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  1. Hi folks! I am here to share my nano with you. I've been in and around aquariums for much of my life (mostly as an admirer of other people's systems), but this is the first tank I've ever set up and managed entirely by myself, so I am still very much an amateur. In early November of 2018 I started lurking on nano-reef and a few other forums, and soon got the itch to start a tank of my own. After doing a lot of research I decided to set up a small system to display some of the species that I remember from my childhood in the Caribbean. I resolved that if I could keep the system going with no major disasters for a period of 90 days, I would go ahead and start a journal to share it with you guys. And so here we are - my first fill was three months ago today! So, here it is! Most recent FTS is at top; the FTS included with my original post is underneath. 4/3/2019 3/15/2019 My goal from the beginning was to create a simple and easy-to-maintain ecosystem that features species from Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. I wanted to run it as "natural" as possible, with as little equipment as I could get away with. So far I think I've done a pretty good job of meeting those goals. Here are the specs: Tank: 18g Cobalt C-Vue AIO aquarium (with stand) Lighting: Kessil A80 Tuna Blue w/Kessil X Spectral Controller Heater: Cobalt Neo-Therm 75w Circulation: Cobalt Mini MJ606 return pump (~160gph) and EcoTech Marine VorTech MP10 wavemaker Mechanical filtration: pair of stock filter socks ATO: Tunze Nano 3152 Refugium: InTank 'fuge basket with Chaetomorpha sp., lit by a GEM5 LED grow strip from Santa Monica Filtration Nothing fancy here, that's for sure! Maintenance is very simple as well; I haven't been dosing anything, and I do a 15% (~2 gal) water change once a week. As for stocking, I started off with 10 lbs. of uncured live rock straight out of the Gulf of Mexico (gulfliverock.com) and 20 lbs. of CaribSea West Caribbean Reef live sand. December 2018 I am very wary of overstocking, so I have tried to keep things as simple as possible. My stocking was very gradual; I didn't even add fish until the tank was about two and a half months old. Here's what I've got in there right now: (This stocklist will be updated periodically to reflect the tank's current inhabitants) Motile inverts: Dwarf and Florida Cerith, Planaxis, Virgin Nerite, and Nassarius snails Caribbean porcelain crab Chocolate brittle star (color morph of the red brittle star, Ophiocoma wendtii) Limpets (hitchhikers) Other inverts: Caribbean mushrooms (Discosoma carlgreni and D. neglecta) Ricordea florida Purple plume gorgonian (Muriceopsis flavida) Zoanthids Stony corals (Stephanocoenia intersepta and Phyllangia americana) Various hitchhikers (colonial tunicates, encrusting sponges, micro feather dusters, tiny brittle stars, bristle worms, Aiptasia, etc.) Fish: Masked gobies (Coryphopterus personatus) (2) Macroalgae: Botryocladia sp. (hitchhiker) Galaxaura rugosa Gracilaria hayi Halimeda sp. Penicillus dumetosus Rhipocephalus phoenix Udotea flabellum All very simple and easy-to-maintain inverts and fish, as you can see. I can't even really call it a reef, since the only few corals I have are nearshore Caribbean species that came in on my live rock! Here are a few more photos. I apologize once again for the low quality >< View from the left-hand side: One of my forbidden Caribbean SPS corals ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am fairly sure this one is the Blushing Star Coral, Stephanocoenia intersepta. The lovely red macro at the top is Galaxaura rugosa. Purple plume gorgonians (Muriceopsis flavida). I chose this species because it is hardy and quite rigid, as there is not a lot of space for more whiplike gorgs to blow around in my tank. I originally only wanted one, but the "medium" specimen I ordered from kpaquatics.com ended up being more than nine inches tall, so I had to cut it into three pieces to fit it into my tank. So now I have three of them! ^^ Zoanthids and some of my plain-old turquoise ricordea, with a masked goby in the background. A monster Aiptasia anemone is visible on the right as well. Above the blue zoanthid on the central rock you can see another of my SPS corals. I am not sure about the ID on that one as it is still quite small; it may be a young colony of Oculina. (Edit 4/6/19: This is not actually Oculina but rather the Hidden Cup Coral, Phyllangia americana.) Here is one of my favorites: a giant fish-eating mushroom (Discosoma neglecta). When fully expanded it is more than three inches across, and I hear they get much bigger! I am not sure about the ID on the pretty red macro on the left; it started growing spontaneously on the substrate. It has soft feathery branches and seems to prefer fairly strong light and water movement. So far I have had no major disasters (knocking on all available wood), but small setbacks have certainly occurred. My tank has almost every type of aquatic pest you can imagine, including hair algae, cyanobacteria, bryopsis, Aiptasia, bubble algae, Dictyota, and more! So far none of these things have reached plague proportions, largely thanks to Cerith snails and diligent manual removal, and most of the nuisance algae is now in decline. Cyanobacteria growing on the substrate and glass continues to be a problem, but I think it is only a matter of time before that one gets beat as well. I also have had some problems keeping crustaceans alive in my system, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. I've tried a number of times to keep peppermint shrimp as a control for my Aiptasia, but they always seem to lose equilibrium and randomly die after only a few days in the tank. Even hardy hermit crabs don't last very long, with most of them slowing down gradually as time goes by, until they simply stop moving and die. A few have even exited their shells and wandered around naked for awhile before kicking the bucket. I'm a bit perplexed by this weird behavior, especially since everything else in the tank seems to be doing pretty well, but I have a few theories; perhaps there is a problem with heavy metals entering the tank somehow (copper, lead, etc.), or maybe some kind of allelopathic voodoo released by the soft corals or red macros is at work. I added some carbon this morning, so I will run the tank on that for a week or so and then perhaps try adding another shrimp. Anyway, It's definitely been a learning process, but that's about what I've got right now! Thank you very much for visiting my journal, and thanks to each and every one of you for creating this wonderful community. This is my first post, but believe me when I say that I have already learned a whole heck of a lot from you guys. I look forward to being a part of the community! (And also to getting a better camera!) Cheers!
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