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msscha's 24 gallon office cube


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#251
gena

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Makes me leery of also investing in a gold-banded cleaner shrimp!

Oh...gold-banded cleaners are beauties!!!!!! You have such classy taste in reef inhabitants :happy:

#252
msscha

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J.W., the fire shrimp, has been out and about more the last two days -- even to the point of not immediately scurrying for cover when it sees my big head. It moves very differently from the peppermint. The peppermint tended to scurry and scramble, occasionally taking to the water, too. The fire shrimp moves by leaping, little leaps, to be sure, but definitely jumping from rock to rock -- even doing 1/2 flips to land the way it wants. It scurries some when scrambling for food, but I've never seen it swim.

I may not be picking up more coral today. First, the nitrates are still high. I've been reading a great article in the March 2011 edition of Advanced Aquarist on bacteria in the water column -- some of the methodology I skimmed, but they did several other studies, one of which included vodka dosing! They used some lab-formulated kind of ethanol, of course, but still! Indeed, they found it worked nicely to add bacteria to the water column. The research was specifically examining how closely our tank mirror the actual counts found in natural reef systems. For all the gory details, read the article, b/c there is a lot of detail! One thing they found was that many reef tanks, particularly those set up with skimmers and other water-purifying methods, have water column bacterial counts that are much, much lower than what is standard on reefs, while the TOC was equal or higher (TOC = total organic carbon). In a 55 gallon tank they tested after turning off all the nutrient-control devices, the bacterial count shot up past where it should, but evened out within a couple of days to close to what was found on a reef. I haven't finished reading the article yet. The authors are very careful to point out that none of this necessarily translates directly into practice, but they did find good evidence for vodka-dosing as an effective way of adding carbon to the system, which helps increase the nitrifying bacteria we want to remove nitrates.

And I forgot my vodka at home this morning. Damn. (good article on vodka dosing on Reefkeeping mag)

I am concerned b/c Rain has been behaving oddly the past few days -- sometimes he kind of lays on the bottom or the rocks for a few minutes. I do not see rapid breathing or other sign of distress, but I am worried. He's such a very lovely fish. Nor have I seen the nassarius come up for food. I wonder if they have died and that's where my nitrate overload is coming from? I don't fancy digging through the sand to find them, nor would that be a good idea for the tank. I think I just need to do a really big water change today to bring the nitrates down until I can get my vodka to work. I just don't seem to think about vodka shots first thing in the morning :P! Espresso, now that's a different story! Why can't caffeine help the tank? That would be soo much easier.

Edited by msscha, 17 February 2012 - 07:06 AM.


#253
pbjelly

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I just don't seem to think about vodka shots first thing in the morning :P! Espresso, now that's a different story! Why can't caffeine help the tank? That would be soo much easier.


LOL - Caffeine is also easier to explain to HR.
"No Sir, I'm not drinking at work. Honestly, the vodka you saw on my desk is for my fish tank.."

#254
msscha

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LOL - Caffeine is also easier to explain to HR.
"No Sir, I'm not drinking at work. Honestly, the vodka you saw on my desk is for my fish tank.."

Yep -- I was thinking that I'd just head to the liquor store and buy a couple small bottles -- they'd hide so much easier ;) . Also read that vinegar will do the same, and I have that. Not nearly as sexy as vodka!

Edited by msscha, 17 February 2012 - 09:05 AM.


#255
like-fish

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water changes have produced incredible results for me in solving problems! doing 4ish gallons on my 29BC weekly has resulted in crystal clear water and improved happiness for all of my critters.

#256
msscha

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water changes have produced incredible results for me in solving problems! doing 4ish gallons on my 29BC weekly has resulted in crystal clear water and improved happiness for all of my critters.

Yes, I think that I have been changing too little water. I will move to 2 gallon/weekly on my 14. I think that would help. OTOH, the nitrate source is death: I just found an empty nassarius shell. When I took it out of the tank, it smelled to high heaven. Okay, given the humidity today, only to the lower reaches of the atmosphere. Now wondering if it is worth it to look for the other one. I did decide to dose with some vinegar, too, just for additional help, and may continue this practice so I can keep up my feeding regimen. In the meantime, big water change today!

#257
ScubaEthan

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I've heard about vodka dosing for boosting color.

What do you do to be able to have your aquarium at your office? If I may ask. I'm pretty sure my coworkers would think it was ridiculous.
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#258
gena

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That is very interesting info. you posted above!!!! I wish I could remove all chemical filtration media but I'm afraid to because of the coral warfare that goes on in my relatively tiny tank!!!!!

#259
msscha

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I've heard about vodka dosing for boosting color.

What do you do to be able to have your aquarium at your office? If I may ask. I'm pretty sure my coworkers would think it was ridiculous.

I work at a large university where I can do pretty much what I want in my office. More importantly, we are all by definition (or widely assumed to be) "geeky" so such things as having a personal little eco-system on one's desk is pretty standard. No one says anything other than "cool". My office mates (when they are even here) like it quite a bit or don't care at all! My students seem to get a kick out of it, even when it was a lowly FW -- made for several nice connections with fellow fish-o-philes. A friend of mine who actually is a practicing micro-biologist running a lab has a 150 gallon tank at work, complete with a netcam so he can keep an eye on it from home. I envy his resources.

Some offices will just out and out refuse to allow this for liability reasons. My brother is an aero-space engineer, and I guarantee they would not allow him to have an aquarium at work. Other people have nanos at work (I got the 14 BC b/c I need it to fit on my desk -- most have 5-14 for that reason), and thus far, I've not heard anyone with special problems b/c of it. But in lots of places, you'd have to ask first. Given how little I am paid for my work --and how much effing time I spend here! -- anything that increases at-work satisfaction would be considered a plus by my direct supervisors ;).

#260
msscha

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That is very interesting info. you posted above!!!! I wish I could remove all chemical filtration media but I'm afraid to because of the coral warfare that goes on in my relatively tiny tank!!!!!

I will not be giving up my other chemical stuff. I don't think it's a good idea in these tiny little worlds. I am just trying to understand more about what is going on in there, and see if that info can help me prevent death.

#261
msscha

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omgomgomg ARG! Go to LFS yesterday to have water tested and there's nothing bloody wrong with it!! My test kit is clearly compromised, and the readings I was getting of 40-80 ppm on nitrates was b.s. That would explain why none of the corals looked stressed. OTOH, my salinity was waaay low -- like 1.021. Since I only use 1.025 salt water and it always comes from the lfs -- and there is no salt creep anywhere -- our best guess is one of their employees filled one of the salt jugs with RO/DI. This would explain the peppermint shrimp's death. So, I've got two gallons of 1.026 that I will add into the tank. I think I'll do another gallon water change today (after three yesterday -- that water was just filled so I know it was 1.025; my guess is salinity is around 1.022 or .023 so hopefully a gallon 1.026 will bring it to .023 or .024 -- then I'll top off with salt water until salinity gets back to 1.025).

Finished the article on bacteria in the water this morning. Turns out, according to these tests run by the author, GAC (gravel activated carbon) do NOTHING to remove bacteria from the water. This doesn't mean that they do not improve water clarity for other reasons, but they are not removing bacteria. Skimmer's do, but only measurably so when bacteria was very high; at a certain point, regardless of the system, it leveled off and did nothing after that. The author hypothesized that there are bacteria in the water that do not respond to bubble fractionation, but they didn't know which ones that would be. Constant skimming probably skews the tank toward the remaining bacteria, creating a "balance" that is artificial, and may affect long-term health of the tank. They also showed that unless you are deliberately carbon dosing, bacteria counts in a tank system will fall far below what is normal for a reef. They think this may account for "old tank system" -- a point at which the available bacteria has been too low for too long for the reef life to deal with it anymore. Vodka dosing works, although someone else in the same issue said that sugar carbon is absorbed faster. This has made me very curious about the expensive stuff we are encouraged to buy. The big lesson seemed to be that LR and LS are really your best bet, and that carbon dosing worked, and if you are careful about that, you shouldn't need a skimmer unless you're over-dosing. The skimmer did remove b/w 22-37% of the bacteria, but then stopped removing more. Further, some of the very strong chemical products may be removing too much from the water column, although again, if you are dosing, this may counter-act that. The most experienced aquarists run sump tanks, and rinse that LR with clean salt water to keep the bacteria processes moving as they should. Those of us with little tanks are likely not running sumps: in this case, those weekly water changes are what is important. And if you use LR or bioballs in the back chamber, then take it out every so often and give it a good rinse (btw, the whole thing about bioballs being a nitrate sink is nonsense; the most that can happen is what happens to unrinsed LR -- efficiency of the nutrient exchange system drops. So, rinse the stuff off! I haven't been doing this b/c my system was brand new, but I'll start taking 1/2 the balls out every couple of months and rinsing with distilled water to keep everything happy).

So, my new tank resolutions as of today:
  • I am comfortable with not having a skimmer.
  • I am happy with the bioballs.
  • I will begin investigating vodka dosing seriously
.
  • I will add a seaweed clip to encourage another source of EAM and keep the sea urchin from eating algae I value (e.g., coralline).
  • I will keep doing weekly water changes, and may increase to 2 gallons a week instead of 1, though I will wait on that decision until I see if doing one was keeping the water where it should be (which seems to have been the case before the current snafu).
  • I will rinse the bioballs out monthly.
  • I may not add a GAC back in (I through it out yesterday b/c the filter was disgustingly dirty), at least not if I keep the chemi-pure in the tank; I am going to experiment with removing the chemi-pure elite and only returning it to the tank if I get another out break of cyano. It could be that I will need to either vodka dose or chemically treat in order to keep a feeding schedule that is a bit heavier than the normal recommendation

The list is a little late for New Year's, but hey! At least there's a list. In other news, I re-scaped yesterday, and with the exception of having accidently scraped the crap out of the little yellow sponge, I actually like it! I've created a more even looking terrain with the big cave space in the middle, and a few smaller spots. I am picking up my new flat piece for the top onto which the acans are going. Australia has Ayer's Rock; I will have Acan Rock :lol:. The blasto got moved to a different slope, and it was so ticked off about it all yesterday, that it may be a few days before it is happy again. The slope has lots of great crevices, so I am going to make it the blasto-micro-mussus hill. The spot in the "back" where the macro is concentrated and where the acan used to be is free now, and I'm thinking of adding a piece of leather there...they have a great little baby "cactus" shaped one (Devil's fingers? can't think of the name of the coral right now) which will look SO neat in that spot. The duncan, despite the tank trauma of the last week, has at least one new baby ready to sprout, and the acan has like 9 heads on it!! I am so looking forward to seeing it have all the space it needs to grow grow grow. I won't have pictures up until later, but just had to get the whole adventure off my chest ;).

#262
primeform

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In my opinion the best thing you could do would be get a RO/DI at home and mix your own salt. And remember to take the advice from the LFS with grain of salt.

#263
gena

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I enjoyed reading your findings...thank you for posting that :)

I'm looking forward to seeing the new rockscape!!!!!

#264
msscha

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Picked up a new acan and blasto today along with the new rock piece. Also, bought a trimma goby! Littel guy with red stripes. I'll take a pic once the coral open up.

Funny -- when I was futzing in the tank, the Bozette always hangs out by my hand, but she went crazy attacking the diamond on my wedding ring! Every time I put my hand in the water, she would all out swim and bite the daylights out of it :o -- it was pretty funny. Maybe she secretly believes she's Marilyn Monroe :D.

#265
pbjelly

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Can't wait to see the new scape.

That low salinity does sound like an LFS mix-up. I had the same thing happen to me. My LFS re-uses containers for their RO/DI water and I had a water delivery go awry when I discovered that a bunch of containers I thought were salt were actually not.
I don't have anyplace to put an RO/DI unit at the moment, so for now, I've gotten into the habit of sticking my finger in the container and tasting before I pour.

Funny -- when I was futzing in the tank, the Bozette always hangs out by my hand, but she went crazy attacking the diamond on my wedding ring! Every time I put my hand in the water, she would all out swim and bite the daylights out of it :o -- it was pretty funny. Maybe she secretly believes she's Marilyn Monroe :D.


Do you think Bozette's faorite movie is "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"? After all - A kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but diamonds are a girl's best friend. :P

#266
gena

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Sounds like a fish after my own heart :lol:

We went on our honeymoon to St. Croix. Before we went snorkling they warned us to not wear jewelry because the fish will be attracted to the sparkle!!!!!

pictures...please???? are the coral happy yet? :happy:

#267
msscha

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New Rockscape and Newest Fish Companion

I love the fact that the new Trimma Goby is already out and sitting on a piece of coral, right in front. I don't know what her ultimate lifespan will be given that this is probably already full-grown. They had some truly tiny ones, half the size of this one. All were eating well. This trimma -- I should stop calling is "she" since I don't really know, is eating well in my tank, too, though it will be a trick keeping her fed given Bozette's greediness! She's definitely used to frozen marine fusion, but not flake food -- she picked at a couple of pieces. Rain actually tried to eat a slowly sinking pellet out of the water column! He couldn't get his mouth around it, but I'm hoping the addition will help the sifted sand have higher nutritional content. One of the nassarius is still alive and seems to responding to Spectrum new life pellets, so I'm hoping it stays alive. I also bought some loc line pieces yesterday, from an aquatics store selling through Amazon. The pieces won't be here until the end of the week -- I'll use them to set up better turbulence in the water. I wonder if I should get a stronger water pump? It seems a lot of people trade their standard one out for something else.

Trimma Goby -- I think it is a Trimma Cana -- see here for an article on Trimma Gobies
http://web.clas.ufl....eef/trimma1.bmp

"Red" Acan -- is there a color chart for naming these guys?
http://web.clas.ufl....f/red_acan1.bmp

New Blasto -- the one in front is new -- it puffs in a different manner and the color is sort of burgundy
http://web.clas.ufl..../blastonew1.bmp

FTS -- 2/20/2012
http://web.clas.ufl....s_2_20_2012.bmp

Edited by msscha, 20 February 2012 - 10:35 AM.


#268
msscha

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I don't have anyplace to put an RO/DI unit at the moment, so for now, I've gotten into the habit of sticking my finger in the container and tasting before I pour.

I don't have room for one either, nor for mixing my own salt water -- I have tasted water before, too, and may have to go back to that!

#269
msscha

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We went on our honeymoon to St. Croix. Before we went snorkling they warned us to not wear jewelry because the fish will be attracted to the sparkle!!!!!

pictures...please???? are the coral happy yet? :happy:

There are only two new corals, and both seem fine -- the blasto actually seems quite happy and is so plumped the polyps have nearly covered the green center! The acan is not quite so joyful yet, but is not miserable, either. It is plump and the mouth tentacles are out, but it looks small compared to its neighbor which looks monstrously big to me! It's grown some 9 heads now and the color seems better today than it has in the past. This could be just projection -- but it was crowded on its other rock and here it can spread out. There's a bit more pink in it -- one of the heads on the back is almost completely pale pink -- just a tiney speck of green, but then most of the newer heads look like. I really like the color of the new one. It's not the psychedelic colors I envy in other people, but makes a nice contrast in its spot on top.

#270
ScubaEthan

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Looking good. That new goby is cute. I caught up with your thread yestetday but didn't have time to respond. I enjoyed your in deph research paraphrasing. Skimmers seem to be a necessity (except a small controversy for our little tanks)... yet you read something like that about skimmers making our tanks too clean and it makes you realize just how little we know. And if we know little about our own ecosystems, we know far less about the ones on our Earth that are in peril.
Sounds like a good resolution you made. Just stick to it and modify only if someone goes wrong. I upgraded my stock pump to the maxi-jet pro 900. I don't notice a huge amount of difference of the flow in the tank, but I have noticed it is stronger because it pulls particles out of the water more quickly. I figure the more water volume running through the back filtration the better.
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#271
msscha

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I do not see the fire shrimp this morning. Not even a carcass. Hmmm.

Oops -- I just looked into the shadows where I did see a non-moving shrimp. Not sure if it's a dead body or molt or some combo therein. Maybe the fluctuating salinity finally did it in? Can't deal with this now. Will have to see what is going on after class.

Update: Yep, dead Fire Shrimp. Damn. That guy was pricey as well as cool. Clearly something is up with my tank and inverts -- at least the shrimp.

Edited by msscha, 21 February 2012 - 08:25 AM.


#272
gena

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Bummer! Sorry about the shrimp :(

Your tank looks amazing though :happy: Beautiful new additions!

#273
msscha

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Bummer! Sorry about the shrimp :(

Your tank looks amazing though :happy: Beautiful new additions!

Thanks, Gena! One thing I've noticed today is that Rain is definitely picking at both the new macro (some kind of caulerpa) and the seaweed. A lot. There's been relatively little sand-sifting today. I got some new pics, but sometime between yesterday and today, the usb cord has disappeared. Hmm.

#274
pbjelly

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So sorry to hear about the shrimp. :(

I know I say this over and over again, but I love how your tank really feels like a garden. I want to take a tiny tea set and use the candy canes as my table. Or are they trumpets? In which case I'll take my tea and crumpets by the trumpets while I watch the fairies play. :P

#275
RedStang

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Sorry about the shrimp. We love our cleaner. Love the pistol too but we hardly ever see it.