Nestled deceptively at the terminus of an upscale Poway area tract home development, their home is a well-preserved/improved 1929 residence, w/ (thank goodness) strong floors! Karen has numerous systems, one of two hundred gallons volume; all are prime examples of what one might do to promote good freshwater livestock health, w/ a modicum of maintenance.
Karen's tanks are prodigiously planted, lighted w/ stock fixtures, numbers of lamps, and filtration. Most of her maintenance involves weekly half water change-outs and copious feeding.
Philosophy: Purposes of Design
In asking Karen what her goal/s were in setting up this system, I noted that there are many small/juvenile "Plecostomus" here and know she's a breeder of same. Additionally, there is an abundance of cherry shrimp... She states: 'This tank is my little show tank for my enjoyment at meals--that's why it's on the kitchen table. I keep small interesting fish in the tank. I usually have male guppies because they are so active, cheery and playful.'
The Set Up:
Re the system make-up; this is a stock twelve
gallon Marineland Eclipse unit. Nothing has been done to modify it from
the original. Of note in particular, the lighting has not been changed,
augmented. There is just the one provided daylight fluorescent lamp; on
for twelve hours a day.
DÃ©cor: on the right is a piece of upright driftwood... this is a dense, hard, sinking African root: Mopani driftwood. The substrate is CaribSea's Tahitian Moon Black sand, about 15 pounds, with some local dark-blue 'wampum' stones and striped metamorphic accent rocks. Live plants occupy a good deal of the middle and background. We'll cover them below.
Karen has very nice live plantings in all her system, sometimes with a theme. No specific theme however. She uses plants that grow well under each tank's lighting. 'My sixty has especially low light, so I use it for her Cryptocorynes and Anubias--many species of both. The corner tank (92 gallons) has high light, so I grow more stem plants and ground-cover plants in there.' <Both shown>
The type/breed of Guppy: 'Tropical Sunrise. It is new. I think it is a color variation of the Tequila Sunrise guppy--some of which were in the tank too. The difference between the two is that the Tropical has a metallic blue shimmer on the tail end of its body. I'm growing the Tropical Sunrise gups and will sell them when I have enough. They are hardier than fancy show guppies. Unlike fancy show guppies, the Tequila and Tropical Sunrise can be kept successfully in community tanks.'
The Plecs: 'The male nurtures the eggs/fry in his hole in a piece of wood in the front right. A pair of brown long fin bushy nose Plecos produces babies in there regularly. Once the newest batch is out of the hole, I move the previous batch to other Eclipse Twelve's in the fish room.
They are the long finned type of bushy nose Plecos, one of the many Ancistrus species: http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=830+837+1039&pcatid=1039. I have albinos and chocolates--the young of which have striking white edging on their tails.'
'I feed a lot and change water a lot: 50% per week.'
I note that Karen feeds mostly commercial dried
foods... but supplements w/ others. She states, 'The staple diet is
TetraMin flakes. I supplement with hulled brine shrimp eggs, Ken's
Earthworm and veggie sticks and algae wafers. I have a culture of
vinegar eels, but, I rarely have time to deal with them, unless I have
tiny fry. Very occasionally, my fish get frozen blood worms.
Karen had mentioned that she employs our San Diego
"liquid rock" tapwater straight w/o filtering, changing out
half per week as your maintenance regimen. What other additives,
fertilizers, if any do you utilize, particularly for your plants?
Cloze: As an olde timey member of the SDTFS (was the president for three years back in the 90's), I try to take in regular meetings as well as our occasional outings. Am so glad to have attended this spring luncheon and visit, and gotten to see and chat w/ Karen re her outstanding systems. Again, I thank her, husband Mike Fry and the club for putting on this lunch party.
Karen's tanks are testimony to what can be achieved and enjoyed w/ stock systems and components, knowledge, patience and an artistic touch.