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post #31 of 94 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 09:49 AM
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Hey there! If you're concerned about the amount of Potassium you're adding, an easy and cheap solution would be to use less GH booster and supplement Ca and Mg with Plaster of Paris (Calcium Sulfate) and Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate heptahydrate). If you're ever in my area let me know ahead of time and I'll toss a few bags of Ca your way.
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post #32 of 94 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Phil - Thanks for the above. Have ordered some CaSO4(2H20). Have Epsom salts. Will be making the change as I run out of GH booster. Any ideas of why there is generally a fairly high percentage of K2SO4 in Gh boosters?
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post #33 of 94 (permalink) Old 08-17-2019, 03:04 AM Thread Starter
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08/16/19 pre and post water change





Pulled and/or topped pretty much all of the stems and replanted so able to do a fair amount of gravel vacking. Took out all together the H. pinnatifida on the center section of the branch. It just got way out of control. Now looking at it, thinking I should remove a fair amount of what remains. I really like the plant but haven't figured out how to prune/keep it more compact. Guess there's enough of it I can just trial and error hack at it. If anyone wants some please let me know.

I add Gh booster, CaCO3, and MgSO4 to tap water stored in a loosely covered 60 gallon pickle barrel and keep the pump on for aeration. Should have pulled the lid first thing this morning as the barrel water was quite a bit warmer than the tank when i had to use it late this afernoon. Raised the tank temp from 77 to 80-81F. Fish looked active afterwards so hoping no ill effects. Or maybe they were just looking for a way to escape and not really basking in the warmth.

Otherwise all fish seem to be doing well. Of the cherry barbs I have three males and three females. The males are always quite randy and relentless in their persuit of the females when not flaring at each other. Their colors are amazing - red so deep they're almost black. But their activity level can be a little much for this tank imo. Am wondering if getting three more females may ease the chasing somewhat or just compound it. Any thoughts?

The angel not eating last week has rebounded after a three day fast. He's actually the biggest but thinking he may have been injured or overly badgered by the smallest black who had been something of a bully but only toward the other blacks. Now that the big guy has recovered, he has taken over the mantle of bully; but again, only against the other blacks. Curious. Cichlids just being cichlids I guess. A snapshot of their 10 gallon tank with the big guy in the upper right while not eating:



And a ten gallon "clippings" tank. Four RCS, ramshorn and pond snails, and a single (guessing) amano which must have hitchhiked with the cherries:



And one last thing. I've had poor success hatching baby brine shrimp. Is this a no brainer easy exercise and I just have a bad batch of cysts or does it take some practice and expertise?
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post #34 of 94 (permalink) Old 08-17-2019, 03:01 PM
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Have enjoyed catching up on your thread and the progress you've made. Your tank is looking great! I used STS as well, and had similar issues with it sucking up & lowering the hardness. Given that my tap is hard unlike yours, over the past 3 months it has gradually come to within a degree or two of tap levels.

Your angels are beautiful--where did you get them? I've always wanted black angels, but hear varying reports on the hardiness of the double dark strain. Apparently now they're breeding them with different genetics so that they're hardier. Do you happen to know what yours are? If not, I can always ask the breeder. Are you planning to breed yours? That tank would look amazing with a family of angels in it....

How are your new cories doing on the STS after your initial losses? I've considered them as an alternative to bristlenose plecos because they're notorious for eating angel eggs. Not sure if the cories would do the same??

Congratulations on the beautiful results to all your hard work.
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post #35 of 94 (permalink) Old 08-17-2019, 05:22 PM
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And one last thing. I've had poor success hatching baby brine shrimp. Is this a no brainer easy exercise and I just have a bad batch of cysts or does it take some practice and expertise?
Takes some practice and a bit of attention to detail .Here's what I do .

Salt solution : I prepare a stock solution to a specific gravity of 1.030 , or a touch higher measured via a hydrometer. Halite ice melter (sodium chloride NOT calcium chloride )is what I usually use , but right now I'm using 'Instant Ocean' marine salt as I was able to get a broken box cheap . The ice melter works just fine, is cheap , and can be found in 5lb bags . Table salt less so , as it contains an anti-caking agent and dextrose which I suspect messes up the salinity reading .

Hatcher: a 2l. soda bottle with the bottom cut off and the top on tightly so it doesn't leak . It's inverted in a 1lb. coffee can stand .

To get things going , I put shrimp eggs into the bottle , and then add the water . This seems to saturate the eggs better and maybe results in less eggs floating . The egg/water mix is heavily aerated . My fish room is a bit cool (low 70's F.) so hatching takes a bit longer . Usually I'll get a pretty good harvest after 48 hrs. or so , with decent, but diminishing, ones for the next 2 days. Warmer temps. will give a faster hatch .

My eggs are kept in the freezer . Once the seal is broken on the container you want to keep the eggs cool and dry . I get 1 lb. cans as I hatch a lot of shrimp , and a can , once opened, will be good for at least a year when covered and kept in the freezer .
I've found the eggs in the little glass vials to be questionable at best .

Hope this helps some.
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post #36 of 94 (permalink) Old 08-18-2019, 01:46 AM
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wow beautiful progression and loved watching the journey! really nice job!
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post #37 of 94 (permalink) Old 08-18-2019, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Desert Pupfish View Post
Have enjoyed catching up on your thread and the progress you've made. Your tank is looking great! I used STS as well, and had similar issues with it sucking up & lowering the hardness. Given that my tap is hard unlike yours, over the past 3 months it has gradually come to within a degree or two of tap levels.

Your angels are beautiful--where did you get them? I've always wanted black angels, but hear varying reports on the hardiness of the double dark strain. Apparently now they're breeding them with different genetics so that they're hardier. Do you happen to know what yours are? If not, I can always ask the breeder. Are you planning to breed yours? That tank would look amazing with a family of angels in it....

How are your new cories doing on the STS after your initial losses? I've considered them as an alternative to bristlenose plecos because they're notorious for eating angel eggs. Not sure if the cories would do the same??

Congratulations on the beautiful results to all your hard work.

Hey - Thanks so much. I actually really like the safe-t-sorb for looks and planting tho I don't have much experience with other substrates. In retrospect think it must be easier starting with soft water vs your trials.


I purchased the angels from Joe Gargas. He sells on at least four venues I know of as well as direct. I can message you his contact info tonight - don't know all the forum rules about advertising. Had heard conflicting reports regarding but looked to me like his recent feedback was positive as was my experience. According to him his blacks are homozygous for both the dark and stripeless gene (double dark velvet phenotype). As juvies it's really too early to tell and breeding would of course determine for sure. Have also read that D/D angels are generally smaller but for now these are eating like little piggies and growing. Don't know of any genetic changes to them but I can see how good husbandry and crossing could improve heartiness. These do have nice finnage. Two of the plats had one short ventral but hoping that's not genetic. Would like to experience breeding angels but this group probably isn't the best to get interesting offspring. Both would breed true to themselves and crossing the two would yield black hybrids with single blue and stripeless genes.


And all the new cories are doing great. The first batch I purchased from a big online retailer and I think were damaged in transit if not before. The new ones are constantly playing and super fun. No visible barbel damage rooting around the safe-t-sorb as of yet.

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Takes some practice and a bit of attention to detail .Here's what I do .

Salt solution : I prepare a stock solution to a specific gravity of 1.030 , or a touch higher measured via a hydrometer. Halite ice melter (sodium chloride NOT calcium chloride )is what I usually use , but right now I'm using 'Instant Ocean' marine salt as I was able to get a broken box cheap . The ice melter works just fine, is cheap , and can be found in 5lb bags . Table salt less so , as it contains an anti-caking agent and dextrose which I suspect messes up the salinity reading .

Hatcher: a 2l. soda bottle with the bottom cut off and the top on tightly so it doesn't leak . It's inverted in a 1lb. coffee can stand .

To get things going , I put shrimp eggs into the bottle , and then add the water . This seems to saturate the eggs better and maybe results in less eggs floating . The egg/water mix is heavily aerated . My fish room is a bit cool (low 70's F.) so hatching takes a bit longer . Usually I'll get a pretty good harvest after 48 hrs. or so , with decent, but diminishing, ones for the next 2 days. Warmer temps. will give a faster hatch .

My eggs are kept in the freezer . Once the seal is broken on the container you want to keep the eggs cool and dry . I get 1 lb. cans as I hatch a lot of shrimp , and a can , once opened, will be good for at least a year when covered and kept in the freezer .
I've found the eggs in the little glass vials to be questionable at best .

Hope this helps some.

Thanks so much for the advise. Guess I need to get a hydrometer. Been a few decades since I last had one - teehee. I attempted to convert specific gravity to ppm to grams of rock salt which I know is not sound science - used 19 grams in one liter. And also from the above now know I need to increase aeration. Was timid to do so as so many eggs were getting hung up on the sides of the bottle above the water line. And I've had the eggs for several weeks and haven't kept them in the freezer. Perhaps that too has contributed to my difficulties. Will keep at it and report. Thanks again.

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wow beautiful progression and loved watching the journey! really nice job!

Thank you, that's very kind. Am having a blast.
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Last edited by schooldazed; 10-05-2019 at 12:16 PM. Reason: homozygous not heterozygous
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post #38 of 94 (permalink) Old 08-18-2019, 11:17 PM
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I purchased the angels from Joe Gargas. He sells on at least four venues I know of as well as direct. I can message you his contact info tonight - don't know all the forum rules about advertising. Had heard conflicting reports regarding but looked to me like his recent feedback was positive as was my experience. According to him his blacks are heterozygous for both the black and stripeless gene (double dark velvet phenotype). As juvies it's really too early to tell and breeding would of course determine for sure. Have also read that B/B angels are generally smaller but for now these are eating like little piggies and growing. Don't know of any genetic changes to them but I can see how good husbandry and crossing could improve heartiness. These do have nice finnage. Two of the plats had one short ventral but hoping that's not genetic. Would like to experience breeding angels but this group probably isn't the best to get interesting offspring. Both would breed true to themselves and crossing the two would yield black hybrids with single blue and stripeless genes.
Thanks, I'll check him out. One of the challenges of trying to buy a group of juveniles to get a breeding pair is that online breeders tend to offer groups from one brood, so you'd be inbreeding siblings if they pair off. Much harder to find 3 of one strain, 3 of another. Guess I'll ask some breeders and see what they suggest.
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post #39 of 94 (permalink) Old 10-05-2019, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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FTS 09/13/19



FTS 09/27/19



Well feel like this tank is kind of in a holding pattern at this point. Not much different between the above two pics and yesterday's pre water change Friday look. Did hack back the H. pinnatifida fairly severely this time. Otherwise just minor trimming here and there. Hope to soon change things up a little. The S. subulata is getting fairly long in spots. The B. caroliniana is a little leggy and not very colorful on top as compared to my ten gallon trimmings tank. The L. peruensis gets a little bare near the substrate. And the wood also casts a pretty big shadow with only the two bulb t5HO fixture directly overhead. Yes, guess I'm psyching myself up for bigger light with plant specific bulbs and the potential to grow all kinds of plants (and algae, hmm).


Did notice this yesterday



The leaves sprouting at the base of this wisteria stem look atypical to me. More like emergent looking leaves? Anyone seen similar? Indicative of anything?


Also, been about two months since adding any plants or fish but have noticed this over the last three or four weeks:



Anyone help id this moss? It's actually the only place where I have any algae in the tank. Would like it to grow (no, no, the moss) to where I can transplant it to my ten gallon RCS tank. But at the same time do not want the algae to spread. Nor the moss beyond this one spot for that matter. Should I pull it now?
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post #40 of 94 (permalink) Old 10-13-2019, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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The angels are in.



Figured I might not want to have my arms in the tank too much as they settle in so did a fairly large trim and rearranged a few things during Friday water change day. It was past lights out time when I finally finished maintenance and plopped them in. They were pretty skittish as they have been all along in their ten gallon grow out tank. Hoping the larger tank and greater plant cover will alleviate some of that over time. Realized this is their first experience with other fish. They're the biggest fish in this tank but have been behaving so far.

Checked them out yesterday morning (Saturday) and they seem to be comfortable. No clamped fins or quaking in a corner though a little cautious yet in exploring their new environs. Still mostly sticking together like in the pic above. Funny but am really noticing the flow in this tank now with them in it. They're not always those proud triangular sentinels standing guard over the ten gallon but now often have that awkward looking lemon shape as they push into the current.

Am still concerned about feeding them the amount they are used to. Gave them two feedings yesterday about three hours apart. Once with floating/slow sinking granules and then with freeze dried blood worms. They ate well and about the amount they would over a weekend (office tanks). During the week I would feed them five times a day or more. Fortunately they are almost exclusively top feeding but at that rate the other fish in this tank couldn't possibly keep up with all the angels miss and that sinks. Will have to cut back on that amount somewhat but they are still ravenous eaters and don't want to stunt their growth. Suggestions...?
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post #41 of 94 (permalink) Old 11-03-2019, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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FTS 11/02/19



Again, no major changes. Angels have really settled in. They are no longer skittish unless I really knock the tank. Quite a change from before. Bigger tank with plenty of plant cover no doubt. Also they don't seem to be bothered by, nor do they really bother, the other fish. I thought the rummy nose would school tighter after introducing the angels but witnessing more of the opposite. Almost as if the angels keep together more:



Added a feeding ring (floating loop of airline tubing) which has helped in feeding the angels multiple times a day without too, too much food waste. Occasionally a rummy or cherry barb will brazenly dart to the surface within the ring and snare a tasty morsel but mostly they chase the falling bits. Fun to watch but hope I'm not over doing it. Parameters still spot on - NH3=0, NO2=0, NO3= ~10-20ppm.

Looking like the tank is deficient in something though. Both Ludwigia are losing leaves which generally show discoloration and some pinholes and a few H. pinnatifida leaves are yellowish with green spots. Help?



When I said a few of the H. pinn leaves it was pretty much just the four leaves pictured. Otherwise, this one's been growing like mad. I've twice pulled quite a percentage of it but it continues to sprawl. I've seen other tanks with tight masses of the stuff but am clueless as to how they've pruned. It typically sends out side shoots of three to five nodes with small opposite leaves then a vertical "stem" that will grow quite large.



Dunno. Would really like to know the trick in keeping it more compact.

Oh, and back to feeding the angels; been using Bug Bites and Hikari freeze dried blood worms and some Omega One flake which they like least but where I thought they were getting some veggie they need. The gnawed tender tips of my lobelia and bacopa got me to reading the flake ingredients and to realizing I need a better food source for their leafy greens. Any suggestions on that would be most appreciated, too.
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post #42 of 94 (permalink) Old 11-03-2019, 12:52 PM
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Both your tank & your angels are growing beautifully. I'm impressed your angels growing so uniformly. The Black Velvet/Golden Blushing I got nearly 5 wks ago now range in size from one barely bigger than their original dime-size to nearly half dollar. I too was surprised when mine started nibbling on the algae I'd scrape off the sides. But I haven't seen them nibbling on any plants--are you sure that's not the barbs? If you don't have algae to feed them, there are plenty of green foods you could supplement to keep everybody happy.

Ravenous & messy eaters is an understatement. Mine were raised on and still vastly prefer flakes--which they suck in, spit out, and create cloud of small flakes some too small even for their guppy tank companions. I keep ghost shrimp as a cleanup crew, and they hang out nearby to cash in on the food bonanza. I try to feed over a well planted area so the guppies feel comfortable hanging out under the top predators and snatching up what rains down. And they move in later and pick over the substrate pretty thoroughly. What they don't get the MTS & assassins will. And just got a 1/2" juvenile BN pleco to help with both food & algae clean up.

@Discusluv on here recommended NL cichlid pellets. Still trying to wean mine from flakes to two different sizes of the pellets, with limited success so far--they love their flakes (Omega One here too) . Fortunately the guppies are happy to eat those too. FD blood worms don't seem to interest them much yet. But since the angels went in the tank, I haven't seen a single guppy fry from the 3 dozen or so now sharing their tank. That's the best angel food ever, I've found.

Everything I've heard or read about growing out young cichlids is lots of big WC. Breeders will do 50%-100%/day--which would certainly solve any water quality issues. Don't have an autochanger, so I shoot for 30% 2x/wk, though that ends up at 20% 2/x wk if I"m traveling, etc.

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post #43 of 94 (permalink) Old 11-03-2019, 03:31 PM
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FTS 11/02/19



Again, no major changes. Angels have really settled in. They are no longer skittish unless I really knock the tank. Quite a change from before. Bigger tank with plenty of plant cover no doubt. Also they don't seem to be bothered by, nor do they really bother, the other fish. I thought the rummy nose would school tighter after introducing the angels but witnessing more of the opposite. Almost as if the angels keep together more:



Added a feeding ring (floating loop of airline tubing) which has helped in feeding the angels multiple times a day without too, too much food waste. Occasionally a rummy or cherry barb will brazenly dart to the surface within the ring and snare a tasty morsel but mostly they chase the falling bits. Fun to watch but hope I'm not over doing it. Parameters still spot on - NH3=0, NO2=0, NO3= ~10-20ppm.

Looking like the tank is deficient in something though. Both Ludwigia are losing leaves which generally show discoloration and some pinholes and a few H. pinnatifida leaves are yellowish with green spots. Help?



When I said a few of the H. pinn leaves it was pretty much just the four leaves pictured. Otherwise, this one's been growing like mad. I've twice pulled quite a percentage of it but it continues to sprawl. I've seen other tanks with tight masses of the stuff but am clueless as to how they've pruned. It typically sends out side shoots of three to five nodes with small opposite leaves then a vertical "stem" that will grow quite large.



Dunno. Would really like to know the trick in keeping it more compact.

Oh, and back to feeding the angels; been using Bug Bites and Hikari freeze dried blood worms and some Omega One flake which they like least but where I thought they were getting some veggie they need. The gnawed tender tips of my lobelia and bacopa got me to reading the flake ingredients and to realizing I need a better food source for their leafy greens. Any suggestions on that would be most appreciated, too.
I use New Life Spectrum Algaemax. Excellent food.
The following article is really helpful in understanding food labels and nutritional analysis/comparing fish food ingredients. Gives insight into the good, bad, and the ugly of commercially produced fish foods and the ingredients they use.

http://nlsfishfood.com/wp-content/up...on-Article.pdf


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post #44 of 94 (permalink) Old 11-04-2019, 01:17 AM Thread Starter
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Hey - thanks you two for the feeding suggestions. I've tried NLS pellets but thinking they were a little smaller than cichlid size which may be part of why they were eschewed. Thinking it also had to do with them sinking quickly and the angel's preference to top feed. And maybe that they are harder than the other foods they're used to. But now I'm anthropomorphizing. What the heck do I know? I'm no fish. At least not on Sundays.

And thanks especially Ms Amy for the NLS nutrition overview. Started skimming then quickly found I was reading every word. All made good sense to me. May try the NLS Algaemax though it too is a sinking pellet. Will also check out what's available locally using my newfound understanding on the subject. - Cheers
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post #45 of 94 (permalink) Old 11-04-2019, 01:27 AM
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Hey - thanks you two for the feeding suggestions. I've tried NLS pellets but thinking they were a little smaller than cichlid size which may be part of why they were eschewed. Thinking it also had to do with them sinking quickly and the angel's preference to top feed. And maybe that they are harder than the other foods they're used to. But now I'm anthropomorphizing. What the heck do I know? I'm no fish. At least not on Sundays.

And thanks especially Ms Amy for the NLS nutrition overview. Started skimming then quickly found I was reading every word. All made good sense to me. May try the NLS Algaemax though it too is a sinking pellet. Will also check out what's available locally using my newfound understanding on the subject. - Cheers
Excellent! Glad it was helpful!


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