Northwest's 20 Gallon Macroalgae and Non-Photosynthetic Reef

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Northwest_Scapes_

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Intro | As someone who is always after the odd and unique, Macroalgae and Non-Photosynthetic Reef Tanks have always been a big thing I've wanted to do.

Background | You may have seen some old threads of mine of Macroalgae Tanks, unfortunately those didn't work out. My first attempt was 2020 with this same tank, unfortunately only Red Macros grew and after a Memorial Day Weekend trip, everything was dead / covered in Diatoms and I scrapped the whole thing. Attempt #2 was in a 10 Gallon Rimless, and while it was good for a while, the same thing happened but instead, I couldn't grow anything! So I scrapped that one too.

The Issue | There was one thing that kept making my Macro Tanks fail, and I had no idea what it was. It wasn't nutrients (In fact I reached 1.0 Phosphate one time! I still have no idea how, most likely overdose on NeoPhos). It wasn't anything eating the Macros as I had no Crabs or Herbivores.
In fact it was actually the lighting. I always heard that Macros do best in Full Spectrum Lighting. Having many planted tanks, i always tried out super bright lighting since that's what usually brings out the best colors. The lights I did use ended up being too strong, and I didn't realize it.
When under too much lighting, Red Macroalgae actually bleaches out a bit and overall Macros just don't do well.
After I figured that out, I tried lower lighting settings (I don't have a PAR meter so I can't say how bright it is) but I'd guess it's Medium at its highest. And HOORAY! I'm actually growing Macros this time!

The Goal | My Main objective with this tank is to be a Macroalgae and NPS dominant tank with little interesting inverts. My past 2 Macroalgae tanks didn't have any gorgonians or sea fans due to them being scrapped but this time it is looking good! Some wishful stocking ideas are below |
Fish |
-Pearly Jawfish
-Possum Wrasse
-Helfrichi Firefish
-Different Eviota and Trimma gobies

Photosynthetic Coral |
-Pulsing Xenia (Already have)
-Florida Ricordea Garden (1 Mushroom already)
-Green Polyp Toadstool Leather
-Weeping Willow Toadstool Leather
-Gold Plume Gorgonian
-Rusty Gorgonian

Non-Photosynthetic Coral |
-Sun Corals
-Dendros
-Hidden Cup Coral
-Wire Coral
-Yellow Finger Gorgonian
-Purple Sea Whip
-Yellow Sea Whip
-Orange Sea Whip
-Pink Sea Whip
-Red Sea Fan
-Chili Coral
-Blueberry Gorgonian
-Menella Gorgonian (Red or Purple)
-Swiftia Gorgonian

Sponges and Tunicates |
-Purple Photosynthetic Plating Sponge
-Red Photosynthetic Plating Sponge
-Yellow Ball Sponge
-Pink Strawberry Sponge
-Any Tunicate species

Inverts |
-Pederson' Cleaner Shrimp
-Arrow Cleaner Shrimp / Urocaridella (Both Red and Yellow)
-Sexy Shrimp
-Pom Pom Crab
-Feather Dusters
-Cluster Duster
-Coco Worm
-Christmas Tree Rocks
-Scallops
-Cleaner Clams
-Also your standard CUC like Astrea and Nassarius snails along with a conch of some sort

Macroalgaes |
A couple specific ones I'd love are Nemastoma, Cryptonemia, and Blue Hypnea. Thankfully I live pretty close to Tigahboy.H20 and have chatted with him so I can get 2 of the 3. Other than that, all the Greens, Reds, and Browns I can find haha

This is just a wish list, not everything will be added of course

Onto the Present -->

Quick Timeline |

•Tank Setup on March 27th
•Cycled in 3 Days with Fritz + Dr. Tim's Ammonia
•First Fish (ORA Whitespotted Pygmy Filefish) and First Coral (Red Sea Pulsing Xenia) introduced on April 14th
•First Macros (Galaxaura and Codium) along with a Florida Ricordea Mushroom introduced on April 20th

Unfortunately lost Filefish on April 21st (Death still uncertain, but I believe it was due to one of the Macros already have gone sexual in the bag and adding it caused a massive nutrient spike in the Tank)
•May 10th | Threw out Codium since that was the macro that had went sexual and no sign of recovery or growth
•Red Grape (Botryocaldia), Padina, and 12 Cerith Snails added on June 9th

And that's everything up to today

Tank's 3 Month Anniversary is in 5 days in June 27th

Equipment |

Tank: UNS 60U 20 Gallon Aquarium (24 x 14 x 14)
Stand: Custom Built out of 2x4's and painted with White Drylock Waterproof Paint (Based on the UNS 60U Stand Dimensions)
Heater: Oase 100W Adjustable Heater
Lighting: Hygger Full Spectrum LED (Twinstar Upgrade soon hopefully)
WaveMaker: Hygger Nano (Upgrading to another soon)
Filter: Dymax SlimFlo 500
Background: Frosted Window Film although this one has always had issues I can't figure out so I'm leaning towards no background or switching it to the Black Window Film that hasn't failed me yet

Scape |
16 Pounds of Marco Rock
30 ish Pounds of CaribSea Fiji Pink Live Sand

Stocking so far |
-12 Cerith Snails
-Padina Scroll Macroalgae
-Galaxura Macroalgae
-Red Grape Macroalgae (2 species?)
-Aqua Green Florida Ricordea Mushroom
-Red Sea Pulsing Xenia

Interesting Micro Creatures |
-A bunch of Munnid Isopods running around
-Lots of Pods on the glass and I'm guessing even more in the sand and rocks
-A few Orange colonial organisms (They act like Freshwater slime mold) They pop up in a new spot everyday. They stretch white strings that capture stuff like bacteria to feed on
-A Pineapple sponge on the Xenia plug. No idea what it's eating since I'm not dosing Phyto right now but it's living


And that's everything I have going for me right now! With the 4th of July coming up, I hope to grab some things while there are sales going on. Specifically from Alyssa's Seahorse Savvy, a few LFS, and I know Life of a Coral on here is having a sale on a lot of NPS stuff so maybe I'll grab a few things from him too. I hope everyone enjoys this build as much I will!
 
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Couple Photos so far, Top to Bottom = From the Start to Present
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Northwest_Scapes_

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Following, this is my kind of tank. :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes: Your intended livestock list is full of some of my fav
Thank you! Hopefully I can find most of it, especially some of the sea fans since personally I have never seen a Menella sold around here even though I heard they're one of the "Easier" NPS Gorgonians so hopefully someone local has one I can get a piece from or an LFS can come through but yeah, I just love the odd stuff!
 

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Thank you! Hopefully I can find most of it, especially some of the sea fans since personally I have never seen a Menella sold around here even though I heard they're one of the "Easier" NPS Gorgonians so hopefully someone local has one I can get a piece from or an LFS can come through but yeah, I just love the odd stuff!
It took me ages to find a frag of Menella. It’s taken 2.5+ years to start looking more like a colony and less like a frag. :grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes:
 
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Microfauna and Interesting Critters
With no fish in the tank, I've noticed a lot of interesting critters that have popped up and sort of had a population bloom since there are no predators.
A lot of it I think I named up above in the first post, but I've noticed specifically a lot of copepods and munnid isopods. I'm not sure where the isopods came from as I haven't added anything new since the Macroalgae, but even then I always give them a dip in Freshwater for a couple minutes.
The good thing is that Munnid Isopods are the good kind. They just eat algae from what it sounds like, and it's pretty fun to watch them run around on the macros, rocks, and glass. The only potential issue is that another Macroalgae keeper told me she's seen them take little bites here and there out of her Red Grape (Botrycladia) Macroalgae so I'll have to look out for that, but it's growing pretty well so I'm not too worried.
Spiroid Worms, Pineapple Sponges, Tunicates (?), Botrycladia sp., another species of Macro(?), and some weird sponge(?) are all other things I've seen, specifically everything but the worms have hitch hiked from the rock the Florida Ricordea came on from. It is a wild collect Florida Ric I believe which explains all the life but it's still crazy to me. I think this all happened because I currently don't have any dip on me so I wasn't able to dip it. So looks like all that life survived and is now growing. I haven't had that good of a chance to take a good look at everything since the Ricordea is super fluffy when it's open, but later tonight hopefully I can.

Some of the photos aren't that clear as currently I'm not scrapping the glass to let the pods feast since it turns out all my phyto stuff expired :/ (AKA no NPS Gorgs for now until I restock)

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Never Wash Another Nasty Filter Sock Again!
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I placed an order for some more stuff from GCE! I think these additions will add a lot to the Aquarium.

In the meanwhile, here's a 5 Day Growth on one of the branches of the Red Grape! So glad to see its growing back fast, when it was first in the tank for a few days I thought I'd lose it all since it turned green except for the main stems but looks like it was just shipping stress

1st Pic is June 22nd, 2nd pic is today, June 27th
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I got my order in 2 days ago, and everything is looking pretty good so far. The Gorgonian is opening up more each day, so hopefully soon I can get a new FTS with the Gorgonian Polyps fully out. In the meantime, check out this awesome macro I got in the Red Sampler.
I believe it's a species of Euchema. I've heard they're pretty hard to keep, most of the time starting off as yellow, then going to red, and then it just withers away. Hopefully I can keep this one alive and growing as I think the shape is super cool
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