Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kribensis Babies! (Continued)

Only one fry has survived from my Kribs' first batch of babies.  The sole survivor is very healthy, constantly active by foraging for food in the algae growing over rocks and the glass, and I love watching the parents protect him.  The Kribensis certainly are fierce in guarding their young from other fish.

Here are photos from days 15 to 24.
 Day 15

 Day 17

 Day 22

Day 24

You can see the fry developing in days 1 through 12 here http://aquascapingart.blogspot.com/2011/07/kribensis-babies.html

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I added some new bulbs to the Oceania tank.  I tossed in a few aponogeton bulbs, an onion bulb, and a water lily bulb that came in a Top Fin "Betta Bulb" pack from Petsmart for about $3.00.  Here the onion bulb (wedged between some driftwood to discourage it from floating) seems to have extended it's sprout a little bit.  I also added fertilizer for the first time yesterday, one cap-full of Seachem Flourish, and increased the lighting by turning on another 15 Watt CFL.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Two Random Photos of my American Riverbank tank

 The blue Moon Platy is checking out his new home.  Banana Plant and Parrotsfeather are attached to the wooden stump.  Sago is growing in the bottom right corner and background, and Duckweed, Hornwort, and another Parrotsfeather are floating in the top right creating a "mossy forest" sort of feeling.  I like that.

A wild guppy forages for bits of flake food.   This is also a fairly good look at Parrotsfeather growing upright from the substrate at right.  All of this Parrotsfeather is beginning to grow new offshoots and little white roots.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Finally, I Managed to Capture True Rainbowfish Color!

This is why Rainbowfish are awesome!

Designing my American Riverbank Tank

I began by collecting the materials I wanted in my tank.  Rock, wood, twigs, laterite, sand, and gravel.  I used these to "sketch" out a rough design and for brainstorming an overall look and functional layout within the tank.

With the design in front of me I cut a piece of mat board to fit the back of the aquarium and applied a warm, yellowish brown gradient of acrylic paint that closely matched some of the colors in the gravel, rock and wood.  This will be the backdrop for the tank and was inspired by photos I looked at while researching the Rio Negro.  I am considering making this a "black water" tank by using gardening peat in the filter to stain the water a brownish color.

Next I emptied the tank and placed it on the stand before checking for level.

I then used masking tape to mark where I wanted the major features of the tank to go.

After attaching the background I went to work on the substrate by mixing laterite and sand together while being sure to keep it's highest point towards the back corner of the tank below the bottom layer of masking tape.

Next I stacked my rocks to create something akin to a riverbank setting.

Next came the wood and twigs that I was hoping would simulate roots.  This wood has not been saturated with water and has a tendency to float so I used the twigs to wedge it into place.

I then removed the tape and sprinkled a layer of river gravel across the rocks and laterite to give a natural and slightly more uniform appearance to the entire tank.

Kribensis Babies!!!

I was lucky enough to have my adolescent Kribensis pair spawn a small brood of fry.  There were initially five and now there is only one left but that is typical for young fish parents.  Here are the babies from day 1 to day 12 (I skipped many days in between)

Day 1

Day 2


Day 7

Day 12

The fry have been fed a mixture of crushed flake and frozen baby brine shrimp.  Thanks for the tips Mike!  I think I'll name this one after you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Bit Like Noahs Ark

One night, while sitting in front of my 75 gallon tank, watching my Kribensis and Australian Rainbows and Black Skirt Tetras, I began to realize that I was collecting fish from around the globe.  The Tetras originate from South America, the Kribensis from Africa and the Australian Rainbows....well Australia of course.

I found myself fascinated with the idea of making an aquarium that represents all the Continents of the world with fish.  As I watched them swim I began to calculate how to go about achieving varied colors in my tank while including male and female pairs of peaceful fish from every continent.

Recent reading had led me to become interested in Boesemani Rainbows and I learned that they were native to New Guinea.  Depending on your definition of continent and geo-political interpretations, Boesemani Rainbows could be from Asia or Australia.  Cool.  Lets buy some.

Not All "Agressive" Fish Are Agressive

One day as I was browsing a local fish store I was struck by the iridescent glow of green, and purple contrasting against a bright orange on some strange little fish hiding below a piece of driftwood.  The simple word, "Wow!" escaped my throat as I peered in at the tiny little fish I had never seen before.

Quickly I researched these little fish labeled as "Kribensis" and discovered they are a type of African Cichlid.  My heart began to sink as I recalled all my previous research about cichlids which are typically aggressive fish and therefore poor tankmates for my peaceful Tetras and Australian Rainbows.  However, sometimes it pays to research a little deeper.  Upon more reading I began to uncover reports of people successfully keeping Kribensis, otherwise known as Dwarf Rainbow Cichlids, in peaceful community aquariums such as mine.  As it turns out, these "aggressive fish" are actually fairly shy so I bought two babies, one male and one female, and brought them home for my tank.

Rainbows Under Water

After some time and plenty more research, I decided to add two Australian Rainbows to the tank.  Photographs never do these active little fish justice.  When they swim they flash purples, greens, and blues but in photographs they always tend to appear gray or white.  Nevertheless, these two fish quickly became my favorites.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Moving Beyond Goldfish

I knew I wanted to create a planted tank with fish that had every color of the rainbow.  What I didn't know was which fish species would live happily together.  As a result, I spent many hours researching fish and learning that fish are labeled as "peaceful", "semi-aggressive", and "aggressive" and that peaceful fish should never be mixed with aggressive fish.  So, sometime in the late summer of 2010 I cautiously decided to move beyond goldfish and try some blackskirt tetras which I still have today.  As you can see in the photograph I also began adding plants.  In this photo you can see banana plants, amazon sword, java moss, anachris, wisteria, and hornwort.  The wisteria would not grow.  Everything else still inhabits my tank today.

Must have more!

For a little while I really enjoyed this simple setup but eventually I wanted a more lush "underwater jungle" with lots of colorful fish.  These Shubunkin now live in my little backyard pond.

My Fascination With Aquascaping Begins

This is how my 75 gallon tank started. A handful of Shubunkin Goldfish and a few plants.  

When I was a child I kept a goldfish for years in a little 20 gallon tank on my chest of drawers.  Twenty years later I found myself again keeping goldfish but wanting something more than a pet swimming around on my chest of drawers.  I wanted the aquarium to be a relaxing focal point for my living room but had no idea how to make that happen.  All I knew was I wanted some fish in a setting that was relaxing to look at.  

Using the internet and some advice from a friend, I did some research on how to set up a fishtank and stumbled across a fascinating new word...."aquascaping"...Wow!  What a cool concept!  It's like landscaping a garden, but for the aquarium.

After much research about the basics of aquascaping, I began planning my tank.  I decided that I wanted the focal point to be a high mound in the substrate about 3/8 from the left side.  I went to the local fish store, bought some plants I knew little about, found some limestone rock and arranged my tank accordingly.