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4.1g Desktop Reef: Round Two!

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Current FTS 7/14/20

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Current Tank Specs

  • Established: 6/24/20
  • Display: Lifegard Aquatics 4.1g (with Built-In Back Filter)
  • Return Pump: Sicce Syncra Nano (110gph)
  • Filtration: Filter floss, Chemi-Pure Blue, MarinePure Gems
  • Flow: VorTech MP10
  • Lighting: AquaIllumination Prime LED
  • Heater: 50w Hydor Theo
  • Cooling: Computer Fan
  • ATO: Innovative Marine HydroFill + Tom's Aqualifter
  • Controller: Apex Jr Controller

 

Current Livestock
Cleaning Crew

  • Limpet
  • Dwarf Cerith
  • Florida Cerith
  • Dwarf Planaxis
  • Nassarius Vibex
  • Polka Dot Hermit Crab

Fish

  • Yellow Clown Goby
  • ORA Sharknose Goby

Corals

  • Zoanthids
    • JPS Mystiques
    • LC Andromedas
    • ASD Atmospheres
    • WWC Sweet Tooth
    • Rastas
    • Bimini Pink
    • Sonic Flares
    • Space Chaos
    • Rainbow Infusion
    • Scrambled Eggs
    • Mango Tango
  • Goniopora
    • TCK Rainbow Flame
  • Cyphastrea
    • LC Blizzard Bizzaro
  • Mushrooms
    • Blue Discosoma
    • Red Discosoma
  • Gorgonians
    • Purple Ribbon
    • Pink Lemonade
    • Golden Candelabra

 

~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟 ~🐟~🐟~

FTS 6/25/20

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Original Post Below

 ~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟~🐟 ~🐟~🐟~

 

After 5 years of ups and downs with my 3.4g Desktop Reef, it's time for a refresh! The goal is to keep things simple and minimalist with low maintenance. Ideally, I would like to avoid dosing, but I do have a IceCap dosing pump that has been handy in the past.

 

We'll be using Hawaiian black sand and minimal island-style rock work using the main pieces from the current display. Looking to house most zoanthids/palys (my fiance's favorite), photosynthetic gorgonians, mushrooms, and maybe a few basic encrusters (monti, cyphaestra, psammocora, etc). Will eventually get a tiny tank-bred goby of some kind once I have finished making a mesh lid for the display.

 

I love my VorTech, but the display on this tank is super small, so I'll be attempting to make do with just the return for flow. The stock return pump is weak as hell, but still manages to sound like a blender. I remember when Quiet One pumps were actually quiet. Anyway, I've ordered a Sicce Syncra Nano (110gph) and a loc-line diffuser, so we'll see how that goes.

 

I ordered the Chamber One and Two Media Baskets along with the Filter Floss Holder for the Waterbox 7 off of inTank as they seemed to have the closest measurements the back chambers on this. Hopefully, with some tweaking I can find a solid combination of those for the back chamber set-up.

 

Where the tank will be going once everything arrives (pic is from a few years ago):

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Some additional shots of leak testing:

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Break

 The Sicce Syncra Nano (110gph) arrived today. It's slightly more powerful/quiet than the stock return, but still doesn't push water around the display much. Unfortunately, if I get a more powerful pump, the tank's overflow won't be able to keep up with the pump's output and the display will flood.

 

Looks like I'll need to use additional flow, which means I guess I'll be continuing to use the VorTech MP10 after all. Had been hoping to avoid it as even with it's slim profile, the VorTech pretty much dominates a full wall of the tank. Should still look slick with smart scaping though.

 

I'll be using only enough sand to just cover the bottom - I've learned my lessons about sandbeds in tiny tanks the hard way. Stocking will be mostly zoanthids and probably a goniopora or two. My fiance's goal is a natural layout with a bright, rainbow color palette to make it look like a "Lisa Frank Tank."

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Break

Upgrading the tank and moving the inhabitants over is complete, but still a ton left to do.

  • Drill a hole and spray paint the top for the ATO jar.
  • Switch out all the old airline tubing with new, black airline tubing
  • Put the Prime LED on a gooseneck, so it can be on the back wall rather than the side of the tank.
  • Build screen top for the display.
  • Measure and cut black plastic cutout to make third chamber opaque
    • The back panel in this tank is made of tinted glass and you can see the return/heater a bit.
    • The first and second chamber already have modified Waterbox 7 Media Baskets from InTank
  • Figure out set-up for cooling fan.
  • Finalize aquascaping.
  • Mount, label, and organize the chaotic mass of cords and power strips under the desk.
  • Adjust VorTech flow patterns.
  • Update Aqua Jr. firmware (this is the worst, might just skip it - it hasn't had any issues the past few years).

A shot of the general set-up. Wanted to go a little bigger, but was too worried about this crappy desk collapsing under the weight (notice the water line isn't level).

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This tank. It smol.

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Corals seem to be doing well with the change.

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Break

Finished the mesh top this afternoon.

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Also, switched the Prime LED to the goosneck mount - I liked the clean look of the rigid mount, but the end stuck out too much and got in the way of opening and closing the blinds. Also, was not a fan of the crappy plastic screw used to secure it in place - the one on the gooseneck mount is, surprisingly, much better.

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It has only been a few hours, but it seems the mesh top is also effective at preventing some of the fluff from these guys from getting into the tank.

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Left to do:

  • Mount cooling fan. [Waiting for fan to arrive]
  • Spray paint the top for the ATO jar. [Waiting for spray paint to arrive]
  • Switch out all the old airline tubing. [Waiting for airline to arrive]
  • Measure and cut black plastic cutout to make third chamber opaque. [Need to purchase plastic of some kind]
  • Label and organize the chaotic mass of cords and power strips under the desk. [Waiting for labels to arrive]
  • Mount powerstrips and control modules under desk.
  • Adjust VorTech flow patterns.
  • Update Aqua Jr. firmware (this is the worst, might just skip it - it hasn't had any issues the past few years).
  • Order Clean-up Crew from Reef Cleaners

 

Also, began feeding a mix of Benereef and Reef Roids. Never tried Benereef before, interested to see how well it works.

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cheesesteak

Lol, that's a new one, building a top to keep the fluff from those two majestic lions out.

 

Also, you have excellent taste in ginger soda. 

 

The scape looks great. It looks like a great distraction from typical desk duty. Can't wait to watch this one fill out. 

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Break
On 6/26/2020 at 6:20 PM, cheesesteak said:

Lol, that's a new one, building a top to keep the fluff from those two majestic lions out.

 

Also, you have excellent taste in ginger soda. 

 

The scape looks great. It looks like a great distraction from typical desk duty. Can't wait to watch this one fill out. 

Thanks! Aiming to keep the paws/fluff out and the fish in. I have been upping my cocktail game during this quarantine - can't skimp on the ginger beer!

 

Trying to keep the scape to simple islands, glad you like it!

 

Ordered a cleaning crew refresh from Reef Cleaners...and might also have made some large, late-night purchases from Tidal Gardens and Legendary Corals 🙄

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cheesesteak
On 6/26/2020 at 10:41 PM, Break said:

Ordered a cleaning crew refresh from Reef Cleaners...and might also have made some large, late-night purchases from Tidal Gardens and Legendary Corals 🙄

Eyyyy! Can't wait to see what you got. 

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Break
40 minutes ago, cheesesteak said:

Eyyyy! Can't wait to see what you got. 

Here's a sneak preview of what we got from Legendary:

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Today I gathered up all the loose bits of the Scrambled Egg Zoas, cut the longer frag plugs with a bonecutter, and glued them to the rockwork. Will looks better once they re-cover the frag plugs. They're still a bit miffed after being handled in this photo.

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I also adjusted the VorTech settings. Will probably play around with power percentages a bit in the future once I have a better idea of the system's flow requirements.

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This what the AI Prime schedule currently looks like.

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Current intensities - not entirely set on this, would love suggestions or recommendations from others with AI Primes over picos.

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I also purchased a Zoo Med Aqua Cool Fan. To prevent it from being an eyesore, I'm thinking of mounting it on the back of the tank and having the vent come over the top to the right of the light mount.

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Finally, I am currently running a bag of Chemi-Pure Elite and Purigen like I have done for years. Purigen has always been one of my favorite reefing products, but they changed the product's mesh bag packaging a while back and now the resin beads easily come out of it when handled and get all over the tank. I've had to put the purigen bag inside of finer mesh bag to prevent this. 😒 Additionally, the majority of the Chemi-Pure Elite I have bought in the past few years have consistently had a broken seal and moisture inside the container despite ordering from different vendors. 😠

 

I'll be switching over to the nano packs of Chemi-Pure Blue since they're pretty much chemi-pure combined with purigen and will solve both of those issues. Plus, the smaller bags should strip less nutrients out of this tiny tank and give me more room in the back chambers. Has anyone else had these issue with Purigen or Chemi-Pure Elite in recent years?

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cheesesteak

Ooh! That looks nice. And that zoa garden is going to look awesome once it fills in. 

 

3% flow on the MP10 😝

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Break
On 6/28/2020 at 1:13 PM, cheesesteak said:

Ooh! That looks nice. And that zoa garden is going to look awesome once it fills in. 

 

3% flow on the MP10 😝

Turned it up today from the previous 1% 😂 Still might need to turn it up more to eliminate some deadspots (I'm big on lots of flow), but hopefully after replacing the loose loc-line that came with the tank, I can get a better angle out of the return and avoid needing to do so as much.

 

Yeah, the tank will essentially be a zoa garden plus a goniopora showpiece or two along with gorgonians filling out the background. And eventually, a tiny little fish!

 

Left to do:

  • Spray paint the top for the ATO jar.
  • Switch out all the old airline tubing.
  • Measure and cut black silicon mat to silence pump and make third chamber opaque.
  • Label and organize the chaotic mass of cords and power strips under the desk.
  • Mount Zoo Med Aqua Cool Fan. [Waiting for fan to arrive]
  • Replace stock loc-line return with actual loc-line [Waiting for loc-line pieces to arrive]
  • Order new Salifert test kits to replace expired ones. [In the mail]
  • Purchase Brightwell Zooplankton and Aminos [In the mail]
  • Update Aqua Jr. firmware (this is the worst, might just skip it - it hasn't had any issues the past few years). [Still successfully procrastinating this one]
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Break

The top for the ATO jar is finished - will put it on in a day or so when it doesn't reek of spray paint.

 

I cut up the silicone mats and zip-tied one around the return pump to quiet it. I cut another piece to block out the third chamber. Really not a fan of the transparent black glass back panel on these tanks - seeing the equipment through it defeats the point of a clean all-in-one set-up and it being so reflective makes photos hard.

 

Also, received more cleaning crew members today from Reef Cleaners made up of the following:

  • Dwarf Planaxis
  • Dwarf Cerith
  • Florida Cerith
  • Nassarius Vibex
  • Limpet
  • Polka Dot Hermit Crab

Should be receiving Rainbow Infusion and Bimini Pink Zoanthids along with a Golden Candelabra Gorgonian from Tidal Gardens tomorrow!

 

Took these on my phone and it seems they've been compressed, so please excuse the poor quality:

 

Purple Ribbon Gorgonian

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Pink Lemonade Gorgonian

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Scrambled Egg Zoanthids looking happier today. Waiting for the limpet to leave the shell he was shipped on.

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Break

Return pump is still not as quiet as I would like it to be (often louder than the AI Prime and the VorTech MP10), but I think this as good as it will get.

 

Received the Rainbow Infusion and Bimini Pink Zoanthids along with a Golden Candelabra Gorgonian from Tidal Gardens yesterday. Communication, packaging, and shipping were all top notch - would definitely consider ordering from them again. All three seemed to ship well and opened up readily after I placed them in the tank following acclimation and their Coral Revive Dip.

 

Placed the top on the ATO jar and it looks much cleaner. Also added the Zoo Med Aqua Cool Fan, mounted it on the side next to the VorTech with the air nozzle pointed across the last two return chambers - just looked weird everywhere else given how big it is on this tank. I had originally purchased a clip on fan for this purpose, but the aquarium director likes the look of this more, so this is what we'll be going with.

 

Loc-line elbow should get here today, so I'll finally be able to fix the angle of the return flow.

 

Adjusted the AI Prime lighting schedule a bit today. I added peaks every other hour and shortened the sunset ramp down by an hour. 

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I left the current intensity as the peak setting.

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And set this as the valley output.

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Where the tank lives. Glad the back of the tank is black vinyl as it receives a fair amount of natural light and that caused some algae growth in the past tank.

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The desk has seen better days, but happy with the overall look.

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I really like having a mesh top so far. Excited to get a fish for this tank one day.

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Golden Candelabra Gorgonian

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Polka Dot Hermit Crab; Rainbow Infusion and Bimini Pink Zoanthids. Couldn't get a shot that gives the zoa's colors much justice. 

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Glad the hermit we got was so small (I like the polka dots and big derpy claw), but I'm sure it will still find a ways to be a little troublemaker.

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cheesesteak

The new stuff looks great!! 

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cheesesteak

Also, is your sand bed full of empty snail shells or is there somebody in each of those? 

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Break

 

10 minutes ago, cheesesteak said:

The new stuff looks great!! 

Thanks, one day I'll get an actual camera or at least properly learn how to photograph my tank; not an area I am very knowledgeable in.

6 minutes ago, cheesesteak said:

Also, is your sand bed full of empty snail shells or is there somebody in each of those? 

One or two of them might be empty but the rest are alive - just refreshed the cleaning crew two days ago, Not all the planaxis and cerith have made it into more hidden spots yet.

 

Speaking of cleaning crew, the limpet seems to be doing well just hanging out on the big rock.

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cheesesteak
4 minutes ago, Break said:

Thanks, one day I'll get an actual camera or at least properly learn how to photograph my tank; not an area I am very knowledgeable in.

One or two of them might be empty but the rest are alive - just refreshed the cleaning crew two days ago, Not all the planaxis and cerith have made it into more hidden spots yet. The limpet seems to be doing well hanging out on the big rock.

 

 

I've seen people using iPhone/cameraphone filters that get closer to real life color, and it seems to work alright, but I also don't know much about cameras. 

 

And lol, I figured there must of been something delicious in spot for the whole CUC to show up! 

 

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Break

Finally got the loc-line elbow. Now the return casts less of a shadow and is easier to direct where I need it.

 

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Also, found an Android camera app that allows me to manually adjust white balance and other settings. Hopefully, I can figure out a way to get some decent shots on my Pixel 2XL since who knows if/when I'll ever get a decent camera.

 

Both ammonia (Red Sea Kit) and phosphates (Salifert) tested nearly 0.0 this evening.

 

I'm really over color-matching test kits. Looking into picking up some Hannah instruments in the next few months

 

I've been feeding a bit of Benereef and Reef Roids every day. Just added a bit of Brightwell Zooplanktos- M and Coral Aminos today.

 

I haven't switched out the Chemi-pure Elite + Purigen combo for a Chemi-pure Blue nano bag yet. So there's way more filter media in there than currently needed.

 

For reference:

  • First chamber: Filter floss, filter media, temp probe, ato inlet
  • Second chamber: Live rock, ato sensors
  • Third chamber: return pump, heater
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Break

Did a 30% water change yesterday, changed over to a single pack of Chemi-Pure Nano from the old CPE+Purigen combo, and everything is doing well. Except the zoas are being munched on by the out-of-control amphipod population! 

 

Had this problem once before and caught them in the act again last night. I was not careful enough with my pod species selection when seeding this tank over the last few years and have been battling these little bastards ever since. Zoas are my fiance's favorite corals and the theme of the tank, so the amphipods must perish! 

 

Starving them out was a failure. I could a freshwater or Coral Revive dip on the two big rocks, but I would prefer not to if I can avoid it.

 

So looks like we'll be getting fish for this tank sooner than expected in order to control the population a bit more - ordered a Yellow Clown Goby and an ORA Sharknose Goby from LiveAquaria. A Black Barred Convict Goby would probably been the best choice for amphipod culling, but the aquarium director declared it was not cute/pretty enough.

 

I have seen others have some success with catching amphipods with either a planaria or bristle worm trap. Might give that a go as well.

 

Also, got some great deal from the Legendary Corals 4th of July sale that will arrive within the next week or so along with my previous order.

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Wingy

A bamboo skewer and a red light helped me get rid of my zoa eating amphipods.  I called it ghetto spear fishing and would squish them at night.  Not the most sophisticated erradication method but it was effective over time.  The CUC appreciated the free meals.  I haven't seen one in months.  I didn't try soaking the rocks in close to freezing salt water, hyper or hypo salinity because the squishing method worked but those were some other options.  

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15 minutes ago, Wingy said:

A bamboo skewer and a red light helped me get rid of my zoa eating amphipods.  I called it ghetto spear fishing and would squish them at night.  Not the most sophisticated erradication method but it was effective over time.  The CUC appreciated the free meals.  I haven't seen one in months.  I didn't try soaking the rocks in close to freezing salt water, hyper or hypo salinity because the squishing method worked but those were some other options.  

Thanks for the tip, Wingy! Looks like I'm going spearfishing tonight.

 

Ordering a planaria trap to see if I can catch the tinier ones.

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Break

Since this will be a zoanthid dominated tank and they are finicky as hell, I've been reading non-stop for the last few days about what adjustments I can make to give them the best chance in this system. This thread in particular was extremely helpful and I highly recommend anyone keeping zoas give it a read through.

 

In the past iteration of this tank, I was aiming to keep more SPS and I was definitely letting my nutrients getting too low - that combined with infrequent water changes and infrequent nutrient input eventually led to a cyano outbreak and zoas consequently receding in some places. Classic old tank syndrome aka poor husbandry on my part. Never again!

  • Start daily testing of alk, nitrates, and phosphates
    • Keep alk stable
    • Keep nitrates between 3-5
    • Keep phosphates between 0.02 and 0.04
  • Continue daily feedings of Reef Roids, Benereef, Phyto and Aminos
  • Shift light spectrum over time to be more blue
  • Hoping the addition of fish will reduce amphipod population and add a regular source of nitrates
  • Add Marine Pure Media Gems to the empty space I have in my first chamber

I am still running a nano pack of Chemi-Pure Blue, but I am considering dropping that altogether, at least until my nitrates and phosphates are detectable on my test kits. I was surprised how many people don't even run carbon on their zoa tanks, but it makes good sense.

 

I have been checking phosphates everyday and they are undetectable on my Salifert kit, even with somewhat-heavy daily feedings. Once my new nitrate test kit arrives (old one was expired and nitrate tests are crappy enough as it is) I'll have a better idea of what's going on. Ammonia on my Red Sea Kit is also reading near zero as far as I can tell. I am prepared to dose both nitrates and phosphates if needed, but praying I won't have to bend over backwards to get my alk stable.

 

I told my fiance I wanted Hannah instruments for Christmas, but I have a feeling doing so many color matching tests might cause me to break and make a credit purchase of the HI774 Ultra Low Range Phosphate Checker and the HI772 Marine Alkalinity (dKH) Checker HC, but only once the HI781 Saltwater Nitrate Low Range Checker is available.

 

Turns out I'm not as good at bamboo skewer spearfishing as real spearfishing. Planaria trap should arrive today - interested to see if it catches anything tonight!

 

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Wingy

I hope the trap works for you.  

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Break
31 minutes ago, Wingy said:

I hope the trap works for you.  

Thanks! If not, at least I got a cool looking piece of glassware.

 

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cheesesteak

Thanks for that link! Definitely a lot of good information in there. 

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Break

No luck in baiting the planaria trap with reef roids. A bristle worm trap might work, but the fish are arriving tomorrow anyhow, so we'll see how that goes first.

 

Thankfully all the zoas have been looking better by the day.

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