When the lights switch off above the display tank there's still plenty of action to watch down below in the refugium.
My tank is exactly a year old today! Wow, where has the time flown to? I've been a bit lax with the updates recently so there's lots to catch up on.
First lets get the bad news out of the way. I'm afraid that I've lost the lovely Tridacna maxima clam, it simply never thrived in my tank. Before adding it I carefully checked the shell looking for any nasty hitchhikers but I never found any. I must have missed some (or their eggs at least) as I started to notice some pyramid snails feeding on my precious Trochus and Turbo snails. Nooo! I checked the clam regularly at night with a flash light but never found any of the little devils feasting on it. After two and a half months it finally it became clear that the clam was doomed so I decided to remove it before pollution became an issue. I checked it over again when it was out of the tank and still couldn't find any pyramid snails on it. These guys are so small and clearly hide really well! Later on three teeny tiny ones did emerge from inside of the clam, it's hard to imagine that just three could have any impact on an animal so much larger than they but clearly over time they do. Unless of course the maxima was suffering from something else too?
At this point there's not much I can do about the pyramid snails, I am removing any that I see every day and I've become quite adept at spotting them now. On average I remove about 10 per day. The wrasse are sadly not eating them, come on guys I could really do with a helping hand here, sheesh earn your keep why don't you!! At least I haven't lost any of the snails yet and my original Tridacna crocea clam seems to be doing fine, it's laying down new shell so I take that to be a good sign for now.
The other blip on my reefing horizon is the Balanophyllia. It just doesn't look as good as it once did and I can't work out why. Am I feeding it too much or not feeding it enough? I had been offering it a piece of food once per day (at night), generally PE mysis, clam, Krill or lancefish, perhaps that wasn't enough to sustain it? So I decided to up the feedings to multiple times per day (anywhere between three up to a maximum of five a day) but this seemed to make no difference at all (in fact the coral looked a little worse) so now I'm trying less food. It's really frustrating because the sun coral is looking fantastic on a single feed per day.
Apart from the above everything else seems to be doing OK. The fish are all good, Rei the Yellow wrasse eats like a horse and is noticeably bigger. The best news is that my Tomiyamichthys nudus gobies have finally paired up with the Red Spotted pistol shrimp so I get to see them all much more now. The male goby still goes MIA every now and again but always resurfaces at some point. The gobies and pistol shrimp do not naturally associate together in the wild but I suspect they have done so in my tank because there are simply no other alternatives.
The corals are getting bigger and some are starting to get close to each other already, war is on the horizon I expect.
The zoanthids are spreading nicely especially the Utter Chaos, these are reproducing at a phenomenal rate and unfortunately over taking some of the original slower growing morphs. Whatever was afflicting the Red Tuxedo zoanthids seems to have subsided and I've not lost any more recently, I hope that's the end of that.
After a bit of a slow start the algae in the refugium has really got going now and the amount of life in there is incredible. It's amphipod, mysis shrimp and brittlestar heaven! Charlie the hitchhiking crab is alive and kicking and still growing. She was such a tiny thing when I first noticed her in the DT hanging out in the Seriatopora, now she's huge in comparison.
Life in the refugium.
Whenever I harvest any algae, I spend the following 30 minutes rescuing brittlestars from amongst the fronds. Well I can't just throw them out can I? It's easy to see how they are reproducing by division.
My first canister of ATI Carbo EX came to the end of its life in September, it lasted just over 3 months which I don't think is too bad. I have decided to continue with the CO2 scrubbing and have replaced it with a fresh cartridge.
Last week to celebrate the fact that the tank was approaching its first birthday I decided that some new additions were required. There was a gap (left by the T. maxima clam) that was just crying out to be filled. OK it didn't really need to be filled but what can I say, any excuse to shop for new corals.
I decided another encrusting Montipora sp. would do nicely and since it was likely to be the last addition (never say never tho) I wanted something special. I decided the Beach Bum (what a name!!) Montipora would contrast nicely with the three that I currently have. Since I was mail ordering from a fellow reefer I found I couldn't just buy the one coral so I ended up with frags of Hawkins Echinata (Acropora echinata) and a Sunrise Goniopora too. My name is Lisa and I'm a coral addict, lol!
Here they are on the sand awaiting fixing (squeezing!) in place.
Phew that was a marathon (are you still with me?) before I sign off I'll add a few more updated photos. After all who doesn't love a bit of eye candy?!
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.
Never in a million years did I think that it'd be easy to catch and remove my hitchhiking crab but boy how very wrong I was. My deluxe homemade crab trap actually worked first time! I propped an empty glass spice jar up against the top rock where the crab lived and baited it with some mysis shrimp just after lights out. I honestly felt that the jar was a little too tall for the job and it would never catch anything but to my very great surprise it did. I checked back on the tank after just an hour and was gobsmacked to discover the crab sitting in the jar. It's so great when a plan comes together without any blood being shed (and doesn't cost anything, lol).
With clearer photos I'm now confident that the crab is indeed Chlorodiella nigra. Please refer to the link below for comparitive purposes.
Of course I couldn't bring myself to kill the little guy, after all he had done no wrong, simply knocked a frag off the rock which was probably my fault for not fixing it down securely enough. The biggest issue for me was the fact that he'd set up home right next to my clam and whilst this species is reported to mainly eat algae I didn't want to take the risk of the clam being irritated or even worse becoming a crabby snack down the line. So off he went into the refugium where hopefully he'll be content with an endless supply of algae (and pods?) to munch on.
For a while now I've noticed some interesting macro algae growing on the top of one of the Tunze pumps. Now that's it's larger I have tentatively identified it as Colpomenia sp. (probably C. sinuosa). There is none of it to be found anywhere else in the tank so I expect that the snails or, most likely, hermits are eating it off the rockwork before it gets a chance to take a hold. I will need to remove it soon as I expect that it's going to interfere with the pump's flow. They are due a strip down and clean in a months time so I will probably wait till then. It is a type of bubble algae so I suppose I should be a little concerned about it spreading but it's been OK so far and I have faith in my CUC.
Who says conchs only stick to the sand! For the time being Lurch manages to get himself up on the left rock pile (straight up the front of the rocks) and half way up the tank back in search of a tasty rasp of algae.
For the most part the tank is doing OK. There is very little in the way of nuisance algae, the furry stuff that was coating the rocks seems to be fading away without any intervention on my part. The zoanthids are opening up nicely and looking good, so I think the nudibranch problem is solved. The LPS expand nicely during the day and are always ready to eat whenever they sense food in the tank.
Most of the SPS corals are doing well, showing good growth or at the very least basing out. Colouration however is not great for some of them, I'm hoping that with time and stability the colours will improve. Maybe it's a nutrient issue?
There is one Acropora sp. (#3) that does not look good. I have noticed recently that there appears to be blistering to the flesh. This is a new one on me so I did a bit of searching on the web and others have reported this ailment. Unfortunately no one really knows what causes it. Some say that it's due to an imbalance with the big three, i.e. KH, Ca and Mg but in my case I have those parameters well within recommended levels and they haven't fluctuated much either. The only suspect I can think of at this stage is KZ Sponge Power, I began dosing this on the 11th February (1 drop every other day). It may have nothing to do with the problem but I think I'm going to stop using it for a while and see if the Acro improves.
I nuked the tiny Aiptasia that sneaked into the tank on the clam shell with Aiptasia-X and didn't feel bad about it at all. Now I just have to be vigilant for more Pyramid snails. My list of hitchhikers found in this tank is growing ever longer.
I'm happy to report that the fish are all doing fine. It's been just over a month since I added the Pink Streaked wrasse and I'm thinking that the time might be right to introduce some more soon. This time I definitely want fish that will swim out in the open. I have fish that hug the rockwork, that sit on the sand and one that hides in a hole in the sand, I really need some bold fishies that aren't shy!
As expected, the hole had not reappeared at the front when I got up on Saturday morning, however some other serious sand moving had taken place overnight. I guess the T. nudus gobies will not be moving back into their cave anytime soon because it no longer exists, it’s been totally filled in with sand. I now refer to it as the wall and not the cave. I may not be able to actually see the pistol shrimp much but it’s certainly making it’s presence known within the tank.
When it came to the first feed of the day to my very great surprise as soon as food hit the water a crater appeared in the sand just in front of the wall and a claw popped out, how very, very convenient! I was able to drop a piece of mysis right into the hole whereupon it quickly vanished. I dropped another piece in hoping to catch a quick glimpse of the Whitecap but sadly I did not. The view is not the best as you have to peer at an angle down through the glass again and the burrow vanishes under the rocks but still I’ll take that. I hope he stays put and works on it some more. I am hoping to be treated to views of the goby hovering at the lip of the burrow with the pistol in constant contact with his antennae hard at work shovelling sand. Ha, we’ll see! Sadly at the moment the hole does not remain open very long, the movement of the conch and other members of the clean up crew fill it in very quickly.
I managed to get brief glimpses of the shrimp at later feeding times but nothing of the Whitecap. This morning the same thing happened at feeding time, the ‘sinkhole’ reopened and a claw appeared at the bottom, but where is the fish?! I need to see the fish too just for my peace of mind, I hope he’s still OK in there.
Right, on to other reefing matters. I decided to whip out the algae magnet this morning and give the glass a much needed clean, I’ve only done it once since the pistol and goby pair were introduced in the hopes of allowing them time to settle. Anyway a layer of algae had built up allowing the copepods to flourish. There were literally hundreds of them! I actually felt bad squishing them with the algae magnet. Edna clearly needs some help eating them. Anyway it was at that time when I was taking extra care not to pick up any grains of sand and scratch the glass when I something new caught my eye. An Aiptasia!! Sitting there brazenly ‘growing’ out the the sand bed. Where on earth had that suddenly come from?! OK, I’ve only added two sets of corals, the first coral came with zoanthid munching nudibranchs, now the second with Aiptasia. I can’t wait to see what’s going to arrive with the next lot, planaria or a Eunice worm perhaps?? Now that's something to look forward to, rofl!
I had to leave the tank in the capable hands of my eldest son for three days over the Christmas period whilst I was away visiting the in-laws. Amazingly everything survived the ordeal, lol, although the squat lobster is currently MIA. I am hoping that he is in hiding following the shedding of his exoskeleton but equally he may have passed on. I will be very sad indeed if he has died.
I really need to get my dosing regimen sorted out. The alkalinity dropped as I wasn't dosing which is somewhat unexpected since there are no corals in the tank to suck up the calcium and yet the calcium and magnesium levels remained stable.
As predicted the growth of algae (interestingly on the live rock only and not on the sand) has increased with the addition of the new Mitras light so to keep on top of it just before I went away I decided to add some more CUC. One more small Black foot Trochus was introduced along with a Mexican Turbo snail for added variety. The Turbo snail (named Pablo) has done a wonderful job eating the furry looking algae that has started to cover the well lit areas of live rock.
The tank is now just under 10 weeks old and all the equipment is finally up and running bar the dosing pump for Balling salts (that's going to have to wait a while as I'm currently penniless at the moment).
The sump has changed quite a bit since the initial set up photos were taken. Within it now resides a Deltec SC1351 skimmer, a Schego 200W titanium heater, a Tunze 1073.02 return pump and the sensor for the Reefloat ATU-pro3. Additionally it now contains siporax in three separate baskets, two in the sump and one in the old ATU tank. Altogether they contain 5l of media and will be cleaned on an alternate basis to minimise disruption to the bacterial colonies. To the left of the sump sits a DIY refugium, it's a bit of an odd shape, tall and narrow, it remains to be see if it will grow algae efficiently or not. It is lit by a Beamswork Evo 6500K 18W LED on a reverse cycle to the display tank. Presently it contains a layer of Tropic Marin reef mud and a variety of macro algae (Cauperpa prolifera, Caulerpa serrulata, Chaetomorpha and a tiny bit of C. racemosa that sneaked in with the Chaeto). Both the refugium and the old ATU tank are supplied with water from the overflow via a small Eheim pump, they have been fitted with bulkheads to allow the water to flow back down into the sump and up to the display tank (DT) via the return pump.
I have removed the filter sock and to begin with I ran the tank without any form of mechanical filtration. Recently however I decided to add a bit of filter floss as I was starting to see increased levels of particulate matter in the DT.
The electrical sockets are sited away from the tank in a cabinet to the left, along with the RO reservoir for the ATU.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!