Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stay Tuned...

I have LOTS of pics coming soon. Stay tuned for pics of our recent additions:

1. Spike, the Sea Urchin

2. Feather Duster Worm

3. Tiny Tim, our adoreable, miniscule Red-Headed Goby

4. Kobe, our new Scopas Tang

5. Montipora Plate Coral (our first SPS addition!)

Our tank is doing really well. We've had some minor things here and there, but overall, everything is awesome.

1. Algae update:
It took a few weeks to see the reduction in (hair) algae growth after reducing the light and feedings. We're now feeding only once a day and the light period has been reduced to 8 for the days and 10 for the blues. However, combined with weekly 20% water changes, addition of a sea urchin and some more snails, and vigorous scrubbing with a toothbrush, I'm happy to report that I'm winning the battle. I'm hoping to be able to cut back to 20% bi-monthly changes in the next few months. Mostly because, weekly water changes are A LOT of work!

2. Strangely Low Calcium and Alklanity Readings:
After our local go-to aquarium expert (Mike) said to start checking our calcium, I noticed it was low. It's always been on the low side anyway (calcium 420 ppm and alkalinity 8 dkH). I began adding the Bi-Ionic 2-part buffers to boost levels. Following the directions and adding conservatively (10 ml each for our 75 gallon tank), nothing happened. At the same time, our Elegance and Open Brain Corals began to look a little withered. I have been finding it necessary to add 40 ml each 3x a week to keep levels at 8 dkH and 440 ppm (calcium)! That's just absurd. Mike said I should be adding maybe 10 ml per week, if that. However, upon adding buffers, I noticed our coral perked up (the Elegance and Brain). I also saw an increase in coralline algae growth. The only thing we could think of is that we perhaps used distilled instead of RO water. We have been going to the grocery store and filling our buckets with the vending machine out front, instead of going to the LFS for RO. Maybe the Albertson's vending machine dispenses distilled? Back to the LFS for all our RO. No more second guessing.

3. Other Minor Happenings:
The Open Brain Coral appreciated being relocated to a lower flow area in the tank on the open substrate. It took some moving around in "mushroom city". Our low flow section of the tank is now densely populated; however, the Brain loves it. He blossomed, opened up, and expanded his tentacles almost immediately.

I replaced some of the old, nasty macroalgae in the refugium with fresh, new green stuff. Every week, I had been pulling some old out to allow room for new growth. This worked well for several months. Over the last several weeks, I noticed less growth of the macroalgae but unfortunately, rapid growth of the nasty, red microalgae. However, upon close inspection, I spotted a dense population of pods (they look like little bugs! Gross!). Not wanting to disturb them, I only removed a fraction of the old macroalgae before adding a ton of new. I think this was a good move. I now can safely say that it's good to replace the macroalgae with some new every 3 months or so.

I absolutely LOVE our automatic top-off dispenser. No more twice daily water top offs! Plus, it maintains a more stable salinity.

Our tank temperature dropped for the first time. Thank you cool fall weather! NOTE: Now that it's fall, don't forget to check to make sure your heaters are working! I was happy to see the little light indicator blink on our heater in the sump. Our temp is 78-79 for the first time (It was 80-81 over the summer). I can finally turn off the 3rd fan in the sump to save some energy (our other two are in the canopy by the lights and are temp regulated).

4. Tank Reports:
I'm happy to report that 2 out of 3 of our cleaner shrimp (the Merry Maids) are pregnant! Yes, they have millions of little eggs on their abdomens. Yay! That's a sure sign of a happy tank.

I've also spotted growth in our mushroom coral. I've been a little disappointed with the zoanthids. They're healthy but not growing as quickly as I expected.

The xenia is the one coral that's not doing so hot. Ever since moving around the rockwork (which caused the loss of our first Royal Gramma, Phillip) a few months ago, the xenia, which had been growing like a weed, suddenly stopped. However, it was still fully opened and pulsing. I could deal with that. Now, it's been wilting and pulsing very weakly. Maybe it has something to do with our odd water parameters (although xenia doesn't really care about alkalinity and calcium so much since it's a soft coral, there may be other trace elements it needs that the water is lacking which I haven't measured). I hope relying on the LFS RO water fixes this.

Stay tuned for pics!

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