objects people turn into aquariums. Not all are practical, but that's isn't necessarily a requirement to be interesting.

Fête des Lumières 2007: Urban Escapism

Friday, March 21, 2008

Macro lens

We rented a 105mm f/2.8 macro lens for the weekend and shot a lot of closeup pictures. In no particular order...

This little guy was in our first batch of discus. He's stunted, but we like him anyway.

Bosemani Rainbow.

Anonymous cichlid. Either an apisto, or a simlarly tempered small african - we failed to label him when we brought them home so again, information would be appreciated.

Juvenile Firemouth Cichlid. We have a pair of these that are looking for a new home. They are absolutely gorgeous specimens, and one is just beginning to show some red in the throat.

These guys were identified as Blue Barbs when we got them, but no scientific name was provided. Maximum size was listed as 4-6" and they bear a strong resemblance to cherry barbs, but with only a band of red, and a striking blue metallic coloration from the rest

Blue Tetras

Hemianthus Callitrichoides ( sometimes sold as 'Dwarf Baby Tears' )
This particular batch is growing emmersed in the bog area behind the 240.

Espei Rasbora ( Trigonostigma espei )

Congo Tetra ( Phenacogrammus Interruptus )

Bolivian Rams ( Mikrogeophagus Altispinosus )

Blue Ram ( Mikrogeophagus Ramierezi )

Discus with a spelunking fetish

School o' Clown Loaches ( Chromobotia Macracanthus )

Gold Ram ( Ramirezi varietal )

Apistogramma Cacatuoides - he was labelled a double red. Is there an orange Cactuoides varietal now? These guys have given us a small batch of fry in a split 15 gallon. Cant wait to get them into a normal sized tank by them selves.

Amano Shrimp - Caradinia Japonica ( have now been reclassified, but I dont have the new name handy. )

Caridina Serrata varietal.
A bright orange varietal of the freshwater bee shrimp. These were one of the early shrimp available to the hobby, though this is the first time I have ever seen them in person.

Endler's Livebearer Fry ( Poecilia Wingei )

Garden variety nuisance snail on glass... gotta love macro lenses
Pearling Ricca Fluitans