Updates on the Planted and Guppy Tanks

Some photo and video updates on both the 3ft Planted Tank and the 2ft Guppy Tank:

Planted Tank

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 Guppy Tank

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Green Water, Go Away

Did a small 20% water change last night, in an attempt to assist in the Green Water eradication. The condition of the water seems to have improved over the past day, with the water getting clearer. Hope this will mean a closure to the Green Water, and to start beaming lights for the plants to excel.

19-Oct-07: Green Water infested tank. Actual view was very blurry and could hardly see the plants at the back.

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21-Oct-07: The water seemed to be clearer now, though it was still visibly greenish in colour.

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23-Oct-07: The greenish look of the water is almost gone; almost back to the original crystal clear water.

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Thanks to a visitor’s advice, we will not increase the photoperiod drastically yet. Right now, we are running on a 6-hour photoperiod. So when the Green Water appears to be clearing off, we will increase the photoperiod by about 2 more hours daily, till we reach the 10-hour mark. Our previous 12-hour photoperiod seems to be too much for our tank, so we are staying with 10-hour.

As for the weakened filter, we will make do with it now, as long as it continues to do its job of keeping the tank clean. I may or may not go down to Qian Hu for some filter maintenance work over the weekend.

Snails are still a bit of nuisance, appearing in different sizes now and then, especially on the driftwood where the Riccia are residing. They seem to adore Riccia a lot. By manually crushing their shells, I manage to get rid of 5 to 6 snails daily. Though not very optimistic, I hope at least their population will be kept in control.

Green Water’s Solution: Water Changes?

The Green Water problem is still in our planted tank, although visually it appears a little clearer now. Hopefully it aren’t our eyes playing tricks on us.

However, in an attempt to speed up the elimination of the Green Water, we were thinking of making a water change, hoping that we can get rid of the algae by taking them out of the tank.

Meanwhile, I did a search on the Net and found quite a number of articles that voted against using water change as a counter against Green Water. Here are the excerpts from some of the articles:

(Source: http://fins.actwin.com/aquatic-plants/month.200406/msg00130.html)

“I found large water changes did nothing for my green water.  It turns out, I wasn’t dosing enough traces… Also, I believe I read that large water changes are actually BENEFICIAL to green water, as you are more than likely to introduce more spores into the tank… I fought with green water for almost 3 months.  Water changes and filtering
did nothing.  Fixing my nutrients did.”

(Source: http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/maintenance1/p/greenwater.htm)

“Water changes will reduce green water temporarily, but will not eliminate it. Completely blocking out all light for three days or more is very effective. The use of a diatomic filter will remove the suspended algae. If daphnia are available, they will quickly eat the microscopic algae, then in turn be eaten by the fish.”

On a lighter note, we are also relieved to know this:

“Green water is usually due to either a significant excess of light (particularly direct sunlight), or a major water quality problem. Although it may look terrible, it is not toxic to fish.”

Reading from these articles, and some others not listed here, although water change is a not necessary for the Green Water to go off, making a partial water change should still be okay,,,

Green Water, Weak Filter

Over the past few days, the water is appearing dirtier and greener than before. There are debris (tiny broken leaves etc) floating in the water, and the tank has a blurry, greenish effect.

Cat and I were wondering if it’s a Green Water issue, and I did a check on the Web. There sure are quite a number of sites dealing with the Green Water; looks like it’s a common thing amongst aquarists.

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For instance, in this site, it recommends providing adequate CO2 or add in more fast-growing plants to compete for the nutrients from the algae (named Volvox) which is causing the problem. It also recommends lowering the amount of liquid fertiliser for the coming weeks.

Besides the excess nutrients, I believe the Green Water was caused by the poor water circulation too. Our EHEIM cannister filter (ECCO 2233) has been getting weaker as of late, and the filtration in our tank appears to be pretty inadequate.

I’ve checked the hoses, pipes etc for blockages but none was found. I had also recently cleaned the filter media to rid of debris but that didn’t help much too.

Last night, after reading some advices from the forum, I opened up the impeller of the filter, and cleaned the internal parts of it. Also tested the power of the filter by placing the powerhead in a pail of water. Water will come gushing out of the outlet pipe, and it felt rather strong, though by the time the power of the waters was to be transferred to the other end of the hose (i.e. to our aquarium), the water current would have become pretty weak.

Indeed, although the water outlet felt a little bit stronger, it was still quite a far cry on how it felt weeks before. I doubt it would be powerful enough to provide adequate water circulation to our 3ft tank. Looks like I might have to bring it down to Qian Hu this weekend for maintenance.

When I went to take out the warranty card for the filter, I was shocked to see that the date of purchase was written as ’09/01/06′! I’m very sure we bought it only this year (we only started this hobby this year), and the salesperson must have written the date wrongly! (we didn’t check during then too)

Hopefully with our official receipt still intact, people from Qian Hu (or the EHEIM staff for that matter) will believe our story and provide the maintenance for free.

Snails are… Inevitable

I remembered I was in a local planted tank forum lately, and someone commented that ‘no matter how much you do, these snails will always be able to find some way in’. At that time, we have just completed revamping the tank, went through a thorough snail eradication and inspection process (see The Huge Revamp Begins! and Cleaning of Filter).

I was very confident that 100% of the snails have been eradicated, though I still constantly inspect the tank for any snail movments.

Things were peaceful then, till one day I found a snail hanging on the rubber suction of the CO2 inlet (Snail Found! and Snail Egg Found!). That overthrew the confidence I had, though I told myself this would only be an isolated case.

Unfortunately, things did not end there, as I located more and more snails (young and adult) loitering in the tank, especially at the Riccia region. They seemed to adore Riccia a lot.

The only thing I could do was to manually remove them as I spotted them, though on one occassion, I clamped onto a snail too hard (using pincers) and it broke into pieces. It was unintentional and gave me a big shock. Cat was just beside me, and she was shocked as well.

From then on, although I will try my best to capture the snails alive, most of the time they were already dead when I brought them to the surface. Apparently this species of snails has a very soft and delicate shell (I call then soft-shell snails, inspired by soft-shell crabs).

So, although my guilt still pricked me some time, I had to be harsh as these were considered pests and eyesores for our tank. As long as they are rather small in size, or situated at hard-to-reach places (e.g. behind the nettings for Riccia), I will use the pincers to squeeze them, killing them.

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Fishes and Plants Updates

Since his arrival, our Siamese Algae Eater (SAE) has been doing fine, busying himself swimming around swiftly and munching on the algae he can find.

Although he does frequent those fragile plants such as the HC, I seldomg see him uproot anything. He is large in size, but delicate at the same time. That is how we came out with the name ‘Big Friendly Giant’ (BFG in short) for him. 🙂

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The other fishes are living peacefully (except for occassionally chasing between the Guppy males) and seem to be enjoying their lives in the tank. Here’s a clip of them rushing for the sinking pellet:

Regarding the plants, most of them appear to be doing well now, with the increase of CO2 input and dosing of liquid fertilisers. Despite a recent outbreak of Green Hair and Spot Algae, I have continued with the 12-hour 4 x 39 Watt T5H0 daily. I believed in eradicating the source of the algae problem, instead of reducing the lights etc.

By introducing more nutrients and CO2 for the plants, now the plants are healthier while countering the growth of the algae. Also with the help of our BFG, the 4 Otos and our 6 Corys, the algae problem appears to be contained for most parts. I will still have to perform regular cleanup of the walls using a scraper (and my fingernails) though.

The Riccia are pearling nicely every night, and growth has been encouraging. I understand that I need to trim the Riccia regularly to ensure the leaves below continue to get adequate light to prevent them from rotting and thus causing the entire plant to float to the surface. So far, they appear to be doing fine so no pruning has been performed on them yet.

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The HC is starting to look good too, with more and more new green leaves growing above the withering leaves. I can’t say for sure that everything will be smooth sailing from here on though, as a proper fertilising regime still needs to be followed and monitored.

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I will be performing a water change tonight, to clear off the excess nutrients and harmful substances, before dosing liquid fertilisers into the tank.

Newest Member – SAE

While looking for ways to reduce/prevent the growth of the Green Hair Algae, I came across forum threads that mentioned about the usefulness of the Siamese Algae Eaters (SAE in short) for such purpose. Otos, on the other hand, usually ignore the hair algae, eating only the green spot algae and the diatoms.

So I started to search for information about the SAEs, and came across this site. On this website, it mentions the physical appearance of the ‘true’ SAE, and compares it with that with other fishes that look the same at first look.

Reading stories that LFSes do confuse the true SAE from the other fishes, or even passing off fake SAE as the real ones, I read the tips of identifying the true SAE carefully, and even printed out a copy.

Just before I knocked off from work, I made calls to several of the LFSes in the neighbourhood, and only the one at Yishun was having the stock. I have read that SAE are quite rare as they are seasonal fishes, so I was thinking I was lucky to be able to locate a LFS nearby who has the fish.

And so I went down to the LFS, and upon reaching there, I was directed to a tank full of fishes. Indeed, on a casual look, all the fishes looked similar. But having the physical description of the true SAE deep in my head, I quickly recognised the lone fish which fitted that description. All other fishes were belonging to the other species.

Wanting to confirm, and also perhaps to test the professionalism of the LFS owners, I asked if they could guide me to find the true SAE. To my slight amazement, one of the ladies simply said all the fishes in the tank were SAE. Taken slightly aback, I re-confirmed with her and maybe she saw the papers that I was holding in my hands, she re-iterated that those smaller ones were known as flying fox etc.

Trying to think on the bright side, perhaps she had thought I was just a casual shopper and didn’t want to waste her time and effort helping me.

Anyway, I spent some more time alone reconfirming that that lone fish was indeed a true SAE, and after I am sure, I started to net him out. It was tough trying to catch him as he swam very swiftly and was always dodging my net. Very smart and agile.

Bringing him back home, he looked really nervous, always ducking aggressively in the plastic bag. After floating the bag for 30 minutes to let him get used to the water temperature, I cut open the bag and poured all the water into a small container, before netting him out to place him into the tank.

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I was quite worried at first, seeing him staying motionlessly at the bottom of the tank, and the gills moving very rapidly. Fortunately in a short while later, he started to swim around and started ‘saying hello’ to the other inhabitants in the tank.

Welcome to our community tank, our newest SAE member!