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billygoat

18g Gorgonian Garden - A Caribbean Biotope

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banasophia

Great update! The branching coralline, tunicates, and blushing star coral are especially interesting to me... something I haven’t seen a lot of, and so beautiful. 😍

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billygoat
3 hours ago, banasophia said:

Great update! The branching coralline, tunicates, and blushing star coral are especially interesting to me... something I haven’t seen a lot of, and so beautiful. 😍

Thanks! I am definitely lucky to have all sorts of unique and beautiful hitchhikers in my tank. My decision to begin with aquacultured live rock definitely resulted in plenty of pests and nuisances coming into my aquarium, but on balance I am happy that I took that route as the good guys seem to outnumber the bad. 😊

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Ratvan
7 hours ago, billygoat said:

Thanks! I am definitely lucky to have all sorts of unique and beautiful hitchhikers in my tank. My decision to begin with aquacultured live rock definitely resulted in plenty of pests and nuisances coming into my aquarium, but on balance I am happy that I took that route as the good guys seem to outnumber the bad. 😊

I am completely amazed by the two shots of the branching coralline algae. I had no idea that it could do that

 

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billygoat
7 hours ago, Ratvan said:

I am completely amazed by the two shots of the branching coralline algae. I had no idea that it could do that

 

Most people are only familiar with the encrusting varieties that cover the rocks of mature tanks, but coralline algae actually come in a huge variety of different shapes and colors. There are various branching, plating, lobed, and shelving forms, and some of them are super weird! I am lucky to have a whole bunch of different coralline species all competing with each other in my tank, but I worry that sooner or later one will get the upper hand and just dominate all the rest. I guess there's not a lot I can do about that if it happens though. 🤷‍♂️

 

I also have this "rigid branching" variety of coralline. Recently it has gotten really thickly encrusted with epiphytes and will probably be completely colonized by other types of algae sooner or later, but it still looks pretty interesting. This alga was a uniform, pristine pink when I first introduced it to my tank, so I think that in nature it was probably growing in a lower light environment that epiphytes could not tolerate. I may end up moving it into a shadier spot to see how it does.

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Here are a few other pictures from this morning: the jawfish and some gorgonians.

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Amphrites

Could be it's from shallower heavier-flow too.

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billygoat
1 hour ago, Amphrites said:

Could be it's from shallower heavier-flow too.

Possibly! But after some research I discovered that those "bubble algae" are actually the so-called "Halicystis" phase of Derbesia sp., which is a very common genus of GHA. So the bubbles are actually part of the life cycle of hair algae! From "Marine Plants of the Caribbean" (Littler et al., 1989):

 

"[The Halicystis phase of] Derbesia osterhoutii nearly always grows on crustose coralline algae such as Sporolithon and Hydrolithon. Plants occur in deep water (to at least 18 m) or shallower in shaded cracks and crevices. Laboratory studies showed that spherical forms such as the Halicystis stage pictured here reproduce to give rise to filamentous plants..." (56. Emphasis is mine.)

 

That pretty much exactly fits the description of what I've got going on. Which is very interesting because it actually seems to suggest that the light is too little, rather than too much! But at any rate I do not believe that the filamentous phase of Derbesia colonizes coralline algae, so the bubbles on my coralline should (in theory) disappear once the Halicystis phase runs its course and probably will not be replaced by filamentous algae since there is little non-coralline-covered space for them to colonize.

 

Algae man. They are so damn weird and cool.

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billygoat

Today I decided that it was finally time to do something about the Maw. The thing is simply too huge. I tried recently to move it into the back corner, but it was reaching for the light back there and in doing so brushed up against all sorts of things and began to irritate them. So this morning I decided that since it's the largest and most impressive thing in my tank anyway, why not just put it right in the center where it will have plenty of space to expand? Thus maintenance day turned into invert reshuffling day, and the Maw got moved once again.

 

Here's the new look. The gist of it is that the Ric pile in the center switched places with the Maw at the top right. Now the monstrous thing can have all the space it needs!

 

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Ratvan
7 minutes ago, billygoat said:

Today I decided that it was finally time to do something about the Maw. The thing is simply too huge. I tried recently to move it into the back corner, but it was reaching for the light back there and in doing so brushed up against all sorts of things and began to irritate them. So this morning I decided that since it's the largest and most impressive thing in my tank anyway, why not just put it right in the center where it will have plenty of space to expand? Thus maintenance day turned into invert reshuffling day, and the Maw got moved once again.

 

Here's the new look. The gist of it is that the Ric pile in the center switched places with the Maw at the top right. Now the monstrous thing can have all the space it needs!

 

IMG_0622.thumb.JPG.4c0f578db9af3cf1cc8c92a3613e1a41.JPG

 

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How far off the max size is it currently? 

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billygoat
1 hour ago, Ratvan said:

How far off the max size is it currently? 

Delbeek & Sprung cite the max size for Discosoma neglecta at "at least 15 cm," which would mean mine still has a ways to go. It's something like 10-12 cm across right now. 🤷‍♂️

 

I picked up some rocks on the left side of the tank to do some very minor rescaping and prune back some algae, and in doing so I dropped a clump of Halimeda on top of the Maw. This is a good opportunity to show what it looks like when it's upset:

 

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Usually it'll pout like this for an hour or two, then will expand back to normal size once it realizes that nothing is wrong. 🙄

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billygoat

A new FTS is in order since I rearranged things today. 😁 I'm liking the look of the tank with the Maw right there in the middle.

 

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Ratvan
5 hours ago, billygoat said:

A new FTS is in order since I rearranged things today. 😁 I'm liking the look of the tank with the Maw right there in the middle.

 

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As much as I love it the asymmetry of the Maw and the single RFA? would irritate me if it were my tank. I'd want another to equal out the left side of the shot 

I am weird like that though 

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billygoat
5 hours ago, Ratvan said:

As much as I love it the asymmetry of the Maw and the single RFA? would irritate me if it were my tank. I'd want another to equal out the left side of the shot 

I am weird like that though 

I feel you on that for sure! Maybe in the future I can tweak it to be a bit more balanced, but for the time being I am just glad to have it in a spot where it's not terrorizing anything. 😄

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WV Reefer
16 hours ago, billygoat said:

Delbeek & Sprung cite the max size for Discosoma neglecta at "at least 15 cm," which would mean mine still has a ways to go. It's something like 10-12 cm across right now. 🤷‍♂️

 

I picked up some rocks on the left side of the tank to do some very minor rescaping and prune back some algae, and in doing so I dropped a clump of Halimeda on top of the Maw. This is a good opportunity to show what it looks like when it's upset:

 

IMG_0628.thumb.JPG.572b3ab0e0e8c37ae93a4a53dbf6b4e8.JPG

 

Usually it'll pout like this for an hour or two, then will expand back to normal size once it realizes that nothing is wrong. 🙄

You are going to wake up to this soon:

 

EF351994-710A-4621-86ED-DD90D5F0B757.gif.c902d93f20b6bc118ba6ff1cbaea7554.gif

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billygoat

Seems like it's hands-in-the-tank week over here on the Caribbean reef! Today I made a major decision to remove almost all of the Halimeda growing in the rear of the aquarium.

 

Since being introduced to the tank some months ago my Halimeda opuntia had abandoned the compact, carpeting growth pattern that it displays in nature and became gradually more leggy and unmanageable. Its growth rate was slow, and it trapped so much detritus that I suspect it may have been contributing more to nutrient accumulation than it was to nutrient removal. I did some research on its weird growth pattern and concluded that the algae was not getting enough light. Since I am not interested in upgrading my light at this time (especially since everything else in the tank is doing great), I made the rather dramatic decision to simply remove the Halimeda altogether. I can't tell if I am satisfied with the way the tank looks, but here's a quick and glare-y FTS to show what I've got going on now:

 

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Things certainly seem a lot cleaner, and there is an interesting "trough" going on between the two gorgonian "islands" on either side.  It's not imbalanced, but the balance is different. What do you guys think? Did I make it better or did I ruin it? 😂

 

I am going to have to watch my parameters for the next few weeks since I removed quite a bit of biomass today. The algae was a slow grower and didn't seem to be contributing too much to nutrient uptake though, so hopefully it will not make a dramatic difference in water quality.

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Xanthine

I like it a lot - cleaner visuals that showcase the interesting structures of the gorgonians.  

It also helps make the other greens, like the zoas, pop more now that the green backdrop algae isnt competing for attention!

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Gravity

I think it adds more depth. 

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Pjanssen

I like it. Less is More.

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billygoat

Thank you @Gravity @Pjanssen @Xanthine for your feedback! I was on the fence about it at first but I think you are right; less is indeed more. Water circulation over and around the rock structure is much better now, and as you mentioned it definitely draws the eye more to the gorgonians and helps to highlight their gentle swaying motions. Plus I still do have a bit of Halimeda in there, so it's not like I'm completely without it - there's just dramatically less than there was before. 😁

 

I may rearrange just a few more things, but after I do I'll try to get some better pictures in the morning to share them here. 😊

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billygoat

Here's a top-down shot from feeding time this morning showing the general placement of things. The bright pink coralline on the rocks is much more visible now that all that Halimeda is gone.

 

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billygoat

Good morning! 😄 I have a few pictures from the early morning here, but I have off today so expect some more updates throughout the day! I'll try to get a better FTS of the new layout. The open scape is really growing on me.

 

Zoanthids and coralline algae, with a cup coral and some gorgonians in the background.

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Jawfish, looking for breakfast. 🍽️

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Pjanssen

I hope my Caribbean blues color up again.  Very pretty

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Pjanssen

When you frag Gorgs, do you dip them in anything, Revive or Iodine?

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billygoat
5 hours ago, Pjanssen said:

I hope my Caribbean blues color up again.  Very pretty

I agree, they are very beautiful! I think the blues are the same species as the green ones that KPA also sells, just a different color morph. The two colonies I have seem to be growing into each other.

 

1 hour ago, Pjanssen said:

When you frag Gorgs, do you dip them in anything, Revive or Iodine?

I never dip my gorgs when I frag them, though a quick dunking in some Revive probably wouldn't hurt. I usually just cut them with a pair of scissors and then glue the frag down to a piece of aragonite rock (or sometimes right onto my live rock) without any sort of treatment or anything. 😅 Seems to have worked out well for me so far! 🤷‍♂️

 

Some gorgs take fragging better than others, though. The toughest I've had so far is the so-called "purple feather" gorgonian (Pseudopterogorgia sp.). This one grows at a remarkable rate and doesn't seem to mind being cut into pieces. Here's a quick comparison of my purple feather right after it was added to my tank almost five months ago (left), and the same gorg today (right). I fragged this specimen a few months ago by simply slicing the main stalk right on the red line there, and ended up with the two purple feathers you see in the right-hand shot. Look how much the center stalk has grown back already!

 

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billygoat

More photos! 😅 Right side, left side, FTS, and full system shot with the new "open floor plan."

 

 

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Amphrites

The purple feather is a bipannate sea plume right? I was actually considering adding one of those to my tank, honestly that gorg in particular is a great candidate for a column-tank as it's absurdly beautiful (like a willow or reed-bush) when allowed to grow unreasonably-tall lol...

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