My First Saltwater Aquarium - Fluval Evo 13.5G

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Sharkbait19

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With the recent changes I have been making to the water flow, this was bound to happen...one of the anemones decided to leave the island (he was not voted off).

At first, he moved around the island trying to find that perfect location, but he didn't have any success. His closest neighbor was taking up a lot of space and had a guest that was quite crabby.

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My anemone decided high-rise living was not for him and settled for something on the ground floor. I hope he's happy there, but I doubt it since he's very temperamental. This is the same anemone that went walkabout multiple times when he was first introduced into the display tank.

He is one of my problem children. Two guesses who the other one is... At least it will be easier to feed him now.

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I’d bet the urchin is the other problem…
I just got a bta yesterday and is already decided that it doesn’t like where I put it. Apparently being visible isn’t an option…
 
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I’d bet the urchin is the other problem…
I just got a bta yesterday and is already decided that it doesn’t like where I put it. Apparently being visible isn’t an option…
Bingo! You didn't even need the second guess. Yes, Tux is a handful. Sounds like you have one too (problem child that is).

Anemones will go where they want to go and there is nothing you can do about it short of gluing them down which is not an option. And they will choose the best spot for them which also happens to be the worst possible spot for you.

Keeping my fingers crossed that he will decide to try out other spots before he settles down and it will be in a much better viewing location than he's currently at.
 
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A while back, I struggled with my tank heating up unexpectedly. I finally attributed the heat to the ambient temperature around my tank (post #31).

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My solution was to buy a fan kit customized for the 13.5G and put it into the lid of my tank. I checked to make sure everything turned on, but it wasn't until yesterday that I saw it working.

My tank heated up to 81.4F last night. It had gotten up that high before (prior to the fan install) and my Inkbird was currently set to turn on the fan at 82F. Since I was sitting right there, I changed it so the fan turned on at 81F.

Over the course of an hour, I saw the tank temperature go down to 80.9F which was a change of 0.5F. I thought that was great since the tank cooled down with the lights on and the two lids in place. I *may* have had two lights on, but more on that later.

I didn't check to see if the temperature went down any further yesterday, but this morning, the fan is off which meant it must have dipped down below 80F sometime overnight. The tank is currently at 80.9F this morning.

I'll probably leave the chamber lid off this morning to let the tank cool down a little bit more. Having everything locked up tight is probably keeping the heat in the tank and causing the temperature to rise again.

Since it is now spring, I may change my Inkbird temperature setting downward from 80F and my heater to 76F instead of 78F. Something to consider going into the warmer months, but I'm glad that my fan is working as expected.

FYI - The fan is rated at IP67 so I feel comfortable using it in my tank.
 
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About my *two* lights referenced above...I added an extra light fixture to my tank yesterday. I purchased the MingDak 11", 6W aquarium light and installed it into my stock hood. I like the fact that this light is not permanently attached and can be taken in and out of the tank as needed. I figured with the extra clams, I needed to boost the lighting slightly right now.

I placed the light fixture on the right side of the stock lights (if looking at the back wall of the tank) which is also the side that the arch leans toward. I tilted the glass tube to the center slightly so that the lights would shine on top of the clams. The fan's power cord runs along the other side of the stock lights.

This light is rated at IP68 which means it is waterproof and can be fully submerged in water (up to 1.5m). That rating got tested immediately yesterday when one of the suction cups lost its grip and part of the light fell into the tank. It was my fault for not insuring that I had the suction cups fully pressed to the hood (suction cups are not my friends right now). It was not in the water for more than a few minutes because I was still messing around with my tank and it hasn't fallen in again.

The reason I don't know if this light was on last night when my tank heated up is that I thought I had set it to turn off after 6 hours, but when I peeked under the hood, it looked like it was still on. I later realized that I may have been mistaken and what I thought were the lights being on was actually the reflection of the stock lights off the glass tube instead.

I'll be messing with the settings of this light fixture again today. I don't want them on too long, but I do want them on at the same time as the stock lights so 6 hours is perfect for me. I'm going with all whites and blues on 100%...now just have to make sure I get the programming correct.

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I spent yesterday working on the QT. I planned to move the rhodactis and hammer corals to the display since they were the least likely to harbor pests while the rest of the corals would go back into QT in a new tank setup i.e. the one I bleached last week.

I started by manually extracting pests and then performed a freshwater dip consisting of three sets of 10 seconds for each coral except the large scoly which received two dips of 30 seconds each. The last step was to dip all the corals for 12 minutes in KoralMD.

The rhodactis and hammer corals were kept separate from the others during the above steps. Right before putting them in the display, I pulled the hammer coral off of the old base and placed it on a brand new one. I tried to get the rhodactis off the frag plug, but he was not budging so I left him alone.

Here is how the hammer coral looked during this process. To say he was NOT happy is an understatement. The rhodactis was angry as well, but it's harder to tell with him.

Picture 1 - This photo was taken sometime during all the dips, but before placement onto a new base. The hammer coral is very unhappy with polyps tightly pulled into the skeleton.

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Picture 2 (left)
- On new base right after introduction to display tank. Looks almost dead.
Picture 3 (mid) - Later in the evening about five hours after placement in tank. Polyps slowly creeping out.
Picture 4 (right) - Today after lights came on in the display tank. Looking much, much better.

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I placed the rhodactis on the smaller island hoping it would detach from the frag plug and attach to the rock. Unfortunately, Tux came by during the night and I found the plug in the sand this morning. I repositioned the rhodactis back onto the rock again and am keeping my fingers crossed that it will make the jump (and that Tux doesn't come around again to disturb it).

Picture 5 (left) - Yesterday's position before Tux.
Picture 6 (right) - Today's position after Tux.

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Speaking of Tux...here he is trying to add to his hat collection.

Picture 7 - He's trying really hard to pull the alveopora off the rock. This was not his first or his last attempt yesterday.

20220328_163047_1.jpg
 
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I'm starting to feed the tank daily with Reef Nutrition Phyto-Feast Live (just started today). The recommended dose is 1-5 drops for every gallon. I started out putting in 20 drops across the top of my clams with the pumps off. I figured whatever the clams don't eat will be taken up by the rest of the inhabitants of the tank.

I'm still planning on feeding the clams three times a week on top of this daily helping of Phyto-Feast as well as feeding the carnivores twice a week. Is this overkill and am I going to cause a nutrient spike in my tank? I'm not sure. I guess we'll see in the next couple of weeks.

I have picked up three sexy shrimps and another rock flower anemone as well as a feather duster. They are currently all chilling in QT. The feather duster came with little rocks attached to the end of his tube (opposite of where the feathers come out), but it looked like it had holes in it and was translucent in certain areas. I couldn't figure out why that was and since I didn't want the rocks in QT...I cut that part of his tube off and disposed of the rocks. He didn't seem that disturbed by what I did.

I was going to keep him in QT for at least two weeks (he has a soft tube, not a hard one) for observations and then move him into the display, but he may go in this weekend. I found that the nassarius snails like to crawl on his tube looking for food which tips him over. He doesn't like them at all.

The sexy shrimps will go into the display when they molt. There is one big one (Odin) and two little ones (Thor and Loki). I named them after the Norse gods since their scientific name is Thor amboinensis. Although Odin may be female since they are larger than the males...

I'm hoping they can share Dragon Island with my crab. There should be plenty of anemones to go around. My crab stays under the skirt of the big anemone for the most part and doesn't wander far from his buddy.

In other news, I decided to move the hammer coral toward the back wall/heater and closer to the rock work. In his old position, the flow from the wave maker was constantly buffeting his polyps and I was afraid they would get damaged. His new position offers some shelter from the wave maker and although his polyps are still waving around, they are not waving as fiercely as before.

Here's a little video of my crab scraping algae off the rock and putting it into his mouth. I'm not sure if he's actually eating it or just tasting it, but it made my day.

 
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It has been a couple of days since I last posted, but I have been letting my tank settle a bit more. It's hard to believe that my tank has been up for almost 4 months now.

Today is cleaning day so I thought I would give an update on the tank.

Water Parameters
  • Salinity 1.024
  • Alkalinity 8.3dKH
  • Calcium 475ppm --> 60ppm higher than last week; will stop Ca dosing for the next week
  • Magnesium 1425ppm
  • pH 8.15
  • Phosphate 0.03ppm
  • Nitrate 0.2ppm
It looks like 15mL daily of balling part A increases the calcium in my tank approximately 50ppm weekly. I'm going to stop the balling part A dosing for next week and see if the calcium levels stay the same or start dropping. 475ppm is higher than I would like, but I think it is fine with the three clams in the tank.

Alkalinity and magnesium are both up from last week which is what I wanted. I'm going to stay with 2.0mL daily dosing of All-For-Reef and see if they continue to rise or level out.

Date​
Alkalinity​
Calcium​
Notes
03-26-22​
7.7dKH​
415ppm​
Dosed 1.5mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose; will increase AFR to 2.0mL in the coming week and keep dosage for balling part A at 15mL; Dosed 15mL balling part A
03-27-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR in am; 15mL balling part A in pm
03-28-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR in am; 15mL balling part A in pm
03-29-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR in am; 15mL balling part A in pm
03-30-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR in am; 15mL balling part A in pm
03-31-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR in am; 15mL balling part A in pm
04-01-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR in am; 15mL balling part A in pm
04-02-22​
8.3dKH​
475ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose; will continue AFR at 2.0mL, but discontinue balling part A

I decided not to put the feather duster in the display tank today. I think he is in a good spot right now in QT and the snails haven't been able to disturb him there.

Tux has knocked over the rhodactis' plug multiple times. This is almost a daily occurrence. The mushroom just needs to attach to the rock so Tux can't mess with him anymore.

My hammer coral continues to look good. He is still seeing considerable flow from the wave maker, but he doesn't look like he minds it (I think). The picture is just after lights came on and his polyps are starting to plump back up.

I also believe I have copepods in the tank now. I used to see little white dots on the glass feeding on algae, but for the last few weeks, I see tiny worm-like creatures on the glass after cleaning the tank. At first, I thought it was lint on the inside of the glass, but upon closer inspection, it looks like a tiny animal (~3mm) with two little tentacles on its head. They disappear off the glass after a while and I suspect that they go back into the sand.

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I have a problem with my substrate and am planning to change it out.

I started my tank with 10lbs of Nature's Ocean Bio-Activ Live Aragonite Reef Sand (White Sand #1) which has a particle size 0f 0.5mm to 1.7mm. I thought I wanted something in this size for all the sand sifting animals that were going to go in my tank (nassarius snails, pistol shrimp, etc). However, having had this sand in my tank for almost 4 months now, I've come to the realization that this sand is too fine.

It keeps getting blown around by the water pump and wave maker. I have to make a special effort to place the RFG nozzle and wave maker just right to avoid this issue. Also, every time I vacuum the substrate, I end up taking a bunch of sand out of the tank along with the waste water and detritus. I end up taking more sand out than I do cyanobacteria/algae/detritus.

I'm currently looking at CaribSea Special Grade Arag-Alive! Reef Sand (1mm - 2mm) or CaribSea Natural Reef Arag-Alive! Reef Sand (3mm - 5mm) as a replacement. A BRS video states that the Special Grade sand is their #1 bestseller, but I am concerned that the particle size is too close to what I currently have and won't fix the problems I'm facing. However, I'm also concerned that the Natural Reef sand is too big and won't allow my burrowing animals to move around in the sand bed. Plus it may look too bulky in the tank.

Thinking Out Loud: I'm leaning toward the Natural Reef sand just because it is bigger and 1) won't blow around as much or 2) get vacuumed up during water changes. I believe the animals in the sand bed will adapt to the larger particles in time, but am I being naive to think that? Will my list of animals present and future have a problem with this sand size?

Sand Bed Live Stock List
Name​
Present/Future​
Notes/Comments​
Yellow Watchman Goby
Future​
don't think this goby sifts sand so grain size should not be an issue
Candy Cane Pistol Shrimp
Future​
shrimp should be okay with any size sand
Walking Dendro (+ peanut worm)
Present​
unclear if larger sand size will be detrimental to the worm moving around and looking for food
Nassarius Snails
Present​
don't think snails will have issue with particle size
Feather Duster
Present​
no issue as long as tube can be buried in sand

After reviewing this table, it looks like the only animal that I am really concerned about is the walking dendro. Hmm...
 
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I’d personally stick with what you have, maybe get some rock and rubble to help anchor the sand. It’s a big pain to change the substrate and I doubt it’s going to have a major effect on anything.
If I put rock/rubble on top of it, that should keep the grains of sand from getting blown around by the water flow, but what about the gravel vacuum that keeps pulling sand out? I don't believe that I'm getting all the gunk out of the sand when I vacuum because it is so fine and I lift more sand than anything else except water.

My plan was to put the new sand on top of the old sand and then vacuum the old sand up over time. This will hopefully keep my beneficial bacteria in the tank as it migrates to the new sand before I vacuum out the old stuff. My sand bed may be deeper for a few months, but I expect it to go down every time I do a water change. Will that work?
 
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I was dosing/feeding my tank this morning and looking at the clams from above (love their colors) when I saw what looks like gaping on my original clam (the one in the middle picture). I know that this clam has gotten a lot of new shell growth recently so I'm not sure if this is an actual problem or if his mantle growth has not caught up with the shell.

I want to mention that I have been picking around the outside of this area (with a dental explorer) every so often because he's got a little bubble algae that I am trying to get off. I have also been brushing the rocks around this area as well as the shell to get rid of the hair algae that the snails can't get to. And by the way, Tux and a trochus snail were hanging out on/around the clams yesterday. All in all, this little clam has been irritated multiple times recently.

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I took a picture of this area as lights were turning on. The "gaping" side look okay...the mantle is out and extended as I expect and I can see the new shell growth. The opposite side's mantle looks deformed? I'm not sure that's the right term, but it is definitely smaller than the other side. Since this is toward the end of the mantle, I think this may be normal and there is nothing to worry about???

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I'm starting to see more coralline algae growing on my rocks and clam. Sometimes, I 'm not sure if it is really coralline algae on the rocks or if it was the purple paint/dye that was put on the CaribSea Life Rocks. I'm pretty sure the stuff on the clam is coralline algae and not cyanobacteria though.

And...the picture below is Tux doing what he does best which is messing with everyone!

20220404_133643.jpg
 
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I learned that Porcelain Anemone Crabs are carnivores and can eat large pieces of meat!

When I fed the tank this weekend, my little crab grabbed some leftover scallop and was chomping on it. I thought she was just a filter feeder, but that was obviously not the case as she went to town on the meat.

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If I put rock/rubble on top of it, that should keep the grains of sand from getting blown around by the water flow, but what about the gravel vacuum that keeps pulling sand out? I don't believe that I'm getting all the gunk out of the sand when I vacuum because it is so fine and I lift more sand than anything else except water.

My plan was to put the new sand on top of the old sand and then vacuum the old sand up over time. This will hopefully keep my beneficial bacteria in the tank as it migrates to the new sand before I vacuum out the old stuff. My sand bed may be deeper for a few months, but I expect it to go down every time I do a water change. Will that work?
Honestly I gave up on vacuuming the sandbed in my evo and there were no ill effects - I also ran out of sandbed to vacuum. A really good cuc does the job for you.
 
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My little crab is growing up! She went through another molt last night. This time, I saw the crab alive and well first before I noticed the empty shell :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes:. She now has *two* large pincers (well one large and one not so large).

In other news, I've decided to move forward with a maxima clam for my tank. I have not purchased a clam yet, but am on the lookout for a reasonably priced one. With that decision made, I decided to make space for the clam rather than shove it in front of the ledge where the acans were going to go which was my first inclination. So...the little island is going to be taken out of the tank and the clam will take its place in the corner.

I think the clam will fit just right in that spot if I angle it diagonally to the corner. Even though the literature states that the maximum size for a maxima clam is 12", I've read that they rarely get bigger than 9", if that. I'm hoping that holds true for my clam.

Meanwhile, I'm thankful that the rhodactis hasn't moved onto the little island. I have his frag plug attached to a frag rock with a rubber band to keep it in place. I think I irritated him this morning trying to remove him from the plug with a toothpick so I'm leaving him alone for a few days to see if he'll jump from the plug to the rock. Since the frag rock is much smaller than the island, I'll be able to move him around to different locations to see where he best fits in the tank.

I'm also planning to get another hammer coral for the tank. I know that I said I was done with corals, but the one I have has grown on me and I want to get a green one. I saw some pictures of a splatter hammer which looked really cool. They are also really expensive. We'll see what I end up with, but after that, I will be done with corals...maybe...I think.
 
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Today is cleaning day! It's a great time to catch up on everything that I've done to my tank recently.

Water Parameters
  • Salinity 1.024
  • Alkalinity 8.45dKH
  • Calcium 475ppm
  • Magnesium 1440ppm
  • pH 8.15
  • Phosphate 0.10ppm --> going up (good)
  • Nitrate 1.0ppm --> going up (good)
My calcium levels are holding steady even though I stopped dosing balling part A last week. Alkalinity and magnesium are also stable so I will continue with dosing 2mL daily of All-For-Reef.

I've been fighting cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates and am hoping that increasing my PO4 and NO3 will help. I've increased my live phytoplankton daily dosing from 20 drops to 30 drops (started April 4) and have been overfeeding my tank. I also put in a new bag of activated carbon and plan to switch it out every two weeks.

I added almost 6oz of Reef Nutrition Tigger-Pods into the tank yesterday for more biodiversity. The directions said to add 8oz for 25G. I meant to only put in half the bottle, but ended up dumping in almost 75% of the bottle instead.

I forgot to mention that I got rid of the coarse sponge filter two weeks ago and replaced it with a piece of inTank Bonded Poly Filter Floss. I now have three pieces of the inTank Bonded Poly Filter Floss spread between chambers 1 and 2. The macroalgae is gone as well other than the pieces that Tux is carrying around on his head. I didn't like the brown algae that seemed to love growing on the pom pom macroalgae so I took the macroalgae out. I may put some more back into the tank later once it is more stable.

I also took out the small island and placed a clam hammock sans clam in its place. The hammock measures 3.25" long and 2" wide. I'm hoping that a maxima clam will fit in this corner comfortably.

I moved the three sexy shrimps and new RFA into the display tank today. The shrimps decided they wanted to hang out around the big rock structure and one of them even started hosting the lone anemone under the arch. I don't know if he'll stay with the anemone long term, but it was pretty funny to watch him on it.

Date​
Alkalinity​
Calcium​
Notes​
04-02-22​
8.3dKH​
475ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose; will continue AFR at 2.0mL, but discontinue balling part A; 20 drops live phytoplankton
04-03-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; 20 drops live phytoplankton
04-04-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; 30 drops live phytoplankton
04-05-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; 30 drops live phytoplankton
04-06-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; 30 drops live phytoplankton
04-07-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; 30 drops live phytoplankton
04-08-22​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR; 30 drops live phytoplankton
04-09-22​
8.45dKH​
475ppm​
Dosed 2.0mL AFR after water change; alkalinity and calcium were measured on water taken out of tank before AFR daily dose; 30 drops live phytoplankton

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Hmm...I think I should have gotten the sexy shrimp sooner. I didn't realize that they had such a voracious appetite for hair algae. I think they have been eating the hair algae off of the large trochus snail. Previously, I have had to take him out of the tank periodically to put H2O2 on his shell to get rid of the algae. He was looking pretty hairy again this weekend, but when I looked at him today, the algae was almost completely gone!

He was hanging out on Dragon Island with two of the sexy shrimps and the anemones when I saw him today. Tux and the other trochus snail haven't touch his shell so I doubt that it was them. The only change that I have made to the tank was the introduction of the shrimps and another anemone this past weekend :thinking-face:.

On another note, I transferred my other two nassarius snails from QT to the display tank today.

That brings my livestock levels to:
3 nassarius snails
2 trochus snails
1 tuxedo urchin
1 walking dendro
5 rock flower anemones
3 crocea clams
3 sexy shrimps
1 branching hammer
1 alveopora
1 micromussa lord --> figured I needed to start calling them the correct name
1 rhodactis mushroom

In QT, I currently have:

3 scolys
2 micromussa lords
1 blasto
1 feather duster

On my wish list:
1 maxima clam
1 green branching hammer coral
1 clown fish
1 yellow watchman goby
1 candy cane pistol shrimp
1 bubble tip anemone (maybe)

Whew! I'm tired just looking at the number of livestock I have in my tank, but it still looks bare. I'm hoping everything will grow in as they mature and the tank will look fuller.

Good news! I'm not seeing as much cyanobacteria as I was before. It could be due to the fact that I made a conscious effort this weekend to vacuum the cyanobacteria on the surface of the sand rather than try to vacuum into the sand bed. It could also be due to the fact that I have been dosing Phyto-Feast daily and increasing the nutrient levels in the tank. Or it could be that the cyanobacteria has run its course in my relatively new tank.

Whatever the reason, I *think* (fingers crossed) that I am over the cyanobacteria hump. The addition of the extra nassarius snails should also keep the sand turned more often (I hope). Now to tackle the dinoflagellates. My first order of business is to brush the rocks off every day especially where the dinoflagellates tend to spring up. I'm going to see if this works in keeping them in check as my tank matures further.
 
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HappilyReefing

HappilyReefing

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Okay, I need to figure out what is going on with my hammer coral. A couple of days ago, I noticed that some of his polyps were not inflating all the way so they looked darker than the others. I don't think it is brown jelly disease as there is no mucus. It almost looks like he is getting too much flow, but that side *should* be sheltered from the wave maker and there are polyps toward the center that are also acting the same way.

I also don't think the head is splitting, but I really don't know what a hammer coral looks like when it is splitting. He may have been irritated by something floating around the tank this weekend when I was cleaning. There was a ton of cyanobacteria that I scraped off the glass.

I'll continue to monitor him to see if he gets better or worse for now.

20220412_173426_1.jpg
 
AquaCave

How much of your saltwater reef tank is automated?

  • Nothing is automated

    Votes: 65 13.7%
  • 25% or so

    Votes: 148 31.2%
  • 50% or so

    Votes: 106 22.3%
  • 75% or so

    Votes: 104 21.9%
  • Close to 100%

    Votes: 49 10.3%
  • Totally Automated (we need proof)

    Votes: 3 0.6%
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