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Enthrol

Struggles of a beginner

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Enthrol

As the title implies, I'm new to the hobby. Have a few sorted posts out there and at the suggestion of another member decided to consolidate my experiences and trials in one place. Hopefully keeping this journal will help me see progress as I look back.

 

Thank you to everyone that has helped me to this point and a preemptive thank you to everyone that will inevitably help me in the future. 

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Enthrol

Tank specs:

Started early January 

Biocube 32 led
25 lbs wet live rock from lfs

40 lbs aragonite dry sand

Sicca 1.5 return pump

2 eheim jager 50w

Intank media basket

Aqamai Kps

Stock lights (photoperiod currently lowered to fight algae)

 

Livestock:

1 Firefish

1 small Margarita snail

2 red legged hermit crabs

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Enthrol

Potential hood modifications:

Due to the numerous posts about Biocubes running hot and summer approaching I'm considering options for hood mods that dont include removing the hood. Since I have a long haired dog that sheds year round and now a fish that is known to jump having a lid is a must.

 

After talking to a few members on here there are a few options I'm considering.

 

1. A pair of fans with directional sleeves to blow air into the back chambers through the cut outs. Since adding a fishgaurd between my DT and back chambers I'm not sure how much benefit this would be.

 

2. Cut out the L-shaped pieces on the inside of the vents along the side ridges of the hood and silicone mesh on the inside. This should allow for more heat exchange, with limited risk of hair getting in the tank.

If this isn't enough I'm also considering cutting out the inner part of the feed door and siliconing mesh there as well.

 

Will update when temperature starts creeping up.

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Enthrol

Water Parameter problems:

Started my tank with lfs saltwater. 
 

First batch was good on salinity and ph. Didnt check anything else like I should have. 
 

Decided I'd start my cycle by ghost-feeding. Added a pinch of food everyday and was testing ammonia and nitrite daily. After 2 weeks I hadnt seen a spike in either. Not knowing that live rock comes populated with bacteria and not testing nitrate led to the following mistakes.
 

Two weeks into my cycle decided I needed to do something as the ghost-feeding wasnt working. Vacuumed everything real good and ended up performing an 80% water change with the same lfs water. Mistake #2: didnt test the new water before adding it to the tank.

 

Added dr tims bacteria and started dosing bottled ammonia. Waited until the next day and checked parameters. While I did see a spike in ammonia and nitrite, I also noticed a salinity spike from the previous 1.023 to 1.038.

 

After some hasty and poor research decided I should lower it slowly. Spent a week removing 2 cups salt and adding 2 cups distilled daily until salinity was back in the safe range at 1.024. I really should have fixed it immediately, but I got extremely lucky and it didnt seen to have any negative effects.
 

At the end of my cycle my nitrate was above 160 ppm. Performed as close to a 100% water change as possible, using lfs water (learned the previous lesson and tested it first).

Tank looked like this:

image.thumb.jpeg.fdcbe2a40211904b9e6b6c4b439cf827.jpeg
 

Next day nitrate was 20 ppm. Got my order of chaeto in that same day. Did another 80% water change and added the chaeto and light. Mind you I was advised not to add the chaeto until I needed it by a member here, so mistake #3.

 

Nitrates were 5 ppm and stable over the next 2 weeks, a little algae started to grow, so bought my firefish and a small cuc consisting of the margaritas and hernits.
Tank right before adding fish and cuc:

image.thumb.jpeg.678d27972b12b8ae4cc70b88e941897d.jpeg

 

Week went by with no change to parameters, algae was growing more in the tank, and decided I wanted to try my hand at mixing water. Bought some Red Sea Coral Pro and mixed it with distilled water following directions from members here. Mixing went great and added the new water during a 20% water change. At this same time decided to pull rocks out and use a toothbrush to remove the algae in the old water.

 

Didnt get all the algae but rocks looked clean, also did a little rework on rock placement.

 

This is where my current troubles pop up.

 

Started testing parameters every other day. Noticed my phosphate and nitrate were dropping fast. By the next weekend nitrates hit 0 and phosphate hit .05 (started at .11). Also noticed aiptasia (next section, and long slimy tendrils with bubbles at the tips. The tendrils were all over my tank, thinking I had Dinos I jumped on here for help.

Tank at this time:

image.thumb.jpeg.ff59b9fe7fdb1b6bbbdc0c831e181a0f.jpeg

image.thumb.jpeg.e50476d8f8594b22b65f426c79dfcf40.jpeg

After some discussion with the community and an interesting article on a study about the effects of macroalgae on a reef (provided by Mcarroll) I removed the chaeto and halted water changes. Next day some of the gha patches started turning white. Grabbed the Mexican Turbo and 2 Red Moon Turbos, unfortunately one of the Red Moons fell off the glass and didnt make it.

 

I placed the Mexican Turbo on the suspected bacteria (not sure if its Dinos or bacteria bloom at this point). He got right to work and carved a path all around the top of my rocks. The surviving Red Moon I placed in a large patch of gha and its slowly clearing a window.

 

So this brings us to today:

The turbos have been in the tank for 48 hours and seem to be doing great. The margaritas are disappointedly ineffective but its a pretty big problem for 2 little snails. Flip the angry Firefish is still trying to be the center of attention and stare me down while I'm trying to monitor tank changes. The hermits are living up to their names and only get a brief glimpse of one of them occasionally, not looking forward to tearing my tank apart trying to find them.

 

The gha has started to gain length again, though its not spreading that I can notice. Film algae hasnt cone back since removing the chaeto. The suspected bacteria looks less full and is starting to turn clear.

 

Parameters are looking better. Phosphate continues to raise a little every day, but Nitrate is still 0. Ph Salinity and Alk are all stable. 

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Enthrol

Aiptasia battle: 

On March 3rd caught sight of a couple aiptasia stalks. After some research picked up some F-Aiptasia and treated them on Mar 8th.

 

So far so good, but time will tell. Will update as things progress.

4B510699-0C1B-4B59-AFAF-6031A5FFA4BC.jpeg

39C774A9-1CFA-409E-AC61-7D05545A9A8E.jpeg
 

Mar 11-

Came home to find the hardened F-Aiptasia had worn away/broken off. Dont see any pieces of the aiptasia I missed so the treatment worked to remove those stalks. Will be watching for any new growth or regrowth.
 

image.thumb.jpeg.1db8f3f1d8b97c16d27526bd847a14cb.jpegimage.thumb.jpeg.75c5c3ba5d58d54fd97d7ff25a9e420b.jpeg

Mar-14

New stalk popped up in a different area. Going to treat this one with F-aiptasia same as the last. First two locations still clean though.

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billygoat

Hey @Enthrol! I just wanted to chime in and say - keep it up! All tanks encounter troubles in the beginning, and hashing things out on your own just as you've been doing is by far the best way to learn. It can be really discouraging to encounter problem after problem and always feel like you're in damage control mode with your tank, but each challenge that you overcome is one that will never beat you again. 👍

 

Great idea to document your progress here too! I think your tank looks pretty good, considering its age and history so far. Keep at it and it will only be a matter of time before you've got a beautiful reef on your hands. 😊

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Clown79

Keep up the good work. A lot of us at 1 time or another have had something happen in our tanks.

 

Diligence and not giving up is definitely the key.

 

You made a good call on slowly lowering salinity,  fast changes are very hard on the system.

 

I never found margarita snails very useful, they've always been lazy in my tanks.

 

I love hermits, they have a bad reputation with some but in reality they are great cleaners, which also means they will clean up a dying snail.

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Enthrol

Tested water again today to find phosphate is dropping again.

 

Ph: 8.4

Alk: 6.2 (.2 drop in 2 days)

Phosphate: .04 (.04 drop in 2 days)

Nitrate: 0

Salinity: 1.024

 

GHA has started spreading and growing in length. The slimy strands (suspected bacteria) has regained it brownish/green color and started to grow more.

 

Hadnt made any changes to the filtration or feeding. Going to do another round of algae clean up, maybe its growing too much and taking up more nutrients than I'm adding. 
 

Also not sure why my Alk dropped. It had been stable.

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Clown79

The gha may be using up nutrients as well as any corals you have.

 

Alk may also be getting used up, it's also effected by nitrates.

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Enthrol
2 hours ago, Clown79 said:

The gha may be using up nutrients as well as any corals you have.

 

Alk may also be getting used up, it's also effected by nitrates.

I haven't added any corals and I've brush my rock off previously inspecting it at that time. Though its not impossible I had a hitcher in the live rock. 
 

Just going by what I see which is 1 fish and a handful of snails worth of bioload and a noticeable growth in algae day to day, I'm going to blame it on the algae for now and see how my cleaning tonight ends up. Didn't aggressively clean like I wanted but pulled out a handful  of unwanted growth. Left something for the snails to consume.

 

Hopefully this helped and dont see another dramatic drop in phosphate tomorrow.

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billygoat

The dramatic drop in phosphate could be a good sign too. It means the algae is using up the available nutrients. Once your phosphates have all been sucked up by the gha, the algal bloom will hopefully peter out and end. It's an obnoxious process since the hair algae is so unattractive, but it's a necessary step that happens to pretty much every tank, so don't feel too bad about it. 😁

 

As for your alkalinity dropping even though you have no corals - this could also be a good sign. Carbonate ions are utilized by various microorganisms as well as being used by reef-building corals. My tank for example has very few calcifying corals in it, but I still have to dose alk every day to keep up with consumption from coralline algae and other microscopic creatures. So this KH drop could indicate that your biological filter is becoming more robust. 😊

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Enthrol
14 minutes ago, billygoat said:

The dramatic drop in phosphate could be a good sign too. It means the algae is using up the available nutrients. Once your phosphates have all been sucked up by the gha, the algal bloom will hopefully peter out and end. It's an obnoxious process since the hair algae is so unattractive, but it's a necessary step that happens to pretty much every tank, so don't feel too bad about it. 😁

 

As for your alkalinity dropping even though you have no corals - this could also be a good sign. Carbonate ions are utilized by various microorganisms as well as being used by reef-building corals. My tank for example has very few calcifying corals in it, but I still have to dose alk every day to keep up with consumption from coralline algae and other microscopic creatures. So this KH drop could indicate that your biological filter is becoming more robust. 😊

That's a great thought. Mcarroll and I were discussing the chaeto taking up too much nitrate and phosphate to release an abundance  of sugars in the in water. Which led to the slimy strands, I'm not sure how to identify but is the suspected bacteria I keep referring to. We were thinking that removing the chaeto would reduce the available sugars and hopefully cause some die back of this slime.

 

With the removal of the chaeto some progress was made toward this (discoloration and thinning) until today. 
I think you're right in that the gha is consuming the phosphate and nitrate at a quick rate. I also think it is releasing the sugars into my water the slime is feeding on. Hopefully removing some of the gha and slime strands will help get me back on track. 
 

In related news, the slimy strands feel similar to gha but is much more brittle and when taken out of the tank is a clearish light brown compared to the gha's opaque green-brown. When it gets long enough the strands can wrap around eachother into a tight ball that doesnt let loose in direct water flow.

 

On the Alk side:

I do have little spots of corralline growth. At least I think it is. Its a distinct dark purple flat against the rocks that doesnt have and gha or the slime growing on it. I havent seen it spread but I also havent paid a ton of attention to it either. 
Should I be concerned about Alk in the 6.2 range? 

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Enthrol

Well the mexican turbo is struggling today. He had hidden away in a big cave yesterday and crawled up the side. Came home today to find him just chilling in the middle on the floor of the cave right side up. Moved him to another part of the tank with some gha and he immediately started to come out of his shell only to promptly fall off the rock. Moved him to another area and he wedged himself in a crevasse with his shell so that his body couldnt reach anything. Moved him to another area of gha near the red moon. Hopefully he's ok in the morning...

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mcarroll

Mine used to sleep during the day and clean at night....maybe leave this one be until he comes around on his own.  (And is he cleaning all night?  Might need a digestive break, not just sleep.)

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Tamberav
3 hours ago, Enthrol said:

Well the mexican turbo is struggling today. He had hidden away in a big cave yesterday and crawled up the side. Came home today to find him just chilling in the middle on the floor of the cave right side up. Moved him to another part of the tank with some gha and he immediately started to come out of his shell only to promptly fall off the rock. Moved him to another area and he wedged himself in a crevasse with his shell so that his body couldnt reach anything. Moved him to another area of gha near the red moon. Hopefully he's ok in the morning...

Mexican Turbo snails, margarita snails and red foot moon snails are ALL cold/cooler water species. Their lives are greatly shortened in our tanks and likely why you are having problems. They are kind sold as throw away snails...

 

On 3/10/2020 at 1:40 AM, Clown79 said:

I never found margarita snails very useful, they've always been lazy in my tanks.

 

Likely unhappy with temps, I put some margarites in my cold water tank (55 degrees) and they have been there for YEARS and active cuc. I could never keep them alive past a year in my tropical reef tank. 

 

 

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wiigelec

8 hour full light schedule with simulated sunrise and sunsets and 8 hours dark”

 

Have you considered reducing your photo period? 16 hours lights on may be a bit too much and contributing considerably to your nuisance algae troubles...

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Clown79
6 hours ago, Tamberav said:

Mexican Turbo snails, margarita snails and red foot moon snails are ALL cold/cooler water species. Their lives are greatly shortened in our tanks and likely why you are having problems. They are kind sold as throw away snails...

 

 

Likely unhappy with temps, I put some margarites in my cold water tank (55 degrees) and they have been there for YEARS and active cuc. I could never keep them alive past a year in my tropical reef tank. 

 

 

I did learn about their temperature needs after the fact. Lol. So I don't buy them anymore or recommend them since most of us run our systems 78-80.

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Enthrol
12 hours ago, mcarroll said:

Mine used to sleep during the day and clean at night....maybe leave this one be until he comes around on his own.  (And is he cleaning all night?  Might need a digestive break, not just sleep.)

He had moved by morning. Seems he's just sluggish during the day lately.

 

11 hours ago, Tamberav said:

Mexican Turbo snails, margarita snails and red foot moon snails are ALL cold/cooler water species. Their lives are greatly shortened in our tanks and likely why you are having problems. They are kind sold as throw away snails...

 

 

Likely unhappy with temps, I put some margarites in my cold water tank (55 degrees) and they have been there for YEARS and active cuc. I could never keep them alive past a year in my tropical reef tank. 

 

 

I was under the impression (by looking up online seller's profiles) that the Mexican Turbo is a warm temperature snail. I see what you mean about the Margaritas and Red Moon, and that would explain their seeming ineffectiveness. I'll see if I can't get my hands on a few more small warm temperature snails. Any suggestions to look for?

 

6 hours ago, wiigelec said:

8 hour full light schedule with simulated sunrise and sunsets and 8 hours dark”

 

Have you considered reducing your photo period? 16 hours lights on may be a bit too much and contributing considerably to your nuisance algae troubles...

I have read that reducing photo periods can help with algae growth. Don't know why it hadn't occurred to me to actually practice it.

 

Do I need to shorten all light spectrums or can I just shorten the duration of the sunrise/sunset? Thinking of cutting a couple hours off each end to bring the photo period to 12 hours and adjust down from there as needed.

 

I'm assuming that if I get this under control, then as I see nitrate and phosphate raise I can adjust the lighting longer while increasing my cuc to mange the new algae growth right?

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Tamberav

Turban snails (Tectus fenestratus)

Trochus snails

Cerniths snails (they bury in the sand and help stir it and come out at night)

 

Those are probably my top favorite but I also have Nerites....Dwarf Cerniths....and small hermit crabs.

 

 

 

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Enthrol
29 minutes ago, Tamberav said:

Turban snails (Tectus fenestratus)

Trochus snails

Cerniths snails (they bury in the sand and help stir it and come out at night)

 

Those are probably my top favorite but I also have Nerites....Dwarf Cerniths....and small hermit crabs.

 

 

 

I'm going to have to do some online shopping. Haven't had any luck finding the Trochus or Cerniths at local stores. 
 

Kind of worried about over populating the relatively small amount of algae if the Mexican Turbo is any indication of how much they eat, dont want anyone starving. 

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Clown79
1 hour ago, Enthrol said:

He had moved by morning. Seems he's just sluggish during the day lately.

 

I was under the impression (by looking up online seller's profiles) that the Mexican Turbo is a warm temperature snail. I see what you mean about the Margaritas and Red Moon, and that would explain their seeming ineffectiveness. I'll see if I can't get my hands on a few more small warm temperature snails. Any suggestions to look for?

 

I have read that reducing photo periods can help with algae growth. Don't know why it hadn't occurred to me to actually practice it.

 

Do I need to shorten all light spectrums or can I just shorten the duration of the sunrise/sunset? Thinking of cutting a couple hours off each end to bring the photo period to 12 hours and adjust down from there as needed.

 

I'm assuming that if I get this under control, then as I see nitrate and phosphate raise I can adjust the lighting longer while increasing my cuc to mange the new algae growth right?

Trochus, cerith, astrea, nassaurius are all good snails

 

Is your photo period 8hrs or 16hrs?

 

If 16, definitely lower it. If 8 total, I wouldn't lower it by much.

 

 

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billygoat
21 minutes ago, Enthrol said:

I'm going to have to do some online shopping. Haven't had any luck finding the Trochus or Cerniths at local stores. 

I'd check out Reef Cleaners. They've been my source for snails for the past year, and I've never been disappointed. They stock an enormous variety of snails and their prices are pretty reasonable. I'd start by grabbing a few Trochus snails, plus maybe a few hermits to deal with the hair algae.

 

If your lighting schedule is 4 hours of ramp-up followed by 8 hours of "daytime" and then 4 hours of ramp-down, I'd definitely say that's too much. My tank for example has a "lights-on" period of 11 hours total, with only 3 hours spent at max intensity. Photoperiod has a tremendous impact on algae growth, so that would be one of the first areas I'd look to correct things. 

 

Hang in there! Ugly phases are a natural part of the process. This will pass before you know it. 😁

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wiigelec

With your current issues I personally would reduce to six TOTAL hours and go from there.

 

if you could please provide detailed info on lighting make/model intensity and spectrum. Adjustments to those parameters may also prove beneficial...

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Enthrol
2 hours ago, Clown79 said:

Trochus, cerith, astrea, nassaurius are all good snails

 

Is your photo period 8hrs or 16hrs?

 

If 16, definitely lower it. If 8 total, I wouldn't lower it by much.

 

 


 

Total dark is only 8 hours. 
Using stock biocube led lights

 

LC1 (Daylights):  11:00 am to 7:00 pm

LC2 (Sunrise / Sunset):  8:30 am to 9:00 pm

LC3 (Moon Lights):  7:00 am to 11pm

 

Thinking about shortening the lc2 to 10:30 am - 7pm, and lc3 to 9am - 8:30pm.

lc2 and lc3 have ramp up and ramp down times of 30 minutes, so this will give me 12 hours of no lights.

 

Also thanks for the suggestion to check my lights. I thought I had LC2 set to 10:30-7 already so the extra 4 hours on those was not intended.

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wiigelec

Why do you need to have your lights on for 12 hours?

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