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billygoat

Billy's 18g Caribbean Biotope

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billygoat
1 hour ago, Wendy said:

I LOVE your Caribbean themed tank!

I've read your whole thread throughout the weekend & you have such great information!

 

I have to agree with others that a Rock Flower Anemone would look fantastic in here. However, Peppermint shrimp have been known to tear into them & kill them.

 

Happy 6th month birthday/anniversary!!!

Your macro algaes are so colorful & your gorgonians are beautiful! Also, adore your fish choices (;

Keep up the awesome reefing!

Thank you so much for your support! I really do appreciate the encouragement, and I'm very glad you enjoyed reading my journal. It's great to know that people can learn from my successes and (numerous) failures! 😊 I'll do my best to keep this biotope going for as long as I can.

 

Perhaps I will have to end up getting a rock flower 'nem after all! That seems to be the consensus choice. I suppose that keeping peppermints is not the most important thing, as I can always just go crazy with Aiptasia X if those glassrose anemones get out of control. The only thing I don't much like about Aiptasia X (besides the fact that it seems to do a lackluster job of permanently killing the dang things) is that it also kills any coralline algae it touches, but hopefully that won't end up being too much of a big deal.

 

I also have my eyes on a Caribbean flame scallop (Ctenoides scaber). Does anyone have experience keeping these lovely mollusks? I am curious as to whether it would fall victim to my bloodthirsty brittle star.

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IceParrot

If you want to try a cool native invert to the Caribbean try sexy shrimp. They might even host a rfa. 

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billygoat
33 minutes ago, IceParrot said:

If you want to try a cool native invert to the Caribbean try sexy shrimp. They might even host a rfa. 

Those are a very good choice, and I was also considering some of the other Caribbean anemone shrimp in the genus Periclimenes. I believe those will host not just in RFAs but even in Ricordea as well. This all comes down to my ability to keep shrimp alive though, which so far has remained very questionable. 😅 My latest theory is that nitrates may be too high for them; I tested last week and found 'trates to be in the 15-20 range.

 

Today I want to highlight another interesting macroalgae that I don't believe I have mentioned before. This one is Caulerpa verticillata, a lovely small variety of caulerpa that only gets to be a few centimeters tall. It came into my system as a hitchhiker on my live rock, and before I added a powerhead it grew fairly prolifically. It doesn't like high flow very much though, so these days it only grows in one relatively protected spot near the center of my tank. This alga seems to have a pretty high turnover rate and has gone sexual and died back (with no ill effects on the system) several times so far.

 

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Here's a picture from the early pre-powerhead days of my tank; I think this was taken in February. You can see how abundant this caulerpa used to be on the left-hand side of my tank. Things sure have changed a lot since then!

 

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knox_legend

The more I see this tank progress the more interest I have in a biotope tank. 

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Fisker

@knox_legend agreed.

 

The only biotope tanks I've ever really enjoyed following have been Tamberav's coldwater system and this one. For some reason, I always felt like biotopes were so limited in what you could keep - after all, in the hobby, we love to mix and match fish, inverts, corals, and macros from all over the world, not from just one region. But the stunning amount of diversity, color, and texture in this tank is amazing. Definitely changed my opinion on biotopes, for sure. 

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billygoat
8 hours ago, knox_legend said:

The more I see this tank progress the more interest I have in a biotope tank. 

 

7 hours ago, Fisker said:

@knox_legend agreed.

 

The only biotope tanks I've ever really enjoyed following have been Tamberav's coldwater system and this one. For some reason, I always felt like biotopes were so limited in what you could keep - after all, in the hobby, we love to mix and match fish, inverts, corals, and macros from all over the world, not from just one region. But the stunning amount of diversity, color, and texture in this tank is amazing. Definitely changed my opinion on biotopes, for sure. 

Thank you both! It's quite flattering to be placed in the same category as such masters of the craft as @Tamberav, that's for sure. Quite a lot to live up to! 😅

 

Biotopes certainly have their limitations, but to tell the truth that is part of the reason they appeal to me. I feel like the constraints of a biotope give the aquarist some structure, which can be beneficial. And stocking decisions are certainly a lot easier. There are only so many choices, when it comes down to it! 😁

 

I had the lid off to do some cleaning today and took the opportunity to grab a top-down shot. I like to take these every once in awhile to reflect on how everything is laid out and how things have changed over time.

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The slight growth of diatoms you see on the sandbed has become a daily occurrence in recent weeks. They bloom during the day and then die back at night. I believe this is because I was experimenting with increased lighting; I had the A80 dialed all the way up to 100% for awhile there. Certain things (gorgonians, coralline algae) seemed to enjoy the increased light, but I plan to turn it back down to 85% maximum intensity as that appears to work better overall.

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vlangel
9 hours ago, billygoat said:

 

Thank you both! It's quite flattering to be placed in the same category as such masters of the craft as @Tamberav, that's for sure. Quite a lot to live up to! 😅

 

Biotopes certainly have their limitations, but to tell the truth that is part of the reason they appeal to me. I feel like the constraints of a biotope give the aquarist some structure, which can be beneficial. And stocking decisions are certainly a lot easier. There are only so many choices, when it comes down to it! 😁

 

I had the lid off to do some cleaning today and took the opportunity to grab a top-down shot. I like to take these every once in awhile to reflect on how everything is laid out and how things have changed over time.

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The slight growth of diatoms you see on the sandbed has become a daily occurrence in recent weeks. They bloom during the day and then die back at night. I believe this is because I was experimenting with increased lighting; I had the A80 dialed all the way up to 100% for awhile there. Certain things (gorgonians, coralline algae) seemed to enjoy the increased light, but I plan to turn it back down to 85% maximum intensity as that appears to work better overall.

Lookin' good!  Along with dialing the light intensity down a bit, you could try increasing your feeding a tiny bit.  I know you are concerned with the nitrates though because of your inverts.  When I keep my nitrates and phosphates in a 30:1 ratio I do not get the diatomous or cyano rust colored sand.  That is the optimum ratio for the macros to flourish and they will outcompete the nuisance algaes.  Maybe try nitrates at 10 ppm and PO4 at .3.  Even your more sensitive inverts should be fine at that.  

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billygoat
2 hours ago, vlangel said:

Lookin' good!  Along with dialing the light intensity down a bit, you could try increasing your feeding a tiny bit.  I know you are concerned with the nitrates though because of your inverts.  When I keep my nitrates and phosphates in a 30:1 ratio I do not get the diatomous or cyano rust colored sand.  That is the optimum ratio for the macros to flourish and they will outcompete the nuisance algaes.  Maybe try nitrates at 10 ppm and PO4 at .3.  Even your more sensitive inverts should be fine at that.  

I really ought to be paying more attention to my parameters and stuff. I am just super lazy when it comes to testing! I see everything in the tank doing well and I am like oh maybe it is just fine, but I'm sure it could be even better if I put in the effort. After today I have two days off, so I will test po4 and nitrates and see where I am at.

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Pjanssen
On ‎6‎/‎16‎/‎2019 at 10:22 PM, billygoat said:

 

I also have my eyes on a Caribbean flame scallop (Ctenoides scaber). Does anyone have experience keeping these lovely mollusks

I had a flame when I first started my Florida tank. It was great until it wasn't. Seemed to do really well for quite awhile, but then I noticed it stopped opening up as much when feeding(daily), and then unfortunately for my tank sitter it died while I was away. I've not heard of anyone keeping them long term. I get my fix for them now when I go diving.

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vlangel
4 hours ago, billygoat said:

I really ought to be paying more attention to my parameters and stuff. I am just super lazy when it comes to testing! I see everything in the tank doing well and I am like oh maybe it is just fine, but I'm sure it could be even better if I put in the effort. After today I have two days off, so I will test po4 and nitrates and see where I am at.

I also hate testing.  At least you have the right kind of tank where you can get away with observing with only occasionally testing.  Predominantly softie tanks are nice that way.  I intentionally kept mostly softies for a long time for precisely that reason.  Lately I have added quite a few LPS and a few SPS so I need to test a bit more.

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Thunder Goose

If you're considering Caribbean shrimp check out Pederson's. They are very active! Mine come and nibble food off my fingers at dinner time.

 

PS my sexies do hang around the ricordea a lot. 

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billygoat
7 hours ago, Pjanssen said:

I had a flame when I first started my Florida tank. It was great until it wasn't. Seemed to do really well for quite awhile, but then I noticed it stopped opening up as much when feeding(daily), and then unfortunately for my tank sitter it died while I was away. I've not heard of anyone keeping them long term. I get my fix for them now when I go diving.

I have a feeling that any flame scallops I pick up would end up going the way of my feather-duster worm, which is just like you said: they look great until they don't, and then it's all downhill very fast. Maybe I will simply hold off on getting one. Sure wish I could head into the water and simply see them myself too! That must be super nice.

 

6 hours ago, Thunder Goose said:

If you're considering Caribbean shrimp check out Pederson's. They are very active! Mine come and nibble food off my fingers at dinner time.

 

PS my sexies do hang around the ricordea a lot. 

Sexy shrimp and Pederson's anemone shrimp are definitely both on my radar. I have so many different options floating around right now that I bet I myself will be surprised by what I finally end up buying. 😅 I guess we'll see what happens when July rolls around and I am allowed to buy livestock again!

 

Tonight I managed to finally get a picture of some interesting micro feather duster worms that have been growing in my tank for a long time. The light is low and the photo is a bit grainy, but you can see that they have lovely red bases with white feathery tendrils on top. They seem to be a colonial species that grows together in a group. Each one is only a few millimeters across. I just love finding and observing tiny little things like these worms; it really makes the hobby for me. 😊

 

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billygoat

Remember that gorgonian (Plexaura flexuosa) that was on the ropes for a bit? Well I'm happy to report that after an extremely long acclimation period and a bit of trimming, it has settled in and now appears to be doing quite well. 😊 It took almost a month to get situated, which is a really long time for a gorg, so I am just glad that it ended up pulling through.

 

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I also forgot to mention that it came in with a little hitchhiker at its base! A tiny gorgonian, probably Pseudopterogorgia sp. It appears to be growing quite rapidly, which makes sense; that genus is about a million times hardier than the Plexaura it is attached to. 😄

 

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billygoat

I saw this guy out in a photographable spot this morning and couldn't resist documenting it. Just a snail, nothing special really; I believe it may be some variety of Nerite as it has the same general shape and seems to be mostly nocturnal. The reason I mention it is because this snail came into my system some months ago as a hitchhiker on some macroalgae and in the beginning was about the size of a grain of sand. Since then it has grown to the size of a dime and is now a contributing member of my clean-up crew! It's super cool to see unexpected arrivals grow and thrive like that. I remember that when I first spotted this snail it was so young that its shell was still partly transparent. They grow up so fast! 😂

 

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Wonderboy

I have a couple hitch-hiker snails that look almost the same. Not sure what they are either, but they're just about pea size now - hope they'll be as helpful as yours soon  :]

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billygoat
5 hours ago, Wonderboy said:

I have a couple hitch-hiker snails that look almost the same. Not sure what they are either, but they're just about pea size now - hope they'll be as helpful as yours soon  :]

Do they mostly come out at night? I read that that is a distinguishing feature of many types of Nerite snail. Honestly they could be anything and I would be fine with it though, as long as they get out there and clean the epiphytes off my macros. 😄

 

Tank is looking fresh after weekly maintenance day!

 

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I also had some free time this afternoon to finally run a full battery of water quality tests. This is after the water change, but before my daily dosing (I usually dose Alk and Ca in the evening). Here are the results.

 

Salinity: 34 ppt (1.0245 sg)

pH: 8.2

Alk: 8.4 dKH

Ca: 400

Mg: 1260

Phosphate: 0.01

Ammonia: 0

Nitrite: not quite zero! It was just barely on the bleeding edge of detectable. Maybe 0.01.

Nitrate: 15? Ish? I always have trouble reading this one. Looks like more than 10 but less than 20... I think? 🤔

 

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Anyway those numbers seem to be pretty much where I want them, so it's good to know that nothing has flown off the handle since the last time I tested. Detectable nitrite is a little weird but honestly it was so faint it could have just been a testing anomaly. Ca consumption also seems to have increased a bit, probably due to the rapid growth of my Halimeda.

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Wonderboy

Not sure if they're nocturnal or not - I keep them in my little pico jar so they're kind of forced to be out all the time. I always figured they would probably be some type of nerite though since everyone's always complaining about them leaving eggs everywhere. I don't know how I feel about the nitrite thing entirely; kinda strange, but everything is looking really good.

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billygoat
6 minutes ago, Wonderboy said:

Not sure if they're nocturnal or not - I keep them in my little pico jar so they're kind of forced to be out all the time. I always figured they would probably be some type of nerite though since everyone's always complaining about them leaving eggs everywhere. I don't know how I feel about the nitrite thing entirely; kinda strange, but everything is looking really good.

Honestly, I think the nitrite anomaly might have just been a testing error. I probably used too much of some particular reagent, or perhaps one of my measuring spoons wasn't quite level; the reading was that faint. I'm not too concerned about it since everything looks pretty healthy.

 

I wish I could do something about that grungy film of cyanobacteria under the sandbed up against the front glass. Unfortunately I have a feeling it will be there for a long time though! Oh well. Perhaps the burrowing snails and weird worms that live in my substrate will end up eating it someday.

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TatorTaco

Some folks aren’t bothered by that algae between the front pane and sand. 

 

However, you can get a pack of razor blades (from anywhere) and run it along the front of the glass and it’ll come right off. Give it a shot - easy peezy. 

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748S911

I personally like that look myself. 

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billygoat
1 hour ago, TatorTaco said:

Some folks aren’t bothered by that algae between the front pane and sand. 

 

However, you can get a pack of razor blades (from anywhere) and run it along the front of the glass and it’ll come right off. Give it a shot - easy peezy. 

Seems like a pretty good idea! I'll definitely go that route if I decide to remove it. I notice a lot of worms and other creatures tunneling down there against the glass though, so maybe it's better to just leave it alone. 

 

6 minutes ago, 748S911 said:

I personally like that look myself. 

It's strange; when I observe my tank I don't even notice the band of cyano, but when I look at pictures it seems to stand out like a sore thumb. I think I'm just being too sensitive. The whole point of a biotope is to be true to nature, so I should probably just get on board with the "natural" look, right? 😄

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Pjanssen

Nice update. Cyano bacteria is not  necessarily a “natural” occurrence in the Caribbean. It happens due to runoff and pollution caused by man!

Its great that you’re still finding useful hitchhikers. My Caribbean tank turned 2 in May and just yesterday I caught a glimpse of a teeny tiny white crab that I had never seen before

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Wonderboy

I have no problems with micro-organisms; they are usually doing for our systems what we can't do near as efficiently ourselves. Their existence alone is proof of purpose, and time balances everything. I found this to be refreshing: cyanobacteria

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Pjanssen
5 hours ago, Wonderboy said:

I found this to be refreshing: cyanobacteria

Refreshing? Way too much science for me, but I'll concede and admit the I was misinformed.

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billygoat
41 minutes ago, Pjanssen said:

Refreshing? Way too much science for me, but I'll concede and admit the I was misinformed.

I wouldn't say you are misinformed! Agricultural runoff and other human activities definitely contribute to the explosive growth of simple organisms such as cyanobacteria that are capable of utilizing all those excess nutrients in a very efficient way, to the point that they can ruin the day of everything else that's trying to grow in the area! And that is certainly a big problem in many coastal regions around the world, Florida and the Caribbean included. 😞 

 

That paper is actually quite interesting @Wonderboy! Thank you for that. After reading through it a bit I have decided that cyanobacteria are probably impossible to kill, so I should just let them do their thing. 😅 The red slime under my glass can remain; in fact I am honored to have some of the earliest life forms to develop on Earth (or at least some of their relatives) living in my humble system. Science has a way of really putting everything in perspective!

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