It's been awhile. The tank is now officially 8 months old. And I have to say that's it's been a success. I've had to fight with some algae problems and a few deaths but on the whole, it's been a very rewarding process.
Okay, first the bad news.
In the last 8 months, these were the losses the tank suffered:
- baby regal tang (ich)
- helfrichi firefish (ich)
- 2 royal grammas (1 got lost in a rock; the 2nd wasn't healthy to begin with)
- 2 shrimp (most likely eaten by my bluejaw trigger)
- red-headed goby (most likely eaten by bluejaw trigger)
- trimma goby (most likely eaten bluejaw trigger)
- (Note: At this point, I stopped putting very tiny specimens in the tank since Pedro (the bluejaw) thinks it's food for him)
- Linksys Starfish (don't ever buy these either unless you have a very large, stable tank)
- Flowerpot Coral (don't ever buy these; they last 3 months, tops)
- Featherduster Worm (lasted about 1 week, fled it's tube and was never seen again)
- Ornate Leopard Wrasse (this broke my heart; he was gorgeous and peaceful but eventually starved to death. I later learned this is common with this type of fish. Not good for beginners due to their specialized eating habits. Most likely, my tank just didn't have enough copepods on the live rock to sustain the poor guy.)
That seems like a long list! Live and learn. On the other hand, there's a lot of good news too. Here are the successes:
- Pair of clownfish (now sexually mature). I got Bonnie and Clyde as captive-bred juveniles. They are all grown up and the OGs of the tank.
- Pair of male Banggai Cardinalfish. I was hoping Mr. and Mr. Roper would be a Mr. and Mrs. but it was not to be. However, the tank is large enough that both are happy. The dominant one definitely chases the weaker guy around but the smaller one has lots of hiding places (particularly the Elegance Coral). I actually tried to net the smaller guy out and give him to a friend for a better life but that was a disaster. So they are here to stay.
- Yellow Coris Wrasse (Louie). He has at least doubled in size!
- Scooter Blenny (Scooter). He has also grown and often displays his peacock sailfin. He's my favorite fish. I thought he wouldn't survive since he feeds on copepods and I got him only a month or two after my tank was set up. However, I think the refugium has sustained him very well. In addition, he now feeds on whatever I put in the tank.
- Royal Gramma (Phillipe). 3rd times a charm! I always wanted one for the tank. Hardy, peaceful and beautiful, my tank just wasn't complete without it. I lost the first 2 to bad luck but Phillipe is here to stay.
- Lawnmower Blenny (Earl). He helps with my algae problem but is also fascinating to watch. He likes to eat by smashing his head violently against the rock to decimate the algae, attacking his food.
- Bluejaw Trigger (Pedro). I know I shouldn't have a trigger in my reef tank but of all the triggers, he's the most peaceful. Although he's my prime suspect in the disappearance of some of the smaller denizens, he gets along really well with everyone else. Plus, he's just awesome! One of my favorites.
- Flameback Angel (Casey). Another one I shouldn't have in the reef tank. I've spotted him nipping the open brain coral a few times but other than that, he leaves the coral alone. He's a punk though, chasing everyone around (especially anyone new). Most everyone else just ignores his pugnacious attitude.
- Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse (Nahla). She wasn't expected to survive in captivity. Often these guys are fussy eaters. However, she bucks the stereotypes. She's a voracious eater and quite spunky, often stealing shrimp right out of the Buejaw's mouth! She also loves cleaning everyone in the tank, including my arm when I'm doing housekeeping chores.
- Scopas Tang (Toby). A great algae eater with a unique shape, he's similar to the ever-popular Yellow Tang but much more peaceful and a better algae eater.
- Purple Firefish (Hazel). She's the newest addition to the tank. An easy keeper (eats meat), colorful and peaceful. She's getting hazed by everyone in the tank right now (hence the name) but seems to be settling in well, thanks to plenty of hiding places in the live rock.
- 3 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp. (The Merry Maids). They molt about once a month and lay eggs constantly (they are hermaphrodites). They also clean everyone in the tank (including me!). They've grown quite large, no longer a bite-sized snack to tempt Pedro. Definitely a favorite.
- Purple Collector Urchin (Spike). He was added to help clean the algae from the tank. He does a great job although I do feed him seaweed every now and then. He can wreak havoc at night (he's nocturnal), carrying any coral that's not adhered with epoxy away on his back. I learned this the hard way.
- Clam (Libby). I never knew they came in such brilliant colors! She decided she wanted to stick herself onto the bottom of a rock with her foot. I had to rearrange the rocks a little for better viewing. She's pretty awesome. Eats phytoplankton.
- Elegance Coral. This has thrived despite all warnings against success in an aquarium setting. The largest resident of the tank and the most eye-catching.
- Xenia Coral. No longer pulsing or growing as rapidly as it once did, however, it still claims a large territory on the rock.
- Frogspawn. Easy keeper. Loves to eat.
- Open Brain Coral. Not thriving as much as I'd hoped. It might do better with more frequent feedings.
- Leather Coral. Has at least doubled in size.
- Daisy Polyps. Easy keepers, fast growing, not aggressive. A real joy after the flowerpot debacle.
- Various mushrooms. Has grown exponentially. Are very colorful and wonderful.
- Various zoanthids. They have been growing rather slowly but finally are growing and finally thriving.
- Plate coral. The first SPS I've introduced into the tank. Hasn't really taken off yet. I think my tank is definitely more of a softie tank. Just not enough light (and no interest in adding more light, based on temp issues and very high electric bill).
- Clove polyps (Clavularia). Very hardy. Looks like a cross between xenia and daisy polyps. Very cool!