The large aquarium matures

It is two and a half months since the large 250L aquarium arrived and was set up. It has matured and is home to a variety of well established aquatic plants, my mature male Bristlenose Catfish, one solitary Otocinclus and a shoal of colourful male Guppies. Unfortunately it has become home to some uninvited guests also. I have a nuisance snail infestation despite dipping all the new aquatic plants in bleach solution prior to adding them. I also have an algae bloom that has resulted in green water. Most experts would tell you that both are a result of overfeeding.

After repeated regular water changes ranging from a quarter to a third and almost half the water being changed at any one time the algae is still present. I have finally decided a little more intervention is required and purchased an additional internal filter and green water treatment online today. I have been removing the snails by hand several times a day and will probably use some kind of green vegetable to entice them to group and assist in their removal.

I love the new larger aquarium and it was a real bargain price given it’s size, however the filter that was supplied with it is not adequate nor functioning very well. The pump struggles to pump the water far enough up into the spray bar in the hood filtration system. I have never had a problem with green water in any of my other aquariums before and believe that the internal filters simply take the particles out of the water. I have had nuisance hair algae stifling my aquatic plants on the odd occasion though.

I have not introduced any new fish stock to my aquariums as I have been using one of my 60L tanks as water change feeder for the larger aquarium. I treat the water to get rid of the chloramine with water conditioner then allow the water to stand for at least 48 hours before adding it. This tank would be used as the quarantine tank for any new fish purchased as the other 60L tank is housing all of my Platys, Emperor Tetras and most of my Guppies.

I have not used my 20L breeding tank since the loss of my remaining pair of Neon Tetras. I would love to replace these fish along with the Otocinclus I have lost but need to cycle and establish a quarantine tank well in advance. This is my intention once the algae bloom in the large tank has been dealt with effectively.

The good news is that there has been some interest in the surplus Guppies and Platys that I have bred and wish to sell. Should I succeed in selling some it shall free up more space for a larger variety of occupants. It has always been my plan to have more algae eaters and tetras.

Should I get all four aquariums operational and cycled again, I shall have more control over the prolific breeders. The large aquarium for example is only inhabited by males therefore the tank will never become home to fry at present. Separating the genders will work to control the live bearers but will take some time as pregnant females can continue to have broods without males present. Having a separate fry tank can allow me to segregate pregnant females so they are not again fertilized by maturing offspring.

At present my 60L community aquarium has both genders of all three species it is home to and developing Guppy and Platy fry. It is my intention to leave only the pregnant females in this tank and move all of the male occupants to the larger tank. This is because the smaller 60L tank makes the removal of the young fry much easier and they can be raised in a separate tank.

So this is my latest update, there haven’t been very many in the last couple of months as I have pretty much left my tanks alone other than the occasional filter clean and water change. I blame the loss of my Neon Tetras on too much interference from myself and have learned from this mistake. There are still times though when some maintenance and intervention is unavoidable.

 

Eradicating snails

Another eventful day has passed for my fish. The remaining inhabitants in the 60 L community tank were moved to the other 60 L tank as they had been sharing their home with too many snails. It took some time to capture them and the Emperor Tetras were far superior in terms of evading the net but eventually all of the remaining Platys, Guppies, Otos and Emperor Tetras were placed in the tank with all my other fish so that I could get to work on the snail infested tank once again. A mishap with the filter resulted in the fatality of an Oto much to my horror which brings their number down to two remaining.

After removing the fish from the tank I began by rinsing the filter sponge in the water and removing the filter, heater, LED lights and air stone. All of which with the exception of the filter sponge were placed in a bleach solution and scrubbed clean to remove any snail spawn. They were then placed in a small tank with conditioned tap water to remove the chlorine. The gravel was taken out and boiled for at least half an hour possibly longer and rinsed well with tap water. The tank and lid including the light fixture were all scrubbed down with a strong bleach solution.

It has been a lot of work just to remove a few snails but they are prolific breeders and infestations are a real nuisance to get rid of in my smaller tanks. I dread to think how difficult it would be if they spread to my larger tank. I am confident that all the hard work will have paid off. Now I need to keep a close watch on the  60 L tank I transferred my fish into as I could have easily introduced snail spawn at the same time. Although the tank appears to be clear at the moment within a few days more snails could appear in there. If they do the process may well need to be repeated as soon as I have another tank stable enough to transfer the fish to. The 60 L tank that has just been overhauled will be set up and cycled again to use as a quarantine tank.

Planting the 250 L Community Aquarium

The gravel and aquatic plants arrived yesterday for the new aquarium. I boiled and rinsed the new gravel and added it. I then soaked the plants in a solution of tap water and Sodium hypochlorite for a few mins before placing them in a small sterile tank with tap water and conditioner to remove the chlorine. I did this because I did not want to introduce snails or their spawn to my new tank and know from experience that you almost always get a few hitch hikers when adding fresh plants. I left them soaking overnight in the conditioned tap water and today I began planting my aquarium.

I bought 100 live tropical aquatic plants. Pruning, removing dead leaves and planting is taking some time but the results will be well worth it. I have ensured everything I am adding to the new tank is sterile, by boiling for twenty minutes or soaking in solution. Hopefully I have done enough to ensure a snail free environment.

Plantedtankedit

This is the beginning of setting up my aquarium, it will not be cycled properly for some time yet. I always begin by trying to establish aquatic plants in the environment. Some plants may not survive and I must admit I have been more brutal with what I used to soak them this time but the snail away product I used in the past did not seem very effective. Time will tell if this method will be. I do not want to add any fish until I have completely eradicated the snails from my other aquariums as it is very easy to unwittingly net snail spawn at the same time.

 

Neon Tetra Fatality

Sadly I awoke to discover that my male Neon Tetra had not made it through the night, I had moved him to the larger better established tank but despite all my best efforts to save him he didn’t recover. This fatality changes things for me, as left with only one Neon Tetra remaining I will be unable to breed them unless I purchase more and grow them to maturity in the right conditions. I have learned from this experience and this fatality was more than likely down to my intervention in adjusting the water parameters to create better breeding conditions. Tetras are very susceptible to sudden water changes and the dropping pH and changing water conditions would have been a major factor in the cause of his death.

I have since removed the female Neon Tetra from the breeding tank and placed her in one of my larger tanks along with my Bristlenose, Guppies and Platys. She has no companions of the same species now and as they are a shoaling species this will not be good for her. I really want to purchase more Neon Tetras so that she will at least have some company again and I will again have the possibility of breeding them.

Bristlenose catfish moves home

Well my Bristlenose was captured earlier and placed in the tank that suffered the algae bloom. Admittedly it does look a little tidier now most of the hair algae has been removed but the glass sides were thick with green algae also. My Bristlenose has a veritable feast growing on the sides of the tank and he has immediately set to work happily grazing away on it. I have left my Otos in the other tank but it also has a snail population that is helping to keep that clean and clear.

I would like to temporarily house all my Guppies and Platys in the tank with the Bristlenose but they are proving difficult to catch in the better established tank. There are plenty of plants and hiding places for them to evade capture in. There are still a good number already keeping the Bristlenose company but it would be nice to have the more mature established tank as my Tetra and Oto tank again. Having said that there are so many Guppies and Platys at the moment due to prolific breeding that it is perhaps better balanced just now leaving some in with the Tetras and Otos.

Algae bloom

Having noticed a bloom of hair algae in one of my 60 L tanks, this morning was spent doing a partial water change in that tank and also my breeding tank. I believed that high nitrate and light levels were responsible for the algae as I had forgotten to switch the lights off overnight a couple of nights ago. I used test strips in both that tank and the breeding tank. I expected to find a high nitrate level in the larger tank but it was not overly high, the test just indicated that it was present. I then removed all the plants from the tank and painstakingly removed the algae by hand, trimming choked leaves, stems and roots off them at the same time.

My algae eaters don’t tend to feast on the hair algae as they prefer to graze off the kind that grows on the glass sides of the tank but all my algae eaters are in the other tank just now. I am considering moving my bristlenose or ottos to the problem tank to help clean the glass. The algae bloom was a nuisance as it was choking my aquatic plants and hindering their growth. I did read somewhere that a peroxide dip would kill the algae without damaging my plants too much. As I would have to buy the peroxide first, I have just done the best I could without it. It may be worth a try at a later stage though. I also read that bleach will kill snail eggs and not just adult snails. I don’t want them in my larger tank so that also may be worth trying. Everything would have to be treated with water conditioner afterwards before being placed back in the tank as the bleach would also kill my fish.

The pH in the breeding tank was quite low which prompted me to do a partial water change with tap water in an attempt to raise it slightly. The test strip results for that tank looked quite good though. I have been feeding the Tetras a little from sachets of Tetra Delica which is foods such as brine shrimp, blood worm and daphnia suspended in red jelly. The other fish have been getting the remainder of this combined with flake food since the source of fresh Nauplii ran out. I have not started another batch of brine shrimp for them yet but will start that very soon.

Brine Shrimp

Although hatching the brine shrimp eggs was a success and I had live food to feed my fish for a few days, growing them on has not been so easy. It was the first time I had attempted this so am quite certain I made more than a few mistakes. The first thing I did was to place them in a plastic tank with fresh water and bicarbonate of soda without enough salt. I did add the salt a little later but the fresh water would not have been good for my Nauplii. I did not heat the plastic tank but hoped they would grow on at room temperature, nor did I light it artificially, I merely left it in front of my south facing window with an airline running in the hope that it would get enough natural daylight and warmth. I fed them tiny amounts of spirulina powder but did not do water changes as the Nauplii were so tiny I was worried about how to do this without extracting them from the tank at the same time.

Today I noticed there wasn’t the same evidence of orange shoaling movement towards the light and when scooping out cups of water it seemed a lot of debris fell to the bottom of the cup and I found it difficult to find one tiny swimming brine shrimp among it. I believe the water quality may have been responsible for many of them not surviving which in turn will have polluted their water even more. It is possible that the heat and light were also more crucial to their survival than I believed.

I still have my pair of Neon Tetras in my breeding tank and wanted to condition them on live food only but as I no longer have a live food source readily available it will be another two days before I can successfully hatch more Nauplii for them. I believe it is time to get another hatch going again and perhaps this time if I make some changes I will successfully grow some on to a slightly larger size.

The Neon Tetras

Well I have been a little concerned about my Neon Tetras since placing them in the breeding tank as they were having to adapt to changing water parameters with the introduction of the peat. They have not been particular active. I have been feeding them small amounts of baby brine shrimp daily.

Today I did a water change with regular conditioned tap water as I only managed to collect half a cup of rainwater and it was teaming with life. The tap water brought the temperature down to 23°C. I then added a side lamp and placed it below the front of the tank providing a lot more illumination. The Tetras are displaying their stunning colours and seem much more active. I am hoping they are a bit happier and will exhibit some spawning activity soon. They are racing around the tank in comparison to the last couple of days.

The new aquarium has arrived

The new 250 L aquarium arrived three days ago. Many thanks to my Dad who built the flat pack base for it. The thought of such a task had me in a panic. It was very large and heavy and exceeded my expectations in size. It took both of us to lift it onto it’s stand and my daughter and I started filling it almost immediately. It is still just slightly more than half full of water.

I added all the gravel I put aside for it but bought another 5 kg yesterday as it needs a little Fishtankeditmore. I will purchase lots of aquatic plants for it but have discovered it is so large that I cannot reach the bottom of it. The tank itself is around half my height and on it’s stand it reaches above my shoulder so it is going to take some initiative when it comes to planting it. It is possibly the most exciting development in my fish keeping journey to date.

The top tray filter system had me very confused, not only had I never used one before but it came with no instructions. I have set it up as best I can, finding a picture of very vague instructions somebody got with it in a fish related forum. I believe I need the water level a bit higher for it to function properly. I spent half the day yesterday attempting to assemble it and just hope I have done so correctly. Today I added some water conditioner to it although possibly didn’t need to as I intend to cycle it using aquatic plants for some time before I add any tropical fish.

I finally have the tank of my dreams and am really looking forward to seeing it planted and occupied with fish. I will need to draw on all my patience as a new set up this large will take some time to cycle and become stable enough for fish. It has just brought my hobby to a whole new level and will bring challenges and new learning opportunities my way. I haven’t stopped smiling since it came through the door.

 

Let the spawning begin

The breeding tank was set up again with the arrival of the new heater. There have been a few changes this time, mainly the introduction of peat to help lower the hardness and pH of the water. The live brine shrimp food source is a new development that will help condition my breeding pair. I used mostly conditioned tap water this time as the parameters seemed better than the boiled. Some boiled water was added with the peat though as I boiled the peat first so that it would sink and form part of the substrate.

The peat has made the water nice and dark giving it a yellow brown tint. My Tetras have been fed a little live brine shrimp and seem to be adjusting to the breeding tank. They are not overly active at the moment but have darted around each other a little over the course of the day. The temperature of their tank is 24°C. I now have a bucket outside in the garden to collect rain water for water changes as rain water will better suit the parameters for my breeding tank. It is also readily available here.