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Chipz's Saltwater Dissertation Distraction - Captive-bred tuxedo urchin


chipz

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Latest full tank shot:

IMG_20200717_220505_761.thumb.jpg.bfbf0f0c0a532d67eede57002c326b8f.jpg

 

 

I've been meaning to start a journal for my new tank for a few months, and now that I finally have my first fish in there it feels long overdue.  So here goes.

 

The backstory: I started out in the hobby when my grandparents gifted me their old saltwater tank complete with a 14 year old ocellaris or percula clown shortly before I started highschool. My dad and I had always kept a 20 gallon freshwater tank, but never with much success. I knew keeping a saltwater tank was supposed to be hard work, so I approached it with a very different attitude from the lack-luster freshwater tanks and it went GREAT. By the time I left home for college, I had accumulated 11 tanks, three of which were reef tanks and the rest of which were freshwater. Fortunately my parents were bitten hard by the saltwater bug, too, and now over a decade later they have kept up all three reef tanks, plus two of the freshwater tanks. But meanwhile I was busy with college, and then I worked as an itinerant field biologist for three years post-graduation and wasn't able to keep a tank at all. When I started graduate school, I started up a simple planted freshwater tank and my interest in that has fluctuated over the past few years. Then disaster struck while I was finishing up my LAST summer of data collection, the light went out while I was gone for six weeks, and the tank had a (relatively mild) crash--mostly I lost the guppy grass that I hated and that was shading out everything else...which led to me getting to start over and get bitten by the bug once more. There's nothing like new aquascaping and tank inhabitants to make it exciting. 

 

Around the same time, my parents started sending me photos of their new pistol shrimp and goby pair. I bemoaned my lack of a saltwater tank to my husband, to which he replied "Yeah, I'm surprised you haven't started a saltwater one yet."

 

To which I said, "Well, we had that one-tank agreement."  

 

"I don't remember ever making that agreement," said my husband. And then, "It's fine if you have two. Where would you put a second tank if we got one?" Reader, I married him. Or at least I would have if I hadn't already done so five years ago!

 

So, before he could reconsider, I found a used 29 gallon biocube that came with pretty much everything EXCEPT the live rock, live sand, and inhabitants for a steal. I got the tank set up and cycled just in time for the local frag swap and saltwater expo, and now I'm slowly stocking fish and invertebrates. So far it has been a wonderful distraction from the last year of graduate school, thus the name of this thread...

 

Tank Specs:

Display: Biocube 29
Lighting: Steves LED fixture and moonlights

Controller: Reef Keeper Lite  Neptune AquaController Jr.
Heater: Eheim Jager 100 watt heater
Circulation: Sicce 1.0 to replace stock pump, Vortech MP10 set to Tidal Swell Mode
Skimmer: none, but considering a Tunze 9001
Filtration: purigen, chemipure blue, carbon filter bag, and filter floss housed in inTank media basket, cheato refugium; 30lbs live rock, 20lbs of caribsea fiji pink
Top Off: Tunze Osmolator 3155

RO/DI: BRS 5 stage

 

Livestock:

Fish:  1 black and white ocellaris (female) and 1 orange ocellaris, 1 tailspot blenny (still in QT)  royal gramma, starry blenny, Banggai cardinal fish

Inverts: 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 scarlet reef hermit (hitchhiker on my live rock), one unidentified hermit crab (hitchhiker on trumpet coral frag), 5 cerith snails, possibly 3 nassarius snails, 5 astrea snails, 10 trochus snails, 10 blue-legged hermits, captive-bred tuxedo urchin

Corals: 

  • Soft corals: Kenya tree, pulsing xenia, gsp, ricordeas (green, orange, orange & green, blue, turquoise), mushrooms (red and turquoise), green nepthea, unidentified leather
  • LPS: trumpet coral, candycane coral, hammer coral (small frag from my old tank that I took home on a visit to my parents! Survived the flight!), acans (2 varieties), favia ("fire and ice"), maze coral, JF Jack-o-Lantern leptoseris, + one very awesome unknown that came on the live rock, blastos, duncan, orange lepto
  • SPS: green birdsnest, setosa, slimeball, rose mille, +1 unknown

 

Time line:

  • Purchased mid-August 2018
  • Nearly started a fire when plugging in the power supply for the lights...the previous owner had gotten it cross-wired! 
  • Early September: had to get lights serviced before starting up tank
  • Set up tank on September 18, live rock in on September 19 (which came with a favia (or blasto? or acan?), xenia, gsp, and one scarlet reef hermit hitchhiker)
  • Cycled tank for following month
  • October 27-Saltwater expo! Purchased CUC, Went very overboard on the frags--freebies, 2 raffle wins, plus a *tiny little bit* over budget on the purchases. 
  • Purchased tailspot blenny and royal gramma for QT, royal gramma promptly fell ill and after two weeks of treatment with Ich-X and then cupramine died...still have the tsb in QT for another couple of weeks with the cupramine even though it has never shown any signs of disease.
  • 12/5: bought a "used" pair of clownfish and added them to my main DT (I know, I should have QT'd first, but they were healthy in their previous owner's tank so I decided to take a risk)  

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10 minutes ago, chipz said:

I've been meaning to start a journal for my new tank for a few months, and now that I finally have my first fish in there it feels long overdue.  So here goes.

 

The backstory: I started out in the hobby when my grandparents gifted me their old saltwater tank complete with a 14 year old ocellaris or percula clown shortly before I started highschool. My dad and I had always kept a 20 gallon freshwater tank, but never with much success. I knew keeping a saltwater tank was supposed to be hard work, so I approached it with a very different attitude from the lack-luster freshwater tanks and it went GREAT. By the time I left home for college, I had accumulated 11 tanks, three of which were reef tanks and the rest of which were freshwater. Fortunately my parents were bitten hard by the saltwater bug, too, and now over a decade later they have kept up all three reef tanks, plus two of the freshwater tanks. But meanwhile I was busy with college, and then I worked as an itinerant field biologist for three years post-graduation and wasn't able to keep a tank at all. When I started graduate school, I started up a simple planted freshwater tank and my interest in that has fluctuated over the past few years. Then disaster struck while I was finishing up my LAST summer of data collection, the light went out while I was gone for six weeks, and the tank had a (relatively mild) crash--mostly I lost the guppy grass that I hated and that was shading out everything else...which led to me getting to start over and get bitten by the bug once more. There's nothing like new aquascaping and tank inhabitants to make it exciting. 

 

Around the same time, my parents started sending me photos of their new pistol shrimp and goby pair. I bemoaned my lack of a saltwater tank to my husband, to which he replied "Yeah, I'm surprised you haven't started a saltwater one yet."

 

To which I said, "Well, we had that one-tank agreement."  

 

"I don't remember ever making that agreement," said my husband. And then, "It's fine if you have two. Where would you put a second tank if we got one?" Reader, I married him. Or at least I would have if I hadn't already done so five years ago!

 

So, before he could reconsider, I found a used 29 gallon biocube that came with pretty much everything EXCEPT the live rock, live sand, and inhabitants for a steal. I got the tank set up and cycled just in time for the local frag swap and saltwater expo, and now I'm slowly stocking fish and invertebrates. So far it has been a wonderful distraction from the last year of graduate school, thus the name of this thread...

 

Tank Specs:

Display: Biocube 29
Lighting: Steves LED fixture and moonlights

Controller: Reef Keeper Lite
Heater: Eheim Jager 100 watt heater
Circulation: Sicce 1.0 to replace stock pump, Vortech MP10 set to Tidal Swell Mode
Skimmer: none, but considering a Tunze 9001
Filtration: purigen, chemipure blue, carbon filter bag, and filter floss housed in inTank media basket, cheato refugium; 30lbs live rock, 20lbs of caribsea fiji pink
Top Off: Tunze Osmolator 3155

RO/DI: BRS 5 stage

 

Livestock:

Fish:  1 black and white ocellaris (female) and 1 orange ocellaris, 1 tailspot blenny (still in QT)

Inverts: 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 scarlet reef hermit (hitchhiker on my live rock), one unidentified hermit crab (hitchhiker on trumpet coral frag), 5 cerith snails, possibly 3 nassarius snails

Corals: 

  • Soft corals: Kenya tree, pulsing xenia, gsp, ricordeas (green, orange, orange & green, blue, turquoise), mushrooms (red and turquoise), green nepthea, unidentified leather
  • LPS: trumpet coral, candycane coral, hammer coral (small frag from my old tank that I took home on a visit to my parents! Survived the flight!), acans (2 varieties), favia ("fire and ice"), maze coral, JF Jack-o-Lantern leptoseris, + one very awesome unknown that came on the live rock
  • SPS: green birdsnest, setosa, slimeball, rose mille, +1 unknown

 

Time line:

  • Purchased mid-August 2018
  • Nearly started a fire when plugging in the power supply for the lights...the previous owner had gotten it cross-wired! 
  • Early September: had to get lights serviced before starting up tank
  • Set up tank on September 18, live rock in on September 19 (which came with a favia (or blasto? or acan?), xenia, gsp, and one scarlet reef hermit hitchhiker)
  • Cycled tank for following month
  • October 27-Saltwater expo! Purchased CUC, Went very overboard on the frags--freebies, 2 raffle wins, plus a *tiny little bit* over budget on the purchases. 
  • Purchased tailspot blenny and royal gramma for QT, royal gramma promptly fell ill and after two weeks of treatment with Ich-X and then cupramine died...still have the tsb in QT for another couple of weeks with the cupramine even though it has never shown any signs of disease.
  • 12/5: bought a "used" pair of clownfish and added them to my main DT (I know, I should have QT'd first, but they were healthy in their previous owner's tank so I decided to take a risk)  

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IMG_20181110_115549 (1).jpg

IMG-20181206-WA0003.jpeg

I like it a lot! 😀

 

very nice so far. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/7/2018 at 1:14 PM, WV Reefer said:

I like it a lot! 😀

 

very nice so far. 

Thanks, @WV Reefer!

 

Just a quick update. I finally got the tailspot blenny moved over from QT last night. He's found a tiny hole beneath the green star polyps, and is anxiously keeping an eye on the activity in the dining room. I was a bit worried about him this morning before he found his hole, he was kind of crouched on the bottom and had gone all blotchy. Hopefully I can get a picture tomorrow without disturbing him!

 

In other news, I'm having a bit of a problem with algae (I think hair) on the top of the arches. I had all the trochus snails in my cuc die off suddenly a couple of weeks ago (I think I spiked the temperature when doing a water change with water that had been in a bucket with a broken heater... that's my best guess, anyways, and I got a new thermometer  and heater for the mixing station so it doesn't happen again). So my cuc is down to a scarlet reef hermit, an unidentified hermit, 1 or 2 nassarius, and 4 or 5 ceriths. Clearly not enough, especially now that I am feeding the fish. I plan to stock up on cuc, but haven't decided yet if I want to do that pre-christmas or if it's better to wait until I get back from my post-Christmas travel in a few weeks. Anyone have any advice on that? I don't want any snail deaths while I'm away for a couple weeks, so I'm a little nervous in case I'm wrong about the cause of the trochus deaths. I'll have various tank/pet sitters, but not sure I'd trust them to notice. But if I act now there is still time for new cuc to settle in for a week while I'm home and start dealing with the algae before it chokes out any frags.

 

As a kind of funny silver lining to the algae situation, the male clown has really taken to the algae as a replacement for an anemone. He's been snuggling it by day and beds down in it at night. I thought the Kenya tree or the Xenia or the gsp might do instead, but nope. He likes the algae. I think he'll be sad when I get the algae under control. It's definitely making me reconsider my decision not to get an anemone once the tank is mature.

 

20181221_222523.gif.e50ee3e223835bd1e390d7d17b233d39.gif

 

Meanwhile, the female clown has really gone to town excavating the sand out from under the arches. She uses her whole body to stir the sand up. I've had to shuffle around the frags to accommodate her and I am getting worried that the rocks might become a bit unstable. Tomorrow I'll see if they seem at all wobbly and make sure they really are all the way down on the bottom of the tank. Since I wasn't getting gobies/pistols or jawfish (I promised the tank would be capable of doing a move-so no go on these old favorites of mine, at least while we're in the current house) or a burrowing wrasse, I don't think I was as cautious as I should have been when I did the aquascaping.

 

Other plans for the tank are renting a par meter, getting the frags situated, adding a tuxedo urchin (and other cuc), and just getting into a consistent maintenance routine. I'm also rethinking my original stocking plan since the clowns are so large and take up so much tank space. 

 

Happy holidays, everyone!

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8 hours ago, chipz said:

Thanks, @WV Reefer!

 

Just a quick update. I finally got the tailspot blenny moved over from QT last night. He's found a tiny hole beneath the green star polyps, and is anxiously keeping an eye on the activity in the dining room. I was a bit worried about him this morning before he found his hole, he was kind of crouched on the bottom and had gone all blotchy. Hopefully I can get a picture tomorrow without disturbing him!

 

In other news, I'm having a bit of a problem with algae (I think hair) on the top of the arches. I had all the trochus snails in my cuc die off suddenly a couple of weeks ago (I think I spiked the temperature when doing a water change with water that had been in a bucket with a broken heater... that's my best guess, anyways, and I got a new thermometer  and heater for the mixing station so it doesn't happen again). So my cuc is down to a scarlet reef hermit, an unidentified hermit, 1 or 2 nassarius, and 4 or 5 ceriths. Clearly not enough, especially now that I am feeding the fish. I plan to stock up on cuc, but haven't decided yet if I want to do that pre-christmas or if it's better to wait until I get back from my post-Christmas travel in a few weeks. Anyone have any advice on that? I don't want any snail deaths while I'm away for a couple weeks, so I'm a little nervous in case I'm wrong about the cause of the trochus deaths. I'll have various tank/pet sitters, but not sure I'd trust them to notice. But if I act now there is still time for new cuc to settle in for a week while I'm home and start dealing with the algae before it chokes out any frags.

 

As a kind of funny silver lining to the algae situation, the male clown has really taken to the algae as a replacement for an anemone. He's been snuggling it by day and beds down in it at night. I thought the Kenya tree or the Xenia or the gap might do instead, but nope. He likes the algae. I think he'll be sad when I get the algae under control. It's definitely making me reconsider my decision not to get an anemone once the tank is mature.

 

20181221_222523.gif.e50ee3e223835bd1e390d7d17b233d39.gif

 

Meanwhile, the female clown has really gone to town excavating the sand out from under the arches. She uses her whole body to stir the sand up. I've had to shuffle around the frags to accommodate her and I am getting worried that they might become a bit unstable. Tomorrow I'll see if they seem at all wobbly and make sure they really are all the way down on the bottom of the tank. Since I wasn't getting gobies/pistols or jawfish (I promised the tank would be capable of doing a move-so no go on these old favorites of mine, at least while we're in the current house) or a burrowing wrasse, I don't think I was as cautious as I should have been when I did the aquascaping.

 

Other plans for the tank are renting a par meter, getting the frags situated, adding a tuxedo urchin (and other cuc), and just getting into a consistent maintenance routine. I'm also rethinking my original stocking plan since the clowns are so large and take up so much tank space. 

 

Happy holidays, everyone!

Clowns are so weird. 😄

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Congrats on the new tank and almost being done with grad school.  I like your scape.  I know you mentioned it above, but a skimmer may help get your hair algea under control.  It's probably better to wait on the cuc until after you get back.  Good luck.

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  • 5 months later...

So last week I successfully defended my dissertation! I'm now a DOCTOR! (A doctor of philosophy, that is). Which means that today I finally had time to do some tank doctoring and give my tank some much-needed TLC. The last couple of months I really had my nose in the books, and didn't give the tank the necessary water changes and attention to keep it looking all that great. Basically I kept the front glass mostly clean and called it good enough. 😞 

 

Interestingly, the hair algae has been replaced by an impressive crop of cyano. Today I removed all of the cyano that I could and shuffled a few of the corals around. I'm so amazed looking back at the old photos how much the kenya tree and especially the xenia have grown. I mean, I know these are corals that are known for growing out of control, but wow! I'm planning to give away some of the xenia, and I'll probably prune back the kenya tree, too. I'm also still thinking about a skimmer. But first thing is to get back into the routine of regular maintenance. 

 

Here's before and after shot of the cleanup I did today. You can see the cyano in the before picture. I need to work on tank photography, though!


1941460541_BEFORE(2).thumb.jpg.06ce5a960affc2160816c1b38ad04146.jpg

 

AFTER.thumb.jpg.ecd8183d4d23655dac8f977ee9f71cfb.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

New green toadstool leather! It's polyps are just starting to extend after the move and then me messing around with coral placement most of today. Other new inhabitants are an XL pair of skunk cleaner shrimp, a dozen or so snails, an orange ric, and a photosynthetic gorgonian (the latter courtesy of @nathenvan). I'm still fighting a tiny bit of cyano, but regular water changes seem to be helping greatly.

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You might want to isolate those Xenia to the back wall or make a rock island for it.

It will overtake your tank and grow over everything.  Tank looks good.

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Thanks, @nathenvan. You can't see it from this angle but the Xenia and gsp do have their own island, slightly in front of the main double-arch rock work. I get the occasional floaters of Xenia (and Kenya tree) that try to set up shop elsewhere, but so far it's been pretty manageable to remove. They definitely grow much faster than anything else, so I can see how they could end up taking over!

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  • 11 months later...

Well it's been almost a year since I provided an update. Most of my soft corals are thriving, but I'd had a couple of mysterious losses of fish (I think I never managed to get internal parasites fully under control) and LPS. So this week I broke down and got Hanna checkers for alk and calcium, and it turns out I have extremely high calcium (thanks IO Reef Crystals 🙄) and extremely low alkalinity. So now I've taken the plunge into dosing, and hopefully sometime this week I can get a dosing pump set up to get things automated.

 

I'm trying to figure out the best approach to treating my blenny and cardinal for internal parasites, whether to feed general cure + focus to all the tank, or go with removing them to my 10g QT and treating the water, or some combination thereof. I could move all fish over, but I am worried I won't be able to catch the Gramma. I seem to have been battling this parasite for about a year, with some of my fish failing to thrive despite ravenous appetites and others never showing a single sign of difficulty. Notably I lost the black and white clown a couple of months ago but the orange one stayed healthy this whole time. Any thoughts on how to treat this persistent parasite?

 

Current residents are:

ocellaris clown 

RoyalGramma

BanghaiCardinalfish

Starry Blenny

5×nassarius snails

10×blue legged hermits

10×trochus

4× ceriths

4× astrea

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Thanks @Christopher Marks! I'll try the focus + general cure for a full three weeks, then decide whether to move to one of the other meds @Humblefish suggests or remove the fish to qt for water treatment.

 

I've also been slowly raising my alkalinity and am back within the normal range as of this evening. Hooray! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been so impressed with all the journal updates happening as part of the 365 challenge, and especially from the frequent updates posted by @WV Reefer and @Snow_Phoenix that I'm going to start trying to post more than once a year.

 

I have the alkalinity riding around 8.3-8.5, right where I want it and today my BRS dosing pump arrived. I'm excited and also a bit intimidated to get it set up and running. I'm waiting for a power strip with more outlets, first, though! 

 

In addition to my shopping spree at BRS over the weekend, I made a trip to the really awesome LFS and picked up a couple frags: 2 acans, a favia, and a lepto. PLUS, a captive-bred tuxedo urchin from the local breeding program at Augsburg University. By far the coolest addition to my tank. I glued down all the loose frags, and still today the urchin was sneaking around in camo under a wad of algae, two empty hermit shells, and ALSO managed to pick up a three inch chunk of gsp and deposit it in the midst of my xenia. I thought such a big piece of gsp would be too big for it since the urchin is only about 1.5 inches in diameter right now, but I guess that's the advantage of a thousand little tube feet. Fortunately the gsp and xenia have both recovered from their little adventure. I'll probably need to see about securing my mushrooms and a few other things that I thought would be too big but maybe aren't. The urchin has taken up the mantel of "Waldo" since my scarlet reef hermit seems to have died. I should probably know better by now than to name anything, but it's always fun to have a Waldo in the tank to search for.

 

I'm working on fattening up my starry blenny. He's a character, and always begging for food. I'm still working on the internal parasites issue, and he's the fish I'm most worried about. The new hikari seaweed pellets are a big hit, though, and so is the two little fishies magnetic feeding ring--I've heard they can rust, but I think it will be easier for my tank sitter when I'm traveling in August to just be able to drop the pellets in and walk away. I'll keep a close eye out for rust.  

 

 

I need to brush up on my photography skills (any suggestions welcome), but I did get a couple I'm fairly happy with.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally got a half-way decent shot of the new captive bred urchin. Of course there's a snail photo-bombing, but that's just par for the course of my photography 🙄 

This little urchin is so fun to watch, definitely doing a good job filling in as Tank Waldo #2. 

 

This weekend's projects will be setting up the new dosing pump, building my new desk, and *maybe* purchasing my new desk top tank--let the official record show that on this day hubby said that it would be "totally fine" if I started a new tank using a new tank rather than the Petco 10 gal tank I have lying around, so yeah. That's definitely going to happen.

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  • chipz changed the title to Chipz's Saltwater Distraction - Captive-bred tuxedo urchin
3 hours ago, Christopher Marks said:

Great FTS @chipz! I love all your soft corals, the leathers in particular.

Thanks! I love the motion that the soft corals give the tank. The green leather coral is absolutely stunning in person, and it's very cute, the starry blenny thinks it is his person sofa. 

 

3 hours ago, Christopher Marks said:

It sounds like all the fish are still doing well?

Yes! Thank you so much for the suggestion to check out @Humblefish's treatment. Fingers crossed I have not seen any further signs of stringy poop, and the starry blenny has regained a bunch of weight. I'm continuing to feed the medicated slurry 1x/day for another few days, just to be sure that I've really kicked the parasites. I'd eventually love to see if I can find a compatible clown for my now mate-less ocellaris. I know pairing them up can be a little challenging, but I am setting up a new tank where I could house a clown if things don't work out in the Biocube.

 

Before I think about new fish, though, I need to get the nutrient situation under control. The increase in feedings for treating the fish and feeding my nonphotosynthetic chili coral has brought on an outbreak of red bubble algae, and a surge in the bristleworm population. I keep trying to remind myself that bristleworms are part of my CUC, but...ugh! If only they weren't so flesh-colored and thorny. I invested in a new pair of gloves to keep from getting bristled.

 

In other fun news, I discovered by duncan is growing some new heads today!

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

I went on vacation for two weeks at the beginning of August and while I was gone the tank survived both its first power outage AND the complete failure of my A/C. I am so grateful to my house/pet sitter for her heroic efforts to keep the tank temperature stable for ten days while the A/C was out. Fortunately, the A/C was replaced (still under warranty, woohoo!) and when I got home everything had survived except for the photosynthetic gorgonian I got from @nathenvan over a year ago. Really bummed about the loss, it was one of my favorites and was previously doing really, really well. But it could have been SOOOO much worse.

 

And this weekend I started up a tank for my home office: 

 

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