Many apologies for the lack of updates, I've been busy with work, plus we went on holiday for two blissful weeks (reefy videos to follow).
So the tank is 17+ months old and has made it through my first holiday, although not without a couple of losses. Up until our holiday everything had been plodding along nicely with nothing particularly spectacular to report but generally slow and steady growth all round. Space was getting very tight and corals were encroaching on each other, there had been no new additions for ages. Then we go away and a week into our holiday I get a text from my son saying that one of the corals looks a bit odd. A quick photo later and sure enough the Acropora loripes was stripping fast. We ran through all the obvious parameters but nothing seemed obviously off and since there was not much more to do half way round the world I recommended for him to just leave it and not to worry about it. Needless to say I did worry about it a bit, lol. When we got back a week later the Acro was but a white skeleton which was such a shame as it was finally starting to look less like a frag and more like an actual colony *sigh*. I checked everything else over and found the Red Dragon Acro also looking a bit dodgy (but then it was being attacked nightly by the sun coral) it also stripped a couple of days later. I think it's fair to say the Red Dragon was probably stressed. At that point I feared the rest of the tank would follow suit domino fashion but no those two Acros were the only losses. It's been 3 weeks now and everything else seems fine needless to say I won't be replacing the Acros, there's nowhere for new corals to go really.
Rei the yellow wrasse has grown considerably over the 9 months since I got her, scarily fast actually. She has lost the third black spot to the rear of her dorsal fin and developed some really lovely markings on her face. She's transitioning into a male or is in fact already male.
Now for a few photos....
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.
Early morning on the reef (so it's really, really blue).
It's been five months since I removed the frag of Acropora sp. #2, due to an infestation of red bugs (Tegastes acroporanus). As I reported before a tiny piece of encrusted base remained in the tank, it was scrubbed rigorously with toothbrush whilst the surrounding water was siphoned away. The Acro base amazingly survived the scrubbing ordeal and has finally began to branch upwards once more. It appears to be red bug free, however, and this is the big downer, the tank is NOT free of these pests! Whilst taking some macro photos of the corals yesterday morning I discovered that at least three of the other Acropora sp. have red bugs crawling over them too (A. gomezi, Acropora sp. #3 & #4). So basically I tossed Acro #2 for nothing. To say that I'm feeling a wee bit disheartened with the tank right now is an understatement.
So what to do now? Remove all of the Acros? But most are encrusted to the rockwork so this would be tricky. Try biological control using a pipefish? The biggest drawback with this (apart from size of the tank, feeding/flow issues blah blah) is that I feel the tank is fully stocked now (see below for the recent and last fish additions). Of course I could strip the tank down entirely and quit or start again. The word 'upgrade' and using this tank as a quarantine tank has even been mentioned! Lots to think about.
Elsewhere war is underway between the Favia sp. and the Cyphastrea sp. The Favia is clearly winning since there is an area of dead skeleton on the leading edge of the Cyphastrea. The fighting occurs only at night so I'm going to have to camp out with a flashlight if I'm to catch the Favia in battle mode. Also the green encrusting Montipora is on the losing end of a clash with Acropora loripes.
Now on to happier news (had I known about the red bugs I would have held off buying any fish but I didn't, *sigh*). I visited my favourite fish shop a couple of weeks ago with the intention of choosing one final fish for the tank, I thought maybe a firefish or a wrasse, one that might actually relish eating pyramid snails. Talking of which I've just spotted one of the buggers in the shot of the damaged Cyphastrea above, argh!! Anyway, I decided against buying a firefish (I really loved the Helfrichi but just couldn't bring myself to fork out so much for one fish) and was discouraged from trying a Leopard wrasse because of possible compatibility issues with my resident Yellow wrasse. Instead I was directed towards the fairy wrasse; colourful and peaceful and not overly large. Now I must confess that I didn't really know too much about this group of fish so I was relying heavily on what I was being told by the lovely shop assistant. There was a group of Pintail wrasse, males and females (although they all looked pretty much the same to me) and apparently I was informed that it was possible to keep a male and female pair together, which is always a plus point for me.
I have since found out that female fairy wrasse almost invariably change into males in a captive environment resulting in warfare between the now two males. Unfortunately I was an hour into my journey home when I discovered that fact. I should have walked away for a coffee and research time before having a pair bagged up. Anyway they are in my tank now so I'll have to deal with issues if and when they arise. As if I don't have enough issues already!
These fish are really very pretty, the male is slightly larger than the female with perhaps more defined markings but to be honest they don't look that different to me. I hope that's not a bad sign. As expected they took some grief from the Rei the Yellow wrasse. She was not best pleased to see some new fish moving in to 'her' tank. She is the undoubted boss of the tank. The rest of the fish ignored the new additions after their initial curious inspections. The har-wrasse-ment by Rei continued for about three days after which she decided it was just too much bother and now lets them be. Most of the time she ignores them aside from a few half hearted chases every now and again.
OK these Pintails really like to eat!! Right from the very first feed they were in there grabbing their fair share even stealing food from right under the nose of Rei and they'll eat whatever I add to the tank almost without question. At the moment during the day they coexist quite peacefully with each other. When the lights dim in the evening there is a bit of jostling for sleeping accommodations, at least that's what I think is going on. It certainly doesn't look like the male is displaying to the female. I will be watching on very carefully for signs of it all going south. Gulp!
And now for a few more updated photos. Sorry there's no video footage yet, I got a bit distracted by the red bug fiasco and needed a large glass of wine to help ease the pain.
The Heliofungia was looking a bit sorry for itself last week, it was that time of the month again, waste excretion, yum! The Yellow wrasse really enjoys this extra treat, lol! Is there anything that this fish won't eat? Anyway that's beside the point, under normal circumstances I only get to view the top of the coral but because it was a little deflated I could see part of the underside too. It has developed a baby with it's own mouth and ring of tentacles! Now I still consider this coral to be a baby itself although it has grown a lot since introduction, I am still waiting for it to detach from the rock and become free living. A quick bit of research showed me that Heliofungia do indeed asexually reproduce by budding on the underside of the skeleton. So cool, I love discovering new stuff!
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?!
Time for another ICP analysis to see how things stand with the Tin pollution as of 29th August 2017.
I'm pretty happy with those results, just a tiny bit more tweaking required and everything will be right where I want it to be. The Tin has finally fallen to an acceptable level and hopefully will continue to fall until it's undetectable. The Calcium dosage needs increasing and the iodine dosage reduced a touch. One lesson learnt here is that the test kit used to monitor the iodine levels in between ICP tests (Salifert) is a complete waste of time. The iodine level in the tank has gone from 0 (mid April) to 74ug/l (end of August) and in all that time the test has registered nothing more than the faintest hint of colour which equates to less than 0.01ppm (10ug/l). I knew before I started that the home test kits for iodine were considered inaccurate but I didn't realise they were quite that useless (well the Salifert test anyway). I won't bother to use it again.
I'll sign off with an updated FTS (as of today) this time featuring a beautiful splash of yellow. My Halichoeres chrysus wrasse is pretty hard to miss don't you think. When I introduced her I had assumed that she was actually a he but I have been informed that these wrasses are all born female. So she now goes by the name of Rei instead of Ray and she will remain female for a while yet before making the changing to male on adulthood.
Firstly, time to update the fish list.
Sadly the Red Spot cardinalfish are no more, thanks in part to the tiny but rather mean Red Spotted goby. There were no more jumpers but the three that remained never really settled no matter how much I tried to feed them. They vanished one by one until there were none left, the last disappearing on the 4th August. I have to say that the tank looks empty without them but I will not be replacing them as I feel they are simply too sensitive for this sized tank especially with its current fishy occupants.
In addition to the loss of the cardinals, one of the Red Spotted gobies also vanished. The smaller of the two and not, I might add, the mean one. Sigh! Perhaps he had got bullied too?
At that point the fish list consisted of Candy the Red Striped goby, Hop & Skip the Nudus gobies (although I hardly ever see them any more), Edna the Possum wrasse, Kylie the Pink Streaked wrasse and Rocket the remaining Red Spotted goby. It was time for something new and this time I decided I wanted a bold and above all easy to keep fish. As I'm rather fond of wrasses I'm afraid to say I bent my rule of staying with small fish only. I opted to add a juvenile Yellow wrasse, Halichoeres chrysus. What a ray of sunshine this fish is, certainly not one to blend in with the rockwork.
He was introduced on the 21st August at 4pm and as expected, immediately dived into the sand. He was up and about just after 9am the following morning. After 30 minutes of orientation he began picking tidbits off the rockwork/sand and when it came to feeding time there was no hesitation or fussiness. He ate everything offered without a second thought. Hmm this fish is going to grow fast I think (oh dear, what did I say about never upgrading tanks ever again...).
Ray, as he is now known, is a lovely fish. He's settled into a routine of getting up around 8.30am and going to bed at just before 7pm, he sleeps in the same area of sand every night. During the day he's constantly on the hunt for pods/worms/whatever else takes his fancy and if I approach the tank he comes up to say hello rather than hiding in a cave, now that's a refreshing change! Fortunately, he's not tried to eat Crystal the Bruun's cleaner shrimp yet and I hope he never does (always a risk with these fish). So far the easiest trouble free introduction ever.
As for the corals, growth is steady and colouration improving. I have managed to resist the temptation to add anything new although I do keep looking, lol. I am a little concerned for the Red Tuxedo zoanthids, I fear that they are suffering from the bacterial infection known as zoa pox. If I am correct I know this could spell disaster for my entire zoanthid collection but as they have encrusted onto the rockwork directly I am a bit stuck. To dip them would mean a complete strip down of the right-hand rock pile which is something I'm not prepared to do at this point (or ever if I'm entirely honest). I am simply watching and waiting and hoping it doesn't spread.
I am working on updating all the coral photos and am almost there bar a few.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!