Archive | June, 2012

On Greenish Pond is not a good movie title

29 Jun

I have mentioned this before but as the year goes by it seems even more evident. Having plants in an outdoor pond keeps the water much clearer and healthier.
In my big pond the turtles would eat any aquatic vegetation so the water becomes green with algae. I have a 500 gallon-per-hour (GPH) pump running on the pond but the filter won’t take out such small particles of algae.

In the little 30-gallon pond, all I have for filtration is a sponge filter connected to a small air pump. There are about 40 little Zebra Danios in there.

I imagine the big pond filled with Water Lilies and Water Hyacinth, Parrot’s Feather, and Water Lettuce, but it just won’t work with turtles, and that is the case if you are thinking about a Koi pond. They eat almost all vegetation, they get huge, and take massive filtering systems.

Living with Wasps

29 Jun

Wasps are attracted to my ponds. They come to drink when it gets hot and dry. This week it is expected to be over 90F every day. When I start seeing too many wasps I know right where to go. They make their nests in the nooks and crannies of my deck.
I grab a big screwdriver and just rattle it around in the right places and the nests fall out.

Here’s a little one:

Here’s a bigger one and this got the adults riled up a bit, but it’s no big deal unless you are allergic to a Wasp sting, then it’s no joke.

So this method keeps the population down without trying to kill them all off. Plus, no other insects are harmed, and no frogs/toads or birds eat a poisoned bug. I’ve never been stung by a Wasp, I can sit out on the deck and if a few Wasps are there, I ignore them and they ignore me.
Here are some flowers on the deck.

More Angelfish eggs

29 Jun

This time I was ready. When the Silver Angels spawned I had a little tank prepared with clean water, an air pump, the right temperature, and some Methylene Blue as a fungus inhibitor.

Here it is:

The eggs are on the plastic filter tube that was in the 55 gallon aquarium. I don’t need a heater in this tank, I am keeping the room about 80F degrees. (which is not too hard since it is 97F outside)

Bad turtle news, some more bad turtle news and some good turtle news.

28 Jun

I came home from work 2 days ago and found little baby turtle #4 was dead. He was in the “incubator” in paper towels.
The previous night we had visitors and I did handle the baby turtle, taking him outdoors and showing them his yolk sac. Most curious, when I found him dead, the paper towels were quite dry. When I changed paper towels every day, I would moisten them with water from a spray bottle. I didn’t get them wet enough and I wonder if the towels were wicking moisture away from his body.
I took a couple photos of him but decided they are just sad, and decided not to post any.
The second bad news is that, since the incubator is now open, I wanted to dig up the egg clutch that was laid on May 7. They have been underground in the turtle enclosure, protected from large predators by some wire. I gathered some digging tools, in particular a couple of spoons so I could dig very carefully.
Here is what I found:

Five eggs were completely destroyed. They were crawling with insects. Sow bugs, worms and slugs all over them! Gross. I found one good egg and one egg that looked good but is quite sunken on the bottom.
If I had found these eggs to be healthy I was going to leave the batch laid a few days ago in the ground, but I didn’t not want the same fate to befall those eggs so I dug them up.

Sadly, I broke one egg, but recovered four good-looking eggs.
In the “incubator” I have 6 eggs.

So far this summer the momma Red-ear has laid three clutches of eggs.
First clutch: 5 eggs total, one not fertile, 4 hatched, one prematurely opened by me. 3 survivors.
Second clutch: 7 eggs total. 5 clearly destroyed. One healthy egg, one questionable.
Third clutch: 5 eggs total. One accidentally broken by me, 4 healthy looking so far.
I am finding out that raising baby turtles can be heart-breaking, but it’s worth it don’t you think?

TURTLES… and rain.

24 Jun

The smallest baby Red-ear Slider is doing well. I am keeping his damp paper towel nest as clean as possible. I am pretending that I work in a zoo, as opposed to other extremely lucky and talented people who really DO work in a zoo!

See how much egg yolk he has to absorb? Maybe he will be ready to join the others in a week or so.

It has been a very dry month, but we got a pretty good storm last night. It rained 9/10ths of an inch of rain and one-tenth of an inch of Japanese Beetles. I always wondered where they came from.

The rain may have triggered the big momma Red-ear Slider to lay eggs…again! Here she is just a few minutes ago. The ground is nice and soft and it is about 85F, very humid.

What happens when aquarium keepers go fishing

22 Jun

A friend of mine is just as crazy as I am about fish tanks and other exotic pets. I called him this morning and asked if he would go up to the Wapsi River with me for some canoeing, exploring, and fishing.
As we were unloading our gear we saw a Northern Water Snake hanging along the edge of the boat dock. Across the river I could see a big Softshell Turtle basking on a log.

We canoed into the backwaters of the river and saw several Western Painted Turtles. When we got WAY back into the backwaters the water was still and clear. Frogs were jumping everywhere, and under water we could see huge Bullfrog tadpoles. We noticed two varieties of aquatic plants, Hornwort and Anacharis, and collected a little for our home tanks.
One of my main goals for the day was to find some interesting driftwood to use in my 55 gallon aquarium that will house the baby Red-eared Sliders.
It was fun to canoe in the backwaters. We had to duck under branches and maneuver the canoe around big tree trunks. We saw a Great Blue Heron and some small ducks. Big Carp would swirl in the shallow flats, stirring up the mud.
We went back out to the main channel and, along the way, saw a baby Map Turtle basking on a small log. My friend leaned out of the front of the canoe with a big dip net, holding it underwater, while I paddled quietly and inched him closer and closer. He bumped the log and the little turtle dove right into the net. My friend wants to keep him for awhile and release him later this Summer.

We made our way up to a large sandbar and I picked up some interesting driftwood pieces.

There were thousands of minnows schooling in the shallows.

We found ourselves wandering. We went into the woods and found a little pond filled with hundreds of small frogs. They appeared to be juvenile Bullfrogs, but I think there were some other species as well.
My friend would be searching in one direction and I would be off in the other direction. We had brought our fishing poles but hadn’t touched them.

Off in the distance, my friend is walking along the sandbar, looking for….who knows!

I ended up standing in the water and enjoying it so much that I swam across the river to another sandbar. Not very far at all, but the feel of the current and the cool water really put me in touch with reality. Then I came back to to where my canoe was. My friend had started fishing and had caught a young Largemouth Bass, maybe 6 or 7 inches long. As usual, the fishing looked better on the other side of the river, so I grabbed my fishing pole and swam toward an area of large downed trees. I stood up on a huge tree and watched a big Softshell Turtle come up for a breath. I made a few casts into the shaded areas against the shore and along the tree trunks. No luck, and I got snagged after a few minutes. I pulled on the line and the lure broke off. I watched a Watersnake swim right below me. Reluctantly, I climbed off the log and and went back to the sandbar.

Out on the river, you can barely see me standing on a log where I was fishing…but not catching.

We left the sandbar and I acted as a human trolling motor for my friend as he fished along the driftwood, then the rocks, and finally along the boat docks as we returned to our starting point. He fished like a pro, putting the lure in some very fishy-looking locations but he didn’t catch any.
I dropped him off at his house. He had a very over-populated tank of Mollies. I don’t have any Black Mollies so he gave me some.

I washed off the aquatic plants and put them into a tank with some baby Swordtails. I’ll have to watch closely. There is a good chance some predatory aquatic insect larvae are in those plants.

Baby Green Swordtails that were born a few days ago.

All in all, we fished about an hour and explored for three hours. We had seen frogs, tadpoles, clams, crayfish, ducks,a heron, lots of little fish, snakes and turtles. On the way home both us were chattering about going back as soon as possible.
I think I will give him one or two of my baby Red-ear Sliders and we can take that Map Turtle back to the river where he belongs.

Good advice about the baby turtles

19 Jun

Turtle baby #4 is hanging in there, dragging around his larger-than-normal yolk sac (because I opened up his egg-shell too soon). I received some great advice from another WordPress blogger. She noticed I was keeping the baby in the Coconut fiber (Coir) and mentioned that there is a potential for some of the Coir to stick to the sac and get absorbed into the body as the plastron closes. She recommended putting the baby on damp paper towels. She was certainly right about the Coir, it has crusted a bit over the yolk so I am hopeful that it will soften in the damp towels and wear off. I will give it a gentle rinse if necessary.

For all of you turtle/tortoise lovers out there, please go visit her blog. She works in a zoo in Tennessee (not hard to figure out which one since their tortoise breeding successes actually make the news). The tortoises she helps to raise are some very rare and endangered animals. She writes about many things other than tortoises but let me give you a couple of links to her blog to get you started:

The one about “belly button shots” are Tortoise belly buttons! Now that I am raising baby turtles I can see that this fascination with their belly buttons is not a strange fetish, but a very important thing to watch and understand. You can’t put baby water turtles into an aquatic environment until their plastron has healed from where the yolk was attached.
The three older babies are living in a very basic tub of water, cleaned every day, with a UVB light above them. I also take them outside for a few hours of basking in the sunshine.

I was admiring their beautiful color patterns so I took them out for a photo op.

3 baby turtles and a confession

17 Jun

The 3 baby turtles are doing well. I’ve never raised baby turtles before but I think I’m an expert.
Far from it.
Let me show you the first 3 babies. I think the best way to identify individual Red-eared Sliders is to look at the plastron.

Baby #1

Baby #2. It’s yolk hasn’t healed entirely so he is not in the water with #1 and #3.


And here is the carapace view of all three:



#3 is the largest and is also a paler green.

It’s been about 2 weeks since the first baby hatched. I have been so concerned about the 4th egg. Since the third egg resulted in the biggest baby I thought that the fourth egg should hatch soon.
I couldn’t take it. I was so worried the baby was in there trying to get out that I decided to open it up.
Two nights ago I carefully opened up the egg, hoping to open the end where it faces, but instead I opened the back side, and I almost wished it was a dead undeveloped baby. It was so small I was just sick. What have I done? This baby was moving but so small compared to the others! It was still developing and needed to be in the egg a few more weeks.
I quickly got the shell removed at the front of the turtle also. He was covered in a clear slime. I knew I had to be extremely careful not to puncture the egg yolk, and this yolk was huge, bigger than the turtle itself. This turtle is a preemie for sure. It’s shell was curled into a half-moon shape. The baby gradually began to move more and become more alert.
After a day I carefully lifted the turtle out of the coconut fiber and placed it on a clean damp towel. The room is very warm, in the low to middle 80’s F. The baby is looking good so far! I spray him gently with water and keep the tank at a high humidity level.
I am still very worried that a bacterial infection could result in his death, but so far the egg yolk is shrinking and his shell (not the egg shell) has become normal looking. He wiggles all of his legs but he can’t go anywhere while sitting on top of his egg yolk. Essentially, he is a turtle living in an egg with no shell around him. At first, I couldn’t even bring myself to take a picture of him, he looked so pathetic.
I have really learned my lesson. Don’t mess with Mother Nature!!!
So here he is. Wish him luck!! I am really trying to save him. He certainly deserves to live. Poor guy. Oh man I am soooo stupid!


UPDATE 10am CDT June 18: The baby has gotten more active and has pulled away from the eggshell. He still has the large yolk attached to his plastron. The towel and egg shell are dirty so I mixed up a little fresh coconut-husk fiber for him to nestle into. The bottom of the egg yolk does NOT look completely intact and that may turn into a problem. Maybe the yolk fluid will leak out, starving the turtle, or maybe it will become contaminated, thereby infecting his bloodstream. I think the next few days are critical.

Angelfish babies

17 Jun

A few weeks ago the Silver Angels laid some eggs on the filter intake tube in the 55 gallon aquarium. As usual, the eggs disappeared in a day or so, the parents can’t fend off the Corydoras and Pleco at night.
Just a few days ago they laid another batch, same place. ( I really need to put a piece of slate or PVC tube in there)
My sister was visiting and she looked at those eggs. I mentioned that they were as good as gone, but she wished I could save them somehow. After she left I dropped the tube into a small aquarium…

My wife is on a trip to see her family. I need to get these tanks off the kitchen counter before she gets back!

…and them a day later I transferred them into a fishbowl with fresh water…

..and a day later I was about to throw the whole thing out, the eggs were becoming fuzzy white with fungus.
But I have not turned on the air-conditioning in the house and this little tank has been over 80F degrees. The babies developed so fast that some hatched out before the fungus got to them. I am estimating that 30 or 40 are alive. They were still attached to the tube but they were wiggling like mad. I shook them off and took them outside to the 30 gallon pond where the baby Zebras Danios are, and by the way , the Zebras are looking great.
This is not the way to raise baby Angels, I should have started immediately with prepared freshwater (not water from the main aquarium) and also had some Methylene Blue dye ready to use as a bacteria inhibitor.
But what the heck, it looks like these baby Angels will have a fighting chance in the little pond.
Someday when I do it right I’ll write a “How-To” because this is more of a”How-Not-To”.
In other news, the momma Green Swordtail had babies last night, she was just huge. A number of them came out undeveloped and in a few days I’ll see how many are healthy.

Turtles basking

13 Jun

Here’s Daddy turtle, Fred, basking earlier today.

Here’s the big Momma turtle, Banana, basking too.

And here’s baby #1 basking in his outdoor tub.

Here’s my dog Not Basking, let’s say she is Chilling.

And, of course, I had to take this picture!