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billygoat

Billy's 18g Caribbean Biotope

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Fisker

Can't wait for the pics!

 

Great selection coming. The only one I have experience with is actually the Laurencia - I got it from the same order I got my Gracilaria Hayi. Mine didn't handle shipping all that well, and came in half bleached - afterwards, it seemed to be recovering, but ended up turning nearly clear overnight. Might have just been my personal experience, but I'd watch it closely!

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Amphrites

Hmmmm, I wonder if there are any species of commencal sps-like crabs in florida... I loved the last shipment of animals I got from Maloney, maybe once my stylophora and monti grow out I'll shoot him an email... Can't wait to see the porcelain crab and decorators, the balance for maintaining sensitive inverts and macro-algae seems... Well... Stressful, I gather you'd almost need to have an exact dosing-regimen down to give the plants JUST ENOUGH Nitrate and Phosphate to keep them happy, while maintaining sub-10 PPM free-nitrate levels either through natural-export or water changes (or just have the tank super-well established maybe?)@_@ Oiy

I really hope things just click this time around for you, I love these tiny little crustaceans and will happily be vicariously-enjoying them through your journal =p 

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billygoat
10 hours ago, Fisker said:

Can't wait for the pics!

 

Great selection coming. The only one I have experience with is actually the Laurencia - I got it from the same order I got my Gracilaria Hayi. Mine didn't handle shipping all that well, and came in half bleached - afterwards, it seemed to be recovering, but ended up turning nearly clear overnight. Might have just been my personal experience, but I'd watch it closely!

I've heard mixed reviews on Laurencia; the consensus seems to be that it can sometimes be sort of delicate if the conditions in your tank are too different from those it originally grew in. Strong flow is supposed to help, so I will try to find it a spot with some decent water movement. Hopefully that will increase my chances of success. 🤞

 

7 hours ago, Amphrites said:

Hmmmm, I wonder if there are any species of commencal sps-like crabs in florida... I loved the last shipment of animals I got from Maloney, maybe once my stylophora and monti grow out I'll shoot him an email... Can't wait to see the porcelain crab and decorators, the balance for maintaining sensitive inverts and macro-algae seems... Well... Stressful, I gather you'd almost need to have an exact dosing-regimen down to give the plants JUST ENOUGH Nitrate and Phosphate to keep them happy, while maintaining sub-10 PPM free-nitrate levels either through natural-export or water changes (or just have the tank super-well established maybe?)@_@ Oiy

I really hope things just click this time around for you, I love these tiny little crustaceans and will happily be vicariously-enjoying them through your journal =p 

It certainly is a delicate balance, and recently I have realized that my higher-than-average nutrient levels are probably a key part of why all crustaceans in my tank seem to eventually go into a terminal nose-dive. Shrimp in particular are quite sensitive to high nitrates, so I will have to work on bringing those down. Of course I can't bring them too low or my macros will suffer for it... but I think I will strike a good balance pretty soon. I've been gradually feeding a bit less every day, so hopefully the one-two punch of reduced nutrient inputs plus new macroalgae additions (both in the display + the reinstated refugium) will help to curb organic nutrients to the point that they no longer threaten the health of my inverts. 

 

I imagine that a true macro tank with no fish or other animals that require consistent feeding would probably be a bit easier to care for. Once you figured out consumption rates you could dose nitrate and phosphate at fixed ratios, just like adding 2-part. That probably wouldn't be much of a biotope though, so it's not in the cards for me. 😄

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lizzyann
On 6/29/2019 at 8:57 PM, billygoat said:

I put together some photos from the past month to show how far my purple sea rod (Plexura flexuosa) has come. It has really taken a total U-turn since being first introduced to my tank; in the beginning it was so upset from shipping that I was certain it was going to die, but over the past few weeks it has gradually improved every day. Now it looks healthy and happy! It's crazy to think that at one point I was considering just giving up and throwing this animal away - that's how sure I was that it wasn't going to make it. The danged thing sure proved me wrong though, and I am happy for it. 😊

 

5/26. About 4 days after I added it, the gorg was getting chewed on by my brittle star. Pieces of dead flesh were falling off the tips. It looked pretty dire.

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5/31. Tiny polyps were just starting to show, but tissue loss continued. Several branches disintegrated within the next week and had to be clipped.

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6/19. By this point tissue loss had ceased, and polyp extension was becoming more regular and prominent. A good portion of the original skeleton ended up getting clipped off, but what remained looked pretty good! It was well on the road to recovery.

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Today, 6/29. Full, fuzzy polyp extension from the tips of the branches all the way down to the edge of the base. It's even starting to grow on the left hand side! I think at this point it is safe to declare this animal healthy.

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Plexaura is a temperamental gorgonian and a delicate shipper, but is very beautiful once it becomes established. Here's hoping it continues to grow and thrive in the months and years to come! 😁

Love seeing this progression!

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billygoat
9 hours ago, lizzyann said:

Love seeing this progression!

Me too! "Before and after" photos are one of my favorite parts of having a journal. It's really gratifying to see photographic evidence of how far things have come. 😊

 

Just a quick picture from this morning before I go to work! I had to zoom in real far to get a good shot, but these are some cool orange colonial tunicates that have been growing in my tank for many months now.

 

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Maddie

I hope your luck with crustaceans changes! I also just got a Porcelain crab, and when I can see him he's very interesting. 

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billygoat
23 hours ago, Maddie said:

I hope your luck with crustaceans changes! I also just got a Porcelain crab, and when I can see him he's very interesting. 

Thanks Maddie! I had a porcelain crab for awhile in the past, and it seemed to do well before mysteriously dying for no apparent reason. That was a long time ago so I am hoping things have changed. They're really cool animals; I love their weird feeding appendages.

 

New livestock is arriving today! I should have a bunch of pictures by this evening. 😁

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billygoat

The stuff is here from Reef Cleaners! Hooray! omgomgomg This shipment was mostly a success. I'm a bit worried about the Laurencia, as it was broken into many fragments during shipping and I had to kind of rig it all back together. But anyway here are some pictures.

 

First, the Ulva for the 'fuge. I got a chunk about the size of a tennis ball. It seemed to have a lot of goodies in it, like amphipods and snails and things, so hopefully some of that will take root in my back chambers.

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Next the green "Agardhiella." This is a very lovely macro. I suspect it may actually be a color variation of some red alga, but whatever it is, I'm happy to have it in my tank!

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Here's some of the Laurencia. I actually had so many frags of it that I ended up with three clumps, which I don't really have space for! 😅 That means a lot of it ended up in parts of the tank where I didn't originally intend to put it, and the flow in those areas is not all that high. It looks kind of beat up but hopefully it will pull through.

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And at the base of one of the new clumps of Laurencia I spied this crazy worm! It seemed to be snipping pieces off the bottom of the new alga and pulling them back into its lair. This guy might be the source of those mysterious fecal pellets that I found awhile back! I am pretty sure this is not your average bristle worm; it looks quite different. Could be a Eunice worm but I think those are carnivores. I wish I had been able to get a better picture. I guess I'm just glad that it's interested in algae and not my fish? Hopefully it's just interested in dead growth or detritus and will leave the living portions alone.

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You can also see the zip tie I used to bunch together those stray Laurencia fragments to form the clump in the picture above. That's a technique I have used in the past with good success, as super glue holds a lot better on plastic than it does on pieces of macroalgae. In this case I cut the tie short and then glued it to a shell. Another method I like is taking a smallish, conical shell (like a Florida Cerith or Planaxis shell), filling the opening with super glue, inserting the bases of a clump of macroalgae into the glue, and then holding it underwater for 30 seconds or so. The glue sets quickly, locking the frags in place, and the cone-shaped shell serves as an anchor that you can bury in the sand without worrying about the current dragging your algae away.

 

I also got some of the obligatory RC 1-penny macroalgae. Looks like some kind of common Gracilaria, probably G. tikvahiae.

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The water is cloudy and all the gorgs and mushrooms are very upset because I was working in the tank for the better part of an hour, but here's a side-view shot with a lot of the new stuff showing!

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Oh and I got those crabs and shrimp too, and some pods as well. Those are all alive. But macros guys! Macros! omgomgomg

I'll get some pictures of the new inverts later. 😅

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billygoat

Turns out the weird worm I mentioned in the previous post is definitely not fickle about whether the algae it eats is alive or dead. 😅 I had to reshuffle some stuff in the tank to make sure that no delicious fleshy macros were in his area, otherwise he'd probably have completely gone to town on my new Laurencia! It all makes sense now though; a few weeks back I had a few frags of red grape algae on that side of the tank that just randomly disappeared overnight. That was very vexing, but now I understand that this bizarre worm must have been the culprit.

 

So a few things got moved around! All the Agardhiella is now in the back corner near the worm's lair. The beast seems to prefer meatier macros and has shown no interest in the Halimeda, Agardhiella, or Gracilaria hayi that are over in that area. Agardhiella is a genus of red algae, but these specimens have a beautiful deep greenish-blue coloration.

 

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The Laurencia got moved to the center of the tank, where I hope it will not only be safe from the worm, but also get some better light and stronger water movement. That should help it recover from what seems to have been a rough shipping process. The orange bits in the picture below are damaged and will probably not survive, but most of the rest of the macro seems to be more or less intact.

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Here's one of those tiny decorator crabs (Naxia sp.). They are so difficult to spot that my camera actually has trouble focusing on them! They are very small and slow-moving but do seem to be pretty interested in climbing up my macros and eating epiphytes off of them. I imagine they are better than hermit crabs for this purpose because they are much lighter and don't have to lug a heavy shell around with them.

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Fisker

Sucks to hear about the worm, but he's pretty cool! Maybe you can find a way to remove him from the tank without murdering him - if you even plan to remove him. Cool crabs, too, although I don't see them faring well in my tank.

 

Interesting - the Laurencia I received had a very similar structure to yours, but was about the color that my Gracilaria Hayi is now. Very colorful, and not such a subdued red.

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billygoat
3 hours ago, Fisker said:

Sucks to hear about the worm, but he's pretty cool! Maybe you can find a way to remove him from the tank without murdering him - if you even plan to remove him. Cool crabs, too, although I don't see them faring well in my tank.

 

Interesting - the Laurencia I received had a very similar structure to yours, but was about the color that my Gracilaria Hayi is now. Very colorful, and not such a subdued red.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to leave the worm to his own devices. He's been in there for who knows how long already and things seem to be going pretty well, so I see no reason to remove him. Biodiversity is the name of the game, after all. The crabs are very neat but I'm sure your puffer would snack on them in an instant!

 

I imagine the Laurencia will lighten up over time as it adjusts to the conditions in my tank. Red macros tend to be wildly variable when it comes to color and morphology, so I would't be surprised if that one looks totally different a few weeks or months down the road. Assuming it survives, that is. 😅

 

The tank is looking pretty full with all the new arrivals in! Compare the top FTS here (taken this afternoon) with the one below, which is from April. 

 

7/4

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4/14

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Things have come a long way, that's for sure... but there is further still to go before this system really matures! I can't wait to see how things grow in the months to come.

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Lypto

I had some of the Agardhiella a little while ago, They change colors depending on the light they receive, like how some land based plants change colors from green to red to utilize different spectrum in high light. It might color more red under higher light. I recognize that worm, I have a few like it in a quarantine tank for cold water macro's. 

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billygoat
13 hours ago, Lypto said:

I had some of the Agardhiella a little while ago, They change colors depending on the light they receive, like how some land based plants change colors from green to red to utilize different spectrum in high light. It might color more red under higher light. I recognize that worm, I have a few like it in a quarantine tank for cold water macro's. 

Oh yeah; I totally expect that Agardhiella (and the Laurencia as well) to be a rather different shade of green/red a few months down the line. I'm quite curious to see what color they become once they get accustomed to conditions in my tank.

 

Right, so about those inverts that I also got.

 

Peppermint shrimp! The simplest shrimp you can get. I am a simple man; what can I say. This shrimp already seems to have eaten two small Aiptasia, which is great, and it's behaving normally so far. I am hoping this guy is one of the good ones, because I saw RFAs on sale at Reef Cleaners for $8 yesterday and couldn't talk myself out of buying one. I'm going to be target feeding this shrimp with a piece of flake morning and evening every day, so hopefully it won't get hungry enough to go after the rock flower 'nem once it arrives. Assuming the shrimp lives that long, of course. 😁😅

 

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The Naxia crabs have certainly wasted no time in making themselves at home! Just two days in and they are already thoroughly decorated. I'm actually quite surprised at how effective they are as cleaners; this guy singlehandedly trimmed down a decent-sized patch of wiry red hair algae that nothing else in my tank has ever been interested in eating. You can see him wearing some of it on his back now, presumably as a trophy of his conquest. Grisly.

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I was also thinking of getting a temperature controller since very hot weather will probably be in the cards here in LA pretty soon. But after examining my remaining power outlet options, I decided against it. 😅

 

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Amphrites

Wait, RFA's were on sale for $8? Why do I miss these things...

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billygoat
36 minutes ago, Amphrites said:

Wait, RFA's were on sale for $8? Why do I miss these things...

Yeah John at RC had them up as a special for the 4th of July, I think. I'm fairly sure he had them limited to 1 per customer, but they still sold out within hours, as you can imagine. $8 + shipping is considerably less than the flat price tag of most other RFAs I've seen, so I couldn't help myself. Hopefully it won't turn out to be an irresponsible decision. 😅 We'll see when the 'nem arrives next week!

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TatorTaco

The temp controller won’t require an additional power outlet. 🙂

 

Words are hard so I’m including a pic. Simply unplug the outlet the heater is going to, and replace that outlet with the temperature controller. Then, you’d plug your heater/fan into the temperature controller’s plugs. 

 

Make sense?

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billygoat
9 hours ago, TatorTaco said:

The temp controller won’t require an additional power outlet. 🙂

Well! I must have misinterpreted the way it works! That makes perfect sense. If that's the case I will probably end up getting one. Not sure what to do for a cooling solution as I have not really seen any good reviews about fans for aquarium use (most of them rust quickly and fall to pieces) and I am not really in the market to spend $300+ on a chiller, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it I guess.

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melson

Dudeeee, sweet decorator crabs! Now I want some!!!

 

And yes you get that controller. take the top off when it warms up and don't let your house get too hot! :)

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billygoat
7 hours ago, melson said:

Dudeeee, sweet decorator crabs! Now I want some!!!

 

And yes you get that controller. take the top off when it warms up and don't let your house get too hot! 🙂

They are definitely very cool crabs! Not the worst cleaners either, surprisingly. As for the hot weather, I already have a screen lid prepared, so hopefully I will be able to make it through the summer without any problems. Sooner or later I will get a controller and that will help as well. 🤞

 

It's been about a month since one of my mushrooms embarked on its magical journey towards a spot a few inches away, and the little tidbit it left behind is starting to look more like a clone of its parent! At first it was just a shapeless mass of brown goo, but now it is showing a definite oral disc with a tiny little mouth in the center. There might even be a second "head" underneath of it as well. Pretty cool.

 

Also it's been really cool to see the area of bare rock that used to be shaded by the parent mushroom get gradually colonized by coralline algae. All sorts of different varieties are settling in to get a piece of the action.

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Wonderboy

Awesome - that definitely looks like two

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billygoat
On 7/6/2019 at 7:53 PM, Wonderboy said:

Awesome - that definitely looks like two

I can't wait for 'em to grow up! I wonder if they are mature enough to actually eat anything. Maybe I can accelerate their growth by target-feeding them Reef Roids. 🤔

 

My electric company has informed me that I have a couple of planned power outages coming up in the near future. This is not a huge deal since I have a battery backup for my MP10 and the outages are scheduled for the middle of the night (9pm - 5am) so my lights will be off regardless. But it's a little distressing for my refugium, since that late-night period is when the grow light on my Ulva is normally turned on. This means that there will be several 36-hour periods where my refugium will be lit for only a few hours a day. Ulva is pretty tough, so I am hoping that this won't have a major impact on my 'fuge, but it's still got me a bit concerned.

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billygoat

I had to move one of my clumps of Agardhiella to the front. It's a very pretty alga and I felt it was being wasted back in the rear of the aquarium. Looks pretty nice up near the middle of the viewing window! I'll get FTS sometime soon to show it off.

 

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I'm starting to see pods on the glass of my display! It's a sight I haven't seen since the early days of my aquarium. I hope that means the refugium is working!

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Wonderboy

That is such an awesome macro! 

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Ratvan
4 minutes ago, Wonderboy said:

That is such an awesome macro! 

+1 on that

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WV Reefer

Not to freak you out but when I had my Eunice worm he looooved macro algae. He would shred it, eat it and build with it. 

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