Aquaponics

I’ve done aquaponics – which is basically using fish to fertilize the water you use to grow plants hydroponically – out of the Battlestar before but this is the first time I’ve done a fruiting plant. I had a volunteer cherry tomato show up in my back garden thanks to throwing moldy tomatoes out for the squirrels. It got nice tomatoes on it before the end of the season so I decided to take a couple of cuttings and try growing it inside. Basically all I did was stuff the cuttings into some plastic pots with clay hydroponics substrate that I wired up to sit on the top of the tank and then let nature take over. Only one cutting ended up rooting and taking off, but boy has it grown.

tomato plant sprawling on the top of a large aquarium

Here it is 20 days ago, finally  getting its first fruits. The roots are on the other side of the glass tank cover. The light source is a AquaUFO + Red LED fixture.

On the other side of the tank I have my giant mass of watercress and some Garnet Rose Lettuce starting.

Lettuce seedlings sprouting

Here’s a picture of the whole tank. We’ve got the top wrapped with black paper because the LEDs are so bright that they make tv watching impossible. They’re also pretty uncomfortable to look at directly, although not dangerously so. Please excuse the state of the tank as I really needed to clean the filter before I took this picture. The aquatic plants at the bottom aren’t edible and have been in there for years. It’s mostly a mix of cryptocorynes and tiger lotus (Nymphaea lotus) as that seems to adapt best to the constantly changing light conditions and my lack of attention.

large aquarium with plants growing out the top

Twenty days later, we’re really cooking now.

The whole tank

It’s a bit hard to compare because the lighting conditions make photography tricky, but the tomato plant now spreads from one end of the tank to the other and has branches up to almost the ceiling. I did clean the filter so there’s less murk. I also had to change the position of the powerhead I have in the tank so it’s blowing the root ball of the tomato to the front of the tank. Makes for a somewhat less attractive showcase tank, but it’s fun to watch the fish hunt for food and spawn in the roots. My diamond tetras reproduce in the tank pretty regularly. I have less fry lately because of the addition of some more predatory fish, but eventually they’re going to be too big to comfortably be able to fit in all of the root structures and I’ll see more fry again.

Tomato Plant

Behind the light guard, you can really see how the tomato plant is covering the top of the tank. I’ve got tons of flower, young fruit and two ripe tomatoes! Jason tasted one of the tomatoes last night (because I don’t actually like them!) and said it was a completely perfectly ripe tomato with excellent flavor and sweetness. I am very excited to have them continue to succeed!

On the other end of the tank, the Garnet Rose Lettuce is starting to leaf out and turn a beautiful red. This is a new breed for me and I’m looking forward to tasting it.

Garnet Rose Lettuce seedlings

If anyone has questions about fish stocking, feeding, or any other specs, let me know.

Delicious Bugs*

Fall is the season when pitcher plants can really shine. After the heat that has slowed growth goes away, many of them put out great collections of new pitchers.

Pitcher Plants in a container garden

These new traps catch a lot of insects trying to do collect food that might see them or their offspring through the winter, thus providing the same opportunity for the pitchers.

Fall Afternoon Pitcher Plants Fall Afternoon Pitcher Plants

Fall Afternoon Pitcher Plants Fall Afternoon Pitcher Plants

The pitchers on my back deck are currently filled with metallic green sweat bees (a native solitary bee, Agapostemon sp.), flies, and a bunch of the same white moth that I haven’t tried to identify. What’s fascinating and kind of gross is how long it takes the insects to succumb to exhaustion, drowning, or probably suffocation due to the insects on top of them. Jason told me I wasn’t allowed to take video and put it on the internet, so of course I took video and put it on the internet.

Another interesting thing is that should you try to rescue the victims, like I did for a honeybee, the traps are so attractive that they end up right back in there. It’s what makes them so successful.

Insects Trapped in a Pitcher Insects Trapped in a Pitcher

Insects Trapped in a Pitcher

Sorry that you’re delicious*, bugs.

*To a carnivorous plant.

Bristlenose Catfish Babies!

The catfish are breeding again. I came down to look at the Battlestar the other day and found a whole bunch of newly released ancistrus fry hiding in various places by the waterline.

These guys were hanging out around the filter return pipe clips.

Close-up of the underside of very small suckermouth catfish

Another set of them were clustered around the giant stump that’s currently growing watercress. These ones I decided to catch out and move to another tank where they were much less likely to be eaten. I moved seven fish but have only seen four at one time since.

Dorsal side of catfish fry, brown fish against a white background

The male is still in the catfish cave and guarding it pretty fiercely. May have to keep an eye out for more fry soon. I keep wondering if I had more caves in the tank if there would be more fry. I know I have at least 2 adult males in there. Not sure how many females, although unlike a lot of other species, these ladies pretty much just have to lay the eggs and they’re done. The males do all of the nest guarding. If I had more nests, I’d end up with more catfish though. I even still have three from the last batch that are currently at about an inch and a half long. Not a horrible thing, but I like a bit more variety. Nice thing is that they make good community fish for a lot of tanks and I could probably sell them easily in the future. But for now, they’re just adorable catfish babies.

New look!

Kept being frustrated by an aspect of the default theme I was using on this site so I finally found a different one that had what I was looking for and was relatively easy to customize. Apparently it is now also responsive so you can read it on small screens better. That’s pretty cool. Let me know what you think!

Welcome To Night Vale – Live Episode 49

At the time I write this post (ETA: which was on the 11th if you’re looking at the post date and going “bwah?”), episode 49 doesn’t have a name that I know of. However, it’s their second anniversary show that was taped at Town Hall in NYC. As this episode got split into two halves, I’m not going to say anything about the plot. If you don’t want to see the characters that show up, don’t click through to the rest of the set on Flickr. I’m just going to post a few of the main cast you’d expect.

Cecil, the Faceless Old Woman, and Hiram McDaniels

Carlos Lauren and Kevin

Cecil

Such a good show! On the camera tech side of things, still using my D10 which has an abysmal zoom but thanks to Cecil wearing a white suit and the floating cat in front of me before the show, I managed to get settings that didn’t blow out all of the whites on faces this time. The images are a bit fuzzy and noisy, but I think this may be the best I can do for those sort of conditions and what the camera is and isn’t intended for. I mean, my Florida pictures were great at the beach and it’s waterproof. Would love to hear if you have setting or editing suggestions for low light conditions such as these.

Thursday Pics

Pitcher Plant Bog, late spring This year's pitcher plants

This flower cannot be pollinated A gorgeous big pitcher

This year’s bog garden. I divided and moved a bunch of the bigger rhizomes so I’m not quite sure what all is coming up where. Not that I am ever sure. What are tags? We just don’t know [in my garden]. But I really can’t wait until it’s all full of pitchers. It’s going to look great! The cranberries are also filling in a lot of space and I’m seeing few of the bog violets that were poised to take over the bog last year.