Thursday, January 28, 2010

Okay, better coral pictures are needed

I wish I could figure out how to re-size 'em when I do the copy/paste thing. There's probably some html code I could insert, but screw it!

Kenya Tree Coral:

Green Star Polyps:

These are rampant growers - from the sounds of it - so they've since been moved to their own isolated rock.

Purple Mushroom and an unknown hitchhiker coral - below the shroom. The unknown coral fluouresces a cool neon green under the blue LED night lights!

Aqua Coral. It, too, kind of fluoresces under the night light...

Teeny-Tiny Zoanthids - Two different types on one rock.

Aquarium - Chapter V: I've got Coral!

Amazingly, this brings us up-to-date on The Great Reef Tank Project. I've been tweaking around a little - moving corals around in the tank (i.e. I was warned that the Green Star Polyp would likely take-over). But, pretty-much, this is where we stand today. Yay!

Chapter V: I've got Coral!!

This time, I was smart enough to bring a water sample. Although I have started testing with more reliable, individual test kits - Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and pH. I don't have test kits for Phosphate, Magnesium or Alkalinity - yet. Anyway, I figured I'd let The Experts test my water before I started plunking any critters in there. It passed - with flying colors (they recommended that I start using B-Ionic to raise the calcium a notch).

So annnnnywaaaaaayyyy... "Whad'ja get? Whad'ja get?!" "Where are the PICTURES???"

Okay Okay!!!

I got two different kinds of zoanthids on one rock:


My camera didn't capture the color real well, but the one on the upper left is super-neon green.

Annnnnd... I got an Aqua-colored Mushroom:


Annnnnd... I got some Free Kenya Trees (which I may end up regretting later - from the sounds of it!):


This was before they opened. I'll post more pics later, after they've settled in.

Annnnd... I got some Green Star Polyps:


Again, they're feeling a little shy after the ride home. More pics later....

Annnnd... Last, but not least, I got a Purple Mushroom:


There's a second hitch-hiker coral on the same rock (below the 'shroom). They told me what it was, but I forgot! Anybody recognize it?

Here's a full-tank shot - with my shiny new corals!


Oooh, it's Official! I have a Reef Tank!

Me = Happy Camper! :eclap

Aquarium - Chapter IV: Goodbye Diatoms, Hello Algae!

Holy Cow! I may take the entire Blogger Network down at this rate!!!

Chapter IV: Goodbye Diatoms, Hello Algae!

So I'm pretty happy with my Clean-up Crew. It's only been a few days and the brown gooze has receded significantly!


This is the same angle as the shot posted above - so it's pretty clear that the Janitors are doing their jobs!

But today I noticed I'm starting to get green hairy algae. Some on the "glass" (which I scrubbed off with my handy-dandy don't-get-your-hands-wet algae brush). But it's also starting to appear on some of my rocks (/dead coral fragments).

Difficult to photograph, but it's on the Coral rock on the left

I know that this, too, is a normal part of cycling. I'm not sure how long it's supposed to last and/or when I should be alarmed. I've read "horror stories" on various sites about hair algae completely taking over and destroying ppl's tanks (I don't wanna go there!).

Here's what I've done, so far:

20% water change last night (using Seawater from Neptune's). I've got GFO in there to keep the phosphates down. I've cut my lights back to 8 hours/day - as of today - when I first noticed the algae.

I've ordered proper Salifert Test Kits (off the internet 'cuz I'm cheap - err - frugal!), but they haven't arrived yet. For now, according to my Crappy Test Strips, Nitrite, Ammonia and Nitrate are all at zero. pH is at appx 8.2-8.4 and salinity (using my accurate refractometer) is at 1.022.

So - any thoughts on when I should panic? What more should I be doing (if anything)?


(I'm anxious for Chapter TBD: My First Cool Coral)

Aquarium - Chapter III: Things are Happening!

Since I'm on a roll... Let's copy/paste some more! This post dates back to Jan 11...

Chapter III: Things are Happening (and No, I didn't panic!)

So the tank's been up since Monday afternoon (Jan 4 '10). I've pretty much left it alone other than setting up the light timer and checking the salinity, pH, Nitrites, Ammonia and Nitrates every couple of days or so. So far nothing too dramatic has happened, numbers-wise (although I think I need to upgrade from these cheesy 5:1 test-trips I was using on my FW tank).

On Saturday, I'd planned on going out to buy my chaeto and set-up the tank rack/refugium. Well, Saturday morning, I noticed that my beauteous rock-work was covered in brown gooze!

"Ahhhh, Diatoms" I exclaimed "Perfectly normal!"
(Well, those might not have been my *exact* words. I think it might've sounded more like "Oh sh*t - That looks AWFUL!").

So, off to Neptune's we went...

It didn't even occur to me to bring a water sample ("D'oh!" Newbie Mistake #2). But I did bring my refractometer which they graciously calibrated for me. I whined (ever-so-slightly) about my diatom woes and they suggested shortening the light cycle. They also noted that I could get a clean-up crew started in there.

"So soon?!"


Soooo... "I've got crabs!!!"

They immediately set to work, gobbling up the brown gooze. Yay Hermit Crabs!

I like this shot:
They look like they're all bellied-up to the bar! "Tres mas cervesas por favor!!!"

So yeah, I got 5 blue-legged hermit crabs; 2 Trochus snails and 2 Cerith snails. And, like I say, they're munching furiously on the diatoms. I also picked up some GFO pellets as a pro-active measure against phosphates (which I can't test for - yet!). So far, the critters are "almost" keeping up with the diatom bloom. But I've cut back the lights to 10.5 hrs/day - hoping that will help.

But I am NOT panicking, okay?!

In fact, when I saw a hermit crab "body" on the bottom of the tank - I didn't panic THEN either. I think he just molted (I couldn't get a clear pic of that, unfortunately). His front end was dark, but where his body would have been was all clear-lookin' so I think that's some kind of exoskeleton or something, right?

Oh, but I've gotten ahead of myself! I forgot to illustrate "The Build" of the refugium!

Okay okay okay: Here's the tank rack, empty - save for the u/w pond light (both from InTank):

Here's the rack with Chemi-pure Elite on the bottom and chaeto in the middle (I moved the lights up one level):

I also added 2 TBS of GFO (tied up in panty-hose) to the bottom shelf, and some filter floss on the top shelf. The whole things slides neatly into chamber 2 of the BC.

Soooooo... That's where I'm at now! And now I don't feel so weird when I sit and stare at the tank because at least there are "critters" moving around in there. Okay, maybe I'm a little touched because I find myself cheering-on the hermit crabs as they scale "Everest!" (But then, I don't get out much!)

Okay, stay tuned for Chapter IV: TBD....................

Let's try to post a better shot of the Tank, Shall we?

Much better!

Aquarium - Chapter II: Live Rock

Ahhh... More Copy/Paste Action. This post dates back to January 10. I think that makes me a lazy procrastinator!

Chapter II: Live Rock

My Inspiration:
Neptune Aquatics BC14. The first "populated" BC14 I ever saw - and boy is it GORGEOUS!

So I forgot to mention that a colleague of mine, up in Washington State, is also a Reef-Nut (BC8 and 29) and he somehow, inadvertently, kinda became my short-term "Mentor." I suspect he was starting to get a little annoyed with my badgering non-stop questions and he provided the URLs for a few good online resources and also mentioned that there might be some "local" reef-clubs I might want to look into. So that's how I found NCRC ;)

Well, I also yammered on about how I had my live sand and water in the tank, and how I was getting ready to go buy some live-rock. But @ over $6/lb, I was kinda "ouching" over it. Well, bless his heart, he checked our local Craigslist and found a guy in the South-East Bay who was selling his rock for $2/lb. Now, I got to badger someone else via email and, long-story-short, I drove up on Monday and picked it up. $40 got me 22# of rock - Yay!

This is, essentially, what it looked like - only there was more of it:

This is actually what's left over now (and I'll be bringing it to the swap).

Well, since it was mostly rubble, I decided to stop at Neptune's on my way home and pick up a couple of big chunks of their Marco rock to form an arch.

Then, the minute I got home, I started plunking rocks into my tank:

Not bad for a first attempt, if I do say so myself!

So now we play the game of "Sit and Wait." Wait for the live rock to seed the Marco rock; Wait for microorganisms to start doing whatever they do; Test every 2-3 days to make sure "things are happening;" Wait for my add'l Gee-Gaws to arrive..........

At this point, I think it's kinda like watching paint dry. But at least there were no Newbie Mistakes/Panic Attacks for this particular installment! :eclap

Soon, I hope to post Chapter III: Things are Happening!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aquarium - Chapter I: Initial Set-Up and Newbie Mistakes

All right, I warned ya that there might be some Copy/Paste action going on ;-)

I'm actually posting the progress of my tank on one of the Reef Message Boards and, well, I'm too lazy to re-type it all. So here goes:

(Note: I'm also too lazy to try to figure out how to re-size the jpgs, so things might look weird!)
* * * * *
Okay, I'm gonna attempt to document the creation/progression of my Nano Tank here - complete with Newbie Mistakes and Panic Attacks! (Oh, and pictures, too!) :D

So grab yourself a cold one and enjoy.............

Chapter I: Initial set-up and Newbie Mistakes

I must've been a good girl last year because Santa brought me a BioCube14 for Christmas.

Here it is - fresh out of the box:

(Excuse the mess - it was the day after Christmas, after all!)

I got lucky in that we still had an old TV stand (albeit a dusty old TV stand) that ended up being the perfect size for the tank. Okay, maybe I'd like it to be about 3-4" taller - but it's an "okay" height for viewing when you're sitting on the sofas. I asked DH to cut a beefier backer-board for the stand and I spray painted all of the exposed particle-board with black semi-gloss spray paint (thinking that the likelihood of me dripping on it, and turning it to mush, was pretty high!). The beefing-up of the stand took about a week and, in the meantime, I started ordering more gee-gaws for the tank.

Off the top of my head I'd ordered a Refractometer (eBay); Media Rack and Fish-Saver (InTank); Chemi-Pure; underwater LED pond lights; Koralia Nano Pump; and probably some other stuff I can't remember right now!

I also went to the LPS and picked up a bag of Instant Ocean and Live Sand. Then off to the local water-store where I bought 10 gallons of R/O filtered water (BTW - that's exactly what the BC14 holds: 10 gallons!).


I then proceeded to make Newbie Mistake #1: The sand goes in the tank BEFORE the water ("D'oh!").


Now mind you, I had been reading numerous Reef-Tank Message Boards, and absorbing information like a sponge, but somehow I still managed to miss "The Basics!" Hint for other Newbies: Put the sand in first. Mix your water/salt in a separate container to the correct SG. Then put a small bowl on the sand; pour the water into the bowl and let it slowly overflow. That way you'll minimize the whole Sand-Storm Effect (or so I've read).

Of course, there really wasn't anything in the tank at this point - so the sand-storm shouldn't have mattered - and would have cleared up on it's own, I'm sure. EXCEPT: I'd already contacted a guy thru Craigslist who was selling appx 20# of live rock (from a 4-y/o established tank) for $2.00/lb. And I had already arranged to drive up and get it the very next day! Oooooops!

Soooo... What-to-do? What-to-do?!! (Newbie Panic Attack #1). Well, the BC had come with a filter pad/cartridge thingie - that looked pretty cheesy to me. LPS (that SELLS BioCubes) *doesn't* sell BioCube Filters (Hmph!). I'd already ditched the BioBalls (b/c I planned to run a refugium) so the center back chamber was clear. I ended up stuffing a bunch of filter-floss into a media bag and wedging it, crossways, into the center chamber thusly:


That didn't do a very good job of filtering out the clouds, unfortunately. So I pulled out some polyfiber filter "sheet" material (that I was using on my FW tank):


I cut a slice roughly the same size as the media bag and wedged it on top:


Better. But still not as good as I'd like (Yes, I know: "Patience!!!").

So I pulled out a 100 GPH power-head and stuck that on the side of the tank.


Left that running overnight and by morning, the tank looked like this:


Yaaayyyyy!!! Crisis Averted!

Okay, that about covers the tank set-up thru last weekend. Stay tuned for Chapter II: Live Rock

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

We had a quiet one, at home. Actually kinda nice for a change. I'm getting to where I don't like dealing with big crowds (or spending lots of money!) just to feel like sh*t the next day!

* * * * *
Not much going on - but I did go into the office yesterday. On my way home, I stopped at Neptune Aquatics in Milpitas. They were recommended by some posters on They have THE coolest little BioCube 14 set-up on the check-out counter!

Full tank shot

I asked a few questions about the tank (I'm sure I'll have more!) and the guy was extremely helpful. They've done the same thing that I intend to do as far as setting up a Refugium in the center chamber - with chaetomorpha macroalgae and live rock rubble (I'll probably skip the rubble). And they do sell chaeto - Yay!

This tank *does* have stock lighting so I'm feeling pretty encouraged! I've been reading where some hobbyists drop loads of money on upgraded light fixtures - and I really don't want to do that!

They even have a clam in there (up at the top)!


And they've got the cutest black-and-white clown-fish who's hosted a Duncan coral.

You can't see him real well, but he's nestled in the top of the anemone-looking thing.

And there's also a couple of gobies in there. I really like the "character" of the Twinspot goby. He is quite the little earth-mover! He kept diving behind the green coral, scooping up a HUGE mouthful of sand, then spitting it out a few inches away! It was hysterical to watch!

The Twinspot is a little blurry
(not enough contrast for my camera to pick it up)

I don't even know what-all is in their tank, but I'm gonna do my damndest to try to replicate it. I like how the live rock is piled up almost all the way to the top. I want to do something similar - but hopefully leave a swim-thru down near the bottom. I'll probably buy a bunch of their Marco Base Rock (it's not live rock - but it's cool-lookin'!) and a few chunks of live rock to get the tank cycling...

For now - still not much happening! I'm still waiting for the Big Brown Truck to bring me more goodies! In the meantime, Rog cut out a backer-board for the TV stand, and I've spray painted it black (naturally, it started to rain *while* I was doing that!!!). Hopefully, we'll get the stand assembled this weekend. I'll also start to re-arrange the living room - once I take the Christmas Tree down.

It'll happen. Might take forever, but it'll happen!


View my page on Meet the Phlockers