General maintenance update

I have lately moved to the reduced water change way of doing things, gradually reducing water changes over the last couple of months. This is working well, the with Amazon sword showing improved growth, although the rest of the plants suffered until I increased the lighting and finally switched to a “siesta regime”, which is 5 hours on, 4 hours off, 5 hours on, off for the night arrangement. This new regime seems to have helped reduce the hair algae.Since I removed the duckweed (Lemna minor), which was not a great idea, the Limnobium laevigatum (Amazon frogbit) had been flourishing alongside the Riccia fluitans.

Post-holiday update and maintenance

My friend came twice to check on the fish in the two weeks that I was on holiday and each time did a small water change, then fed the fish.

The hair algae has made a come back, while I was away, so I’ve had to pull out more of it. It is growing predominantly on the side of the aquarium where natural sunlight falls. I also gave the plants a trim and did a 15% water change. While I was on holiday, I managed to trade some Crypt. for water sprite and Riccia.

Water parameters are nitrate at 30 ppm and pH 7.4-7.6, I also tested for ammonia and nitrite, which I would normally not do in an established aquarium.. both were 0 ppm. Filter claims that it does not need cleaning, so it didn’t get any.

Weekly maintenance and update on plants

420 litre: Ludwigia removedThe Ludwiga brevipes has been growing fuller of hair algae and loosing its leaves, so I have pulled it out for the moment and am trying to perform a blackout on it, in the hope that the algae would die back before the plant.

During the more major weekly maintenance, I performed a 10% water change and tidied plants. Water readings were nitrate at 15 ppm, pH 7.4, 20 °GH, 3 °KH.

Weekly maintenance and a manufacturing defect in the Eheim filter

So today is a “large” water change day, with a 10-15% water change. I was planning to clean the filter (Eheim 2076) as well, but I have found that there is the same problem with this one that I had with one at work last week: the “floater complete” (part number 7428728) can become dislodged during re-assembly, after cleaning, which allows the middle part of the three which make up “floater complete” to move up into the “adaptor complete” (aka the tap for the hoses, part number 7428718), which means that it is becomes impossible to turn off the tap because the little white tube blocks the part where it closes off. Who comes up with these part names? The symptoms of the problem are inability to close the tap (feels like it is stuck) and if you push it a bit too hard, the tap will easily move from “on” to “off” and back, but without any effect (while making clicky noises in one direction- yes, you have snapped it). The solution is either to take the whole pump to an Eheim repair centre (if it is under warranty, it took them 24 hours to fix, they also did a 6 hour service on it and flashed the firmware, while they were at it) or use a Torx T9 screwdriver to pull apart the filter and fix it yourself (which will probably void any warranty you may have).

If you attempt to fix it yourself, you will get water everywhere, so be careful with the power sockets which your filter is probably plugged into and which are right next to it, on the ground. You will need to lift the inlet and outlet tubes out of the tank, then drain them by undoing the clips, separating the pump assembly from the canister and letting the water drain over the sides onto strategically placed towels. Next step is to pull the pump assembly apart and remove the offending part, reassembly should be quite easy. Photos to follow when I actually go through with this!

Why manufacturing defect? Because this has happened on both of my 2076 filters, within a week of each other. Yes, I am quite careful about reassembling everything properly. Luckily, the filters only need cleaning once every few months, so it’s usually fine to take one’s time over getting it fixed.

It is still an excellent filter, even with this flaw.. but it is an important flaw to be aware of, so one does not break it accidentally.

Oh yes, and lighting is now on from 11:00 until 21:00.

The post-holiday aftermath

420 litre: after the holiday

The fish were still doing well after the holiday, and looking healthy. My friend Bev did water changes three times in three weeks, averaging out once per week or so.

Before leaving, I made up one pack of food per day. Going by how many packs were left when I came back, the fish were fed every 2 days out of 3.

A head count showed that there had been no deaths and the general health of the fish was great. The bristlenose plecos had spawned and there are young all over the tank, the majority on the filter outlet or the glass near it. The new Hagen pump was quite clearly not strong enough to suck them in.

Water readings are fine, except a 25 ppm increase in nitrates. I am slowly resuming the water changes on a daily basis.

There was some hair algae in the plants which floated to the surface, which is a pain, but nothing can be done about it.

Equipment was functioning well, same as when I left it.

Holidays and fish

Today, I am leaving for a three week holiday to the US.. which means, the fish are to fend for themselves.

Actually, it’s not quite as bad as that: I have prepared zip-lock bags of food (one per day), instructed the neighbours on how to check the equipment and left them contact details for a fellow fishkeeper, in case anything looks wrong.

The idea is simple: every day, the kids come over and (while being supervised by the parents) feed one bag of food to the fish per day. At worst, the fish are getting fed the right amount of food and the equipment gets checked for malfunctions; at best, the child from a pet-free home learns about the basic responsibility of keeping pets.

Then, once per week, a fellow fishkeeper will come to do a 5% water change and check on the general welfare of the animals.

And just for the fun of it, I am also setting up a webcam, so that I may be able to check up on the fish myself.

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.