Monday, July 16, 2012

Big aquarium update

The last picture was already somewhat old so time for a new one.

The Ceratopteris thalictroides at the back right have had some problems. Halfway the stems would go black and whole piece would come of. Not sure what has caused that. I've trimmed back the main plant and let some of the cuttings float a bit after which they rooted.
The rocks in the foreground have been covered with riccia because I got a bunch of it for free. I've also transfered some Rotala rotundifolia from the gallon experiment to see what it would do. Front left is some Echinodorus angustifolia which came free with the Riccia. Front right is the Pogostemon Helferi slowly spreading. The willowmoss on the sticks is growing so well it needs weekly pruning.

Now if you compare that with the previous picture you can see I've cleared away quite a bit on the left.

Fishwise I've added 3 ancistrus claro because I couldn't resist these small bristlenoses. That's a major break with the mainly asian theme but I just could not find an Asian bottom dweller that was plant safe and shrimp safe.
The claros do show themselves on the glass or the back where's there's the most algae. Sometimes one rests on a foreground pebble. Lovely sight!

Ancistrus Claro

Now I am a bit worried about these new fish. They move about, seem healthy, graze algae but any attempt at feeding them with fresh vegetables has led to this:

A shrimp feeding frenzy!

I've tried:
  • shelled peas
  • thawed spinach
  • cucumber
  • corydoras wafers.

Nothing leads to any reaction. I just hope these guys will pick it up once the algae gets depleted and that they're not such whimps that they let themselves be outcompeted for food by a bunch of crusteceans.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ancistrus Claro

Back in the 1980s when I got my first aquarium you could buy a few species of Corydoras but that was about it. These days there's hunderds of South-American species available. When I saw the big Pterygoplichthys I realized I really wanted something of the Loricariidae family. For that family planetcatfish is the place to do your research.
So, after a lot of reading and staring at pictures of beauties like L260 I decided on Ancistrus Claro. Like all Ancistrus elatively easy to keep and breed and a very strict vegetarian that wouldn't treat my shrimp as an all you can eat buffet. Out of the family of more than 90 species only a handful can be found here.

Now.. where to find these? This country is littered with Ancistrus dolichopterus and Temminckii are common as well as the albino version. You can pick these up for a euro or two from any hobbyist keeping them. Claro proved to be more elusive.

There's only one shop in the country that stocks these and that's Aqua-Ferrytale. (lovely shop, loads of very healthy fish including quite a few hard to find species). So, yesterday I drove over and picked up the last three. These fish come from a small breeder somewhere in Germany who seems to be the only one breeding these commercially in North-West Europe. The guy drives over here about once a quarter to deliver fish.

Got these home, carefully drip acclimatised them and let them go. They went and hid behind the plants and started scraping away at the 6 years of growth on the filter housing.

I'm really quite curious how these will do. I suspect I've got two females and one male and would really like to get these to breed.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Raspberry pi as media player, part 2


I bought a fresh memory card, supposedly a class 10 capable of 20mb/s.

I then downloaded and installed a tool capable of writing linux disk images, Image Writer for Windows. After that I grabbed the latest image version of openelec.Go to and scroll all the way down and download the most recent zipfile. Extract it and use imagewriter to put it on the SD card. Pop in the card and power up your raspberry.

Now I can't tell you how quickly this boots because by the time I'd found the TV remote and switched to the right channel it was already running. XBMC looks just like it does with raspbmc. Playing content is a matter of checking the sound output is correct in the settings screen and adding a source. I used PnP which my synology supports.
Playback was smoother than raspbmc. Raspbmc has the occasional stutter on higher bitrate mp4 files, Openelec is as smooth as 18 year old scotch.

If you run into problems, just go here.

Friday, July 06, 2012

homemade fishfood

I've put out a big half-barrel of water. Rainwater with some dirt that got in there accidentally. At the back of the garden I've had a big flowerpot that turned out waterproof. 3/4 of that is clay from the garden, the rest is water.

A quick thrawl trough both with a net yielded this nice selection of fish food. The small lines are young mosquito larvae, the big red things are tubifex. I always put the catch in a white containter since it makes it easier to check for anything unwanted.

The last two weeks or so my fish have been getting live food at least once a day. All that seems to have sent some hormones surging. One of my few remaining boraras brigittae seems to experience a hormone surge:

And the big guys are nicely coloured too:

When you do put out water do keep an eye out for damselfly larvae.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Raspberry pi as media player, part 1

I finally got my raspberry pi in the mail last Saturday. Today I got time to play with it. Got a cheap HDMI cable, a no-name SD card, the power supply from my HTC and a keyboard and mouse. Plugged in network to connect to my Synology DS110j NAS and I was ready. Here's a shot of it with an AA battery for size.

Decided to try Raspbmc first since I couldn't find a way to install openelec from a windows machine. So I got the installer and pointed it to the SD card. 10 minutes later it was done. Plugged it into the Raspberry and watched it boot. Familiar linux style boot after which raspbmc started updating. I left it running for about an hour.

After that I found that I really know nothing about XBMC. But, the raspbmc project is reasonably well documented. So add some sources, discovered that you need to tell it to direct sound to the HDMI port and not some fancy receiver. A few minutes later I was watching some downloaded content. Most things work, high res mkv files do put a strain on the little processor though and there's the occasional sound problem.

I'm now watching an episode of "the Hairy Bikers" that I downloaded several weeks ago. Sound is good, picture is very, very crisp.

I need to tweak this, find a way to remote control and see if I can do some tuning for speed. Still, a very, very promising start. Tomorrow I'm going to try openelec using this guide.