Idea for creating a cave 8/8/09
Thanks for this site and your work. I have learned a lot on here, and I
believe that's why my tanks have done well.
<I am glad you have benefited from our efforts>
I have 10-gallon tank with a male Betta (not sure of his age, but
he's been fine for months and has healthy-looking fins and color).
He shares the tank with five leopard Corys, a pair of Otos, some
watersprite and a potted Swordplant. The tank has several rocks and
light gravel (large pebbles, really) covering most of the bottom of my
tank. I have an idea to create a cave by laying a small glass jar or
clay pot on its side and tying java moss to it until it takes and grows
on its own. What do you think?
<A clay pot will be better looking and functionally than the
Would java moss grow on a jar or pot?
<Perhaps on the latter; not at all on the former>
Thanks so much.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Runaway Christmas Moss 9/9/08
I am having a problem with runaway Christmas Moss.
<This is the Java Moss look-alike Vesicularia montagnei,
I bought a plant package which included Christmas Moss. Prior to
ordering I talked to the grower about my needs. Mainly, that I was
creating a Discus Tank, and needed warm water plants. The temp in my 72
gallon tank is around 84 degrees w/o heater, with the lights on. ( I
live in Florida) The Christmas Moss has turned to brown, and has spread
to all areas of the tank.
<For one thing, this is way too hot for Vesicularia montagnei, a
cool-water species. That would likely explain both its rapid growth and
subsequent exhaustion (turning brown).>
When I try to pick it out of the other plants, it fragments apart and
spreads through out the tank. It is clogging my other plants leaves,
and ornaments. It is too fine to pick out.
<Ah, the best approach here would be to remove clumps while
siphoning out the water, so that the loose particles go right up the
tube. Sharp (e.g., surgical) scissors would be a great help.>
Our fish are old and big. Jack Wattley Discus are very expensive. We
worry about having to tear the tank apart, or pulling all the plants
out, and moving the fish.
<Those are some pampered fish... mine certainly don't get that
kind of treatment! If they have to put into a bucket, off they go! But
you'll know your fish best.>
(Having anaerobic problems before when replanting. before.)
<Anaerobic problems are more mythical than real; while you certainly
can get anaerobic decay, the resulting gases oxidise immediately they
come into contact with oxygenated water. In ponds and marine tanks
anaerobic decay is part of the system; it eludes me why freshwater
aquarists get so paranoid. Have yet to hear a single example of any
fish being harmed or killed by gases coming out of the substrate.
There's always a first time though, so maybe you'll be the
<Lucky Bob F. didn't see this or you'd have had your
knuckles rapped.><<I am seeing... red... Heeee!
<You might try adding a Panaque. These catfish certainly remove and
perhaps consume Java Moss in my tanks, and being peaceful and retiring
fish shouldn't cause problems with your Symphysodon. At the very
least they'll dislodge and limit the spread of the existing Moss as
they hunt for algae. You can then siphon out what's loose, or
pipette out with a turkey baster. Panaque don't do the
"sucking on the mucous" thing that certainly other
Loricariidae have been noted for. All they want out of life is bogwood
and vegetables. Various species and sizes, including Rio Xingu forms
ideally suited to very hot tanks like yours. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Runaway Christmas Moss 9/10/08
Thank you for the return email.
<Not a problem.>
The reason I mentioned anaerobic fluctuations affecting my fish, and
was seemingly paranoid, was my past incident. Prior to a past weekly
water change, (40%) I did some aquascaping. I move 3 large plants,
replanting them. After doing the water change(aged, treated water, as
usual) I noticed the Celebese Rainbows at the surface trying to
<Ah, sounds as if the sudden release of anaerobic material was
consuming the oxygen from the water too rapidly for the fish to be
happy. Certainly possible and sounds alarming.>
I tested for nitrates, which where very high, I turned on the air
stone, and dosed the tank with Super Bac which nullifies nitrates, and
thought I had avoided any fish loss.
<With the spike in nitrates, again, this does sound like there was a
lot of incompletely decomposed organic material in that substrate. Your
question here has to be where was this nitrogen-rich material coming
from. Obviously the only major source of nitrogen is protein, and that
comes almost entirely from either food or dead animals. So going back a
bit further, your next question has to be where were these coming from:
were you overfeeding the tank, or not cleaning the substrate
adequately, or what. The classic anaerobic gas that people say poisons
their fish is H2S, but that clearly doesn't cause a spike in
nitrates; if you're getting a nitrate spike, then somewhere along
the line food/corpses are involves, simply because the nitrogen has to
come from somewhere.>
However I did loose some of the rainbows a few days later. They seemed
not able to breath, hanging at the surface. Luckily, the Discus were
<Interesting difference in reactions. My guess would be that because
Discus are less oxygen sensitive than Rainbows (these latter being
active, stream-dwelling fish) that the actual cause of stress/mortality
was oxygen deprivation caused by a rapid increase in biological
Asking more experienced folks, (like you) at Wattley's' Discus,
and Big Al's, they diagnosed the issue as anaerobic
<And what precisely does "anaerobic fluctuation" mean? One
issue I have with fishkeeping (saying this as a scientist with the PhD
to prove it) is that while many expert hobbyists are very good at
diagnosing problems and making practical recommendations, they often
stick bogus explanations on to the end of what they're saying. In
this case I think the explanation "anaerobic fluctuation"
doesn't really explain anything.>
I inquired as to how to aquascape without fish loss, and was told to
follow the replanting with 100% water change.
<This is what I do. I put the fish in 5 gallon buckets with filters
and heaters if necessary. Aquascape the tank, and then fill with new
water. Once that's done and I'm sure the water
chemistry/temperature isn't too different, I tend remove 50% of the
water from the buckets, fill them up with water from the tank so the
fish get exposed to the new conditions for a while, and then move
everyone back to the tank. Generally problem-free.>
I am since paranoid about the incident, and have not replanted
Thanks for all your help!!!
<Good luck, Neale.>
Java Moss consumers Hi Bob, I need an underwater lawnmower to
help control the growth of Java Moss that has attached itself to
everything in a customers tank. Do you have any recommendations for
herbivorous fish or fishes that will consume Java Moss? Regards, Shayne
Smith <Mmm, don't know of any consumers of Java Moss off hand,
but do know where I would ask next: http://www.thekrib.com/ Bob