Jump to content
billygoat

Billy's 40g Gorgonian Garden

Recommended Posts

farkwar
15 hours ago, billygoat said:

Thankfully I've never seen a flamingo tongue snail come in on one of my gorgs... but I remember them being all over the place in the Caribbean, so I suppose it could happen! They're pretty showy, so I imagine that the retailer would probably remove them before shipping. But you never know! 😅

I had one in one of my tanks years ago

 

Thought about just buying gorgonians just to feed it

 

Back when whole fans were $15 though

 

But it died first

 

Beautiful animal

 

I have pics of it on 2 phones ago somewhere

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Firefish15

I love the new tank! It looks like a bigger, better, version of the 18. I hope you have the same stability and success in this new adventure!

 

Makes me want to upgrade myself...😅

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat
On 11/2/2020 at 10:35 AM, farkwar said:

Back when whole fans were $15 though

Wow! I sure wish I could get a sea fan for $15... or for any amount of money, for that matter. As far as I know, true Caribbean sea fans (Gorgonia ventalina) are illegal to collect nowadays. There was some concern about them being overharvested for the curio trade which led to them being banned, but they grow so fast and are so common that it seems a bit strange to me. I also saw that flamingo tongue snails are listed on CaribbeanTropicals.com (though they seem to be perpetually out of stock), but I don't think I would end up getting any myself, for obvious reasons. 😅

 

On 11/3/2020 at 10:55 AM, Firefish15 said:

I love the new tank! It looks like a bigger, better, version of the 18. I hope you have the same stability and success in this new adventure!

 

Makes me want to upgrade myself...😅

Hey there @Firefish15! Long time no see. I would personally be stoked if you upgraded, so be sure to document it if you do! I hope your tank is still doing well. I remember it being very beautiful.

 

Not a whole lot to report today from the gorgonian garden, but here's a quick FTS from this evening:

IMG_1540.thumb.JPG.acec0d012281024104e51382636989e2.JPG

 

All in all things are going well. The new cherub angelfish is eating well and looking splendid, and most of my corals are in excellent shape. There are a few growing pains though: my green RFA is returning to normal, but the big orange one has started pouting instead (go figure), and my hitchhiker Siderastrea is still not extending polyps. Alk is normal at 8.9 DKH after a water change today, and my top-off water is as rock solid as it ever has been (1 TDS on my meter), so I don't think any major water quality issue is at play. Hopefully the few invert issues I've been seeing are the result of normal new-environment adjustments and will soon be resolved. 🤞

 

I picked up IM's ChaetoMax refugium light and have some Chaeto on order, so my 'fuge should come online sometime next week. Stay tuned! 😁

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat

Some notes on an interesting experiment I conducted!

 

Yesterday after my water change I decided to test my tank's nitrates for the first time in many months. My Red Sea nitrate test kit expired more than a year ago so I was unsure if I would get an accurate result, but I decided to try it out anyway. I performed the test and the vial came back clear, indicating zero nitrates. I tried it again, same result. Then I tried it on my other tank (which is still running with almost nothing in it) and also got a nil result. I figured the odds of both my tanks having zero detectable nitrates were not good, so the test kit was probably compromised. But it got me thinking...

 

I decided to test the viability of the expired kit by using it on something guaranteed to contain detectable nitrates. A quick Google search revealed that spinach is relatively high in natural nitrate, so I crushed up a few spinach leaves and strained them into a glass of RO water to create a slightly green-tinged spinach juice solution. I used the expired Red Sea kit to test this solution and returned a clear result of about 20ppm nitrate. So the kit does not appear to be compromised after all - which means that my tank may actually be running at a critically low level of organic nutrients! This may explain some of the issues I've been seeing with my Siderastrea and anemones.

 

Before the tank transfer my system consistently ran at around 20ppm nitrate, so it's odd that it would suddenly be at zero. I guess the increased water volume + higher demand from growing corals as well as additional filter feeders such as my sponges and tunicates have bottomed that number out. I will start feeding some more planktonic supplements to try and increase the available nutrients, and I'll also look into getting some more fish. It seems I likely won't be needing a refugium after all, at least for the time being! 😅

 

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Frozen_Reef
12 minutes ago, billygoat said:

Some notes on an interesting experiment I conducted!

 

Yesterday after my water change I decided to test my tank's nitrates for the first time in many months. My Red Sea nitrate test kit expired more than a year ago so I was unsure if I would get an accurate result, but I decided to try it out anyway. I performed the test and the vial came back clear, indicating zero nitrates. I tried it again, same result. Then I tried it on my other tank (which is still running with almost nothing in it) and also got a nil result. I figured the odds of both my tanks having zero detectable nitrates were not good, so the test kit was probably compromised. But it got me thinking...

 

I decided to test the viability of the expired kit by using it on something guaranteed to contain detectable nitrates. A quick Google search revealed that spinach is relatively high in natural nitrate, so I crushed up a few spinach leaves and strained them into a glass of RO water to create a slightly green-tinged spinach juice solution. I used the expired Red Sea kit to test this solution and returned a clear result of about 20ppm nitrate. So the kit does not appear to be compromised after all - which means that my tank may actually be running at a critically low level of organic nutrients! This may explain some of the issues I've been seeing with my Siderastrea and anemones.

 

Before the tank transfer my system consistently ran at around 20ppm nitrate, so it's odd that it would suddenly be at zero. I guess the increased water volume + higher demand from growing corals as well as additional filter feeders such as my sponges and tunicates have bottomed that number out. I will start feeding some more planktonic supplements to try and increase the available nutrients, and I'll also look into getting some more fish. It seems I likely won't be needing a refugium after all, at least for the time being! 😅

 

A trio of chalk bass would be amazing in the tank!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
A.m.P
2 hours ago, Frozen_Reef said:

A trio of chalk bass would be amazing in the tank!

Stunning in any system for sure.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
vlangel
3 hours ago, billygoat said:

Some notes on an interesting experiment I conducted!

 

Yesterday after my water change I decided to test my tank's nitrates for the first time in many months. My Red Sea nitrate test kit expired more than a year ago so I was unsure if I would get an accurate result, but I decided to try it out anyway. I performed the test and the vial came back clear, indicating zero nitrates. I tried it again, same result. Then I tried it on my other tank (which is still running with almost nothing in it) and also got a nil result. I figured the odds of both my tanks having zero detectable nitrates were not good, so the test kit was probably compromised. But it got me thinking...

 

I decided to test the viability of the expired kit by using it on something guaranteed to contain detectable nitrates. A quick Google search revealed that spinach is relatively high in natural nitrate, so I crushed up a few spinach leaves and strained them into a glass of RO water to create a slightly green-tinged spinach juice solution. I used the expired Red Sea kit to test this solution and returned a clear result of about 20ppm nitrate. So the kit does not appear to be compromised after all - which means that my tank may actually be running at a critically low level of organic nutrients! This may explain some of the issues I've been seeing with my Siderastrea and anemones.

 

Before the tank transfer my system consistently ran at around 20ppm nitrate, so it's odd that it would suddenly be at zero. I guess the increased water volume + higher demand from growing corals as well as additional filter feeders such as my sponges and tunicates have bottomed that number out. I will start feeding some more planktonic supplements to try and increase the available nutrients, and I'll also look into getting some more fish. It seems I likely won't be needing a refugium after all, at least for the time being! 😅

 

More fish is a fun way to raise nitrates!  I hold to that philosophy myself.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
kekke1082
20 hours ago, billygoat said:

Some notes on an interesting experiment I conducted!

 

Yesterday after my water change I decided to test my tank's nitrates for the first time in many months. My Red Sea nitrate test kit expired more than a year ago so I was unsure if I would get an accurate result, but I decided to try it out anyway. I performed the test and the vial came back clear, indicating zero nitrates. I tried it again, same result. Then I tried it on my other tank (which is still running with almost nothing in it) and also got a nil result. I figured the odds of both my tanks having zero detectable nitrates were not good, so the test kit was probably compromised. But it got me thinking...

 

I decided to test the viability of the expired kit by using it on something guaranteed to contain detectable nitrates. A quick Google search revealed that spinach is relatively high in natural nitrate, so I crushed up a few spinach leaves and strained them into a glass of RO water to create a slightly green-tinged spinach juice solution. I used the expired Red Sea kit to test this solution and returned a clear result of about 20ppm nitrate. So the kit does not appear to be compromised after all - which means that my tank may actually be running at a critically low level of organic nutrients! This may explain some of the issues I've been seeing with my Siderastrea and anemones.

 

Before the tank transfer my system consistently ran at around 20ppm nitrate, so it's odd that it would suddenly be at zero. I guess the increased water volume + higher demand from growing corals as well as additional filter feeders such as my sponges and tunicates have bottomed that number out. I will start feeding some more planktonic supplements to try and increase the available nutrients, and I'll also look into getting some more fish. It seems I likely won't be needing a refugium after all, at least for the time being! 😅

 

I will gladly give you some of my nitrates! I am sitting at about 10-30 right now hard to get an exact reading with API test kit 😐.  I do have some macros being shipped to me from another reefer who was going to throw them out so i am super excited! I am also placing an order from Gulf Coast Ecosystems which should be coming next week too! so far i only have 2 molly's in my tank, no corals until i move the tank over to the new stand and get the light fixture added (still figuring out how i want to do that) 

Share this post


Link to post
Tired

That's potentially a decent nitrate level. If it's closer to 10, that's good, and you don't want to lower it. 30 is on the higher end, but some people have high nitrates and do just fine. You should try to figure out which end of the scale you're on, because no nitrates is worse for your tank than high nitrates, and macros can take your tank down to no nitrates pretty fast in the right circumstances. 

Share this post


Link to post
kekke1082
7 minutes ago, Tired said:

That's potentially a decent nitrate level. If it's closer to 10, that's good, and you don't want to lower it. 30 is on the higher end, but some people have high nitrates and do just fine. You should try to figure out which end of the scale you're on, because no nitrates is worse for your tank than high nitrates, and macros can take your tank down to no nitrates pretty fast in the right circumstances. 

I'll be taking a sample to my LFS to have them check my nitrates and see where they are. 

 

my bioload is relatively small right now, so my guess is that its closer to 10ppm but with the color being so close on the test kit i definitely want a second opinion. i do plan to add a few more fish in a few months. 

Share this post


Link to post
melson

Looking forward to seeing what fish you add!

 

I want to get some more Ricordea I think. What's your secret to getting them so large, healthy and happy? Low flow, low light? Looks like you have all of them near the substrate so I'm guessing low light?

 

Also what are your thoughts on Gorgonians and recreating the natural environment? I.e. the balance between too many different species or not enough?

 

Mulling over if I want to purchase a spiny orange for the left side of my tank, that would bring the number up to 8 gorgonians, all different in a 26g tank. Which by my count looks like what you have? Not a huge fan of the tan candleabra in my tank either, it's more like purple giant monster in my tank!

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat
23 hours ago, melson said:

 

I want to get some more Ricordea I think. What's your secret to getting them so large, healthy and happy? Low flow, low light? Looks like you have all of them near the substrate so I'm guessing low light?

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure what gets my Ricordea to grow and extend like that. I feel like I'm definitely doing something right, but I'm not sure what it is! 😅 What I can tell you is that I've placed all my Rics close to the substrate in the corners of the tank, so they definitely get less light than they would right in the center. Some are also partially shaded by gorgonians. All of them receive moderate turbulent flow and seem to be okay with it. I also broadcast small amounts (3-4 ml) of phytoplankton to the tank twice a day, and although I do not target the Rics directly they seem to show a feeding response when this food is in the water so that may be a factor as well.

 

I am certainly happy with the way they've adjusted to my new tank, that's for sure.

IMG_1544.thumb.JPG.ced4d82aa9a46ae388d7875109055037.JPG

 

Today was supposed to be water change day but I decided to tackle the breakdown of my old 18g system instead. The poor ol' C-Vue had been running for two months as a zombie system with nothing but sand and a few vagrant inverts. I broke it down completely, euthanized a few clumps of star polyps in my freezer (I felt bad about that but they're pretty much as close to a plant as you can get while still being an animal, so I think it's probably okay), threw out the gnarly old sandbed, and finally got the system scrubbed, scraped, drained, and put away. Feels great to finally have that done. I also found four or five surprisingly large and extremely weird polychaete worms in the C-Vue's sandbed and transferred them to the 40g, so that's a bonus.

 

As for the IM40 here, well... it got a glass cleaning but nothing else really. The weekly water change will have to wait til tomorrow!

IMG_1542.thumb.JPG.8af1e541598fb5dae0d08ddcdd9f0fb6.JPG

 

Some of my corals are still showing signs of light acclimation stress, but I believe that changing up the lights all willy-nilly will likely do more harm than simply leaving them alone and letting the corals figure it out themselves. I'm leery of upsetting the 90% of my tank that's doing well for the sake of the 10% that's struggling a little. Hopefully this is the right call.

 

Also: I got a neat new crab! This is a Pitho crab, from Reef Cleaners.

IMG_1545.thumb.JPG.97da223395069979b7d66b7594472d18.JPG

 

It's supposed to be a kinder, gentler emerald crab. It looks kinda like a decorator crab but is definitely more active. This one has little bitty claws so I think it's male. It got pummeled a bit in shipping and is missing half its legs (USPS took forever - half the snails I had on my RC order were DOA), but it's eating and moving around so I think it will be fine.

 

More updates soon! Thanks as always for reading my journal. 🙏

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat
On 11/13/2020 at 6:09 PM, melson said:

Also what are your thoughts on Gorgonians and recreating the natural environment? I.e. the balance between too many different species or not enough?

 

Mulling over if I want to purchase a spiny orange for the left side of my tank, that would bring the number up to 8 gorgonians, all different in a 26g tank. Which by my count looks like what you have? Not a huge fan of the tan candleabra in my tank either, it's more like purple giant monster in my tank!

 

As far as I can tell, diverse collections of different gorgonian species packed into a small area are rare in nature. A truly faithful recreation of a tank-sized stretch of reef would probably include one or two species of gorgonians at most, especially considering the enormous sizes that gorgs can attain out in the ocean. That being said, I have become attached to the "royal sampler" approach of many different species all growing alongside each other, and I think it's worth pursuing even though it isn't strictly true-to-nature.

 

The tan candelabra is a tough one. I've found that that species needs quite a lot of space to avoid bumping into its neighbors.

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

I think he's eating your gorgonians

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
melson

@billygoat, that's true. If I wanted a natural looking, "slice of the Caribbean" type tank, I would only have maybe two corals and a patch of zoas. Oh and maybe some sort of encrusting coral. That's about as much you'd see in a 26g square size.

 

I think I am going to get rid of the candleabra and decide my next move.

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat
15 hours ago, farkwar said:

I think he's eating your gorgonians

 

 

Nah, he's just pickin' at turf algae that's growing on the rocks there. If he was eating my gorgs I'd have fed him to the Maw already. 😅

 

2 hours ago, melson said:

@billygoat, that's true. If I wanted a natural looking, "slice of the Caribbean" type tank, I would only have maybe two corals and a patch of zoas. Oh and maybe some sort of encrusting coral. That's about as much you'd see in a 26g square size.

 

I think I am going to get rid of the candleabra and decide my next move.

And a sponge or three, don't forget those! Sponges are in my opinion almost as iconic as gorgs when it comes to inhabitants of Caribbean reefs - they're absolutely all over the place, and they come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. The difficulty of keeping sponges alive is perhaps the single greatest obstacle for any aquarist attempting to faithfully recreate a natural reef. I have been experimenting with filter feeders recently to gear myself for trying a sponge... but I'm not sure my tank is quite there yet. The tunicates I got a few weeks ago seem to be doing well, but I have a feeling they are a bit less sensitive than sponges are.

 

IMG_1546.thumb.JPG.3aeb5e04caa1f9610cfb3c17d6aaea04.JPG

 

As for the tan candelabra: I haven't seen a picture of your tank recently but I imagine it has grown to a truly enormous size. I bet you could get a sweet trade-in deal for it at your LFS! 👌

  • Like 3
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
melson

The longest I've had a sponge for was for maybe 4-5 months and it was just a slow die for the poor thing.

 

Maybe by 2040 reefkeepers can figure out how to keep them in a tank!  I should post a pic, your journal is really something!

 

Share this post


Link to post
vlangel
On 11/15/2020 at 1:05 PM, billygoat said:

Nah, he's just pickin' at turf algae that's growing on the rocks there. If he was eating my gorgs I'd have fed him to the Maw already. 😅

 

And a sponge or three, don't forget those! Sponges are in my opinion almost as iconic as gorgs when it comes to inhabitants of Caribbean reefs - they're absolutely all over the place, and they come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. The difficulty of keeping sponges alive is perhaps the single greatest obstacle for any aquarist attempting to faithfully recreate a natural reef. I have been experimenting with filter feeders recently to gear myself for trying a sponge... but I'm not sure my tank is quite there yet. The tunicates I got a few weeks ago seem to be doing well, but I have a feeling they are a bit less sensitive than sponges are.

 

IMG_1546.thumb.JPG.3aeb5e04caa1f9610cfb3c17d6aaea04.JPG

 

As for the tan candelabra: I haven't seen a picture of your tank recently but I imagine it has grown to a truly enormous size. I bet you could get a sweet trade-in deal for it at your LFS! 👌

I have the ugly type of sponges (the gray, white or pink entrusting type)in my natural nutrient tank and I think they need an enviroment that has a lot of nutrients and is aged enough to be producing a good variety of pods and micro-life.  I did have a tree sponge for 18 months in my seahorse tank.  I have wondered now that I do not have to do so many WCs if a sponge would fare better.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Tired

I have some sort of semi-encrusting white sponge, that sends out branches/runners now and then. It seems pretty happy, and is growing at what is probably going to be an alarming rate pretty soon. I need to trim some of it back. 

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat
On 11/16/2020 at 11:50 AM, vlangel said:

I have the ugly type of sponges (the gray, white or pink entrusting type)in my natural nutrient tank and I think they need an enviroment that has a lot of nutrients and is aged enough to be producing a good variety of pods and micro-life.  I did have a tree sponge for 18 months in my seahorse tank.  I have wondered now that I do not have to do so many WCs if a sponge would fare better.

I also have various shapes and colors of small hitchhiking sponges growing here and there in my tank. Mechanical filtration seems to inhibit their growth; I think they definitely proliferate more quickly in systems that don't employ filter floss/socks/skimmers/etc. I imagine that performing less water changes probably would be better for them as well, as long as no critical trace elements go missing as a result. 

 

Some unfortunate news today: I noticed my cup coral has started bleaching.

InkedIMG_1547_LI.thumb.jpg.6a532b635d25292f6dda632175f33fee.jpg

 

It seems this is probably light-related. I lowered my light by about 3" (from 9" over the waterline to 6") a few weeks ago and adjusted the intensity to compensate for the reduced distance, but I think my calculations may have been off - this coral bleaching, plus the continued shrunken state of my RFAs and a noticeable uptick of film algae growth on my glass all seem to indicate too much light. I've reduced the intensity of my A160 by an additional 5% across the board, which brings the midday maximum down from 50% to 45%, and reduced the whites at midday by a bit as well. We'll see if this results in an improvement.

 

  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Frozen_Reef
On 11/15/2020 at 12:05 PM, billygoat said:

Nah, he's just pickin' at turf algae that's growing on the rocks there. If he was eating my gorgs I'd have fed him to the Maw already. 😅

 

And a sponge or three, don't forget those! Sponges are in my opinion almost as iconic as gorgs when it comes to inhabitants of Caribbean reefs - they're absolutely all over the place, and they come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. The difficulty of keeping sponges alive is perhaps the single greatest obstacle for any aquarist attempting to faithfully recreate a natural reef. I have been experimenting with filter feeders recently to gear myself for trying a sponge... but I'm not sure my tank is quite there yet. The tunicates I got a few weeks ago seem to be doing well, but I have a feeling they are a bit less sensitive than sponges are.

 

IMG_1546.thumb.JPG.3aeb5e04caa1f9610cfb3c17d6aaea04.JPG

 

As for the tan candelabra: I haven't seen a picture of your tank recently but I imagine it has grown to a truly enormous size. I bet you could get a sweet trade-in deal for it at your LFS! 👌

I am curious how the tunicate/sea squirt has done in this relatively new system? When I upgrade to my 25 waterbox I found a place down in the gulf that can collect a lot of cool stuff. I saw they have Leathery sea squirts (Styela plicata) which I would love to add to make the tank seem more "natural".

Share this post


Link to post
Tired

I wouldn't really call this a new system. All the rock (aside from being really good rock in the same place) is moved over from an established tank, with relatively little disturbance. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat
21 hours ago, Frozen_Reef said:

I am curious how the tunicate/sea squirt has done in this relatively new system? When I upgrade to my 25 waterbox I found a place down in the gulf that can collect a lot of cool stuff. I saw they have Leathery sea squirts (Styela plicata) which I would love to add to make the tank seem more "natural".

My tunicates are doing pretty well so far, at least as far as I can tell. To be honest I'm not entirely sure what a happy tunicate looks like, but mine have shown consistent full expansion and don't demonstrate any signs of shriveling or wasting away (yet!). That being said, I would not recommend these animals for a brand-new tank. As @Tired rightly mentioned this system is not exactly immature (it's all the same stuff from my old tank, just in a new box), and that makes a big difference for filter feeders. Tunicates eat only phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter, and in order to get away with feeding enough to keep them alive you will need a very robust and well-established biofilter. Dumping tons of phytonplankton supplements into a brand-new tank every day just to keep your tunicates alive sounds to me like a recipe for ammonia apocalypse. 😬

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Tired

I will say, I have a small tunicate that seems to be doing just fine of its own accord. It's about half an inch across, lives on the back of my rockwork, and has grown very slightly since I got the rock last year. I squirt a very small amount of reef roids in its direction sometimes, but mostly I ignore it, and it's done fine. So in a 5gal tank with well-established live rock (lots of ocean life on it), a small tunicate seems to be enjoying itself. But I wouldn't put any tunicates bigger than the end of your thumb in even a remotely new system, because they really are demanding feeders. I'm surprised mine is doing well- I suppose it doesn't eat enough to make a dent in the natural population of phytoplankton and whatnot in the tank. 

 

Really, filter-feeders in general aren't the best for new tanks. Porcelain crabs are an exception, because you can manually feed them (they'll take pellets, frozen mysis, and so on) quite readily, and they seem to do fine supplementing their usual filter-feeding with large meals. The trouble with many other filter-feeders is, among other things, they're designed for an environment where they can get a near-constant flow of tiny amounts of food. That's hard to replicate in a reef tank without a great deal of trouble.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Firefish15
On 11/7/2020 at 6:29 PM, billygoat said:

Hey there @Firefish15! Long time no see. I would personally be stoked if you upgraded, so be sure to document it if you do! I hope your tank is still doing well. I remember it being very beautiful.

Haha, don’t worry! If I do, it will be well documented! Tank is still doing well, recently added a post. 🙂

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recommended Discussions

×
×
  • Create New...