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ReefAdoRe

ReefADoRe’s Biocube 16g - A very hard journey

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ReefAdoRe

I started my Biocube in August 2018.  I started on the hobby once before (in 2014), and my entire tank crashed when I went on a one week vacation which was heart wrenching.  In my last tank, I had a green BTA, two Clownfish, Golden Head sleeper goby, and a hefty cleanup crew.  I thought I had a hang on things, but it went south very quickly in that one week.  The tank was 15g.  Lessons learned: get everyone in the household involved; have as many things automated as you can; test, test, and test again.... and then keep testing.  

 

This Biocube, like I said, I began again in August of 2018, and I had a beautiful thing going until I took a two week vacation in July 2019.  When I got back, my tank exploded with all of this green hair algae.  My 3 BTA’s (2 split from the original) and my clown fish, were all at the top of the tank gasping for air - it looked like a jungle.  I tried my best to remove all of the algae, but I just could not do it quick enough.  By the time I cleaned the tank, put fresh SW in (50% water change), I had to move the team out into a quarantine tank while I did all this - the tank got so stressed, I lost my three beautiful BTA’s.  (I still have my 2 clown’s which I am so thankful for) Currently I am dealing with mini cycles on and off - ammonia keeps spiking; last week, my ammonia went down, nitrates went up, then went to 0 - and my nitrates spiked.  Thought things were good to go, and then this week my clowns started acting funny, swimming erratically and such - I tested the water, and ammonia went to .50 ppm again with nitrites and nitrates at 0.  SMH

 

So basically, I’m starting all over again.  There’s nothing there... as of right now.  I was always an anemone person, but I am going to be trying my hand at corals now.  I am keeping this journal as a way to track progress, and in hopes that I can also give some nuggets of info that someone else can utilize on their journey.  

 

When will this end!  Should I give up - I just love having a little piece of the ocean in my home.  I just feel like every time I have things going well, it goes down hill in a big way.  Thanks for reading! 

 

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ReefAdoRe

Current system setup:

 

One live rock left from before

1st chamber: Coralife Protein skimmer 

2nd chamber: filter floss cut to size on top; ATO 

3rd chamber: stock pump

In tank: Cobalt aquatics 100watt heater

 

Stock LED’s programmed:

LC1 (daylights): 11am - 7pm

LC2 (sunrise/sunset): 10:30am - 7pm 

LC3 (moonlights): 7am - 12am

 

Maintenance schedule right now:

Weekly 20% water change

Instant ocean salt mix (thinking of changing when this bucket is finished to Tropic Marin Pro-reef meersalz because of a video BRS did on best salt mixes) 

Bulk reef supply RO/DI unit with TDS meter

 

Every other day testing of water perimeters: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate 

Dosing Seachem Prime every other day (it says to dose every 48 hours) so that the current ammonia in the tank does not harm my inhabitants.  

 

Cleanup crew: 

5 red legged hermits 

3 margarita snails (two died with the system crash) 

 

Below you’ll see pics of when I started the Biocube last year, my original rock setup, my rainbow BTA, and my clownfish.  I also have a picture of a red slime algae outbreak that came in with one of my snails (LFS told me it was coralline algae smh), a pic of sea hem prime which works great for emergencies like the one I have right now, and the tank as it is now - so lonely.  

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ReefAdoRe

Lessons learned:

 

- Inspect snails & hermit crabs before putting into your tank (this cause a huge red slime algae outbreak for me) 

- Turn on UV sterilizer for 3-4 days when adding new tank inhabitants 

- Acclimate your anemone very well: 15 minute float; 2 hour drip - it will thrive! 

- Feed your anemone! (It will starve)

- As long as you have great water perimeters, and keep up with your maintenance, it is ok to put an anemone in your tank after a month (as long as you are very well informed of how to take care of tank) 

- 5 minute fresh RO/DI water dip will help with lot’s of irritations if your fish is acting funny (like brooklynella) 

- DO NOT overdo it with Seachem Prime (follow the instructions provided) 

- Seachem stability works very well to get things started in your tank 

- Biocube gets hot inside (82-84) degrees in the summer.  Keep a fan on it (unless you have an air conditioner that you can keep on all day) 

- Even if you read it in a forum, or someone says something, TRUST but VERIFY - get this tattooed on your arm.  

- Find someone who has been doing this a lot longer than you, and make them your trusted advisor.  Wisdom from experience makes all the difference in the world.  

 

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banasophia

Hi there, looking forward to following along on your reset. I really love my biocube 16... hope you can get yours back to the point that you can really enjoy it again. 🙂

 

Your experience is a good reminder of how quickly things can go wrong while we’re away from our tanks... it’s a timely message for me because I’m getting ready to go out of town soon and I still need to make arrangements for a tank sitter, so thanks!

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banasophia

Have you considered using Biospira? If it was me I would pour in a bottle of Biospira and add a bag of Matrix media to the back chamber rather than using the Stability + Prime. 

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ReefAdoRe
17 hours ago, banasophia said:

Hi there, looking forward to following along on your reset. I really love my biocube 16... hope you can get yours back to the point that you can really enjoy it again. 🙂

 

Your experience is a good reminder of how quickly things can go wrong while we’re away from our tanks... it’s a timely message for me because I’m getting ready to go out of town soon and I still need to make arrangements for a tank sitter, so thanks!

Thank you so much!

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ReefAdoRe
18 hours ago, banasophia said:

Have you considered using Biospira? If it was me I would pour in a bottle of Biospira and add a bag of Matrix media to the back chamber rather than using the Stability + Prime. 

Yes I completed a dose of Biospira - and for some odd reason it did not do for me what it did the first go round. This is why I went to stability; for the emergency ammonia outbreak. 

 

I even went went as far as buying another bottle of BIO-Spira and throwing it in, and nothing!  Not a help at all.  When I first started my Biocube, this stuff worked like a charm.  

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ReefAdoRe

Today, my tests read:

 

ammonia 0 ppm

nitrite 0 ppm 

phosphate 0 ppm 

nitrate 0 ppm

 

I find this super odd - I have never had readings like this.  Ever!

 

Ive always had at least a small amount of nitrates. 

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Tamberav

Did you identify what caused the crashes before? Tank sitter overfeeding? Or an auto feeder overfeeding? Evaporation? Perhaps just young tank and lack of stability?

 

 

 

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ReefAdoRe

The crash happened because my ATO broke, and the sitter definitely over feeding. I was gone for two weeks - got overfilled with green hair algae. Lack of oxygen; salinity at 1.032; heat; it was so sad. It happened to my last tank in 2016 and that’s when I quit for 2 years. Same exact thing. I thought I had things going well but my ATO definitely killed me this time. And as much as you show a sitter how to feed the tank - the fish still act like they’re dying of hunger every time you walk by the tank so I think that’s what made the sitter overfeed. 

 

 

 

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Cpl_Wiggles

I, too - had a sitter overfeed my tank. Came home from 5 days to big waterlogged pellets littering the sandbed like rat poop, massive amounts of algae, and the happiest crabs ever. Luckily, It was late June and things hadn't heated up yet. I'm still fighting the algae today. 

 

Next time - if especially for two weeks, I'd suggest a small M,T,W,Th,Fr pill container with the right amount of pellets/food in there. It removes confusion and you can always have them send you a pic so you know exactly what was fed. 

 

When I went to Europe, I also mixed up milk jugs of 1.024 water and an "empty jug". Then every 4 days had a pic sent to me showing the empty filled from the tank, and "Jug refill 1" properly emptied into the tank. It wasn't perfect, but it was an insurance policy against any buildup.

 

With this hobby each bump in the road is a learning experience - but I think the juice is worth the squeeze at the end of the day. Next trip post about it and I'll bet you'll get some great advice on checklists before your trip and how to go about idiot-proofing your tank while you're away. Good luck!

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Xanthine
On 9/11/2019 at 7:58 PM, ReefAdoRe said:

Lessons learned:

...

- Even if you read it in a forum, or someone says something, TRUST but VERIFY - get this tattooed on your arm.  

YES to this so much!! Especially with things like dinos and cyano - flow too high, flow too low, nitrates too high, nitrates too low, phos too high, phos too low - enough to make your head spin.

I think there are so many species and strains of marine organisms that what might work in one case can be the exact opposite in other cases.

 

4 hours ago, ReefAdoRe said:

Today, my tests read:

 

ammonia 0 ppm

nitrite 0 ppm 

phosphate 0 ppm 

nitrate 0 ppm

 

I find this super odd - I have never had readings like this.  Ever!

 

Ive always had at least a small amount of nitrates. 

What brand test kits are you using? Are they maybe leftover/expired from your first foray in 2014?

Do you have any LFS that will cross check your tests?  (Especially with the mini-cycles despite your microbe dosing - weird)

 

I noticed a huge difference when I switched from API to salifert for nitrates testing (and the salifert one is easier too IMO)

 

I wish you the best of luck on this restart -  I also have a 16 biocube that is recovering from a crash - slow and steady.

The awesome thing about this forum are all of the helpful people that also serve as inspiration/cheerleaders!

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mcarroll
On 9/11/2019 at 6:26 PM, ReefAdoRe said:

 In my last tank, I had a green BTA, two Clownfish, Golden Head sleeper goby, and a hefty cleanup crew.  I thought I had a hang on things, but it went south very quickly in that one week.  The tank was 15g.

Lesson:  Too many large organisms in too small of a tank creates a very high-risk environment for a number of reasons.

 

On 9/11/2019 at 6:26 PM, ReefAdoRe said:

My 3 BTA’s (2 split from the original) and my clown fish, were all at the top of the tank gasping for air

Lesson: Again too many large critters in too small of a tank.

 

When the tank is fully loaded down with a large bioload like that there is absolutely no room for anything to go wrong. No safety margin.

 

Next time have fewer, or smaller, critters so there can be a margin of safety. And NO BUBBLE TIP ANEMONES! 😉  They get huge.

 

On 9/11/2019 at 6:26 PM, ReefAdoRe said:

I tried my best to remove all of the algae, but I just could not do it quick enough

There are hardly any examples of things done fast which work out well in a reef tank.  

 

You probably (understandably) panicked seeing the tank looking that way and the animals looking that way.  

 

But if the animals had survived up to that point, they would have been fine for another 30-60 minutes while you pulled algae like this:

 

Pulling the algae from the tank is all you should have done, while leaving the animals completely alone.  

 

A 10% water change afterward would have been good...possibly with just RODI water to drop salinity below 1.030, which is kindof a danger zone...I've heard that even nitrifying bacteria have trouble when it's that high.  Then you would drop the salinity the rest of the way over the next day or two. 

 

I hate to say it, but I'm willing to bet that the added stress from being yanked from the display and jammed into a quarantine is what killed them, not whatever stress there was from being in the display tank, which may have actually been very minimal.  They were at the top breathing after all, not at the top dying. 😉  

 

It's worth remembering in a situation like that that anemones are fully capable of being out of the water, baking in the tropical sun, during entire low tide events, every day.

 

Also things like salinity swings don't really bother fish too much.

 

On 9/11/2019 at 6:26 PM, ReefAdoRe said:

When will this end!  Should I give up

Don't give up!

 

I would strongly recommend getting a book or two on reefing. Look for ones by Fenner, Tullock, Sprung, Fossa, Moe, etc.  There are tons of good ones.

 

If you ask me, you were kind of acting like an expert in the way you set up the first two times you described.  This time be a beginner.  😀

 

Start small, with snails.  

 

Work your way slowly up to stocking corals, and more cleanup crew when algae grows.

 

THEN fish.  

 

Ideally the tank will be (at least) a few months old before the fish go in and there will already be plenty of life in there before them. 

 

Stay away from advanced critters like anemones that do better in bigger, more mature reefs.  

 

Two clowns is a lot for a tank this small...they are especially a lot to start with.  

 

If you really are starting over, I would consider finding a new home for the clowns while you do it – even if it's a temporary home.   Unless your quarantine system is really really nice I would not subject them to that for so much time.

 

Good luck – and keep posting! 😉👌

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ReefAdoRe
17 hours ago, Xanthine said:

YES to this so much!! Especially with things like dinos and cyano - flow too high, flow too low, nitrates too high, nitrates too low, phos too high, phos too low - enough to make your head spin.

I think there are so many species and strains of marine organisms that what might work in one case can be the exact opposite in other cases.

 

What brand test kits are you using? Are they maybe leftover/expired from your first foray in 2014?

Do you have any LFS that will cross check your tests?  (Especially with the mini-cycles despite your microbe dosing - weird)

 

I noticed a huge difference when I switched from API to salifert for nitrates testing (and the salifert one is easier too IMO)

 

I wish you the best of luck on this restart -  I also have a 16 biocube that is recovering from a crash - slow and steady.

The awesome thing about this forum are all of the helpful people that also serve as inspiration/cheerleaders!

Thank you so much for the vote of confidence. I sure need it! For the test kits, I bought everything new when I restarted my tank last year in August. 

I guess I just gotta take it one day at a time. 

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ReefAdoRe
8 hours ago, mcarroll said:

Lesson:  Too many large organisms in too small of a tank creates a very high-risk environment for a number of reasons.

 

Lesson: Again too many large critters in too small of a tank.

 

When the tank is fully loaded down with a large bioload like that there is absolutely no room for anything to go wrong. No safety margin.

 

Next time have fewer, or smaller, critters so there can be a margin of safety. And NO BUBBLE TIP ANEMONES! 😉  They get huge.

 

There are hardly any examples of things done fast which work out well in a reef tank.  

 

You probably (understandably) panicked seeing the tank looking that way and the animals looking that way.  

 

But if the animals had survived up to that point, they would have been fine for another 30-60 minutes while you pulled algae like this:

 

Pulling the algae from the tank is all you should have done, while leaving the animals completely alone.  

 

A 10% water change afterward would have been good...possibly with just RODI water to drop salinity below 1.030, which is kindof a danger zone...I've heard that even nitrifying bacteria have trouble when it's that high.  Then you would drop the salinity the rest of the way over the next day or two. 

 

I hate to say it, but I'm willing to bet that the added stress from being yanked from the display and jammed into a quarantine is what killed them, not whatever stress there was from being in the display tank, which may have actually been very minimal.  They were at the top breathing after all, not at the top dying. 😉  

 

It's worth remembering in a situation like that that anemones are fully capable of being out of the water, baking in the tropical sun, during entire low tide events, every day.

 

Also things like salinity swings don't really bother fish too much.

 

Don't give up!

 

I would strongly recommend getting a book or two on reefing. Look for ones by Fenner, Tullock, Sprung, Fossa, Moe, etc.  There are tons of good ones.

 

If you ask me, you were kind of acting like an expert in the way you set up the first two times you described.  This time be a beginner.  😀

 

Start small, with snails.  

 

Work your way slowly up to stocking corals, and more cleanup crew when algae grows.

 

THEN fish.  

 

Ideally the tank will be (at least) a few months old before the fish go in and there will already be plenty of life in there before them. 

 

Stay away from advanced critters like anemones that do better in bigger, more mature reefs.  

 

Two clowns is a lot for a tank this small...they are especially a lot to start with.  

 

If you really are starting over, I would consider finding a new home for the clowns while you do it – even if it's a temporary home.   Unless your quarantine system is really really nice I would not subject them to that for so much time.

 

Good luck – and keep posting! 😉👌

Thank you so much for the advice and the video (btw exactly how my tank looked). You are absolutely right about taking them out to quarantine. That is exactly what happened - me panicking did the worst thing I could have ever done   ☹️ 

 

you are are also so right about the anemones. It’s just too small of a tank to hold them. Didn’t know they were going to split like that in just one year! I love BTAs! But now I will be switching to corals. 😊 

 

in terms of my babies (clowns) unfortunately I don’t have anyone to care for them or any place to put them as of now so I am trying my best to counteract with stability and prime every 48 hours. They seem to be doing well - but I will continue to update on them. I know 😕 I am a horrible parent as of right now. 

 

Thanks for for calling me an expert (ha ha) 😊 I really did try to read everything I could; bought 4 books; read through forums and all that. BUT HUGE LESSON: I am still a beginner. You are absolutely right. And I need to act like it. 

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Tired

Have you considered getting a larger tank? That would help stability, give your clowns more room, and give you some space to eventually keep anemones again. 

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ReefAdoRe
9 minutes ago, Tired said:

Have you considered getting a larger tank? That would help stability, give your clowns more room, and give you some space to eventually keep anemones again. 

Short answer - I would love at least a 100g! I have a 30g for my freshwater - that’s what I started with before. Unfortunately I live in an apartment building and I don’t think the floor can really hold the weight. I had the 30g actually leak all over the apartment and into my neighbors downstairs (yikes).  

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ReefAdoRe

This is the best biocube hood mod that I have ever seen in my life. Any ideas on how to DYI this?

Look how clean cut it is! 

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ReefAdoRe

Ok, so I am growing GHA again. Nutrients are:

 

0 ammonia 

0 nitrite 

0 nitrate 

0 phosphate 

25% bi-weekly WC

feeding smallest amount daily

temp between 77-78 degrees consistently. 

 

Clownfish are doing well. My CUC:

3 margarita snails

5 hermits 

 

I am starting to get the GHA all over again. I do not know how to prevent this or fight it. Everything is squeaky clean. Suggestions? Ideas? 

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Xoldskies

What is your lighting schedule like? Maybe since you don’t have anything at this time that requires lighting to be on you could reduce your on times to help with the algae. I’ve had the same biocube 16 for around 15 years now, I have always found that simple water changes, and lots of live rock has kept my algae at bay.

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ReefAdoRe
Just now, Xoldskies said:

What is your lighting schedule like? Maybe since you don’t have anything at this time that requires lighting to be on you could reduce your on times to help with the algae. I’ve had the same biocube 16 for around 15 years now, I have always found that simple water changes, and lots of live rock has kept my algae at bay.

Thank you fellow biocuber! 😀 my light schedule is as follows:

daylights: 11-3

Beauty lights: 10-8

blues: 7-11

 

I didn’t think that the beauty and the blues really do anything in terms of tank health or anything. I keep up with my water changes & maintenance. Thoughts?  Thank u!

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Xoldskies

You could always reduce your daylight a couple of hours until you get some corals that require the light. I just realized mines a bc14... I would say keep up with the water changes, vac any loose bits of your rocks. I have a bunch of live rock rubble in  my back chambers and a bag of carbon. I think the most frustrating part of these aquariums is everything takes time. And if you neglect them for a Very short time it can take months to get things nice again!

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ReefAdoRe
1 minute ago, Xoldskies said:

You could always reduce your daylight a couple of hours until you get some corals that require the light. I just realized mines a bc14... I would say keep up with the water changes, vac any loose bits of your rocks. I have a bunch of live rock rubble in  my back chambers and a bag of carbon. I think the most frustrating part of these aquariums is everything takes time. And if you neglect them for a Very short time it can take months to get things nice again!

So true. I just turned off my day lights. I want to tackle this issue before adding anything to the tank again. Get stability. Take things nice and slow. I know this too will pass! 😉

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Ratvan
7 hours ago, ReefAdoRe said:

So true. I just turned off my day lights. I want to tackle this issue before adding anything to the tank again. Get stability. Take things nice and slow. I know this too will pass! 😉

A combination of manual removal and upgrading your CuC will help with this, snails are no use for long algae, but they love fresh growing "nubbins". Keep the algae short and the snails will help you out.  

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ReefAdoRe
7 hours ago, Ratvan said:

A combination of manual removal and upgrading your CuC will help with this, snails are no use for long algae, but they love fresh growing "nubbins". Keep the algae short and the snails will help you out.  

What r your thoughts on a CUC upgrade? 

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