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Playapixie's Solana 34 Build-First saltwater tank!

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Hi! Thanks for checking out my Solana 34 build thread. Your input and suggestions are welcome!

This is my first saltwater tank. I have had fresh water on and off for my whole life, and finally decided to give a reef tank a go.

So far I have (updated 5/20/11):

~Solana 34 Starphire (used)
~Solana stand w/custom marble top (used)
~stock skimmer
~stock return pump
~Koralia nano & another small pump on a wave timer (all also from Craigslist; adding a new Koralia 750 when it arrives)
~Vortech MP10
~150W ViaAqua heater
~Tunze Osmolator Universal Automatic Top-off added 6/14/11. The bottles it comes with work, but only for a day or two, and I need to be able to leave the tank for several days at a time, so I upgraded to the ATO. Broken!

~Tsunami AT-1 Auto top-off, a cheaper replacement after the expensive Tunze quit working after 2 years

~32lbs live rock out of a well-established system (some of this is in the back 2nd chamber)
~20 lbs so-called "live sand" (packaged); added about 2 cups sand from an established tank
~StevieT Media Box with white/blue floss on top, fuge w/cheato & JBJ nano fuge light middle, live rock rubble chamber 3 (may switch this out for chemipure/carbon/etc if needed) Chemipure Elite bottom. No bioballs.

~Sunbrite Slimline S LED fixture

~EcoTech Radion LED (Upgraded after about a year. Much better coverage and coral growth took off.)

I really didn't know what kind of aquascape was going to be good for corals in a Solana, but I think I like what I came up with.

But help! I hate the white blobs of epoxy putty holding it all together. Any suggestions for covering this? I didn't know you could buy purple "reef putty" :-( Maybe I could just smear some purple over the obvious white spots? Or will real coralline eventually grow? Or do I just need to strategically place corals to hide them? I think I kinda went overboard with the putty, but I want a goby-shrimp pair and I've read that the pistol shrip can topple rocks that aren't well-secured. Ideas?

Cycle: this is day 4.
So far:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate <10
pH 8.0
Specific Gravity: 1.023
Temp 76-78

So far all of the parameters have been stable. I'm really hoping there won't be much of a cycle; all of my rock came from a well-established tank, and it was out of the water only about 45 minutes. Between that and the sand I added from another friend's tank, I'm hopeful it'll be fast.

Oh, there was one reddish/brownish mushroom with green spots on one of the rocks. He still seems perfectly happy, despite all of the changes and the new tank. Fingers crossed he survives (or not, I hear some people think they're a nuisance?) There are also LOTS of living little things in there: pods, night buggy-things, tiny feather duster worms, etc.)

Stocking plan:
Clean up crew (how many/what do I need?)
1 Watchman goby
1 Pistol shrimp (for goby-shrimp pair)
1 Pair clowns (undecided type)
1 Purple firefish or Royal Gramma or...?
Corals of all types, starting with the easier ones...

Sound reasonable so far?

Anyhow, I'm having fun with this and I swear I'm working on patience, but I'm really excited to start stocking, especially corals. Given that I used established rock with very little out-of-water or handling time, and added live/established sand, how long do I need to wait to see if I get ammonia and nitrite? And what order should I start stocking in?


Solana 34, Solana Stand

Aquscape from the front

From the left side:

From the right side:
You can't see it super well, but there is a cave with a swim-through on the right front.

Update on 11/3/11 (tank is 6 months old):
IMG_0311 by Playapixie, on Flickr

Edited by Playapixie

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Welcome to the Club! I got you on the list buddy! i like your scape. What are you planning to put in that sexy tank? :)

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Welcome to the Club! I got you on the list buddy! i like your scape. What are you planning to put in that sexy tank? :)


Thanks! I want mostly corals, starting with some easy ones, but I think I'm set up for anything (or I will be when the light I ordered arrives.) For fish, thinking a watchman goby-shrimp pair, pair of clowns (unsure which ones), and something like a purple firefish or a royal gramma or...??? And some crawly cleany critters. Good times!


Thanks so much.


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Well, today I added a Koralia 750, and it's awfully darned big. Hard to find a place for it where it won't potentially be blasting the heck out of whatever is in its path. Wondering if going with such a big pump was a mistake. It's on a wave timer with a Koralia Nano and another smaller pump, so at least it's only blasting half the time. Sure does make some interesting flow patterns and waves, though. Still thinking about shelling out yet more cash for that Vortech.


Water parameters today:

pH 8.1

Ammonia 0

Nitrite 0

Nitrate 2

SG: 1.024

Calcium: 400

Alkalinity 2


I didn't test for the first couple days (didn't have kits.) Never saw ammonia or nitrite, but I had nitrate on the first test (10), which has dropped down now to 2. My pH went from 8.4 to 7.8 in the first few days, but came back up to 8.1 when I added more flow and vented the skimmer & hood better. My LFS guy thinks it probably had a mini-cycle already, and I'm inclined to agree, since my 32 lbs of live rock all came out of a well-established tank and had almost no time out of the water. I also seeded with sand from another friend's long-established tank. Fingers crossed this is true because...


I added a small clean-up crew day before yesterday (day 6; I know some of you will scold me):

3 nerite snails

2 astraea snals

5 blue-leg hermits

They are all happily chowing down on the algae that came with the rock (although I haven't had an algae bloom in my tank yet)


There was also a little brown mushroom coral that hitched in with the rock. And a bunch of little pod-type crawly-critters (I watched the mushroom eat one; didn't know they could/would do that!) and itty-bitty feather dusters and tube-worm things (the little guys with the two tentacles.)


So far, all the things living in there seem like they're doing just fine, and my water quality parameters haven't changed since adding the mini-CUC. So, I'm hoping the tank is already adequately cycled to move forward slowly.


Picking up the just-released Sunbrite Slimline S LED fixture tomorrow & hopeful that it will be just right for the Solana. A little worried I'm going to have to modify the wood trim to make it work.

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Are you on Reeffrontiers as well?

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Are you on Reeffrontiers as well?


Yes...been voraciously reading both forums...

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awesome!! there is someone else from the seattle area on this forum!

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awesome!! there is someone else from the seattle area on this forum!


You're from Seattle too? :-)


Yeah, I've been hanging on Reef Frontiers because it seems like there are a lot of NW locals there. But I've been here because it seems like the nano-info is most pertinent to my 34 gallon...

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You're from Seattle too? :-)


Yeah, I've been hanging on Reef Frontiers because it seems like there are a lot of NW locals there. But I've been here because it seems like the nano-info is most pertinent to my 34 gallon...

Same here, but i only go on reef frontiers once in a while. Also, i think the nano-reef community is generally really good about staying current with stuff related to the hobby and the forums are pretty active. Nice to know someone from the area is on here.

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Same here, but i only go on reef frontiers once in a while. Also, i think the nano-reef community is generally really good about staying current with stuff related to the hobby and the forums are pretty active. Nice to know someone from the area is on here.

There are quite a few people on here from the Seattle area.

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NICE start .

Thanks for posting the info on the light (another forum ). Glad u got it figured out .

I have seen Solana's using Tunze 9002 skimmers with upgraded cups .

The Gramma won't jump as easily as the FF . If there is no lid, be careful . U could end up with someone carpet surfing .

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Update as of 5/20/11



~Replaced the Koralia powerheads with one Vortech MP10. Right now running in EcoSmart Tidal Swell Mode at 50%. Any higher and the two softie coral frags I have seem to be over-stimulated.

~Installed Sunbrite Slimline S LED light fixture (more on this later; it is not the perfect solution for mounting on the Solana, but I'm figuring out how to make it work.

~Added StevieT Media Box, with blue floss on top, chaeto with JB Nano Fuge light in middle section (this light is perfect for this!), and some LR rubble in the bottom section (for now; may use for chemipure or carbon later on if needed.)


Parameters today (very little change since initial set-up):

pH 8.2

Specific Gravity: 1.24

Temp: 78

Ammonia: 0

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 5

Alkalinity: 3.5 meq/L (7 drops on SeaChem test) (down from 4)

Ca: 400 (down from 420)


Did a 4 gallon water change today after these tests, so curious to see what these numbers will be tomorrow.


All the live rock (~32lbs) and a fair amount of the sand came from a friend's tank and it was out of the water less than 15 minutes during transport. I never had ammonia or nitrite in this tank. Nitrate spiked up to 10 for a few days, then came down to 2 and has remained less than 5.


I had a small diatom bloom at about week 2 dusting the sand, but I added the chaeto with fuge light on the 2nd day of the bloom, and within a couple of days the diatoms were almost totally gone. Coraline algae is already starting to purple up most of the rock, especially high in the tank (about half 1/3 of it was purple to begin with, but it died off quickly because I didn't have any lights for the first week).


Stock so far:

-Ocellaris Clownfish (2 small juveniles.) One of them discovered the cave I built today during a water change, and s/he seems to have claimed it as her/his home now. Do clownfish usually host caves/rock? It really likes it in there and has discovered all of the passage ways in and out (they both ignored this cave until today.) The other clown occasionally joins the first in there.

-Astraea snails (2)

-Nerite snails (3)

-Nassarius snails (10): this seems like overkill but my LFS talked me into that many. They are tiny, but they are hungry! Given that I'm only lightly feeding this tank, I'm a little worried about there being so many of them, are they going to starve? Thinking about taking half of them to my friend for her tank.)

-blue leg hermits (5 tiny ones, although one already jumped ship for a shell that was at least 5X bigger than his old shell; for the first couple days in it he just poked around in the sand, but now he's hauling that huge house all over the rocks just fine.)

~All kinds of creepy-crawlies that came in with the live rock, including tons of tiny feather-dusters, crawing pod-bug-things, a teeny tiny starfish, and who-knows-what...


Corals (see pics below):

-Xenia (pulsing/long-arm): small frag from LFS doing great

-Mushrooms (one hitched in with the LR and added another from the LFS; strangely, it looked very different under their MH lights, but home under my LED's it looks pretty much just like the other one, bummer.)

-Kenya Tree (?) small frag from my friend Jessica's tank seems to be doing fine, except that it always leans with the water flow.

-green zoas, two tiny polyps from the LFS, looking good

-Finger Leather (?) from my friend Jessica's tank: this one is SAD! It was fine for a day and a half, but then I tried to glue it to a plug and it's been ticked off ever since; it's shrunken way down and never extends its polyps (see pic below).


No plans to add any more stock any time soon. Planning to let things stabilize and see how the little sad finger leather recovers.


Future plans:

~Wait a while and let it mature a bit, researching a lot in the mean time

~Gradually add corals for a mixed reef, researching the possibilities

~Maybe a yellow Watchman Goby and Candy Pistol shrimp as the next livestock addition (not for a while)

~Still thinking maybe a Royal Gramma in the much-further future

~Really love Pom Pom Crabs, but worried that a pistol shrimp might kill it. Researching that possibility as if I can't have both, I'm not sure if I'll lean towards the goby/pistol pair, or a Pom Pom Crab & sexy shrimp (what do you think?)

~Fascinated by the mini carpet anemones and considering these in the future


On to the photos:


Front view today:



Is this Kenya Tree? Grows like weeds in my friend's tank but she's not sure what it is:


So far this always leans with the water flow. Should this stand up-right, or do they hang from vertical spaces in the wild? Also wondering if it wants more light, as it's about half-way down the tank and there's plenty of room to go higher.


Xenia (Pulsing/Long-Arm) from the LFS:


Mostly just waves in the current, but it does pulse sometimes, especially when the lights are dim and the flow is low. It's so cool!


Green zoas (ID anyone?) from the LFS:






And the sad frag (maybe a Finger Leather?):


This also came from my friend Jess and grows avidly in her tank, but again she didn't know what it was (I think some kind of Finger Leather). It did great in my tank for two days, but then I took it from this shell and tried to super-glue it to a plug, and it's been in hiding ever since (and it got loose of the plug anyhow, so it's back in the shell). It's shrunk down to like 1/2 of the original size and doesn't extend its polyps any more. I'm not sure if it is ticked because of the glue, the change to LED's, too much or too little light, too much change, something chemical that I can't test for, or...? I moved it down from about half-way up to the bottom yesterday in case it needed a break from the LED's. I'm hoping it's not dying but it's sad to watch it doing nothing. It's been like this for 3 days now. Any ideas/thoughts?


That's all for now, and not expecting to change much any time soon...


Thanks for stopping by; comments/suggestions welcome.

Edited by Playapixie

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Got a refractometer today, and of course was kind of horrified by what my Specific Gravity *really* was:

1.022, when the IO Hydrometer was reading 1.025. Ack! So now I'm topping off with salt-water at 1.025 to replace evap and hopefully can gradually increase my SG without upsetting anything...


Also, the sad finger leather has expanded back to close to its original size and was even starting to poke out some of its polyps today, yay! I think it's going to survive.


Starting to get some kind of green algae on my glass; it's like small, delicate filaments that attach at a single point and then branch out kind of like single fern stalks. Easy to wipe off but I'm worried that'll just seed them further in the tank, so reading up on ways to remove them safely. Wondering if this is a "new-tank-ride-it-out" sort of thing, or if being more proactive against algae is a good idea (learning about UV sterilizers and phos reactors now.) Guess I should start with getting a phosphorus test...?

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Noticed a few white spots on one of the clowns a couple evenings ago, which are more pronounced now, although she is not acting sick.


Both clowns are now in a hospital tank with a dose of Cupramine, and I've learned my lesson: quarantine fish first! I don't ever want to have to try to catch a fish out of my DT again; that was epic. Had to remove everything that wasn't part of the main rock structure and 2/3 of the water to catch one of them. They both seem to be adjusting fine to the new tank, though.


So now my main tank stays fish-less for 6-8 weeks, and I swear I will always quarantine new fish in the future!

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Zoa garden is taking shape, the Xenia and Finger Leather have both at least doubled, and everything seems happy. Now I have small frags of a variety of zoas & palys, acanthastrea, rainbow star polyps, ricordea, pipe organ, frogspawn, xenia, finger leather, & Kenya Tree. I'm definitely interested in developing this into a mixed reef, as I love the flowy movements from the softies, and the colors of the zoas and LPS. i've got an area that may someday hold some SPS too, but thinking that'll be the last area to develop, after I have more experience and the tank is more mature.


The clowns are still hanging out in quarantine, week two of their 6-8 week stay before they get to move home, but they now appear to be Ich-free and tolerating Cupramine just fine (yay!)


Shelled out some more big bucks for a back-up battery for the Vortech, and looking into a back-up for the heater, as I'm quickly realizing that a power outage could be very heart-breaking and expensive. I was warned that reef-keeping was expensive, but I had no idea just how expensive. Wow.


There are so many kinds of live things in there that came with the rock that even with no fish there is lots of action to watch.


Parameters today, which seem to be remaining pretty stable:

pH 8.2

SG 1.024, still aiming to gradually come up to 1.025 or 1.026

temp 78

nitrite 0

nitrate 1

phos <0.25

Calcium 440

Alk 3.5 meq/L

Mag 1300


Some pretty things:


Mini Maxi Carpet Anemone & Sexy Shrimp trio:


Mini Maxi Nem from Greg at Cultivated Reef :-)

I am infatuated with the Mini Maxis and ordered two more (because, you know, the Sexies don't seem to want to share just one!)


Zoa Garden, Acanthastrea, Pipe Organ, Ricordia, Mushrooms, Rainbow Star Polyps, etc:



Totally in love with this amazing hobby, which feels like part art/design project, part biology lab, part chemistry experiment, part pets. Pretty much perfect for an artistic-scientific type like me :-)


As a side note, I was freaked out about pulling the clowns from the display tank and moving them into an un-cycled quarantine. However, after a lot of reading & product reviews, I decided to start the QT (a biocube 8) with Seachem's Stability treatment (which adds spores of bacteria to jump start all the phases of the nitrogen cycle), and it actually worked! QT is running with just the bioballs and filter floss, and started with 8 days of Stability per their directions. Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate have all always been 0! I didn't really think it was going to work, but it sure seems to have. I started out feeding them cautiously for the first few days, but now I'm feeding them liberally, and everything still seems fine. I'm doing weekly 25% water changes just to be careful, but I'm definitely sold on Stability as a way to jump start a hospital tank.

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Haven't updated in months, but my Solana 34 is shaping up nicely at 6 months.

Livestock currently:

Ocellaris Clown Fish pair
Tail Spot Blenny
McCosker's Flasher Wrasse

Tuxedo Urchin (he devastates my corraline algae but he sure is cute)
Sexy Shrimp X3
Peppermint Shrimp X3
Pom Pom Crabs X2
Mini-Maxi Carpet Anemones X4
Astrea Snails X4
Nerite Snails X3
Nassarius Snails X6
Cerith Snails X3
Micro Brittle Stars X4 (plus now lots of tinier ones)
Blue Leg Hermits X4

ORA Sprung's Stunner Chalice (fast grower!)
Lithophyllon (also a fast grower, my fav coral at the moment)
Acanthastrea X2
Ricordea Florida X3 (all about to divide)
Pipe Organ
Pulsing Xenia
Finger Leather of some kind
Liam's Clove Polyp
Rainbow Star Polyp
Green Star Polyp
Zoanthids, various
Palythoas, various

Parameters running around:
SG 1.025-1.026
pH 8.2
Temp 77-78
Ca 420
KH 8
Mag 1300
Nitrate 0
Phosphate <0.25

I'm doing a 4.5 gallon water change every other week using SeaChem Salinity. Dosing 3-4 times/week with C-Blance and still working out the dosing routine (has become more challenging in the last month as I added several fast-growing LPS.)

I'm looking to upgrade my lighting to a better LED set-up. Leaning towards the Ecotech Marine Radion, or the Maxspect Mazarra. Since both are new, I'm waiting for some pictures and reviews of these, hopeful on other Solana 34's or similar. I am not a fan of my current Sunbrite Slimline at all. The timer on it quit working months ago, and even prior to quitting it was never reliable. The program on it was also too short of a light cycle, in my opinion. When I switched it to a straight on/off timer with a longer cycle, I started getting much better coral growth. Also, the Sunbrite Slimline doesn't cover nearly enough of the tank.

So far I haven't had any real disasters. Had to treat my first fish (clowns) for ich early on, but have been quaruntining new fish since, and haven't had this problem again. Have had flat worms at one point, but this was quickly resolved with Flatworm Exit. Also have a few tiny aiptasia popping up now, and just added the Peppermint Shrimp to hopefully take care of these. Never have had any significant algae blooms, diatoms, or other common problems. I think starting off with well-established rock, setting up a fuge early on, and running Chemipure Elite all help.

Here are some current pics as of 11/3/11 (6-month mark):

Front view:
IMG_0311 by Playapixie, on Flickr

IMG_0309 by Playapixie, on Flickr

Left side:
IMG_0315 by Playapixie, on Flickr

Right side:
IMG_0316 by Playapixie, on Flickr

IMG_0313 by Playapixie, on Flickr

Lobo (I need to get a pic of this at night with it's tentacles extended!):
IMG_0314 by Playapixie, on Flickr

Sprung's Stunner Chalice, Duncan, Finger Leather, Mini-Maxi Nems, Ricordea Florida, mushrooms, Zoas, clowns:
IMG_0317 by Playapixie, on Flickr

Mini-Maxi Carpet Anemone Garden, Tuxedo Urchin, Duncan:
IMG_0318 by Playapixie, on Flickr

Xenia, Finger Leather, McCosker's Flasher Wrasse, Clown:
IMG_0328 by Playapixie, on Flickr

Xenia, often hosted (although not aggressively) by the Oscellaris clowns:
IMG_0336 by Playapixie, on Flickr

Edited by Playapixie

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Looks like I've neglected this thread for a couple of years, but I haven't neglected the Solana.


Upgraded the lights to the EcoTech Radion about a year ago and that light has been perfect. Ceiling-mounted, great coverage, looks slick. Sticker shock, though!


Current livestock:

Oscellaris clown pair

Yellow Watchman Goby & Candy Stripe Randall's Pistol Shrimp

Royal Gramma

Peppermint Shrimp

Sexy Shrimp X4

Pom Pom Crab

Porcelain Crab

Mini-Maxi Anemones X5 (two of the original 4 traveled the tank for months, slunk off into caves, and disappeared months ago. 2 of the originals remain in their original spots and are both now at least 5 inches. 3 newer small ones now live on a little island in the front of the tank, where hopefully the sand dissuades them from traveling.)

Various snails & hermits


Corals include:

ORA Sprung's Stunner Chalice

Branching Hammer

Acanthastrea X3
Ricordea Florida X3
Pipe Organ
Pulsing Xenia
Finger Leather of some kind
Liam's Clove Polyp
Green Star Polyp
Zoanthids, various
Palythoas, various


Regrets so far:


-Blue palys. They're taking over, and due to toxicity I'm nervous to do anything about them. They are, unfortunately, on rocks that are part of the base structure of my rock work, and everything is epoxied and zip-tied together, so I can't pull them to get rid of the palys. I wish I had never put them in my tank, total rookie move as it was a $5 frag when I didn't know better.


-Silver Xenia: unlike my pink xenia, which is easy to peel off the rocks when it goes where I don't want it, the silver xenia is very hard to get rid of. I've mostly eradicated it, but there are always little bits of it showing up here and there. It totally took over and smothered a rock with two euphelia while I was on vacation this summer, so it's got to go. Too bad, as it's pretty.


-Putting in anything that I didn't totally love. You run out of room so fast in a nano!


Still loving nano-reefing, though. The family has grown: I'm now babysitting a young friend's 12G Fluval Edge while she travels for a year, and I recently set up an 11 gallon frag tank (build thread coming.)



November 2013.

Contemplating some major changes. If I can figure out how to get rid of a lot of the blue palythoas I'd like to replace the ones on the bottom left with a lot of other pretty zoanthids I've been cultivating. Still toying with trying some branching SPS in the top left (again, if I can get rid of those pesky palys that have also moved in up there...)



View from the left



View from the right



Yellow Watchman Goby & Randall's pistol shrimp


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I’m back....and recovering from my 2nd crash in 7 years.


What a trip re-reading 7 years of history with this little tank.  


Unfortunately I recently suffered my 2nd crash in that time period, and I’m now back to as close to bare rock as I’ve been since 2011.  When I left for vacation for 3 weeks in February, my ATO died and my heater thermostat went haywire.  Roomie didn’t recognize any problems until the tank had massive bubbles spewing into the display.  When I cam home, the salinity was sky high, and the temp was too.  My refugium light was also dead, but I’m not actually sure when that happened.  On top of it, I’d become lazy with maintenance so I honestly didn’t leave it in the best condition.


So....what was once a thriving well-established reef dropped down to:


The fish that were present at the time lived (an ocelearis and a yellow watchman goby.)

The Randall’s shrimp lived.

1 hermit crab lived.

A fighinting conch lived

A few polyps of blasto lived.

I think a few polyps of a really pretty clove polyp are going to live.

All of the mini-maxi anemones (those things are bulletproof, beautiful, and I love them!)

A large leather seems like it’s going to bounce back

A whole lot of cyano and algae


What died?

All the Sexy shrimp 

all the snails

Emerald crab

pom pom crab

tuxedo urchin 



all the zoas & plays

all but one hermit crab



all the chaeto macroalge in the refugium


What recovery looks like:

Two treatments with chemiclean for cyano, followed by 30% water changes one day apart each, with aggressive siphoning of detritus from the bottom and rocks

Removal of remaining decaying coral tisuse from a few rocks

Complete disassembly and cleaning of all the pumps, filters, and returns

Changing carbon every few days 

Ordered a new skimmer (Tunze 9001) to replace the stock solana skimmer that has become insanely noisy

Replaced the heater

New ATO (Tunze nano)

New CheatoMax Refugim light to replace the dead JBJ nano refugium light


Restocked with clean-up crew: 15 astrea snails, 5 nassarius snails, 5 hermits, one Mexican turbo snail (which i’ll Probably give away once the tank is cleaned up)

All parameters are now totally normal, with super low nitrate (FWIW I never had detectable ammonia, and weirdly nitrate never spiked either, I think because the algae in the main tank was using it all.)

Have started restocking with some ricordea, flower anemones, some pulsing Xenia, and a small hammer.  The new corals see to be adapting just fine.

Added 3 sexy shrimp; haven’t seen more than 2 at once since then but they seem fine

Added a scarlet cleaner shrimp and an emerald crab.  They seem fine.


All seems like it’s on its way back to Health.  And it’s only cost me oh, some 60 hours of labor in the last few weeks,  about $300 in updated equipment, and I’m already another $300 in on corals and inverts.  And will be shelling out several hundred more over the next couple of months while restocking.  God this is an expensive hobby. Good thing I make more than I did when I started.


The good news: the bane of my existence, and the one thing I seriously regret ever introducing to my tank, blue death plays, are GONE.  Or at least please, god, let them be gone.  I hated those stupid blue polyps with every drop of hatred in my body.  They took over everything, and I am 95% certain that they made me INCREDIBLY sick with Palytoxin poisoning twice. So if they are really eradicated, I will actually consider this crash a blessing.  I am super reluctant to ever put zoas in my tank again (even though I think, after a lot of research, it was probably only those that were poisoning me.)



Well now that I’m down to rock in most of the tank, I get to kind of start over, but with 7 years of knowledge.  My goals: beautiful aquascaping with hearty corals and anemones that can survive a minimalistic reefkeeping approach.  I’m planning to focus on rock flower anemones & mini maxis.  I love their colors and movement, and appreciate their heartiness.  Probably a mix of some heartier LPS and a few softies.  I’m undecided on zoas...I love them...but they scare me. I will definitely avoid anything that’s more clearly a paly.  


Additional livestock plans: royal gramma, maybe a clown goby, maybe a neon goby.  More sexy shrimp. Pom Pom crab. Maybe another tuxedo urchin (though maybe not, because they chomp a lot of coralline algae, or at least not until the tank has fully recovered and abundant in it.)


I have to say that it’s kind of exciting to get to start from scratch...but with an already cool aquascape, cycled & established tank, and a lot more knowledge.




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Christopher Marks

Wow, welcome back @Playapixie! So sorry to hear about the tank crash last month, it seems everything always goes wrong when we’re out of town. That’s awesome that it has been continuously running for the last 7 years though! It sounds like you’re getting it back on track and can now refocus on the things you like best. ?

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7 years and 2 crashes later, 6 months past the most recent (near-total) crash.  This Solana 34 is kicking booty!  It’s the best it’s ever been.  Now happily growing everything, including Acropora, Montipora, seriatopora, wide variety of LPS, and a variety of softies too.  I’ve obtained full-on mixed reef status.  I think I finally have the hang of this reefkeeping business. Next plans: try mounting some more acros or other branching SPS on the back wall to start filing out the upper third rear of the tank.


What’s made it possible:

-Automation is my friend.  Dosing pumps are the thing I wish I’d invested in from the beginning.  I was never destined to obtain stable parameters when I was dosing by hand; my traveling lifestyle just wasn’t going to allow it.

-I LOVE my APEX controller.  After suffering a huge crash while on vacation, I now have a tank babysitter I can check in on from almost everywhere. 


Glad Ididn’t quit in March; it was close!








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Christopher Marks

I’m glad you persevered @Playapixie, it looks beautiful! Stellar collection of corals and good insight on automation! Keep up the good work 👍

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1 hour ago, Christopher Marks said:

I’m glad you persevered @Playapixie, it looks beautiful! Stellar collection of corals and good insight on automation! Keep up the good work 👍


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