Thursday, June 25, 2009


One of the Amano Shrimp in my office tank has gone on a rampage. An eating rampage. She has discovered that I feed Teddy frozen blood worms in the morning and that they float. Periodically she swims to the top, flips herself upside down, and snatches a piece of a worm from the surface. She then brings it down to the bottom, devours it in record time, and surfaces for another.

Hmmm, something is going on. Maybe she is getting ready to shed? She's been doing this for the past 3 hrs tirelessly.

The funniest part is, Teddy obviously believes that whatever is on the surface is his domain and he tries to ch
ase her away each time she ventures up. This has not deterred her in any way.

The three Otos I got a couple of days ago are doing just fine (cross fingers and toes) and look like they are stuffed as well. The old one has faded and looks a bit stressed. No idea why. Could it be the three newbies seem to have a community going and basically school together and he feels left out? Who knows. These guys can be pretty sensitive.

Here are a couple of photos of them:

The crazy shrimp:

And the little Otos. Aren't they cute? Just look at those round tummies.

And I apologize for photo quality, but all I had was fluorescent, office lighting and a Blackberry camera.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

V is for Victory!

I hereby officially declare victory against Blue Green Algae! One week later and there is still no sign of the monster coming back. The water and plants are clean, the tank sides barely show any regular green algae growth at all. Fishies all seem a lot happier as well. Amazing what a little water current will do.

Teddy's tank at work received a similar treatment. Yesterday I did the water change plus cleaned all his plants and removed most of the java moss which seemed to the the main thing that harbored the BGA. There is enough clean moss left on the driftwood to start it growing again. Then I introduced a small air stone and adjusted the air flow to create some water movement but not to freak him out too much. Bettas like quiet waters...

A big sigh of relief. Now, for the next project, we'll have to do some Guppy breeding. All these problems have depleted the population.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss...

or, more appropriately, moving water grows no algae.

The Guppy Girl tank is showing no sign of Blue Green Algae growth so far and even the regular green algae have lost their enthusiasm. Could I have finally cured the tank? It is so nice to see the bright white sand and vivid colors of the plants with fishies swimming around happily!

I am beginning to think that the whole problem could have been avoided if I only used an air stone to improve aeration and encourage water movement in the first place. It would seem with one filter in the corner and lots of plants to block the current, the water gets very stagnant very quickly. This created perfect conditions for BGA slime to thrive. The air stone is on the opposite end of the tank from the filter, so, in theory, the water circles from one to the other.

So, with this small success, I decided to do a small experiment: Teddy's tank at work is again starting to grow BGA again, though not at the same rate as the one at home. This afternoon I introduced the same little air stone connected to a small air pump and was surprised to immediately see the water moving a lot. How? Well, a lot of debris, like parts of leaves, strings of BGA, shed shrimp exoskeletons, is suddenly swimming around. That's also sign it's time to clean the tank, but I thought with the experiment I'll wait till Monday.

Teddy is a bit freaked out never having had air current in his tank before, but I'm sure he'll adjust. It's probably better for him in the long run anyway.

On a funny note, today I observed one of the Amano Shrimp clean a large swath of BGA off one of the Lutea leaves, clean to the "bone". Man, those guys are good cleaner upers. Just imagine - if I had about 20 of them in there, I'd never have the algae problem in the first place. I just hope he doesn't get a tummy ache... Do shrimp even get tummy aches?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tentative Success.....??

Next time I will watch what I type - my last entry's title was ominous. That night I checked the tank at night and found 2 smallest fish dead plus two close to death and obviously suffering, so they had to be euthanized with Clove Oil. It did not look good. But to be honest, some of them did not look too hot before the treatment with the BGA remover, so possibly the change in water chemistry stressed them out more and pushed them over the line.

The tank/water itself looked good, though. No more signs of Blue Green Algae growth! Just to be sure, I checked the water parameters and everything was fine except ammonia, which shot to 1 ppm. The bottle of BGA remover did mention this could happen, so I was not surprised. I quickly added some AmQuel+ to neutralize ammo and then, after giving it some time to work, I cleaned up the leftover bits of BGA and changed about 25% of water. The last thing I did? I put in an air stone on the opposite side of the tank from the filter outlet. Looking at my male guppy tank, I realized that was the other difference between the tanks. Hopefully more water movement will prevent the blue slime from coming back.

Teddy's tank though is not doing much better, even with the backdrop added. The BGA is starting to strangle the java moss so I may have to do the same treatment and figure out how to add an airstone to his 5 Gal hexagonal tank which is pretty much sealed shut. Hmmmm....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Death by Algae...

It will be me who dies of frustration over this disgusting blue-green slime! Completely ignoring my attempts to destroy it, the Blue Green Algae keeps coming back with a vengeance. Introducing lots of new plants to the tank did nothing. I succeeded in making the tank look a lot nicer but a week later, the plants were smothered in it and probably unable to breathe and grow.

I also did extensive water testing. Here are the results:

ammonia: 0 ppm (perfect)
nitrite: 0 ppm (perfect)
nitrate: 5 ppm (very good)
phosphates: 2 ppm (? but assuming this is good)

Any other parameters are the same as other tanks as I use exactly the same additives and water for all of them. So why this one????

I was desperate so I went to Big Al's and asked them if they had anything at all that could control it - I was ready to use heavy duty chemicals if I had to! To my surprise they did! It's called "UltraLife Reef Products Blue-Green Algae Remover" and is supposed to be safe for all fresh water plants and fish.

This past weekend was Easter and having two parties at home I did not think I would have time to take care of the tank. But on Sat. night opportunity presented itself. Stupidly I downed two cans of Pepsi when our friends were here and, at 1:00 am, found myself wide awake. So I decided to do the tank anyways. Might as well use the time productively.

After scraping the algae off the walls, the water was so dirty and thick with debris, I could not see the bottom despite a strong light shining on the water. Then I picked out each and every plant and literally scraped the BGA off every single leaf on every plant. Did the same for rocks and driftwood. Luckily this stuff comes off pretty easily. I also mechanically removed large globs of it covering the sand. Then syphoned about 90% of the water.

Once I replaced about 50% of water I rearranged the rocks and plants, topped up the water, cleaned the filter and pump and removed the carbon from a new filter bag - the old one was filthy from decaying algae and was slowing down the filter.

And finally, I added the BGA remover. Actually, that was not my last action - to be safe, I have also put a dark background around the back and sides of the tank. In the past I did attempt to block out the sunlight from this aquarium but I now realize that I did so with white paper, which pretty much defeated the purpose. This time I used the typical aquarium backing paper. This is really the only thing I can see different with this tank - it is in a northern window but, outside is our garage, which is painted white, and it reflects quite a lot of sunshine.

Completion time? 4:00 am! Oh, but it was such a satisfying work.

36 hours later I am happy to report the leftover bits of the algae (you can NEVER remove all of it, short of filtering 100% of the water and sand) have lost their typical bluish color and look positively sickly green (Yeahhhh!!!). There is also no sign of regrowth so far. Could this product really work as well as it boasts? Now that would be the first! If this works (and I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed), I will have to do the same to Teddy's tank.

On a sad note, I've lost my last original big mama Guppy and I cannot help but think it had something to do with the algae. She was a beautiful, healthy, large female and I'm glad that at least I have lots of her offspring.

There is good news, too: Aparently gold fish do grow their scales back! I was watching Lady Lydia the other night and realized some of the missing scales have been replaced. Interestingly, the new ones are a bit lighter than the older ones, so they still look like they are missing, but on closer examination I have confirmed they are indeed scales. She only has two more spots to fill on the other side.

Teddy has also been doing well regrowing his dorsal fin - it is now about 1/2" long.

And, last but not least - I have at least two female Amano (Japonica) shrimp in my male guppy tank and they are heavy with eggs. On my son's urging, I have done some research and decided to attempt to breed them. It is supposed to be very hard but I have always liked a challenge. Have to visit my favorite store again (Big Al's) and buys some supplies, but it should not be too expensive. Besides a challenge, I really need some more shrimp and the store supplier has been very slow. Can't find the darn things anywhere at the moment. Maybe I can get my own.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Battling Blue Green Algea.

Two tanks are driving me insane with their BGA (Blue Green Algea) problem at present. One is my Betta tank at work. Teddy has a 6 Gal hexagonal tank with a bit of Java Moss, a Lutea plant and three small Java Ferns. However they don't seem to be growing fast enough to use up the nutrients in the water and the result is BGA growing everywhere. I've been very careful not to over feed him, even got him three Amano (Japonica) Shrimp as tank buddies and clean-up crew, but nothing helped. The algea just got worse and worse, eventually covering the sides of the aquarium by the time I did his weekly cleaning. It even started chocking out the Java Moss.

I've heard a number of times that isolating the tank in total darkness for three days does the trick for the algea, so decided to give it a try. Last Friday, at noon, I covered the tank with two black garbage bags, making sure there was enough air coming through for Teddy to breathe. I took it off this afternoon...

The results are good. Most of BGA is gone, especially from the walls and larger plants. The Java Moss still has some small clumps left but I have a feeling they are dead and will come off in the cleaning. What I didn't expect was the condition of Teddy's fins.

It would appear my friendly shrimpies have munched on Teddy's fins and almost completely destroyed his dorsal fin. I was just admiring how lovely and long his fins had grown since I bought him and how free of disease he was (knock on wood), and here I come to a betta with bits of tail missing and only two long whisps of his dorsal fin left.

The trick seemed to work on BGA, but noone told me the shrimp were going to make a meal out of my fish in the darkness! I'm mad and seriously considering throwing them in the garbage bin. Thank goodness Betta fins grow back.

The second tank? It's my kitchen tank that houses girl Guppies and two Betta girls, Cherries and Cream. This one has been a problem pretty much from day one. My male Guppy tank has settled into a very happy balance (again, knocking on wood vigorously) early on and there seems to be no algea growth after a slight BGA outbreak when the tank was being cycled. Granted, the boys have a lot of plants so obviously they are using any circulating nutrients, not to mention about a 100 snails and 6 Amano Shrimp.

Not the girls' tank. Last night I gave it a thorough cleanup - scraped the walls clean, pulled as much off the plants as I could and syphoned most of the water out. Some of the clums of BGA were so thick I could pick them up with my fingers. I then threw out the old plant that was growing in there, or not growing as it was. This plant was just sitting there, doing nothing. In its place I planted some stemmed plants which, I was told, should grow faster. I may even transplant some of the darn snails from the other tank to this one! And, will add some Amano Shrimp too. Don't know what else to do so if anyone has any ideas or suggestions, for God's sake, let me know!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Updates on issues.

The algea problem in female Guppies tank is getting better. I won't say it's under control, yet, but it is definitely improving. Putting more plants in and adding the Oto cats has made a lot of difference. Oh, and making sure we don't feed them too much, LOL. I've been trying to find some nice, fast growing plants I could put in that tank, but have not been successful so far.

Bubbles is doing well, but still has the white spots on his fins. I just changed his water yesterday, so I will give him a couple of days to destress and will do the treatment then. High temp and salt are not doing the job unfortunately.

Snail situation is getting better as well. I've put in slices of zucchini, which btw are Freckles' and Otos' favorite, and when the snails congregate on them for a feeding orgy, I just pull the slice out, dispose of the snails, and put the zucchini back in for the fishies. I'd say probably about 75% of the larger snails have been taken out. There are still lots of eggs and babies, but as they grow, I will continue the same "treatment".

And now a little news about Betta girls. A couple of weeks ago we got a pair of Betta females and named them Cherries and Cream. They were very small and seemed undernourished. We've put them in with the female Guppies but I wasn't sure if they would do ok there. They were very shy and withdrawn. At feeding time they did not seem to know what to do when all the big girls milled around and I was concerned they would not get enough food. Well, I had nothing to worry about. Our "shy" girls have certainly come out of their shells and are now shoving the guppies out of the way to get to the better morsels of food!

Both of them have grown and gained weight, especially Cream. In fact I have a feeling she is full of eggs as her abdomen is rather full and bulging. I am so very tempted to see how she would react to Bubbles, but really, I'm trying to be a responsible pet owner. We don't need more fish.....