gerbilbox

Gerbil's 15g Indo-Pacific Reef

Full Tank Shot: May 17, 2011, now six months old

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I've never owned an aquarium before, although 10 years ago a friend's goldfish died under my care. My educational background is in evolution, ecology, and biodiversity, and I volunteer as a docent at a local science museum & aquarium. I either know or am capable of understanding a lot about marine biology, especially marine invertebrates, but I have ZERO husbandry experience. I enter this hobby knowing that things can go wrong and everything can die because of me, but whatever happens I will do my best to learn and still have fun with it :)

 

Thumbnail below links to my first YouTube video of my new ocellaris clownfish and my huge new hammer coral:

 

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Corals

 

Grape coral (Euphyllia cristata)

Hammer coral (Euphyllia ancora or parancora)

"Fat hammer," might just be a "regular" hammer but seems a little unusual

Frogspawn (Euphyllia divisa or paradivisa)

Bright green trumpet coral (Caulastrea spp.)

Orange plate coral (Fungia spp.)

Acan (Acanthastrea spp.)

Hair mushroom (Rhodactis spp.)

Zoas, both Zoanthus and Palythoa spp.

 

Other Invertebrates

 

3 Trochus snails

7 Sandbed clams (Tapes), buried

Dwarf zebra hermit crabs (Calcinus laevimanus)

Amphipods (Grammarus)

Isopods

Bristle worms

Medusa worms (Family Cirratulidae)

Various little feather duster worms

Little bristle stars

One or two tiny Asterina starfish

 

Fish

 

Ocellaris clownfish, captive-bred from Sustainable Aquatics

 

One unknown red algae. I'm in contact with someone who may be able to ID it.

 

Tank Specs

 

Tank: 15g AGA, glass cover, 15 lbs. Marco Rock seeded with a few small pieces live rock, 15 lbs. Caribsea Fiji Pink sand.

Lighting: AquaticLife 2x24w T5HO, ATI Aquablue Special and Blue Plus

Filtration: CPR Aquatics AquaFuge2 (small) refugium for Chaetomorpha under reverse lighting (18w PC). The Aquafuge also houses heaters, temperature probe, and grounding probe.

Circulation: Vortech MP10ES, plus the outflow from the AquaFuge's Maxi-Jet 400.

Controller: Apex Jr with Energy Bar 8 module

Heaters: Ebo Jager 50w, backup Finnex Titanium 50w, controller keeps it at 78°F

Emergency Equipment: Surge protector, GFCI, grounding probe, Penn-Flax B11 emergency battery-powered air pump that automatically turns on during a power outage.

Other Equipment: Dual-switch top off system from AutoTopOff.com with Aqua Lifter pump, cheap blue LED moonlight from eBay.

Test Kits: API Saltwater Master and Reef Master kits. I'm still deciding on a Mg test kit.

Other: Seachem ReefSalt

 

Goals & Themes

 

1. Indo-Pacific reef

2. Back / lagoon reef, as described in John Tullock's books.

3. Captive-bred and fragged animals, otherwise lowest environmental impact to the extent possible.

4. Emphasis on corals and other invertebrates, and low bioload on the tank. Fish do not interest me much, but I do plan on one or two.

5. Vacation, neglect and failure safe, hence the dual heaters, controller, B11 pump, and top off system. I'm investing far too much time and money into this hobby to not have reasonable precautions.

 

These goals have made planning extremely challenging, but the following resources have been invaluable:

 

1. Nano-Reef, duh :)

2. ReefCentral

3. WetWebMedia

4. Reefkeeping.com

5. Advanced Aquarist

6. Coral Magazine

7. Reef Hobbyist

8. Reef Addicts

9. John Tullock's "Saltwater Aquarium Models" and "Natural Reef Aquariums"

10. Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals"

11. Anthony Calfo & Robert Fenner's "Reef Invertebrates"

 

The challenge has also made it extremely enriching to learn about the hobby, although some my goals can be flexible.

 

January 23, 2011:

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Edited by gerbilbox

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Full Tank Shot. ATO switches with snail guards are to the top left. I'll eventually paint them black so they'll blend in with the background. Cloudy at the moment but I'm hoping that will settle and clear soon with the filter floss and activated carbon.

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Night Mode:

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Looking Down. I did not bother using the leg mounts since it raised the lights three inches above the tank. This way I maximize the light from the 2x24x fixture. I secured the fixture to the with strong Velcro and even if it came loose there's a glass cover over the tank:

post-57145-1293954508_thumb.jpg

Edited by gerbilbox

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AquaClear 70 Refugium. A major problem with reverse lighting on the AC70 is light leaking into the tank so I experimented a lot with different ways for managing it. I wonder why this issue is rarely mentioned—perhaps most AC70 users don't use reverse lighting?

post-57145-1293955682_thumb.jpg

 

Electrical setup and RKL, which is usually protected behind a closet door that I don't close. Everything is labeled because I keep forgetting the cables.

post-57145-1293955721_thumb.jpg

Edited by gerbilbox

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i used to run an ac70 fuge mod on a reverse light schedule and all i did was spraypaint the side that is facing the tank with black plastic spraypaint. i just taped paper around everything i wasnt painting and went to town. of course i did this before i put it on my tank so this may not be a good option for you unless you dont mind taking it off the tank for a day or so while the paint dries.

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Parameters

Jan. 1, 2011, about 8:30pm

 

Temp.: 79°F

pH: 8.0

Ammonia: 0 ppm

Nitrites: 0 ppm

Nitrates: 0 ppm

Phosphate: 0 ppm

Calcium: 420 ppm

Alkalinity: 9 dKH

Salinity: 35 ppt

 

Since the cycle ended in mid-December, I started 1.5 gallon (10%) water change each week.

 

For my clean-up crew, I've added:

5 Trochus snails from a LFS

1 Stomatella varia snail, which hitchhiked with the Trochus.

7 Sandbed clams (Tapes) from Indo-Pacific Sea Farms. They've buried themselves under the sand, their siphons are barely visible.

IPSF's Live Sand Activator Plus, which includes:

Dwarf zebra hermit crabs (Calcinus laevimanus)

Periwinkle snails (Littoraria)

Amphipods (Grammarus)

Bristle worms

Spaghetti worm

 

I ordered from IPSF to ensure that I got a diverse clean-up crew from the Indo-Pacific that were also aquacultured. A day after introducing them into my tank they did an incredible number on my hair algae. I really love watching the hermit crabs since they're always running around and climbing over the rocks. In the morning before the lights turn on, several of them will approach the front of the glass because the window in my room is so bright.

 

My IPSF order also included a piece of green algae of some kind. I'll get it ID'd soon.

 

My LFS where I got the Trochus also included a large piece of red algae as a bonus. It looks really nice, but my LFS couldn't remember the name but it grows slowly. I'm hoping that it's from the Indo-Pacific when I get it ID'd.

 

There are a bunch of hitchhikers that came with the live rock. The ones I recognized were:

2 feather duster worms, a spirorbid (I think) and a sabellid.

Several tiny sipionid worms that are all but hidden except their pairs of sweepers.

Lots and lots of tiny brittle stars hiding in the rockwork.

2 tiny vermetid snails, which permanently attach themselves to rock.

Several tiny, anemone-like corallimorphs, possibly Pseudocorynactis if there was one that small.

 

The problem with the hitchhikers is that I don't know where they came from, so I have to accept that they might not be from the Indo-Pacific.

 

These hitchhikers are MIA, and I'm unsure if they survived the cycling:

Two small Asterina stars.

Some small hydroids, including a digitate hydroid.

At least two peppermint snails.

 

I had several cool hitchhikers that did not survive, including small sponges and tunicates.

 

i used to run an ac70 fuge mod on a reverse light schedule and all i did was spraypaint the side that is facing the tank with black plastic spraypaint. i just taped paper around everything i wasnt painting and went to town. of course i did this before i put it on my tank so this may not be a good option for you unless you dont mind taking it off the tank for a day or so while the paint dries.

 

Oh, I have the light leaks taken care of with pieces of foam board. It's an ugly looking solution but I can live with it. I just need to tweak it to make it sturdier.

Edited by gerbilbox

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You have a well thought out plan & you did your research. I think you are already head of the game. I like the look of your scape & rock. Look forward to seeing the progression of this tank & its inhabitants.

 

How do you like the look of the Fiji Pink sand?... I was thinking of using it in my next setup.

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AquaClear 70 Refugium. A major problem with reverse lighting on the AC70 is light leaking into the tank so I experimented a lot with different ways for managing it. I wonder why this issue is rarely mentioned—perhaps most AC70 users don't use reverse lighting?

green-firefly.jpg

 

http://cgi.ebay.com.sg/AZOO-FIREFLY-LIGHT-...S-/200453234141

 

thats a big ugly light you got on your little ac70. this is what i used, i kept getting lucky and i would find them with betta kits in the clearance bin at petco for like 5-10 bucks

 

this light fits neatly right over an ac70

- 6.5″ L x 6″ H From Clip, 2.5″ W x 1.5″ H Light housing. a smaller light and having the ac70 painted black helps with light spill

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You have a well thought out plan & you did your research. I think you are already head of the game. I like the look of your scape & rock. Look forward to seeing the progression of this tank & its inhabitants.

 

How do you like the look of the Fiji Pink sand?... I was thinking of using it in my next setup.

Thanks. I like the Fiji Pink even though there's almost no pink or red grains of sand in it. It's a handful of grains, but pink is a far stretch. I do have to be a little careful since the sand can get disturb easily with the flow. I don't have any experience with other kinds of sand to compare, although I've seen the Oolite at a store and it looked similar.

 

http://cgi.ebay.com.sg/AZOO-FIREFLY-LIGHT-...S-/200453234141

 

thats a big ugly light you got on your little ac70. this is what i used, i kept getting lucky and i would find them with betta kits in the clearance bin at petco for like 5-10 bucks

 

this light fits neatly right over an ac70

- 6.5″ L x 6″ H From Clip, 2.5″ W x 1.5″ H Light housing. a smaller light and having the ac70 painted black helps with light spill

Yeah, I know the light is ugly but I already had it available. My eyes are easily attracted to what's in the tank, not above it, so I can tolerate it. Thanks, I'll keep an eye out for deals at Petco.

Edited by gerbilbox

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I bought my first corals yesterday, and I'm so happy! It's been 24 hours nothing is dead (yet):

 

Zoanthus:

post-57145-1294120693_thumb.jpg

 

A single head of branching hammer coral (Euphyllia parancora):

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I love hammer corals and plan to make them the centerpiece of my tank. This one has bright green tips and brown tentacles, but I hope to find another hammer with white tips and green tentacles. I may add a frogspawn as well. I know a LFS that is going out of business at the end of this month, so I may pillage his frags for more easy corals soon even though I met my coral quota for the month.

 

I drip acclimated everything for an hour, then dipped them in Coral ReVive for 5 minutes. The Zoanthus recovered quickly and started opening up not too long after I placed them in my tank. The hammer retracted and expelled some zooxanthellae like vomit, but after lights out it came out again. Right now I have them on a light acclimation schedule, 4 hours light yesterday, 5 hours today, 6 tomorrow, and so on until they're up to 12 hours a day again.

 

The water is still cloudy, but seems to have slightly improved. I decided to change out the filter floss once a day instead of once a week until everything is clear.

Edited by gerbilbox

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IMGP2604.jpg

Updated tank shot.

 

I recently bought a CPR Aquafuge to replace the AquaClear 70. It's much larger than the AC70 and easier to deal with since it's specifically designed to be a refugium, unlike the AquaClear. Changing this configuration meant installing a Koralia Nano to provide most of the circulation, which actually builds in some redundancy I was lacking. Gotta save up for a MP10 now!

 

Note in the tank shot that I spray painted black the large snail guards on the ATO system, so they now blend into the background and are barely noticeable.

 

IMGP2615.jpg

Aquafuge with lots of Chaetomorpha.

 

Everything has been fine and appear to be growing. I acquired a number of coral through my local DBTC program and my local club's frag swap. I still have a few pieces in quarantine, but here are the new frags that are now in the tank:

 

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Euphyllia corner

 

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Acanthastrea

 

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Rhodactis hairy mushroom

 

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Green Palythoa

 

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Purple Zoanthus

 

I keep flipping back and forth on whether to get a fish. I forgot about it for a while when my LFS ran out of stock on a particular captive-bred clown, so I got used to not having a fish. When I took a week-long vacation to Florida last month, it made me glad that I didn't have to worry about keeping a fish fed while I was gone. Several friends, including my roommate and neighbor, have assured me that they would have like to feed a fish, so I think I'll get a clown in the not too distant future :)

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The thumbnail below links to my first aquarium video. Nothing special except two of my new additions.

 

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For several weeks I've kept a Caulastrea and a green-tip hammer coral in quarantine and I decided that it was now safe to introduce them to my tank. The hammer coral I picked up from a local club member. I was expecting a small head of coral, but he handed me a huge deli container with a 4-inch tall frag. It's now the largest piece in my tank and it's just a gorgeous addition.

 

On the same day I introduced the two frags into the tank, I also picked up a captive-bred ocellaris clownfish. The little guy is less than an inch and he started eating almost right away. Two days later took a liking to my new hammer coral. My neighbor suggested I call him Pat after Julia Sweeney's SNL character, so there you go, It's Pat!

 

Owning a fish the past couple days has made it easier to wake up in the morning. I'm a wannabe morning person but I have a lot of trouble doing it. So far this week I've woken up earlier than usual, thinking, "I have to feed the damn fish before I leave for work." Corals are much less demanding. I'm hoping that this side effect will last :)

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Clownfish are definately fun to watch. A watchman goby would also be fitting for you tank. They are ich resistant, full of character, and very widespread around the world.

 

If you can, try to get some collumbellid snails (nano conchs). They reproduce easily in captivity and can repel up and down strings they make. Neptune Aquatics have some breeding in their tanks, but they normally aren't for sale. Ask Jimmy, the week day manager about them.

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Cool tank, going to look great once all those hammers and frogspawns grow out! :D

Also, cool to see another bay area nano reefer :)

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If you can, try to get some collumbellid snails (nano conchs). They reproduce easily in captivity and can repel up and down strings they make. Neptune Aquatics have some breeding in their tanks, but they normally aren't for sale. Ask Jimmy, the week day manager about them.

 

Thanks, they are on my list of snails since I would like some that would breed in the tank, but I'm going to introduce some stomatellas and see how they work out before trying out another snail.

 

Cool tank, going to look great once all those hammers and frogspawns grow out! :D

Also, cool to see another bay area nano reefer :)

 

That's my goal! I love how they look when they get a nice bushy size.

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In my experience, the Columbellids do fine with the Stomatella varias, Stomatella colonistas, and Nassariuses. I think they have their own niches.

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updates?

 

I got an update coming up but I've been busy and I've also been waiting on some new equipment. Got some new corals (thanks again to awcasper), new light fixture, and battling a mild algae problem that I think I'm winning. Expect an update in a few days.

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