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My Nano Reefs Part Five

Last Updated: 9/10/08

The 3 gallon Eclipse tank was really not good. It was not meant for salt water. It seeped salt all out the sides even with the water level down lower. I could not maneuver in it for cleaning. The lighting was too poor to add even a few mushroom corals. The two crabs just sat there with nothing to do so it was totally boring. When Drs. Foster and Smith put the 6 gallon nano cube on sale, I ordered one. On 8/6/08, since the water changes were due, I set up the new tank. It was very hard to get the filter material out of the back chamber since it was so small. I thought I was going to break it! I needed to put the heater in the back. The right chamber has the pump. In the 12 gallon, there was room for the heater but not in the 6 gallon. The heater had to go in the middle chamber which has the carbon and RowaPhos in the 12 gallon. The left chamber in the 12 gallon has 3 sponges. In the 6 gallons, it is one huge sponge! I cut the top two inches off. I then sandwiched a mesh bag with some carbon and RowaPhos between the two pieces of sponge. Then, I only have to remove the top small piece for cleaning out trapped debris instead of the entire huge sponge which I could barely get out of there. The chambers are just way too small! I rinsed and turned over the tank since there was dust in it from the ceramic bio things. I ziplocked up the bioballs, ceramic things, and their carbon bag (big and inferior carbon) and stored those (you never know when you might need something!).

Before doing anything, I did water tests as usual. The 12 gallon tank was at a pH of 7.96, 78.2 degrees F, and a SG of 1.024. The 3 gallon tank had a pH of 7.79, 79.0 degrees F, and 1.025 SG. The make up water had a pH of 8.20, 78.5 degrees F, and 1.025 SG.

I had to move another house plant to the basement (the counter top used to be for plants, four remain of six). I got a 10 pound bag of gold Australian live sand. It is much finer than the 8 pound bag of sand that I got for the 12 gallon tank which was full of shells. This sand has no shells. I poured most of the bag in to the tank so it is nice and thick (I wish the 12 gallon had more sand but it is too late for that). Then, I had made up 3.5 gallons of new water. I put 1 gallon of that in to the new tank, using a bowl to catch the water to try to keep from stirring things up. Then, I tube drained 2 gallons off of the 12 gallon tank in to a bucket (with measurements on it). I added that to the new tank. Finally, I put the 3 gallons of water from the 3 gallon Eclipse tank in to the new tank along with the two crabs and pieces of live rock. There is a tube worm (like a feather duster but has a 3 inch white tube where it lives) living on the dead clam shell. In the bottom, in the coral gravel, I found two rather big fireworms (I think). They were a few inches long, wide, with bristles on their outer edges. I took photos (not up yet). I hated killing anything but I flushed those two. The water in the 6 gallon tank was a little cloudy but cleared up in a few hours.

Back to the 12 gallon tank, I had also ordered two 10" metal grabbers (like big tweezers). One has a curved end. I used both at various points in the tank to remove about a dozen bubble algae bubbles. This worked better than scrubbing them and having them float away too quick. I removed another half gallon of dirty water and put in the 2.5 gallons of new water for the water change. Both tanks were up and running and looking good!

I plan to get some more live rock for the 6 gallon. I would like to add a small fish but have gotten conflicting advice from it being the worst thing in the world to even adding two fish (in my nano reef book, it says that!). It will be a while before I do that so I am still thinking. I would also love a shrimp. There is the worry of the crabs and shrimp attacking each other. The two crabs so far have not done that though. Finally, with the decent light, I can add a few mushroom corals and maybe zooanthids in a few months. I know the crabs might eat some at some point but, since this tank is for the crabs, I would forgive them if that happened (and not replace the corals if it gets bad). It is sort of an experiment. Live Aquaria sells nano reef coral packs, one with 7 tiny mushrooms and one with 5 tiny polyps. I hope to get those packs and divide them among my two tanks.

On 8/12/08, I added one 4.5 pound live rock, one mushroom coral, and two big nassarius snails to the 6 gallon tank. I forgot to mention that there is a tube worm (like a feather duster but with a really long tube) on the dead clam now in the 6 gallon tank. There is also a tiny yellow polyp on the rock that originally had my first two mushroom corals that did not live.

On 8/15/08, I tested the ammonia and nitrite in the 6 gallon tank. Both were zero.

On 8/16/08, I changed 2.5 gallons on the 12 gallon tank and 1 gallon on the 6 gallon tank. The 12 gallon tank had a temperature of 78.8 degrees F, SG of 1.024, and pH of 7.74 before the water change. The 6 gallon had a temperature of 78.8 degrees F, SG of 1.024, and pH of 7.79 before the water change. The make up water had a temperature of 78.3 degrees F, SG of 1.0245, and pH of 8.21. I again used tweezers to remove a dozen or so bubble algae.

On 8/17/08, I saw another fireworm peak out from under the dead brain coral live rock! I tried to grab him with the long tweezers but he was fast. I picked up the rock. Underneath it, there were a lot of holes. I think the fireworms all came in with the brain coral. I ran fresh water through the tunnels in hopes that the fireworm would fall it but I did not see him fall out. He may have died within the rock though. I have not seem him again (as of 8/23/08).

The morning of 8/20/08, I noticed that the pineapple sponge was simply gone! Either someone ate it, or it fell off although I do not see it! It was running out of room to grow as it hit the rock below it. I will miss my pet sponge!

When I came home from work on 8/20/08, one of the fans on the 6 gallon tank was making a horrible noise! The next morning, when the timers came on, the lights did not come on the 6 gallon tank. The fan was noisier than ever. I tried unplugging, re-plugging, toggling the switch, etc. The two LED night lights work, and the fans "work" with a lot of noise. The light will not ignite. I think the ballast is shot or something. I called the store. After a few days of haggling, they finally let me know on 8/22/08 that the manufacturer would ship me just a new full hood but it would take 7 to 10 days! I suggested they send just the hood as they first wanted to send another entire tank and told me I had to tear down the tank as it is now and return it. With just the hood, they do not require me to return the bad one at least. The two crabs and two snails will be fine in the dark (the night lights are on 24 hours a day right now) but the poor little mushroom coral may not make it. On 8/22/08, I tried to get it off the live rock. I could not do it with my fingers so I tried the huge tweezers/forceps. It is really stuck on there! I only succeeded in stressing it out and maybe removing some small parts of it. It will have to stay and try to make it. I also have that minute yellow polyp on a rock too which will suffer without light for over a week.

On 8/23/08, I changed 2.5 gallons in the 12 gallon and 1 gallon in the 6 gallon. I moved the little bag of RowaPhos in the 12 gallon and put it between the top two sponges where the water comes in. This allowed me to take off the skimmer attachment. I had been using it for a few weeks because of a film on top of the tank caused by the RowaPhos. I could no longer use the skimmer attachment because, even immediately after flooding the filter chambers, when it was attached, the water level was so low in the filter chambers that the media and heater were partially exposed.

In the 12 gallon, I removed a single bubble algae and one group of about four. I seem to be making head way on the bubble algae as there is a lot less. My little pineapple sponge is definitely gone. I think the Stomatella snail may have done it as he was hanging out there a lot. One of the snails or hermit crabs chewed off a piece of the Halimeda macroalgae. The feathery macroalgae growing with the green polyps is probably a species of Caulerpa. They grow fast but can give off some toxins. In the last week, it has really gone wild, and the green polyps were lost under it and not looking good. So, I removed the rock they were on (the orange zooanthids are on the other end of the rock) with the intention of cutting off a lot of the Caulerpa. It may be Caulerpa taxifolia which is invasive, at least those photos best match what I have. When I removed it, it all collapsed. I tried to grab it up (like if you were making a pony tail) and hacked off a bunch of it. I hope I did not hurt the polyps. Once I put it back, and the polyps re-opened, they seem to have more access to light now. I did not get all the Caulerpa but I read that, if you keep it, you need to prune it regularly. It can eventually take over. Speaking of taking over, the green star polyps at the top of the tank are now hanging over on to the SPS coral. When I was cleaning, and the star polyps shut up, I could see the damaged part of the SPS coral which is getting stung. Both the star polyps and SPS coral have grown in to the live rock so I cannot move either. I am not sure if I should hurt the part of the star polyps hanging over the SPS coral (I cannot really cut them since they are one with the rock; all I could possibly do is impale them until they died, not nice!) or just let them be - survival of the fittest? I have grown fond of the SPS coral and like it more now than when I got it.

The water test results for the day were:
12 Gallon Tank: 79.0 degrees F, 1.024 SG, pH 7.94
6 Gallon Tank: 77.2 degrees F (lower with no fluorescent lights), 1.024 SG, pH 7.71
Make up water: 78.0 degrees F, 1.0245 SG, pH 8.25

On 8/30/08, I changed 2.5 gallons in the 12 gallon and 1 gallon in the 6 gallon tank as usual. I found and removed three bubble algae bubbles. I tried to pull some more Caulerpa off the green coral polyps which really are not doing well thanks to the chemicals Caulerpa releases. The green star polyps though are far from any problems and are growing so fast that they were really stinging the SPS coral badly. I decided to try to get it off the live rock to move it. It was on so well that the rock moved at first instead of the coral coming off but I did get it off. The SPS had grown over the epoxy but not the live rock yet. I reattached it a few inches to the right on the right piece of live rock, about an inch from the older zooanthids (which have not spread yet). About 15% of the SPS coral was discolored from being stung. I had to handle it quite a bit to get it to sit on the non-flat surface of the live rock. In response, the SPS coral spit out some mucus but seemed to be okay by the end of the day. There are now a few spots of coralline algae on the back glass, thermometer, algae magnet, and lots of the shells on the bottom of the tank. In the waste bucket from the 12 gallon cleaning was an amphipod so I put it in to the 6 gallon tank to perhaps get a population going in there as well.

When I cleaned out the 6 gallon tank, I lifted up the fake pink Acropora coral, and I saw Scary! I had not seen the little crab for weeks and thought he had finally been eating by Grabby as the experts had predicted. The two crabs and two snails are still living in the dark since they have not sent me a new light yet! The mushroom coral seems to be hanging in.

The water test results for the day were:
12 Gallon Tank: 80.7 degrees F, 1.0235 SG, pH 7.82
6 Gallon Tank: 77.4 degrees F (lower with no fluorescent lights), 1.0235 SG, pH 7.73
Make up water: 77.9 degrees F, 1.024 SG, pH 8.20

A few days later, I was wondering about these bright red "flakes" on the live rock. They did not appear to move. Then, I realized that they may be red flatworms (planaria). I did finally see some move. From what I have read on the internet, it is best to try to suck them up when I clean the tank. If things get out of control, there is a chemical called "Flatworm Exit" but I have not been able to find out what chemical is actually in it, and the on-line stores I use are all sold out of it. They claim it is safe but people who have used it have had problems with other animals being affected (and not just from the death of the planaria which apparently exude toxic chemicals upon death).

On 9/6/08, I did the usual cleanings. In the 12 gallon, first, I moved one of my scarlet reef hermit crabs as he/she was eating my fuzzy tip macroalgae! I watched him/her pull off some of the white part. By the time I got him/her off, the thing had bent over and probably will not make it now. I think though that my pineapple sponge may be growing in the same spot, although it is so tiny, it is hard to tell. I then sucked up some red flatworms. I took the wider vacuum attachment off of the vacuum and used the tube to suck them up. They came off easily. I probably only got about a dozen. Later in the day, I would look in the tank and see another dozen all over so there are plenty; I will have to remove them weekly as with the bubble algae. While I never really saw the flatworms move in the tank, once in the bucket, it was obvious they were indeed flatworms as they were moving around. It is weird though since they are rectangular and not shaped like freshwater worms of any sort. Then, I removed a few bubble algae with the big tweezers. I also tried to pull some more Caulerpa off the rock with the zooanthids. It is spreading like mad, and those corals are not doing well now. When I was scraping the hard green algae off the front glass, I barely touched the Duncan coral's base, and it came off. So, I had to put new epoxy on it. That stuff just does not stick well!

I still do not have a new lid for the 6 gallon! The mushroom coral has been in the dark for 16 days now! I wish I could go smack someone in the head; it should not take this long.

The water test results for the day were:
12 Gallon Tank: 78.2 degrees F, 1.024 SG, pH 7.92
6 Gallon Tank: 76.5 degrees F (lower with no fluorescent lights), 1.0245 SG, pH 7.82
Make up water: 77.3 degrees F, 1.0245 SG, pH 8.21

I also used the dip sticks on those three water samples . The results were all zero for nitrite and nitrate, all about 300 ppm for alkalinity (results I know to be higher than reality), and pH's of 8.4, 8.4, and 8.8 respectively which are obviously wrong as the pH meter results above should be accurate (I calibrated the meter this day too).

On 9/9/08, the replacement lid for the 6 gallon nano cube tank finally arrived! The mushroom coral was without light for 19 days! It took them 18 full days (11 business days) to ship what they said would take 7 to 10 days! It was not easy to get the lids switched out but I managed to do it. Now, I have to wait for algae to grow before getting any more animals and hope the lid does not fail again!

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