Perseverance Reef

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Asterina stars, spaghetti worms, pipe organ coral, brittle star (possibly). Where to begin...

Life is bursting forth. I remember when live rock was, well, alive. It wasn't like gulf rock or anything but there were still pods, starfish, the odd tube worm, coralline algae, and yes, sometimes aiptasia and the like as well. The rock from my friend was every bit as good as gulf rock and better.

It may not have sponges or tunicates like gulf rock but this rock has two different corals on it, one of which is a full blown xenia colony. The other I discovered tonight. It looks like a pipe organ coral of some sort. I hope to get a good picture of it tomorrow. I found 2 asterina stars, and one lone asterina arm. None of them were whole stars but one had 4 arms and the other had 3. The single armed star had no center. Somehow though it was still able to move about. I saw what looked like either a brittle or serpent star arm sticking out of the rock. Later on I looked again and no starfish arms were sticking out of the hole in the rock where I saw it previously. As for the spaghetti worms I have at least 4. They seem happy, casting their tentacles about to catch food particles.

The dinos are staying far from the new rock. They tried to come back in one corner of the tank and on a small portion of 1 rock. I blew them off of both sand and rock. The sterilizer will get them.

The chaeto has helped tremendously in the battle against dinoflagellates by housing pods and helping to hold food for them while they started populating the system.
The phyto bloom helped boost pod numbers as well. The UV sterilizer and the rock were a 1-2-punch however. At least for now, the dinos are kissing the canvas. Hopefully it stays that way. Pretty soon, possibly as soon as tomorrow, I'll be getting another rock from my friend. That will be a huge help. That one I'll place right over the old rock so that it populates the rocks below it.

The xenia are doing quite well. They are still trying to pulse even in the flow. The coral I believe to be a pipe organ coral also looks great. It has 4 or 5 polyps.

The pods are starting to populate the old rock now as well as the chaeto balls. I keep seeing more each day. I expect to see many more before long.

Today I added a single Mexican turbo snail to the system. Even though I just cleaned the glass it won't be long before the algae comes back. Between the Mexican turbo snails and the limpets green algae won't get to be problematic for long. The snail I added today has a patch of green coralline on its shell. There is pink and purple coralline algae on the new rock. Hopefully it'll spread before long. I'd love to have all 3 colors of coralline spread. In fact I want some of the harder to find colors but I'd settle for the 3 I currently have.

We found out that we have to move on the 26th of July. Thankfully we are being moved to an apartment that is not super far from where we are now. The apartment we move to will already be renovated and will be our permanent residence. Thankfully I can take the tank down and have it set back up in about 6 hours or less. I am going to leave the sand and about an inch of water in the tank and then I'll store the all the rock and water in 5 gallon buckets. Of course once I get the tank on the stand in the new apartment I'll put the rocks back in the way they came out and fill the tank the rest of the way.
 

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Fishy888

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I am finding less dino growth to blow off of either sand or rock as time goes by. High flow pushing the sand about is a huge help as is the new rock and UV sterilizer.

At last I can think about what's next for this build. I am going to wait a little longer before getting my clownfish back because I want to keep a large and stable pod population. Once they're back I want to add either a blue damsel or a yellow tailed blue damsel, a pair of royal grammas, and possibly a blenny and/or a shoal of chromis.

As for corals I now have the xenia colony and the (probable) pipe organ coral. I have another rock just like the one I got a few days ago being held for me. My friend has some things going on right now but I'll be able to get it either this weekend or early next week. The rockwork will be rearranged at that time. This rock also has coral on it. I am not sure if it is another xenia colony but I know the rock only has soft coral on it. As expensive as things are getting I am looking to have a mixed reef. I want to have soft corals, LPS corals, and easy SPS corals. I am going to take my time going to LPS and especially to SPS. The latter is at least a year away. I might try easier LPS as early as the fall if my parameters look good and stay steady.

I need to get test kits fairly soon. I won't be able to get them all at once but the first kits I get will be the Hanna ultra low phosphate and low nitrate kits. The next ones would be for CAL, ALK, and MAG. Any kits besides the Hanna kits will be Salifert.

Of course I want to have all the diversity I can get. I need to find out how to get sponges, tunicates, tubeworms of all kinds, and even barnacles. I also need to be able to test for silicon since I intend to dose it.

The 37 gallon tank won't fit under the stand the DT is on. I'll have to build a new stand so I can get the new sump working. I might build the new stand before the move but even if I do I'm going to leave the tank and old sump on the stand they're on until we move. I'd rather move 55 gallons worth of water rather than 82 gallons. Once we move I'll set up the new stand and the new sump.

In late summer or early fall I will be getting much better lights on the DT. I'll also get filter socks for the overflow and possibly upgrade the plumbing so I can add dosers and an ATO. I also want to invest in an RO/DI system this fall. Down the road I'll get a Neptune controller or an Apex. The controller will have to wait until winter at least. I might get an inkbird though in the meantime for the heaters.

I took a picture of one of my isopods. This is the first time I've had them in a reef of mine. They don't bother anything fortunately and I doubt this kind ever will.
 

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I finally got a picture of the coral I believe is a pipe organ coral. It's on a frag plug glued to the rock. The other rocks are starting to get some of the algae that is on the truly live live rock. I snapped a pic of that.

There are at least 5 limpets now and I suspect there are more. Once algae gets going there will be many more. I didn't see any asterinas out tonight. I did see them earlier in the day today. They too will thrive and colonize the old rock once the right algae gets established.

The xenia colony is good and healthy. There are newly emerging polyps which have grown some since I've had the colony.

I fed the tank heavily tonight. I decided to leave a shrimp in a shell for the hermits. I left it up against the new live rock. I hope it might entice any starfish to come out and get a bite.
 

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I got the second rock from my friend today. It has some xenia on it but not as much as the first rock. It is about the same size as the first one however. I placed the second rock over one of the original rocks. Hopefully both rocks will help populate the old ones with the right algae and with the right microbes.

The old rock has been building up a population of pods but with the new rock the population will soon be self sustaining. There is at least one asterina that came in on the second rock.
 

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A few hours after I put the second rock in my friend bagged up some bristle worms and asterina stars. They were all in macro algae. I separated them from the macro and put the smallest bristle worms in the sump along with a few asterinas. The rest of the worms and asterinas went into the DT. The macro went in the sump. As I separated the macro from the livestock I found a micro brittle star. I got pictures of it on one of the old rocks. I also got some pictures of the bristle worms and asterinas before they got out of dodge.

I made an awesome discovery. There are living tubeworms on the rock I got today. At first glance I thought they were aiptasia but they were not. They make calcerous shells that remind me of spirorbid worms but much larger.

When I got the first rock from my friend the algae on the glass of the sump was brown with a little green. This morning it is green and almost no brown. The chaeto is good and healthy.

Everything looks good and healthy today. I intend to keep it that way.

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Algae is growing again on the glass. The Mexican turbo snail and limpets should be loving life soon. I found some isopods on a small algae patch on the front glass. Speaking of glass yesterday was the first day I haven't seen any dinos on sand, rock, or glass.

My system is absolutely teeming with life. It may not seem like it but it is. I have pods in the sump, asterinas, and bristle worms. The same in the DT. The chaeto in the DT is going in the sump since there are quite a few pods and more live rock now. I'll swish the chaeto ball in tank water to get as many pods as I can out of it. After that's done the pods that come out of the chaeto will go back in the DT. I'll never get all the pods out of it. Since the chaeto is going into the sump the pods that are left will help the population in the sump.

I'll be watching the pod population system wide. I'll also be taking scrapings off the glass in both the DT and sump. I'll put those under the scope. If I like what I see (and don't see) I'll bring the clownfish home. I miss them. I also want to add some royal grammas after the clownfish have had time to settle in. Slowly but surely it's getting there. Perseverance Reef was aptly named. That perseverance is paying off.
 
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The tank looks good today. My hermits are mowing the green algae off of the rocks. I hope they leave some of it though. There are limpets, a Mexican turbo snail, and pods that need it.

I am slowly but surely gathering the materials needed for the new stand and the fittings for the plumbing upgrades. The new stand will have to be a foot taller than the current one in order to accommodate the 37 gallon sump. That will leave me room to work and room for equipment.

The stand I build needs to house both the sump and a reservoir which will become an ATO. I also need food and equipment storage. My plan, at least for now, is for the stand to be 5' x 3' approximately. There needs to be a place to hang the 2 Viparspectras above the sump. I need enough space to have shelving on one end and a cabinet on the other. I haven't decided if I should do some forward thinking and build the stand 2 feet deep. If I do that I could have a 120 or even a 150 if and when I upgrade. I might even put the stand on casters. They'd have to be large and industrial strength.

All 4 feather duster worms are still open. They are small and brown, like small versions of Hawaiian feather duster worms. I definitely want to see my little feather dusters become more numerous. Of course I don't want them to reach plague proportions but I wouldn't mind seeing 25 or so. These guys are among my favorite creatures in the system so far but I like most of the creatures in this reef about the same. Things like dinos and other bad denizens are a whole other conversation.

The bristle worms and Asterinas are doing well. I love the diversity creatures like this bring to the reef. Hopefully I can find some Christmas tree worms and other tube worms at some point without breaking the bank. I also want hardy tunicates, sponges, and at least 1 clam.

For now though I am enjoying what I have. I don't want to move too fast with adding things.
 
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There are now pods over pretty much every surface in the display tank. Slowly but surely the algae from my new rocks are colonizing the old rock. Enough so as to be noticable. I have an amazing amount of biodiversity now. I never expected to be at this point this quickly. I am only where I am because of the kind gestures of a friend with an established reef tank.

Now that this much progress has been made I am bringing my clownfish back tomorrow. They'll help keep nutrients from crashing and look awesome doing it.

As far as pods go I have tons of isopods. There are at least 2 species of isopods in the reef. I still see the occasional amphipod during the day but they'll be out at night. As far as I can tell so far there is only 1 species of both amphipods and copepods. Hopefully the clowns won't decimate the pod population. If nothing else though there are pods and the like in the sump. I'll start a backup colony after the move.

This picture was taken an hour or so ago. This is the last night this reef will be without fish. Like I said before I miss my clownfish.
 

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The clowns are back home. They are exploring the tank and seem to be settling in well. They haven't shown any aggression toward each other or to any other animals.

My friend suggested making caves for them. I agree. I've been looking for reasons to re-scape anyway. I may have to break some of the base rock to make it work but it should work. I just can't afford to lose too much of it. Needless to say I won't break up the new rocks.

My feather dusters are in an area of high flow currently. The new worm settled close to the others. As a result I need to keep them as close to where they are as I can. That should be doable though. If all goes well the dusters under the rock will be much easier to see.
 

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For a while now I have kept the sump lights on 24/7. The chaeto has grown substantially and is good and healthy. As you can see in many of my pictures the lights on the sump bleed into the display. It is pretty bright even with the display's lights off.

When I installed the sump I had the sump's lights off for 6 hours at night and on the rest of the time. The tank had already crashed and my friend had already taken the clowns for me at that point. Because I wanted the chaeto to outcompete the dinos I started running the sump's lighting 24/7 while the tank recovered. Now that the clowns are back I am leaving the lights off at night until I can keep the light from the sump totally out of the display.

I have a thin piece of melamine I can cut to the dimensions of the back glass. That should block most of the light. That should work long enough for me to build the new stand. The new stand will be able to keep the sump's lighting from entering the display.

The system has been running with the sump lit 24/7 since I added the two new rocks full of coral. Most likely there will be a PH dip with the sump lights off but it should only be a small dip. I would expect that my livestock should all be acting normal when the lights come back on. I am going to work on cutting the melamine and get it in place either tomorrow or Sunday depending on our schedule. I hope to get the new stand started within the next several days.

I got a few pictures tonight. The new feather duster started expanding the tube it took over. In the second picture one can see the progress it made in the last 24 hours (the white part of the tube which wasn't there 24 hours ago). These guys are amazing!

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I found another feather duster on the rock with the smaller xenia colony. I think this one may have relocated from underneath. I am fairly certain I have 6 and possibly more.

I took a bad fall 2 days ago so I haven't done the re-scaping I wanted to do but I did get the tank topped off and of course I fed the tank.

Today I decided to increase the duration of light for the DT. It was getting 6 hours of light each day. The tank is close enough to a window with northern exposure that light starts coming in when the sun comes up. Since I need more algae for my herbivores and omnivores I decided to go up to 12 hours for a while. Once enough algae grows I'll decrease the duration of the lights.

I am also thinking about shutting down the UV sterilizer for at least 8 hours a day. Between the hermits, limpets, Mexican turbo snail, and even the pods, the new rocks are almost devoid of algae. The old rocks have diatoms which came from the newer rock but not the green algae. Since the sterilizer is probably killing the spores the older rock isn't greening up. I also want coralline eventually so I need to take that Into consideration. I need to see what others are doing in regard to UV sterilizers and coralline.

If I was phosphate limited during the dinoflagellate outbreak I certainly am not now. I see more cyanobacteria forming on the glass. It is just in small circles but I anticipate that cyano will be the next battle. At least it will be easier than the dinos were.

Thankfully my wife was on Facebook marketplace last night. There was a curb alert. I now have another tank as a result. I believe this one's a 29 but it might be larger. Until I can lift it to take it into our apartment I won't know for sure. Hopefully tomorrow or the next day I'll be able to take care of that.
 
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Yeah I "downgraded" (although I like it as much as the 75 so not such a downgrade) to a 45 but eventually I want a 125. Thankfully the 45 is looking much better now. I am increasing the duration of the lighting in the display so that algae grows and feeds pods and the like. The xenia don't mind it either.
 
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It's looking good! Sorry to hear about the fall. Never fun.
It's all good. I had to see my pain management doctor today anyway. She said it will take a few weeks to recover but at least tonight I am feeling a bit better.
 
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As of tonight/this morning I am fiddling with the dials so to speak. I have been seeding the system with frozen foods for a while now. I have been growing chaeto quite nicely. The display was algae free except for what was on the rock. I have increased the light to 8 hours in the display and I am getting cyanobacteria on the front glass now as well as green algae in spots. I also shortened the sump lighting duration a bit.

In a sense I am might be able to slowly shift algae production by limiting the light duration in the sump while increasing the light duration in the DT or vice versa. That occurred to me earlier. I also wonder if I can use lighting to control how quickly nutrients are consumed. It would be like a dimmer switch on an ATS. It would also be like having GFO reactor except the end result would be algae that gets eaten by pods and other cuc members instead of spent media. Hopefully this makes sense.

I am going to try to get just enough algae growth to feed my cuc. The clowns might even peck at some. I also want to get nutrients controlled of course. I want a soft landing, not a crash landing.

For now I am going to see if I can maintain the amount of growth I have on rocks and glass. There are pods galore as well as other cuc animals eating off the algae in the DT.

I am going to record as much as I can about this experiment and post it here over time.
 
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I added a second Mexican turbo snail yesterday. It has a bunch of purple coralline and some green. I need all the coralline spores I can get at this point. I also needed a second decent sized algae muncher.

Later today I will get a timer set up which I'll use to cut back on the time the sump is lit. I need to find a second timer for the light on the DT. The experiment will start tomorrow (Thursday). The focus will be on raising the amount of algae on the glass in the DT. I'll cut the duration of the sump lights to 18 hours and let the DT lights stay on for 12 hours. Since the sump full of chaeto will get less light and the DT will get more there should be more algae on the glass and the rocks in the DT. I expect the nutrients that are consumed by the system will be the same amount or slightly less than right now. I'll post pictures of the sump and DT as I conduct the experiment.

Of course I am not the first to think about the idea exactly. What I am doing is like what those with algae turf scrubbers do. It's a matter of tuning things so that nutrient consumption gets optimized. I also get to decide where the algae will grow whether that's in the DT or sump.

Of course there is a point of no return. For instance if I were to run only the lights in the DT or only in the sump there would be a system crash, most likely sooner than later. The algae would die off and trigger an ammonia spike. If I were to leave both the display and sump lights on 24/7 I'd likely crash nitrates, phosphates, or both. We all know what that would lead to.

The ultimate goal is to get the tank to have stability. I need to get nutrients to a consistently low leve so that coralline takes over but not so low as to crash them.
 
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I have not been able to do any tank maintenance except to top off the tank and to feed the reef. I can't wait until the pain subsides enough to let me to catch up on chores, pack up the rest of the apartment so we can move to an already renovated apartment (in the same complex), and of course tank maintenance.

That said the tank is looking awesome still. The animals all seem well. No trace of dinos. Plenty of pods which are consuming the algae on the glass. There are Asterinas which are eating algae both on the glass and on the rock.

Since I still have a few days to go before I can do much bending and such I'll have to wait to conduct my "experiment". I'll start it in earnest once we move though.

There is an algae that looks a lot like coralline that is starting to colonize the old rock. It looks like it's depositing a layer of calcium carbonate on the rock as it spreads. I asked in the forum if this really was coralline. Those who responded said it looked like it's just green algae. One pointed out that the rock looks too immature. This rock was covered in dinos just a month ago. I have to agree that the rocks in question are indeed immature. Still it looks like coralline to me. That said there is an algae that looks like coralline but isn't. I am going to try to find the name of the algae and see if it's like mine. At least I know I have a snail with coralline on it.
 

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I am happy to say that I am much better. Maybe not 100% but close. We are going to be doing a lot of packing this week. Our move is exactly 3 weeks from tomorrow.

I have been mapping out how Im going to move the reef to our new apartment. The move should be fairly easy. Our new apartment will be a block from where we are now.

Since I just finished the battle with dinos I need to keep all the water that's in the system. I don't want dinos coming back ever. As a result I am going to take the 37 gallon tank and the 30 gallon tank over to the new apartment first. They will be reservoirs for most of the 55 gallons of water volume from the system. Then the rock and coral will come over fully submerged in 5 gallon buckets. The display tank and sump will come over to the new place at that point. I am going to keep the sand since it is so clean. I'll leave it in the display with enough water to keep the good bacteria alive. There is no sand in the sump. I only have chaeto in there. Once everything is set up I'll fill the tank up again.

I do have concerns though. My xenia and rocks are doing awesome as is the frag I believe is a pipe organ coral. Coralline from my newest rocks has begun to colonize the old rock. Pods and even limpets are colonizing the old rock as well. My first concern is keeping out of water time low enough that there is no die back. That said pods and xenia are pretty hardy so I believe they'll be ok. The feather dusters will be ok as long as I don't break their tubes. The next concern is preserving the good bacteria in the sand. I doubt that I'll lose any good bacteria. The system will be in it's new spot within 30 minutes of leaving the old apartment. The bristle worms living in the sand should do fine since they'll also be submerged. The clowns and snails should be fine.

I took new pictures of what I believe to be coralline algae. Notice the small circles forming where the gray area is. It's a lighter green than the picture shows. It is a fairly pale green but definitely calcerous. I also took pictures of the tank at large. The xenia seems to like the conditions in the system. The clowns and snails are doing well. The small to micro life is doing very good as well.
 

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tbrown3589

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Location
Peoria, AZ
I am happy to say that I am much better. Maybe not 100% but close. We are going to be doing a lot of packing this week. Our move is exactly 3 weeks from tomorrow.

I have been mapping out how Im going to move the reef to our new apartment. The move should be fairly easy. Our new apartment will be a block from where we are now.

Since I just finished the battle with dinos I need to keep all the water that's in the system. I don't want dinos coming back ever. As a result I am going to take the 37 gallon tank and the 30 gallon tank over to the new apartment first. They will be reservoirs for most of the 55 gallons of water volume from the system. Then the rock and coral will come over fully submerged in 5 gallon buckets. The display tank and sump will come over to the new place at that point. I am going to keep the sand since it is so clean. I'll leave it in the display with enough water to keep the good bacteria alive. There is no sand in the sump. I only have chaeto in there. Once everything is set up I'll fill the tank up again.

I do have concerns though. My xenia and rocks are doing awesome as is the frag I believe is a pipe organ coral. Coralline from my newest rocks has begun to colonize the old rock. Pods and even limpets are colonizing the old rock as well. My first concern is keeping out of water time low enough that there is no die back. That said pods and xenia are pretty hardy so I believe they'll be ok. The feather dusters will be ok as long as I don't break their tubes. The next concern is preserving the good bacteria in the sand. I doubt that I'll lose any good bacteria. The system will be in it's new spot within 30 minutes of leaving the old apartment. The bristle worms living in the sand should do fine since they'll also be submerged. The clowns and snails should be fine.

I took new pictures of what I believe to be coralline algae. Notice the small circles forming where the gray area is. It's a lighter green than the picture shows. It is a fairly pale green but definitely calcerous. I also took pictures of the tank at large. The xenia seems to like the conditions in the system. The clowns and snails are doing well. The small to micro life is doing very good as well.
Good luck on the move! Glad to hear you're feeling better.
 
AquaCave

How many different food items do you feed your fish?

  • Only one food

    Votes: 8 6.9%
  • 2 Foods

    Votes: 14 12.1%
  • 3 Foods

    Votes: 26 22.4%
  • 4 Foods

    Votes: 17 14.7%
  • 5+ Different Foods

    Votes: 32 27.6%
  • 10+ Different Foods

    Votes: 19 16.4%
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