Keyholes spawned

Cleithracara maronii male

The 7 year old male and his 5 year old partner spawned again, they have done this regularly for the last 3-4 years, but have never succeed in raising a brood because the female was raised artificially, and I suspect that the male was too. This time, they chose a spot on top of the pleco’s log as their spawning site. They have been fed live (frozen) foods unusually often for the last week, which would have conditioned them.

As always, the eggs were gone once lights went off, but I do plan to attempt breeding them in a dedicated aquarium in the next few months.

The loss of the last spawn, from this pair, which took place in the community aquarium resulted in the aggression between the pair and the other two males and required the removal of the pair into other accommodation. It looks like the 5 ft, 150 cm, aquarium is just big enough for the four to stay out of each other’s way.

Temperature is currently 26 °C.

Trimming the Hygrophila

Leaf of mine

Trimmed the plants and collected some dead leaves, alongside a tiny, 2% water change. I often do single bucket water changes because they don’t hurt the aquarium and I use it to water the plants. The water either contains more nitrates than tap water or the nitrates in the aquarium need replenishing so there is a benefit either to my potted plants or the aquarium plants.

The main reason for this prune was to get the Hygrophila polysperma to grow bushier at the back because without encouragement, it will generally grow tall and lanky. So at the back, I cut it about 6 inches from the surface, in the front rows to about half way up from the bottom of the aquarium.

I found that some of the plants which had come out and were floating on the surface had a spot of hair algae in them…

Current lighting period is 12-13 hours per day, which is on the high side. Water parameters are nitrate 15 ppm, pH 7.4, 15-21 °GH, 6 °KH.

Maintenance, week 3

420 litre: third week (without pruning)

Three weeks after the aquarium was set up, the filter is due for a serious maintenance, mostly due to the amount of debris which was stirred up from the gravel. Normally I will only clean the pre-filter and the polishing sponge, but the amount of debris I stirred up during the move was enough to settle at the bottom of the filter and affect the flow, so a full clean of bio media was also in order.

I start by washing out the pre-filter and the polishing sponge in plenty of clean water, until the water ran clean when I squeezed them. I also washed the pre-filter basked under the tap to make sure all the plant leaves and suchlike were gone.

Next, I tip the bio media into a bucket of old aquarium water, give it a swirl and then catch it back out and place back into the basket. I repeat the process for all the media baskets, making sure that I work fast enough so that the media does not have time to dry out because the bacteria can not survive out of water for very long.

The last step is to drain and wash the filter cannister under the tap, to get the remaining debris out of it.

I place the baskets and the filter pads back into the cannister, connect it to the aquarium and use let the water syphon into the filter via the inlet hose.

By this time, I use up about 45 litres of water for the cleaning, which is enough for the 10-25 % weekly water change, so I top up the aquarium with cold dechlorinated water, as is normal. The temperature drop is about 1 °C, which is not even enough to trigger spawning, let alone bother the fish.

Test results are still odd because of the very large water change, which was the upgrade three weeks ago: nitrate 15 ppm, pH 7.4, 19-20 °GH, 3-6 °KH.

Rams spawning

Both pairs of the rams spawned on Saturday. One pair chose an Anubias leaf as spawning site, while the second pair chose the gravel.
Blue rams have always spawned readily for me, so I was not surprised, especially as both pairs looked ready and had been defending the areas for a few days by this point.
The range of the first pair is about 60 cm wide, in the centre of the aquarium, while the second pair have claimed an area between the first pair and the end of the aquarium of about 40 cm.
The first pair is showing more aggression and have been actively defending against trespassing keyholes and plecos. Their colouration is marginally brighter than that of the second pair.

Malaysian trumpet snail

By day two, the second pair have lost all their eggs to the malaysian trumpet snails, which live in the substrate. The second pair still going strong.

The eggs were showing distinct eyes by 48 hours after being laid and were wrigglers by 72 hours, at which point the parents moved them to the gravel, where they were disturbed often by plecos.

I have not seen the young since the morning after the 72 hour period, but the parents are still guarding the area, although not as actively.

Finishing off with existing plants

420 litre: remainder of plants added
After a few more days of procrastinating and ich treatment (I tried to avoid doing anything in the aquarium because ich can be transferred between different aquariums on hands), I finally got around to finishing the planting of my exiting plants, mainly P. helferi and S. repens, and added a new Ludwiga brevipes. I have had to temporarily give up on the plan to keep an open area at the front just because of the sheer number of the plants I had left.

The layout:

Ich treatment goes on…

The biggest problem with treating fish in large aquariums is the large water changes which all medications require after the course is completed.

Ich is most often treated with aquarium salt and/or medication, alongside a temperature increase to 30 °C, which is not good for most freshwater fish in the long term. A large water change during ich treatment will also help by physically remove the theronts and maybe some of the tomonts.

I did not follow the instructions exactly, leaving 48 hours between first treatment and water change in the hope that the medication would be able to kill more of the ich before I removed it with a large water change. The vast majority of the spots were gone by the 24 hours mark, and only a dozen were left 48 hours after first treatment. I was able to change only about 300 litres of water as I do not yet have a hose for draining and re-filling the aquarium quickly, so have to do all water changes with a 20 litre bucket.

The medication instructions advised me to wait a few more days before the next treatment, but I decided to re-dose immediately because the aquarium still obviously contained ich and the vast majority of it would have been in the   encysted stage, so would become released into the water very shortly.

At the 24 hour mark after the second doze, no spots were visible on any fish. I left the treatment in the aquarium for a few more days just to be sure that any free-swimming ich was killed. In the end, only four rams showed any visible signs of ich and all four recovered without problems.

Four of the six blue rams paired up on the third day of treatment.

The temperature was reduced to 25 °C once the treatment was complete.

Blue rams and ich

Blue rams are well known to be more susceptible to Ichthyophthirius than most other fish, which is why any ram keeper should always have a bottle of ich medication.
I inspect all my fish usually once or twice per day, so I noticed it on three of the six new rams within eight hours of them showing the characteristic dusting of white spots.
I treated the whole aquarium with a standard dose of Sera’s Protazol, added a second 200 W heater at the opposite end of the aquarium to the first and turned the water temperature up to about 30 °C. The temperature rise speeds up the life cycle of ich, which means that the treatment should be more effective as it will only affect the Ichthyophthirius at the free swimming stage of life.

Bacterial blooms

“Milky water”, when aquarium water turns a translucent white, is a common occurrence in new aquariums or when gravel is stirred up, for example when one moves it from one aquarium to another one.
A bacterial bloom is caused by a sudden increase of heterotrophic bacteria due to release of organic matter from the gravel or the sudden dechlorination of large amounts of water, which allows bacteria to multiply.
So it was no surprise when the water in the new aquarium became cloudy.
There are a couple of ways to combat a bacterial bloom in an established aquarium: water changes and patience. I opted for the latter option because there was no readable amount of ammonia or nitrite in the water and water changes on a 420 litre aquarium are not that easy to perform.
In general, the likelihood of a bacterial bloom in an established aquarium can be reduced by cleaning the gravel regularly, but I prefer to leave everything to decompose naturally as I do not have a nitrate problem and the plants do need food.

The first planting

The morning after the move, I planted most of the floating plants, which the fish seem to generally appreciate. The general idea of the layout is to make it more suitable for Corys and potentially discus too, with a clear area in the front left corner and plenty of Vallis for cover. I did draw up a layout plan as I was doing the planting:
420 litre: starting layout
The only downside to moving the plants is that I ended up with considerably more Crypt. wendtii “brown”, S. repens and P. helferi than I could actually plant.
420 litre: everything moved over by KittyKat3756
The keyholes seem to be getting on much better now, although the pair and the two males are still occasionally fighting and there are mild signs of a bacterial bloom.

Setting up

Aquaone 1: plants rearranged
The 215 litre aquarium before it was broken down
The process of moving the tank over took about four hours in total, with the help of two other people.
We started by switching off the heater in the old aquarium, so that it had time to cool down before we drained the water and adding a small amount of dechlorinated water into the new aquarium so that the substrate was easier to spread.
The next step was to switch the filter off and pull up the plants in the old aquarium, placing them in a bucket for later.
At this point, one of my helpers discovered a log full of pleco fry, who decided to pick that moment to leave the log. Catching them out was probably the most time consuming part of the whole process, in the end. We managed to get most of them moved to the grow out aquarium, but a few which got into the plants ended up going straight into the new aquarium.
I found that the easiest way of moving 50kg of Dennerle’s quartz gravel is to syphon it out of the aquarium, into a bucket, with the water. We decided to move most of the gravel before starting on the fish, so that we would not harm them with the gravel.
Once the gravel was moved over, we caught the fish out and moved them into the new aquarium, which was by now half full of water from the old aquarium. All in all, there were four adult keyholes (two from a different aquarium, because of aggression), six blue rams, 18 harlequin rasboras, five bristlenose plecos (and fry), one mustard spot panaque, one rusty pleco and five dayi gouramis.
The rest of the old aquarium water and new (warm) dechlorinated tap water followed.
Once the aquarium was full, we tipped the plants in (it being too late in the evening to do the actual planting), added the heater and filter, then started the filter up. I only had one of my 200 W visitherms around, but that was good enough for the job in the short term. I also found that I would need new tubes for the external filter.
We left the new aquarium to settle for the night at 22 °C, 6 °KH, 20-22 °GH, ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, nitrate at under 5 ppm and pH of 7.0.