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ValerieR

Evo 13.5 Mantis Reef Tank

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ValerieR

I started out with a trip the the LFS to "look". Found Mr Pickles, labeled as a "Green Mantis".

Decided after 10+ years away, that I needed another predator tank. Researched, decided on the Evo 13.5 for general ease and compactness. We don't have a lot of space, which is why I didn't have a tank yet. Set up the tank using buried pvc for tunnels and LifeRock Shapes for scaping, added water on April 4th. Cycled with Mr Tim's, "live" sand, and a healthy clump of chaeto from my LFS. Tossed in a sacrificial small pair of threadfin cardinals (cheapest fish at the LFS) for ammonia and backup meal plan. Tested, tested, tested... tank cycled in about a week. Picked up Mr Pickles and 2 huge Turbo Snails which could hopefully withstand some bashing. Got a sand sifting star for detritus. Got an Octospawn (a wall - had looked like a branching initially at the store) and some zoas from the $10 and $20 bin. Mr Pickles eats krill from tongs easily. Cardinals prove harder to feed, mysis in the water column makes a mess.

 

Got the intank chamber for chamber 1. Turned chamber 2 into a fuge. Having issues with wild temperature swings. Octo isn't doing so well.  Added a controller. Added an ATO. Added another light. Occasional improvement followed by more decline. Started nightly searches for pests.

 

Mr Pickles is still doing well, holes up in the tubes at night. Research discovered he is likely a she and is a Pseudosquilla Ciliata, a spearer. After two weeks she buried herself in her tubes and won't come out. I think it's time to molt. LFS said they had her at least two months. 

 

Have added more corals. Everything is doing well except the octo. I dipped it. I changed the water flow. I tested. Everything looks fine, yet, it declines. I'm beginning to suspect an overzealous Turbo of picking at the lower edges, causing it to retract and stress out. 

 

Algae growth is appropriate, chaeto/ grape culerpa in the fuge is growing. Tank is chock full of pods, which may explain why the cardinals never seem hungry. Micro brittle stars that came in the grape culerpa are doing well. I hand sorted and picked them out to put in the display portion. PH as of today (5/8/19) is 8.0, ammonia is 0, nitrate is 0, nitrite is 5.0, salinity is 1.025 and temp ranges 0.5 degrees from 78, usually 78-78.5. I do 1 gallon weekly water changes. We added a purple firefish last weekend to have something that would swim around. The cardinals aren't like Biaggi (sp?) Cardinals like the LFS said, but are schooling and want a group, so they are healthy, but hide a lot. The Firefish promptly tried to hide in Mr Pickles' tubes, but we were able to block them until it found another place in the rock. It wasn't too expensive at $15; I won't put a fish in I'd be devistated to see eaten, but this one is at least interesting to watch for now. I may try to trade the cardinals for almost anything else. 

 

Current corals: Octospawn, candycane, red acan, green acan, orange/green zoas, GSP both long and short variety, duncan, small liverock piece with a mushroom, featherdusters, and sponge on it. Considering getting a peppermint shrimp or 1-2 hermits while Mr Pickles is in hiding. Maybe they won't smell "new" my the time she comes out and might survive... briefly. 

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Christopher Marks

Awesome to see another mantis shrimp nano reef come online, Mr Pickles is really cool! Keep us posted on how it's going @ValerieR!

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ValerieR

I will. Just hoping she's molting instead of dying, and that she'll come through it ok. Saw movement in there last week, so still hoping for the best. It's nerve-wracking though. But mantis shrimp are hardy, so just trying to focus on the coral issues I'm having, since I'm new to corals. I've only ever done planted discus  or cichlid tanks and dwarf lionfish/stingfish/wasps or eels in FOWLR/macro before. 

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WV Reefer
14 minutes ago, ValerieR said:

I will. Just hoping she's molting instead of dying, and that she'll come through it ok. Saw movement in there last week, so still hoping for the best. It's nerve-wracking though. But mantis shrimp are hardy, so just trying to focus on the coral issues I'm having, since I'm new to corals. I've only ever done planted discus  or cichlid tanks and dwarf lionfish/stingfish/wasps or eels in FOWLR/macro before. 

 

Mr Pickles is super cute. 😀

 

-If you can handle discus and cichlids then you should have no problems with corals. 

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ValerieR

Got a few new coral frags from the $10-15 bins at my LFS. A nice orange/yellow zoa with long feelers, a small pink/green birdsnest frag, and a favia. I rearranged the water flow to try to help the octo get more movement and I glued the 2nd Acan up by the 1st. I added 3 small hermit crabs to help sift sand etc. 

 

With the new water movement at the surface, the old water film is gone. The water/light ripples more than before, and the light seems really yellow. I ordered and installed a blue light to add on to the existing blue/white one I added a few weeks ago. 

 

Still no mantis sightings, but no ammonia spike, so hopeful it's still doing ok. 

 

I'm starting to see my 1st zoas put out new polyps, and my Duncan is growing new flesh down over its skeleton, which I take to be good. It eats like a champ. My acans seem to be growing, and my long GSP is putting out new polyps too. New zoa eats pellets very aggressively. I've accepted that the octo will likely die. It's possible it was a fresh cut (wall frag) and just didn't take fragging well. Or just isn't happy in my tank. Euphyllia is my favorite, but I just don't know how to turn its downward slide around. My LFS only has cheap torches, which I'm not a big fan of, but maybe I'll try one just to find a spot it likes. If it does well, I can trade it in and look for another frogspawn/octo. 

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ValerieR

Stopped by the LFS that I got the cheap Duncan at on my way home from work today... ended up with a nice 1-1/2 head green frogspawn,20190515_175843.thumb.jpg.21170d6bb9366b8b540ec193509039b2.jpg

3 little xenia frags,20190515_175837.thumb.jpg.48f8d8fbfb631eb016cbd14595abf33b.jpg

and a cool looking mushroom/rock. 20190515_175908.thumb.jpg.2a9e3cd0e1ed14a119ff16318430b8ea.jpg

Total? $33. I'm happy. This place had some beautiful stuff. Just better not forget to dip... lots of stuff wriggles and falls off when I do. We'll see how it all acclimates... the store had another color of frogspawn and a bunch of hammer coral. If this frogspawn does well, I'd like more. 20190515_175920.thumb.jpg.b4a8b071cfd7f93290a02d28f73a1a25.jpg

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Christopher Marks
On 5/14/2019 at 7:11 AM, ValerieR said:

Got a few new coral frags from the $10-15 bins at my LFS.

My favorite place to find frags! Good call on dipping new frags before adding them, what kind of coral dip do you like to use?

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ValerieR
9 hours ago, Christopher Marks said:

My favorite place to find frags! Good call on dipping new frags before adding them, what kind of coral dip do you like to use?

I've been using Coral Rx. I add a squirt of it straight to the existing bag water (all moved into a cup), then after 5-10 min of swishing with the turkey baster by hand (blowing flatworms off and rescuing fleeing microbrittle stars and copepods) I rinse/swish in a cup of clean tank water, then just add to the tank. I had been drip acclimating, but heard it's not required, so skipped it this time.

 

Coral Rx wants me mixing it by the gallon, but that's way too much so I kinda wing it because their instructions don't help under that volume. If things don't flee, I add a bit more. Haven't gotten a fully "clean" piece of coral yet. 

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ValerieR

Stopped by to see if my LFS had any macroalgae. Ended up browsing and getting an anenome crab. I'm thinking if it hides enough in my Xenia or even on my Duncan, it may survive a little while. It was inexpensive enough to not cry if it doesn't last long though. 20190521_202112.thumb.jpg.cfff501827fde5b3c53da3475d283bad.jpg

 

They had a lot of paly in the same tank and I found a strangled out frogspawn bud just still holding on. I offered to rescue it, and they (to my amazement) agreed. They broke it off, as it's a pathetic little thing just smaller than a kernel of corn. I glued it to a plug big enough to keep it from being knocked over, and we'll see if I can keep it alive. It'd be neat to see it grow, and with branching frogspawn getting harder to find, I'd be happy to have it. It's still mad from being uprooted, but we'll see how it does. I'll move it around on the ground till I find a place it likes. 

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EthanPhillyCheesesteak

Just a question, I saw that you are using the instant ocean glue mold stuff to glue down your frags. How’d you glue them down exactly? Mine won’t stick? 

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ValerieR
3 hours ago, EthanPhillyCheesesteak said:

Just a question, I saw that you are using the instant ocean glue mold stuff to glue down your frags. How’d you glue them down exactly? Mine won’t stick? 

I use 2 things, one is the Instant Ocean putty/epoxy stuff. I use that to make not-flat things flat enough for mounting. I watched a youtube video before I did it that essentially said as it hardens, it'll lose its stickyness. So with that in mind, I made sure to press the putty into crags and bumps so it has something holding it in place other than adhesiveness. I glued my frag to it directly using Loctite Gel Superglue. For the Duncan, which I mounted in the back, I filled a small depression in the rock to make it flat-ish, then I added glue to my frag and pressed it into the still soft putty in place in the tank. The glue squished out a bit, but that's ok, and I know it'll stay. It's still bare white until I get more algae on it, but that's ok too. I'd never be able to mount corals where I have them without the glue and putty, because my Turbos are assholes. 

I hope that helped. 

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ValerieR

I'm very excited to see after 2 days of being very mad and withdrawn, my rescue frogspawn bud is out and at least trying today. I did crush some pellet food over it yesterday with tweezers, so not sure if it helped or not, but here we are. The flow doesn't seem too harsh, so hopeful it'll grow and not get smushed by anything. 20190523_164107.thumb.jpg.a6fd84fcc38c33451340718f9a4c8f43.jpg

 

My Anenome Crab hasn't picked a coral yet. I was hoping he's pick the xenia, but he says no. I may put him with the Duncan, but it wasn't happy he was hanging on it at first, so I moved him. Not sure if he'd hurt it or not. The (bigger) frogspawn has no major flesh over the base, so maybe that would work if I put him on it. 20190523_164150.thumb.jpg.4770f99cba651ff40254e152b6ca56f1.jpg

 

Otherwise, I killed some Aptasia, and the tank is just plugging along. I'm thinking about getting a stronger return pump and then turning off the in-tank Hydor. Still working through my options.

 

No mantis sightings yet. Starting to get worried. 

 

Apparently I need phone filters. I'll work on that. But hey, 3 frags vs 1 phone filter is still tilted strongly one way. 

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ValerieR

Lots of new things... I went by my LFS on Friday and they had an eel just like my old eel Harry, but a bit bigger. 20190524_152244.thumb.jpg.099ef5dd7c51bc43e71252940cf40b23.jpgSomeone dropped him off because they couldn't get him to eat. Long story short, LOTS of "this is a terrible idea" back and forth ensued, and I picked him up for a very very reasonable amount. Yes, I am aware, I have a very small tank. I'm working on that. And I've never had a "it refuses to eat" fish actually continue to refuse to eat, so that didn't worry me as much as it could have.

  I did my best to barricade the mantis tubes in, and put him in the tank. He hid in a corner, and found the tubes Saturday. Not interested in food. By Sunday he was sticking his head out of the tubes and eyeballing my firefish. Not interested in food. Monday, I came home from work and he was swimming around looking like hunting mode. 20190527_160126.thumb.jpg.e2c2ef54a9e94da46f994dce97447660.jpgI ran to thaw some krill, and got him to eat a piece. He and his krill shaped lump headed back for the tubes, only to be (what I assumed) chased back out in a HURRY. Good to know Mr Pickles is taking no shit, even if he isn't coming out to eat. He headed for the other side and settled in. 20190527_161917.thumb.jpg.02fc81da66905ab7d8a31d187f5ea2f2.jpgNow that he's eating, I promptly pulled the 2 threadfin cardinals out and "donated" them to my LFS. I got some more macro and a feeder shrimp for the tank. I also picked up a pvc coupling that will fit into the corner part and divide it into 2 pieces. They can sort out who gets which room themselves. This leaves Mr Pickles, Slimy (yep, my daughter named him), Violet the firefish, Mr Crabface, and the new unnamed feeder shrimp. I'm working on how fast I can get both predators moved into my still-in-storage JBJ AIO 28. We'll see. He should be ok for now, I'll watch the values carefully and keep up on my water changes. He's still a tiny thing... barely as big around as my pinky and maybe 12-18". 

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pricewayne

Am not a pro, but I've done a lot of reading on eels as I'd love on in the future. I don't know that the 28 gal JBJ will even be large enough for that eel... I believe the smallest eel is the Golden Dwarf moray that grows out to 10-12" and still recommended for a larger tank than 28g. I can't imagine even a 6" eel in my fluval -- let alone one with other inhabitants that's already 12-18" long. Hope it works out ok, but just calling out that seems a significantly small setup for an eel of that size.

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ValerieR

I'm working on the 28 for the "now", and will obviously need a bigger tank for later. I am aware of that. I have a 28 in storage, so it'll be the quickest thing I can get set up right now, and will work in the short term. 

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ValerieR

Just got home. Slimy is out again, watched him swim around for about 20 minutes. Thawed out a silverside this time and he took it right away. Went directly back into the PVC tubes as soon as he ate. He's HUNGRY. 

He is mildly afraid of the feeding tongs, but likes to "hunt" in the back of the tank where there's a bit of a rock overhang, and I can just lower the food item to right next to him and he can't see the tongs at all, just the food. I think it's helping. It's also the darkest corner of the tank. 

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ValerieR

So... Mantis carapice pieces have been floating out of the PVC tubes for the last few days. They look old, and it looks like there's rotton tissue on them. I don't think Mr Pickles made it through his shed, and it's taken Slimy going back and forth through the tubes to get the pieces to start coming out. It has been 7 weeks since I saw him last, but I'm still dissapointed. Slimy has been eating whatever I feed him, and Mr Pickles was significantly bigger than he was, so I don't think Slimy ate him. The sand sifting starfish has been hovering around the openings to the tunnels, so looks like I missed some cues. Maybe it's time to consider clear tubes next time so I could uncover the sand to check on things. 

 

If anyone has any suggestions on what Mantis mold pieces *should* look like, I'd be happy to hold out hope. Otherwise, I'll be trying to flush the tubes out with airline tubing held in front of the tank discharge, and accepting that this may be an eel only tank now. 

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ValerieR

Ghost writer today: Shelby, 8 years old.                               (Helped by my mom)

 

Well, apparently my eel is a jerk. He ate our feeder shrimp and the firefish, Violet. The anemone crab is doing okay. Mom picked up a struggling green candy cane colony ($10) and a nice two headed hammer coral from the LFS. The candy cane coral had like sixteen heads (which is totally weird) and we fragged three sections off and traded one to this guy for a green-tipped leather coral. Mom moved some stuff around, and re-aimed the circulation pump so the hammer and frogspawn won’t get blasted all the time. They seem pretty happy and are growing new tentacles. 

 

Back to the eel topic. Even though he ate the feeder shrimp and the fire fish he is still healthy, thankfully. He’s been very active and likes to swim through the PVC pipes and under the candy cane colony. We feed the snails nori seaweed every once in a while by sticking a giant clamp with a little Nori seaweed on it on the inside of the tank. Well we just found the feeder shrimp. He is hiding in a cave where we can’t really see him so that’s why we assumed he was eaten by the eel. But we haven’t seen Violet for like two days so Slimy probably ate her. A few days ago we caught the stomatella snail spawning into the water (clap clap clap!)! So hopefully my mom is going to let me take the second snail out of the AIO filter so they can “date”. 

 

 

My (Shelby) favorite coral in the tank is the Xenia because it is pink and it’s flowy and pretty. We stuck it on the wall with our special water glue.

 

                                                                                 -Shelby R. entry 

 

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ValerieR

There have been a few minor changes in the last 2 weeks. Mainly, I got a small magnetic frag rack. The turbo snails keep bulldozing everything, so this should help keep things upright. I also added a green plate coral, a small Blastomussa frag, a few more zoas and a couple mushrooms. 

 

Slimy has has gotten so comfortable that he pops out and swims around to investigate for food every time I move the lid - usually to pick up a fallen over frag. He eats anything I hand him now, including freeze dried krill. He just eats constantly if I’ll let him. He isn’t one for hunting shrimp however... the “feeder shrimp” I got him is still living quite happily. He has investigated my fingers a time or two, but a bop on the nose backed him off. Hopefully he stays as respectful as he grows. 

 

I’ve decided to upgrade to a 60 and I’ll get him a 2nd ghost ribbon eel “buddy”. I may add a few leaf fish, but with 2 ribbon eels, it’ll be about full already. I’ll go with 3 or 4 pvc tubes in the next tank so they can each have several tunnel choices. Trying to decide if I should start a new journal for that tank as I gather parts. My daughter wants to take over the 13.5 for a pair of clownfish, so it’ll go softie/macro for her, and the bulk of the corals will move up. I’ll use it as a pseudo quarantine tank. 

 

I still I’ll wish I had a mantis, but maybe I’ll get another one later. 

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ValerieR

In random news, Slimy the white ribbon eel will eat floating pellets, offered with tongs. That makes some things a bit easier. He chases the tongs no matter what I'm working on with them, so it comes as no surprise. 

 

I soaked the pellet first to soften it a bit, but you can still see the pellet shape about half way down his body. 

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