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ChristopherDido

STL Reef Journey - 28g NanoCube - One Year Old and a Re-Scape

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Hello Everyone!

Let me introduce myself, I've been a long time lurker, with an occasional post in Beginner's Forum and finally want to setup an aquarium journal.  So here goes...

 

Started this tank as a gift for my wife's birthday, I think I am doing way more with it, she says, "Yep you do the maintenance and upkeep, I just enjoy it."  We (I) wanted a Saltwater tank for a long time, said we would get a fish tank when we get our own house so we wouldn't have to move it.  We got moved in in March and bought this tank beginning of April.  Back Story on the tank it was setup and running for six weeks at a local LFS so I bought it as a package that came with some credit for livestock.  Pretty sure I overpaid and am kinda regretting not doing more research, i only did a bit of research ahead of time and talked with a friend that had a saltwater tank in his classroom where we both taught in Texas.  Plus side I did avoid the long wait for it to cycle and those issues, although at same time that would have given me more of a feel for the tank.  Anyway so here is the the setup.

 

Setup: 

JBJ Nano-Cube 28g Professional LED - Running Stock everything in the back except took out the Ceramic rings and replaced with Rubble Rock.

Hydor Koralia 425 - on advice from some folks on Beginner's Forum

Finnex HMA 100W Heater - Not running in Summer

20 lbs of Live Sand

20 lbs of Live Rock with probably another 3-5 lbs on a Rockwall on the back of tank.

 

Filtration:

Stock with exception of Rubble Rock replacing the Ceramic rings as mentioned above.

Chemi-Pure Elite in Bottom Chamber

 

Fish:

2 - Clownfish (We believe Ocellaris, Wife picked out two that she thought looked cute.)

1 - Royal Gramma

Want to add one or two more - was told could have ~5

 

Corals - All Bought as Frags

Candy Cane

Stylaphora (Told it was a Birdsnest)

Brown Button Palys

Frogspawn

2 Lord Acans

2 Florida Ricordea (1 Blue - 1 Orange(Multi-Color))

Miami Hurricane Chalice

Green Star Polyps

Green Rhodactis Mushroom

Palythoa Grandis

Zoas - 2 Different Kinds

Pulsing Xenia - Came in on Live Rock, thought it had died but it came back, it's hidden in back for now.

What I think is waving hand Xenia - Another that came in on Liverock tried to kill it by covering with another rock instead it's growing through the rock lol.

 

CUC:

Cleaner Skunk Shrimp - Not sure if he belongs here of with Fish (whatever)

3 - Nassarius Snails

3 - I think Nerite Snails

2 - Turbo Snails

1 - Conch Snail

3 - Hermit Crabs - Blue Legs

1 - Stomatella (Hitchhiker)

 

Now what you all want, Pictures!!!!!

 

FTS Current 7-8-17

7-8-17.thumb.jpg.7d14701355ac842b58fb02f51518aa5b.jpg

 

6-1-17 FTS

59617e708f715_6-1-17FTS.jpg.fdefdba9b5e610fb65d90df1a5e2d633.jpg

 

5-16-17 FTS

59617e953e9e1_5-16-17FTS.jpg.8853632d87c14097456203d2751f4fa4.jpg

 

5-3-17 FTS

59617eb3575d3_5-3-17FTS.jpg.96f300921b054c2279cd4c3d337828d8.jpg

 

After Setup in House 4-1-17

59617edf10818_4-1-17FTS.jpg.090ca1ee5aa5fe6319bf0a7fd4d73f54.jpg

 

Close up of some corals from 5-11-17 - More has been added

59617f0d8e972_CoralCloseups5-11-17.thumb.JPG.859f6ea47ff188f8b0f80f9560ac1a1a.JPG

 

Its a work in Progress, I really want some photosynthetic Gorgonians and a leather or two...

Let me know what you think.

Thanks!

 

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27 minutes ago, Lugmos12 said:

What happened to the Xenias?

They basically dissolved at one point, I found a bristle worm reaching down off a rock into them and thought that it was eating them and yanked him out... Turns out they just sometimes melt away and they regrow from the mush after a couple weeks. <_<

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Just now, ChristopherDido said:

They basically dissolved at one point, I found a bristle worm reaching down off a rock into them and thought that it was eating them and yanked him out... Turns out they just sometimes melt away and they regrow from the mush after a couple weeks. <_<

i LOVE xenias. I went to my LFS today and they had so many pieces of tiny Xenias all over their frag display. I asked if they were for sale and a rep said no because they weren't attached to a rock/frag stone. And all I could think was that I would take it if they offered it LOL what happened to charity??

 

 

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Just now, Lugmos12 said:

i LOVE xenias. I went to my LFS today and they had so many pieces of tiny Xenias all over their frag display. I asked if they were for sale and a rep said no because they weren't attached to a rock/frag stone. And all I could think was that I would take it if they offered it LOL what happened to charity??

 

 

I love them, I've also seen nightmares where they take over everything in a tank lol, so trying to keep them out of there as much as possible.  I'm hoping where I have them that chemical warfare will keep them in check. lol

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2 minutes ago, ChristopherDido said:

I love them, I've also seen nightmares where they take over everything in a tank lol, so trying to keep them out of there as much as possible.  I'm hoping where I have them that chemical warfare will keep them in check. lol

I want to have a little Xenia island like this:

 

Xenia explosion (youtube link)

 

 

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first thing first: ditch the brown button palys...they're nasty in many different ways.  

 

as for the rest...
 

looks nice so far, time to start thinking carefully about what corals go in...i'd avoid plain or basic green corals as much as possible moving forward.  

 

Giant beginner first tank error is going to crazy, stocking to fast with plain, semi-ugly corals...don't do it.  Personally, I'd be looking to stock the rest of the tank with medium-high end LPS...think pink, orange chalices...nice colorful, semi common acans.  If need be, wait months until a proper frag swap comes to town.  If youre in STL, that would be in September.

 

I'd skip xenia...where you placed those is really asking for it....not ideal.  I'd also avoid any GSP not isolated.

 

personal opinion, i would not add more fish.  the fish selection you have is perfect, btw.

 

keep updating...nice start.

 

one more thing...what are your parameters?  keep up with your alkalinity.

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1 minute ago, burtbollinger said:

first thing first: ditch the brown button palys...they're nasty in many different ways.  

 

as for the rest...
 

looks nice so far, time to start thinking carefully about what corals go in...i'd avoid plain or basic green corals as much as possible moving forward.  Personally, I'd be looking to stock the rest of the tank with medium-high end LPS...think pink, orange chalices...nice colorful, semi common acans.

 

I'd skip xenia...I'd avoid any GSP not isolated.

 

personal opinion, i would not add more fish.

 

keep updating...nice start.

 

one more thing...what are your parameters?  keep up with your alkalinity.

Well in response to first thing - can you give me specifics on why specifically to avoid the Brown Button Palys (other than the toxin factor)

 

I'm planning carefully from here out, been moving stuff around a bit to find the best places for everything, if the GSP take over the back wall I only have a birdsnest on it and I think it could hang ok, it's pretty big already.  I'm trying to avoid the Xenia, not sure I can get it out based on where it is and how it came back grrrr.

 

Params:

As of today (although I will say I did pull water from the tank 30 min after a water change so I'm sure some things are off.) i haven't bought a testing kit, I go to a couple different LFS to get it checked every few days except the Salinity which I have refractometer for.

 

Temp: 77.8 - 79.5 - Depending on time of day (no money for a chiller)

Salinity: 1.025

pH: 8

Nitrate: 25 (this is high right now, again thinking because i pulled the water out for a test right after basting the rock and water change.)

Alk: 9

Phosphate: 0.2 (Possible same thing as Nitrates, I'm getting it checked again tomorrow and will do another water change if need be.)

Ammonia: 0

Calcium: Around 450 after a Water change, drops to around 380 just before doing one

 

I'm not worried about the params for tonight as everything seems happy, but again I will get them checked tomorrow to be safe. And will buy a Test kit soon.

 

 

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3 hours ago, ChristopherDido said:

Well in response to first thing - can you give me specifics on why specifically to avoid the Brown Button Palys (other than the toxin factor)

 

I'm planning carefully from here out, been moving stuff around a bit to find the best places for everything, if the GSP take over the back wall I only have a birdsnest on it and I think it could hang ok, it's pretty big already.  I'm trying to avoid the Xenia, not sure I can get it out based on where it is and how it came back grrrr.

 

Params:

As of today (although I will say I did pull water from the tank 30 min after a water change so I'm sure some things are off.) i haven't bought a testing kit, I go to a couple different LFS to get it checked every few days except the Salinity which I have refractometer for.

 

Temp: 77.8 - 79.5 - Depending on time of day (no money for a chiller)

Salinity: 1.025

pH: 8

Nitrate: 25 (this is high right now, again thinking because i pulled the water out for a test right after basting the rock and water change.)

Alk: 9

Phosphate: 0.2 (Possible same thing as Nitrates, I'm getting it checked again tomorrow and will do another water change if need be.)

Ammonia: 0

Calcium: Around 450 after a Water change, drops to around 380 just before doing one

 

I'm not worried about the params for tonight as everything seems happy, but again I will get them checked tomorrow to be safe. And will buy a Test kit soon.

 

 

toxicisity of these palys is not something I concern myself with....as much as aesthetically, cheap green and or brown palys are nasty looking. To me, they detract from the look of any tank they are in.  

 

Beyond my personal tastes...once introduced and spread, they are difficult (near impossible) to get rid of....I had to shut down a tank due to nasty green ones that spread everywhere.  Started from a single polyp.  Once they really get going, there's no stopping them...they spread randomly and widely.(and yeah, then the toxin factor comes into play, as you realize youre trying to zap, kill and smother several dozen poisonous creatures that really, really don't wanna die.) They are FAR worse than aptasia...personally, I'd rather have a nasty bout with bryopis algae than be forced to keep single nasty brown or green paly in any tank I owned.

Here's a thread from yesterday...you will notice a common theme.  You'd be very, very wise to follow my advice....and be thankful they're on a plug you can just toss vs. an entire rock.  https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/got-a-rock-with-palythoas-on-it-can-anyone-provide-an-id.313216/#post-3867723

 

as far as parameters, get your nitrates down...that and just really, really get to understand alkalinity and how important it is...

also, your calcium dropping so much seems strange to me.  I wouldnt think you'd be seeing that kind of drop with the small amount of corals in the tank still.  You might want to keep testing this before attempting any dramatic adjustment attempts.

 

final thing...to reiterate...just constructive criticism:  put the brakes on more green corals.  moving forward, focus on bright pinks, reds, oranges, bright purples...fight hard to not introduce more green.  Certainly NO brown.  Right off the bat, since you probably want some easy softies, grab a nice frag of 5-6 orange bam bam zoas.  To do this, you're gonna need to not be frequenting the LFS's in the STL area...you can't be walking into an LFS and just browsing...you need to know what you want before you go in, and not settling for their crap.  See below:
_____
 

keep your powder dry....huge frag swap coming up in September.  Hell, I'll meet you there and point out some cool corals for you. :)

https://www.facebook.com/SLASH-Saint-Louis-Area-Saltwater-Hobbyists-133937666662289/

 

Frankly, start saving now, and don't spend another dime on corals until this event...you won't believe it.

 

another STL pro-tip:  http://saltyunderground.com/  and choose local pickup.

 

also...buying from any STL fish store....DIP YOUR CORALS.  Probably with Bayer Advanced.  Trust me on that.
 

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36 minutes ago, burtbollinger said:

toxicisity of these palys is not something I concern myself with....as much as aesthetically, cheap green and or brown palys are nasty looking. To me, they detract from the look of any tank they are in.  

 

Beyond my personal tastes...once introduced and spread, they are difficult (near impossible) to get rid of....I had to shut down a tank due to nasty green ones that spread everywhere.  Started from a single polyp.  Once they really get going, there's no stopping them...they spread randomly and widely.(and yeah, then the toxin factor comes into play, as you realize youre trying to zap, kill and smother several dozen poisonous creatures that really, really don't wanna die.) They are FAR worse than aptasia...personally, I'd rather have a nasty bout with bryopis algae than be forced to keep single nasty brown or green paly in any tank I owned.

Here's a thread from yesterday...you will notice a common theme.  You'd be very, very wise to follow my advice....and be thankful they're on a plug you can just toss vs. an entire rock.  https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/got-a-rock-with-palythoas-on-it-can-anyone-provide-an-id.313216/#post-3867723

 

as far as parameters, get your nitrates down...that and just really, really get to understand alkalinity and how important it is...

also, your calcium dropping so much seems strange to me.  I wouldnt think you'd be seeing that kind of drop with the small amount of corals in the tank still.  You might want to keep testing this before attempting any dramatic adjustment attempts.

 

final thing...to reiterate...just constructive criticism:  put the brakes on more green corals.  moving forward, focus on bright pinks, reds, oranges, bright purples...fight hard to not introduce more green.  Certainly NO brown.  Right off the bat, since you probably want some easy softies, grab a nice frag of 5-6 orange bam bam zoas.  

 

again, if youre in STL, keep your powder dry....huge frag swap coming up in September.  Hell, I'll meet you there and point out some cool corals for you. :)

https://www.facebook.com/SLASH-Saint-Louis-Area-Saltwater-Hobbyists-133937666662289/

 

Frankly, start saving now, and don't spend another dime on corals until this event...you won't believe it.

 

another STL pro-tip:  http://saltyunderground.com/  and choose local pickup.

 

also...buying from any STL fish store....DIP YOUR CORALS.  Probably with Bayer Advanced.  Trust me on that.
 

Thanks for all that advice! I'm taking it slowly. Only thing currently I want to add is a photosynthetic Gorgonian. I am definitely holding back on the green in the tank, trying for very colorful. 

Yes I was definitely looking forward to the frag swap. It'd be great to meet about reefer here and show me around. I'll start saving for that now!

As for the paly, my wife loves them so hoping they will stay on the back wall. Lol.

As far as doing goes, I'm not sure what to do with the Bayer thing, I've been using a Coral dip, think it's called Coral RX.

Thanks for the advice!

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15 hours ago, burtbollinger said:

 

one more thing...what are your parameters?  keep up with your alkalinity.

Just got the parameters checked again.

Salinity: 1.026

Nitrate: 0 or undectable anyway

Phosphate: ~ 0.5

Calcium: 375

 

Doing another water change today. Hope that will help. Thanks for all the advice. I'll keep you posted.

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So Quick update, left for vacation for a week.  Left the tank in charge of a house sitter.  She did a very good job, I was pretty nervous.  Now about to leave tomorrow til Monday night, the wife will watch the tank til Saturday morning then she will be joining me in Nashville for end of summer get away.

 

Been battling Phosphate issues for a couple weeks now, but they are finally in check.  I believe I was over-feeding.  I started off feeding every other day, then when I added another fish went to everyday.  Apparently it was too much, so I dropped it back down to every other day for the past two weeks and now I am being told my tank is too "Clean"... Grrrr... gonna try to change the feeding up to feed 2 days then off 1 day and see if that stables it out.

 

Now I'm trying to figure out why my tank's Calcium dips too much between water changes - Before a Water change it gets down to 375, after its a 450.  I was talking with my LFS, one of the guys there thinks it may be Coraline Growth on the glass.  I have been trying to be better with cleaning as of late, so hope that's the problem, if you can think of anything else please let me know.  

 

Other fun news I have approval from my school to set up a tank in my classroom that will be run by students, we are forming a club and they will take full control.  I am planning to have a class account set up in the future for them to share their progress and what they are learning, should be fun!

 

And since we all love pics heres a few!!!!

 

 

8-1-17 Fr FTS.jpg

8-1-17 Lf FTS.jpg

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Quick Tank update.  I wish I have more to say. Everything is still going well and growing.  I haven't bought anything new in a while, I have been working on getting a Nano Reef Tank setup in my classroom, so besides dropping money into that setup, which is an IM Nuvo 20 Fusion that with Live Rock, Sand, Stand pumps, lights and everything cost me around $300.  I also have been saving up a bit of money to go to my first Frag Swap this weekend.  I am sure after this weekend that I will have some more updates! 

Stay Tuned until then, here's a couple pics of the new Classroom Reef Tank, which the club I started this year will name this week and hopefully have a Journal Started on that tank as well.  FYI it'll be my 7th Grade Students that will be posting updates on that tank when I get the journal so be nice to them :-)

 

IMG_20170911_170708.jpg

IMG_20170911_172515.jpg

IMG_20170912_063953.jpg

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Haven't updated this in a while, been focusing my posts on my Classroom tank.  So what is going on, well everything is pretty much leveled out, had one really bad issue where last time I updated I was going out of town... Well the Timer on the lights failed and the lights were one for 4 days straight, leading to all sorts of issues.  My Stylophora, candy canes and plate coral looked a bit bleached out, but they are recovering.  My Dkh was down to 5, nitrates jumped to 10 and phosphates were at 0.95, so yeah thought I was gonna lose some major things and have a huge set back.  Thankfully that did not happen, got a better timer and everything is recovering rather nicely.  Thankful for that!

 

Next issue I am dealing with, is two days ago the Actinic (Sunlight/Dusk) lights in the hood went out.  I am getting it replaced hopefully very quickly.  Question anyone ever replaced lights on these?  I'm hoping its not too difficult.  Thanks for any help or encouragement you can send me.

 

Anyway, heres a quick tank update shot.IMG_20171107_181141_1280x720.thumb.jpg.8ef75a7ea1d36ece4bc4d86b84504e05.jpg

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Hey haven't posted in here in a while, tank is coming along. Some minor hair algae, but it's going away, pulled some out and beefed up my cuc. Added a Margarita, a few more ceriths (at least that's what I was told they were.) 

 

I've been getting the itch to upgrade, been looking at tanks like crazy and thinking of a "cheaper" way to do that. However, I decided recently, having barely been in the hobby just shy of a year. I'm gonna hold off and take care of this tank, but that leads me to my question and coming here for some feedback.

 

If I'm gonna keep this one going for another 6 months to a year, I need to change up a few things to make me happy with looking at overall picture of the tank. First up is the "Rockwall," two things I dislike about it. 1. After having the classroom Nuvo20, I enjoy the more minimalist look of rock with the black background, the rock wall just overwhelms the tank and takes up some swim space for the fishies. 2. It is covered in pulsing Xenia and I cut back a ton about two months ago and it's back even worse. Pulling the rockwall out and scraping it would be a PITA lol and even then it will probably come back.

 

So my question is what is the best way to remove the rock wall and is there anything I should be worried about?  

 

Thanks all!

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Could it impact biological filtration amount?  I’d consider stuffing some marinepure somewhere a few weeks prior to pulling the wall....I’m not an expert on this but that’s what I’d do 

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14 hours ago, burtbollinger said:

Could it impact biological filtration amount?  I’d consider stuffing some marinepure somewhere a few weeks prior to pulling the wall....I’m not an expert on this but that’s what I’d do 

That was the question that I was curious about.  I was hoping that someone that had previously had a Rockwall and removed it would chime in.  Maybe I will post in General Discussion and hope to get a few responses there.  If nothing I will try your idea.  Thanks so much!

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I'd think it's going to have some impact, but you don't really have a large bioload in there, corals and CUC don't really add waste. I'd mix up some replacement water, and watch the ammonia. While reducing the fish feeding load a bit.   Just watch it, and if it starts to spike do a wc and add any magic chemicals, but I'd think enough of your bacteria live in your filter system.  I can't imagine you'd have any really major issues.  

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Ok so here goes a big update... Very Picture Heavy

 

So i re-scaped my tank, I took out the RockWall and got rid of rocks with Anthelia on it.. This all took place over the last three weeks which also happens to go in line with the tank turning 1 year old!!!!!

 

So I'll start with a pic of what the tank looked like right before starting this process with the Rockwall covered in Xenia and Rocks covered in Anthelia:

IMG_20180225_163712-01_1280x720.thumb.jpeg.da2834b1af53945eb93c0ca97ff95f35.jpeg

 

First big problem occurred while pulling out the RockWall, how do I get the Birdsnest that is massive as you can see in this picture off the rockwall and not just kill and discard it:

IMG_20180302_215705_1280x720.thumb.jpg.b2db800764ec297a7cb11effec055c57.jpg

 

So how I went about doing this, about a week before taking out the wall, I bought some more LiveRock, enough to be close to making up the difference in weight of the rockwall and a couple of the rocks with Anthelia on them, so here we go ...(wish I had taken pictures of taking the thing out to document better) but here is a few pics of the tank sans RockWall, the problem I encountered with the Birdsnest was that I broke it into about 15-20 pieces, three of which were pretty sizable, so I attached them to Rubble Rock and just placed them in the back on the new rock that was added:

IMG_20180412_161317_1280x720.thumb.jpg.740beb9455a3a92ac7cd08abb798e200.jpg

 

Here you can see the three larger pieces of Birdsnest sitting in the back looking from the left side of the tank:

IMG_20180412_161310_1280x720.thumb.jpg.bcb09a36f8c08611b8a4be4143170b07.jpg

 

Waited about a week for everything to settle down after pulling the RockWall, and then went to pull out the Anthelia, sad day though it would not be all completed this day because I did not add enough liverock to pull out all three rocks that it was attached to :-(  but I was able to pull out two of the rocks, here it is in mid transition after pulling out the first two rocks, which I traded in for some store credit (only got me a free bag of Chemi-pure elite, honestly probably fair being it was Anthelia lol), I got really nervous on this one as I stirred up quite a bit, and with a year old sandbed I got really scared, so I ran out and bought some Prime to have on hand and an Ammonia Alert Badge:

Front:

IMG_20180418_191858_1280x720.thumb.jpg.8c4fe2266286d14ae7e7da864055e6ac.jpg

Left Side:

 IMG_20180418_173356_1280x720.thumb.jpg.8893473349924ac7fdf347b18e2c6ac4.jpg

Right:

IMG_20180418_173404_1280x720.thumb.jpg.bc9f875c81f5e68ad4acc25ca2a51be7.jpg

 

So I went back to the LFS that I bought the first two pieces of LiveRock for this transition, sadly they did not have much LiveRock, I took basically the last two decently small pieces, they had plenty of 10-20 lb pieces but that was way more than I needed.  So I went to a second LFS, where I bought the tank originally and got a pretty nice looking piece that was about 3 lbs and would be perfect to replace and even beef up my rock a bit as the last piece was only about 1.5lbs, so again after about a week of waiting for everything to settle and catch up, this morning I went to work to get the last piece of Rock with Anthelia out of the tank and rescape the tank, I think it came out great and the rock is now far enough from the glass on all sides that I can easily clean the tank, which is a huge Plus!!!!

Here is the Final Product, let me know what you think!

Front FTS:

IMG_20180422_190422-01_1280x720.thumb.jpeg.e4f553dc516d8eaf50ee1c90c164a756.jpeg

Left Side:

IMG_20180422_190428-01_1280x720.thumb.jpeg.2b1803d07e25371786ad449238c323d2.jpeg

Right Side:

IMG_20180422_190436-01_1280x720.thumb.jpeg.5dc1ec4f1a526c2b192efe51397eb4eb.jpeg

 

Thanks for Reading!!!!

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Ok so after lots and lots of thinking. We decided we are changing tanks. I got tired of the bright white lights off the NanoCube and wanted more of a blue color light, like the Kessil gives off. So I setup the Nuvo 20, that was at the school, in our living room. So I will be "breaking down" the NanoCube and it will be given a rebirth in my classroom in the fall for our club. I plan on keeping all the rock that is in here live and cleaning up the tank for the new school year and putting it on a smaller stand so the kids can reach it.  I will be starting a new aquarium journal probably today.  Here's a quick pic of the two tanks next to each other. 

 

IMG_20180610_081120.jpg

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