What Were We Thinking? - Diving into the reefing world build

PharmasaurusRex

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Ahoy!

Wanted a place to keep track of everything as we go and this seems perfect.

So it all started when I impulsively decided we should get a reef tank while visiting an aquarium and for the first time ever, my fiance didn't immediately shoot down my idea of adding another life to our household.

A week later I had a 55 gallon Aqueon and a tank stand. Behold my ugly impulse buy:

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I also purchased a hang on back SeaChem Tidal 75 filter and an aquatop heater as well as salt and live sand. Excellent start (sarcasm) because I researched absolutely nothing. No idea what I was thinking. Also utterly shocked my fiance allowed this purely impulsive decision. He's a champ and also I think he was trying to support me because I had a mentally rough couple of months (injury plus work stress and personal life stress etc). Anyway we decided to stain the stand. This also turned out ugly. But taking pics encouraged me to clean my table for the first time in months so bonus!

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At this point I had still done very little research but I was starting to read up a bit. Excitement was still beating out common sense obviously. We had each spent a solid day trying to sand and stain that stand into submission but I finally gave up and decided the tank will just have to be pretty enough to make up for the uglies of the stand and tank and supply selections I had made.

Fiance suggested we fill the tank with pre-purchased salt water instead of making our own. So back to the LFS I went and bought some live rock and water!

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In my head, we would let it all cycle super slowly for a couple months as we have a vacation coming up, but we soon got caught up in (finally) researching tanks and found a YouTube series we decided we wanted to emulate.

Long story short (ok not really this is super long but whatever), now we have more live rock, some dry rock, a power head, two AI Primes, and the ICP.

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I'm not sure what the fudge we were thinking but we def dove in headfirst. I want to say we've made up for it a bit in our admittedly belated research (sooo many hours of YouTube videos and reading!). Literally have now spent several days off just reading for 14 hours while analyzing our tank and rewatching the tank build series we wanted to follow.

We're both super excited. Today I found a glass lid for the tank as it has pretty serious evaporation, also found a couple of tank sitter options for while we are on vacation. Testing daily to twice daily. Dosed the tank with Stability. Keeping an eye on the live rock hitchhikers (pretty sure we have an aiptasia or three as well as a starfish) and wondering what the heck we were thinking but then I turn the lights on for a minute and it's somehow worth all the dollars, all the mistakes I've already made, and the work we've put in.

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Names so far have been rather inappropriate but all we have decided for sure is that as a collective, they shall be referred to as the ICP.
 
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Patience is a virtue.....that we do not quite possess.

However, we have done more reading/research/YouTube watching for this than probably any of our other hobbies combined. So we are trying to figure out how to set ourselves up for success as we continue in this hobby long term.

The tank survived our week vacation. We had someone come twice to feed and top off. Tested before and after. All parameters stayed fine. I have a webcam I set up on the tank to check on it and we watched some algae grow that week which was fun.

After vacay, we redid our aquascape and did a large water change at the same time (first change post cycling).

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We wanted to leave some space for swimming, have some negative space, still give plenty of hidey holes and swim through, and have a decent foundation for some corals.

This entire time, we've been talking about how we will approach our upgrade tank in a year or two. Rockscape is one of those upgrades! A wider tank would be better for a nicer aquascape. Ours kinda looks flat but what can ya do.

We had visited a coral show and purchased a few hardy corals there. The new scape has a zoa garden and the donut for if we want to add any coral that can take over.

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Since we were now getting some algae, we added some CUC. Note to future self: the pre-made reef cleaners CUC is a ridiculous amount of critters!! We did not need that many but they're fun to watch and we overgeed a bit here and there to compensate. Our favorites are the emerald crabs, King Kong and Godzilla. Kong is more outgoing than Zilla.

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We enjoy the hermits but our clove polyps do not. They've been closed almost entirely since the addition of the CUC. Sigh.

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Every once in awhile it throws a polyp up again. So there's still hope? We shall see in time.

Added a pipe organ because I love polyps and because I'm a glutton for punishment. It hasn't opened yet. Of course. But the past two days before work it looked promising. Glad to have a couple days off to stare at the tank all day.

Ending on a full tank shot or two. More updates to come.

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I've been wanting to do a super in depth update. Obviously we haven't been reefing long but I think I'll enjoy looking back on everything.

Currently we have:

55 gallon rimmed tank
Tidal 75 hob filter
4 AI Prime 16HD lights set on a very slightly modified Saxby preset
Jebao OW 10 WaveMaker powerhead
Vortech MP 40 powerhead

We're pretty sure we are done with the main tank setup for now and that a few of these things will easily transfer to an upgraded tank. We know we want to upgrade probably within 2 years depending on how quickly the tang grows.

Current stocking of fish:

Clown pair (Meatball and Queso)
Yellow tang (Mr Chang)
Aiptasia eating filefish (Rufio)
Clean up crew has hermits and various snails. We had two emerald crabs but both died within 24 hours in the exact same spot and we never figured out what happened. All parameters that I tested the next day were within normal range. I loved them but am a bit nervous about getting another.

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The fish all get along pretty well. Every once in awhile we see Chang nip Rufio but it never seems to be a bullying thing. It's only when he's going around nipping random algae spots. ‍

We placed an order with Dr. Reef July 4th-ish for our next 3 additions of a yellow watchman goby, a candy striped pistol shrimp, and a purple firefish, so we are just waiting on that to eventually ship out. We also want a midas blenny and maaayyyybe one more fish to complete the tank. Since it's a 4' long tank and we know there's a future upgrade, we might add a small bristletooth tang. Also wouldn't hate a hawkfish of some sort though I'm a bit nervous that two perching fish (midas and hawk) might not be the wisest move in this size of tank.

Current corals:

3 zoas
2 palys
Pipe organ
Firework clove polyps
Entrusting Monti
Plating Monti
Favia
2 hammers
Torch
3 sticks

So far everything has done alright other than our first stick who we think developed RTN based on how quickly he went. and algae attacked our clove polyps and that has been a battle. We dipped in peroxide and it recovered but algae is on him again so we are monitoring.


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We bought a Waterbox Peninsula Mini 25 that we will be slowly and patiently setting up to avoid some of the impatience-caused mistakes on this tank but we adore this tank even with the mistakes we've made.

I've been daily dosing soda ask to bring alkalinity up. We test once to twice weekly all parameters (pH, alk, mg, ca, nitrates, phosphates). We have a RODI unit in the garage and try to top off 1-2 times daily to keep salinity somewhat constant. We ditched the glass top and made our own screen tops. I need something for the back to help prevent jumps when we add the firefish and YWG. Bought eggcrate but that is def not going to work.

We've been going through the algae phases. Seem to have finally gotten to hair algae. This is my short work week so I'll be doing some maintenance and planning this week.

I'm super excited for the small tank. I know I should make another thread for that one, but for now keeping everything here til we get that one set up. We're hoping to eventually get it going as a clown and nem tank along with a couple other peaceful friends (tailspot blenny, maybe a goby of some sort or firefish, maybe a royal gramma).

We get married soon and definitely put a cash fund on the registry for our tank addiction hahaha.

I think that's it for now. I expected to do a photo dump but maybe later.
 
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Ok day off and gearing up for a fish tank/dog/wedding getitdone day!

Figured doing some big photo dumps for me to look back on later would be super de duper funsies. I really want to do comparisons of the things that have grown or changed too!

Let's start with Mr. Chang the Yellow Tang. We named him after a GTA RP character who runs the Chang Gang. Seemed suitable for our first member of a future Tang Gang, no?

Here he was on his very first day!! He's a Biota Yellow Tang and we were so enamored with him. Super tiny and super translucent but obviously healthy. Ate either that day or the following.

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He started to turn yellow pretty quickly. We got him on June 9th and by June 13th-14th he was already looking bigger and more colorful.

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He befriended the clowns pretty much immediately and loves all the rockwork caves and swimthroughs. The clowns seem to prefer what we call the lagoon on the end. They wiggle there at night but explore the fabn during the day with Mr. Chang.

Here's June 22nd.
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He loves his nori sheets, nipping at algae on the wall and rocks (and sometimes the filefish), slurping up mysis skrimp on days we give that, and avoiding my camera.

He has some areas on his face that have always been more clear than everywhere else and I thought maybe it could be HLLE? But we've been feeding him nori since the first week of having him. I bought some selcon and different algae sheets plus garlic and have been treating the nori sheet with selcon to see if that helps.
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Next up: the other fish! They haven't undergone dramatic changes though I do think the clowns have grown a bit.

We'll start with the clowns. I got them first and took almost 2 months to finally name them. The little black one is Meatball (often pronounced with a terrible Italian accent like Meatabola). The larger orange one is Queso. Obviously we like food. And so do these little wigglers.

Day one!
Obligatory bag photo. I was already stupidly excited. Pretty sure they rode on my lap the whole drive home from my LFS.
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They tend to be in most of the tang photos too since the 3 are their own little gang.

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I think that one was early on. I did have a scare for a week or two where Meatball had a lip sore. Pretty sure he ate salt that fell in when I was trying to clean salt creep. It got better though thankfully!!

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So that's it for the insane clown posse.

We also have a filefish named Rufio because of his mohawk. My fiance loves to yell RU-FI-OOOOO like he's a lost boy from Hook.

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He likes to hang out in the donut or behind things such as rockwork, the algae clip, or the euphyllia.

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He also super loves mysis skrimpers and will move somewhat quickly to slurp em up.

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He definitely nips the hammer. I have a video of him doing it where you hear me gasp in anger. I love him though. His swim style, eating style, and ability to poof away almost teleporting when he's spooked are all amazing.

That's it for the fish photo dump for now. I'll see what else I have.
 
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I had a rough day at work and received an email that Reef Cleaners had pompom crabs back in stock. It wasn't technically a full impulse buy because I've been making carts on their website every few days since we realized our hermits will eventually need new shells.

Anyway, that led me to see what pics I have of our current inverts. Honestly we have very few. I took a bunch when we had the emeralds but only a couple since they died. So here's a collage of what we have had and what we are getting. I didn't take any of these just stole em off the internet. But hopefully soon!!

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I think I shouldn't have ordered multiple crabs but they had a minimum order amount for the overnight shipping so here we are. Also I kept getting conch blonked on other websites that had a few of the inverts but no conch or no urchin. So yes a bit impulsive but not overly so.

I'm really hoping the crabs survive this time. If not I'll probably give up at least for awhile. But they added so much to the tank! We both really love crabs. They'll be here Tuesday!!

Still waiting for the desk I bought to hopefully house the 25g peninsula. I'm not a patient person.
 
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dvgyfresh

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Awesome start !! I just started salt water last year and what a ride lol your tank is very nice, love that aqua scape, the only recommendation I have is to remove the glass top. I had one when I first started out, it impedes oxygen exchange / other chemicals leaving the tank and basically made my PH stay at 7.7 once I removed the top it went to 8.2
 
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Awesome start !! I just started salt water last year and what a ride lol your tank is very nice, love that aqua scape, the only recommendation I have is to remove the glass top. I had one when I first started out, it impedes oxygen exchange / other chemicals leaving the tank and basically made my PH stay at 7.7 once I removed the top it went to 8.2
We actually did!! We made a screen top instead and you're right: it's way better!

Just checked out your tank and it's beautiful! Hope ours is that great in a year or two. My fiance is the patient one and I'm the impulsive one jumping in headfirst so I have a feeling we will have a very wild ride hahaha.
 

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We actually did!! We made a screen top instead and you're right: it's way better!

Just checked out your tank and it's beautiful! Hope ours is that great in a year or two. My fiance is the patient one and I'm the impulsive one jumping in headfirst so I have a feeling we will have a very wild ride hahaha.
Already ahead! And it will be just be patient! I also supplement my CuC with nori under a rock once a week , the whole sheet is gone by morning
 
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Ok so we got our critters but actually somehow got pretty much a double order.

I feel so badly I wanted to pay the owner of the business but he said no. I'll admit that's solid customer service. Point for Reef Cleaners. All my inverts looked amazing.

My tank.....looks terrible. It's super hazy. I've changed the water more often and it didn't matter. Fed less and it didn't matter. Maybe I'll try for a giant change this weekend? But I can't figure it out. It's making me nervous plus I want to show off my bomb tank.

That's it for now. I'm too ashamed to show pics.
 
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So our tank went super crazy cloudy. My aunt has a freshwater tank she uses the Green Killing Machine on so we decided to just try it. For the price it couldn't hurt.

It worked a miracle.

Here are before and after pics. I didn't even get pics at the worst. I was so anxious about it all. My fiance was home and set up the GKM Sunday while I worked and even by that night we saw slight improvement.

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We couldn't even see the back of the tank. Couldn't see our frag rack in the back or even past half the depth of the tank. It was insanity.

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Today we are nearly back to normal!! It's so crazy. All the euphyllia got crazy happy. We took advantage of their good moods to glue everyone back in place and get them off the sand. Then we got the new guys off the frag racks. We didn't move the goni yet but we will find a place for him eventually.

I'm soooo in love with our urchin. His name is Steve Irwin. He has taken to wearing a snail for a hat though he did get an empty shell later and the live snail escaped.

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We did a big rearrange today since we could finally see and since the euphyllia were so hugely happy. We also wanted to get a hammer and zoa off the sand because the bigger conch is incredibly active.

It feels so amazing to have mounted most of the corals, to have the tank all clearish again, and to see the new guys seemingly pretty happy!

We also set up the desk I bought to put our peninsula mini on. So excited.

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Look how amazing! Sigh. I love this hobby.
 

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dvgyfresh

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So our tank went super crazy cloudy. My aunt has a freshwater tank she uses the Green Killing Machine on so we decided to just try it. For the price it couldn't hurt.

It worked a miracle.

Here are before and after pics. I didn't even get pics at the worst. I was so anxious about it all. My fiance was home and set up the GKM Sunday while I worked and even by that night we saw slight improvement.

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We couldn't even see the back of the tank. Couldn't see our frag rack in the back or even past half the depth of the tank. It was insanity.

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Today we are nearly back to normal!! It's so crazy. All the euphyllia got crazy happy. We took advantage of their good moods to glue everyone back in place and get them off the sand. Then we got the new guys off the frag racks. We didn't move the goni yet but we will find a place for him eventually.

I'm soooo in love with our urchin. His name is Steve Irwin. He has taken to wearing a snail for a hat though he did get an empty shell later and the live snail escaped.

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We did a big rearrange today since we could finally see and since the euphyllia were so hugely happy. We also wanted to get a hammer and zoa off the sand because the bigger conch is incredibly active.

It feels so amazing to have mounted most of the corals, to have the tank all clearish again, and to see the new guys seemingly pretty happy!

We also set up the desk I bought to put our peninsula mini on. So excited.

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Look how amazing! Sigh. I love this hobby.
Good call on the UV, seems to be cleaning it up quick! Most likely had a bacterial bloom
 
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PharmasaurusRex

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Good call on the UV, seems to be cleaning it up quick! Most likely had a bacterial bloom
Yeah everything we read made bacterial bloom seem most likely and the reviews on UVs (even cheap ones) were great for that usage. Thank goodness it worked I was stupid anxious hahaha.
 
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Good call on the UV, seems to be cleaning it up quick! Most likely had a bacterial bloom
Yeah everything we read made bacterial bloom seem most likely and the reviews on UVs (even cheap ones) were great for that usage.
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You said you didn’t like your stain job. 2-3 coats of this will fix that stand right up. (Either Lowe’s or Home Depo— can’t recall which.) “Kona” color.
Thanks! I think we used something similar but it was maybe called Walnut? We've grown to embrace the wonky coloring hahaha but I'll definitely keep this in my back pocket if we ever want to retry because it looks lovely!! Thank you so much!
 
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Update time woooo!

We got married and one of our guests is an artist who paints ocean creatures. He and his wife gave us this awesome shark painting which fit perfectly above the tank!

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We named him Bruce. Actually I named him Gruce Wayne the Great White but was threatened with divorce, sooooo he became Bruce Wayne instead. The things you do for love. We love how he looks guarding over the tank!

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We also visited our favorite LFS a few times and one of the guys there told us our light situation left a lot to be desired so we upgraded to a Kessil AP9X. We had a couple of montis that had been looking rather glum so we're hoping the better light will help?

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It skews more purple. And our hammers don't seem to love the increased PAR. We also have been attempting to figure out our alkalinity situation as other parameters have stayed relatively stable yet alk kept dropping even when I started dosing liquid soda ash.

We finally started twice daily dosing of 20 ml and it just now hit 8.0 again. I'm sure this could also have been what ticked off the corals. Next up we've been working on automating what we can in preparation for our honeymoon in a couple weeks! I might still pay someone to check in on the tank but we got an Ice Cap ATO that has worked well so far, a couple of autofeeders we are still testing out, and a dosing pump for the liquid soda ash.

I'm assuming we're making too many reactive changes recently as we've been trying to get everything in its hopefully final form and stable before leaving for 8 days. We would have gone more slowly but a.) I'm impatient and b.) I'm ***** anxious. I want everything up and running asap so we can get to cruise mode for upcoming vacations (honeymoon, a week off in October, and likely a trip to see my family in November).

One of our corals is soon to be gone from this world. We don't know if it's because of the alk drop, being nipped by the filefish, or his repeated falls from his spots and then moved around the tank trying to make him happy. Too many changes probably. RIP hammer.

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Our other two hammers also looked annoyed today. I measured the PAR and we think one was too much with the new light so I moved him. We will see if he bounces back. Obviously other changes or Charlie the hammer nipper could also have contributed.

Steve Irwin the Urchin has also annoyed many corals by bulldozing them hahaha. We love him anyway. He's such a doofus.
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He loves this giant shell and has been dragging it around occasionally haha.

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He also occasionally wears snails and hermits.

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I love Steve. He cracks me up.

We added our pistol shrimp, who we subsequently named Thanos because he's always snapping at the other inhabitants. He took up residence in the donut and we only ever see his piles of sand or his antenna for the most part. We caught a glimpse of him once or twice at night.

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We also got a yellow watchman goby named Oscar the Grouch, who promptly hid in a cave and refused to come out for 3 weeks. He just emerged recently, only to take up a spot on the exact opposite end of the tank from Thanos. Rude.

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He has taken to exploring and swimming a bit more though and doesn't seem to fear the other fish as much! We think he'll be happier now because the cave was originally Mr. Chang's and Chang definitely kept trying to chase him out occasionally!

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We added a Midas blenny as well a couple of weeks later and he took only a few days to come out of the cave and find a hidey hole. Now he peeks out all day and occasionally swims around the lagoon area.

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Everyone seems to be getting along great and suddenly this side of the tank is extra popular and lively! Previously just the clowns hung out over here with Chang occasionally teaming up with them. Charlie goes everywhere.

The last addition was a purple firefish. I can't take a good pic of him at all. He also has no name but is fearless and came out on his very first day! He stays mainly in the water column between the donut and larger rockscape.

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Last update is just coral pics. We have some happy zoas and palys! I don't have good pics but they have all grown larger and gained more faces!

The goni is surprisingly happy! We're afraid to move him.

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Torches have maintained happiness as well. Especially the dragon soul.

Oh and we set up the peninsula mini!! We dubbed it the AT-AT tank because our rockscape we made looked like an AT-AT to both of us.

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We had to keep it once we saw it that way. We shall be naming our fish friends in there after Star Wars characters most likely.

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I think that covers everything? Giant update post of doom complete!!
 
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So our Alk was dipping lower and lower (lowest was 5-6 I believe) and we couldn't figure out why. But we figured ok we can dose for that. I was doing it by hand twice a day and it improved a bit. We got an auto doser.

Then I opened the next bottle of reagent and our Alk was 17. Freaked out and bought two more reagents and a Salifert test to compare to the Hanna. All 3 read above 15.

I assume that means we had a bad reagent. I went ahead and got the Salifert 3 pack so we'd have 2 of each test we do most (nitrate, mag, calcium, alkalinity) and each be from different manufacturers.

Hoping to honeymoon Saturday if our covid tests for travel come back negative. We obviously won't run the doser anymore. I did a waterchange and will do another tomorrow most likely to keep bringing that alk down a bit.

This hobby is a heart attack and a half. But I love it.

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Cleaned the power heads with citric acid today. Flow greatly improved. Vacuumed a third of the sandbed during the water change. Tried to get hair algae out. Only kinda successful there.

It was great to spend a day mostly staring at the tank.
 
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How long does it take to you to get an inch of acropora growth? (on average)

  • A couple of weeks or less

    Votes: 3 1.3%
  • Up to 1 month

    Votes: 14 6.1%
  • Up to 2 months

    Votes: 22 9.5%
  • Up to 3 months

    Votes: 39 16.9%
  • Up to 6 months

    Votes: 51 22.1%
  • Up to 12 months

    Votes: 18 7.8%
  • 12+ Months

    Votes: 8 3.5%
  • I can't grow acropora

    Votes: 66 28.6%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 10 4.3%
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