A couple of weeks ago the tank passed its 3rd birthday and I celebrated (not!) by getting the coral cutters out, I had put it off for far too long. I haven't been able to clean the left hand glass for ages and the coralline algae was having a field day. I also took the opportunity to really reduce the over large gorgonian in the middle and trim a few branch tips of the Red Planet. I hate having to cut corals and always manage to accidentally damage other stuff at the same time plus the fish really hate the disruption.
After I had finished chopping I found it hard to even look at the tank, to me it looked rather sad even though I knew it really needed doing. The Stylophora looks an odd shape and by reducing the size of the gorgonian I exposed an area of bare rock that I knew would provide a perfect breeding ground for algae. Also there is always a knock on effect when fragging corals, I knew that the alkalinity/calcium uptake would lower (because I'd made that mistake in the past) so I turned down the doser. However I vastly underestimated the difference and the KH level still crept up over the following days. Duh!
I think I finally have the dosing level dialled in again after days of testing and retesting. I also took the opportunity to add a few more money cowries to keep the growth of algae on the rocks under control.
The Stylophora has recovered well, the photo below shows a couple of the branches 7 days post fragging. After 9 days the cut tips were fully covered and the tips had developed polyps after 14 days.
Kandinsky the Mandarin is doing well and is fat as a sausage. He hasn't managed to eat all the copepods in the tank...yet! When the glass has not been cleaned for a few days I can still see them scampering around (during the day too) which makes me very happy. Admittedly they are located more towards the top of the tank where Kandinsky does not venture much but if they get a chance to reproduce and spread elsewhere that's got to be a good thing.
Spike has proved to be a bit more frustrating in the feeding department. He loves lobster eggs and live copepods but isn't much interested in anything else. I hope that this will change in the future. Firefish have a reputation of being shy and hiding but not this fish, he's out in the open all day long.
A few coral shots.
Lastly the requisite FTS. I must have taken in excess of 300 photos in an effort to get all the fish in view at the same time, this was the best of the bunch. There is still one fish not on show but I'll save that update for the next blog posting.
Time for a long overdue FTS update. As you can see the coralline continues to encrust apace, every now and again I scrape it off the front and sides but I leave it to grow rampant on the back wall. The plates grow quite thick until a large snail crawls across and the added weight causes a chunk to detach and they both fall down to the sand.
I'm sure some eagled-eyed reefers will have spotted the presence of hair algae in some of the previous close-up shots. If it weren't for the aforementioned coralline I expect the situation would be a lot worse. It began to grow when I lost some of the Acropora to red bugs. I cut out the branches but that still left dead encrusted bases which provided the perfect breeding ground for algae. I was not thrilled about the appearance of the green hair algae but it did allow me the opportunity to purchase a gorgeous Rainford's goby who loves to graze on the tufty stuff. I've noticed recently however, that it's been starting to spread elsewhere in the tank. For example when I brought the Balanophyllia up from the sump the rock on which it was attached rapidly grew a green furry cover as did the freshly exposed rockwork after I removed the Seriatopora. Part of the problem lies with the clean up crew as they simply do not venture on to the rocks to feed any more. The Trochus and Turbo snails only bother to rasp algae from the glass walls, I think they find it too difficult to navigate around the corals, why make an effort to search for algae on the rocks when an easy meal can be found on the glass? The only snails I have found so far that make any difference to the hair algae are Money or Annular cowries. I have four of these fascinating molluscs and they do seem to have an appetite for the shorter hair algae, a patch will occasionally be mown down.
I don't want to completely eradicate the hair algae as Jessie (the Rainford's goby) needs some in his diet so I'm a bit stuck as to what to do right now. The nitrate and phosphate levels are a touch under 4mg/l and 0.04mg/l respectively at my last ICP analysis (2nd September) so not overly high. I did try introducing a few new herbivorous molluscs in the hope that they would have a taste for it, (two Astralium sp. followed by three Spiny Astrea snails) but none of these new species are interested in eating the hair algae either. Typical! It seems that film algae/diatoms are preferred all round. The Trochus snails seem to do well on it anyway, last month I woke up to an alarmingly cloudy tank but it was just the snails having a bit of reproductive fun.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!