Zoey's Reef - For the Joy that Should Have Been . . .

Discussion in 'Member Tanks' started by Maritimer, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Hi, All!

    Having drooled over all of the magnificent reefs posted here, and having learned from those who went before me, I figured it's not a bad idea to share my own experiences in a reef journal...

    I last kept marine fish back in the 1980s, including a "reef" tank which held no corals, but did support a population of fireworms, along with a purple dottyback and a tomato clown who killed every other fish I tried to add. (I've kept freshwater tropicals and goldfish over the intervening period, and enjoyed the tanks at the public aquarium where I work on weekends, though . . .) I'd been lurking in reef forums on and off for years, and finally saw an opportunity to jump back in with both feet when the local PetSmart put a 65 gallon kit on sale. (Would that I had known that the glass box is just the beginning, investment-wise, LOL!) Brought the tank home shortly before Thanksgiving, 2015, and began seriously accessorizing it during the "Black Friday" sales.

    Mars Aqua 300 watt LED fixture
    Reef Octopus Classic 2000 HOB skimmer
    CPR HOB refugium
    Maxspect Gyre 150
    DIY 20 gallon long sump in the stand, with fitting for filter socks, refugium (another one) and an Eheim return pump
    CPR overflow to feed the aforementioned sump (Should have researched more - didn't get the right hose to drain this to the sump with the first order from Marine Depot, nor did I realize it would need a little "Aqua-Lifter" pump to keep the bubble from building in the overflow. Had "U-Tube" overflow on the 55, back in the day, and it was a pain pretty much all the time.)
    Bottle of "Bio-Spira" nitrifying bacteria

    Spectra-Pure RO/DI (Should have researched more - only one chamber of DI, and I now understand that two would be _much_ better. Still learning!)

    80 pounds of "original grade" "Ocean Direct" live sand (particles range from cloud-your-tank-tiny to occasional 2" long clamshells!)
    80 pounds Fiji Pukani live rock, shipped damp
    12 pounds of Fiji Mud - I've heard good things <shrugs>

    Put it all together over the week following Thanksgiving, mixing RO/DI with salt in buckets before adding it to the system, and culminating with the addition of live rock on Friday, December 4.



    Tested with my shiny new API kit...
    pH: 7.8 (It's held pretty steady there ever since - would like to raise it a couple of points, I think...)
    NH3 (Ammonia): 8+ - off-the-charts. Deep blue-green. Pretty color, but . . .
    NO2 (Nitrite): 1.0
    NO3 (Nitrate): 80
    No surprises here, as with that pukani dripping with dead sponges and seaweed, there are plenty of sources for decaying organics. Skimmer is pulling a chalky, muddy goop.

    As the tank slowly cleared over the next couple of days, I was able to arrange the liverock into a semblance of something attractive. _Lots_ of rubble in the bottoms of the boxes, which got pushed out to the sides of the tank, creating zones where the current from the pumps can hit the floor without raising the sand into a swirling whiteout.

    (Please pardon the crummy cellphone photos - my whole camera system is being . . . )
    [​IMG]

    On Pearl Harbor Day (December 7), I did an eight gallon water change, as ammonia had been holding steady at an off-the-charts toxic level. On the following day, the ammonia reading dropped to _zero_, and has held steady there ever since.
    [​IMG]

    12/13/15 - Nitrites have been holding steady at an off-the-charts 5.0+, with the solution turning purple the instant it dropped into the tube. Tonight ... tonight the reaction took a couple of moments. My hopes are high . . .

    12/14/15 - The Mars Aqua light had arrived with one LED dark - after a cordial email exchange with the seller, four new blue LEDs (along with teensy resistors) were shipped from China. On Monday, Dec. 12, a roomie and I cracked open the fixture and he soldered a new LED into position. (The original LED hadn't been connected on one end.) Placed the "Zoey's Reef" sign on the light and hung it 11" above the surface. (That's how long the fishing leaders I bought are, lol!)
    [​IMG]

    Nitrite solution is a beautiful sky blue. Nitrite has fallen off the cliff to zero! Celebrate with me, LOL! Now, if the nitrates would kindly follow suit ... I know where a compatible pair of firefish are available . . .

    ~Bruce

    *About Zoey -
    [​IMG]

    Zoey Ann is my second granddaughter. She was stillborn in November of 2015.
     
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  2. Shep

    Shep Acan Connoisseur Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Partner Member 2018

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    Welcome to the community!
     
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  3. NHreefguy

    NHreefguy Well-Known Member

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    Welcome! That's great that you're building a reef in memory. You seem to be on your way! Good luck!
     
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  4. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Great to have you here and sorry for your loss.
     
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  5. rayn

    rayn Bluefin Believer R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Partner Member 2018

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    Welcome to R2R! Beautiful start to a tank, sorry for your loss.
     
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  6. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thank you, everyone, for your kind welcomes and condolences.

    This evening, I'm thinking about a water-change for Zoey's Reef. Her Mom doesn't know about this little surprise project yet, and I think it'd be nice to have life in it for her first impression . . .

    ~B.
     
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  7. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    So . . .

    Thinking about fish for this setup. Planning on a peaceful mixed community with (where possible) some fish in same-species pairs or groups.

    Early additions would include, but not necessarily be limited to:
    Firefish - mated pair.
    Neon gobies - mated pair if possible.
    McCosker's and/or other flasher wrasse - are multiples possible in a 65g? If a harem can't be put together, would two males of different species coexist in such a small space? Would love to see some social interaction among these guys!
    Banggai cardinals - pair if possible.
    Zebra dartfish - I've a question on these ... I'd like to add three or so of them, but have heard from many folks on the forums that they hide all the time, and only come out at feeding. I'd like to be able to _see_ the fish in the tank . . . If zebra darts, lovely as they are, aren't fish I'll be able to see, what might be a fish that'd utilize the upper levels of the tank well?

    Along the way, I'd like to add CUC critters and other inverts; snails, brittle stars, lawnmower blenny, perhaps a few hermits, a sally lightfoot (my other granddaughter has had a toy one for years...), maybe a tiger-tail or two, various worms, peppermint shrimp, skunk & blood cleaner shrimp, what about the "yellow" coral banded? . . . open to suggestions here! Probably starting with creatures which feed on detritus, adding those which consume algae as it appears.

    Also, of course, some corals; probably start with some zoanthids & palythoas, some ricordia & mushrooms down near the sand (and perhaps on isolated rocks, lest they take over?), some LPS up a little higher on the structure - again, open to suggestions from the assembled mind! I like torches & duncans, but I'm given to understand that they're a bit tricky. Also, would enjoy having some feather-dusters on the reef. Eventually, would like to add a few SPS to the upper levels.

    Not planning any larger anemones, but might consider a rock-flower or two. Are there any other anemones which won't take over the tank?

    Later fish additions might include:
    Percula clowns - a pair would be nice if they won't get too aggressive about too large a patch of reef - otherwise a single, just because my granddaughter loves Nemo.
    Azure damselfish - two or three, 'cause they're just lovely little guys.
    Orchid dottyback - I've got a bit of hesitation here; I've read that they can get rough on shrimp, and I like shrimp - also, I once had a purple dottyback who _owned_ a 55, in a tag-team with a tomato clownfish, and killed every other fish I tried to add. Don't want that again! Might opt for a ...
    Royal Gramma - instead of the dottyback.
    Coral beauty angelfish - after corals are established and growing strongly, so I won't freak out over an occasional nip here or there.
    Green clown gobies - again, after coral establishment.
    Mandarin dragonet - looking well out into the future, here . . .
    Kole tang - is a 65gallon, 36x18x25 enough room?

    Does anyone see any problems (other than the fact that I like way too many different kinds of fish!) with any of the above in this community?

    ~Bruce
     
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  8. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Zoey's Reef is up and running!

    Nitrogen cycle is complete, nitrates are coming down slowly but steadily with water changes and whatever the bacteria in the rock and sand are up to . . .

    The first signs of life have appeared; hermits and nassarius (which are laying eggs on the front glass! D'you think they'll hatch?) at first, then cerith snails and peppermint shrimp, along with a single emerald crab. Fish followed, small, quick-darting firefish and flasher wrasses, a brass-and-violet Lubbock's wrasse and a sharknosed goby (who has a surprising little nip!), along with early corals; zoanthids, mushrooms and a few LPS.

    A few things learned:
    Always remove the bubble-cage from the return on the skimmer when restarting, or it'll overflow onto the electric outlet. GFCI is a good thing, but if I never have to use it again, that's all to the good as well.
    You can never, ever have too much RO/DI.
    Unhappy Discosoma mushrooms can release from their bases, and go dancing about on the currents. Unfortunately, currents on Zoey's Reef flow toward powerheads . . .(>_<)
    Fortunately, in-sump refugia make excellent hospital facilities for unhappy Discosoma mushrooms. :-/

    Cell-phone video of Zoey's Reef under the blue lights of evening:
    [​IMG]

    Under the multi-spectrum daylights (Please excuse TV noises...):
    [​IMG]

    And the sump, based on a 20-long:
    [​IMG]

    Hope you're enjoying your journey as much - or more! - as I'm enjoying mine!

    ~Bruce
     
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  9. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Today on Zoey's Reef, there are green spots blossoming on the liverock. Some of them seem to have dimension to them - am I seeing macroalgae? Diatoms have been to visit, and found tasty by new members of the cleanup crew; Astraea, Nerite and Trochus snails. Corals and fish seem to be thriving, and their ranks have grown, partly as the result of a visit to NYAquatic on New Year's Day, and an order from Cherry Corals. Two surprise favorites - among the corals, the brilliant Blastomussa, which I expect to bring a sort of inner light to Zoey's Reef, and among the fishes, I'm charmed by a mixed shoal of three blue gudgeon and two zebra-bar dartfish. Years ago, I kept a single zebra-bar in a smaller tank, and it proved to be a thoroughly unexciting fish, taking up residence under a clamshell which it never left. These new five are constantly up and about, providing a flow of cool colors to the middle depths of the reef. There's a tailspot blenny on the reef too, a shy charmer with a hearty appetite and a growing belly! Two small flasher wrasses live here as well, along with a feisty lubbock's fairy wrasse, whose color-changing is spectacular, but often heralds a temper outburst. The initial cleanup crew of Nassarius and Cerith snails and blue and scarlet hermits has been supplemented by peppermint, scarlet cleaner and blood shrimp, a single emerald crab, a brace of tiger serpent stars and a single Asterina, along with whatever copepods, amphipods and bristleworms came in with the Chaetomorpha.

    Only one coral seems to refuse to thrive here so far; Actinodiscus mushrooms. I've got both red and blue examples of this supposedly easy corallimorph, both are shrunken and shrivelled, and the red ones released their anchors and went dancing around the display. (Of course, the one with the sky blue speckles found its way into the Gyre! It seems to be alive, but hanging by a thread. I've got them in the sump, along with some Chaetomorpha, until they recover.)

    Nitrates are still high, holding at about 40ppm. Hoping that this new green algae will help with that . . .

    Zoey's Reef in the morning, under blue LEDs
    [​IMG]

    Zoey's Reef at midday, under daylight LEDs
    [​IMG]

    ~Bruce
     
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  10. kschweer

    kschweer Zoas!!! Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Partner Member 2018 NJRC Member

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    Looking good! A lot of times mushrooms will release and float when they are getting too much flow. Try putting them in a lower flow area if possible.
     
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  11. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thanks for the tip, Kshweer!

    That could be - I decided to dial down the "surf" from the Gyre today, and my fish all seem to think that was a great choice. Right now, the 'shrooms are all in the sump, which is a gentle, linear flow. They're still pretty tiny, and the red one still hasn't attached. (Flow is low enough to set him on a liverock chunk, but he's not locking in.) I've got a few Rhodactis mushrooms and a Ricordia in the display, they seem to be doing just fine.

    ~B.
     
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  12. Luka

    Luka Active Member

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    Looks great!!
     
  13. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thanks, Luka!

    It's not all sunshine and roses, but it it was easy, it wouldn't keep my attention as well as it does!

    ~Bruce
     
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  14. Luka

    Luka Active Member

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    Definetly the challenge is what makes the reward
     
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  15. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Step forward ... step back . . .

    While I was building Zoey's Reef, I was reading - and part of what I was reading were posts headed up with things like "My fish didn't make it through quarantine...". That was probably one of those things that you latch on to, because you wanted an excuse not to set up another tank for three or four weeks....

    Well, now I have another tank set up, and it'll be for 76 days . . . Until then, all of the finned residents of Zoey's Reef will be partaking in a coppery bath. Probably keep it set up for a while, to acclimate any new fishy roomates. Looking at a tankful of apparently healthy fish, it's astonishing how quickly Cryptocaryon (Ich) can kill a new arrival! Zoey's reef is a 65, the quarantine is a 40-B, so space-wise, it's pretty equal, but the PVC caves aren't nearly as cozy as 80 pounds of Pukani, I'm sure.

    On the Reef, things are mostly pretty good - the remaining mushroom still hasn't attached to anything in the sump, but he's got company in there - isopods (little cute ones!) copepods and an ever-growing blob of Chaetomorpha. Oh - and lots of little grey pinapple sponges. All the other corals (with the exception of one blasto that looks - well - blasted) seem to be doing well. Polyps and tentacles extend. Food up to the size of mysis is consumed. Lights are ... bright enough, I suppose. Coral flourescence amazes me while the blues are on, beauty is there every time I look through the glass, at any hour of the day or night.

    Went up the line to reef shops and fish stores today - picked up some Trochus, Nassarius, and Cerith (a new species - now I have three different ceriths!) a small tiger-tail cucumber, a fistful of Chaetomorpha (dripping with teensy brittle stars!) for the HOB refugium and the copper test kit I'd been looking for, checked out a clownfish breeding operation, and just generally fed the addiction. And how does a widowed reefer celebrate Valentines Day? Why, with a reverse trio of new sexy shrimp, of course!! Didn't buy any frags though - looking forward to the upcoming Connecticut Frag Farmers' Market!

    ~Bruce
     
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  16. aaron23

    aaron23 Valuable Member

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    What are the potential new additions?
     
  17. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    From Frag Farmers' Market?

    Unlimited! There'll be a gob of vendors there - everyone from hobbyists with a few overgrown acros in their displays to some fellow named Jason Fox . . . (whose corals I may not realistically be able to afford to do much more than drool over...) I've never been, but have heard not to expect a lot of fish - just wall-to-wall corals.

    For fish, currently simmering in QT are all of the original residents (the ones who developed an immunity to Cryptocaryon before the infestation got too bad): McKosker's and Lubbock's wrasses, fire-darts (mated), zebra-bar darts and blue gudgeons (who I rarely see in QT, as they have nervous dispositions), and a green clown goby who just made it into the copper in time. I've discovered that most of those fish kind of all do the same thing - hold station in the current, waiting for plankton to drift by - so new additions will likely include azure damsels and royal grammas which should dart among the rockwork, a percula or ocellaris clownfish for their bright color and weaving dance, and a blenny or two (I'd love to keep both a tailspot and a starry, though that may prove unrealistic), and one or two of the Caribbean cleaner gobies to occupy the rock itself, and a watchman or high-fin redbar goby to pair with the pistol shrimp (if I ever see the pistol again...). Eventually, I'd like to add a mandarin - and there are already quite a few 'pods dancing across the glass (and presumably everywhere else, too!). For "Queen of the Tank", I'd love to add a kole tang - they're just about my favorite among the bristletooths. What might be the most important fish on Zoey's Reef though, will also be the riskiest... I'd like to add a coral beauty. Zoey's Reef really should have an angel . . .

    ~Bruce
     
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  18. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    So this is interesting ...

    Two weeks into fallow, and the glass in the DT is covered with white anemones so tiny that under a magnifying glass, I thought they were baby micro-brittle stars. Under a more powerful lens, their arms were revealed to be tentacles - each one seems to have about seven or so.

    Interesting to watch what happens when the whole tank becomes a refugium . . .

    ~Bruce
     
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  19. Luka

    Luka Active Member

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    Awesome! is it possible to get pictures? The more you tell me about the tank the more I want to see it. Seems like you have your fish additions planned out...but what corals do you plan to add?
     
  20. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thanks, Luka!

    I'll have to see if I can get camera, card, reader and computer to play nicely together - they haven't been lately, and I haven't really made it a priority...

    There are already a number of corals on the reef - they're all still just little, though some have shown noticable growth since their arrival: a couple of varieties of Acan and a Micromussa, a few Favias, a couple of "maze" types, a trumpet and a candy cane, a torch and a hammer ... there are Rhodactis, Actinodiscus and Ricordia mushrooms, a single small Sympodium and a bunch of zoanthids/palys - and a red rock-flower anemone. For more mobile inverts, there are two each of peppermint and skunk cleaner shrimp, a blood shrimp and about five sexy little sexy shrimp (They think they're all that), as well as a Randall's pistol shrimp that I nearly never see. There are two Hawaiian feather dusters, and I know there are bristle worms, 'cause my hands feel like I've been playing with insulation. There are nerites, Nassarius, and at least three different varieties of Cerith snails, scarlet reef, blue-leg and Halloween hermit crabs, and a single emerald crab. Without fish, the algae - in a rainbow of reds, browns and greens - has begun to take off (and nitrates to glide into a descent...!), so some new residents moved in yesterday - an edible sea cucumber, a sea hare, a tuxedo urchin and a sticky little limpet, which, I suppose, shall always remind me of Don Knotts. A new 'nem has also moved onto the Reef, a maxi-mini carpet in deep green and wine red. (There was already a tiny tiger-tail cucumber, but he's got ... issues. He was in a hole in some liverock at the shop, and it took a half hour or so to get him to loosen up, by which time, he was feeling a little floaty. As soon as he moved on to Zoey's Reef, a week ago, he crawled into a hole in the liverock ... and hasn't come out yet!)

    Looking forward to Frag Farmer's Market, I think I'm just about ready to try some hardier SPS - Montipora digitata maybe, some of the birdsnests, green slimer ... and whatever the new friends I'm finding in the reefing hobby recommend. They don't have to be expensive or have fancy names, just interesting forms and fun colors! Gotta say, I was mightily tempted by some of the beauties at Exotic Fish & Corals and Shoreline Pet yesterday!

    ~Bruce
     
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