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KMitch

KMitch's Double the Trouble Tanks -- Mixed Reef & Clown Harem — Annddd We're Off

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KMitch
9 hours ago, Reefkid88 said:

What an update !!! I'm really hoping EcoTech treats you right and does the turn around quick. 

Me too! I'll keep y'all posted...

 

I realized yesterday that I failed to provide a photo of the finished product of the Rod's Food cubes, so here we have it. Yummy.

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I am pleased to report that Felix is doing wonderfully today. Fat and cruising around the tank mowing down some of the algae. He's quite the happy, spunky fish. Speaking of fish, I've got an order in with Live Aquaria for two more fish that will be delivered on Wednesday. This will help round-out the inhabitants in the tank and will setup the move of the last fish from the IM20. 

 

For the rest of the move from the IM20 -- the test coral looked great today with nice polyp extension and seemingly no stress. If I had both lights on the tank, I'd start moving some more stuff over, but I'm hesitant to do so with the rest of the coral until the light comes back. Or at least I'd have to pile it all in one end of the tank. Haven't decided....

 

Today was Neptune Trident calibration day. I didn't expect this to be such a brain exercise, but here it is....you'll recall yesterday I compared the Hanna checker to the Trident for alkalinity and got some results that were not consistent. So today I did the same thing after calibration, and the numbers were still baffling. Let's walk through it.

 

First, Neptune provides a bottle of calibration solution with each pack of reagent. The bottle has the calibration values on the front of it.

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When doing the testing, they have you place the bottle in a similar height to where the line pulls from during normal usage, so that it accounts for head pressure in the line. (At least this is the best explanation they give). So I stacked up some stuff and got the positioning to mirror the placement in the sump:

 

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To calibrate, you prime the sample line with the calibration fluid, then enter the values from the calibration fluid into the app. It took about 65mins to then calibrate, and voila! 

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After calibration, it shows the values that were listed on the bottle.

 

I didn't feel like waiting until the next round of alkalinity tests to see how it did, so I went ahead and ran a new alkalinity test afterwards and compared it to the Hanna checker. Results:

 

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So to recap the results....

 

Pre-Calibration

Hanna Checker: 7.9 dkh

Trident: 8.6 dkh

 

Post-Calibration

Hanna Checker: 8.2 dkh

Trident: 7.7 dkh

 

Well, that's confusing. The Hanna checker has a margin of error listed as +/-5%, and if we trust the Trident is correct in both circumstances, then we are within that 5% margin of error. In fact, I know the Hanna checker is off, because I tested the calibration fluid in my checker to see how it read that, and it was off. The calibration fluid was 8.3dkh, and Hanna reported it as 8.7 dkh. So the moral of the story is that hobby grade test kits are exactly that, and you should assume they are off by 5%. That's part of the reason not to ride the edge with running high alkalinity, because you can never be so sure about the accuracy of the test kit. 

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KMitch

The UPS man was good to me today! 
 

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Waiting for me after work was my new protein skimmer, a replacement heater for the one that died, and a little more ZeoBak. 
 

I was most eager to crack into the skimmer... as you’ll recall, I didn’t care for the Red Sea RSK model. It was loud, big, and just not the right fit for me. 
 

Protein skimming is a vital component of my filter system. It’s my only means of removing dissolved organics from the water, and is the backbone of my systems wellness. I have always been very partial to protein skimming as a way of removing organics from the water — I see more up sides to skimming than down. And I appreciate the very tangible way of measuring the effects of skimming by emptying a poo filled cup periodically. When I can see (and smell) the skimmer working.... well, I just like that. 
 

Anyway, as I returned to my skimmer shopping, I decided to go with a brand that is a leader in this industry, rather than a follower. I appreciate when a manufacturer specializes in doing one thing extraordinary well. So that narrowed my search to Reef Octopus and Royal Exclusive. Both companies have a reputation for top notch products. 
 

I found the videos produced by Bulk Reef Supply to be helpful in visualizing and understanding how skimmer technology has changed in the 15+ years that I have been in the hobby. When I started, the Aqua-C Remora was a “great” skimmer. Today we know more, and have built better and more efficient skimmers. 
 

I opted for the Royal Exclusive Mini Bubble King 160 Protein Skimmer. It checked the boxes for things I care about: fantastic performance, right size for my space, ease of maintenance, DC powered pump, and high quality design that will hold up to years of use. 
 

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Within seconds of opening the box, I knew this skimmer was different and special. I could coddle it like a baby. The precise cuts and design... damn. The collection cup fits perfectly. Literally perfect. It takes no effort to remove to drain, while being snug enough to not leak. The drain port sits flush with the cup. 
 

The contouring on the inside of the cup must be a pain to manufacture, but dang, it’s perfect. 
 

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I excitedly plugged it in and cranked it up. I gave it about 20 mins to run through some micro bubbles before I started to dial it in. Royal Exclusive said it could take a few days to break in. I had it producing this in less than an hour. 
 

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Look at those bubbles. That’s not the soda fizz I’m used to seeing in my skimmer... that is a rich frothy, thick mass of pure organic goodness. 
 

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Really look at those bubbles. It’s better than porn for a reef tank owner!

 

Alright, all love to the skimmer aside, I am thus far very happy with it. It’s also totally silent. Not like the kind of silent people say their skimmer is... this is for real silent. 
 

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The fit in the sump is also pretty damn perfect. 
 

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Skimmer as it just turned on for the first time. 
 

I did have some help with the skimmer install. One of our cats, Hank, likes the fish tanks and was keen to sit in my lap while I installed the skimmer. Such a tremendous help...

 

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I’ll conclude for the day by quickly reporting that my chemistry continues to be on point, and I’ve got some friends for Felix arriving from Live Aquaria on Wednesday.....

 

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KMitch

Some good news today from EcoTech:

 

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I'm super surprised, and obviously very happy. The light was outside the warranty period, but I appreciate that great service. Folks, this is why you buy quality equipment, because you have a US company standing behind it, not something from China. They also sent me the "invoice" and showed that this repair would normally be $250, but they comp'ed it for me. Thank you EcoTech!

 

And bad news from Live Aquaria....

 

My fish delivery today was delayed in transit. So now the fish are coming tomorrow. Hopefully everyone makes it the extra day in the cold and their bags okay.

 

I've got a bigger update to come, but for now, some good and bad news.

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Bella's Reef

Great looking tank! 

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KMitch

It's been a busy few days in the tank -- new lights, new fish, new aquascape (sorta). Let's dig in...

 

I got the light back from EcoTech on Thursday and was happy to get it installed and running again. I had moved the corals out of the IM20 tank, so I think they were also happy to have the return of the sun. With both lights up and running, I rented the PAR meter from BRS so I could set the lights precisely, without trying to guess the right settings.

 

I also got some boxes from Live Aquaria. They were delayed in arrival by almost 24 hours, so I was concerned about the risk of a DOA, but thankfully, everyone survived. I did a nice long acclamation with the lights off to help reduce stress. 

 

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What was inside those baggies? A little-bitty-baby of a captive bred Biota yellow tang and another Yasha Goby! I couldn't believe how small the yellow tang is -- I thought Felix was itty bitty, but this yellow tang is wee itty bitty. You can still see some of his spine and face hasn't colored up yet, which is normal for these juvenile fish. I look forward to documenting his growth and seeing him turn into the yellow tang most of us are familiar with. 

 

It didn't take long after releasing him for Felix to find him and start to get pissy and territorial. I had expected this would happen, but thankfully was prepared. I loaded up the algae clips around the tank, fed heavy, and setup a mirror on the side of the tank (forgot to take a pic of this.... sorry). The mirror lets the fish attack his reflection rather than the other tang to work out his aggression, and Felix took to the mirror very quickly. I kept it up for almost 48 hours, and have since removed the mirror, but continued to feed heavy so that food aggression isn't an issue. They still occasionally tail-flap each other, but it's significantly less than it was, and now "Skippy" dishes it back. They seem to generally get along, spending most of their time next to each other and giving the other a good chase on occasion. 

 

The new Yasha goby found my other Yasha goby within 12 hours, and the two of them have nested up together in the cave on the left side of the tank. They're both being a bit shy still, but I have spotted them with the pistol shrimp, and expect they'll be more social as they get more comfortable in the new environment.

 

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He's a fast mover, so this isn't a great pic, but you can see how he hasn't filled in fully, clearly a very young fish!

 

As I mentioned earlier, now that I have the light back from EcoTech, it's time to use the PAR meter to set the correct intensity of the lights for my mixed reef tank. 

 

If you've been following along from the beginning, then you'll recognize the setup I used to measure and record PAR values from before. If you missed that, here's a quick recap: I used blue painters tape to draw a grid on the front of the tank with intervals marked evenly across the tank. I then used the PAR meter to record intensities at those locations and map them out so that I have future reference of light intensity in the tank.

 

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Drawing out the grid on the front of the tank

 

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Taking measurements with the PAR meter

 

I took measurements and mapped them out at two depths of the tank. This lets me understand where PAR values change depending on their placement across the rocks. Here are the results:

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6" back from front of the glass

 

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18" from front glass

 

The result, when overplayed on top of the FTS, shows that I have ideal SPS light intensity on the top of the rocks, with LPS favorable PAR levels on the middle and lower sections of the rock. Exactly what I wanted.

 

With the lighting levels set, I placed and glued the corals down. So today I'll leave you with some FTS's (you can see the tangs in them), and a few other random shots.

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Finally - the IM20 might be empty now, but I have redone the aquascape and have it re-cycling in preparation to turn it into a clown harem tank. Here's how the tank looks with the new scape.

 

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Reefkid88

I'm super glad the light situation got figured out !!!! 

 

 Those par numbers too look great and should give you some good growth for those sps !!! 

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KMitch
19 hours ago, Reefkid88 said:

I'm super glad the light situation got figured out !!!! 

 

 Those par numbers too look great and should give you some good growth for those sps !!! 

Me too. Yeah I am happy with the numbers, but today it looks too white to my eye. Need to play with it more still I think. 
 

Thankfully the PAR meter rental doesn’t end for 7 days!

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KMitch

I am also trying to figure out how many clowns I can sustain in my 20 gallon harem....

 

When BRS did their setup, they had 3.3 gallons of water for every one clown. By the same math, that’d leave 6 clowns for the 20 gallon, but that seems like a heavy bio load. Since I intend to have anemones and feed regularly to combat the aggression, the issue for me primarily is maintaining water quality. I was thinking 4-5 clowns max, especially if I am getting them as babies. If they grow out of the tank, so be it. 
 

Thoughts?

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DAP

Just read the whole thread.  WOW. The IM20 was awesome!   

Will be following along.  

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debbeach13

Do you know how many gallons of water is actually in the tank after the rock and sand? Use that number to calculate for how many fish. Which is probably only going to be 3 or 4.  

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A.m.P

That's tricky, for whatever reason even numbers supposedly don't pan out well, and sticking with three makes it likely you may end up with a pair and a soon-to-be shredded third wheel.

But I'd agree that 5 seems like allot, though most will will be smaller males, tough call and I don't really have any hands-on experience to pull from

 

I don't think heavy feeding is necessarily a solid long-term strategy for aggression unless you already plan on heavy waterchange routines (or other forms of nutrient export like aggressive and oversized skimming +chaeto or algae reactors) but if you go that route (especially large waterchanges) then a higher bioload isn't that big an issue to begin with.

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debbeach13

I was going to mention odd numbers maybe better like 3 or 5 but I can not remember where the odd number idea came from. 

A 20 gallon tank is small for a harem. I think you will end up with a pair when all is said and done. 

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KMitch

Thanks everyone for the thoughts. Yes, 20 is small for a harem, but if things get testy with aggression, I’m okay with taking fish out and donating them to a good cause. However, I have also been told a lot of “rules” in my 15 hrs in this hobby that also don’t hold water. So I’m willing to push the envelope (within reason) to see how it can be done safely and respectfully. 
 

That’s the key - it’s easy to do something crazy. It’s hard to push the envelope of this hobby in a way that creates real success. 
 

I’m leaning towards 4 clowns right now. 

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Reefkid88

I think 4 is a good number. 2 sets of different morphs would be super cool. 

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A.m.P
26 minutes ago, Reefkid88 said:

I think 4 is a good number. 2 sets of different morphs would be super cool. 

I've seen (*read of*) a few successful harems of 4, maybe do 4 totally-distinct morphs?

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Reefkid88

@A.m.P 4 different morphs would be awesome !!

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KMitch
15 minutes ago, Reefkid88 said:

@A.m.P 4 different morphs would be awesome !!

Oh yeah it would!

6 hours ago, A.m.P said:

I've seen (*read of*) a few successful harems of 4, maybe do 4 totally-distinct morphs?

Any links? I have heard to stick with one type If you have more than a pair...

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A.m.P
55 minutes ago, KMitch said:

Oh yeah it would!

Any links? I have heard to stick with one type If you have more than a pair...

The four was an idea, I think the sticking to one type is mostly anecdotal since clowns identify each other using UV markings we can't see particularly well. I haven't heard of it working better personally.

 

I'll try to hunt down some of the smaller 4 clown harems I've bumped into over the last few years later tonight.

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A.m.P
4 hours ago, KMitch said:

Oh yeah it would!

Any links? I have heard to stick with one type If you have more than a pair...

I think it's probably best to stick with all from one clutch still, at least so you have ages and familiarity, but I apparently didn't save a single link and google hasn't been helpful at all lol. Sorry, I did see this earlier in a week and hunted it down

 https://www.facebook.com/groups/296792774207117/permalink/809422859610770/

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KMitch
18 hours ago, A.m.P said:

I think it's probably best to stick with all from one clutch still, at least so you have ages and familiarity, but I apparently didn't save a single link and google hasn't been helpful at all lol. Sorry, I did see this earlier in a week and hunted it down

 https://www.facebook.com/groups/296792774207117/permalink/809422859610770/

Yeah I read up some last night and agree. Four different ones looks like a bad idea. Ho hum 

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A.m.P
22 minutes ago, KMitch said:

Yeah I read up some last night and agree. Four different ones looks like a bad idea. Ho hum 

Could try to find a local breeder and get as much variability in color and pattern as possible from one clutch, possibly even taking the ones they wouldn't consider "nice enough" to sell (since they would be *quite* different from the rest of the pack).

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KMitch
4 hours ago, A.m.P said:

Could try to find a local breeder and get as much variability in color and pattern as possible from one clutch, possibly even taking the ones they wouldn't consider "nice enough" to sell (since they would be *quite* different from the rest of the pack).

Yeah, I clearly need to investigate a little more. L-A.com is also doing a sale on clowns right now so I might just spring for a small cluster this weekend. Decisions....Decisions.

 

The IM20 is continuing to cycle, so not much to show there. But things are settling in nicely in the RSR250. All of the aggression between the tangs has ceased and they now swim around the tank together as though they've been BFF's forever. Fish are funny sometimes!

 

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The skimmer continues to produce a nice foam -- I emptied it today and nearly wanted to gag from the smell. Impressive the literal poop that a skimmer removes! Anyway, I'm quite pleased with this skimmer's performance thus far.

 

Snapped a few more pics of the corals and another FTS this evening.

 

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Except for feedings, I'm trying to keep my hands out of the tank as much as possible so things can finish stabilizing. The corals might be "seasoned" from my other tank, but the chemistry of this system is pretty fragile since it's been running for less than a month. So I watch it and monitor it closely, but otherwise try not to muck around too much.

 

I did measure my NO3 and PO4 again today. Nitrates were 0.5 and phosphate was 0.03. Perfect! I'm also still working on getting the Neptune Trident auto dosing fully dialed in. The alkalinity swings about a half dkh every day, but the calcium has been pretty stabile. I'm trying not to dose the alkalinity during the day because of the pH boost (I'm already running in the 8.3-8.4 ph range naturally), but work to do there still. However, I've appreciated the insight that the Trident offers.

 

A closing FTS

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A.m.P

I thought I had followed this thread, but here's 4 in a 40 breeder, just hit front page after an update today, not sure if you saw it.

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