Anubias nana 'Snow White'
The snow – Anubias ‘Snow White’
biOrb Amazonas root ornament
The mountain

Anubias nana – ‘Snow White’

I was looking for an epiphyte to grow on the large sculpture in the aquarium which has lots of nooks and crannies that could be colonised.  Such a plant has to be small and stay small.  Narrowed down to either anubias or bucephalandra, one of the smallest is anibias “snow white” where the leaves are a very pale green.  The conventional wisdom seems to be that absent significant chlorophyll (resulting in the whiteness), this plant is difficult/impossible to grow.  There is some text on the interwebs relating, “in the Anubias Snow White plant, photosynthesis takes place exclusively in the rhizome and in the roots. Therefore the roots must always be left free.

I picked up an in vitro grown pot from Riverwood Aquatics which arrived in fantastic-looking condition.  Sure enough, the leaves are a creamy white with possibly the faintest green tinge, but the non-leaf bits are dark green.

Ludwigia palustris post-trim, aquarium with lights off
Post-trim aquarium – lights off

Today I gave the ludwigia palustris its first trim. A couple of the stems were just under the surface so I clipped off the three tallest.  This ludwigia, in contrast to some reports, doesn’t have very many aerial roots but where there were a few part-way down the stem, I trimmed to just above the node below the roots to allow (hopefully) new growth, then clipped off the stem to just below the node where the roots are and planted those pieces on the far left of the tank in a region that was more thinly grown, very likely due to less light off to the side and in the shade of the taller stems in the centre.

Ludwigia palustris trimmed tops replanted
Ludwigia tops planted behind the lobelia cardinalis ‘wavy’

I was following this guide to trimming stem plants from dw1305 so we’ll see how that goes.  Seems straightforward and reasonable.  There was some question as to whether the shrimp would just immediately dig up the newly planted tops, but happily that hasn’t happened yet.

Lobelia cardinalis 'wavy' nearly full-grown submerged

Now that the plant is settled in and well-established (19-Dec-2020) it’s at 17 cm and while the tops are still attractive, it has an exposed bare understory layer with plentiful “aerial” roots – at least that’s what they’d be called if the plant weren’t underwater – that are somewhat unsightly.  I’m not sure what to do now, so I’ll take some advice from the UK Aquatic Plant Society.  Some possibilities are to plant something smaller in front to hide the bare stemmy rooty patches which would need something small that doesn’t mind being shaded, or alternatively there might be a trimming method for the lobelia that would keep it small(er) and filled in on the bottom, as it was a couple months after it was planted.  Alternatively I suppose it could be removed and replaced with something else, but I like the pretty bright green appearance of the leaves and it is thriving in the tank.  I could take the front ones out I suppose and leave one or two in the back which would then give some light for something else in front.

Drop checker mid-light green colour
Drop checker – the photo makes it look a little darker than it it appears by eye

It’s challenging with a small tank getting the CO2 flow to be both low and stable.  I use 600g disposable CO2 cylinders with a single stage regulator that is ok, but not very useful for fine control.  There are several downstream valves that further reduce the gas flow.  The CO2 over the last month or so has been fine, but yesterday and a few days before the flow has been creeping upwards as measured by the bubble counter and today was coming through more than what I’d like, with the drop checker appearing the morning after a 50% water change a little aggressively pale in what might be the 35 ppm CO2 range – that’s ok for today but could be problematic at this rate over the next few days.  I adjusted the CO2 at the regulator down from 10 L/min to 8 L/min – going much lower than this is quite unreliable – then tweaked the downstream controls to get back to 120 bubbles / min which is about right.  Something to keep an eye on over the next few days.

The Kessil LED light and LED lights that come as “point sources” rather than as strips of lights can have a feature called “shimmer” which is where they make ripples of light on the bottom of the tank.  I’ve never really observed that with my set-up in the past, attributing that to not having the light over open water but rather shining through a clear lid that gets condensation on it for a more diffuse type of lighting.  Recently however I had to relocate the powerhead up higher in the tank to avoid getting the ludwigia sucked into it and that resulted in a lot more surface water turbulence.  Suddenly, there’s all kinds of shimmer-like effects.  Is that was people generally mean – that the effect is caused by wavelets on the surface of the water?  The powerhead alternates every two minutes beween the lowest setting, and the next-to-lowest setting, and while on the lowest setting the shimmer is visible – look on the sculpture inside the tank and on the roof of the fireplace above the tank – on the higher setting it is very apparent.  Some people like shimmer and some don’t; I didn’t even notice it until a week after adjusting the height of the powerhead.  When the powerhead is deeper in the tank there is still a lot of water flow but the surface stays relatively calm and there’s no “shimmer”.

The fish don’t seem to particularly notice or care in either case.

Videos included after the break…

The configurable menus in WordPress have a checkbox labelled “automatically add new top-level pages to this menu” where if checked every time you make a new page it gets added to the menu.  That might be good for drop-down menus but otherwise very rapidly clutters up the page.  By default themes come with a ‘Primary menu’ and you can configure that as you would like, HOWEVER the ‘automatically add new top-level pages to this menu’ button, although you can check and uncheck it, doesn’t do anything… new pages are always added to the primary menu regardless.  You can go into the ‘customize’ option for the theme and manually remove all these pages, but that gets to be a hassle.

To fix the problem, you have to actually create a new menu yourself, any menu at all, and use that.  Confusingly, ‘Primary menu’ is both the name of a menu, and the location of a menu.  After you’ve made your own menu (I called mine ‘main nav bar’) you can set that to be in the ‘Primary menu’ location and you’re then free to delete the ‘Primary menu’ menu and things work as expected.

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

(the checkbox not working on the default setup is definitely a bug)

As reported in the Guardian “Going for gold(fish)” the pandemic with associated lockdowns and work-from-homes has led to a upsurge in popularity for aquariums at home.  Something nice to watch from the side while on those conference calls.  This is good news, but problematic in some ways as the investment in time and maintenance is often severely underestimated.

[Peter Pritchard, CEO of Pets at Home] said the cost of setting up a tank started at about £50, with the fish “a couple of pounds” on top of that. But as with any hobby, the sky is the limit, with the retailer selling extras such as £60 ornaments shaped like the Acropolis.

It’s obviously not as simple as buy a tank, put in some water and a fish, sprinkle in some food flakes every now and then and off you go.  That said there are lots of online resources so with a little research people won’t go far wrong.  At least the fish part is reasonably straightforward, now if you want live plants to go with those fish, then you’re entering a whole new world of complexity (and expense).

About every three weeks or so I have to give the algae a good scrapedown with a credit card blank.  It involves getting essentially my whole arm into the tank with some complicated manoevering to get through the narrow access at the top of the aquarium.  It takes a pretty good hour to get things sorted out.  I’ve been wondering about whether it’s worth getting a magnetic algae scraper to clean the algae without having to get all wet doing it.  Lots of good choices there, with some people advocating for “the flipper“, while the platinum standard (even more expensive than gold) seems to be the ‘Mighty Magnets‘ range.  What puts me off is the fear that they will scratch up either the inside (or the outside!) of the tank, whereas I’m pretty sure the credit card blank is generally problem free.  The other upside to a magnetic system would be getting in behind plants and decorations.  I haven’t been brave enough to pull the trigger on getting one of these yet, but maybe someday…

Lots of great videos about magnetic algae scrapers, but always for glass… bad sign so much silence about acrylic?


Tropical freshwater aquarium with lights off
Aquarium in the evening – 28-Oct-2020

We put the clocks back to British Standard Time last weekend, but I haven’t yet reset the timers on the lighting and CO2 for the aquarium.  I have been limiting the time on for the lights to 6 hours per day to combat green spot algae which means it’s tricky to actually get to see the aquarium lit up – it’s still off when I leave for work in the morning and often is back off again by time I get home afterwards.  I’m going to see how much work it is to reset these timers.  If I can ever get the algae under control, I’ll try increasing the lights-on period to 8 hours per day which would also help.

It does look like the algae is starting to clear up a bit…

Sorting through BoldGrid

Ok… so finally I decide to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS on how to actually use the BoldGrid software that comes with the WordPress installation on the DreamHost hosting site.

This after some frustration with things like “what do all these on/off flashing symbols mean?” and “isn’t there an easy way to just make two columns of material?” questions and a lot of semi-random button pushing.

illustrate boldgrid controls
Fuzzy boldgrid editor screenshot