Friday, 30 March 2007


In many ways the angels are the most interesting fish in the tank. "Curious" is still the best word to describe them - the wander around the tank, examining things. They swim up to the Macropodus and look at them. They are great at begging - when I feed them the swim back and forth along the glass, trying to convince me to quit dawdling and feed them.
All four angels are in this picture, although they aren't all in focus. The largest of the four is in the top centre, between the Echinodirus petioles. The large one has discontinuous stripes. The two striped ones are to the lower left. They have very similar patterns and are about the same size. They're pretty much the same to me. The dark one is the smallest. While the largest has almost doubled in size, the smallest one doesn't seem to have grown at all. It seems healthy, but the fact that it hasn't grown suggests that something is wrong with it.

In this picture the upper one is the largest angel, the lower one is one of the two striped ones. There's a Java fern (Microsorum pteropus) next to them, and one of the non-Corydoras aeneus corys in the lower left corner of the picture.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Otocinclus pictures

This is a picture of the only survivor of the first set of Otocinclus. It was the largest of the group, which may mean that it had more reserves to make it through the transition, or simply that it was the healthiest of the group. It's entirely possible that the fish weren't that healthy to begin with, and that it wasn't the food supply in the tank or something else I was doing wrong. On the other hand, it may be entirely my fault.

This is the larger of the new Otocinclus. This fish has a pronounced hunchback. Not the normal sort of "sick fish" hunchback, but there is a distinct bend in the front of his spine. Not exactly a good sign (the problem with buying fish at Petsmart is the difficulty in saying "I want that fish"), but the fish seems active. He's also willing to swim among the corys and forage on the bottom of the tank.

Finally, this blurry picture is in response to this comment... an Otocinclus eating spinach.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

A plethora of "cleaners"

One of the Otocinclus has been missing for a few days. A second one was dead this morning. I don't know if food was the issue or whether it was a consequence of rough treatment when they were caught at Petsmart (the assistant was pretty rough on them), but I was down to one survivor. I felt torn about whether I wanted to replace the lost fish or not. I feel guilty about letting the fish die, and feel like, well, if I failed to keep them alive, what right did I have to kill some more of them. But I decided to give it another try, and I bought two new Otocinclus today. I also bought some Kuhli loaches, hence the title of my post. I've been fascinated with them since I saw them a couple weeks ago, and having read up on them I was very interested - they seem like really cool fish, although I worry that their burrowing behaviour will wreak havoc on my plants.

So, assuming everyone survives, I have thirteen fish that are species that people usually keep as "cleaners" - seven of corys of (I believe) three species, (one C. aeneus, three C. panda, and three unknowns), three Otocinclus, and now three Kuhli loaches.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007


In terms of interactivity, I think the Otocinclus rank last among my fish. Everyone else is at least aware of your existence when you feed them, but since these guys aren't interested in fish food, there isn't any reason for them to pay attention to me. As "sucker-mouth" catfish they are also different to the other fish - they will often just hang on the glass at the back of the tank for extended periods of time, or on the petioles of an Echinodorus leaf.

I bought three of them, and as recently as Saturday I was able to find all three, but the last few days I can only find two of them. It's possible that I lost one, although it's hard to say for sure, given the density of hiding places in the back of the tank. As the fish most inclined to sit still, you'd think that they'd be the easiest to photograph. Unfortunately, they tend to sit at the back of the tank, obscured by either leaves of bubbles. They're actually almost impossible to photograph.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Macropodus and Angel

It's really hard to get good pictures of the fish. If the flash is on, all I get is a picture of the flash. The fish are in focus, but the picture has a huge flash in the centre. On the other hand, if I leave the flash off, the shutter speed is slower, so I tend of get a blur where the fish was. Anyway, here's a picture of the male Macropodus and a picture of one of the angels.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Disappearing snails

I have had a healthy population of snails almost from the start - they must have come (as eggs or juvies) with the plants. The snail population was growing steadily, almost alarmingly, but yesterday I realised that I could only find a few snails. While I saw the female fighter hunting snails, I have to wonder if the Macropodus played a role in the disappearance of the snails.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

These are some of the original corys. Although the petstore sold me these as Corydoras aeneus, I'm pretty sure that these three are not C. aeneus. The fourth member of the group probably is C. aeneus. While C. aeneus has a pretty even greenish bronze colour, these fish have distinct stripes and a mottled pattern above the stripes. Whatever their species (and I have come up with a few candidates online), they're really cool fish. The next question would be whether I could get them to breed. I'd probably have to give them much softer water, for starters.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Spring in Norman

Spring is in full force in Norman. The town is full of flowers - primarily Bradford pears. This one is on Boyd Street, just north of campus.

Friday, 16 March 2007

New fish

I added two species this week to my main tank- Otocinclus and Macropodus. How will this change the dynamics? I'm not sure.

The three Otocinclus are unlikely to have any impact on the community dynamics (except, of course, for waste processing and oxygen demands, which are, of course, valid considerations). The attracted some interest initially, primarily from the Angels, but they have since faded into the background. They hang around (literally) on the sides of the tank (usually the back) or the Echinodorus leaves and stems, and don't move too much. Hopefully they will keep the algal growth in check (not that I have a lot of algae, thanks, I'm sure, to my plant population). I'm a little more concerned about keeping them fed. I suspect that they will be ok, even if the algal growth is limited - I'm guessing they can eat the plants, if nothing else. Still, I have decided to try feeding them some "parboiled" spinach. The websites I looked at suggested using "plant clips" (which apparently clip onto the side of the tank) to hold the spinach/zucchini/brussel sprouts, but I just tucked the spinach leaves into the gravel. I added the spinach this morning, and so far there has been very little interest from anyone - two of the platies are paying some attention to the leaves, but the Otocinclus have not made it anywhere near the bottom of the tank. Maybe I really do need some sort of a "plant clip", maybe the Otocinclus won't venture onto the bottom of the tank. We'll see, I suppose.

The other new additions are a very different story. Two Macropodus (hopefully a male and a female) have impacted just about every aspect of life in the tank - among other things, bumping the male fighter off his post as "top dog" in the tank. Although they have a reputation for aggression, so far I have been lucky - they have stared down the fighters and chased the platies a little, but overall nothing too serious. On the other hand, the male is harassing the female a bit much...still, there's enough cover for there to get some peace, hopefully. She doesn't look terribly happy overall though.

The presence of other anabantids have definitely affected the fighters. Initially the male got a lot paler, and the female a lot redder. Since then, he has recovered a lot of his colour, and she has lost some of hers, but their behaviour has definitely changed.

Plant growth

The northwest corner of the tank started out as the "jungle" - relative to the rest of the tank, it was densely planted, with two large Echinodorus plants dominating the corner. Over times, I added more plants to the tank, and the ones that were there grew. Recently I noticed that the northwest corner of the tank is one of the more open areas, as the Echinodorus plants have grown taller, and the older leaves have died. Today I noticed that the larger one has produced a leaf that has emerged from the water and is not pressed right against the lid. At the same time, with the addition of free-floating Elodea and another fast-growing fine-leaved plant, the surface of the western half of the tank is pretty much covered with plants. Things are different on the eastern half of the tank, where the flow of water out of the filter keeps the surface waters clear of floating plants.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007


The female fighter has been a resident of the tank for several weeks, but introducing the male was less of a success. When I first introduced him into the tank, he spent a few hours chasing the other fish around, and then settled down, but after a day he started harassing the female, and eventually she ended up with bloody fins. At that point, he went back into confinement in the breeding box. I tried again a week later, with the same result, but the third attempt was more successful.

Angel fish

A week and a half ago I got four baby angel fish. They're a great addition to the community. They are curious about their environment, interactive in a way that few other fish. From the time they got into the tank they showed a lot of interest in the snails. So far I haven't seem them successfully hunt snails (unlike the female fighters), but I'm sure they'll figure out how to eventually.

Ups and downs of a new tank

The new tank was more of a challenge than the original one. That's a given. Part of the problem was the fact that it's a smaller tank, part of the problem was probably hubris - the first tank went well, so why shouldn't the second one? didn't go so well. I probably overstocked the tank in a big way - one adult platy and four babies was more than I should have added. I also made the mistake of using the bacterial starter colony that came with the tank. Since none of them have expiration dates or information about how it was handled, there's no way of telling whether an inoculum is likely to be viable or not, but common sense says that bottles costing a few dollars have a higher turnover rate than a complete aquarium kit.

Anyway, after a few days the tank stank of ammonia - smelled like a litter box. I did a 50% water change, but after two days the smell was worse than it had been initially. So I got some Amquel + (Sodium hydroxymethanesulfonate) which is supposed to react with the NH3 and NO2- and convert them to products that are harmless to the fish but bioavailable to the bacteria. Since then, the smell hasn't returned, though I should really test the NO2- levels.

Friday, 2 March 2007

New tank

I bought a new tank today - a 10 gallon tank. Now I just need to clear a space for it. It would be nice to put it in the bedroom, but I don't think there's space for it in here. Actually I could put it in the corner next to my bed...but I'd need something to support it. I think the corner table in the sitting room should be a good place for it.

Hospital tank

About a week ago I moved two platies to the "hospital" tank. A male that was looking really bad - he had significant tail rot, and a female that wasn't looking too good. I treated the tank with Melafix, and hoped for the best. The female died a few days later, but the male seems ok. His tail hasn't healed yet, but the large whitish spot at the base of his tail (which he has had for several weeks) is almost gone.

I believe that his main problem was bullying - he was the second largest male, and had been harassed a lot by the largest male. While that fish has almost doubled in size since I have him, this male hasn't grown much. Until today the male in the hospital tank hasn't looked very happy - he spent a lot of his time sitting near the surface with his fins clamped - today he's much more active, poking around the bottom of the tank (and finding something edible, by the look of it). Hopefully he's finally on the mend. I still think his main problem was social, not water quality or disease per se. Hopefully I'll be able to get a second tank this weekend and move him into it. It might be worth making it a male-only tank (for platies, at least) - put him and the two smaller males in there - without females to fight over they may get on better. Probably have to move the male babies across there too.

Of course, this still leaves the question of what I want to do with the platies.