In a further attempt to raise my nitrate levels I decided to add a few more fish to the tank. I was watching a video posted on social media by my LFS and spotted that they had some Ghost Cardinalfish (Zoramia leptacantha) in stock. I have rather fancied trying these fish ever since I saw a large group of them in a tank at the Horniman Museum in 2019, whilst they are not really showy, they do have the most incredible blue eyes. I checked that they were still available and the shop kindly allowed me to pay for them over the phone and pick them up outside which was perfect for me.
The recommended minimum number of Cardinals to add to any tank is five so that's what I purchased. On introduction it didn't take long for Sunny the Sunburst Anthias to decide that he did not like these fish at all (there's always someone/something that has to play up whenever I add something new!). One of the new fish became separated from the rest and ended up trapped in the top right hand corner of the tank where it was repeatedly harassed by the Anthias. The rest were chased as well but they had safety in numbers. I kept mentally willing the solitary fish to go and join his brothers and sisters but he just couldn't pluck up the courage to move. After a while, when I could bear it no longer, and I shooed the solitary fish over to the others with a net. Now it was five against one, much better odds. The Anthias continued to chase the group but they just scattered briefly before shoaling together again so no damage was done.
Here they are sticking together on the day of introduction.
They didn't eat anything on the first day and didn't seem keen to eat on the second day either so I tried adding some live copepods. They loved these and that seemed to give them the boost to try frozen food later on and they haven't looked back since. In fact I have since discovered that these fish love to eat, they love to eat a LOT! In fact they are like little piranhas. I use a pipette to target feed some of my fish and they very quickly learnt to associate that with food and crowd around it whenever it enters the water. It's refreshing to have some fish that are not finicky with food but the downside is it's made it trickier to feed some of the more shy fish. I can't really win, lol.
It's been just over a week now since they were added and they don't tend to keep together as much any more. Three of them swim together in front of the big gorgonian, one hangs out above the A. hyacinthus and the last one swims round the back. They all come together however when it's feeding time. They look fantastic under the LED lights, the blue around the eyes really seems to light up and the scales look like they have been dipped in silver. Sunny the Anthias still chases them every now and again especially at feeding time but the Cardinals don't seem to care one bit, they just dart out of the way and resume whatever they were doing two seconds later.
All in all I've been very pleased to add these fish, in hindsight I wish I'd added more than five now. I hope that I have a mix of males and females and they settle enough to start breeding. Fingers crossed.
I received the results of my second ICP analysis yesterday. Cobalt and Aluminium are still elevated but there is a little less than before so maybe the TMC eco rock has stopped leeching or is a least leeching less now, time will tell. The nutrient levels are still low despite my feeding a ton of food and dosing extra nitrate. I have been seeing a little bit of green cyano on the rocks and the sand is looking a bit greener too. I'm still debating whether I should do anything about it or just wait and see. I'll probably just wait and see. Oh and I have been plucking out tiny bits of Ulva from the sand (mainly) whenever I see them, grrr! I'm resigned to have to keep doing this from now on.
The sun coral has christened the new rock, the first baby is coming along nicely.
The baby Trochus snails are doing really well. I've been moving any that I find in the sump over to the refugium. The refugium needs cleaning and they are better off in there, I want to avoid the scenario where they get crushed by an impeller or jam up my X-filter. I have discovered some in the DT too which I'm surprised about, I thought that they would all have been wrasse food but I guess they are able to hide well enough to avoid such a fate. They do blend in with the rockwork extremely well.
The Coco worm continues to do surprisingly well, it has extended its tube even more now. Kylie the Pink Streaked wrasse is keeping a beady eye on it for me.
I'm also pleased to report that the Menella gorgonian appears to be doing great now. It's finally decided to pop out another branch at the base, woo hoo! Unfortunately I can't get it to completely recover the sections that lost some flesh earlier on because hair algae has taken a hold. It's only possible to see the algae when the polyps are fully retracted but it does annoy me no end. When the algae grows long enough a hermit comes along and gives it a trim which I appreciate.
Unfortunately the Rei Yellow wrasse seems to have taken a bit of a disliking to Jessie the Rainford's goby, I have no idea as to why; a dominance thing maybe. There is no chasing or actual fighting but a fair amount of posturing goes on between the two. When they meet they both fully flare their fins and engage in some sort of a staring contest, Jessie may be the smaller fish but he stands his ground. Rei had better watch his step because if it comes to a choice he'll be the one to go. Catching him would be the issue...
A quick pic of Sunny the Sunburst Anthias.
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.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!