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Christopher Marks

2 Gallon Pico Reef Jar - Snail Kingdom ūüźĆ

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23 minutes ago, Wonderboy said:

The porcelain anemone crab in my pico jar is particularly fun to spot feed reef roids to (once or twice weekly) - the small area makes it easy to find - I would recommend for the interaction. I also have a feeling that you could easily get away with both a pom pom and a porcelain.

What are your temp swings like? 

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It actually is on the high end of tolerable - 75 to 83 sometimes - it's kept in the same room that has a space heater running almost 24/7 so our naked cat can bask when cold.

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Yay! Found your tank thread ūüôā Glad to see you guys finally have one up and running and doing great! Those tweezers are great. For a long time I told myself I didn't need them, then finally bought some and now I don't know how I'll keep small tanks without them.

 

I loved to feed my acans mysis, easy to do with tweezers. The only thing is you'll go through frozen mysis cubes super slowly since it's a tiny tank

 

Excited to see more growth and what you'll be adding next!

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Any time for an update or invert selection?! I have had 2 sexy shrimp in my jar for about 2 years they are wonderful but they havent mated! I keep looking for them online but they arent cheap. I would really like to have a large group of them they seem like a very small bioload. I havent had any issues with mine but I do wonder how many would be pushing the limits of the jar. 

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What a busy month it has been!

 

Thanks for the porcelain anemone crab advice @Wonderboy, I really think that’s the winner for me. I haven’t been able to find one locally just yet, but I haven’t called around to some of the shops further away. 

 

Glad you stopped by @yoshii! It’s great to finally have a reef tank again, I love this little jar!

 

Perfect timing @ReefSmart, I was just working on an update for today! ūüôā¬†Sexy shrimp seem really ideal for a pico jar, but I‚Äôve been surprised to hear of a number of hobbyists finding them to eat some of their coral polyps. I don‚Äôt remember that being an issue years ago, it gave me pause.¬†

 

Day 101 of the pico reef jar: Cleanup Crew! I am awaiting the delivery of a snail-based cleanup crew from our amazing community sponsor Reef Cleaners! @johnmaloney has been a long time supporter of Nano-Reef.com, I couldn’t imagine shopping anywhere else for my cleanup crew.

 

In preparation for their arrival I wanted to run a nitrate test on the system, particularly because it has been 6 weeks since the last water change! Much to my surprise, the nitrates read zero. 

 

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With such a low bioload I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but after six weeks I thought something might register. I last fed Coral Frenzy powder a week ago, but otherwise I cut back on feeding. There is a little algae on the sand bed and after five days or so you can sense some buildup on the glass, it’s probably using the available nitrates in the water?

 

I was about to change the water last week, but after my 5 gallons of premixed Oceanic saltwater had sat in a jug for a few days, it seems to heavily precipitate out calcium and other minerals. I hesitated to use it, and the pico is no worse for the wear. I’ve just been adding distilled water to top off evaporation every 5 days or so. I plan to get fresh saltwater soon to try again, I may stick with Catalina seawater so it stores better long term.

 

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The yellow zoanthids have been really loving the light reduction, and probably the lack of water changes too, they’re wide open and growing quick. The turquoise ricordea seems to be working on a second mouth, I see a spot of yellow appearing near a swollen nodule on it, hopefully it splits soon. The neon green favia also looks to be dividing one of its mouths in two.

 

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The acan is happy as ever and growing fast too. The new heads are starting to fill out. I suspect it will enjoy the next water change to replenish some essential elements for growth.

 

Unfortunately the little purple and orange ricordea polyp I had introduced with the turquoise one didn‚Äôt survive the bleaching. It detached from its rock and slowly withered away ūüė쬆

 

More updates to come after the cleanup crew arrives!

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Ugh! And here I was perfectly content (but salty) with¬†telling myself 'I'm too busy and travel too often to have any kind of reef', occasional pangs of nostalgia¬†for¬†the high school days of old when reefing was a part of my life coming up from time to time...and then I find this over morning coffee and now I'm¬†late for work. Day = derailed!¬† So much googling to do over lunch today¬†ūüėĀ

 

Great read and following along!

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6 hours ago, MR.FEESH said:

Ugh! And here I was perfectly content (but salty) with¬†telling myself 'I'm too busy and travel too often to have any kind of reef', occasional pangs of nostalgia¬†for¬†the high school days of old when reefing was a part of my life coming up from time to time...and then I find this over morning coffee and now I'm¬†late for work. Day = derailed!¬† So much googling to do over lunch today¬†ūüėĀ

 

Great read and following along!

Haha! Embrace the pico reef jar, it can be done! You should check out @gena's super helpful maintenance guide too, if you go coral and invert only, and have a lid, the maintenance is really easy to manage. The Creative Container Pico Contest we hosted here will also provide a lot of good examples.

 

I'm working on photos for another journal update soon, hopefully later today!

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Today the pico reef has been up and running for four full months, it already feels like it has been longer! I've been really distracted by other projects the past few weeks and haven't been able to make any new additions to the reef jar, besides the clean up crew snail team, but the ecosystem continues to develop.

 

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The biodiversity continues to increase in the pico reef, it's as if there are booms and busts of new populations of invertebrates and crustaceans, moving on up the food chain. The first new creatures to make a big appearance a few weeks ago were flatworms (Oh my! ūüėĪ), something that really alarmed me at first. Upon further research I was able to identify them as white Acoel flatworms, seemingly simple¬†algae eaters rather than the larger red¬†type flatworm that damages coral. They¬†seem to hang out around¬†film algae on the glass, and they don't seem to be reproducing all that fast anymore.

 

The next population boom has been the tube worm feather duster population, these little guys started out as a couple hitchhikers on my tank cured and cultured 'Real Reef Rock'. They have really begun to multiply fast over the past three weeks, if I don't use my Nimble Nano Super to scrub the glass down daily they take hold and are difficult to scrape off. The largest population is growing on the rocks closest to the air line outlet, water circulation is clearly the strongest there.

 

Despite my best efforts, it seems no new tank can escape the ugly phase, not even my own! Currently I am successfully battling a bloom of Calothrix algae, I believe it's a type of cyanobacteria, but seemingly less resilient than the typical red kind. From Reef Cleaners Algae ID guide:

Quote

Calothrix

calothrix 300x225

These species of cyano often appear as a light slimy yet hairy/fuzzy nastiness that loosely attaches to your rock work. Air bubbles are usually trapped while eascaping the "algae", just like in the picture to the left. Calothrix is a type of blue green algae that looks very similar to Dinos.

Manual Removal - Remove the rock and scrub, and then fine tune with a toothbrush. Let the cleaners get the rest. It helps to use a net to collect the debris that will occur as a result of the toothbrushing.

Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

It really started to take root before I had introduced the cleanup crew, during that 5 or 6 week period between water changes. Foolish on my part for waiting so long for a water change, I know. It was clearly making use of the available nitrates in the system, and what started out as a few small patches eventually started to cover most rocks about a week ago. It's most noticeable at night when all the air bubbles have formed. I added the cleanup crew a few weeks into the bloom, but they were no match for what had already developed. Once it started to grow around my zoanthids last week, I knew manual intervention and removal was necessary.

 

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Last Saturday I began the Calothrix intervention and performed two consecutive water changes while manually scrubbing the algae from the rocks with a new toothbrush. It's fuzzy looking but slimy to the touch, I can remove a little by just brushing my finger on it, but the toothbrush really does the trick. The calothrix takes some scrubbing before it all comes loose and suspended in the water column, at which point it's siphoned out. I even got a little aggressive and scrubbed over my zoanthids where some algae had taken hold, they were no worse for the wear afterwards. Since it's so difficult to siphon out all the suspended algae, I removed as much as I could while draining the tank, then refilled it half way with fresh saltwater, scrubbed a few more spots, and then siphoned almost all the water out again. I use air line tubing as my siphon line, so it's slow and precise enough to target key areas and floaters, and I have a little pipette to help keep the algae suspended as I go. About 4 gallons later the pico jar was looking fresh and clean, it was surprisingly easy to do a full scrub down with such a small reef tank. Now that it's 5 days later, I can see there are a few spots that I missed with the brush, and a few spots where it has reappeared, but I clearly made a huge dent. I plan on doing another scrub and water change in the next day or two, and hopefully its nutrient source will be exhausted. These photos are from the day after the cleaning.

 

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The Cleanup Crew from Reef Cleaners arrived two weeks ago, on time and as promised via 2-day Priority Mail, very well packaged too. I have 5 dwarf cerith snails, 2 dwarf planaxis snails, 3 nassarius vibex snails, and 1 nerite snail. Unfortunately I lost a couple ceriths (there were extras), a few zig zag periwinkles, and a few planaxis snails within the first few days. The zigzags and planaxis were all all very active the first few days, but one morning a number had clearly died on the sand bed. I'm not sure if it was an acclimation issue, the calothrix algae, or maybe a warmer day, but all the rest seem to be doing great now a few weeks in. For better or worse I decided to leave the tiny dead snails in the tank to increase the bioload, I was worried there were too few nitrates in the system, but I probably just ended up fueling the Calothrix growth a little more. This is the possee just after acclimation on delivery day:

 

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The last two days in Phoenix the high was 97¬įF, my first opportunity to test out the cooling side of my Inkbird controller. I bought this $3 Mainstays 4" USB powered mini desk fan and pointed it at my pico reef jar, it's plugged into a spare USB power supply on the cooling side of the Inkbird outlet. The tank hit 82¬į yesterday around 3:30 and the fan kicked on as expected. Between the fan and the house's air conditioning, it ran for about 3.5-4hrs before bringing the pico jar back to 78¬į and turning off. It will get much warmer in the coming weeks and months, but this was a good initial test of a simple solution. I have it now set to turn the fan on at 81¬į, I'll keep monitoring and experimenting as the summer gets nearer. The fan blows air across and around the glass jar, as well as across and possibly under the PicoPro light lid itself, wicking heat away. I have a scotch tape water line marked so I can keep an eye on any additional evaporation it may introduce.

 

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Just 5 days after cleaning you can see some algae on the glass again, and lots of little feather duster white dots on the glass. I will do another double water change in the next few days, along with another calothrix algae scrub from the rocks, and then I'll evaluate how the battle is going. I'm optimistic I can get it under control within the month. I am considering a Dr. Tims 'probiotic' product as a possible addition, if the calothrix doesn't subside after that.

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looks great, I seriously considered a jar as my first SW experience but I couldn't find one of those lids. 

 

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I struggled with some algae in my Nuvo 10 Gallon. I did some reading on vodka (carbon) dosing. I ended up trying it. My problem went away after just 3 doses of 1ml. Started to creep back in about a week later. Dosed 1 more time and haven't dosed again. Nitrates dropped from 20 to zero after first round and remain at zero now. 

 

There's several nice posts on Reef2Reef about the process.

 

On another note...I love your tank and thread. That's why I'm following!

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45 minutes ago, Derek Claxton said:

There's several nice posts on Reef2Reef about the process.ÔĽŅ

Really?  You're directing the founder of Nano-Reef to another reefing site? :wink::lol:

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Thanks everyone!

 

I’m hoping to solve this algae problem the old fashioned way with water changes, before intervening with any other dosing or supplement. Probiotic dosing makes sense to me but I want to research it further. Carbon dosing with vodka is another thing I’ve never really researched much before.

 

I suspect it‚Äôs just part of being a new ecosystem, but time will tell. ūü§ě

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On 12/12/2018 at 11:34 PM, Christopher Marks said:

I have to¬†make a confession: I have not had an aquarium since early 2004 ūüė≥ūüėĪūüėÖ.¬†In the formative years of the Nano-Reef Community, I kept¬†a 7.5 gallon nano reef that I hand built, and soon built¬†a¬†15 gallon nano reef, along with a 46 bow-front¬†and¬†90 gallon reef tank, all in my childhood bedroom. I took them all down a few months before leaving home that summer, when I moved to Arizona to go to college. Aquarium keeping¬†had¬†been a passion of mine since age 9 or so, and for the first time life got in the way of having one. Out in the world on my own, I was always too¬†college broke, moving apartments too often, or traveling too much to convince myself to get back in, over time¬†it got easier and easier to put it off and make excuses. Some dear friends of the community even banded together some years ago to send me a nice Picotope system to set up, but I still wasn't ready. Had I just lost the bug?

 

Flash forward to MACNA 2018, my wife Courtney @Food Court and I are walking the expo floor, browsing the beautiful display tanks and a sea of vibrant frags, and something clicks, she gets bitten by the aquarium bug! What better place to learn and see it all first hand than at MACNA?! We spent a lot of our time discussing the fundamentals of reef keeping, the nitrogen cycle, how live rock and sand work, types of lighting, filtration, pumps, etc. We'd get drawn into the eye candy frag displays and try to ID all the corals, name the fish on display, and scoped out all the nano tanks to compare. By the end of the show I had the bug too, and we drove home daydreaming about how we might be able to fit a nano reef into our lives.

 

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Tank Specifications

  • Tank: 2gal¬†Anchor Hocking Heritage¬†glass jar.
  • Lighting: 24w PicoPro LED light & lid (pre-production).
  • Circulation:¬†24gph Air pump with stone bubbler.
  • Rock: Real Reef Rock cultured live rock.
  • Sand: Caribsea Arag-alive Fiji Pink live sand.
  • Established: December 11, 2018

 

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Our Creative Container Pico Contest was a really eye opening and inspirational project for me, it demonstrated what was possible with nano reefs of this scale, proving that a simple maintenance routine of 100% water changes is all that's needed for lasting success and growth. Many participants decided to use this same glass jar for their pico reefs as well, showing it was a suitable container for the long haul. I was also pleased to hear that most contest participants found the simple maintenance routine to be easier than caring for their regular reef tanks, it was truly back to the basics.

 

The appeal of a pico jar was real, but how would I light mine? While the contest tried to level the playing field with limited lighting options (PAR or CFL bulbs only), it also showed some of the pitfalls and challenges of finding a good bulb and positioning it right. Keeping a lid on a reef jar was also proven to be another key tenet of success, to nearly stop evaporation and salinity swings, but this glass jar lid seemed to distort and bend light from overhead bulbs.

 

Undecided on a reef jar, I¬†started kicking¬†around the idea of a 10 or 20 gallon AIO tank, and even picked out a potential¬†place in the house. But with even broader options at that scale, information overload hit an indecision road block. Yet again, life got in the way, excuses crept in.¬†That is, until last month when @ReefSmart reached out to sponsor the community¬†and introduced me to their newly developed PicoPro reef jar light. ūüė≤

 

The PicoPro Reef Jar

 

This is a pre-production version of the PicoPro light by ReefSmart. It uses 24 watts of power, has a 2 channel dimmer, 600 PAR max output, with diode spectrums of 420nm, 430nm, 450nm, cool white, warm white, and red. The light housing is painted metal, with a single power cord that leads to the two channel in-line dimmer, one for the blue channel and one for the white and red. The underside features an almost edge to edge plastic diffusing lens that blends the LED light beautifully and keeps it sealed from moisture. It is designed to fit specifically on 2 gallon Anchor Hocking Heritage glass jars, commonly available at Target and Walmart for around $15.

 

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Placed on the jar, it nearly sits flush with the rim, with the exception of the single power cord and airline tubing coming through at the edge. Since it's a full lid, it will contain the majority of condensation and reduce evaporation. I'm hoping to avoid needing an ATO, but in the dry desert air it may be unavoidable. It's so simple and sleek, the jar emits a mesmerizing glow that draws people in!

 

The Beginning

 

While I waited for the PicoPro light to arrive, I set out to find a suitable glass jar for the pico reef! As other community members had discovered earlier, these jars are all hand blown glass put into a mold, so the optical clarity varies quite a bit from jar to jar. After inspecting the only three jars in stock at a nearby Target store, only to find bubbles, scratches, and too many distortions, I had better luck at Walmart, picking the better of the two that were in stock. My jar is not perfect, but one side was pretty clear with only a few dimples here and there. The distortion is unavoidable when it's full of water, but it's also part of the appeal, even though it makes photographing it so difficult!

 

I am following in the footsteps of the PicoPro creator when it comes to the remaining equipment choices. He has had his prototype pico reef jar running for over two years now, which you can see on the ReefSmart website, and it's packed with coral! Zoanthids, acans, SPS and other high light coral, he's frequently fragging it. Circulation is provided by a cheap 24 gallon per hour air pump, the same model he has found success with. The heat of the light itself should be sufficient for running the reef jar simply at room temperature, the temp swings have not caused any issues in his jar. Since I live in Phoenix where we spend summer months in triple digit heat every day, I am a little concerned about keeping the jar cool enough, come summertime. A temp controller with a desktop fan near by may be my plan of attack, should the need arise. Let's cross that bridge when we get there, right? I have a few creative ideas.

 

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The foundation of our pico reef is two pounds of Real Reef Rock man made cultured live rock, along with Caribsea Arag-alive Fiji Pink live sand. My past reef aquariums were all built on imported cured live rock from Fiji, which was readily available back then in 2001, starting with cultured artificial rock is new for me. While I will miss discovering the endlessly fascinating community of hitchhikers from ocean collected rock, I am optimistic that I will be avoiding a lot of potential pests by going this route. @Food Court and I brought the jar to a nice LFS and hand picked the rocks from their holding tank to design our aquascape, right there in the store! Two large and two small pieces later, it came out to 2 pounds at $4.99 a pound, not bad! I am impressed with the Real Reef Rocks after sorting through a bunch in their tank, they're quite porous and really mimic the look of pacific reef rock quite well!

 

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We brought everything home and put the reef jar together with ease yesterday afternoon! Courtney had made sure to take lots of photos of the aquascape design so we could arrange it the just same way at home. We had a 5 gallon jug of pre-mixed saltwater from the LFS and used it to fill the tank, and just like that it was done! I plan to utilize pre-mixed water for water changes, at least initially. The cabinet beneath the tank houses a power strip, LED controller, and the air pump, providing a clean look. There's room to spare, so a temp controller or ATO should be easy to add and hide away, even the 5gal water jug fits down there.

 

Our Pico Plans

 

We're going to take it slow with our pico jar and give it some time to cycle. Our plan is to focus on a coral collection and find an invertebrate of some kind to feature, most likely a shrimp. Zoanthids have always been a love of mine, all the way back to my first reef, so I suspect they will be a focus. Courtney is really into LPS corals as well, it won't take long to fill up the jar with frags, so we'll have to try our best to be selective!

 

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As the water clears and the cycle progresses we'll be sharing more photos. It's nice to have an aquarium in my life again, I'm excited to get my hands wet again and continue learning!¬†Many thanks to all those who have pioneered this path ahead of us, journaling your experiences over the great many years has provided so much wisdom and¬†insight. ‚̧ԳŹ¬†

 

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Archer inspects his new roommate

I gotta check out this lid you have..

ūü§ď

 

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Wow, this looks really slick! After the creative container contest, I had the idea of taking a coffee pot and going further, retrofitting an entire coffee maker to house a light and air pump over the coffee pot/pico. This jar/lid combo though...

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3 hours ago, Firefish15 said:

Wow, this looks really slick! After the creative container contest, I had the idea of taking a coffee pot and going further, retrofitting an entire coffee maker to house a light and air pump over the coffee pot/pico. This jar/lid combo though...

Yeah, I think a @ReefSmart PicoPro jar would be really well suited to transition the coffee pot pico reef into!

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Despite my best efforts to avoid introducing any aiptasia anemones, it seems I already did all the way back when the yellow zoanthids were first added (I suspect), it must have been a super tiny one! With all the growth I'm seeing in the corals, this single aiptasia has also been rapidly growing since making its appearance. At night its tentacles are starting to reach the zoanthid colony on the left side, although they're holding their own.

 

I need to remove it before it spreads, but I'm not sure how to approach it. I can't get the base rock out of the tank unfortunately, but I could spot treat it during a water change. It seems that most remedies only kill 99% of the anemones, and then the remaining 1% grows back or divides into more. I don't want to do the wrong thing and end up spreading them elsewhere in the reef jar. If anyone has any personal experiences with fully destroying aiptasia please let me know, I could use some insight! I've read too many mixed reviews on all the commercial solutions to be sure of any. Tell me what didn't work for you too, it's all helpful!

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I blasted mine with boiling hot RODI water and lemon juice using a syringe/needle. I only had 2 and they never returned so I guess that worked for me. 

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Maybe a hungry peppermint shrimp.  They've worked for me before, but I always end up giving them away afterwards (as they love to pick at other things in the tank too).

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Boiling freshwater via a syringe/ pipette worked for me.

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13 hours ago, This guy is extra salty said:

One Berghia nudibranch 

I really would prefer this haha. Not sure where to find just one!

 

Boiling water seems easy enough! Is it better applied during normal tank operation, or during a water change with the water level low? I think I can drain the tank to just about where the aiptasia's nesting hole is and really spot treat it, if that seems any better. It sounds like with most treatments you want the anemone to be open so it pulls in the poison.

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11 hours ago, seabass said:

Maybe a hungry peppermint shrimp.  They've worked for me before, but I always end up giving them away afterwards (as they love to pick at other things in the tank too).

Hmm maybe I could 'rent' one from the LFS and give it back to them after a week or so? I hear there's a similar looking type that is sometimes sold as a peppermint shrimp that isn't into aiptasia at all.

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27 minutes ago, Christopher Marks said:

Hmm maybe I could 'rent' one from the LFS and give it back to them after a week or so? I hear there's a similar looking type that is sometimes sold as a peppermint shrimp that isn't into aiptasia at all.

Camel Shrimp are occasionally sold as peppermints (it's not really that common).  I also remember reading something about different types of peppermints, some of which don't eat aiptasia (I can't find it, nor am I sure about the conclusion).

 

When I had aiptasia, I used multiple peppermint shrimp, then gave them away afterwards.  It's worth asking your LFS if they are willing to sell you a couple of shrimp and later return them for some store credit.  If not, see if they are at least willing to take them back for free.

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