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Year one of my saltwater reef tank
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Pete Harcoff
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Joined: 18 Jun 2005
Location: Canada

PostPosted: 2007.02.25(Sun)19:31    Post subject: Year one of my saltwater reef tank Reply with quote

In about a week, it will have been exactly one year since I began my saltwater reef tank. This post is a bit of journal of that year.

I wanted a saltwater tank ever since I was a kid. Fresh off a break up with my g/f at the time, I suddenly found myself with a bunch of free time I needed to fill. So why not start up that saltwater tank?

I seleted a 56 gallon tank that fit on this little cabinet I had available for a stand (after much reinforcing mind you). Here it is after the initial setup with the live rock. The cycling has begun...



After about a month, the cycle was done. I aquascaped it roughly how I want, got my lighting set up and continued to wait. I knew that my tank was going to go through more stages and was planning on waiting a good 5-6 months before stocking.



The next stage was the hair algae outbreak. This lasted several months. At one point the algae was so thick it stretched from the top of the reef to the water line. This shot is at the tail end of that period.



Towards the end of the hair algae infestation I got my first fish, a lawnmower blenny. I wanted one, plus I thought he'd be good to keep the algae down. Sadly, he lasted only a few months, turning up mysteriously dead one day. Still not sure what killed him, as he was regularly eating and looked healthy.



After the hair algae subsided, I got my first coral, a toadstool leather. I also got another fish, a royal gramma basslet. I also began to see the beginnings of macro algae growth. I would soon learn to rue the macro algae...





The tank has puttered along the last 6 months. I got a pair of clowns, but sadly one died shortly after being introduced to my main tank. He had been fine in my quaratine tank for the couple weeks prior. But after putting in my main tank, a few days later he was stuck to the intake of one of my Maxi-jet 1200's. Surprisingly, he was still alive after switching the powerhead off, but died a short while after.

I also lost a couple cleaner shrimp that were also stuck to the MJ intakes. I'm not sure if they died first or if the MJ's were killing my livestock. At any rate, I ended up replacing those powerheads with a couple Tunze Nanostream 6045's.

Got a few more corals along the way. A plate coral, a small candycane frag, and a flower pot coral (red variety which I was told was easier to keep than the other kinds).

A couple months ago, I ran into another problem. A small piece of my skimmer impeller shaft broke off. After removing it, I tried to keep using the pump, but it wasn't working properly. In fact, it appeared to be working too well, as it was louder, but also producing this incredibly thick foam. The result was that it overwelmed my bubble trap (I was using an Aquaclear 70 at the time for the outflow) and I started getting a lot of microbubbles in the tank. I decided to remove everything to clean it and fix it. Unfortunately, it ended up being a little while before I put everything back together. While I previously had a decent amount of macro algae growing on the rocks, now it was really spreading. I also got an outbreak of cyanobacteria. During that two months of no skimming, I stepped up the water changes and cut back feedings, but the algae began to take over.

I've also been getting more coraline growth lately, especially on the glass. But because I happen to hate the look of coraline on the glass, I've been vigourly removing it.

At any rate, just this last week I put together a new outflow for my skimmer from an Aquaclear 500 in which I also built a mini-refugium. I hooked up everything again and started skimming.





Current inhabitants are:

- 1 ocellaris clown
- 1 royal gramma basslet
- 1 skunk cleaner shrimp
- plate coral (Fungia)
- candy cane coral (Caulastrea) - currently in the sand next to the plate coral because it came unglued from the rock
- flower pot coral (Goniopora)
- toadstool leather coral (Sarcophyton)
- various snails and hermits

My current plan is to get the water cleaned up and get rid of the algae. Then I can finally look at getting more livestock (particularly SPS corals).


Last edited by Pete Harcoff on 2007.02.25(Sun)21:15; edited 1 time in total
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2007.02.25(Sun)19:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Look good Pete....if I may...there are only a couple of ways to get the macro off the rocks. Take the rock out and clean each piece one by one. Get a voracious algae eater...and then it is a 50/50 chance of he will eat the macro you have. You can try to improve the nutrient export but this works better at keeping the algae from spreading more than it does for killing what you already have. A Tomini tang stays small and is a big eater but it may not eat what you have and someday will have outgrown your tank.

Manual removal is still the best way.
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Pete Harcoff
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Joined: 18 Jun 2005
Location: Canada

PostPosted: 2007.02.25(Sun)20:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, manual removal is pretty much my plan. I'd previously removed a few rocks a month ago and ripped off all the algae, but it grew right back.

I'm thinking a couple water changes this week should help cut down the nutrients, then I'm going to take a few hours and clean off the rocks as best I can.

It's just such a pain, because I can never put back the rocks the way they were. Confused
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Pete Harcoff
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Joined: 18 Jun 2005
Location: Canada

PostPosted: 2007.02.26(Mon)23:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gah! Well, if I wasn't hestitant about removing and cleaning my rocks before, I'm a bit now.

For a while I knew I had this big bristle worm in my tank. Not huge mind you, but probably a good 5-6 inches. I wouldn't see him often, but he was always hanging out in the bottom of my tank. I've never seen his entire body, either (I think 3-4 inches was the max I'd seen, so I'm estimating his size).

Well, tonight I'm flashlighting my rocks looking for critters and who do I see near the top of my tank but this bristleworm. Seems he got tired of the bottom.

Now I'm going to be reeeeeeeal careful removing and cleaning those rocks.

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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2007.02.27(Tue)6:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gloves...I use surgical gloved but there are some nice aquatic gloves out there.
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arachnar
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Joined: 14 Feb 2007
Location: Boise,Idaho

PostPosted: 2007.03.03(Sat)19:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

yikes I would never put my hands near the live rock with that bristle worm,they're creepy

note-watch out many gloves are dusted with talcum powder so they are easier to put on and off ,I don't know what that does to your water. Confused
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Pete Harcoff
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Joined: 18 Jun 2005
Location: Canada

PostPosted: 2007.03.03(Sat)19:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

Got myself a basic pair of rubber gloves (non antibacterial). But I don't use them inside the tank, just for handling the rocks once I pull 'em out.

I did some cleaning and did spot a couple largish bristleworms, including that fellow in the picture. I was cleaning a rock and flipped it over and noticed him poking out. However, he immediately retracted back into the rock so fast he made a "pop" sound.

I think I did get a bristle in my finger though. I was turning over this one rock and my finger started to hurt. I noticed a tiny glass-like silver which I pulled out. Dunno if it was a bristleworm or something else.

At any rate, here's an updated pic with some of the rocks cleaned. Still got a nasty case of cyanobacteria, but I did another water change so we'll see what happens.

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SLACkra
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Perth, Western Australia, Australia

PostPosted: 2007.03.04(Sun)17:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

whats your alkinity and calcium levels at? I'm not sure but there might be a link to cyano getting under control and high alkinity levels, 10-11dKH. though you should also get the calcium up to 400ppm if you can. your coraline will go ballistic! then if you can get your magnesium levels to about 1300ppm(yes very very high!) your all set for sps. Magnesium helps keep the Ca and alkinity levels stable and also used by coraline. imo if you don't like coraline get yourself a collector urchin! I got mine for my hair algae but the little fella reallly loves his coraline! he eats it off the glass mostly so I don't hold it against him Rolling Eyes

Quote:
I think I did get a bristle in my finger though. I was turning over this one rock and my finger started to hurt. I noticed a tiny glass-like silver which I pulled out. Dunno if it was a bristleworm or something else.


thats a bristle worm. more annoying when they are really small bristles and you can barely see them. its fun holding your hand up against something black and using tweezers to try to remove them all!

really looking good, just need to get some more corals in there.

cheers

Andrew
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Pete Harcoff
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Joined: 18 Jun 2005
Location: Canada

PostPosted: 2007.03.04(Sun)18:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last time I tested (about 2 weeks ago) my calcium and magnesium had dipped a bit (about 350 and 1150 respectively). I've been dosing to get them back to 400/1250. My alk is around 8, but I'm trying to raise that too into the 9-10 range.

Something I can't figure out about coraline is why it grows where it does. While I do have it dotting my rocks, it seems to prefer glass or plastic surfaces. Or maybe I'm imagining things...
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2007.03.04(Sun)22:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

It does grow best on plastic and glass, not sure of the chemistry reason behind that but it is true just the same.
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