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Steaming Pile of Spec - Carnage Edition


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Welcome to my Steaming Blossoming Pile of Spec


Been out of the game since 2008. Before that, I had a successful run of 5 nanos or picos including a great Aquapod 24 and a Deco 3 gallon desktop that made the ocean jealous. After a cross-country move, I told myself I would wait to restart until LEDs were a viable replacement for metal halides. Happily, the future is now.



After heavy research and some great inspiration from ninjamyst, I decided to run with a five-gallon Fluval Spec V, anchored by a NanoBox Mini Tide so there were no limitations on what I could grow. I've learned that buying "good-priced" gear only to upgrade later is a waste of time and money, so I went with quality, long-term items whenever possible. That said, the ideal is something more stylized like Scorch's 12 gallon, but I'm happy restarting with this set up for now.


Raise your hand if you care about anything in that last paragraph. No? Fine, on to the picture show:


December 2014



October 2014



June 16, 2014



Three weeks in, so a lot still to do, aquascaping at the top of the list. (I can't find VidaRocks anywhere online anymore. Anyone order some arches, caves, etc. recently?) It sits on my kitchen island between the living room and the kitchen, so it gets the prominent placement and the dimensions of the Spec V work perfectly.


My favorite part of this hobby is enjoying biodiversity. Long-term, I plan on a mixed reef, with an emphasis on LPS. I have a few SPS in mind, and would appreciate hearing from anyone with Mini Tides who have had good success particular species. With a tank this small, it is fairly simple to spot feed, so I hope to do non-photosynthetics as well. Anyway.


(Updated, without new price totals, 11/26/14)

Equipment ($434)

White Fluval Spec V / $85 / Amazon Prime*

NanoBox Mini Tide w/Storm Controller / $300 / NanoBox

Replacement Storm Controller / $50 / Coralux (First one went in the drink :unsure: )

Mini-Jet 606 Powerhead (connected to main return) / $17 / inTank

Fluval stock powerhead 85gph / -- / Amazon Prime

Cobalt Neo-Therm 50w heater / $36 / Amazon Prime

Ocean Pulse Quarda wavemaker / $15 / Used from local reefer**


*Not sure why, but figured it helpful to include prices and vendor.

**Figured it out. Tying to break down expenses when starting from scratch is hard, so I'm including prices in case anyone cares.



2 pounds Marshall Island live rock / $20 / LFS

3 pounds rando live rock / $18 / LFS

6 pounds Carib Sea Arag-alive pink "Fiji" live sand / $24 / LFS

inTank Fluval Spec media basket w/ surface skimmer / $40 / inTank

3 massive sheets Poly Filter Floss (anyone want one?) / $9 / inTank

Seachem Puregen 100ml / $8 / Amazon Prime

ChemiPure Elite 3.1oz / $6 / inTank

Air Water Ice RO/DI / $50 / Used from local reefer

Red Sea Coral Pro Salt - 55gal / $30 / Amazon Prime



Things that move:

Hi-fin goby / $16 / LiveAquaria (One of my top three fish ever)

Wheeler's shrimp goby / $18 / LFS (paired with the pistol)

Randall's pistol shrimp / $18 /LFS

Juvenile pygmy angel / $20 / KP Aquatics

Mated pair rusty gobies / $30 / KP Aquatics

Masked goby / $10 / KP Aquatics

Pederson's anemone shrimp / $14 / KP Aquatics

Porcelain crab / $10 / LFS

14 Dwarf cerith snails x 14 / $.60 / KP Aquatics

4 dwarf blue leg hermits / $2.00 / LFS

Pencil urchin / $3.50 / KP Aquatics

2 1 Cerith snail / $2 / Pacific East Aquaculture

4 Peppermint snails / $1 / LFS



Teal hammer / $26 / Exotic Reef Creations live sale

3 head frogspawn / Free / Local frag fest

Purpleish lobophyllia / $8 / Exotic Reef Creations live sale

5 4 3 2 ultra acans / $100 (including shipping!) / Coral Gardens Aquaculture (Keep selling frags to make room)

Blue acans / $22 / Exotic Reef Creations live sale

Orange fungia / $39 / Exotic Reef Creations live sale

Green fungia / $35 / Coral Gardens Aquaculture

Purple fungia / $30 / LFS

Orange and blue fungia / $26 / Local reefer

13(!) head brain freeze favia / $40 / LFS

Teal favia / $1 / Exotic Reef Creations live sale

Purple eye favia / Freebie (thanks!) / Exotic Reef Creations live sale

Caulastrea frag / $10 / LFS

Blood-orange chalice / $35 / Pacific East Aquaculture



Blue tip acro / $10 / Local reefer

Tri-color acro not-so-mini-colony / $15 / Local reefer (Broke up into two mini-colonies with multiple frags left over)

Red dragon mini-colony / $40 / Local reefer

Pink/blue pocci mini-colony / $35 / Local reefer

Purple stylo frag / $10 / Local reefer

Blue polyp stylo frag / $30 / Local reefer

Green birds nest frag / Free / Local reefer

ORA green birds nest frag / $10 / Local reefer

Green psammocora frag / Free / Local reefer

Monti setosa / Trade / Local reefer

Sunrise monti frag / $10 / Local reefer

Rainbow monti frag / $10 / Local reefer

Neon green monti cap frag / $10 / Local reefer

Purple monti cap frag / Free / Local reefer



Green polyp Japanese toadstool / $25 / Local reefer

Teal ricordia / $15 / LFS

4" spiny orange sea rod / $7 / KP Aquatics

Long-polyp purple gorg / $5 / Local reefer

Sympodium / Trade / Local reefer

2 small Pom-pom xenia colonies / $5 / Local reefer (Great story - Cut this guy off the main rock it was growing on just to get rid of it and in the process it shed a few tiny tops of the stalk while it was recovering. A week later I notice two new growths in two places where the xenia wasn't touching at all. The tops just settled and started growing. Leaving alone for now because right to life, you know?)



Dragon's breath macro algae / $10 / Pacific East Aquaculture


The Departed:

Juvenile pygmy angel / $34 / LiveAquaria (Posted about this, cause this one hurts. Still unsure why it disappeared)

2" Blue maxima clam / $90 / Pacific East Aquaculture (Bought from warehouse, barely lasted 7 days. I know small clams are touch and go, but this was a fast decline. All-in-all, very underwhelmed PEA's livestock - from 7+ items, only two are thriving, one is doing meh, the rest are dead or sold.)

Dying bubble coral / $2 / LFS (Couldn't save)

"Blue" tip acro tenuis frag / $40 / Pacific East Aquaculture (High bioload = high nitrates = RTN)

Ice echinata frag / $35 / Local reefer (Did terribly, with local reefer to for time being)

Purple monster acro frag / $8 / Pacific East Aquaculture (Arrived brown, stayed brown - sold to local refer on the cheap)

Brown (may turn purple) stylo frag / Free / Local reefer (Never found good placement, RTN'd)

Orange monti w/ yellow polyps / Free / Local reefer (Was lazy about gluing down and pistol shrimp claimed for his personal use)

"Pink" birds next frag / $5 / Pacific East Aquaculture (Lazily never glued it down, which did not make it happy)

Chaeto / $3 / LFS (kept in media area for two weeks to seed with amphipods, tiny stars, misc. microfauna)

Orange NPS gorg / $20 / Pacific East Aquaculture (Arrived with tissue decayed from obvious lack of nutrition. Was refunded when couldn't revive and gave to local reefer with dedicated NPS tank)

Sympodium frag / $20 / Pacific East Aquaculture (Slowly melted. Seeing a trend with PEA livestock here?)

Bonded Pair ORA Ocillaris Clowns / $40 / LFS (Pooped too much. Sold to local reefer)

Yellow clown goby / $10 / LFS (Couldn't get the guy to eat anything)

Tailspot blenny / $25 / LFS (Sold to MrSexyShrimp who brilliantly named her Blennifer)

Margirita snail / $2 / Pacific East Aquaculture (Not enough food?)

2 Bumblebee snails / $2 / LiveAquaria (Nitrate spike, probably)

2 Caribbean nassarius snail / $2 / Pacific East Aquaculture (Haven't seen in months, probably death by nitrates or pistol)

6" sea whip gorg / $15 / LFS (Sold to local reefer)

15 polyps sunset zoas / $25 / Pacific East Aquaculture (Sold to local reefer)



Cobalt mysis + spirulina food 3oz / $9 / Amazon Prime

Frozen mysis / $3 / LFS

Cyclopeeze / $12 / LFS

Coral Frenzy 28g / $13 / Amazon Prime

API testing kits (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphate, Calcium, Carbonate Hardness, pH) / $44 / Amazon Prime

ATC refractometer / $27 / Amazon Prime

SODIAL digital thermometer / $6 / Amazon Prime

Aqueaon Mini-siphon / $8/ Amazon Prime

3" net / $2 / Amazon Prime

Syringe + dropper for coral feeding / $3 / Amazon Prime

Old powerbar + surge protector / $0 / Home

15ft extension cord / $16 / Home Depot

2 5gal Homer buckets w/lids / $8 / Home Depot

Hydor Theo 25w heater / $17 / Amazon Prime

HM TDS Meter / $16 / Amazon Prime

Two Little Fishies Putty / $11 / Amazon Prime

Two Little Fishies NanoMag / $9 / inTanks

Zeovit Nano Pack additives / $45 / BRS

Red Sea Coral Colors A B C D mini pack / $18 / Amazon Prime


***Information overkill, yes. Including because I'm a completionist.


Grand total after four weeks of start up - $1,247 (That's only $249 per gallon!)

(8/20/14 - Probably up to $1,500 now, but not counting anymore. It's a fool who places a monetary value on life - especially if it's $250/gallon.)



Reactions to the hobby following a six-year coma:

-From what I understand the jury is still out on LEDs, but from my vantage point, with the low-energy, low maintenance, and increasing options, I declare them INNOCENT.

-All-in-one designs are not where I thought they'd be. Given the innovations and advances elsewhere, it feels like this area hasn't kept pace.

-Tank-bred fish options are also behind where I thought they'd be. It's great we can buy designer clowns with a smiley face and the initials of your first girlfriend, or whatever, but more species is what's important.

-On the other side, feels like we've hit a sustainable, critical mass of SPS colonies in aquaculture and mariculture so the pressure on wild colonies (from collection, that is) is significantly reduced.

-Acans are so cheap now. <3

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Thanks Ecko, will adjust that. Placed an order with Pacific East with a gorg, chalice, acro, and a few other surprises so I need to adjust the total numbers anyway. It will come next Tuesday so pics will flow then. Have setup pics and hardware reviews that I'll post over the weekend.

In the meantime, have a small diatom bloom to contend with. Other than reducing feeding and the photoperiod, any tips to nip it in the bud?

And I'll be taking photographs with my iPhone 4S for the foreseeable future. Gross, I know. Still, anyone have any apps they've found useful?

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looking great! makes me want to get a gooseneck for my tide now.


Thanks so much for the heads up. Makes water changes, tinkering, and coral placement so much easier. The metal arm looks sleeker, but utility wins out.

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A lot of people recommend king camera for the iPhone, because u can adjust the white balance. I got it but never tried it out yet.

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Now to make it a build thread:


NanoBox Mini Tide w/ Storm Controller components and packaging. Awesome unit so far, no doubt worth the price. First high-end LED set I've had, so I'm still figuring out exactly what levels my livestock will be needing. More on that later, though.





Finally got all the wires and boxes mostly mounted tonight under the tank and out of sight. The tank occupies primary living space and I can't stand extra wires and gear in plain view. Yet another reason NanoBox is great, since it's clean and sleek.




Finally, yes, the Fluval light clip is just siliconed on to the tank and with some doing can be snapped off. Had to use a flathead screwdriver to pry it off then scrape the remaining silicone. The frosted glass surprisingly didn't etch or scratch when I did this.



Redid the aquascaping in advance of the Tuesday Pacific East shipment. Much cleaner, yeah? Still want to do a custom VidaRock, but want to finalize livestock first.



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Looking awesome man, its cool to see everyone starting up spec v's. Great little tanks imo. The club continues to grow... :happy:

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Redid the aquascaping in advance of the Tuesday Pacific East shipment. Much cleaner, yeah? Still want to do a custom VidaRock, but want to finalize livestock first.




Keep your rocks! I am starting to hate my Vidarock cuz it's so freaking big and blocks all the flow to the back. I love your islands.

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Keep your rocks! I am starting to hate my Vidarock cuz it's so freaking big and blocks all the flow to the back. I love your islands.

Thanks, I'm liking them too. They're pretty round and wide, so while flow isn't an issue space on the sides is. Anyone have a favorite putty they use? The acans and the new stuff won't stay on by without it.


Long-term I may like a 10"x5"x3.5" bonsai/ledge combo custom made (can post a sketch later). Can't sleep till Tuesday when new stuff comes in so I can really flesh out placements.

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Picked up the new shipment this morning from the UPS store. Sitting on my desk next to me, still unopened. This is almost as bad as waiting for U.S. - Germany on Thursday. No, it's worse.

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Shipment from Pacific East Aquaculture in the tank for six days now. Got some great deals on the 30% frags and the bonus pieces (birds nest, purple monster) made the order an even better value. However, even though I ordered WYSIWYG and the pieces were 50/50 on arrival.


Excellent: The blood orange chalice and the teal ricordea were true to color and exactly what I wanted. The $5 pink birds nest add-on is pink enough and crazy cheap for what it is. Success!




Meh: The showpiece I hoped for, the blue acro tenius, was brownish on arrival, though the polyps were still neon yellow. Not what was pictured. I have to respect that shipping is stressful, but still not what I ordered. The purple monster was another bonus add-on, so I can't complain too much, but it also didn't have much color on arrival. Same with the sunrise zoas.




Not happy: The orange polyp gorg had about 1/3 of its skin was already translucent and showing stem beneath it and it's gotten worse in the last week. With finicky pieces like NPS gorgs, there's no way you should ship that piece like that. It looks like it hasn't been spot fed in a while. The worst is the dragon's breath algae was $10 for two small 3" pieces, one of which was half-bleached when it arrived. I know ten bucks isn't a hundred (but algae isn't acro either) so not happy with what I got for the cost. Also, I didn't find out until the box arrived that a pistol shrimp, my main reason for ordering, wasn't available anymore.

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Also grabbed a small fungia from the LFS, along with a Randall's pistol and watchman goby pair, a yellow clown goby, and a tail spot blenny. And a porcelain crab. Definitely maxed out the bioload, and am looking forward to the large, frequent water changes.


I've left most frags on the sand while things are acclimating to the lights. Hope to have time to finalize placement and putty things in place this week. Will do a real FTS later.


Till then, here's the crab and an acan!



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definitely shoot an email to PEA. hopefully they will take care of you.


Already talking with them.

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Murder happened tonight. It had to happen. It had to.


Found this guy creeping out at night two days ago:




Surprised that it took a month to spot the thing, considering five isn't a lot of gallons. Beady eyes, one claw larger than the other, hairy legs, likely a rock crab of some sort. At best, it would be mellow, decent-looking, and leave things alone. More likely, it would be chill, eating leftovers until it grew up and became the cranky bastard most crabs are (not talking about you, porcelain crab) and one night assisnate the tail spot blenny that shares a rock with it.


He he had to go.


Pulled the rock pillar out, poured steaming water down his hole, got the visual on the kill, rinsed the rock off with tank water, and mourned the loss of amphipods that were collateral. Glad I don't have that tiny stress ball in the back of my mind anymore. And what is the loss of one life to save the lives of many?


Still. Feel guilty about murder.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Updated FTS from tonight. Likely hitting a local frag fest this weekend, after which I'll finally decide on placement and start puttying things in their forever home.



Random question: My fungia and acans are getting very puffy throughout most of the day. It's especially prominent in the front fungia pictured here. Is there a certain parameter that is responsible for this? They've only been in the tank for a few weeks, so it could still be part of the acclimation process, but it's consistent throughout my LPS minus the calustra.



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Your tank looks great! I cant wait to see everything mounted/placed up on your rockwork. There is so much that you can work with. Im sure everything will look amazing!

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WAMAS is amazing. If you're in the DC area and haven't checked them out, do so. Just joined and went to one of the quarterly frag fests featuring the excellent speaker Colin Foord who described fantastic research/work he's doing in Miami. The great afternoon also featured fragging demonstrations which turned into freebies for members. Combined with some of the high-caliber frags I bought from local members, I'm swimming in frags now.


So, anyone interested in crowd sourcing the placement?


The main frags I'm giving primary consideration for placement are the:
2.5" red dragon

1" metallic blue milli

3" wide pink/blue poccilipora

2.5" blue tip acro tenius

1" blue polyp stylo

1" green/blue acro enchinata


Secondary consideration is everything else. Flow is highest in the top third of the tank and hits the front wall (right on Side one pic, left on side two pic) so underneath the leaning purple rock is pretty high flow as well. Long day of dropping my Storm Controller in a bucket of SW, followed by carrying a three-year-old at frag fest for over three hours, so I'm exhausted and punting all this till tomorrow. Wednesday I go out of town for a week, so Tuesday is D-Day or the snails and hermits will ruin everyone's fun.


Oh, and I'm thinking about just getting rid of the smaller white rock on top of the big white rock to make room for upward growth with the pink/blue pocci.


Thanks in advance for any input!



Side one:



Side two:


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