Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to install windows XP from a USB stick

And this method actually works!

1. Get an iso image, I used XP Home with SP3.
2. Get Rufus 1.3.1
3. Get a stick (1gb will do)
4. Set it like this:

Device and capacity will vary depending on what you use. Important here is the bottom bit:
- quick format
- create a bootable disk using ISO image (click the icon next to that and point to the ISO)

5. Now click start and be patient. The next bit can easily take 2 hours. The program does indicate progress
6. Stick in the laptop/netbook you're installing. Boot from USB (either set in the bios or hit ESC or F10 during boot)
7. Do remember to remove the stick when Windows starts rebooting.

Monday, November 05, 2012

my new aquarium a Juwel Rio 125, part 5

Recently I took the time to do a proper tank shot. Got my 50mm to minimize distortion. Put the camera on the tripod, set for -1EV and used the self timer.

Juwel rio 125 biotope aquarium

On saturday I transfered my first fish, my boraras brigittae and merah. After going pale as a sheet they recovered and in 15 minutes were all over the tank exploring.
It was my initial idea to transfer the T. Espei a week later to gradually build up the bioload. However it seemed that those little fish were acting as dither fish because the T. Espei hid and stayed hidden. So I relented and transfered them as well.

Ever since the fish have been really active, swimming all over the tank which I take as a good sign.


I'll keep a close eye on them. I've done a water change before I transfered fish and removed all the damaged leaves to keep them from rotting and putting more bioload on the system.

All in all I'm very happy with the new tank. More and more plants are doing better, the Wendelov especially. I'm pleased wit the size, it seems just right. Every time I look at it I get a big grin on my face.

Monday, October 29, 2012

my new aquarium a Juwel Rio 125, part 4

Saturday the last plants were planted.  Sunday evening I transplanted the Windelov fern. Also the bacteria transplant seems to take, the water is noticeably clearer now.

Visible here in the back is that crypt I bought yesterday. Stems are very dark with a slight reddish tint.  Funny enough in more that 20 years of aquarium keeping this is my first crypt. In the foreground is echinodorus latifolius.

I got this wendelov in the spring in a sorry state and didn't know what to do with it so I stuck it in on the edge of the anubias patch. Since then it has recovered tremendously and even managed to create some off shoots. I tied the smaller plants to the wood and stuck the big one in a hole in the wood.

I also introduced a few shrimps and snails. They seem to be doing ok. Way things are going now I think I can start moving in a week or two.

Friday, October 26, 2012

my new aquarium a Juwel Rio 125, part 3

On wednesday I got a whole bunch of Vallisnerea from a friend who did some pruning and thinning out on his aquarium.

I'm using most of that to keep the heater hidden. I really like the contrast between vallis and anubias in the right corner. I've fastened that anubias using cable ties which I just pushed into the background.

Tomorrow I intend to buy some echinodorus for the space under the branch and start tying plants to the branch and then the first phase is just about finished.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

my new aquarium a Juwel Rio 125, part 2

Last night I installed the Eheim in the cabinet. I put a lot of foam around it to dampen the noise even further. Hooked up the spraybar and filled it up to the recommended level.

I was quite surprised at the flow I get from this little Eheim. My tank is pretty much at the upper limit of what that filter is supposed to be able to handle but it still looks good.

I also planted some shabby echinodorus tenellus I saved from my 1 gallon experiment, hope it will recover. Next step is plant shopping, I want to get a medium sized echinodorus for the left area and something tall to cover the filter intake on the right.

Monday, October 22, 2012

my new aquarium a Juwel Rio 125, part 1

Over here in Europe we have somewhat different tank sizes than in the Americas. Biggest tank company on the market is the German firm Juwel. I started out with one of their starter tanks, a 60cm 72 liter model, back in 2000. Thank tank is now slowly developing some faults in the silicone so I looked for an upgrade. I managed to find a Rio 125 model, 81 x 36 x 50 cm 125 liter/33 U.S. Gallon for 50 euros.

Now that may not seem like much but it's a big difference if you see them side by side:


After quite a bit of pondering I decided to remove the internal filter which is factory installed in these. I know that system and the filters work really well but because of the placement in the room it's a bit of an eyesore. It also resonates somewhat with the hood. I'm replacing it with a second hand Eheim 2211 that I got the gunk out and got running again.

This weekend I had some time so decided to start the hardscape:


Due to budget problems I did the initial contours using rinsed play sand. I used some yoghurt pots cut to strips to keep it in place.


Covered that using filter sand, lovely stuff! We're on river clay here and the beaches are sand so I had to buy the pebbles. 90 cents got me all those pebbles at the local garden centre.

Next up, some wood:


and another piece of wood that was in the first incarnation of my small tank. It's spend the last few years in the garden and has gotten a lovely weathered finish from that.


The heater on the right is temporary. The filter intake will stay but will be camouflages with plants.

Because I can't part with my existing stock of plants I've decided to reuse most of them.


In may I bought a single pot of Pogostemon Helferi, that has multiplied considerably now. I planted a clump near the wood on the right and used it to camouflage a cave a bit more on the left.


Also on the left some Rotala rotundifolia, Lysimachia nummularia and some vallis.


For the empty space more or less under the wood I want to get an echinodorus of some kind, not sure which one yet. It will have to be something that will thrive in the slightly lower light levels in that part.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Juwel Aquarium tips and tricks

 Juwel is an aquarium company from Germany that has been in business for decades. It's sold all over Europe and the most popular brand in the Benelux area and Germany.

I've been running a Juwel Rekord for more than a decade now. Since I'm moving to a bigger tank and taking out the internal filter I thought perhaps I'd share some tips, who knows it may help a beginnrer or two

Some of the smaller tanks came and still come with a single tube. This does provide enough light for low to medium light plants and certainly fish. Problem with the single tube hoods is that the light spreads unevenly. Adding a reflector helps but the best solution I've found is to get a sheet of reflective acrylic. Cut it to size and stick it on the inside of the hood with silicon or tape.
The later models with the dual tubes and certainly the T5 models give a lot more light.

The juwel powerhead is extremely quiet from itself but the juwels are still vulnerable to resonance. Make sure the lids are closed fully and properly. I've found that applying weatherstrip to the inside of the hood where it touches the glass helps a lot. Also make sure the cabling doesn't touch the hood.
If the filter has always been silent and suddenly starts making noise then get the pump out and check the impeller too much dirt or a stray snail can cause this.

Almost all juwels (the new vio excluded) come with a heater. These are simple but effective units that will provide enough power to bridge the gap between room temperature and 26 degrees. Only if you run a setup in a really cold room should you need a new heater.
N.B. If you do work in the tank that will drop the water level 5cm below the top of the heater then unplug it. These heaters don't take well to switching on when out of water!

The filter
All juwels come with an internal filter, on most models this is glued to the right corner of the tank. It can be a bit of an eyesore but it tends to do a very good job if used properly. It also hides the heater which is a nice bonus. Juwel now makes special small sections of background material designed to be glued to the filter box to make it less visible.

The juwel filters draw the water in from the top and thereby also act a bit as a skimmer.

First layer in the filter should always be the white poly pad. You can use official juwel ones or buy a big sheet and cut it to size. This layer acts as a particle filter and stops the big debris. I find that I can rinse it out once under a running tap, after that it needs replacing. Do maintenace on this layer if it's dark brown and dirty.

After that a coarse sponge should be used. This will already house some bacteria.

Next up should be a basket of cirax. Cirax is juwel's ceramic medium which comes in a convenient plastic basket that fits nicely in the filter.
If your juwel system does not come with one of those new practical inserts to remove the media then I would advice you to tie a piece of nylon line to this to allow for easy removal.

Last in the stack is a fine sponge to "polish" the water or make it clearer.

Juwel also makes some special action media.

A fine sponge coated in carbon. Useful after medication or if you don't want any tannins in the water.

Specially devised to remove excess nitrite. As juwel says it:
"Nitrax is a biological filter on the containing specialist microorganisms to break down poisonous metabolites (ammonium/nitrite) in your aquarium"
It's a coarse sponge. Tried it once, couldn't notice much difference.

Ceramic media coated in an aluminium compound that will bind upto 12 mg of phosphate per gram of product which is not a bad ratio

Filter maintenance
As we all know a filter is vital for your aquarium. A juwel filter should be checked once a week on average. Here's how I do it:

1. Stop the pump by unplugging it
2. Take off the exhaust pipe and lift out the pump
3. Keep a bucket or container nearby and gently pick out the polypad, this does leak dirt so be careful not to leak it back into the tank.
4. Draw half a bucket of water from the tank. Get out the sponges, take a look. If anything seems dirty give it a squeeze or two in the bucket. Try not to do this to all sponges at once, stagger it so you do one or two each week.
5. Take a small piece of airhose and syphon the bottom of the filter box, also in the compartment where the heater sits.
6. replace the sponges.

Don't be surprised if you find shrimp or little fish in the filter box, they sometimes can squeeze in and they find a lot to eat there.

Juwel claims that you should replace sponges every 3-9 months. I find this only to be true for the special action media. The rest can be used until it falls apart and that's a LOT longer!
Nitrax and phorax will be saturated after 6-8 weeks. Carbon can last a bit longer. After a nitrax sponge is full you can continue to use it as a coarse sponge

seeding a filter
A lot of juwel filters use the same sponge size. This means that it's easy to "seed" a new juwel system by trading one or two sponges with someone with an established, trouble-free aquarium. Transport the sponges in water from the tank of the owner, stick 'm in your filter and you're off to a flying start. Don't forget to feed the bacteria on it though either with ammonia or some decaying matter like the thawed shrimp in a net.
Seeding doesn't replace a proper cycle but it can cut down the time needed significantly.

the pump
Juwel has two main series, the older bioflow which sits in a light grey plastic holder which can be removed by squeezing it on the narrow sides. After that you can access the impeller and other internal parts for cleaning.
On the newer eccoflow you can simply screw of the bottom part and you have immediate access to the impeller.

In both series you have a choice of three strengths of pump. If you think your aquarium needs less flow you can replace a 600 by a 400lph model and if you want more flow you stick in a 1000l/h.