Snail boom.

….And with new plants comes snails!

Itty bitty tiny snails eating my algae. Although sounds useful, snails are asexual and very soon I fear they will have taken over the tank! Now it’s snail pest control time 😦


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!

How to cycle a tank so that it’s ready for fish.

Seen as I mentioned the nitrogen cycle in one of my posts a few days ago, and seen as I am currently going through cycling a tank, I thought I might as well share with you what the tank goes through. It’s not exactly the most visually stimulating thing ever, but it is interesting to see the chemistry behind the cycle.

I currently have (courtesy of my boyfriend’s brother – THANK YOU, MARK!) a 19gallon fish tank sitting on a kitchen bench. It is about half full at the moment and there are two filters running. One of my old filters and the old filter Mark used to use in the tank. It has black substrate in the bottom.

To start the cycle off you need a source of ammonia. An older, and less humane way some people cycle a tank is with some ‘hardy’ types of fish. These fish produce waste which help kick start the tank into a cycle. This could be done with some cheap goldfish or platies. Regardless of whether these fish are more likely to survive in ammonia riddled water whilst your tank cycles, does not alter the fact that these fish will be living so in a lot of discomfort. Damage such as ammonia poisoning and burns to their scales will be extremely common and may be a reason why fish die when people keep fish and don’t do research. This poor goldfish is extremely unhealthy with ammonia burns to his scales and fins.

The best way to cycle a tank without animal cruelty is by simply providing a source of ammonia a different way. You may get pure ammonia from chemists or pharmacies or you can do what I do, and produce the source of ammonia through rotting food by adding one or two fish flakes every couple of days. It’s that simple and it is not necessary to put any living creatures through harm. If you are going to do it using pure ammonia, please look up how much to use and when, as I’ve never done this myself before.

My tank!

I have been dropping a few flakes in every couple of days and this is where my cycle is at as of today!

In the picture you can see that the green tube is my ammonia reading, the purpley blue is my nitrITE and the yellow is my nitrATE. My ammonia has turned from a pale yellow with is a reading of 0ppm* to a reading of 0.5 ppm. This shows that there is some ammonia present and that a cycle will start. My nirtrITE has turned from a pale blue to a pale bluey purpley colour which shows that some of that ammonia is being changed into nitrITES with a reading of  0.25ppm. My cycle has officially started! And as for my nitrATES reading, this shows that it has not changed at all is still reading 0ppm. This means that the cycle is far from being complete. In case you’re thinking that my numbers are ridiculously small, even a reading of 0.5 ammonia can be too toxic for a lot of fish.

*’points per million’.

A betta has moved into Spongebob’s house! I hope Gary doesn’t mind…

Less serious post today!

I found this little video online and it cracked me up. Not only is the betta in his little Spongebob house (yes, you heard me right) absolutely adorable, the Japanese woman ‘singing’ the Spongebob theme tune in the background is hilarious. Such a sweet video.


I now reeaally want a Spongebob house for my future female Christmas betta!

Fin rot for Genie

Oh my goodness! Bah! What a stressy few weeks I’ve had!

So it seems that now Genie has developed fin rot! I was so horrified when I first noticed his gorgeous fins starting to fray about 2 weeks ago. I imagine the thing which will have caused it was the stress of sharing his tank with Warrior for the very short time that he did. Part of me wishes that it wasn’t that, because he shouldn’t have had so much of a reaction to it and whilst Warrior was sharing his space, Genie seemed to be the one less bothered by it! 

On the left is how Genie is now compared to how he was a few weeks ago shown on the right. Notice the massive fraying in his fins – both in the tail fin but most dramatically in his dorsal fin.

Another thing…
Genie was put in an already established cycled tank and since I have noticed his fins fraying, the water tests are also showing that his cycle has gone all casquey and he has lost any traces of his nitrates!!* So by the looks of it he has lost his cycle and this could be another major reason for the development of the finrot.

So what to do?
Clean fresh water does poor fins the world of good, so I have been cleaning him out everyday and feeding him his food soaked in garlic juice. (Garlic is amazing for fish immune systems and fish go absolutely bonkers over it). I haven’t been noticing any difference though and his fins are still deterioritating and he is looking so sorry for himself. However his personality hasn’t changed a bit, he is still his beautiful quirky self and so I’m hopeful yet that I’m going to get to the root of the problem and get him on the mend again in no time. With some kind words from my breeder who I purchased Genie off, I have been convinced to start him on a salt treatment (I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about how bad betta can react to tonic/aquarium salt) as he says that Genie will have had a treatment of this before he came to me for general well being and therefore he knows he won’t have a massive reaction to it.

New tank…

And last but not least he has been moved. I decided this evening that his stubborn white foggy water which I assume is around due to a bacteria bloom as the tank cycles again, wasn’t doing him any good. I feel it has been around too long and I wanted him a new completely clean tank. Because there could be something in his tank which is causing the rot that is living in his rocks or something that I am not able to get rid of simply by doing his water changes. His tank will get completely scrubbed down and he will move back when he is well again. So he has been placed in a smaller, hospital tank and hopefully I will start seeing improvements soon. 

I have everything crossed to pray that he will recover.

* If you haven’t a clue what I mean by the ‘cycle’ of a tank and when I talk about the prescence of nitrates, then I’ll give a quick explanation of what I mean. For a tank to be a healthy environment for fish to live in, the tank has to go through the nitrogen cycle. This is why lots of fish experts advise letting a tank run with it’s filter going for WEEKS and sometimes MONTHS before purchasing fish. This gives the filter chance to establish healthy bacteria so that the water is not toxic for the fish. Ammonia (which is present due to fish waste and food waste) is toxic to fish. In a fish’s natural environment, this would have little to no effect but in a tank it eventually builds up to dangerous levels. Given time the bacteria will convert the ammonia into nitrites as it oxidises (which is slightly less toxic but still dangerous at high levels). Eventually a different type of friendly bacteria will develop and help turn the nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates in high numbers (over 40ppm for goldfish and over 20ppm for a lot of other fish like betta) are harmful, but with a small level is completely fine and with a reading of 0ppm Ammonia, 0ppm NitrIte and <40ppm NitrAte, then you have yourself an establish cycled tank ready for fishies.

Introducing Pockets the Ryukin Fancy Goldfish

Last and by absolute no means least, is Pockets, my fancy goldfish (Carassius Auratus)

Pockets is an orange and white shortailed Ryukin, with a butterfly tail. He lives with Loki in my 120litre tank in my living room. He is slightly smaller than Loki (I’m not sure if this will always be the case) and therefore is the less dominant fish. Pockets loves to follow Loki EVERYWHERE! It is the cutest thing ever. Pockets is a boisterous little fish and I could sit and watch him for hours.

Because of his white face and red lips, Pockets was named such because he looks like a clown.