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  1. #21
    Senior Member macphoto's Avatar
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    1/25/06: Indo-Pacific Sea Farms order is in.

    My IPSF order arrived today. I'm really mixed regarding the "I paid $100 for THIS?" reaction that some people have. In other words, I'm not thrilled, but I'm not terribly disappointed either.

    The order was packed in a styrofoam box, and heat packs were included, but apparently they had run out by the time the package reached me (was send FedEx 2-day), as the contents were quite cool, and the heat packs didn't seem to be giving off any heat at all. But all the snails, hermits, and worms appear to have survived. The amphipods, I'm not so sure about (more on that in a bit).

    I had planned to put the WonderMud in the refugium, and the Live Sand Activator in the main tank. However, the LSA was not quite what I expected... instead of sand, it consisted of fairly coarse crushed coral (but with quite a few little creatures crawling around in it, including a tiny starfish). Because I didn't want pebbles mixed in with my sand bed, I decided to add both the WonderMud and the LSA to the refugium, and the bristleworms that were bagged separately (the LSA had plenty of worms in it), hermits, and most of the snails to the main tank. Regarding the WonderMud, I don't know what was in there, because I was not able to see through the murky water after I dumped it in a plastic container.

    The hermits (appear to be dwarf zebras) are quite industrious... as soon as I added them to the tank, they were immediately scurrying around to find things to do. Likewise, the snails all dispersed from where I dropped them.

    The amphipods were acclimated and added to the refugium. I saw movement in the bag, but looking in the refugium now, I see a few large carcasses on the sand, so obviously some did not make it. Hopefully there will be enough left to build a good population. I do see numerous smaller bug-like creatures crawling around in there, but I think most of those were from the LSA.

    The other components of the "Amphipod Breeding Kit" were a bag of flaked food, and what was supposed to be the "Pod Mat" ("their preferred breeding habitat... a lush green mat of Ulva macroalgae"). However, I received some additional "Tang Heave Red" instead (I guess they were out of the Ulva).

    In short, I was not blown away by this package, but I do not feel that it was a total waste either. At a bare minimum, I got about 15 neat hermits, a dozen or so snails, quite a few bristle worms, and a lot of other little creatures that will hopefully reproduce.



    "Yes, I'll have the bristleworm and snail soup please."








    (I've since moved the macroalgae to the rear of the refugium)







    --Mike
    Last edited by macphoto; 01-25-2006 at 11:26 PM.





  2. #22
    Senior Member macphoto's Avatar
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    2/1/06: A few new additions.

    Added a Royal Gramma today. The LFS had two of them, one a bit bigger than the other. I ended up with the smaller one, because the larger one looked pretty beat up (tail fin was torn up quite a bit).

    He looks healthy, and after acclimating him using my quasi-drip method (adding tank water to the LFS water a half cup or so at a time), I placed him in the tank, at which time he promptly disappeared into the rocks. I'd post a pic, but I haven't really seen him much since then! I had a hard time convincing my wife that I actually did indeed buy a fish today. "He's in there, trust me!"

    I know I'm rolling the dice with not quarantining this fish... hope it doesn't come back to bite me.

    I also added a couple of peppermint shrimp. These guys are pretty fun to watch... they hang upside down in the rock and sway from side to side. One of them appears to be carrying eggs!

    --Mike



  3. #23
    Senior Member macphoto's Avatar
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    1/8/06: Some good things, one bad thing...

    Things are going pretty well. The Royal Gramma has overcome the shyness he exhibited the first day, and is now spending much of his time during the day swimming in the open. He's eating well.




    He and the clowns are getting along really well. At first, when the clowns realized there was a new fish in the tank, they were both very interested in him. Eventually one of them got bored and went back to his usual spot on the other side of the tank, but the other was apparently obsessed with the gramma. I wouldn't call his behavior "harassing"... more like "annoying". I got the impression that this was the first time this clown had really seen a fish that didn't look like himself, and he was fascinated by this newcomer of purple and gold. All evening, he hovered right outside the rock that the gramma had made his home, and every time the gramma would be brave enough to come out and explore a bit, the clown would follow him around (not aggressively, just curiously), which I think kinda creeped out the gramma, as he would scoot back into his hole a few moments later.

    Eventually, the clown had seen enough and lost interest. Now all three of them hang out together.






    The peppermint shrimp (2) are doing well also.

    Sadly, the same is not the case for the serpent star. Several days ago, I saw that he had lost an arm. I also noticed that he didn't seem to have an appetite like he used to. Before, he'd rush out to grab the shrimp pellets I'd drop for him, or whatever other bits of food happened to fall nearby. But now he seemed to have no interest in food at all. He was still moving around to different parts of the rockwork, but he showed no signs of eating. On a few occasions, I tried to drop a shrimp pellet down to him, but the peppermints kept running over and snatching them.

    I also noticed a red blister-like mark on his the top of his central disk. I decided to move him down to the refugium. Though not exactly a hospital tank, I figured this would be his best chance, since he wouldn't have to compete with crabs and shrimp for food. Getting to him involved removing a few pieces of rock, but it wasn't too hard.

    Once in the refugium, I proceeded to try and feed him. He seemed unable to do the "grab the whole thing with his arm and bring it to his mouth" thing as before. A few times, a small bit of food ended up on the underside of an arm, and he was able to use those "hairs" to transport the food towards his mouth. But, he could never actually get it into his mouth, and would end up dropping it. It was very sad.

    Yesterday evening, I was shocked by how much his condition had deteriorated. There were a few "ruptures" on his back, with some red inner tissue sticking out. Clearly, he was not going to survive, and was probably suffering. I had to euthanize him.

    I wonder if perhaps I didn't acclimate him long enough. Or, I've read that some starfish cannot tolerate being exposed to air (he was briefly exposed to air both at the LFS and when I first put him in the tank). But he seemed to be doing so well for the first several days.


    In other news, I'm pretty sure there are a hundred or so baby snails growing in the tank.




    There are more of these things on the back glass and overflow than I can count.





    You can see them (little white dots) on the overflow in this pic, and there are a similar number all across the back glass.

    Added in edit: Forgot to mention, I'm definitely seeing 'pod population growth in the refugium... I observed last night for a while, and there are quite a few small ones crawling around in there now.

    --Mike
    Last edited by macphoto; 02-09-2006 at 12:24 AM.



  4. #24
    Senior Member macphoto's Avatar
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    3/12/06: Mama Mia!

    A few weeks after adding the hermit crabs and IPSF stuff, I noticed a few red strings partially wrapped around the remains of a dead blue-leg hermit. A spaghetti worm, I presume?

    Here's what it looks like now...





    I don't know enough about these things to be able to tell whether this is one single spaghetti worm with lots of "noodles", or several worms. But it's blossomed into an impressive mass of red strands that appears to be thriving. Observing during feedings, it appears that this is a really good spot for this kind of creature... the currents of the tank, with the v-shaped "funnel" of these two rocks that it's wedged between always seem to force a few morsels of food to this spot.

    Unfortunately, some other creatures have discovered this place too.





    The amazing thing is that the bristle worms were just added a few months ago, and they were very small... now, there are several quite large (maybe 5 inches log) specimens roaming the tank. This one has taken up residence in the little cave right behind the spaghetti worm, and when the spaghetti worm happens to catch a piece of food, a wrestling match ensues between him, the bristle worm, and whatever hermits or shrimp happen to be in the area at the time (the spaghetti worm usually ends up losing). It must be incredibly frustrating to have to sit there and wait for whatever food happens to roll by, only to have it taken away from you when it finally arrives! But he does eventually get soemthing to eat.






    These little white bug-like creatures are all over the overflow box. I guess they're a 'pod of some sort, though they are definitely not the same as the IPSF 'pods that are in the refugium. And, on the topic of 'pods, the population in the refugium is doing quite well, but I've been disappointed to find neither the clowns nor the gramma seem to have a taste for them. I've sucked up a few with a turkey baster and squirted them into the tank, and usually one of the fish will come over and maybe nip at it once, but that's all.






    Down in the refugium and in the main tank, some of the snail eggs have hatched, and tiny baby snails are now roaming the glass.

    Also, I think there are some tiny brittle stars in the main tank, as I've seen little white legs poking out from underneath rocks.

    In short, the tank seems to be doing quite well... my wife is genuinely surprised that the fish have survived this long! I haven't done too many water changes (5% each, once every 3 or 4 weeks), but nitrates are still undetectable.

    I'm looking forward to adding a few new residents after my out-of-town assignment later this month.

    --Mike



  5. #25
    Senior Member macphoto's Avatar
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    4/1/06: Just as the tank is starting to mature nicely...

    Things are going great in the tank. I'm starting to see some coralline growth, the snails are reproducing like bunnies, there are lots of interesting creatures residing in the sand and rocks, and I've got the rockscaping just how I want it.

    What now? Well, we're moving.

    That's the bad news. The good news is that we're moving practically right around the corner from our current house (takes about a minute to get there), and we're not selling this house until a month or two after we've moved into the new place (still have a little work left to do here before we can sell it), both of which I'm sure will make the transfer go much smoother than it would under other conditions.

    But still, I'm not looking forward to having to totally empty the tank, massively disrupting the non-fish residents living in the rock and sand. The fish I'm not too worried about. I'll get the quarantine tank up and running at the new place and move the fish, along with however many snails and hermits I can round up, over there so that they can have a stable habitat while the main tank is emptied and moved afterwards.

    The other bad news is that, although I don't know for certain, I doubt I'll be able to find a spot in the new place that is so perfect in terms of having plumbing right there in the wall. So, I'll have to hook up the RO/DI in the laundry area, and figure out a way to transport top-off water to the storage tank in the stand.

    This is going to be a mighty big task, and I'm not looking forward to it at all! But we can no longer cope with the repetitive flooding of this house (once every 5 years since 1995)... the new place, knock on wood, has never flooded.

    --Mike



  6. #26
    Senior Member macphoto's Avatar
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    7/27/06: A long overdue update!

    Well, it's been a while! The tank seems to have fully recovered from the move. Bristle worms, 'pods, tiny starfish, spaghetti worms... they all appear to be thriving. I'm pretty sure my lack of netting skills is what killed the Royal Gramma (it took me so long to catch him, chasing him all over the tank with the net, it must have stressed him out too much), but the Clowns are fine.

    I've also added more fish... a Yellow Tang (finally!), and a Coral Beauty.





    Other additions include a couple of porcelan crabs, and a cleaner shrimp (they were camera-shy tonight).

    The contrast between the activity levels of these new fish vs. the Clowns is notable. The Clowns seem to hover in one spot most of the time. But the newer fish (especially the Tang) seem so "busy" all the time. The Tang zips to one side of the tang and picks at something on a piece of rock, zips over to the other side and savagely attacks the piece of seaweed I put out for him, darts down to the bottom to investigate a hermit crab or something, and never seems to stop. The Coral Beauty seems to really enjoy swooping in and out of the rockwork. When I put the tank back together, one of my goals with the rockscaping was to provide more caves and crevices, and apparently I was successful... this guy can move from one side of the tank to the other without being seen just by snaking around through the rocks.


    Here's how the tank looks in our new living room...




    The thing that I like about this arrangement is that I can sit in the recliner and watch the tank from the front... at the old house, the only place to sit and watch the tank was on the left side.

    The RO/DI is outside now, directly on the other side of the wall where the aquarium is (in a cabinet, to hopefully protect it from freezing, though winters down here are generally mild), with the feed line coming through the wall.


    Here's a closer shot of the tank...




    My wife and I freaked out when our first electricity bill came... this new house has considerably more square footage than our old house, and when combined with a 30 year old inefficient A/C unit that, although properly sized for when the house was first built, is now undersized considering the additions that have been made by the previous owners, the little unit struggles to keep up, resulting in a much higher electricity bill. Upgrading the A/C is on our list of things to do.

    In the meantime, even though I liked to keep it 76 - 78 during the day, and 72 - 74 at night, we now set the thermostat to 82 during the day and 79 at night. I was a bit concerned about the aquarium getting too hot, especially during the day. So, I added a 4-fan unit inside the canopy.



    This was bought from drsfosterandsmith.com. I had been through several of those cheap clip-on fans, but for some reason they kept dying on me (I guess it was the moisture). Plus, they were kinda awkward to mount and position properly.

    After noticing that this new fan seemed to almost cool too much (the heaters were coming on), to avoid excess evaporation, I put the fan on a simple timer. During the day, when it's the hottest, it runs almost constantly, but at night, I have it run for an hour, then shut off for an hour or two. The result is that the tank stays in the 78 - 80 range.

    --Mike



  7. #27
    Its ALWAYS Ashes2Ashes Fault! Reefscape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neoprodigy View Post
    its always Niko's Fault!... Thanks Niko!



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