I am generally a patient person but after almost ten months of waiting my patience is wearing thin. ICP analysis has indicated that the tank still has an issue with elevated Cobalt levels. Having discussed my results with other reef tank owners the source of the problem appears to be TMC Eco-reef rock, some have even had it a lot worse than myself, perhaps because they used more rock?
I have sent 5 sample of water off for testing and the Cobalt level has come back as follows:
I have performed 12% water changes every week without fail since the tank was cycled. If the rock had stopped releasing Cobalt or was at least releasing less I'd expect to see the level dropping.
It's hard to tell if or what kind of negative impact the Cobalt could be having on the livestock. I am still struggling with algae issues on the sand, this could be down to all sorts of reasons but I never had an issue with my previous tank set up(s) using good old liverock. The KH level has also begun to rise recently indicating that the corals have stopped growing for some reason. The Red Planet Acropora, A. hyacinthus looks to be holding on by a thread at the moment, it's as brown as I've ever seen it with little to no polyp extension. I get up every morning expecting to find just a stripped skeleton. I also lost Milo my Venus shrimp recently which I am absolutely gutted about. He was completely fine one day, stealing food from the Heliofungia and just gone the next. I have no idea what happened to him, was it a failed moult? His death may be completely unrelated to the Cobalt levels and it could be just one of those things. I really hate not knowing what happened to him.
Just a short video of Milo the Venus anemone shrimp (Anclyomenes venustus) hanging out in his Heliofungia home. These shrimp also go by the name of clapping shrimp because when a threat approaches they wave their front claws around frantically back and forth in an amusing clapping motion.
Once the cycle was complete (fingers crossed it was) I switched on the light (I say light because at that time I only had the one unit up and running at that time) to encourage the growth of diatoms. By day 34 the tank looked like this:
I decided it was time to add some clean up crew and a fish. I'd spent a lot of time thinking about what to add as a first fish and I emailed several shops asking about special ordering fish but only one bothered to reply to my query, very disappointing. In the end I decided to go with whatever was available in the shops. We visited two different places and I ended up with 5 black foot Trochus, 5 teeny tiny hermits, a conch and a Sunburst (aka Fathead) Anthias. The anthias settled in a treat and is a really lovely fish. To begin with he hung out at the darker end of the tank (the side without the light) which is pretty much as I expected but after a week or so began exploring the whole tank. The snails and crabs got to work on the algae straight away, I did sadly lose one of the Trochus after 11 days but the rest were fine.
Since the fish and CUC seemed to be doing fine I decided to try transferring over a few tester corals from the Reefer. I decided to move over a couple of the gorgonians first, both have been severely shaded by other corals for a long time and deserved a break plus if they didn't make it I wouldn't be overly upset about it. Anyway as it happened they were totally fine, bulletproof it seems, and are loving basking in some good light again. The Plexaurella was quite bleached (and a bit deformed too) but is looking much happier now. The Muricea is hidden at the back of the tank but is also looking much improved. I know that gorgonians are not everyones cup of tea but I really like how they sway about in the current.
Once it became clear that the gorgonians were not going to keel over and die I decided to press on with a few more transfers especially since the second lighting unit had arrived and been hung. I was also starting to feel a bit of pressure by the rest of the family to just get it done already. I keep having to remind them that slow and steady wins the race. This time I chose to move a couple of more accessible corals, ie the ones not actually welded to the rockwork. The Heliofungia (plus shrimp) and, gulp, the Scolymia. I was particularly nervous about moving the Heliofungia in case Milo, the resident shrimp, decided to jump off and vanish into the rock-work or be eaten by a hungry fish! I needn't have worried Milo was not going to leave his home no matter what, wherever the coral went he was determined to go too, phew!
I wouldn't say that the Helio or Scoly are entirely happy in their new home, they are not as expanded as they were in the old tank. I'm hoping that they are just adjusting to the different lighting and/or the reduced nutrient levels. I hope that they will settle given a bit of time.
Just over a month ago I introduced a new shrimp. In the wild Heliofungia are found associated with all manner of fish and crustaceans, it seemed a shame to me that I have a good sized specimen just crying out for a 'friend' to host in amongst its tentacles. After a long search I found a Venus anemone shrimp, Ancylomenes venustus, for sale. These tiny shrimp are naturally found in Heliofungia in the wild so it was the perfect match. After careful acclimation I introduced the shrimp right next to the coral, it jumped right in and hasn't looked back since. Venus de Milo or Milo for short is easy to feed, he's not really fussy about what he eats but currently prefers fish eggs over mysis. The Heliofungia has not skipped a beat since his arrival and doesn't seem at all bothered having to share its food, not that it gets much of a choice, Milo just helps himself to whatever has been caught by the tentacles. As well as being referred to as Venus anemone shrimp or graceful shrimp these little crustaceans have also gained the common name of clapping shrimp and it's easy to see why. Whenever a predator (be it fish or me) approaches Milo starts waving his front claws (chelipeds) back and forth in a manic clapping fashion. It's rather amusing even though it looks like he's going to give himself a heart attack.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!