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billygoat

Billy's 40g Gorgonian Garden

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billygoat

I tested my water today (a fairly rare occurrence for this tank) and came back with some interesting results:

 

KH: 8.4

Ca: 390

NO3: 0 ppm

PO4: >0.01 ppm (basically zero)

 

As I mentioned awhile back, the nitrate test kit is a little bit questionable, but the phosphate kit is not. My absolute lack of phosphates in addition to the consistently low nitrates leads me to believe that my tank has a low nutrient issue. Perhaps the lighting has been a red herring - I think I've been underfeeding the system, and the few corals that are struggling may simply be starving.

 

To address this problem I've decided to add some more fish. Conditions have been bad in Florida of late (they get hit with a hurricane about once a week or so), so my go-to livestock vendors have not had much in stock. I waffled on what to buy for awhile, but in the end I decided to purchase a trio of Caribbean blue chromis from LiveAquaria's Diver's Den. This is my first time buying from DD but I've heard good things... hopefully it's worth the price. 😬

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A.m.P

Definitely share hesitance with DD, chromis are wracked with uronema right now, I would strongly, strongly advise dipping them in something with formalin (ruby reef rally, rid-ich) and then keeping them in a smaller-system for at least 10 days with metronidazole because, if it gets in your DT, it will never, ever leave.

If you absolutely must put them directly into the DT at least do a Freshwater or Formalin dip first.

Otherwise they're a beautiful fish, can lord-of-the-flies on you in a heartbeat, but so gorgeous. 

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billygoat
1 hour ago, A.m.P said:

Definitely share hesitance with DD, chromis are wracked with uronema right now, I would strongly, strongly advise dipping them in something with formalin (ruby reef rally, rid-ich) and then keeping them in a smaller-system for at least 10 days with metronidazole because, if it gets in your DT, it will never, ever leave.

If you absolutely must put them directly into the DT at least do a Freshwater or Formalin dip first.

Otherwise they're a beautiful fish, can lord-of-the-flies on you in a heartbeat, but so gorgeous. 

I thought about this, and uronema was of course high on my list of concerns when ordering these fish, as was the possibility of them turning on each other (I see enough of both of these things at work, believe me). I am hoping that sourcing chromis from DD will help to mitigate these risks, since the fish will presumably have been kept together and carefully observed for signs of disease before being shipped to me - which is not likely to be the case if were to buy them from a smaller-scale retailer straight out of Florida.

 

I believe that the prevalence of uronema in chromis is largely due to negligence on the part of retailers and distributors, many of which have a more laissez-faire, "If it swims, ship it" approach to selling livestock. Diver's Den is supposed to be the cream-of-the-crop (which is presumably why their animals cost so much), and part of what you pay for is not having to worry about that stuff.

 

Regardless though, you can bet that I'll be carefully observing these fish before they get put into my tank. If I have any reason to suspect that they aren't perfectly healthy, they will be treated in a quarantine system for as long as is necessary.

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billygoat

The blue chromis arrived yesterday. They are all a bit bigger than I expected but they are very beautiful.

 

IMG_1551.thumb.JPG.abc3754038fd18e53469f7ad5650a197.JPG

 

The only problems I have noticed with these fish are a slight popeye on one and some abrasions sustained by another when it jumped out of my acclimation bucket yesterday. Otherwise they all appear to be healthy and strong. Hopefully a proper environment and regular feedings with nutritious food will help them recover from these minor afflictions.

 

I have seen them displaying and charging a bit (the largest one is clearly the most dominant), but so far they have not demonstrated any signs of murderous intent. This could of course change quickly now that they are in a new environment though, so we'll see what happens.

 

I also added an anemone shrimp to my order. When I was buying the chromis I found myself in a situation where I could spend $30 on something else from the Diver's Den and qualify for free shipping, or spend $40 on shipping and get nothing. The anemone shrimp was the only thing in there that caught my eye, so I decided to try it out.

 

IMG_1548.thumb.JPG.d806081a65dd4552196167bac2e3bee1.JPG

 

Super cool animal, but it only lasted about 12 hours in my tank before being eaten by the Maw. I woke up this morning to find the evil mushroom burping up its remains. I guess I should have thought of that one. 🤦‍♂️ Oh well. Lesson learned: the Maw cares nothing for symbionts. It exists only to feed.

 

Here's an FTS too. I hope you all are having a great day.

IMG_1554.thumb.JPG.ebbf08fd93d3ec816ac223caa0122ae3.JPG

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Tired

Oh, huh. RIP shrimp, but that was sort of an interesting one. Any other pics? It doesn't look like ones I've seen before, the patterns (or lack thereof) are different. 

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kekke1082
12 hours ago, billygoat said:

The blue chromis arrived yesterday. They are all a bit bigger than I expected but they are very beautiful.

 

IMG_1551.thumb.JPG.abc3754038fd18e53469f7ad5650a197.JPG

 

The only problems I have noticed with these fish are a slight popeye on one and some abrasions sustained by another when it jumped out of my acclimation bucket yesterday. Otherwise they all appear to be healthy and strong. Hopefully a proper environment and regular feedings with nutritious food will help them recover from these minor afflictions.

 

I have seen them displaying and charging a bit (the largest one is clearly the most dominant), but so far they have not demonstrated any signs of murderous intent. This could of course change quickly now that they are in a new environment though, so we'll see what happens.

 

I also added an anemone shrimp to my order. When I was buying the chromis I found myself in a situation where I could spend $30 on something else from the Diver's Den and qualify for free shipping, or spend $40 on shipping and get nothing. The anemone shrimp was the only thing in there that caught my eye, so I decided to try it out.

 

IMG_1548.thumb.JPG.d806081a65dd4552196167bac2e3bee1.JPG

 

Super cool animal, but it only lasted about 12 hours in my tank before being eaten by the Maw. I woke up this morning to find the evil mushroom burping up its remains. I guess I should have thought of that one. 🤦‍♂️ Oh well. Lesson learned: the Maw cares nothing for symbionts. It exists only to feed.

 

Here's an FTS too. I hope you all are having a great day.

IMG_1554.thumb.JPG.ebbf08fd93d3ec816ac223caa0122ae3.JPG

Super cool shrimp! was it a Peterson's anemone shrimp? i have seen a few that are similar in color and structure listed on liveaquaria and also in a nano species book that i have. i did not know that mushrooms had a taste for shrimp 😮 RIP shrimpy 

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billygoat
17 hours ago, Tired said:

Oh, huh. RIP shrimp, but that was sort of an interesting one. Any other pics? It doesn't look like ones I've seen before, the patterns (or lack thereof) are different. 

Sorry, I didn't have a chance to get any other pictures. My intention was to take more photos the next morning, but well... yeah. 😥

 

5 hours ago, kekke1082 said:

Super cool shrimp! was it a Peterson's anemone shrimp? i have seen a few that are similar in color and structure listed on liveaquaria and also in a nano species book that i have. i did not know that mushrooms had a taste for shrimp 😮 RIP shrimpy 

Not entirely sure exactly what species it was. Live Aquaria listed it as a "Yucatan Cleaner Shrimp", but I think those are the ones with big spots on their backs. This one had more lines than spots.

 

Unfortunately the blue chromis with the popeye seems to be in a bit of trouble. Its eye is expanding very rapidly, and already looks much worse than it did yesterday.

 

IMG_1562.thumb.JPG.d2dbe2ed8a7d0900c1bdf5160f0d990c.JPG

 

The fish is otherwise perfectly healthy, and remains active and hungry. It has trouble hitting smaller foods, but I've been feeding it big pieces of flake and it seems to catch them pretty consistently despite its impaired vision. I find myself in a difficult situation though. This particular case of popeye seems to be caused by gas accumulation rather than fluid (the swollen vesicle contains a shiny, clearly visible air bubble), which means I would need something like a pressurized treatment chamber to get it back down to normal size. I suppose I could catch the fish and try to puncture the bubble manually, but this would cause a tremendous amount of stress - especially considering that I don't have any way to sedate the animal beforehand - and would also raise the risk of injuring the animal's eyeball if I do it improperly. I will probably just leave it alone and let it sort itself out on its own, but I am not convinced that this is the best possible course of action. 😥

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kekke1082

That does seem to have become a serious case of pop eye! that is unfortunate. i hope the little dude pulls through! 

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Tired

Ooh, that's no good. Yeah, I'd agree that there isn't much you can viably do. You might look into clove oil as a fish sedative, though. I know it can be used as sedative for veterinary purposes, but I've only ever used it for euthanization. 

 

This would make me, personally, pretty concerned about the quarantine time these fish actually got. This sort of issue seems like it would have showed up pretty quickly, so I wonder how long it's been since they were caught. 

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billygoat
11 hours ago, Tired said:

This would make me, personally, pretty concerned about the quarantine time these fish actually got. This sort of issue seems like it would have showed up pretty quickly, so I wonder how long it's been since they were caught. 

I don't think this particular case of popeye is being caused by pathogens. Instead I think it has arisen from some combination of changing physical factors such as pressure, the concentration of dissolved gasses in the water, etc. If I am correct, then it's not something that would appear in quarantine because it would only manifest after the animal is moved from one aquarium environment to another.

 

When these fish arrived, there was one with a deflated shipping bag that was leaking slightly. I didn't take the time to check which fish of the 3 had the deflated bag, but that's the sort of thing that would result in the animal being subjected to wild changes in air/water pressure during shipping. Such a situation could possibly give rise to a case of popeye like the one I am seeing, so that's what I suspect went wrong.

 

At any rate, the fish looks a bit better this morning, so that's good. The swelling seems to have decreased a bit overnight. Hopefully it will continue to do so. 🤞

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billygoat

Maybe it's just my imagination, but I could swear that my pop-eyed chromis's eyeball gets less puffy overnight, then puffs up again as the day goes on. Maybe this has something to do with levels of dissolved gasses changing throughout the day/night cycle? Seems interesting... but at any rate, the little guy seems to be doing well enough. I think he's getting better at catching food with his impaired vision.

 

I got a brand new nitrate test kit today (Salifert this time) and returned a result of... 0 ppm. A completely clear test vial. This seems to confirm my earlier theory about extremely low nutrients in the system. It seems this tank just sucks organics up like a sponge! I'm going to try feeding some more to bring those levels up again. 🤔

 

Here are a few pictures. I did a water change today but I was feeling pretty lazy so I didn't clean the glass.

 

IMG_1564.thumb.JPG.e4689398d4b7e5d29a7149affb6ccbcf.JPG

 

I'm a fan of this side view, but it really demonstrates how dirty my front glass gets. Perhaps I could use some more snails.

IMG_1569.thumb.JPG.409c571dd0e368dce76d69c97e00ae73.JPG

 

Remember my tube coral that was bleaching? After some adjustments to the lights and increased regular feeding it is looking much better.

IMG_1553.thumb.JPG.7832e0d4509f16978f7e5a64b04cbe33.JPG

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kekke1082

@billygoat your system always looks so amazing! I really want to add some gorgs to my set up, but in all honesty the non photosynthetic gorgs are a bit intimidating. after seeing how well your nutrients are controlled it gives me less pause for sure. reefing is still new for me so having to feed more scares me 😄

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Tired

This is a situation where nutrients are being controlled too well. Lack of nitrates will eventually starve most corals. It also hinders the growth and health of helpful non-pest algae, which can allow hardier pest algae to get a foothold. No phosphates will kill things much faster. 

 

I'm curious to see what will happen with increased feeding. I'm sure the corals and everything will love it. 

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farkwar

I always thought that Diver's Den was just Live Aquaria but ocean caught and usually WYSIWYG

 

I have seen nothing, read nothing, to have come away with the idea that they are cream of the crop

 

Better than my LFSs(which are dank and stank), yes.  About it

 

Maybe I missed it

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A.m.P
52 minutes ago, farkwar said:

I always thought that Diver's Den was just Live Aquaria but ocean caught and usually WYSIWYG

 

I have seen nothing, read nothing, to have come away with the idea that they are cream of the crop

 

Better than my LFSs(which are dank and stank), yes.  About it

 

Maybe I missed it

That's about right, they developed a reputation to the contrary almost entirely through word-of-mouth from what I can tell, I've seen a few tours of their premise' and they do have "QT tanks", but they don't medicate and they refused to answer whether they hold for any length of time.
They were also conveniently "Expanding it" at the time of filming and shortly-before being purchased by petco, I'd not have expected that expansion to have been given priority after a reshuffling of management.

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billygoat
10 hours ago, farkwar said:

I always thought that Diver's Den was just Live Aquaria but ocean caught and usually WYSIWYG

 

I have seen nothing, read nothing, to have come away with the idea that they are cream of the crop

 

Better than my LFSs(which are dank and stank), yes.  About it

 

Maybe I missed it

I read a blurb on their website about DD stuff being pre-quarantined and picked out from their general stock for exceptional health and color... but I work for a wholesaler too, so I knew to take it with a bit of a grain of salt. I recognize that in the live fish industry, a given company's claims and the reality of that company's operations are not always... aligned😅

 

The long story made short is that I'm not dissatisfied with my purchase from Diver's Den (so far, at least - things could still turn south real quick if some awful disease manifests itself), but I don't think I would buy from them again. The price is just too much for what you get.

 

And besides - at the end of the day, my main interest is my gorgonians, not any sort of fancy fish. Like this beautiful spiny gorg, for example:

IMG_1563.thumb.JPG.772273e588ef60fc9c7eefe3b4696ab1.JPG

 

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billygoat
22 hours ago, kekke1082 said:

@billygoat your system always looks so amazing! I really want to add some gorgs to my set up, but in all honesty the non photosynthetic gorgs are a bit intimidating. after seeing how well your nutrients are controlled it gives me less pause for sure. reefing is still new for me so having to feed more scares me 😄

Thanks for your kind words @kekke1082! I am glad you enjoy the tank as much as I do. 😁

 

Keep in mind that all the gorgonians in my system are actually photosynthetic. I feed them a lot to make them grow faster, and because my tank for some reason seems to have consistently low nutrient issues, but that is definitely not something that you need to do if you wish to keep these animals. A simple weekly feeding would probably be more than enough as long as they are provided with good water quality, proper flow, and abundant light.

 

Non-photosynthetic gorgonians are a whole different ballgame. I don't recommend those for practically anybody to try, much less for a brand-new tank.

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kekke1082

@billygoat that clears things up a bit more for me for sure! I probably wont add any gorgs to this system for at least another 4 to 6 months just to be on the safe side. its been stable so far, but starting to go through the uglies. i need to check my phosphates. my nitrates have been staying around 5-10ppm consistently which is good, no ammonia to speak of and no nitrites. i dont think i want any stony corals in this tank just to maintain some simplicity. the stocking has been simple so far just the two molly's and clean up crew, one small gsp frag from my lfs, a mushroom that has detached from its rock and moved, and a small leather frag that my fiance fell in love with at the store. I love following your thread bc it shows me what can be done! 

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kekke1082

@Tired I appreciate your input as well 🙂 somehow my very first tank had an issue with low nutrients and i was feeding twice a week, i also had a very large colony of gsp, a huge colony of pulsing xenia, a frag of kenya tree and cheato that probably ran through the nutrients i had in the tank. i was fortunate that a lot of the reefers in my local groups (as well as other reefers) considered xenia, gsp, and kenya tree as pest corals bc they were very generous and practically gave it away. 

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Tired

Twice a week is very infrequent. I'm of the opinion that most fish should be fed daily, unless they're predators that would naturally eat large, infrequent meals, or if there are enough pods in the tank for them to just eat frequently of their own accord. Small reef fish would naturally be snacking all day, they've evolved for small, frequent meals. A reasonably stocked tank shouldn't have nutrient issues from feeding fish daily, assuming the fish aren't being hugely overfed. 

 

If you had a tank you were feeding in frequently, and you had big colonies of fast-growing, nutrient-hungry corals, it's no surprise your tank was low on nutrients. They used that all up.

 

(Unless you were feeding the corals twice a week, which is much more reasonable. But, still, those are fast-growing corals that will strip nutrients fast.)

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billygoat
9 minutes ago, Tired said:

Twice a week is very infrequent. I'm of the opinion that most fish should be fed daily, unless they're predators that would naturally eat large, infrequent meals, or if there are enough pods in the tank for them to just eat frequently of their own accord. Small reef fish would naturally be snacking all day, they've evolved for small, frequent meals.

When my chromis first came in, I was feeding them a small amount once every 2 hours. I had the advantage of fortuitous timing here: I had 4 days off in a row because of Thanksgiving, so I was able to be attentive with the tank and mix a batch of food that I fed bit by bit throughout the day.

 

And yet... as of this afternoon nitrates still test at 0. I see daily diatom growth on the sandbed (consumed overnight each day by herbivores), and steady film algae growth on the glass, but detectable nutrients remain basically nonexistent. I don't think I can feed much more than I do, since I have to go to work and such, so I am not sure what to do about this.

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Frozen_Reef
6 minutes ago, billygoat said:

When my chromis first came in, I was feeding them a small amount once every 2 hours. I had the advantage of fortuitous timing here: I had 4 days off in a row because of Thanksgiving, so I was able to be attentive with the tank and mix a batch of food that I fed bit by bit throughout the day.

 

And yet... as of this afternoon nitrates still test at 0. I see daily diatom growth on the sandbed (consumed overnight each day by herbivores), and steady film algae growth on the glass, but detectable nutrients remain basically nonexistent. I don't think I can feed much more than I do, since I have to go to work and such, so I am not sure what to do about this.

I recommend dosing neophos and neonitro than if you are not seeing numbers after feeding that much

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kekke1082
12 hours ago, Tired said:

Twice a week is very infrequent. I'm of the opinion that most fish should be fed daily, unless they're predators that would naturally eat large, infrequent meals, or if there are enough pods in the tank for them to just eat frequently of their own accord. Small reef fish would naturally be snacking all day, they've evolved for small, frequent meals. A reasonably stocked tank shouldn't have nutrient issues from feeding fish daily, assuming the fish aren't being hugely overfed. 

 

If you had a tank you were feeding in frequently, and you had big colonies of fast-growing, nutrient-hungry corals, it's no surprise your tank was low on nutrients. They used that all up.

 

(Unless you were feeding the corals twice a week, which is much more reasonable. But, still, those are fast-growing corals that will strip nutrients fast.)

@Tired The only inhabitant was a yellow tail damsel, it was fed every other day, but i did have quite a large pod population as well, i seeded the tank every 2 weeks or so for about 3 months before adding any fish (i originally wanted to add a manderin to that tank but with it being only 5 gallons decided against it) so he also had plenty of pods to snack on in between. I also broadcast fed the corals with a powdered food i would mix with tank water and put into the flow of the power head. 

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billygoat

I continue to be vexed by extremely low nutrient issues. I believe this is the reason that my stony corals are still looking stressed out. I've wracked my brain for explanations for this, and even thought that I might be up against a weird incomplete cycle or something like that (I tested ammonia just in case and came up with a result of 0 ppm), but nothing beyond the simple extreme needs of my corals, macroalgae, and filter-feeders seems to explain the situation. I had my refugium dialed way back to only 6 hours of light a day, but even that seems to be too much. I'm going to try turning it off for awhile to see if nitrates and phosphates rise without it running. If they do, I may get rid of it entirely.

 

I also slightly reduced the light intensity across the board to try and slow the growth of nutrient-consuming algae in the display. I've noted the presence of a golden-brown slime that populates my sandbed during the daylight hours and dies back in the evening, only to reappear the next day. At first I thought it was diatoms, then I thought it might be dinos, but now I am thinking that this is probably cyanobacteria.

 

IMG_1571.thumb.JPG.61e6cc980d859f6913f0f271431a8f00.JPG

 

Day/night fluctuations and appearance in low nutrient conditions suggest dinos, but the characteristic mucousy appearance and suspended oxygen bubbles are not present. It's been about 9 weeks since my tank transfer and I recall that my previous tank saw an uptick in similar cyano growth at about the same point in its life cycle, so that's what I am leaning towards at the moment. I've increased flow as well as reducing the light, so we'll see if that helps at all.

 

At any rate this pest algae appears only on the sandbed and does not bother any of my corals in any way. All things considered the tank is doing very well. My gorgonians look good, my Ricordea look great despite being subjected to increased flow (I can't seem to go wrong with those things - knock on wood!), and my chromis have still not killed each other or shown any signs of uronema. I have a lot to be grateful for. 🙏

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kimberbee
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

I've noted the presence of a golden-brown slime that populates my sandbed during the daylight hours and dies back in the evening, only to reappear the next day. 

Day/night fluctuations and appearance in low nutrient conditions suggest dinos, but the characteristic mucousy appearance and suspended oxygen bubbles are not present. 

 

At any rate this pest algae appears only on the sandbed and does not bother any of my corals in any way.

Ditto in my lagoon. It's really weird. 

 

I'm trying to do the simplest treatments I can for now, since it doesn't seem to bother much in the tank. 

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