I've finally managed to capture a half decent photo of Mr Fantastic the Tigertail cucumber. He's rarely visible during the day but after lights out he can often be found stretching out on to the sand to feed. I have tried on a few occasions to take a photo but he's amazingly sensitive to light, one brief flash from the camera and he's gone. This time I set the camera to the smallest aperture (f32), manually focused the lens (a bit tricky in the dark), readied the flash and crossed my fingers. Fortunately it didn't turn out too bad.
He's been with me for almost 6 months now, I assume he's finding enough food to eat because he's never strayed from the right-hand side of the tank and he's significantly bigger now. I couldn't tell you exactly how much bigger he is because he never shows his rear end. Whenever he pops out to feed he always has his bum anchored underneath the rocks for safety. This is totally fine by me as I don't want him climbing the glass and getting anywhere near the pumps.
Ming the Pom Pom crab was also out and about so I took the opportunity to snap a picture of him too. He's such a fascinating and cool looking crab.
I let the tank and myself have a breather for a week following 'clamgate'. Clive the clam appears to be fine after the incident and I'm pleased to report that nothing succumbed to an excess of clam ‘protein'. Then I transferred over my two remaining Acropora (gomezi and hyacinthus). I'd been putting off moving these because as we all know SPS can be tricky in new systems but it had to be done and if they didn't make it that'll be that. The A. gomezi was super easy because it's a tiny frag on a frag plug but the A. hyacinthus had grown rather large. I tried my best to frag it off the rock in one complete piece but, yeah that didn't happen. It broke into three, I was going to keep the two largest but in the end I opted to add a single bit only (easier to fix down). Those who followed my old thread may remember that the Reefer 170 had an issue with red bugs. I hadn't seen any of the little red devils for ages but that doesn’t mean that they were all gone, I can only hope. I dipped both frags in Reef Primer and checked them quite thoroughly before they were transferred.
Now we get to the big one. On the 26th April I decided to complete the tank transfer and shut the Reefer down. Prior to this I made one last concerted effort to catch Rei the yellow wrasse and Spike firefish but Rei would only poke his head briefly into the trap and Spike avoided it entirely so it was simply a no go. We did try catching the Spike using nets and acrylic baffles, much chaos ensued with the tiny fish outwitting us every time.
The strip down progressed pretty much as planned with no disasters to speak of, I found it quite stressful nonetheless. We emptied out the water and rocks in stages. The corals that I wanted to keep were cut off and placed in one bucket with the remaining rocks/corals going into another. Spike the firefish was cornered with a net and safely removed. Ming the Pom pom crab was discovered clinging to the underside of a rock. Finally we were left with a tank containing a little water, one last piece of rock and sand. With my breath held, the rock was lifted out revealing Al the pistol shrimp and Flash his Whitecap goby partner hiding underneath. Phew! A careful bit of sand exploration was required to flush out Rei the yellow wrasse. Swipes the porcelain crab was MIA at that point so we had to carefully go back and examine every bit of rock again placing them one by one back into the Reefer as we went. Finally we discovered her hidden in a hole in one of the base rocks. That was pretty much it except for one last thing of note, I discovered a rather scary number of Aiptasia living in the overflow weir along with half a dozen baby sun corals.
Following the transfer Rei the yellow wrasse hid in the sand for a whole 10 days before finally deciding to make an appearance. I honestly thought he’d died from stress or something. Everything else made it through OK which I’m relieved about. The fish were naturally pretty freaked out however so I didn’t take any photos for ages.
The Acros are still alive and growing but have lost colour which is probably down to the poor nutrient situation. There have been a number of reports circulating recently that TMC eco reef rock leaches phosphate and silicates but apart from a brief spike of phosphate during the cycle that hasn’t been my experience at all. Nitrate and phosphate have been consistently registering as zero on my test kits (Salifert and Hanna respectively). In the old days this wouldn’t have bothered me much but the internet has taught me to fear the dreaded D word. For a while I saw a little growth of what looked like some brown algae on the rocks but when viewed along the length of the tank with natural lighting behind was in fact green hair algae. There must have been some nutrients knocking about somewhere to fuel the growth. This algae started to become a little more pronounced so I decided the CUC needed a tiny boost. Two weeks and 6 small Trochus snails later most of this algae was gone, I felt quite pleased with myself. However the removal of the hair algae shifted the balance somehow and combined with a lack of nutrients I began to see the appearance of dinoflagellates on some of my gorgonians. Normally I would take a watch and wait approach but it’s hard not be affected by some of the algae horror stories I have read online. I dusted off the microscope and identified the species as Ostreopsis, fearing a full blown infestation along with the death of my beloved snails I decided action was required in the form of nitrate dosing. I had already been feeding quite heavily to that point including Reef roids and phytoplankton but it didn’t seem to have made any measurable difference. It felt wrong to be actually dosing nitrate! I began with a laughably tiny amount (0.5ml of Brightwell’s NeoNitro per day, 12.6ml will raise my tank volume by 1ppm so 0.5ml was nothing lol). After 6 weeks I gradually increased the dose to 4ml per day, during this time the dino growth increased slightly, mainly evident on the gorgonians, but never turned into the major disaster I feared. The gorgonians still had their polyps extended and the snails seemed fine too. I continued my weekly water change regimen using the opportunity to siphon as much of the dinos as possible every time (not recommended I know but I like to perform water changes).
When the tank was 4 months old I sent off the first ICP sample. I discovered elevated levels of Cobalt and Aluminium. I have no idea where they have come from, leeching from the rock maybe? The nitrate level was 0.02mg/l, phosphate was 0.03mg/l and silicate was 66ug/l. Iodine was a bit low as expected (and some other elements low as per usual).
Finally after 7 weeks of dosing nitrate I started to register 1ppm on the Salifert kit, incredibly the dinos started to recede! This might have been a coincidence of course and nothing at all to do with the nitrate level but either way I am happy.
I am curious to know why I’m not registering a release of phosphate and/or silicate from the TMC eco reef rock. Perhaps the corals are soaking up the nutrients as they are released, the gorgonians are growing very fast. Or maybe the rock is hatching a plan to trip me up later on down the road.
A couple of quick photos before I have to leave the tank again, I hope everything is still alive when I get back. This time I am leaving for the US to attend MACNA in Las Vegas, yippee! I'm hoping to take lots of photos whilst I'm there so keep an eye on this blog if you are interested in all things reefy.
I managed to snap a photo of Ming the Pom Pom crab last night. He is such a cool little dude! I've had him for just over 14 months now and both he and his anemones appear to be doing great. Every now and again I feed him directly as I did with a piece of Krill last night but for the most part he just finds his own food.
Also here is a quick FTS, just in case it something bad happens to the tank in the next week or so. The A. hyacinthus has grown too close to the front glass again so that it's no longer possible to clean it properly and the Utter Chaos zoanthids are out of control round the right-hand side so some serious fragging is in order when I get back. I did remove quite a few branches of the Seriatopora at the weekend (an easy job to do) as it was overgrowing the clam, eek!
Everything seems to be ticking along nicely at the moment. The KH dipped a little following the addition of the carbon dioxide filter and I've had to up my dosing rate as a consequence. I'm hoping it means that the corals are happier with the higher pH values and have increased their growth rates. Unfortunately perhaps, also due to the dip in KH (down from approx 7.0 to 6.5), the coralline on the back wall took a bit of a beating. It's not a problem as such but clearly I need to keep a better eye on the alkalinity level.
Swipes the porcelain crab, Petrolisthes galathinus, has settled in nicely and is proving to be a star attraction with the rest of my family (after Lurch the conch, who still remains the absolute favourite inhabitant). She has made her home underneath the left-hand rock pile and spends the majority of her time hanging out with Edna & Kylie (the two wrasses), filtering out small morsels of food from the water.
Ming, the Pom Pom crab (Lybia sp.) has also settled into the left-hand rock pile, in a small hole, way under the ledge. He's still pretty shy and we don't get to see him out in the open very much as of yet, I did manage to capture a sneaky shot of him in his hidey hole using flash today however.
It's pretty time consuming trying to take individual photos of all the corals individually on the same day so there just a small selection below, I'll work on adding the rest later in the week hopefully.
To finish, I just have to share a couple more shots of Crystal the Red Spotted cleaner shrimp, Urocaridella antonbrunnii, because she is the most incredible looking shrimp.
I have some new stuff. :o)
After searching for ages I located a shop that had some Red Spotted gobies, Trimma rubromaculatus, in stock (finally Facebook is useful for something). They only had two left when I visited but apparently they were a mated pair so I just couldn't leave without them. They've been with me for 4 days now and seem to have settled in a treat. On introduction they were ignored by the other fishy residents with the exception of Candy, the Trimma cana goby. Candy is actually a male Red Striped goby and he was not best pleased to see a another male goby, even of a different species, invading his patch. There was much posturing between himself and what I would assume to be the male Red Spotted goby. No damage was done fortunately and now they appear to be keeping their distance from each other. The new gobies, named Rocket and Sparks, are much more active than Candy and are out and about a lot more especially at feeding times when the nanostream pumps are off. They do find it hard work to battle the flow when the pumps are on and are generally found suctioned onto the underside of rocks or resting on the back wall instead of swimming up in the water column.
In addition to the gobies I also purchased another small frag of zoanthids, this variety is called "King Midas" and comes with some hitchhiking fan worms too, a nice bonus in my opinion. I think I'm pretty much out of space now where zoanthids are concerned. Picture to follow in my upcoming 1st July update.
I also added to my crustacean collection in the form of a Pom Pom crab just because I think these guys are just the coolest. They have such beautiful markings and the little anemones they hold are neat. I hope he (or she) doesn't do too much damage waving them around the tank, lol! No photo as of yet because he's kind of shy at the moment.
In other news Lurch the conch finally got up after his extended snooze. He spent almost 2 whole months hidden under the sand with no movement at all except for the odd glimpse of an eyeball and his proboscis poking out of the sand for an occasional bedtime snack. I'm surprised that he can survive for that long with such little food to sustain him. Luckily he seems none the worse for his 'hibernation' period thank goodness, I just wish I knew what caused it, is it a natural part of his lifecycle or was there some water quality issue that he didn't particularly like?
The Nudus gobies have not been in much evidence since Gordon the Whitecap goby made his leap of faith last month. I used to see them all the time but after the upheaval with the pistol shrimp and the loss of Gordon they hardly ever came out of the burrow system and never both at the same time. Then Hop (the male) vanished entirely, the last sighting of him was on the 18th June and after that nothing. He has been known to go missing before, when guarding eggs, but I generally get to see his head pop out of the burrow every now and again. I was beginning to think that he'd had an altercation with the pistol shrimp and lost or been buried alive under the rocks, eek! Happily no, after 8 days he's back out again like nothing was ever wrong so I guess he had been guarding eggs again after all. I wish they'd let me know so that I don't worry so much, lol!
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!