Well it has been quite a while since I posted anything on these forums, having been busy with Daughter and a massive 'spring' clean and some writing projects..
I guess it's time for an update!
Let's start with Cleo.. who is still in fine health and feisty as ever. She has grown a little, sideways as well as longways - she's quite plump! But that's probably due to her managing to kill and eat every single shrimp in her tank over several weeks, until there was not one shrimp left. No pellets for Cleo!
A little about her tank: Cleo is still in the 3.5g Dymax cube, and she is very happy indeed in her little home. I still have a shallow black gravel substrate, which is pretty easy to surface vacuum but not small enough for Cleo to try to eat, which I do believe she would as she is the greediest fish in the known universe. Sharks, schmarks. This fish would eat those too, if she could.
The cube's got a lot of plants now, here's the list:
2 bunches of java moss (I had to divide the one I had..)
2 potted cryptos (which are thriving)
1 potted anubias (which needs to be moved to a better spot, methinks)
1 large stem of wisteria (rooted in substrate, happy as Larry)
4 baby wisterias from above plant (rooted in substrate, 6 baby leaves each)
15 stems of java fern (tied to wood, some producing babies on leaf-ends)
2 floating wisteria stems
susswassertang bits (freshwater seaweed, attaching itself to lots of stuff, including the red silk plant I got as a gift from Irish)
It sounds like a lot, for one little 3.5g tank, but it all looks healthy and happy, and so does Cleo, and really it's a joy to see it all flourish.
I've discovered a wonderful system for watching water quality, which is proving more accurate then chemical tests. I watch Cleo very closely for any sign of tail clamping, which the fussy little thing does at the slightest, tiniest bit of something not quite right in the tank. The moment she clamps her tail, I do a partial change. If she's still clamping an hour later, I do another (though I've only had to do a 2x change once). Then she unclamps, and all is well with Cleo's world again.
This would be on top of a partial water change once a week, and a more thorough cleanup once a week, vacuuming out the excess poo and bits of muck. It's tricky work, though, because her tank is so heavily planted.. I vac around the plants, and Cleo has the decorum to mostly poo in the two corners I can reach, which means very little has to be disturbed.
I did have a problem with brown algae growth and a little more white mold than I like to tolerate, mainly after the first lot of shrimp were all eaten. I fixed the algae by adjusting my light-times, and the new shrimp are merrily snacking on the mold now.
Since I haven't done a full tank clean-out or thorough gravel vac in months, there's a lot of very fine detritus stirred up when I do water changes. This settles again very quickly, and the shrimp (when I have some!) absolutely love it. They zoom about sucking it all up, which is usually when Cleo manages to snag one...
Overall, I feel the tank has reached a happy balance. I just bought 5 new shrimp, two very large ones and three smaller - they have already learned to keep well away from Ms. Munchymouth, though the biggest (a male) tend to court disaster and prod her with his feelers when she gets too close.
Little Demyx, however, has not had such a happy time of it. His finrot progressed quite far, he is still fin-biting, and so the poor mite is looking mighty raggedy. Ten days in salt and a course of meds did nothing to mend it, so now he lives in the 1.5g hospital tank which he finds easier to get about in. He has some wisteria and a large ball of java moss, as well as his silk plant which he adores. He is a happy, friendly little fish who eats well and loves attention.. but he is still a bugger to catch at water change time! He gets a full water change every 2 days, and doesn't seem stressed about that all, past the actual chore of catching him. His tank isn't ideal, but if he's staying happy and as as healthy as I can make him in it, then I hope he has a good life. I do give him lots of extra attention, to make up for the lack of swim-space.
I felt a bit sorry for Daughter, too - Demyx's chronic fin problems mean he is hard work to care for, and she was very nervous about doing things properly. I didn't feel she was getting to enjoy the experience of keeping a betta... so....
We have a new one! And quite a story it is. But that can wait for next time, as I think this post is long enough now!