Monday, June 3, 2013

From the Fish Tank: June 3rd

Couldn't wait until sunset to take a photo.
Sometimes, it's hard to remember to do these posts. Keeping of fish is so much a study of minutiae, of day-to-day minor adjustments and tiny tasks, that one loses track of what is happening overall. Since our last update at the beginning of may, I've actually made quite a few changes - most obviously, having replaced the central plants with an explosively-growing cultivar I cannot remember the name of. Between fast plant growth, regular dosing, and the remaining pair of S lineolata loaches, I've got algae pretty well under control. Now I just have to deal with the traditional red algae, which I remove manually with a magnetic scrub.

Interestingly, the high light has actually changed some of my plants, narrowing the leaves of my amazon swords. This was predicted, but I did not expect it to go on so quickly.

Speaking in general, this tank has been having some growing pains. That sand there has turned out to be an artificial produce of macerated limestone and sandstone - the included limestone has been a strong buffering agent that has slowly, but steadily, been raising my pH. To counteract this, I have to dose heavily with acidifiers and step up my water change regiment - the filter's back to filtering over granulated peat, I'm going through tropical extracts like crazy. The result is dark water that the fish absolutely love, but no real change in pH.
Odessa Barb and Denison's Torpedo Barb frolic near the Mystery Plant.

As you know, however, I'm moving. The city I'm moving to has a very different tapwater - it's generally harder and therefore generally more alkaline than one would expect from the city water here where I live - it's much closer to our well water. Now, I can continue to keep my fish the way I have been - aggressively treating and pre-conditioning my water to drive the pH down. If I do that, I should probably replace my substrate entirely, preferably with another sand, in which case, such a tedious replacement only might help. The new sand could be full of carbonates, which would only exacerbate the problem, especially if I'm dealing with the harder, more alkaline water to start with. Now, it's possible (with a small army of buckets) to precondition my water-change water by steeping leaf litter or dried ketapang in it, to make it more acidic and softer, but that brings out the tedium and there likely won't be the space for it - not to mention that standing water is a great way to breed fruit flies.
Odessa gets an honour guard from most of the Denisonii barbs.
 There's no real upside in a situation like that. Without a miracle (like the water having a high GENERAL hardness but a very low Carbonate Hardness, meaning it's not as acidic as I think), it would be easier to take a dramatic change in direction. For those of you nearby, it's actually an opportunity. Those Sewellia loaches just aren't available locally anymore, and the barbs are grown on considerably more than what you'd find in the store (and, for that matter, you won't find the Denisons). When I get a pH test done in the next few days up there, I'll be make a final decision, but for now, if anyone wants to lay claim to any of my fish for a late-summer/early-fall adoption, they should start getting ready to let me know.

Need to hide that wiring better...
The 10-gallon is in the same situation. As I may have reported, Mongkut became impacted and died, but he has been replaced with a rather nice blue-white Super Delta, who we'll get a close-up of in the future. Those of you who have never kept a fish in recent memory will probably enjoy a beta. As it happens, the Betta will be the subject of a special giveaway that I will mention below the cut.

Having said that, this tank is doing very well. It killed my nerite snails somehow (probably a crummy acclimation, as snails are difficult to acclimate properly in my experience), but other than that, I've not lost a single fish except the beta - even the notoriously finnicky cardinal tetras are still in their full complement.

The Betta in question, and not a flattering photo. The white is more
pronounced in reality.
On to the Betta. He can't follow me to Fredericton. Not because I don't think he'd survive - the substrate in that tank actually softens and lowers pH - but because, if I go with my giveaway plans, I'm going to want this ten-gallon tank for a new purpose all its own. The Betta, however, is a package deal. He comes in a 5-gallon fish tank with its own air-driven sponge filter and a screen cover, along with a few select clippings of my favourite plants. You'll need to add a small heater to the system, but other than that, it's entirely ready to go for long-term care of a frankly, beautiful fish.

Also, the majority of my plants will be up for grabs, once I decide which ones to keep, in particular cuttings of the Egeria Densa and select clones of my Amazon Swords.

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