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Well, after my tilapia nightmare a while back I have left my big tanks full of water and daphnia and some guppy grass to really get all that stuff balanced out. They are outside (tucson arizona), so it does save me a bill this winter for heating all that. From the water come the alge, from the alge come the daphnia, and from the daphnia come the guppies. Well, food chain wise.

In plans for the spring i put a 3 something gallon tank on my office desk to breed out guppies and start the fish cycle over again. -- Today I saw little fry swimming around. While I have added guppies to water before and saw more appear, this is the first "up close" experience I have had with the tiniest of fry. I can see why grown guppies would see these fry guys as delicious marshmallows. Hopefully the fry that learn how to hide in some guppy grass will be the strong ones.

Currently have a 3.something gallon tank on my desk. It has duckweed and waterlettuce of some variety on top. Guppy grass for low-mid covering, and hydroton (superheated clay pellets) as substrate. Mainly it was a "grab whats in the garden, add water and guppies, mix in daphnia daily" tank. So far the results are pretty good, with some screw ups along the way.

Mainly the thing i overlooked coming into a smaller tank environment was that the ph 'style' changes. Outside I will get sometimes even as much as a 1.5 ph swing between dawn and sunset. But the PH in a smaller tank has a harder time 'swinging' back up (less acidic) I think. Some guppies started swimming funny, so I got the test strips out. I had gotten some neat $3 guppies from petsm--err, "not LFS" to make sure I wasn't going to add to potential tragedy by having paid shipping on them if they die. Well, they died. But they taught me that a good pinch of baking soda will help the tank in a few ways, and provide near instant relief for guppies getting "burnt" by people who let their PH get to 6 before they notice the guppies don't look right. I didn't want to just dump a clump of baking soda in there, as crazy ph swings are bad, but i did put in 2gsp (good sized pinches) of baking soda every 12-18 hours or so. This was actually probably more than i should have, but i noticed if i put it in slowly enough for the 'baking soda water' to form on one side, the fish all immediately swam toward it to be in it. So i think there is some truth to the idea of 'it helps'. I had to do this over the next few days, as the ph would come back up to 6 almost daily. Nothing else looked out of place on the test strip, only ph seemed to be stubborn. More daily doses of baking soda. the PH leveled out after about 5 days of this, stays at about 7.4 now, and has a "tiny swing" between morning and night. So, whew, water safety achieved. Id like it to be lower, around 8.2ish as this is better for a few reasons i have planned...

I ordered from some place online

  • Dwarf Baby Tears - to carpet the hydroton
  • 2 Marimo Moss balls -- to be furniture on the carpet
  • Wondershell -- because I believe in wonder
  • Easy fry and small fish food, in a convenient squeeze bottle - just in case my fry are more hungry than I anticipate
  • Easy green 'all in one' fertilizer - because I'm sure the plants will need a squirt or two, right now i detect no nitrates. ๐Ÿ˜•

I can at least go catch "the best" guppies and throw them in this tank to preserve their looks over time. The err, 'fancy breeder box' i guess it is.

I put extra daphnia in the tank when i noticed fry. Just to minify their chances of getting eaten. I believe that the guppies do need to eat "some" of the fry as the natural process would allow, but I don't know enough about ethics from the perspective of a fish to know what I am talking about there really. Best I can do is say "they seem to do that" and allow it. I don't want them all to be gobbled up!

With the carpeting plant and midrange plants and top floaters I hope that its a good combination for stability. Pictures attached of the tank as it is now.

If its not a disaster I will upload it when it gets planted, and when it stabilizes.






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19 minutes ago, James Croney said:

ย Mainly it was a "grab whats in the garden, add water and guppies, mix in daphnia daily" tank. So far the results are pretty good, with some screw ups along the way....

I ordered from some place online...

I like your grab what is on hand style of fish, plants and live food!

And where could that online place be?๐Ÿ™‚

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1 hour ago, Daniel said:

And where could that online place be?๐Ÿ™‚

I purchased these from the Aquarium Coop store online. Not sure I can include a link, but it was a genuine question with a genuine answer and not advertising... so I feel like I can safely answer. ๐Ÿ˜› Not exactly sure what the lines on advertisement are around here, other than "don't". So... was waiting for an excuse to say it LOL (yeah, i know they also own the forum, but they aren't my rules...)

The daphnia i got on ebay. I had issues getting them to populate the big out door tanks properly, so I put them in a 5 gallon bucket and dumped water from my tank into that bucket, so that some water overflowed from the bucket into the tank. The overflowing water carried some daphnia over and left most of them in the bucket. That over a few weeks and everything was really kicking with little daphnia everywhere. I harvested what could, but the first big die off always happens. Im on my third and i think final round now where the floating-alge-growth to daphnia-reproduction is leveling out so no more wild die offs of daphnia. These thing reproduce like crazy given enough space.

The hydroton I got from a local aquaponics store for my outside tanks.

That's where I also keep guppy grass and things like that to help purify the water and catch bad things and make them sink. Guppy grass was from a local fish meetup, actually. Tucson has good grass, for guppies.

The guppies (living in the good water) are the red dragon trio from Twin City Guppies. The fish arrived and have only had daphnia as food since then. Took them about two days to learn how to eat them, but a little hunger is a great teacher.

The duckweed I got from a friend, and have given it to many many friends since then. Duckweed is amazing, and fish eat it, and it comes in three sizes for almost any fish! ๐Ÿ˜„ Its where they got the idea for pellets Im sure (joke).

I did not steal the waterlettuce from home depot, because they said it was not for sale.



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I've had a lot of time to day dream while looking at this tank, because its on my desk. Ive noticed some interesting behavior in the guppies. I see the guppies chase mosquito larva and daphnia and guppy fry, but they chase them differently.

The mosquito larva seems to be 'their favorite'. Maybe something about the wriggling of the larva drives them nuts, but they chase them very quickly and accurately and gobble them up.

I always try to keep some daphnia in the tank, at least a hundred or so. I don't think my guppies can eat a daphnia magna unless they are small or freshly molted adult. I notice that some daphnia they have started "testing" to see if they are edible I think. The guppy will nip a daphnia, and only sometimes come immediately back and eat it. At first they were sucking them in their mouths and blowing them back out, it seems like that is not the best way to check the tenderness of the daphnia. They have stopped that it seems. I notice that after a few days if I don't add daphnia they will almost all vanish and I don't see excess dead daphnia on the bottom so I imagine they are all being eaten.

How they chase after the guppy fry is what surprised me. After seeing how they get the mosqito larva, and interact with the daphnia, I could almost call them lazy when chasing guppy fry. I have seen a big female eat a few few, but when she chased them it was quick like the mosquito larva. But the ones that are left (i have counted 3) are lazily chased. From the looks of it, there will soon be a lot more guppy fry. I'm curious to see if the behavior continues. It could be as simple as how hungry or predatory the guppy felt. Hoping quietly that the guppies are culling themselves, under the right conditions.

Oh, i also threw in some "ghost shrimp" from not LFS and they are doing good. I noticed the bio buildup from dead duckweed and stuff was a light sprinke across the bottom and in the guppy grass. These guys should take care of what the guppies dont. I was debating getting some 'fancy shrimp' for my tank, but I'm not sure that I need shrimp. From what I understand, most shrimp are back to dull brown etc in a generation or two. If I could find a strain that was breeding true on color I would enjoy it I think -- But one thing at a time.

I also discovered that neon tetras really really don't like high PH and hard water. This is something I should have checked, but getting them from the same place I assumed their water params were the same... I'm not sure its a good idea to keep them together. I thought that would be cool. The tetras didn't.

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6 minutes ago, James Croney said:

I always try to keep some daphnia in the tank, at least a hundred or so. I don't think my guppies can eat a daphnia magna unless they are small or freshly molted adult. I notice that some daphnia they have started "testing" to see if they are edible I think. The guppy will nip a daphnia, and only sometimes come immediately back and eat it. At first they were sucking them in their mouths and blowing them back out, it seems like that is not the best way to check the tenderness of the daphnia.

Daphnia in the presence of fish develop something called 'phenotypic plasticity'. Which means factors given off by the fish effect the development of the Daphnia causing the next generation of Daphnia to grow spines. It makes the Daphnia less palatable to the fish. I don't know if that is what is happening with your Daphnia, but it does happen.

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What weird little critters daphnia are! I had read that they have a lot of things that can "switch on" depending on environment like their mating style and egg hatching methods. I had assumed there was nothing that would prevent them from being eaten generally. Spikes may do it though! Hopefully the fish can determine if they are freshly molted somehow, because I imagine they would be soft even if they are spiky then.ย  The source of the daphnia does not contain any fish, so hopefully if spikes are forming in the fish tank like you say it takes a generation (a few days in daphnia time! LOL)

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Welp I got all the wonderful things for my little desk tank in the mail yesterday.

The guppies have taken to it well. I did notice that as the last of the guppy grass was melting away that the fry were all gone. They likely finally ended up eating them I imagine.ย  Not to worry, now both guppies are boxing off as i type this.

Ive setup the tank with the plants, but want to wait another day or so before I do pictures to let the small particles settle.

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Enough time has passed that I think the tank is doing well now. Well, at least well enough to post some pictures.


You can see baby fry in this first picture, hard to focus but there are two in the upper third of the picture, on the edge of the brown background. (The brown thing is a floating betta log)IMG_20201221_102644.jpg.c17d16d5918f3bfa4361632bbaf76317.jpg


This is the male, or at least a male of that line that contributed to the fry. He is really pretty, but the females are far more stunning, when compared to their own gender.


The dwarf baby tears have started to grow out after some melt.I think it will continue to improve and grow.


Airstone hanging high, but I've also experimented with it inside the floating beta log to reduce air disturbance for the duckweed.



More pictures attached.





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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh boy, hazards of throwing things in the tank -- I introduced a dragon fly larva! These things love to munch on small fish, and imagine they could seriously injure an adult guppy.

I have 4 bigger fry, and I noticed a few more tiny babies! Then... all the babies were gone. Then ... I saw it. It was perched on the side of the aquarium, fat and happy with a smile on its face.

I did manage to throw him back into my outside tanks without killing him.



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