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Billy's 18g Caribbean Biotope - Breakdown Complete!

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billygoat
13 minutes ago, Tired said:

Wonder why they flagged arsenic. Are you supposed to have some? Is it one of those obscure trace elements that things need? 

I think it's flagged because it's outside of normal parameters - in this case, exceptionally low. When I click on it there's a message pop-up that says "Low is good." 😅

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Diamonds x Pearls

Definitely want low arsenic or it'd literally poisoning everything to its demise lol. I think arsenic dissolves out into the water and will get incorporated into marine algaes. Marine toxicity wasn't something I studied back in the day.

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Tired

Oh, yeah, it's toxic in high amounts. But I've actually been reading (because I looked it up) about how there's now some thought that arsenic, in very small amounts, might be important to the functioning of some animals. Possibly including us. The average human contains a tiny amount of arsenic, because it's naturally in our food, and it's not yet known if we need that for something. 

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billygoat

The ICP benchmarks list a few of their sample locations as having measurable amounts of arsenic, namely Florida (0.04 ppm), Fiji (0.01 ppm), and Hawaii (0.008 ppm). Still, their suggested amount is 0 ppm, which makes it sort of weird that they flagged it on my test. Must be just a strange artifact of their system that flags the nil value even though arsenic isn't something you want anyway. 🤷‍♂️

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billygoat

After much hemming and hawing, hair-pulling, fretting, and pestering my family about where to place my new 40 gallon tank, I eventually decided to put it... in the exact same location as the 18g C-Vue. 🙄 It's a nice out-of-the-way nook where I can sit and look at my reef without other people bothering me or bothering the tank, so it's probably for the best this way. However, it did mean that I had to move the C-Vue slightly (about 3 feet to the side) to make space. The C-Vue stock stand has plastic feet, which made it possible to slide the tank ever so slowly and carefully across the smooth floor without having to drain it. This was terrifying and I would not do it again, nor would I recommend it to anyone else. It worked though! 😅

 

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The new APS stand for the 40g has rubber foam pads on the bottom, and would never be moveable in this way, so I got lucky with the C-Vue in that regard. I have to say it sure is weird seeing the 18g from a new angle after looking at it in the same place for almost 2 years!

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A.J. Odasso
On 3/15/2019 at 8:39 PM, billygoat said:

Hi folks! I am here to share my nano with you. I've been in and around aquariums for much of my life (mostly as an admirer of other people's systems), but this is the first tank I've ever set up and managed entirely by myself, so I am still very much an amateur. In early November of 2018 I started lurking on Nano-Reef and a few other forums, and soon got the itch to start a tank of my own. After doing a lot of research I decided to set up a small system to display some of the species that I remember from my childhood in the Caribbean. 

 

So, here it is! A recent FTS is at top; the FTS included with my original post is underneath.

 

9/11/2020

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5/3/2020

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3/15/2019

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My goal from the beginning was to create a simple and easy-to-maintain ecosystem that features species from Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. I wanted to run it as "natural" as possible, with as little equipment as I could get away with. So far I think I've done a pretty good job of meeting those goals. Here are the specs:

 

Equipment:

Tank: 18g Cobalt C-Vue AIO aquarium (with stand)

Lighting: Kessil A160WE Tuna Blue w/Kessil X Spectral Controller

Heater: Cobalt Neo-Therm 75w

Circulation: Sicce Syncra 1.0 return pump and EcoTech Marine VorTech MP10 wavemaker

ATO: Tunze Nano 3152

Mechanical filtration: None

Additional media: a bag of MarinePure Gems in the sump

 

Livestock:

(This list is updated periodically to reflect the tank's current inhabitants)

 

Corals and friends:

Star coral (Probably Stephanocoenia or Siderastrea sp.)

Caribbean mushrooms (Discosoma carlgreni)

Caribbean tube coral
Ricordea florida

Rock flower anemones (Phymanthus crucifer)
Zoanthids and Palythoa

 

Gorgonians:

Candelabra gorgonian (Eunicea calyculata)

Purple feather (Antillogorgia sp.)
Purple plume gorgonian (Muriceopsis flavida)

Purple sea rod (Eunicea flexuosa)

Purple sea whip (Pterogorgia anceps)

Rusty gorgonian (Muricea elongata)

Silver bush gorgonian (Muricea laxa)

Yellow sea whip (Pterogorgia citrina)

 

Fish:

Sailfin blenny (Emblemaria pandionis)

 

All very simple and easy-to-maintain inverts and fish, as you can see. I can't even really call it a reef, since the few stony corals I have are nearshore Caribbean species that came in on my live rock.

 

Maintenance is very simple as well: I scrape the glass as needed, dose KH and Ca manually every day, and do a 2 gallon water change twice a month. That's basically it!

 

You can view my original post and pictures from many months ago here:

  Reveal hidden contents

 

I started off with 10 lbs. of uncured live rock straight out of the Gulf of Mexico (gulfliverock.com) and 20 lbs. of CaribSea West Caribbean Reef live sand.

 

December 2018

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I am very wary of overstocking, so I have tried to keep things as simple as possible. My stocking was very gradual; I didn't even add fish until the tank was about two and a half months old.

 

Here are a few more photos. I apologize once again for the low quality ><

 

View from the left-hand side:

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One of my forbidden Caribbean SPS corals 😉 I am fairly sure this one is the Blushing Star Coral, Stephanocoenia intersepta. The lovely red macro at the top is Galaxaura rugosa.

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Purple plume gorgonians (Muriceopsis flavida). I chose this species because it is hardy and quite rigid, as there is not a lot of space for more whiplike gorgs to blow around in my tank. I originally only wanted one, but the "medium" specimen I ordered from kpaquatics.com ended up being more than nine inches tall, so I had to cut it into three pieces to fit it into my tank. So now I have three of them! ^^

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Zoanthids and some of my plain-old turquoise ricordea, with a masked goby in the background. A monster Aiptasia anemone is visible on the right as well. Above the blue zoanthid on the central rock you can see another of my SPS corals. I am not sure about the ID on that one as it is still quite small; it may be a young colony of Oculina. (Edit 4/6/19: This is not actually Oculina but rather the Hidden Cup Coral, Phyllangia americana.)

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Here is one of my favorites: a giant fish-eating mushroom (Discosoma neglecta). When fully expanded it is more than three inches across, and I hear they get much bigger! I am not sure about the ID on the pretty red macro on the left; it started growing spontaneously on the substrate. It has soft feathery branches and seems to prefer fairly strong light and water movement.

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So far I have had no major disasters (knocking on all available wood), but small setbacks have certainly occurred. My tank has almost every type of aquatic pest you can imagine, including hair algae, cyanobacteria, bryopsis, Aiptasia, bubble algae, Dictyota, and more! So far none of these things have reached plague proportions, largely thanks to Cerith snails and diligent manual removal, and most of the nuisance algae is now in decline. Cyanobacteria growing on the substrate and glass continues to be a problem, but I think it is only a matter of time before that one gets beat as well.

 

I also have had some problems keeping crustaceans alive in my system, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. I've tried a number of times to keep peppermint shrimp as a control for my Aiptasia, but they always seem to lose equilibrium and randomly die after only a few days in the tank. Even hardy hermit crabs don't last very long, with most of them slowing down gradually as time goes by, until they simply stop moving and die. A few have even exited their shells and wandered around naked for awhile before kicking the bucket. I'm a bit perplexed by this weird behavior, especially since everything else in the tank seems to be doing pretty well, but I have a few theories; perhaps there is a problem with heavy metals entering the tank somehow (copper, lead, etc.), or maybe some kind of allelopathic voodoo released by the soft corals or red macros is at work. I added some carbon this morning, so I will run the tank on that for a week or so and then perhaps try adding another shrimp.

 

Anyway, It's definitely been a learning process, but that's about what I've got right now! Thank you very much for visiting my journal, and thanks to each and every one of you for creating this wonderful community. This is my first post, but believe me when I say that I have already learned a whole heck of a lot from you guys. I look forward to being a part of the community! (And also to getting a better camera!)

 

 

Thank you for visiting my journal! I hope that you enjoy what you see in this thread, and if you have any questions about my system please don't hesitate to post them or message me!

 

Cheers,

Billy

 

 

 

 

Your tank is one of the loveliest I've seen on here so far!

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billygoat
1 hour ago, A.J. Odasso said:

Your tank is one of the loveliest I've seen on here so far!

Thank you! It's really just a collection of cheap brown and green corals, but it's very dear to me. 😅

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A.J. Odasso
Just now, billygoat said:

Thank you! It's really just a collection of cheap brown and green corals, but it's very dear to me. 😅

My corals are all super cheap, too, so I approve 😅

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kekke1082
On 9/21/2020 at 12:54 AM, billygoat said:

Sure, no problem!

 

- This tank took 2 or 3 weeks to completely cycle. The worst hitchhiker I've seen was probably a big Eunice worm that ate all my macro algae way back in the day. Not sure what happened to that guy; it may actually still be in there and just eating something else now. And Aiptasia of course! Those are still around for sure. 😅

 

- Looks like I added my first RFA in July of 2019. So about 4 months after I started the tank.

 

- This tank has pretty considerable water movement, I'd say somewhere around 500 gph overall turnover. The flow is turbulent though (due to MP10 Reef Crest mode + Spin Stream nozzle), so sometimes it seems higher or lower depending on what's going on at the moment.

 

Hope this is helpful! Interesting idea with the canister filter too. What kind of tank do you have? Is it just a standard 10 gallon?

This really does help thanks so much! Yes its a standard 10gal I will be setting up 🙂 I'm excited to try! my first ever sw aquarium was a 5gallon and it was doing very well until i had to move and change states. I didnt have a stable place to live at first so I didnt want to move it with me. now that i am a bit more stable (renting a room with a friend until i buy my house) i figured it was time to try again. 10gallons is the largest I'll be able to get away with while i am here, however, i do have a 20long and separate acrylic sump waiting for me in my moms garage 😄 plus my 8 other freshwater tanks back home. 

 

I've considered the canister filter idea ever since i had the 5 gallon going. i had all hang on equipment and it just was too much inside the tank taking up valuable space. this time im going to try to reduce the amount of equipment thats visible inside the tank. i have a standard heater to go into the tank for now but i will eventually add an inline heater. i'll probably start a build thread this weekend since i wasnt able to get it set up last weekend. im going to try to pick up a couple pounds of live rock from my lfs this weekend if possible, and use the dry rock that i have as well. i have the kingbo par38 bulbs but now i have to build a fixture for it as well and i think i have finally figured out how i will be doing that for under $30 if i can help it. so far this tank has been pretty budget friendly im at just under $120 in equipment and i should have just about everything i need to get it started. i even have my fiance on board with this one! she has already started to ask so many questions about the little fish when we go to our lfs nearby, and shes watching coral care videos with me all the time 😄 its great!! 

 

i have a few other ideas on how to make this tank successful in the long run even if i have to eventually move it into my house once i buy it. i checked out a thread on here last night of a reefer with a 20 gallon gorg dominant tank and im really liking that idea. right now im more concerned with getting it wet and getting it cycled! 

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billygoat
5 hours ago, kekke1082 said:

i have the kingbo par38 bulbs but now i have to build a fixture for it as well and i think i have finally figured out how i will be doing that for under $30 if i can help it. so far this tank has been pretty budget friendly im at just under $120 in equipment and i should have just about everything i need to get it started.

Sounds like you have a nice little setup going on already! Be advised though: if you end up seriously getting into reefing, you will spend more money down the line to get a better light, a better wavemaker, and probably a better tank. One thing that I wish I had done in the beginning was just bite the bullet and spend money on the gear I actually wanted right away, rather than slowly upgrading each piece of my tank through several different iterations. Now I have a box of old pumps, lights, and heaters that I will probably not make much use of! It's nice to have spares just in case something breaks, but still... just getting a nice light and pump right off the bat would have saved me a lot of money in the long run.

 

That being said, it's important to make sure you're into it before you commit to something like that, otherwise you'll drop a bunch of cash on gear and then have to resell it for a fraction of the price. I suggest that you run your tank with the stuff you've already got for awhile and see how it makes you feel as it matures. If after six months or so you find that you are digging it and you think you want to stick around in the hobby, go from there right into the gear that you actually want, rather than doing things in half measures like I did.

 

You can get a lot of fairly good quality used gear online as well, if you look hard enough and you're willing to take a the risk. 👍

 

5 hours ago, kekke1082 said:

i have a few other ideas on how to make this tank successful in the long run even if i have to eventually move it into my house once i buy it. i checked out a thread on here last night of a reefer with a 20 gallon gorg dominant tank and im really liking that idea. right now im more concerned with getting it wet and getting it cycled! 

Photosynthetic gorgonians are mostly easy to keep and don't require many demanding parameters, so they make good starter corals for many new tanks. Just make sure your tank is fully cycled before you add gorgs, and be aware of their specific requirements before you begin. Most gorgonians grow very tall and need a lot of vertical space to sway and move in your tank. This means that if you intend on keeping a lot of them, you should plan your aquascape from the beginning to accommodate them: low-profile scapes with lots of vertical room are ideal, and enough space should be left between each colony to prevent them from touching each other as they grow. At first your tank will look empty as the 'gorgs take time to grow in and mature, but over time they will fill the space with a beautiful forest of branches.

 

If you are interested, please check out this article I wrote last year for more information about growing gorgonians:

 

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kekke1082
16 hours ago, billygoat said:

Sounds like you have a nice little setup going on already! Be advised though: if you end up seriously getting into reefing, you will spend more money down the line to get a better light, a better wavemaker, and probably a better tank. One thing that I wish I had done in the beginning was just bite the bullet and spend money on the gear I actually wanted right away, rather than slowly upgrading each piece of my tank through several different iterations. Now I have a box of old pumps, lights, and heaters that I will probably not make much use of! It's nice to have spares just in case something breaks, but still... just getting a nice light and pump right off the bat would have saved me a lot of money in the long run.

 

That being said, it's important to make sure you're into it before you commit to something like that, otherwise you'll drop a bunch of cash on gear and then have to resell it for a fraction of the price. I suggest that you run your tank with the stuff you've already got for awhile and see how it makes you feel as it matures. If after six months or so you find that you are digging it and you think you want to stick around in the hobby, go from there right into the gear that you actually want, rather than doing things in half measures like I did.

 

You can get a lot of fairly good quality used gear online as well, if you look hard enough and you're willing to take a the risk. 👍

 

Photosynthetic gorgonians are mostly easy to keep and don't require many demanding parameters, so they make good starter corals for many new tanks. Just make sure your tank is fully cycled before you add gorgs, and be aware of their specific requirements before you begin. Most gorgonians grow very tall and need a lot of vertical space to sway and move in your tank. This means that if you intend on keeping a lot of them, you should plan your aquascape from the beginning to accommodate them: low-profile scapes with lots of vertical room are ideal, and enough space should be left between each colony to prevent them from touching each other as they grow. At first your tank will look empty as the 'gorgs take time to grow in and mature, but over time they will fill the space with a beautiful forest of branches.

 

If you are interested, please check out this article I wrote last year for more information about growing gorgonians:

 

Thanks for your tips on Gorgonians I'll have to give the article a read for sure. Fortunately I do have plenty of higher end equipment already on hand its just another state away and unaccessible to me at the moment, plus i kind of want to see how long i can keep this tank going on the lower end equipment. I'm planning to document the process here and be candid about the difference between budget friendly choices, mid level, and higher end. I also have like 7 or 8 empty tanks to upgrade this 10 gallon after i buy my house in the next 8 months to a year. You're correct in one thing for sure once you're bitten by the reef bug or the multitank bug its impossible to go back! I have 7 planted freshwater tanks that are being baby sat for me back home by my family. Luckily they are very well established and require minimal care besides feeding and topping off which my family has been gracious enough to help me with. 

 

When i started my 5 gallon i bought extra equipment and equipment rated for tanks 4 to 5 times the size i needed then just for the purpose of using the same equipment in a larger tank whenever the time came. 😉 I am no stranger to the itch to upgrade, or change my tanks, but my desire for this 10 gallon is to keep it simple, keep it fun, and just enjoy it without worrying about how much its going to cost me. I'm always looking for great deals and when i find them i dont pass them up so as soon as the opportunity arrives for me to buy nice equipment at deep discounts i jump on it whether i need it or not. Things break, ideas change, and my goal of keeping this tank as simple as possible for as long as possible may also change. I may decide down the line to keep sps instead of softies, and lps. 

 

Theres no going back for me! 😂 even if things end in disaster i will learn and grow. Following the reefers here have definitely swayed me to keep at it no matter what is thrown my way. 

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billygoat
1 hour ago, kekke1082 said:

When i started my 5 gallon i bought extra equipment and equipment rated for tanks 4 to 5 times the size i needed then just for the purpose of using the same equipment in a larger tank whenever the time came. 😉 I am no stranger to the itch to upgrade, or change my tanks, but my desire for this 10 gallon is to keep it simple, keep it fun, and just enjoy it without worrying about how much its going to cost me. I'm always looking for great deals and when i find them i dont pass them up so as soon as the opportunity arrives for me to buy nice equipment at deep discounts i jump on it whether i need it or not. Things break, ideas change, and my goal of keeping this tank as simple as possible for as long as possible may also change. I may decide down the line to keep sps instead of softies, and lps. 

Well, it sounds like you know what you're getting into, so that's good! 😅 Sorry if I sounded a bit pedantic; I just wanted to make sure you weren't planning on running a "budget" tank forever or anything like that. I've seen that one before and it usually doesn't end well. You've got a plan though, and it sounds like you're willing to alter it if circumstances change, so I think that's stellar. 👍

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billygoat

The C-Vue is a bit easier to photograph in its temporary new location, but it's still kind of a glared-out mess... 🙄

 

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Livestock transfers have started, so this will likely be the last "complete" FTS of this tank ever taken! Maybe I should have tried to get a better one... 😂

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Tired

There's some sort of critter on the rock heap to the left, maybe 1/3 of the way from the side of the tank. Looks like a little starburst pattern or something, right above that red splotch. Are they fanworms? 

 

You should take the move as an opportunity to check under the rocks for cool stuff growing in. Might be some neat stuff out of sight somewhere. 

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billygoat
10 hours ago, Tired said:

There's some sort of critter on the rock heap to the left, maybe 1/3 of the way from the side of the tank. Looks like a little starburst pattern or something, right above that red splotch. Are they fanworms? 

Good eye! Those are indeed small feather-duster or fanworms. They grow in several places in my tank, but most of them are not easily visible.

 

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10 hours ago, Tired said:

You should take the move as an opportunity to check under the rocks for cool stuff growing in. Might be some neat stuff out of sight somewhere. 

There's quite a lot growing under my rocks. I transferred a larger rock from the 18g to the 40 today and found a whole forest of tiny feather dusters underneath of it. I attempted to photograph them but didn't do too well (it's tough to hold a rock and take a picture at the same time)

 

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There were also some cool sponges, a large tube that probably belongs to a Eunicid worm, and a big white chiton attached to the bottom of the rock. I tried my best not to destroy any of this stuff when I moved the rock into my new tank.

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Tired

Oh, cool stuff. I think I can see the tube, and, yeah, seems about like a eunicid tube. Since nothing appears munched, it's probably one of the harmless ones. 

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kekke1082
On 9/26/2020 at 9:51 AM, billygoat said:

Well, it sounds like you know what you're getting into, so that's good! 😅 Sorry if I sounded a bit pedantic; I just wanted to make sure you weren't planning on running a "budget" tank forever or anything like that. I've seen that one before and it usually doesn't end well. You've got a plan though, and it sounds like you're willing to alter it if circumstances change, so I think that's stellar. 👍

Not at all pedantic! I think too many people get into the hobby without understanding that it WILL cost you eventually even if you start on the lower end of things. the same can be said for hobbyists on the otherside as well. keeping freshwater planted tanks can get crazy when it comes to rarer and harder to care for plants. i also keep ornamental shrimp and lets not even go down that rabbit hole of expensiveness 😄

 I genuinely appreciate advice of any type because whether I heed immediately it or not, it could be helpful to me later on. i always start with a plan in mind and well it never works out the way i have it all planned out thats for sure! I'll be starting my build log either tonight or tomorrow and i am always open to constructive criticisms. 

 

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So I've decided to embark on a minor rescape... what do you guys think? 🤔

 

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Just kidding of course! 😂 I moved all my stuff into the 40g today. I was planning on transferring things gradually, but I realized that 1) aquascaping is next to impossible when you're moving one rock a day, and 2) the only thing I really need to move gradually is the sand. So the rocks and corals all made their way over to the new tank, and only the sandbed remains. I figured that moving everything in one fell swoop would ultimately be less stressful on the livestock than moving rocks day after day and re-disrupting everything each time I do. And also I was impatient! 😅

 

The C-Vue will remain running with sand only (as well as a few assorted snails and other random critters) for several weeks as I slowly transfer this beautiful sandbed over to the IM 40, one shotglass-full at a time.

 

Aaaaand with almost no animals left in my tank, that of course means that that's just about it for this journal! It's been one heck of a journey with this tank, and I sure have learned a lot. I admit that I'll be more than a little sad to see it broken down, as I think the C-Vue truly is a great aquarium and I really enjoyed running my setup in it. But my corals and I are on to better (and much bigger) things! 😁

 

A huge thank you to everyone who followed along on this thread and offered me so much guidance, advice, and support. I've learned more than I can say here on N-R, and without each of you posting and commenting and asking questions our wonderful community wouldn't be what it is. Thank you. 🙏 If anyone reading this ever wants to learn more about something in this huge, sprawling, convoluted thread, please don't hesitate to post here or message me. I'll still be reading responses here, but I'm shifting most of my posting activity over to my 40g thread.

 

 

 I hope to see you there! ☺️

@billygoat

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