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New to the Scene

Today, we were up at Forest Lake Pets getting some Giant Khuli Loaches for one of my aquariums at school and stumbled upon these little wonders. They are the most versatile and most BIZARRE fish in our collection.  They can handle from 40-100 degrees Fahrenheit, fresh-almost ocean level salt, AND they can use their mouth as a lung if the water level gets too low to use their gills.

We are not sure that we actually have a breedable pair here since so far we definitely have 3 males.  The last goby has been hiding effectively in the vals, so we aren’t able to get a close look.  If she is the only female…look out!  I think we will be making another run to Forest Lake soon to see if we can pick up at least one more female.

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Surprise Fry

March and April have been quite interesting on the fry front. I moved the java moss from the gardneri killifish pair’s tank into the daphnia tank in February. In the beginning of March, I discovered a FRY in the daphnia tank. Plenty of things for him to eat in there between the algae, the things living in the algae and the daphnia as he gets bigger.

Gardneri killifish fry

Gardneri killifish fry

The shocker this week was when we were getting ready to drain the half moon tank in the office and Phil discovered a single Pseudomugil furcatus fry swimming around freely. I suppose, since we moved the adults and the Endler fry into the hex tank, there is nothing it needs to worry about.

Furcatus fry in 1/2 moon tank

Furcatus fry in 1/2 moon tank

SO there you go! We can’t hatch fry intentionally to save our lives, but these accidental ones are great. Does put a damper on moving this tank for now, but we are smart people and can figure something out.

8 months later…

A lot has happened at our house since the last fish postings. We are up to 12 tanks that are up and running, and another couple to be set up here at home. I also have a 20 gal on my desk at school, and have spread this addiction to 3 other teachers. SO MANY FISH! Here are the pics for all of our various tanks. We just acquired 3 new Habrosus Cory cats and 3 Malayan Yellow Pygmy Catfish.

Displaying living room stacked tanksStacked tanks in October. Bottom is the River Tank.

Top tank in the living room before I pulled the grandifolia out of the back left corner.
Top tank in the living room before I pulled the Grandifolia out of the back left corner. Look how HUGE it has grown.

Displaying main tankMain tank in the living room.

Blue rili shrimp tank in the living room
Blue rili shrimp tank in the living room

Displaying rillies clean moss ballThese are my blue rilies cleaning the moss ball.

Cherry shrimp tank in the living room

Cherry shrimp tank in the living room

Micro tank in the bedroom. Currently housing 5 Chili raspboras, 3 Celestial pearl danios, 5 pygmy corydoras, 1 banjo catfish, and 1 habrosas corydora (to be relocated).

Micro tank in the bedroom. Currently housing 5 Chili Raspboras, 3 Celestial Pearl Danios, 5 pygmy corydoras, 1 Banjo Catfish, and 1 Habrosas Corydora (to be relocated).

Displaying celestial pearl & chili

The little red ones with the blueish stripe are the Chilis and the little trout looking ones are the Celestial Pearl Danios (CPD)

Displaying banjo cat

Here is the banjo cat chillin’ out in the tree. I am always amazed at how he managed to get into these places since he doesn’t really swim. He propels himself by taking water into his mouth and shooting it out his gills. HUGE mouth on this guy though. So far, he is very peaceful and has not tried to swallow any of the other fish. I was worried because he went from being about an inch long to 3 inches in about 3 weeks. He just seems interested in the sinking pellets we put in to feed them, so it’s all good for now. We will move him to the main tank in the living room eventually since he will get to be about 5-6 inches long. Thankfully, he doesn’t move very often, or very far.

Displaying killi breeder

My Garneri killifish breeding operation. There is a pair on the left and the single BULLY male on the right. We tried the female with him first because he is prettier, and was the larger, of the two males. He was downright mean to her and nipped her tail to pieces. We moved him to the cory tank so we could use his tank to temporarily house some habrosus corys, but he violently killed a ghost shrimp in there and had to be relocated. Moving him was good in that it made the little male more competitive and they spawned almost right away. He is now the same size as the other male, but still more friendly. We have not yet successfully hatched fry…or they have been eaten. The java moss is very happy in there.

Displaying Cory tank

Cory Tank has a species of False Julii catfish, which I like better than the actual Julii. We believe these are actually corydoras trillineatus.

Displaying cory quarentine

I rescued this little guy from the Petco in Woodbury. He was all by himself and the other fish in the tank appeared to have ich. We brought him home (Phil teasing me about not being able to save them ALL) and quarantined him in a 2.5 gal on Phil’s desk for a couple of weeks before moving him in with the others.

Displaying ram's horn snails

These are the ramshorn snails that are sharing the cory tank. This tank was a green MESS before we added them. Now it is super clean.

Displaying Corys and Habrosus.jpg

Check out how tiny those Habrosus Corys are next the the others!

Displaying Malayan Yellow Catfish

The Malayan Yellow Pygmy Catfish hanging out in the Amazon sword I pulled from the River tank. These little guys, along with the Habrosus are going to be moved into the half moon tank in the office once we get it cycled.

Displaying office halfmoon

Not ready for fish yet. We picked up some willow moss to put in here and did a serious water change. We’ve been cycling the filter on the main tank for a couple months since we couldn’t agree on what we wanted to put in this tank, but wanted it ready when we finally decided. I think we have finally settled on Pseudomugil Gertrudae or Pseudomugil Furcatus, whichever we can find first. They had gertrudae at an auction the last time we went to a meeting, but we didn’t know what they were so we passed. We have seen the furcatus at the PetSmart in Woodbury from time to time, but not since we’ve had the tank set up.

Displaying fry hatching area

This is our killifish fry hatching area.  We attempted to hatch Racovii fry that I got Phil for his birthday, and some Red Dwarf Blue Gularis that I got him for Christmas. We managed to hatch 3 of the RAC fry, but we were not successful at rearing any of them to adulthood. We will try to get some more eggs and try again. Ideally, we would actually make it to a meeting for the MN Aquarium Society again and pick some up at either the club auction after the meeting, or make a connection with one of the breeders there.

Displaying assassin chases pond snailHere is one of our Assassin Snails chasing down a pond snail. These little killing machines have wiped out all of the snails in the top tank. We are going to be relocating them to the bedroom tank, where the darn mini rams horn snails have taken over AGAIN, and also in the basement tank with the daphnia because there has been a pond snail explosion down there. The tank is nice and clean though.

Displaying Daphnia tank

We are farming daphnia magna and java moss down here to feed to the fish. There were pondsnail eggs in the java moss I moved down here from the killi breeder (I wanted to see if they would hatch down here because there wouldn’t be any predators…and plenty of food). We haven’t seen any killies, but an epidemic of snails. We will be acquiring a smaller variety of daphnia soon due to the magna getting too large for our fry, and even for many of our adult fish.

Well, that’s what we’ve been up to!

Viking Crafts

While we were visiting my parents up at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this summer, we came across a catalog for the North House Folk School in Grand Marais.  I saw courses for Viking knitting and Nålbindning. I had to try them both out at soon as I got home.

I started out with the Viking knitting. This was a little bit weird to me because you are not really knitting at all. More bending wire around a rod, in my case, a crochet hook.

IMAG0508 IMAG0519

My first attempt is the one in blue wire. This was, for the most part, successful. I got it knit and pulled through to lengthen. I don’t have the official board that one uses for this, so I used my socket set from the basement. I was not happy that the blue scraped off. The next one I did with silver wire and added beads…why? Because I can’t do anything the easy way, that’s why. I don’t have a picture of the actual finished bracelet. I made a treble clef looking clasp for it before giving it to my friend Collette.

Here is the Nålbindning. I just used some leftover wool that I had from working up some legwarmers for a former co-worker. Not the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made, but I am ready to try again now that I know how to keep the tension even. Also, I thought that it would be really big considering that you use your thumb as the hook, but the weave is pretty tight.  I did not like that you can only work with short amounts of yarn at a time. I was only able to manage about a 3 foot length.  Since I was not able to get the hang of their way of getting the ends to join (I lacked the patience is more like it), I ended up with knots all over the place.

Nålbindning

Nålbindning

Not to shabby for a couple of evenings. So I should have been knitting the little sweater for the boyfriend’s niece.  It will get done.

So…summer has flown by and I go back to work/school on Monday. We were so busy having adventures and fun that I didn’t get around to blogging. Well, there are new additions to the fish tanks and some of the residents have grown considerably. Here is a photo journal of what’s been going on.

At long last!

Here are the Sewellia…or rather, here is THE Sewellia. We went to Aqualand to pick up a trio of them, but they only had one. They have not had any shipments of them since, so the pride and joy of the river tank is all alone. For now.

Sewellia (hillstream loach)

Sewellia (hillstream loach)

Sewwllia 2

Sewellia 2

Farlowella

Farlowella, which is type of catfish with a mouth similar to the Otto, but chews wood like a pleco

Brine shrimp hatchery

Brine shrimp hatchery

Thai Micro Crabs

Thai Micro Crabs, which we put in the tank and then have never seen again

So it turns out, when you do a water change and feed the fish brine shrimp, they think that it is time to breed. Our Peacock Gudgeons tried to spawn. It was really neat to watch the male court the female and then get her to go into the plant. She spawned while we were in bed, so I wasn’t able to get the eggs out, so I woke up to a feeding frenzy among the ringed loaches, zebra danios and golden white clouds. The poor male Peacock Gudgeon was trying to protect his area, but he just wasn’t going to stand a chance against that hoard. That’s ok. We weren’t looking to get into the PG breeding business.

We FINALLY decided to get rid of the mini rams horn snails in the original shrimp tank. The Ottos moved to the main tank and the male Endler guppies went to the breezeway for now. We did a bunch of research, and came up with this plan: 3 tbsp alum per gallon.  killsnailsOkay…so it looks like a serious blizzard hit in there. It was successful!

We dismantled the whole tank 3 days later. These are the plants that we got out of there. YES, they ended up filling the 20 gal and half the 15 gal on the breezeway.

Jen's 15 gal

Jen’s 15 gal

20 gal

20 gal

We also got around to putting together a 5 gal shrimp tank for me to breed blue rilli shrimp. This is exciting! Apparently, I won’t be able to put anything else in this tank, except maybe an Otto, because everybody will eat baby shrimp.

Young blue rillies. The males will eventually get red heads.

Young blue rillies. The males will eventually get red heads.

In the dark tank, we have some fun going on. Here is a blue rilli shrimp riding Crash around the top of the tank.

Here is our large male goby. He is getting more blue in the tail and face every day. We will have to try to get a couple more so that he will seriously start sporting those colors. Unfortunately, these don’t spawn in the tank without MAJOR work on our part, so we will have to enjoy the ones that we have.

Male stiphodon goby

Male stiphodon goby

That is all that I have got going on right now. I am hoping to have Jen and my tanks up on Tuesday in our classrooms. We already have a couple of 2.5 gal tanks set up and cycling to get ready for our next adventure KILLIFISH! We’ll see what we get in two weeks at the Minnesota Aquarium Society’s meeting. I believe we are bringing home a pair of F. Gardneri.

Gobies and Gudgeons

They are SUPER tiny, but the main attraction for the Dark Tank has arrived. We picked up two pairs  of stiphodon gobies (we hoped), but since we brought them home, we had one of the males disappear.

Three blue stiphodon gobies

Three blue stiphodon gobies

We also picked up two Peacock Gudgeons which, unfortunately, turned out to both be female. This will just ensure that we will have to make another trip to our favorite fish store, Aqualand.

Female peacock gudgeon

Female peacock gudgeon

Finally, we made quite a grand discovery in the Forest Lake Pets store in Forest Lake, MN. While it really doesn’t have much in the way of regular pet things, and no pets to purchase there (a bonus for me since I won’t shop at places that sell puppy mill puppies/kitties), it has an AMAZING fish section.  It has a very large, warehouse style, room with 4-5 rows of 40gal fish tanks, fully stocked. They have small separate rooms for the saltwater fish, live rocks, and invertebrates. They have your standard fish like Neon Tetras and a variety of cichlids, they have unusual fish like stingrays and groupers.

They even carry a variety of hillstream loaches.  They are not real versed in what the different kinds that they carry, but they had 3 of a variety that we had not seen before.

Psudogastrozymon

Psudogastrozymon

They didn’t have any of the Sewellia that I have been pining for, but we brought home those 3 of the unknown species. One promptly disappeared, never to be seen again. After research, we have discovered that these are some form of psudogastromyzon.

When we get back from the BWCA, we will head back to Aqualand and pick those up, as well as another gudgeon.

Meet the new kids in the tanks!

The Ottos 

Otto in the Dark Tank

Otto in the Dark Tank

Otocinclus are a species of catfish that only grow to between 2-3 inches in length. They have no jaw, and no teeth. They are the only fish that we have found that are 100% shrimp safe. We resisted putting any in the shrimp tank until now because they mostly hang out in nooks and crannies while eating algae.

Otto  hiding in the shrimp tank

Otto hiding in the shrimp tank (center of photo)

 

 

Crash the new snail:

IMAG0455-1

This little guy is HILARIOUS to watch. He spent no time hiding in his shell, he just came right out and started exploring the place. He also lends a wonderful contrast to all of the dark rocks and substrate. He is a bit of a daredevil though. He was cruising up the glass in the front and “got stuck” in the power head jet stream.

Stuck in the jet stream

Stuck in the jet stream

Attempting to move around in front of the jet stream.

Attempting to move around in front of the jet stream.

Endler Guppy Males

Otto in the shrimp tank

Endler males in the shrimp tank (look hard in the center)

The Endlers in the shrimp tank are not as brightly colored as the one in the main tank. This is a shame because they are harder to see in the thick vegetation of the shrimp tank.

Endler male in the main tank

Endler male in the main tank

Neon Tetras

There are Neon Tetras in 2 of our tanks because I am nostalgic for them from when I was a kid, and because their iridescent colors are hypnotically soothing. They are part of our main tank collection, and also in the shrimp tank for their vibrant color. The time has come where our Neons are too big to be in the shrimp tank anymore, and so today, we moved them to the Dark Tank, where they are some much needed contrast.

Neons in their new home

Neons in their new home

They are having trouble adjusting to life in the Dark Tank. They stay in formation in the bottom corner. I guess too many months of being in the over planted shrimp tank has made them agoraphobic.  Tragic really, since now they have room to show off.

The Loach Tank is up and cycling. The tank started cycling with 3 zebra danios and 3 longfin blue danios. We have added 5 golden white clouds, 2 corydoras julii, and 3 ringed loaches. We are hoping to add a snail soon. Unfortunately, the little longfin blue danio was not able to handle the current, or just got manhandled in being transferred. I moved all of the longfins to the school tank that is currently being housed in the breezeway, but the little one died. Once the Endler guppy fry have grown enough, we will move them out there to keep the danios company. Here is the progress of

The Loach Tank:

Loach Tank dry design

Loach Tank dry design

IMAG0408 We started to fill the bottom tank AFTER I put all the rocks in. We are going for river/stream bed here, so we put down regular coffee colored gravel, then the red/brown substrate, then small pebbles and then, finally, the larger rock features and smooth stones.

Phil started siphoning in the water (to the right) while I ran to get plants and the new residents.

I put in the plants after there were about 6 inches of water, which was MUCH easier than planting them once all of the water was in the tank, but still a bit of a pain. It stirs up quite a bit of silt from the substrate, which makes it hard to see what you are doing.

IMAG0420 Here is the Loach Tank all put together. You will notice that the little cave over the power heads had to go. It kept falling off, and then once I had it secured, it was rattling something fierce. I decided to go with a rock on the side to obscure the power heads from view, and I will look for a smaller piece of driftwood to cover them with. The large piece I purchased out of a bin at A World of Fish in Richfield, MN.

The current residents:

Ringed loaches:

These are schistura beavani, which come from Bangladesh, India and Nepal. They also live in creeks/brooks and therefore, love a tank with a strong current. These little buggers will breed in captivity too…maybe.

Ringed loaches!

Ringed loaches!

Ringed loaches in the agate pool

Ringed loaches in the agate pool

Julii Corys:

One of many in the Coryadora family, Corydora Julii are the current comic relief in this tank. They scuttle all over the place, and try to school with the other fish.

The Corys!

The Corys!

This is especially entertaining when they are attempting to keep up with the Zebra Danios. They are chubby and cute and, much like the black kulis in the main tank, they bump into EVERYTHING and EVERYONE!

Originally, these were planned for Phil’s tank, but they may not make it up there. They would show up better in his tank, but there isn’t anyone for them to interact with up top yet, so we’ll just have to see. I will keep a look out for a different type of cory to add.

Golden White Clouds (Tanichthys albonubes):

Golden White Clouds zooming around

Golden White Clouds zooming around

The Golden White Clouds are a type of mountain minnow that enjoys fast moving current and cool temperatures. They originate from the White Cloud mountains in China. I know you are going to find this hard to believe, but photographing these little guys is a bit tricky. Turns out, they don’t like to stay still very long!

I have not been very impressed with them in this tank due to their tendency to hang out at the top of the water. They have just started to explore the rest of their habitat. I am not so secretly hoping that Phil will relocate them to his new tank.

Zebra Danios (danio rerio):

Zebra Danio in the Loach Tank

Zebra Danio in the Loach Tank

These are the general ding-a-lings of both the loach tank and our main tank. They zip around, playing tag and in general making sure everyone is on their toes. They aren’t really bullies, just reckless, sort of the James Dean of minnows.

The Dark Tank:

After seeing how striking the black gravel/substrate mix was in the shrimp tank, Phil decided that he wanted that look for the 30 gal high tank. We found a fantastic piece of driftwood in a tank in A World of Fish, and asked to purchase it from them. Normally, it is great to get driftwood from an already established tank because it brings all of the helpful algae, etc. with it. Unfortunately, we purchased this months before we actually got the tank set up, so any organisms living on it are long dead.

Dry tank initial design

Dry tank initial design

Fill-er-up!

Fill-er-up!

Phil's tank set up and cycling

Dark tank set up and cycling

We got all super smart about filling this tank! I planted just the two large swords in the corners before we added the water. Since we were impressed with siphoning the water into the tank (a LOT less silt floating around), Phil came up with the brilliant idea of filling the tank by siphoning into the undergravel filter tube. GENIOUS! It still took 2 days to settle out to be as clear at the Loach Tank. I’m guessing it is from having more substrate, and more of it exposed. After it had finished filling, I added the chain swords and vals.

java fern fixed to the log

java fern fixed to the log

I changed the rock formation right before we added the water. I built up more of a ledge around the back of the tank with the driftwood center sticking out farther than the rest.

I also attached java fern to the driftwood using green thread. This keeps the fern in the designated spot until the roots take hold. I decided that rubber bands would look bad, and I don’t like to play with wire in the tanks. I tucked a few little chain swords under the driftwood as well. Eventually, we would like to have a St.Elmo’s Fire growing up behind as an addition to the centerpiece.

There are no current residents.

I absolutely LOVE Hillstream Reticulated loaches! These are the highlight of every trip to Aqualand. They are just as silly as all the other loaches that I love. They scurry about and ram into things, and they hang out on the glass like our otocinclus do.  At the fish store, they are in a tank with quite a few arowana and occasionally some blue lobsters. Finally, after ogling over them for months, we asked one of the guys that works there about them. Turns out, they are rather finicky to keep, and since they are rather spendy, it is important that we figure out what we are doing BEFORE we purchase any.

Reticulated Hillstream Loach I have been waiting (impatiently) for us to get a place to put some. They would be seriously unhappy in the tanks that we currently have set up. This is where it is important to do your homework before getting into wallet breaking trouble!

Reticulated Hillstream LoachWe did some research on breeding hillstream loaches, not because we initially were looking to actually breed them, but because we would like them to be happy in their tank home. This article by Martin Thoene about fish enthusiast and shop owner Emma Turner was incredibly helpful. Not only did it tell us what the ideal tank conditions would be, but tank companions as well.

The main thing that we learned about these little dears is that they come from rivers and streams that have cool, fast moving water, and require LOTS of aeration. The guy at the fish store said he has his tank warmer than they usually would like, but the amount of aeration makes up for it. We decided that we would design a tank around these little darlings, so it would be cooler in temp, have lots of aeration, and we’d try to come up with a strong current.

Based on what Martin did with a 44 gal (notice the dual powerhead on left and quadruple intake on the right):

we created our own version for a 20 gal high tank:

The original set up.

The original set up.

Materials include:

1/2 inch PVC pipe

3/4 inch PVC pipe

(4) PVC connectors

(4) 3/4 inch PVC corners

(2) Prefilter sponges

(2) Power heads 160gal/hr

Regular Clear PVC cement

We tested it out in the breezeway with just enough water to submerge the whole operation.

Original set up test with water

Original set up test with water

We were not impressed with the flow, even after adding the airline and filter. It seemed to just add bubbles, which we didn’t feel was fast enough flow. So, we swapped out one of the powerheads for our new one that moves 225 Gal/Hr.

Testing it with the larger powerhead

Testing it with the larger powerhead

It was RIDICULOUSLY overpowered! So we went back to Martin’s website to find out what he suggested. He was looking to move the water in the tank 12 times/hr and we had already achieve 16gal/hr with the two smaller power heads. This big guy alone did 25! Yeah…and while the loaches might love this, since they are used to water 1 meter/second, the OTHER fish in the tank might be a little overwhelmed. Therefore, we went back to the two 106 gal/hr power heads, which still put us above the original target of 12.

Tomorrow, Phil will take it all apart and use some of the PVC cement to make sure it is all put together for good. Then we will add the gravel, filter and water so that it can begin cycling. We’ve already been plotting which plants and rock features we want to use and where. Getting THAT much closer to the hillstream loaches being here!

Our shrimp tank is progressing quite nicely. Here is what it looks like as of today, June 8, 2013.

The shrimp tank looks more like a jungle every day.

The shrimp tank looks more like a jungle every day.