torsdag den 19. december 2013

Fun: My Cat fishing for fish in the Aquarium

Howdy all,
we recently acquired two kittens, and while they are fun and adorable, and all that, what really makes me alugh is when they try and get the fish through the glass fo the aquarium. they still havn't quite figured out that they won't be eating any of them anytime soon.
Here is a video of Tosca in action:

They have tried a few Shrimps and Guppies (who died when I forgot to empty a fishtrap :-/) and they ate those with great glee!

All the best,

fredag den 10. maj 2013

Aquaponic update

Hello all,
been a bit quite as the spring here in Denmark has arrived and meant that any spare time went into whipping the the garden into shape.
So how fares the experimental aquaponic system?
It is doing very well, but also a bit disappointing.
Let me explain:
The Aquaponic system is doing well, plants are growing, and the fishtank is getting adequately cleaned in the process. So that is a success:

Aquaponic, window, indoor, experiment, tomatoes, fish, aquarium,
Plenty of fresh pants, enjoying the sun and nutrient-filled water. Tomatoes, Peber, Squash, Cucumber, and some strawberries (not healthy).

Aquaponic, window, indoor, experiment, tomatoes, fish, aquarium,

So why would I be a bit disappointed?
Well, in the next window I have my little tomato plant. and the plants there looks like this:

Aquaponic, window, indoor, experiment, tomatoes, fish, aquarium,
 Twice the height. And although they get perhaps ten minutes extra of sunlight, I had supposed/hoped that the aquaponic-system would have beaten this. But apperently not.
Aquaponic, window, indoor, experiment, tomatoes, fish, aquarium,
Even the new sprouts are doing better, without the fishies help.

So, not entirely satisfied with the system. But on the bright side - the tank is getting cleaned, the plants are growing adequately, and it has been a fun experiment.

All the best,

søndag den 24. februar 2013

Wild plant growth

Hello all,
Took these pictures some time ago. We had been away for fourteen days, and this was the mildly insane plant growth that greeted me when I opened the 54 litres aquarium.

Fishtank plant growth vacation
Insane Growth

Seems the plants had been doing alright in our absence :-).

Fishtank plant growth vacation

The fish seemed to really enjoy the jungle.

All the best,

fredag den 22. februar 2013

Cheap Nano Shrimp Experiment

Hello all,
Some months ago I set up a small Nano fishtank as an experiment.We had a large unused glass flower vase and I had a surplus of Neocaridina heteropoda (Red Cherry Shrimp, RCS) and I was interested in how well they would live in an unfiltered, small container without much food.

Cheap Nano Shrimp Experiment
 As it turns out they did excellent - they got almost no food and as a consequence the Shrimptank was kept crystal clear - no algae what so ever and the shrimps kept multiplying. And they did look nice on the table and was an interesting thing to observe while eating :-).

Cheap Nano Shrimp Experiment
 They had a bit of Java Moss and an Anubias for company and to provide some oxygen for them.

Cheap Nano Shrimp Experiment

Oh well, - if you happen to agree, disagree or be madly in love with me, please leave a comment or a tip :-). It really motivates all blogowners to keep blogging!

All the best,

tirsdag den 19. februar 2013

Pterophyllum scalares snacking on cat fish pellets

Hello all,
Caught my greedy fish (two Hypseleotris compressa, and four Pterophyllum scalare) stealing the pellets intended for my Sturisoma aureum and thought I would share. At least they got some vegetables :-).

Pterophyllum scalares snacking on cat fish pellets
Culprit number 1
Hypseleotris compressa snacking on cat fish pellets
Culprit number 2

All the best,

onsdag den 6. februar 2013

Aquaponics 22: Damping off problem and solution

Hello all,
So, as the problem of my 'depressed' plants continues I sought help at one of the best forums for all things aquaponic (Backyard Aquaponics). And lo and behold, one of the nice chaps there might have identified the problem.
It seems that the issue is caused by something called "Damping off". This disease causes plants to look fine one day and the next they will be depressingly sad. Their stalk will wilt away and the plant will drop or fall over. Exactly what I've been experiencing.

Damping off - Aquaponic plants looking fine 

One day the plants will look great...

Damping off - Aquaponic plant in a sorry state, but look at those roots!

And the next they will have turned into the above example of a very sorry state of being.

So, searching the internet I've read a lot about this disease. It appears to be a umbrella term for the horticultural disease or condition caused by a range of fungi.

I've narrowed my type of evil attacker down to either Rhizoctonia solani or Pythium spp:

Rhizoctonia root rot (Rhizoctonia solani) is a fungal disease which causes damping-off of seedlings and foot rot of cuttings.  Infection occurs in warm to hot temperatures and moderate moisture levels.  The fungi is found in all natural soils and can survive indefinitely.  Infected plants often have slightly sunken lesions on the stem at or below the soil line.  Transfer of the fungi to the germination room or greenhouse is easily accomplished by using outdoor gardening tools inside or vice versa.  The germination room should not be used for mixing potting soils or transplanting seedlings as a general rule.
Pythium Root Rot (Pythium spp.) is similar to Rhizoctonia in that it causes damping-off of seedlings and foot rot of cuttings.  However, infection occurs in cool, wet, poorly-drained soils, and by overwatering.  Infection results in wet odorless rots.  When severe, the lower portion of the stem can become slimy and black.  Usually, the soft to slimy rotted outer portion of the root can be easily separated from the inner core.  Species of Pythium can survive for several years in soil and plant refuse. 

Wikipedia has this on Rhizoctonia solani
"a plant pathogenic fungus with a wide host range and worldwide distribution. This plant pathogen was discovered more than 100 years ago. Rhizoctonia solani frequently exists as thread-like growth on plants or in culture, and is considered a soil-borne pathogen. Rhizoctonia solani is best known to cause various plant diseases such as collar rot, root rot, damping off and wire stem. Rhizoctonia solani attacks its host(s) when they are in their juvenile stages of development such as seeds and seedlings, which are typically found in the soil. It makes sense then this saphrophytic pathogen would live and survive in the soil, and attack the part of its hosts that reside there. The pathogen is known to cause serious plant losses by attacking primarily the roots and lower stems of plants and although it have a wide range of hosts, their main targets are herbaceous plants. Rhizoctonia Solani would be considered a basidiomycete fungus if the teleomorph stage is abundant. and is currently not known to produce any asexual (conidia) spores although it is considered to have an asexual life cycle. Occasionally, sexual spores (basidiospores) are produced on infected plants. The disease cycle of Rhizoctonia solani is important in regards to management and control of the pathogen."

 So, I've got a nasty (and rightly feared) fungus attacking my plants. And it thrives in wet, cold poorly drained climates - a perfect discription of my growbed at the moment :-(.

There seems to be a couple of solutions (even though any type of pesticide is out of the question!) that I can try:
1) Lower the Ph of the Growbed. Bacteria and fungus dislike low levels of Ph.

2) Only plant well established seedlings. This would mean setting up a heated nursery or similar, whereby the more developed plants would be less susceptible to Damping Off.

I'll give solution number 1 a try first, as it does not involve buying anything expensive. An old and well tested way of lowering the Ph is the application of chamomile tea. This has long been known to be useful against bacteria attacks, which is due to its PH lowering abilities.
So, my plan of attack is to sow a new batch of plants, apply chamomile tea daily and see what happens. If I can detect an improvement (which should be easy) I'll carry on with this approach, and if not I'll try and set up a small heated nursery for the seedlings.

Anyways, sorry for the wall of text :-).

All the best,

mandag den 4. februar 2013

The case of the mysterious eggs solved!

Hello all,
I recently detailed the case of the mysterious eggs (re-read it here) that I was not sure whether they belonged to my Pterophyllum scalare or to one of the Marisa cornuarietis snails roaming the aquarium.

Well consider the case solved!

It was not these guys:

Pterophyllum scalare not laying eggs

Nope the culprit was indeed the Marisa snails. I caught one in the act of depositing eggs and they indeed do look identical:
Marisa cornuarietis laying eggs

Marisa cornuarietis laying eggs
In this picture it even looks like the scalare is pointing the culprit out, perhaps to get its name cleared :-)

Marisa cornuarietis laying eggs while the Pterophyllum scalare draws attention
All the best,

torsdag den 31. januar 2013

Installing a LED Moon Light in an Aquarium

Hello all,
A few years back, I bought a cheap LED Moon light system on Ebay. The reason for this was that my aquarium lamps are all set to switch off for a few hours around noon each day (where we are rarely at home). So I thought it might be nice to be able to see the fish swimming around without getting increased algae growth.
The installation was very simple, and it actually looked pretty good:

Unfortunately, the sucktion discs  wee not up to the task and after half a year they began regularly giving up and I had to pull the moon light out of the tank multiple times (it was water tight, of course).

The fish appeared to enjoy the light, swimming happily around, and it did remove some of the chock they experience when the main lights switch on.

All the best,

onsdag den 30. januar 2013

Aquaponics 21: Scud Trap

Hello all,
When I added the three small grow beds (see here for details), I also snug a small sieve under the outlet. I wanted to see how much detritus, etc was carried along the system.

Aquaponic outlet and sieve

Yesterday, when I remembered and checked the sieve, it turned out that it had acted as a great Scud (Hyalella azteca) trap. Apparently the pump carry the scuds along the system and they've survived without problems. The sieve held about twenty fat scuds.

Scud trap

I left the sieve on a shelf for ten minutes and it turns out that ten minutes is long enough to turn live scuds into delicious (if you are a fish) dried scuds.

Drying scuds in the trap

So if you do not want scuds in your tanks, just leave them in a sieve for ten minutes, and then you are set. The fish ate them with great glee. This might also be the trick to use with slow eating fish (e.g. Betta Splendens (or Siamese Fighting Fish), giving them a chance to get some healthy live food.

All the best,

tirsdag den 29. januar 2013

Video: Epiplatys annulatus and Hymenochirus boettgeri

Hello all,
Found this video of a beautiful species of killi fish I used to have. They are called Epiplatys annulatus (AKA Clown killi, Banded panchax, or Pseudo-Epiplatys annulatus) and are absolutely stunning!
I've written more on the species and how to keep them here.

In this video they are sharing their tank with Hymenochirus boettgeri (AKA Congo dwarf clawed frog or African dwarf frog), not a tank mate I would recommend in the future.

All the best,

Video: Skin eating Hymenochirus boettgeri (AKA Congo dwarf clawed frog or African dwarf frog)

Hello all,
My Hymenochirus boettgeri (African Dwarf frog) shares a habit with all other African Dwarf frogs; it eats its own skin once it has shed it. Apparently this is a great way of regaining nutricients, but it does look really weird and a bit disgusting. But also entertaining to watch it try and stuff its skin into its mouth without having useful hands. They do this every week or so, but normally they do it hidden and catching it on camera was lucky.

In the background is a puzzled male Aphyosemion australe (golden) killi, who was on a short holiday in the tank.

All the best,

Video: Aphysemion australe (Lyretail Killi) and Apple Snail (Ampullariidae)

Hello all,
Found this old video that illustrates why you shouldn't keep killi fish with fance snails.
The male Aphysemion australe (golden) is a brilliant specimen of the killi species, but as all killies he is curious and opportunistic and the eye stalks of the apple snail is just too tempting. As a result he kept nibbling them and in the end I had to put the snail in another tank. 

Apart from this incident, the Aphysemion australe killi fish remains one of my favourite fish - it always looks happy and is investigative active fish.

All the best,

Red Cherry Shrimp dropping eggs (AKA RCS, Neocaridina heteropoda)

Hello all,
As mentioned in a previous post, any new Red Cherry Shrimp (RCS) breeder will go through the following stages:
First month - why doesn't my Shrimps breed? Do they hate me? Are they dying? What Can I DO!
Second month - Wuhuu, success! They breed and they love me. I'm the best Shrimp-farmer ever!
Third month - Hmm, that is quite a lot of shrimps. I wonder what I should do...
Fourth month - AARGH! Shrimps everywhere, how do I get rid of them???

But just before stage two arrives, a peculiar thing will often happen.
A shrimp female, new to the whole egg-laying experience, will often drop her eggs. Anything can cause this - but normally it is because something startles her, causing her to flee and leaving the eggs behind. The eggs will normally be a yellowish colour and look like this:

Red Cherry Shrimp eggs
There is really nothing you can do about this, apart from trying not to startle her (e.g. do not knock on the aquarium, suddenly plunge your hand into it etc). But the good thing is that should she drop her eggs she is much less likely to do so the next time. And once they start carrying eggs around, this means the baby shrimps will shortly arrive.

All the best,

DIY exit flow pipe from aquarium pump

Hello all,
One of the first aquariums we bought was a small 54 litres (14 gallons) starter set. This included everything from heater to lamp. It was a 'no-name' system, a cheap Chinese brand called AAA.
 To be honest all parts were adequate, although everything has since been changed several times.
One thing that did annoy me was that the filter (placed on top of the tank, under the lid) did not create the desired amount of circulation in the tank.
I set about to remedy this problem and this was the result:
Behind the root in the centre, you can see the gizmo I made. It diverted the water's exit flow into the centre of the tank, creating a nice vortex.

It was covered with Java Moss and within a few weeks it was completely camouflaged.

 Here is the addition before camouflage was added:

 The pipe was bought cheap (was a leftover from another customer's purchase) at a local friendly fish shop and the largest problem was figuring out which diameter to use :-). I didn't know this at the time, but Eheim produces a range of hoses that suits almost any pump.

Anyways, just adding old stuff, so I do not forget them. Hope someone out there can use the ideas.

All the best,

mandag den 28. januar 2013

Easy way of catching shrimps II - free shrimp trap Mark II

Hello all,
I've already showed one simple type of trap that works well with catching shrimps (RCS), scuds and snails. Here is the designs for that one.
This is another type, even easier and perhaps cheaper. It works on the same principles, and the most difficult element in building one is to find a suitable stone :-). I prefer this one at the moment because it it is better at catching snails, and should a small curious fish get trapped (guppies are great at this) it is easier to liberate it.
Picture guide:
 Any type of plastic bottle is cut into two parts. A stone is put into the bottom part. The top is inserted into the bottom, tightly. And, presto, the trap is done.
 Put a few tasty morsels into the trap and within half an hour a bunch of shrimps, snails, and scuds will have colelcted inside it.

 This is after 45 minutes - at least twenty RCS shrimp, in addition to a few snails and scuds. That means it is feeding time for the larger fish :-).

All the best,

What to feed Scuds (Hyallella azteca)

Hello all,

This post will consolidate the information I have gathered with regards to what the Scuds (Hyalella azteca) will eat, and what they seem to dislike.
So far the following foods have been tried and foudn adequate by the little crustaceans' taste buds:

Fish food: Any small dust from fish food containers, or crunbled larger flakes works well.

Fruit paste: Also works - and is eaten quickly.

Dried catfish pellets: They love these, and they should be packed with the correct nutrients. I've tried pellets with only vegetable contents and some with animal parts, and both appear to work. But I would suggest only using the vegetable ones, as they seem to pollute the water much less. Instead of just throwing them into the tank, I quickly grate mine. The fine powder seems to work better with the small scuds.

Leftover vegetables: I see my Scuds as soemthing of a waste disposal unit - so whenever my kids havn't eaten something I will give it a go. This has shown that cucumbers, tomatoes, and simialr food types works very well. As they float this will allow you to quickly assess whether or not the scuds are eating and how quickly. Cucumber seems a favourite, and anything containing veegtables appears to be a winner:

What they do not seem to enjoy eating:
Duck weed (all types of Lemnaceae), any plant not in the process of degrading, snails, shrimps, or any other thing alive.

If you have a suggestion, give me a shout and I'll try throwing it into the scud containers and see what happens :-).

Aquarium plants in weird places: Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite) emersed

Hello all,
In one of my fish tanks I have an excellent 'corner filter' filtersystem. It works by having a large piece of foam where all the water is pulled through by a small powerhead. Works excellently, only needs cleaning once or twice a year, and can be camouflaged to disappear within the plants. It is in the right corner of the large image on the top of the page. Very nice filter (and quite cheap as well - I got mine from Unimati in Denmark).

Well, one of the interesting aspects of this filter is that it is raised a few centimeters above the water level. This means that there is a great place to grow emersed aquarium plantes, within the aquarium. And one day, when it was time to do some maintenance this plant had appeared:

It took me some time to identify it, especially so beacuse it looks different being emersed, than the normal specimens which are submersed. But it turns out it is a Ceratopteris thalictroides. A plant I do not otherwise have in the tank, so where it came from is a mystery :-).

Planted Tank states that it should be sued floating, but also that when it is grown emersed it will become quite sturdy: When grown emersed it will becomes sturdy with thicker stems and leaves. Growing submerged it adapt and turn into limp and softer plant. Water Sprite can be kept planted or left floating. Propagate by sending out axial shoots, forming tiny plantlets which eventually develop roots and floats away. Some sudden stress will encourage the plant propagate vigorously.
Which is also what I found to be the case. It appeared to love the intense heat and light levels just beneath the lamps.

Nice plant though, and when it grew enough to interfere with the light I planted it in one of the smaller tanks.

All the best,

Aquaponics 20: Failing at Aquaponics II

Hello all,

Things are not becoming the lush paradise I was hoping for...
Plants are growing fine, looking green and great, but only for a week or so and then they just give up on life and crumble.


One day they are fine, the next they look like the above sorry specimen.

I've compiled a list of things I think could be causing this problem:
1) lack of sunlight? It is pretty dark here, but I do not think the plants would behave this way if it was a question of light.'
2) the water level or similar - the roots are wet and, again, wouldn't they turn yellow instead, if lack of water was the problem?
3) Temperature. I guess this is what is killing my plants. At the moment we are getting temperatures of -12 degrees and even though they are inside, the window is cold and the room temperature cannot adequately combat the temperature right next to the windows (especially as the heater is below the other window..).

So would plants suffering from a cold behave the way my plants are?

All the best,

fredag den 25. januar 2013

Monster fish attacks man

Hello all,
Just saw some wonderful images I wanted to share - the very talented mr. Isley combined toy figures with reef fish and the result is stunning:

Hilarious (with great skill as well).

The collection can be seen at DailyMail, were they write:
"Jules Verne might have written the classic 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, but now one British photographer has created his own hilarious version of what a life beneath the waves might entail.
Underwater photographer, Jason Isley, 42, originally from Essex, decided to have a bit of fun for a change with some of the smaller colourful reef fish in Borneo and Indonesia.
So he got a selection of toy human figures from soldiers to sunbathers and photographed them in a set of hilarious scenes as they interacted with the fish and other sea creatures."

All the best,


onsdag den 23. januar 2013

Easy way of catching shrimps - free shrimp trap

Hello all,
As known to everyone who has ever kept Red Cherry Shrimps (RCS) or any of their cousins, the Shrimp-experience goes something like this:

First month - why doesn't my Shrimps breed? Do they hate me? Are they dying? What Can I DO!
Second month - Wuhuu, success! They breed and they love me. I'm the best Shrimp-farmer ever!
Third month - Hmm, that is quite a lot of shrimps. I wonder what I should do...
Fourth month - AARGH! Shrimps everywhere, how do I get rid of them???

True story, more or less :-).

Beautiful red cherry shrimp

In my experience, once the RCS have established themselves they breed like rats and need serious culling (i.e. the process of removing breeding animals from a group). Now I've both sold and donated a lot of shrimps to other fish-keepers and have now begun using them as a natural source of food for my larger fish. This is all fine and great, but catching the little buggers can be quite a challenge, and after ruining an aqua scape several times I decided to get sneaky!

The following is the first shrimp trap I made and it functions very well. I'll be back in a couple of days with the other, larger trap I constructed later.
Again the concept was to use what ever I had in the house and you can use anything similar to the ingredients I used.
Shrimp trap
 This is the trap: A small plastic container (cleaned, of course), with a small hole cut from the top. I siliconed a small stone to the bottom to get it to sink to the bottom and a few strings to be able to easily extract the container again.
When a bit of food is put inside the container and it is left alone the shrimp will enter the opening, but will (because, lets face it, they are stupid) be unable to get out again.

Full shrimp trap
 This is the trap after an hours submersion - at least fifty shrimps have fallen for my trap :-). And all the hungry fish were soon mightily pleased!

All the best,

Fruit paste as fish food?

Hello all,
Well, apparently fish really like fruit paste :-).
As the stuff sinks, is full of good stuff, and is often not eaten by my kids, this is really nice - no more throwing it in the trash.

All the Best,

tirsdag den 22. januar 2013

Slime mold in the Aquarium

Hello all,
I recently told the story of my experiences with marine fungus growing on a Red Moore root. This reminded me of another crazy visitor to my fishtanks (I sound like an old sailor...).
When I initially set up the large aquarium, I saw something weird after a few weeks.

After searching the net hard and far, it turns out that this visitor was not an algae or similar (which I initially thought) but a type of marine slime mold.
Apparently these are something of a mystery to everyone, but shouldn't harm the aquarium in any way. 

 Now, unfortunately for the average non-marine biologist, information on these weird growths are very difficult to get hold of. But they are neither plants, mushrooms, or alage. Instead they are thir own little box, of unrelated but similar beings, halfway between fungi and snail-like creatures. The various types of slime molds can be seen here on this thourough German homepage: (that states it describes 'Die fabelhafte Welt der Schleimpilze' :-)). Schleimpilze, I guess that translates into Slime-sausages....
Oh, and they move. Each morning the thing would have shifted across the aquarium to a new location. Quite fascinating!
I had, through a friend who is a marine biologist, set up a meeting with a Dane who happens to know something about these molds, but it took so long that the thing had disappeared by then. I have not seen it in over a year, and I fear it died or was sucked into the pump or something similar.

Shame, I would have loved to find out which type it was.

Slime molds are best known from the study that proved that a single species might have casued ill-effects on Eel Grass (i.e. "Labyrinthula sp., a marine slime mold producing the symptoms of wasting disease in eelgrass, Zostera marina", by Muehlstein, Porter, & Short), a study that is available online (

According to their abstract they state that "Coastal ecosystems along the eastern United States are presently threatened by a recurrence of the wasting disease of eelgrass, Zostera marina L. Using Koch's postulates, a species of the marine slime mold, Labyrinthula, is identified as the causal microorganism of this disease. Our disease tests for pathogenicity performed on eelgrass, using four Labyrinthula spp., indicate only one species produces the disease symptoms identical to those found associated with the wasting disease. The pathogenic Labyrinthula sp. has morphological characteristics that distinguish it from the other three species. Identification of Labyrinthula spp. is difficult because species described in the literature are not clearly characterized or identifiable. Tests at various salinities demonstrate that disease symptoms appear infrequently at salinities of 10%. or less."

 Also these videos by Princeton's John Bonner show just how amazing slime molds are:

 Cool stuff!

All the best,

White Growth on Red Moore roots? Causes and a quick fix

Hello all,
was just reminded of one of my first "wtf"-moments of keeping fish. I had bought an expensive piece of 'driftwood', called Red Moore roots (AKA Spiderwood) and was thoroughly enjoying it.

The root, seconds before the fungus attack .-)

And then this weird, white growth appeared and crawled all over my pretty decoration.
Nasty, I thought and began panicking.
Today I know better and would love to share this with all of you :-).

Apparently whenever a root that has been boiled or similarly treated is inserted into an aquarium, a species of marine fungus will take this as their chance to prosper. And when they prosper, they grow large enoguh that we can see the resulting white fussy and fluffy growth.
And good luck searching for the scientific name of this species of fungus. Each type of wood has its own particular species of marine fungus. And as marine fungi are among the worst investigated lifeforms on Earth, theres quite a good chance we shall never know the name of the redmoore eating fungus.

Well, this is the easy part. If you are not in a hurry, then just let it be. Once your aquarium gets better established the inherent bacteria will triumph. Growing much quicker than the fungus, they will soon conqour the spot and eat the easily available nutrients that the root is leaking.
If you are in a hurry (or find the growth disgusting), all shrimps love the fungus, and quite a few catfish (and other types of fish) will also eat the growth. So either way nothing bad will happen - either it will disappear on its own, or it will provide free food for your aquarium :-).

This qoute (from an old defunct homepage) sates the above in better English :-):
About Fungus

Sometimes when an enthusiast brings driftwood home, the temptation to boil it before adding it to their aquarium becomes too great to ignore. When they do this, they sterilize the wood and leave it vulnerable to fungal colonization. If this happens, do not panic! Two things to note:

1. This fungus is harmless to both fish and plants. In fact, many fish will seek it out to eat it. Yes, it looks unplesant but boiling the driftwood again and again to get rid of it is futile. This just restarts the cycle of colonization.

2. This fungus is temporary. Once the natural bacteria in your aquarium have a chance to get a foothold, they will colonize the driftwood and out compete the fungus. The fungus will then seem to disappear; almost overnight.

All the best,
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