Hans and his SCA150 adventure in the Dakotas.

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hhaase

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I'm making some dosing changes today, based on the latest round of tests.

Interesting observation with nitrate dosing, which matches what I had been considering might be the case.

After a month of near-zero nitrate readings, today my test came back with >5.0. This is not a surprise to me. I had been suspecting that consistent near-zero nitrates means that there is not just a deficiency in the water column, but also a deficiency in the organisms that have a nitrate uptake. They were essentially starving of nitrates. Once they've consumed enough to eliminate their nitrate deficiency, the consumption naturally is going to drop. So despite not changing my dosing, nitrate levels jumped really quick. For now I'm going to just cut off the nitrate dosing, there's plenty in the system now.

Unfortunately, with the Hanna Checker, doing a reading for greater than 5ppm is really annoying. Heck, doing ANY reading with this thing is annoying. But I'm not worried as much about extreme accuracy at higher levels, I'm more concerned with trends. If I reach a point where I need to start dosing again, I'll do it at 1/4 what my rate was. I'm also going to order a more basic nitrate kit that handles the higher range, but something far less annoying to use.

ALK is slowly decreasing, not enough that I have any concerns though. It's at around 8 right now, but borderline lower on the API test. When I refill my alk dosing container I'm also going to increase the from 1 cup to 1.5 cups of sodium bicarbonate per gallon of RO water. That's coming due in a few days, the jug is just about empty.

Calcium is slowly increasing. Was 340ppm a month ago, currently at 380ppm. Increasing steadily but not yet hitting the 440 target. So dosing there will stay the same for a while, I'll probably back off a bit in a couple weeks to try and prevent overshooting.
 
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I can officially declare that I am growing acropora in this tank.

A two week comparison photo of my acro. It's hard to get the angle completely the same, but the growth is quite easy to see. I'm also finding that the more actively it grows, the more the green is prevalent over the purple on this one. Top photo was May 2nd, bottom photo was April 16th.



HansReef-0072.JPG
HansReef-0066.JPG
 
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Well, I unfortunately suffered from a quite common issue with Green Chromis. It didn't come up during my initial research which said they are docile and easy to care for, but I was able to find MANY accounts of my issue after I knew what to search for.

The problem is that all but one of them have died on me. No sign of illness at all. No obvious injury. No signs of starvation or parasites or anything that flags a concern. Same sequence every time. One of them suddenly starts hiding in the rocks, next day it's stuck to the gyre pump either dead or almost dead. Then a few days later it repeats until there's one fish left. I didn't see any obvious bullying going on but something was exhausting them to the point of death. A quick search on here shows that nearly everybody that tries to add multiples to a tank has had them die back to a single remaining fish.

So it seems they are very hardy fish in singles but cannot be kept in numbers.

Shame.
 
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This is the 1 month growth on my Acro, compare it to the bottom photo that I did a couple posts earlier. It's definitely enjoying the lighting, no doubt about it. The polyps don't have as much color as I'd like but everything is growing healthy, so I'm not going to mess with things in the lighting at all. I want to get some fresh photos of a couple other frags too for growth comparisons, but I also don't want to move the camera from where it is right now. It's set juuuuuuuust right.

I'm seriously considering a third light now though. You can see the shadowing I'm dealing with. I don't need more PAR, but I do need more lateral coverage.

HansReef-0073.JPG



Annoyingly, something keeps knocking one of my Favia's down every night. There's a little shelf spot on the left side of the tank, I had the big favia there for MONTHS, and nothing ever bothered it. But it's outgrown that spot so I moved it around, and put the newer, smaller favia on that shelf. Every day this week I'm finding the little favia down on the sand bed
 
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Nothing dramatic to report for mid-June. Everything is going nice and stable, parameters are basically right where I want them all. I'm due for a new photo of the acro, I'll try to get that done tonight to see the two-month progress. All of the hard corals appear to be growing steadily, the softies all appear to be the same size but healthy.

I ended up shutting off the refugium light. I'm still too lightly stocked to grow chaeto in the refugium, and was stripping nitrates and phosphates too effectively. It was showing in paler colors in the corals. They're starting to color up again already now that everything is stable and in range.

The tank ended up losing the last of the green chromis, which didn't surprise me. The more I look into these fish the more people I find that report chromis to be an extremely fragile fish. None of my other livestock have had any issues at all. Even all the snails, crabs, and cowry's are doing well.

In a couple weeks I'll be looking at some more livestock, and have a few ideas what I'll be looking for. A lot depends on availability though.
 
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Two changes coming up shortly that I think will help me greatly.

First change is I'll be swapping my drain pump on the water change system. Right now I'm using a cheap no-name pump I got off of Amazon. It works fine, if a bit slow, and hasn't give me a hint of trouble. But I'll be swapping in a QuietOne 1200 so that I can put an intake hose onto it. This way I can target more of the detritus in the sump from time to time and clean that gunk straight down the drain.

Second change is that I'm going to start a feeding/dosing regimen for my corals. I'd been target feeding my LPS from time to time with mysis, but not dosing anything to feed my SPS or softies. So I've got some of the EasyReef SPS EVO and booster on the way. I'm hoping these will suffice for a coral feeding regimen, as I really want to try and avoid dosing a huge pile of different things into the tank. I like controlled simplicity and so far people seem happy with the stuff.

This means I'm one dosing head short though, so I've got a WTB ad for another jebao dosing pump set. I'm also going to try and snag one more matching MaxSpect light in order to rebuild identical to my existing lights. I'd like to fill in the center of the tank and eliminate the shadowing that I'm seeing.
 
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Well, for two months, this sucker really has really exploded in size. Super happy with the growth I'm seeing on this acro.

Tryting to get a good photo of my Monitipora Spongodes, but the color went all bland on that one. While I can see quite a lot of growth it also just looks so blah and basically is blending into the rock work right now.

HansReef-0074.JPG
 
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Some updates, partially good, partially annoying. Let's start with the annoying.

Annoying thing:
I plumbed in that new QuietOne 1200 pump for my water change drain, and this caused chaos. I'm not sure what was going on but I quickly ended up with a cracked impeller magnet and a partly clogged drain pipe leading out of the sump. I swapped back in the old pump, which worked, but ran atypically slow. I used some compressed air to, I think, clear the blockage in the pipe. New impeller should be here in a few day and I can try again. For a short moment though I was able to get that new pump running, and with an inlet hose I was able to start sucking crud out of the sump quite easily. So there's promise for my idea.

Good things:
I ended up pulling all the reactors from the sump, they hadn't been running for a while anyway. The biopellets have been shut off for quite some time, and I hadn't been running carbon for a while either. I really want to start organizing the sump area more as it's quite a mess right now. Getting those reactors out cleared out a LOT of space.

I finally started seeing amphipods in the tank. First confirmed pod sightings I've had. Definitely good news there. Next time I get an order from some place that carries it, I'll likely get a seed colony of copepods in order to increase the biodiversity. I'm also on the lookout for bumblebee snails too, I've got too many vermitid's right now.

Lastly, I've started feeding my corals properly. I've got a 250ml bag of CoralView EasySPS Evo hooked up to the dosing pump. We'll see what that does to the color and growth. Starting at 2ml a day, and I'll slowly work up to 6ml daily. I also have a 250ml bag of Coralview Booster, which I'll start in a couple weeks once I have another dosing pump head avaialable. If this stuff shows results I'll probably start ordering the large sizes. I'm really hoping it's the all-in-one coral supplement it's claimed to be.

-Hans
 
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This little ORA Derasa followed me home yesterday. Of all places, I got this at PETCO! It looked good and healthy, with a stellar price on it. I've been wanting one for a while and now I've got one!

I drip acclimated it last night and didn't get it in the tank until the lights went out, so no good pictures yet. This was a quick cell-phone snap from earlier this morning that I had the family take for me to check on it. I'll get a better picture tonight or tomorrow after it settles in. I'm excited to see what the color looks like under my lights after work today.



clam.JPG
 
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There we are, much better pictures. The more overhead is at a 45 degree angle from vertical, so a lot more fuzzy, but still gives a good look at this guy. I look forward to seeing this one grow out, and I may just snag another one if I see another one pop up at Petco for $50 again.

HansReef-0076.JPG



HansReef-0075.JPG
 
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There's a lot of ways you can determine an anniversary for a tank.
One year ago today I started the cycle. So Happy Birthday to my tank!

In other good news, the Derasa appears to be quite happy with its location. Opening up well every day, no signs of stress or infection, just one happy clam. Now to start watching calcium and alkalinity a bit closer, as these suckers are hungry in that regard.
 
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Going to be a long weekend with the tank. I've been amiss in my maintenance the past few weeks due to holidays and other commitments. I need to try to keep my butt at home and get caught up on a bunch of things.

-Hans
 
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Mostly caught up, skimmer needed a good cleaning, and I really need some better shelving under the sump to clean up a lot of wiring and other things.

A more immediate concern is that the vermetid snails are getting quite prolific at this point. Thankfully reefcleaners is restocked on bumblebee snails. So I've got 20 of them on order, and sprung for a couple of other goodies to hit the free shipping minimum. Thus a couple ricordia and a couple of their 'random conch' are on the way as well.
 
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I'd been so busy the past few weeks I haven't been able to do any testing or water changes, and could see something was off with the coals. Some receding flesh at the bottom of my acropora and just generally pale all over the tank.

Found a solid 0.0 on the nitrates, which jives with what I should have been looking for with the EasySPS and Booster, as others have reported nutrient reductions once they started dosing. So I'm back to dosing potassium nitrate again but not as aggressively as the last time. I did an initial dose to get nutrients back into the tank, and dosing 9ml of mixture twice a day, mixture is 1gram spectricide per 100ml of RO/DI water.

Everything else is testing right where I'd like them to be.
dkh: 9
Calcium: 460ppm
Magnesium ... I forget the exact number but I remember it was very slightly high and I was happy with it.
Phosphates 0.02
ph consistently 7.9-8.0

Also, I can't flippin stand this Hanna Nitrate Checker, it's the 3 reagent version. Some days it works great, other days it's just a fiddly pile of annoyance. I'm half tempted to boost my nitrates up to like 15ppm just so I can use a different testing method. I was ok with it for a while but, no, it really is that much of a pain in the buttocks.
 

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There we are, much better pictures. The more overhead is at a 45 degree angle from vertical, so a lot more fuzzy, but still gives a good look at this guy. I look forward to seeing this one grow out, and I may just snag another one if I see another one pop up at Petco for $50 again.

HansReef-0076.JPG



HansReef-0075.JPG

Very nice and for $50?
 
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I spoke too soon. Looks like the derasa is unwell. Past few days it wasn’t opening up fully, and today it’s badly retracted and gaping. It's still responding and closed up when I went to move it around. Hopefully it's not starving from lack of phosphates but the mantle coloration is still good. It's not bleached or browned at all. I don't see any signs of pyramid snails.

I seem to be entering a troublesome phase and I’m a bit concerned. And it really is driving me nuts that nitrates are so constantly low like this. I'm not being stingy at all with food. Either a full cube of mysis or a healthy dose of pellets every day.

Did some tests to see if something was terribly out of whack
Alk 9dlk (perfect)
Calc 460 (perfect)
mag 1320 (perfect)
phosphates 0.1
nitrates 0.03

Phosphate jumped a bit from the norm but isn't a big concern at that level
nitrates are still seriously low, but I'm not going to increase dosing until I get a better idea on the trend.
 
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Clam is lost, crabs are already picking at the remains. It was in much worse condition this morning, and I attempted an RO dip, but it was too far gone.

A few of these guys came out during the dip, look like some kind of bristleworm to me. So now I need to ID these and determine a course of action for the tank. Most likely just a benign bristleworm and I'm not going to worry too much. Sucks that the clam is gone and I need to monitor the tank to make sure nothing else odd is going on. But the last thing I want to do is over-react and cause greater issues by trying to randomly solve a problem that is not defined and may not even exist.

HansReef-0077.JPG
 
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I'm breathing a bit easier now.

Though I lost the Derasa, the rest of the tank is still doing ok. I felt the lights were bleaching things out, so I've dialed back on the UV elements and effectively shut that channel off at this point. I'm also slowly working the nitrates up to a better level as well. While the nitrates are still very low I'm not going to rush it like I did the last time.

Results are that color is slowly returning to the corals that had been struggling, and overall things are looking healthier all around. A few had been worrying me for a while because they had lost so much color and were starting to recede.

The Spongodes in particular really has rebounded quickly, with the polyps all having nice color to them now, even if the rest of the coral is still excessively pale. Growth on that one has really taken off. The Hammer coral is looking particularly happy too, it hasn't been this puffy in quite some time.

A couple more introductions to the tank are a pair of tiger conch, a couple duncan heads, and a couple ricordia. I should snap some more photos soon.

-Hans
 
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Cleaned out a lot more cyano than I'd like to admit to. Had a good carpet of it on a fair sized chunk of the substrate, and some on the rocks. Thankfully I was able to get more of it out without mixing it through the tank.
 
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