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The evolution of a living tank...FYI

Posted 01/17/2017 at 04:50 PM by Sk8r

There was a time the earth was pretty much rock and water.
Somewhere, probably around volcanic deep sea vents, in the pores of the rocks, life got started, chains of amino acids, dna, rna, etc---and we got, yes, slime.
We got algae.
We got cyanobacteria which happily took up carbon and water and spat out oxygen after absorbing energy from the sun (photosynthesis)---this was a bad thing for things that didn't like oxygen, but it was good for, well, everybody who wasn't a microbe liking other things.

We got wiggle. Little worms. Animacules. Eventually shelled things. And the bacteria that colonized the rock and sand prospered off the poo and eventual death. Goes-around comes-around. Things just got bigger, more than multi-celled: tailed and finned and such.

This is the process that goes on in your tank as you cycle and as the rock and sand head toward life. You're not going to 'evolve' worms, but you're going to support them; you're going to have little no-see-ums reproducing, bacteria dividing and multiplying, and little shelled amphipods and copepods turning up to eat the green stuff, and worms to process slime and cyano to, well, annoy you with its look, but it doesn't hurt much.

Eventually you work your chemistry toward a reliable support for a chain of life. You have to edit just a bit and relegate the algae and cyano to your sump, but in generally, you can nicely support the worms and little crustaceans as helpful to your purposes. You then try to arrange a list of critters that do not COMPRISE a food chain, but that can take advantage of the life in your tank---sponges and corals filter the water---blennies eat algae, gobies and jawfish eat detritus, and so on up... you balance all this in a reasonable way, allowing for rapid growth to adult size (usually within a year)---

So don't freak when something turns up alive in your tank. It's generally supposed to. Be suspicious of crabs. That's the most common troublesome hitchhiker, because you tend to want fish, which are on the menu of, well, yes, crabs. Beware of any algae with roots. But outside of that, just kind of get a nice magnifying glass and a red flashlight for night, and enjoy. A lot of life happens in your tank that's just seredipitous and uncontrolled...learn to enjoy it, and wear gloves if it's ooky. You and it will both be happier with gloves between you.

If you spot something really truly scary, nab it to the sump or a dish, get a photo, and ask. Chances are its still a good guy. And we have that lovely ID thread up among the stickies: just keep scrolling...

In general, you're kind of replicating what went on in the early earth---hoping to skip the Permian extinction and the asteroid. But watch it go: there's a LOT to watch go on, day by day.
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