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Old 09/24/2017, 10:48 AM   #2726
Chasmodes
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Thanks for the update!

Lookin' fantastic! Lots of color and only going to get better. Are you going to keep the Caulerpa and prune or try to get rid of it?

The sailfin blennies are cool. How are the barnacle blennies doing?


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Old 09/24/2017, 05:37 PM   #2727
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Less technology more biology

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Me too! Making my tank look like a natural place is the goal. I have truly enjoyed my fake wall. It's a fascinating challenge, combining random, encrusting organisms with things like plants that you purposely plant. Last weekend, while pruning, it occurred to me that what I'm doing is basically gardening, with the added complication of ecosystem building, all in a pretty confined, underwater environment. Aquarists are an ambitious bunch, aren't we?

I feel like I'm learning a lot more about the natural world, utilizing nature's players, to achieve some semblance of balance. It seems so normal to me, yet I often feel like a very tiny minority, in this rather tech-obsessed hobby. Where some see excessive detritus, they think mechanical filtration, and I think detrivores. To each, his own!

Michael,
John Tullock put it so eloquently in his book "The Natural
Aquarium, "Less technology more biology". His central theme was designing compatiable ecosystems: either a pivitol species or a biotheme. Your Caribbean seagrass biotheme is well balanced and a delighht to look at. I gave up on seagrass and went the macro route because, imo, it was much easier.
I have numerous mollies that have been acclimated to 1.026 SpG. Because I have differrent species in the same tank, over 50 mollies in 55G tank, they have crossbred with crazy color combinations. I use them for algae control in macro propagation tanks. Yesterday, I moved 5G of Grape Caulerpa into 150G Rubbermade tanks buried in the ground. Included in the matrix of macro was amphipods and copepods. My goal was to house macro and pods that required minimal electrical cost for heating water. To that end, I will make a collection trip for wild green mollies and convert to salt water. Live Aquaria has six differfent species of pods. I plan on putting these in Rubbermade tanks. I have three 150G tanks buried in ground for geothermal heating and cooling. Tanks are at differrent levels which facilitates pumping from #1 at the bottom to #3 at the top. Tanks #2 & #3 will have macro and pods. I am using Grape Caulerpa in #3 and Chaetomorphy in #2 and C. Prolifera and mollies in #1.

Three years ago, I ran these tanks with diver collected uncured live rock along side Edwards Plateau dense holy rock. The idea was to sell econominal live rock. The electrical cost became unrealistic to make money and I pulled the plug on the project. I will try hardy pods and macro.

Can you suggest any other macros that would do well in this ecosystem?


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Old 09/24/2017, 06:06 PM   #2728
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Thanks Chasmodes! I've decided not to fight the return of caulerpa racemosa. Having looked at pics of the tank with and without, I decided I like it better with. Not to mention it's a battle I don't think I can win! I could have worse problems-like NOT being able to grow caulerpa!

All the blennies are doing well. Unfortunately, I lost the last two of the blue chromis, in QT. Huge bummer. I'd give them another try, but I'm very gun shy at this point. It sucks because they are perfect for my tank, but losing every single one makes it seem I wasn't meant to keep them. Oh well.

I meant to get in there and prune today, but I went for a bike ride and now I have no gumption…


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Old 09/24/2017, 06:16 PM   #2729
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Subsea, it's great to hear from you again! Thanks for the compliments! Still charming the ladies with your macro salads?

I agree with you on the seagrass! PITA!

The only other macro I might suggest for you would be ulva. Grows fast. Pods and pretty much all herbivores love to eat it as well. Sounds like a cool project!


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Old 09/24/2017, 09:54 PM   #2730
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Talking

[QUOTE=Michael Hoaster;25224114]Subsea, it's great to hear from you again! Thanks for the compliments! Still charming the ladies with your macro salads?

I agree with you on the seagrass! PITA!

The only other macro I might suggest for you would be ulva. Grows fast. Pods and pretty much all herbivores love to eat it as well. Sounds like a cool project![/QUOTE

Yes, I like Ulva and plan on adding some to tank #1 with the Caulerpa Prolifera.
It is coincidental that you mentioned the macro salad. I have been experimenting with Grape Caulerpa with a simple lime juice and sesame seed oil. Pretty good stuff. Saturday, I fixed a triple header: vegetarium chevichee, yellow fin tuna sushi and Grape Caulerpa. Each was in a seperate dish so that people could taste individual dishes or mix and match. It surprised me how big of a hit it was. Perhapes I will be in demand for the party circuit here in Austin.


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Last edited by Subsea; 09/25/2017 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 09/25/2017, 06:08 AM   #2731
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Sorry to hear that Michael. Good luck on your next try. Some fish, even in the same species, just can't deal with the stress of shipping, etc. and never recover and adapt to captivity, no matter how good the conditions.

Quote:
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I have been experimenting with Grape Caulerpa with a simple lime juice and sesame seed oil. Pretty good stuff. Saturday, I fixed a triple header: vegetarium chevichee, yellow fin tuna sushi and Grape Caulerp. Each was in a seperate dish so that people could taste individual dishes or mix and match. It surprised me how big of a hit it was. Perthapes I will be in demand for the party circuit here in Austin.
That's awesome! It would be so cool if I could make an Ulva salad for my family some day


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Old 09/25/2017, 09:45 AM   #2732
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I find that the texture of Ulva does not work for me. IMO, for eating freash seaweed, the texture is best crisp. To date, I have found Gracilaria Parvispora [Red Ogo or Tang Heaven Red] and Grape Caulerpa to be excellant candidates. Also, from the Gulf of Mexico, I find Gracilaria tikvahiae. When I inquired about G. tikvahiae with Russ Kronwetter of Gulf Coast EcoSystem, he told me that there was much collection on the beaches of Florida by the Asian community. I think that the Asians have it right, seaweed is a "super food".

https://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/Gracil_tikvah.htm

The Smithsonian calls Tikvahiae "Graceful Red Weed".


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Old 09/25/2017, 07:41 PM   #2733
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Thanks Chasmodes. What's bugging me is I don't know if blue chromis are just too fragile in general, or I got some iffy ones, or is my QT killing them. I've still got two mollies in there, doing fine.

It sucks because I'd really love to keep some! But taking another ($100+) chance on another group of them is an expensive risk I'd tend to avoid.


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Old 09/27/2017, 10:03 PM   #2734
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My macros are getting a bit shaggy. I guess they're happy. I need to do some tidying. I did do a 'nem hunt with my trusty syringe of ammonia. Which also means I dosed ammonia today, which is plants' preferred form of nitrogen. Two birds, low tech, love it!

My lagoon ecosystem seems to be gaining steam. I still have a few more characters to add to the cast of thousands, near the bottom of the trophic pyramid, but I'm happy with the progress so far. Diversity = Stability!

It occurred to me that setting up a natural aquarium is very much like mimicking the process of the beginning of life, here on this planet. Sometimes I blow my own mind…

I watch a lot of nature shows…


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Old 09/28/2017, 06:15 AM   #2735
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Quote:
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I still have a few more characters to add to the cast of thousands, near the bottom of the trophic pyramid, but I'm happy with the progress so far. Diversity = Stability!
I think that is what is missing in my tank, not enough lower life forms. The tank is fine, but, not quite there. I guess I need to dump a few glops of bay mud in there. When I rearranged the 20g high, I did find several soft tubes that bloodworms made in addition to a few bloodworms that freaked out my daughter. So, there is life there. I'm just not confident that there is enough. Perhaps the blennies, gobies and skilletfish eat too much.

Quote:
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Sometimes I blow my own mind…

I watch a lot of nature shows…
I know the feeling, LOL!!!

Thanks for the link Subsea, enjoyed it


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Old 09/28/2017, 10:33 PM   #2736
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You'll get there Chasmodes. I'm still getting there too. I add new detrivores when I can find them. Mother Nature's little helpers, turning detritus into plant food!


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Old 09/30/2017, 07:45 PM   #2737
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Chillin' on the couch, admiring my handy work. Big macro export today. Mostly red and black grasilaria. I moved some brotryocladia frags I had in the seagrass over to the right, amongst the live rocks and fake roots. Since these plants occur at greater depths, I thought it might help to get them into lower light. I also moved some hypnea and red grasilaria over there. The green turf continues to grow on the back wall, as well as the caulerpa racemosa peltata. I have a feeling their growth rate is about to explode. It's kind of miniature right now. I'm looking forward to more green! Seagrasses are good, but not great, yet.

I'm driving the system pretty hard, with CO2 and ammonia dosing. Hopefully the seagrass will pick up. The blue scroll algae is in a race against time, with my mini strombus snails taking an interest in them. Detritus is still accumulating. It's very tempting to do a little vacuming, but I want to give the new sea cucumber plenty to work with, and maybe settle into an equibrium. It's easy to starve these guys if you're not careful. So, I abstain from cleaning up and let Mother Nature do it. I still want a few more players, in time.




















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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass-Mangrove Mudbank Lagoon
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Old 09/30/2017, 08:48 PM   #2738
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Chillin' on the couch, admiring my handy work. Big macro export today. Mostly red and black grasilaria. I moved some brotryocladia frags I had in the seagrass over to the right, amongst the live rocks and fake roots. Since these plants occur at greater depths, I thought it might help to get them into lower light. I also moved some hypnea and red grasilaria over there. The green turf continues to grow on the back wall, as well as the caulerpa racemosa peltata. I have a feeling their growth rate is about to explode. It's kind of miniature right now. I'm looking forward to more green! Seagrasses are good, but not great, yet.

I'm driving the system pretty hard, with CO2 and ammonia dosing. Hopefully the seagrass will pick up. The blue scroll algae is in a race against time, with my mini strombus snails taking an interest in them. Detritus is still accumulating. It's very tempting to do a little vacuming, but I want to give the new sea cucumber plenty to work with, and maybe settle into an equibrium. It's easy to starve these guys if you're not careful. So, I abstain from cleaning up and let Mother Nature do it. I still want a few more players, in time.


















I REALLLY LIKE THE ROOT AQUASCAPING. It is such a good tool for attaching things.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art...4/#!po=14.7619

On Cyptic Zone filtration thread in reef discussion, a reasearch paper was linked that indicated the benefit of adding acetic acid as carbon source to ehance macro production. I have done it for about six months and it has worked for me.


For me, Red Grapes are grown best in dimmer light. Russ Kronwetter at GCE collects them in 60' to 120' of water. Some 20 years ago, I grew a bush 16" tall and took up 1/3 0f a 55G tank. Light was supplied by two 40W florescent tubes, one was actinic and one was 6500 kelvin. If the macro is a dark burgendy it is grown in dimmer light. When internsity is increased, I find the colors less desirable.


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Old 09/30/2017, 10:46 PM   #2739
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Thanks Subsea. The roots have been great. I'm still trying to get more stuff growing on them. Yes, I'm hoping the botryocladia is happier now. I'd love to end up with a 16 inch specimen! I've had limited success with them.

I haven't looked at the cryptic zone thread. I do have Steve Tyree's book, "Environmental Gradient". Very cool stuff. My asymmetrical lighting was inspired by his ideas. I've got a fair amount of encrusting sponges growing in the dark end of the tank. I've had less luck with purchased display sponges.


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Old 10/01/2017, 07:06 AM   #2740
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Awesome, thanks for sharing your pics. I love this tank!


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Old 10/01/2017, 07:31 AM   #2741
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Quote:
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On Cyptic Zone filtration thread in reef discussion, a reasearch paper was linked that indicated the benefit of adding acetic acid as carbon source to ehance macro production. I have done it for about six months and it has worked for me.
I just started following that thread, but I have a lot of reading to catch up on. I found a tunicate in my tank that I didn't know was there. So, of course, I started researching how to keep it alive. It's amazing how the approaches in that thread relate to what Michael and I are trying to accomplish. Much to learn (at least for me, because I'm also learning from you guys).


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Old 10/02/2017, 07:41 PM   #2742
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Thanks Chasmodes. That's always nice to hear!


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Old 10/03/2017, 10:29 PM   #2743
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I'm bumping my 'nem hunts up to daily, in full obsessive-compulsive mode. I'd really like to be rid of them! I think if I stay after them for several days straight, I might just get 'em.

I ordered a new metal halide bulb. Lightbulbsdotcom had a free shipping deal. I picked up a 400 watt 5200 K Ushio bulb for forty bucks. It'll be interesting to see if it is brighter than my old bulb. That would be great-brighter light and no additional heat.

I'm really jonesin' for some new fish! Since the blue chromis seem to be too fragile, I'm thinking of getting some chalk bass. They're kind of blue. I'm thinking of adding four or five of them before I add the royal grammas again. I think they'll get along because they don't hang in the same areas. Grammas like the wall and Chalks cruise the sand bed. If anyone out there has experience keeping both these fish together, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass-Mangrove Mudbank Lagoon
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Old 10/04/2017, 08:17 PM   #2744
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Remember when I realized my Barnacle Blennies aren't Caribbean? Well, I've broken the biotope rules again today. I was down at my LFS and came across a nice school-sized group of chromis. They are a mix of yellow and blue and quite pretty in my opinion. They are Vanderbilt Chromis-eight of them. They don't get big and ugly, but I read mixed revues on their aggressiveness. It seems they're best kept in schools. They are also supposed to be very hardy and long-lived.

I guess I'll need to remove Caribbean Biotope from my tank info.

After the Blue Chromis debacle, I have pretty much given up on them, but I really wanted chromis - but not the usual blue greens. I have admired the Vanderbilts before and today was just serendipity. They are in QT, looking very active and curious. They taste every speck passing by.

Assuming all goes well, these guys will go in the display right after Halloween.


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Old 10/05/2017, 05:54 AM   #2745
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Cool! It's your biotope now

I think that chalk bass might have mouths large enough to prey on your blennies, but don't have any idea about their temperment. That was my only worry about them. The look cool though.


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Old 10/05/2017, 10:13 AM   #2746
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Right! So it's no longer Caribbean-specific, but it's still a seagrass lagoon biotope. I'll probably try and still keep it as Caribbean as is practical, but it does open up new possibilities!


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Old 10/05/2017, 12:44 PM   #2747
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Noooooo!

Just kidding. I guess you can refer to it as a Caribeean-analogue or 'themed' tank.

I have mentioned my future plans more than once for a Caribbean tank (I took my 20 gallon down last winter). Now I have a 270 gallon tank whose job will be to collect dust for a couple years.
Because I love barnacle blennies and chromis, I am planning for the Roughhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria aspera) in lieu of the more common barnacle blennies. Same genus and habits. And one or more of blue chromis (Chromis cyanea), purple chromis (Chromis scotti) or yellowtail reeffish (Chromis enchrsysura).


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Old 10/05/2017, 07:20 PM   #2748
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I ordered another plant - chondria, and a purple sea whip. The chondria sounds pretty cool, with some iridescence as a feature, as well a lot of variation in color. Could be invasive. I say welcome to the party! It's kind of turfy. We'll see what I get.

I wanted to try another gorgonian. This one sounds like an easy one, from the description, but that's what they all say!

These two additions should be a nice injection of color, plus with the racemosa coming back, I'm expecting things to get much more colorful very soon!


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Old 10/07/2017, 09:40 AM   #2749
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I knooooow, JZinCO.

I think biotopes are awesome and kind of a higher calling, and a great way to really learn about the species of a region. So, it is kind of a bummer to break biotope rules, but in hindsight, I never was super serious about following them. I made numerous infractions, starting with the mini strombus snails, which I still don't know their origin. I just assumed that if they weren't Caribbean, that there was probably a Caribbean equivalent. So I let it slide. I had the barnacle blennies for years before I realized they came from the Pacific side of Panama. D'oh! I brought the aiptasia-eating file fish in as a temp. I'd love to get a small school of those! And I would, but they go after worms, which is a big no-no.

I guess at this point in the project (three years!), my priorities are on the success of the ecosystem, and what characters are available to me to fill all the roles in the show. It's very important to me to 'prove the concept' of my low-tech, Mother Nature methods, I yammer on and on about. I'm still looking for some performers at the bottom of the trophic pyramid. For instance, I'd like to get some mini brittle stars, and I'd take some from any ocean, as long as they're reasonably priced. Indo-Pacific Sea Farms has them, but the price is too steep! I may have a Florida source for them soon.

Buying fish outside of the biotope is the most flagrant foul, I guess because it's more obvious. "I noticed your pods are not biotope-specific", said nobody ever. The Vanderbilt Chromis are just my non-caribbean equivalent of Blue Chromis, which may need to be moved to the no-buy zone, or expert only. I wanted a sturdy, pretty, chromis to fill that upper water column niche. The Vanderbilts should do nicely.


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Old 10/07/2017, 06:28 PM   #2750
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Glad you brought up those mini strombus snails again.
Been thinking about them. Versatile algae grazers that will reproduce in a tank and therefore scale up to whatever algae production the tank puts out should be much more sought after, IMO.
Any chance you could give some direction on the source?
Or post some clear detailed close ups of the snails for those who might want to take a whack at chasing down an ID?

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