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About tolstoy21

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  1. Hmmmm . . . hard to pin down. There a few aspects about this hobby that fit my personality well and that I enjoy. 1) Its very relaxing and peaceful to watch colorful fish that you care for and raise, swimming in an ecosystem you created. It's fulfilling on many levels. 2) In general, every hobby I have--or had in the past--is nature-themed. Current other lifelong hobbies include birdwatching and rose gardening (been doing both of those for a few decades time). I've had fish and reptiles my entire life, on and off, depending on where I was in life, but it's not until the past 4 years that I dove into this hobby with both feet. 3) Unlike the above, which are either seasonal or occur outside my home, I can enjoy the aquarium hobby every single day without needing to go anywhere or without being affected by it being winter and the garden being dormant. Or the middle of summer and the bird activity somewhat subdued and predictable. Aquariums are always there, exactly where I also happen to be most of the time. My house! 4) I've always loved growing plants, roses specifically (such a rewarding thing!). There is nothing more amazing and fulfilling than planning a garden scape (outside, or in an aquarium) -- picking and planting the plants, arranging their layout even when they're small and there's nothing but your imagination and experience to guide you, caring for the plants over time, and then, with lots of patients and discipline, seeing the fruits of what existed only inside your mind as a vision slowly grow into reality. 5) I love to tinker, test and build things, and improve upon processes. In the aquarium hobby, as opposed to something like birding, there's a lot of opportunity to build things, or experiment with things in my basement. (Yes, I've become that older, cliche guy who hides away, tinkering in his basement). I always need a project to think about and work on. If I don't have a problem or idea for my mind to chew on, I'm not happy. Plenty of projects in this hobby, if that tickles your fancy. That, I think, sums up the major points of what i enjoy about this hobby. It's really the combination of those aspects, and not one thing in specific.
  2. I would like to add a thought/caveat to what I posted above about my simple brine shrimp grow out setup. I'm not breeding a ton of fish, so I don't hatch out massive amounts of BBS. And, if I am hatching out on a daily basis, I don't dump every single last bit of left over BBS water into the grow out bucket . . . . so I do actually still rinse some down the drain. Just wanted to clarify that so there’s no confusion. The reason for this is simply that I want to manage the population in that bucket, and I don't want to inadvertently raise the salinity if I'm not watching the evaporation vs how much salt water I'm adding on top of what's in there. So my leftover BBS recycling is not 100%. I reuse as much as I can within my comfort zone for managing a 3 gallon environment and dependent on how much shrimp I harvest from it and at what frequency Not to say that dumping every last drop of excess shrimp water wont work, it's just that I haven't played around with that as a scenario yet. I've seen someone on YouTube who recycled every last bit and keeps his grow out bin going long term. This is his video, and what got me setting mine up. Also, i have vacuumed out the bottom of my bucket, at times. and replenished with fresh salt water (basically a water change), but I'm not sure that's necessary and straining the shrimp from that change water leaves you with a dirty net full of shrimp. Admittedly, I still give that to my fish. Rather than water change the bucket, I've settled on just harvesting the batches and starting a new one periodically.
  3. You want the food to be very fine and powdery. Something a teeny tiny filter feeder can handle. I used Sera micron only because I had some laying around going unused and stale, and because it has spirulina powder in it as a main ingredient. Spirulina powder supposedly works great for this setup from what I've read on the internet when i started researching this. I just haven't used any yet because I haven't run out of Sera micron. A container of food goes a loooooong way. When I feed, I dip a wooden shish-kebab skewer (something else I had laying around in my basement!) into the water a few inches. Then I dip that into the powdered food, getting a nice coating on the stick. After that, I swish the food-covered skewer around in an API test tube full of the bucket water. I then shake that up to dissolve the contents and dump the resulting green liquid into the bubbling bucket. Or you could just go the easy route and toss a pinch directly into the bucket!
  4. @Bekah This is what I do with my extra ones, instead of the drain. Pretty much just three gallons of salt water in a bucket with an inexpensive, small heater and some vigorous bubbles. I feed them a pinch of sera micron every morning and they grow out fine. Maybe once a day i stir the bucket to get settled food back into the water column. I did use some RO fittings to make a permanent, rigid air line in the side of this thing so I'm always bubbling at the bottom of the bucket, but that's overkill and an inclination to tinker on my part. Only maintenance for this is an occasional top off with RO water to ensure the salinity doesn't rise too high due to evaporation. One could probably use distilled or rain water for this as well I'd guess. I make the water with Instant Ocean. One bag lasts me a while. The black marker line on the side of the bucket is my water level for three gallons. As it drops a bit below that, I know it's time to top off a bit. I don't grow out massive amounts, but I do get enough to net out and feed some fish (I certainly cant sustain my tanks on its yield alone). Those that avoid the net long enough spawn babies themselves. I run this a while. Then when I think it's starting to foul (and I have no real rule around this other than looking in and thinking, yeah that's getting pretty murky looking), I then net out all the shrimp, feed them to fish, clean the bucket and start over. Like I said, you don't get tons, but you do grow out those leftovers and can enjoy watching fish get excited chasing and gobbling up larger brine. For me it's just another project of interest, just to see if I can accomplish it successfully. There is no real science behind what I do other than common sense. This is to say is that I don't find growing out brine shrimp to be that hard if you follow some simple, reasonable guidelines -- Keep some food suspended in the water via the bubbles. Keep the temp reasonable. Check salinity and top off every now and again. Oh, and don't over crowd the bucket. Like don't dump that initial thick, dark, orange stream of BBS into that bucket. You want a reasonable amount in there. Whats a reasonable amount? No clue. Less than whats in that thick dark orange stream. I do fine using just the few left overs swimming around the very top of the BBS water. I also occasionally replenish their numbers with a drop or two of concentrated BBS taken from the swarm at the bottom of the hatchery, with a pipette. But go easy with that. A few drops from that orange swarm is a lot of shrimp.
  5. I acquired Odessas from Greg a few months back. Very healthy fish. He's great to order from. Super responsive. Just all around positive experience. Very open to fielding general questions about fish species he keeps and has expertise in, from my experience. However, and this isn't a complaint, just an observation/note -- his Odessas are young and unsexed. So they have a lot of growing out to do before they fully color up. So if you're someone who is looking to acquire the immediate satisfaction of the full coloration of the mature males, there are no guarantees to sex of the fish you receive. And you'll have to be patient and grow them out. Mine are just starting to color-up now and I'm hopeful they'll be as amazing as they appear to be in his videos and photos. I'm going to attempt to breed them once they mature a bit. All that being said, can't recommend buying through Greg enough.
  6. Ok, not Sunday, but figured I'd share some snaps from this morning.
  7. @Jessica. Very good point as well. I did this also at one point. Knowing my nitrates would always be high from the tap, I selectively fertilized with Seachem phosphorous, potassium and flourish, skipping the nitrates. If 20ppm is the baseline from one's tap and the fish load isn't super extreme, this is another great alternative if you also plan on having a planted tank.
  8. @Jessica. -- As someone who used to do that, 100000% agree. You get tired of the labor (and expense) of all of that after a while. This is why I went the route I posted earlier in this thread. I wanted something in-line with my plumbing that required a cartridge change maybe every 6 or more months, and that was it. Granted plants are waaaaaaaay easier than this, but I can't resist the challenge of tinkering and creating an easy automated solution to things. Right now I just use my R/O for shrimp water, but I pre-make a couple of buckets and set those aside in my basement. That way the work is minimal and I have a supply of water-change water for my shrimp on hand when it's a lazy day and I don't feel like making any.
  9. @Cory Thanks for the response. You know after I set this up last night I kicked myself for not thinking to do what you're suggesting, as it would have been easier and a tad cheaper, especially considering I have a bunch of RO tube fittings already on hand. Thanks for reinforcing (in a positive way) my 'Doh!', head-slap moment!
  10. @hemali -- Warning, long reply ahead! But could be informative as I've gone down the same path as you. ------- I am in a similar situation as you are. High nitrates out of my faucet (above 40ppm). I do have an RO unit for making water for caradina shrimp, and have dealt with my nitrate problem so I can offer some first hand advice. Using an R/O unit to target nitrate removal is a long term expense, and not the only option. The R/O unit will strip everything from the water, so if you're going to have to build the water back up for use in your aquarium with buffers and remineralizes. This means staging and mixing the water, and paying for an ongoing supply of products, not to mention the DI resin, R/O membrane and filters for the R/O unit itself. Another solution could be to set up a one or two-stage filter just to remove nitrates (I say two-stage cause its good to have a sediment filter before the nitrate filter). Some companies make plug-and-play under-the-sink nitrate filter kits that look like the RO units and install just as easily. Or you can put together your own if you're even slightly handy. Setting up your own is a process similar to how folks with fishrooms plumb carbon block filters into their water supply to remove chloramines. The only thing to know about setting up your own nitrate filter is that you have to place a rate-limiter, or flow restrictor, in-line with the system to force the water to run slow enough for optimal nitrate removal by the resin (under-the-sink kits normally come with these pre-installed). Most de-nitrate filter manufacturers will usually list the flow rate for optimal nitrate removal for a given cartridge. You can get most of the supplies to do something like this from any water system supplier or from a good LFS that supplies a lot of reefing equipment. The de-nitrate cartridge can easily be ordered online from a number of suppliers. In my experience, a de-nitrate filter will also strip some KH from the water, but can't really say how much (some? all? not 100% sure as I have never tested). The KH in my tap water is pretty low to being with. In my experience, I have also found that high nitrates exhaust the standard mixed DI resin in typical R/O units faster than if you had no nitrates. So, a nitrate filter of any sort before the DI resin filter can extend that filter's life and possibly cut some costs. DI resin is typically more expensive that de-nitrate resin, long term. I like experimenting and tinkering and so I have setup, and used, both of these systems. For my current setup I used a larger nitrate/sediment filter in-line with my drip system that feeds me display tank, and a small breeding rack I'm still in the process of completing. (Pic below). I like tinkering and am good with plumbing, so I plumbed my own up instead of going under-the-sink. So the take away from this somewhat long thread -- 1) R/O unit will be a simple plug-and-play setup, but will be the most costly in outlay and long-term costs given that you'll have to remineralize the water, and you'll burn through a lot of mixed-bed DI resin. 2) Nitrate filter will target nitrates, last longer and be a less expensive solution. The initial expense will be roughly the same as an R/O unit, but could be a more DIY solution in which you acquire the canisters and fittings and build yourself. 3) Plants are cheap and easy. (I cant resist the challenge of tinkering so I went with targeted nitrate filters!) I got my de-nitrate filters from APEC water solutions online. I got my filter housings from Bulk Reef Supply. The fittings and what not I got from Home Depot. Can't remember where I got the flow rate restrictor online, but I can easily find that in my email somewhere if I search. If I didn't completely overwhelm you with this response, please feel free to ask as many questions as you want.
  11. I just installed a line for doing drip auto water changes into a short rack of tanks. Because I'm familiar with the DripWorks stuff for gardening, I ran a line above the tanks and tapped in some drippers. I'm realizing now, this isn't the world's best solution for my application. Where the driplines tap into the mainline isn't the tightest fit and each line occasionally drips at its tap point a teeeeeeny tiny bit. Nothing dramatic, but a drip nonetheless. So, the question . . . for those who've set up similar systems, how do you do it? 1/4 RO tubing and john guest fittings? Something something else? I only have a short run of the drip system above the tanks, so plumbing up an alternative solution wouldn't be that time consuming. Just looking for the advice and experience of other's who've successfully done this.
  12. @PaulThanks for the response. The female is now touring the tank with the fry and she encroaches on the male's territory who tries to eat the fry and summarily gets a beat down. So, the male is now acclimating to my community tank so the female can raise the fry. I have them in a 29 gallon but the female seems to want the entire thing. Next time I'll have a tank ready to move the male to..
  13. The ammonia will definitely, naturally lead to nitrates as you know, and so will decaying matter. I'm definitely not a plant guru. I keep pretty easy to grow plants, but in my understanding, they'll need less ferts when you first plant them as compared to when they are established and thriving, especially when you have an abundance of nitrates already present from the act of cycling. Right now I think you have nitrates being introduced by the cycle plus the addition of fertilizers. If you added ammonia to cycle the tank, plus the seeded media and starter, and you're also reading no ammonia or nitrite at this point, I'd do a water change to get the nitrates lower and then recheck after some a few days to see what rate the nitrates are increasing at. As other's have said, a completed tank cycle will result in high nitrates naturally when it's complete. It's normal to do a large water change at the completion of that process. The ferts are definitely also adding some nitrates as well, but that's their intended purpose.
  14. Yup. Paralysis by analysis. I kept goldfish and turtles when I was a kid in the 70s. I don't think I even knew what a test was then, or 'cycling'. Just had a tank with nothing but a plastic box filter and the fish did well and lived for years in my recollection. My mom used to marvel at how long they lived. In all things these days, we can definitely get too mired down and fixated on all the minutia and gadgets and forget to just keep things simple and enjoy. The nitrates coming out of my tap are about 40ppm. I have well water and I get runoff ferts from a long running golf course behind me. So it's not unusual to have that going on. (I have my well water tested professionally every other year, as I live in a VERY polluted state, and I'm one of a few homes in my town to still have a well. But those tests are for the humans, not the fish). That level of nitrates in your water are fine and nothing to worry about. Nitrates in ground water are not uncommon in agricultural areas, if that's your situation. As for ammonia, my API test kit always appear to read .25 ammonia to me, even on pure RO water. I think others have reported this phenomenon as well. It's nothing to worry over, in my opinion.
  15. Are you overdosing ferts? The plants might not be established enough to utilize what you’re putting in. The plant load looks a little light at this stage of the tank. Just a thought.
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