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.
I decided that the clean-up-crew needed a bit of a boost. Whilst I still have two original Ceriths introduced in November 2016, the pair I added 6 months later are no longer with me. I don't get to see these snails very much as they only come out to play when the lights go out but I find they are hard workers and (in a very, very small way) useful keeping the sand turned. So I introduced 6 more. In addition to which I added 5 more teeny-tiny Blue Leg hermits (complement the two already present) and, after much deliberation, an Emerald crab. I have wanted to keep an Emerald crab for ages but have always wimped out of adding one at the very last minute, this time however I actually went ahead and did the deed. I had hoped that it would deal with an ever growing number of Valonia (bubble algae) that were popping up on one particular piece of the rockwork.
On day one the Emerald crab (Bruce, as he is now named) picked at the rockwork (good) and sampled the Superman Montipora and Seriatopora hystrix (not good!). On day two some of the small fan worms that I'd been carefully nurturing disappeared but I'd kinda expected this, what I didn't expect however was to wake up to 3 complete branches of Seriatopora stripped of flesh. Alarm bells were definitely ringing. Day 3, things looked worse for the Seriatopora, losing fans worms is one thing but eating corals is a no-no so a quick herding with a pipette into a glass cup (not too bright this crab) and down into the refugium he went. Now Bruce spends his days in bliss and munching on the veggies like he's supposed to. Sadly he never got the chance to deal with growing number of Valonia in the DT.
Here's a quick pic from day 1 before he blotted his copy book:
And now here's a quick video of him living it up in the veg paradise that is the refugium, those grapes are oh so tasty (but maybe not so much as coral, rofl). Apologies for the freaky red lighting, it's not great for videos but the algae seems OK to grow under it.
So, Benji the hermit crab is just minding his own business cleaning off the algae growing on Lurch the conch's shell and wham, Lurch's operculum shoots out and knocks him off in the blink of an eye. I guess Lurch didn't want his shell cleaning after all, lol!
Here we have a Cerith trying to hide amongst the zoanthids, but come on, that blinding white shell is not making it easy is it? Lol! Perhaps if it didn't spend weeks/months 'sleeping' under the sand things might be different. I'm just glad to know that he (or she) is still in the land of the living.
Now that I'm down to four Red Spot Cardinals I've noticed that they no longer shoal together. Two of them hang together in the back left-hand corner of the tank, the third swims alone in the back right-hand corner and the fourth, the smallest one, swims right out at the front of the tank. I must admit I do miss seeing them all together.
As for the Nudus gobies I've not got a clue what they are up to any more. They used to be out all day long but now they are mainly hidden underground doing goodness knows what. I wish I had X-ray vision so that I could see what they are doing. They are using the pistol shrimp's burrows; are they interacting with him at all? I would be nice to think that one day they might pair up but I can't see it happening at the moment
Will, the blue-legged hermit crab shed his exoskeleton this week which reminded me that it'd been a while since I added any new shells. As soon as I dropped in some larger accommodation he marched up to the nearest one, whipped his naked bum out of his old shell and moved into the new one. Has he no shame, lol! Here he is showing off his bright white new shell soon to be covered in coralline no doubt.
I noted in my June update that the Plexaurella sp. gorgonian had a damaged area on one of its branches. Well, a couple of days following that two more small damaged areas appeared and this time the gorgonin inside was exposed. The polyps then retracted completely. I waited for a week in the hope that it would miraculously recover but the polyps remained hidden and a layer of algae began to cover the branches. I decided then to take action and move the Plexaurella to a different area of the tank, if I left it where it was it would be a goner in no time at all. Finding a new location proved somewhat tricky as real estate in the tank is limited these days (ahem, what did I say about not over stocking my tank with corals!). In the end I decided to fix it close to where Acro #2 used to reside, it's not really an ideal spot long term, especially if the tiny remaining base of Acro #2 survives and sprouts new branches, but that's a problem for another day. Anyway I doubted that the gorgonian was going to make it but it appears I might be wrong. The following morning the polyps began to extend again and now 3 days later they are almost all back out again, it's not back to its previous fluffy glory but compared to how it looked before moving it's amazing. So was it a flow issue or a lighting issue? Or was the Seriatopora hystrix to blame, it was directly down flow of the Seri, maybe that was releasing some noxious substance that the gorgonian didn't like. Now I need to wait and see if the damaged areas can be recovered.
One of the hermit crabs fancied taking a ride on the Turbo snail today, all the way up to the top of the tank, along the front glass and back down again. :o)
On the 31st December 2016 I introduced Zoanthus sp. #1 to the tank. On the rock along with the zoas came a mystery disc thing that I identified as a foraminifera called Marginopora vertebralis (see here). For a couple of months nothing changed and then suddenly it vanished. I assumed that it had died and had fallen off the rock or had been knocked off by a snail or hermit crab. The following day I discovered it just behind the zoa rock. A few days later however it was in a different spot, OK, so the hermits or snails must have been moving it during their never ending rock cleaning duties. But then a few days after that it was in yet another spot and no way could it have been placed there by a crab or snail unless I have very, very clever snails/hermits. During the next two days I paid extra attention to the foram and lo and behold it was moving around the rock, all be it very slowly, of its own accord. Who knew it could do that?? I certainly didn't!
I have since discovered that foraminifera can move about with slender pseudopodia, or extensions of cytoplasm, the living matter of the cell, which stream through an opening in the test known as the aperture; in porous tests, the pseudopodia also emerge through the pores.
Please see the link below for more details:
This thing is seriously cool!
A new month and a new FTS. Besides a few new corals not that much has changed really. The Stylophora is showing some nice growth, the Lobophyllia and Acanthastrea look good, the zoanthids are, err, surviving. I think that all the nudibranchs have gone now and the remaining heads are opening up once again, I did lose a few of the orange ones that were on top of the rock, they simply melted away. Too much light/too little light/too much flow/too little flow? Who knows?? To be honest I've never really been that successful with zoas, perhaps the water is too clean? I'm considering feeding some coral foods to see if it helps them at all.
Acro #1 looks the same, it was knocked off the rockwork by a naughty hermit crab and when I stuck it back down it was in a slightly different orientation so it's difficult to tell if there has been any growth or not. Acro #2 has shown a tiny bit of growth and the damaged tips on the lower left-hand branches have regrown. I do think that they have lost a little colour though, another reason to try feeding perhaps, plus the nitrates and phosphates are still undetectable which according to current thinking is not ideal for SPS these days.
Since the Pink Streaked wrasse was added the Nudus gobies and Red Striped goby have moved to the front right of the tank. I get to see a lot more of them now which is really great. The tank has settled down nicely again. I need to relocate the Lobophyllia as Lurch the conch keeps knocking it to the left in his quest to clean the lower rocks. I am also thinking of adding a plating coral to the rock that sits above the pistol shrimp and Whitecap's home (I've seen them again today btw, two days on the trot I think that's a record, lol!) in order to give the entrance to the burrow a bit of shade, I think that will help them to feel more comfortable and hopefully they will become more visible. At the moment the lighting is really too bright for them.
I've been trying to get some shots of the Possum and Pink Streaked wrasse but it's proving difficult as they don't sit still like the gobies do. I will keep trying. Oh and last but not least Crystal the Bruun's cleaner shrimp shed her exoskeleton again last night so she seems fine too.
Well my wonderful view of the Whitecap goby and pistol shrimp partner has been somewhat short-lived. Lurch the conch came bulldozing over their newly constructed burrow this morning and proceeded to fill it in whilst performing his routine clean-up duties. Normally I'm thrilled to see him cruising around keeping the sand clean looking but not today. Doesn't he realise that area is now off limits? I'm betting the shrimp will be burrowing somewhere else tonight, somewhere that I can't see I'm sure. :o(
Talking of clean-up duties my eldest recorded a time-lapse video of the tank with his GoPro Hero4. At that time the tank just contained snails and a couple of hermits. I feel exhausted just from watching how busy the 'crew' are, they work so hard.
Happy New Year everyone, I hope you all enjoyed the festivities.
I am pleased to report that my tank has corals in it at last! I took absolutely ages at the LFS deciding what to buy. I'm still not sure if I have made the right choices but the deed is done now so I'll have live with the consequences. My criteria for selection were small pieces/frags only and easy(ish) corals to care for. So I am now the proud owner of a small rock with a scattering of zoanthids, a frag of Stylophora pistillata and a frag of Acanthastrea sp. At the insistence of my son I also came home with a couple of micro hermits. As far as my kids are concerned, crabs are absolutely awesome and corals are just blah! I did however, put my foot down at the suggestion of buying a clam at this point. As much as I would love one I think the tank is too young and unstable at the moment.
With regards to the resident stock, the squat lobster is still MIA so it's looking like he's probably gone up to the great reef in the sky, I doubt that I'll be getting another if that is the case. He will be my first loss and will be sorely missed. The Scaleless Shrimpgobies are spending more and more of their time hidden in their cave and have become very protective of it too. Any hermits that venture too close are immediately attacked. Neither goby has fed today in fact I have only seen one of them (not sure which one) a couple of times this afternoon. I do hope they are OK. Edna the possum wrasse has become a bit more confident and I can feed her directly from a pipette, she still quite shy and prefers to swim close to the rockwork and hang out under overhangs though. Candy the Red Striped goby is going strong and seems unfazed by anything at all, food is definitely on top of her list of priorities.
Day 55: Both of the hermit crabs have changed their shells since they were introduced, I take that as a good sign not only that they are growing but also that they approve of the new shell homes that I have provided for them.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!