Post 23, in which I’m pretty handy

I’m back!

I got out of the habit of posting, and it just kind of spiraled into two months of no posts. I took plenty of pictures of the tank, thinking “Oh, this will be good in a blog post!” and then never got around to actually making the post.

The tank has come a long way. I finally caved in and set up a CO2 diffusion system, which is something I had thought about for a long time but was apprehensive as I was concerned about how difficult (and expensive) it might be. In reality, I already had about half the supplies necessary and was able to get everything else on sale from Drs. Foster and Smith. I picked up a 5-lb. CO2 tank from a local welding supply company and spent an hour or so with a friend of ours getting it set up. After fiddling with the regulator for about three days, it’s been working flawlessly ever since. There is an obvious difference in the plants; they grew way out of control and had to be seriously trimmed back. In the future I’m hoping to start selling the trimmings to other aquarists, though this last batch just got disposed of.

The CO2 diffuser with the bristlenose attached to the airline tubing:
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And the surface of the tank water after a month-ish of CO2:

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On a slightly different note, while I haven’t seen the assassin snails in action killing other snails, I have seen them in “other” types of action. The pest snail population certainly seems much lower now, so I don’t doubt they’re doing their job, but any time they’re visible, they’re usually getting to know each other. Below is another CO2 diffuser shot, this time with a couple of assassins hanging out on it:

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As far as the fish inhabitants, the Bolivian Ram I talked about in my last post did die, leaving a single Bolivian Ram assumed to be male. Of the four angelfish I got in Nashville, two appeared to be suffering from poor breeding. Despite good water husbandry and ample, varied, nutritious food, two of them simply didn’t grow and eventually passed away. Meanwhile, the other two have more than doubled in size. I suspect I have a male/female pair, as the past week to two weeks they’ve started demonstrating some mating behaviors – particularly facing off and lip-locking. I think they’re still too juvenile to move on to actually cleaning a surface to lay eggs on, but I would guess they’re working up to it. The male is a koi-type angelfish and has been named Clamps due to his spastic, obnoxious personality. His presumed mate is Nori. Here they are facing off:

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The single Bolivian Ram didn’t remain single too terribly long. By pure dumb luck, I came across three Bolivian Rams at the local PetSmart. Two of them were in pretty sad shape with sunken bellies, but one was very vigorous with beautiful, healthy coloration. I couldn’t pass him up, so he got added to the tank. Since any fish I’ve had die have died well past the quarantine period, I didn’t bother putting him through the quarantine tank first. I figured he would have a better chance of remaining healthy in the big tank with places to hide, stable water parameters, and a stable temperature. So far he seems to be doing really well. He hangs around the bigger Bolivian Ram some, though occasionally the bigger one will give chase. I think he has enough room and enough places to hide that he’ll be fine.

Isn’t he pretty?

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For size comparison, here’s the two Rams together:

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The cory cats continue to thrive and provide entertainment with their various formations. I was concerned initially about getting cory cats, as I had never used Black Diamond Blasting Sand as a substrate. Some aquarists claim that BDBS can be too abrasive for cories and wear down their barbels. I’ve happily found that this is not the case, and the cories all have long, healthy barbels, and are very active.

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The betta is now named Demitri, and the FloraMax in his tank has been great for growing water wisteria. His tank is also looking a little overgrown at the moment, and I need to take an algae scraper to it, but here’s an FTS anyway:

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The spiderwood’s still in there, it’s just engulfed in wisteria.

In non-fish tank news, Jazz got taken to the vet spur-of-the-moment last week when she started having this bizarre rhythmic jerking in her right hind leg. It resolved after twenty minutes or so, but as Hampton and I were getting ready to go out of town, we decided a vet visit was wise anyway. Long story short, the vet felt something in her knee (this is the knee that had the ACL rupture almost four years ago) had locked up, and the jerking was her effort to fix it. The vet encouraged us to try a different COX-inhibitor, which we are very shy to do given that both Rimadyl and Deramaxx gave her awful diarrhea. We did have labs drawn just to be sure it wasn’t a calcium deficiency causing muscle cramps and/or spasms, and it turns out her calcium is just a hair low, so we’ll be starting calcium supplementation for her. Here she is with her little purple compression bandage after getting her blood drawn:

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And, for comical relief, this photo of Ellie picking the perfect place to poo:

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In non-critter news, we spent a Saturday redoing our porch, and it is absolutely adorable if I do say so myself. World Market was having a 50% off sale all outdoor decor and furniture, so we got a couple more chairs and some hanging lights. We also got an area rug, and I DIY’d a plain wooden box from Lowe’s with some paint to make a cute little plant stand. I re-planted my Gold Tooth Aloe in a bigger pot and tied it to a bamboo stick to help support it. I’ve been fertilizing once every week to two weeks with succulent food, and both the Gold Tooth Aloe and the Aloe Vera plant seem to be responding really well to it. I also got a couple small succulents to go in the aloe plants’ old pots.

My DIY’d plant stand with a quote from Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh:

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And the whole porch, which I have thus far been unable to enjoy as much as I would like, as I typically get no fewer than three mosquito bites if I try to spend any time out there at all.

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Even a Citronella candle didn’t ward off the mosquitoes (for me, anyway). We plan on hanging a bug zapper and buying some of those little insect repellent fans.

And last, but not least, a FTS of the 125-gallon! This is my first time trying to take a picture of it with my iPhone’s built-in panorama feature. Oh, and I finally have the lights’ timers working, so the fish now have a gradual 15-minute “sunrise” around noon, and a 15-minute “sunset” around 9 PM. The CO2 diffuser is also on a timer so that it only runs when the lights are on.

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