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About MKramer

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  1. Err, I was wrong, it's 25W, made by Hagen. I don't know how small you were looking for, but this one's about 6" it has three or four pre-set temperatures. I use the lowest one, and it keps a 2.5g tank at 78, always, even when the room temp drops to 55 (damn unheated room). But the submerged filter pump probably helps generate some of the heat in that sitaution, too. And I think it was $10 at PetSmart.
  2. I have a tiny little 15W I got from PetSmart that consistently holds my betta/neon tank at 78. Unfortuantely, I don't remember the manufacturer, I'll have to look when I get home.
  3. I always regret not having a bigger sump. That, and I really wish I had gone for a shallower tank with more floor area (have a 29g standard now).
  4. I think you underestimate the surface area of live rock. When it comes to the filtration benefits of macros, though (and nutrient export IS a method of filtration), surface area is not what matters. It's the rate of photosynthesis, as that regulates the algae's uptake rate of all other nutrients, and thus its growth. The amount of macro growth you harvest in a month removes only a fraction of the nutrients that 10% weekly water changes could remove. Or the DOCs that regular protein skimming would have removed before they even had a chance to decompose in ammonias, phosphates, and whatever other grunge might have been stored in them. Obviously, it all depends on the size of the fuge and the amount of sand/rock/macros you can stuff in it. Ultimately, I think there are much better ways to supplement your filtration than a fuge. However, they still serve wonderfully what the task they're named for: providing a refuge for microfauna. And the microfauna, in turn, provide a number of benefits to the system. So, in my opinion, the best fuge is one with rocks and non-caulerpa macro algae. Not because of the nutrient export capabilities of algae, but solely for the benefits of having algaes on a reverse photoperiod form the rest of the tank, lower CO2, higher O2, and more stable pH.
  5. I agree, looks like diatoms. Unsped, while I agree that a small fuge worth of sand or rock is pithy compared to the filtration capability of the main tank, really, the same could be said for a small fuge worth of macroalgae.
  6. Basically, a sandbed with algae gives you additional filtration (from the sand), and nutrient export (the macro algae that you periodically trim back). In addition, if you light this tank when the main tank is dark (ie, a Reverse Photosynthesis Device), it will help keep your pH and oxygen levels stable throughout the night. Adding liverock allows for additional biological filtration, but at this point, you've probably got more than enough between your main tank's rock, and the all the sand. However, it also provides a safe breeding ground for various microfauna, such as copepods. This is the definition of a refugium, as it provides a refuge for animals that would be instant-snacks in your main tank. Instead, they get to grow out safely here, and will only slowly move into the main tank through the plumbing (unless you manually transfer them). So ones with rock are actually more beneficial than without, but they may not be benefits you're particularly concerned with. Hope that helps.
  7. Color me ignorant, but there's a difference? Last I knew, 'fuge' was just shorthand for 'refugium.' Where a refugium is primarily a place to allow the uninhibited growth of microfauna. But they are also convinent for additional filtration, along the lines of sandbeds and macroalgae for nutrient export.
  8. Carrie, It's safe to assume your cycle is done, for the most part. Ammonia and nitrites will continue to oscillate for a little while, as the bacteria population go through its growth booms and die-offs, seeking a population level that can be maintained by the amount of ammonia produced in your tank. As another person said, the credit for the short, despite drastic, cycle you experienced is the quality of the LR. Essentially, it came with a large enough bacteria colony still surviving to process the immense amounts of ammonia produced by the other decomposing organics. To contrast, LR that's been in a holding tank for 4 weeks, after having dried out for days, will have a rather puny remaining population of our friendly bacteria, do to the lack of food for them. When we put it in our tanks, it takes a while for the existing bacteria colony to grow to the size necessary to process all the ammonia in the water. Then it gets interesting, because they go through such a growth boom, that they deplete all the available ammonia in the water, and large portion of the population dies, due to lack of "food." But the ammonia continues to be produced, so the bacteria population must again grow. Then die. Again, and again, each time a little less drastically, until the population is exactly the right size to consume the ammonia at the rate it's produced. This is why people observe that even once their ammonia is unmeasurable, the tanks continue to cycle, with ammonia sometimes showing up again on test kits.
  9. Just a comment on the crushed coral harming sandbed fauna: I've never noticed crushed coral to be sharp, but it is definitely large and pokey (for lack of a better word). My rule of thumb is that animals who ingest sand (sea cukes, jawfish, etc.) should probably be avoided. But most others are fine. Just my half inch of CC is teeming with breeding mini-stars and bristle worms, and quite a few nassarius snails.
  10. Personally, I prefer bare bottom. Easy to clean, doesn't trap detritus, and doesn't allow for pockets of toxic substances. I know some people think it's unattractive, but with a little patience, you can have the bottom glass covered with mushrooms or green star polyps, if you'd rather. All that said, in my latest tank I went with a very thin layer of crushed coral, for reasons involving a significant other's asthetic ideals. I can still very easily sift through it and stir it up, to get detritus out, but it doesn't blow around under the high currents in the tank, like most finer substrates would. A lot of people claim that sandbeds are required for good denitrification, but the fact is that the live rock alone is more than sufficient. And it does provide the anoxic regions where nitrate processing occurs. A DSB does provide more, and much more anaerobic regions (important mostly for processing of unwanted minerals), but they come with significant risk and an expiration date. But with a little maintenance effort, a substrate-less tank is just as healthy, and much more consistent in performance. Or, at least, that's my opinion on it all.
  11. Maybe someone was just 'fishing' for a reaction?
  12. The water in my 5g rose anemone tank hasn't been changed in about 3 months, and everyone's looking great. Even more amazing is that I only have two snails and a hermit (plus a small hitchhiker cerith and a bunch of tiny limpits). No skimming, no additives. I credit a lot of it to the massive army of bristleworms that come out at feeding, the fact I only feed every other week (yes, week), and a good amount of macroalgae that hitchiked (Ulva and Halimeda var). I've had this tank running for a year and a half now. I certainly don't advocate not changing water, and I have other tanks that I couldn't get away with it for so long. But sometimes you just put together a tank that balances out perfectly. As for keeping it healthy, definitely trim back the macros periodically. Watch for coral polyps that don't open all the way anymore, or that take longer than usually to open after lights-on. Testing from time to time wouldn't be bad, at least for pH and Alk, if not Nitrates. I test about once a month, just to make sure I don't have an impending disaster.
  13. Depending on the condition of your liverock, life could show up within 5 days, or 30. It's heard to say. Remove the sponge from your filter, though. You want bacteria to live on your rocks, not the sponge. As for good, reasonable skimmers, the cheapest I'd bother to recommend is a CPR BakPak, but I'd prefer an AquaC Remora (or Urchin, if you have a sump). But they do cost a good bit more than the cheap skimmers. Premixed sand (assuming "live" sand in a sealed bag) is fine for bacteria growth, but lacks a lot of the other critters that makes livesand so wonderful. Add in a pound or two of really live stuff. I usually go to a couple fish stores and just ask for a cup of the sludge from the bottom of their LR tanks. They'll usually give it to me for free.
  14. I should have said that stirring *accelerates* the clumping. Addition of calcium to the aquarium is what causes it. When stirred, the freshly exposed aragonite surfaces bind with whatever calcite might be in the water. If you don't have calcite in the water, it's not possible for clumps to form, no matter how much aragonite you expose. Hence, the success in the brackish systems you mention. To that end, I'm also a fan of stirring sandbeds in reef tanks, for reasons of buffering, and to prevent detritus build-up. Which is why I'm very careful about how much calcium I introduce to the tank, and the method I use for it.
  15. They be hairy (Actinodiscus) mushrooms. The primary difference between them and ricordea are that actinodiscus shrooms have tiny wart-like tentacles, which can elongate (making "hairy" specimens), but do not have the characteristic swollen tip that ricordea tentacles have. There are other differences, but that's the quick identifier easiest for most. Rhodactus shrooms can sometimes be called hairy as well, but they almost always have a strip of no tentacles between the outer edge tentacles and the main disc of tentacles.