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About mcarroll

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    Northern Virginia
  • Interests
    Anything related to nature....I do aquariums, and gardens. I also love to cook and bake. I specialize in using fresh-ground flour for everything I bake – not always easy, but it packs in the nutrients. Last, I also help school my kid. :)
  1. The salinity spike on top of a bad (ie too low) nutrient situation was the combined problem for your critters. My system creeped up to 1.030 a few years ago... the algae mix in my system shifted as a result, including a first-ever algae bloom, and hasn't been the same since. This was in a mature system full of stony corals too... super-high salinity is bad. I'd consider dosing phosphates until they stop registering zero on tests....your corals will see an immediate benefit. If you've removed the foundation problem (nutrient stripping media/additives) then the skimmer should be a benefit to the tank via aeration. Skimmers don't really do a whole lot of nutrient removal, depending on setup, and in spite of reputation. That is not something I would worry about.
  2. Tell us a little more about the tank. Nitrate and phosphate test results would be a great place to start. We also like to know the tanks age, etc. Anything you think might be of interest. 🙂
  3. Agreed! We gotta have "beginners mind" wherever possible in life, I say. 🙂 In addition, speaking for myself at least, I appreciate some healthy skepticism around adding fish to tanks. It could be said (and probably has been) that it takes a certain amount of expertise to be this much of a beginner. To that point, I'm amused that I amused @lkoechle. 😄 I'm also not just "someone", BTW, I'm mcarroll! 😎😉 I've been around here more than 5 min and know @clown79 at least a little bit. Mentioning "beginners" was for reference....it was my hope that this was obvious in the writing, but maybe hope in my writing is misplaced? Possible!! 😉😉 See? Nobody asserted undue beginner-ness on anyone. Just a harmless conditional statement to help explain what I meant by 'borderline' and 'IMO'. 😉🤣 I trust @clown79 too, but that has nothing to do with wether a given fish is right for a given tank. This is a little-known fish, so having a thread that aswers that question makes it a great thread! And the truth is, this conversation is for all beginners that come later and read the thread, regardless of who's present now. I like to consider that to the extent possible in most posts I make, so I often end up addressing beginner-dom in some way. 😉
  4. Pretty weird for nitrites or ammonia to be around long enough to see on a test kit if you added seasoned/mature live rock to the tank. How sure are you that the rock was "live" versus just "wet" when you added it to this tank? You mentioned the skimmer hadn't been running. Was the rest of the system running normally (flow, heat, et al) during these first three weeks? Can you take a water sample to your LFS to have them verify your test results...and maybe give you a reading on the phosphate level as well?
  5. Used rock and dead rock both are not the best way to start off then. Used is like you have experienced: usually some pest algae at minimum. Who knows what else! Starting with dead rock has it's own set of problems and is no kind of guarantee against pest organisms like algae. The worst pest algae outbreaks I've ever seen seem to all happen in dead rock tanks. (Other factors at work too.) If you want to take course of action that involves spending some money and a little bit of effort – but with the payoff of a healthy reef – then you wanna pick up at least a half-pound per gallon of display space of REAL ACTUAL live rock. At minimum, use fully aquacultured artificial rock....even if that is still a trade down from live rock, it's going to be much better than starting with dead rock IMO. Spending money and taking risks with bleach (generates toxins!) and acids (you lose rock!), et al, just doesn't seem like a sound course of action – neither in terms of safety for you, stability for your reef, or even for your pocketbook's well-being. After all, to make an example, a 10 gallon size (nominal) "The Package" from Tampa Bay Saltwater is only $155. Not sure why they call it "10 gallon" size since it comes with 20 pounds of live rock and 10 pounds of live sand....plus a more or less complete cleanup crew. I'd potentially use a combo like that to start anything up to 20 or 30 gallons or even more. You can also just order (e.g) 20 pounds of live rock, without all the extras, for only $100. (Shipping would be about +$90 on anything under 100 pounds.) I don't know what size tank you're starting, so those options may not fit your use-case, but they are options that would be worth their cost AND worth any added effort needed after the purchase too. So IMO, either stick with the old-school method of combining patience, observation time and elbow grease to make your new (used) rock acceptable, or sell it and use the proceeds toward buying yourself some new actually live from the ocean live rock. 20 pounds of Tampa Bay rock = $100 + $90 shipping = $190 - $(sale of used rock) = $$$BARGAIN$$$
  6. Never seen it in person, but judging from the pic it looks like it might be a little more homogenous than the CaribSea products (both of which I've used).
  7. I'd keep it empty, personally. If you put something down there I'd heed @Clown79's advice to put it in a bag (or something) to make it easy to remove for cleaning. But empty is better...plus you shouldn't need any extra media.
  8. For what it's worth, I would forego the elaborate cleaning rituals and go for a conservative, old-fashioned start. (Unless you can switch to actual live rock, in which case I'd advocate for changing over to that instead....then an old-fashioned start.) Start with the rock in a normally-functioning reef tank, but without adding lights. They come later on with the coral. If there's some pre-existing algae growth on the rock then keep a CUC during this phase....snails and hermits. You work with them to pick/remove any and all offending algae growth. Do water changes as needed, but don't do anything that would drive nitrates or phosphates down to zero. If they are both measuring low, then don't do any water changes. Once you're satisfied with the state of the rock, add light and corals. Make sure salinity, alkalinity and calcium are under control so that coraline algae will take over, and not something else. Without control on those three parameters, coraline is unlikely to prevail against hair algae and worse. Add corals up to your comfort level and allow at least a few weeks for the tank to stabilize before moving on to adding some fish. That way if you have to add more CUC or make any other changes, you'll have plenty of time to notice before fish....which will be another big change. When you add fish, try hard to add no more than one at a time, and again wait at least 3-4 weeks before adding the next batch to allow time for you to monitor the new addition(s) and make any compensatory changes to the system that might be needed. Add new CUC if needed. Add more corals if desired. Again, wait a few weeks if any new are added. Then add the next fish. Then wait some more. Etc. Until the tank is full. If you pace yourself successfully in a manner something like this, it's much harder to go wrong and much easier to make a course correction along the way than most of the conventional approaches.
  9. You have 1.5 pounds per gallon where you only need 1 pound or even less. It's not just the porosity of the rock – you literally have enough for two tanks! 😉
  10. Unless there's a reason to be in a hurry (let us know!), I'd just be patient and let your refugium mature until something becomes available.
  11. Unless it looks like it was collecting dirt while it was in there, it should be fine to use as-is. I wouldn't even rinse it off when I switched it to saltwater if it were me. Anything problematic (assuming the worst for no reason) is unlikely to survive the switch to seawater salinity. Most things living there should be useful vs harmful even if they were to survive into the reef though. On the other hand, if the media looks really dirty, rinse it off in some tank water and then use it. Still no worries. If it won't rinse clean, throw it out and get new. It's not worth a lot of bother.
  12. There's hardly anything more unnatural than a reef in water that flows in only one direction/in one pattern. On most reefs, the inflow and outflow of the tides create a strong shift in the overall current....usually creating currents in the opposite direction. IMO, if you aren't doing something to duplicate that strong two-way pattern in your reef, then you might be doing it wrong. 😉 If your sump outlets are on different pumps, I'd run just one at a time for around 3-4 hours before shutting it off and turning on the other pump/outlet for a similar amount of time. Each switch would be a total switch in currents moving through the tank....great for keeping detritus suspended AND for maximizing the effect of each head throughout the tank. Not much you can do if they're on one pump. As long as you're careful with redirecting the sump outlets and you don't end up with worse flow when you're done, then doing so may help....but not as much as putting a real rhythm into your flow. All it takes is (at least) two pumps and a pair of appliance timers (or better). The SCWD does something similar using only one pump if you can squeeze one of those into your config somehow.
  13. Love your tank....a classic good look!
  14. Without disagreeing, but to counter slightly...and without reference to anyone specifically... I do think there are A LOT OF TANKS out there that are filled with fish that ought not to be in them - based on size as well as other factors. If more folks went by more conservative size recommendations, then more folks would succeed more frequently than what we generally see. That's not to say riskier things "can't be done", such as putting a "30 gallon fish" into a 20 gallon tank, it's just to say those things are riskier. Beginners in this hobby, in far too many instances, don't seem to be appropriately risk-averse considering the wild-collected status of the animals we are usually talking about - this isn't the realm to be an Evel Knievel and test the limits. On the contrary, they deserve maximum focus on conserving their lives, if not even breeding them. If you are (or someone is) successfully aquaculturing the fish in question, then arguably maybe it's for experimentation like this, or even for food! If that's the case then Evel Knievel-away! Test those limits and take it to the next level!! :)
  15. I admit they look comfy enough in that video. So you have me intrigued. From guessing, that tank in the (first )video looks bigger than (3 x 25 = ) 75 gallons....if so then they should look pretty comfy. There isn't nearly as much swimming space in a 25 gallon. Nor a lot of hiding/sleeping space. In a tank that small both of those factors become very important to most fish....even more-so than in a larger tank. A clownfish in that size tank I can rationalize...they're very small and adapted to occupying small spaces...but I wonder about a five- or six-inch Anthias. There doesn't seem to be a lot (of interest) published about these (aka) Hawkfish Anthias in the lit., so I looked in my books..... "Coral Reef Fishes" by Lieske and Myers says they come from "caves and ledges of dropoffs at depths of 15 to 70 meters" and in groups....similar to how they describe some other Anthias. I didn't see any Anthias mentioned as occurring singly. "Marine Fishes" by Michael says 30 gallons for the minimum tank size, suggests 2-4 times per day feedings - sensible for a high-energy planktivore. Further, he indicates they might be happier in a dimly lit reef vs a high-intensity one - sensible considering their average depths noted above compared to the surface-orientation of "most" Anthias. Lastly he says they won't tolerate aggressive tank mates, and that he's seen them mostly in pairs or trios with one dominant (larger) individual, but in small tanks to keep them in singles. For comparison, 30 gallons is similar to Michael's space recommendation for the larger species of Clownfish. Smaller Clownfish species get a 20 gallon minimum tank recommendation. IMO 25 gallons for this Anthias (Serranocirrhitus latus) is borderline IMO: Doable if done right, but probably not a setup/fish for beginners. The pre-existing clowns and midas blenny are both potentially aggressive tank mates, especially at night when it comes to everyone jockeying for low-stress sleeping areas. But it could all work out too! Keep the lights on the low side! :)
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