Introducing The Otocinclus!

I can officially say I am happy with my otocinclus. I really hope I am not jinxing anything by saying so.

Otocinclus, a dwarf sucking cat fish, are notoriously picky when it comes to water parameters, and acquiring some and putting them into your own tank at home can often be a very traumatic experience for these little fish and the chance of casualties is often quite high.

Thankfully though, I am pleased to say that they have been in my tank now two and a half weeks and have settled in amazingly. All four of them are growing, exploring, socialising and maintaining those cute little plump bellies of theirs which is a very good sign of a healthy oto. One of the problems people sometimes find with these fish is that they may unexplainabley lose them, even after they have settled in, due to starvation. Otocinclus act as a very efficient clean up crew, constantly munching on any algae in the tank – whether it be on the glass, ornaments or your plants (they are very gentle with plants and do not harm them). But they are so good at it that when they have eaten it all, they can sometimes accidentally become deprived of food. It is a good idea to help supplement their diet with algae wafers or vegetables. In my tank, algae wafers are not very useful as they get absolutely destroyed by their tank mates, the guppies. But every few days I leave a big chunk of cucumber or courgette in the tank for 24hours and they go bananas over it.

Even if some don’t quite get it! 

When I first acquired these beautiful little catfish, I drip acclimated them for around four hours before I introduced them into my main community tank. (I should have also quarantined them, but I was bad and too excited so I couldn’t wait..).

In order to do this process, I used an empty three gallon tank and released them into this with the water from their bag. Using long plastic tubing, I created suction so that water was pulled up from the main tank and down into their tank. I then attached a pair of pliers to the tubing to make the water flow very slow. After four hours of the main tank water dripping into their little tank, I netted them up one by one and released them into the community. I wanted to net them and not pour them in as I did not want to mix the water from the pet shop with the water in my big tank. The otos seemed really relaxed before I did this, otherwise I may have kept them in the three gallon tank longer – maybe even over night.

The otos are living now in my 19gallon community planted tank with 10 male guppies and one female Siamese fighting fish (betta splenden). This little girlie was added a week after the otos after I realised she much preferred living in the community set up after I had kept her in there for a few days in a breeder box whilst I was acquiring her equipment for her own tank, and after removing her for a few days, felt it best to put her back! A proper update on my girl Impa, will be done at a later date.

Introducing Impa the Siamese Fighting Fish

Yesterday me and Kirby went to the garden centre for fish paroozing and cake (sadly, like we do most Sundays..) and I was feeling slightly sorry for myself as I think I’ve got a chest infection and what was the result of a downhearted Melanie? Why a new betta of course! I wouldn’t normally be interested in the females, usually they are incredibly drab and I’ve always been far more enamoured by male betta fish. But yesterday, I spied myself a beauty. The first time round I didnt even bother looking in the female betta tank as it was blocked from view and I didn’t really care. But on my way out I had a massive urge to go back and see them, and I am so glad I did.

Here she is, my beautiful Impa my impulse fishie.

Impa is going to be living in a breeder box in my planted community tank in the kitchen until I get her a heater to go in her own tank. I have a spare cycled filter and a tank all waiting for her.

After losing quite a lot of her colour on the journey home in the car, Impa has settled in superbly and her colours are brightening up and everyone in the tank has come to say hello.

Impa is a pink and purple veiltail female siamese fighting fish (betta splenden).

Update on the 20g Planted Tank

The guppies are getting bigger! They’re darkening up nicely (all but one, which is remaining a cute pale see through yellow and orange) and their tails are getting lovely and long and flowy. They are starting to chase each other quite a lot as territories get settled and thankfully, as of yet, there are no babies or signs of pregnancy! This is a very good thing.

The echinodorus is growing nicely, but is battling for sunlight a bit due to the explosive mass of duckweed. We are having to throw a good few handfuls of this away every week, and give some to the goldfish for a yummy treat as it just grows so fast!  It’s what I wanted though and I’m still a duckweed fan. Thinking of sectioning off part of the surface of the tank so that the duckweed only grows over a certain area thus providing a shaded spot in the tank for the lower light growing plants and giving the Amazon sword the light it needs to continue to grow.

I have also added a load of cabomba to the tank. It’s a lovely big fluffy plant which has provided loads of  hiding spots for the guppies. This is good if the males fighting for territories get a little too aggressive.

Otocinclus tonight! Very excited.

Guppies guppies guppies!

My 19gallon planted tank has now taken quite a different turn than I expected. From a planted community tank, it is now possibly going to be a guppy tank!

Earlier on in the week I was asked if I wanted to take 10 baby guppies and I couldn’t really say no. My boyfriend went this evening to pick them up and he was given strict instructions to try and make sure he got 10 males as I really don’t want babies everywhere, and by the looks of it he did a pretty good job! They are of varying ages from 1-3months so it’s not so easy to tell, but it seems like they could all be male. They are the sweetest little things and are currently acclimating as I type.

We have a few photos of them and their packaging I’ll show you, and in a few days I’ll put up photos of them settled in. 7 of the guppies are going into the planted tank, and three are going into a new small tank I have set up in my bedroom for a new future betta, and when he arrives, they’ll join their brothers.

Here is the box and them in their bag.

Time to say hello!

Another thing which has been added to the tank is more plants. I had a little spending splurge on ebay this week, and have been buying things with moss on! Plus my beloved duckweed. I have wanted some for ages and it is one of those plants which people either love or hate. I’ll give my final verdict on this little floating plants in a few weeks when it starts to take over my tank!

Log with moss:

Bamboo with moss:

Aaaand duckweed!:

This is where the baby guppies are now. Settling down to the new temperature and water parametres.

19g Planted Tank:

New Bedroom Betta Tank:

I am so so excited to watch these baby guppies grow and thrive in my tank. It may have made my plans for my community tank change, but I don’t regret it in the slightest.

Diatoms Galore!

IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS! I can’t believe how quickly November has gone, and now how quickly I’m rattling through December. What is particularly exciting about Christmas however, is not only Christmas itself, but the fact that my tank is now officially 100% cycled and come the new year, ready for fish!

Well, perhaps not 100%, but it is certainly practically there. I still have the smallest traces of ammonia, zero nitrites and a nice amount of nitrates which have become established.

I believe the level of ammonia present will be due to me continuously adding old fish food to the tank to maintain the cycle and also the fact that since adding my new plants almost 2 weeks ago, some are (expectedly) doing a little bit of dying off.

The decaying of the plants will also help attribute to my ammonia levels. This teensy bit of ammonia isn’t bothering me yet seen as I am not going to purchase any fish until the new year.

So this is what the tank is looking like now! And please, excuse all the algae on the glass.

The tank is in a nice bright spot in my kitchen, has had brand new high voltage light bulbs and I’ve not bothered to do any maintenance on keeping the glass clean. The reason for this being, is that one type of fish I wish to populate my tank with is otocinclus. Ottos are complete algae lovers, and although you can supplement their diet with algae wafers and various veggies, having some (/a lot) of naturally grown algae in your tank is a good idea for when you first get them. They shall clear that all up quickity quick.

Besides the plants, my tank hasn’t been exactly devoid of life. For the last few weeks my tank has been home to loads of little squiddly widdlies (a pet name). I believe they are possibly nematodes or even midge fly larvae. They squirm around my tank for a week or two and then suddenly I have a load of little dead fly all over the surface of the water.

Completely unharmful to fish (if anything the fish’d happily eat them) and have been relatively amusing to watch. I believe I have them since I kept the tank in the kitchen for months with a small amount of water sitting in it and no lid. Now that there is a lid, all the emerging midges are dying on the surface for there is no way to escape and not being able to lay any more eggs. So our neighbouring squiddly widdlies should soon all die out. I must admit, I’m not going to miss the constant midge fishing every morning…

ROLL ON 2012!…

The Start of a Planted Tank

Whilst my tank is cycling (which I’m almost inclined to say it has done, as we’re getting small signs of nitrates and only the slightest traces of ammonia and nitrite left) I decided that I wanted to start getting it planted!

This is the first planted tank I have done, so it is going to be a huge experience filled with trial and error. I have been researching what plants I think might do well in my tank and have gotten the lighting sorted. Our substrate is only gravel and is therefore not preferable for a lot of plants, but there are still some which will thrive al right in my environment. Also I wanted plants which didn’t necessarily require CO2 supplements in the water as I thought this would simply be another thing to have to consider and for starting off, I decided to try and use plants which didn’t need this. Lastly, I bought a piece of bogwood for some plants to attach their roots to and to grow on.

Java fern on the left and then the anubias in the middle will both be attached to the bogwood so that their roots can settle and hopefully they will attach themselves properly. There are plenty of grooves to wedge them into and if they don’t stay put, I’ll tie them with rubber bands or something similar. Then the echinodorus on the right I’m really not sure about. I have never heard of it before, but the man in the shop said he had never heard of the plant I actually wanted and I’ve not seen it anywhere else either, so the echinodorus is going to be a little bit of a waiting game to see if it actually survives. I am going to plant that in the substrate and I’ve got some liquid fertilizer and hopefully it should be ok.

Here is the malaysian bogwood that will also be put in my tank. I soaked it in boiled water for 24hours in a bucket because the wood releases tannins into the water and so the water will turn a tea-like colour. This isn’t harmful for the life in the tank, but can look unsightly (if not very natural!). I would have let it soak for longer but got really impatient and wanted my plants NOW so it’s going in the tank with my anubias and java fern. It doesn’t matter if it colours the water in my tank anyway; it would eventually disappear in a few weeks.

Lastly, I will put in some of the marimo moss balls I had from my betta tanks which got removed and left to dry out. So here it is, the start of my planted tank!