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The College Student's Take on a Reef

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Hello! Today, I moved over the stock and equipment from my 5.5 gallon into a 10 gallon, and decided to move my tank journal into the nano reef section of the website.

 

The general goal of this tank is to provide my girlfriend with a tank that's colorful and full of life without throwing her too deep into advanced reefing. She's just now getting into the hobby, and the plan is for her to eventually completely take this tank over - right now, I'm teaching her general tank husbandry, tank stocking, how to feed correctly, etc., and she's doing great. Any stocking choices you see in this tank are going to be her personal choices, and I'll choose not to steer her one way or the other unless what she chooses presents a danger to anything in the tank. So, no, there will be no hippo tangs! Maybe a yellow tang later, though 😉

 

Right now, we're still deciding on the particular direction that we want to go with this tank, but I think she's really enjoying LPS, macros, leathers, and monti's the most so far. Whatever she chooses, you can bet that this will be a mixed tank. I'll try and steer her away from the less hardy SPS, but SPS are new territory, even for me - I'll have to be asking some questions on here about that. Currently, we've just got a few macros (that aren't exactly thriving), plus a CUC and a fish. We'll be adding more in a month or so, once the tank settles in and we get some more cash flowing to this tank. College is so very, very expensive!

 

Equipment List:

 

10 Gallon Aqueon Glass Tank

AquaClear 30 HOB

Top Fin 10 Internal Filter (for added circulation)

Aqueon 50W Heater (set to 80F)

ABI 10000K PAR38 23W

9W PAR30 Reef Bulb

 

So, I'm planning on adding in a Koralia 425 once Black Friday comes around, and that'll be replacing the Top Fin filter I have in the tank right now. Right now, I'm only turning the tank's volume over about 21 times per hour, and I'm shooting for between 30 and 40 - which should be no issue with the Koralia powerhead.

 

For lighting, I went the PAR38 route instead of DIY LED's for the initial savings. I'll probably DIY a light at a later date, but for now, I'm using one ABI PAR 38 and a cheap, off-brand PAR30 I found at my LFS. I'll probably be adding in another PAR38 at some point, but the tank is well lit right now, so that's not at the top of my priority list.

 

I may eventually turn the HOB into a fuge, depending on how nitrates and phosphates settle out in the tank.

 

Stock list:

 

Fish:

1 False Percula Clown

 

Inverts:

1 Scarlet Hermit Crab

15 Dwarf Ceriths 

1 Florida Cerith

 

Coral:

 

Macroalgae:

 

Dragon's Breath

Codium

Caulerpa Prolifera

 

The CUC came packaged with a tank on Craigslist, and I plan to fill it out with some Nassarius snails, and maybe some Nerites or more Ceriths. I think I'll eventually get some sort of ornamental shrimp, probably a blood shrimp, but that'll be later on.

 

As for fish, she loves Finding Nemo, so we had to get a false perc. She's only about 1" right now, so she's pretty tiny. I think we're going to avoid getting a second clown, to avoid the possibility of constant aggression (I've had to separate two pairs over the years), and right now, we're looking at a Royal Gramma as the only other fish for this tank. I've read around online, and talked to some people on forums, and this seems like it'd be okay. Any opinions on this? I'm looking for something with more blues/purples, that isn't going to be so scared of the clown. Suggestions are welcome!
 

As I mentioned above, we're planning a mixed reef, with a focus on LPS and macroalgae. Kinda random, but I gotta admit, I think it could look really nice. She's also really liked the photosynthetic gorgonians everytime we've been to the LFS, so those are probably in our future too.

 

Finally, a few pics of the setup. The macros have accumulated a little bit of debris on them since they've been added to the tank, but excuse that. I'll be adding some more dry rock to the tank this week, once it finishes soaking.

 

FTS:

544626293_FTS17.thumb.jpg.71ffc39b3ebf36e9a792cbc632b2e976.jpg

Dragon's Breath:

1937321241_DragonsBreath17.thumb.jpg.7159296f7c14ec7cebdadc442565f163.jpg

Codium:

420221926_Codium17.thumb.jpg.c26eae4b946514bff92c042bb32bef75.jpg

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Alright, so a quick question here for anyone that may know. I've been having some issues with the macros - the Codium has been growing some sort of hairy stuff on it (maybe a type of hair algae?), and the dragon's breath has slowly been turning pale. Considering the conditions this stuff came out of, I wasn't surprised that it was having issues. But, I figure that it should have turned around by now, so I'm a bit lost.

 

I made a thread about this in the macro forum, and not much luck so far. The general consensus so far has been a lack of nutrients - and that maybe the Caulerpa is uptaking too much, too fast, so that even though I'm getting readings for nitrate and phosphate, the Codium and Dragon's Breath can't get to it before the Caulerpa does - or that's what I think that guy was saying. Is that possible? If it is, what can I do to help? Skip a water change? Feed a bit more to increase available nutrients?

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So, I tested water late last night and discovered that the Nitrate I had in the tank had been taken up, and was now reading as 0. I decided to tackle the issue head on.

 

I'm using stump remover (AKA 61.4% powdered (potassium?) nitrate) to directly increase nitrates. More or less, this stuff is completely environmentally friendly, and as far as I can tell doesn't actually contain anything dangerous to life. It's just a bunch of nitrate, that I assume would encourage bacteria and other detritavores to grow on stumps and get rid of them naturally. I think, anyway.

I took 10 grams of stump remover, and crushed them up into a fine, white power. It looked pretty bad in the process, but luckily, no one walked in on me. I then dissolved that 10 grams into 1 liter of freshwater, and the resulting solution contained around 6.14 grams of nitrate, or 6,140 PPM of nitrate. By adding 1 ML of that solution per 2 gallons of tank volume, you can raise nitrates in your tank by 0.8 PPM. 

I dosed the 10 gallon with 10 ML of that solution, and theoretically raised my nitrates by 1.6 PPM. I added 5 ML to my 5 gallon betta tank as well, to see how the shrimp and plants in that tank react. I'll test in about an hour to see how much I actually raised things by, and I'd say we'll see results within a week as far as how well this is working.

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I hope the possibility of a yellow tang going in at a later date was a joke lol . 😆

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11 hours ago, Andreww said:

I hope the possibility of a yellow tang going in at a later date was a joke lol . 😆

Yeah, it was. I can't imagine putting one of those guys into a 10! I hear white tip reef sharks do well in smaller tanks, though - maybe that's a possibility? 😉

 

9 hours ago, Snazxy said:

Don’t even think about snorting that stump remover!!😂

It looked SUPER suspicious once it was crushed up! I had to make a makeshift pestle and mortar too - I used a glass measuring cup with a smaller plastic measuring cup inside of it to crush up the granules. 'twas ghetto!

 

The stuff is working miracles, though, or at least I think it is. I dosed the tank up to 5 PPM Nitrate last night, after I saw no ill effects in either aquarium. This morning, a few things have happened:

 

1) Diatoms! They've started growing a bit on the filter intake, and the rocks are noticeably brown(er than usual).

 

2) Maybe I'm just imagining it, but I swear that the Dragon's Breath has changed color overnight. The tips are still awful pale, but the center of the algae is an incredible scarlet color - I have no clue if maybe it's just a placebo, as I wouldn't imagine the algae to look so much better so quickly, but I'll take it!

 

The tank is getting a WC tomorrow, since I gave the clown a large meal tonight. She got a few bits of a salad shrimp, so seaweed, and some oyster eggs. It was messy, but I'll give the tank a good vacuum. I don't want nitrates to fall back down too low, but I don't need all that food causing any issues. If need be, I'll redose nitrates.

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Great news! Looks like the stump remover did the trick.

 

Here's a pic of the dragon's breath from the 17th...:

528284332_DragonsBreath17.thumb.jpg.e7576d3ec07267ddadd81c91f08bf0e9.jpg

 

...and here's a pic from the 22nd!:

1290053337_DragonsBreath22.thumb.jpg.88726209f68dff33f78201cded66daa8.jpg

 

Camera settings were slightly different, but the color change really is that noticeable. Got some new growth on the Caulerpa as well, and the Codium is cleaning up a bit.

 

Other than that, the biggest change in this tank has been diatom growth. The stuff is everywhere! But, the macros are looking better, and the water is clearer than it has been before - not that it was ever cloudy, but it's like the fish is just floating now.

 

I mentioned earlier that I had been thinking about a Royal Gramma for this tank, and I think I've kinda veered away from that direction, and started looking into a pair of yellow clown gobies. They're small, light on bioload, cute, and as I understand it, are similar to clownfish in that they'll change sex to create a male/female pair after a bit of fighting. I don't plan to keep SPS, so I don't see nipping being a problem, either. I think that would fill out this tank pretty well fish-wise, and keep aggression to a minimum. 

 

 

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I've got a small CUC in there - 15 dwarf ceriths, a scarlet hermit, and a florida cerith. They came with the macros and the tank. I'll be adding more soon!

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Alright, quick update!

 

The Potassium Nitrate has been working wonderfully. All macros have been recovering, showing great color, and even growing. The Codium is still being plagued by what I suspect now to be hair algae, but it's also showing good color and growth. So maybe it's not too harmful? I can't manually remove it, whatever it is. It's my fault for overdosing, but I'll be scaling back in the future.

 

I've found nitrate uptake to be sporadic, often showing no patterns. One day, I'll lose 1 PPM. The next, I'll gain 2 PPM, and the next, I'll lose another 4 PPM. I suspect it has something to do with microalgae uptake rather than macroalgae uptake, but I don't have anything to back that up. I'll be dosing to around 3 PPM every week, and I'll see if that gives me a sustainable amount of Nitrate with starving any macros and without causing nuisance algae to run rampant.

 

Here are some pics I took earlier today.

 

FTS:

1223082557_FTS30.thumb.jpg.bc7c689e3ba1fb4bbea8593a551c982d.jpg

Dragon's Breath:

842942314_DragonsBreath30.thumb.jpg.a6c6ebbc8417c186b1c8d364430a8fac.jpg

Codium:

283686473_Codium30.thumb.jpg.ca2becf06b0cc63817515dc711dc195c.jpg

Caulerpa:

1380747793_Caulerpa30.thumb.jpg.5603b4b0bd1bfc767eb326f1ea0df7e8.jpg

 

The caulerpa has shown a ton of growth! Not many "leaves" yet, but it's got a pretty substantial "root" system on that rock. I suspect it'll be growing pretty well soon.

 

The clown is doing well - very active, aggressively eating, and even interacting with me while I'm around/in the tank. Much more curious and gentle than any clown I've had, for sure. She's still a bit skinny, I think - I upped her feeding quite a bit (a few pellets in the morning, with chunks of salad shrimp and seaweed in the evening), and she's definitely happy about it - but no notable weight gain yet. She doesn't have parasites (normal poop, and she was treated for them), so I'm not sure what's wrong. Worst comes to worst, I'll do another round of Metro, but I'm not sure that'd help at all.

 

Where's a good place to order macros? I know that this time of year kinda sucks when it comes to shipping and collecting macros, but I'd like to get a few more in for Christmas. There actually seems to be some good deals on Ebay (333aquatics?), and the sellers get a good rep. I'm curious to see how that'd work out. Maybe I'll bite the bullet with something hardy!

 

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So, what happens when you overdose nitrate? Algae blooms! Then, after that, there's bacterial blooms! Fun times. 

 

I accidentally caused a minor bacterial bloom in this tank. It only lasted two days and never got too bad, and has mostly cleared up today. But yeah, I'll definitely be cutting WAY back on dosing from here on out - I maybe even just dose 1-2 ML this coming weekend (after a large WC), and then continue that dose or a slightly larger dose to try and keep the tank in good health. That said...

 

This stuff has been doing wonders for the macros. Great growth out of every species (even the Codium!), and so far, I've seen no negative effects throughout the tank that can't be attributed to dosing issues. Once I get some more macros going, dosing shouldn't be such an issue. The Dragon's Breath in particular seems to be doing well - it pearls every day, and has had noticeable growth and change over the past couple of weeks. Here's a comparison of the some portion, the first pic being from November 30th, and the second being from December 5th:

 

589459849_DragonsBreath30.thumb.jpg.404d4f1c600ae9e95c23a9a955c4e5fb.jpg

 

766077296_DragonsBreath5.thumb.jpg.11dc9f2178987ab023d046603e43d221.jpg

 

Perhaps it's a bit difficult to see in the picture, but a couple of things have happened:

 

1) It's really "bushed" out. It hasn't grown a ton upwards, but has gotten thicker and seems to be expanding outwards from the center.

2) The color has changed. I moved it to a higher light location, and it's really begun to change from a deep scarlet to a light red/pink. I'm not a huge fan of it, but I can't argue with the growth. I may eventually move it down back to the sandbed, but for now, I'm happy with it growing!

 

Aside from the macros, not a ton has changed in this tank. The hermit molted last night, and seems to be doing well, and I constantly see snails bumbling around the tank. I can't wait to add a few more to really help clean up some algae - I can get rid of most of it, but I'd appreciate the extra life and the help.

 

The clown (Penny) has had some issues with getting pellets down, since even the mini size is a bit too big for her mouth - and I suspect that's part of the issue she was having with weight. She was being fed pellets and mysis in the store (and by me, for the most part), and she tends to give up if the food is too big or too rigid for her to get down. I've found that letting the pellets soak in water for a minute or two and then sucking them onto the tip of a syringe offers her a non-moving target and an already softened meal. Less food wasted, and a fuller belly. Win/win?

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Just a quick comparison of the dragon's breath frag from a month ago, 1 week ago, and then today (in order):

 

2076485784_DragonsBreath.thumb.jpg.414dd104399eebf14de401d38596f00d.jpg

 

802140896_DragonsBreath5.thumb.jpg.edf2b24a7ffc256a4e4ce6c20a06a054.jpg

 

2098531851_DragonsBreath14.thumb.jpg.a976d6fe75391a7abd57ce961acbc65a.jpg

 

Things are definitely growing in this tank, but I've noticed the dragon's breath is losing color. The last two pics are with the same edits, and you can tell a difference in the shade of red - even though the algae is growing quite well. There's a few small pieces that are shaded that are growing slower, but are retaining their vibrant red. 

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Man, have I had an insane 24 hours!

 

Yesterday, I was woken up by the mail man knocking on the door with a package labelled "live fish". Which was strange, because the only livestock I've ordered isn't due to be in until January. I thought that maybe they had missed the instruction to wait to send, and I was kinda ticked - the box had probably sat in a warehouse on Christmas Day.

 

I opened up the box, and the first thing I pulled out was a firefish. I didn't order a firefish. Ugh.

 

Turns out that the store had printed out all of their shipping labels the day before Christmas Eve, and through human error, mine had got stuck onto a box that was supposed to go to someone else. I sent them an e-mail when I received the box, and I got a response today. 

 

I was told to keep what I received (or to donate it to a local store or aquarium), and that I'd get $50 off my next order. Alright! Cool, I'm good with that. I did express that mistakes like that could be catastrophic, and they agreed - they handled it well. I'm glad that they responded as they did, and I'll be shopping there again.

 

Here's what came in the box:

 

1 Orange Firefish 

1 Green BTA

1 gallon of Caulerpa Prolifera

1 Hammer (?) Frag

1 Peppermint Shrimp

 

I didn't have any QT tanks set up, so I took a rubbermaid tub, filled it up with saltwater, threw in a heater and a cycled sponge filter, and in went most of the caulerpa, the firefish, and the shrimp. I acclimated the rest of the caulerpa, the BTA, and the frag into the DT. This morning, once I saw that the Peppermint was healthy, I acclimated her into the DT as well. She's got a full saddle of eggs, and seems to be pretty healthy. I did ensure that she wasn't a camel, and I'm pretty positive that she isn't.

 

The frag, shrimp, firefish, and caulerpa all acclimated fine. The firefish has eaten twice since I received him, the frag has been open and eating, the shrimp has been scurrying around the rocks, and the Caulerpa has been slowly turning green again. It came in yellow (I assume due to the lack of water in the bag), and has been turning either white or a dark green. I'll trim off the white, and put it into it's permanent home once it's had time to settle in.

 

The BTA however... had a rough night. It came attached to a piece of live rock, and looked healthy. Here's a pic of it shortly after being acclimated.

2051538745_Anemone26.thumb.jpg.de0e59af5b60ea851420b75b1f93277b.jpg

 

Shortly after that picture, it began expelling zooxanthellae, and detached from the rock. I turned off all the pumps, and put it back up on the rock, thinking that it might re-attach. No dice - it'd inflate and move around, but it always managed to get itself upside down (tentacles against the rock). Strange, and not a good sign. After 4 hours of the pumps being off, I gave up, and put it into a container with some rubble, and left it overnight.

1869322679_Anemoneincontainer.thumb.jpg.189e8086c170168d13aecf70dbe3f0ea.jpg

 

This morning, it looked absolutely terrible. It finally inflated after a few minutes, and managed to crawl out of the container. It fell to the sandbed, and from there, it righted itself and began a journey around the tank. It's been around most of the tank, and has finally began to settle into a little nook, as shown below. 

1033963822_Anemone9.thumb.jpg.c3a739c641ca05a60129fcd779991464.jpg

 

Currently, it's in the same spot, but it's deflated a little - hopefully it'll perk back up soon. It's doing way better than it was last night, though, for sure.

 

Here's a few pics of everything else I received (except for the firefish):

Peppermint.thumb.jpg.e9aeafec32f7d94f93882865c9161653.jpg

1099756921_Torch27.thumb.jpg.d58c5ba01f4cd3cf5e7845bd6f673dda.jpg

Caulerpa.thumb.jpg.35929b73866d8b7415c3c9658b3160a6.jpg

 

Torch 27.jpg

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I managed to knock the PAR 38 into the tank a couple of nights ago - not my brightest moment. I had it balanced using a cheap desk lamp and a few bottles of water... sigh. The lamp died, but I got the bulb working again by soaking the PCB in 91% alcohol and distilled water. The fan stopped working though, and I feel as if the bulb gets far to warm to run long-term without a fan - so I ordered a new bulb, and set my light timer to not run the lights for any more than 4 hours at a time to try and cut down on heat.

 

I ordered the ABI Tuna Blue, and it should be here on the second. I'm looking forward to trying it out! People seem to have great success with it, and I'm anxious to see whether or not it'll do me well. I built a fixture out of PVC and an old floodlamp - it's not super pretty, and I'll be re-doing it in the spring so I can paint it to match the furniture. For now, it works.

 

Fixture.thumb.jpg.0e17934c94bb06a74828eaff439d379e.jpg

 

The fixture holds the bulb around a foot off the water line - hopefully that'll be enough to get me a good spread with the 60 degree optics on the ABI bulb. I did some quick protractoring, and it seems as if I'll be getting decent coverage - I might have to adjust it an inch either way, but it should work out.

 

Everything that I got by accident has settled in well. The hammer has started to really look nice - it may be my favorite thing in this tank right now. The most recent pic of it I have is from the 29th, but not a ton has changed - it's just opened up a tad bit more.

1043265494_Torch29.thumb.jpg.019e0f39db718a6ee91729386f7f2dcf.jpg

 

I thinned the Caulerpa out quite a bit. I removed any strands that showed signs of a lot of die-off, and I removed any that had yellowed or had a lot of imperfections. I was left with about 1/3 of what I started with, but it's all mostly healthy, and I can see some new growth already. I don't have a recent pic, but there's really not a ton to see anyway.

 

The peppermint shrimp... is on thin ice. I thought I had caught him picking at the anemone at one point. I caught the sucker (well, I tried to catch him and he jumped out of the tank and started running across the floor - no joke), and put him into a container into the tank. I had planned to take him to the LFS. Well, before I could get there, he managed to escape, and so far he's been a model citizen. I have caught him on the anemone once or twice, but the anemone doesn't recoil, and he just seems to be cleaning debris. Makes me wonder if he ever did anything wrong... or maybe he knows I'm onto him.

 

495748009_Peppermint3.thumb.jpg.698d9bb1e5cb6175b64b465033a21e51.jpg

 

Speaking of the anemone... it's doing okay. It still hasn't attached to anything permanently, but it's not hacked up any more zooxanthellae in a few days, and it seems to be getting better day-by-day. It's stickier than it was, and it's started to grab food out of the water column. I've decided it to start feeding it a little every couple of days, since it seems to be responding well to food. It is bleached, too, so hopefully this'll put it on the road to recovery. The only pic I have is a badly-colored one from the top of the tank - I'll get some better ones once the new bulb is in.

Jealous.thumb.jpg.b0c1964914645d2c55ad4f578e5d59ad.jpg

 

Still no pics of the firefish, due to it's QT bin, but it's doing well. Still eating well, no ich, no disease. Very pretty fish, too - I can't wait to get it into a tank!

 

 

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Alright - the nem is doing better, and it settled into a spot for a few days. It detached and moved around again last night, though. Can't figure this guy out - but, he's looking better than he did when he first came in! If he doesn't settle in, or if he starts to show signs of going downhill, I'll try to transfer him to a store that can handle him. Hopefully he'd survive the move, but there's only so much I can do for him here if he doesn't settle in.

 

1950850509_Anemone3.thumb.jpg.308aad6fbe6742fc28113512e7a7c54a.jpg

 

I moved the firefish into the tank today. It had 10 days of copper, prazi, and metro, and has never shown signs of illness or disease. Eats fantastically well, and has been extremely active, even in a dim rubbermaid bin.

 

Firefish.thumb.jpg.8ff7bf849d64726cb145dedefc17713d.jpg

 

This bulb is pretty nice! I'll be adding a second one at some point, since what I have now is more than likely considered "medium" lighting. 

 

The peppermint had to be removed again. I caught him picking on the anemone again, and while I don't think he was munching on it, it wasn't a friendly cleaning service, either. I made a trap with a water bottle and some food, and eventually, I just chased him into it with a net. Took me all of 15 seconds! 

 

So far, no aggression from the clown. She's finally actually turning into a she, I think - she's become more aggressive towards me, and her color is rapidly darkening from the bright orange to a smoky color. I like it! 

 

1301456979_Penny2.thumb.jpg.2336fa68737eabe3e55919b533a988e0.jpg

 

She's pushing 2" now - very happy with how she's doing. You can also so the dragon's breath frag in the background - it has grown a LOT! Loving that stuff.

 

The hammer is doing well. No complaints, but I'm not sure I've got it in the right spot. It's in pretty moderate flow, with pretty moderate lighting. The tentacles are still pretty short and stubby - although, the color has intensified with this new bulb.

 

1849670820_Hammer2.thumb.jpg.8872fc90fad4a875334db71440d0dc0c.jpg

 

I think that's about it - I've found a pretty massive fire worm that came in on the rock with the anemone. The sucker is probably 4" long, and is kinda pinkish - it's very thin, though, and it doesn't resemble any pests. Hoping that I got a good CUC member! Just gotta remember to be careful when I'm in the tank.

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This tank hasn't received a ton of attention this week - I even missed feedings on a couple days 😅 I've been super busy with school events and figuring out how to pay for college, so hopefully I can catch back up on Sunday when I have more time.

 

I didn't even get to see the tank with the lights on during Tuesday or Wednesday, and here's what I've noticed.

 

Almost all of the Caulerpa I brought in turned clear and died off. However, there's a ton of new growth spreading through out the tank - only a few areas actually have "blades", but there's runners and new leaves forming everywhere. I like! I know a lot of people hate this, but I love how it looks, and I love seeing growth. Maybe I'll curse it one day, but I'm enjoying it for now. The color kind of sucks under the blue lighting, but it's still a nice contrast to the anemone and hammer, IMO.

 

The anemone has moved around again - this time, to the space between the left wall of the tank and the rock with the hammer. I've left it there for now, but I may move it on Sunday, as I'm not sure it can easily get out again. I'd move it now, but I won't be home to observe it. Best to leave it where things are okayish rather than mess things up when I'm not around.

 

The colt coral (kenya tree?) that I found growing on the Caulerpa has been moved into a small medicine cup with a few pieces of rock and a frag plug to see if it'll attach. I tried to keep track of it before, but I lost it - so, I'm hoping that it'll grow enough in the cup for me to be able to place it up on the rockwork somewhere. Not my favorite coral, but it's a nice red and a freebie.

 

No complaints with the fish. I've noticed a bit of aggression during feeding-time, but it goes both ways - the clown will nip at the firefish, and then the firefish will chase the clown off. I'm glad I got a firefish that can stand up for itself! I'm not sure that'll continue to be the case as the clown grows, but hopefully it'll be active and stay out in the open as much as it is now. They're both gorgeous fish!

 

After a week or so with the Tuna Blue PAR 38, I can absolutely see why people love it. I personally do prefer a whiter tank, but now that my eyes have adjusted a bit, the color is nice. I think I'll implement another white bulb, or even just build a DIY replacement at some point, but this is doing well and would be perfect for a softie-only tank, or something along those lines. The intensity isn't amazing, but I think it's enough for what I'm keeping. I'd like to just take the PCB off of the bulb, and rewire it onto a separate heatsink with the 50/50 PCB, and find a way to power them both off of one driver. Not sure if that's possible - I'll have to do some digging.

 

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4 hours ago, Fisker said:

This tank hasn't received a ton of attention this week - I even missed feedings on a couple days 😅 I've been super busy with school events and figuring out how to pay for college, so hopefully I can catch back up on Sunday when I have more time.

 

I didn't even get to see the tank with the lights on during Tuesday or Wednesday, and here's what I've noticed.

 

Almost all of the Caulerpa I brought in turned clear and died off. However, there's a ton of new growth spreading through out the tank - only a few areas actually have "blades", but there's runners and new leaves forming everywhere. I like! I know a lot of people hate this, but I love how it looks, and I love seeing growth. Maybe I'll curse it one day, but I'm enjoying it for now. The color kind of sucks under the blue lighting, but it's still a nice contrast to the anemone and hammer, IMO.

 

The anemone has moved around again - this time, to the space between the left wall of the tank and the rock with the hammer. I've left it there for now, but I may move it on Sunday, as I'm not sure it can easily get out again. I'd move it now, but I won't be home to observe it. Best to leave it where things are okayish rather than mess things up when I'm not around.

 

The colt coral (kenya tree?) that I found growing on the Caulerpa has been moved into a small medicine cup with a few pieces of rock and a frag plug to see if it'll attach. I tried to keep track of it before, but I lost it - so, I'm hoping that it'll grow enough in the cup for me to be able to place it up on the rockwork somewhere. Not my favorite coral, but it's a nice red and a freebie.

 

No complaints with the fish. I've noticed a bit of aggression during feeding-time, but it goes both ways - the clown will nip at the firefish, and then the firefish will chase the clown off. I'm glad I got a firefish that can stand up for itself! I'm not sure that'll continue to be the case as the clown grows, but hopefully it'll be active and stay out in the open as much as it is now. They're both gorgeous fish!

 

After a week or so with the Tuna Blue PAR 38, I can absolutely see why people love it. I personally do prefer a whiter tank, but now that my eyes have adjusted a bit, the color is nice. I think I'll implement another white bulb, or even just build a DIY replacement at some point, but this is doing well and would be perfect for a softie-only tank, or something along those lines. The intensity isn't amazing, but I think it's enough for what I'm keeping. I'd like to just take the PCB off of the bulb, and rewire it onto a separate heatsink with the 50/50 PCB, and find a way to power them both off of one driver. Not sure if that's possible - I'll have to do some digging.

 

Glad things are doing well!  Personally, I keep my caulerpa (prolifera) off the rockwork and in the sand bed so it's not painful to remove later.  Glad the fishes are doing well!  I believe @yoshii used a white bulb in addition to a PAR bulb that was too blue for her taste.  I've thought of doing that too If I use the tuna blue someday.

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On 1/10/2019 at 10:15 PM, Lula_Mae said:

Glad things are doing well!  Personally, I keep my caulerpa (prolifera) off the rockwork and in the sand bed so it's not painful to remove later.  Glad the fishes are doing well!  I believe @yoshii used a white bulb in addition to a PAR bulb that was too blue for her taste.  I've thought of doing that too If I use the tuna blue someday.

Well... keeping the caulerpa off the rockwork isn't much of an option now, but whatever. Live and learn 🙂

 

After looking around, it seems like it'd be completely possible to mount the PCBs onto a large heatsink and just run them off a driver of some sort - it's just finding the correct driver and figuring out if it'd be worth it over simply adding another bulb. I like the idea of a simple fixture with both PCBs running on one driver, but if it's gonna be a pain, I'll go the messy route.

 

The tank is doing fine. The glass is an absolute mess (I got water on the outside, and ran a mag float over it... ugh) so I'll have to clean that up this weekend. Fish are doing well, although they're still squabbling over food. I've found that if I feed the clown floating pellets, and feed the firefish sinking foods simultaneously, they usually ignore each other. The anemone hasn't moved anymore - although it's in a shaded area. It looks like it's sorta reaching out into the light, but I'm not sure it can get all the way out. Should I CAREFULLY tilt the rock toward the light, or will it definitely move to the light source as it needs it? 

 

No complaints with the hammer or the colt. Hammer is looking amazing, and the colt has grown a few mm. I've seen the clown kinda showing interest in the hammer, but I've seen her doing the same things the anemone - it's in short bursts, and she loses interest rather quickly. Hopefully nothing gets hurt - I'm sure the hammer is far too small to be a good host, and I'm not sure the nem is ready for it yet. I'd consider covering them with something, but I can barely get my hands into the tank! She's turned into SATAN. Anytime I'm in the tank, it's constant biting in between my fingers. It's like she knows where it hurts. Ugh. It's a good thing she's pretty.

 

Since the caulerpa has taken off, I've seen nitrates drop to below 1 PPM and phosphates drop to around 0.03 PPM - much better than 15 PPM and 0.1 PPM. There's definitely LESS algae growth (but it's still there), and the BTA stopped moving around about the time water quality improved. I even dropped back water changes to 4 liters weekly - I guess macroalgae will be my filter of choice, moving forward.

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What would you guys suggest to cover the nem? The clown has continued to pester it, and I think it's time to take action. I've heard of plastic food containers being used, as well as strawberry baskets - anyone got any other suggestions?

 

I'm considering going barebottom in this tank. Hair algae is growing on the sandbed, and looks pretty terrible - there's no hair algae growing anywhere else in the tank, other than on the piece of Codium. I've been vacuuming at every water change, and removing the large tufts of algae manually. No luck.

 

The macros are doing well. The Caulerpa has continued to explode, and there's always a bit of new, white growth on each strand every day. The dragon's breath seems to be doing well, and the section that was starting to bleach has completely come back since I moved it out of that dark corner. The Codium is still struggling with nuisance algae growing on it... I'm considering scrubbing it off the best I can, and placing it into my other tank, to see if it's something in the tank that's causing it or if it's an issue with the macro itself. 

 

The colt has tripled in size, and is probably almost ready to be removed from its' little cup. It never attached to the plug, but I may just place it into a container with a bunch of rubble and let it do its' thing. The hammer seems to be doing well, although I can't discern much growth - I can't tell if it's simply expanded further, or if it's growing a bit. Either way, it looks nice and is one of my favorites in the tank.

 

The only new additions are 3 electric blue hermits I got at a new LFS on Tuesday. I'm not a huge, huge fan of blue hermits, but I need more CUC and these guys are pretty tiny. Worst comes to worst, it isn't like they aren't easy to remove. This new LFS seems to be pretty great - it's got a decent saltwater section, and has quite a few oddballs and fish that I'd consider "rare" on the local market. They had a pygmy octopus, a Valentini Puffer, a dogface puffer, a bicolor blenny, and they had a strangely large selection of fanworms and anemones. Just a few corals, but what they had looked good, and they had a decent variety. They didn't know what macroalgae was, so I'll have to buy that online, but still, it's nice to have a store so close to home.

 

Nitrate hit 0 in this tank last week, but I still had phosphate. I did some reading online, and found that macroalgae consume nitrates and phosphates at a ratio of 30:1 - so, chaeto would have to absorb 30 PPM nitrate to absorb 1 PPM of phosphate. I dosed a bit of nitrate solution, and raised levels to around 2 PPM, to see if that helps.

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47 minutes ago, Fisker said:

They didn't know what macroalgae was, so I'll have to buy that online, but still, it's nice to have a store so close to home.

I’m confused. 

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4 hours ago, Andreww said:

I’m confused. 

What's confusing? The owners have never heard of macroalgae - which isn't all that surprising, when you look at the saltwater hobby in this part of the state. The nearest city with a decent saltwater shop (that I've found) is Georgetown, and that's a good hour and a half away, so having one that carries healthy saltwater stock at all is nice.

 

Cleaned off all the macros today, and decided it was time to finally post a pic! I want to take care of some of the algae on the sandbed before I share too much, but here's the dragon's breath. You can see a tuft of the hair algae in the bottom right, and there's 3-4 of those little tufts throughout the sandbed, with a lot of small strands throughout. I'm going with manual removal and some sand-dwelling snails for now, but I may just remove it all-together.

648956159_DragonsBreath24.thumb.jpg.b61d7363d98ee73e9a94fcdcf0d771fc.jpg

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I added in a few Astrea snails yesterday, and so far, they've been really doing a good job with the algae. They're leaving nearly bare rock in their wake, and don't seem to be slowing down. I started off with 3, and ended up with 2 - I ended up with a predatory whelk (who I thought was a harmless conch) and didn't catch on until it had started eating one of the astreas. It's been banished into my 5.5, and will live there until I decide what to do with it.

 

I also decided to add a protein skimmer, to see if it'd have much of an effect on algae growth and coral/anemone health. I am on a tight budget, however, so I decided to just DIY one, and see what I could get for the lowest amount of cash possible. I originally watched the King of DIY's video, and attempted to make one of his skimmers - but, in the end, I couldn't get a consistently water-tight seal for the collection cup. I actually went for a MAME style skimmer, very similar to the one that can be found here: https://reefbuilders.com/2011/11/26/diy-mame-nanp-skimmer/#more-50832

 

I ended up using a Powerade bottle (1 liter, very well rinsed) instead of a water bottle, an old Whisper air pump I've had for years, and an old gravel vac tube. After lots of drilling, cutting myself on plastic, and just general misery, I finally got something that seems to be functional! It cost me about $15 to put together, and has pulled a very wet pee-like skimmate so far. It's just been set up for about 30 minutes, so I'm hoping that it'll darken as it breaks in. But, I may have to just turn down the air pressure and see if that dries it up any. Regardless, it's a work in progress, but it works, and I'll be revising it and hopefully making it better.

 

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Perhaps it's just wishful thinking, but I think the skimmer is having the desired effect. I haven't done any water testing (and likely won't take the time to this weekend), but it seems like algae growth has slowed, and that the extremely long tufts of brown hair algae has lightened in color. Caulerpa growth has noticeably slowed as well - I did still have some new hair algae growing on the front panel, but it was nothing compared to what I've been dealing with.

 

Over the course of this week, I've skimmed 275 mL of a dark green-tea colored liquid. It's much more opaque than green tea is, but the color is pretty similar, just a few shades darker. It's got a yeasty smell to it - I assume that's probably bacteria? Regardless, I think this is a much more manageable level of wet skimming.

 

I'm considering adding on another PAR 38, but I'm not sure how to go about it with the BTA in the tank. Would I still have to do the window screen cover for a while to let it acclimate? I'd be more or less doubling the PAR, if not a little more than that. I just want to see a bit more growth, and a different color temperature in the tank.

 

Here's a FTS from yesterday:

1827092215_FTS30-2.thumb.jpg.cf91b0141aa2baedb88c3272a3da6868.jpg

 

Maybe it's easy to see why I went through the trouble of getting a skimmer! All that algae is kinda nasty.

 

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We're down to just the clown. The firefish jumped yesterday, due to a stupid mistake by me. I left the lid off of the tank by accident before I left for school, and you can probably guess the result.

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