Category: Aquarium Adventures


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.

For the last couple of months, we have had a plague of black algae in the main tank. Then, in the last couple of weeks, we managed to score ourselves some blue green algae.  The fish and ghost shrimp are not able to outright eat the black algae because it is too tough. The amanos have made quite the dent in the algae on the log, but are less interested in the stuff growing on the plants, which is what I really would like to get rid of. Nobody seems to eat the blue green algae.

Phil has started a strict regime of adding CO2 Booster twice a day when the fish get fed. We changed light bulbs and the amount of time that the tank gets light. We FINALLY seem to be making some headway. Sadly, this picture shows PROGRESS.

Bixby and the amanos working on the black algae on chainsword and log.

Bixby and the amanos working on the black algae on chainsword and log.

Black algae up close

Black algae up close

Blue green alage. SLIME

Blue green alage. SLIME

Phil also created our own CO2 diffusers using Ocean Spray juice bottles, some tubing, and a bread yeast/water/sugar solution. We were not impressed with the little air stones that we were initially using, so we picked up some actual glass diffusers that I found through Amazon.com for about $4 a piece.

CO2 Diffuser

CO2 Diffuser

CO2 Diffuser

CO2 Diffuser in the shrimp tank

One night we were musing over the idea that it would be nice to have a smaller tank in the bedroom for breeding cherry shrimp. Amanos are beasts, but quite expensive and they don’t breed in captivity. Cherries do the same job, it just takes more of them, so we figured we could just have our own breeding tank and stock the other from it.

Let me just tell you, that the office ladies were thrilled with getting live animals delivered to school. We thought it would be a good idea since there are people there to receive packages, and there is rarely anyone at home to be there for the delivery.  They were all excited when the plants came because they thought the box had the shrimp. It was VERY hard to leave the box alone when it did get to school. I wanted to open it and look at them!

Shrimp tank as of May 20, 2013

Shrimp tank as of May 20, 2013

 Our tank currently is occupied by 5 neon tetras, an apple snail named Peabody, and a whole host of cherry shrimp.  The rocks are ones that I picked up on the North Shore by my great-grandparents’ place near Gooseberry Falls. We purchased the log from the Aqualand store in Minneapolis. Our plants in this tank are hair grass (which I will buy in containers next time), Bacopa, chain sword, and some other goodies that Phil picked up while ordering our java moss. We used black gravel and substrate, which we now wish we had put on top of an under gravel filter. Oh well. This tank now is home to the moss ball from the other tank we well since only King Shrimp was left to groom it…and he wasn’t very attentive.

Babies!

Wee tiny shrimp on the bacopa

Wee tiny shrimp on the bacopa

Keeping it clean:

The shrimp in this tank have made it their personal duty to keep Peabody’s shell algae-free. It practically looks waxed it is so clean.

Shrimp hitching a ride on Peabody while cleaning his shell for him.

Shrimp hitching a ride on Peabody while cleaning his shell for him.

Now to deal with the infestation of, what we believe to be, mini ram’s horn snails. Peabody may need to leave this tank and be replaced with some assassin snails for a while.

I would like to introduce you to the residents of our tanks. Some have names because they stood out, but others are just members of a group.

The Snails:

These snails are apple snails. They eat algae and dead plants, and are VERY good at uprooting plants that are not anchored down with rocks or big enough to stay rooted on their own. Despite this annoyance, the apple snails are amazing to watch. They float along the tips of plants and coast gently like ghosts back to the bottom. They are quite fast, but will dig into the substrate if they don’t feel safe. Thankfully, ours are big enough that they only spent a short while hiding under the chain sword.

Bixby

This is Bixby doing his hang glider impression.

Blue Snail

Blue snail is demonstrating how gravity does not apply to him.

Peabody

Shrimp hitching a ride on Peabody while cleaning his shell for him.

Shrimp hitching a ride on Peabody while cleaning his shell for him.

Assassin Snails

We have had quite a problem with mini ram’s horns in the shrimp tank, so we relocated Peabody to the main tank and invested in some Assassin sails, which SHOULD solve the problem. Well…so far, not so much. Four are supposed to be able to clean a 30 gallon tank in a matter of weeks. Ours don’t seem to be making a dent. We may need to start farming assassin snails 😦  Apparently, they are safe for our shrimplettes though. They have no fear, and ride the snails around as if they were Peabody.

Assassin snail.
Assassin snail.

Kuhli Loaches

These are my pride and joy. We had just the two black kuhlis when we put the tank together. I thought they were so silly! I do enjoy all of the fish, but my heart really belongs to these two goofy ones. I am glad that they feel that there is enough cover, and therefore feel safe, so they spend most of their time out in the open. I named them Yacko and Wacko after the Animaniacs. I had wished that we got 3 of them so I had Dot as well. Well…

Yacko and Wacko playing in the rotala and in the current from the filter.

I now have Dot as well. We added two of the regular kuhli loaches to the tank at school. Unfortunately, one of the school kuhlis died so I brought the one left home to be with my others. I kept reading that kuhlis like to be in fairly big groups so I hoped this would be a good idea. Apparently, my two species of kuli do not intermingle. My school kuhli spends most of its time hiding in the kuhli cave or under the moss ball while the other two are out playing around in the current. Maybe when she gets bigger…

Dot out and about.

Ghost Shrimp

We have had as many as 12 ghost shrimp in our livingroom tank,  All of the ghosts were fairly small when we got them, but King Shrimp and Whiskers were larger than the rest. Our second batch added some very small ghosts and one Big Mama. We are down to just King Shrimp now. He is not big on sitting still for pics, so you’ll just have to imagine what he looks like. The others are just GONE. Poof! We started noticing a dwindling in their numbers, but our favs were still around. We never find the bodies, so we aren’t sure what happened.  Our theory on their disappearance is that the gourami is getting them when they molt. It could also be that the Amanos are more aggressive with eating and the shrimp are missing out.

Amano Shrimp

The Amanos are no joke! They get very big compared to the ghost shrimp and they have serious appetite for algae. At first we thought we had lost them because despite their size, they managed to hide quite well. It turns out that they like to stick together and were working as a team to clear off the log.

This log was BLACK with algae when we introduced them to the tank. This was 1 night's work.

Harlequin Raspora

These are some of my favorites in the tank. We lost 2 of them, and I flushed one due to it having some weird whiteness that was paralyzing its fins. I wanted to make sure that it didn’t spread to the others. We have one named Steve, who does not like to school with everyone else very often. He is slightly different shaped in the tummy area as well. But, he is definitely one of them.

Harlequin Raspbora swimming around with a bit of microsword in his mouth like a flag.

Bamboo Shrimp

This individual is new to us as of June 5th. It filters the water through its fan hands. This one is sharing the shrimp tank with the cherries for now.

Bamboo Shrimp

Catching up

We have begun an adventure with fishtanks at our house this year. It started out with one 26gal tank that we had when I was growing up. Now we have added a 10gal in our classroom for our overflow guppies, and an additional 10gal in our bedroom which is used to breed shrimp. We even have a 30gal high tank sitting empty on a stand in the livingroom waiting to be “put together.” Slight snowball effect!

Here’s our progress thus far:

Living room tank when we started. Just a couple of chain swords and some Harlequin Rasboras

Living room tank when we started. Just a couple of chain swords and some Harlequin Rasboras. This is also a great showcase for the amazing agate that I got from my tutor as a graduation present.

It turns out, that the awesome grasses in both corners (Mondo in left and some variety of spikey grass in the right) are not actually water plants. They are sold by pet stores as if they ARE, but in actuality, they are plants that can live for a while submerged, but will eventually rot and die. Incidentally, this causes algae blooms.

BigTankMarch

A couple of months later, here we are with a little ecosystem complete with  Zebra Danios,  Harlequin Rasboras, Neon Tetras, ghost shrimp, black kuhli loaches, a dwarf gourami, 2 apple snails (Blue Snail and Bixby), and Otocinclus.

hydra

Here is a hydra that we found in the big tank. This means that we have copepods for them to feed on, which means that we have a very good little ecosystem going on in our tank.

BigTankMay

And here we are again, in May, with a change in apple snails (Blue went to school and was replaced by Goldilocks).