The tank has survived to reach its second anniversary today, how the time has flown. Needless to say after two years of running, the exciting stocking phase is pretty much over with (although never say never, lol!) and I've moved on to the not quite so exciting fragging phase.
The first coral that needed a proper pruning was the Seriatopora hystrix. It has grown in rather an unruly manner and some of the branches were growing over the top of the clam (a definite no-no!) and a good section was also now obscuring my view of the sun coral, making it harder to feed. The tips are easy to frag but I found that when trying to cut branches further down, whole sections would break off instead, so I removed far more of the coral than I intended. Oh well it will recover given time (assuming that the Utter Chaos zoanthids don't take it over completely).
Finally, I am able to see the sun coral in all its glory again. As you can see it does try to keep the branches of the Seri in check by stinging and killing off the tips that stray too close. If you look closely you can also see a few of the baby sun polyps that have settled on to the rockwork to the left. The whole tank is pretty much spotted with baby suns right now, even the Scolymia already has one settled on its skeleton.
Talking of sun corals, the Dendrophyllia frag I added in August is doing really well, it started out as 3 heads and now has 5, with another 4 more developing. This seems like a much faster growth rate than the Tubastrea, or maybe it is just more noticeable due to its branching formation.
I have also been lucky enough to pick up another Dendrophyllia frag from a fellow reefer. Morphologically it looks the same as the yellow one so it's possibly just a different colour morph (or perhaps it's a different species, I don't know). I so looove these corals, I know that they are only at their best after the lights go out but I simply don't care, I think they are spectacular! I sometimes wonder if I should have just gone with an NPS tank and be done with everything else, lol! Ideally I'd prefer to feed these corals during the day so that I can admire their beauty with the lights on but it's so darn frustrating. The wrasse try to steal the food and 98% of the time they are successfuI before the polyp has a chance to fully ingest it. No matter how I defend the coral, the bloomin fish sneak in and grab it most of the time. It's just not worth the effort and stress it causes (to me and the coral). Oh to be outwitted by a few fish....
Anyway back to fragging. The second coral that needed reducing in size was the green plating Montipora, I'd been psyching myself up to do this for months. I knew the time had finally come when the Acanthastrea corals growing directly below it started showing signs of struggling, they were at that point pretty much completely shaded out by the coral above. I kept putting it off because the Montipora had grown into such a perfect saucer shape and looked lovely, I knew that once I'd had at it the shape would be ruined. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of either this or the Seri before I began chopping, I don't know what was I thinking? Anyway the plate coral may look quite delicate but it was surprisingly hard to frag, lower down the skeleton is deceptively thick. I took off a good couple of inches around the edges on the right-hand side and probably should have done more but that's a problem for another day.
Now that the there's a bit more light, the Acanthastrea 'Lava Glow' looks good again. Its smaller brother to the left of it is unfortunately still somewhat shaded. However this coral has never really grown well even when it received better lighting. I did try to move it to another location recently but it's fused to the rockwork so I'm afraid it's there to stay.
The third coral that needed to be fragged was Acropora hyacinthus. I've been nipping the front tips off here and there for a while as they grew towards the front glass but more drastic action was needed this time as I was no longer possible to clean the glass in front of it. Due to the fused branch growth it was now impossible to remove individual bits so the best remedy for the long term was to remove the entire front half of the coral and as with the Seriatopora more was removed than intended. In fact there's not much of the coral left now, just the base and one main branch. Hey ho!
Whilst fragging the A. hyacinthus a large chunk snapped off at the base and fell right on top of the Scolymia. Argh! The Scoly looked very unhappy for a few days and remained shrivelled up, naturally I feared for the worst but fortunately the reefing gods were smiling down and it has bounced back to full glory once more. To say I'd have been upset if a frag that originally cost £15 took out a much, MUCH more expensive coral would have been a bit of an understatement to say the least, lol!
The Scoly loves to eat but never shows its tentacles till after the lights go out so I only feed it at that time. I offer it krill or LPS pellets once or twice per week.
The Favia has grown from a frag the size of inch squared into quite a big beastie and has spread out not only over the rockwork but also out onto the sand towards the Acanthastrea to the left of it. There used to be a good gap between the left and right rock piles, a space in which the conch could easily pass through but now his shell won't fit through at all. I fear that it's only a question of time until the two corals start fighting each other and there won't be much I can do about it as they are both well and truly encrusted on to the rockwork, It won't be pretty I'm sure!
The Heliofungia also continues to do well, there's no sign of it wanting to break away and wander round the sand (which is fine by me!) nor are it's offspring. As you can see from the photo below the coralline algae growing on the glass is a bit of a pain. I want to scrape it all off but I don't want to damage the coral during the process. Everywhere I've read says if the flesh gets torn then it's "hasta la vista baby!", so I feel it's best to just leave it be.
Jessie the Rainford's goby has settled in beautifully and whilst he always gives way to the much larger wrasse at feeding time, he's not shy at all. He roams all over the tank, pecking at algae and chewing the 'sand'. He now feeds really well on frozen food and tries his level best to grab as much as he can before the greedy wrasse hoover it all up, I still offer him a bit extra via a pipette to make sure he gets enough to keep his little belly full.
Sadly I haven't seen Candy the Red Striped goby (Trima cana) since the 8th October. He/she was one of the first fish added to the tank on the 3rd December 2016. I understand that nano gobies do not have long lifespans, only a couple of years, so I'm assuming it was just his time. Two years is just too short sadly. I can't help but wonder how long Hop the Nudus goby will be around for now. He was also added at the same time as Candy and he already lost his mate earlier this year (March).
Sadly I don't have a recent(ish) photo of Candy to share as once the zoanthids grew over his rock he took to hanging out behind Lobophyllia where he was difficult to photograph. I'll post this sneaky shot taken last year instead. :'(
The rest of the fish are fine.
I have a new invert (see, I can still squeeze more stuff in lol!), a crinoid squat lobster. I tried keeping one of these adorable little crustaceans back in 2016, when the tank was relatively new. Sadly it vanished after just 20 days and I vowed not try another... then I came across this little guy. I reasoned that now that the tank is mature this itty bitty crustacean would stand a better chance at survival so he now resides in my tank. As I type this, it's been 27 days since introduction and I'm happy to say that he's taken up permanent residence amongst the branches of Seriatopora, hiding underneath the relative safely of the Utter Chaos zoanthids during the day, he blends in extremely well with the orange of the polyps. He's been named Jaffa and readily accepts all sorts of food from the pipette, I am hopeful he will do better than Stripes did.
Jobs I still need to do. I need to frag the branches of the Stylophora that are growing too close to the glass on the left-hand side and try and remove some of the many Utter Chaos zoanthids that have spread round the tank (I really regret adding those devils).
I've run out of time now so I'll sign off with the obligatory full tank shot.
To this, in two years.
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.
I had to leave the tank in the capable hands of my eldest son for three days over the Christmas period whilst I was away visiting the in-laws. Amazingly everything survived the ordeal, lol, although the squat lobster is currently MIA. I am hoping that he is in hiding following the shedding of his exoskeleton but equally he may have passed on. I will be very sad indeed if he has died.
I really need to get my dosing regimen sorted out. The alkalinity dropped as I wasn't dosing which is somewhat unexpected since there are no corals in the tank to suck up the calcium and yet the calcium and magnesium levels remained stable.
As predicted the growth of algae (interestingly on the live rock only and not on the sand) has increased with the addition of the new Mitras light so to keep on top of it just before I went away I decided to add some more CUC. One more small Black foot Trochus was introduced along with a Mexican Turbo snail for added variety. The Turbo snail (named Pablo) has done a wonderful job eating the furry looking algae that has started to cover the well lit areas of live rock.
Day 60: Argh, horror of horrors! This morning I discovered that Stripes the squat lobster had lost a limb (the left cheliped). How on earth did that happen? As far as I am aware there is nothing in the tank that would attack him. The gobies are tiny, the shrimp ignores him, the snails are veggies. The Nassarius are zombie-like.... lol! I guess the most obvious suspects would be the scarlet hermit crabs but they are tiny, I mean smaller than the lobster himself and he's pretty small. Stripes looks unbalanced now, I'm hoping he'll regrow the claw after he's moulted a couple of times.
To make matters worse he decided to scale the silicone at the back of the tank and hang out at the back of the weir. If he turned sideways he could take a dive through the comb and over. I suppose it could be considered a good place to catch food particles as they pass by on their way down into the sump but the flow is fairly high for a tiny crustacean. Anyway things took a turn for the comical later on in the evening after the lights went out. A Cerith decided to join him at the top of the weir and he proceeded to hitch a ride on the back of the snail's shell as it worked its way around the front of the comb cleaning off the diatoms. When I turned in for the night they were still 'together' half way along the comb, I wonder by that time that he was not clinging on to the snail for dear life. I wish I'd taken a photo of that! Will I still have a squat lobster come morning time??
Day 57: I'm loving the new crusty additions. The Bruun's cleaner shrimp is an amazing little thing, we have named her (no idea of the sex actually!) Crystal as she is pretty much completely see through with just a few spots of colour and her insides visible. She is pretty hard to find unless you are specifically looking for her.
The crinioid squat lobster is all over the tank, in a new location every day. We have named him Stripes, not very original I know. I'm pleased just to be able to admire him, I'm sure in a bigger tank with more rockwork he would be almost impossible to locate once introduced. He has really long chelipeds (the first pair of legs with the claws) they look rather unwieldy to me but I guess they are perfect for him. I wish that I could keep him with a crinoid friend but crinoids are extremely difficult to care for long term due to their filter feeding requirements. Luckily squat lobsters do not need them to thrive in a reef tank environment.
Day 53: Time for some crustacean action! I have a particular fondness for shrimps and crabs and am hoping that with a smaller tank I'll be able to introduce and actually observe some of the more reclusive species. In keeping with the smaller theme I chose a Bruun's cleaner shrimp, Urocaridella antonbruunii and a crinoid squat lobster, Allogalathea elegans. I also introduced a couple of Striped Nassarius snails, Nassarius sp. to scavenge excess food, fish waste and detritus in addition to keeping the sand turned over.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!