Thursday, May 10, 2012

Aquarium Update (Long overdue) - aka "Mother Nature's Harsh Reality"

Pre- Post-Script: This was actually *yesterday's* post - but I never hit "Publish!"

Yeah, so I haven't blathered about the Bio-Cube Aquarium in well-over two years!

Ideally, one would think that "No News is Good News" and everything is just blubbing-along swimmingly (Pun intended).

In my case..?  Well, not so much!

I have to say that I really *do* like the Bio-Cube 14 and - when you follow the advice on the Reef-Geek-Boards and set it up with live rock (and dump the bio-balls that came with it) - it *is* pretty low-maintenance, overall.

Initial set-up and cycling is a PITA (as is the case with ANY reef-system), but once it's up-and-running, there's really not a whole heckuva lot to it.  As Long As You "Maintain" It!

Ohhhh, THAT!

Well, rather than turn this into another one of my long-rambly-boring "STFU, already" diatribes, I'll cut to the chase:  I *didn't* maintain it properly.  I had that whole matter of "Mom's in the Hospital," "Mom died," "Gotta settle Mom's Affairs," and a whole bunch of other "Real Life Sh*t" that kinda turned my priorities upside-down...  During all of that, the tank kinda started to turn to sh*t - with all of my inverts starting to die-off (and the irony there?  I wanted the tank to help "combat stress!").

Then I decided to focus on other things:  Building the Tiki Shack (FUN!), Remodeling the bathroom (Not so FUN - but, ultimately, gratifying), and "other stuff" in general. And I lapsed into an "If I ignore it, it's not really a problem, right?!" mindset...


Eventually, my tank turned into the Green Vat o' Death!  My inverts were long-gone...  My cleaner-shrimp died (undoubtedly from over-eating!)...  But once my "hardy fish" started to give-up-the-ghost, I decided Something Had To Be Done!

So, earlier this year, I started the arduous task of attempting to rehabilitate my tank myself.  Messy, grody, thankless work - let me tell you!  I tried.  Really, I did.  But it was turning into "One step forward, three steps back."  Unbelievably frustrating! ("This is a HOBBY?!!")

Time to call in the professionals! (Sometimes it's GOOD to be able to "throw money at a problem!")  Honestly, it was either that or throw up a post on "Freecycle" to get someone to just come and take it away!!! (Which would have been a Bad Move - given that the Bio-cube was a gift from hubs!)

So anyway, I must ashamedly (is that a word?) admit that I hired an Aquarium Service to come and deal with MY mess.  My guess is that these sorts of services actually "specialize" in maintaining mega-huge/mondo-gorgeous tanks in places like restaurants and doctor's offices and corporate-executives' homes and whatnot...  They're not generally in the business of taking care of someone's 14-gallon "hobby aquarium."  But WTH, right?  So I called 'em.

Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom!  They were super-quick and efficient about getting the tank cleaned up and habitable again - Yay!  In fact, I was *so* impressed, I decided I'd keep them for "ongoing maintenance."

Now the tank is solidly "back-in-line" and I can probably go back to donating my paychecks to Neptune Aquatics, buying frags a-plenty.  I'm hesitant to go back to the Bay Area Reef Club (since I got some Freebies - which I subsequently killed!).  But one thing that my current Aquarium-Service, Sealife-Aquarium (Hell, I'll give 'em a shout-out!) (but they are a bit spendy - all things considered!) offers is: "Loaners" of various soft-corals and whatnot...

For example, while they were in the process of eradicating the (insanely abundant) green hair algae, they "loaned" me an (incredibly ugly-and-fat) Sea Hare which - for the first 24 hours *did not budge* but pooped incessantly ("Ewww!").  But then he went to work EATING the insanely abundant hair algae...  And then he died (again, from over-indulgence, I'm sure!)

The timing of his demise coincided with the arrival of the "Service Crew" - so he never got a chance to f**k with my water parameters as he decomposed (but I *did* feel bad about killing him).

Which brings me to the PURPOSE of today's post (Jeezus!  Really?!!) (HOW many paragraphs did that take?!!)

(Shut UP!  K???!!!)

So, they've "Gotten to Know" Lieutenant Yellow-belly, my *most* territorial Yellowtail/Clarkii Clown-fish (who WILL bite you, if you stick your hand in the tank).  "Yella-Belly" gets very p*ssy whenever the Tank Maintenance Crew shows up - and he angrily "re-decorates" the tank, after they leave:  knocking rocks over and stirring-up sandy-sediment with his tail...

I've also got Krusty McKrabster, a rather large hermit-crab (who is a "House-Flipper" - I've seen him swap shells *at least* a half-a-dozen-times since I gave him new "digs" to choose from!).  And several other (mostly non-descript) Messkin hermit crabs (who clean-up the poop and don't provide much in the way of entertainment).

Anyway, the clownfish seemed to be the biggest worry and they decided that, maybe, he needed to "host" an anemone - and *maybe* that'll make him settle down, a tad...

So, they've been on the lookout for a "Rose Anemone" for the past several weeks.  Cool!  "Are you sure my tank offers enough light for an anemone???"  "Ohhh yeah...."

Okay, K, K....  So *today* they showed-up with a couple of Rose Anemones for my tank.  Cool, right?

And they do the whole "clean-up" routine (which hasn't been so bad - Yay!!!).  And they install the anemones in my tank.  Yay!

And I confer with the Tank Dudes (not the owner - these are Worker-Bees - which is fine).  They explain that the anemone might relocate (trying to find the "ideal" location) and/or he might "hide" for a day or two... Okay.  Fine....

So I ask "Is the anemone compatible with my other tank inhabitants?"  "Oh, yeah."  "Do I need to add any special food to the tank?" (as I'm looking in the fridge and freezer, looking for jugs of "invertebrate food"/frozen mysis shrimp/etc. and finding NADA).  "No, the fish-food you are using should be fine..."  Okay then!

And so they left...  I sat and looked-at the tank for about 10 minutes (it's generally pretty cloudy when they first leave, and "Yella-Belly" is pretty p*ssed-off).  Then I let the dogs out and fed them...

What follows started-out as a text conversation with Jeff, the owner, and later turned into an email:

Me: Uh oh :-(  Your guys just left and my hermit crab immediately ran over and devoured the small anemone.

Me:  The big one is still on the glass and out of reach.

Jeff:  Oh no, it ate it?

Jeff:  I've never heard of a hermit crab eating anemones.

Me: Sure looks like he ate it.

Me: Tearing it apart with his claws.

Jeff:  Wow.

Jeff:  I will call you tomorrow.  I will pick up the anemone if it hasn't been eaten.

Me:  Yeah.  Very sad.  I would totally understand if you want to remove the other anemone from Nan's Tank o' Death.

Me:  I'd hate to responsible for killing your stuff!

Jeff:  Your [sic] not responsible

Me: Thx.  I suck at txting so I'm sending you an email.

I'm lousy at texting, so here's an email instead.

Yeah - that was pretty brutal.  But then, that's Mother Nature, right?

Right after your guys left, I hung out and looked at the tank for a few minutes.  Large anemone was on the glass.  Small anemone was on the sand in the front corner.  Krusty McKrabster was in the back corner, and Lieutenant Yellow-Belly was flitting around, spastically kicking up the sand with his tail, and b*tching about the latest intrusion.

Then I walked away for maybe 10 minutes to let the dogs out, and feed them.

When I came back in, Krusty was up in the front corner, gleefully ripping the baby anemone to shreds.  And yes, scooping little bits of baby anemone into his mouth.  By the time I discovered it, baby anemone was about half the size of my pinkie fingernail (hardly anything left) so there wasn't much I could do at that point. :-(

Anyway:  The bigger anemone is slightly larger than Krusty and, for now, he is stuck to the glass and out of harm's way.  But it sounds like he might try to relocate to a sunnier/happier spot (or hide, or whatever).  I just hope that he doesn't come within reach of Krusty's Klaws (and Krusty *does* get around!).  Trouble is: If bigger anemone disappears - I won't know if he's hiding, or if he became a very expensive Krusty-Krab dinner! (No clue how much rose anemones cost - but I'm guessing it's "slightly more" than a jar of fish food!).

Not sure what to do at this point.  Leave it alone and hope for the best?  Or - like I said - I wouldn't be offended if you wanted to "rescue" your anemone.

I know it's not my fault - but I still feel bad.  Plus, it was pretty brutal to watch!!!

I'm sitting out back now, having a margarita, and trying to erase "Mother Nature's Harsh Realities" from my memory!

Anyway, if you want to rescue the anemone - just give me a call.  I am around all afternoon (but I may have to run out to the vet to pick up an Rx for my dog).  Tomorrow morning is "mostly clear" til around noon... Friday I am booked-solid with client meetings...


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