fishfarmer's 29 gallon - A history

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I feel I have a long history/journey with my current system which is around 13 years old from a cracked tank failure. This will be mostly a picture history with hopefully some key moments I can add text to from my notes.

I'll start with the empty hole in the wall where a 20 gallon tall used to sit.
reef 001.jpg


I used a Glass Holes overflow on a standard 29 gallon Aqueon tank.
reef 002.jpg


It was a tight fit in the space, both horizontally and vertically. At the current time my plan was an easy softy and low light LPS using my Power Compact bulbs, two 32 watts and a 40 watt. That gave me some options on kelvin temps. I was usually a fan of white light with actinic supplements, so bulb choice usually was a main bulb of 10,000K and 50/50 actinic bulbs for the front and back.
reef 006.jpg


This was a recycle and rebuild of a 20 gallon tall that was in the same space which drained to a refuge 20 tall on a kitchen counter top which led to a sump inside the cabinet. That cabinet sump was a disaster due to moisture buildup and I have rebuilt my kitchen since then for the current sump setup.

Picture of rebuild using 10 year old Fiji live rock, 8 year old Florida aquacultured live rock, dry Haitian rock and dry Marco rock. Much of this rock had been recycled through several upgrades and downgrades since 2000, but most had experienced a tank nuking event in 2002, but I never dried/bleached the rock, just cured in tank. I did add a couple of new 5 lbs. pieces of Fiji Live rock after the 2002 event, I still have one of those pieces in the current tank, still a good coralline source and has two original fan worms. So currently some of my rock is 20+ years old. This picture is from November 2010. I used putty and Marco cement for my structure placement and kept rock moist while the cement cured and did partial water changes.
29scape 004.jpg



This was how the tank looked soon after rebuild, early in 2011. I had been keeping frags from the cracked tank in my fuge tank during the rebuild. Our reef club was still active so I was grabbing things like mushrooms, nepthia, and colt coral from members. "ARE YOU SURE?".....they would ask me.
reef 2011.jpg


reef 007.jpg
 
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So about 2 years in, 2012, I wasn't testing much other than phosphate. I had been getting 1 ppm with my old test kit.

I occasionally added phosphate sponge and water changes were less that regular...20 percent monthly with RO/DI, but may have been due for filter changes. I did have a kalk reactor running for a while, but don't have records of many Ca or Alk readings, tried B-Ionic briefly where I was testing and wasn't getting the bump I needed.

Middle of 2012 the tank looked like this, softy growth was fine, some LPS grew well in the two years considering, but by the winter of 2012 many brains were dying. I would do a water change, pull GHA and it would be fine, but GHA would be back in a month. At the time the tank was taking a back seat since I was dating my future wife.
2012 pics 003.jpg


2012 pics 017.jpg

green favia.jpg


In the spring on 2014 I finally upgraded to a 14,000K LED fixture from Build My LED and ditched the PC's. At the time I believe the tank was all softies, nepthia, colt, brown button palys, green striped and red mushrooms, a pair of clownfish and a royal gramma or sixline wrasse. Based on my records I was still cleaning the skimmer, pulling weeds and doing maybe 20 percent water change monthly....maybe. My life was super busy, future wife moved in and we were planning our wedding for 2016.

I started lightly dosing kalk again in 2017 and added a tiny pinky sized frammer. I still didn't have a testing schedule until 2018. I bought new test kits and rejoined the online community. My local club had disbanded a couple years prior. I started to force myself into a biweekly WC routine and weekly testing, running my tank like I ran my first reef.

My little frammer grew well. March 2017
little hammer march 2017.JPG



A year later, March 2018. I wasn't testing phosphates at the time, but that fall they were 1-2 ppm. This is the coral that got me back into fixing this tank. It grew in spite of poor conditions and is still going strong.
hammer march 2018.JPG



November of 2018 before I trimmed the big nepthia. I added a small ball of chaeto to my sump with a 9 watt Fiet grow bulb in September. I was harvesting it every month. It grew very well with 40 ppm nitrates and 2 ppm phosphates. I was occasionally adding a coral or two during this time with some success. Mushrooms were taking hold.
reef 2018.JPG
 
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So 2019 was the year I took care of my elevated phosphates and nitrates.

I had started to pull them down with chaeto in the sump, occasionally phosphate sponge, water changes, reduced feedings, more snails, even tried GFO briefly. I still had GHA, red algae and bryopsis in the DT.

I was successfully getting phosphates below 1 ppm, hovering around 0.5-0.7 ppm and nitrates around 10 ppm. My frammer didn't like the change, picture from Feb 2019. It did loose some heads this year.
hammer  feb 2019.JPG


In December 2019 it was doing better. By then the phosphates were getting on the low side nitrates range 10- 25 ppm.
hammer Dec 2019.JPG

I also boosted my lighting with two T -5's, one blue plus and one coral plus ATI bulbs. Since my tank is tall and shaded with rockwork I seemed to struggle with certain overhangs so the additional spread has helped. I was only using a single LED power strip before.
 
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Years 2020 and 2021 seem to the peak years for my tank. I got into a decent routine for water changes and kalk dosing, my DT algae was under control, even to the point that my chaeto stopped growing. Both my phosphates and nitrates were barely testable. I even started to feed heavier again.

I added various corals, a couple easy SPS, LPS, zoas, palys. I struggled with montis and a pocci, and believe inadequate lighting and alk swings did them in eventually.

Nepthia, summer 2021
nepthia 2021.JPG

UC mint hammer.JPG

reef fall2021.JPG

Thanksgiving 2021
reef thanksgiving2021.jpg
 

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Years 2020 and 2021 seem to the peak years for my tank. I got into a decent routine for water changes and kalk dosing, my DT algae was under control, even to the point that my chaeto stopped growing. Both my phosphates and nitrates were barely testable. I even started to feed heavier again.

I added various corals, a couple easy SPS, LPS, zoas, palys. I struggled with montis and a pocci, and believe inadequate lighting and alk swings did them in eventually.

Nepthia, summer 2021
nepthia 2021.JPG

UC mint hammer.JPG

reef fall2021.JPG

Thanksgiving 2021
reef thanksgiving2021.jpg
Very well documented! I say your mushrooms took off. Kinda a cliffhanger, last picture was over a year ago!
 
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Very well documented! I say your mushrooms took off. Kinda a cliffhanger, last picture was over a year ago!
I got lots more, these photos were with my digital camera. I took somewhat better photos with my phone which I got early 2022 which is the next chapter.
 
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Early 2022. I took a bunch of pics prior to a trip to Florida, very little if any GHA, just some bryopsis and thin red algae that only urchins or Mexican Turbos eat.

The center hammer is a two headed mint hammer from Unique Corals that filled out nice.
20220312_190938_HDR.jpg


Other corals were growing out as well.
20220320_194041.jpg

20220320_193854.jpg
 
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So into 2022. Lots of things doing well, I was trying some orange monti and purple branching monti. I got some growth, but very slow. The purple monti had died a couple years ago initially, but came back from tiny bits of tissue and was actually branching. But light, flow, fluctuating conditions, and a good place to put said corals is lacking in my tank. I gave up trying sps at this point and continue with corals I had success with.

Mid summer 2022
reef-summer-2022.jpg

At this point my params were where I wanted them for the most part.
Ca = 425 to 450
Alk = ranging mid 8
Mg = 1300's
pH = 8.2
Both Nitrates and Phos were testing low, N ws 2.5 to 5pmm and P = 0 on a LR Hanna.
I was feeding more again, full cube a day, and occasionally pellets and started to add reef roids. My chaeto had also had slowed down it's growth and I maintained about a golf ball sized piece.

I had been noticing around this time that one of my brains and occasionally my cyphastrea were closed up. With the previous sps issues I was thinking low nutrients which is why I went with a boost in feeding.

I was successful in boosting my nitrates to 25 ppm and occasionally would get a low phos reading on my LR Hanna. My alk had started to trend upward as well ranging in the mid 9's for a couple of months. In September the brain was gone and two frags of cyphastrea were gone in a week's time when I was away. Both were from the same colony, but had one small bit growing on the glass.

But closing out the year many things were still swaying in the current.
topdown-mint-hammer.jpg

topdownreef-2022.jpg

clownshroom2022.jpg

And rising from the ashes...literally was a sliver of greenish tissue with three orange specks.
small cyphastrea-2022.jpg
 
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So moving into 2023.

My plan was to tackle removing a large portion of my mushroom population. They tend to land everywhere and if they aren't addressed, cover surfaces intended for other corals. The big project was removing the main mushroom rock that the clownfish called home.

I intended to replace the rock with a smaller flat structure that I could add hammers to. I had old used base rock and marco rock that I sculpted together with glue and putty. I cycled it in a bucket with water change water/sediment to get some bacteria growing for about a month's time.

I planned my rescape around February 2023. The install went well with regards to not losing any corals, but I did notice a red cyano outbreak on the sand bed surrounding the new rock. My bed is very shallow, less than an inch, but is loaded with detritus. This seemed to linger even after frequent WC's, every other week. I was also aggressively siphoning mushrooms and unfavorable palys as well. One thing worth mentioning is the removal of the mushroom rock really upset my female clown. She started to be aggressive toward her mate....like it was his fault the house was gone. I almost felt that he was going to perish, but Iwas able to get food to him and they eventually settled into my main hammer display. I don't dare move that now for fear of the same thing happening.

New rock with hammers. The purple one was crowded for several years and responded well to the new spot.
small- purplehammer-summer2023.jpg

I was still dealing with red cyano throughout the summer even though corals were mostly doing well and had some new additions in March that grew well. The new rock seemed to be staving off algae growth, coralline was starting to form.
reef- sept-2023.jpg

New additions that were growing off the plug.
day-glo-favites 2024.jpg
favites2023.jpg

The clowns settled into their new home.
clowns- with- hammer- 2023.jpg

So moving into the fall something happened. I was still dealing with red cyano, but started to get GHA growth, mostly on the new rock and I had several polyp bailouts on my purple hammer which had been doing very well. I feel that even though hammers are know to be able to exist next to each other, I question the aggressiveness of my green frammer sometimes I feel it is more capable of pushing other corals away. It could also be some other things amiss as well. I had laxed on a few water changes and was away for a week while my wife fed the tank.
fallreef-2023.jpg


reef-fall2023.jpg


So through the holidays, trying to stay on top of water changes, added some new CUC, and picking away at algae.

And the cyphastrea grew back to more polyps than the original colony...still hasn't jumped to the rock work yet.
cyphastrea-regrowth.jpg
 
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So my frammer was growing so well it was getting close to the front glass. Before I attempted to cut a couple of heads off I needed to secure the colony better. It was actually two pieces that had meshed together over a couple of years. I puttied the base in a couple of spots and let it set for a week or two.
20240305_172527~2.jpg


While doing a routine cleaning I figured I would attempt chipping away at one frag. While holding the whole colony, it split right at the base, about 60 percent in my hand while the rest was still puttied to the rock....the piece I was attempting to cut.

So onto reconstruction and figuring out what to do next. I puttied smaller frags to where the main piece was, luckily my clowns didn't seen to mind. The main piece I have resting in the middle of the tank for now.
20240318_204857.jpg


20240318_204852.jpg


Closer look at the inside of this colony.
20240318_204758.jpg
 
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so without a local reef club what do you do with your frags?
I haven't really thrown any out since I've had this coral in my tank, but I have placed frags in other spots to see if they grow, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

I also do have occasional polyp bailout on some that get too much flow. Ones that are shaded usually die back and the upper heads grow over.

My current count of polyp heads is around 100 scattered though out the tank. The big piece that broke is around 20 heads.

Considering I have vermetids, aiptasia and other questionable life in my tank I have yet to off load to anyone. My good reef store would probably not want the hassle of pests and they are 1.5 hours away. My closer one I have yet to reach out to, they are an hour away.

I've gotten weird replies when I offer aquarium things on the local selling platforms. I don't ship.
 
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