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BloopFish's Hodge Podge Reef Fluval Nano 13.5g

BloopFish

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Was meaning to make a thread of the timeline of my nano tank for a while...

Initial Wish List:
2 Pom pom crabs
1 Porcelain Anemone Crab
2 Skunk cleaner shrimp/fire shrimp
3 Sexy Shrimp
1 Emerald Crab
1 Halloween hermit crab
1 Bumblebee shrimp
1 Anemone shrimp (like a Pederson's)

October 3, 2019:
Initial Equipment:
12~ Reef Saver Dry Rock
Stock Lights
Stock Pump
75W Neo Therm Heater
20lb CaribSea Oolite Sand

After about a week of having reef saver dry rock (12~ lbs?) , 20lb oolite sand, and generous additions of bottled bacteria I decided to buy some
critters for my tank. I have had experience using this bottled bacteria before and it works quite well to complete the nitrifying cycle (however, it will not
help complete biological processes that is required to happen for a tank to be completely considered "mature" and cycled). Just in case, I cycled for a short period
of time using a small piece of raw shrimp and tested the waters. When all seemed well, I decided to go to an LFS to pick up some stuff.

I decided to buy these things:
3 Nassarius snails - I really like these guys and used to have a large one with black and white flesh and a gorgeous beige and white shell... I wanted to get these instead of
any algae eating snails because I can supplement their diet easily with meaty foods.
Live rock - Initially I wanted to buy only aquaculture live rock to start my tank - that turned out to be too expensive, so I wanted to pic a few small pieces to seed my tank with
other goodies.
3 Sexy Shrimps - Always wanted these weird buggers.
No fish yet - I've had success adding fish after using the bottled bacteria, but I'd rather not risk losing a fish at this stage.
Here is what I came out with:
3 Astarea snails - I asked for nassarius snails and the worker gave me these... I did not bother to check until I got back home :(
Live rock - but I was overcharged 2x advertised price... I thought that the weight they gave me for the live rock seemed too heavy so I used my own scale at home to measure...
turns out they charged me 2x the amount I bought.
3 Sexy Shrimps... At least they got that right.
Needless to say I will not buy from this store EVER again. :mad:

A note about the sand: my favorite sand has always been oolite sand because of it being uniquely spherical... though I'm pretty sure I added too much. I wanted a deeper sand bed
(not aiming for a "deep sand bed" though) for burrowing critters. I was fully aware that this sand is very fine and gets kicked up a lot, though it still doesn't make it not annoying.
 
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BloopFish

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October 6, 2019

Astarea snails and Sexy shrimp seemed to be doing fine, and the water cleared up significantly,
decided to buy some zoanthids because they're so hardy. Tried a new local fish store this time and this
is what I ended up buying

3 Zoanthid frags (1 Rasta, 1 Unknown Red Skirt, 1 Gorilla Nipples?)
3 Nassarius snails

Later on I noticed the Sexy shrimps were bothering the zoanthids immensely, I chose to ignore it until I saw the
shrimps picking on the skirts of the zoanthids... needless to say they got banished to the overflow.

IMG_1736.jpg IMG_2330(1).jpg
 
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October 9, 2019

I decided to feed the nassarius snails my seafood mix I created (mussels, squid, shrimp, and oysters).
I personally have no issues with supplementing the diets of my clean up crew because I find them more interesting
than fish. They seem to really enjoy it.

In addition, it seems a sexy shrimp ended up somehow jumping out, perhaps during the banishment, so I'm down to 2.
 

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October 10, 2019

Decided the tank was ready for some new additions. I added two porcelain anemone crabs, two blood red fire shrimps, a coral croucher, an exquisite firefish, and a super tongan nassarius snail.

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Not sure where to add this to the timeline, but the tongan nass snail never really came out and ended up dying for unknown reasons (all the other snails were fine). The coral croucher lasted a bit more than a month, however it ended up dying. I attribute this to me not spot feeding it often enough. Initially when I got him I would directly feed him through a turkey baster with frozen food and he'd be very chunky. Unfortunately, I progressively did this less and less, and only fed the frozen food to the entire tank. I thought he was getting enough food because he would move around the tank and try to catch mysis from time to time. Later on I'd notice he wasn't coming out and found his body, his stomach seemed sunken in, so perhaps he died from not being spot fed enough. :(
 
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October 15, 2019

Nassarius snails started to lay eggs, perhaps it was due to the heavy feedings and water change. I haven't seen
any babies from them though.

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October 23, 2019

Around this time I found a very good deal on dragon's breath algae. I bought two "frags" and one melted during shipment due to a delay. Initially I was wondering what was choking out the macro, but I think it is bryopsis...

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October 30, 2019

I added a Davinci Clownfish and a barnacle blenny...
Long story short the clownfish was biting the firefish and tearing him up, for some reason the firefish
would not hide - so I had to rehome him.
The barnacle blenny lasted about two weeks until it died for unknown reasons, around the same time as the coral croucher. This one I have no idea why it died, it was eating very well, active and seemingly healthy before it died.
 
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Some things that got lost between the posts:
I added a small colony of pocillopora very early on into the build, it seemed to do fine under stock lights.
I added ~8 frags of zoas - names don't really matter to me unless I'm selling/trading them.
I bought a sunkist bounce mushroom that was about a half dollar size.

November 15, 2019:

Between this day and the last post I decided to do several things:

Upgrade the lights:
For the foreseeable future this fluval is all I'm going to be able to play with and I wanted to try my hands on acros.
I'm pretty sure that one can keep sps with the stock lights, that PAR is strong enough, but I think the growth rates are negligible with them though. I got a nice deal on an AI Prime HD, so I decided to buy it. Also bought a kit for a mesh lid. After the light upgrade, the pocillopora and purple rain acro frag I had started having all sorts of growth tips - and the alk even dropped. Currently looking to make DIY soda ash to dose manually.

Buy powerheads:
The flow in the stock tank seems inadequate, especially for acroporas where flow is essential. I decided to install two Hydor Koralia 240. I had to be very careful on how they were angled because I had so much fine sand.

Change salts:
I previously used Instant Ocean Reef Crystals. I've had always used the purple Instant Ocean salt for years, so I stuck to the IO brand since it was so cheap. However, when I bought the Reef Crystals from Amazon the salt mixed very poorly and the alkalinity was way too low. A lot of precipitate came out every time I mixed it. I think if you're going to buy Reef Crystals, don't buy it from Amazon at least. I decided to switch to Red Sea Reef Pro because I desired a higher alk. This salt mix mixed so much better.

Look for an ATO:
I waited until Cyber Monday to buy an ATO. I bought an XP Aqua Duetto ATO and am currently testing it out with kalk water.

Convert the Banishment chamber into a mini refuge:
I have plans for this banishment chamber. I decided to buy some chaeto from a hobbyist, and bought some cheapo Chinese lights (I later found out there were much better ones for the budget out there). I've decided this tiny chamber will be for all my reef-unsafe critters. Hopefully with the chaeto there will be enough vertical space for odd things to be comfortable. I'm also considering removing the sponge (middle compartment) and combining the left and right compartment to expand the refuge. When I bought the chaeto, I also bought some red monti cap, birds nest, and this very dark green acro of some sort. I took the full risk of having potentially "dirty" chaeto, it ended up seeding my tank with amphipods and bristleworms.

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November 19, 2019

Decided to add a blueberry shortcake acro after seeing the purple rain color up a bit. Also a side note - the purple rain acro landed on a frogspawn frag - the frogspawn later died... it wasn't doing too well before this happened too.
Full tank shot shows some stuff I added that I missed mentioning. In the bottom right corner you can see a Sunkist Bounce mushroom. It wasn't making a new baby for me for some reason, even though I could see it try to stretch out all the time to cut itself. I decide to give it a helping hand... I chopped it up into SIX pieces and all six frags survived.

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December 6, 2019

Couple things happened since the previous post:

Algae bloom over the Thanksgiving weekend that I was gone... Most notably dino was getting pretty severe. I fed the tank heavily before I left. I have removed phosban from my system, I'd rather have green algae than dinos.
In addition, several zoas started to close their heads. I moved them around to see if the location was the problem - but it didn't change anything. I think it may be related to the dinos? All the ones that are closed also happen to be my favorites... such is life.

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Big plans right now:

I'm not really much of a coral person to be honest... I like crustaceans and molluscs way more. I've had some hair algae issues and it'd be nice if something could eat it.
So I was waiting for the right moment to order from reef cleaners to add to my display tank...

Here is what I'm going to get if all goes well:

Fuzzy Chitons
Dromiidae Sponge Crab
Dwarf Ceriths
Pitho Crabs
Blue Porcelain Crabs
Dwarf Planaxis Snail
Florida Ceriths
Periwinkles
Trochus snails
Pitho crabs
Mermaid's Fan

Here's my thoughts/plans:

I need to get the crab some clothes, he (or she? I will check once it comes) does not come with a sponge - so I've been looking to buy some. So excited for the crab, I'm going to post a picture that John had in the site.

Thinking about adding more macros and making the tank semi-planted.

The sponge crab surely will eat the softies in my tank... such as zoanthids and mushrooms.
I have two options, currently leaning towards option 2:
1. Sell all my zoanthids, mushrooms and other softies.
2. Put him in the refugium... could even expand it.
Sponge crabs are actually one of the (many) reasons I got into this hobby.

I bought way too many snails, there's no way this tiny fluval evo can even grow enough algae for that many critters to eat.
Thus I have several options:
1. Feed heavily throughout the day. I bought an auto feeder during the sale so this is very feasible.
2. Buy more fish with high metabolism that will constantly eat and poop to increase waste in the system.
3. Find foods that snails will eat directly... Not too sure on this one. I know in freshwater tanks people will feed their snails blanched cucumbers and sinking algae wafers, perhaps something like this could work?

I know this is completely backwards to most other's philosophy. Why would you increase waste in order to feed your clean up crew? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of a clean up crew? Well to be honest - the way I view the fish is like the way others view clean up crews. I'm keeping the fish to make my life easier in keeping my clean up crew. My inverts have first priority - if something messes with them, they're rehomed.

With that in mind - I've had some trouble deciding what fish is peaceful enough to become the firefish's tankmate to be the next poop machine.

John also had a gaudy clown crab for sale... I was so tempted to purchase it, but it was $50 - too much for my wallet. Also, I currently have too many high end zoas with nowhere to keep them safe from the crab. Maybe this is a sign that I should get rid of all my softies :D. In addition... there were so many other snails and critters I wanted to buy from John, but I held off because I don't think I can currently sustain that much algae eaters.

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John's shipment just came in, things are looking good. Only thing that I have my eye out for is one of my four chitons because it's not grasping onto any surface.

Here's a pic of the sponge crab acclimating - he's not in the DT as of now - I have plans for him. Will update with more pics as things acclimate

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I actually think I could've bought way more things than I did.

Final Order list:
1 Sponge Crab
2 Pitho Crab
2 Blue Porcelain Crab
15 Dwarf Cerith
10 Dwarf Planaxis
4 Florida Cerith
5 Zig Zag Periwinkles
2 Trochus snails
4 Fuzzy Chiton
1 Mermaid's Fan
1 Pleated Tunicate
1 Rough Box Crab

Looking back, I should've not only bought more pitho crabs and maybe even emerald/ruby crabs - I should've added the gaudy clown crab to the order.
I initially put the sponge crab in the "refugium," after some review of what information is out there about Dromiidae crabs (most people are referring to the sponge crab in the genus Oregonia online, which is not the same thing), not many people have first hand account on how reef safe they are (reef cleaners listed them as NOT reef safe). I decided I'll see what the crab does in the tank since there's mixed information out there. I've made my more expensive softies out of reach, so I'll be watching to see if she decide to munch on anything.
 
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Came back from leaving the tank on auto pilot for 2 weeks - some corals unfortunately bleached (purple birds nest... Vivid Rainbow... Monti cap) but most made it. I attribute this to the lack of water changes. Many frags were shifted around by snails, like the pink bird's nest in the picture. Some acropora such as the blueberry have burnt tips, perhaps alkalinity swings is the reason for this.

I've added many electric orange hermit crabs and some other crabs - I'm also working to add a compartment to isolate and view non-reef safe critters.

Total stock list change:
Addition of green swimming crab
Addition of 2 collector crabs
Addition of 20+ electric orange hermit crabs
Addition of 5 miscellaneous hermit crabs
Addition of misc tiny shrimps - notably some of the Cuapetes genus
Addition of bumblebee shrimp
Addition of various xanthid type crabs
Addition of 2 box crabs
Addition of cowrie snail
Loss of a chiton - a box crab escaped it's enclosure and went rogue :(
Loss of a green/red monti cap
Loss of a Vivid Rainbow Acro
Loss of a tunicate - the sponge crab decided to wear it as a hat for a while... then it ate it...

Interestingly enough I've noticed that the appearance of the bumblebee shrimp - it's distance between stripes and the intensity of yellow varies quite a bit by distribution. I plan to add another bumblebee shrimp from another area of the Indo-Pacific to add some variety. I believe the variety I have has tighter banding than the majority of the bumblebee shrimps in the hobby.

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Officially decided to make this tank into a crab dedicated tank. In doing so, I decided to plaster all my zoa frags onto the back wall in the event I ever decide to buy a gaudy clown crab. I'm undecided on whether to move the ones that have been stretching excessively. Due to the nature of my plans to host so many crabs, I have decided to no longer add any more sensitive species of coral like Acropora sp. or species that are soft and fleshy in a way that may look enticing for decorator crabs to wear or even species that won't do well in high nutrient environments. I will see how these crabs fare with my mushroom coral and toadstool coral to decide on the coral livestock. For now, I am just planning on continuing the propagation of the mushroom corals which have been successful so far. I'm also considering adding more macroalgae to the tank such as Codium and Halimeda or even other macros that my decorator crabs can mess around with. The plan is the try to have enough macros so that the macros grow faster than they can trim... but it seems that a lot of my crabs have a taste for seaweed, even calcareous ones like the mermaid fan

Another annoying thing about having so many hermit crabs is that some like to constantly sit on top of my sps... In addition there seems to be some tiny egg looking things on one of my acros that is making it recede and turn patches of green... I will keep an eye on the other corals for now on.

Updated Wish List:
Pom pom crabs
Gaudy Clown Crab
Another Bumblebee Shrimp
Strawberry Crab
Red Sponge


Excitingly I have ordered a new shipment of crabs and snails from reef cleaners, it is set to arrive on Saturday. Fingers crossed on the livestock surviving the trip here through the winter weather. If things go as planned, it will mean some live stock from my previous wishlist will be crossed out.

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Sosuke

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I actually think I could've bought way more things than I did.

Final Order list:
1 Sponge Crab
2 Pitho Crab
2 Blue Porcelain Crab
15 Dwarf Cerith
10 Dwarf Planaxis
4 Florida Cerith
5 Zig Zag Periwinkles
2 Trochus snails
4 Fuzzy Chiton
1 Mermaid's Fan
1 Pleated Tunicate
1 Rough Box Crab

Looking back, I should've not only bought more pitho crabs and maybe even emerald/ruby crabs - I should've added the gaudy clown crab to the order.
I initially put the sponge crab in the "refugium," after some review of what information is out there about Dromiidae crabs (most people are referring to the sponge crab in the genus Oregonia online, which is not the same thing), not many people have first hand account on how reef safe they are (reef cleaners listed them as NOT reef safe). I decided I'll see what the crab does in the tank since there's mixed information out there. I've made my more expensive softies out of reach, so I'll be watching to see if she decide to munch on anything.
I got a gaudy clown crab from John around that time and he said it was the last one he had! Sorry about that lol
 

What's the first thing you do when you see algae forming in your tank?

  • Panic and freak out

    Votes: 33 6.4%
  • Identify it as best you can

    Votes: 153 29.5%
  • Test your water

    Votes: 169 32.6%
  • Pull it out

    Votes: 64 12.4%
  • Order more clean up crew

    Votes: 51 9.8%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 48 9.3%

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