Hip hip hip hooray! Tubastrea have to be one of the most strikingly coloured corals and when fully extended they are truly spectacular!
I have managed to take a better shot of mine, this specimen has incredible yellow/orange tentacles with deeper orange, almost red, mouths. It's looking happy enough at the moment out on the sand but I want to try fixing it down on the rock work this weekend. The base it's attached to is fairly hefty so I'm not relishing the prospect of trying to remove it. I'm really tempted to leave it where it is but it looks unnatural sitting on the sand.
Just a quick iphone video of Swipes doing her thing. She is just the coolest little crab waving her fan like mouth-parts around all day long. She is a completely peaceful filter feeder and her large claws are only used in territorial disputes with other crabs of the same species, not an issue here since she is going to be the only one I intend to keep. The rate of sieving for planktonic food increases dramatically just after the fish and/or corals have been fed.
I've managed to source my final few livestock additions and I'm pretty much done now, I just need to watch and wait for the frags to grow out.
After searching for over nine months for a nice appropriately sized Tridacna maxima clam I finally broke down and ordered one from on online supplier in Germany. It was a risk I know but I just have not found any that I wished to buy from any of the UK shops I have visited and I've travelled around quite a few over the UK during that time. It's early days yet (5 days) but the clam is looking good so far, it's very responsive to movement which I'm taking to be a good sign but it has not fixed itself down to the rock work yet. My T. crocea attached in just a couple of days so I don't know if this is a bad sign or not.
The colour is amazing, blue from the front and a striking aqua green from the top. Please excuse the frag tile in the shot, I popped it in there to prevent the clam from tilting over until it had a chance to attach itself.
In addition to the clam I also ordered another Acanthastrea to contrast with the one I already have. This one is called Lava Glow and is a lovely red/orange colour.
Last but not least, I finally discovered a healthy looking smallish Sun coral colony (Tubastrea sp.) during a recent trip to Manchester. The colour of the flesh is such an intense orange that it almost looks artificial. At the moment I have it sitting on the sand whilst it settles in and I get used to the feeding routine. I understand that all the heads need feeding individually but it's really tricky reaching the smaller heads at the bottom. Even when placed on the rock work I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to reach all of the heads, I'll need to think about it very carefully.
Anyway here's a really terrible shot of it last night with flash, sorry about the nasty reflections on the glass.
Before I go I'll leave you with a few updated coral/invert/fish shots. Hopefully more will follow next week.
Some bad news to report.
First up, the King Midas zoanthids I introduced just under 4 weeks ago. For the first week I left them sitting on the sand and they looked great, opening up nicely so I decided to fix them down on the rear of the right-hand rock pile. Oddly after that they refused to open up again. Hmm, I thought maybe they don't like that spot so I removed the frag plug from the rock and sat it back down on the sand at the front of the tank again. Happily they started to extend once more so a couple of days later I fixed them to a new spot not that far from where they were sitting on the sand. Sadly they never opened up again and started to shrink. As it stands they are pretty much all gone now, a couple of tiny polyps remain but they are closed up tight and will no doubt soon fade away. I am at a loss as to why these particular zoanthids have not survived when my other 7 varieties appear to be doing well. It's very frustrating and I'm quite sad about it because they will be my first coral loss since I started up. I didn't even manage to take a picture of them when they were open to post here for posterity's sake.
The next loss is not so much of a mystery which makes it all the more maddening although I've only just put two and two together after the damage was done. The two new Red Spotted gobies (Trimma rubromaculatus) are indeed a male and female pair as I've noticed them "gettin' jiggy wit' it" on a number of occasions now. This is a lovely thing but unfortunately means that they don't want any fish swimming near their patch and sadly their patch appears to be the entire rear lower half of the tank. Now this just happens to be the same area that the Red Spot Cardinals (Apogon parvulus) like to hang out. I'd noticed recently that the Cardinals had taken to swimming at the top of the tank where the flow is quite brisk, This a bit odd for them and should have paid more attention to it. It all became clearer this morning as I watched one of them stray just a bit too low and was immediately and aggressively chased upwards by the larger of the two gobies (named Rocket which seems quite appropriate considering the response I witnessed). I'm sure you can guess where this story is going now, skip back to yesterday and one of the Cardinals sadly jumped out of the tank. I was working opposite at the time but did not realise what had happened until it was too late. I feel sure after what I observed this morning that it was being chased by one of the gobies, after all these fish hadn't shown any inclination to want to jump before the Red Spotted gobies were introduced. Sigh, another hard lesson learned, mixing different fish even really tiny ones in a small space is not an easy thing to do.
Another 6 weeks have passed since the last ICP test was performed and I've been eager to know if I have managed to address the tin issue or not. In the intervening period I have performed 7 water changes (14%), swapped out a couple of small pumps that were running the refugium (they came from my previous tank and looked absolutely fine to be honest but I wasn't taking any chances) and run a small amount of Cuprisorb (70ml, the recommended amount for my volume of water) in a reactor for a week prior to sending off the water sample. Apparently as well as being effective against copper Cuprisorb also has the benefit of removing other heavy metals from saltwater so I figured it was worth a try.
The tin levels have fallen by half, yay! Was one of the small refugium pumps to blame after all or has the Cuprisorb adsorbed it (unlikely since it has not changed colour at all) or maybe whatever was leaching the tin into the water has now stopped doing it? I really wish I knew. Still it's on the way down now finally and for that I am really happy. Hopefully in another 6 weeks time the level will have dropped again and maybe even be back down to normal. Fingers crossed for that!
As for the rest of the results, they all look pretty good to me. Iodine is still a little on the low side but it's better than the previous test so one more slight adjustment to the amount dosed and I should hopefully be about there. Frustratingly nitrate is still below the recommended level, I may have to start dosing it at this rate, what an odd thought that is.
I am pleased to report that Swipes the porcelain crab is back out again after moulting. She's bigger and more colourful now too so I'm assuming that means she's settled into her new home and is managing to find (filter) enough food to sustain her.
I found this in my tank this morning, the question is has Swipes gone to a better place or has she moulted? I'm thinking (definitely hoping) that she's moulted. The carapace has lifted in a way that I think is consistent with moulting. There's no sign of her in her usual feeding spot, but that's to be expected if she's hiding out and waiting for her new shell to harden. Fingers crossed that she's fine and will reappear again soon sporting a beautiful new skeleton!
Everything seems to be ticking along nicely at the moment. The KH dipped a little following the addition of the carbon dioxide filter and I've had to up my dosing rate as a consequence. I'm hoping it means that the corals are happier with the higher pH values and have increased their growth rates. Unfortunately perhaps, also due to the dip in KH (down from approx 7.0 to 6.5), the coralline on the back wall took a bit of a beating. It's not a problem as such but clearly I need to keep a better eye on the alkalinity level.
Swipes the porcelain crab, Petrolisthes galathinus, has settled in nicely and is proving to be a star attraction with the rest of my family (after Lurch the conch, who still remains the absolute favourite inhabitant). She has made her home underneath the left-hand rock pile and spends the majority of her time hanging out with Edna & Kylie (the two wrasses), filtering out small morsels of food from the water.
Ming, the Pom Pom crab (Lybia sp.) has also settled into the left-hand rock pile, in a small hole, way under the ledge. He's still pretty shy and we don't get to see him out in the open very much as of yet, I did manage to capture a sneaky shot of him in his hidey hole using flash today however.
It's pretty time consuming trying to take individual photos of all the corals individually on the same day so there just a small selection below, I'll work on adding the rest later in the week hopefully.
To finish, I just have to share a couple more shots of Crystal the Red Spotted cleaner shrimp, Urocaridella antonbrunnii, because she is the most incredible looking shrimp.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!