Nano Sapiens 12g - Ye Olde Mixed Reef

2Sunny

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Congrats on 13 years! The reef looks beautiful as always. It's so rare these days to come across anything older than 6 months and so I find your updates to be truly enjoyable.

Question: Have you ever taken everything out and put everything back in? Would you consider such starting over?

I only ask because it seems to me to be the easiest answer if faced with something like hydroids.
 
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Nano sapiens

Nano sapiens

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Congrats on 13 years! The reef looks beautiful as always. It's so rare these days to come across anything older than 6 months and so I find your updates to be truly enjoyable.

Question: Have you ever taken everything out and put everything back in? Would you consider such starting over?

I only ask because it seems to me to be the easiest answer if faced with something like hydroids.

Thank you for the compliment :)

A full system reboot might seem an easy answer, but in the long term it would cause much more difficulty than dealing with a pest (all of them are controllable, especially in a small aquarium). A few thoughts...

As an 'old school reefer', I take dealing with pests as part of the reef keeping experience (but I can still grumble about them!) ;). Quite often the effort leads to the development of control or eradication techniques that can benefit other reefers in the future, and IMO, this is valuable.

As far as starting over is concerned, I very rarely would recommend it except in extreme circumstances. In my case over the many years, the system has had 'Red Bugs', Aiptasia, Zoa eating Amphipods, Acoel Flatworms, Eunicid Worms (may still be in there), Colonial Hydroids and now these Digitate Hydroids. Since most of the LR is true Indo-Pacific, which is hard to find these days, and has a very full compliment of beneficial bacterial species with no pathogens present (Aquabiomics report), it would be a shame to remove it all. On top of that, the sand bed is fully seeded with worms and critters of many types which would be difficult to replicate. And lastly the stress of remounting corals onto new live rock in a system with a much reduced bacterial community would be detrimental to the corals and the other animals.
 
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Aqua Man

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Eyebrow Barnacle Blenny in the tank. Adding a little extra food to raise PO4 would result in slowly rising NO3, so I'm addressing the imbalance by the addition of an extra fish, namely an Azure Damsel:
How’s the Blenny and Damsel getting along? Damsel get such a bad reputation by some.

13 years!!! Wow! Looking good!
 
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How’s the Blenny and Damsel getting along? Damsel get such a bad reputation by some.

13 years!!! Wow! Looking good!

Thanks!

So far, the Damsel has succeeded in intimating the Blenny by getting close, but I haven't seen any outright aggression from it (the frst day or two the Barnacle Blenny would bomb the Damsel, but no more). I guess time will tell if they can somewhat amicably co-exist, or not.
 
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revhtree

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Yay, made it to the 13th year anniversary:

291275684_12gNano13thYearFTS_071821_thumb_jpg_f9832935303371e0936eaee90031e831.jpg


2151402_12gNano13thYear(frontright)_071821_thumb_jpg_e35bb8112b007592a31fa8c73f16af01.jpg


408285862_12gNano13thYear(frontleft)_071821_thumb_jpg_8180b620f7fdea7d0849bb31cbfe840f.jpg


893424922_12gNano13thYear(sideright)_071821_thumb_jpg_83d8183cd87ae37eba6a6c3fb620f1d0.jpg


1216239920_12gNano13thYear(sideleft)_071821_thumb_jpg_aa45197548d7c20cffddce0a8ea26b14.jpg



This was a bit of a challenging year what with lighting issues (from my own tinkering/experimentation), test kit failures leading to chemical imbalances, nutrient challenges and digitate hydroids.

Over the last few months I've reduced lighting from 170 PAR mid tank to around 140 and slightly adjusted the spectrum (lowered the Violet/Hyper Violet channel intensity). This resulted in less stressed corals and my Ponape BN going from 'Pocilliporin Pink' back to the more typical fluorescent green/pinkish tips. Also picked up a small frag of 'Ice Fire Echinata' Acro seen on the lower right side just to see how a deep-water would do in the system (please excuse the two retracted Mystic Monti frags as they were just added to the tank an hour before I took the photo):

1808942461_PonapeBNIceFireEchinataAcro_071721_thumb_jpg_d517457f215402772cfdcaad38843ecb.jpg



I had some difficulty keeping PO4/NO3 in balance due to having only one slimish Eyebrow Barnacle Blenny in the tank. Adding a little extra food to raise PO4 would result in slowly rising NO3, so I'm addressing the imbalance by the addition of an extra fish, namely an Azure Damsel:

1354988994_AzureDamselfishSidewithCoral_071721_thumb_jpg_8a98f00ff2322795ddf7c9beb28f047a.jpg


Based on past experience, having just the right balance of fish to coral in a system (that's not overfed) seems to promote a more reef acceptable PO4 to NO3 balance. Since fish process nitrogen in the food by excreting it mostly as ammonia (preferential coral nitrogen food source), this is much better than having excess food lying around in the tank (to try and maintain PO4) that bacteria then have to process...nitrification -> denitrification -> denitrogen gas (often denitrification can't keep up with steadily rising nitrates in many reef aquaria). The other option would have been adding a PO4 supplement, but I'd rather try and tackle this issue in a more 'naturalistic' way...and more fish equals more fun! (most of the time).

The digitate hydroids have done some fair damage to Zoas and LPS, mostly. A combination of minimizing small food particles, a Halloween Hermit and my constant picking at them has however greatly reduced their numbers. As of right now, I only know of one that is in an inaccessible spot underneath an Acan colony. One day, I hope to have the system free of these persistent organisms!

Being a small mixed reef with all types of coral compacted into a smallish area, all-in-all I'd say that almost everything is doing well enough :)

Happy anniversary and looks amazing!
 
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ramona

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Being a small tank, how often do you take the rocks and corals out, then take the sand out to clean all the detritus? Sump chambers deep cleaning?
 

Aqua Man

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Adding a little extra food to raise PO4 would result in slowly rising NO3, so I'm addressing the imbalance by the addition of an extra fish, namely an Azure Damsel:
I’m guessing that you mean your PO4 is still low to non existent? You’ve mentioned that you feed roids once in awhile, was that at the full recommended amount on the container?

Ive come to the conclusion that frozen mysis and brine don’t have much PO4 and have been adding a small amount of roids to my feedings. The consensus is that reef roids increases PO4, I’m not seeing that in my tanks. Although I’m not feeding the amount listed on the container.
 
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Being a small tank, how often do you take the rocks and corals out, then take the sand out to clean all the detritus? Sump chambers deep cleaning?

Kind of an evolution thing...

Many years ago I was taking one rock out at a time and vacuuming that portion of the sand underneath. Some corals didn't seem to like that (especially the Birdsnests), so I then got the idea of leaving enough free space on the sand bed so that I could simply rearrange rock to have access to any portion of the sand bed for cleaning. Now I just blow the gunk out from underneath a live rock with a turkey baster so I don't have to rearrange any rock at all, which is even better for the corals since they always stay in the same position. I also use a turkey baster to lightly stir up the back chambers every week and suck out any heavier mineralized sand/rock pieces monthly. Whenever I do any kind of major blasting, I capture the detritus in a filter sock that I add temporarily to the outflow from the back chambers.

Hope that makes sense.
 
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I’m guessing that you mean your PO4 is still low to non existent? You’ve mentioned that you feed roids once in awhile, was that at the full recommended amount on the container?

Ive come to the conclusion that frozen mysis and brine don’t have much PO4 and have been adding a small amount of roids to my feedings. The consensus is that reef roids increases PO4, I’m not seeing that in my tanks. Although I’m not feeding the amount listed on the container.

With just feeding the Barnacle Blenny, correct that I was reading '0' for PO4. I could just barely get a reading (0.01'ish) if I fed the fish (daily) and coral (2-3x/wk) and left a little food (including a small amount of Reef-Roids) to decompose, which was not ideal. In the past with a few more fish in the system '0' PO4 wasn't a problem and I wouldn't have worried. But when my Sunset Monti started having severe color and tissue loss issues when just the Blenny was being fed, I knew PO4 was getting too low.

Lots of forum comments about Reef-Roids raising PO4, but at near their recommended dosage I found that it raises NO3 much more than PO4 in my system. I suspect this is something that is aquarium dependent as some systems like mine strongly utilize PO4 and so do not show much of a reading on a test kit (if at all).

Frozen foods are around 95% water, so PO4 is low since it's not very concentrated (frozen mysid shrimp, for example, has around 0.01%) . My flake and pellet food on the other hand have a lot more PO4 since they are very concentrated nutrition source with a very low moisture content (my pellets have the most phosphorus at 1%).

The PO4/NO3 thing is a lot more involved than just what we read on a test kit. Last night I was watching a Youtube Chat that was more SPS specific, but much of it still relevant to any reef system. What struck me was that the guest had '0' PO4 and NO3 with very successful SPS dominated tanks and I could see the difficulty in expressing exactly why this works (for him):


For me, the key takeaway is that he has a good amount of many larger fish in his systems (arguably a few too many since he has to use Rowaphos to keep PO4 very low, but that's a personal choice) continuously adding nutrients, with ammonia being especially important since the many high metabolism SPS preferentially utilize this nitrogen source. Due to this, there is less bacteria produced NO3 present and therefore less denitrification bacteria needed. The end result is very low NO3 in a well stocked reef aquarium.

This all goes back to what was known 40+ years ago that a properly sized fish bio load resulted in a healthier reef system and corals.
 
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I decided to get serious about my remaining two Digitate Hydroids:

Epoxy patch #1 (the clear plastic looking pieces are excess superglue):

Epoxy Patch #1 for Digitate Hydroid_072421.jpg



Epoxy patch #2 (empty corallite from hydroid contact):


Epoxy Patch #2 for Digitate Hydroid_072421.jpg


I wrapped the epoxy as far around the joints where they hide out as I could. These guys are little houdinis, so they may not perish. But if I can force them out into the open, I'm hoping I get them foot and all with a tweezer.

For posterity (and something to compare with a few months down the road). either an A. echinata or A. turkani 1-1/4" frag (regular white/blue and ramped down blue lighting):

Acropora Echinata under white lighting_072421.jpg


Acropora Echinata under blue lighting_072421.jpg



Video of a hypnotic black/white striped worm in the sand bed:



I saw a few of these white headed, black/white striped worms way back when I first set up this reef, but this is the first time I've ever seen one in the sand bed (versatile little worm!).


And I might as well add this little 1" diameter 'Lord on a stem' (M. lords don't come on branches, so this one either an oddball, or it was perfectly cut out to resemble a stem from a 1" thick skeleton...which is perhaps most likely):


... Bowerbanki or Acan on a Stem_072421.jpg

Amazingly, it's currently dominant over the larger bright orange Bowerbanki in the background...
 
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And I might as well add this little 1" diameter 'Lord on a stem' (M. lords don't come on branches, so this one either an oddball, or it was perfectly cut out to resemble a stem from a 1" thick skeleton...which is perhaps most likely):


... Bowerbanki or Acan on a Stem_072421.jpg

Amazingly, it's currently dominant over the larger bright orange Bowerbanki in the background...

Well, the Lord put up a good fight for the last week, but finally the Bowerbanki started to get the upper hand (damaged on the lower part of the oral disk).

Rather than see it slowly get overtaken, I moved it to the right side 'Wall of Lords':

Odd Acan Damaged by Bower_081421.jpg


So far, it seems to be 'happy' with it's own kind.

This orange Lord is a bit different from the typical Aussie import (somewhat larger polyp, thicker feeding tentacles and green streaking around the mouth area like many Bowerbanki). I'm wondering if it might be an Indonesian location variety. At any rate, I'll be watching to see if any conflicts arise with it's Aussie Lord neighbor...


I got a chuckle out of this picture:

Halloween Hermit Sitting on Fox Coral_080821.jpg


Reminded me of something out of Alice in Wonderland :)
 
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Aqua Man

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So far, the Damsel has succeeded in intimating the Blenny by getting close, but I haven't seen any outright aggression from it (the frst day or two the Barnacle Blenny would bomb the Damsel, but no more). I guess time will tell if they can somewhat amicably co-exist, or not.
Blenny and Damsel getting along?

I decided to get serious about my remaining two Digitate Hydroids:
Are these the hydroids that have long filament that’s hard to see? Kinda like a long feather?
 
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Blenny and Damsel getting along?


Are these the hydroids that have long filament that’s hard to see? Kinda like a long feather?

Yes, both have settled in nicely with each other. The Damsel still cocks an eye at the Blenny every now and then, but I only see it during feeding time (it's a food-grabbing glutton!) :rolleyes:

Yes, long skinny floppy thread with what looks like a pipe cleaner bristles near the end. Sounds like you might have some of these?
 

Aqua Man

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Yes, both have settled in nicely with each other. The Damsel still cocks an eye at the Blenny every now and then, but I only see it during feeding time (it's a food-grabbing glutton!)
That’s great! My starry blenny is also a pig! Brazen too, tried to take a bite out of my arm the other day while I had my hand in the tank.
Yes, long skinny floppy thread with what looks like a pipe cleaner bristles near the end. Sounds like you might have some of these?

Maybe? I’ve seen something similar. Not always in the same spot though. Also saw them sprouting from my glass bottom.

So if they have a hole that needs glue/epoxy to eradicate, maybe what I’m seeing is something else?
 
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That’s great! My starry blenny is also a pig! Brazen too, tried to take a bite out of my arm the other day while I had my hand in the tank.


Maybe? I’ve seen something similar. Not always in the same spot though. Also saw them sprouting from my glass bottom.

So if they have a hole that needs glue/epoxy to eradicate, maybe what I’m seeing is something else?

The hand biting thing got old when I had my Clownfish :rolleyes:

Digitate hydroids can readily move around the tank as they look for promising hunting spots. They like to bury their 'foot' into a crevice, but not always.
 

2Sunny

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The hand biting thing got old when I had my Clownfish :rolleyes:

Digitate hydroids can readily move around the tank as they look for promising hunting spots. They like to bury their 'foot' into a crevice, but not always.
Hah, that's too funny. I've kept clowns for 20 years and never had one that was brave enough to come at me, but my little guy in my nano attacks my hand with a vengeance every time I clean and put my hand in the water. Not a problem now as he's so little, but I imagine it will get old when he gets bigger.
 
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Hah, that's too funny. I've kept clowns for 20 years and never had one that was brave enough to come at me, but my little guy in my nano attacks my hand with a vengeance every time I clean and put my hand in the water. Not a problem now as he's so little, but I imagine it will get old when he gets bigger.

If the tank is small, then the whole thing becomes their territory!
 
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3rd Qtr. FTS:

12g FTS_091921.jpg


12g Left Side_091921.jpg


12g Right Side_091921.jpg


Overall, doing pretty well with just a few minor issues (slowly deteriorated Sunny D colony and an odd patch of bare skeleton on the old metallic copper Pavona maldivensis).

Since I've lowered my overall lighting intensity by around 15% from the previous high, I found that in order to get some growth I had to increase the length of day a bit (not looking for fast growth, just a slow-moderate pace). With the system as it stands, I am now having to use a mix of 90% kalkwasser/10% RO to keep alkalinity stable.

As usual, PO4 is nearly always 'undetectable' and NO3 is staying steady at 25 ppm. Since I don't see anything negative that I can attribute to the higher NO3, it'll stay where it is for a while :).


The most flippy-floppy thing by far in the aquarium is the Duncan:



To give a sense of scale, the Blastomussa vivida on the lower left is 2-1/2" and the B. wellsi on the right are 2". Even though I've got them on a diet, they are still some pretty plump and chunky Duncans!


'This is how a Blastomussa merletti do...'

Blasto merletti Hanging Polyps_091321.jpg


As a part of the internal skeleton and flesh started stretching downward a few months ago it started growing polyps. It's got about 1/2" to go before the baby polyps touch the sand bed. Assuming that they don't tear off before touchdown, I'm not quite sure what will happen then.

SPS are doing okay, especially the Ponape Birdsnest as it has regained all it's normal coloration and will need pruning in about a month. The Acropora echinata is in hibernation, which is fine for now. Managed to save a 1/2" BOP Birdsnest frag and it's starting to sprout new branches (pics later). Leptoseris, Stylocoeniella, Psammacora, Montipora...all fine and growing.
 
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