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Tiny Fish, Big Tank - sublunary's RSR 250

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sublunary

New project!

 

Since part of the plan for this tank is a pair of mandarins, culturing pods has been part of the plan.  Which means culturing phyto has been part of the plan.  I read so many guides and tutorials and because I have issues, did not feel comfortable doing any DIY version of a culture set up.  I am not good at DIY, I have no attention to detail and I break things.   And we don't really drink soda anyway, so no free bottles. 

 

Luckily I am not the only one, and there is a market for idiot-proof culture set ups.  I know I could do this for so much cheaper, but having everything I need arrive at the same time - with clearly printed step by step instructions - was worth it to me.  

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Phyto on the left, tisbe pods on the right.  RODI on the other side of that wall. 

 

My partner might hate me for taking over more of the laundry room.  But I see it as extra motivation for him to finally buy a dresser and start keeping clothes in his bedroom like a normal human. 

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sublunary

Quick bad cell phone photo update.

 

Did my first phyto harvest a couple days ago.  The set up works great so far.  I just need to get some actual storage containers, so this can go back to being a drink pitcher. 

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I'm really enjoying the snake polyps more than I thought I would.  They kind of curl up and cuddle during the day.

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And open up looking for food at night.  They are super weird, and I kind of hope they multiply. 

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I've been catching my pom pom crabs out and about right around duck, and only around dusk lately.  So I was happy to see this guy for more than a few seconds.  I'm also pleased my walking dendro has wandered back to the front of the tank. 

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I was super surprised to find one of my porcelain crabs chilling.  I haven't seen one in weeks, and thought they both died.  I'm very happy to be wrong.

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I got these torches in a frag pack a couple of weeks back.  This is the first time I've gotten a photo of the indo gold looking even a little gold, so blurry or not, I'll take it!

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And here's a dirty FTS from the other day.  

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I've got some sort of sandbed algae and a couple of other nasties going on.  Not to mention the algae on the gyres.  Ick.  So tomorrow will be a larger than normal cleaning day, plus some frag rearranging.   These damn filament hydroids have GOT to go.   I'm also concerned about whatever's making those bubbles.  I think my nitrates are way too high for a dino problem, but I'm going to try the jar test to put my mind at ease.  All these posts of people freaking out about them have me a bit paranoid. 

P1015899.thumb.JPG.9f3d9bf94534d2d9e93430211caf9f52.JPG

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sublunary

A couple of slightly better full tank shots:

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I'm a bit less paranoid about the sandbed gunk today. Partially because I've gotten more cyano.  I still owe the tank a giant cleaning, because I went to do a water change and there was all sorts of I don't even know what kind of grossness in my new water.  So this weekend saw a complete cleaning of all of my mixing equipment.

 

I did do a bunch of rearranging in the tank though.  I added a couple more dry rocks in places I wanted more height, and rearranged the top of cyano mountain again.  I moved some frags around closer to their final positions.  This ended with one of the torches getting way too much direct flow, so I moved the 2k gyre fromm the left side tot eh back wall.  I'm going to give it a couple days and decide if I like it, or if I want to try both gyres on the back wall, or what. 

 

Hopefully this works out for everything, and I can spend tomorrow evening taking more pictures, instead of making questionable aquascaping decisions. 

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Poison Dart Frog
On 7/23/2020 at 5:29 PM, sublunary said:

Introducing my newest new friends, a pair of Biota whitespotted pygmy filefish! 

 

They definitely fall into the 'so ugly they're cute' category, and I'm completely enamored with them.  

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I have not found a description of how to sex them, so I'm referring to the larger one as male. 

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He spent the first few days randomly charging the other fish, as if he was angry at her over the trip.  But has since calmed down and started doing little shimmies next to her instead.

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The presumptive female has a damaged/disfigured dorsal fin, which makes it east to tell them apart. 

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They do a bit of subtle color changing - from light tan to darker brown, with some shades of green and pink. 

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So far they are model citizens.  They pick at the rocks and glass and guyre pumps (which freaked me out until they proved they were strong enough swimmers).  They've tried every prepared food I've offered so far, but are most excited about the frozen copepods.  They seem to really want to eat off the surface of the water - they keep chasing bubbles there - so I might need to get some flake food to see if they like it. 

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How are you liking these guys? Mine seems to utilize every inch of the tank. I never know where to look for him, unlike the other fish which kinda have specific territories. I've also noticed that none of my other fish seem to mind his presence. The fiji clown and cardinal I have in there sometimes nip at other fish but they leave the filefish alone. Kinda strange. Mine loves mysis shrimp, but won't really go after flake food and he even spits out fish eggs when I've tried feeding those. But he pigs out on mysis so that's what I feed every day.  My filefish also sometimes bites on to something at night for sleeping. It usually looks like he attaches his mouth to a bit of algae in the corner (they're known to do this with gorgonians too). 

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sublunary
15 hours ago, Poison Dart Frog said:

How are you liking these guys? Mine seems to utilize every inch of the tank. I never know where to look for him, unlike the other fish which kinda have specific territories. I've also noticed that none of my other fish seem to mind his presence. The fiji clown and cardinal I have in there sometimes nip at other fish but they leave the filefish alone. Kinda strange. Mine loves mysis shrimp, but won't really go after flake food and he even spits out fish eggs when I've tried feeding those. But he pigs out on mysis so that's what I feed every day.  My filefish also sometimes bites on to something at night for sleeping. It usually looks like he attaches his mouth to a bit of algae in the corner (they're known to do this with gorgonians too). 

I love them!  They use every inch of the tank, except the dark corners behind the rocks.  They are definitely my most active swimmers I've ever had.  None of my other fish interact with them at all.  They swim up to the glass every time I come look at the tank, so I think it took them all of 30 seconds to associate me with feeding time.  The sleeping behavior is too funny!  Mine decided early on the best sleeping spots are between the gyre and the glass and between the lockline and the overflow.  So it took me a couple weeks of thinking they died/were about to die before I got used to it.  I haven't seen them sleep in the gorgonians yet, but I'll have to look out for that.   

 

My favorite thing - and I need to figure out how to post video - is that the male chases the scraper magnet every time I clean the glass.  he'll follow it up and down and bite at it.  I'm not sure if it's aggression, or annoyance his safe spot keeps moving around, or if it just brings the pods out of hiding for a convenient snack.  but I find it hilarious. 

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sublunary

Some coral shots

 

Green torch coral has been mounted on one of the pillar rocks.

842826493_2020_08.14torch.thumb.jpg.703089551fd95838d1ce209784fa423a.jpg

 

Baby leather and sympodium.  

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I kind of fell in love with clove polyps, but didn't want to get any because I've heard they were kind of invasive.  But then I ended up with these in a frag pack...

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They are now mounted on a back corner rock.  And I couldn't just have one color... so I ended up with pink ones (not pictured) and fireworks.  Below them is a cabbage leather coral.  I've wanted one since I saw them at Reefapolooza 2 or 3 years ago, and finally got one.  This corner is visible from where I usually sit in the living room, but is super hard to get decent pictures of.  I might end up moving the gorgonian that's in the way here. 

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The walking dendro is still my favorite thing ever.

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I was overly excited the other night that it was up against the glass and I could watch the worm hunting in the sand!

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The dendro tentacles are very pretty up close. 

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sublunary

Some more shots I was going to upload yesterday, but was over my photo limit. 

 

I've got some unexpected blenny color changing going on that scared the crap out of me.  Normally, they look like this. 

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Yesterday, this one's head turned so dark it was almost black, and it was thrashing around weirdly.  I thought it was choking on something and was about to die on me.   Thankfully, I was able to find a couple of other people on google who have seen this and had no harm happen.  They think it's a mating or dominance thing.  So here's hoping they are just getting ready to shack up.

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It's not quite as dramatic today, but it's still darker than normal, and occasionally doing weird wiggling inside the barnacle.  But it's eating and chilling like normal otherwise.  Fish as weird.

 

Speaking of weird. 

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The filefish have been taking lessons from the assessor and are getting harder and harder to photograph.  

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The pistol has been out more than usual, so I guess that helps make up for it.  I'm amazed that codium is doing as well as it is, half buried in the sand. 

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Cleaner shrimp are still doing their thing. This is a terrible picture for it, but the closest gorg here has started to split off a new branch.  It has been a barely growing single stick for over 2 years.  So it's cool to see it start to take off. 

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And FTS.  I rearranged cyano mountain again and I think it looks a little less contrived this way.  The indo gold torch seems happy on the ledge in the middle of it.  Not that you can see it with the glare of that new rock.  I really need to figure out how to take these without the whites getting that blown out. 

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Tired

It all looks really nice! I'm a fan of tanks that have lots of little fish in them, with maybe one or two bigger ones for variety. It does look a tiny bit like someone's campfire has petrified on the right side of the tank, but that's not really a problem. 

 

Have the filefish bothered anything? I know some filefish species nip at corals, but I'm assuming you got one of the less bitey kinds. 

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sublunary

Ha, petrified campfire. I'm kind of ok with that.

 

No trouble with the filefish at all. They eat copepods off the rocks, but haven't touched any corals.  Biota advertised them as reef safe and they are living up to the reputation...so far

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Tired

Good to know! They're so cute, in a funny little geometric way, and I absolutely want a pair when I can get a bigger tank than my pico. I like fish that are odd shapes. 

 

Do you plan on adding any other fish? There are some nice candidates, and I doubt adding one or two more would do anything to the amount of water changes the tank needs. Maybe a clown goby to perch on things. Or a gumdrop coral croucher "goby", if you could find one for sale.

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sublunary
On 8/15/2020 at 11:45 PM, Tired said:

Do you plan on adding any other fish? There are some nice candidates, and I doubt adding one or two more would do anything to the amount of water changes the tank needs. Maybe a clown goby to perch on things. Or a gumdrop coral croucher "goby", if you could find one for sale.

Definitetly - going for a pair of biota mandarins next spring or summer.  Part of how I ended up with my scape was I got stuck on the mental image of mandarins weaving between rock pillars as they hunted.  I have been kicking around the idea of a falsher wrasse, but I'm kind of happy with the number of free-swimmers I have now, so that's up in the air.  I love the idea of a coral croucher - I very nearly bought a pair off Diver's Den a couple months ago, but talked myself down so I could read up on them, and of course they sold quickly.   I also really miss having flaming prawn gobies, so if they become available again I might grab a couple.  

 

But I'm kind of in no hurry for more fish yet.  I like the balance I have for the moment, and the endless possibilities of not having chose the final fish yet.   Plus I need to focus on stability and fixing the issues I have now...

 

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sublunary

It's a rough day on the reef for me.  

 

Yesterday, my lemon drop cristata turned to mush.  I think I might have underestimated the space it needed away from the torch, and over estimated its ability to deal with contact.  

 

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Or.. it could have been brown jelly...

 

This morning both my duncans looked a little off, and by the time I was done with work, well...

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I siphoned out as much of the goo as I could.  It smelled nasty, so fits the brown jelly profile.  All but one of the polyps siphoned off like they weren't attached.

 

I know it's a risk, but I decided to try and save the remaining head.  There are a ton of theories online about how to treat it, but I didn't find anything definitive, so I went with things I'd seen recommended that I had on hand anyway.  I fragged off the dead skeleton, rinsed the hell out of it in freshwater, gave it some (perhaps overly) strong iodine dips, and put it in a corner far away from everything else.   So far it looks pissed, but not disintegrating.  

 

I'm so sad.  I love duncans and I've now had three frags die on me in this tank.  I'm checking everything else frequently for the littlest sign of a problem.  So far so good.   But ugggh.  This is my first experience with brown jelly and I really hope it's my last.

 

 I also can't help but blame myself; I made a few changes in a pretty short period of time.  I didn't see any bad signs after any individual change, but it's definitely possible some combination caused stress.  Sigh.  

 

The other weird thing that happened 2 or 3 days ago is that I went to dos alk like I always do and it immediately precipitated.  Mag and calcium were right in the range they usually are for me, so I'm kind of baffled.  So I have to wonder if that is somehow related.  I also learned that fish will happily try to eat alk precipitate, which I really hope doesn't have any ill effects...

 

Cross your fingers for me.  Luckily I'm working from home the next two days, so I'll be around to immediately jump into action if anything else starts to go south.

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WV Reefer
On 8/7/2020 at 10:19 PM, sublunary said:

 

 

I'm really enjoying the snake polyps more than I thought I would.  They kind of curl up and cuddle during the day.

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And open up looking for food at night.  They are super weird, and I kind of hope they multiply. 

I really like snake polyps..... I think they are very underrated.  Mine are very slow growers. 
 

And I love the close up dendro pics. 

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sublunary
8 minutes ago, WV Reefer said:

I really like snake polyps..... I think they are very underrated.  Mine are very slow growers. 
 

And I love the close up dendro pics. 

 

Thank you!  I'm very glad Tidal Gardens advertised these as prettier than your average snake polyps.  I'd seen drab brown ones advertised elsewhere, but it was always as if the vendor was apologizing for listing something so humble looking.  TG got my attention, and I'm really happy they did.  I'm happy to hear yours do grow, even if it is slow. Something to look forward to eventually!

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WV Reefer
Just now, sublunary said:

 

Thank you!  I'm very glad Tidal Gardens advertised these as prettier than your average snake polyps.  I'd seen drab brown ones advertised elsewhere, but it was always as if the vendor was apologizing for listing something so humble looking.  TG got my attention, and I'm really happy they did.  I'm happy to hear yours do grow, even if it is slow. Something to look forward to eventually!

Mine are green on green but are so bright after they shed. I think @Sharbuckle had some with bright pink spots that were really nice. 

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Sharbuckle
13 hours ago, WV Reefer said:

Mine are green on green but are so bright after they shed. I think @Sharbuckle had some with bright pink spots that were really nice. 

I did have some a while back! Wish I hung onto them. 

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sublunary

Experimenting with super close ups...

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And all I can think of is...

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sublunary

Sad to say I lost the battle for the duncan.  It looked pissed off but alive for a day and a half, then turned to clear jelly and that was that.  Sigh.  

 

On a happier note, I can confirm the weird blenny color/behavior change from a few days ago was definitely breeding related!

 

I spent a good chunk of last night with the flashlight out, watching the pom pom crab larvae release, and noticed a bunch of larvae that looked distinctly fish like!  Of course, I was not set up for decent pictures, but I feel the need to post some evidence. 

 

The tiny white spheres are pom pom crabs, and the white blur in the middle is a fish. 

1216342385_2020_08.22fishlarvae.thumb.jpg.872eaf166ac296e2910dd1bba144600e.jpg

 

The usb microscope would not focus well enough to really see the mostly clear body, but you can see the eyes among the grains of sand. 

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So I am happy to learn that panamic barnacle blennies will pair up and spawn in captivity. And I'm doing something well enough that they did so in my tank. 

 

Sadly I'm already stretching my partner's patience with the phyto and pod cultures, so no chance of my trying to raise the babies... yet. 

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Tired

Oh wow, little guys! Too bad they're all snacks. You should definitely try to save some of a future batch, if you can.

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sublunary

I've figured out a couple of photography things.

 

First, the combination of the yellow gel filter and pro mode on my phone gets fairly accurate actinic pictures.

 

987929685_2020_08.28torchesactinic.thumb.jpg.36fb72c27fce2de916a531aaf53add75.jpg

 

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This is in an impossible spot to get a clear photo, but I am loving the colors this balsto has turned.  I forget what it looked like when I first got it, but it was definitely not this interesting. 

 

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And second, I figured out decent settings on the real cemera to actually catch the yellow assessor in action!

 

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sublunary

Things are chugging along.  Not too much to report. 

 

Blennies spawned again - looks like 12 or 13 days between hatches.  The (assumed) male filefish is jealously guarding a particular spot on the one gyre pump, which makes me wonder if they might be spawning too.  I haven't seen anything conclusive though. 

 

Kalk did a great job killing the hydroids on the fox coral skeleton, but I'm still not sure how to deal with the infestation on the zoa frag.  I'm having issues with a bunch of zoas actually.  I've got a couple of frags that stopped opening fully, and one that stopped opening at all.  Peroxide and iodine dips haven't solved the problem, so hopefully I figure it out before losing any frags.  I did lose one entirely - it was a single polyp frag that something knocked off it's rock right where the walking dendro happened to be walking.  To add insult to injury, when the polyp dissolved, it revealed a vermetid shell that the zoa had apparently grew over.  Just what I wanted, a vermetid on a frag plug.  Sigh. 

 

I'm starting to get tufts of hair algae that the snails have no interest in.  I'm debating trying some lettuce nudis, mostly because they'd make cool photos.   Need to get screen covers for the gyres before I even really consider that though. 

 

Dirty FTS

 

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Tired

Snails can't eat long hair algae. If you pull the tufts out, they can chew the short stuff back. 

 

For the zoas, are you able to remove some of the polyps from the frag, without any hydroids, so you have a backup frag? I know people safely use aiptasia-X around corals, even accidentally on them sometimes, and it doesn't hurt anything.

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sublunary

Another sad day on the reef - my (assumed) female filefish has vanished.  Sunday, they were both begging for for food as usual and everyone looked perfectly fine.  Yesterday work kicked my ass so hard I didn't even look at the tank.  Today, the male is swimming around all sad and lonely.    There's no sign of it having jumped, and no sign of a body.  I've got a little bit of hope it will suddenly appear in a day or two like nothing happened, but filefish are active swimmers - it's not like a goby who will disappear under the rocks for months.  😕

 

This is the kind of mystery I don't like.

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sublunary

I haven't felt like updating much because I've been struggling a lot with the tank. 

 

This rusty reddish-brown gunk sprung up to cover the sand, rock, algae, and some of the coral.  Manual removal helped some, but it felt like it grew back faster than I could siphon it out. 

 

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I had been thinking lyngbya cyano, but the strands in the photo above look dino-y to me.  Tried the jar test, but did not get anything forming clumps.  Nitrate is perpetually high (around 25, best as I can read those tests), phosphate usually around 0.05 - which generally contraindicates dinos.   I should have a microscope arriving today that might take some of the guess work out of diagnosis. 

 

I turned off the lights for about 3 days, which made a huge impact on the brown gunk.  My sandbed is almost completely clear, and it's gotten way better on other surfaces.  The downside is I lost a big chunk of my LPS - including all of the torches except the purple cristata.  The walking denrdo is now a shambling zombie dendro.  Most of my zoas are shrinking away.  Even sadder, my second filefish is nowhere to be found.  I'm just gutted. 

 

But not giving up.  Microscope first, then make a plan of attack.  I added an extra carbon stage to my RDI, because the water report indicated one of the 4 sources my town gets its water from uses chloramines, and I want to be extra sure nothing is getting through.  I've ordered an ICP test, that will hopefully tell me if there's anything else going on the water I'm not aware of.  Continuing to address the nitrates. 

 

I am half thinking I should just embrace my fate and fill the tank with softies.  I'll just cover everything in clove polyps and call it a day.  They won't break my heart with polyp bailouts. 

 

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sublunary

A bit less doom and gloom today.  Here are some things that are going well. 

 

Jerkface and their shrimp are still holding court in their corner of the tank. 

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Blastos are hanging in there.  Not growing, but not suffering either.

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Gorgs are all doing very well.

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Cabbage leather is pretty happy.

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Fat head dendro, which I don't think I've introduced you to yet, is quickly becoming my favorite coral.

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Blennies are still shacking up happily.  The darker one tends the eggs inside of its barnacle. 

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Toadstools have been clear of the brown gunk, and are pretty much back to normal.

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I've had a colonista snail explosion, which I'm enjoying.  I also saw a small stomatella the other day.  I haven't had a stomatella in 3 tanks, so I'm excited.

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And lastly I got talked into buying an emerald crab.  I'm a little nervous about him  he's huge compared to my fish and I don't trust him.  But I'm loving how not shy he is.  He's got a permanent "come at me bro" attitude which is fun to watch.

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