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It's very cool to see that you still have this pico up and running and it's very very nice to see some new pictures of it a year or so later.  


I have read your thread about 15 times, I liked it so much that I totally copied your setup when I started up my tank (my first reef) sans the ATO and the power filter.  I even bought the same hardware as you have sans the power filter. except I replaced the hydor with a Nero, and I bought an Aquatop tank not an actual picotope, I tried to get a picotope but I think JBJ quit making them, they canceled my order in any case.


 I particularly liked the story about how you left your reef in a bucket and realized that you were over filtering in the first place, and disclosed it. It was very helpful.  I also like the fact that you have shown us even longer term now the results you have been getting, the easy and difficult.


The mushrooms are running rampant, though they are beautiful as well.  I have some blues,  but I put them on their own little rock, I started with one and now there are four three...my zoos seem to be taking over a bit.  I've been trying to scrape some off, but it's not that easy. 


It's rare to see somebody keep a pico up long term and I think even rarer for somebody to effectively prune it and keep it in check.  I'm having some anxiety, and some overall lack of success with  doing so myself as well.  Somebody started a thread about how to control favia growth in picos but I don't think it got much traction.  



Thank you much for the thread in the first place.  It is in my estimation by far one of the best pico reef threads on the internet due to inclusion of detail, great pictures, clear explanations, and your willingness to try different approaches and evaluate how the reef is doing. Thanks for the update.

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@Daniel92481 Thanks my dude! And ya, I always just plan for the equipment to fail, so when it does I've already got the next piece lined up!


Also, sent an email to Kraken lids so hopefully they can hook it up! Thanks for the tip! 🙏

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@fenderchamp Wow that is so flattering! Glad I could help you get some ideas for your own tank, that was kind of my intention with the detail, so to hear that it actually helped someone makes me feel good 😄


Mushrooms are almost impossible to kill. I literally have to hold a razorblade with my bare hand and slice their caps off, then I have to glue over their foot, and somehow they still manage to survive. Many of them are just falling off the rock now and start floating around the tank and end up on my other rocks. I can tell that it's only a matter of time before they take over.


I checked your tank out and it looks really cool! Keep up the good work!


Again, many thanks for the nice comments. Made my day 🥰

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Truly beautiful Pico.


You have enough coral - or at least had, before death by shroom - to fill a nice nano AIO. I say do it,  before you lose anything else, and then keep the pico as a mushroom biotope. They really are beautiful shrooms. 🙂


Edit: saw this and thought of you.

Edited by Looselyhuman
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  • 4 months later...



Had some interesting happenings over the last few months with this little tank. I picked up blood red fire shrimp (a semi regrettable decision) and despite what everyone says about them being very cryptic mine is quite active and hangs out in the front of the tank a lot. During feeding time he is a bit annoying as he will steal from corals and chase my Red Headed Goby away when he first senses the food. Greedy little fella.




Recently picked up a Indo Gold Torch at my LFS and decided to try my luck with it. My last torch I had died pretty quickly back when I was running the modified AquaClear 70 Fuge, however I reduced the flow in my aquarium significantly I decided it was time to try again, and luckily it has been thriving.




The problem that I encountered was from the torch though, and I picked up a load of flatworms (ugh). So They didn't really seem to affect the torch, but they sure do love my hammers and my frogspawn. So much so that my frogspawn is very closed up and riddled with flatworms. My attempts to remove them from his tentacles with a pipette have proved difficult, and I end up taking some of his tentacles with the flatworms. So this led me to buy some Flatworm EXit.




I asked some questions about it on the forums here and it seems pretty okay, and considering the size of my aquarium I should be able to do a massive percent of a water change afterwards (80-90%). Then run some carbon (I have some laying around from when I first designed the tank that I never used, but bought because I knew I would eventually need at some point) for a day or two to remove the rest.


As I prepared the saltwater in buckets I turned my pumps off and scraped the algae from the glass of my tank and siphoned the big pieces out with a turkey baster which drops the water level in my tank. I stopped just before the heads of my frogspawn were exposed. I looked at the flatworm eXit and thought, ""Hmm, I have a bad feeling about this, I don't think I'm going to do this tonight. I should probably research this a bit more." That was probably the best decision I have ever made regarding this little tank.


I went over to the freshly mixed up buckets and pulled out my refractometer to check the salinity only to get no reading at all. I measured again and again and I could not discern the line or what the specific salinity was at. Over to my aquarium to check that salinity and more of the same. So I pulled the refractometer apart and spent about and hour trying to figure out a way to fix it to no avail, so I ordered another one online frantically that would be delivered the next day.


I cleaned the little pump that had been in my aquarium and put it back in and tried to turn it on, and of course, that was dead too. The aquarium was now surviving on just the little HOB 40GPH filter on the back and would have to spend the night like that. I didn't plug my ATO back in because I didn't know where my salinity was at. Also, everyone in the aquarium looked p*ssed.


The next day the refractometer arrived and I put it immediately in the water that I had made last night and the salinity measured lower than what I had expected. Normally I'm pretty close but this was significantly off for the 8L/1Cup of salt I prepared. So I added more salt and was adjusting the temperature excited to finally at least get a WC in. The inhabitants of the tank still seemed upset and the frogspawn/zoas at the top of the tank were starting to peek out so I added a little fresh distilled water to top up. But the snail was out of the tank, like fully out  of the water, so I was suspicious.


I checked the tank water and the salinity was registering at 1.012 and I realized my mistake. I bought a beer refractometer that was measuring the sugar content and not the salt content. Luckily I ordered another PROPER refractometer and a backup pump due to arrive the next day. The aquarium spent another night with no water change.


Today both the refractometer and pump arrived and I finally checked the salinity to find my aquarium sitting at 1.030 and the bucket with made salt was at 1.040. Really glad I didn't use the flatworm eXit. 😂


I topped up the aquarium over the last few hours and now I'm sitting at about 1.0245 and everyone seems happier including the snail. I'm going to do the WC after the light go out in the aquarium.


Basically this is a cautionary tale to always calibrate your refractometer, always have backups handy, and never rush into something in this hobby.



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being careful about salinity is probably a very good point of emphasis, particularly with tiny pico tanks, like this one. 


I have a hach hanna salinity meter, and box full of calibration reagent packets, but I tend to, when in doubt, triangulate off this floaty thing too (picture below). If the fancy meter gets dirty, and it's always getting dirty from the scum on the top of my pico, which is always present after a week of getting fed and running with only a powerhead, I believe it starts reading low, or maybe high and if it's dirty it won't recalibrate accurately either.  I've been cleaning it with a toothbrush, but it really doesn't fit in the slot with the lenses very well, so I'd like to figure out a better way.


Sometimes I grab both the hach and the cheap old float hydrometer and a calibration packet and take it all to the LFS to triangulate off of their refractometer and their water too.  They have never seemed to mind, and even caught the fact that the calibration fluid they were using on their refractometers was bad once.


I've caught myself before going too far down a bad alley a couple of times, I always check my water (pretty much every morning before topping off).  I definitely always check the water coming out and going in when I'm doing water changes.  I use 1 sample cup of freshwater to top off, and that takes my salinity from 3.58 to 3.5 or so.  It's pretty easy to be off, If I'm not fairly diligent.   If I mix water and test it, and it sits around for a few hours, or If I stir it or whatever, I retest it before I use it, it's suprised me more than once. 


It's easy to assume everything is ok, salinity-wise, and then when you actually check it, it isn't.  I've never let anything get too far askew yet <knock,knock>. 


1x I bought RO from the LFS and got seawater instead, I'm happy I checked that mix before I poured it in my tank.  Yesterday I mixed up a bucket of water and I tested it at 42 (!!!), that needs to be fixed.


I have let my salinty drift up more than I'd like before (I don't have an ato), and I have got erroneous readings from the hach meter before too, but I've kept the car on the road so far.   



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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 month later...

Day 1988




Temp - 78F
Salinity - 1.0245




I've been quite busy with work but yes, the tank is still up and running, and kind of thriving in some ways.


The blood shrimp had disappeared when I went on vacation to Mexico for a week in May of 2023 when I left a friend in charge of the aquarium. When I came back there was no sign of the body which was weird lol.


The mushrooms have continued their dominance in the aquarium. They have since killed the frogspawn, and the duncan coral (two of my oldest corals. They are kept at bay by the hammer and the torch however.


Speaking of the hammer it has split once, and I presume it to be splitting again as it seems to have developed another mouth. I believe the dragon soul torch has also developed another mouth and I expect a split in the next few months.




The red headed goby (Cheeto) has been doing very well in the aquarium and is a friendly little fish. Whenever I come near to the aquarium he will perch on the mushrooms and stare at me while he waits for his daily feeding of mysis shrimp. However recently he hasn't been eating as much and seems more skittish - I fear he may die soon.




Whenever Cheeto does pass is when I will consider ultimately remodeling the aquarium. The mushrooms are completely out of control at this point and I can't add any new livestock as there is both no space, and too hostile of an environment for a tender coral frag to compete with the pestilence of mushrooms.


I would consider a better layout for aquascape and some slower growing corals - no mushrooms 🤣. There is for sure, well over 100 mushrooms in there now.




I believe I had another powerhead die (I think I'm on my 5th or 6th hydor powerhead?) and my cobalt heater also died but luckily my LFS helped send me a replacement that day.




I clean the aquarium once a month and do about an 80% water change. I tend to be more cautious and diligent when cleaning my equipment now. I've noticed to only use slightly warm water on my powerheads/heaters (Instead of scalding hot) seems to make them last longer.




Anyways ya it's still going and will hopefully continue to keep going strong.


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Great tank, this is what a picotope is all about! Those mushrooms love your tank! I think it looks great even though they're taking over. 


Do you dose at all or is it just the 80% water change every month?

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Thanks! @Daniel92481


@Justind823 Thanks! I don't dose. At one point early on in the aquarium's life I did dose with some baking soda and water - but found it was causing more harm than good. I do own a dosing pump, but I haven't had it setup in a very long time. It is collecting dust in a shelf 😂 I was considering dosing two part or Kalk - but honestly the corals seem fine as I change out with Red Sea Pro salt and it has elevated levels of trace elements.

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15 minutes ago, Jon-Paul said:

Thanks! @Daniel92481


@Justind823 Thanks! I don't dose. At one point early on in the aquarium's life I did dose with some baking soda and water - but found it was causing more harm than good. I do own a dosing pump, but I haven't had it setup in a very long time. It is collecting dust in a shelf 😂 I was considering dosing two part or Kalk - but honestly the corals seem fine as I change out with Red Sea Pro salt and it has elevated levels of trace elements.

Yea, if I had a little tank that looked like yours and only required a water change once a month then I'd be thrilled. Keep it up and keep it simple!

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

What a great tank


Wanted to offer: we already have two threads on removing these mushrooms via guided tank surgery. It'll work in one pass, you're not required to lose any more territory 


We have two Mushroom removal jobs on file to read before action when ur ready. Great tank


We don't have to remove them all either, they have nice colors but need to be cut back. We have a way, you could fix that in two hours time


Wanna engineer the tank fix live time here?

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

A simple flathead screwdriver did it, plus careful tank surgery for sure (that's the fun part we'd plan)


It turned out to be the defining action that gave my pico reef unlimited biological lifespan. 


Not only can a rip clean fix aiptasia and shrooms in one pass


They can be used for dinos or any invasion, to save months of loss and waiting and hoping. This is action

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