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Twan's NanoCustoms 3.24 12g

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I first started this post in beginers discussion and as I progress I have decided to make a thread here that one can follow as a journal. I will now post the backlog of the tank by date.




I posted what I was looking for and got some feedback here:



From there I decided that a nano-customs 3.24 system was perfect for me ( http://nanotuners.nanocustoms.com/nanotune...products_id=280 ).

I added some equipment items from drfostersmith then ordered a nanopack of live rock from LiveAquarium ( http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_Di...cfm?pCatId=1949 ). Two of the pieces were too awkwardly shaped for the aquascape I wanted to try so I gave them to a friend.





Tank Left



Tank Right



Top Down






PH - 8.0

Nitrite - .5

Nitrate - 2.5

Ammonia - No idea, not to scale

SG - 1.026 measure with a portable refractometer that was calibrated with distilled water.


7/25/06 1.5 Week Update



Ok small update. Its been 1.5 weeks since startup. White growth (dieoff) has stopped. Some areas are coming back in deep red. The new development which you will see in the pics is a growth of brown algea on the rocks, sand and lower glass. Diatoms I suspect.


Here are the parameters measured 1 day before this breakout:


Temp -80.2

ph - 8.0

amm - .25

trate- 25

trite - > 1

sg - 1.025


New FTS:



New Topdown:



Brown on rocks (you can also see some deep red coming back)



Brown on Sandbed:



8/4/2006 3 Week Update



Things I have done since last update:


1.) I have replaced the stock pump with the MJ900 and a HYDOR FLO. I can tell flow is getting into more areas that were stagnant before. Surface agitation is also up. Have not noted any decrease in temps due to swapping pumps as of yet.

HYDOR FLO fit perfect with one of the provided adapters. I did not have to use teflon tape. The HYDOR FLO does not produce micro-bubbles in my tank like some have experienced.


2.)Conducted tests again.

PH - 8.4 (up from 8.0)

Ammonia - trace (not .25 but not 0.0 either)

trite - .1 (finally came down from off the chart readings in the past)

trate - 50 (basically still off the chart)

SG - 1.025 (holding steady).


I was so glad to see some downward movement in the trite. Ammonia finally started its decline last week and now trite is following suit. Now for the trate to go down! I am not sure why or what implications of my PH swing from 8.0 to 8.4 is but I will keep tabs on it. Is it normal as you cycle for PH to go up? My plan is to monitor conditions over the next week(s). When I am able to hold zero's across the board for 1 week I will add some snails for the 1st part of my CuC. If all is well 1 week later I will add a cleaner shrimp.


3.) Still worried about heat cause the tank swings from 78.5 when I am home at night with the A/C pumping, up to 83.0 when I am at work and the windows are open, tank lid closed, ossilating fan in the room. Important to note that here in NY we had 3 consecutive days of 100deg weather. Taking this into consideration I am not going to buy an ICA chiller or anything of the sort till temps return to normal here in NY and I can get a grasp on "normal" operating temps.


4.) I purchased some Purigen to have on hand. Some swear by it some says it's junk but I got it on special. I will probably run this in chamber one after cycle sitting atop the sole sponge I left in there (gets changed weekly the sponge).


5.) I purchased some small tubing and a gang valve. I am all ready for drip acclimation fuss free.


6.) I finally set up my light timing so right now the two 10k bulbs run from 7pm till 11pm. The single actinic comes on at 6pm and goes off at 12pm (starts 1 hour earlier and runs one hour later). This simulates the dusk/dawn effect. Moonlights and fans are on 24/7.


7.) Purchased a long handle algae scraper and gave the glass a good cleaning. Previous I was only using the mag-float that came with the tank. That doesn't cut it too well. Lots of brown that I didnt even notice on the glass is now off. You can really tell a difference in tank clarity now.


8.) I decided to pull the aquascape away from the sides and back wall to make cleaning easier. One rock I turned over. One rock came to the left side from the right. This is my final scape and will stay this way. See pics below:





FTS Closer



Tank Left



Tank Right



Top Down



Future to do list:

- Test switching one or both fans so they blow out instead of in to see if it helps my temps at all. Maybe replacing them both with Vantech fans.

- Deciding about fuge lighting (galaxy light? / DIY home depot? / submered LEDS?)

- Continue waiting for cycle to end.

- Test all parameters again in 4 days.

- Purchase a "nimble" glass cleaner.




Update Time - 4 weeks since cycle began


Well here are the tests:

PH - 8.2

Ammonia - 0.0

trite - .05 trace

trate - 50 (basically still off the chart)

SG - 1.025 (holding steady).

Temp 80.7

Alk - in normal range on my red sea test


8/15/2006 4 week update


So it's 4 weeks and I wanted to add a Clean Up Crew but my nitrate is sky high.

Time to take some action. This is what I did:

1.)Lighting only with actinics for 4hrs a day not daylight bulbs to try to stop any algae growth.

2.)25% water change


One day after the water change I tested all parameters again and nitrate is down to 20. Some progress. Here are my options as I see it:


-Remove the sole sponge I have in chamber 1 because it maybe trapping nitrates (I rotate and clean it every week right now) ?


-Add the purigen I have to chamber 1?


-Do another water change this week?


-Scrape the possible red slime / cyno algae off my top rock manually because it maybe screwng up my nitrate?


-Buy the proper light and cheato and start my refugium in chamber 2 right away?


-Sit and do nothing for the next week and hope the cycle finally does end?


8/18/06 5th Week Update



Completed my refugium lighting. I used this light here:



Here is a picture of the light itself and the box it came in:



I planned to attach the light to the back of the tank with velcro tape. Here is the light fixture with velcro added:



Here is a shot of the rear of the tank after measuring up, cutting the vinyl and attaching the opposite end of the velcro tape. I made the cut out low on the tank to avoid any kind of spillover by having the refugium light mounted too high:



Here is a shot of the light mounted up against the tank nice and tight, held on by the velcro tape:



This shot shows the minimal spillover from the top of the light (none from the sides):



This shot shows how light enters the chamber from the rear. No spillover, sucess!



8/25/2006 6th Week Update


I added the Super Nimble from Jerome at http://www.nimblenano.com/ Great product. My inside glass have never looked cleaner and I am able to get to every part of my glass. It's good in tight spaces. Thumbs way up for this product.


I received a calcium test kit that I will start using when I add some livestock.


I also received an ebo-jager 50w heater as a backup heater to have on hand if anything was to go bad with the one in the tank. For now I will use it to heat the water I use when doing water changes. For the time being the WC water and the tank water have been close enough that I havent needed to heat it. Also there is no livestock in the tank so adding proper temperature water hasn't been an issue. It will in the coming weeks so this purchase was in preparation for doing temperature correct water changes.


I performed a 20% waterchange on friday after nitrates were still hovering in the 20ppm range. I will test nitrates again this evening and perform another 20% WC if neccesary. I have purigen on hand. I have been reluctant to add it to the tank still. I want to get the tank just right before adding any type of chemical filtration. I am still hoping to add my clean up crew right after Labor Day weekend if I can get a handle on these stuborn nitrates.


Here is an updated FTS:


Edited by twan

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Great looking setup!


Im glad to see someone else using the same fuge light I used. Mine is still duct taped to the back of the tank. I might have to steal your velcro tape idea. :D

Edited by justin81

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Ok, for the first test run on the fuge light it was running opposite of tank lighting.

I left the plexiglass in place.

I came home and it had been running for about 13hrs.

The fixture itself was hot to the touch, very hot.

Tank temps increased 1.5 deg.

Not good as I usually run 80-81.5deg.

I will try blowing a fan towards the back area of the tank and remove the plexiglass from the inside of the fixture to see if it helps any. If not I may need to remove and only run 1 of the 2 bulbs.

If that doesnt work I may have to only run 1 of the 2 bulbs and also rig up a PC fan inside the fixture.



Testing it today with a fan blowing at the light fixture on the back of the tank. Plexiglass removed, both bulbs still in. I'll see what temps are like when I get home this evening.



Great looking setup!


Im glad to see someone else using the same fuge light I used. Mine is still duct taped to the back of the tank. I might have to steal your velcro tape idea. :D


Thanks for the compliments. Yes the velcro tape will make it more secure.

I hope I can get a handle on the heat this thing generates. The tank being in my bedroom I was really hoping I could mount it right up to the glass succesfully so there would be no spillover light into the room (so I can sleep well).


Looks good.. As for the hydroflo.. how much modification did it take for it to work?


None at all. I removed the duckbill (stock) , found the proper fitting the hydor came with (there are 4 or 5 to test fit) and snapped it into place. Some people have some slippage in the connection. If you do just add some teflton tape to the fitting to make it fit more snug.

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6.5 Week Update


Fan blowing directly at the light fixture on the back of the tank.

Plexiglass removed.

Both bulbs still in.

Temps are now stable.

If I put the plexiglass back in or turn off the fan blowing on it tank temps go up 1.2-1.5deg over a 13hr period and the light back is hot to the touch. Danger!

Its not a problem for me at the moment cause there was tower fan located right next to the tank stand in my bedroom anyway similar to this: http://www.comparestoreprices.co.uk/images...ote-control.jpg

Without the fan blowing on it..........I would not be able to run this fixture.

For the future, tower fan turns on when fuge light turns on.



Temp -80.2

ph - 8.4

amm - 0

trite- 0

triate - 10ish

sg - 1.025

Finally nitrate is getting lower!


Chaeto and LR rumble should be here early next week from Pufferpoison:



I plan to order my CUC the day I receive my package my chaeto from Aquatic Island: http://www.aquaticisland.com/index.php?mai...p;products_id=3


Things are finally starting to come together! I am anxious after no life in the tank for 6.5 weeks.

Edited by twan

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Testing water parameters and performing my 15% WC in prep for my clean up crew and chaeto that should both arrive tomorrow.




ph - 8.4

amm - 0

trite - 0

trate- 10

sg - 1.025

alk - not tested

cal - not tested



Added Purigen to chamber 1. This with the chaeto arriving tomorrow should bring my nitrates closer to zero. I also picked up a calcium test kit but did not perform the test.



9/8/06 8 week Update


Big day today. My clean up crew arrived from Aquatic Island and cheato arrived from Pufferpoison. Both came boxed well and I was excited to get started right after work.


Let's start with the cheato.


Thermo's it came in:



Giving it a quick rinse with my tank water in another container I was also acclimating my clean-up-crew in:



Placed in chamber 2:



I would feel comfortable ordering from puffer again.


Now lets get onto the CuC From AI.


According to the website, here's what you should get versus what came in my order. I understand that they send extra incase some are DOA. None of mine were DOA so they all went in for now. I think it's too much so I will be giving a friend of mine 1 of the 3 Margarita's and 3 of my 8 hermits.


Whats advertised / What actually came

20 Nassarius Vibex snails / 25 Nassarius Vibex snails

5 Red Tipped hermits / 8 Red Tipped hermits

5 Cerith snails / 8 Cerith snails

2 Margarita snails / 3 Margarita snails



Box it shipped in:



Margarita on back wall:



Hermit surrounded by cerith’s:



Nass taking ride on Hermit:



Some life in the tank, finally! I didn’t acclimate them as they shipped dry. All I did was place some tank water in another container, place all my CuC in there, then take them one at a time and swish them around to blow off anything on their shells then placed them into the aquarium. Nothing went wrong. I do still think I have 1 too many Margarita's and a few too many hermits. This is what I think of the types after 3 days of observation.

The margarita's are pretty big. They like the glass and the back wall. I probably only need 2 of these so 1 is going to a friend. The nass quickly went right into the sandbed. Hope they are having fun down there. The cerith's are a bit lazy, not sure what area they are gonna attack if any. The hermit's are all over the place, very active.



So the CuC and cheato was in for 2 days and I thought it a good time to re-test my params.





ph - 8.4

amm - 0

trite - 0

trate- 5 (down from 10 three days ago)

sg - 1.025

alk - not tested

cal - not tested


Looking pretty good now. I am happy. Guess the chaeto and Purigen are goin to work on my nitrates. I would love to see zero next time I test. My next plans for this tank are to choose if I want to start with a fish first or corals first. I’m taking it slow so Ill make the move in about 2 weeks as long as all parameters continue to stay in check.


To close lets compare a FTS just as the CuC was added versus a FTS giving the CuC three days to do their thing. A lot of the red slime or possibly cyno that I had is mostly gone.



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9/15/06 9 week Update


This also marks 7 Days after cheato + clean up crew added.




ph - 8.4

amm - 0

trite - 0

trate- 0 (woot finally)

sg - 1.025

alk - 1.6 top end of the low section

calcium - not tested


Random Concerns / Notes over last week:


Finally 0 nitrates! Yes!


Alk lookes a little low. Its hard to tell with this Red Sea test kit. The reading was in the upper portion of the lowest bracket. I should get a seperate alk test kit and do this over.


I took a look at my calcium test kit. I will be testing for sure before I get my 1st coral.


Nice to have some life in the tank. I noticed a barnacle looking thing on one of the margarita's that actually has what looked like a feather duster living inside. Its very small and I have seen it pop out only three times. On a sad note one hermit actually killed a nass and took his shell (even though I have emptys in the tank for them to move into). :o


Friend still has not come over to thin out my CuC. I will be giving him 1 of my 3 margaritas, 3 of my 8 hermits and probably 3 of my 8 ceriths.


With the clean up crew picking stuff off the rocks the tank was a constant mess visually. Lots of stuff floating around that accumulated in the 8 weeks before they were added. One day before my last water change I turkey basted all the debris off the rocks and let a sponge in chamber one get it all. Water column looks a lot better now. It was mostly sand that was on the rocks getting thrown about as the CuC moved it about during their grazing.


The cheato from puffer that I have in chamber two is looking great with my fuge lighting. I do want to keep it in chamber two though. For now I have a small piece of sponge wedged into the slot between 2 and 3. My next project is to get some gutter screening and egg crate and fashion a rectangular cylinder for chamber two. This will keep the cheato in its place and also allow me to neatly pull the entire portion of chaeto out for pruning and or turning.


I hope to add a cleaner shrimp in about a week.

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9/21/06 10 week Update - Cheato Pruning, New snails, Corals & more!


Ok buckle in this is going to be a rather large update.


1.) My friend finally came by and thinned out my CuC. My final numbers I am left with is 1 Margarita, 5 Scarlet Hermits, 5 ceriths, 18 nass vibex.


2.) A local reefer (JF2381) who I picked up some corals from also gave me 2 new snails. I think he said they were some kinda pods? An internet search leads me to believe they are Chitons. Apparently they are beneficial to have. If someone can chime in to confirm/deny please do. Below is a pic:



3.) Water changes have been 2g a week.


4.) I saw some brown buildup on top of my cheato and thought it time to rotate and trim it. I still need to mock up a sleeve to better hold the cheato. Thats coming soon. As you can see its almost tripled in size in 2 weeks if you refer to an earlier pic of it. Guess this is whats sucking up whatever nitrates I had leftover after cycle:



5.) I previously was leaning towards getting a cleaner shrimp this week but instead, a local reefer hooked me up with my 1st coral frags at some good prices so I went for it. I got 5 pieces in total. One looks like its gonna be a goner but the other 4 are wonderful. I am wondering if its still ok to add a cleaner shrimp this week or hold off. See post below for new FTS, coral pics with full lights and coral pics with actinics. If you made it this far without scrolling you are a patient person!!!!!!! The zoo that is not pictured has not opened and is a purple zoo with 10 tiny tiny polyps that is the size of a quarter. Still holding onto it in hopes it will make it through. Here is some drip acclimation action:



9/21/06 Coral Full Light Pics



New updated FTS:



Brown Zoo Colony With Orange and Green Centers, 50+ Polyps!



Lime Zoo, Neon Skirt, 21 Polyps



Blue Florida Ricordia



3 Blue Mushrooms





9/21/06 Coral Actinics Pics


FTS with actinics



Brown Zoo Colony with actinics



Lime Zoo, hint of purple around mouth with actinics



Blue Florida Ricordia with actinics



3 Blue Mushrooms with actinics


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With my view to reply ratio I am thinking either

1.) my posts are too long

2.) I am not making any gross errors to warrant replies

3.) I am not doing anything remarkable to warrant replies.


I think its a combination of all 3!

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you look as though you have a grerat start, keep it up.

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Looks like you have things thought out. I personally would have kept the margaritas as they are a coldwater species and dont live that long in the reef enviroment and are very good algae/detritus eaters. I would kept maybe 2-3 hermits, as red legs are more aggressive than scarletts and blue legs, but so far I have lost 3 snails to my hermits. Hermits are really only good for hair algae, and even when I had it they didnt do anything. You almost have to starve them to get them to eat it, because I was feeding my cleaner shrimp pellets and they were eating those. Otherwise, your tank looks really good.

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Awesome tank and great progress updates!


I'm in a similar boat with a fairly new tank (20G Cube) and I just minutes ago ordered the "Free" CUC and also a Cleaner Shrimp.


The frags you got look great and once you start getting color and corraline algae on your LR then your tank will look great!


Look forward to the future updates and progress *bookmarked*.

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9/21/06 Almost 11 week Update


1.) All tests remain in check. Still doin weekly 2g changes (16%).


2.) I noticed a small thin white worm, or possibly 2 of them in and around my zoa's. They don't seem to be harming them in any way but I would love to know what they are. I can't seem to get a good pic of them.


3.) I moved the ricordia to another spot where it gets less flow. It has really opened up much nicer. (see pic below)


4.) When moving the ricordia as normal it closed up for a few hours. When it did I was able to observe a small feather duster on the rock it came with. Looks really neat but does not extend out that far. (see pic below)


5.) The zoa (purple bullseye?) that I thought was a goner is actually 1/2 way opened. I hope it continues to improve. (see pic below)


6.) I purchased a tiny cleaner shrimp for my tank. My GF named him Al..........since I am "al"-ergic to shellfish. Get it?!?! Heh! (see pic below)



Red Feather Duster Found:



Improving Zoa:



Ric in new spot, better flow, opened big:



The star of the tank, Al:



Updated FTS:


Edited by twan

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Thanks quy_nquyen. Today I am goin to a LFS store to get some mysis and a syringe. I am told that while my zoa's and mushroom's may not need it the ricordia can benefit greatly from them and my cleaner would love it.

Edited by twan

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Your cleaner shrimp is awesome I need to see it in person.

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Feeding the cleaner shrimp and ricordia with baby mysis has been touchy (even with a syringe). A little goes a long way and I am going to reserve feeding mysis to coincide with my water changes. Right now the cleaner and the ric get clyclopeeze every other day and mysis once a week.


I used some gutter screaning (plastic) to make a sleeve for chamber 2 to keep my chaeto where it belongs. I can post a pic if people are interested.


I have a hawaiian feather duster coming today.


I am on the lookout for a true percula clown.


I moved the zoa's around a little bit and they are a ###ed at me. Hopefully all polyps open 2nite.

Edited by twan

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My zoas came with a tiny brittle star. Could be what you are seeing.

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10/06/06 13 week Update


Cheato growth is out of control. What I did was take one of the bulbs out of my fixture and I am running 9w now instead of 18w on the cheato. Hopefully this will also make my temps more stable but still grow decent amounts of cheato (tank was at its warmest with fuge light on and tank lights off). I was able to use the gutter screening to block my chaeto as well. The piece cost me about $2.55 from Home Depot and I only used 1/2 of it.



Measure twice, cut once:






I was also able to witness both of my stomatella snails release eggs/sperm from the high point in my rock-work. They came out of hiding about 20mins after the daylights went off. They both went to the top of the rockwork and began releasing what I think to be eggs/sperm. There was two distinctive types of "discharge".

It was really neat to see. It lasted for about 30mins or so. Not sure if any would ever survive. I dont have fish but im willing to bet my snails/hermits/shrimp got em. We'll see I guess.


Money Shot:



I added a feather duster two nights ago that a friend included for me on his order from LiveAquaria. It's pretty a nice one but pretty big. It did not come attached to any rock work. I acclimated it by temp only then dropped it in. Usually I would drip acclimate all my stuff but the water in the bag was very dirty and I wanted to get it out ASAP into a fresh environment. I placed the base in the sand and snaked the tube up along the rockwork. Not sure if this is its final placement. Also at lights out last night a nass vibex snail got a hold of one of the pieces of the duster. I knocked him off right away. Not sure if they will cause harm to it at all with how I have it placed. If anyone has opinions on whether my Nass Vibex snails will hurt the feather duster please let me know and I will place it away from rock-work.


Left Side:



Straight on:



Nass harrasing:



Updated FTS 10/06/06:


Edited by twan

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Your blue Ric is awesome. I also like that group of brown Zoos, I think something like them should be my next addition.

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awesome pictures! looking at you duster makes me want to get one too :happy:

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Your blue Ric is awesome. I also like that group of brown Zoos, I think something like them should be my next addition.


Thank you thank you! I love ric's too. Sadly I just missed out on a lot of 15 different rics sold on a local forum for 125$ picked up, woulda loved to start a ric garden.


awesome pictures! looking at you duster makes me want to get one too :happy:


Thank you thank you! And to think they are taken with a 3 year old 3.1MP camera!

If you get a duster my advice would be to hand pick one smaller then mine. Having one my size in a nano I am starting to 2nd guess.



I am still looking for a baby true perc with good color in my area, its hard :angry:

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10/06/06 13.5 week Update





ph - 8.4

amm - 0

trite - 0

trate- 0

sg - 1.023

alk - 1.6 top end of the low section

calcium - not tested



Time to get serious with corals! I added a four headed hammer, gsp, xenia, and 4 new zoa's! I'd like to thank Rob from Alti's Reef for giving me some good prices on some great looking frags. I will definitely buy more corals from him in the future. While this is more then I would have wanted to add all at once he had alot of nice things I couldn't say no to. All the zoa's were floated and then dumped into the tank. The xenia, hammer and GSP were floated then dripped for 30mins. They are all doing well and opening nice.


I did (as I talked in a previous post) remove 1 of the 2 lights from my fuge light. It has helped stabilize my temps even more. I flux now from 80.0 to 81.2. Thats a 1.2 degree change total. With both lights on in the fuge I would shoot up to 82deg. So removing 1 of 2 bulbs helped stabilize my temps from a 2deg swing down to a 1.2deg swing.........will it still provide enough for chaeto growth? I think so, it's 9w there now instead of 18w but I think the 18w was too much to begin with anyway. I will measure up chaeto growth tomorrow when I do a water change.


No more plans for corals. Next step is finding a true percula.


Here are my 4 new zoa's. A pink zoa with grey skirt, a teal zoal with grey skirt, watermelon zoa's and a frag of horizons:



Here is the xenia. It started pumping only 15minutes after it was acclimated. It is one stalk but has two others "jutting" off of it:



Here is my 4 headed hammer. I like its placement aesthetically but not sure if it likes the flow in the area. Time will tell:



Here is the GSP under normal lighting:



Here is the GSP under actinic lighting:



And to close here is a new FTS:


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