The Unfortunate Oto

We have bought an Oto several weeks back to be placed into the Goldfish tank so that it can help to clean up the brown algae (diatoms) that was starting to build up in the tank. To our surprise, the tank was clean and white within a day!

Just as we thought that would be the end of the story, we discovered the Oto was trapped in the ornamental plant that we have placed in the tank. Initially, I thought he was simply resting admist the fake plant, so did not pay too much attention on that.

It was until a few days later, when I started noticing that algae was starting to form up again, and the Oto was still at the exact same position! It was then I quickly helped to relieve him from the plant he was stucked in.

Unfortunately, the poor soul’s lower body seemed to be distorted from the prolonged stress of staying in the same position, and had difficulty swimming properly.

Afraid that he might be bullied by the goldfishes, we quickly netted him out and placed him in a quarantine tank, hoping that he would recover soon. Unfortunately they did not occur as he was found dead the next morning.

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It was only recently that an Albino Corydoras had died in the main tank because of being trapped in the Riccia nettings, and now another tragedy occurred.

The ornamental plant was also removed from the Goldfish tank for cleaning, though no concrete plans have yet been made on what to do next, whether we were to place another Oto into the tank.

After a day or so, I decided to transfer one of the Otos in the Guppy Tank (there were two) into the Goldfish tank, as the algae started growing again.

It was only until a few days back when I decided to take the old ornamental bridge, which was removed from the Main tank a couple of months ago during the big revamp. Having kept dry for so many months, any algae residing on it should already have died.

Now with the bridge in the Goldfish tank, the Oto will have a place to rest and hide, and more algae for him to consume. The overall tank’s appearance has also improved significantly. Most importantly, there’s no longer the worries of the Oto getting stucked.

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Snails vs Loaches

It has been several weeks since we first added plants to the Guppy Tank to beautify the scenery. I have checked thoroughly that no snail nor their egg will get through my inspection, before placing them into the tank.

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Yet once again, these snails somehow managed to slip through my inspection, and signs of snails started appearing in the tank. At first, I spotted a few medium sized snails, which I immediately removed from the tank. A few more appeared, and I continued to pick them out the tank manually. There was no way so many snails of this size would have passed my eyes, so either they were very tiny then and had grew very fast, or they were all born from an egg that I’ve overseen.

Although I had a bad feeling after that, I didn’t expect the worst to happen — several very small snails were spotted on the walls of the tank! This meant that a horde of second generation snails had already surfaced, and it would be very hard to eliminate them now, as likely a large number of them had already spawned.

The thought of getting some Dwarf Chain Loaches immediately came to my mind. We had three of them in our main Planted Tank (see Dwarf Loach – Botia Sidthimunki) and since then, it was evident that the number of snails had gone down, even though I had stopped manually crushing or removing them. Though we have never witnessed the snail-eating by the loaches, the drop in numbers was already indicative of their capabilities.

As such, I went down to Qian Hu again, and bought another three loaches at S$3.00 each. I then placed them into the Guppy Tank after floating the bag on the surface for 30 minutes. They looked nervous but settled down pretty quickly thereafter. As for the snail-eating process, they would probably take a while to get used to the environment completely before starting on their feasts.

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At night, I noticed some black brush algae growing on one of the bridge ornaments, and so I took it out, wanted to manually scrub them away. I washed the bridge using a sprinkler and let the waters fall into a small scoop. I looked at the ‘debris’ that fell into the scoop:

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…And realised that there were actually snails! And lots of them!

They were small in size and would be barely noticeable. That was probably how the snails got into the Guppy Tank in the first place, given their small sizes that was virtually undetectable by the naked eye.

Now let’s hope the loaches will help us do the rest…

Pregnant Mum & Daughter

Since a few weeks back, we have placed one of Pretty’s daughters into the main planted tank. She was hand-picked from the many other female guppies in the Guppy Tank, as she was the fastest growing fish there. Her pleasant appearance of course added to her chance of being chosen too.

Until recently, I’ve noticed the dark gravid spot at her abdomen region, and it is to be a sign of pregancy. With several nice looking male guppies in the planted tank too, I wonder who will be the unborn fries’ dad?

Meanwhile, Pretty appears to be pregnant too, so it’s kinda interesting that both mum and daughter might be giving birth at around the same time.

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Unlike in the past, we will not explicitly net them out into hospital tanks for delivery, as this might stress the fish. Also, we already have an abundant amount of young guppies so we will let nature decides who will be the fittest who will get to be transferred to the Guppy Tank.

With rather thick vegetation in our planted tank, the newborns should stand quite a good chance surviving in the tank unaided anyway. Furthermore with our fishes well-fed, their survival chances are upped too.

Lessons on Green Water

It was just slightly more than a month ago that our planted tank was facing recurring cases of Green Water (see Green Water, Go Away).

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Although it would not do harm to the fishes, it was cosmetically disturbing and also reduced the amount of light that could penetrate through the waters for the plants. Reading up various websites, the short term solution that I could come out was to reduce the number of hours of light daily, and also make some partial changes of water. The dosage of the liquid fertiliser was also reduced.

It did work after a few days, only to have the Green Water coming back on us again soon after.

I then came across a website which mentioned that Green Water was not a case of over-nutrition, but of an under-nutrition issue for the plants. Reading this, and also coming across another website about recommendated liquid fertiliser dosages, I managed to come out with my own custom-made solution to combat Green Water and stamp them out of our tank for good.

Before I could met out the balanced dosage of nutritions for our tank, the first thing was to reduce the photo period from 12 hours to 10 hours daily. Thereafter, instead of dosing the liquid fertilisers at one go once every week, I distributed the dosing to once every other day. My dosing regiment now is 1/2 teaspoon of Phosphorus followed by 1/2 teaspoon of the mixed liquid fertiliser I bought (see Phosphate Fertiliser).

Phosphorus was added as a surplus as I have read that the presence of Green Dot Algae of the glass walls could be due to a deficiency of Phosphorus in the water.

So far, more than a month has past and since I followed the new fertiliser regiment, our waters have consistently been very clear. No more Green Water for us now.

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The next issue I have to tackle would be the unwanted pond snails…

Driftwood, Death, Dismantle

It all started when we noticed one of our leopard corydoras was very interested in a particular spot at the driftwood on the left of our planted tank. Upon closer observation, we then realised it was a dead fish stucked in the nettings on the driftwood!

One of our albino corydoras has been missing for a few days already, and now we finally found him, though unfortunately it was far too late by the time we saw his dead body.

Besides feeling upset, the next thing was to decide how we could remove him, as he was stucked in the tight nettings that we have tied to the driftwood for the Riccia. Riccia is a rootless, floating plant which must be held down using nets etc on the driftwood to ensure it can grow nicely out of the net.

As the Riccia had been growing out of the nets, and most have broken apart beyond them, I decided to re-net both driftwoods again, though it was going to be a time-consuming task.

I lifted the driftwoods our one by one, removed all the nettings, and then placed the Riccia that I found either on the driftwoods or floating in our tank onto the driftwoods, before placing and tightening the nets on them. This time, I have added more attention on some of the protruding parts of the driftwoods to place the Riccia on them too. I believe this will make the driftwood stand out even more.

After that, the driftwoods were placed back into the tank in their original positions:

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When I was pouring the dirty water of the second piece of driftwood from the pail, I noticed a fish swimming inside and was quick enough to stop the pouring immediately. I soon discovered it to be one of the Dwarf Loaches that we just bought yesterday! That really gave me a shock but I’m glad it managed to stuck itself on the pail to prevent itself from being poured away.

I then netted it up and placed it back to our tank. He still appeared kinda shocked (which fish wouldn’t be after such an ordeal?). Hopefully he will return to its calm state again soon.

Dwarf Loach – Botia Sidthimunki

Went down to Qian Hu this afternoon in search for Zebra Loach (Botia Striata) to help keep the snail population in check, but unfortunately they did not have any stock of them.

Fortunately, we found an alternative — Dwarf Loach, also known as Botia Sidthimunki. It is the smallest loach in the Botiine loach group and is very peaceful in nature. A minimum of 3 must be kept as they love company of their own species, thus we have bought three of them, worried that getting too many of them will exceed our tank’s bio load.

Here’s a comparison of how small each of these Dwarf Loaches are, when swimming alongside with a Corydoras and SAE:

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Though new to the tank, they seemed to have assimilated pretty quickly into our community tank, most of the time seen at the foreground and swimming casually together. They even enjoyed a game or two of ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’:

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Tanks Updates

Just recently did a major trimming session for the main planted tank; removed all the HC in the foreground as they did not seem to be growing well, especially at the presence of our SAE, who seemed to cause the plants to uproot with its frequent barrowing.

All the plants were also trimmed as they were growing very quickly. This was how it looked after the trimming:

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Snails were still a problem though they appeared to be under control. Currently considering getting a few Zebra Loaches to help eliminate the snails totally. They are known to eat snails, peaceful in nature and yet don’t grow too large in size (max. 4 inches). Had a hard time finding them in the LFS though, so will be trying Qian Hu next.

As for the Guppy Tank, plants have been added since the last update, as the tank sure looks a lot nicer with the addition of the flora. Water Violet, the plant that was added in, appeared to be growing pretty strong despite the lack of liquid fertilisers and CO2. Root Monsters were added beneath the substrate though.

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Though I’ve checked carefully for traces of snails before placing the plants in, it appeared that they have once again infiltrated the tank. I have located about five snails so far, and have manually eliminated them. Hopefully that would be the last of them…

Here’s some photo shots of the two tanks:

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