New Friends: Ghost Shrimp and a Marimo Moss Ball

I’ve been tossing around the idea of getting live plants in my aquarium for quite a while. It’s a little daunting, why mess with a good thing, right? But I found some live plant solutions that might just fit my needs.

I’ve ordered a batch of Java moss, which is essentially a weed. Unfortunately, none of the local pet huts carried the moss. The pros, for me, are that it readily grows, does not need a particular substrate and will over run your tank. Perfect! My plan is to let the moss overrun the bottom of the tank, almost like a carpet. Next, I am going to get some driftwood for it to adhere to and grow along that as decor. My rainbow rock and large pebbles will be kept moss free (damn, I have to clean them!) to provide contrast.

For today, step two of this project, I purchased some Ghost Shrimp. Ghost shrimp help groom the plants at eat leftover food/waste in the tank. With a whole carpet of moss, tank cleaning is going to have to be reworked. And who the heck doesn’t like Ghost Shrimp???

wpid-20140801_103156.jpgthey’re kind of adorable…

Back back back in the day when I worked at the petstore, we had a pet Ghost Shrimp named Hank. We had gotten a shipment of them and after they had all sold, Hank was left. We set up a little aquarium for him in the back room and it was Hank’s House. Yes, we were bored.

Hank had a beautiful life for an animal that is normally food.

Hopefully, my fish will leave the shrimp alone. I fed them when I stuck the shrimp in, so they don’t seem to be all that interested. Plus, the shrimp are pretty decent size and there are a lot of hiding spaces in my tank. Some of the shrimp have eggs, I believe they are called saddles, under them. Whoo hoo! Send in the babies!

Lastly, I also purchased a Marimo Moss ball. (DUH IT’S A PLANT AND I CAN HOARD IT!)

wpid-20140801_102828.jpgit’s fuzzy.

From what I gather, they are very hardy and continue to grow larger and larger. Also, you can propagate them. Part of my line of thought is to propagate these into smaller ones and then make little decorative aquariums, with just the balls. You can check some out online, they look amazing. I could use some jars, wine glasses, et cetera. I could even add a shrimp, PROVIDED THEY BREED SUCCESSFULLY DID YOU HEAR THAT SHRIMP??? Which I think would be super cute in a little vase. So, there’s that. More, hopefully in the future.

wpid-20140801_103339.jpg“I CLAIM THIS MOSS BALL FOR THE GHOST SHRIMP” -Hank and the Hankettes.

I will update when my java moss arrives! Whoo hoo!

Fresh Fish: Diamond Tetras

I got some new friends today and I am so very, very excited!

wpid-20140327_125359.jpgour hate for you is palatable. why are we in a bag?

As you may or may not know, I have a fish tank and am very fond of it. I love a good aquarium set up and have been keeping fish for about ten years. My first few years were when I was a teenager and I have learned a lot since them. I professionally worked in a store that sold pet fish for six years and learned even more. I’ve been around the block a bit. My favorite kind of fish tanks are tanks that focus on one species, I have found that to be the most successful. Also, a tank must be well planted and have a variety of places for the fish to hide. This achieves two goals, if all the fish are the same species, they will be more colorful, less stressed and more likely to breed. A well planted tank prevents fighting and allows the fish to hide, again, reducing stress, improving coloration and achieving a more “wild” look to the tank.

My tank is only a twenty gallon tank, which is not very big. It’s not the most impressive piece of furniture in the room and it doesn’t allow for very many species to exist in it successfully. However, it completely fits my needs.

Right before I moved in with my fiance, I had diamond tetras. They are my absolute favorite fish. My tank held about 5 or 7 at a time and they would breed. I had those exact fish (plus or minus a few for breeding and random deaths) for about five years. They were stunning. Colorful, elegant, hearty, absolutely stunning. About a week before I moved in something (and I am not clear what) killed all of them. I am assuming it was an electrical problem, honestly, fish that are that old and have been that successful don’t all die immediately overnight. Every stinking one was gone. In a way, I was lucky, I didn’t have to worry about moving them and stressing them out. But it was still sad. So my fishtank was bare for several months, until I got all new electrical (filters, lights and heater) for the tank, which was expensive. After that, I let it run for about a month to make sure everything was in working order and I was not in a hurry.

Unwisely, I decided to change the species in my tank. I decided to get leopard danios, also known as Zebra Fish. Everyone who knew I had fish thought that I should get a different species after having “the same old, same old” for so long. I honestly don’t know why I listened to them. I think I choose the danios because they are ridiculously hardy. I also got 3 other fish, I can’t remember what they were called, but they were like a golden danio, which is basically an albino version of the leopards. I guess I liked them plenty, but it wasn’t the same. The selection at the particular store was crap. I wasn’t as dedicated, they weren’t as pretty. I don’t even know why I didn’t stick with my once species rule. That’s what made my tank in the past, why did I get two different kinds? They didn’t start off well either. Despite being hardy, two died right away and one was, um, special looking. I didn’t really even feel like getting replacements. I kept the ones that lived and today I cleaned out the tank and saw that there were only two left.  Out of six. That is terrible. I’ve had them about a year and that is just terrible.

So I decided to get the fish I want, diamond tetras!

wpid-20140327_125638.jpgthis is the male, closest to the camera. you can tell by his fancy sexy fins!

wpid-20140327_125607.jpgit is stupid hard to take a picture of fish.

I searched the store, diamond tetras aren’t always easy to find and then…I saw them…6 perfectly fat, happy and lively diamond tetras. They had been in the store for a while. Perfect. Perfect. The poor clerk had to chase them down and bag them for me.

wpid-20140327_125320.jpgRELEASE US!!!

I left them in the bag for about ten minutes for the water to adjust to temperature and released them. I can’t tell you how much happier I am about them. I still have the two danios, which hopefully will coexist peacefully. In all likelihood, everyone should play pretty nice. The danios can school together and right now my fat happy diamond tetras are schooling. The male, there might be more than one, but the dominant one, is keeping his little school in shape. There might be two other males, I can’t tell yet. But anyway, I am very pleased with my new fish! I feel like I am back in the hobby!

I do have concerns, my tank is over in the amount of fish it should have. As long as I am very careful not to overfeed them and make sure to do proper water changes, they should do just fine. But at least I am back to being excited about it!

One of these days I’ll do a post on how to start a fish tank, for anyone who is interested. It’s a very easy and rewarding hobby. Many people who just start a fish tank often overcomplicated the process and make it much harder on themselves. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming! 😀