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billygoat

Billy's 18g Caribbean Biotope - New animals 2/20!

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billygoat
9 hours ago, cosmicbread said:

So Lovecraftian in its bizarre magnificence. I wonder if you could DIY a bunch of red LEDS to bathe this tank in a sinister glow while simultaneously observing this guy prowling around.

This is actually an amazing idea, but I don't know how I could pull it off without constructing some kind of armature for the LEDs. It would be super cool to watch the huge, monstrous, mindless brittle star prowling around though. I like to imagine the tank from its perspective as it blunders about on pure instinct, searching out the slightest hint of edible matter and conveying it into the ever-hungry mouth, seeking the faintest scent of food and moving towards it like some huge, terrible machine. And fleeing always from the awful, hateful daylight! Sometimes I can almost feel it cringe when the lights switch on in the morning and it crawls away into its hidey-hole.

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Tired

Starfish are really interesting animals, partly because they're so simple. They have no brains, only a cluster of nerves to dictate their actions. No eyes, only little light sensors arrayed at the tips of their limbs. It's not far up from a coral or anemone in terms of complexity, and yet it's very mobile and seems to have a clear idea of what it 'wants". 

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billygoat

Not much going on today folks, just a picture of my cup coral (Phyllangia americana). It's kind of like a tiny dendro. You can see that it stings the heck out of its zoanthid neighbors, but that's good because it's way cooler than they are and I don't want it to become overgrown. 😂

 

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I've recently been feeding my gorgonians 3 times a week with a small amount of Reef Roids blended with 10 drops (about 1 ml.) of Brightwell PhytoGold-M and 2 drops of Selcon. This cup coral eats that mixture too, but it's just fine eating any of the food my fish get as well (flakes, PE pellets, and frozen mysis). It is one of the least picky and most hardy NPS corals I've seen.

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Tired

Oh, nice. Cute little thing. Sorta glad I didn't wind up with a cup coral, though- I've read they can even be an issue for small shrimp, the sting they've got on 'em, and they aren't really a pico coral.

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billygoat
On 1/19/2020 at 12:18 AM, Tired said:

Oh, nice. Cute little thing. Sorta glad I didn't wind up with a cup coral, though- I've read they can even be an issue for small shrimp, the sting they've got on 'em, and they aren't really a pico coral.

I can easily imagine my cup coral eating anything small and slow enough to get ensnared in its tentacles. It has demonstrated a strong feeding response to everything I have offered it over the past year, so I'm sure it would consume little crustaceans like sexy shrimp without any issue. I also agree with it not really being a good pico coral, mostly because it requires quite a bit of feeding. Every little bit of nutrient input adds up quick in such a small volume of water.

 

Just a quick update on my SpinStream nozzle: it's been installed for one month now, and I must admit that the noise it makes has decreased very considerably. It's not completely silent by any means, but I'd say it's just a bit louder than the cooling fan in my Kessil light, which is not very loud at all. I'm quite pleased with it and am glad that I waited for it to break in and quiet down.

 

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Kinda needs to be cleaned though. I'll try to remember to do that during maintenance this week. 😅

 

 

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Pjanssen

Good to know about the spin nozzle. Maybe I’ll give mine another try. Maybe cleaning it will make it loud again tho?

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Lypto

I had a massive green serpent star that would seemingly learn and plan attacks on fish, It would sit and watch my clownfish host in some xenia and watch him go into it. It also learned the lightning schedule and got into position just before the lights went off so it could ambush the clown when he went to "bed" for the night. It also loved to stick its arms out of the water and look around with dots at the tips of it's arms. I got a little creeped out by it and didn't want it to eat my fish so I gave it to an LFS. It's still there, people bought it twice and returned it after their fish mysteriously disappear, they're such cool primitive things.

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Tired

Green serpent stars are predatory. They eat fish. I'd thought that was fairly common knowledge? They'll go after sleeping fish, or go into a little rock cave, plaster themselves to the roof with their mouth facing down, and drop down onto fish that go into the cave. Definitely not good reef inhabitants, unless all your fish are quite large, or if you put it in your fuge.

 

Most other serpent stars aren't known to be predators. By and large, especially when fed well, they're well-behaved.

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Lypto

This is true! They're ruthless about it, it tried to eat my finger many times when feeding it. I've been looking for micro brittle stars because they're great for cleanup crew. Thankfully I got it out before it did too much damage. It ate two hermits and a snail as well. Reached out and grabbed it like a pretzel. Have you noticed the cup coral extending long feeding tentacles? they're such cool corals.

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billygoat
12 hours ago, Lypto said:

Have you noticed the cup coral extending long feeding tentacles? they're such cool corals.

Yeah when that coral is hungry (which is pretty much all the time) it can get some pretty impressive extension going. Its tentacles are transparent but have beautiful green tips. And it's crazy to think that in the beginning it only had four tiny, bedraggled heads on it! Now it's got more than 15 of them, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

 

It's now been about six weeks since my brutal mistake with the new lighting, and the dust seems to have officially settled. All of my gorgonians have pulled through except for the purple whip. Unfortunately it just never came back, and ended up getting completely overgrown with hair algae. I assumed it would be a total goner, but it turned out to be more resilient than I gave it credit for: a few weeks ago I attempted to frag what remained of the purple whip's axis off its holdfast in a last-ditch effort to save it, and while this was not successful, it seems that the holdfast (which I had written off as dead) was not quite done yet! It has now developed polyps of its own and appears to be growing.

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The only other thing that has really suffered is my colony of blue zoanthids. I believe that in this case they were getting cooked by lighting "hot spots" that were caused by drops of condensation beading on my glass lid. The drops acted like tiny lenses, microwaving whatever was underneath of them with concentrated light. I corrected this by reverting to my screen lid (which I probably should have done a long time ago anyway), and the zoanthids that remain appear to be recovering slowly. I definitely lost a few of them in the interim though.

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Thankfully, everything else in the tank has adjusted to the new, corrected lighting very well. All of my gorgonians look very happy, and my Ricordea and RFAs are as puffy as I've ever seen them. The supporting cast of mushrooms, brown palythoas, coralline algae, and all of the green zoanthids are doing well too.

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Oh, and let's not forget this guy! The jawfish is still around as well, and he's doing better than ever before. He seems to have settled down a lot over the past few months, and I am happy to report that he hasn't jumped or left his burrow randomly at night for weeks now. He still hides a lot, but he seems very secure in his burrow beneath the Ricordea mound and eats every day like an absolute pig. I think that all things considered he is still a little bit cramped, but I am no longer concerned about his health or welfare and I think he will end up being just fine in this system so long as I don't make any more major structural changes to the rocks.

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Okay, that's it for today's photos! Thanks as always for reading. 😊

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debbeach13

It does look like almost every thing has recovered. The tank looks good. It is also nice that the jaw fish has settled in. 

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billygoat

The customary weekly top-down shot for water change Wednesday:

 

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I was able to clean the algae off my SpinStream by scrubbing it gently with a toothbrush as it spun. Seems easy enough to keep it clean without having to remove it from the tank. 👍

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cosmicbread

I am in awe of the depth of color and texture you have going on. Any plans for future additions or do you think you're going to hold off and let stuff grow?

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billygoat
11 hours ago, cosmicbread said:

I am in awe of the depth of color and texture you have going on. Any plans for future additions or do you think you're going to hold off and let stuff grow?

Thank you so much! Right now I have no real plans to add any more livestock. There is one more species of Caribbean gorgonian I would like to include - the Black Sea Rod, Plexaura homomalla - but the only place that stocks it is KP Aquatics and they have one for sale only once in a blue moon, so that's not a huge priority for me right now. At this point I mostly just want to sit back and let the tank do its thing. 😊

 

That's not to say I won't continue to tinker with things of course. 😁 For example I recently ordered a pair of floss holders from inTank so I can experiment with using filter floss instead of my ageing stock filter socks (which are full of holes). The tank is more or less "complete", but I think there are still plenty of opportunities to improve things!

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melson

@billygoat, I was just seeing if they had the black sea rod in stock! haha

 

I have never used them but caribbeantropicals occasionally has them in stock too if you want it sooner.

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billygoat
47 minutes ago, melson said:

@billygoat, I was just seeing if they had the black sea rod in stock! haha

 

I have never used them but caribbeantropicals occasionally has them in stock too if you want it sooner.

How funny! Great minds think alike I guess. 😉 Those black sea rods have a very pleasing growth pattern and beautiful coloration. It will be absolutely the last gorgonian I can fit into my tank, so I want to make sure it is a nice one. 👌

 

I just checked out caribbeantropicals - I had never heard of them before. Thanks for the recommendation! They seem to be more of a small-scale, collect-it-yourself sort of outfit. I'm tempted to get a few of their specimens and see what they're like, but with no sizes listed I don't think I'd be able to risk it. My tank is pretty jam-packed as it is! 

 

KPA has a real quality product that I know I can trust, so I think I'll just be patient and wait until they restock on gorgs. Shouldn't be long now since they're almost entirely sold out of them. Hopefully they get a few black sea rods in with their next stocking cycle.

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billygoat

Today is my last day off for awhile, so I spent it lazily hanging around and enjoying my aquarium (as any reasonable person would in such circumstances).

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Here's an uncentered, glared-out FTS! This is the photographic quality you've come to expect, and nothing less. 👌😂

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These brown star polyps are really going crazy. Luckily they aren't touching anything, so I don't think they'll be able to spread much further.

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That's all I've got for now! I hope you all have a great weekend. 😁

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melson

Yeah I agree Kpaquatics is the best. I've ordered from mysaltwaterfishstore and had good luck with them too. 

 

Looks great @billygoat! Your brown star polyps are out of control! It must like your tank!

 

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billygoat
1 hour ago, melson said:

Yeah I agree Kpaquatics is the best. I've ordered from mysaltwaterfishstore and had good luck with them too. 

 

Looks great @billygoat! Your brown star polyps are out of control! It must like your tank!

 

That looks like a good site too! I noticed they list Slit Pore Sea Rods - probably Plexaurella sp. They don't have any in stock right now, but that would be a super cool specimen to have. It's a very beautiful genus, and hard to find in the aquarium trade.

 

Speaking of stock, looks like KP updated their gorgonian stocklist with some new listings tonight! Sadly they don't seem to have any black sea rods this time around though. 😔

 

They do however have yellow sea whips back in stock (Pterogorgia citrina). That's another one I had my eye on. Have you tried that species out yet @melson?

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melson

Yup I call it the cactus in my tank!

 

I had one in my 8g when I first got my tank and just got another one recently. I lost the one in my 8g from lack of flow. It shed one too many times and died. I have the latest in a great spot now in my 26g and it's growing out of control.

 

So much so I'm considering fragging it a bit and maybe placing a couple of them throughout my tank, not sure yet.

 

It stays small, the only thing it does is get bushier and wider. It likes light and flow.

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Seadragon
22 hours ago, billygoat said:

Today is my last day off for awhile, so I spent it lazily hanging around and enjoying my aquarium (as any reasonable person would in such circumstances).

IMG_0963.thumb.JPG.4d941c6b14f6e7ae7dcaacef0882119d.JPG

 

Here's an uncentered, glared-out FTS! This is the photographic quality you've come to expect, and nothing less. 👌😂

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These brown star polyps are really going crazy. Luckily they aren't touching anything, so I don't think they'll be able to spread much further.

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That's all I've got for now! I hope you all have a great weekend. 😁

 

Your setup is so cute!  Do you usually sit in that wooden chair when you look at your aquarium for long periods of time?  I have to buy you a gamer chair so you can stare at your tank in style. 😄

 

Here's what I sit in most of the day a foot away from my nano reef.

 

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billygoat
5 hours ago, melson said:

Yup I call it the cactus in my tank!

 

I had one in my 8g when I first got my tank and just got another one recently. I lost the one in my 8g from lack of flow. It shed one too many times and died. I have the latest in a great spot now in my 26g and it's growing out of control.

 

So much so I'm considering fragging it a bit and maybe placing a couple of them throughout my tank, not sure yet.

 

It stays small, the only thing it does is get bushier and wider. It likes light and flow.

That's awesome! I may end up picking up one of those yellow whip gorgs too... if I can somehow figure out a good spot for it. At this point my tank is kind of packed though, and I'll probably need to frag my big Eunicea soon so I want to leave a bit of space for that if I can. These days I often find myself wishing that I'd opted for a bigger aquarium, say the C-Vue 26 like you've got! Or the 45 even... 😅

 

5 hours ago, Seadragon said:

 

Your setup is so cute!  Do you usually sit in that wooden chair when you look at your aquarium for long periods of time?  I have to buy you a gamer chair so you can stare at your tank in style. 😄

 

Here's what I sit in most of the day a foot away from my nano reef.

 

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Thanks! I try to keep things as neat and clean as possible. Sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle to stay organized in this hobby, but I find that it somehow makes it more fulfilling for me.

 

And hot damn, now that's a stylin' chair you've got! 😂 I do indeed sit in the wooden chair you see in the picture above (usually with a cup of coffee in hand) and observe my tank for fairly long periods of time whenever I can get away with it. My chair came with a plain old cushion, but I kept getting saltwater on it so I ended up taking it off. Not the comfiest seat ever, but it gets the job done. 😁

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billygoat

Hello again friends! I hope everyone is having a great Monday. 😊 Nothing much to report today, just another relaxing afternoon spent watching the reef. 

 

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Oh and I tested calcium for the first time in forever today, and found it to be way down at 325! My tank doesn't have a particularly high demand for calcium, but it definitely seems to be using more than weekly water changes alone can provide. I think I will try raising the Ca level back to 425 or so. We'll see if the corals respond.

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billygoat

The zoanthids at the center of the tank continue to struggle, especially the blue ones. They are mostly closed up and the ones that are open seem to have paled out a bit. I believe this is due to too-strong lighting (they are right in the center of the tank), but I am hesitant to change anything because everything else in the system looks amazing. It would be unfortunate if I lost the blue zoas, but think that in this case the best course of action is to do nothing and see what happens. 🤷‍♂️

 

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All the gorgonians look great - even the little stub of the purple whip that remains. Here is a beautiful silver bush gorgonian (Muricea laxa).

 

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It's almost Friday! I hope everyone is hanging in there. 😊

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Pjanssen

Can you move the blue zoas down? I lost all of my blue zoas too

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