I like the look of the Cryptocoryne nevelli and the Schismatoglottis prietoi as well, but it seemed like they were on the wrong sides of the tank.  The C. nevelli got larger than I thought it would so blocked the view of the Alternanthera reineckii ‘Mini’ and the recently re-attempted Alternanthera reineckii ‘Rosanervig’.  (Must… get… Alternanthera… to work!)  Meanwhile the shorter S. Prietoi left a lot of empty vertical space on the right side.

A good amount of the original biOrb ceramic filter media was pulled out by the roots of the plants being extracted.  I replaced the lost volume with aquasoil.  Pulling up major amounts of plant mass like this always releases lots of fine debris and it took several large water changes and repeated cycles with the portable filter to get these particulates cleared up.

Ember tetras are a great little fish with lots of colour and activity.  They are a ‘shoaling’ fish which means they like to stay together in a loose group – this is different from ‘schooling’ fish which exhibit a tight formation with highly synchronised movements.  Filed under “there’s always one”, we have this one ember, named ‘Jerry’, who does not shoal with the other embers and instead hangs out by him(her?)self on the opposite side of the tank.  The shoaling embers are generally in the upper left of the Fireplace Aquarium, whilst Jerry is inevitably on the middle/upper right side.  Why Jerry doesn’t go along with the group is a mystery but it’s very consistent behaviour and always from the same fish, and if I’m honest, it’s not without its charm.

The embers replaced chili rasboras in the Fireplace Aquarium.  The embers are big enough not to get eaten by the rummys or the barbs – this was less true for the slightly smaller chilis. 

Crypt nurii in vitro plantlets
 in vitro plantlets

Sold by Tropica in a tissue culture cup as Cryptocoryne nurii, this small crypt is doing very well in the Fireplace Aquarium.  Unlike the smaller bright green leaves in the tissue culture form, the new growth submersed form leaves are larger and have a very pretty mottled dark green and dusky rose colouration.  Sometimes this plant is sold under the name ‘Rose Maiden’ which does seem suitable.

I was hoping for a cryptocoryne with some red colouration but after the disappointment of pretty much no red at all on Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘flamingo’ , and a prominent striped light and dark green pattern but no actual pink on Cryptocoryne petchii pink confidence was not very high…

Continue reading “Planting Cryptocoryne nurii”

Riccardia chamedryfolia pieces
Riccardia tissue culture pieces

According to the British Bryological Society (naturally), Riccardia chamedryfolia, also known as ‘Jagged Germanderwort’ is a liverwort with a thalloid growth form and is naturally occurring in most parts of the world including commonly in the UK.  There is a lot more biology-talk about liverworts vs. mosses vs. hornworts that I don’t understand, but I did manage to pick up an in vitro pot grown by Dennerle from Aquarium Gardens and thought I’d give it a try growing on hardscape.  The secret hope is always to find something that will be able to grow in the Shrimphaus river even though many, many plants have failed there.  It turns out that always wet with flowing water slate chippings exposed to typically low humidity indoor air is a quite austere environment.  Still, hope springs eternal and I thought I could try out both the Shrimphaus river and also that wedged into cracks of the Fireplace Aquarium mountain would make a nice effect.

Continue reading “Planting Riccardia chamedryfolia”

rummy eating chili
caught in the act

Well crap!  I had high hopes for the chili rasboras.  When I purchased the initial 8 of them I specifically asked the person at the local fish store whether rummy nosed tetras would eat the chili rasboras and was assured that they would not.  Then I put the chilis in and only counted 7.  I picked up 6 more from Riverpark Aquatics (mail order from Scotland!) to boost up the numbers a bit, so 13 altogether, but then after a few more days, back down to 6.  No sign of any bodies anywhere.  Then after what seemed like a particularly frenzied fish flake feeding session a few days later, down to just 2 chilis and I see… hanging out of the face of one of the rummys… the back half of a chili!

After some struggles the rummy couldn’t seem to finish the job and barfed up the now-deceased chili.  That body also subsequently went missing.  As a desperation measure, I fished out the last two chilis and transferred them to the Shrimphaus.  One of the last two seemed poorly and now I only see the one left.

I also later discovered a deceased rummy… perhaps an over-sized chili meal did it in?  That body also subsequently disappeared – pretty sure torn apart and eaten.

To be fair, I think the juvenile chilis are just slightly larger than proper eating size and maybe if they had grown up together with juvenile rummys things could have worked out better.  Seems fully adult rummys and juvenile chilis together is not a good idea.  Peaceful community tank, my ass!  It’s a savage world in there.

Hopefully slightly larger alternative fish…

I’m trying ember tetras now as a replacement for the chilis.  The embers are quite a lot stouter than the chilis were and so far neither the rummys nor the barbs have gone after them in a food-like manner.  Fingers crossed…

There’s a new addition to the Fireplace Aquarium – chili rasboras!  I’ve been thinking there’s room for some more fish residents and the chili rasboras at LFS seemed to tick all the right boxes.

Continue reading “Chili rasboras – great little fish!”

Two months after the massive pruning of the Bucephalandra caterina and the Anubias nana ‘Pinto’ in an effort to control the black beard algae (BBA) that was colonising them, the battle is lost.  Further, inspection showed the BBA had thoroughly colonised the Cryptocoryne parva as well.

I have come around to thinking of BBA as a symptom rather than a problem – in other words the BBA indicates something is wrong that needs to be addressed.  In this case I believe it is a build-up of organic waste in the aquarium, and also perhaps the natural life cycle of some of the plants.  The caterina was planted 2.5 years ago and the parva 2 years ago where a gradual loss of fitness means they have a hard time fighting off algae.

Continue reading “Tearing out the epiphytes”

Another big epiphyte trim 10 months after the last one
another big epiphyte trim 10 months after the last one

The last massive epiphyte trim was nearly 10 months ago, so time to go at it again.  I didn’t actually mind the overgrown appearance and the fish seemed to like hanging out under the middle layer of Anubias nana ‘Pinto’.  There was considerable shading of the bottom of the Fireplace Aquarium but I didn’t notice that particularly being a problem for either the Cryptocoryne petchii pink or the Microsorum pteropus ‘Windelov’ so that was ok.  What finally pushed me to get the scissors out was the increasing amount of black beard algae that was growing on the leaves of the Bucephalandra caterina at the top of mountain on the side in the middle that gets the most light.  BBA that gets established is notoriously difficult to get back under control so I figured the best way was to remove it physically altogether.

Continue reading “Taming the epiphytes”

Regular and substantial water changes for an aquarium are a good idea.  With EI fertiliser dosing the built-in assumption is that at least 50% of the water will be changed out every week to prevent a build-up of excess fertilisers.  Both the Fireplace Aquarium and the Shrimphaus follow this maintenance schedule, although lately I have been doing around 75% water changes to better remove organic particulate debris from the Fireplace Aquarium and to remove salts from the Shrimphaus.

Pre/post water change parameters

Fireplace AquariumShrimphaus
pHalkalinity (ppm CaCO3)pHalkalinity (ppm CaCO3)
before water change7.852649.01342
immediately after water change7.962768.67306
next day7.752799.03309

Continue reading “Water change effects on alkalinity”

I haven’t had much luck growing plants on the Shrimphaus river.  Mostly they dry out either immediately or eventually, or sometimes they rot away.  This roots and bottom bits wet all the time but leaves out in the air niche is pretty challenging.  Some internet digging revealed plants that thrive in this setting are called marginal plants:  those growing on the margins of bodies of water, and they are popular for people with ponds.  Ok, so that’s the right setting, but outdoor ponds are much larger than the Shrimphaus so only the smallest marginal plants might work.  Some shopping around led me to try Bog Arum (Calla palustris), Golden Buttons (Cotula coronopifolia) and Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’).  All of these are listed as growing to a maximum height of about 6 inches.

The plants arrived well-packed in wet newspaper and the first surprise was how big they all were.  The pond world operates on a much larger scale than the aquarium world!  

Continue reading “Marginal plants”