torsdag den 31. januar 2013

Installing a LED Moon Light in an Aquarium

Hello all,
A few years back, I bought a cheap LED Moon light system on Ebay. The reason for this was that my aquarium lamps are all set to switch off for a few hours around noon each day (where we are rarely at home). So I thought it might be nice to be able to see the fish swimming around without getting increased algae growth.
The installation was very simple, and it actually looked pretty good:

Unfortunately, the sucktion discs  wee not up to the task and after half a year they began regularly giving up and I had to pull the moon light out of the tank multiple times (it was water tight, of course).

The fish appeared to enjoy the light, swimming happily around, and it did remove some of the chock they experience when the main lights switch on.

All the best,

onsdag den 30. januar 2013

Aquaponics 21: Scud Trap

Hello all,
When I added the three small grow beds (see here for details), I also snug a small sieve under the outlet. I wanted to see how much detritus, etc was carried along the system.

Aquaponic outlet and sieve

Yesterday, when I remembered and checked the sieve, it turned out that it had acted as a great Scud (Hyalella azteca) trap. Apparently the pump carry the scuds along the system and they've survived without problems. The sieve held about twenty fat scuds.

Scud trap

I left the sieve on a shelf for ten minutes and it turns out that ten minutes is long enough to turn live scuds into delicious (if you are a fish) dried scuds.

Drying scuds in the trap

So if you do not want scuds in your tanks, just leave them in a sieve for ten minutes, and then you are set. The fish ate them with great glee. This might also be the trick to use with slow eating fish (e.g. Betta Splendens (or Siamese Fighting Fish), giving them a chance to get some healthy live food.

All the best,

tirsdag den 29. januar 2013

Video: Epiplatys annulatus and Hymenochirus boettgeri

Hello all,
Found this video of a beautiful species of killi fish I used to have. They are called Epiplatys annulatus (AKA Clown killi, Banded panchax, or Pseudo-Epiplatys annulatus) and are absolutely stunning!
I've written more on the species and how to keep them here.

In this video they are sharing their tank with Hymenochirus boettgeri (AKA Congo dwarf clawed frog or African dwarf frog), not a tank mate I would recommend in the future.

All the best,

Video: Skin eating Hymenochirus boettgeri (AKA Congo dwarf clawed frog or African dwarf frog)

Hello all,
My Hymenochirus boettgeri (African Dwarf frog) shares a habit with all other African Dwarf frogs; it eats its own skin once it has shed it. Apparently this is a great way of regaining nutricients, but it does look really weird and a bit disgusting. But also entertaining to watch it try and stuff its skin into its mouth without having useful hands. They do this every week or so, but normally they do it hidden and catching it on camera was lucky.

In the background is a puzzled male Aphyosemion australe (golden) killi, who was on a short holiday in the tank.

All the best,

Video: Aphysemion australe (Lyretail Killi) and Apple Snail (Ampullariidae)

Hello all,
Found this old video that illustrates why you shouldn't keep killi fish with fance snails.
The male Aphysemion australe (golden) is a brilliant specimen of the killi species, but as all killies he is curious and opportunistic and the eye stalks of the apple snail is just too tempting. As a result he kept nibbling them and in the end I had to put the snail in another tank. 

Apart from this incident, the Aphysemion australe killi fish remains one of my favourite fish - it always looks happy and is investigative active fish.

All the best,

Red Cherry Shrimp dropping eggs (AKA RCS, Neocaridina heteropoda)

Hello all,
As mentioned in a previous post, any new Red Cherry Shrimp (RCS) breeder will go through the following stages:
First month - why doesn't my Shrimps breed? Do they hate me? Are they dying? What Can I DO!
Second month - Wuhuu, success! They breed and they love me. I'm the best Shrimp-farmer ever!
Third month - Hmm, that is quite a lot of shrimps. I wonder what I should do...
Fourth month - AARGH! Shrimps everywhere, how do I get rid of them???

But just before stage two arrives, a peculiar thing will often happen.
A shrimp female, new to the whole egg-laying experience, will often drop her eggs. Anything can cause this - but normally it is because something startles her, causing her to flee and leaving the eggs behind. The eggs will normally be a yellowish colour and look like this:

Red Cherry Shrimp eggs
There is really nothing you can do about this, apart from trying not to startle her (e.g. do not knock on the aquarium, suddenly plunge your hand into it etc). But the good thing is that should she drop her eggs she is much less likely to do so the next time. And once they start carrying eggs around, this means the baby shrimps will shortly arrive.

All the best,

DIY exit flow pipe from aquarium pump

Hello all,
One of the first aquariums we bought was a small 54 litres (14 gallons) starter set. This included everything from heater to lamp. It was a 'no-name' system, a cheap Chinese brand called AAA.
 To be honest all parts were adequate, although everything has since been changed several times.
One thing that did annoy me was that the filter (placed on top of the tank, under the lid) did not create the desired amount of circulation in the tank.
I set about to remedy this problem and this was the result:
Behind the root in the centre, you can see the gizmo I made. It diverted the water's exit flow into the centre of the tank, creating a nice vortex.

It was covered with Java Moss and within a few weeks it was completely camouflaged.

 Here is the addition before camouflage was added:

 The pipe was bought cheap (was a leftover from another customer's purchase) at a local friendly fish shop and the largest problem was figuring out which diameter to use :-). I didn't know this at the time, but Eheim produces a range of hoses that suits almost any pump.

Anyways, just adding old stuff, so I do not forget them. Hope someone out there can use the ideas.

All the best,

mandag den 28. januar 2013

Easy way of catching shrimps II - free shrimp trap Mark II

Hello all,
I've already showed one simple type of trap that works well with catching shrimps (RCS), scuds and snails. Here is the designs for that one.
This is another type, even easier and perhaps cheaper. It works on the same principles, and the most difficult element in building one is to find a suitable stone :-). I prefer this one at the moment because it it is better at catching snails, and should a small curious fish get trapped (guppies are great at this) it is easier to liberate it.
Picture guide:
 Any type of plastic bottle is cut into two parts. A stone is put into the bottom part. The top is inserted into the bottom, tightly. And, presto, the trap is done.
 Put a few tasty morsels into the trap and within half an hour a bunch of shrimps, snails, and scuds will have colelcted inside it.

 This is after 45 minutes - at least twenty RCS shrimp, in addition to a few snails and scuds. That means it is feeding time for the larger fish :-).

All the best,

What to feed Scuds (Hyallella azteca)

Hello all,

This post will consolidate the information I have gathered with regards to what the Scuds (Hyalella azteca) will eat, and what they seem to dislike.
So far the following foods have been tried and foudn adequate by the little crustaceans' taste buds:

Fish food: Any small dust from fish food containers, or crunbled larger flakes works well.

Fruit paste: Also works - and is eaten quickly.

Dried catfish pellets: They love these, and they should be packed with the correct nutrients. I've tried pellets with only vegetable contents and some with animal parts, and both appear to work. But I would suggest only using the vegetable ones, as they seem to pollute the water much less. Instead of just throwing them into the tank, I quickly grate mine. The fine powder seems to work better with the small scuds.

Leftover vegetables: I see my Scuds as soemthing of a waste disposal unit - so whenever my kids havn't eaten something I will give it a go. This has shown that cucumbers, tomatoes, and simialr food types works very well. As they float this will allow you to quickly assess whether or not the scuds are eating and how quickly. Cucumber seems a favourite, and anything containing veegtables appears to be a winner:

What they do not seem to enjoy eating:
Duck weed (all types of Lemnaceae), any plant not in the process of degrading, snails, shrimps, or any other thing alive.

If you have a suggestion, give me a shout and I'll try throwing it into the scud containers and see what happens :-).

Aquarium plants in weird places: Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite) emersed

Hello all,
In one of my fish tanks I have an excellent 'corner filter' filtersystem. It works by having a large piece of foam where all the water is pulled through by a small powerhead. Works excellently, only needs cleaning once or twice a year, and can be camouflaged to disappear within the plants. It is in the right corner of the large image on the top of the page. Very nice filter (and quite cheap as well - I got mine from Unimati in Denmark).

Well, one of the interesting aspects of this filter is that it is raised a few centimeters above the water level. This means that there is a great place to grow emersed aquarium plantes, within the aquarium. And one day, when it was time to do some maintenance this plant had appeared:

It took me some time to identify it, especially so beacuse it looks different being emersed, than the normal specimens which are submersed. But it turns out it is a Ceratopteris thalictroides. A plant I do not otherwise have in the tank, so where it came from is a mystery :-).

Planted Tank states that it should be sued floating, but also that when it is grown emersed it will become quite sturdy: When grown emersed it will becomes sturdy with thicker stems and leaves. Growing submerged it adapt and turn into limp and softer plant. Water Sprite can be kept planted or left floating. Propagate by sending out axial shoots, forming tiny plantlets which eventually develop roots and floats away. Some sudden stress will encourage the plant propagate vigorously.
Which is also what I found to be the case. It appeared to love the intense heat and light levels just beneath the lamps.

Nice plant though, and when it grew enough to interfere with the light I planted it in one of the smaller tanks.

All the best,

Aquaponics 20: Failing at Aquaponics II

Hello all,

Things are not becoming the lush paradise I was hoping for...
Plants are growing fine, looking green and great, but only for a week or so and then they just give up on life and crumble.


One day they are fine, the next they look like the above sorry specimen.

I've compiled a list of things I think could be causing this problem:
1) lack of sunlight? It is pretty dark here, but I do not think the plants would behave this way if it was a question of light.'
2) the water level or similar - the roots are wet and, again, wouldn't they turn yellow instead, if lack of water was the problem?
3) Temperature. I guess this is what is killing my plants. At the moment we are getting temperatures of -12 degrees and even though they are inside, the window is cold and the room temperature cannot adequately combat the temperature right next to the windows (especially as the heater is below the other window..).

So would plants suffering from a cold behave the way my plants are?

All the best,
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