Archive | January, 2017

Oscars and Classical Music. Or, How to lower your blood pressure.

25 Jan

I have two big Oscars in a 75 gallon tank. What surprises me is how graceful they are. They just float through the water, moving effortlessly, in total command of their world.


I play the radio while working on my fish tanks.I don’t know anything about classical music but it fits so well with fish-watching. Try it!

Especially with the Oscars. I think mine are a pair. They always stay in close contact, barely twitching a fin to feel the others presence.



There are 2 Jack Dempsey’s, a Red Devil, and a large Plecostomus in the Oscar tank.


You’ll find Oscars sleeping on their sides in the morning.

As serene and graceful as the Oscar’s appear, I make sure to keep them well-fed so they don’t turn into murdering maniacs.


The Red Devil. Do not adjust your eyes, this fish is yellow.


Used flowerpot WARNING

25 Jan

A Spring ritual is putting aquatic plants in clay flowerpots and placing them in my small outdoor pond.


A few years ago this killed some of my fish.

I start with flowerpots plus some clean sand and gravel.


Gravel goes on the bottom.

Then the plant, maybe a little soil, then sand on top.



As I mentioned,  a few years ago there was a problem. I had fancy goldfish, platies and swordtails in the pond. Everything seemed fine but after a week the goldfish were dying and the small fish had quit eating and were sitting at the bottom.

I captured the remaining fish, then completely cleaned the pond. I still had no idea what had happened.

It was a year later that the president of the local fish club (Mr. LVH) said something about pesticides in used flowerpots. It became clear as a bell.

I had bought some used flowerpots at a garage sale. My first use of them was in the pond. Things were fine for a week but then the poison began leaching out.

Another week went by and I had dead fish. The ones that were brought inside were thin and disfigured but, if they could be induced to eat, recovered quickly.

So if you buy used clay flowerpots soak them for several days in a bucket of water. Pour out the water and do it at least 3 times over a week.

Also in Springtime I put Water Lettuce outdoors that has been growing in an aquarium.


First, I put the plants in a plastic container and tuck it in a shady spot to avoid sunburn.


If I move it into sunshine too soon it looks like this.


Water Lettuce can recover and eventually gets accustomed to bright sun, but I think it does best in partial shade.

Partway through summer I have to remove handfuls of Water Lettuce from the pond.


I also have flowerpots in several of my aquariums.

Amazon Swords do best growing in soil.

The only problem growing aquatic plants in pots is that the plants grow too fast.  The tank becomes a jungle. Not a bad problem  to have.



baby turtles in 2016

17 Jan

I found two nests from my Red-eared Slider in 2016. Each clutch had six eggs.

See the eggs! The Mom always picks a nice warm, rainy day to go digging.

I incubated the eggs in a plastic tub. I put a layer of sand on the bottom with a heat source, then a smaller plastic tub with moist coir (coconut fiber), and that small tub loosely enclosed in a clear plastic bag to hold humidity. I set the temperature where the eggs were  to about 80-82 F. (27 C)




The first group of eggs never developed at all. From the second group of eggs I had 5 hatchlings. They took 70-80 days to hatch.

After hatching, the babies sit for a few days absorbing their yolk sac. Then I place them in shallow water with smooth rocks to crawl up on.

I have a UV light over them but I also put them outside whenever possible. Their shells harden up and they eat like mad. Mostly bloodworms, shrimp, and earthworms. High protein for fast growth.

They are so cute but I can’t keep them. I advertise them and give them away to good homes. I ask a few questions. It’s easy to tell who knows what they are doing. I don’t expect miracles, just an honest effort to give the babies a good home.


Venus Flytraps eat fish food?

16 Jan

It all started nearly a year ago. One of my kids wanted a Venus Flytrap. I found out that plants cost about $5-$10 each, plus shipping, while 20 seeds could be had for $12.
I figured if I could get 3 plants to survive I would get my moneys worth.  I ordered seeds from I received them in a small sealed plastic vial.


This is a great way to use a partially-filled aquarium: As a greenhouse!

It’ll write about the process of getting plants from these seeds some other time. It’s not as easy as just dropping seeds into dirt. The baby plants are so small and need to be fed. Also, there are fake seeds being sold on the Internet, which is why I would recommend buying from There must be other trustworthy sources but I can say that my Venus Flytrap seeds turned into Venus Flytrap plants. It takes some work and a lot of patience, so trusting that the seeds are real is important.


I fed the baby plants with  fragments of dried Bloodworms (soaked in distilled water). It was very difficult feeding the baby plants. If you have the steady hands of a brain surgeon it helps.


Out of 20 seeds, I ended up with 15 baby plants, then had 10 very healthy growing small plants. Last fall, I put them outside on some hot, dry days and I killed them all! I brought them in, watered them, and ONE plant came back from underground. It was pathetic. I put the plant inside an aquarium, floating in the warm, humid air, under the bright LED lights. It’s growing. I treat it like it’s the last plant on Earth.

Thinking outside the tank

16 Jan

My water turtles spend the winter indoors in a 100-gallon horse trough. Let’s call it a turtle trough instead.

This year I acquired two more adult sliders A female Red-ear and a female Yellow Belly.

The basking spot I had was an upside-down bucket with a smooth rock on the top. There was not enough room for 4 turtles to bask.


One day, a teeny little light bulb went off in my teeny little brain. I went to the garage and cut a few 2″x4″ boards. I drilled them into the studs along the wall behind the turtle trough. Then I added a piece of plywood. The plywood is very important. It keeps the turtles inside their habitat, rather than falling off the logs and onto the floor.



I added 4 random pieces of wood. I drilled the first piece through the plywood and into a 2″x4″.

Then I added the other pieces of wood. I just played around with them and made them fit together so the turtles could climb up under the basking light. They are all screwed together with 3 1/2″ wood screws.


A big benefit is that I can now fill the turtle trough almost completely to the top. They gained at least 20 gallons of water and now have a big natural basking platform.


Eventually , I will finish this project. I’ll paint the plywood board in a solid, natural color like green or brown. Then, I’ll drill maybe a dozen holes into the board. Why, you ask? What is this madness?  I’ll tell you!  I’ll push ARTIFICIAL plants into the holes, creating a solid wall of fake greenery and flowers. When I do that I’ll post some pictures so you can see how it turns out.

The beautiful Madagascar Lace Plant

16 Jan

Here’s a  picture of my beautiful Madagascar Lace Plant. Here’s what I know. The Madagascar Lace Plant is probably from Madagascar.

Before I write about the beautiful Madagascar Lace Plant that I have, I should Google “Madagascar Lace Plant”.

Okay, I have Googled Madagascar Lace plant and it appears I have made a grave error. I do not own a Madagascar Lace plant.

What I have is an Amazon Sword Plant that is being eaten by Bristlenose Plecostomus. I think I might call it an Amazon Lace Plant.


Bristlenose Plecostomus love to eat Amazon Swordplant leaves. If your Amazon Swordplant is healthy and fast-growing, the plecos will not kill the plant. They’ll just nibble a few leaves here and there and everyone will be happy.

One Bristlenose Pleco lives in the tank with this Swordplant and you can see it’s doing fine.