My First Saltwater Aquarium - Fluval Evo 13.5G

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HappilyReefing

HappilyReefing

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Worked on my tank a tiny bit today while I was feeding it. I've been trying to be better about keeping my glass free of cyano and have been scraping it almost every day instead of once a week during my water change. So, I scraped the glass today and brushed off some bubbles (dinos I think) from the algae on top of the arch.

I fed ~10 drops of Phyto-Feast (got a new bottle), some Tropic Marin Reef Snow mixed with Reef-Roids, put in half a bottle (3 oz) of Tigger-Pods, and dosed the daily 2mL of All-For-Reef. At this point, I'm going to see if the cyano, diatom, and dinos run their course rather than try to "fix" the problems because my tank is still really young and needs more time to mature.

Oh, and here's a picture of my attempt to MacGyver a lid lift to help with the tank heating until I can get some real ones.

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That “pest” is one of the good guys. Either a copod or amphipod.
Sorry just saw you got the id.
Thanks for helping me ID it! It startled me more than anything when I touched it yesterday because I did NOT expect it to move. I thought it was a piece of shrimp. And it is a LOT bigger than the coral pests I am used to seeing (10x at least). It was still wriggling around for a good 5 minutes after I placed it on the paper towel which freaked me out as well.
 
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It has been a while since I posted an update on my tank, but life got in my way :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes:

I even had to push out my tank maintenance to Sunday instead of my usual Saturday and didn't get around to testing the water I took out of the tank until yesterday. Yikes!

Well, enough said, let's get to the actual update.

Water Parameters
  • Salinity 1.025
  • Alkalinity 8.9dKH --> that's a big drop from last week's 9.75dKH
  • Calcium 425ppm --> also dropping
  • Magnesium 1500ppm
  • pH 8.15
  • Phosphate 0.1ppm
  • Nitrate 1.0ppm
I'm trying to figure out why my alkalinity and calcium are dropping while magnesium is hitting the top of my testing range. The only things I've added to the tank recently are the feather duster, scoly, and maxima clam (although the clam was dying and was only in the tank for a week). It could have been the clam so if my calcium keeps dropping next week, I'll start balling Part A dosing again.

Date​
Alkalinity​
Calcium​
Notes​
04-23-22​
9.75dKH​
455ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose; 15mL Dr. Tim's One and Only; replaced activated carbon
04-24-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed frozen mysis shrimp and PhytoGreen-S
04-25-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR
04-26-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed fresh shrimp, Reef-Roids, and Phyto-Feast
04-27-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR
04-28-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed Phyto-Feast, Reef Snow, and Reef-Roids; 3oz Tigger-Pods
04-29-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR
04-30-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR
05-01-22​
8.9dKH​
425ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose
05-02-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; 15mL Dr. Tim's One and Only; fed frozen mysis shrimp, Phyto-Feast (20 drops), and Reef-Roids; 3oz Tigger-Pods

I moved the two micro lords I had left in QT over to the display tank yesterday. They were both dipped in 3% H2O2 (no dilution) for 3 times at 30 seconds each. That was to get rid of the green hair algae that was growing on them. Then they were dipped 3 times in freshwater at 30 seconds each to kill any hitchhikers on them. The last dip was for 12 minutes in KoralMD although I did dunk them in KoralMD multiple times afterwards to squirt the solution into all the nooks and crannies with a turkey baster just to see if I could dislodge any more critters.

I also took them off of their QT plugs (before all the dipping) and put them on their new plugs (after all the dipping) before I placed them in the display. I'll have to say that the feather duster on my larger micro lord is a tough little guy. He has survived all the dips and pest prevention techniques I've put the micro lords through for the last 2+ months so he deserves to be happy!

Tux being Tux moved the feather duster and got him wedged underneath the rock. I was able to get the feather duster out and he is now sitting next to the back wall. I was pleasantly surprised that he had started to grow back his feathers already. I read that it would take about 6 weeks for this to happen, but he already has small feathers now and it's only been ~2 weeks.

I'm also planning to put a tiger conch into the display to help eat the stuff that keeps growing on my sand i.e. diatom, cyano, etc and to stir it up. While my nassarius snails are great about eating the leftover meaty foods, they are not so good about disturbing the algae or really sifting the sand. The only times I notice them moving the sand around are when they go in and out of it looking for food. They can actually move across the sand without disturbing it (or the stuff on top of it) which is quite a feat, but doesn't help with sand maintenance.

The walking dendro keeps to his small territory which is just around one side of Dragon Island and the trochus snails and urchin don't really deal with the algae on the sand. I guess there is just too much food on the rocks for them to eat.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that I turned my water pump to maximum flow when I serviced the tank this week.
 
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I now have a tiger conch! He's about 1.5" long. I put him in the tank today after I spent some time cleaning and checking his shell. He spent the night in QT, but I really didn't see any pests or issues with him yesterday so I just cleaned and inspected him again today and put him into the display.

My main concern was pyramid snails so I brushed him well with a toothbrush, both yesterday and today, and wiped him down with H2O2 (both days). I also went over his shell with a dental explorer and scraped any odd protrusions or crusty stuff off.

He has been sitting in the same spot that I dropped him. He might have moved a step or three, but his eyes and nozzle have been out scouting the terrain. He did laps in QT so I expect that he'll make his rounds tonight in the bigger tank.

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I fed the clams Phyto-Feast and zooplankton and scrubbed the top of the arch to get rid of the algae on it. Not too much in the way of tank maintenance today.

I did finally get the maxima clam's shell cleaned. It had been sitting outside since he passed. I was hoping some animal would come by and eat the carcass out of the shell, but no such luck. I got most of it out although there is still some ligament/membrane tissue stuck to the byssal opening. I then soaked it for an hour in a ~25% bleach solution followed by a thorough rinse. The shell is now outside drying.

I'm thinking that I'll put it back in the same spot as before although not on the clam hammock, just buried in the sand. I will try to get a bubbletip anemone to attach to the inside of the shell so that it looks like he's sitting in the clam shell. Or I may put a hammer coral inside the shell with the head(s) sticking out. I think that would look really cool.
 
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Two days ago, I got a Randall's Pistol Shrimp and ... (wait for it) ... a clown fish! I purchased him from my LFS and, despite my paranoia about fish disease/parasites, I did not quarantine him. I only acclimated him and then put him into my display tank.

Yep, I never thought I would roll the dice like this, but here we are. I've been trying to buy a fully quarantined Snowflake Clown Fish for a while now and have really not had a lot of luck finding one. I noticed this little guy at my LFS almost a month ago and thought he was the cutest thing ever, but did not get him out of fear of disease/parasites.

I would periodically go back to check on him and see if he sold. My LFS tells me they run therapeutic copper in their fish tanks and keeps the salinity at 1.018. Well, after observing him for the last few weeks, I decided to pull the trigger and bought him. He's a little bit smaller than the conch so about 1.25" or so.

Of course, once I got him in the display, I saw that he was breathing heavily so I gave him a 5-minute freshwater dip yesterday to see if he had any flukes that could contribute to this problem. All I saw in the dip water were two tiny floaters which I think was lint or dust. So back in the display he went. I'm going to be observing him because 1) he could just be stressed in a new environment and 2) I may be projecting my fears of him being sick and overreacting (which I tend to do a lot!).

He seems to be swimming well and loves to ride the flow generated by the wave maker and the pump. I haven't seen him rub up against anything yet although he does swim lopsided sometimes, but I have read that clown fish normally swim a little weird and the flow may be too strong for him. Although, I think he likes to pretend he is fighting against it mightily, even under the arch, and I know for a fact that the flow in that area is minimal (macroalgae float gently in that area).

If he does have a disease/parasites that eventually kills him, I can leave the tank fallow for 76 days. Looking back on my stocking wish list, I found that I really only have two fish on it, the clown fish and a YWG, so I gambled. Time will tell if this was the right call.

Oh, and the pistol shrimp is in QT until he molts...which he proceeded to do the night I got him. Freaked me out because I thought he died on me due to stress (because I accidentally dropped him in the LFS and water went everywhere). Or it could have been due to the fact that I may have squished him (slightly?) with the rock I put in QT for him. It was hard to tell because there are little pockets of space in the underside of the rock. I moved it around a couple of times hoping to avoid him...and oops.

Anyhoo, what is it with molting crustaceans giving me a heart attack by making me think they died the first night I bought them? First, my crab did it and now the pistol shrimp. At least the sexy shrimps' exoskeletons don't look real enough to be mistaken for them.

20220506_060935_1.jpg
 
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I should have gotten a tiger conch earlier! He is going to town on the diatom algae and cyano on the sand. My only complaint (not really) may be that he is really, really slow, but hey, it gives his food supply a chance to grow back by the time he comes around that way again.

Here are before (left, taken yesterday) and after photos (right, taken today). Please ignore the dirty glass. I haven't cleaned it at all this week, but am planning to take care of it during my water change today.

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Got my weekly maintenance in today and I have good and bad news.

The good news is that the pistol shrimp is the newest addition to the display tank since he molted a couple of days ago. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of him before he bolted and I have no idea where he is in the tank.

The bad news is that I may have killed my rhodactis mushroom trying to get him off of the old frag plug. I didn't realize I was tearing him when I was working to get him off the plug so this is all that is left. I'm going to leave him in the tank for now and see what happens, but I'm not hopeful.

20220507_191117.jpg

I also took pictures of my clams from overhead with the flash on to capture their vivid colors. They are looking awesome!

20220507_141100.jpg
20220507_141239.jpg
20220507_141315.jpg


Water Parameters
  • Salinity 1.025
  • Alkalinity 8.9dKH --> stable
  • Calcium 405ppm --> still dropping
  • Magnesium 1380ppm --> dropping
  • pH 8.15
  • Phosphate 0.03ppm
  • Nitrate 0.5ppm
Calcium is dropping again from last week. I'm going to start dosing balling Part A again, probably every other day, and see what the levels look like next week.

Date​
Alkalinity​
Calcium​
Notes​
05-01-22​
8.9dKH​
425ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose
05-02-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; 15mL Dr. Tim's One and Only; fed frozen mysis shrimp, Phyto-Feast (20 drops), and Reef-Roids; 3oz Tigger-Pods
05-03-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR
05-04-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed Phyto-Feast (20 drops) and zooplankton ; put tiger conch in display
05-05-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; put clown fish in display
05-06-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed Phyto-Feast (20 drops), frozen mysis shrimp, and fish pellets
05-07-22​
8.9dKH​
405ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose; 15mL Dr. Tim's One and Only; fed Phyto-Feast (10 drops); took out clam hammock; replaced activated carbon; put pistol shrimp in display

And finally, a look at the feather duster with his new crown out and my tiger conch hard at work. Oh, and I can't forget Nemo! Yes, I really did name my clown fish Nemo...

20220507_190924.jpg
20220507_191043.jpg


20220507_191944.jpg
 
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I found where my pistol shrimp is hiding. He is under the micro lords' ledge and making himself right at home. This is a perfect location for him as that was where I envisioned him to be when I designed my aquascape. It also puts him all the way across the tank from Dragon Island where the crab and sexy shrimps live so hopefully, there will be no skirmishes and resultant casualties.

I have to admit, I always thought the stories about pistol shrimps burrowing and causing rocks to tumble down creating havoc in the tank were somewhat exaggerated because they're so little and the rocks are somewhat heavy compared to them. Well, I have to say I can totally see how they could be little disasters in the making now.

In the course of one night, my pistol shrimp has already dug all around that area creating huge sand dunes. If I didn't know that the rock structure is 100% stable, I would be worried about it crashing down and breaking my tank.

This is what he has already done and why I know that he can't bring the rocks down on himself. The red circles indicate where he has set up residence. The rock pieces are super glued together and the overall structure is sitting directly on the bottom of the tank.

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I now know that Tux is definitely a male urchin. When I was feeding the tank this morning, I noticed him spewing out some white stuff from around his anus.

I looked up tuxedo urchin anatomy and found that he has several genital plates surrounding the anus where eggs or sperm are released. It didn't look like eggs to me. I thought at first that he was urinating in the water, but the white stuff was coming from around his anus, not directly out of it.

 
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Huh...I just realized yesterday that the cyanobacteria has disappeared from my tank.

I used to hate scraping the glass because all the cyano streamers would settle in the sand bed among other places and create more pockets of it which I then tried to siphon out without taking too much sand with it. The cyano and diatoms on the sand were what started my whole debate about replacing the sand I have with something bulkier so I could siphon the cyano and diatom out while keeping the sand in place.

Now the cyano is gone and my tiger conch is happily munching on the diatoms so I am going to put the whole sand debate on hold.

My tank is five months old today! Woohoo!!!

More good news...I think my rhodactis mushroom is going to make it! I did NOT manage to kill him with my incompetence. I have to say that corals in general are very hardy creatures in my limited experience. I have managed to kill a few at the beginning, but with everything I put them through, I'm surprised I still have as many as I do.

I moved my blasto and other button scoly into the display yesterday. The blasto went through two dips of 1-minute each in H2O2 (undiluted) for hair algae. They both went through three, 1-minute dips in freshwater and then a 12-minute dip in KoralMD.

These are two of the corals that have fractures on their skeletons (that I caused). The basto I cracked trying to get him off of his original plug from the seller. The scoly I fractured while aggressively going after pests and breaking their tubes. You can actually lift the two pieces of the scoly skeleton and look underneath which I've done checking for pests.

I re-broke the blasto skeleton removing him from his QT plug yesterday. Should have used a razor blade instead of brute force. I hope he bounces back like the mushroom, but his flesh had started to recede last night. And I could see through his mouth to the frag plug below so he's in pretty bad shape.

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Got my weekly maintenance in today and I have good and bad news.

The good news is that the pistol shrimp is the newest addition to the display tank since he molted a couple of days ago. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of him before he bolted and I have no idea where he is in the tank.

The bad news is that I may have killed my rhodactis mushroom trying to get him off of the old frag plug. I didn't realize I was tearing him when I was working to get him off the plug so this is all that is left. I'm going to leave him in the tank for now and see what happens, but I'm not hopeful.

20220507_191117.jpg

I also took pictures of my clams from overhead with the flash on to capture their vivid colors. They are looking awesome!

20220507_141100.jpg
20220507_141239.jpg
20220507_141315.jpg


Water Parameters
  • Salinity 1.025
  • Alkalinity 8.9dKH --> stable
  • Calcium 405ppm --> still dropping
  • Magnesium 1380ppm --> dropping
  • pH 8.15
  • Phosphate 0.03ppm
  • Nitrate 0.5ppm
Calcium is dropping again from last week. I'm going to start dosing balling Part A again, probably every other day, and see what the levels look like next week.

Date​
Alkalinity​
Calcium​
Notes​
05-01-22​
8.9dKH​
425ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose
05-02-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; 15mL Dr. Tim's One and Only; fed frozen mysis shrimp, Phyto-Feast (20 drops), and Reef-Roids; 3oz Tigger-Pods
05-03-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR
05-04-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed Phyto-Feast (20 drops) and zooplankton ; put tiger conch in display
05-05-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; put clown fish in display
05-06-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed Phyto-Feast (20 drops), frozen mysis shrimp, and fish pellets
05-07-22​
8.9dKH​
405ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose; 15mL Dr. Tim's One and Only; fed Phyto-Feast (10 drops); took out clam hammock; replaced activated carbon; put pistol shrimp in display

And finally, a look at the feather duster with his new crown out and my tiger conch hard at work. Oh, and I can't forget Nemo! Yes, I really did name my clown fish Nemo...

20220507_190924.jpg
20220507_191043.jpg


20220507_191944.jpg
Make sure your pistol shrimp has lots of shells and various building supplies to keep it occupied . Hopefully this will encourage it to leave your nice stuff alone :)
 
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Make sure your pistol shrimp has lots of shells and various building supplies to keep it occupied . Hopefully this will encourage it to leave your nice stuff alone :)
I've heard him clicking away, but have not seen him out and about. I do see where he has found little pieces of rock rubble and placed them in the openings to his domain.

I move sand around sometimes when I have my hands in the tank to mess with him. Hopefully, this keeps him occupied rebuilding what I disturb so he doesn't mess with the corals or inverts.
 
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Got my weekly maintenance completed. I didn't get any glass cleaning done during the week so that took a while today. I figured out that I still have cyano (darn!) on the glass, but it no longer shows up on the sand. Go little tiger conch!

I worked on getting all the hair algae off the rocks. It was getting out of hand although Tux and one of the trochus snails worked on it during the week. There is just too much of it for them to clear it all.

Water Parameters
  • Salinity 1.026 --> elevated...hmm
  • Alkalinity 9.45dKH --> rising
  • Calcium 430ppm
  • Magnesium 1410ppm
  • pH 8.15
  • Phosphate 0.03ppm
  • Nitrate 5.0ppm --> rising due to overfeeding Nemo
Salinity is elevated and I suspect it is because I don't rinse out the bucket I use to collect the old water which is the water I check salinity on. I just dump out the bucket and let it dry so there may be extra salt crystals from previous water changes in there elevating the readings. Or my salinity really is creeping up which means I need to take some saltwater out and replace it with freshwater. I'll check the salinity tomorrow and see if it is still 1.026 and go from there.

Calcium dosing is working. I'm going to skip this week and see if the calcium levels stay around 430ppm next week.

Nitrates are high, but I've been feeding Nemo three to four times as much food as I'm supposed to give him. The LFS told me three pellets a day and I give him a lot more than three. Going to have to rein that in...although I don't think Nemo is the only one I'm overfeeding just looking at the table below.

I broke my other button scoly trying to take him off of the frag plug and I did use a razor blade this time! I was planning to move him to his final position on the arch and wanted to get rid of the plug. He's still on it right now and I'm leaving him alone to heal on the sand bed.

I'm going to start using a Dremel or a saw to get the corals off of these plugs. I don't want to keep breaking and maybe killing them.

Date​
Alkalinity​
Calcium​
Notes​
05-07-22​
8.9dKH​
405ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose; 15mL Dr. Tim's One and Only; fed Phyto-Feast (10 drops); took out clam hammock; replaced activated carbon; put pistol shrimp in display
05-08-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR in am; fed 10 drops Phyto-Feast, frozen mysis shrimp, fish eggs, Reef-Roids, and fish pellets; dosed 15mL balling, Part A in pm
05-09-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed 10 drops Phyto-Feast, Reef-Roids, LPS pellets, fish pellets, and nori
05-10-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed 10 drops Phyto-Feast, Reef-Roids, fresh shrimp, and fish pellets; added blasto and button scoly to display
05-11-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR in am; fed 10 drops Phyto-Feast and fish pellets; dosed 15mL balling, Part A in pm
05-12-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; fed 10 drops Phyto-Feast and fish pellets
05-13-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR in am; fed 10 drops Phyto-Feast, frozen mysis shrimp, and fish pellets; dosed 15mL balling, Part A in pm
05-14-22​
9.45dKH​
430ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose; 15mL Dr. Tim's One and Only
 
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Happy Hump Day!

Just a quick update on my tank. I measured salinity on Sunday and it was still 1.026 so I replaced 4 cups of saltwater with 4 cups of freshwater. I measured again on Monday and it was 1.025 so all good, but I did exchange one cup of SW for FW and then topped off with FW.

On Tuesday, I added a second hammer coral to my display tank. He had been in QT for about 30 days. After the usual dipping routine (3x 1 minute in H2O2, 3x 1 minute in FW, and 12 minutes in KoralMD), he was placed on a new frag plug and then put into the display tank. Here's a picture of the poor guy. You can't tell from the photo, but his polyps are green with purple tips. He's perking up today and I'll take another picture of him this weekend to show off his awesomeness.

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I have to say that after cracking both of my scolys recently, I wasn't sure if they would recover, but it looks like they are on the mend. In a previous photo, you could see the coral skeleton cracks where the flesh had been ripped apart, but in this latest picture below, the flesh has healed and reconnected over the cracks.

Ignore the nori on the clip because the tiger conch did as well. This was on Sunday. I tried more nori again on Tuesday and he ignored it again. He's probably trying to tell me something...

20220515_175813.jpg

And finally, I think my other hammer coral has recovered from near starvation, but the micro lord is still having problems since he's not as plump as he used to be. I'll be keeping an eye on him.

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    Votes: 61 55.0%
  • No interest

    Votes: 23 20.7%
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