First the little dwarf loaches. . .
Over the couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a very obvious decrease in shyness on their part. Though they’re still a bit more reclusive and obviously nocturnal than my Kuhli, they’re no longer nervy when the kids or I am around the tank, and it has become very rare for me to not
see at least 3-5 of them out and about when I pass at any time of day. There is no doubt in my mind that these babies were wild-caught, and I think that they’ve really finally adjusted to my water, good regular meals, and tank life on the whole. Because of the obvious increase in their comfort level, I think now is a good time to start thinking about moving them into the 55, as they seem to have fully de-stressed from their initial transport, and forgotten all about that awful fish shop.
The first batch was brought home right around Thanksgiving, and I added the rest a week before Christmas, so they've all had over a month to acclimate, though as far as any illnesses are concerned, I'm really not so sure. I try every day, and I can never seem to get the same head count! Sometimes I only get to five for a week straight, other times, I get up to eight or nine before my eyes get all dizzy and I have to start fresh. I honestly have NO idea how many are in there - to me, they all look the same - they move so QUICKLY, and tend to pile on top of each-other. They’re so small, and so fast - I have no idea! But they all eat well, and the ones that I see appear to be healthy enough. If the tank is 10 gallons or 55, I don't think I'll EVER really know how many there are (except when I catch them all for the move), and there is still the question of the missing black loach. I sincerely hope he’s still in there! I’ve moved all of the rocks several times, and seen not a trace of the little guy. Hopefully he proves to be the only one of my loaches to ever burrow under the sand, and I’ll find him when the time comes for the move.
This last water change really brought home how comfortable they’ve become. They absolutely refuse to hide away now when my hands are in there for maintenance, and they seem so at ease with the routine at this point that they take to zinging all about the tank like maniacs while I’m doing my water changes. I’m so very aware of them, and so very careful. . . but in spite of all that, TWO of them managed to sneak past my finger guard and took a ride down the water slide siphon and into the bucket! Little punks were none the worse for wear, and didn’t show the slightest sign of stress when returned to their home - just went right back to what they were doing as if nothing had happened! They’re so slender, that my ½ inch siphon hose has plenty of wiggle room for them - this may prove an easy way to catch the little brats for transfer, lol!
In other, not quite as good news, the 55 gallon tank has had me all eyes this week.Though everything seems to be getting back to normal now. . . something went screwy somewhere during last week's cleaning. . .
As usual, I did my weekly water change, but I was due to clean the filter (I rinse it monthly). I changed out the white filter pad this week for the first time since it's been running. Before I switched over to the foam in my HOB filters, I'd always let new media run side-by-side with the old for a week before removing it, but the pad in my canister filter pretty much fell apart on me, so that wasn't possible in this case . . . I also pruned a few of the leaves off my Sword plants - there are still a few emersed leaves hanging on, so I've been removing them little by little as they start to look funky. . .
A few hours after my water change, I noticed that the rams were being weird - hiding in the back corner, all greys and showing their stress stripes. Tested the water - everything was normal. . .everyone ELSE
looked fine, so I kept an eye on them and let it be.
Though they usually aren't SO dramatic about it, they do get fussy sometimes when I prune. To a fish that small, I suppose a single large leaf or three can be a very important piece of their territory, so it isn't unusual for them to be a little bit off after a pruning. It's not usually that
obvious, generally just a slight dimming of color, and a hint of the spotty stress stripes showing through - nothing that a 'normal' person would notice. (Their coloration can shift dramatically throughout the day, they use it directly as a form of communication, I think) But I've seen them pull the huddling in the corner bit a few times before - usually related to something in the outside world - out of town visitors keeping activity levels up later into the night than usual, birthday parties with lots of strange people and noise - that kind of thing. Their scales and fins all looked okay, breathing was normal, tank temps normal - and they came out to eat at feeding time, so I put them to bed a little bit early and called it a night.
The next day, they were STILL
all huddled in the corner, and now the loaches were . . . just kind of hanging out and being lazy. They looked
fine, but they weren't being their usual wiggly selves. Very odd behavior for them - but I've seen them do this before on the few occasions when I've missed a water change. I tested the water again, thinking that mucking with the filter may have caused some cycle wiggles - all came back normal. But these fish are sensitive, so I thought that maybe the wobble was slight enough for my tests not to catch it. Did another water change to clear out anything that might be bothering them. . . a few hours later, my TETRA
were all clustered together, instead of spread out and happily shoaling around the tank. . . That NEVER
happens! I haven't seen those babies stress over anything since the week they came home! Really
nervous now, I tested my TAP water. The weather has been really cold for us, and pipes have been bursting all over town. The water looked, smelled, and tasted fine to me - and we haven't had any issues on my street that I've seen, but just in case. Ammonia, nitrite, both at 0. NitrAte was up at 10ppm. My tanks usually run between 5-7.5, and the tank was still testing dead-on, so that wasn't it. But I've only seen nitrate in my tap water a few times, it usually happens in the spring when there is a ton of rain, and runoff from people using ferts on their gardens, etc. Worried that there might be some traces of organic nastiness in there putting everyone off, I put a spare HOB filter (rated to 45 gallons) on the tank with a double-dose of carbon in the hopes that it would help to clear out any contaminates (I didn't have a replacement carbon pad for my canister, there's a box on the way now, though) Within a few hours the Tetra were more or less back to normal, as were the loaches. The rams played hard-to-get for the rest of that day, but the next morning they came right out to greet me. . .
Since then, things have been more or less as they should be. Two of my rams are still randomly hiding, though - they're the lowest two in the ranking, the weakest of the bunch - and they've been bouncing back and forth from normal behavior, to corner-dwelling. Both are still eating well, and when they decide to come out - which is most of the time - they seem fine from what I can see, and don't appear to be being bullied by the others. . .
I'm due for a water change later today - Sunday - and I'm not sure if I should do it or not. Kind of confused as to what's going on - I'll test the tap water before I do anything, for sure, but if there IS something in the water, I don't know why none of the other tanks seem to be bothered by it - I'd at least think I'd see some odd behavior in my dwarf loaches - but they're happy as can be. I DID change the water in the rest of my tanks the day before I did this one, so I guess it's possible that something changed overnight in the tap water, and there's also still the possibility that it could be related to the filter fiddling. . . *scratches head* I've never broken my tank before! I don't know what I did, but I'm afraid to accidentally do it again! And of course, no Dwarf loachlings will be going anywhere until I get the 55 sorted out 100% again.
Whooooooo BOOK! I'll end this post on a happier note - a video of me hand-feeding the tank. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any really good loachy footage. Sometimes they’re all over my hands and between my fingers - I really wanted to share that behavior with my fellow loachaphiles out there, but other times they completely ignore me! They're in the video a little bit, though - at around teh 2.5 & 4 minute mark (I know, too loooong!) Maybe I’ll catch some good wiggly action at another future filming. The Jelly Beans, though they aren’t disturbed by my hands in their tank don’t *quite* eat from my fingers yet. They kind of swarm around me hoping for bits of floating foods to reach them, but they’re surface feeders. They’re starting to come around, but have only just
started picking food out of my fingertips at the surface of the water, so no footage of that yet, either - you SHOULD
see them eat, tho - it becomes very obvious that they're related to piranha. . . crazy little things! :) The first half of the video is really devoted to my beloved rams, if you pay attention, you can see them 'being snarky' toward each other during meal time - their little topfins are flaring like crazy and the dominant ones try to convince the others that my hand is their territory - it never really works out for them, thankfully! And they're always . . . nice about it. All talk, those silly babies.
For the record - I don't feed them this much at once! This was taken over the course of a few different nights ;)