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Diamonds x Pearls

I guess he told his homies.

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Diamonds x Pearls

April 9th: Couple's counseling

 

The bickering and arguing continues. It has certainly ramped up this past week. It's emblematic of cabin fever with the weird times we are encountering. Fortunately, COVID-19 doesn't affect aquatic life. Cabin fever does. My confused female has been really abusing the smaller counterpart. I'm using sex assignments really lightly as I'm not exactly observing what's generally accepted or expected. Looking back, aggression started right at the beginning of the month. After one week and a half in the smaller fish has lost most of its caudal fin and the other fins are tattered. The body was battered and bruised. The skin was an off pink rather than a bluish white. Heck, even the head of the fish was black probably from being bumped around. While the larger fish seemed to be without a scratch.

 

I should have expected something to occur when I first purchased them as they were both similar size. I am willing to bet at the age I received them at work from ORA they were probably both male and just swam together since they didn't know any better nor had any need. I would have thought after being in the store about a month they may have understood to pair up. I am certainly wrong. When I bought them on Super Bowl Sunday they seemed pretty mild-mannered. There would be bouts of micro-aggression as they were staking what claims on the rocks. I didn't think too hard about it knowing how much any Pomacentrid are. (After several dives in California, the cousin garibaldi are...rather special.) I wasn't sure which one would pull ahead in who would be bigger. I treated them equally in feeding. At first, I thought the current smaller one which my wife dubbed "orange tail" (OT) would pull ahead as it was smart enough to sniff out the pellets I fed out. The "black tail" (BT) was...slower. Remember, at the time of purchase it was very hard to distinguish who would be the bigger one. However, BT probably figured it out and cheated.

 

BT at first didn't really have a sense of pellet food, or at least it would take a few seconds to register that food was in the water. However BT was quite good at foraging the little amphipods that started to propagate from the one small live rock I had. I'm also assuming I got more pods when I added coral. Now I just have a lot of them hop around at night. BT was also capable of pick and slurping off the rocks. I'm assuming he was trying to graze what algae I had. I didn't really see OT do much in comparison of extraneous feeding. OT was pretty faithful to my provision. I am under the impression that the scheduled routine feed and the supplements in between helped give BT a more competitive edge in growing. BT also learned about my weekly coral feeding and sometimes he'd try to slurp coral slurry off my LPS. Too smart of a fish. Add it all together and you have BT pulling ahead in the race. Now we have a bigger BT.

 

What is really confounding the situation is behavior, which I have yet to fully describe. BT had a tendency to seize and wiggle. It has been observed throughout its entire time living in my tank. I quickly did a cursory search and learned that is a normal behavior of a fish that's trying to submit to another. So I thought at the time that BT would eventually be the male and OT would soon be a female. Great, differences might be settled. At an earlier time, they did appear to be evenly matched during their squabbles. I didn't think too hard about it since there was no clear sign of fish damage throughout their fighting until about a week and a half ago. BT still does its seizure dance. I'm hoping the hormones kick in at some point.

 

Based on their feeding habits of both fish it doesn't add up. BT is now bigger. BT is still wiggling, but is also actively pursuing and harassing OT. So you have a larger individual that is expressing both dominant and submissive behaviors in sequence sometimes. I feel bad for OT dealing with a bipolar tankmate. If I were it, I'd easily be confused. I'm sure that's how my other fish feels right now: hurt and confused. April 7th, I saw some marked damaged to OT. April 8th, the damage became more extensive and required action so I got a net and timed out the aggressor. It was bad that OT was just letting itself get pulled into one of my Koralia 240s. Today I was bumming around work to see if I can make a trade. However throughout the day, I felt I shouldn't give up so easily. I came home with the fish still but it is still in timeout. I'm going to give it one more 24 hour period and release BT back into the tank. Release will occur at night with no ambient lighting on (basically when we all in the household have gone to bed).

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Amphrites

Sounds like they're not compatible, serious fin-damage almost always hints at a failed-pairing and a potentially-dead fish if they're kept together. If one has been bullied to the extent it's floating at the top of the tank or playing dead in the suction of a powerhead there's not much room for questioning whether things will work out anymore sadly.

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Diamonds x Pearls
On 4/9/2020 at 10:07 PM, Amphrites said:

Sounds like they're not compatible, serious fin-damage almost always hints at a failed-pairing and a potentially-dead fish if they're kept together. If one has been bullied to the extent it's floating at the top of the tank or playing dead in the suction of a powerhead there's not much room for questioning whether things will work out anymore sadly.

I was afraid of that reality. Fortunately, I do have a coworker that is willing to help "trade" in my fish at work. Petco doesn't do trades, but he's willing to help pay for livestock or supplies of my choice equal to the value of the angry frostbite. It's really nice of him.

 

I was thinking of being pragmatic and getting test kits or be semi-irresponsible and try getting a couple of pajama cardinalfish.

 

Edit: I agreed to getting a portion of AlgaeBarn's Ultimate EcoPack from said coworker for free. He said he was willing to take in the frostbite. I'm super enticed for a trade like that. I haven't been this excited for invertebrates since my senior year in college.

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Diamonds x Pearls

April 14:

 

Just another parameter report. Usual check-in.

 

Temperature: 76F

Salinity: 1.025sg

Nitrate: ~10ppm

Phosphate: >0ppm

Calcium: 380-400ppm

Alkalinity: 9-10 dKH

 

Coralline growth is still trucking along. I forgot to mention I changed my light timer settings to match average springtime day/night cycle for "Okinawa."

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Diamonds x Pearls

Sir, you need to be at least 6 feet away from the next being.

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Diamonds x Pearls

April 18: Stocks; buy, sell, or trade.

 

Temperature: 73F

Salinity: 1.025sg

Nitrate: ~10ppm

Phosphate: >0ppm

Calcium: waiting for Salifert kit to come in the mail

Magnesium: waiting for Salifert kit to come in the mail

Alkalinity: 9 dKH

 

I released black tail out of the time out net after a week of waffling in my head what to do with him. The next morning microaggression was pretty darn obvious when I rolled out of bed, so I thought it was time for her to find another reef to occupy. Fortunately, my coworker's dad got really interested in designer clownfish and sure enough would like to get a frostbite.

 

I wanted to give the pairing experiment another try, so I got a much smaller misbar ocellaris clownfish that was sorely overpriced and overlooked at work. If anyone shops at those big box pet stores, sometimes it is worth asking the people around if they remember how long an animal has been at the store. This is especially true for land vertebrates, but can be applicable to aquatic animals. Remember that it's a large corporation so each store can run differently based on the employees and managers.

 

Our remaining frostbite seems to take on a more mellow personality as it prefers to sit on the leather coral most of the day. His caudal fin looks like it has been entirely cleaved off from previous aggression, so I'm not exactly worried if he dishes anything to our newcomer. He did however swim over to size up the new fish. A lot of posturing happened but no contact. This might be another long headache waiting to happen.

 

I guess I can be ready for a pajama cardinal trio any time soon.

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Diamonds x Pearls

April 21: Four weeks and a water change ago

 

If you may have noticed I intentionally haven't done any water changes over the past 4 weeks. I made this measure because I wanted to limit my exposure to the outside and also I was curious to see if my tank would be aged enough to handle the most amount of neglect I felt comfortable giving it. I may be misusing the word neglect as I have been feeding my fish 3x a week and my coral twice a week now. It consists of a fluidizied feed Monday nights and a separate broadcast feed of phytoplankton and Fuel at least 3 days after.

 

I did get my Salifert kits in yesterday from USPS. I suppose Covid19 is delaying shipments by a business day or two. It was supposed to arrive the previous Saturday.

 

Temperature: 76F

Salinity: 1.025sg

Nitrate: <10ppm? (i think the small new tufts of hair algae is doing that)

Phosphate: >0ppm? (i probably need to stop procrastinating)

Magnesium: <1300ppm (or whatever .13mL means on the test chart)

Alkalinity: 9 dKH

Calcium: 470ppm (.4mL on the test chart)

 

My first try with the Salifert kit read 500ppm...and that didn't seem quite right. I did it twice more and I had readings in the high 400s. I ran one last API test and sure enough it read 480-500ppm.

 

With titration tests, I normally have conservative readings as I have been trained to stop a titration right at the slightest change in tint, so Salifert may tell you to wait for a clear blue. I immediately start looking at my chart when its closer to a lavender. Of course, my curious side tells me to keep going and follow the instruction pamphlet. I'm going to run a 4th test to get a better feel for this. The magnesium test is a bad recording as I wasn't sure what kind of gray to look for and before I noticed it became a crisp clear cobalt blue. To be on the safe side it should be 1250-1300ppm Mg. 

 

I got an old TDS meter from coworker. I want to see my TDS with Whole Foods.

TDS check: 002ppm

 

Not bad for forty cents a US gallon

 

4th test did read about 470ppm when I reached a light clear blue. It was beginning to be lavender at 440ppm ish.

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Amphrites

I always estimate halfway between the two levels from where it starts to turn and where it turns completely.

All that really matters is that you are consistent in your own methods for consistency's sake, not whether you're 100% or even 80% accurate.

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billygoat
13 minutes ago, Amphrites said:

I always estimate halfway between the two levels from where it starts to turn and where it turns completely.

All that really matters is that you are consistent in your own methods for consistency's sake, not whether you're 100% or even 80% accurate.

I agree with this. All of those numbers would probably be fine as long as you keep them consistent. Once your livestock is acclimated it will learn to deal with whatever conditions you have going on. It's the swings in parameters that cause our animals stress.

 

3 hours ago, Diamonds x Pearls said:

I may be misusing the word neglect as I have been feeding my fish 3x a week and my coral twice a week now. It consists of a fluidizied feed Monday nights and a separate broadcast feed of phytoplankton and Fuel at least 3 days after.

Seems like a super light feeding schedule. With this amount of feeding I imagine you'd be able to get away with less-frequent water changes without too much trouble on the nutrient front. It's the trace elements and other difficult-to-measure things that you might have to worry about. Iodine in particular is used quite actively by many soft corals (especially gorgonians, though I don't think you have any of those - yet!), and can be rapidly depleted in a small aquarium. Testing of my own tank (which is also heavily stocked with soft corals) suggests that weekly water changes are mostly sufficient to maintain iodine levels, but I'm not sure what would happen if I were to let things go for 3 or 4 weeks without a WC. 🤔

 

That's all just conjecture though, of course! How's your livestock looking? If your corals are fuzzy, happy, and loving life, I say don't change anything, no matter what your tests might say. 😄

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Diamonds x Pearls
5 hours ago, Amphrites said:

I always estimate halfway between the two levels from where it starts to turn and where it turns completely.

All that really matters is that you are consistent in your own methods for consistency's sake, not whether you're 100% or even 80% accurate.

I decided to do another practice run with the Salifert test as I really don't have the muscle memory, haha. I'm so tempted to shake the test vial but there's no cap to it! I am getting pretty consistent results, so I think I have gotten the hang of it now.

5 hours ago, billygoat said:

[...]

 

Seems like a super light feeding schedule. With this amount of feeding I imagine you'd be able to get away with less-frequent water changes without too much trouble on the nutrient front. It's the trace elements and other difficult-to-measure things that you might have to worry about. Iodine in particular is used quite actively by many soft corals (especially gorgonians, though I don't think you have any of those - yet!), and can be rapidly depleted in a small aquarium. Testing of my own tank (which is also heavily stocked with soft corals) suggests that weekly water changes are mostly sufficient to maintain iodine levels, but I'm not sure what would happen if I were to let things go for 3 or 4 weeks without a WC. 🤔

 

That's all just conjecture though, of course! How's your livestock looking? If your corals are fuzzy, happy, and loving life, I say don't change anything, no matter what your tests might say. 😄

I thought about getting a Grube's gorgonian at work, but it was sold the same day I received it. doh!

 

From what I can tell my soft corals have been pretty much the same. A lot of peeling off every few days. The big toadstool is hosting the frostbite from time to time. However, my long polyp toadstool has been closed up for nearly a month now. I wonder if that is connected to iodine?

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billygoat
1 hour ago, Diamonds x Pearls said:

I thought about getting a Grube's gorgonian at work, but it was sold the same day I received it. doh!

 

From what I can tell my soft corals have been pretty much the same. A lot of peeling off every few days. The big toadstool is hosting the frostbite from time to time. However, my long polyp toadstool has been closed up for nearly a month now. I wonder if that is connected to iodine?

Shame that you missed it! Grube's is a good one. It's very beautiful, super hardy, grows like a weed... basically the ideal coral, honestly. It also seems to be quite a bit more difficult to find than most of the other gorgonians on the market, probably because it's one of the only Pacific species of photosythetic gorgonian available in the hobby. All the other ones come out of Florida.

 

1 hour ago, Diamonds x Pearls said:

From what I can tell my soft corals have been pretty much the same. A lot of peeling off every few days. The big toadstool is hosting the frostbite from time to time. However, my long polyp toadstool has been closed up for nearly a month now. I wonder if that is connected to iodine?

It's possible that a water quality/trace element issue such as iodine could be what's causing your leather to stay closed, but I would check the most obvious suspects first - light and flow. Seems weird that the rest of your softies would be fine with the light/flow situation in your tank, while this one is having problems. Is it getting blasted with a lot of direct current, or receiving a whole lot of light? And did it ever have polyps extended in the past, only to retract them later on?

 

Leather corals are not exactly known to be very picky, so it's a bit vexing when they do things like this. I wonder if your temperature could have something to do with it? I know you like to run this tank a bit on the cooler side. Perhaps the leather is just taking a lot of time to adjust to its new environment. I guess that might take it awhile, especially if it was propagated from a cutting in someone else's tank and has never known anything but 78 degree tank water.

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Diamonds x Pearls
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

[...]

 

It's possible that a water quality/trace element issue such as iodine could be what's causing your leather to stay closed, but I would check the most obvious suspects first - light and flow. Seems weird that the rest of your softies would be fine with the light/flow situation in your tank, while this one is having problems. Is it getting blasted with a lot of direct current, or receiving a whole lot of light? And did it ever have polyps extended in the past, only to retract them later on?

 

Leather corals are not exactly known to be very picky, so it's a bit vexing when they do things like this. I wonder if your temperature could have something to do with it? I know you like to run this tank a bit on the cooler side. Perhaps the leather is just taking a lot of time to adjust to its new environment. I guess that might take it awhile, especially if it was propagated from a cutting in someone else's tank and has never known anything but 78 degree tank water.

Lighting level should be similar to my big Devil's Hand as it has the same relative depth from the light. There is a chance that it is retracted because it is pretty close to my left powerhead. However it was doing well for the first month since I introduced it. After about a month it's been the stump it has been. To give my best guesstimate the flow isn't going directly at the coral, but the coral is about 2-3" to the left of the jet of water being moved, so it is not directly being buffeted from the powerhead, yet there should be enough flow suitable for a leather coral.

 

I can certainly try repositioning it elsewhere in the tank to see if it'll extend it's polyps once more. I have seen it try to extend polyps on a few occasions but it chose not to.

 

I would say chemical warfare, but I am running Purigen, and from my understanding it would uptake organic compounds, so in turn those chemicals release from soft corals should be filtered out?

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Diamonds x Pearls

IMG_20200401_114304.thumb.jpg.5c8e733646cb1ef2ecf93d2c9dd56dd7.jpg

@billygoat

It's an old photo, but this is how it has been looking like.

 

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I just took this photo with the "clean" function on from my LED strip. As you can see the coral isn't in the direct trajectory of the water if you draw a straight line from the squared off return part of the Koralia unit.

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mitten_reef
19 minutes ago, Diamonds x Pearls said:

I would say chemical warfare, but I am running Purigen, and from my understanding it would uptake organic compounds, so in turn those chemicals release from soft corals should be filtered out?

I'd run a tablespoon or so of activated carbon if you're thinking of toxins from warfare.  I used to keep fiji leather, running carbon kept everyone happy.  Purigen's primary duty is to sequester N-based waste, everything else is just marketing fluff, I think.   

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banasophia

The shameless plug for followers in that other thread worked, at least on me! Beautiful tank, excited to follow along. 

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Diamonds x Pearls
20 hours ago, mitten_reef said:

I'd run a tablespoon or so of activated carbon if you're thinking of toxins from warfare.  I used to keep fiji leather, running carbon kept everyone happy.  Purigen's primary duty is to sequester N-based waste, everything else is just marketing fluff, I think.   

Gotcha. I did run a bag of bit carbon that was purposed for one the larger Fluval canisters for the previous month. Actually I have been using those carbons for the past 2 months now.

18 hours ago, banasophia said:

The shameless plug for followers in that other thread worked, at least on me! Beautiful tank, excited to follow along. 

The shameless plugs will continue~ hehehehehehe

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Diamonds x Pearls

April 24th

 

Just a quick mini-update.

 

Temperature: 73F

Salinity: 1.025sg

Nitrates: <5ppm

Phosphates: >0ppm

Alkalinity: 7-8 dKH

Calcium: >420ppm

Magnesium: >1290ppm

 

I finally got a sample of AlgaeBarn's Ecopack from my coworker. I'm curious how this will work if it will work. I guess I'm supposed to see lowered nutrient levels as the live plankton cultures take in whatever is in the water column. I don't have a nutrient problem to say the least. I won't really find out until I get a more precise phosphate kit.

 

I am beginning to feed my tank NLS pellets once a day and a coral feed twice a week. One feeding regimen will be a liquified powder (roids and frozen coral gumbo with liquids) and the second regimen will be just liquids, phyto and fuel. Now that I have the probio and marine snow from AlgaeBarn I'll include them as broadcast feeds at least once a week, less than 3mL per feed to start off.

 

There's little aggression among the clowns. Nothing crazy yet.

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April 28th

 

Temperature: 75F

Salinity: 1.026sg

Nitrates: <5ppm

Phosphates: >0ppm

Alkalinity: 9 dKH

Calcium: 440ppm

Magnesium: 1330ppm

 

So it seems like I should roll back my dosing regimen. This week we'll be trying 2mL of Reef Fusion 1 a day and we'll keep the normal 8mL/day Reef Fusion 2.

 

On the freshwater front, my betta died so the 6.8 cube is now running fallow short of one Nerite snail. I'm considering to consolidating everything into my 29 gallon and just having that cube run fallow for a bit before I start something up again. I want to convert it over to saltwater QT since it doesn't have the greatest hardware (really low end LED and a 40gph Made in China pump) but still can at least support a thing. My wife is suspicious that it'll become another coral tank.

 

Keep me accountable, nano-reef.

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Phone broke so the usual end of the month photos will be delayed.

 

May 2:

 

Temperature: 74F

Salinity: 1.026sg

Nitrate: <5ppm

Phosphate: 0ppm

Alkalinity: 9 dKH

Calcium: 440ppm

Magnesium: 1320ppm

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FTS beginning of May

 

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Coral macros

IMG_20200505_013529.thumb.jpg.7a34fe7b50b042f18bb20f6e412c97e8.jpgIMG_20200505_013525.thumb.jpg.0e1feb2c4fab066602667ed325cd52bc.jpgIMG_20200505_013522.thumb.jpg.b406a172e5f357e39b3b0fd03b3245c0.jpgIMG_20200505_013518.thumb.jpg.a6fb3d152693ff76f356347f06d7b7d1.jpgIMG_20200505_013512.thumb.jpg.850dfd94e8adbf948a67041d25ea0f3d.jpgIMG_20200505_013500.thumb.jpg.c36e71b94708f0efc4cb4613cbe39013.jpgIMG_20200505_013456.thumb.jpg.98a698b8db7630fc183540ba2b2b1f5a.jpgIMG_20200505_013451.thumb.jpg.1f8d2df00636897156212d80849c4b16.jpgIMG_20200505_013448.thumb.jpg.9ffd433c21e14da1c4a17dc8994cea3d.jpgIMG_20200505_013443.thumb.jpg.7a8e1abe2a0afba40a7966d30964db36.jpg

 

I quickly took photos to get what they looked like before a feed. I didn't want the white light to trigger the wrong response and have their feeding tentacles to retract. It's such a breeze feeding candy cane corals.

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Today is water change day. Some of the corals looked a little more presentable so here's some updated images.

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Yes that's a Hokusai print I bought years ago. Kanagawa is a bit of a ways from the Ryukyu archipelago, but hey it's still Japan right?

 

I noticed a lot of times my photos come out grainy, so I looked into why cameraphones act that way. It appears that the ISO setting is too high. The image below is ISO 200 at 1/60th shutter speed. The Pro Mode on my OnePlus 3T doesn't really have an aperture setting. I feels really limiting when making the right capture.

IMG_20200505_081704.thumb.jpg.11d44afd92547f3fa43676dc3e6bdde5.jpg

 

It's pretty underexposed. I need to remember what settings I had for last month. That came out perfectly.

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IMG_20200505_095101.jpg

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Protip: Fast shutter speeds means you may not need to shut your pumps and filters off.

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