Friday, July 6, 2012

Axolotl Dying

My axolotl was fine for a couple weeks after putting him in the new tank. But several days ago I noticed he wasn't eating.  I left him for a couple days, but he still wouldn't eat.  He was also floating at the top of the tank and he was very pale.  He's been this color for around a week now. 
I've had him in the fridge for the last 3 days but when I got up this morning, he was floating upside down and looked completely dead. I moved the container and he swam around a bit but he is lying on his side and seems to have no energy.  I don't think he's going to make it. 
I don't know what else to do except leave him in the fridge.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Here it is: I think this is pretty much done.  This came out about as cool as I had hoped.  I'm really happy with it.  The one problem right now is that the waterfall splashes onto the glass.  But that's not so bad.  
Here's a video.  I think my camera kept trying to focus on the glass.  It goes out of focus a lot, but you can get a good idea of what it looks like. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mostly Done

Here's an update.  After giving all of my plants a bleach treatment, I added them to the tank.  I'm pretty happy with it.  It may prove to be a bit over planted, but I can always take things out.  I don't know if the moss will stay wet enough either.  I'll have to spray it all the time.  But it looks pretty cool!
The waterfall splashes on the front glass making it hard to view. I think I'll by some wood to put in and try to "catch" the water so it doesn't splash. I also saw a grey tree frog on sale for pretty cheap, so I got him.  I now have this one, a japanese tree frog, and another that I can't remember the name.  I also put my newts in.  I think they will like it. 
Also, here's a video.  Don't mind the documentary in the background!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tanks update

I've more or less finished my new axolotl tank.  I let it settle for a week before putting him in.  Ph looks ok. And I've had a guppy in it for five days that seems to be doing well, so everything looks safe.  I've followed all the advice I've been reading online, so I think it should be fine.
One problem however is the heat.  Japanese summers are way too hot.  His water temperature should be around 20 C but lately it's been at 30 C.
I've asked at the pet shops what people in Japan do, and they told me to use frozen PET bottles.  A PET bottle melts within on hour though, and only takes the water temperature down by 3 or 4 degrees.  Since I'm at work 10 hours a day, I don't think this is going to be very effective.  I'm not sure what to do.  I don't want him to get sick. I'll try to think of something.
I've also starting finishing off the first tank I built with the waterfall.  I let it cure for over a month and though the pH is still around 8, I think that once I get the aquasoil it is and let it fun for a couple weeks, it should be fine. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ready to Plant

Here's the tank.  I think it's looking pretty good.  I didn't really think about installing the cords and hoses when I was building it.  But I think I'll be able to hid them with plants and things. 
One other thing I didn't think about was spraying foam directly onto the glass.  I wanted to spread silicone first to cover the ugly color seen from the outside.  But I got to excited about installing the bark piece.  Oh well.
I think I'm also going to have trouble getting the loose dirt off the new background.  I don't want it continuously falling off into the axolotl's water.
I installed a hose up through the top to spray out onto part of the rock.  I glued too pieces of mopani wood to it as well.  I haven't tested it yet.  If it doesn't work right, I can always disconnect it.  I'm hoping it splashes a little so I can grow moss in the areas around it; I just don't want it splashing into the dishes.  
I also got my new shelf.

No More Online Ordering

I got my last order of plants.  A couple of them are awesome.  The rest are too big!!! I guess I'll just have nice houseplants.

 This one is called a "Centipede Orchid." I can't find any info on it in English.  I think it is a native Japanese orchid. 
 Colysis wrightii
Cool looking fern.  Too big though. I don't know if I can grow it epiphytically, but it does like wet soil.  That could work. 

 Microsporum scolopendria
Another one I can't really find anything about. This one is really big too.
 Lemaphyllum microphyllum
I'm so excited about this one! I love this fern.  This will definitely grow epiphytically on the sides of the tank.  It looks awesome!
 Colysis elliptica
This one too: No info. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Tank

This didn't come out too bad.  I decided that the right portion didn't work so well, so I broke a bit of it off. I'll have to re-cement it, but I like it better this way.  I'll have to use low-growing plants, but I think it will look pretty cool and have plenty of water for the axolotl.  I may even get a black one to add in as well!


 Ficus pumilla minima
Creeping Fig
I finally found exactly the pumilla I was looking for.  This version has tiny leaves.  I think they look pretty awesome in vivariums.  I have been reading however that they will take over a tank fairly quickly and choke out everything else.  I think I'm going to try it out anyway to get some experience with it.  I'll try to keep it constantly pruned back. 

Sansevieria Zeylanica
I don't know the common name of this one.  It was on the website when I was ordering the bromeliads and looked cool.  I've since found out that it is actually a succulent and the leaves grow about a foot long.  It will probably end up as a house plant.

Ficus microcarpa
Chinese Banayan.  These were at the 100 yen shop and I thought they might fit well in a tank.  I'm hoping I can plant it slightly sideways so it looks like the roots are growing out of the rock.

Fireball Bromeliad
I'm not sure of the full scientific name for this one.  I searched all over the intranets to find bromeliads in Japan and there was only one site selling them.  This one was much smaller in the picture.  It might be too big to actually use in a tank.  Lame.

Another one I am not sure of.  This one is cool, but a bit big as well.  I'll have to angle it and maybe put a branch under it to protect it.  

Salvinia molesta
This was just something I saw on the website with the bromeliads.  Apparently it reproduces quite quickly.  I will probably put some of this in both tanks to float on the top of the pond. 


I saw this at the home center the other day and thought it was pretty cool.  I'll try to find out more about it.  It was sitting in a large tub outside, so I imagine there are probably a lot of nasties living in the water with it.  I need to figure out how bleach treat all of these plants before I use them. 

Humata tyermannii
Rabbit's Foot Fern
Another thing I saw on the website.  Way too big.  These ferns are meant to be epiphytitc.  I would love to cut this up into smaller pieces to put in the tank, but I would probably end up killing it.  Another house plant I imagine. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Cement Background

 I've been getting pretty impatient waiting for my waterfall tank to cure.  I've had it sitting in water in my shower for the last three weeks now, but it's still around 8.0 pH.  That's not super high, but it should probably be down to 7.5.

I decided to make the background for the second tank I bought, but this time, I didn't want to wait for it to cure.
I painted it with concreted like normal.  But then I went and purchased some pond paint made specifically for concrete koi ponds.  The can says (I'll post pics later) that it stops all leaching of alkaline into the water. I don't think that it necessarily waterproofs it though. I'm going to do a couple coats of this, and then put a layer of epoxy.  I'm thinking that should make it pretty safe, and then I can use it straight away.

The color of  this stuff is pretty bad--it's that light green color.  I thought I would just paint over it once it had dried, but I decided to just add some acrylic paint directly into it and it changed to a nice gray.  One more coat and it should be pretty good.  I'll paint some highlights in and then I can add the epoxy.  It should be finished in just a couple more days. 

I've decided to put my axolotl in this new tank.  He's been growing fairly well and he'll probably outgrow his tank fairly soon.

New Plants

I found a couple of new plants I thought would be good in my tank.  This one is a Tillandsia of some type (Ionantha?).  And the one bellow is a rabbit's foot fern (Davallia fejeensi).

These two I got at the Tokyo reptile show.  I'm pretty sure the left one is a type of staghorn fern. (Platycerium ellisi).
This other one is a type of Nepenthes I think, but I don't know what. 

I'm going to try to start keeping track of scientific names so I can learn how best to grow them.



The water in the newt paludarium we had set up was looking pretty dirty, so I decided I would try to change it.  I took out the newts and started siphoning out the water and noticed how absolutely disgusting it was.  So much mud and dirt had leaked out of planters that the water was basically mud. It didn't look too bad when everything was settled, but the moment I disturbed it, the water became completely opaque and brown.

I decided to completely dismantle the tank and that's when I noticed how much mold had been growing in it.  nearly the whole bottom portion of the cork bark and a lot of the background.
I read a couple forum posts online saying that mold growing in a paludarium is normal and actually a large part of a healthy system developing, but I decided not to risk it.

The newts are now in a very plain small container with clean water.  Hopefully the large tank will be finished soon and I can transfer them to there.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sleep to wake

In the few hours I have to myself I can't stay awake. So then I go to bed and can't sleep. And here it's only Monday.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day off

Today was my first day off in what felt like forever.  Still, I got up at 5 and left at 8 to go see my girls' basketball game.  They won of course. 

I came home, cleaned my house, did my laundry, put together a  new shelf, and then got to work on my new tank. 

I made some vines from shoelaces and wire, siliconed it, and then covered it with coco fiber.  Should work well, except that the wires occasionally poke out.  Could end up injuring the frogs. 

I carved out a background from foam.  This time I decided for a mostly water tank, and I'm thinking I will just transfer my axolotl to it.  I worked three tuperwares into the the upper portion to use for plants.  I've siliconed the pieces together. Once it's dry, I'll cement it.  This time, I think I'm going to to seal the whole thing with epoxy.  I don't want to wait for it to cure.

Monday, May 14, 2012


The other day I got two fire-bellied newts to put in my temporary tank.  I've also put my tree frog in with them.  The newts seem to like it very much, equally using the land and water portions.  I think it is probably too short for the frog.  He is very noisy at night though, so he is probably fine.

While this tank looks very cool, I've realized there are several design flaws that don't make it an ideal tank.  First of all, the waterfall and plant containers I made do not fit snugly against the back of the tank. There is a lot of space where animals could potential hide and get stuck where I wouldn't be able to find them. I filled it all up with loose rocks as best as I could, but it still isn't the best solution.  There are say too many places to hide.  Which is good for the animals' stress levels, but harder for me to care for them.

I'll use the experience in keeping this tank when I build my next two.

Monday, May 7, 2012


New Palu

The other day I was at a fish shop and they had some used tanks for sale.  They were a bit dirty, but only 200 yen!  Needless to say, I bought one.
Feeling eager to get started planting a tank and feeling frustrated over the slowness of my other project, we decided to make a new one.  We found a cool piece of driftwood with a hole at the top of a natural trough and foamed it onto a large rock to make a waterfall.  I then though to try out my old trick of using tupperwares to separate the land and water.  This time, we foamed the sides, then siliconed them and pushed in sand.  They look really cool!
We then made our background using foam, cork, some rocks, and some large bark.  We put the tube for our filter under the cork to disguise it.
It came out looking very very cool, and we only spent about 3000 yen.

I am hoping to put some newts into it, but before we do, I have a few worries I'll get to in another post. 

Paludarium update

My large paludarium project has been progressing slowly.  I finished my fake rock waterfall and installed it into the tank using silicone.  In building the rock, I didn't give much consideration as to how difficult this installation process might be, and I've ended up with a lot of hang ups.  First of all, I kept  the rock in two pieces, but probably should have used more.  I installed the small piece first, which went in easily, but when I put in the big piece, I found that I had built the rocks too snug and ended up having to slide it in, smearing silicone everywhere.
And then, once the rock was in, there are so many small nooks and crevices that it has been incredibly difficult waterproofing the tank. water leaks all over in places I can't get silicone into.  Oh well.  It's a learning process.  It will get there.
Other than these problems.  it works really well.  The filter fits perfectly into the space I made for it and draws water through the intake.  The water basin at the top holds all the water, and the waterfall itself looks really cool.  I think once this is planted it will be awesome.


I've been meaning to get some pictures up of some of my new additions.  I've actually gone a bit crazy in the last couple weeks.
First, I bout an axolotl.  It was on sale, as well as a small acrylic fish tank, so I got them. Having seen so many planted aquariums while researching my big tank, I decided to try one with this new tank.  I bought the small aquascaping soil, a brand called "Project Soil." It looks like small, dark brown gravel, but I think that it is basically soil compressed into dense little pellets.  I have seen a lot of planted tanks with plants growing roots directly into it.
Since I would love to have a similar setup, I added it to my tank, but it proved to not be the best idea.  I feed my axolotl small frozen worms.  The first day, I put some in on top of this project soil, and he started to eat the worms as well as the rocks.  Some of them he spit out, but it seemed that he was also swallowing some.  I had read about axolotl care before I got him, but hadn't looked to carefully at substrate.  It seems that to feed, when an axolotl finds something it wants to eat, it vacuums in all the water in front of it, pulling in whatever comes.  If too much of that is gravel, an axolotl will eventually die from impaction.
For now, I've cleared out a corner of the tank that is strictly a feeding area.  I put his worms directly onto the glass bottom so he can eat without getting any stones.  He is pretty messy though. He always ends up knocking more of the project soil down into his food and then I have to clean it.  Oh well.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

First Test

After the paint and silicone dried, I hooked up the filter and gave my waterfall a first try.  It works great! For now, the rocks are floating, but once I get the epoxy on, I will attach them to the tank with silicone and they will be stationary. 



After three coats of cement I decided to go ahead and paint.  I went to Tokyu Hands to get some acrylic paints.  One of the employees recommended 'Tamiya' brand. I used black, white, brown, and flat green to get the results seen in the picture.  I'm pretty happy with how the rock turned out.
I used black silicone in all of the holes and the water tank at the top of the waterfall.  I am also going to coat everything below the waterline with eboxy.  I think it should be waterproof.  

The 100 yen shop had a bunch of epiphytes so I bought some.  They should work well on the bark I'll be adding.