Some bad news to report.
First up, the King Midas zoanthids I introduced just under 4 weeks ago. For the first week I left them sitting on the sand and they looked great, opening up nicely so I decided to fix them down on the rear of the right-hand rock pile. Oddly after that they refused to open up again. Hmm, I thought maybe they don't like that spot so I removed the frag plug from the rock and sat it back down on the sand at the front of the tank again. Happily they started to extend once more so a couple of days later I fixed them to a new spot not that far from where they were sitting on the sand. Sadly they never opened up again and started to shrink. As it stands they are pretty much all gone now, a couple of tiny polyps remain but they are closed up tight and will no doubt soon fade away. I am at a loss as to why these particular zoanthids have not survived when my other 7 varieties appear to be doing well. It's very frustrating and I'm quite sad about it because they will be my first coral loss since I started up. I didn't even manage to take a picture of them when they were open to post here for posterity's sake.
The next loss is not so much of a mystery which makes it all the more maddening although I've only just put two and two together after the damage was done. The two new Red Spotted gobies (Trimma rubromaculatus) are indeed a male and female pair as I've noticed them "gettin' jiggy wit' it" on a number of occasions now. This is a lovely thing but unfortunately means that they don't want any fish swimming near their patch and sadly their patch appears to be the entire rear lower half of the tank. Now this just happens to be the same area that the Red Spot Cardinals (Apogon parvulus) like to hang out. I'd noticed recently that the Cardinals had taken to swimming at the top of the tank where the flow is quite brisk, This a bit odd for them and should have paid more attention to it. It all became clearer this morning as I watched one of them stray just a bit too low and was immediately and aggressively chased upwards by the larger of the two gobies (named Rocket which seems quite appropriate considering the response I witnessed). I'm sure you can guess where this story is going now, skip back to yesterday and one of the Cardinals sadly jumped out of the tank. I was working opposite at the time but did not realise what had happened until it was too late. I feel sure after what I observed this morning that it was being chased by one of the gobies, after all these fish hadn't shown any inclination to want to jump before the Red Spotted gobies were introduced. Sigh, another hard lesson learned, mixing different fish even really tiny ones in a small space is not an easy thing to do.
Another 6 weeks have passed since the last ICP test was performed and I've been eager to know if I have managed to address the tin issue or not. In the intervening period I have performed 7 water changes (14%), swapped out a couple of small pumps that were running the refugium (they came from my previous tank and looked absolutely fine to be honest but I wasn't taking any chances) and run a small amount of Cuprisorb (70ml, the recommended amount for my volume of water) in a reactor for a week prior to sending off the water sample. Apparently as well as being effective against copper Cuprisorb also has the benefit of removing other heavy metals from saltwater so I figured it was worth a try.
The tin levels have fallen by half, yay! Was one of the small refugium pumps to blame after all or has the Cuprisorb adsorbed it (unlikely since it has not changed colour at all) or maybe whatever was leaching the tin into the water has now stopped doing it? I really wish I knew. Still it's on the way down now finally and for that I am really happy. Hopefully in another 6 weeks time the level will have dropped again and maybe even be back down to normal. Fingers crossed for that!
As for the rest of the results, they all look pretty good to me. Iodine is still a little on the low side but it's better than the previous test so one more slight adjustment to the amount dosed and I should hopefully be about there. Frustratingly nitrate is still below the recommended level, I may have to start dosing it at this rate, what an odd thought that is.
I am pleased to report that Swipes the porcelain crab is back out again after moulting. She's bigger and more colourful now too so I'm assuming that means she's settled into her new home and is managing to find (filter) enough food to sustain her.
I found this in my tank this morning, the question is has Swipes gone to a better place or has she moulted? I'm thinking (definitely hoping) that she's moulted. The carapace has lifted in a way that I think is consistent with moulting. There's no sign of her in her usual feeding spot, but that's to be expected if she's hiding out and waiting for her new shell to harden. Fingers crossed that she's fine and will reappear again soon sporting a beautiful new skeleton!
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.
Since the addition of the Profilux controller I've been monitoring the pH cycle of the tank quite closely. I must admit that I just love this kind of thing, it's the scientist in me. I've noticed that the minimum value was lower when there were two of us working in the same room as the tank than when it was just me or even when there was no one in the room at all. When there were two of us working in there the pH would drop to below 8.0. I thus began thinking about adding a CO2 scrubber to my protein skimmer to see what difference it would make to the pH cycle.
There are a couple of scrubber options on the market (that I know of) and after brief consideration I decided to try the new ATI Carbo EX filter since I have used their ICP test recently and the price seemed quite reasonable. Connection to my skimmer was easy and I have it situated in the cupboard alongside the tank (next to my RO resevoir). It measures just under 21cm high and 10cm diameter for anybody interested in the dimensions.
As soon as the scrubber was connected I noticed that the tank pH began to rise, so it certainly appeared to be working. Frankly, I'm amazed that just breathing in the same room can have such an effect on the pH of a tank. I have drawn up a graph from two typical daily 24hr pH cycles, taken from 8am in the morning (when the lights switch on) to 8am the following morning. The green line shows data from the 15th of June (6 days before the fitting of the reactor, we were out of the house for half the day) and the blue line is from the 28th June (6 days after fitting the reactor, I was working in the same room for most of the day).
As you can see the pH before the scrubber fluctuates from a low of 8.03 to a high of 8.16 and with the scubber it cycles between 8.23 and 8.34. Obviously this is data sampled from just 2 days but from from my general observation, the pH is most certainly higher with the scrubber and interestingly the cycle has a slightly narrower maximum and minimum range. Will this have a positive impact on the general health of the tank? That's the important thing, watch this space for updates!
I've just been having a quick play around with the on board flash on my camera in the hope of getting a reasonable shot of Crystal, my Bruun's cleaner shrimp (Urocaridella antonbruunii). She (or he, I have no idea) never stops swaying so taking a picture without flash almost always results in some motion blur. I expected the shots to be rubbish but was actually pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Next time I hope to catch her facing the camera instead of looking away.
Crystal is the best shrimp in the world! OK, I may be biased in that regard but she is a model citizen and has never bothered anything else in the tank. She doesn't try to steal food from the LPS corals or irritate them in any way. I know this can be a problem with certain other ornamental shrimp and I have certainly found that out myself in the past. Ugh, Lysmata amboinensis, never again! Crystal tends to be most active at night when she can be found swimming freely around the tank. During the day she likes to rest under her favourite rocky overhang waiting for the pumps to go off and signalling feeding time.
She really has the most amazing red and white markings and how about those awesome 'wave form' looking spines along her back! I never knew they were there until I saw them in this photograph. Too cool!
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!
Just a quick snap of the Balanophyllia taken today with my iPhone after lights out. I've settled in to a routine of feeding this coral once a day now. It's not fussy what it eats, PE mysis, Krill, clam and mussels (which seems kind of wrong since there is a live mussel located right below it!) are all eagerly consumed.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!