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merickson45

merickson45's Tank Journal

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merickson45

Hi everyone! Total beginner here who decided to start a reef tank. I've always been fascinated with marine life since an early age, and I did a bunch of research/planning before jumping in. That said, I'm sure I have a lot to learn, which is why I decided to document my progress here and hopefully get helpful tips along the way! Full disclosure: this tank was originally a display model at my local reef shop. I was originally planning to start from scratch, tank cycling and all, but the deal was just too good to pass up (I'm working on a tight budget). So I may have slightly cheated because this tank was already set up and running for a month or two before I got it. I did change up the aquascaping quite a bit though to make it my own.

 

Tank: IM Nuvo Fusion 10 Gallon

Heater: Aqueon Preset 200W

Light: Kessil A80 Tuna Blue

Filtering: Carbon/Weekly Water Changes

Pump/Powerhead: MightyJet 326 GPH Return Pump

ATO: DIY implementation (as seen here)

 

Fish

DaVinci Clownfish

 

Inverts (still identifying/counting things as they crawl out of the rockwork)

1 Margarita Snail

1 Nassarius Snail

3 Bumble Bee Snails

4 Stomatella Snails

Common Bristleworms

 

Corals (Came along for the ride from the shop)

Green Star Polyps

Green Pavona

"Scrambled Eggs" Zoanthids

"Utter Chaos" Zoanthids

"Scooby Dooby" Zoanthid

"Radioactive Dragon Eye" Zoanthid

"Rasta" Zoanthid

Other Zoanthid

Unidentified Palythoa

Neon Green Candy Cane

Duncan

Frogspawn

Toadstool Leather

Goniopora

3x Micromussa Lordhowensis

Acanthastrea Echinata

Hollywood Stunner Chalice

Ricordea Florida

Acropora

 

Previous Inhabitants

1 Ocellaris Clownfish (deceased, likely due to stress of initial move)

1 Peppermint Shrimp (coral muncher, returned and replaced with Skunk Cleaner Shrimp)

Blue Snowflake Polyps (removed due to potential for taking over)

1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (was stealing food from inside coral, decided I prefer the corals and returned it)

 

I would definitely appreciate comments/tips/suggestions!

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OldManSea

Welcome to the IM10 club!  Mine is my favorite tank.

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merickson45

Unfortunately, I think I already have a problem...my clownfish has white spots and some dark discoloration. The white spots could be ich, but I'm not sure about the dark discoloration just behind the eyes. Any ideas?

 

I'm currently feeding alternately frozen mysis and New Life Spectrum Thera A pellets once a day. The clownfish has been eating everything I put in, and is very active during the day. The tank has been set up since last Sunday, and was already nitrogen cycled (see previous post). Checked nitrates yesterday and they were low, between 2-5 ppm. Should I just feed well and wait this out, or take additional steps?

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j.falk

That fish is in rough shape...clamped fins, covered in ich and lying on the substrate are not good.  Darker patches could possibly be water issues that you aren't aware of.

 

Check to make sure your heater is working and staying at the correct temperature.

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merickson45

It typically stays on the bottom/in caves during the night (which is when I took the picture) and swims actively in the current towards the middle to top of the tank during the day. I know this picture makes it look really bad, but at least half the time it is acting quite normal (eating, swimming, poking at various things in the water column/rocks).

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merickson45

As of last night, heater was working and the thermometer within the display area of the tank was reporting 78.5 deg F. I will check again in a few hours when I get home.

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merickson45

Ok, so a few things have changed!

 

Unfortunately, the clownfish did not make it ☹️. Since the rest of the tank was doing just fine, I'm pretty sure he got stressed from the move, got sick and never recovered. I've decided to hold off on fish for 6-8 weeks to let the tank clear of whatever killed him (hopefully).

 

On a brighter note, I added some neon green candy cane coral and some 'scrambled eggs' zoanthids! Only two additions because I'm trying to go slow and make sure the tank remains stable. So far both seem to be doing well, the zoanthids are fully open whenever the lights are on and the candy cane opens up its tentacles every night. The GSP is also growing fast, I've noticed new polyps springing up all over. Glad I decided to isolate it to an island rock. The pavona also seems to be doing well, with tentacles always extended during the day.

 

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I also had to return my peppermint shrimp when I found it munching on the candy cane coral 😕. My LFS took it back and gave me a skunk cleaner shrimp, who has so far been much better (better personality too!)

 

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Finally, I replaced one of the top rocks in the display because it was covered with blue snowflake polyps. I know some people really like them, but I understood that they can end up spreading like a weed, and I'd rather avoid that on the main rock island since I already don't have much real estate.

 

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That's all for today!

 

 

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Wonderboy

Good job with things so far - will be tagging along   :]

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merickson45

Update time!

 

Things seem to be going well, so I added a some new corals a few days ago! I added Utter Chaos Zoanthids, a Duncan, and a Frogspawn. After observing them over the past few days, they all seem to have acclimated well. I've also started monitoring Calcium levels since I now have three LPS corals (and a shrimp), they were ~440 ppm when I first introduced these corals a few days ago and were ~420 ppm today. I plan to continue monitoring to see if this is actually a downward trend or if it's just fluctuations. If it is trending downwards, I may start adding calcium when it dips below 400 ppm.

 

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I also discovered two new corals in the tank that I hadn't noticed previously. One is a very tiny Zoanthid that was on the live rock that I removed because it was covered in Blue Clove Polyps. I saw this tiny little fragment of rock on the sand bed that looked a little more colorful than usual. I've attached it to a new location and it seems happy! I don't know what kind it is, so please let me know if you recognize it. I think the other coral is some sort of Palythoa. Likewise, if anyone knows what it is please let me know, since I've been unable to ID it so far.

 

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In terms of growth, the Scrambled Egg Zoas are growing another polyp, seems to be larger every day. Although the Duncan already had the beginning of a new head when I got it, it has definitely grown in size even over just the past few days. The Pavona may have grown a little (hard to tell) but it at least continues to look nice and fluffy! The Candy Cane looks more inflated, but does not seem to have grown much and the GSP keeps marching along.

 

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In other non coral related news, I added a Nassarius snail to the tank. It immediately disappeared and I haven't seen it since, not even when I add food. I'm not sure it that's normal or if it died, I'll be keeping an eye out for it though. Also, Jonah the skunk cleaner shrimp molted today. Jonah's specter spent most of the day on top of the rock and was then whisked away to the back of the tank.

 

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Finally, here's a full tank picture for future comparison.

 

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That's all, more next week!

 

 

 

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merickson45

Friday update!

 

Not much has changed this week, so this update is mainly not to break the habit. Corals look great, some have grown since last week (see attached pictures). The calcium levels are definitely trending downwards, so I'll probably have to start adding some in a week or two.

 

The nassarius snail surfaced, and now I see it's siphon poking up every now and then, so it's doing fine! I've started pondering what fish to add to the tank, but still going to wait another few weeks. Considering a Tailspot Blenny, any thoughts on that?

 

Unfortunately, I discovered some flatworms (picture attached) on my frogspawn and in other parts of the tank about a week ago. I've been siphoning them off daily, and there are fewer each time. We'll see...
 

 

Short update this time, more next week!

 

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Wonderboy

Looking really good! I wouldn't waste too much time if the flatworms are on corals - if they're aren't just eating algae, grab some Flatworm Exit and some activated carbon - it's pretty easy to take care of em all this way.

 

4 hours ago, merickson45 said:

Considering a Tailspot Blenny, any thoughts on that?

Love tailspot blennies - though they can have an attitude sometimes - may help to introduced one after other fish so they don't beat on any new comers.

 

 

Also wanted to say good job rescueing that unknown zoa and giving the cloves the boot - I can tell by the way that you keep on top of everything that this system is going to turn out super nice - keep it up   :]

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merickson45

Thanks Wonderboy! Trying my best, hope it works out!🤞🙂

 

Regarding the flatworms, I've not seen any on the corals since the first day, and even then there were only 2-3 on the frogspawn. After that, they've been mainly on the glass with some on the live rock. I bought some Flatworm Exit but have been hesitant to use it for two reasons. First, I've read some horror stories here and on reef2reef. Second, I don't have the ability to run activated carbon in a reactor with forced water flow, which is what the instructions say. I've only got a small bag of carbon in the back chamber of the tank. Many of the problems I've heard about seemed to be caused by people not following the directions exactly, and so I've been hesitant. What do you think, am I being overly cautious?

 

And thanks for the Blenny tip, I may choose a different first fish and then circle back later.

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Wonderboy

It is not a bad thing to be too cautious in this hobby - I don't blame you for being nervous at all with all the horrible planaria stories out there. You probably don't need to use it as it sounds like yours are algae-eaters (most often the case). But if you don't want to see them, the quantity recommended on the bottle is quite safe. I think that most horror stories come from more extreme situations like where there are intense populations of toxic planaria or where medication-resistant varieties are present (requiring stronger dosages). The back chamber is a perfect spot for the carbon; when I have dosed Exit (maybe 5x now), I had followed the quantitative directions and just ran carbon in my hang-on-back filter (I would not say it was ever forced as water can flow around or over) of a 10G frag QT (well stocked with coral and inverts) with positive results; the carbon is mostly for the toxins that the planaria can release - if your planaria count is still very low, a small amont of carbon to slowly remove the medication is fine.

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merickson45

 Thanks Wonderboy! I decided to go for it and used the Flatworm Exit this evening. In the end I siphoned out at least a hundred flatworms! Currently running the carbon bag in the rear chamber, and I did around a 30-40% water change just in case. Monitored for a few hours before bed, and everything seems fine, although the zoas closed up a little. We'll see tomorrow morning...🤞
 

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merickson45

Been a couple days, and the tank seems fine after using the Flatworm Exit! I saw a few survivors today, so I dosed again (no mass die off this time) and siphoned any I saw. I'll probably keep doing this until I'm certain there are none left. The zoas have opened back up and it seems like everything came through ok!

 

I've decided that I won't be adding anything else to the tank until I get a small quarantine tank set up. This flatworm experience has been annoying enough, so I'm going to try to go the prevention route from now on. While I wait the rest of the 11-12 weeks without adding fish (due to suspected Ich on the clownfish that died a while back), I think I'll also hold off on adding anything at all and keep an eye out for cheap tanks/lights/filters that I can use for this.

 

Here's some pictures to keep track of progress!

 

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Wonderboy

Awesome plan, nice shots, corals look well - if you didn't do a water change, which isn't much worry once w/ the carbon in place, it's a good idea to do a decent sized water change between medication periods just to make sure that nothing residuals can compile. Also, want to be sure that you're careful dosing Exit repeatedly, don't want to promote med resistent FWs - so 2x should be enough. It may be necessary to figure out what dosage per gallon your FWs require if there are any still around after round two. I know the fallow period seems like a lot of time, but it really won't be after all - your idea to set up a QT will be less stress and work in the end, too. During the extra time you have, I very much recommend thinking about setting up a salt mixing station so that you can easily respond to both tanks (it can be on wheels if necessary - like w/ a brute trash can on castors and flexible tubing), that is if you don't have something already. If not, check out this post on building a water change station - check out version 2.0 - having something with those features will make everything in general just even more stress-free. I use some buckets tied together for fresh water, a 10G aquarium, [not glass] heater, pump, tubes, and some valves for making and moving water for my 10G reef and QTs   :] 

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merickson45

Thanks for the tips Wonderboy! Not sure that I'll have enough space to set up what you've recommended unfortunately 😕 Right now I'm getting water from my LFS to simplify things (since I don't need that much), although I'd like to mix my own in the future. I'm not bothered by the fallow period, I'm using it to do research on how to quarantine and come up with a plan for which fish to get, which I think will help a lot in a month or so.

 

As for the flatworms, I dosed the FE once more and then stopped. After a few days I saw a couple flatworms on the glass. I siphoned them out into 1000 ml of water and started adding FE a drop at a time and mixing to try and determine the required dosage. Even twenty drops later, they were still alive! By my calculations that's already over 600 drops of FE to treat 8 gallons of water (more or less my effective water volume). The only way I was able to kill one was to put it in about 5ml of water and add a drop of the FE.

 

I would assume that it's probably not a good idea to add this much FE to a 10 gallon tank, right? Starting to think I'm just going to have to live with the flatworms...or try a small wrasse for control later on...

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Wonderboy

Wow - that's kind of crazy - yeah, sounds like a predator is necessary. Just want to say that I have been looking into certain wrasses that could fit in my 10G and found that the possum wrasse would be the safest route - pink streak was a close potential, but can't ignore knowing a couple circumstances of aggression. 

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merickson45

Yea, I was thinking of getting either a white banded possum wrasse or a tanakai possum wrasse, but both seem hard to come by. I've seen yellow banded possum wrasses more often, but I prefer one of the other two. I'll probably be patient and keep an eye out. Most of my QT tank equipment is arriving this week so I'll be ready.

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billygoat

Just caught up on this thread! Pretty cool little tank you've got here. It's clear that you're taking it slow and doing a whole lot of research, which is fantastic to see. Sorry to hear about your early losses, but I have a feeling that everything will be on the up-and-up from here on out. 😊

 

As for the flatworms: have you seen any evidence that they're actually having any negative effect on your livestock? There are a whole lot of different kinds of flatworms out there, and many of them are totally benign. I have a number of similar-looking planarians in my tank that appear to be harmless herbivores. They bloomed explosively shortly after first appearing, but crashed a few weeks later and these days are present only in small numbers in my system. 

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merickson45

Hey all, missed last week because I was out of town, so here's an update for the past two weeks!

 

Corals are doing quite well! The Zoas are all growing new polyps (though the "Scrambled Eggs" has had a few polyps closed for the last few days). Even the tiny Zoa I scooped up from the sand has grown a new polyp. The Frogspawn looks majestic, always fully extended and blowing in the aqua breeze! The Duncan has grown a lot and has been changing color, it started out almost totally purple and it seems to be turning greener in the center. Might be my imagination, but also the Pavona seems to be extending down the rockwork a little bit. And of course the GSP steadily marching along. The only one that hasn't grown much is the Candy Cane, although it looks more inflated than before.

 

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I also started using Chemi-Pure Elite and Purigen as the filter media, since the Carbon and GFO that I was getting didn't seem to be cutting it. I was getting a lot of algae growth, which seems to have died back since I switched filter media. I was probably slightly overfeeding the corals too, so I've cut back on that. I've also started dosing Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime in the ATO water (1 tsp/gallon) since my alkalinity and calcium levels were lower than optimal (<8.0 dKH and <400 ppm, respectively). It's been about a week, and now they are stable at around 10.0 dKH for alkalinity and 440-450 ppm for calcium.

 

Also, regarding the flatworms, I think you got it right billygoat. I've stopped siphoning and trying to get rid of those that are left, and they basically just hang out on the wall eating algae. There also don't seem to be as many as before, so they're probably harmless and self-limiting in terms of population. Thanks for the tip!

 

In other news I got a Clownfish! Decided to go with the tried and true for my first fish, then we'll see later on. I set up a small quarantine tank and am following the QT procedure from Humblefish found here. It's pretty basic (HOB filter, cheap heater, stick on thermometer, an Ammonia Alert badge, and some PVC pipe). The tank is 5 gallons, which many say is too small, but I'll only ever have one small fish in there at a time. So far it seems to be doing well, and I plan to keep it in there for 30-45 days before transferring it to the display tank.

 

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Enjoy the pictures, until next time!

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Wonderboy

Looking good! Nice QT - great work  :]  

 

Keep in mind, algae is normal - whether you set up a new tank, make changes to or move an established one. If you implement chemical control during these periods of characterisic fluctuations, you may have to continue doing so for the life of the tank to keep it "stable" ($$ and time). If you let it go through these algal cycles naturally and prevent them from getting out of hand with appropriate clean up crew, the system will eventually (really it's pretty quick) find a way to allocate extra nutrients all by itself and will then keep things mostly clear (less $$ and time). Another risk to chemical filtration is that you don't know how much you are removing form the water column - this can starve corals over time; corals use the exact same nutrients that algaes use in order to expand their biomass (grow), so simply removing the nutrients is not necessarily ideal. In sterile environments, corals can look fine (because everything in nature will put in it's best effort to feed) up until they threshold particular chemical imbalances within their tissue in which then they may physically suffer.

 

Couple inquiries: what filter media are you running in the QT's HOB? Regardless, I highly recommend keeping a peice of live rock in the QT up until potential medicating. And I am very curious to know if your LFS was running this system with the IM CustomCaddy Media Basket also with Chemi-Pure Elite and Purigen when they had it set up at their shop.

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merickson45

Good to know, thanks! One of the reasons I switched was due to high phosphate readings (~0.4-0.5 ppm with a Hanna LR Checker), even with the GFO bag I was using. After I started using Chemipure-Elite and Purigen my phosphate readings went down to around 0.05 ppm. From what I understood, high phosphate is never good for corals, so I thought that was a good thing, but please let me know if there's something subtle I've missed.

 

However, I've now understood that Purigen is mainly for controlling ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, which I haven't had a problem with. Therefore I've removed the Purigen bag. However, I'm thinking of leaving the Chemi-pure Elite bag in for a while longer and seeing how things go, since it is a combination carbon-gfo medium (which is essentially what I had in there before) and it seems to be doing a better job at controlling phosphates. What do you think about this plan?

 

At the LFS they did not originally have Chemi-pure Elite and Purigen in the media basket, I think they were just running a filter sock. However, they had very little in the tank (a clownfish, some GSP, and some Blue Clove Polyps). Before I left they recommended that I use the included carbon and GFO.

 

One other note that may be important: I haven't been using mechanical filtration (filter floss) for a while now, after reading that it's possible to go either way. Maybe I'm missing some key information here?

 

As for the QT, I'm only running the included sponge in the QT and I've been dosing with Seachem Stability to create a bio-filter. Since I'm following Humblefish's QT procedure, I predosed with copper and metroplex. For that reason I decided not to add liverock and rely on the bio-filter/water changes to keep things in check.

 

I'm all for a system with minimal chemical intervention, so I'm willing to try letting the tank go through its natural cycles. Let me know if you think even just Chemi-pure Elite seems like too much!

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Wonderboy

I like the plan - those were some pretty high phosphate readings - you are correct, too high will encourage browning of corals and slow calcium uptake. Just an idea, you could run the Chemi-Pure Elite until you are able to get a refugium set up and running with chaeto or ulva (not necessary but has many benefits). Also, make sure you switch out chemical medias when recommended so they don't back-fire on you. Sounds like you got a good handle on things - it will just comes down to dialing in on the feeding regimen to regulate levels either way. mechanical filtration is useful for certain situations, but I've found better balance running things without any. Granted though you have to be ready to respond by introducing ceratin specimen or adjusting light cycles. If you can keep up with changing the stuff out, it can help; if you cannot keep up with changing it out, like myself, you may be better off pulling excess detritus out where ever it settles maybe once or twice a year. In most of my setups, I leave detritus in slow moving areas of the 'fuge because microfauna does eat it and populate from it and then coherently feed the corals. Speaking of collecting detritus, I am kind of an "out-there" reefer though so maybe cross check things I write with other experience lol  :]  Just to note, I run carbon in many setups (all the time) just in case of 'chemical warfare' and run a refugium area as well on most systems for nutrient regulation; one or the other may be sufficient; however, I then feed pretty (really) heavy to keep pod and microfauna poplulations up. And as for that QT, humble definitely knows very much here; hard to go wrong following his advice. How has the clown been doing?

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merickson45

A small back chamber refugium is definitely in the plan, but I've set a budget and I can't yet afford the grow light. So for now I think I'll stick with the Chemi-Pure Elite and stay on top of changing it out. I definitely like your philosophy, which seems to try to harness natural processes as much as possible. Seems like less $$ and less maintenance in the long run 🙂

 

The clown is doing well. It has been eating regularly, though maybe not as much as I expected. I've been alternating frozen mysis/brine (what they feed at the LFS) and NLS pellets. I'm guessing it's just an acclimation period, but I'll keep monitoring. It does not seem to be affected negatively by the copper, which is at ~1.75-2.0 ppm, and the Ammonia Alert has stayed yellow since I introduced the fish last Thursday.

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