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debbeach13

Hi I just found your thread and am now following. I also have a 20L and enjoy seeing what others do with theirs. How is the algae battle going? Did you change up the lights and pumps as you mentioned? 

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Diamonds x Pearls
3 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

Hi I just found your thread and am now following. I also have a 20L and enjoy seeing what others do with theirs. How is the algae battle going? Did you change up the lights and pumps as you mentioned? 

Nope I haven't yet. It's still on my Amazon wish list, as I'm still saving up for them. I'm also somewhat wary of ordering from Current USA as they are based in California and shipping is just a mess across the country.

 

Also welcome to my journal! I try to update at least weekly in text form and there are monthly photo updates. I also post questions here to ask you all, so feel free to give your input as some members have here already.

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debbeach13

I would be happy to help when I can. Just so you know I am a lazy reefer. I keep softies and some LPS. I run a a KISS tank relying on LR and WC. I do have an AC 50 that always has filter fluff (pillow stuffing) and usually a couple teaspoons of carbon or a pc. of poly filter. I do not test much and do not dose at all. I do not have any SPS so could not help there at all. I have had been into SW for over 30 years but am constantly learning and amazed at other peoples tanks. Agreed shipping can be crazy right now but at least equipment can survive delays. Happy reefing!

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Diamonds x Pearls

July 23:

 

Temperature 82F (even though heat index is over 100 for the past 3ish weeks now)

Salinity 1.021sg (i'll explain later)

Alkalinity 8 dKh

Calcium 375ppm

Magnesium 1170ppm

Nitrate <12ppm

Phosphate ~0.025ppm

 

Ugh so during the blackout period my wife commented on crackling noises near the aquarium. It was crackling from saltwater getting near my surge protector. YIKES! I wasn't certain where the water was coming from but the carpet was definitely damp. I was wondering if the waterproof blanket was doing too good of a job causing condensation and making it literally rain inside. I tasted the water and it was salty so it seemed like it was a leak. I wasn't sure what was going on but I kept on eye on it for the next several days.

 

Earlier this week it still seemed damp without the crackling and my wife then mentioned my aquarium water level was dropping fast. Naturally I kept topping off with RODI. I was hoping it was not a leak. I checked last night around to see where water might be. I felt around the cabinet and it was dry. Huh weird. The rim of the aquarium is tight, so I shined a light on the wall and there was tell tale bubbling from water just making the drywall damp over a period of time. There were two long streams that went up to the box.

 

...turns out I overstuffed the filter with media. Creating a nice big reservoir...it overflowed trickling against the wall. There's a nice imprint of my Aquaclear filter thanks to the water. There goes my deposit. I contacted the maintenance crew just now. Lesson learned: Don't position stuff right up against the wall. Leave some breathing room.

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What a ride. It's been 6 months now and going through the various stages of microbial and algal growth has taught me a lot through the short time of owning of a somewhat simpler reef tank.

 

The equipment has been all the same except for the few adjustment settings I made to the filter and light. The most recent memory is not to over pack your filter box especially if not too great at checking the filter most mornings. I feel like had I seen this earlier the wall damage wouldn't have been so bad. Fortunately, the repair people at the apartment just said to sand off the bubbling and put primer on it. They said they'll give me the paint to touch it up.

 

The biggest takeaway I've learned is really learning the small nuances in keeping a reef tank. Sometimes at the macro level you see people publish their photos and even videos but sometimes when updates are published the details are lost for the sake being easily communicable. And I think this is what makes this journal different from others: the depth of information. The prevailing principle is knowing that people are looking and possibly adapting materials and methods in their own way. I only hope that I am creating repeatable methods to have repeatable results. I think I'm happiest with that when I know what I'm doing can be done by others, TOTM or not. Details are so critical. In a literal sense, I learned some about the reef in the microscale. It makes sense however. How can you have such diversity in larger scales? It is likely that there's a wild and diverse blend of microbes living within the scope of a light microscope or if you have the money a Scanning Electron Microscope. In the right doses, products like Vibrant and AlgaeBarn's Ecopack have their place. In maximizing chances of success, it takes time to allow the good bacteria to spread and be fruitful and numerous. Likewise, sometimes I wonder what my aquarium would have taken shape if I populated it more slowly. Another example is spending some time (for me in the morning) and stare at every square millimeter of the tank space. Look and learn at what's going on. What you see is telling you how things are doing. Granted there's an element of interpretation, but if it looks right then you're probably on the right track. There's a place for quantified data (there's a reason why I test pretty often), but qualifiers are generally the first sign you see of anything.

 

Another lesson is to not give up. I hit the dinos. Even with the warnings from people around me about having too clean water, I still went forth, and it was a humbling but good learning experience. However dinos is a place where some people give up. For my experience I've seen vermetid worms, wild black flatworms from who knows, bryopsis, cyano, a necrosing Favia, and angry clownfish. As successful as the tank may look, I definitely had my episodes that required some time on the internet researching and learning. Many things are surmountable especially with the knowledge base and technology available out there. It'll only get better as time, understanding, and perspective continues in the hobby and the science behind it. Finally, invertebrates can be easier than fish. Corals just need a shred of living tissue to keep going. Fish...well...takes a bit more effort.

 

I can only think of two takeaways right now. There are probably more things I've learned but those are things that stuck out to me the most. If I had to add anything, I only wish I did this years sooner. I can't believe how much fun I was out missing out on. Better late than never. However I am grateful that I've worked on other people's reef tanks before working on mine.

 

I like to think it would be helpful in not just describing the hardware directly associated with the tank, but additionally listing the extraneous support tools that may be needed for maintaining a water box.

 

6 month mark: Materials

  • 1 gallon pitcher - use this normally to hold a reserve RODI for top offs or FW soaks
  • 3 Five gallon buckets - 2 I use as holding units for mixed saltwater, 1 used for direct water changes
    • With spare powerheads and heaters I generally mix a couple days ahead
  • Spare filter floss
  • Spare GAC
  • Spare Purigen
  • Couple plastic containers to store your media pouches
  • Reef Fusion 1 and 2 (dosing will vary based on aquarium's age and needs)
  • Vibrant
  • Dr Tim's One and Only or Bio-Spira (patents are the same)
  • Testing kit
    • NYOS Nitrate and Phosphate kits
    • Salifert Mg and Ca kits
    • API KH kit
    • API Ammonia kit (I highly do not recommend this. I found even Tetra's Ammonia strips to be better)
    • Refractometer
    • Magnetic Thermometer (suction cups wear out over time)
  • Several microfiber cloths
  • At least 25ft of airline tubing
  • Paint brushes
  • Soft Toothbrush
  • Fish medicines (Glad I haven't had the need to treat)
    • Fluconazole
    • Antibiotics
    • Copper (left at work)
    • Reef Dip (some Iodine solution to disinfect corals or anemones with a slightly poked foot)
  • Surge Protectors
  • Several of those tiny Bon Maman jars. Make great use for making a coral food slurry
  • Small animal syringes (find it in the hamster section of your local pet store)
  • Leftover dosing spoons from powdered medications or testing kits
  • Big gravel vacuum
  • Small gravel vacuum
  • Seachem Prime
  • Cyanoacrylate based glue gel
  • A tote to hold some of these things
  • 2 Seachem Hydrototes (5gal)
  • 1 bucket of Reef Crystals
  • A tired but curious mind

 

Methods in one sentence: January 2020 to July 2020

  1. A lot of research and knowing what products to get. Take your time to suit your budget and needs.
  2. Test early and make it a habit. Even doing practice runs is great since you'll passively memorize the directions.
  3. Be aggressive with inoculations. Colonies develop somewhat slow.
    • I would be cognizant if you start with dry rock then there will be successions of weird and wild things growing. You're basically seeing nature trying to reclaim something and at times it is not a pretty sight. It helps diversifying the microbes, so maybe live plankton and bacteria cultures are appropriate here. This is where live rock should be a very serious consideration. (but sometimes we're not made out of money)
  4. High nitrates aren't the end of the world. Just make sure there are a reasonable nonzero amount.
  5. CUC is a work in progress and snails come and go.
  6. I was very fast with my coral. Looking back I don't recommend this. There is the right colony out there. Sometimes the prettiest ones haven't made the shop yet.
  7. Learn how to take photos with whatever camera you have. The more manual controls you have available the better. I'm basically saying have a DSLR somewhere.
  8. If chemical treatments are required, be cautious and follow directions. Sometimes you may need to run a longer treatment time to see the full effects come into fruition. However always inspect the response of your life. If you interpret negative tendencies, then it's a sign to stop.
  9. If it can be helped, multi-pronged approaches to algae should be done. Redundancy really helps in the hobby. I'm basically saying see if you can have a diverse set of reef cleaners that covers a wide overlapping spectrum.
  10. Listen to you tank. Sometimes you may not need to change the water as much or as often or a combination of.

 

Oh I added a 3 more cerith snails and one more astrea snail.

 

Pictures next week!

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Diamonds x Pearls

July 29

 

Temperature 82F

Salinity 1.023sg

Alkalinity 9 dKh

Calcium 430ppm

Magnesium 1170ppm

Nitrate ~10ppm

Phosphates >0.05ppm

 

Well the GHA is starting to take place, but it's an algae I don't mind as I let it overtake the rear face of the aquarium. It has carpeted about 80% of the intake tube of my filter unit. The Astrea snails make small dents and dings into it. As long as the algae doesn't go too wild I think it'll maintain the same level of grazing pressure. I'm going to reassess visually how the GHA carpet looks after a month or two and consider if I need additional help. I was thinking of getting those ninja star looking snails. They seem to be relatives of Astrea snails and can serve as a decent representative of similar looking snails from the region (as there are barely close enough analogs of Astrea in Japan). Also I've been noticing half of my Nassarius snails have been missing. I wonder if my pistol shrimp made the most out of his situation. Oh well, the sand bed still looks decently fine.

 

Surprisingly my margarita snails are still hanging in there with the seasonal increase in temperature. I'm slightly diluting my salt mix as I am guessing there is a relationship between how briny water is and how warm it can get. This is somewhat based on my pasta experiments in the kitchen throughout this pandemic. My wife hates my pastas only because she's gotten tired of eating it. For me however, I want to hone in on just practicing the Roman pastas as it'll give me a good technical background on making other sauces. My blackwater tank neighbor is at 78F matching the temperature of my thermostat. (The Mid-Atlantic region has been hot this month.)

 

It's been a month. Time for a water change I think.

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IMG_20200801_103746.thumb.jpg.3909580117d9dc1da0e58a5f986ec965.jpgIMG_20200801_104147.thumb.jpg.f30a46c6cc8acbab76c6a187743f414d.jpg

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FTS, please excuse the non-compliant soft corals...

 

IMG_20200801_104555.thumb.jpg.ae41eeb236c91571a49525dc25700120.jpg

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IMG_20200801_104358.thumb.jpg.bcb851ece80117138aa94063a91266c2.jpg

Nice little growths on the leftmost colony. It keeps growing a new head.

 

IMG_20200801_104336.thumb.jpg.58d7ca60e83f19930f6b440975d2d4c6.jpg

I am really loving mini carpets. I'm looking to get another one!

 

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I'm thinking of relocating this guy to a calmer part of the tank. The flesh is tighter to the skeleton and the palps aren't coming out as they normally do. I noticed there's some exposed skeleton near the mouth. I hope things are okay. It may have been a stray calcium precipitate stinging part of the tissue. Ouch.

 

IMG_20200801_104245.thumb.jpg.313a2f197fac11e323f3facfa4a75451.jpg

I just noticed this a few days ago. I wonder if the exposure of skeleton is also from a stray precipitate burning some of the flesh. I'm going to keep an eye on it to see if it gets worse. I hope not. I really like the robustness of this colony.

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Diamonds x Pearls

August 5th

 

I purchased some Coral Cleaner from Two Little Fishies and it smells quite ####ing amazing. I may huff this stuff when I am not feeling well. I bathed both coral colonies for 30 minutes in the utility pitcher I had. It was already half full of RODI water so I added a quarter cup of IO Reef Crystals and mixed it out. Mixing happened a few days before. The Favia produced a lot of mucus in my tank. Yum. It's been about 3 days since treatment and things appear to be stable. I decided to change my methods in dosing the Reef Fusions 1 and 2. Instead of pumping a syringe which can be a little tough to push and pull. I got one of the disposable pipettes that come included with every refractometer out there. I also scaled back the dosing volumes so I wouldn't run into precipitation issues. I am now dosing about 1.5mL of each per day, injecting it at the return of my Aquaclear unit.

 

Temperature 82F

Salinity 1.023sg

Alkalinity 10-11 dKh

Calcium 420ppm

Magnesium 1170ppm

Nitrate ~12ppm

Phosphate >0.075ppm

 

Really what carried over from my anti-dino protocol is the additional big feed for the corals, so I'm doing that 3x weekly now. It's also nice to have my candy canes split more often to create a bigger colony. The single daily feedings are scaled up now. Weekly I feed a cube of mysis shrimp to all my fishes, both saltwater and freshwater, and invertebrates, target-fed to the shrimp and sea anemone.

 

Also, some stocking changes will be happening this week. Good stuff. I promise.

 

If I remember to do it, Vibrant will be dosed. However I haven't felt the need to do so.

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