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Christopher Marks

2 Gallon Pico Reef Jar - Amphipod Kingdom 💧

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1 hour ago, Christopher Marks said:

Thank you! Your reef jar-now-bowl has been a big inspiration, I've been reading through your journal all over again today, and definitely follow in your footsteps. Thank you for documenting it so well through the contest and beyond, I love seeing it in the new glass bowl now!

Awh man I take no credit! I learned from reading Brandon's and maritza stuff haha! But thanks so much, sometimes I wonder if its a personal diary or if people actually read any of it 😂😂😂

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Day 36: Yesterday I changed out 6 quarts of water, I used some airline tubing to siphon it out after wiping the glass with a little poly filter and blasting the sand and rocks with a pipette.

 

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The new favia has been quite happy in the tank, it’s neat to see its feeder tentacles out late at night. The zoanthids have been a little more temperamental, opening and closing throughout the day, but mostly open. I had been running the pico jar at room temperature still, down to 71F at night, and the new additions didn’t seem to mind much.

 

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Nonetheless, stability in temperature is surely worthwhile, so I finally set up the Inkbird ITC-308 thermostat temp controller and 7.5w Bettastik heater last night. Knowing that the light will still warm the water during the day, I decided to set the Inkbird to heat the tank to 77F so it doesn’t overheat after 12hrs of light. The Inkbird and heater maintained that precise temperature throughout the night, and today has been the first full day with heat.

 

The acans and favia started the day quite content with the warmer waters, they definitely seemed more filled out first thing this morning. The zoanthids don’t seem as pleased with the change though, but I know they can take longer to acclimate, they’re about half open tonight. 10 hours into lights on, the tank has reached 79.7F, so I think this new heating routine should work out fine, at least until late spring.

 

Acan after lights out, tentacles out!

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Nice set-up!  I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I saw the words "pico jar", but I'm digging it.  :)  I was looking into Real Reef Rock as well, so glad to hear you like it!

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Thanks @Tigahboy! I never imagined I'd have a pico jar of my own, but it was the Creative Container Contest we hosted last year that won me over. Just like regular nano reefs, new smaller lighting technology has helped make these possible, and so many reef jar pioneers here have learned the best maintenance techniques to sustain them long term, more simple than we ever realized.

 

The tank got to 80.5°F by lights out last night, and the Inkbird thermostat kept the tank warmed to 77°F all night. It does appear to let the water cool 1 degree before turning on the heater, it was at 76.4°F early this morning before lights on, I heard it click on at 76°. I have the heater positioned higher up in the jar, I may try to hide it lower eventually, but the curve of the jar and the optics help it disappear when viewing the tank straight on. In hindsight that under gravel betta bowl heater would hide away quite nicely, but I think it's too late to wrestle one into the sand bed without disturbing my aquascape. I also haven't found a good way to stick the Inkbird temperature probe against the glass, it's hanging in the middle at the moment. I think I'll have to zip tie it to something else.

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I've often wondered if you just put the betta bowl heater under the jar itself if it would keep it warm enough. 

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3 hours ago, martinicu said:

I've often wondered if you just put the betta bowl heater under the jar itself if it would keep it warm enough. 

I've thought about a heating mat of some kind, but most aren't meant to have much weight resting on them. I haven't looked too hard though, that would be handy. I think for the betta bowl heaters, they're not meant to run without being submerged in water, they can overheat and melt when exposed.

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The air bubbles breaking at the water surface combined with the curved edge of the jar seems to act as a crude protein skimmer, waste collects on the edges of the glass between cleanings. It seems particularly helpful in catching acan poo!

 

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One curious outcome is that over the last few weeks it has skimmed two small bugs that were attracted to the jar light and found their way inside. Unwelcome detritus, but at least they seem to get skimmed out quickly. 

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Read through. Some other magnet cleaner suggestions are the IM mini magnet cleaner. But this one I really like, it's my fav for small tanks. The Nimble. 

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9 minutes ago, metrokat said:

Read through. Some other magnet cleaner suggestions are the IM mini magnet cleaner. But this one I really like, it's my fav for small tanks. The Nimble. 

IMG_20190120_230133.jpg

Is that the Nimble Nano that was made by a Nano-Reef member back in the day?  I remember when those came about but was too broke to buy one back then.  If I had bought one I'm sure it'd be lost right now lol.

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10 minutes ago, metrokat said:

Read through. Some other magnet cleaner suggestions are the IM mini magnet cleaner. But this one I really like, it's my fav for small tanks. The Nimble. 

IMG_20190120_230133.jpg

How could I ever forget @C Jerome‘s amazing Nimble Nano?! A long time member and community supporter, I can’t think of a more perfect magnet cleaner for my tank! I wasn’t sure if I could still get one, I will see to it! ??

43 minutes ago, metrokat said:

SUBSCRIBED!!!!! :wub:

??

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1 hour ago, Lula_Mae said:

Is that the Nimble Nano that was made by a Nano-Reef member back in the day?  I remember when those came about but was too broke to buy one back then.  If I had bought one I'm sure it'd be lost right now lol.

Yup.

 

http://www.nimblenano.com/Purchase.html

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Awesome thread so far!  Looking forward to seeing what else you do with this system.

 

I am also patiently waiting to see this Pico Pro light come out to market (or pre-order?  there seems to be a lack of pre-order links on your website@ReefSmart)

This may be a great solution to the office system I have been planning and re-planning for over a year now :P

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Ever since we added the acan to the pico reef, our first coral, I've been researching coral feeding techniques and available food options. I've been particularly interested in the feeding methods of other pico jar/bowl/vase owners, and their tank journals have been insightful. The ideal approach for feeding small tanks, when 100% water changes are in play, seems to be to target feed coral in the tank with a pipette a few hours before a water change, so excess food is less likely to stick around and cause any problems. That's the general feeding technique I intend to follow for my reef, especially for heavy feedings.

 

I hadn't yet decided on a particular coral food to try, but the powdered ones like Coral Frenzy and Reef Roids appealed to me the most, for ease of use and shelf life. Last week I remembered that I actually had a sample packet of Coral Frenzy that came in my MACNA 2018 swag bag, courtesy of SaltwaterAquarium.com. In this tiny pico jar, the little packet should actually last quite a while! Being too impatient to wait for a full water change, I decided to spot feed just a teeny tiny amount to the acan a few days ago, just to see how it would respond. The acan was quite pleased, to say the least, it was a fun little experiment to observe. The reef was no worse for the wear, so I fed the acan a little bit more a few nights later.

 

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On day 46 today, I decided to try a much larger spot feeding of all the corals (zoanthids, favia, acans) a few hours before a water change. I don't have a great way to gauge how much powder to feed at this tiny scale, so I've been cautious not to overdo it, just a pinch really. The acans responded really well to the target feeding, puffing up large after taking all the food in and returning back to normal about 10 minutes later. The favia didn't seem to react as dramatically to the feeding, but it slowly pulled all the food into its mouths too. The zoanthids had been acting cranky all week, only about 50-80% open at any given time, but I think they took a little food in too. I hit the favia and acans with food again one more time before starting the pre-water change tank cleaning procedures.

 

This water change is only the third since the beginning, but it's notable because the tank is switching from Catalina filtered seawater to Oceanic synthetic salt mix and RO/DI, pre-mixed for $1/gal by a LFS. I was open to continuing with Catalina water, but the Oceanic water is 30 cents less expensive per gallon, and it seems to work well for many hobbyists. Before the changeover I realized I should test the salinity of the new water vs the existing water, it was 1.024 vs 1.026. Perhaps the high salinity is why my zoanthids haven't opened fully since their first day? I hadn't topped off the tank since the last water change, and the Catalina seawater starts at 1.025. I scrubbed the glass with a magic eraser sponge, blasted the rocks and sand bed with the pipette, and then slowly siphoned out 7 quarts of water with airline tubing, spot vacuuming a few areas. I don't have a great way to refill the tank smoothly or quickly just yet, I put a spigot on my 5 gallon water jug and just fill a cup to pour into the tank, back and forth until it's done.

 

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I am always amazed at how clear the tank looks after a water change settles, the glass and water are so crisp looking now! The pico reef has responded beautifully to the new water, and true to my suspicions about high salinity, the zoanthids have already opened up fully for the first time since they arrived. I thought the acans were happy before, new growth and all, but they are much more filled out post-water change, tentacles out and happy. It has been rapidly developing two new heads on the right side. The favia frag has shown some noticeable growth this week too, a new yellow head is forming and the ridges are expanding outwards. I'm definitely going to be more vigilant about topping off the tank with distilled water between water changes now, maybe a splash every 4 days or so, I'll mark the water line with scotch tape and monitor it more. Water temperatures have been holding steady, I set the Inkbird to 78°F last week, it's only swinging from 77° - 80° in a 24hr period now.

 

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One minor change to equipment, I converted the section of air line tubing inside the tank to clear rigid air line tubing, still attached vertically to the glass with two suction cups. Besides looking nicer, the rigid tubing will hopefully make it easier to keep the air line in position, the suction cups like to come loose every few weeks. Magnetic clips would really be ideal, perhaps I can track some down.

 

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I have a Nimble Nano on order, hopefully I'll have a glass scrubber soon! The melamine sponge worked really well to clean the glass in the meantime, but it might be easier to use with some long handled tweezers, another item on my shopping list. I'm still deciding on the cleanup crew, I'm thinking I might order some snails next week.

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9 hours ago, Christopher Marks said:

I don't have a great way to gauge how much powder to feed at this tiny scale, so I've been cautious not to overdo it, just a pinch really.

I have a set of plastic measuring spoons that I got from Amazon.  The smallest one is little more than a flat stick.  If you want a really small amount of fine food, you could use something like a knife to scoop up a small amount.  You can further control the dose by diluting it in water.

 

9 hours ago, Christopher Marks said:

 I don't have a great way to refill the tank smoothly or quickly just yet, I put a spigot on my 5 gallon water jug and just fill a cup to pour into the tank, back and forth until it's done.

I have found that pouring anything in my jar can disrupt my baby RFAs.  So I use a 1 cup measuring cup and submerge it under the surface (tilt it so that the water in the cup is right at the rim or it will gulp in a bunch of tank water.

 

I use the same cup to remove water.  It's faster than an airline tube siphon, but you can't drain as much water (especially if you are trying to change most of it).

 

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For gentle filling during water changes use a funnel with a piece of airline tubing attached to the end.  I used a plastic take out soup container,  cut a hole in the lid for the funnel, 2 holes in the side and one in the bottom for the airline tubing, attached the airline tubing to the funnel, threaded the airline tubing out through the side  back in and through the bottom of the container so that I could pull the tubing up as needed.    When I am done everything  is air dried and stores in the container.

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Great advice, thanks @seabass & @Wingy!

 

These zoanthids are definitely the canary in the coal mine when it comes to high salinity. They remained open throughout the night, unlike before when they’d fully close at lights out. The favia is clearly more content as well. Here’s a night photo with a flashlight.

 

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On 12/21/2018 at 10:54 AM, Christopher Marks said:

I think that Bettastik heater is the way to go, thanks @seabass! When I was searching for heater options earlier, I stumbled upon this interesting Hydor slim heater, it's notable because it's flat and meant to be buried in sand, the cord exits at a 90 degree angle. It might be too much of a hassle to burry in the fine reef sand bed, but the thought did cross my mind. It would look really tidy, that's for sure. I wonder if a future cleanup crew would excavate it over time?

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On 12/21/2018 at 12:19 PM, seabass said:

I considered those as well.  I can't remember exactly why I decided against it.  Maybe it was that I wanted the cord to go through the jar and not over the lip. :unsure:  Remember, I drilled mine.

well...if you drilled a hole, couldn't you just flip the heater over and drop the cable through the hole?  :tongueout:

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Chris, I'm curious if you thought of submerging the air tube/pipe into the sand and see how that diffuses the bubbles so as to cause less trouble?

 

granted, this was a thought that came to me when you talked about issues due to the airstone.

 

that said, the website you link to for the light doesn't work. did the project get shuttered or they change their domain or something?

 

I am following this as once we're moved (in the next month or two) I'm going to setup my 3 gallon Hocking Heritage jar with a 5 gallon bucket sump.  :coolguy:

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