Daffodil and Buttercup

I don’t know why I bothered naming my fish straight out of the bag.  I didn’t even know them at all yet. When I named them, in my mind, my fish were dainty little fish that gracefully swam in and out of the plants and enjoyed the lovely garden I planted for them.  Now that I’ve had them for a couple of weeks, I see that they’re just hungry hippos.
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They’ve quickly gotten the hang of brine shrimp flakes and algae wafers and in between meals they act like they’ve never been fed.  Ever.  The shrimp are the same way.  Constantly on the hunt for food.  I added epsom salt to the tank and got some noticeable algae growth in a day.  I can’t believe I’d ever be trying to encourage algae to grow, but the flagfish and shrimp like to eat it.

 

Pot of Propagations

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This here is my Pot of Propagations. I’m not sure how I will separate the plants after they’ve settled in here because their roots will probably tangle in the soil. My thought was, I will just propagate more if I want them in individual containers. I don’t think I have the space anyway for a bunch of separate pots because I’m greedy for new plants all the time. This is a more efficient way to keep them all as long as their watering and lighting needs are similar enough.

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Remember this not-so-little-anymore begonia? It started as a 2 leaf stem cutting. It’s 4 ft tall now and has three stems. It has surpassed the zzplant as the tallest I have. Its’ been less than a year so maybe sometime next year, it’ll reach the ceiling. How tall do begonias get!?

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My two varieties of sansevieria are doing well. There are 2 leaves on each of the plantlets now.

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The succulents are growing out of their containers. Literally. Next Spring I will start propagating more if I can get my hands on more containers.

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This is how it all starts. An innocent looking, barely alive nubbin of a cutting. Every where I go, I am eyeing plants that I don’t have yet. I want a cutting of everything. It’s the most rewarding to start a plant that way because the contrast is stark to go from a cutting to a 4 foot tall plant.  Thankfully Christmas cacti are relatively small plants.  This will probably not go into the Pot of Propagations because it is a succulent and will need less water sometimes.

Contrary Mary

Here’s how my garden grows:
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After waiting for half a year, the snake plant leaves have finally sprouted a new leaf. For the longest time, I had just these leaf pieces sticking up from the dirt and even though they stayed green, it almost looked like they weren’t going to take. Sometimes I even forgot to water them because they didn’t show any visible growth. The only thing that kept me on them was anytime I tried pulling the leaves up, they didn’t budge. That told me they rooted.

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I got a new cutting from a coworker. I’d been wanting an arrowhead vine for a while to add to my collection.

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And I’ve also rescued this pitiful looking planter from work. It wasn’t getting any water or much light. I’m hoping to revive it and bring it back but I might cheat and plant some of my own cuttings to get it looking fuller. I’m not sure yet. For now I’m just trying to salvage the survivors.

And speaking of survivors, here are some survivors from my aquatic garden.
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Leopard vallisneria with a couple of new leaves after a major meltdown.

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Rotala indica finally growing new leaves at the top after its original leaves all melted. You can see the drifty stuff along the stem. Those were all its original leaves. That’s what I mean by melt. They get soft then rot off.

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And even though my amazon sword’s outer leaves turned brown it’s grown some new ones from the center to make up for it.

They’re alive!

My de-chloraminator hasn’t arrived yet but as of last week, I think my plants are done melting for the most part.  I’m seeing new growth and even a few that melted down to nubbins are starting to sprout new growth.  For example my Vallisneria spiralis ‘Leopard’ arrived as a multi-leafed foot-long plant and melted down to maybe 2 inches of 3 leaves.  I considered throwing it out, giving it up for goners, but in one week, I’ve observed 2 new baby leaves, one about 2 inches now, and the other 1 inch.

Another, the Rotala indica, melted down to just stems.  I left them because the stems were green and sturdy.  Now they all have new growth at the top of about 1/2  a centimeter.  I guess everybody just needed some time to adjust.

The only plants certainly gone with no traces remaining are the Bacopa caroliniana and Ludwigia repens.  They were ones that the Internet all agreed were great for beginners.  Grow like weeds.  Will take over your tank.  Will grow even in the crappiest conditions.

The growing plants are so cool to view that I’m holding off on adding any creatures.  It’s like instead of having an aquarium of fish, I have an aquatic garden.  They don’t do anything but I just like sitting there and staring at ’em.  Some aquatic plants grow noticeably fast and it’s encouraging to see that they have adjusted to the environment I’ve set up.  So far, I’ve done weekly water changes of about 1 or 2 gallons.  It’s not much but it gives me enough to water my regular plants and then I dose my aquarium with fertilizer afterwards.

 

Chlorine vs. Chloramine

With no treatment, chlorine dissapates after about a day or two.  Chloramine can last for weeks in the water.  I had been using Chlor-Out which only treats chlorine, as my dechlorinator not realizing our local water uses chloramine.  So maybe that’s why I was getting all that meltage.  I’ve ordered Seachem’s Prime which treats chloramine.  Hang in there little plants!

This is why I’m not getting animals until the plants get established.  If whatever it is I’m doing can’t support plants, it’d be a wonder how animals could survive. Not totally sound logic given that plants like ammonia and animals would belly up with ammonia but, at least it’ll get me that much closer to creating an environment that can sustain animals.

Not so sturdy plants

When I ordered my batch of aquatic plants I made sure to read all sorts of aquarium forums, plant websites, and even watched YouTube videos. I consulted the great and mighty Internet! In fact some of the plants I chose are even banned from some states (e.g. Hygrophila difformis from CA, AZ, TX, LA, EU) because they’re considered invasive and too risky if any bits got out in the wild! It means if you just dumped a piece in a lake it would take over! So I dumped them in my tank and they melt. They slowly lose their leaves. Then their stems get dark and soft and mushy and they just die. And now it feels like half of my plants are stuck on the intake of the power filter.

I spent a good part of the weekend siphoning out some of the mushy floaty bits. The Bacopa caroliniana and Ludwigia repens are all gone. There’s no hope of salvaging either of them.

I got 2 other plants to replace them. And now here’s my new list of plants:

  • Vallisneria spiralis ‘Leopard’ – 1″ or 2″ nubbin left
  • Ludwigia repens
  • Rotala indica
  • Bacopa caroliniana
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Green’
  • Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Brazilian Pennywort)
  • Amazon Sword
  • Lace Java Fern (Windelov’s Fern)
  • Hygrophila difformis – 1″ pieces floating about
  • Java moss
  • Hemianthus callitrichoides ”Cuba”
  • Marimo ball
  • Anubias barteri nana – added this weekend
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Red’ – added this weekend

My goal is to just get these plants established and growing.  New leaves, propagation, off shoots – anything but melting.

I got the 2 new plants from PetSmart. I’m not a fan of Pet-Smart/Co but they sell cultured plants that are grown in clean gel so they’re free of disease and snails.  I can get them online too but for only 2 plants, it’s not worth the shipping costs.  While I was there the store guy there was giving such bad advice to folks. It pained me to hear him talk about adding Stress Coat and other garbage into tanks.  One lady asked if she should replace her filter floss regularly and Store Guy said yes.  I tried to keep my trap shut, mind my own business, but then I couldn’t take it anymore and just interjected to tell her I would just take it out and rinse it in the dirty water when I do a water change.  That way I keep all that bacteria in the floss.  I’d only replace the floss when it’s falling apart.

They should just look stuff up on the Internet. Except sometimes the Internet underestimates how good beginners are at killing things.  Like my stupid plants.

Slowly coming together

It took a lot of shuffling furniture around but I finally settled on a nice little corner between a window and bookcase in the living room.

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I picked up as many used items as I could to reuse.
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I got a 29 gallon tank, heater, filter, gravel, driftwood, and a few rocks big and small.

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Then I bought a new LED light and it’s already starting to look like a proper aquarium. It’s the light that does the trick.

Despite all my planning and reading and researching, I still messed up. I ordered my plants before the fertilizers. I could’ve added the root tabs after, but I decided to wait. And in the meantime, the plants languished in this here bucket.
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In hindsight, I could’ve set up the tank with the plants then added the fertilizers after. Duh. But the bucket soak helped me treat the plants of any buggies, hitchhikers, and trespassers. I saw a snail in the bucket but I didn’t see it again when I was assembling and planting.

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And here is the planting. This is right before I added water. I used superglue gel to glue some stems that were hard to get in the gravel or ones that shouldn’t be in gravel (java fern) onto medium rocks.

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The new best seat in the house. The first thing I notice when I walk into the living room is how loud the water filter is. The tinkling of water is soothing but loud too. It sounds like a fish tank. With the plants, I won’t be installing an air pump.

Sturdy plants coming

Today, my order of the LED light fixture arrived.  I got the Aqueon LED Modular light fixture. It’s not that bright, even with all three LED lamps installed, but I like that the LEDs are replaceable in case something burns out.  Yes – I’ve had LED bulbs burn out (in less than a year too; made in China of course).

I placed an order of aquatic plants from extraplants.com and it should arrive tomorrow or Saturday.  Here’s what’s coming:

  1. Vallisneria spiralis ‘Leopard’
  2. Ludwigia repens
  3. Rotala rotundifolia
  4. Bacopa caroliniana
  5. Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Green’
  6. Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Brazilian Pennywort)
  7. Amazon Sword
  8. Lace Java Fern (Windelov’s Fern)
  9. Hygrophila difformis
  10. Java moss
  11. Hemianthus callitrichoides ”Cuba”
  12. Marimo ball

Gosh it didn’t seem like a lot at the time, but now typing it all out, it seems like a lot.

Except for the HC Cuba, they’re all supposed to be easy to grow; good for beginners and aren’t too demanding with the light.  I’m partly counting on the fact that the tank is by a window for extra light and partly counting on the durability of these plants to “grow like weeds” even under moderate conditions.

This weekend I plan to add the plants and then start cycling the tank.

Current plan:

  • 6 Sterbai Corydoras
  • 10(?) Red cherry shrimp
  • 2 German Blue Rams (maybe)

 

 

 

Buggies

Some of the potted plants have a little bit of a gnat problem going on. After I water them, they get particularly pesky. So I went around spraying everything with a concoction I made of vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water – my shower/bathroom cleaner essentially. And I killed some of the plant stems. The philodendron stems went black and I had to cut them off and re-root them in water.
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And so did the baby spider plant. Luckily the mother spider plant survived the blasting.

So now I know. Don’t keep your soil too wet and don’t spray it with alcohol vinegar. Or this is what you’ll wind up with.
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