What did I say about Jinxing the tank? Why, oh why, did I have to say that all the fish looked settled earlier on in the week?! That statement turned out to be the kiss of death because when I got up this morning one of the Red Spot Cardinalfish was gone. I checked carefully inside and outside of the tank for evidence of a body but couldn't find any. Yesterday it was absolutely fine, fat and healthy looking swimming along with its friends and today it's vanished. I can't say that I'm entirely surprised as I have read of this happening in many other reef tanks but after 7 trouble free weeks I was beginning to think that I was going to be lucky. There is a tiny voice at the back of my head shouting "but what if the Balanophyllia ate it?". I mean I add the coral and 3 days later a fish goes missing, what are the chances of that? I know it's unlikely but still I can't help but wonder. I really, really hope that I don't lose any more of my lovely Cardinals.
It's only taken me 4 months but I have finally managed to snap a shot of Gordon the Whitecap goby. It's not much of a shot but believe me it's waaaayyy better than anything else I've managed to take to date. At least he is recognisable as a fish and not just a white blob that could easily be mistaken for a grain of sand, lol!
He's a lot bolder these days and I generally get to see him and Al, his pistol shrimp buddy every day. They are most active towards the end of the day when the lights are going down but I do see Al (or more accurately Al's antennae and claws) at every feeding time. I don't really know what Gordon is eating, I occasionally see him take cyclops/Calanus and even a small pieces of Mysis if Al doesn't get to them first. I also see him strike at 'stuff' unearthed by the shrimp's digging activities so he must be finding tiny crustaceans to eat as well. Most of the time when when the rest of the fish are fed he's nowhere to be seen.
Now I just need to get a decent shot of Al too, this was the one and only shot from tonight's session. I'm embarrassed to post it, but hey you can tell there's a fish and a pistol shrimp in the shot right? :o)
I've been really pleased with the progression of the tank recently, the fish seem settled with no argy-bargy between them, coral colouration continues to improve with each week and things are generally looking healthy. I hope by saying that I've not just jinxed everything now.
As a consequence I have been on the look out for a few more corals to add a bit of extra interest to the tank. It's proven hard to source the last few bits from my wish list as they don't seem to be readily available or the pieces I've come across in the shops are just too big to squeeze in my tank. Regular readers (if there are any out there? Ha ha!) will know that I've been trying to stick to small frags so that I can enjoy watching them 'grow in', plus buying aquacultured corals has always got to be a good thing, right? After 7 months of keeping my eye out I resorted to shopping online (my second favourite pastime). I never thought I would actually take the chance of buying corals online but so far my experience of it has been all great with no losses to date.
Yesterday the postman brought me not one, but two packages, it was a very exciting day.
The first package contained 3 corals. A Balanophyllia sp., possibly my new favourite coral. This is non-photosynthetic and will require feeding by hand but it is so very, very pretty. I had originally wanted to source a small colony of sun coral (Tubastrea sp.), as I've kept those in the past and found them easy to care for but have not seen any for sale, They used to be regularly available but not any more it seems. Anyway this species is very similar (and fits in the small size theme) so I decided to give it a go. My research has suggested that they only extend their feeding tentacles at night but this one seems happy to open up no matter whatever the time of day which is wonderful, more time for me to admire it! As a bonus there is a mussel attached at the base, although I haven't ascertained if it's still living or not. I do hope so but keeping it that way may prove difficult as it's a filter feeder.
Check out all those nematocysts!
Then came a baby plate coral, now I knew that I wanted an LPS coral with swaying tentacles and had originally considered a Euphyllia sp. but I know these can get very large over time so I finally settled on a plate coral. When I saw this baby one available I knew that I wouldn't have a better opportunity to purchase one, it really is tiny measuring just 2cm across when the tentacles are expanded. Normally these corals are free living on sandy or muddy substrates but this one presently has a 'stalk' and when it arrived was glued to a flat frag plug. Unfortunately the frag plug was covered in tiny Aiptasia so it just had to go. The base was duely chopped off along with as much of the original superglue as I dared (and there was a LOT!), then it was fixed it onto a spare piece of rock I had in the sump (I just knew that I'd find a use for that rock eventually, lol!). Now I am hoping that this coral is indeed a long tentacle plate coral, Heliofungia actiniformis and not a very small branch of a torch coral, Euphyllia glabrescens. They do look rather similar when small. I guess time will tell, if it grows and detaches from the base to become free living then it'll be a plate coral, if it develops new branches then it's not!
The final part of this order was a Sunny D zoanthid (plus a baby bud), during transit the polyp had worked itself free of the frag plug so clearly it had been fragged very recently. My first response was one of annoyance but as I hate the look of frag plugs in general it proved fortuitous, it was a simple matter to dab a bit of glue to the base of the polyp and fix it to my live rock. It opened up within a few hours of introduction and is still there today so hopefully it'll survive. I think it's fair to say I'm now a fan of zoanthids, I'm up to 7 different types now, how did that happen?! ;o)
My second online order came all the way from France, how brave was that!! Ever since I added my first gorgonian I knew that I wanted to introduce at least one other species. I had been waiting to purchase the purple frilly gorgonian that Reefworks supply but as it hasn't been available for months I started searching elsewhere. Sadly gorgonians seem to be a bit of an afterthought at most LFS I have visited. The SPS corals are lined up neatly in tanks but the gorgonians seem to be plonked in without any care to their wellbeing at all, most ending up lying on their sides and being stung by something more aggressive resulting in stripped branches or worse. Fortunately for me I discovered Eco-Gorgs, sustainably-produced aquarium sized Carribbean gorgonians, perfect for me and only a few clicks away. OK, admittedly a bit of a journey was required to get them to my tank but worth the chance i thought.
First in my basket was a small frag of Plexaurella sp. and very fluffy looking it is too.
This was followed swiftly by Isis hippuris, though I have to say it doesn't look anything like images of this species online but what do I know?
...and lastly Muricea elongata because it seemed a shame to only order just 2 corals when they were coming so far. This is the only one that has not fully extended all it's polyps yet. I had to leave all 3 gorgonians on the sand for a few hours after acclimation whilst I went out and when I got back this one had been knocked over, typical! There seems to be a bubbling issue with the two branches that had been in contact with the sand. Fingers crossed it will recover in a few days time.
That's it for the time being, I'll try for some better shots of the new corals later on in the week when they've fully settled in and maybe even a new FTS. If you've managed to read all the way to the bottom of this post then top marks, you must be a sucker for punishment!
On the 18th April I relocated Charlie (or is it Charlize?) the hitchhiking crab from the DT to the refugium. After almost 4 weeks of no-show, today I discovered him (her?) alive and well in the jungle. I am chuffed, what a survivor!
Also I've also been playing around with a new macro lens, starting with some of the easier corals to capture.
There's one zoanthid morph that I've been saving a spot for in my tank but have never seen it for sale in an aquarium shop or via my favourite online supplier so I decided to give E-bay a whirl instead. I ordered two polyps of the "Utter Chaos" zoas, they arrived promptly and were in great condition, I was very pleased (and relieved) with my purchase. I did treat the polyps to a dip in Reef Primer just in case there were any unpleasant hitchhikers, it seemed unlikely on such a small frag disc but as I didn't know the source tank I decided it was not worth the risk. I can see why these zoanthids are so popular, the fluorescent orange colour really 'pops' under the blue LEDs. I roughly chopped down the frag disc as much as possible and hope the remainder will be grown over and hidden asap. I hate frag discs on show in the DT!
I also added a few more snails today to boost my clean up crew as I've noticed that the resident crew aren't quite managing to keep the algae growth in check, not unsurprising now that I am feeding the tank more. So a big welcome to Laurel, Hardy, Eric & Ernie the Trochus snails and Del Boy & Rodney the Ceriths.
I love getting out the magnifying glass and looking at the small stuff, there's always something new and cool to discover.
Whilst the original zoanthids (wild collected presumably considering the amount of other life present on the rock) haven't really done much, my most recent smaller frags (aquacultured?) have been doing great. The green ones (possibly "Radioactive", I'm not well versed with the trendy zoa names) and the "Red Tuxedo" polyps already have new buds, they add a lovely splash of colour to the lower, shadier parts of the tank. I decided therefore that a few more were needed. On Thursday, I picked up some "Wango Tango" zoas (lol where do they get these names from?) and some "Agave" palythoas. Although they were sold to me as "Fire & Ice" zoas, I think that's incorrect, they look more like "Agave".
I can quite easily see how some reef keepers become obsessed with collecting zoanthids, the variety is absolutely amazing! I may just have to get a few more myself (I need some Utter Chaos in my life, rofl!).
A better FTS (with less blurry fish hopefully) and some top-down photos of corals that I forgot to include in yesterday's update.
An interesting month to be sure. Generally the tank has been fine with no losses but there's just been something not quite right with some of the corals. The colours had been fading and polyp extension was poor. On the 14h April I decided take action and alter the lighting profile/ intensity to see if it would help the corals. In no time at all the corals started to pick up, the colours looked a bit better and the polyps began to extend again. It's only been 17 days and there is still a way to go but the corals do look happier and healthier.
The worst affected was Acropora #3, not only had it been losing colour but it was also suffering from blistered skin. The photos below show how the coral has changed over time:
Fingers crossed it will make a full recovery assuming I can keep the water quality up to scratch.
Now for a few more coral shots:
Last but not least the obligatory FTS. Unfortunately I was so intent on trying to get all the fish in shot at the same time (except the Whitecap goby, there's no way in a million years that would be in the shot, period!) that I didn't make sure that they shutter speed was fast enough to prevent motion blur. Ooops!
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!