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KMitch

KMitch's IM Peninsula 20 ZeoVit Build -- Six Months In

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KMitch
4 hours ago, William said:

I’m not sure if I would have done the Saline bath; at that salinity you will have killed almost all life on the rock (sponge, coral, copepod/amphipod, micro/macro fauna) 

 

seems like somewhat of a waste to use fresh live rock then kill everything on it. 

Actually the coralline and sponges seems to have all done well. The bath is very short - less than a minutes. 
 

Besides, the rock is out of water for 10 hours during shipping, so there’s going to be some die off. I am skeptical that a saline bath for a minute had any more of a negative effect than shipping did. 

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William
1 hour ago, KMitch said:

Actually the coralline and sponges seems to have all done well. The bath is very short - less than a minutes. 
 

Besides, the rock is out of water for 10 hours during shipping, so there’s going to be some die off. I am skeptical that a saline bath for a minute had any more of a negative effect than shipping did. 

I hope it works out for you, but that’s A extremely hypertonic bath, 1.030 I could understand. But everyone charts their own path in this hobby. 

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KMitch
47 minutes ago, William said:

I hope it works out for you, but that’s A extremely hypertonic bath, 1.030 I could understand. But everyone charts their own path in this hobby. 

1.040 is what they recommended, and they have cured more rock than me!

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KMitch

Water parameters are coming along.... saw the expected spike in Nitrites and hopefully am nearing the end of this cycle. Also getting some brown diatoms on the rock and sand, which isn't unexpected with ZeoVit. Going to back off the dosing for a few days until that clears, per the instructions in the Zeo guide. 

 

LFS got a pair of oscellaris clowns in stock that look great.... might be able to pick them up in a day or two if everything stays stable.

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KMitch

Bad news: My Fiancee discovered N-R and has read this thread. Now I have to behave myself 🤐. Thankfully she's enjoying this tank, so I have a short leash.

 

Good news: I added two fish to the tank yesterday! World, please meet Vinny and Mona - a pair of Sea & Reef DaVinci Oscellaris clownfish. There are three grades of these DaVinci clowns, and this is the "extreme" grading, meaning they have 3 fused stripes on at least one side of the body and the full "gladiator" helmet. I don't particularly care about the naming conventions of all the boutique clownfish, but I do want some nice looking clowns, and that's what I've got here! I was very attracted to how both have really distinctive markings, which will make it possible to differentiate the two fish. The names come from two of DaVinci's most famous works -- the Mona Lisa and Vitruvian Man. Unfortunately, they are too juvenile to sex out yet, so which one is Vinny and which is Mona is going to be a bit of a mystery for a little while.

 

I also added the start of my clean up crew and two mangroves into the back middle chamber. Everyone ate some pellets happily this morning, so things are settling in well. I'll give it some time before I add any more fish as adding two fish will change the biology of the tank, and I want to give the bacteria some time to catch back up and for things to equalize again. But the plan is to add a Yasha goby/shrimp pair next.

 

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I love this little black dot in on the back right side of this clown... is it Vinny or Mona? Unknown!

 

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Snorkel-eye view

 

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Current FTS, 27 March 2020

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MasterMind9

Rock scape looks pretty nice.  

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KMitch

Added some more of the clean-up crew today: a few trochus snails, a few hermits, and a conch. I have a particular affinity for the conchs and the way they use their claw / snorkel thing to move along.... never mind those little eyes that always seem to be checking you out. 

 

Still have some brown algae from the cycle, but it's not uncommon to get during the initial ZeoVit cycle and everyone says it goes away. Fingers crossed it happens soon.

 

On an exciting front, I also grabbed a few frags! Two zoa frags (I don't know the names, but we could make up something fun and absurd) and a purple hairy mushroom. The hope being that the mushroom get big enough / looks fluffy enough to entice the clowns to host in it. fingerscrossed I just glued everything down so it is closed up and pi$$ed off at the moment, but photos will come!

 

Finally, I decided to re-arrange how I have the rear filter chambers setup with the hopes of installing a skimmer. I'm going to try and run the eShops Nano skimmer, which I've read great things about. My decision to go for a skimmer is three fold: 1) The ZeoVit system technically requires a skimmer, and after careful consideration, I decided it was best to do as the German scientists instruct and not try to out smart them; 2) Based on my past tanks that have run skimmers, I believe a skimmer is an incredibly valuable tool to remove organics and keep a clean tank; and 3) there's something incredibly satisfying and gratifying about emptying a skimmer cup that is full of a thick pasty sludge and knowing that poo isn't in the tank anymore.

 

Skimmer should arrive this week, so we'll get that installed and go from there.

 

In the mean time -- debating which fish to add next. Current contenders are a Yasha goby + shrimp or a pink stripped wrasse.

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KMitch

Did a 25% water change today and things are looking good. Still have a little bit of the brown diatom-like algae, so I took a break from dosing ZeoVit for a few days and (combined with the water change) I'm hoping that'll help clear things up for good.

 

The new skimmer will hopefully arrive tomorrow or Wednesday, and I'm looking forward to getting that installed and seeing the gratifying brown sludge start to get pulled out of the tank.

 

I also managed to score a win today... I've been trying to rent one of the @BulkReefSupply PAR meters so I can correctly calibrate the A360X light, but every time I try to snag one, they are out of stock. Today was my lucky day -- I got the in stock notification for a PAR meter while I was sitting at my computer and able to act. So in the next few days I'll have the meter arrive and I can do some testing on the proper light settings. I'll share my results here, but the hope is to identify output settings for the light at 6" and 8" off the water to support SPS, LPS, and softy growth. It's too easy these days to use a PAR meter to properly "set and forget" the light up correctly for corals, and I'm looking forward to doing so. If anyone has recommendations for how to do the measurements, I'm all ears.

 

Here's a few pics. I moved one of the rocks around slightly in the aquascape.

 

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New Zoa frag. Not sure what they are called, but I love the blue/purple center with the lime green fringes

 

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31 March 2020 Full Tank Shot

 

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DreC80

Looking good.  I broke down and bought a PAR meter about a year ago.  Definitely better than trying to guess.

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KMitch
42 minutes ago, DreC80 said:

Looking good.  I broke down and bought a PAR meter about a year ago.  Definitely better than trying to guess.

Agree. Where in Virginia are you? 

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DreC80

I'm in the Hampton Roads area.

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KMitch

Nice, I am in NOVA

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DreC80
4 hours ago, KMitch said:

Nice, I am in NOVA

Cool, I was up there all the time (prior to covid) for my daughter's travel soccer.  Loudon County mostly.

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KMitch

Nice. Bit of a drive, but some good shops in this area. I live around the Manassas area, so not too far from Loudon.

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KMitch

Happy Friday N-R Family! :happydance: 

 

I'll admit it, I am guilty of breaking the social distancing rules with my fish tank! It's been a busy 48 hours in this water box, so let's catch up on the highlights:

 

First, the water parameters have finally finished stabilizing. The last little bit of Nitrates that had been holding out finally relinquished and I'm quite pleased with how the ZeoVit cycle went. There's some remaining hair algae in the tank, but the snails are slowly chowing their way through it, so I'm hoping it'll be gone soon.

 

Helping the filtration was the addition of the eShopps Nano Protein Skimmer. I had read a bunch of reviews about various nano skimmers that could fit in the second chamber of this tank, but ultimately decided on the eShopps because I could find almost no negative reviews on it. Protein skimmers are easy to complain about (too many micro bubbles, too wet of skim, hard to dial in, etc), so the one with the best reviews from real users seemed like the best bet. It paid off -- this thing is a monster. Cannot recommend it enough. Although the instructions said there would be a 5-10 day break-in period, it immediately started pulling dark brown crap out of the tank. I am skimming pretty dry, and this is what I got on the first "run" of the skimmer. Took only seconds to install, no micro bubbles, and super quiet. It does stick up above the top of the tank, but that's to be expected with any of the choices. Maybe one day I'll paint the blue cap on the waste cup so that it blends in a little better, but for now, I'm happy.

 

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First day of skimming with the eShopps Nano Protein Skimmer

 

Next up in the good news department... remember when I said I didn't know the name of the zoas I got from my LFS that were freshly fragged? Well, turns out one of the frags is five heads of white zombie zoas! omgomgomg I have never scored so well without trying. I haven't pulled out the good camera to get a stellar shot of them, but here they are in the background.

 

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White Zombie Zoas in the background. Unknown zoas in the foreground. Still some algae from the cycle for the snails to tend to...

 

I added a few more frags to the tank as well -- a watermelon acan, some favia, and a tree leather coral. The leather needed to be glued on a frag plug, and it is still a little droopy from the stress, but I expect it to perk up in the coming day or two.

 

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Finally, I got some new tank mates: a pair of bonded Yasha gobies and candy cane pistol shrimp. I had been waiting for a pair to pop up on Live Aquaria, and finally found one this week. They arrived today, which is always like opening a box on Christmas.

 

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Boxes!

 

Then, like a dummy, I forgot to take a picture of them while they were acclimating and before I put everyone in the tank. Not surprisingly, they all darted for the closest hole and we've barely spotted them since. This doesn't exactly surprise me; I know Yasha gobies are famous for being shy in a new tank. Hopefully I'll spot them soon and get a chance to take a picture. From what I saw in the bucket during acclimation, the female is significantly larger than the male, so that will make it easy to differentiate them.

 

The tank has become quite the family affair, with all of our cats getting involved in supervising the tank. In fact, I've caught one of the cats standing on the lid -- I had to deploy some clear packing tape on to the stand to catch any stray paws. 

 

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Hank the cat watching from a cat-safe and human-approved location on the back of the couch! 

 

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Side tank shot -- still have a little algae to tend to, and waiting for the leather to recover from the stress of being glued up to a plug

 

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Full Tank Shot, 4 April 2020

 

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KMitch

Well long story short, I ended up re-doing the aquascape in the tank. I didn't set out initially planning to do this, but I was trying to place some corals and one thing lead to the next and...... well here we are. The new 'scape has better placement options for corals (it was going to be tricky to place coral on all the flat rocks I have) and there's a fun cave and overhang for my (new) cleaner shrimp. 

 

In the process, I had an interesting discovery when I found this crawling around the rock unexpectedly...

 

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A surprise hitchhiker!

 

I didn't expect to have any sizable hitchhikers left after all the pre-treatment of the live rock, but here was this crab suddenly crawling around the bottom of a bucket. I did some research trying to figure out what he was, and what I came up with is that he didn't match any pictures of good crabs. I studied him at length and his back and shoulder design most similarly matched a gorilla crab, but not 100% that's what it was. Anyway, unable to confirm that he was a good crab and suspicious he might be a bad crab that could hurt (or worse) my pistol shrimp or gobies.... he had to go. Sorry bud.

 

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Do you ever have that weird sensation that someone is watching you?

 

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New frag, a rainbow acan. Naturally I had to get a rainbow one! 🏳️‍🌈

 

I think I'm about ready to commit to this aquascape and glue the frags down so I can get rid of the unsightly plugs. What do you think of the layout?

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I am also pleased to say that all the algae has abated and things are looking quite nice in the tank. Going to start dosing the Korallen Zucht Amino Acid Concentrate for the corals. Love the Zeovit system and products made by KZ.

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Tigahboy

Tank is looking great!

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DreC80

I'm liking that scape better.  Any plans for the island?

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KMitch
19 minutes ago, DreC80 said:

I'm liking that scape better.  Any plans for the island?

I am thinking of covering it with zoas.... I have the two frags on there currently.

 

Less sure about what to do with the flat part on top of the overhang.

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DreC80

Are you adding any SPS?  If so, maybe some stags on the flat part for some upright growth and some tabling acros off the side of it?  I'm an SPS head though 😉

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KMitch
6 hours ago, DreC80 said:

Are you adding any SPS?  If so, maybe some stags on the flat part for some upright growth and some tabling acros off the side of it?  I'm an SPS head though 😉

I would like to put some SPS in there -- but I will be honest that I have minimal experience growing out sticks and am a little unsure of what growth patterns I should expect from the various types. Like if certain Acropora species are better known to grow direction x vs y. Any resources or recommendations you know? Want to fully think this out before I take frags off their plugs and glue them in...

 

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DreC80
2 hours ago, KMitch said:

I would like to put some SPS in there -- but I will be honest that I have minimal experience growing out sticks and am a little unsure of what growth patterns I should expect from the various types. Like if certain Acropora species are better known to grow direction x vs y. Any resources or recommendations you know? Want to fully think this out before I take frags off their plugs and glue them in...

 

For sure, placement is key.  I don't have any resources per se, just personal experience and screwing it up 😂.  If it's a named  piece I try to look up colony pics just to get an idea. If you want to go with montis, the digitatas grow in a vertical /upright jagged type of fashion.  Mine don't encrust a ton, which is nice when you have limited space.  They also don't block a ton of light from the corals below them.  I like the bubblegum digitata or the forest fire.  

 

If you are going to go with acros, shoot for staghorn types as they grow up.  The green slimer is an easy one/classic that will give you upright growth.  On the edges of your flat rock I would place some tabling acros.  Just keep in mind they will eventually shade things below them though. The ORA Red Planet is pretty cool and grows into a table.  ORA frogskin does the same.  Really depends on what colors you are looking for. 

 

Running a zeo system, you should be able to get some pretty awesome SPS colors.

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Reefkid88

Glad to see more Virginians on here. I was born and raised in PWC until I was 18. 

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KMitch
1 hour ago, DreC80 said:

For sure, placement is key.  I don't have any resources per se, just personal experience and screwing it up 😂.  If it's a named  piece I try to look up colony pics just to get an idea. If you want to go with montis, the digitatas grow in a vertical /upright jagged type of fashion.  Mine don't encrust a ton, which is nice when you have limited space.  They also don't block a ton of light from the corals below them.  I like the bubblegum digitata or the forest fire.  

 

If you are going to go with acros, shoot for staghorn types as they grow up.  The green slimer is an easy one/classic that will give you upright growth.  On the edges of your flat rock I would place some tabling acros.  Just keep in mind they will eventually shade things below them though. The ORA Red Planet is pretty cool and grows into a table.  ORA frogskin does the same.  Really depends on what colors you are looking for. 

 

Running a zeo system, you should be able to get some pretty awesome SPS colors.

Thanks for the recommendations. I definitely would like to also get a pink birds nest in the tank, but haven't really considered the other SPS options yet since I'm waiting to let the tank mature a little bit. I agree that putting a tabling Acropora thing on the edge of the flat rock would be good -- I have placed my acans at the bottom of that rock, but there's enough space on the side to put a tabling piece and not risk shading anytime soon. It'd be nice to get a few pieces going in there that could grow into a palette of colors without being too aggressive against each other. Clearly need to do some homework. I'll check out your recommendations.

 

1 hour ago, Reefkid88 said:

Glad to see more Virginians on here. I was born and raised in PWC until I was 18. 

I live in PWC now! Lots of good shops popping up here these days.

 

Last night I got a sighting of both of my Yasha gobies after the lights went out. It's the first time since they went in the tank that they were both out socializing, which pleased me. I didn't get a pic of both of them, but managed to get this admittedly bad photo of the smaller male. We've decided to name them Mulan and Mushu 🤗

 

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I committed to the aquascape today and glued my frags in to get rid of the ugly frag plugs.

 

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Watermelon acans. They were listed as Joker's, but they look more like watermelons to me. 

 

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Aussie Golden Eye Chalice. Love the colors of this baby and can't wait to see it grow out.

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KMitch

*** WARNING: NERD SCIENCE STUFF AHEAD ***

 

Today turned into a bit of a science fair project here in the tank -- it actually was probably the best bit of tank science I've ever done! Read on....

 

As mentioned previously, I rented a PAR meter from @BulkReefSupply because I wanted to properly tune my light to get the grow and health results I was striving for. I know that the A360X is "overpowered" for this tank and could easily nuke the whole thing with light, so I had turned it wayyy down to be conservative until I could better measure the lighting. With the arrival of the PAR meter, it was time to science this light and tune it to optimize coral health and growth.

 

Based on everything I have read and seen about coral growth -- including the great videos published by BRS and the literature published by Dana Riddle -- I know I want to target the brightest spot of the tank with a PAR around 250. That is in the sweet spot for SPS growth and will blanket the rest of the tank with enough light to grow LPS and softies, without cooking it all. Some SPS growers will push the envelope up to 350 PAR, but that would make the rest of the tank more intense and limit opportunities for placing corals that want a little less light.

 

To start, I unpacked and setup the light meter:

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The light meter in its case, as delivered by BRS. I have a full week rental on the meter.

 

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The meter comes pre-calibrated and with a wand to use in the tank, making it really straight forward. Literally plug-and-play operation

 

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Kudos here to Bulk Reef Supply -- they take all of the guessing out and give you a pre-calibrated meter. Just push the power button and go.

 

I then used blue painters tape to map out a grid on the front glass of the tank. Stupidly I forgot to take a picture of this part, but essentially I created a grid of measuring points along the X, Y, and Z axis of the tank. I sub-divided the height into 2" points, the length into 4" points, and then had 3 measurement points along the depth of the tank to represent the back, middle, and front of the tank. In all, it was a total of 90 measurement points at each setting. There are some measurements that clearly weren't possible due to the rock work, so those are omitted.

 

After taping off the grid onto the tank, I transposed the grid onto engineers paper and started taking measurements:

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Using the sensor to move along the tape grid and collect readings

 

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I transposed the readings onto the paper as I went

 

One note here about the light meter -- depending on the turbidity of the water, the reading could fluctuate a significant amount; I tried to take the measurement at the average.

 

For the first set of measurements, I took readings at the intensity level I had previously set the light to, which was 25%. Before testing, I would have hypothesized that I was around 150-200 PAR in the brightest spot of the tank directly under the light. Boy was that wrong! I then adjusted the Kessil A360X to 60% intensity and repeated the measurements.

 

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Completed measurements

 

FINDINGS

The most important lessons here are that you cannot accurately gauge PAR with your eyes, and renting a light meter is worthwhile.... I couldn't believe how little light was getting to the bottom of the tank and how far off my estimates for the PAR were. After collecting all of the measurements on paper, I transcribed them into my computer and then into Tableau to produce this nice visual comparing the intensity at 25% vs 60%. Any blank boxes represent areas where the aquascape prohibited a measurement.

 

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A highlight table depicting the readings at the various measurement points for 25% and 60% intensity

 

Recognizing that this chart is a little cumbersome to read, I overlaid the data on top of a photo of the tank to visually describe the PAR readings:

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With this view, I can see that targeting an intensity around 60% for the majority of my light cycle will produce an average PAR around 200 at the top of the rock work, where I would keep the SPS corals. I also concluded that at an intensity of 65%, I hit a PAR of 250 in the same area, so I will have the light cycle peak at 65%, while spending the majority of the time still at 60%. In my view, this will best balance the light requirements for optimal SPS growth, while not pumping so much light into the tank that it would upset the LPS or softies. 

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