Deep Red Cardinals

Messy Freshwater Planted Aquarium 14 Gallons Cardinal Tetras

So my aquarium does not look the best compositionally. I’m missing a certain harmony in the heights and arrangements of plants to achieve an overall balance. I haven’t been fond of my free-range algae, but as of late its beginning to grow on me.

My plants and my cardinals, however, are doing well. The cardinal tetras are deep red and have reached a nice size, over an inch in length. Their size and brilliance remind me of piranhas or little great white sharks.

Cardinal Tetras And Thats a Post Planted Tank Aquarium

These guys are my favorite little tropical fish. One day I hope to have a big school of them in a public place like a library or coffee shop for a lot of people to enjoy. Take it easy and enjoy.


My Dream Tank: Cardinal Tetras, Rummynose, & Altum Angels

So I often dream of my ideal fish tank. I imagine a tank that attempts to forge a beautiful little window into the natural world. Cardinal tetras and rummynose tetras are spectacular tropical fish. The former for their electric red and blue and the latter for their tight schooling and fire engine red snouts.

Native to the black water tributaries of the Amazon, these fish are at home in low ph water tinted with the natural dark tannins of decaying leaves. I must state, however, that I don’t know how so many fish can safely live in this small of an aquarium, but I speculate that it must be through the daily or bi-daily changing of large amounts of water.

The large fish are Altum angelfish, the largest freshwater angelfish. As breeding occurs in the Amazon or Rio Negro the populations of tropical fish swell into the tens of millions during the wet-season, they are sustainably captured by native fishermen sold to aquarium hobbyists around the world. Since these fish experience incredibly high natural mortality rates in the wild, large quantities can be harvested without damaging the various species’ long term viability. (I must note, however, the fish in the video are a captive bred F1 generation).

Angelfish are hunters so I caution not to set up this aquarium at home unless you are prepared for the possibility of having your Angels pick off your cardinals and rummynose. I wouldn’t be comfortable with the possibility of my prized cardinals getting eaten, but perhaps there’s a trick to keep it from happening. If so, let me know, and I will keep dreaming of such a setup as this.

Radon Turned Me Back To Planted Tanks

So I’m consciously redirecting my current obsession from discus to planted tanks. A planted tank is a aquarium set up with all live plants and live fish. They’re amazing. Beautiful, peaceful, entertaining, and relaxing. And while I’d like to say I’m going back to planted tanks simply because my wife thinks they’re so pretty, the truth is, I found the prospect of not inhaling radioactive gas quite appealing.

Before I bought more discus, I agreed to test the basement for radon, since it’s known to be high in this part of the country and I’d be spending a considerable amount of time in the basement with my future discus fish. [My discus tank is in the basement because they need frequent water changes. For now, that can only happen there next to a drain and the stored clean water from the R.O. filter.] The results came back indicating we have we have 7.7 pCi/L in the basement, a level well above the recommended max. of 4 pCi/L. So, before more discus, I need to install a radon mitigation system.

Radon was the kicker. Discus are out and planted tanks are in. I drove out to Chicago a couple weekends back to look at some discus someone had for sale and also checked out a craigslist ad for a slightly used 14 gallon biocube. I bought the aquarium at a great price, brought it back, and cleaned it out.

The tank being in great shape, I started looking for plants. I had a hard time finding some nice plants, but between the Quad Cities and Madison, I found a few to get me started. I already had a glass CO2 diffuser to add carbon dioxide to the water to help the plants grow. I special ordered a dozen deep red Florida-raised cardinal tetras but only one survived. I was left to cobble together a small group of eight cardinals from local fish stores. Unfortunately, they are the more pale tank-raised cardinals. The good news is they made it a healthy ten days in quarantine. I don’t know whether they’ll get the deep red color this fish is known for. I imagine they will, but we shall see.

So we have a start. Eight cardinal tetras, four rummy nose tetras, two siamese algae eaters, and one otocinclus catfish. Plants include narrow leaf and lace java fern, corkscrew jungle vallisneria, green cryptocoryne wendtii, cryptocoryne balansae, and two somewhat unknown swords. The maroon one might be a rubin sword and the smaller one might be a rosette sword. We’re enjoying the tank. I can’t wait to see how my planted aquarium tinkering evolves.

We Concurred on a Blackmouth Cur

So my wife and I have been looking for the right dog since we met. Getting a dog represents more than it should for us as we’ve had our ‘the right dog’ moments not work out in the past. Us not having a dog symbolized so much about the economy and our seemingly slow motion progress toward realizing our dreams in adulthood. We were starting to get a little paranoid. We can get married but we can’t get great jobs, we aren’t ready for kids, and crap, we can’t even have a dog.

Now that we’re at a crossroads again we’ve made the decision to force our fate in a new direction. We’re committing to a dog first and are trusting the rest to work itself out.

We’ve been looking for the right dog and were thinking everything from a boxer to a havaneese to an australian shepherd mix, but are confident we found it in a 40lb blackmouth cur. She’s a year old and super-sweet. Happy to flip her belly to a complete stranger. From what we’ve been told and can tell, she loves to play, loves children and other dogs, is smart, and doesn’t shed a whole lot. She’s watches everything, is goofy, and surprising.

Other dogs were playing, she got really excited, jumped up on her hind legs–effectively hugging me. I didn’t quite share her excitement and was puzzled by her action. I was entertained in spite of myself. I take it, she may have a little boxer in her.

I find her droopy jowls, gentle nature, and the way she melts into you when you pet her, reminiscent of both a female boxer and a manatee. We will enjoy some boxer in a smaller, blackmouth cur package. And I must mention, she’s got a beautiful coat and an even more beautiful snout.

So she won us over. We met her last weekend and committed to taking her today. We’ll visit her at her foster home on Wednesday and then officially pick her up for our move back to Illinois right after Memorial Day weekend. We’re excited. Our feelings of frustration are over. We are making progress. We have a mile marker. We have our blackmouth. We met our right dog and this one we’re not losing. No regrets. We’ll be taking care of her, as I’m sure, she will us.

Update: In a sad for us turn of events, we weren’t able to adopt her because my wife’s asthma and allergies reacted terribly. She would have been the perfect dog for us in every other way. Her foster mom is incredible and will definitely find her a great home.



Stendker Discus Now

So it’s May. I’ve had the discus since January when I got them at a little over two and a half inches each, except for the larger single fish I’d already had for a couple months. My fish are a domestic strain of discus bred by Hahnz Stendker out of Germany.  They are getting bigger and starting to show some color. They’re fun to watch but it’s easy to see that this isn’t what most expect in a fish tank. Not everyone can overcome the bare tank.

It may also be a little surprising but discus enthusiasts exist around the world obsessing, breeding, and showing these fish. Just like dog shows, they groom their specimens and pioneer new breeds.

Now the goal of many a serious discus keeper is to help their very sensitive fish grow out to the fish’s full potential. A nice adult discus should be nearly completely round as opposed to spade shaped. The face shouldn’t come to a point and the distance from the top of the head through the eye to the bottom of the head should equal seven and a half times the height of the eye itself. If the eye appears too big or small in proportion to the fish, it is again subpar.

This is nerve racking in slow motion. Discus don’t round out for a year and a half to two years. In the meantime your worried you’ll have an ace of spades and not a frisbee. I’m in the middle of month four which make them over six months old and a potential year and a half to go to see if I end up with nice shaped, colored, and well proportioned discus.

So far I’m pretty happy. They are growing. Fast. And although it is supposed to take them up to two years to get their full adult coloring, they are beginning to color up pretty nice also. The reds are still a little orange in the red turquoise discus and the blue is still a little orange in the blue snakeskin but they are coming along. They are about four and a half inches now. Three and a half or four more to go. If I’m lucky.