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billygoat

18g Gorgonian Garden - A Caribbean Biotope

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billygoat
8 hours ago, WV Reefer said:

Not to freak you out but when I had my Eunice worm he looooved macro algae. He would shred it, eat it and build with it. 

Yeah after reading a bit more about them I am fairly sure that my strange inhabitant is in fact some type of Eunice worm. I'm not too concerned about it though! It's been in there for who knows how long already, so I figure there's no point in worrying about it now. Just another interesting addition to my "reef!" I'll just have to keep the worm in mind when I am making stocking decisions in the future.

 

9 hours ago, Wonderboy said:

That is such an awesome macro! 

It really is very gorgeous. Seems to be quite hardy too, and as far as I can tell most snails and other common herbivores have little interest in eating it. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested.

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billygoat

Last night my aquarium experienced its first extended power outage! This was a planned outage that my electric company performed for maintenance purposes, and they were kind enough to inform me about it beforehand. The power was out for about eight hours. Fish, invertebrates, and algae all seem to have taken this event in stride. After the lights came on this morning I inspected the tank and could find no particular signs of stress in anything, so that's great.

 

The Vortech battery backup for my MP10 seems to be working as intended, and wasn't anywhere close to being drained of power by the time the outage was over. Last night I draped a towel over the tank to help trap heat inside, and that seems to have helped as well; it looks like the tank only dipped about 3-3.5 degrees (F) over the course of the eight-hour blackout. This is all very encouraging because there is another planned outage coming up in a few days. I will rest much easier the second time around, now that I know that the tank can easily handle such events. 😊

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billygoat

Here are a few photos of the tank from this evening. Nothing special today, just twilight falling on the reef. 

 

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billygoat

The Maw (Discosoma neglecta) at table. It hungers and must feast.

 

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My peppermint shrimp molted last night! I don't remember ever having them molt in the past, so this is quite encouraging for me. It's been in there for a week so far and seems to be doing well. Not really eating much Aiptasia but I am fine with it just staying alive, at least for the time being. 😅

 

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Ratvan

I love that mushroom

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billygoat

Kind of a disappointing day today! The RFA I ordered from Reef Cleaner's 4th of July sale arrived, but was... extremely DOA.

 

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Oh well. I got some blue-leg hermits as well and those are doing just fine. But I was looking forward to finally having an RFA! Maybe later I guess. 😣

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TatorTaco

I’ve heard they don’t ship well. 😞

 

I ordered 3 from KPA. They sent 4 and then I had one fatality within the week bringing me back down to 3. 

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billygoat
50 minutes ago, TatorTaco said:

I’ve heard they don’t ship well. 😞

 

I ordered 3 from KPA. They sent 4 and then I had one fatality within the week bringing me back down to 3. 

Yeah, I can see what you mean. I am trying to decide if I want to go ahead and try to get another 'nem, or if I should just lay off it and let the tank be. It's not like it looks empty without it or anything, I just thought an RFA would be cool for the biotope since they are such an iconic Caribbean species.

 

Here's a semi-decent FTS from today. The sandbed is a bit washed out but you get the idea. I also went ahead and updated the stocklist on the first post with my new additions.

 

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billygoat

I had the lid off for weekly maintenance today and grabbed this top-down shot. From this angle you can really see how the Halimeda opuntia in the back is growing like wild. I think that growth is the reason that this system is eating up 10ml of KH solution every day. 😂 Well, that plus the coralline that is all over every available hard surface. That probably has quite an impact on consumption rates as well.

 

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billygoat

One other interesting thing that just crossed my mind while looking at the top-down shot above: Cobalt's C-Vue line of aquariums feature back (and also bottom) panels that are made of dark non-tempered glass instead of plastic or acrylic. Critters like coralline algae and spirorbid worms have a harder time growing on glass than on plastic, so I only rarely have to get back there and actually scrape my background. You can really see the difference in growth by looking at the plastic overflow grates in the picture above, which are totally covered in coralline, compared to the uncovered glass background that's all around them.

 

The back and bottom panels are also drillable since the glass is non-tempered, but I definitely am not going to be doing that anytime soon. 😅☠️

 

Right, yes; pictures! Here are some Ricordea that I observed at midday yesterday. I can't tell if they are trying to reach towards the light, or if they are closing up because they are getting too much light. My money is on reaching, though. I may need to increase the intensity of my lighting, or just trim the Halimeda that is starting to shade them out. 

 

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Ratvan
25 minutes ago, billygoat said:

One other interesting thing that just crossed my mind while looking at the top-down shot above: Cobalt's C-Vue line of aquariums feature back (and also bottom) panels that are made of dark non-tempered glass instead of plastic or acrylic. Critters like coralline algae and spirorbid worms have a harder time growing on glass than on plastic, so I only rarely have to get back there and actually scrape my background. You can really see the difference in growth by looking at the plastic overflow grates in the picture above, which are totally covered in coralline, compared to the uncovered glass background that's all around them.

 

The back and bottom panels are also drillable since the glass is non-tempered, but I definitely am not going to be doing that anytime soon. 😅☠️

 

Right, yes; pictures! Here are some Ricordea that I observed at midday yesterday. I can't tell if they are trying to reach towards the light, or if they are closing up because they are getting too much light. My money is on reaching, though. I may need to increase the intensity of my lighting, or just trim the Halimeda that is starting to shade them out. 

 

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I think it's a feeding response. 

My Yuma's do this multiple times during the day. Then settle down to being flat and puffy. Occasionally they poop after this "cupping" as well

 

 

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billygoat
31 minutes ago, Ratvan said:

I think it's a feeding response. 

My Yuma's do this multiple times during the day. Then settle down to being flat and puffy. Occasionally they poop after this "cupping" as well

 

 

Good point! This was taken on water change day, and I had been broadcast feeding Reef Roids just an hour or so before. The rics could also have been catching detritus and other particles blown out of my back chambers during the water change. I didn't think of that.

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minimal
On 7/9/2019 at 9:28 PM, billygoat said:

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Pretty :wub:  sad about the RFA though :tears:

 

Are you having any issues with certain macros overtaking others? I had a ten gallon filled with macros and the Caulerpa sp. grew like wildfire. As far as I could tell, over time they just stole nutrients from others and became one of two or three species to survive longterm. I've been out of the game for a while, but that was the guess back then.

 

 

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Pjanssen

Did you contact John at Reef cleaners about the DOA? Pretty sure he would make it right.

Tank is looking great

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billygoat
3 hours ago, Pjanssen said:

Did you contact John at Reef cleaners about the DOA? Pretty sure he would make it right.

Tank is looking great

Oh yeah, I contacted John and he refunded me promptly. Just a shame that the RFA didn't make it, since based on what was left in the bag it seems to have been a nice red 'nem with black stripes. Oh well, I suppose it was not to be!

 

4 hours ago, minimal said:

Are you having any issues with certain macros overtaking others? I had a ten gallon filled with macros and the Caulerpa sp. grew like wildfire. As far as I could tell, over time they just stole nutrients from others and became one of two or three species to survive longterm. I've been out of the game for a while, but that was the guess back then.

So far I have not had any issues with macros out-competing each other. I think this is due to a combination of nutrient availability and careful stocking decisions. I have a ton of scavengers in this tank - far more than the typical clean up crew for a tank this size - and feed enough to make sure that plenty of nutrients are constantly available for all my algae. This of course means that I have a hard time keeping more sensitive invertebrates that can't handle lots of organic nutrients in the water, but I think I'm okay with making that trade-off. I also have deliberately avoided stocking any macros that are capable of extremely rapid, explosive growth. I keep mostly calcifying species that grow fairly slowly, have a low risk of going sexual, and can be easily pruned when they begin to shade out their neighbors. This is a sort of trade-off as well, since many varieties of fast-growing macro (such as most Caulerpa species, for example) look very lush and impressive, but my top concern is maintaining maximum biodiversity, so I am willing to take a slower, more gradual route to getting the tank filled in if it means I get to keep a wider variety of species.

 

Honestly it's more like underwater gardening than reef-keeping, especially when you consider the fact that my tank contains almost no coral. But so far it's been a lot of fun! 😄

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minimal
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

Oh yeah, I contacted John and he refunded me promptly. Just a shame that the RFA didn't make it, since based on what was left in the bag it seems to have been a nice red 'nem with black stripes. Oh well, I suppose it was not to be!

 

So far I have not had any issues with macros out-competing each other. I think this is due to a combination of nutrient availability and careful stocking decisions. I have a ton of scavengers in this tank - far more than the typical clean up crew for a tank this size - and feed enough to make sure that plenty of nutrients are constantly available for all my algae. This of course means that I have a hard time keeping more sensitive invertebrates that can't handle lots of organic nutrients in the water, but I think I'm okay with making that trade-off. I also have deliberately avoided stocking any macros that are capable of extremely rapid, explosive growth. I keep mostly calcifying species that grow fairly slowly, have a low risk of going sexual, and can be easily pruned when they begin to shade out their neighbors. This is a sort of trade-off as well, since many varieties of fast-growing macro (such as most Caulerpa species, for example) look very lush and impressive, but my top concern is maintaining maximum biodiversity, so I am willing to take a slower, more gradual route to getting the tank filled in if it means I get to keep a wider variety of species.

 

Honestly it's more like underwater gardening than reef-keeping, especially when you consider the fact that my tank contains almost no coral. But so far it's been a lot of fun! 😄

I LOVE this approach. Completely looked past what species are in this tank. Slow growers + lots of nutrients available 

 

Love this. Excited to see it continue to grow! Already looks great. 

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WV Reefer
On 7/11/2019 at 5:13 PM, billygoat said:

I had the lid off for weekly maintenance today and grabbed this top-down shot. From this angle you can really see how the Halimeda opuntia in the back is growing like wild. I think that growth is the reason that this system is eating up 10ml of KH solution every day. 😂 Well, that plus the coralline that is all over every available hard surface. That probably has quite an impact on consumption rates as well.

 

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Love this view. 😍

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billygoat
22 hours ago, minimal said:

I LOVE this approach. Completely looked past what species are in this tank. Slow growers + lots of nutrients available 

 

Love this. Excited to see it continue to grow! Already looks great. 

 

21 hours ago, WV Reefer said:

 

Love this view. 😍

Thank you both for your kind words! It makes me feel nice to know that other people enjoy the simple reef I have created. ☺️

 

Unfortunately today was not the greatest day for my little tank. I was moving a few algae around this morning when I discovered that my Gracilaria hayi has been getting slowly and gradually julienned into fragments, probably due to the activities of that Eunice worm in the back corner. All the different pieces of the original bush looked quite healthy, which is why I didn't even notice that anything was wrong with the clump until I attempted to handle it. I glued down a few of the larger frags and placed them in the rear of the tank, and moved all the other pieces back into my refugium. G. hayi is not the best 'fuge species, but hopefully it will at least stay alive back there.

 

You can see the back-corner area with a few remaining intact clumps of Gracilaria in this photo. I've been calling this spot "the thicket" because it's got so many different types of algae all jumbled together. In the midst of the thicket is where our buddy the Eunice worm lives.

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To make matters worse, I came back from work this afternoon just in time to see my peppermint shrimp spasm out its final breaths. It appears to have succumbed to the same syndrome that killed all my previous shrimp: neurological dysfunction resulting in loss of equilibrium, seizure, and eventual death. When I arrived home today it was up against the intake grate on my MP10, and just as I was walking up it got sucked through and flew across the tank - right into the waiting arms of my giant Terror Star, which immediately ate it.

 

I still have no idea what is killing these animals, though some sort of neurotoxic compound certainly seems to be at fault. The shrimp was eating and behaving fairly normally just this morning, and by afternoon it was dead. I'm no closer to understanding what the problem is than I was six months ago, so I am going to give up on shrimp for the time being. I like their antics and Aiptasia-eating behaviors, but it would be irresponsible for me to continue putting these animals in my aquarium only to watch them die.

 

Other than those unfortunate events the tank looks pretty good. The only other problem I've noticed is the presence of a few red strands of cyanobacteria streaming from the tips of some of my macros at the end of the day, but that doesn't seem like too big of a deal. I tested Alk about an hour after dosing yesterday and it was right on target at 9 dKH, so the dosing regimen seems to be working. Things seem stable, and with the 'fuge getting established pods are now all over the place. I stopped cleaning the glass for the time being, partially to give the pods a leg up on repopulating the display and partially to see just how much work my clean-up crew is doing. It actually doesn't seem to be that bad, at least so far. My gobies are loving the pod explosion and both are fat and happy.

 

Sorry for the long post, and thanks for reading! Here's an FTS for your trouble:

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And a view from the left side as well. The day is getting on so the Rics are looking a little deflated. Gorgonians are all looking chipper though.

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Amphrites

Possibly some kind of metal contamination from... I have no idea what? Really sorry to hear about the shrimp and the shredded algae, but always love seeing updates on your tank.

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Wonderboy
35 minutes ago, Amphrites said:

Possibly some kind of metal contamination from...

Once upon a few months ago, I was helping break down a large tank because it had been reliably killing shrimps and even hermits in short time. No one could figure why either. While removing the rocks one by one, I came across a black stain on the underside of one of the rocks; this stain was originating from something of a crack about the size of a test tube. I smelled the blackness - it smelled very strongly of sulfur. The rock was "live rock" ordered for the build - that's all I got on that. An ICP water analysis might be able to determine your issue.

 

Sorry about the shrimp, I was really hoping this one would work out   :[

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billygoat

Thank you for your kind words and support! I have a feeling that something similar to what you describe might be at play in my system @Wonderboy, either in the rock or possibly in the sandbed, but the rest of the tank is doing so well that I can't bring myself to tear it all down to look for potential sources of contamination. I think that for the time being I will just focus on the animals that are doing well (which is most of them, thankfully) and try my best to maintain a steady routine so I can keep them healthy and happy. I keep telling myself that stability and diversity are key!

 

Losing livestock sucks, especially when you don't know exactly why things are dying, but I try to remind myself that this is the first system I have ever kept and that I still have a long way to go as far as reefing expertise is concerned. So thanks once again to all you kind folks who visit my journal and provide so much excellent advice. Without you I would never have been able to get as far as I have! 👍☺️

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Ratvan
5 hours ago, billygoat said:

Losing livestock sucks, especially when you don't know exactly why things are dying, but I try to remind myself that this is the first system I have ever kept and that I still have a long way to go as far as reefing expertise is concerned. So thanks once again to all you kind folks who visit my journal and provide so much excellent advice. Without you I would never have been able to get as far as I have! 👍☺️

I'm sorry what? This is your first tank? I mean I have followed and stalked this page for a while, but knowing this i am now disgusted by your talent lmao 

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billygoat
5 hours ago, Ratvan said:

I'm sorry what? This is your first tank? I mean I have followed and stalked this page for a while, but knowing this i am now disgusted by your talent lmao 

The first tank I've ever kept on my own, yes! But I have been in and around aquariums for my entire life, and currently work at a public aquarium (though not in the husbandry department), so it is not quite fair to say that I came to the hobby empty handed. 😅 I definitely knew what I was getting into and got plenty of expert advice along the way!

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billygoat

Gorgonian roll call today! I wanted to share some observations I have made about the four species of photosynthetic gorg that I've kept so far. All of the specimens in my system came from KP Aquatics.

 

First up is the first gorg I got, the purple plume (Muriceopsis flavida). This is a hardy gorgonian that is distinguished by its very long tentacles. I suspect these may actually be sweeper tentacles, and so caution should be used when placing this gorgonian close to other corals. Even in the early days of my aquarium I never had trouble keeping this species, though it does appear to be subject to some mysterious tissue loss from time to time. Branches randomly drop flesh for reasons that are unclear to me, even while the top of the gorg continues to grow. So far this has not been a big issue though, and I would recommend this species to anyone looking for a tough gorgonian to add to their system.

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Next is the rusty gorgonian, Muricea elongata. Another hardy species that seems to do well with bright light and moderate water movement. You can see it getting sort of whipped around in this photo; I think it may actually be getting a bit too much flow when my MP10 maxes out on reef mode. This one has done more to spread its stolon (the mat of tissue that gorgs use to adhere to the substrate) than the other species I've kept. Its pronounced, thorny calyces and rich brown polyps make it a very attractive species.

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The purple sea feather (Pseudopterogorgia sp.) is definitely the toughest of the various gorgonians I've kept so far. It can handle heavy, direct flow and very bright light. It has shown the most growth and best polyp extension of all my gorgonians, despite the fact that it was added later than some of the other ones and is mounted almost directly in front of my powerhead. I strongly recommend this genus to anyone who is interested in getting into gorgs but doesn't know quite where to start, as it is an excellent starter species that has fared very well in my tank.

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In contrast to the three species listed previously, the purple sea rod (Plexaura flexuosa) is a delicate specimen that takes some time and tender loving care to get established in the aquarium. Mine took shipping very poorly and was quite beat up during its first few weeks in my system, to the point that I briefly considered declaring it a lost cause and throwing it away. It is a very attractive species and once established seems fairly hardy, but I still would not recommend this gorgonian to most reefers as it seems to have a considerably harder time acclimating to aquarium conditions than most other species of Caribbean photosynthetic gorgonian. It prefers bright light and heavy water movement.

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Ok, that's all I've got for now! Thanks for reading. ☺️

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billygoat

Not much to report, everything is humming along. I hope you guys are all having a great week! 😁

 

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