Archive | April, 2012

Updates on Zebra Danios, Firemouth Cichlids and Turtle eggs.

30 Apr

It’s been chilly around here but it finally warmed up late this afternoon.

The turtles are out basking:

See how green the water is? I can’t see the goldfish or Rosy Red Minnows. I know one reason why the pond is so green:

Those white globs near the water aren’t turtle eggs. They are globs of poo from a bird known as a Grackle. The Grackles are big , black, glossy beautiful birds but when they breed they keep their nest clean by picking up poo and carrying it to a body of water and dropping it in. The pond is getting over-fertilized. Our birdbath also gets very messy with Grackle poo.

But let me tell you about the 5 turtle eggs! I uncovered them for the first time since I put them in my little almost-homemade incubator. The first egg I uncovered was shriveled, and nearly bent in half. I thought , Oh No what have I done! Too dry? But no, it’s mildly damp and warm in there. The other four eggs are looking full and healthy. It’s possible we will have baby turtles within a month!

This is the egg that is not developing.

I think there's a baby turtle in this one.

I finally saw the baby Firemouth Cichlids tonight but could not get a photo. The babies are being herded on the bottom of the tank behind the rock in this picture. I wonder how many there are. It looks like 30 or 40 , maybe 50. I suppose I need to remove them as soon as they become unmanageable to the parents.

The baby Zebra Danios became “free-swimming” today. That means instead of being little tiny slivers that hug the glass, they are actually out swimming around looking for food. It’s impossible to see much in this video but I think there are approximately 50 babies.

Spawning the Zebra Danio, post #4

27 Apr

The Zebra Danios were hatching yesterday.
The best way I can describe them is to say this:
Picture the smallest glass sliver you can imagine. No, smaller than that. Keep trying…YES , you got it. Tiny, huh??? That’s a baby Zebra Danio.
Now, a day later, they are still tiny but have a darker coloration. They are not “free-swimming” yet, they lay on the bottom absorbing the remaining nutrition from the egg sac.
I grabbed a bucket of “green water” from my turtle pond. That is algae-rich water, which will also contain many “animacules”, small plankton-like creatures that the baby fish can feed on. I let the green water warm up and I have been adding a few cupfuls during the evening while I am home. After a few days of this I will get a brine-shrimp culture going.
You may not have turtle pond to gather green water (why not?) so I will post information about the feeding of very small egg-laying fish. I am referring to “infusoria”, again, VERY small animal life that very small fishes can feed on.
Here’s a pic of a few baby Zebra Danios. I have NO IDEA how many hatched. I saw the parents munching away at their own eggs so there may not be very many, but that’s OK. I am not trying to get rich by raising Zebra Danios.

Look along the silicone sealer to see three baby Zebras.

Perfect day at the Wapsi

25 Apr

What is the Wapsi? It’s a river. Short for Wapsipinicon. In Iowa. USA.

Thirty miles straight north of me my canoe is chained to a tree at my Aunt’s cabin.  The cabin was built in the 1940’s by my great-grandfather.

I loaded up my fishing poles, plenty of beer, and my loyal Golden Retriever, Mya.

Mya is 9 years old but we only got her last Fall and I am betting she has never been in a canoe before. This called for some on-shore training before we started.

I placed a rug on the floor of the canoe so she wouldn’t slip. I helped her in and out a few times, like getting her into a bathtub.
Still I was unsure. The water is cold and the river is up and moving. For one person in a 17-foot canoe this might not be the best idea.

It looks peaceful but the current is strong and steady. If she were to leap out while we were in the main channel things could go bad very fast.
We eased into the canoe. She curled up tight against the bottom. I talked to Mya and petted her. In seconds we were out on the river and I decided to head directly into a backwater channel instead of fighting the current.
That turned out to be a great decision. In summer this backwater becomes mucky and stagnant but now the water is high and flowing through, connecting all these little places that can’t be reached any other time of year.
Right off the bat, TURTLES!

…and a beaver. And geese.
I paddled to shore. Mya stepped out calmly and began exploring. I set up the fishing poles, one with a worm on the bottom, one with a worm dangling under a bobber. My theory was that this might be a good fish hang-out. The water is deep, as much as 10 feet in spots, and the bottom is covered in dead tree branches and logs.

I left the bail open on the fishing reels in case something grabbed the bait. A good sized catfish or turtle would pull the whole thing into the water if I weren’t careful. Turns out I didn’t need to worry. No bites.
I brought Mya a baggie of dogfood but she was too busy with other things. I ate a sandwich and drank several beers. On the third beer my imagination had wandered back to a time when my Dad and his brother would have taken a john-boat right through this very backwater passage where I was sitting. It was about 60 years ago and it wasn’t in black-and-white. It was just as green and clear as it was on this day.

Another Spring-time ritual is Houby-hunting. That is, mushrooming. Mya and I wandered away from the fishing poles and into the woods. I spent about an hour combing through piles of dead leaves alongside the old downed trees. I saw lots of Fungi but no Morel mushrooms. I am the world’s worst mushroom hunter, I swear.

I should train Mya to sniff out mushrooms. Is that possible?

I am about like a dog, I suppose, sniffing about all over the place.
Here’s a Green Frog. (not just a green-colored frog, it’s name is the Green Frog, you would think they could have been a little more creative)

..and here’s a ferny-leafed plant that I liked. I need to find out what it is.

…and this group of Whirli-gig beetles. They are an aquatic beetle that swarms on the water’s surface. They swim in circles, and can dive underwater and even fly. I love the way some of these guys are sitting on a stick. Don’t they look like miniature turtles on a log?

Spaulding, is that you?!?!??

You can see the little stick-bobber floating under the tree branch. I craftily casted my line right over the branch. If a fish pulled on it I would see the tree leaves shaking.

You don’t believe I can cast that well? Me either.

More turtles! They were everywhere. Sometimes I could look in all directions and see them. Some were wary, others not so much. They are Western Painted Turtles.

We hopped back into the canoe. Mya was acting like an old pro. I headed for a frog pond that normally can’t be reached by boat. We maneuvered through the trees in about a foot of water. The Everglades with no Alligators.

A small flock of ducks exploded out of nowhere. They were Blue-Winged Teal.

I picked up some native Hornwort. I will put it in my 30 gallon pond. The store-bought stuff always burns out in the sunny location of the pond. I ‘ll be very interested to see if this does better.

See how Mya is starting to snooze.

Here’s a piece of driftwood that might look good in an aquarium:

We found a nice little sandbar that is also impossible to reach later in the year. I have tried. As we approached I saw a big Softshell Turtle slip into the water. We got onshore. There were goose tracks in the sand, there were deer tracks, and there were broad drag marks  where an animal had gone from the backwater to a smaller pool of water. A big turtle? Or a beaver. There was a thicket of small Willows and many freshly -cut branches laying in the water.
Mya was really enjoying the experience now. She started venturing deeper into the water.

I found a stick and she got all excited, just like when I get her Frisbee at home.
We were a mile from civilization but it felt like 1000.

Here’s a Leopard Frog, and the Chorus Frogs were calling loudly.

Strangely, at this same location I saw a large dead tadpole underwater and also this dead frog. Did they just die for some reason, or were they killed by an animal that does not eat frogs? In other words, would the Geese kill them but not eat them?

We left the sandbar and I decided to take a shortcut:

Ooops, cold wet feet for both of us.

One more turtle pic as we left the backwater. I must have seen 50 of them.

And that’s my last picture. I thought I had a fully-charged camera battery but I did not. From the very beginning of the day I had “low battery” making me limit my photos.
We had spent about 4 or 5 hours in the backwaters. After packing my gear back into the car I settled onto the couch of the cabin. More beer, some cheese (smoked Gouda) and crackers, some dog food and a dish of water for Mya. She fell asleep on a floor rug. I watched an episode of MASH. One of my kids just read “the stranger” by Albert Camus, so I read a couple chapters. It was getting late.

We went outside and out to the boat dock. I just sat in a chair watching the river go by. I saw greenish-brown water with waves of light blue. I saw those 2 colors.  Monet would have seen 10 more.
I spent a half-hour on the dock, the sun going down, thinking this was the best day I had ever spent on the Wapsi. No fish, no mushrooms, and maybe that led me to see other things just as interesting.
How could this day have been any better?  Picture this:
Six beers, maybe 7. The water pump is set on a concrete pad poured in September of 1947. Little indentations, little footprints . My Dad, 6 years old. I reach down and touch every one of those little toe prints, because I can, because Mya won’t ask me why.

Firemouth Cichlid update

25 Apr

The Firemouth eggs are all gone from the piece of wood where they were laid. I see no sign of babies except by watching the adult behavior. The female is now guarding a rock cave. She goes in and hovers, waving her body, clearly aerating her little ones. At least that is my opinion, I can’t see any more than that.

I have been leaving a dim light on near this tank through the night and will continue to do so. I also feed the other fish in the tank frequently and AWAY from the Firemouths. The Firemouths swim right over and eat quickly, then head back to work.

Spawning the Zebra Danio, post #3

25 Apr

The male Zebra Danio was relentless, chasing the female to exhaustion. She tried to escape him and went down below the grid that I had placed in the tank.

The male followed her under there and I thought, Oh heck, these Zebras have outsmarted me and are feasting on their eggs. I grabbed another handful of Hornwort and dropped it in the tank, hoping to save some eggs which I had not actually seen at that point.

About 11am yesterday morning I removed  both fish (I had to remove the grid so I could catch them) into a small community tank. They did spawn. There are eggs. With all that Hornwort in there the water is not circulating too well, and the end of the tank that is furthest from the heater felt cool, so I have dropped in an additional airline right under the heater.

Now it is just wait and see. Are they fertile? How many?

Small clear eggs. Compare to the size of the airline. VERY tiny. Plus all the crud that fell out of the plants makes them difficult to distinguish.

Tadpoles moving outdoors

23 Apr

Here’s a clip of the toad tadpoles going into my 30 gallon pond. I intend this little pond to be a temporary home for them.

The video shows me dumping a bucketful of tadpoles.

There were TWO buckets!!

Green-Spotted Puffers need special care

23 Apr

Those fat little Puffers are so cute, aren’t they?  I know it! I just had to get one last year.

There is a lot that you should know about keeping a Green-Spotted Puffer, or GSP, and I highly recommend you search other websites about them BEFORE you buy one.

Two very important things are to keep the Puffer in brackish water (that’s salty water but not as salty as the Ocean) and also to have a supply of snails as a food item. The snails keep their beak trimmed down.

Please, don’t buy one until you are ready. I’m afraid they are dying in captivity by the thousands and thousands every year.

Here’s mine eating some pond snails earlier today:

Don’t shave your Corydoras whiskers

23 Apr

I noticed that one of my Juii Corydoras has lost his whiskers, properly called barbels. Other Corys in the same tank seem to be fine.

A Corydoras Catfish can wear down his barbels by digging around for food. Even though the gravel in this tank looks smooth I have read that just pushing and pushing into the gravel can eventually wear down the whiskers.

This picture shows my little Julii Cory on the left with eroded barbels. The one on the right looks normal.

Sand is the referred substrate for Corydoras and I do use it in a few of my tanks. It’s cheap to buy Playsand at a Home Depot, Menards, Lowe’s type-store. So much cheaper than buying Aquarium Gravel.

I’m going to tear down this tank and put sand on the bottom. It seems to me that sand can be abrasive, too, but the idea is that when the Cory pushes on it, the sand moves.

Another pic of healthy barbels. Big gravel in this tank doesn't seem to be a problem but I will keep an eye on my Corys.

Corys also need clean water. Do your water changes. If the barbels are damaged and the fish lives in dirty, bacteria-laden water it could eventually kill it. I am very guilty of being slack about this. After seeing my little Julii Cory with no barbels I am vowing to try harder.

Spawning the Zebra Danio, post #2

22 Apr

A friend (Mrs. D) has a 29 gallon tank with about 10 Zebras Danios. I asked her if I could borrow a few of her fish for a week or so.

Catching these fish was comical. It was also pathetic. Mr. D and I tried to catch the fish using fairly small nets, plus Mr. D’s net had a big hole in it.  Amazingly, he was able to catch the two males I wanted, whereas I caught the fat egg-laden female. This 5 minute task only took an hour or so.

I felt bad that the tank was tore up so badly. We had to remove rocks and plants, and generally made a mess of it. I mumbled something brilliant like “It’s good for a tank to get stirred up a bit now and then.”

Mr. and Mrs. D's nice-looking 29 gallon tank, before I arrived. Near the surface you can see the Zebra female carrying eggs.

The female is by herself, for now,  in a 10 gallon tank with only a heater and an airline. If we get any babies I’ll get a sponge filter going in there right away.

On the bottom of the tank I put a piece of plastic “light diffuser”, something that can purchased at a hardware store or place like Home Depot. I have the diffuser raised off of the bottom of the tank about half an inch.  Zebra Danios are egg scatterers so we expect that many eggs will fall through the plastic onto the bottom of the tank.

That’s also why I have the water level at about 4 or 5 inches. If the tank was full and they started scattering eggs, the parents would eat many eggs as they sank. Even with this setup lots of eggs will get eaten.  I added  some plants to encourage the Zebras to feel that this is a good place to spawn.

This momma Zebra has been through a lot this past day. She looks almost miserable to me, she is so full of eggs. I would normally wait a few days and let her get comfortable in the breeding tank but I just have a feeling that she needs to pop, so I may put in a male tomorrow morning.

Baby Red Swordtails

22 Apr

A few weeks ago I had a female Red Swordtail in a 10 gallon tank where she could have her first brood of babies. She is a young fish and I was not expecting very many little ones. Well, then came the “toad rescue” and the toad eggs, and I left the momma Swordtail with the toad eggs.  This tank of a gazillion tadpoles now has some baby Swordtails in it. I have only counted four but you can get a colony of Swordtails going from just a few fish. I’m thrilled to see these four and hope to move them outdoors after it warms to the point where my little pond stays above 70F degrees.

"Are we gonna turn into frogs, too?"