Rio Ucayali Biotope Project

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Apparently it’s not well-known whether it’s native to only Africa or if it has a native pan-tropical distribution.
You are right! I hadn't kept up with the genetic differences in the species as they were investigated. Thanks for pointing that out!

It even looks now like there are multiple cryptic species, and that these may be native across the tropics, including to places that list it as an invasive and noxious plant! I wonder if we'll see a commensurate change in the ecological literature where rather than postulating on the 'harms this horrendous invasive species causes', there will suddenly be focus on how 'it's an integral part of the ecosystem'?! :p I did my graduate work looking at the results of anthropogenic exotic species introductions, and the biases were real. When I first arrived at my current institution, I invited Mark Davis to give a seminar on his Nature paper on species invasions, and it caused quite the kerfuffle! 🤣
 
You are right! I hadn't kept up with the genetic differences in the species as they were investigated. Thanks for pointing that out!

It even looks now like there are multiple cryptic species, and that these may be native across the tropics, including to places that list it as an invasive and noxious plant! I wonder if we'll see a commensurate change in the ecological literature where rather than postulating on the 'harms this horrendous invasive species causes', there will suddenly be focus on how 'it's an integral part of the ecosystem'?! :p I did my graduate work looking at the results of anthropogenic exotic species introductions, and the biases were real. When I first arrived at my current institution, I invited Mark Davis to give a seminar on his Nature paper on species invasions, and it caused quite the kerfuffle! 🤣
Cryptic species complexes are so interesting! I actually just spent a few months recently learning about molecular biology (DNA extraction and sequence analysis) and we talked a lot about cryptic species. It makes perfect sense for Pistia.

Non-native species introductions are always an interesting and testy subject. While any non-native introductions should be avoided, I think a lot of people don't know the distinction between "invasive" and simply "non-native". There's a surprising amount of wiggle room and things that were once non-native may become so naturalized that yes, it actually might cause some harm if they're removed en masse. It's a really interesting field of study.
 
Alright, I'm convinced peas are a magical substance. That neon that was having a bit of swim bladder trouble? Swimming almost completely normally now. When the fasting did nothing, I started to get worried. The bloating was gone, but the weird swimming behavior was still there. But I've fed them blanched peas the past couple days and everything's fine now! Everyone please take a moment to appreciate peas if they've ever helped you and your fish.

In other news, the frogbit is driving me absolutely bonkers. They drop their roots like it's nothing and then I just have pieces of roots floating around or littering the substrate and it's a little infuriating. I'm not sure if they're just wicked delicate or if the ich treatment is playing any role. I think they are sensitive to mechanical disturbance, but this feels worse than normal. I think on today's water change/med dosing, I'm going to pull all the frogbit out and completely trim all of their roots. Just start completely fresh. They'll be alright, they grow the roots back really quickly. I just want to remove ALL of the loose roots in one go so I don't keep having to fish them out. Does anyone else have this issue with frogbit??
 
I think a lot of people don't know the distinction between "invasive" and simply "non-native". There's a surprising amount of wiggle room and things that were once non-native may become so naturalized that yes, it actually might cause some harm if they're removed en masse. It's a really interesting field of study.
My favourite example of an introduced but non-invasive species is Syctodes thoracica, also known as the spitting spider. They're really widespread and introduced to north america, and yet are harmless and benefit the ecosystem. They're really small so they don't eat many other spiders, and just fill the same niche that all other spiders do.

In the winter you might find them in the corners of your house, and they're really cool because of their unique ability to spit webs and trap prey using that. The webs also have venom, so they have the real life ability that spider-man has.
 
Not much of an update, but things are going pretty well. I finished the course of ich-x (5 doses over 5 days) back on thursday and haven't noticed any other spots throughout the process. All six neons are alive and well and I'm very pleased and somewhat proud that I haven't had any losses, which I know is not uncommon at all with neons even from good stores. We'll see how they continue to do though. It hasn't even been two weeks yet. They're still small, but as I've been looking at them more, I'm pretty sure I have four females and two males.

I also think I finally found my frogbit solution. I've started just taking out about half of it at the start of the process and replacing it once all the water's back in. Seems to be working well so far. It's so rewarding to do a water change and have a beautiful crystal clear tank afterwards. I think the ich meds were clouding up the water a little bit. Now, if only the fungus on my driftwood would die out...
 
Well, it's been over a month since I updated this journal, but I do have a big update.

Just finished moving house, including the fish. Genuinely one of the more stressful experiences of my life, and I didn't even have to drive anything (just moving to different on-site housing (for stupid administrative reasons) so it was within walking distance from my old place). Not to mention, physically exhausting. The fish seem to be doing alright so far, but I'll be keeping a close eye on them and testing water regularly for the next week or two.

I did make some slight changes. They're in the 20g long now instead of the 25gal. I'm going to be repurposing that for a tree frog vivarium, I think. Plus, it was easier to set everything up in a tank that was already empty. I brought over everything from the old setup, but left a solid 1/2 of the substrate volume behind. I realized there was just way more substrate than I needed in the old tank. When I started taking substrate out, I discovered a rather large patch of anoxic bacteria. Well, obviously it hadn't been harming the fish (and they were all out of the tank by the time I stirred up the patch), but I figured it would be better to have a shallower substrate moving forward.

IMG_7755.JPG


You may also notice that the tank is on a stand! If you can't tell just by looking at it, it's homemade. It's just 2x4s screwed together with wood glue, stained, and sealed with a water-based polyurethane. It's not particularly beautiful and nowhere near perfect, but I'm overall happy with it. The 25gal will eventually go on top. I'll definitely have to be a bit more careful with water changes moving forward since the polyurethane isn't fully waterproof, but that's easy enough.

The only other "changes" to the tank are the plans for it moving forward. I think I'm going to give up on the hatchetfish... There's an LFS that tries to keep them in stock, but they seem to sell out quickly and the supply isn't constant. They apparently never know if they're even getting hatchetfish until the fish shipment actually arrives, so I can't even call ahead and plan. They're nearly a 3 hour drive away from me, so that, combined with the stocking uncertainty, means I just can't justify keeping them in my stocking plans. Additionally, the logistics of a screen top are just not looking as feasible. It'll be better to keep the tank at a lower stocking level anyway.

Lastly, I'm considering breaking the Ucayali biotope almost completely and getting a bolivian ram instead of an apisto. I'm not sure on that decision yet, but considering how gross and stagnant the sand gets sometimes (even with weekly substrate vacuuming), it would be really nice to have a fish that regularly sifts through it, even if it's not actually eating the detritus. It might help prevent the anoxic pockets and just keep things looking a bit nicer.
 
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My neons are such fantastic little troopers. They spent most of yesterday afternoon/evening huddled together in a corner after the move, but later that night and especially this morning, they were out exploring and foraging as if nothing had ever happened. I'm sure they'll be excited to eat tomorrow after three days of fasting.

I'll try to get some better photos of the tank at some point. The reflections from the large windows on the opposite wall make it challenging, but I do think the tank looks fantastic. Of course, a lot of that's to do with the substrate being fairly clean again and the branches having their fungus scrubbed off (yes, some pieces are still growing fungus), but I do think having the dark wood of the stand around the tank provides a lot of nice contrast that makes the sand and floating plants really pop. At some point I'll have to play around with a black background too.
 
Looking good! I'd love to do a tank of this type at some point, complete with a breeding pair of rams or apistos. I'm liking the move to the 20 long instead, the shallower design makes the floating plants and driftwood pop more. The dark wood of the stand works well with it too.
 
ooh, plus the new footprint means you can enter it in TotM...

edit: well I guess you already could lol
 
ooh, plus the new footprint means you can enter it in TotM...

edit: well I guess you already could lol
I will submit it eventually! I want to get a bit closer to my final goal first, i.e. get the otos and whatever dwarf cichlid I end up choosing.

In other news, the fish are pooping a LOT. It's all normal-looking poop. Nothing stringy, normal colored, but it seems like more than usual, especially since they were fasted for three days around the move 🤔 Again, maybe it's just that the sand is cleaner now, so I can see it better, but I've just been noticing a lot more of it than normal. I'm feeding them the normal amount I usually do as well. I always feed fairly light, but I guess I could lighten up the feeds further for a few days and see how that goes.

There's also a bit of an ammonia spike that I assume is due to moving the substrate and filters. Just 0.5ppm TAN, and I checked my pH and temp and free ammonia (NH3) is still well below the upper limit for the safe zone so I'm leaving things as is for now, but I'll be continuing to check throughout the week. Of course, the fish pooping like crazy now doesn't help 🙄
 
Enjoyed that thread its a great little set up you have. Will look superb as it grows and as you add a couple of extra fish
 
I will submit it eventually! I want to get a bit closer to my final goal first, i.e. get the otos and whatever dwarf cichlid I end up choosing.

In other news, the fish are pooping a LOT. It's all normal-looking poop. Nothing stringy, normal colored, but it seems like more than usual, especially since they were fasted for three days around the move 🤔 Again, maybe it's just that the sand is cleaner now, so I can see it better, but I've just been noticing a lot more of it than normal. I'm feeding them the normal amount I usually do as well. I always feed fairly light, but I guess I could lighten up the feeds further for a few days and see how that goes.

There's also a bit of an ammonia spike that I assume is due to moving the substrate and filters. Just 0.5ppm TAN, and I checked my pH and temp and free ammonia (NH3) is still well below the upper limit for the safe zone so I'm leaving things as is for now, but I'll be continuing to check throughout the week. Of course, the fish pooping like crazy now doesn't help 🙄
You should definitely enter! We have so few entrants so far. I haven’t entered yet because I’m getting new fish later today and want the entry to show that.
 

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