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greaps
08/30/2017, 07:00 PM
Hi, I'v been thinking about different display tanks and an idea came to mind that I need some help with. I like fresh water planted tanks with the open aquascapes and carpeting plants. Would this be possible with Caulerpa?

The idea is a large tank at 120g a shallow sand bed, and one dominate caulerpa species. The two I like most are Caulerpa Mexicana and Caulerpa Prolifera.
Both Species are a nice color and don't grow to tall. The Mexicana being shorter and probably the one id select.

What I would want to avoid is it massing on-top of each other. I would like to keep it full and low.

I'll number these questions to make replying simpler. Assume Caulerpa Mexicana primarily, and Prolifera as a bonus if you like.

1. How does caulerpa respond to aggressive cutting, like taking a scissor and cutting for height. Do the leafs cut die off, does it affect or kill it off at the stem? Do cutting float upward or sink?


2. Assuming I get rapid growth with dosing if needed to correct for plant health, how often would one need to trim back to manage a tank like I described above? Once a week? Twice a week?

3. Clean up crew? Algae Blenny safe?

4. Filtration? I plan skimmer, and socks (possible roller fleece if new ones come online).

5. Feasible? Or a nightmare? I am looking to create a very bright and green tank with movement treated similarly to a FOWLR, but with small reef safe fish, macros and handful of inverts. Red Grap Caulerpra would possibly be added at some time as well. Corals I would probably include down the road, be some mushrooms and gorgonians.


Thanks for any help. Really want to know about the cutting it back part most of all.

Michael Hoaster
08/31/2017, 12:54 AM
So you're attempting a marine version of a fresh water planted tank. That's a great idea! What you're proposing sounds cool, with a low and full ground cover of C. mexicana. I've done just that with C. racemosa peltata, but I don't have experience with mexicana.

I think most of the caulerpas respond well to pruning, assuming they are growing and happy. You would need to prune regularly to manage the low look. When it is really growing, you'll prune weekly. Cuttings sink.

For clean up crew, start with live sand to start the bottom of the food chain, plus assorted pods and Cerith snails, which reproduce to match their need. Later, one fighting conch and/or one sea cucumber, depending on need. You may also consider a small amount of live rock to add diversity.

I think herbivorous blennies ignore macro algae. They're more of a kisser, on the rocks and glass, for micro algae. It's possible the fish could harm your plants, while foraging, but not much, so blenny it up!

No mechanical filtration needed. The plants and the detrivore community will take care of that. Skimmers compete with plants. Socks enslave you.

Feasible, nightmare? Yep. It sounds awesome.

http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391470
My thread, Caribbean Biotope Seagrass Tank could be helpful.

Good luck!

BonesCJ
09/01/2017, 12:24 AM
I have a starry blenny with prolifora, mexicana and SERTULARIODES and i found the finer the plant structure the more likely he is to eat it. That being said prolifora and mexicana appear to be doing fine with him.

greaps
09/01/2017, 10:40 AM
I have a starry blenny with prolifora, mexicana and SERTULARIODES and i found the finer the plant structure the more likely he is to eat it. That being said prolifora and mexicana appear to be doing fine with him.

Between Prolifora and Mexicana which on is deeper, brighter green? When I see them in most pictures they appear dim, which I can't tell if its bluer spectrum's doing this or the plants.

I know plant health also affects this too... but help if you do see a difference.

greaps
09/01/2017, 10:47 AM
So you're attempting a marine version of a fresh water planted tank. That's a great idea! What you're proposing sounds cool, with a low and full ground cover of C. mexicana. I've done just that with C. racemosa peltata, but I don't have experience with mexicana.

I think most of the caulerpas respond well to pruning, assuming they are growing and happy. You would need to prune regularly to manage the low look. When it is really growing, you'll prune weekly. Cuttings sink.

For clean up crew, start with live sand to start the bottom of the food chain, plus assorted pods and Cerith snails, which reproduce to match their need. Later, one fighting conch and/or one sea cucumber, depending on need. You may also consider a small amount of live rock to add diversity.

I think herbivorous blennies ignore macro algae. They're more of a kisser, on the rocks and glass, for micro algae. It's possible the fish could harm your plants, while foraging, but not much, so blenny it up!

No mechanical filtration needed. The plants and the detrivore community will take care of that. Skimmers compete with plants. Socks enslave you.

Feasible, nightmare? Yep. It sounds awesome.

http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391470
My thread, Caribbean Biotope Seagrass Tank could be helpful.

Good luck!

Thank you for all that good information! Especially about the pruning part.

Interesting on going no mechanical filtration. Almost seems like one could go sump-less. I'm trying to imagine what I would want to have a sump for if I didn't run mechanical and skimming. I think I could hide a fancy heater like a cobalt neotherm without ruining the overall display.

Michael Hoaster
09/01/2017, 11:18 AM
You're very welcome! I agree, a sump is much less necessary without filtration and skimming. I have no sump on my 180, but I do have an in/out flow-through partition wall, on a closed loop. That is where I hide my heater. I've heard them called side-sumps.

BonesCJ
09/01/2017, 01:52 PM
Yeah my sump has nothing beyond some LR, my return and a in the water mechanical filter that I run if I stir up a bunch of debris in the tank.

Also I would say Prolifora is what I would most compare to the color of grass, its a nice green color.

I've got a build thread with pics here in the Marine Plants and Macro forum if you want to see for yourself.

greaps
09/01/2017, 05:49 PM
Looking to create a level sand bed and grow a 4-8 inch deep bed of Caulerpa across the entire tank bottom. From what I can tell Caulerpa Prolifera is what I'm looking for. I found an older refugium video on youtube which showed a healthy bed of it.

https://youtu.be/DTVXyUuMKUw

I hope that I could establish a tank to look like that. But obviously it would look better on larger tank with more open swim space.

His macro's appear very healthy, has me wondering what could be added to the sand bed to get better growth or if anything at all.

1. What substrate to go with? I'v seen some build threads including both of yours now once its in, its in. Is there a composition you would go with now that your tank is on its way? I have a couple ideas on this.

A.) 1-1.5 inch bed of Tampa Bay Live Sand ( appears a mix of grain size)
B.) 1-1.5 inch bed of generic fine grain live sand.

Between both options were talking mostly grain size, and obviously biodiversity. I assume we allow detritus to settle into the sand bed, to provide nutrients back

2. Lighting; How many hours per day? I have two ideas for lighting and both would involve a less intense period before and after full intensity. The first option is
A.) Two Hamilton 150W DE reflectors with 10k bulbs and a 2 bulb T5 retro for longer viewing hours and dawn dusk effect using a combo I like purple+ and Blue+.
B) ATI 6 bulb Sun Power 48 inch with a 10k bulb selection in the area of:
B+
ABS
ABS(Possible a GE6500k)
ABS
Purple+
Blue+

C.)4 bulb T5, and or something else, thinking about it, are A.) and B.) to intense?

In the end I think the halides with shimmer and shadows would be more interesting display, But T5 would also work well, and be easier to implement, have less heat, less cords, cleaner hanging options.

Michael Hoaster
09/01/2017, 06:52 PM
Since macros are not higher plants, they don't have roots, so sand bed fertilization doesn't help. They do have holdfasts, which look like roots, but don't act like roots. Either of your sand choices will work, but I'm pretty sure both of them are only seeded with bacteria-not worms and pods, etc. In my opinion, you'd be better off buying dead sand then topping it with GCE's live sand (liveplantsdotcom). It is the best live sand I've found, with lots of the good stuff!

Yes, allowing detritus to settle on the sand bed (like in nature) puts it right where detrivores can process it, essentially turning it into plant food.

greaps
09/01/2017, 08:35 PM
Since macros are not higher plants, they don't have roots, so sand bed fertilization doesn't help. They do have holdfasts, which look like roots, but don't act like roots. Either of your sand choices will work, but I'm pretty sure both of them are only seeded with bacteria-not worms and pods, etc. In my opinion, you'd be better off buying dead sand then topping it with GCE's live sand (liveplantsdotcom). It is the best live sand I've found, with lots of the good stuff!

Yes, allowing detritus to settle on the sand bed (like in nature) puts it right where detrivores can process it, essentially turning it into plant food.

Thanks for so much help today. Great, going to save more money now on substrate.

Michael Hoaster
09/02/2017, 01:30 AM
It's a pleasure to help!

Have you considered incorporating some hardscape into your design? A small amount of live rock could add some visual variation and bio diversity. I have ten pounds in my 180.

greaps
09/02/2017, 08:43 AM
Have you considered incorporating some hardscape into your design? A small amount of live rock could add some visual variation and bio diversity. I have ten pounds in my 180.

I always imagined rock and rubble as just safe surface area for them to reproduce. I wouldn't be against tossing in like 10 lbs of rubble at the start. I want to achieve uniform height or close to it.


I have a couple ideas and more daily for down the road after the tank is grown in and I have it stocked with fish and stable. Getting stable will be interesting with what I can tell from reading other macro tank threads, it will require dosing.


An idea I have is to use Acrylic rods of varying heights to elevate and mount other macro algae and or corals above the caulerpa bed and minimize shadowing. I had an idea to build a small cage out of egg crate and put dragons breath into it, and grow it out beyond the crate then then trim to a ball. Giving us some red and oranges and things for fish to swim around mid level. Eventually I could envision simple SPS as well but could also put a frogspawn or hammer on it in lower positions if I'm not satisfied or want to experiment growing coral in this environment.





Additionally during weekly or biweekly maintenance I could pull the rod up, and clean off anything growing on or around it. It would also make the corals appear to be floating if the rods can be kept clean. Temporarily removing rods would make trimming macro easier as well.



Its kind of a radical idea for a display, and I'm not committed to it. I could start slowly and see how it goes and pull it out if its not looking good. I'v seen acrylic rods used in tanks before and if clean they literally disappear. I have seen people use stacks of tile and or pvc pipes for a coral mounts which looked utilitarian and interesting to me.

I'm not planning a crowded display for now, and will have to see if it looks good and go from there.

But all that is down the road stuff, and this is just one idea of many.

greaps
09/02/2017, 08:47 AM
Updated Idea on the Acrylic Rod idea. Buy one large sheet of starboard. Make 1.5-2 inch square or round pieces. Silicone / Stack them 3-4 inches tall forming 1.5-2 inch wide and 4 inch tall blocks. Drill a hole centered through the entire block and ensure a snug fit for acrylic rod with and silicone it to the glass bottom.

This would make pulling the rods free to clear macro around it and wiping off film algae easy. More difficult algae like coraline could be cleaned out of tank with vinegar on a less periodic basis. It would also be very secure to bottom and not tilt due to growth, current, sand shifting or bumping during maintenance.


The arrangement would be semi-permanent, so many more rod bases would need to be secured than used. I would probably go with a uniform rows and spacing but not utilize them uniformly when stocking them. Maybe make them 6 inches apart across the length of tank with 6 inches of space from the side panels. Maybe 3 rows deep maybe 2 rows deep. Giving 12- 18 rod mounting locations for corals and or macro.

greaps
09/18/2017, 07:49 PM
Purchased two different strands of caulerpa for a 20g nuvo black (skimmer-less) tank I have now to get a first hand look at Mexicana and Prolifera. It should be here in 3-4 days.

Going to secure each one to opposite sides of the tank. The tank only has a couple frags that survived Irma. 2 hammers and a frogspawn. No fish. No inverts.


I know it will help the plants to have some fish, so I'll probably get 1-2 small fish to get it going.
Any suggestions for some cheap commonly available clean up crew thats macro safe to buy?

greaps
09/27/2017, 07:55 AM
For the 20g:
Placed an order at reef cleaners, 5 nassarus snails, and 20 dwarf cerith along with a $10 pod pack. Not sure when it will arrive, possible early next week. Going to be good to see if the dwarf cerith is the ideal clean up crew for macro algae.


As for future plans, settling on a 36X36X24 tank, thinking chromis 8+, 5-7 lyrtail anthias, and not sure what else. I think the swimming activity would be a visually interesting considering there is not going to be lots of rock work for things to swim through.

Reeferz412
09/27/2017, 10:16 AM
caulerpa lentillifera and prolifera imo are super easy to care for. I have them in an overfow that is about 4 feet wide with no substrate. Just a simple LED light over it. They are constantly being hit by water so they grow like crazy. The lentillifera grows out of the water which is pretty amazing. I got about 30 fish in between all the setups plumbed together. Got a reef octopus sro-3000int skimming. I use filter floss in baskets as my socks. Got mangroves as well (about 40).

Michael Hoaster
09/27/2017, 11:33 PM
It sounds like things are progressing!

I'm not a fan of any man-made structures, but it's your tank, see what you come up with! You can always bail if it's hideous. Consider something that looks natural, like driftwood or live rock. Just my opinion. Have fun!

greaps
09/28/2017, 07:14 AM
It sounds like things are progressing!

I'm not a fan of any man-made structures, but it's your tank, see what you come up with! You can always bail if it's hideous. Consider something that looks natural, like driftwood or live rock. Just my opinion. Have fun!

Thanks man.

On the 20g I have some hair algae on the sand, and some caulerpa for 2 weeks now that's looking rather weak, seems to be dieing off. I ordered more prolifera to be here next week and ordered some Iron in the form of Fergon brand iron tablets which is to be disolved into water for dosing.

I don't have a means to test iron but I plan to add a little at the start, and then look for yellowing on macro.

greaps
09/28/2017, 07:25 AM
Also in regard to the man made structures, I am leaning away now after a lot of reading across the sps forums I realize I wouldn't want that kind of complication.

Chasmodes
09/28/2017, 08:32 AM
Cool project and concept! I'll be following along too.

greaps
09/28/2017, 08:49 AM
Cool project and concept! I'll be following along too.

Thanks!

Good news too looked at the small strand of caulerpa I all ready have and see some new green on it, so perhaps turning the corner.

Michael Hoaster
09/28/2017, 09:09 AM
Measuring iron isn't critical. Just follow directions from your tabs and you should be fine. There's a good article on iron by Randal Holmes Farley-I think.

greaps
09/29/2017, 09:20 AM
Been thinking about it, I don't see a need for sump. On my 20g tank now I have a water bottle filter floss mechanical filter. I think I can carry this type of filter over and expand on it.

Purchase this:
https://media.cdn.bulkreefsupply.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/515x480/f45607bf527afc542a4ab11254bcc6fe/c/p/cpr-overflow-boxwback-small.jpg

Use a stepper drill bit and attach a maxijet1200 to bottom. Purchase waterproof magnet and attach to back wall of aquarium at waterline.

Attach maxijet prefilter. And fill in the rest with filter floss.
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91xmegAc4XL._SL1500_.jpg

Then run the output on the maxijet over the back of the tank and attach an inline heater (the kind we attach to canister filter lines). Mount to wall.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41vDkPI4kZL.jpg

Finally attach this hose to a BRS Deluxe reactor, for carbon then run it back into tank.

https://media.cdn.bulkreefsupply.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/515x480/f45607bf527afc542a4ab11254bcc6fe/3/0/300182-BRS-Reactor---Deluxe-b_1.jpg

greaps
09/29/2017, 09:35 AM
The overflow - mechanical filter box would ensure surface skimming, and very easy to toss and replace filter floss media. Couple probably get a lid built on for the overflow box too.

Heater inline for one less in tank eyesore.

I suppose this could be done without a carbon reactor as well, and just mount the inline heater slightly above tank in a horizontal position before having water return to tank.

Michael Hoaster
09/29/2017, 12:15 PM
Surface skimming on a closed loop, with an inline heater-sounds like a cool idea!

I have tried some carbon dosing, both with bio pellets and with vinegar dosing. I'm not sure it is helpful for planted tanks. It seems more applicable for reef tanks, I think. The concept makes sense-boost carbon, so nitrate and phosphate get taken up more quickly. But plants' preferred form of carbon is CO2, so I run CO2 through an external canister filter that I can try different combinations of media in. Currently, I'm running calcium reactor media in mesh bags, so I get CO2 for the plants as well as calcium for them. I have several plants that need lots of calcium, plus I get good coralline algae growth as well.

Like a lot of folks, I got an uptick of cyano bacteria with CD. I think it works best in well established tanks, rather than new ones.

I hope I'm not discouraging you. I just wanted to share my experience and thoughts. Consider a canister filter/CO2 setup for happy plants. My two cents…

greaps
09/29/2017, 03:27 PM
Surface skimming on a closed loop, with an inline heater-sounds like a cool idea!

I have tried some carbon dosing, both with bio pellets and with vinegar dosing. I'm not sure it is helpful for planted tanks. It seems more applicable for reef tanks, I think. The concept makes sense-boost carbon, so nitrate and phosphate get taken up more quickly. But plants' preferred form of carbon is CO2, so I run CO2 through an external canister filter that I can try different combinations of media in. Currently, I'm running calcium reactor media in mesh bags, so I get CO2 for the plants as well as calcium for them. I have several plants that need lots of calcium, plus I get good coralline algae growth as well.

Like a lot of folks, I got an uptick of cyano bacteria with CD. I think it works best in well established tanks, rather than new ones.

I hope I'm not discouraging you. I just wanted to share my experience and thoughts. Consider a canister filter/CO2 setup for happy plants. My two cents…

By carbon reactor I mean for activated carbon, not carbon dosing, used for water clarity. I think organic carbon dosing would hurt the macro's as they compete for nitrates and phosphates.

greaps
09/29/2017, 04:11 PM
Another easy idea I have for the tank, is a single island, the tank is will be 24 inches high so Id be shooting for about 12-18 tall by -12 inch wide rock or rock structure (cheap dry pukani).

Then allow pom pom xenia to take it over. I wouldn't even begin to attempt this idea till after I get caulerpa coverage across bottom and growing healthy and stocked with fish.

With low-medium flow the pulsing xenia would give a lot of movement to the tank.

Something I like is when the Xenia has a less white appearance like the photo attached. I hope that is a component of more day light colors, the tank wont be extremely blue with the goal of keeping caulerpa happy and bright green in color.

http://il9.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/2710313/thumb/1.jpg

I am all over the place with how to light a tank like this, extreme par is not necessary. I think shimmer adds a lot of visual interest.

greaps
09/30/2017, 05:57 PM
Possible Light Choice: (all images googled)

Hamilton Cabo Sun 250W System (the retrofit version) +$300

https://www.f3images.com/IMD/250/HT1531/Hamilton-Cabo-Sun-175W-10000K-System-99.jpg

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRdS7zdDq-Kn-w0MfqzGNsDqLyrwG8jxJ-dlyYRX1uRYtYQoEfT


Hamilton 250w 10k Bulb:
https://hamiltontechnology.com/image/cache/data/Product%20pictures/10K%20chart-600x600.jpg
Hamilton 250w 14k Bulb:
https://hamiltontechnology.com/image/cache/data/Product%20pictures/T5-14K-500x500-600x600.jpg
Hamilton 250w 20k Bulb: (probably go radium if I do a 20k to see the magic..)
https://hamiltontechnology.com/image/cache/data/Product%20pictures/20K-chart-600x600.jpg
Hamilton 250W 6500k (just kidding, although always an option and a great one for when I go freshwater planted one day haha)

Second Metal Halide retrokit Option: CoralVue Lumen Bright Large.
(similar dimensions as the hamilton but round offering more space in canopy for supplement)
(said to be hung higher)
https://cdn3.bigcommerce.com/s-3p4rgvg/products/6932/images/12058/Coralvue%252520Lumen%252520Bright%252520Mini%252520Reflector__28479.1452875129.500.750.jpg?c=2

Supplemental: Coral Box Moon 59W
(mounted at angle to maximize spread)
(I all ready own it for the 20g Nuvo Black experiment)
(not my tank these are googled images)
http://www.fish-street.com/images/products/editor/moon_demo+mix.jpg

http://www.fish-street.com/images/products/editor/MOON%20LED_ratio.jpg


I would probably buy a couple different hamilton bulbs to see how they look since I have never used metal halide before.

I understand it heat can be an issue. I could use a fan for additional cooling beyond my [email protected]

Seems like a pretty good price overall for lighting a 36X36X24 tank. I'v read this reflector can do the job. I don't know much about metal halides but I did read a Radium on the magnetic ballast is 330W.

Both light sources would provide shimmer making the display more interesting. The halide in large reflectors is extremely diffuse light which is important for plants, and hidden inside a floating canopy the retro will be so I can get away with a less than beautiful fixture.

Metal Halide 250W 630am-630pm 12hr
Supplemental 59W Coral Box Moon 6:00am-6:40am (low - ramping) 6:20pm-9:30pm (low -ramping) 9:00pm-11:00pm (moons)

greaps
10/01/2017, 07:18 PM
Mixed up a little iron to dose, following randy holmes formula. Going to dose an extremely small amount. I'll snap a picture soon of the very sad prolifera I have now. It came mailed in rather poor condition from an ebay seller but is now starting to grow.

I have additional prolifera coming in this week as well so hopefully I can propagate a large amount for when I purchase the bigger tank.

greaps
10/02/2017, 04:21 PM
Purchased 20lbs of BRS dry rock rubble to get seasoning in the 20g nuvo black. Figure it will make transplanting easier down the road with prolifera attaching to rubble rather than only sand. This way I can cut it free and have caulerpa attached to rubble like plugs that I can spread out through the upgrade later. Plus it will make for more interest in the nuvo.


For now just ghost feeding pellets a daily like I was feeding a couple clowns now that some of the macro is growing.

Imagining the big tank, and imagine it grown in, it has me thinking what fish wouldn't just disappear into the plants .Something that pops in and out of it would be interesting. I'm imaging a group of maybe 9 blue green chromis. I think a small group of 3-4 yellowtail damselfish would be cool since I imagine they would hide in the prolifera be terretorial ( but easily separated due to think plants). I don't know if they would dart in and out to keep chromis away? This might give reason for the chromis to stay more closely together due to threats? Which would be a cool look.

Still such a ways off, just coming up with ideas, chromis are something I would like to keep as free swimmers, lyretail anthias are another one i like.

Michael Hoaster
10/02/2017, 08:08 PM
In theory, carbon dosing would benefit plants. But plants greatly prefer CO2, rather than other forms of carbon. All aquatic plants are carbon limited, so when they have access to more carbon, they take up more nitrate and phosphate, and grow faster. So it wouldn't compete with plants.

Activated carbon does compete with plants, by adsorbing DOC (dissolved organic carbon). So it is not recommended for planted tanks, except for special, temporary situations, like removing harmful compounds.

greaps
10/04/2017, 09:24 AM
Snails are in.
Xenia Colony is temperature acclimating.

Tanks looking a little messy today. Caulerpa Prolifera still growing. Looking good. Going to have to think of a fish to add soon, the kids got excited to see snails, they wants a fish in this tank. I think they will like the xenia coral, they have never seen one before. Hopefully by the time they come home from school it will be doing its thing.

BonesCJ
11/15/2017, 09:00 AM
Sounds like the tank is moving along nicely! In regards to dosing I add 5 ml of Iron\Strontium twice a week and dose about 15 ml of Potassium Nitrate daily, I just had to remove a quart size zippie of Gracilaria to keep it under wraps, it was actually out competing my Caulerpa!

Subsea
11/15/2017, 12:34 PM
In theory, carbon dosing would benefit plants. But plants greatly prefer CO2, rather than other forms of carbon. All aquatic plants are carbon limited, so when they have access to more carbon, they take up more nitrate and phosphate, and grow faster. So it wouldn't compete with plants.

Activated carbon does compete with plants, by adsorbing DOC (dissolved organic carbon). So it is not recommended for planted tanks, except for special, temporary situations, like removing harmful compounds.

Plants absorb inorganic nutrients and they give off DOC. Dissolved organic carbon is composed of a library of compounds, some stain the water yellow. According to Steve Tyree, sponges absorb DOC, but exactly which components of DOC are food for sponges and which components are pollutants to tank. I don’t know. That is why, I use modest amounts of GAC and change infrequently. GAC with its unique physics (absorption) and chemistry (adsorption) will indiscriminately lock up DOC until it is removed and replaced.