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billygoat

18g Gorgonian Garden - A Caribbean Biotope

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billygoat
37 minutes ago, Nano sapiens said:

Important topic!  Numerous threads from the last decade or two show that not stirring the sand bed on a Pico and small Nano tanks (at least once in a while) typically does not provide a good outcome if one wants to keep the tank running in optimal condition for longer period (years).  Time wise, typically somewhere between 8 months and about 1-1/2 years on a small nano before negative effects are seen and then the distinct possibility of a crash.  I ran into this issue early on at around the 1-1/4 year mark with my 12g nano when I lost many of my corals and have been regularly maintaining my sand bed since then for 11 years now.

 

How much to clean?  That's a good question as each system is unique in it's assemblage of animals, filtration, etc. and the amount of detritus it produces.  Vacuuming detritus from a small section every month or so would be a good place to start, IMO.  As mentioned, using a turkey baster to blow out an area that can't be reached with a vac is helpful.

Well, I certainly am not one to turn down good advice! I already perform frequent turkey bastings, but I will have to include small disruptions to the sandbed as part of my periodic maintenance routine. The more I read about it the more I realize that sandbed maintenance definitely seems like something that should be on every reefer's radar. Thanks for the tips @Nano sapiens!

 

Do you think adding some more burrowing animals might be a good idea as well? I was thinking about picking up another goby, and possibly also a pistol shrimp. A jawfish is also an option but I'm afraid it would make a large mess of things... they are pretty cool though.

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billygoat
34 minutes ago, Ratvan said:

I might send some of this off to the people who I use to do my Soil and Water Investigation reports to see exactly what sort of organics that I found

This actually would be super cool information to have! It's great that you have access to such resources. Testing your current setup as well would be a great way to kind of figure out what you're working with!

 

Oh now that I think about it, your pico is bare bottom at present, isn't it? I guess that would simplify substrate maintenance quite a bit. 😅

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Ratvan
1 minute ago, billygoat said:

This actually would be super cool information to have! It's great that you have access to such resources. Testing your current setup as well would be a great way to kind of figure out what you're working with!

 

Oh now that I think about it, your pico is bare bottom at present, isn't it? I guess that would simplify substrate maintenance quite a bit. 😅

Yeah now bare bottom on both tanks. I kind of miss the sandbed though......

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Nano sapiens
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

Well, I certainly am not one to turn down good advice! I already perform frequent turkey bastings, but I will have to include small disruptions to the sandbed as part of my periodic maintenance routine. The more I read about it the more I realize that sandbed maintenance definitely seems like something that should be on every reefer's radar. Thanks for the tips @Nano sapiens!

 

Do you think adding some more burrowing animals might be a good idea as well? I was thinking about picking up another goby, and possibly also a pistol shrimp. A jawfish is also an option but I'm afraid it would make a large mess of things... they are pretty cool though.

Any creature that turns over the sand bed is helpful, especially if the detritus that is kicked up is captured and removed from the system (floss that is cleaned regularly, skimmer, etc.).  The difficulty is that in small nano aquariums the choice of really effective sand stirrers is quite limited compared to larger systems, so a bit of aquarist assistance is typically needed.

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billygoat
17 minutes ago, Nano sapiens said:

Any creature that turns over the sand bed is helpful, especially if the detritus that is kicked up is captured and removed from the system (floss that is cleaned regularly, skimmer, etc.).  The difficulty is that in small nano aquariums the choice of really effective sand stirrers is quite limited compared to larger systems, so a bit of aquarist assistance is typically needed.

Got it. Thanks again for all your help regarding sandbed maintenance! I don't know where I would be without all the experienced reefers on this forum. Probably out a whole lot of money with nothing to show for it, I imagine. 😂🙏

 

I decided there's no time like the present and went to town on a corner of my substrate with a turkey baster. The amount of detritus that came out of the sand was astounding. I didn't stir it all the way to the bottom, just agitated the top half or perhaps 3/4 of the sand, but dang it was like a blizzard in there! After basting I let things settle for a half hour or so and then tested ammonia. The test came up negative, with no detectable ammonia in the water, which leads me to believe that those little bubbles up against my glass are probably just the products of photosynthesis. So that's a bit reassuring.

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Amphrites
1 hour ago, Ratvan said:

Yeah now bare bottom on both tanks. I kind of miss the sandbed though......

I like barebottom tanks, honestly I'm liable to grab some cheap cutting mats, slice em' up, and just grow easy Monti's, psammo's, stylocoenella, and cyphstrea on the bottom. Just them them all take over whatever areas they prefer.

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Nano sapiens
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

Got it. Thanks again for all your help regarding sandbed maintenance! I don't know where I would be without all the experienced reefers on this forum. Probably out a whole lot of money with nothing to show for it, I imagine. 😂🙏

 

I decided there's no time like the present and went to town on a corner of my substrate with a turkey baster. The amount of detritus that came out of the sand was astounding. I didn't stir it all the way to the bottom, just agitated the top half or perhaps 3/4 of the sand, but dang it was like a blizzard in there! After basting I let things settle for a half hour or so and then tested ammonia. The test came up negative, with no detectable ammonia in the water, which leads me to believe that those little bubbles up against my glass are probably just the products of photosynthesis. So that's a bit reassuring.

Your welcome.  Hate to see nice reef tanks take a dive when a bit of prevention is so benefical.

 

As far as what you're seeing as bubbles, you are correct that is very likely the oxygen by-product from photosynthesis.  Interestingly, the fine details such as which microorganisms are actually in the sand bed (bacteria, archea, fungus, molds, etc) and what they all do, and how they interact in a typical reef tank, is not well researched.  What we do know is that a heavily clogged substrate limits advective flow (with it's fresh supply of nutrients) from getting to the embedded microorganisms that we rely upon to maintain good water quality.

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YHSublime

I would still continue to do just what you did in one corner with some regularity all over, in short spurts. 

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billygoat
13 minutes ago, YHSublime said:

I would still continue to do just what you did in one corner with some regularity all over, in short spurts. 

Oh yes, I'll certainly make substrate cleaning a regular part of my maintenance routine. Once or twice a week I will stir up a small area of the sandbed; I figure that if I work my way around the tank in a regular fashion it will take me a couple of months to get back to where I started, at which point that area should be ready to be cleaned again. The turkey baster seems perfect for this activity, as I can use it to stir up the sand without even having to move my macroalgae out of the way - I can just blast the sand out from under them, and then smooth it back down again with more gentle pulses from the baster.

 

I also decided to remove my screen lid for awhile. I mostly had it on there to keep snails in the tank, which seems like a bit of a silly reason. My fish are tiny and could probably jump through the gaps on the sides or even right through the 1/4" mesh if they really wanted to, but they have never shown any inclination to do so. It's been awhile since I've had no top at all on the tank and I have to say the clean look of it is refreshing.

 

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Lypto

I had a 10 gal with a 3inch sand bed that I left alone with on the advice of others, It turned out to be a major headache later on, about 2 years later the sand had turned cement-like and trapped a fair amount of hydrogen sulfide under the layer, it also served to trap nutrients. I think its good to keep a sand bed agitated, in a real reef the sand is always being shifted or burrowed or sifted by something or other, and in a small system it's hard to replicate that kind of diversity.  I personally don't worry about it too much. Aside from keeping the sand clean. I noticed that cyanno was forming and agitating the bed with a glass rod and and blasting the rocks often enough served to really help. I used an airline hose with to suck up the gas deposits and just ran carbon to deal with the bubbles. Smelled awful but never had the problem again.  I hope it works out for you!

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billygoat
35 minutes ago, Lypto said:

I had a 10 gal with a 3inch sand bed that I left alone with on the advice of others, It turned out to be a major headache later on, about 2 years later the sand had turned cement-like and trapped a fair amount of hydrogen sulfide under the layer, it also served to trap nutrients. I think its good to keep a sand bed agitated, in a real reef the sand is always being shifted or burrowed or sifted by something or other, and in a small system it's hard to replicate that kind of diversity.  I personally don't worry about it too much. Aside from keeping the sand clean. I noticed that cyanno was forming and agitating the bed with a glass rod and and blasting the rocks often enough served to really help. I used an airline hose with to suck up the gas deposits and just ran carbon to deal with the bubbles. Smelled awful but never had the problem again.  I hope it works out for you!

I like your idea of using a glass stirring rod to mix up the sandbed. Mechanical agitation is probably a good option for certain narrow areas of my tank where the baster would likely make too much of a mess. I also noticed today that releasing clouds of detritus from the substrate seems to be great for my gorgonians and other soft corals. All the filter feeders were having a field day. The porcelain crabs were loving it!

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Nano sapiens
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

I like your idea of using a glass stirring rod to mix up the sandbed. Mechanical agitation is probably a good option for certain narrow areas of my tank where the baster would likely make too much of a mess. I also noticed today that releasing clouds of detritus from the substrate seems to be great for my gorgonians and other soft corals. All the filter feeders were having a field day. The porcelain crabs were loving it!

Yum, yum, bacteria coated detritus  :)

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billygoat

I got to spend another peaceful morning observing my aquarium today! There is little else I would rather be doing. 😊

 

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DutchNanoReefer88

Hey, there's a fish in the tank!! 😄

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billygoat
5 hours ago, DutchNanoReefer88 said:

Hey, there's a fish in the tank!! 😄

In fact, there are three! They're a bit shy though. 😉 Except for my blenny, he's not shy at all - just very well camouflaged!

 

So! Today is August 15th, and that means my little tank is eight months old! 🥳🎉 It's well on its way to being a mature system. Thank you all for tagging along on my journey and helping me out so much with all sorts of different things. Without all the guidance and encouragement I've gotten from the wonderful community here on N-R I would never have been able to come as far as I have. And there's still quite a ways to go, so I hope you all stick around! Expect plenty more huge blocks of text and washed-out phone photos in the months to come! 😅

 

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billygoat

Had a bit of a scare this morning as I noticed my big fish-eating mushroom all balled up after feeding and simultaneously could not locate my smaller masked goby anywhere. But when I came back from work I tossed some flake in the tank to test if the fish was still there, and sure enough he popped up out of the rocks safe and sound. I was concerned that he might have wandered into the Maw because I recently made some changes to his territory at the back of the tank!

 

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I wanted the algae a bit further back so I could scrape the glass easier, so I moved some out and relocated the big shell from the center of the tank to this corner. Happily my sailfin blenny, who only occasionally went into the shell before, seems to have taken up residence there! I think the shell was a bit too exposed for his taste when it was smack in the center of the main window.

 

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What a cutie. Total pig though. Eats more than both the other fish put together.

 

Those cinnamon palythoa at the top are starting to open consistently during the daytime. Took them awhile to acclimate but they seem to have come around. They are very large!

 

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Okay that's all for today! Thanks for reading! 😊

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billygoat

The newcomer orange Ricordea has joined its enormous brethren in the corner of the tank. Hopefully it will grow to match the size of the green ones!

 

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billygoat

Made a few minor changes today. The large gorgonian in the middle of my tank was getting too big, so I fragged it down to size (basically just cut it in half with a pair of scissors). It seems to have taken this in stride; both halves are already showing good extension again. Go figure. 🤷‍♂️

 

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I also took apart my MP10 and cleaned it in a vinegar bath. It was... shamefully filthy. At first I wasn't going to bother cleaning it but once I saw the wet-side assembly out of the water I decided it was too gross to let it go any longer. 😅

 

I re-mounted the MP10 in a new location as well. It's on the same side but is further towards the front. Aesthetics-wise I can't tell if I like it or not yet, but the flow pattern seems to be pretty good and it isn't directly blasting any of my gorgonians anymore. I'll keep an eye on it over the next few days and see if any of my livestock has trouble adjusting.

 

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Ratvan
On 8/18/2019 at 4:49 PM, billygoat said:

The newcomer orange Ricordea has joined its enormous brethren in the corner of the tank. Hopefully it will grow to match the size of the green ones!

 

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😱 Wow, fricking gorgeous

15 hours ago, billygoat said:

Made a few minor changes today. The large gorgonian in the middle of my tank was getting too big, so I fragged it down to size (basically just cut it in half with a pair of scissors). It seems to have taken this in stride; both halves are already showing good extension again. Go figure. 🤷‍♂️

 

IMG_0404.thumb.JPG.273cd817190ec4c60d27d6f85e5030a0.JPG

 

I also took apart my MP10 and cleaned it in a vinegar bath. It was... shamefully filthy. At first I wasn't going to bother cleaning it but once I saw the wet-side assembly out of the water I decided it was too gross to let it go any longer. 😅

 

I re-mounted the MP10 in a new location as well. It's on the same side but is further towards the front. Aesthetics-wise I can't tell if I like it or not yet, but the flow pattern seems to be pretty good and it isn't directly blasting any of my gorgonians anymore. I'll keep an eye on it over the next few days and see if any of my livestock has trouble adjusting.

 

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I don't know what it is about your photo skills (apart from being top tier) but each tank shot except the FTS from overhead looks like a separate tank

Its amazing

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billygoat
2 hours ago, Ratvan said:

I don't know what it is about your photo skills (apart from being top tier) but each tank shot except the FTS from overhead looks like a separate tank

Its amazing

Thanks! I like to look at the tank from every different angle, so I try to reflect that in my photography here as well. It definitely has a lot of cool views other than just the front window. (And most of them are usually easier to photograph than the frontal FTS because of the lovely glare that I get all day... I didn't plan that part of my system setup very well! 😅)  The raw photo quality is generally pretty low since it's just my iPhone, but I like to imagine that I am gradually working on that as well. Maybe some day I will get a DSLR... 🙏

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WV Reefer
On 8/13/2019 at 1:27 AM, billygoat said:

Thanks for all the input folks, you've all really got me thinking. It would be very difficult to stir up my sand because of the way the tank is set up (unless I wanted to move a whole lot of rocks, rubble, rooting macroalgae, and various sessile creatures out of the way), so I will probably just leave it alone for the time being and hope that things work out for the best. After reading a lot today about sand and the problems it can cause I am sort of worried though! It seems that weird gas bubbles down there could either be fairly good or very bad... and there's no way of finding out which is the case without potentially screwing things up big time! 😥

 

If I see any black metallic deposits of hydrogen sulfide forming down under the sand I will definitely take some action, but for the time being I think I had better just play it safe and continue to observe. I have faith in the diverse benthic fauna that I've been able to collect so far; hopefully they will do the good work and keep that sandbed healthy!

 

I wouldn’t worry about stirring it up as long as you start small. You can even do it before a water change if you are really worried. 

 

I dont feed my coral .....stirring different areas of the sand each week “feeds” my corals and keeps the nastiness at bay.  I bet your gorgs would love it!

 

If I can’t actually stir the sand I blast it with a turkey baster to release the “stuff”. (That is a scientific term by the way 😂)

 

 

 

 

 

Just caught up—- good to see you tried it with no ill effects. 😊

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billygoat
10 hours ago, WV Reefer said:

 

I wouldn’t worry about stirring it up as long as you start small. You can even do it before a water change if you are really worried. 

 

I dont feed my coral .....stirring different areas of the sand each week “feeds” my corals and keeps the nastiness at bay.  I bet your gorgs would love it!

 

If I can’t actually stir the sand I blast it with a turkey baster to release the “stuff”. (That is a scientific term by the way 😂)

 

 

 

 

 

Just caught up—- good to see you tried it with no ill effects. 😊

Thanks for taking the time to catch up with all that! I know I have been posting quite a lot recently, and I really do appreciate all the feedback! 😅

 

Regular turkey basting of the substrate is almost certainly going to be a normal thing from here on out. At first I thought it might be too disruptive but as you've mentioned, the gorgonians and mushrooms all seem to love it.

 

I was planning on getting even more inverts to jam in here, but looking at these top-down shots has pretty much convinced me that I should just chill on additional livestock and let everything grow in. I'm basically completely out of space! 😁

 

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billygoat

Well friends, maintenance day came a day early this week as I decided to break down my refugium. It was doing a pretty good job of growing pods, but low flow through the rear chambers was causing a bunch of other problems that collectively outweighed the 'fuge's benefits. The back area was serving as a reservoir for cyano and other gross slimy algae, with some blue-green algae even growing inside of one of my filter socks. All in all it was very difficult to clean and added a whole lot of trouble to my maintenance routine, so I decided to simply scrap it. I thoroughly scrubbed down the rear chambers and siphoned out a huge amount of sludge - and about thirty Cerith snails as well! These all joined the snail legion in my display. 😁

 

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Now the Ulva that was in my 'fuge experienced very little growth over the month and a half that it was in there, but it wasn't doing poorly by any means. A few pieces actually looked pretty crispy and healthy, so I decided to do a little experiment and incorporate them into my display! I cleaned up the two or three best-looking pieces and glued them down around the sides of the tank.

 

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I've no idea if this Ulva will start to grow and thrive or simply wither or get eaten (I'm looking at you, Eunice worm!), but it will be interesting to see what happens either way. Ulva doesn't seem to be a popular choice for display tanks (probably because of its tendency to make a mess) but I like the look of it and am curious to see how it does.

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Kangster911

My refugium is always full of those slimes when I clean them out. I have to scrape and use brine shrimp net to get it out

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billygoat
2 hours ago, Kangster911 said:

My refugium is always full of those slimes when I clean them out. I have to scrape and use brine shrimp net to get it out

Honestly I think it's probably fine if slime and hair algae are growing back there, at least in the beginning. Most aquarists run a refugium for nutrient export, so at the end of the day it doesn't really matter exactly what you're growing in your 'fuge, as long as you can periodically harvest it and remove it from the aquarium. So I wouldn't worry about it too much! 

 

I, however, have little interest in nutrient export (I actually struggled to raise NO3 and PO4 while the 'fuge was in use) and wanted a refugium simply to give pods a place to reproduce. The slime algae was therefore more of a problem for me than it would be for most reefers, I think.

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