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Hello again all, 

 

So, my luck with tanks has not been the best to say the least, so I managed to swap my TMC Cube for a boxed but used Evo 13.5G, along with a 4 Stage RODI and a bit of cash. I kept a good amount of the sand and my favourite rock (I know favourite rock 🙄), I still have a 50W Heater, Inkbird 308S (with silicone probe) i'm just currently lacking a stand and salt mix at the moment. 

 

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So far I have rinsed the tank out a few times, got rid of a few light scratches, dumped out the filter foam but have kept the carbon. Set everything up and wrapped the cables so it looks more tidy. I plan to get a stand similar to the one below so that I can also keep my 2.5G Betta Tank on the shelf below

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The Plan: Livestock

So for a long while now I have wanted to do a species tank/biotope, it is something that has always interested me trying to design and maintain a habitat for a creature as close as possible to the natural habitat, I am on a mailing list for my LFS and have seen a couple of specimens that really interest me. One especially ever since I saw @billygoat add the pearly jawfish to his then 18G. The Pearly Jawfish. So I have sourced, cleaned and roughed up a section of 3/4" PVC that I have placed underneath the rock I will putty this into position to ensure that any excavation works. Before adding this to the tank I made sure that I drilled a series of holes within the pipework so that any water inside will not become stagnant.  

 

The PVC pipework is in a square shape and I have made sure that there are two entrances, these are located at the front and the rear of the rockwork so that the jawfish can use either the left side or the right side of the rock as its entrance/exit. Currently I have sanded these entrances smooth and have left them bare slightly under the substrate level. The depth of the sand at the moment is a little over 3" all around, I am aware that I need some rock rubble and currently it is on the purchase list, I will most likely scatter this aimlessly around the tank and make the little jawfish work for its materials.

 

The Plan: Corals, Macroalgae and Gorgonians

The Current plans for the Corals, Gorgonians and Macroalgae is going to be easy to keep, low light and low flow corals as I plan on keeping this tank stock for as long as possible.

 

Tank Details

Tank:      Fluval Evo Sea 52L/13.5G

Heater:  50W Submersible Heater on Inkbird Controller

Flow:      Stock Fluval Pump (132GPH)

Light:     Stock Fluval Lighting on plug in timer switch

 

Rock:     10Lbs Dry Rock

Sand:     15Lbs Dry Sand (Samoa Pink)  

 

I have other stocking options in mind in case the jawfish is not suitable for the tank or obtaining one becomes an issue. (Leaf Fish, Mantis Shrimp, Wartskin Angler. Each would become a biotope tank)

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Hey @Ratvan! Glad to hear you are starting a biotope-style tank! They are definitely super cool and I have enjoyed mine a lot. However I do have a few words of caution regarding the jawfish...

 

My 18g tank that you mentioned above was much too small for a jawfish. Like much, much too small. I realized this only after killing mine, of course, but the entire time the fish was in there (months) it was exceedingly stressed out. Every burrow that it dug was an emergency burrow, and it changed locations restlessly in the tank, shoveling sand all over the place and never finding that nonexistent wide-open spot to dig a nice home. After having one myself, I would not recommend a jawfish to anyone with a tank less than 50 gallons, and even in that case I consider it to be kind of a tight fit. Ideally the tank would also be quite deep to have space for a thick sandbed plus allow the fish plenty of room to hover. Jawfish get a reputation for being nano fish (probably because they live in a hole so people assume they don't move around much), but they have large territories in nature and curate them extensively, always searching for choice bits and pieces to add to their homes. The hole is just sort of a home base.

 

The tank also must be purposefully designed to accommodate them, with an extremely deep sandbed (4" seems pretty good to me) made from a mixed substrate of varying grain sizes. I don't think PVC tubes or similar prefab living spaces are the right way to go. I've seen a lot of tanks both here on N-R and elsewhere in the internet where jawfish are kept for long periods of time in smaller setups that aren't specifically intended to house them, and they end up living in tubes or holes in the rocks or what have you. But those behaviors are not natural, and I believe they lead to stress in the long run. I imagine that's part of the reason they have a reputation for jumping like crazy, especially at night (mine also did this).

 

I am sorry to rain on your parade here with the first post in the thread! But I don't want you to go through the trouble of building a home for this fish only to see your animal of choice suffer and decline. 😞 If you decide that you simply must try it yourself, I recommend ditching the PVC pipe and putting that rock in a corner. Give the fish as much sandbed as possible to work with. But really the best course of action would be to avoid it altogether.

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15 minutes ago, billygoat said:

Hey @Ratvan! Glad to hear you are starting a biotope-style tank! They are definitely super cool and I have enjoyed mine a lot. However I do have a few words of caution regarding the jawfish...

 

My 18g tank that you mentioned above was much too small for a jawfish. Like much, much too small. I realized this only after killing mine, of course, but the entire time the fish was in there (months) it was exceedingly stressed out. Every burrow that it dug was an emergency burrow, and it changed locations restlessly in the tank, shoveling sand all over the place and never finding that nonexistent wide-open spot to dig a nice home. After having one myself, I would not recommend a jawfish to anyone with a tank less than 50 gallons, and even in that case I consider it to be kind of a tight fit. Ideally the tank would also be quite deep to have space for a thick sandbed plus allow the fish plenty of room to hover. Jawfish get a reputation for being nano fish (probably because they live in a hole so people assume they don't move around much), but they have large territories in nature and curate them extensively, always searching for choice bits and pieces to add to their homes. The hole is just sort of a home base.

 

The tank also must be purposefully designed to accommodate them, with an extremely deep sandbed (4" seems pretty good to me) made from a mixed substrate of varying grain sizes. I don't think PVC tubes or similar prefab living spaces are the right way to go. I've seen a lot of tanks both here on N-R and elsewhere in the internet where jawfish are kept for long periods of time in smaller setups that aren't specifically intended to house them, and they end up living in tubes or holes in the rocks or what have you. But those behaviors are not natural, and I believe they lead to stress in the long run. I imagine that's part of the reason they have a reputation for jumping like crazy, especially at night (mine also did this).

 

I am sorry to rain on your parade here with the first post in the thread! But I don't want you to go through the trouble of building a home for this fish only to see your animal of choice suffer and decline. 😞 If you decide that you simply must try it yourself, I recommend ditching the PVC pipe and putting that rock in a corner. Give the fish as much sandbed as possible to work with. But really the best course of action would be to avoid it altogether.

Words of caution and experience are always welcome.

 

In regards to the PVC pipe, I dont think that I worded it as well as I could, also a picture which i will get later would probably work out better. But the primary function of the PVC is to lift the rockwork off of the base of the tank, so its more of a riser than a network of tunnels, but I have also allowed an opening for the occupant on the off chance that it wishes to use it. So basically its four of these in a square to support the rock above it, and be stable to the tank base so that it cannot be undermined and collapse, this has not been joined together in a run 

PVC-riser-inspection-port-bathroom-sewer-pipe-vertical-inspection-port-with-plug-head-drainage-pipe-accessories.jpg_640x640.jpg.10a75b63bee48c92552d97b73cc61e90.jpg

Above image is to make things clearer and not the actual diameters of the PVC that i am using. I'm not sold on the final position of the rock just yet and I did think that I should move it closer to the partition wall to have more exposed sandbed. What sized grain did you have in yours? Currently I have 0.8-1mm, have ordered some larger 1-2mm and looking at small rubble or taking out my anger with a hammer and some rock, maybe the biomedia as well to make the rubble

 

Worse case scenario if I dont like the tank for the jawfish I will switch to a Mantis Shrimp or Leaf Fish pair and do a biotope based around those, as at the moment I am running stock i have no real idea what the evaporation or heat will be like during the summer with the stock lid and light (and as we know British Houses are built to keep heat in and we dont have fancy things like AC to provide cooling)

 

 

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I have never had a pearly jaw fish so no actual experience with them. I did consider them once and decided not to get one because for every web site that said that one single fish could be kept in a 10 gallon I found at least twice as many sites that stated 30 gallon minimum for a pair which is what I was interested in.. 

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OK so I have removed the PVC tubing and after playing with the rockwork and seeing how much sandbed I actually have I think i may have to agree and look for something different for this tank. I dont want to have the occupants being unhappy or having a restrictive environment. I have ordered the tank stand and the salt mix so hopefully they should arrive this weekend or monday so I can put it together and place the tank in its final position. 

 

I'm still leaning towards a biotope and have narrowed the choices to either a Wartskin Angler, Leaf Fish or Mantis Shrimp (hoping for a spearer if i can get hold of one) so either way the method of setting up this tank is not going to differ too much other than the final occupants.

 

Plan so far is too

  • Assemble Stand and Place Tank
  • Leak test for 24 Hours (with RODI)
  • After leak run the filtration to remove detritus/dust from dry sand/rock
  • Water Change with Home Made Salt Mix
  • Start Cycle (ghost feeding) - aiming for a slow cycle
  • Once Cycled add Biodiversity 
  • Stock from Smallest to Largest
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1 minute ago, Murphych said:

You need to do the Mantis.... I beg you sir 

My issue with the Mantis is how my LFS labels them "Gonodactylus Spp" 

 

So could be a Smithii, Platysoma etc, the photo on the website isnt particularly helpful in identification either 

 

I could also use Guppies to Cycle the tank if i went this route....🤔

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16 minutes ago, Murphych said:

Yeah and the difference could be a beautiful animal or a brown blob 

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Thats the image that is on the website, i just dont want to receive something that will be more comfortable in a larger set up then I have the time or space for. 

12 minutes ago, debbeach13 said:

I like candy cane shrimp/ goby pair. Candy cane shrimp are smaller but of course harder to find. 

They're actually relatively easy to find here and many LFS (near me at least) typically sell them as pairs but for £120+. 

I just want something a bit different for this tank hence Mantis/Leaf Fish/ Angler and all seem to be in the £20-£25 range which is doable

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So the salt mix has arrived this morning, i decided to go with the below in a 20KG bucket (44ish Lbs). Might look into setting up a subscription service on amazon for the 20kg refills.

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Typically the Stand is not expected to arrive before Tuesday 🙄

 

Speaking to the LFS regarding the Mantis Shrimp they can confirm that it is a Smasher but are unable to gain a species level identification, but this is still the fore runner for my occupant of the reef  

 

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awakedॢ

Welcome to salty life again! 👏🏻

speaking to betta out of salty,,, I got a baby 2 times after many attempts, it was so mysterious n wonderful,,,🐶

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Ok so thinking about the plan once again. So pretty much nailed on for a Mantis Shrimp and i'm fairly confident that the shrimp in Question is a Chiragra (angry little f#ckers), so since this is a biotope I have been doing a little bit of research into where these isopods are often found. 

 

Most literature states that they live in and around the Reef Flats so I aim to try and theme the tank around these areas and have found some interesting photos that i will attempt to recreate the feel of

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So most of these appear to be Xenia, with a few other corals dotted around, the ones that I am particularly interested in are the toadstools and leathers. To which a bit of gogling later and I have come up with the below list of potential species that I will consider for the build

Briareum – Star Polyps

Capnella – Tree Coral

Clavularia – Clove Polyp

Heliopora – Blue Ridge

Knopia Sp – Daisy Polyps

Lobophytum – Devils Hand Leather

Sarcophyton – Toadstool

Sinularia Sp. – Finger Leather

Sympodium

Xenia Sp – Waving Hand

 

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I like that list a lot. Some easy going easy growing corals on there. I know a lot of people think many of them are weeds. But I love coral that goes with the flow. I find pulsing Xenia mesmerizing. 

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9 minutes ago, debbeach13 said:

I like that list a lot. Some easy going easy growing corals on there. I know a lot of people think many of them are weeds. But I love coral that goes with the flow. I find pulsing Xenia mesmerizing. 

Yeah I loved the Pulsing Xenia and it grew like mad in my tanks which was always a good sign, was fun to watch it split and colonise a separate rock as well as the crushed coral substrate that i used in that tank at the time. I'm really interested as well in using the coral for a nutrient export (or more accurately nutrient consumption) instead of the Macro algae, the fact that it grows well in dirtier waters for me makes it a good choice for a Mantis Tank.

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18 minutes ago, Ratvan said:

I'm really interested as well in using the coral for a nutrient export (or more accurately nutrient consumption) instead of the Macro algae,

Yes and I also use Kenya Tree for this. Easy to frag when it gets too large. 

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2 hours ago, DevilDuck said:

This is an exciting build! Did you rearrange the rock work to create some caves facing the visible portion of the tank?

Still in progress with the rockwork, I'll be digging out my masonry drill over the weekend to make some more caves within the two structures as well as firmholds for corals.

 

When the actual stand arrives I'll play with the final placement a bit more but intend to have it set up peninsula style so is viewable from all three glass sides so will work on adding caves to all possible viewing angles too.

 

Plus a good way to smell like drilled teeth and get some rubble

 

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So I forgot to take photos of the holes drilled into the rock before adding to the tank, but i can tell you in was a mission to get any progress at all. I think the hammer function in the drill has gone. It gives the Mantis a head start at least. I'm hoping that you should be able to see at least the entrances in the rock I made in the below photographs

 

I did however remember to make my own DIY Media rack, will be using this to run filter floss. As a note I installed the Fluval Surface Skimmer the opposite way around so that the lip is within the filtration section, this gives the water a nice fall into the floss.

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The Stand arrived today, rated suitable for 100Litres so I should be safe with this. After assembly I placed the tank in the final position and did the initial fill with RODI water. Will be running this for 48 hours or so to test the Heater and as a rudimentary leak test before adding salt and starting the slow cycle. I will be ghost feeding as a cycling method

 

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Just now, debbeach13 said:

Your really making some progress. Are you happy with the stand?

I think with my flooring (280 year old house) i'm never going to have a nice cabinet type stand but I do like this one as it has some adjustable castors on the bottom that I can use to get the tank mostly level (currently it looks like i'm off by about 1mm front to back along the longest section of the tank) which to me at the moment is acceptable.

 

I see no evidence at all of a leak so I have added salt to get me to 1.023 salinity which will do for the cycle. I will up this to 1.025 or so when I start adding life to the tank. As stated above (possibly) i'll be adding things from the smallest to the largest so i wouldn't expect to see much more progress on this anytime soon.

 

It was good practise with the RODI, i tested the TDS of my tap water and it was 10PPM before the RODI and after a few flushes and misstarts I now get 0PPM water. I could perhaps have attempted to go tap water with this one but i am aware that the water pipes in my area are a mixture of copper and lead so didnt want to chance this with an Invert. 

 

In regards to the tank, I am actually pleasantly surprised how quiet the Fluval Stock pump is. My fridge is actually louder than the pump now that I have wrapped all of the cables to keep them together and tidy. 

 

I still have a few more things that I want to pick up for this, mainly the Inkbird Controller but for now that isn't too much of a need. I am also looking for a small wavemaker that i can control but again pretty low on the priority list

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Oh yeah and also cycling method, plan to wait until this starts to rot before i start testing for ammonia. Should have probably put this in a net or container but nevermind1814279647_cycling(2).jpg.07cabca4a0dcc208a265cf1b20e0cc89.jpg

 

I have decided to cycle by this method as I plan to feed the mantis with defrosted frozen shrimp/prawn or Krill. I have a read a lot that Mantis also like to store excess food within their lair so the above represents roughly a weekly feeding for the tank so puts my mind at rest that the biological filtration can handle this amount sitting in the tank if i cannot retrieve it 

 

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Added a second heater to the tank last night, another 50W unbranded glass in chamber 2. This second heater is set to 77f (1 degree cooler than my main heater) to add a little redundancy/fail safe to the tank  

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24 minutes ago, Murphych said:

Didn't even realize how big mantis where until I seen this lad in the shop last night... They are very big..

 

https://www.cellarmarinestore.co.uk/collections/invertebrates/products/mantis-shrimp-odontodactylus-scyllarus

 

I was actually going to message you and see if that was still there 😂, that is a Peacock Mantis though (30+ Gallon) I'll be looking for a much smaller Shrimp myself. You get an instore photto of it?

 

G. Viridis or N. Wennerae both grow to about 55mm maximum (2 inches) and not the 160mm (7inch) of the Peacock 

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  • Ratvan changed the title to Mantis Murder Manor

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