Aquarium Update - Part 2

This past weekend when I actually had some downtime I worked on my aquarium yet again and achieved most of what needed to get done from my previous aquarium update on here.
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I got my light fixture setup and attached to the wall now, and I decided to move the decor around as before it looked like a pile of leaves stuffed into the corner or something. I also decided to use a matte finish trash bag as my background which I layered and cut to fit the back of the tank and attached it with a bit of clear tape. I changed the placement of my filter and heater to better disguise it in the back behind the decor a bit. I haven't added any additional fish to my tank yet and find it odd that without female guppies in my tank my males spend most of the day hiding and lazing around. Aside from what I set out to do I also did a little more tank maintenance and changed out about 3L worth of water (since it got a bit cloudy throughout the week) and tried my best to scrub off the calcium buildup (is there an easier way to remove that stuff?!).

I'm in debate about changing out the mopani driftwood with branches as I loath having to clean and soak new wood. I'm also in debate about getting a glass top over the tank as they don't always hold up too well and require more tank maintenance on my end since my well-water is really hard.


Recent Aquarium Setup - Part 1

I decided to create a blackwater style aquarium however, it's not a true biotope and I think it looks nice for fall time which is really just around the corner. I put only my male guppies in this tank to separate them from my females and also because their colors looked nice with the foliage. I am considering buying a few tetra's to add to this setup (won't say which ones yet, it'll be a surprise!).
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To achieve this look was pretty cheap, I bought a 25lb bag of black gravel (Petco) however, I think half the bag would've been a decent amount of substrate for my 10gal as this looks a bit much for my personal preference. On the plus side, I want to get rid of the black and white gravel in my other 10gal, so when I get around to cleaning that tank then I'll probably remove half the substrate from my new tank into that one (helps prevent new tank syndrome as well).

I found a 5ft faux maple leaf garland and a faux oak bouquet at the Dollar Tree. I rinsed these as their was a small amount of dye that washed off from them. I then placed the maple garland at the bottom of the tank, poured my gravel on top and pulled up a few of the maple leaves out from the gravel. As a side note, if you cut the stem off from the leaf it does not float on top the water but rather sinks to the bottom. I then had some smooth black substrate stones (Petco) and placed a handful or two of those around the top of the gravel to help break up the overly gravel look it was giving off in the tank.

The piece of Mopani driftwood in my tank I have had for awhile now which I also got from the pet store. I had originally planned to find some dry branches to clean and put into the tank but haven't got around to that yet. I cut the stems off of my oak leaf bouquet, only leaving 2 stems attached to the original base, then I lightly pushed and arranged the stems into the gravel behind the Mopani.

I did buy a new aquarium heater which claims to heat up to 20 gallons, it's fully submersible and is made by Aqueon (I will do a review of this at some point). Once I get the temperature set properly in this tank I'll move it from the side of the tank to the back. I also bought a new filter cartridge for my 20gal Aqueon filter because I only had the medium sized cartridges and needed large ones for this model.

I cut open a brown paper Pollo bag which I had on hand and used it as my background, and I think it turned out better than I was expecting. However, I'm thinking of switching out the paper bag with a black trash bag. The black background will allow better viewing so that the filter intake tube and my new tank heater won't look as visible.

The green breeding grass (Petco) floating on top the water was just intended to be temporary to help the guppies feel more at ease since I took it out of my other tank setup. Also the lighting is from an aquarium hood (Petco) which I had previously as I haven't setup the other light fixture (IKEA) for this tank yet, once its changed the water won't look as bright white but more yellow in color.

That's it for my new setup, let me know your thoughts or comments.


Guppy Updates - Updated

My male guppy fry just reached 5 months of age (getting close to full adult hood). They have gained a lot of color in their tails over the last month and have been chasing the females constantly. The males tails are still growing longer at this stage where the females tail growth has basically stopped since last month. The color pattern on the males has definitely been changing and enhancing a lot more in color over the past month. The females appear to look just like their mother. The males have developed an interesting spotted color scheme on their body, similar to that of an endler guppy.
Click to Enlarge (around 5 months of age)
Around 2 months or so ago the Mother guppy gave birth to another female fry. It is common for guppies to give birth without having mated again.
Male Color Description
Half tuxedo body, inherited from the mother I'd assume since she has this characteristic. Possible endler guppy body type with orange spot on the top of head and upper sides of body. A solid pale blue/white stripe which runs all the way down the top of the back. The dorsal fin is pale blue/white and orange at the base. The pectoral fins are also pale blue/white.The caudal fin appears to be an orange color shade and has become more orange this past month where it had looked half yellow before. At this stage the caudal is still in the growing process so I am not sure the outcome of the tail shape yet although it looks like it could become a possible delta or flag shape thus far.


Night of the Guppy

As I was randomly surfing the web on guppies tonight I came across this unique fictional vampire guppy story called "Night of the Guppy". It's pretty funny at times and only 3 chapters long, but it's a free read so check it out if you got some free time, made me smile!
Click Here to Read!


Blackwater Aquarium - Get the Look

Blackwater aquariums are not your typical looking tank as they generally have dark tea colored water, low lighting and generally have a lack in plant life. Below you'll find a few simple ways I came up with to create an aquarium that looks like or is a blackwater biotope type of aquarium.
In a blackwater aquarium it can often be a daunting task for live plants to survive in this type of environment as it usually has low light levels. Generally blackwater biotopes have soft water and plants possibly wouldn't thrive beneath the water. I'd recommend choosing bulbs that give off more yellow lighting in this type of aquarium and have a low wattage which will make the tank a bit more dim than bright. However, in a true blackwater biotope it is possible to use other types of lighting although I personally don't like white light blazing through this type of biotope. It is common for blackwater aquariums to be so dimly lit that it is often difficult to view the fish in the aquarium.
Due to the low light levels and low pH in a blackwater biotope most plants aren't going to thrive too well here. In my opinion you may be better off using fake plants if any at all (choose green plants that have a yellow or red tone given to them as these may look best). For a more natural approach use live or fake plants that sit/float near the surface of the water for the best success rate for live plants or the most natural looking blackwater aquarium.
The most typical decor found in a blackwater aquarium is often some type of wood and for good reason since it can help lower pH which is needed for true blackwater environments. The incorporation of stones/rocks/etc can be used as well. Blackwater environments will generally have a black background or one that is a bit burnish in color (think of deep orange and red colors that occur in autumn). The substrate may be covered in autumn colored leaves (real or fake) such as oak. Gravel substrate is generally black or a natural color although it's probably more common in a true blackwater environment to find natural colored sand or black colored soil. Keep in mind that a white substrate will probably appear more yellowish in a true blackwater type of environment and by using a black colored background it will help create more depth to the tank itself.
Water Quality
There are chemicals on the market which can help to lower the pH in an aquarium if your pH is not on the soft side (a pH lower than 7.0 is acidic and considered to be soft water) for a true blackwater environment. Blackwater in nature can be as low as a 3.0 pH although in an aquarium this may become a bit too unstable for brackish fish. There are also natural methods which can be used to help lower pH such as alder cones, bogwood, peat, almond leaves, etc. If your aquarium is not a true blackwater aquarium use older aquarium driftwood, low watt yellow lighting and some peat extracts which can help your water look more yellow in color without possibly altering it to the extremes of a pH below 7.0. Blackwater environments generally have slow moving water so you'll probably want to avoid using forceful powerhead filters.
Water Temperature
Upon doing some reaseach (although I am not totally certain how accurate this blackwater reading is) I found that an average blackwater temperature is possibly around 82.7°F but ranges from 76.3°F to 89°F.
Additional Tips
Keep in mind that the use of carbon can tend to remove certain chemicals from your water and remove the coloration from your blackwater biotope. Here's a little inspo link I found online to someone who created their own blackwater biotope.