On the 18th April I relocated Charlie (or is it Charlize?) the hitchhiking crab from the DT to the refugium. After almost 4 weeks of no-show, today I discovered him (her?) alive and well in the jungle. I am chuffed, what a survivor!
Also I've also been playing around with a new macro lens, starting with some of the easier corals to capture.
Never in a million years did I think that it'd be easy to catch and remove my hitchhiking crab but boy how very wrong I was. My deluxe homemade crab trap actually worked first time! I propped an empty glass spice jar up against the top rock where the crab lived and baited it with some mysis shrimp just after lights out. I honestly felt that the jar was a little too tall for the job and it would never catch anything but to my very great surprise it did. I checked back on the tank after just an hour and was gobsmacked to discover the crab sitting in the jar. It's so great when a plan comes together without any blood being shed (and doesn't cost anything, lol).
With clearer photos I'm now confident that the crab is indeed Chlorodiella nigra. Please refer to the link below for comparitive purposes.
Of course I couldn't bring myself to kill the little guy, after all he had done no wrong, simply knocked a frag off the rock which was probably my fault for not fixing it down securely enough. The biggest issue for me was the fact that he'd set up home right next to my clam and whilst this species is reported to mainly eat algae I didn't want to take the risk of the clam being irritated or even worse becoming a crabby snack down the line. So off he went into the refugium where hopefully he'll be content with an endless supply of algae (and pods?) to munch on.
Yesterday I (along with the assistance of my better half) installed my long awaited shiny new GHL Doser 2 SA pump. No more manual dosing for me, yay! This piece of equipment is seriously snazzy, it feels solid and it just looks so very, very cool. I almost wish I'd got it sitting in full view; the light show it gives off is seriously impressive. It flashes violet, red, yellow, green, white or blue depending on its status. It reminds me of my teenage disco days lol! My only disappointment with the unit so far was the lack of a UK plug. Why?! The Mitras light has one so why not the doser too?? Very annoying indeed.
The initial set-up was straightforward and I especially enjoyed calibrating the pump heads, it made me feel like I was back in the lab again. Programming the dosing schedule through the GHL Control Centre was easy too. However where we fell down was trying to connect the doser to our home wifi network and then on to the myGHL Cloud. The disco light was supposed to turn blue when connected but it resolutely stayed blinking white no matter how much I shouted and pleaded with it. We did get there in the end after we double, triple and quadruple checked the instruction manual and all the data required (IP address/password info etc). I'm not sure I would have been able to sort that bit by myself to be honest. Good job my other half is useful with a computer.
The doser and dosing containers are situated in the cabinet next to the tank along with the ATU tank. Presently I'm using it to dose Tropic Marin balling salts (A, B & C). One pump head is currently redundant but I'm fairly sure I'll find something extra to dose at a later date. The liquids are dripped into the return chamber of the sump. Since space is severely limited inside the cabinet (with the refugium tank in place) I swapped out the Reefloat Sensor sump mount for the new Reefer mod. This was very easy to do, rather like changing a plug. Now the dosing tube holder sits where the sensor sump mount used to be, all very neat and tidy, well sort of if you ignore the spaghetti junction of tubing and power leads down there.
I always love to check out what's happening is the sump/refugium areas. The refugium whilst not particularly successful at growing lush macro algae, is at least good for cultivating amphipods and has a healthy number of spirorbid worms growing on the glass (as does the back wall of the DT to be honest). I was pleased to discover last week that at least one of the three mini brittlestars that I introduced as part of a refugium pack in December is still alive and and much bigger too. It's the first time I've seen one since the week of introduction (8th December 2016). Interestingly I discovered a sycon sponge has settled in the sump on one of the siporax rings, I think this is a good thing rather than bad.
It's four months since this little tank was set up and all seems to be going really well. Almost a bit too well actually, I'm expecting something to go wrong at any moment, it's usually the way. I'm keeping a close eye on the water parameters now that I have added a few more corals. In the past I have really struggled to keep the alkalinity and calcium levels at appropriate levels even with the use of a calcium reactor and kalkstirrer. As soon as it was pumped in it was sucked up by the corals and clams. This time round I'm hoping to maintain good levels with careful dosing. The parameters today were:
The above were tested using a refractometer, Salifert test kits and a Hanna pocket checker for the phosphate. I'm fairly sure that my phosphate level is not really zero but it must be pretty low and there is very little in the way of nuisance algae growth in the tank apart from a bit of furriness on the rocks. I do not know what the furriness is but it doesn't look too unsightly and stays short. In any case there seems to be less of it now. The macro algae growth in the refugium has been disappointing to date, considering the lack of nutrients I suppose it's not entirely surprising. As long as the reason is not down to a lack of flow or lighting, time will tell, I can't imagine this situation will last for long. I've started dosing a small amount of Reef Roids and KZ Sponge Power recently so they may affect the levels in the future.
You'd think that over 4 months I'd de familiar with all the livestock in my tank, well no actually. A couple of days ago I noticed that the Seriatopora had retracted its polyps and on closer inspection I discovered a small crab sitting at it's base. Where on earth had he suddenly popped up from?? I highly doubt that he came in on any of the SPS frags as they are too small to conceal a crab, I suppose it could have hitched a ride in on the zoanthid rock but the most likely explanation was that it was hidden in the live rock when it was first added. It doesn't look like it's chowing down on coral flesh (at the moment, heh!) so I'll leave it be for the time being and watch and wait. I hope it behaves itself or we'll be having some fun and games with extrication later on.
So my tank seems to have passed the first coral test, all of the frags I introduced 12 days ago are still alive. Phew! The Stylophora is even showing signs of growth. I think it might be time to add a few more at the weekend and maybe even another fish.
The coralline has really started to take off, I'm seeing spots of growth on the pumps and on the back wall too. I am undecided as to whether I should scrape it off for a nice clean look or leave it au naturel. I'll live with it for a while and see how I feel when the coverage increases. Spirorbid worms have also begun to appear in the DT and in the sump too.
The tank parameters as of this morning are:
Specific Gravity 1.026 d SG
Alkalinity 6.85 dKH
Calcium 425 ppm
Magnesium 1270 ppm
Nitrate 0 ppm
Phosphate 0 ppm
I'd like to tweek the KH and Mg up a bit more but those values are not too bad. I am extremely surprised not to have any detectable NO3 or PO4, this is a bit of quandary for me, I don't think I've ever had a tank with no (or low amounts) of NO3/PO4. I guess the Siporax and refugium must doing their thing, it is early days though and stocking is light I so expect that the levels will rise soon. I do have a bit of furry algae growth on the rocks and a film of algae forms on the glass so I know that there must be some nutrients hidden in there even if the tests say different.
The tank is now just under 10 weeks old and all the equipment is finally up and running bar the dosing pump for Balling salts (that's going to have to wait a while as I'm currently penniless at the moment).
The sump has changed quite a bit since the initial set up photos were taken. Within it now resides a Deltec SC1351 skimmer, a Schego 200W titanium heater, a Tunze 1073.02 return pump and the sensor for the Reefloat ATU-pro3. Additionally it now contains siporax in three separate baskets, two in the sump and one in the old ATU tank. Altogether they contain 5l of media and will be cleaned on an alternate basis to minimise disruption to the bacterial colonies. To the left of the sump sits a DIY refugium, it's a bit of an odd shape, tall and narrow, it remains to be see if it will grow algae efficiently or not. It is lit by a Beamswork Evo 6500K 18W LED on a reverse cycle to the display tank. Presently it contains a layer of Tropic Marin reef mud and a variety of macro algae (Cauperpa prolifera, Caulerpa serrulata, Chaetomorpha and a tiny bit of C. racemosa that sneaked in with the Chaeto). Both the refugium and the old ATU tank are supplied with water from the overflow via a small Eheim pump, they have been fitted with bulkheads to allow the water to flow back down into the sump and up to the display tank (DT) via the return pump.
I have removed the filter sock and to begin with I ran the tank without any form of mechanical filtration. Recently however I decided to add a bit of filter floss as I was starting to see increased levels of particulate matter in the DT.
The electrical sockets are sited away from the tank in a cabinet to the left, along with the RO reservoir for the ATU.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!