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Skeeterific

Skeeterific's 20 Gallon Long - Zoa-eating amphipods!!!

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Skeeterific

IMG_0354JPG.thumb.jpg.37717c44323a86ca2f3bda726dc87bc0.jpg

 

Does it look good? No. But is it better than it looks? Also no. 

 

It's healing though! 

 

A couple of years ago I had a 38 gallon, which was a mess, and which I then had to sell when I moved across the country for a grad school program. I downsized to this 20 long, which went on to crash twice. The tank was empty except for some very hardy zoas and a single hermit crab for pretty much all of 2020. I finally came back to my apartment in February, and did my first water change on this tank in a full year a couple of weeks ago. I've had trouble keeping corals in the past, but I'm invested in taking its maintenance and research more seriously! And, if anything, the system is definitely seasoned now. 😛

 

Equipment:

The main idea with this build is keeping expenses low, I like trying to avoid unnecessary equipment and trying to find a natural way to deal with tank issues. That said, I'm about ready for a much more powerful light. There are way too many choices, just thinking about it raises my blood pressure

-Cheapo 20 long

-Cheapo HOB filter, with filter floss and chemipure

-2 powerheads, one cheapo, one Jebao wavemaker, which I so far am not that impressed with. I love the size, but it's noisier than I think it should be, and while I appreciate all the setting choices, it doesn't provide nearly as much flow as I hoped it would.

-Light: Hipergaro Aquaknight 30W

 

Corals

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These are the only survivors from my multiple crashes. They had all lost color, but are bouncing back with more regular maintenance and feeding. That out-of-focus zoa in the front is an Utter Chaos that I pissed off so badly it spawned and popped up clear across the tank. The babies look a lot less stretched. 

 

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I also have some dragon's breath that is going to die and that's all there is to it. It's been floundering for a while, but I think my recent addition of 2 astra snails and 1 shortspine urchin will finally wipe it out. I don't think they touch the healthy growth, but they eat the faded stuff, which I'm sure makes it less likely to recover overall. I'll replace it later to help with nutrients when things are more stable, right now I think the hair algae is outcompeting it.

 

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Fish and Inverts

 

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Added in the past month is:

-1 neon goby

-1 shortspine/rock burrowing urchin

-2 astrea snails

 

Then there's the hermit crab, who has been in there for over a year, munching algae, alone, in my empty apartment, in a failing tank. Bless him. I should probably add some more, so he has company. I'm just nervous they might kill each other, and I'm a little attached to him at this point. 

 

Immediate Future Goals

-Address the algae. I have a big hair algae issue, which is slowly getting under control with more maintenance and my urchin, Professor Pricklepants (btw shortspines are the best, they're great algae eaters, don't get big, and don't pick stuff up). This is a long game, taking it slow to not exacerbate any parameter or nutrient issues. 

-Upgrade the light. I got the Aquaknight because it was cheap, but I'm ready to try and get something a little more attractive and customizable. Any advice welcome. 

-Take a day, put on a podcast, and crush every single one of my dozens and dozens of @%#* VERMETID SNAILS. I'm going to do this by hand, and may add a bumblebee snail for any I inevitably miss.

 

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Cheers!

 

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Skeeterific

I took a day to focus on re-scaping the rock that has been in the same position for 2 years. A lot of the pieces were too big, and there wasn't much visual flow from one island to the next. I wanted to push everything to the back, to free up more real estate and make the tank seem bigger, as the scape I had was more suited for a peninsula build. 

 

But first...vermetid snail eviction!

 

20210518_114531.thumb.jpg.2a2ff7eb2874920e25b07d3e531279b9.jpg

 

The cuc took the  opportunity to have adventures in the construction zone.

 

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At the end, I had this:

 

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Compared to the previous scape:

 

Message_1621349744628.thumb.jpg.8e3a7379682fb356fddd51a1cb3044fb.jpg

 

The focus is on one big island in the middle now starting from as close to the back wall as I could get, with two smaller ones to the side, purposefully not very high, for better viewing space. I was able to fit almost all the rock I started with, demolished and glued back together, minus one 1lb piece that I'll use for frags in the future. I think this will allow a lot more space for corals to grow in! It also makes the whole thing look more purposeful overall. I took the opportunity to rip some of the more stubborn hair algae out. Later on I saw one of the astrea snails snacking on the shorter turf. 

Here's a closeup of the main island. There are a couple of good caves built in for fishy hiding spots.

 

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From the right-hand side. I think the conch shell works better this way. I love this piece and it's a great hiding spot for my urchin, Professor Pricklepants, to nap before he comes out at night, but it didn't really fit in visually in the other scape:

 

IMG_0389JPG.thumb.jpg.83eaa054d805e85645b701d8483020c1.jpg

 

That's all for now!

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tassos

Good luck this time around! I think the rescape is an improvement.

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Skeeterific
19 hours ago, tassos said:

Good luck this time around! I think the rescape is an improvement.

Thanks! I do too!

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WV Reefer
On 5/20/2021 at 5:32 PM, Skeeterific said:

I took a day to focus on re-scaping the rock that has been in the same position for 2 years. A lot of the pieces were too big, and there wasn't much visual flow from one island to the next. I wanted to push everything to the back, to free up more real estate and make the tank seem bigger, as the scape I had was more suited for a peninsula build. 

 

But first...vermetid snail eviction!

 

20210518_114531.thumb.jpg.2a2ff7eb2874920e25b07d3e531279b9.jpg

 

The cuc took the  opportunity to have adventures in the construction zone.

 

20210518_162610.thumb.jpg.9b40d33799f0009af0f146e1abab5b03.jpg

 

At the end, I had this:

 

IMG_0388JPG.thumb.jpg.128fbb553edffde99dfd1c8ac69619a5.jpg

 

Compared to the previous scape:

 

Message_1621349744628.thumb.jpg.8e3a7379682fb356fddd51a1cb3044fb.jpg

 

The focus is on one big island in the middle now starting from as close to the back wall as I could get, with two smaller ones to the side, purposefully not very high, for better viewing space. I was able to fit almost all the rock I started with, demolished and glued back together, minus one 1lb piece that I'll use for frags in the future. I think this will allow a lot more space for corals to grow in! It also makes the whole thing look more purposeful overall. I took the opportunity to rip some of the more stubborn hair algae out. Later on I saw one of the astrea snails snacking on the shorter turf. 

Here's a closeup of the main island. There are a couple of good caves built in for fishy hiding spots.

 

IMG_0393.thumb.JPG.dd65298454f60eb4f4a706d73df6d528.JPG

 

From the right-hand side. I think the conch shell works better this way. I love this piece and it's a great hiding spot for my urchin, Professor Pricklepants, to nap before he comes out at night, but it didn't really fit in visually in the other scape:

 

IMG_0389JPG.thumb.jpg.83eaa054d805e85645b701d8483020c1.jpg

 

That's all for now!

I like the height in the middle now. 😊

 

Keep that algae pulled and it makes it easier for the crew to snack the smaller stuff. 

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Skeeterific
23 minutes ago, WV Reefer said:

I like the height in the middle now. 😊

 

Keep that algae pulled and it makes it easier for the crew to snack the smaller stuff. 

Thanks, I will! Your 12 is such eye candy, including the bookshelf and everything on it 😁

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WV Reefer
3 minutes ago, Skeeterific said:

Thanks, I will! Your 12 is such eye candy, including the bookshelf and everything on it 😁

Thank you. 😊

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Skeeterific

I left town for a week and let the tank settle after the big rescape. I've heard of tanks going through a mini-cycle after breaking rock, but it all seems pretty stable. Had to tackle vermetids again, but there are definitely fewer than before. I added a bumblebee snail. I've heard conflicting evidence about them eating vermetids, but I thought it was worth a shot. I know one won't have much of an impact, but I'm hoping if it does eat vermetids we can tag team the issue over time. If not, one probably won't be enough to run out of food and attack the astrea snails, so it should be a safe addition. Also added this week were:

2 blue leg hermits

3 tiny zoa frags whose names I don't know

1 candycane coral frag 

a hunk of chaeto

 

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The chaeto is free-floating around the tank (here it's skulking behind the conch), but I'm going to hide it behind the center island as soon as I'm sure it won't melt. I don't think I need it necessarily, but the copepods love the hair algae, and that's disappearing, so really it's mostly for them. 

 

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I have a hard time not overfeeding the candycane. It has such a dramatic feeding response!

 

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The goby with a couple of the new zoas. Still trying to get rid of those frag plugs, but there are apparently no reefers near me, and my LFS is leery about taking in corals. The goby is really cute. He's claimed the left island and future zoa garden, and I've started seeing him adorably perfecting his cave by rearranging grains of sand one by one. 

 

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debbeach13

Looks like things are improving - less algae.

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Skeeterific
5 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

Looks like things are improving - less algae.

Definitely! Crazy how regular maintenance will do that 😛

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Skeeterific

Whew, this build is a long time coming. I left town for 5 weeks and left the tank in the care of a friend, who gave me regular updates. He did a bangin' job. Everything grew, nothing died, all parameters look stable. Even the chaeto bounced back after some die-off. Most impressive has been the candycane coral, which has tripled its mouths and is working on splitting. Compare to this other candycane I just added, which is mad from the coral dip, but otherwise is pretty much the exact same size as the green one was when I put it in 2 months ago: 

 

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Other new additions are this leather:

 

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And behind it, some kind of ribbon gorgonian. It's an interesting color, light yellow with strawberry lemonade pink polyps. If anyone knows what this one's called, I'd love to know!

 

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Next up is upgrading the light. I have one AI Prime 16 on standby, but after trying it out it quickly became clear that I really do need two, so I'm saving up for the other one and a pair of hanging kits by answering online surveys. Shouldn't be too much longer! Maybe I'll throw an orange lens filter into the order. Everything is in good balance right now, corals happy, algae under control, and everything that swims or crawls looks fat and sassy. The goby spends most of his time hunting copepods or working on his cave. More to come! 

 

20210727162212_IMG_0420.thumb.JPG.36e187995f81a62fb983b3a09aa22010.JPG

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Odyssey350kc

Looking good. I love coming back from trips just to see some growth. When you see it everyday it is tough to see progress, but it is obvious when you haven't seen it for a while.

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billygoat
47 minutes ago, Skeeterific said:

And behind it, some kind of ribbon gorgonian. It's an interesting color, light yellow with strawberry lemonade pink polyps. If anyone knows what this one's called, I'd love to know!

It's a yellow sea whip (Pterogorgia citrina). Fast grower, heavy shedder. Don't be alarmed if it sloughs off a huge amount of gunk every once in awhile; that's normal for this species.

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Skeeterific
3 hours ago, billygoat said:

It's a yellow sea whip (Pterogorgia citrina). Fast grower, heavy shedder. Don't be alarmed if it sloughs off a huge amount of gunk every once in awhile; that's normal for this species.

I was hoping you might answer! The gorgonian guy! 😄

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billygoat
11 hours ago, Skeeterific said:

I was hoping you might answer! The gorgonian guy! 😄

Not the worst moniker; I'll take it. 😄 I'm happy to help!

 

Your tank looks like it has settled down a lot! It's great to hear that everything went well during your long time away. I always find it a bit stressful to think that someone other than me is in charge of my aquariums... 😬

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Skeeterific
57 minutes ago, billygoat said:

Your tank looks like it has settled down a lot! It's great to hear that everything went well during your long time away. I always find it a bit stressful to think that someone other than me is in charge of my aquariums... 😬

It definitely stressed me out. During a similar time away my housesitter overfed and everyone died, including a bonded pair of clowns I really loved. This time around I mixed up the usual frozen/pellet/nori/supplements slurry I feed, and froze it into cubes using an empty chewing gum tray. Instructions were just to toss one in twice a week, do a daily headcount, and make sure the temp stays under 80. Looks like it worked!

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Skeeterific

I haven't gotten anything new, I just wanted to show off how much my green candycane has continued to grow just in the 3 weeks since I've been back. One of the new mouths is already working on a new mouth #overachiever. The other one is still a little unhappy, not sure why, but it's definitely gotten puffier over the last few days and regrown some lost tissue. 

Good growth on the leather and gorgonian too!

 

7/28

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8/11

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Firefish15

You’re inspiring me to

do a bit better job on my own tank! 
Keep up the good effort! 😄

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Skeeterific

Okay, I wish I had been able to grab some photos of this, but I just can't zoom in close enough with either camera. 

 

Over the past couple of weeks I've been noticing my zoas have been disappearing one by one. No trace of them left, just there one day and gone the next. There are no fish in this tank that would eat them, so I thought maybe the asterinas, or the hermits? Then the other day I was checking everything out and saw a couple of truly monstrous amphipods picking way at one of my zoas. 

 

I don't know if there's anything to be done about this. They're basically impossible to catch. I'm just writing this as warning to others. If you like your zoas, have a care which pods you allow in your tank!

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A.m.P

Ah, yeah, you could try to introduce a predator to control them, hate to hear of folks ending up stuck with those buggers.

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Skeeterific
On 9/1/2021 at 8:09 PM, A.m.P said:

Ah, yeah, you could try to introduce a predator to control them, hate to hear of folks ending up stuck with those buggers.

Got any suggestions for a good predator?

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

Got any suggestions for a good predator?

Dwarf gold/blue coral banded shrimp, pink streaked wrasse/ possum wrasse, springer's damselfish, dwarf dottybacks are dicks but might help.

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Skeeterific
On 9/3/2021 at 4:26 PM, A.m.P said:

Dwarf gold/blue coral banded shrimp, pink streaked wrasse/ possum wrasse, springer's damselfish, dwarf dottybacks are dicks but might help.

Perfect, I was planning on a possum wrasse for this tank anyway!

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Skeeterific

Alright, someone help me diagnose my candycane.

 

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As you can see, the green guy on top is growing like a weed, and so are all the other corals (except the zoas, which have been conquered by the amphipods). I thought the purplish candycane would recover after I brought it back from the shop, but it just keep floundering, and seems like it takes two steps back for every step forward. The bottom polyp always has something coming out of its mouth, too-- what's that about? 

 

I'd assume it was a parameters thing, but the other candycane couldn't be happier. So: what do we think is going on here? Too much light? Too close to the other candycane? Disease? What's the best course of action?

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