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Tinitanks 5gal pico, The Alcove (thread currently under construction)


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Brandon hill from zoanthids is the man, I met him at aquashella last year and picked up a few acans from him. Super nice guy with great healthy coral, albeit a little pricey.

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Yeah, that's why I'm planning to wait for a big sale. He's got a summer sale on, with pretty good prices, but I need to save up for tank supplies right now. Otherwise I'd be real tempted. Do wish the photos looked a bit less ridiculous.


I got a video of the push-ups behavior!



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I still have no idea what this shrimp does, but I can verify that it likes meaty foods. I'm not sure if it likes pellets or tiny bits of meaty food (cyclops), but it loves chunks of shrimp. 


It hangs out under the big rock in the quarantine tank, out of the flow. I haven't seen the snout being used for anything, so I don't think that's for filter-feeding. 

Did find one source that says they do best in groups. The ones in the tank at the store were seemingly ignoring each other, but maybe the snout is for some sort of social gesturing? 


Has anyone bought from Hellfire Frags? Their photos are all incredibly saturated and they're doing the thing with the funky names and the "our brand gives a fun buying experience" marketing, but they have what look like some pretty good prices. Torches for under $100, a bunch of favias and such for $10-$20, rock flower nem packs for less than $20 a nem. I normally leave a site that cranks up the photos this much, but for those prices, I think I can forgive the nonsense. Most of it's not even on sale, as far as I can tell! 

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The shrimp now takes food readily from my tongs, so it's tame. Or, as tame as shrimp get. 



Bought a nice green-striped favia. It came with bonuses. 



Three gammarus-type amphipods, half a dozen munnids, an asterina-type star, over a dozen of these cute, flat, speedy little isopods that curl up into UFO shapes (too flat for balls) when disturbed, and, not pictured, a few dozen of those flatworms that can overpopulate and starve your corals of light. The flatworms have been disposed of, and the coral got a dip to confirm they were all off. I'm keeping the rest of this, though, if I can confirm that this is one of the fine-unless-starved starfish.

I saw in the bag that there were a bunch of critters on the frag disc, but I didn't realize quite how many were on there! There's a nook under the coral that was apparently full of beasties, and there were half a dozen big (well, "big") isopods lined up all neat and tidy along the edges of the divot on the underside. Should have taken a photo, it was cute. 

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The isopods are apparently called "sand skaters", and are detritivores. I've dumped them into the invert QT tank.


 I wonder what other cool stuff the LFS has in their tanks? Their invert sale area has some sort of tiny, bright orange tunicate that's been multiplying for them. I tried keeping some at some point, but they dwindled out eventually. They do get wild imported corals in, and sometimes people give them rock from breaking down old tanks, so I'm sure they have all sorts of nonsense. They also have a small section of one tank where they put unhappy frags and sell them for like $10, and I may take advantage of that once I upgrade; it's often things like bleached acans or candycanes with several bare heads, corals that will probably recover just fine once given the chance. 



I've moved the clown goby to this homemade breeder box, because he wasn't getting enough to eat. Now his food can't get away from him. He's going to stay in here until he gets fat and starts eating a non-live food of some variety. It's a decent bit of space for such a lil guy, so he should be fine in here for awhile. He's got a cave, his favia to sit on, a not-really-cave in case he wants a nook he can see out of, and a bit of chaeto to hide behind. If I see him seeming to need more hiding places, I'll add something else. The holes are covered with mosquito mesh, so the BBS shouldn't really be able to get out, and they're all clustered in the bottom left corner for some reason anyway. Last I checked, he's got his face stuck in that corner, gobbling away. 

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  • 3 months later...


My first ever frag rack! Aside from chunks of eggcrate precariously balanced on rocks. This looks (and works) much better. 

Top to bottom: Mothership micro amakusensis, the seller called them Drama Queens but I'm pretty sure these are Pink Hippo zoas, UC Bejeweled favites, Wow protopalys, and a Baby's Breath favia. I'm excited to be upgrading to a larger tank that will let me keep more than one favia-type coral without everything being in sting range! 

(You can also see me pushing my luck with that Dragon Soul favia on the sandbed. Hopefully it doesn't realize there's a leptoseris in nuking range. I don't think it can reach the stuff on the frag rack, but it can definitely reach that lepto!)

Featuring a cameo by my incredibly algae-covered walls. I gotta scrub those next water change. 

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Great progress with the eclectic collection. The hand tame shrimp made me chuckle as my peppermint is the same- he's very aware of what's food source, the little death dealer comes raging whenever I put the baster in, have to wait him away with a prime mouthful to feed corals. New levels reached when he nibbled from my hand last night some krill.


Great characters!

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It really is fascinating how quickly these fragile little prey animals decide that the giant creature is harmless, once food starts to be incorporated. They're wild animals, but they're so small that we must seem more like strange features of scenery than other animals. 

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  • 4 weeks later...


Dip cup! Just before I added some iodine to dislodge pests. Nothing showed up except a chiton and a few amphipods, all of which I rescued. Tidal Gardens doesn't skimp on the frag size, I was expecting quite a bit less. 



Displaced some things from the frag rack. Top to bottom: purple pavona, Moon Stone favites, Raja Rampage chalice, Avatar chalice. Hopefully those two chalices won't murder each other, since they're both tiny frags- do I need to figure something out to separate them? 

I'm excited to see that the Raja Rampage chalice keeps that really striking coloration in person. I also like the random blue on the Avatar; those are its natural speckles, not bits of sand on it. Hopefully I can keep those two happy, because they have a lot of potential. 



Joker favites. Another species, I think. I like the texturing. Snagged this for $5, and was not expecting it to be a nice hefty frag! 



Hell Rider favites. I think this is the same species as the Chemical Warfare favites I have, and the Fascination favites that seem to be more common. It had some feeding tentacles out in the bag, so apparently it's hungry. 



Blurry due to water movement, but that's a Bird of Paradise birdsnest. It came off the frag plug in transit, so I popped it in this shell for now. It's the only thing that doesn't quite measure up to the pictures in person, in terms of color, and I think that might just be due to the listing pictures having been zoomed in quite a lot. I forgot how small and delicate birdsnest corals are. 

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It's such an interesting-looking coral, and seems worth a shot as a candidate for a hardy SPS. Though this is definitely another one where I didn't quite realize how small the branches are. Skinny little thing. 


Any tips? I'm reading medium-high light (though not as high as a lot of other SPS), decent flow. 

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  • 4 months later...

Don't do water changes while muddled, and absolutely do not do water changes on your pico reef with the 1/3-normal-seawater water you meant to put in your guppy holding tank. 


If you do happen to drop your reef tank to less than half the salinity it's meant to be and leave it there overnight, don't automatically write off any molluscs and echinoderms that seem to be dead- they might revive if put back in decent salinity. Don't expect any crustaceans of any significant size to survive, though.


(in other words: I have ****ed up. That pom-pom crab /was/ still alive, despite me not having seen it for probably half a year, but is now dead. One of my hermits is somehow still alive, along with a few amphipods and a couple of smaller porcelain crabs, but the  assorted shrimp, shrimp, other hermit, and larger porcelains are all dead. Not sure what state the corals are in- they're all pissed off currently, but don't appear to be dead yet.)

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  • 4 weeks later...


Somewhat bad full tank shot, from the top because the glass is covered in some sort of durable algae that's just not worth the trouble to clean off; this tank is only going to be up for about a month more. I'm going to be transferring everything into another, larger tank. 


Just about every arthropod in here died from the salinity issue. A few amphipods, a small porcelain crab, and one hermit survived. I found out that pom-pom crab was still alive, except I found out only after it died. 

The urchins seemed dead at first, tube-feet limp and whatnot, but revived after I put them back into better salinity. 

The RFAs aren't super pleased, most of my blue-green syngonium died, and this psammo I'd fragged is pretty faded out. My Holy Grail micro was already pretty upset due to a combination of circumstances (went too long without feeding it and some chaeto blew over the top), so it's down to a few bits of flesh that might or might not live. Both my leptos seem to be dead, which is sort of interesting- I wonder why they did so badly? That branching thing off to the left is a bit of stylo that was already pretty unhappy, so it's died, but that's no surprise. 

Oh, and I took out all the sand, since it was full of dead microorganisms. Dumped absolutely everything out of the tank, then put just the rocks back in. 


That said, I did go to a coral show in Houston this past week. The tank's stable, if a bit sad-looking and cluttered, so it was worth doing. Especially since I got to go to the zoo, feed a giant anteater at said zoo, and go birding along the coast for about 6 hours. 

I've never been to a coral show before, but I've been to things like coin shows, orchid shows, and rock/mineral shows, and a lot of the same concepts apply. Particularly the detail where, if you bring cash and buy multiple things from the same vendor, you can usually make an offer about 10-15% lower and have them accept. 



Top-ish (pink centers) down: Hamsters in a Microwave favites (yes, seriously), frogskin chalice, branching GSP, pink hippo zoas/palys, Raja Rampage chalice, Purple Hornets zoas, nameless zoas, rainbow type chalice (don't think it has a specific name?), and Stranger Things zoa. 

I got a really good deal on those two larger chalice frags in particular. Listed for $30 each, got 'em both for $50 cash. 

Hopefully these are separate enough to keep them from really fighting. LPS seem to generally not sting too viciously when surrounded only by softies, and I don't really have many other places to put any of these. 



Popped these two off to the back just in case. Hell Bender favites I'm really excited to have gotten, and what the guy said is probably a goniastrea. That Hell Bender has some incredible color on it- look at that growth rim! And it keeps some of the green even in its center between the polyps, which is really nice. Hopefully I can keep color anything like that on it. 

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  • 1 month later...

I transferred everything into my new tank today. I was going to take a couple of pictures of this tank before I took it down, but I dripped saltwater on the plug for the light, I seem to have shorted said light out as a result, and I got fed up enough that I didn't want to bother messing around with a flashlight to get an approximation. It didn't look particularly good anyway- some hair algae really enjoyed me going on vacation.



Here's the little guy who somehow survived basically being put in brackish water. I think this is the same species as the zebra hermits, so- maybe they're more tolerant of low salinity? Whatever the case, he seems to be enjoying himself. He found the shell heap and immediately put on the largest shell in it- all the better to topple frags off rocks, I suppose.


I'm keeping this tank and stand. Maybe I'll turn it into one of those super-low-tech freshwater shrimp bowls.


Frustrations aside, this was fun, and I got a lot of enjoyment out of it. I'm not sure I'd recommend trying to keep a pico if you have fatigue issues- maybe try something a bit larger. I do plan to go for something like this again at some point in the future, since there's something so charming about a little box of critters you can just look down into, something that isn't really present in larger tanks. Larger tanks feel, for lack of a better description, more elegant? But they have a little less of that special charm that comes from having a whole little world in a container the size of a large shoebox.


Speaking of, larger tank thread here:


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