Friday, July 2, 2010

Tank Acclimation Follow Up: Secrets of Benificial Bacteria

This is a follow up post to Tank Acclimation Phase I.
From the National Science Foundation posted today June 30, 2010 excerpt:
Bonnie Bassler spends her days listening to bacteria talk to one another, and what she has overheard may surprise you.
It turns out that these tiny, single-celled organisms are taking roll call. Each whispered conversation is an attempt to count how many of their own kind are present before they try to mount an attack on their host organism, which might very well be your body.
As Bassler explains it, bacteria "are too small to have an impact on the environment if they simply act as individuals." What they lack in size, though, they make up for in numbers.
And . . . ?  Well if you are interested in cultivating beneficial bacteria in your aquarium's filter to balance the nutrients in the water column, this article may be of interest to you.  It is the beneficial bacteria cultivated during tank cycling that does the heavy lifting in the balancing of your aquarium's biosphere.  Thanks to Ms. Bassler and the National Science Foundation for the additional insight.
[Read the rest of the NSF article]

Monday, June 14, 2010

White Cloud Mountain Minnow - one tough fish!

My intention was to construct a second moss wall to span the whole of the planted tank. As I was reviewing the situation I noticed there were only two fish in the 10g:view, Huh?

Two Neon Tetras and . . . no White Cloud Mountain minnows? What happened to five fish, overnight? Vanished, *poof* - gone. I also noticed an unusual amount of protein on the water column surface. Hmmmm . . .
Should have checked the filter as soon as I noticed missing fish.  
Ohhhhhhh, there they are, trapped under the filter basket.

I swapped the Aqua Clear 30 from the Shrimparium to the planted with the intention of making the 10g planted into the shrimparium due to the moss walls. Somehow all five WCMm's got sucked into the filter through the hole in the intake drilled for the DIY CO2. Nice.

All five are missing dorsal fins, most are missing all or part of their soft dorsal, one is missing pectorals. One has half a tail, very streamlined.

I dropped all five into the aquarium fully prepared for the possibility the Neon Tetras would make lunch and dinner out of the injured fish.  It appears the Tetras missed their shoaling pals; they seem not to have noticed the fish are injured. All five White Cloud Mountain minnows are swimming around as if nothing unusual has happened.

So on with the plans . . .

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Follow Up: Bed Bug Detection, low tech

For those who are skeptical about DIYCO2 rigs attracting bed bugs, we have a little vid backing our claim in the form of a Bed Bug Detector.  This product is designed to attract bed bugs in apartments, houses or rooms suspected of being infested.

It uses the same method as a DIYCO2 rig; however instead of running the air hose to your tanks, you run it to a little tray designed to trap bed bugs for confirmation of infestation.  The manufacturers are still testing but we already know it will work.  Our leaking CO2 rig was the beacon that put out the welcome mat in our previously clean apartment.  It took about six months for our apartment to become infested after beginning to use a DIYCO2 rig, in a building that already had a problem.

We should note, we have no financial arrangements with the company or Jeff White.  We came across his product review in a forum we belong to while researching.  Without further adieu, we give you the Bed Bug Detection system {aka a very familiar rig}

Bed Bug Detection.

We also admit to getting a hearty laugh because we have had some skeptics poo-poo the theory of CO2 injection having anything to do with our infestation.  We stand vindicated; by the bug-guys and now Jeff, White.  Thanks Jeff.

Link to original post: May 16, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

CO2 Use in Aquariums and Bed Bugs

     We promised We would document our tank experiences honestly; the good, the bad and now the very ugly.
Standard disclaimer:  we are not scientists, we do not pretend to be.  We are keen observers of cause and effect, enabling us to draw conclusions.  Our conclusions herewith were confirmed by the professional bug-guys.
     By now most everyone who listens to a radio or watches TV is aware that there is a rise in bed bug infestations in the States.  Hotels in New York city were the first to be reported upon a few years ago and now apartment buildings and single family homes in both urban and suburban areas have been infested.  The major reason cited for the rise in bed bug infestations is the discontinuation of the use of DDT, for sound reasons.  However, bed bug infestations are one of the unplanned for consequences.

     So, you might be wondering what that has to do with the aquarium hobby. 
     Plenty if you are injecting CO2; both the DIY and the cylinder versions.

     We had found a long-lasting combination recipe using a two 2L bottle rig.  We had found a way to eliminate leaks in the form of our brine-shrimp hatchery caps.  We were getting great CO2 distribution for a solid three weeks before having to replace a  bottle solution.  Life was good, plants were pearling even under reduced lighting, fish were not distressed.  The couch was moved right next to the fish-rack to allow an up close and personal view of all the hard work, weeks of research and buckets of ducats spent.

     Then the bite marks started showing up.

     It seems our apartment building has had an infestation for some while.  Somehow our apartment was never an attractive place for the voracious little beasties to investigate, until we began juicing our aquariums with DIY CO2.

     The first thing the bug-guys said was; "Move the couch away from your tanks."  The second thing they could have said, was not necessary.  Now we go completely low-tech.
All broad-leaf and moderate to low light plants.
     NO CO2 of any kind.

     Next we get to have a clear-out in preparation for the bug-guys.
Every exposed shelving unit must be cleared, except for the one where the tanks actually sit.  The closet shelf must be cleared, the clothes must be washed in 180F water and sealed in plastic bins.  All the furniture must be moved away from the walls.  Everything that can be put in storage, must be put in storage, sealed.  You can be sure I will be throwing a lot of stuff out just to avoid having to deal with it.  All the fabric I have collected for rag rugs will go, the yarn is in plastic bags.  It will be sealed in more bins with diatomaceous earth on the bottom of the bins.  All the bedding has already been thrown out and the bed removed despite the fact that neither showed any signs of being infested.  Sleeping on the couch is a habit that I am glad I did not break.  I have super easy to clean modular furniture which sits 18" off the floor and has no skirting for the beasties to climb up.

     The bug-guys have to come out and treat the apartment three times before it will be reasonable to presume the beasties are d.e.a.d.  So pretty much the whole summer the apartment will be empty, my loom will not be warped for use and I will be living in my work out clothes, sleeping with my pants tucked into socks and hands wrapped to prevent them from getting to my arms..

     Bed bug infestation is not due to poor housekeeping.
It is due to one thing; bed bugs are attracted to CO2, and they eat one thing - blood.
They hide in the walls, carpets, cloth furniture, wall sockets, heating and cooling duct work, cracks, crevices and crannies.  You almost never see them because they are nocturnal.

Some people have used diatomaceous earth as a dusting everywhere on the floors to kill the bugs; however inhaling diatomaceous earth is as bad for your lungs as it is for the bugs.  So you have been warned.

Reference Links:  NYC Landlords may have to disclose bed bug infestations to potential renters going back five years.

Harvard School of Public Health  "Repeated exposures to bed bug bites during a period of several weeks or more causes people to become sensitized to the saliva of these bugs; additional bites may then result in mild to intense allergic responses."  However, bed bugs are not known to carry any diseases like mosquitoes do.

Treating the bites:

And yes, there are forums and message boards:

Please consider the expense of new mattresses, bedding, bed-bug proof mattress bags, exterminators, clothing, shoes, antihistamines and sanity.  Proceed with caution.
Link to Follow-Up, May 22, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mods and Updates

This post is not a full how-to on DIYCO2 rigs.  There are plenty of forums guides and web pages to tell you how to and why.  If you want the blow by blow on DIYCO2 we invite you to read the Aquatic Plant Central thread with pictures and explanations, not unlike Alice's Restaurant.  We are concerned here with a couple of simple mods and the actual liquid solution we found most efficient to date.

Now that we have our brine shrimp hatchery caps on the DIYCO2 2L bottles, we finally drilled the water intake of the filter and inserted the outflow from our CO2 into the intake.  This modification serves two purposes; first it delivers CO2 to the impeller which then breaks up the bubbles, dissolving them before returning the filtered water to the tank.  Second, the filter intake serves as a bubble counter.  We are able to see the drop off of bubbling and better monitor changing the DIYCO2 solutions.  The more completely dissolved the CO2 is in the water, the more available carbon dioxide there is for plant use.  The only bubbles you want floating to the surface are the micro-fine oxygen bubbles plants exhale.

For those of us who do not want to invest in an injected CO2 rig, this solution works well for a ten gallon aquarium.  Our DIYCO2 rig sports two 2L bottles; one with long lasting jello solution and one with the standard mix.  The bottles were changed out at week and a half intervals.  Now we can monitor the drop off of CO2 in each solution more precisely.  We may get a full two weeks out of each bottle using these two modifications.

These are the solutions we use:

Long Lasting Jello Solution

1 2L soda bottle and a funnel
1 pkg unflavored gelatin
1c sugar
1 tsp yeast

Into 2c hot water dissolve 1c sugarand 1pkg unflavored geletin, pour into a shallow pan, refrigerate until set
Slice jello into strips 1/2" or less wide, turn pan slice again, the smaller the cubes the easier they go through the funnel into the bottle, when the cubes get stuck, use a skewer or knitting needle to force them through the neck of the funnel

Pour 1pkg yeast into 2L bottle, then fill with water to where the curve of the bottle starts, do not overfill.  Cap, insert air hose, shake a gently to help distribute the yeast. You may see the solution begin reacting right away or it may take 1/2hr to 1hr to begin reacting. 

If your solution begins to react vigorously and bubbles into the airline hose you can remove the cap, wait until the reaction slows; some place a check valve on the airline hose to prevent solution from entering the tank and tank water from back washing into the hose.   
Using a longer air line hose and making a service loop will also keep the solution from entering the tank and vice versa.  Some employ an intermediary bottle of plain water to serve the same purpose.  Run the CO2 line from the 2L bottle into a smaller, airtight container of plain water, then run another hose from the smaller container to your tank.
{hose from CO2 must be in the plain water, hose from the water to the aquarium must not be in the plain water}
I find these steps unnecessary; we place our solution above our tanks allowing the downward pressure of the CO2 to do the job of the check valve.

The regular DIYCO2 solution:

2L bottle with airline from cap long enough to enter your tank filter or other diffusion device.
2c hot water, to this add 1c sugar, dissolve
1 tsp yeast

The method is essentially the same; dissolve the sugar in very warm water, let cool to tepid
Pour sugar solution into 2L bottle, add yeast, fill with water to bend in bottle.  Never put yeast into hot water, you will kill it.  Yeast is most active between 86F and 100F.  Do Not Overfill.
Cap and position for use with your aquarium.  This solution will produce CO2 for 2-3 weeks.  You can pour off some of the solution after a week and replace the water plus a teaspoon of sugar, lowering the alcohol content and supplying fresh food for the yeast.  If you do this, add the sugar first, then slowly add the water.  It will fizz up like champagne, so do it in the sink.

Our Jello solution was made five days ago, it is still putting out 3-5 bubbles per second.

One last note about getting the CO2 into the aquarium water; the Hagen AquaClear Aquarium Filter
has a little hole next to where the intake pipe attaches to the filter, your airline hose will fit into this hole if you thread the top of the AquaClear onto the airline hose first.  Do not force the airline hose, it only needs to go in far enough for the friction to hold it in place.  Make sure your filter is primed and running when you insert the hose; if the filter is not running, the impeller will sometimes not start when you turn the filter on.   The opening slot in the top of the AquaClear is just wide enough to accommodate both the knob on the top of the intake and airline hose.  It will be a snug fit.
This method eliminates the need to drill a hole further down the intake tube, as we did in the shot above.  We have one AquaClear filter with the drilled intake above and one with airline hose fed directly into the impeller box.  There is no discernible difference in performance between the two methods.

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions.  Below is a list of video clips showing various methods of rigging your DIYC02.  We have not tried all the rigs, we concentrated on finding the most efficient liquid solution to produce CO2.

Quick Directions:
The Full Explanation: part 1 of 2, we love this kid.  He did a really good job teaching.
Pt 2, The Diffuser:  have we said we love this kid?
Alternative Bottle w/Better Seal?

As always thanks for reading.  Comments and questions are always welcome.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Weedy Mess, again

We are supposed to learn from our mistake; it is said a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

Not having learned from the weedy mess of a failed attempt at cultivating Ludwigia Needle Leaf; we again have a weedy mess in the form of poorly anchored Cabomba and Didiplis diandra, disintegrating at half the rate the Ludwigia had.

The 10g:redux never really was rescaped when the new plant shipment came in;  getting that moss wall started in the 10g:view was time sensitive.   Sorry about the soft focus on some of these  shots.                                                                                

The planting in this tank does not look all that dense however all the taller plants ended up in the mid-ground. 
The Cambomba will be moved to the back of the tank, the Giant Hairgrass is all but gone.

The Cabomba grew tall but did not branch due to lack of
pruning.  As a result, it ended up making a canopy across the
top of the aquarium, competing with our patch of floating Riccia.

The moss wall has a start however we reserved quite a bit in case of disaster and hung it in a mesh bag.  The moss wall is not growing through, perhaps moving the plants out of the way and laying it down so that the fronds grow toward the light will help speed things along.

In the meantime the silicone holding the airline into the caps of the DIY CO2 bottles tends to work it's way loose after a month or two.  So a solution that does not involve stinking up the apartment every other month had to be found.

The cap on the right is a Brine Shrimp breeding cap.  For size comparison, the cap on the right is a standard US 2L soda bottle cap.  As you might guess; a perfect fit with no leaks.  The brine shrimp cap can be purchased on ebay [here].

While cleaning out the bottles, we discovered after two weeks, this DIYCO2 jello based solution still had jello solids in the bottom.


Just for fun, we poured off the excess alcohol/water mixture from two weeks of CO2 production.  Before we could finish preparing a new sugar solution, the leftover yeast became active and started processing the newly exposed jello.

Back in the 10g:redux, we can see around the tank again.  The Aponogeton is still alive and sending up leaves; we had given it up for dormant.  There is one strand of Giant Hairgrass and the Dwarf Hairgrass has been removed from the pots, as much rockwool as possible was removed and it was planted in the right front corner and the left front corner.

There is quite a bit of Cobomba left in the champagne bucket to be replanted on the back wall.  It grew roots from the center of the stems down into the substrate so, it will be topped and shoved gently placed into the substrate.

The strange, dark looking thing on the left is a DIY filter sock.  It was fabricated of a thin layer of filter fiber between two layers of net tulle.  It serves as a pre-filter, should we ever have livestock offspring again, they will not end up sucked into the filter.  Cleaning this little sock is pretty simple, pull it off the intake, run it under water from the tap, replace it.  If we catch it every time it looks dirty, as it does in this shot, it keeps a lot of gunk out of our filter and acts to breed some beneficial bacteria as well.

That is it for today.  When the second tank refills, we will post some night shots, without the annoying glare on the glass.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mail Order Shrimp, Snails & Heat Packs; A cautionary tale.

As mentioned previously, there was another Olive
and another Tiger on their way along with some
plant and Amanos.

I tried a new supplier because I wanted to see
if I could consolidate shipping cost by finding a
supplier who had all the items I wanted for this
shipment. I am unhappy.

I ordered 5 Amanos and two Tiger Nerites from the
new supplier. I received a notice after purchase that
the supplier was moving to a new location but by then
I had already put in a second order for another Tiger
and another Olive nerite plus a plant order. Due to the
suppliers notice that shipping would be delayed, I
immediately requested the orders be combined
and set a specific date before which I could not take
delivery. Any time after was fine. They got that
part half right, the delivery date.

They did not combine my orders, had they my Amanos
could have ridden along with my Riccia or another plant.
The Amanos arrived D.O.A. within 36-48 hrs of leaving
the facility. Whomever their supplier is for heat packs,
the supplier puts out a good product. Maybe too good.
The interior of the box was warm, maybe 80-85 and I
could smell fishy-ness before removing the insulating
newspaper. I did not think anything of it, could have
been spilled tank water.

The Amanos were in dirty water, with duckweed, no plant
of any kind. They were already salmon colored and
deteriorating. Had they survived, all were adults,
not a single juvenile. I took pictures and sent
an email notification immediately. No response.

The two Tiger nerites as noted previously arrived live,
were in clean bags both times and are
munching their way around the tank.

The next day the plants, second Olive and third Tiger arrived.
Tiger was D.O.A., Olive was pond snail size but alive.
The Riccia portion was in a little cup, all the water
having spilled into the package. Doubtful this will
survive either.

I will never order from this supplier again. Not solely because
I am out for shipping on two orders, the cost of five Amanos
and a Tiger nerite but because to date, the supplier has
not acknowledged either email. I am conflicted as to
whether I should name this supplier at this point.
The "vengeance is mine" part of me has no problem outing
a bad business practice. However, I do not know what
sort of issues the human being on the other end of this
transaction has. Would this other human being make good
in some other way, this transaction if he knew it has gone
sour in my book? And how long do I wait patiently for
an email acknowledging my dissatisfaction?

Pondering ethics, lack of shrimp and world peace . . .

Editor's Note: I just checked the date of the announcement
for the supplier's shipment of Amanos; seems I ordered
on the day of the announcement. In this case I must ask
myself and the supplier; "Did you quarantine these Amano
Shrimp before offering them for sale?"

Seems not.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Algae Crew

In the ongoing effort to battle algae, we noted
we moved the fish-rack and reduced the photo-period.
Now we are adding Nerite snails in the 10g:view;
the tank with the worst problems.

This is our Olive Nerite, or rather our 'eggplant' nerite as you can see.  He/She has
been in the tank for about ten days and has been busy munching his/her way through the algae on the glass and banana plant.  Not in an orderly way we note but
the job is getting done.

Yesterday two Tiger Nerites arrived to assist.  They slid out of the fish bag, piggyback.  Safety in numbers.  Once out of the bag they went their separate ways to avoid the hunter b. splendens who could care less for a change.  Both found something interesting to do in short order as you will see.

One made it's way to the back of the tank, post haste.  This one found the Radican Marble Queen to be a comfortable place to rest and then was off on it's own journey.  Both have been seen sampling on the glass in the last ten or so hours.
 One more Olive and a Tiger are on their way to join their mates, shortly.
There are new plants in the shrimparium, received a week or so ago.  However, due to an out of town convention, no shots are available at this time.  Updates to come when the new livestock arrives in the next two or three days.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fish Village Update

The recent algae outbreak forced a decision to move the whole fish rack again.  The rack is now no longer in front of the windows.  The flooding of direct sunlight and the shop light T8 tubes, even with a reduced photo period to seven hours per day, was just too much light.  The photo period has been raised again to nine hours per day.  There is still some residual algae on the lower part of the aquarium glass near the substrate.  This can be easily managed by the addition of some Olive and Tiger nerite snails.

The move caused a significant White Cloud Mountain minnow fry die-off.  This was totally our fault.  There was not enough water left in the tanks as we moved them.  Sad about the loss of fry and will be more careful in the future.  So the remaining population are all at least 1/4" to 3/4" long and there are four in the 10g:redux Shrimparium, four in the 10g:view planted tank, plus the three original parents in the 10g:view.  Not bad for our first fry, especially since they were totally unplanned for.  We also lost one of the three neon tetras.  Not sure why, it died two days after the move.

The nice surprise just after the new year was two berried American glass shrimp as we posted earlier.  They have been moved to a five gallon aquarium with one male.  They survived the move, seem not to have dropped any eggs, having been in the five gallon aquarium for a week now.  They are due to hatch shrimplets anywhere in the next week or two as best as we can figure.  This is very exciting as these are the babies we actually wanted.

A new camera is wending its way to us but it may be as much as two weeks before it arrives therefore; no pictures at this time.