When the lights switch off above the display tank there's still plenty of action to watch down below in the refugium.
I've been running the ATI disposable carbon dioxide scrubber since the 21st June 2017 during which time I've used up 3 units. The first one lasted for 12 weeks and 2 days which I thought was a decent amount of time for the cost. The tank pH was higher and more stable so I decided the experiment was worth continuing. An additional 2 units were purchased, the second unit lasted for 13 weeks and 3 days, still good, but the third unit exhausted in just 2 weeks! So what had changed (assuming the unit was not faulty somehow)? Well the skimmer was replaced, the windows in the house were closed because it was extremely cold outside and there were a few more people visiting due to it being Christmas. Aside from the lack of fresh air and more CO2 being breathed out the new skimmer pump is clearly pulling a lot more air than the old one and you can see that from the amount of bubbles being produced in the skimmer body.
So what to do? A two week run time for the disposable unit is no longer cost effective for me but I do like the higher pH levels that the scrubber produces (and so apparently do my corals if you take the increase in Alk/Ca usage into consideration). In the end I decided to scrap the disposable idea and try a refillable unit instead. The 4l refillable unit that ATI produces is just too large to fit inside my cabinet so I decided to give the Fauna Marin Skim Breeze a whirl instead. This unit holds 1l much like the ATI disposable version but can be refilled with fresh media when the old stuff is exhausted. It comes complete with 1l media to begin with and when that is used up I intend to refill it with a medical grade CO2 absorber called Spherasorb. I'll see how that pans out and report back later on.
Swipes the Porcelain crab has been beefing up! She shed her exoskeleton again yesterday and yet again fooled me into thinking she'd died. The shedding looks so much like the real thing it's incredible. After checking that she was indeed still alive and back in her usual spot I removed the skeleton for further inspection.
Fortunately I had kept a previous shedding from July last year, so I could compare the two to see how much she's grown over the last six months. The first skeleton is bleached and falling apart but you can clearly see how much bigger she is now. As far as I am aware she has moulted twice more in between these, so about 2 months between each shedding. Clearly she's finding enough food to filter out.
I first noticed that Acropora #4 was suffering from slow tissue necrosis (STN) in July '17. It was receding at the underside of the base but, as the top half looked good and was growing, I chose to ignore it in the hopes that it would eventually stop. Sadly it did not and in fact continued to the point where I had no other option other than fragging the coral. Since the branches were still short and stubby this proved somewhat tricky tricky to do. In the end I was left with just three tiny branch tips. The lesson learned here is that it's never a good idea to stick your head in the sand and ignore a coral issue (especially for 6 long months *cough*). I do not really know what caused the STN in the first place but the base was fixed into a recess in the rock so perhaps it was down to poor flow?
Talking of encrusted bases, remember Acropora (#2), the one that I tried to remove in June '17 after discovering that red bugs were still present on it? Well, the base is still ticking along nicely, growth upwards is slow but there is at least some growth oh and and it's started fighting with the Montipora sp. to the left of it.
On a happier note I'm discovering more and more sun coral larvae dotted about the tank. I expect most will not survive as they have settled quite close to other corals (there's not much real estate left these days) and will probably be quickly overgrown. This is probably a good thing else in the future I will have to spend all my free time feeding them.
Here's another shot of the Heliofungia from the other side taken during a water change, the only time the top lifts up enough to view the baby buds growing underneath.
Finally I'll sign off with a few other random shots, including a (now) rare view of Skip the Nudus goby.
It's been almost 5 months since I first discovered the sun coral had released planula larvae and I am happy to report that they are all still all alive and kicking, if still quite small. One is actually doing much better than the rest, mainly because it settled in a better location enabling it to catch more food. It's actually big enough to feed directly now so I've started offering it tiny bits of mysis and krill. Unfortunately the zoanthids growing below have begun to obscure the view of it from the front so it's becoming quite difficult to photograph. I poke them with a pipette but they are opening right back up again before I've even managed to grab and point the camera. Eventually I expect they will grow right up the rock and maybe smother the sun coral completely which would be a pity, perhaps by then it'll be large enough to fight back?
Additionally I discovered today that the original Sun coral has been at it again! There are at least five more new babies dotted about the tank now and I'm sure there are probably more hidden away in there too. It must have happened fairly recently because these larvae haven't even developed any tentacles yet. The one below runs the risk of being overgrown by the Montipora above in a very short space of time.
As for the baby Heliofungia buds, they continue to do well and in fact the entire underside of the coral is ringed by them now. I am not exactly sure how many there are at this point but probably at least six. They show no sign of detaching yet.
First attempt at a proper tank video, plenty of room for improvement. Note the male Pintail wrasse is displaying to the female in the beginning section. :o)
Just prior to the skimmer failure I sent off water samples for yet another ICP analysis. The results of which are shown in the link below:
100%! Apparently I have a full house, everything is in balance although to be honest the salinity is a bit higher than I would like. I must try harder. The conductivity probe had drifted out of calibration. The tin contamination is gone at last but I seem to have a reading for iron this time round. The only change between now and the last test is that I have begun to soak the fish food in a vitamin supplement, I wonder if that’s the source? Something (else) to keep an eye on. I still can’t get much of a nitrate reading despite adding a couple more fish and feeding loads. I wonder if running the tank for 5 days without a skimmer has raised it at all?
Moving on to the corals, the warfare continues. The Favia continues to batter the Cyphastrea relentlessly. I thought it might stop once the leading edge was dead but no, the dead area seems to get larger every day. I would move the Cyphastrea if I could but firstly, it's well encrusted, and secondly I have nowhere else to put it.
Two of the Montipora sp. (#2 & 3) are now clashing with Acropora loripes and both are losing. Montipora #2 is also being hammered at the back by the Stylopora.
Despite religious feeding the Balanophyllia has still not been doing so well, It was only after I made the decision to move it that I discovered that it was receding very badly at the back where I couldn’t see. There was a white band of what I assume to be a bacterial infection at the receding edge. I relocated it to the rear of the tank but in hindsight I should probably have placed it in the sump because as soon as the Pintail wrasse were added, feeding it became nigh on impossible. They just kept stealing its food. Fortunately the Sun coral continues to do well and has grown multiple new heads. Feeding it can be a battle with the wrasse but it can be done with a little perseverance.
Moving on to the red bug problem, with no plan of attack they are obviously still present but the Acros seem to be coping with them for the time being. I fully expected the afflicted corals to be failing by now but they still have reasonable polyp extension and colour. I'm sure that they could look better as could their growth rate but at least they are not dead. The watching and waiting continues.
I've indicated some of the red bugs present on the Acropora below with red arrows there are more shown in the shot but you get the general idea.
As for the fish, Edna the Possum wrasse passed her first anniversary in the tank on December 18th and Kylie the Pink-streaked wrasse will have her first anniversary on the 28th January 2018.
A few more photos of the Pintails (Tinker and Belle) and Rei the Yellow wrasse too.
A few other random coral photos. I had hoped to have more shots to share but Christmas preparations got in the way.
Thanks for following my blog, I hope you all have a great Christmas! Hopefully I have more photos to share next week.
I fully expected an item of equipment would fail at some point, I just never expected it to happen quite so soon. My Deltec skimmer stopped working last Wednesday after 1 year, 1 month and 15 days of use. I have to admit that I'm disappointed that the pump failed after what seems like a relatively short space of time. As soon as I realised there was a problem I called D&D aquarium solution direct for assistance. They were extremely helpful and diagnosed that a new stator/controller was required and promised to ship one out as soon as possible. Which is really excellent service, thank you so much Tony!
To my ears the Deltec skimmer makes very little noise when working but when it was off I really did notice a difference, the room seemed a lot quieter. In addition to the noise the tank pH dropped quite considerably, below 8 on the first night and every night the skimmer was off which it hasn't done for a long, long time. I didn't realise a skimmer had that much impact on tank pH to be honest. I decided to run an airline into the sump to aid water movement and oxygenation but I really don't think it made a blind bit of difference, it certainly made me feel better though.
If there is one thing I really hate about reef-keeping it's equipment failure, it's something I cannot control. My tank may be small but the welfare of my livestock is very important to me and when things go wrong I worry. When the replacement parts had not arrived after two days I started to think about alternative skimmer options. It was now Friday and most likely the postman would not deliver on the weekend so I was looking at the following week before the tank would be skimmed again. If I had a spare skimmer pump ready to go then there'd have been no worries but I hadn't had the foresight to be that prepared. I do have a spare return pump sat in the cupboard but sadly no skimmer pump. After much thought I decided to purchase another skimmer, am I crazy? Well yes but everyone knows that already.
I ordered an Ultra-reef Akula 160 skimmer which my husband kindly picked up from the shop on the way home from work for me. First impressions, this skimmer is built like a tank! It's extremely robust and heavy, it feels like a really solid bit of kit in fact the Deltec seems a bit flimsy in comparison. However unlike the Deltec it doesn't come with a UK plug, grrr! So a bit of rewiring was required before use. It's a little bit wider at the base than the Deltec so required a shuffle round of other equipment to squeeze it into the sump. I did fear a one point that I might have to cut down one of the Siporax baskets to accommodate it but fortunately it was not required in the end. The unit is quiet running but it does produce a little more noise in the form of "bubble hissing'.
Overnight a lovely thick foam formed in the skimmer body but it had not reached the top of the cup and overflowed as I hadn't managed to dial the water level in properly before I went to bed. Hopefully it will settle fully in the next couple of days and pull out some really stinky brown waste. The signs are very promising and there's certainly excellent bubble production by the Sicce pump.
And here we are 3 days later it's pulling out some brown liquid and the pH of the tank has risen back up to normal again (8.2-8.3ish) so I can relax once more. The Deltec pump parts have also arrived and it's all ready to go again, I think I am going to keep it as a spare in the event of an issue with the Ultra-reef. Well you just never know....
I realised last night that it's been a year since I introduced the first fish to this tank. I thought I should mark the occasion by taking some celebratory photos of them. Unfortunately Candy the Red Striped goby was the only one prepared to pose for for me. The Nudus gobies were, as usual, hidden in their burrow so no shot of them sadly (they really don't like the new Fairy wrasse, especially the male who constantly tries to steal their food). Anyway happy 1st birthday gobies!
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!