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billygoat

Billy's 18g Caribbean Biotope

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billygoat
On 3/14/2020 at 10:19 PM, Coastie said:

Hey Billy! Your tank is a stunner (obviously you know that from TOTM!).  I almost bought the exact same tank as a temp tank while I rented!  I was looking when they were first introduced so they were sold out everywhere.  I ended up finding a deal on a used IM Nuvo 20 and while I loved that tank, and would have loved the Cobalt, the 40 breeder is where it's at!  I agree that you don't need to upgrade, but a 40B can be purchased at Petco for $50.  They're having the $1 a gallon sale right now.  Pair it with a 20L and it is the perfect setup!

 

Anyhow, loving the jawfish! I've had two in my inexperienced days.  Unfortunately I learned life lessons the hard way.  They are/were my favorite fish but I won't allow myself getting another due to the fish I've lost.

Thanks for your kind words @Coastie! I definitely considered the 40 breeder as a potential upgrade, but I eventually decided that I want something that is a little less broad and a little deeper. I'd like to have some really tall gorgonian colonies some day, and that will likely call for a tank with a lot of vertical space. If I had a general mixed reef though, 40b has some very fine dimensions. I especially liked @Sharbuckle's 40b TOTM from 2018. That's one of my favorite tanks from the archive.

 

As for the jawfish - I love them too and consider them to be very interesting. I sometimes get the impression that mine is a bit cramped (the tank is probably just a smidge too small/cluttered for him), but he's certainly settled down quite a lot since his early days in my system. He used to be a champion jumper! 😅

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billygoat

So I, like many people around the world, will probably be spending a lot of time in my home in the near future. I've decided to take advantage of this situation by testing out a new maintenance routine that I've been kicking around for awhile now: I'm going to try pushing water changes back to 3 gallons once every other week, rather than 2 gallons weekly. This is something I've been meaning to try for some time, but I've been hesitant to go for it. I've done weekly water changes for the past 15 months and have met with good results, but with all this time on my hands to watch my tank and with my refugium finally growing plenty of algae (both Chaeto and GHA, which I think is probably fine), I think that the time to try dialing back my WCs is finally at hand. I'll be careful to observe and monitor my livestock of course, but I'm optimistic about this working out. Less maintenance would certainly be amazing! 😁

 

Today was supposed to be water change day, but I just scraped the glass and replaced my filter floss instead. I'll test parameters this afternoon and make a note of my levels so I can watch them over the course of the next week and see if they stray too far from where I'd like them to be. The only numbers I'm really concerned about are magnesium and trace elements like iodine, as these are things I generally don't dose and rely on water changes to cover. We'll see how it goes. 🤞

 

Here are a few pictures from feeding time, with all the fish out and about.

 

IMG_1175.thumb.JPG.0f892a38d6163ba75173731aeca8162d.JPG

 

The fish are very happy about getting fed, but they aren't the only ones: each morning at feeding time an eldritch terror stirs in the depths of my live rock, waving its dreadful, mindless arms in search of prey. It's huge!

 

IMG_1174.thumb.JPG.103e505e921a761689a84c4dfc25e3f4.JPG

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DNR88

Woaw, that would definitly freak me out! 😳

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Poison Dart Frog

I love the ancient Lovecraftian horror emerging from the depths to wreak havoc on mankind. 

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billygoat
7 hours ago, DNR88 said:

Woaw, that would definitly freak me out! 😳

 

5 hours ago, Poison Dart Frog said:

I love the ancient Lovecraftian horror emerging from the depths to wreak havoc on mankind. 

That brittle star is certainly a bit of a terror, no mistake about that! I wish I could get a good picture of it when it's prowling around in the open at night, but as soon as I shine a light in the tank it rushes to the nearest shelter. Like most things born in ancient darkness it seems to have a burning hatred of the light. 

 

It's useful though! When my gorgonians are shedding the brittle star comes over at night and eats all the dead skin off of them. And it's definitely an excellent scavenger as well.

 

Anyway, I wanted to record some parameters here since I tested today for the first time in a long while. We'll see how they change over the next week with no water change. I didn't test organics as those seem to take care of themselves (and my kits are all expired), but here's everything else:

KH 7.7

Ca 400

Mg 1240

Iodine 0.05

 

And since you took the time to come and read this, here are some more pictures! 😁 The tank was looking pretty good today.

 

IMG_1181.thumb.JPG.0d906742ef51fc2400f7005f84e99ad0.JPG

 

IMG_1182.thumb.JPG.c5192f2778c9414548f57f6537bfbee4.JPG

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Coastie

Welp, that settles it.  Now I'm getting some ricordias, thanks for that!  They look awesome in your tank!

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billygoat
10 hours ago, Coastie said:

Welp, that settles it.  Now I'm getting some ricordias, thanks for that!  They look awesome in your tank!

Ricordea are definitely some of the most beautiful soft corals around, and I'm very lucky to have had great success with them so far. Honestly though, I feel like it's been mostly luck! I am really not sure what I've done to make them happy. 😅 

 

The tricky thing about Rics is that they inhabit a wide variety of different habitats in nature, from shallow near-shore environments to fairly deep reef slopes. This means that the lighting preferences of each individual specimen can be very different - it all depends on where they were collected. You kind of have to experiment with it a bit when you first get yours in, and see how they react to various different places in your tank. All things considered they seem to be very hardy though, and I'd recommend them to anyone who likes softies. 👍

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cosmicbread

I'm still trying to decide, among the various eldritch horrors of your tank, who I would rather align with. I *did* mention once that I was totally a Maw fangirl, however your scarlet-legged demigorgon has a certain ghoulish appeal.

 

I wonder what else is lurking under those rocks of yours...

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billygoat
5 hours ago, cosmicbread said:

I'm still trying to decide, among the various eldritch horrors of your tank, who I would rather align with. I *did* mention once that I was totally a Maw fangirl, however your scarlet-legged demigorgon has a certain ghoulish appeal.

Personally, I think I'm still in the Maw camp. I have a feeling that it is only a matter of time before it covers my rocks, my glass, my sand - everything in my tank - until there is nothing but its ravening, gaping mouth gloating over the remains of my reef. It's a lovable terror of a mushroom. The brittle star is definitely pretty cool too though... I mean, as cool as an mindless horror that feeds on corpses can be. Which I guess is pretty dang cool, when it comes down to it. 😅

 

5 hours ago, cosmicbread said:

I wonder what else is lurking under those rocks of yours...

Funny that you ask! 😁 How about this guy?

 

IMG_0729.JPG.9897b01c6a7ffbd849abd251e7f99a7c.JPG

 

Right there in the center you can see a weird, chalk-white, burrowing chiton. There are at least two of them in my tank and they are about an inch and a half long. They live under the rocks, and come out at night to graze on algae. Sometimes I see them up against the glass deep in my sandbed, feeding on whatever it is that's edible down there. Definitely very bizarre animals. Makes me wonder, as you said, what other creatures might still be lurking in my tank, waiting to be discovered! 🤔

 

That photo of the chiton is from many months ago (I don't get a chance to take pictures of them often, as you can imagine), but here are a few shots from this morning: Caribbean cup coral, Briareum polyps, Lurch the hermit, and some brown Palythoas.

 

IMG_1191.JPG.0fde7e5ed8d63560ca5c1ac3b8320ef5.JPG  IMG_1190.JPG.f59d4d7d567feebacd04edcc161df326.JPG  IMG_1187.JPG.a8a55085897c4768c5d0a0cfd07a5068.JPG  IMG_1192.JPG.99e5edf1f14f16cad3ad858592da46fd.JPG

 

Thanks as always for reading. I hope all of you out there in reefing-land are doing well. ❤️

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Tired

I have those same chitons! I've seen them burrowing, too. Or, crawling under the sand- I'm not sure it counts as burrowing when they're just kinda going all over the glass regardless of the sand. I also have a lot of tiny gray ones that do the same thing, and I'm hoping they aren't the same species. Because if they are, they're going to become far too much chiton mass.

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Ratvan

Team Maw myself, would love to see how big that can actually grow.

 

That Brittle Star is great as well, the picture reminded me of a time when i was using a Cobra Reels on sewer blockages. I took a wrong turn and ended up ripping someones shower curtain off the rail by mistake after going through the house drainage and popping up in the shower drain 

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billygoat
15 hours ago, Tired said:

I have those same chitons! I've seen them burrowing, too. Or, crawling under the sand- I'm not sure it counts as burrowing when they're just kinda going all over the glass regardless of the sand. I also have a lot of tiny gray ones that do the same thing, and I'm hoping they aren't the same species. Because if they are, they're going to become far too much chiton mass.

You're right, those chitons don't really seem to tunnel through the sand so much as they just plow through it as they cruise along various hard surfaces. I've got a feeling that creatures like these are more common than most people realize, since they are largely subterranean and only come out at night. Hopefully you don't end up with too many of them in your tank!

 

5 hours ago, Ratvan said:

Team Maw myself, would love to see how big that can actually grow.

 

That Brittle Star is great as well, the picture reminded me of a time when i was using a Cobra Reels on sewer blockages. I took a wrong turn and ended up ripping someones shower curtain off the rail by mistake after going through the house drainage and popping up in the shower drain 

Oh man, that's a hilarious story! Now I'm going to have nightmares about giant, writhing red bristle star arms come up through my shower drain. 😂

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Ratvan
1 minute ago, billygoat said:

Oh man, that's a hilarious story! Now I'm going to have nightmares about giant, writhing red bristle star arms come up through my shower drain. 😂

I just have the image of this poor women screaming her head off as this massive metal claw (covered in sewerage) came out the drain, grabbed the shower curtain, pulled it off the rings one at a time, wildly flung it around so it wraps around the claw before vanishing back down teh drain.

 

I can only imagine the mess that made lmao. 

 

How are you and the tank doing? Stocked up on supplies? My online orders will be delayed by at least 2 weeks at the moment and LFS's are shut. Going to rely on the kindness of reefers to get me through this. Even my Spotless Water account has been frozen due to Covid 19

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billygoat
3 hours ago, Ratvan said:

 

How are you and the tank doing? Stocked up on supplies? My online orders will be delayed by at least 2 weeks at the moment and LFS's are shut. Going to rely on the kindness of reefers to get me through this. Even my Spotless Water account has been frozen due to Covid 19

I'm doin' alright man, thanks for asking. Luckily I have plenty of reefing stuff stocked up - fish food, salt, Ca and KH supplements, etc. Looks like it may become kind of tricky to order these things in the coming weeks, as you've mentioned. I wish you were closer by so I could share my stockpile with you (and also give you some gorgonians).

 

Can't wait to see your new freshwater build come together! The pictures you shared in your new thread look incredible. I'm excited about it. 😁

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Ratvan
17 hours ago, billygoat said:

I'm doin' alright man, thanks for asking. Luckily I have plenty of reefing stuff stocked up - fish food, salt, Ca and KH supplements, etc. Looks like it may become kind of tricky to order these things in the coming weeks, as you've mentioned. I wish you were closer by so I could share my stockpile with you (and also give you some gorgonians).

 

Can't wait to see your new freshwater build come together! The pictures you shared in your new thread look incredible. I'm excited about it. 😁

Lol don't give me Gorgs. I seem to do better with SPS at the moment, probably because i am terrified of losing them so I do undertake regular water changes. 

Yeah I am excited for that to come together, have ordered the Shells now for the Shell Dwellers so they should be here in a few weeks. Have ordered my plants as well for next week so hoping Friday I should have some plants, wood as well as the stones and sand. 

 

I have also found a wholesaler/breeder who can get me some Tangs (Tanganyika Cichlids), debating the many different types of shell dwellers at the moment and whether i could make it a community Cichlid tank or just a Species only 

 

Back up plan with be the Yellow Labs, but will need more rock for that

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billygoat

Well! It's a been a very busy day on the reef, and no mistake! Let me explain.

 

A few days ago I embarked on a minor rescape, just to see if I could get some of my larger corals to play nice with each other. It all went fine, and I deliberately avoided interfering with the area where my jawfish lived. The jawfish, however, was not so easily appeased. He left his burrow during the night and went on a digging rampage, apparently unaware of the fact that he had a perfectly nice home right at the back of the tank. His excavations were extremely extensive, and in the morning I found a huge mess in the tank. It was clear that I'd be spending some time with my hands in the water. After a period of brainstorming and general contemplation, I decided to take the opportunity to do a total rescape. I moved a lot of stuff around and changed the general arrangement of many of the corals. Here's a quick and dirty FTS with cloudy water and irritated corals:

 

IMG_1195.thumb.JPG.f70d5b4601002563a43ae1ab70f1b059.JPG

 

I tried my best to move my Ricordea back towards the front of the tank, where they'd be more visible. I think this new arrangement has a lot more room for the fish to swim and hide, and the jawfish seems happy in the new burrow he has set up right in the center of the tank (behind the Briareum in the middle). It was a very stressful day though, with lots of changes! I did a water change this afternoon and I may do another tomorrow, depending on how everything looks in the morning.

 

I also made a cool discovery while I was moving my rocks around: a lost Ricordea polyp! This guy was buried by my jawfish ages ago; I found him on the underside of one of my rocks, languishing in total darkness. This polyp used to be enormous and beautiful, so hopefully it will re-attach and rebound quickly.

 

IMG_1196.thumb.JPG.99d2fd4067326269bc5d0bdb9a889180.JPG

 

More pictures to come tomorrow, once everything settles down and my general situation gets back to normal.

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debbeach13

I like the new look

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billygoat

Well, I haven't been able to grab any really decent photos since the rescape, which is probably just as well since I've been tweaking and adjusting the positions of several things and may continue to do so in the coming days. The overall look of the tank is appealing to me though. All in all I think I am pleased with the new arrangement. Here's a picture from this afternoon, with a few gorgs halfway-closed 'cause I was botherin' them.

 

Check out those blue zoas in the center too. They look to be coming back pretty strong! 🤞

IMG_1200.thumb.JPG.a0fa40bf9e9e7b084f122e449a2ab48e.JPG

 

The chalk bass seems to like the new layout. I've noticed her spending a bit more time swimming around since I changed it up.

IMG_1198.thumb.JPG.564cfcbe6b748d220f2c2aab5738bcfa.JPG

 

Everything is still a bit disturbed but it should be calming down well enough soon. Better pictures to come!

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Coastie

Layout looks awesome!

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Tired

Once again, looks gorgeous. I normally don't like the tightly packed setup, but this is a nice color/shape salad. I think because of all the different shapes.

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billygoat
On 3/23/2020 at 9:01 PM, Coastie said:

Layout looks awesome!

Thanks! It's still very much a work in progress though... we'll see if it stays good, or if my jawfish destroys everything. 😅

 

23 hours ago, Tired said:

Once again, looks gorgeous. I normally don't like the tightly packed setup, but this is a nice color/shape salad. I think because of all the different shapes.

I appreciate it. To be honest with you, this tank is a bit too cluttered for my taste as well. I feel like I have just one or two too many corals, and just can't quite arrange everything in the natural-looking way that I'm shooting for. The jawfish is definitely a serious wrench in my aquascaping plans too. When I rescape he has to do his prospecting routine all over again, which means that every morning I wake up to a gigantic pile of sand burying something in a new location. It's a super cool fish but if I had the chance I'd go back in time and inform my past self that it's a poor fit for such a cluttered tank as mine. 😓

 

Anyway, I'm still working out the exact positioning of various things in the tank. More pictures to come!

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cosmicbread

Lovely, as usual.

 

Somewhat funnily, I too tormented my tank inhabitants had a little rescape. Man, if it doesnt always take hours and create a lot of chaos.

But, hopefully for the better.

 

The new look is nice; balanced, but still rocking that “slice of the wilderness” vibage.

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DNR88

I agree with the one who said (who was it??) that most tanks looks just like a collection of corals and not like a natural habitat. I think it's really hard to (re)create something that looks so untouched and natural, especially in a nano tank. Anyway, something like this should be possible to make, right? I think less is really more in this case.

41105049_CozumelUnderseaWorld.thumb.jpg.230c5b80a7ef07ab35ceb5a7aba405c9.jpg

 

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billygoat
On 3/25/2020 at 2:46 PM, cosmicbread said:

Lovely, as usual.

 

Somewhat funnily, I too tormented my tank inhabitants had a little rescape. Man, if it doesnt always take hours and create a lot of chaos.

But, hopefully for the better.

 

The new look is nice; balanced, but still rocking that “slice of the wilderness” vibage.

Thank you so much for your kind words! The rescape has been a definite chore and no mistake. I think I spent five hours with my hands in the tank on the first day, plus a bit more time each day thereafter making adjustments and small changes. I've finally got it in a place that I like though, so I am pretty happy about it. More to come on that a bit further down though.

 

3 hours ago, DNR88 said:

I agree with the one who said (who was it??) that most tanks looks just like a collection of corals and not like a natural habitat. I think it's really hard to (re)create something that looks so untouched and natural, especially in a nano tank. Anyway, something like this should be possible to make, right? I think less is really more in this case.

41105049_CozumelUnderseaWorld.thumb.jpg.230c5b80a7ef07ab35ceb5a7aba405c9.jpg

 

There are a lot of ways to go about making a beautiful reef tank, and I think that each method has its own merits. I personally aim for the "naturalistic" look that you describe, but I can understand the appeal of SPS gardens or monocultures of some specific coral/anemone, etc. As far as nature is concerned, well... reefs that have coral cover approaching 100% do exist in certain locations, but generally speaking the sort of scene shown in your photograph seems to be more common: rocks will be covered not just with corals, but with sediment or algae, or with an assortment of sessile invertebrates that are essentially impossible to keep alive in a nano tank. Rocks in locations with heavy herbivory may even remain permanently bare! Creating such scenes in home aquaria seems like it should be easier than simply jamming your tank with corals, but in practice it can be pretty difficult to strike a good balance. I'm always interested to observe the different ways that people go about sculpting their reefs. 😊

 

And speaking of sculpting, I have a few updates for you guys today. There's good news, and rather awful news. Let's start with the good news: coral-wise, my rescape has been a total success!

 

IMG_1206.thumb.JPG.5f6f5e00a84bd113fcdb95b08e0c289f.JPG

 

This photo really doesn't do it justice, but I'm really digging the look of the new layout. There tank looks more open, the gorgonians seem less cluttered, and everything is massively extended. I'm seeing better polyp extension that I've ever seen before in every single one of my corals - including the big Eunicea, which I cut in half two days ago. Here are some more pictures of various invertebrates from around the tank:

 

IMG_1209.JPG.d8ed3e3573386f14ea86eeec185527e4.JPG  IMG_1208.JPG.b29c8935390b42f93db7d0e55e5aae26.JPG  IMG_1207.JPG.f98a11fb55e0f1158e2565b40a2cadf1.JPG  IMG_1210.JPG.1ad6bf2ca68e1d77ba370379904a1679.JPG

 

Now, on to the bad news... my chalk bass is on the brink of death, and probably will not survive. 😥

 

Scroll up just a bit in this thread and you will find that only a few days ago this fish was in prime health, eating aggressively and behaving normally by all accounts. Yesterday morning I found her languishing in a corner, with a split fin, abrasions on one side of her body, and stringy white poop of the kind that aquarists really hate to see. I have no idea what happened, but it looks like something went downhill very quickly a few nights ago. Perhaps the fish was caught and stung by one of my corals or anemones, or perhaps it simply was harboring an internal parasite that was brought to the fore by the stress induced by my rescaping activities. At any rate, the little bass looks bad, and I fear it will not survive the night. I have no medications to administer and no quarantine facilities available, so sadly there is little I can do but hope this fish pulls through. 😔

 

IMG_1201.thumb.JPG.254755fdc40f07398c44d74c13205d68.JPG

 

So yeah, there have been ups and downs over the past week and a half or so, but I'd say that on balance I am pleased with how things turned out. Thanks as always for stopping by and reading. 🙏

 

 

 

 

 

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debbeach13

That’s to bad. Good luck with the fish.

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