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Bailyfox

Planning a 1.5 gallon pico, a few questions.

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Hello all, I've been lurking for a bit reading up all I can about pico tanks. I have little salt water experience but know how to use a refractometer and have plenty of freshwater experience. 

 

I'm only in the planning stage here and likely won't take the plunge and set up the tank for another month, however I want to make sure all the details are fleshed out first.

 

We just moved into a new place today and space will be quite limited so I decided If I want to try a salt water tank I'll likely have to go hard mode and stick to a pretty small size to fit on my desk, and I already have a standard 1.5gallon tank that is vacant. 

 

My plan is to keep hardier corals like a zoa and mushrooms and maybe a single porcelain crab or anenome shrimp. Since the space is very limited I will likely limit myself to one zoa on one side, and maybe 2 or 3 different colored mushrooms on the other. Coral wil be added one at a time over a few weeks. I'll probably start with just one head each and let them grow onto the rock.

 

I'll keep it bare bottom for easy maintenence and start the tank out with dry rock and maybe a small piece of live rock to seed the tank and begin the cycle. Of course I'll be waiting for the cycle to finish before adding life. Water changes would likely be 100% or close to that once a week and top offs done with ro water from my lfs. I'll mix salt myself in a designated clean bucket and check with a refractometer.

 

As for equipment this is where my questions begin.

 

Lighting: I'm aware that since its such a tiny tank that corals like mushrooms can get burned by light thats too strong. Any recommendations for an LED light thats inexpensive but effective for zoas and discosoma mushrooms? Preferably one that has a day/night setting and one that can be put in a lamp fixture if one exists.

 

Water volume/fuge: I'm thinking I may try to alter an aquaclear filter and turn it into a small chaeto/macro fuge for a little extra water volume, and the filter can act as the powerhead for water flow. I'm unsure what size filter i'd use for this, i'd like to try and stick something as large as I can on there for maximum volume, although I know I'll need to modify it to cut down the flow rate as to not upset the coral with too strong flow. I also have a tiny deepblue HOB filter that could be put on the side as another power head.to add another direction of flow.

 

ATO:I think it would be best I have an ATO of some kind because of evaporation, but I'm on a budget and have limited space. I'm thinking of just using a pair of modified hamster bottles for the ato as I saw here before. Any other suggestions for something easy?

 

Heat: any recommendations for a reliable pico heater? 

 

Timer for light: any recommendations for an accurate timer for setting up my photo period? Preferably one that won't need to be reset if un-plugged? 

 

CuC: any suggestions for efficient and coral safe cuc members? I really want a brittle star, are any tiny enough to be alright?

 

I'm aware of the extreme difficulty of maintaining stability in such a small tank and therefore i'm going to try and keep this little experiment on the inexpensive side of things, so no fancy coral and no rushing things.

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An Abi tuna blue par 38 at 12 watts will work perfect on that size of tank. 

 

It is easy to fry corals on small tanks a few of us had this issue in the pico jar contest.

 

I like the tetra preset heater. I've had no issues with mine. The key to have these work properly is having them submerged for 30 mins prior to plugging them in.

People don't do this as instructions say to and they have malfunctioning heaters.

 

Cobalt makes one too.

 

Getting an inkbird controller is a really good idea.

 

On a 1g. Why not just manually top up 1 time a day? 

 

Take a look in the pico section. We had a pico jar contest and you can get a ton of tips and ideas through all the contestants threads.

 

I didn't find my 1g jar difficult, I kept it very simple and it was the easiest to keep. So I think difficulty in this hobby can be from over complicating and livestock chosen.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Clown79 said:

An Abi tuna blue par 38 at 12 watts will work perfect on that size of tank. 

 

It is easy to fry corals on small tanks a few of us had this issue in the pico jar contest.

 

I like the tetra preset heater. I've had no issues with mine. The key to have these work properly is having them submerged for 30 mins prior to plugging them in.

People don't do this as instructions say to and they have malfunctioning heaters.

 

Cobalt makes one too.

 

Getting an inkbird controller is a really good idea.

 

On a 1g. Why not just manually top up 1 time a day? 

 

Take a look in the pico section. We had a pico jar contest and you can get a ton of tips and ideas through all the contestants threads.

 

I didn't find my 1g jar difficult, I kept it very simple and it was the easiest to keep. So I think difficulty in this hobby can be from over complicating and livestock chosen.

 

 

Thanks for the suggestions, I put the par38 on my amazon with the refractometer for when I'm ready to order. Will the tetra 50watt work for a 1.5 gallon? It says 2-10 gallons.

 

You're right on just toping off water myself every day. If I do it every time I give my conure fresh water I'll likely not forget.

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2 hours ago, Bailyfox said:

Thanks for the suggestions, I put the par38 on my amazon with the refractometer for when I'm ready to order. Will the tetra 50watt work for a 1.5 gallon? It says 2-10 gallons.

 

You're right on just toping off water myself every day. If I do it every time I give my conure fresh water I'll likely not forget.

Ya, the heater will be fine. There are only a few heaters on the market for pico's. 

 

I'd look into the cobalt brand as well.

 

Most use a controller on these types of heaters to keep them working at their best

 

The first thing I do in the morning is top up, made it a habit so I now don't forget.

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19 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

Ya, the heater will be fine. There are only a few heaters on the market for pico's. 

 

I'd look into the cobalt brand as well.

 

Most use a controller on these types of heaters to keep them working at their best

 

The first thing I do in the morning is top up, made it a habit so I now don't forget.

I think i'll go with the tetra heater since I'm on a budget. I've ran them before and never had an issue. Is this refractometer the right kind? https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B005ES6MOQ/ref=ox_sc_act_image_3?smid=A2KU5BPCTRSW5I&psc=1

 

And what is your opinion on me running a modded aquaclear for a chaeto fuge on this small of a tank? Would it be worth it?

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Welcome!  Picos are right up my alley.  I also started with a 1.5 and there was far less pico appropriate equipment back then.  You'd be able to keep a few types of zoas and mushrooms in that size tank.

 

The ABI bulb clown recommended will work, or you can look at the Coral Compulsion bulbs as well.  They'll fit in a standard task lamp (you'll want one you can raise pretty high over a tank this small, 12-18 inches or so).  Don't get more than 12w because bigger will be way too much.  Alternately, you could look at the Lumini Asta marine light, I have it on my desk pico and like it pretty well.  @natalia_la_loca has had the ABI Tuna Blue on her bowl for over a year, maybe two.

 

I ran an AC70 fuge with an AC20 impeller on my 5.5--the smaller impeller helped reduce flow a lot.  A 70 may not fit your tank but you can try a 50 or 30.  I had a small submersible LED light from Mingdak on Amazon but there may be better options for a smaller size AC.  You could also try running a tank that size with just an airline for water movement, I'm experimenting with this right now.

 

You could try manual top-offs but the hamster bottles will work fine.  I believe @Nano sapiens has a pair on his tank.

 

For a heater, I highly recommend the 25w heater offered by Aqua Forest Aquariums.  It's tiny (I posted pics in the creative container contest thread about a year ago) and has an external thermostat for controllability.  I've used one over a year and a half and love it.  It's the best pico heater I've used in a decade of pico keeping.  The Tetra preset will work too, but is quite a bit bulkier, and on a tank that small I'd look into a controller like an Inkbird to minimize risk of frying the tank if it malfunctions.

 

I use basic timers from Walmart, they work ok but sometimes have to be re-adjusted. 

 

You could look at dwarf ceriths, a regular cerith, virgin nerites, a couple of astreas, maybe a very small hermit (preferably scarlet, but hermits can be buttheads sometimes).  I have gotten these from Reef Cleaners and Gulf Coast Ecosystems (live-plants.com).  I wouldn't recommend a trochus or turbo in this size, they eat too much!  Astreas you have to be careful they don't land on their backs as they could die, but I've honestly never had a problem and they were some of my first snails.  There are microbrittle starfish but can be hard to find commercially.  I believe IPSF carries them, you might could get off another reefer, or sometimes they hitchhike in on rock or frags.

 

In a tank this small, I'd just do live rock and no dry rock except maybe to fill in gaps or something.  I have used dry rock my last couple tanks and have had numerous algae and other issues so I'm not terribly impressed lol.  It's nice if you have a specific scape in mind though.  I did run my 5.5 barebottom and honestly didn't find it much less work because detritus is more visible.  I'd recommend you try it bare bottom and if you don't like it, switch to using a thin layer of sand (maybe half an inch or so) for aesthetics.  I don't feel sand adds that much to the tank's filtration in a tank that size and keeping it thin will help prevent detritus buildup issues, especially if you stir with every water change.  The good thing is you can do 100% water changes with no trouble.  Look up @brandon429's posts, he has kept a reef vase for over a decade! 

 

Hopefully some of this info is helpful to you, I look forward to seeing this tank come to be!

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1 hour ago, Lula_Mae said:

Welcome!  Picos are right up my alley.  I also started with a 1.5 and there was far less pico appropriate equipment back then.  You'd be able to keep a few types of zoas and mushrooms in that size tank.

 

The ABI bulb clown recommended will work, or you can look at the Coral Compulsion bulbs as well.  They'll fit in a standard task lamp (you'll want one you can raise pretty high over a tank this small, 12-18 inches or so).  Don't get more than 12w because bigger will be way too much.  Alternately, you could look at the Lumini Asta marine light, I have it on my desk pico and like it pretty well.  @natalia_la_loca has had the ABI Tuna Blue on her bowl for over a year, maybe two.

 

I ran an AC70 fuge with an AC20 impeller on my 5.5--the smaller impeller helped reduce flow a lot.  A 70 may not fit your tank but you can try a 50 or 30.  I had a small submersible LED light from Mingdak on Amazon but there may be better options for a smaller size AC.  You could also try running a tank that size with just an airline for water movement, I'm experimenting with this right now.

 

You could try manual top-offs but the hamster bottles will work fine.  I believe @Nano sapiens has a pair on his tank.

 

For a heater, I highly recommend the 25w heater offered by Aqua Forest Aquariums.  It's tiny (I posted pics in the creative container contest thread about a year ago) and has an external thermostat for controllability.  I've used one over a year and a half and love it.  It's the best pico heater I've used in a decade of pico keeping.  The Tetra preset will work too, but is quite a bit bulkier, and on a tank that small I'd look into a controller like an Inkbird to minimize risk of frying the tank if it malfunctions.

 

I use basic timers from Walmart, they work ok but sometimes have to be re-adjusted. 

 

You could look at dwarf ceriths, a regular cerith, virgin nerites, a couple of astreas, maybe a very small hermit (preferably scarlet, but hermits can be buttheads sometimes).  I have gotten these from Reef Cleaners and Gulf Coast Ecosystems (live-plants.com).  I wouldn't recommend a trochus or turbo in this size, they eat too much!  Astreas you have to be careful they don't land on their backs as they could die, but I've honestly never had a problem and they were some of my first snails.  There are microbrittle starfish but can be hard to find commercially.  I believe IPSF carries them, you might could get off another reefer, or sometimes they hitchhike in on rock or frags.

 

In a tank this small, I'd just do live rock and no dry rock except maybe to fill in gaps or something.  I have used dry rock my last couple tanks and have had numerous algae and other issues so I'm not terribly impressed lol.  It's nice if you have a specific scape in mind though.  I did run my 5.5 barebottom and honestly didn't find it much less work because detritus is more visible.  I'd recommend you try it bare bottom and if you don't like it, switch to using a thin layer of sand (maybe half an inch or so) for aesthetics.  I don't feel sand adds that much to the tank's filtration in a tank that size and keeping it thin will help prevent detritus buildup issues, especially if you stir with every water change.  The good thing is you can do 100% water changes with no trouble.  Look up @brandon429's posts, he has kept a reef vase for over a decade! 

 

Hopefully some of this info is helpful to you, I look forward to seeing this tank come to be!

Live rock it is then! I honestly am excited at the concept of hitchhikers and being able to see all the cool little stuff living on it, its honestly. It just seemed like a lot of people chose dry rock for their little tanks so I assumed it would be the easier option. I'm definitely going to start out with no sand.

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4 hours ago, Bailyfox said:

Live rock it is then! I honestly am excited at the concept of hitchhikers and being able to see all the cool little stuff living on it, its honestly. It just seemed like a lot of people chose dry rock for their little tanks so I assumed it would be the easier option. I'm definitely going to start out with no sand.

I prefer liverock myself because of the diversity of life that comes with it 

 

I remember the excitement with my first tank and all the life on the rocks 

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5 hours ago, Bailyfox said:

Live rock it is then! I honestly am excited at the concept of hitchhikers and being able to see all the cool little stuff living on it, its honestly. It just seemed like a lot of people chose dry rock for their little tanks so I assumed it would be the easier option. I'm definitely going to start out with no sand.

Sometimes it's because we already have some on hand from previous tanks, and it's free lol. But I do miss the diversity of live rock and would like to pick some up to diversify my tank, but all we have locally is Real Reef rock which isn't the same. 

1 hour ago, Clown79 said:

I prefer liverock myself because of the diversity of life that comes with it 

 

I remember the excitement with my first tank and all the life on the rocks 

Same. My first rock was a little one from Petco with a single tiny feather duster on it, and I'd stare at it for hours!

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6 hours ago, Lula_Mae said:

Sometimes it's because we already have some on hand from previous tanks, and it's free lol. But I do miss the diversity of live rock and would like to pick some up to diversify my tank, but all we have locally is Real Reef rock which isn't the same. 

Same. My first rock was a little one from Petco with a single tiny feather duster on it, and I'd stare at it for hours!

I loved sitting at night and seeing all the things coming out, amazing how the rock literally comes to life.😊

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6 hours ago, Lula_Mae said:

Sometimes it's because we already have some on hand from previous tanks, and it's free lol. But I do miss the diversity of live rock and would like to pick some up to diversify my tank, but all we have locally is Real Reef rock which isn't the same. 

Same. My first rock was a little one from Petco with a single tiny feather duster on it, and I'd stare at it for hours!

I was wondering if it would be possible to glue small pieces of rubble to the bottom of liverock to act as "feet" to keep a tiny gap between the bottom of the tank and rock for cleaning? If so what kind of glue would I use that can work on a wet rock?

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4 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

I loved sitting at night and seeing all the things coming out, amazing how the rock literally comes to life.😊

I once told my boyfriend i could literally just put a piece of live rock in a tank and be happy watching all the organisms on it. I've always been fascinated by the little odd creatures on the rocks.

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So I have some of my equipment picked out. 

Light: ABI 12W royal blue and cold white and a swing arm desk lamp fixture

Refractometer: Ade advanced optics salinity refractometer

Test kit: will the api be ok? I the fancier stuff is too expensive

Heater:i'm thinking the aquaforest one

 

 

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On 10/8/2018 at 11:19 AM, Bailyfox said:

I was wondering if it would be possible to glue small pieces of rubble to the bottom of liverock to act as "feet" to keep a tiny gap between the bottom of the tank and rock for cleaning? If so what kind of glue would I use that can work on a wet rock?

Hmm I honestly never thought of that.  I'd be worried about stability, but then in a tank this small that might not be an issue anyway.  Probably the best way to get rocks glued together is to use clear cyanoacrylate gel (either superglue or a coral glue, as long as it's cyanoacrylate gel) and epoxy designed for mounting corals.  You can make a "sandwich" of glue-epoxy-glue, which seems to be pretty effective.  And the rock will be ok out of water for a few minutes, but when you go pick it up, I'd recommend bringing a bucket along so it will stay damp in transit to preserve as much life as possible.

11 hours ago, Bailyfox said:

So I have some of my equipment picked out. 

Light: ABI 12W royal blue and cold white and a swing arm desk lamp fixture

Refractometer: Ade advanced optics salinity refractometer

Test kit: will the api be ok? I the fancier stuff is too expensive

Heater:i'm thinking the aquaforest one

The API test kits are fine to give you ballpark figures on the basics--ammonia, nitrite, nitrate...maybe pH?  Don't bother with their reef test kits as they aren't accurate enough to bother with.  You can always buy better quality test kits down the road for calcium, etc.  When I started, I was too broke for other test kits and, well...I've never bought them lol.  It would be nice sometimes to test and get an idea if something funky is going on but if you're observant and learn to read the signs your tank gives when things are "off," you will probably be ok. 

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I never even used test kits with my pico tank.  I cycled with seachem stability and it went really fast (and I used dry rock).  100% WCs set all parameters right every week so there was no need to test.

 

I used a tiny rio pump for circulation and that also kept the pico warm enough to grow coral well. I did not have any filtration pumps because weekly WCs were my import/export method.

 

In such a small tank only a small cuc is necessary so start out slow.  Have fun, little picos can be so rewarding.

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9 hours ago, Lula_Mae said:

Hmm I honestly never thought of that.  I'd be worried about stability, but then in a tank this small that might not be an issue anyway.  Probably the best way to get rocks glued together is to use clear cyanoacrylate gel (either superglue or a coral glue, as long as it's cyanoacrylate gel) and epoxy designed for mounting corals.  You can make a "sandwich" of glue-epoxy-glue, which seems to be pretty effective.  And the rock will be ok out of water for a few minutes, but when you go pick it up, I'd recommend bringing a bucket along so it will stay damp in transit to preserve as much life as possible.

The API test kits are fine to give you ballpark figures on the basics--ammonia, nitrite, nitrate...maybe pH?  Don't bother with their reef test kits as they aren't accurate enough to bother with.  You can always buy better quality test kits down the road for calcium, etc.  When I started, I was too broke for other test kits and, well...I've never bought them lol.  It would be nice sometimes to test and get an idea if something funky is going on but if you're observant and learn to read the signs your tank gives when things are "off," you will probably be ok. 

So the glue will work on wet rock? I might try to glue feet onto the rock when i glue my rocks together.

Hmm, I may see if i can try and get away with it. I honestly have never been good about testing and just eye-ball it unless stuff gets real bad.

5 hours ago, vlangel said:

I never even used test kits with my pico tank.  I cycled with seachem stability and it went really fast (and I used dry rock).  100% WCs set all parameters right every week so there was no need to test.

 

I used a tiny rio pump for circulation and that also kept the pico warm enough to grow coral well. I did not have any filtration pumps because weekly WCs were my import/export method.

 

In such a small tank only a small cuc is necessary so start out slow.  Have fun, little picos can be so rewarding.

Do you have a link to that pump? It would be nice to have something that heats and provides circulation.

 

I may try the seachem stuff if it makes the process a little faster.

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On 10/11/2018 at 12:49 PM, Bailyfox said:

So the glue will work on wet rock? I might try to glue feet onto the rock when i glue my rocks together.

Hmm, I may see if i can try and get away with it. I honestly have never been good about testing and just eye-ball it unless stuff gets real bad.

Do you have a link to that pump? It would be nice to have something that heats and provides circulation.

 

I may try the seachem stuff if it makes the process a little faster.

 It can, you can also use a paper towel to dry it a bit before applying glue. Look around and you may be able to find a tutorial on building a rock scape using epoxy and glue. 

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Ya both glue and epoxy will work on wet rock, takes a bit more work but if you can do it out of tank, kinda dab the area with paper towel it will stick better.

 

It takes a while for die off to occur on the rocks. But if you are worried get a spray water bottle, fill it with SW and spray the rocks while you work. Keeps it wet.

 

I did this when I upgraded my tank.

 

 

I did the same as @vlangel

I didn't test my pico har since I did 100%  waterchanges each week.

 

I also used a pump which kept the temp at 78.

 

 

Here are some pumps that will work

 

https://www.amazon.ca/Hydor-Evo-Mag-Circulation-Aquariums-Terrariums/dp/B003UK5CTG/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539400458&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=hydor+pico&dpPl=1&dpID=3198JFDZnKL&ref=plSrch#

 

 

https://www.amazon.ca/VicTsing-Submersible-Aquarium-Fountain-Hydroponics/dp/B00EWENKXO/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539400535&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=aquarium+pump&dpPl=1&dpID=51XtRmqsieL&ref=plSrch

 

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On 10/11/2018 at 12:49 PM, Bailyfox said:

 

Do you have a link to that pump? It would be nice to have something that heats and provides circulation.

 

I may try the seachem stuff if it makes the process a little faster.

https://www.amazon.com/Rio-Plus-2100-Aqua-Pump/dp/B000256ENK/ref=asc_df_B000256ENK/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198102114124&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=9704954482767517780&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9005849&hvtargid=pla-320046366601&psc=1

This pump advertised is much bigger than you need.  A rio 50 would be about the right size.  The rio 90 is the same size but more flow and that is what I used.  That might be too much flow for your jar.

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13 hours ago, Lula_Mae said:

 It can, you can also use a paper towel to dry it a bit before applying glue. Look around and you may be able to find a tutorial on building a rock scape using epoxy and glue. 

I'll go look for one thanks 🙂

12 hours ago, Clown79 said:

Ya both glue and epoxy will work on wet rock, takes a bit more work but if you can do it out of tank, kinda dab the area with paper towel it will stick better.

 

It takes a while for die off to occur on the rocks. But if you are worried get a spray water bottle, fill it with SW and spray the rocks while you work. Keeps it wet.

 

I did this when I upgraded my tank.

 

 

I did the same as @vlangel

I didn't test my pico har since I did 100%  waterchanges each week.

 

I also used a pump which kept the temp at 78.

 

 

Here are some pumps that will work

 

https://www.amazon.ca/Hydor-Evo-Mag-Circulation-Aquariums-Terrariums/dp/B003UK5CTG/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539400458&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=hydor+pico&dpPl=1&dpID=3198JFDZnKL&ref=plSrch#

 

 

https://www.amazon.ca/VicTsing-Submersible-Aquarium-Fountain-Hydroponics/dp/B00EWENKXO/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539400535&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=aquarium+pump&dpPl=1&dpID=51XtRmqsieL&ref=plSrch

 

Thanks for the links, i think i'll try that second one actually. If i dont like it in the tank I can always use it to mix my water for water changes.

5 hours ago, vlangel said:

Thank you for the suggestion, the rio 50 does look like it may work as well.

 

In other news I ordered my refractometer and calibration fluid today. My plan is to order an item or 2 per week until I get my pending bonus from work.

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