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.
One of the recently added Trochus snails has sprouted a lush growth of Ulva on his shell. From what I've read this algae seems to be doing the rounds at the moment and since I don't keep any big herbivorous fish, or indeed intend to, it could become a headache for me if/when it spreads. Also I've noticed the appearance of a few patches of what I believe to be green cyanobacteria on the rockwork. I'm hoping this doesn't get any worse. Lastly I discovered another tiny Aiptasia in the tank. . It was growing on the tube of my Coco worm, either it came in with the worm or it has settled onto the tube whilst it's been in my tank, I kind of hope it's the former and not the latter. Where there's one there's probably many more waiting to be discovered. Oh joy!
Now for some possibly good news, the Coco worm, Protula bispiralis 'seems' to be doing quite well so far. I'm basing this off of the fact that it's extended it's calcareous tube quite a bit over the last month. If it can lay down some new tube then it must be getting enough to eat, right? When I came to treat the aforementioned Aiptasia with Aiptasia-X, I tried to make it go in first by poking it but despite literally brushing the feathery head three or four times with a pipette it refused to retract. I went ahead and treated the Aiptasia anyway and it stayed out during the entire procedure. I was somewhat concerned by this lack of responsiveness but I just watched a hermit crab crawl over the worm today and it retracted quick as a flash so I guess it simply wasn't bothered enough by me.
Here's a few crappy zoomed in iPhone pics showing the tube growth. The first shot was taken on the 3rd June and the second was taken this morning, 4th July, just over a month later.
Also I made an exciting discovery whilst performing a water change. I was pumping fresh saltwater into the sump when I noticed some unusual ‘blobs’ moving around down there. On closer inspection I discovered they were baby Trochus snails. How cool is that! OK, I know it’s nothing unusual for snails to spawn in reef tanks but this is the first time I have actually had them settle out and grow into proper baby snails in my tank. So far I have counted 4 of the little chaps but I'm sure there will be more hidden away.
Here’s one of the wee chaps cleaning the base of the skimmer. He’d better not make his way into the pump.....
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.
There's one zoanthid morph that I've been saving a spot for in my tank but have never seen it for sale in an aquarium shop or via my favourite online supplier so I decided to give E-bay a whirl instead. I ordered two polyps of the "Utter Chaos" zoas, they arrived promptly and were in great condition, I was very pleased (and relieved) with my purchase. I did treat the polyps to a dip in Reef Primer just in case there were any unpleasant hitchhikers, it seemed unlikely on such a small frag disc but as I didn't know the source tank I decided it was not worth the risk. I can see why these zoanthids are so popular, the fluorescent orange colour really 'pops' under the blue LEDs. I roughly chopped down the frag disc as much as possible and hope the remainder will be grown over and hidden asap. I hate frag discs on show in the DT!
I also added a few more snails today to boost my clean up crew as I've noticed that the resident crew aren't quite managing to keep the algae growth in check, not unsurprising now that I am feeding the tank more. So a big welcome to Laurel, Hardy, Eric & Ernie the Trochus snails and Del Boy & Rodney the Ceriths.
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 34: The snails have been hard at work and the rocks are looking clean again. Looks like the coralline is slowly starting to spread too.
Day 26: Oh yes the diatoms are really here now! Time to take the plunge and add a small clean up crew. I do feel a touch nervous as I have no way of knowing if the cycle has actually taken place or not, I've never set up a tank and not been able to follow the progression of ammonia to nitrite and then nitrite to nitrate. Still I'm going to trust that all is well and take the plunge. Two black-footed Trochus and two ceriths were introduced after careful acclimation.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!