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Riding the Wave with Reef Casa: My Studio 12 Saltwater Build 🌊


banasophia

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16 hours ago, boscoT said:

Looking good. Good luck with your interview… change is good!!

 

16 hours ago, boscoT said:

Looking good. Good luck with your interview… change is good!!

 

Thanks, guys!! Yes, it will be nice to do something new… I’d been in the same job for 9 years before they restructured and decided to phase out our whole team of nurses. The job has been telephonic/work from home the past 4 years which was great during the pandemic, but it will be good to have a new job that gets me out of the house again! 
 

14 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

I just remembered it is getting close to 2 months since you set up the refugium. Have you noticed any positive changes? Are your parameters better or more stable, or maybe less algae in the display?


That’s right! The refugium is working well, the red macro algae has been growing at what I’d say is a moderate rate and I harvested some once, during my last water change, removing two big clumps of it and just leaving one clump behind to regrow. It definitely soaks up nitrogen, so I add Brightwell NeoNitro sometimes to keep it from bottoming out. I keep meaning to pick up some chaeto grow, which will add some additional elements that are helpful for macro growth. 
 

One downside to the refugium is that hair algae also grows well with the refugium light, so I’ve had to clean the back chamber and remove the hair algae during water changes, but I’ve only done that twice since setting it up and it has been pretty quick and easy… just scrape the sides during the water change, manually pull the big clumps out, and then siphon the back chambers. 
 

The display has been looking really great with no algae issues at all even though I run my lights on whites for much of the time. 

Here’s a pic of the refugium right now… I removed two clumps of the red macro algae during last week’s water change, leaving just one smaller clump behind:

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10 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

You must be doing everything right. The results show in how pretty the tanks is.

 

Thanks so much! I’m really enjoying it… I keep wanting to add a couple corals, make some upgrades, and do some videos, but I’ve been really busy. I’m just thankful that it’s quite low maintenance and it’s so nice to look over and enjoy when I finally get a chance to sit down on the couch and relax in the evening. 😅🤗

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It’s my birthday, which means it almost the tank’s birthday too! I love this tank. This was the view when I came back into the room after I’d turned out all the lights in the house and gone to bed the other night. Just seemed so serene and looked cool with the glow of the refugium light. 

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Well it was a busy day running my YouTuber Meetup Group and getting ready for the first day of my new job tomorrow, so I haven’t been able to devote as much time to the tank today as I would have liked to, but I just wanted to pop in to say what a special day it is, because today marks the first birthday of the tank!!! I am so grateful to @Reef Casa for giving me the opportunity to be one of the first people to run this Studio 12 tank!! It has been a great experience! Hank’s happy, and I’m happy!! 🐠😊💛
 

Lights are already out since I forgot to adjust for daylight savings today, but it’s a great chance to post some lights out photos. I hope to do a one year update video soon with a review of this awesome nano tank and some better photos/video with the lights on, but it may be a week or two as I know I’ll be busy this week with the onboarding training for the new job, so check back in for more details!! 

 

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  • 3 months later...
banasophia

Whew! My new job is a lot harder than I had expected, so I’ve been super busy since my last post and haven’t had much time to devote to my tanks or keeping up in here. 
 

This tank is now very heavily stocked with fish. Hank my yellow clown goby and Marshall my yellow banded possum wrasse were joined by my clownfish pair from the Biocube 32 back in November because life seemed too boring for the clownfish in the temporary Biocube 16 setup I was keeping them in.
 

Just like they did in the Biocube 32, the clownfish really keep to themselves behind the scape so I don’t see much of them, but they seem happy back there and they get along with Hank and Marshall just fine. 
 

And last weekend I got a new addition - I finally added a tailspot blenny to this tank. I adore him! My plan was to get him and quarantine him for a few weeks in the Biocube 16 which is still just running in my bathroom as a quarantine tank for now. But when I got my new lil fish last weekend and put him in the Biocube he tried to go right through the slots into the back chambers right away and got stuck, so that didn’t work out as planned and I ended up moving him into this tank right away. I’ll tell you more about him in another post, but he is so cute and doing well in the tank so far. 
 

I’ve been using Nutri-Seawater for water changes since I started the new job. It’s working okay and convenient while I was so busy with work, but definitely seems to have an impact on the ecosystem and twice now I’ve had micro-brittlestar spawning events after doing water changes with it, including last night. It’s similar to the spawning events I had with bristleworms, where tons of them come out of hiding and crawl to high points in the tank and then spawn. So much less creepy than bristleworms though, and I’d much rather have an abundance of brittlestars. 

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debbeach13

Busy at a new job is a good thing. Hopefully things will level out once your acclimated!

Glad to see the update. Dam your up to 5 fish and I am fishless! Looking forward to pictures.

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banasophia

Omg… so a couple of weeks ago we had a major storm that led to an overnight power outage and we had to fire up our generator to use it for life support for this tank and my freshwater atoll tank overnight.
 

Thankfully after a couple of tries we were able to get the generator working and both tanks made it through with no problems. And it was nice that the tank lights added to our lanterns and flashlights to have light in the house. 
 

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Tonight I’m worried because there’s a forecast for tomorrow that we could be at risk for tornados, which we don’t normally get in the Sacramento, California area. 
 

Trying to figure out the safest place for us to shelter and hoping we won’t be impacted. 

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banasophia
15 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

Busy at a new job is a good thing. Hopefully things will level out once your acclimated!

Glad to see the update. Dam your up to 5 fish and I am fishless! Looking forward to pictures.

That’s a good perspective on my new job, for sure!

 

Yeah 5 fish seems pretty crazy, but they all seem to have their own niche. And Hank seems to really like his new TSB buddy. I just need to be sure to keep up with water changes now to keep my parameters in check. I’ll have to tell you a funny story about Hank and the TSB next time.
 

And you’re still fishless - wow! Any thoughts on adding fish anytime soon, or are you enjoying the fishless life?
 

I ran my Evo 5 without fish for quite a while and I did enjoy it, but ultimately a reef tank just seemed like a beautifully furnished home awaiting its future fish residents to me. 🐠 

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banasophia

So here’s the kinda funny story about my new lil tailspot blenny and events that transpired last Thursday.
 

Mind you, this occurred just a couple hours after another pet incident in our family zoo… my daughter had gone to pick up her cricket keeper to feed our numerous lizards (we now have 3 alligator lizards, a bearded dragon, and a crested gecko… all cricket eaters) and the lid had detached and the bottom of the cricket keeper had fallen to the floor with about 100 medium sized crickets escaping into my daughter’s bedroom and scurrying to their freedom as my daughter was freaking out and the hubs and I frantically tried to grab as many crickets as we could with our bare hands before setting our cat loose in there to hunt for those we couldn’t catch… it was a fiasco! 
 

After doing our best with that project and setting my daughter up to sleep in my home office for a few days while the crickets dissipated, I then settled into my spot on the couch, across from the Studio 12, and everything seemed fine. 

 

As I had mentioned, I got my new lil TSB the weekend before last and I was planning on quarantining him because I worry about introducing a fish disease to the tank and exposing Hank and my other fish. 
 

But it didn’t work out to quarantine him in the Biocube 16 since he immediately tried to swim into the back chambers and got stuck, so I transferred him to the Studio 12 straight away and of course I’ve been worried about him being sick and transmitting an illness. 
 

He had turned blotchy all over his body due to stress when they netted him at the LFS and by Thursday evening he still hadn’t fully settled in and gotten his colors back, so I was concerned but figured I needed to give him more time to adjust. 
 

So everything seemed okay with the tank, but a couple hours later, as I went to make my final inspection of the tank before heading to bed, I looked over and was horrified to discover that my sweet new lil fish had been decapitated (or so I thought)!!! 
 

What the heck had happed, I wondered? My heart was racing and I felt so bad. How did my fish get decapitated?! Was it the clownfish? The murderous hermit crab that kills my snails for their shells? And why was Hank happily sitting on the coral next to the poor little fish as if nothing was wrong?  Moreover, how was the poor lil fish still staying in place in the candy cane coral after its death?
 

I looked closer and still couldn’t figure it out… it was quite late and my eyes were bleary… I used my iPad camera to take a closer look and zoom in… and THANK GOODNESS the fish was not decapitated! His face had white blotches all over. Come to find out this nighttime change in coloration is reported by others that keep tailspot blennies. Of course Hank knew his little buddy was just fine!


Yikes! He looked like his head was missing!!

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Totally reminded me of all the times I’ve been fooled by an emerald crab molt and thought my emerald crab had died. So upsetting… followed by such relief. 😅😅😅

 

My new little TSB seems to be adjusting to the tank, and is getting along well with his new friends Hank and Marshall. 

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banasophia

For anyone interested, I just asked chatGPT about this phenomenon, and here’s what it said:

 

Tailspot blennies (Ecsenius stigmatura) are known for their distinctive personalities and interesting behaviors in the saltwater aquarium hobby. One of the intriguing aspects of these fish, and indeed many blennies, is their ability to change coloration. This ability is not unique to tailspot blennies but is a trait seen in various fish species, serving multiple purposes such as camouflage, signaling, and stress response.

 

While the specific behavior of facial coloration changes at night in tailspot blennies is not widely documented in scientific literature, many marine fish are known to undergo color changes during nighttime. These changes can be part of their natural circadian rhythms. At night, when these fish rest, they might change color to blend in with their surroundings better, reducing the risk of predation. For some species, the night-time coloration can be significantly duller or different in pattern compared to their daytime appearance.

 

The phenomenon you observed, where the tailspot blenny appeared to have a change in facial coloration, could be part of this natural behavior. Fish often exhibit subdued coloration during the night, possibly to avoid attracting predators. The change can be so dramatic in some cases that the fish seem like a different individual altogether. This behavior underscores the adaptability and survival strategies of small reef fish in their natural habitats.

 

Such color changes are controlled by the fish's nervous system and hormonal changes, responding to changes in light, environment, and stress levels. It's a fascinating aspect of marine biology and one of the many reasons saltwater aquariums offer a window into the complex behaviors and survival strategies of marine life.

 

For precise details on the tailspot blenny's behavior, especially concerning changes in facial coloration at night, it would be beneficial to consult detailed marine biology resources or studies focused on blennies and their behavioral ecology. Observations from experienced aquarists, shared through forums and aquarium hobbyist communities, can also provide valuable insights into this and similar phenomena.

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debbeach13
5 hours ago, banasophia said:

I looked over and was horrified to discover that my sweet new lil fish had been decapitated (or so I thought)!!! 

Absolutely horrifying. I have been fooled several times with shrimp molts. He is so cute! Glad he is fine.

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banasophia
3 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

Absolutely horrifying. I have been fooled several times with shrimp molts. 

Oh yeah, shrimp totally fool me too!! 😆😆😆 

 

 

I need to add some new corals to this tank to give it some color… the cloves and mushrooms and knopia really took over when I was doing less frequent water changes…. still trying to decide what I should add that will still be visible if the cloves grow around them. 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
banasophia

Did some major work on the tank last weekend. My fast growing gorgonian has long been shading many of my other corals and I hadn’t been keeping up with water changes to offset my high bioload so my phosphate level was really high at 1.8 and I needed to put some work in.

  • two of my candy canes had become overgrown with algae and knopia
  • my goldenrod anacropora and my montipora digitata had become overgrown with knopia and cloves
  • my pulsing xenia was getting pretty invasive
  • my green mushrooms were spreading like crazy 

I love using Phosphate RX to control my phosphate level, but you have to have a filter sock or skimmer to filter out the precipitate and I don’t have either of those so that option was out. In the future I may end up switching from the refugium to a skimmer in the middle chamber for this reason, though the refugium is working great to control nitrate levels and grow amphipods.
 

For now though I ended up running PhosGuard for a week which took my phosphate level down to 0.6 before I took it out and I’ll add some Purigen this weekend.
 

The rapid drop in phosphate did a number on my macro algae in the refugium though… almost all of it disintegrated so I’ll need to replenish it if I want to keep the refugium running for now.

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In addition to addressing the phosphate level, I decide to work on the corals as well.
 

I removed the tall/fast growing gorgonian from the scape and moved it to a rock with mushrooms in front of the scape where it will no longer block all the light from corals on the left side of the scape. (Now I’ll have to keep up with trimming the sprouts as it tries to grow back on the scape.)

 

I took both overgrown candy canes out and tried to clean them up by removing algae, cloves, and knopia. I then glued them to rubble pieces and glued those to the scape to position them up above the scape allowing me to better control growth of cloves and knopia into them. They candy cane polyps had really retracted and they have started to recover already. 
 

I also removed tons of overgrown cloves, knopia, and xenia and luckily still had my Biocube 16 running unoccupied, so it’s now my frag tank to put the trimmings in. I removed the montipora digitata completely because it was beyond saving, but I pulled all the cloves off the anacropora, removed the dead looking branches, and mounted it on a rubble piece at the top of the scape to see if it will turn yellow again with some TLC. 
 

With these changes I had some new open space so I added a feather duster for my daughter- she loves them! And then I decided on a green Kenya tree from my background coral on the back left. I am calling this coral my reef broccoli, since that’s what it looks like. I really loved my regular Kenya tree in my Biocube 16, and so did Hank, but keeping up with removing all the dropping branches before they took root was such a pain and I read that the green Kenya tree doesn’t tend to drop branches like that. The broccoli piece has grown from what looked like a small floret to a pretty big branch in one week. It has potential to look nice in the tank… we’ll see. 

Before - pretty, but so overgrown and my candy canes and acan were suffering:

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After - hopefully the acan, candy canes, and anacropora will bounce back and we’ll see how the Kenya tree does as a backdrop:

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Looking at the after picture, I realize I need to move the rubble piece with the green clove polyps… it’s hidden being the feather duster right now and it looks like I may have pulled all of them off the top of the scape. I’ll fix that when I do my water change today or tomorrow. 

 

 

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banasophia

Oh yeah and I forgot to mention… with all the shading, my green rockflower moved to a spot on the back to get more light… that’s a good thing though, to free up the space for something new, as it was pretty but not the most colorful rockflower for such a prominent spot. Now I just need to replace it before the knopia takes over!

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  • 1 month later...
banasophia

The tank is making a comeback now that I’ve resumed weekly water changes. The candycanes are plumping back up and the green Kenya tree is looking good. Hopefully the green mushrooms will brighten back up as the phosphate level is better controlled. 
 

I’m seeing what looks to be some cyanobacteria on the sandbed… monitoring for now, but may treat it sometime soon if it doesn’t resolve. 
 

I just placed an order with Reef Casa for a macro-algae keeper for the refugium, along with a lid for the rear chambers, hoping to streamline cleaning of the refugium and to reduce the growth of GHA back there. 
 

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banasophia

Thanks, Deb! Hank says hi!! 
 

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Just got the refugium caddy and lid for the rear chambers yesterday… need to pop by the LFS to pick up some macro algae. I may try chaeto this time since the caddy should contain the strands so they can’t break if and get into the third chamber with the pump. 
 

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  • 1 month later...

I have really enjoyed reading through your journal. What a lovely nano aquarium you have. Just subscribed to your YouTube channel too. 🙂

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banasophia
10 hours ago, Airedale.Reef said:

Did you get the refugium set up? Beautiful tank! 

 

4 hours ago, KevMax said:

I have really enjoyed reading through your journal. What a lovely nano aquarium you have. Just subscribed to your YouTube channel too. 🙂

Thanks so much, guys! 
 

The Nova refugium light was working great, and I had amphipods galore living in the back chamber, but just yesterday I made the decision that I really need a skimmer for my tank rather than a refugium, so I decided to switch things up.
 

Getting ready for work right now, so I’ll have to tell you more about my decision tonight. 

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