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Old 12/06/2005, 08:48 PM   #1
mogurnda
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Dave's Seagrass tank; first 2 months

A few months ago, I decided to try an experiment with a seagrass/seahorse setup. After doing a little reading here and elsewhere, and getting some advice from Sarah and others, I jumped in.

The tank is a 30 Xtall. I wanted the height to accommodate a vDSB for the grasses, and didn't want much more of a footprint than 12X24.

The original idea was to use things I had at hand, like a 24" HOB refugium, and a 130 watt PC fixture, but things have evolved.

When it was originally set up, it had an Aragonite sand bed, a fuge full of chaeto and rubble, the live rock and mushrooms and the PC fixture:



Just before the grasses arrived, I decided that I wanted to mix some Fluorite into the botton 4" of sand. It was a bit of a chore to move the sand aside, dump Flourite in, mix, move the top layer back on top, but I think getting iron and other minerals to the roots will pay off.

Then the first shipment of manatee and shoal grasses arrived, along with some porcelain crabs and snails. It looked fairly good right after planting.



I was a little worried about the ability of PC light to penetrate the depth of the tank, and I had some slightly-used Iwasaki lamps lying around, so I kept my eyes open for cheap electronic ballasts. Turns out Premium Aquatics was selling Reef Fanatic ballasts for $50, so I picked one up and slapped together a canopy.



After that, the algae started in earnest.



Somewhere along the line, I added a hydor heater/powerhead to try it out. Not my best buy. The thermostat became almost immovable, the insides get full of gunk pretty fast,and I forgot how much I hate suction cups. It will be good for mixing SW.

After the tank filled with cyano, the macros in the fuge melted down, and things were looking like a disaster, I decided to make some changes.

-Added 300 gph powerhead. That step alone really helped rein in the cyano
-replace the 24" fuge with an old 12", the low flow and rotting macroalgae combined to make a fairly awful mess. The amphipods seemed to be in heaven, though.


-added a skimmer. I regretted selling my old bakpak, but decided to try out a Coralife super skimmer because it was cheap and got decent reviews. It's big, clumsy and ugly, but easy to adjust and collects good skimmate.

The tank looked a lot better immediately, and the cyano is showing no signs of returning.



After the skimmer had a few days to remove the yellow stuff, the tank looks nice and clear.



The turtle grass from florida pets has started to put off new leaves pretty quickly, and some of the manatee grass has pulled through.



I have been very excited to see this new runner grow from the stargrass I got from Billsreef. It looks like the tank may support plant life after all!



This weekend, I will add a few gorgonian frags from the reef tank, to help fill things out a bit.

All I'm doing regarding chemistry is to add a little nitrate to keep it about 5-10 ppm, and using some vinegar and kalk in the topoff reservoir.

Anyway, that's the start.


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Old 12/06/2005, 08:57 PM   #2
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Looks great Dave! Keep us posted.

What are you using to add nitrate?


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Old 12/06/2005, 09:00 PM   #3
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I'm using KNO3. I got a bunch in bulk for FW planted tanks that haven't really needed it.


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Old 12/06/2005, 11:07 PM   #4
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Look at that beautious stargrass.. The tank is definitely coming along. I think everyone has initial algae problems lasting until the tank grabs hold of plant life and starts to run with it.

Perhaps, as with freshwater planteds, we should focus on planting heavily right from the start. The ten gallon tank I did heavily plant initially, only had a small diatom bloom, never had cyano, and only broke out in uncontrollage green algae when the phosphates went too high from accidental dosings. Hmm. Food for thought at least.

Dave, keep up the good work!
>Sarah


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Old 12/07/2005, 06:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Samala Perhaps, as with freshwater planteds, we should focus on planting heavily right from the start.
I tried to do that to some extent, with what I though was a lot of manatee and shoal grass, plus the chaeto in the fuge. It may not have been enough plant mass, but I suspect it may have been that my flow was too low. It may also have been all the goodies made available when I added the Flourite.

If I do this a few more times I may figure out how to do it right


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Old 12/07/2005, 11:16 AM   #6
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Wow! Can't wait to see it as ToM!


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Old 12/07/2005, 04:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Seahorsewisprer
Wow! Can't wait to see it as ToM!
Thanks! I may have to talk the plants into growing a bit more before entering


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Old 12/11/2005, 10:27 AM   #8
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Looks great Dave! Looking forward to more pics.
Steve


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Old 12/12/2005, 10:27 AM   #9
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Well, I am having a small setback. Although the turtle grass is making steady progress, something has developed a taste for the stargrass. Every night a littl more disappears, and the surrounding sand looks like someone's been digging. The possible culprits and evidence are:

Red leg hermits: The evidence is that I never trust hermits. They are coming out anyway, now that the algae problem is gone. I never see them dig, though.

Eunicid worms: There are several "aerating" my sandbed, including one that is about a foot long when fully contracted. They shouldn't eat plants, right? But the area looks like they may have been pulling things under.

Other contenders include a fleshy limpet, a few porcelain crabs, some ceriths (cortez and gulf) and about a dozen small nerites.


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Current Tank Info: 90 gallon SPS, softy & anemone; multiple tanks for the solar sea slugs.
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Old 12/12/2005, 08:01 PM   #10
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mogurnda,
I am planning to increase the grasses in my fuge. You mention Flourite; what is it? Does it help plant growth? If so. where can I get it?

Thanks,

Terry


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Old 12/12/2005, 08:10 PM   #11
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Dave you have animals that give me nightmares in that tank. Foot long worms?! Eeeeeesh. And to think I get all worried over teeny little bristleworms. I am not sure which on your list is the most likely stargrass connoisseur. Perhaps the porcelain crabs. Nerites should be okay, as should ceriths. I've had both in the tanks without incident. Interesting that they seem to be pulled from underneath...

>Sarah


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Old 12/13/2005, 08:57 AM   #12
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Terry,
Flourite is a substrate for planted tanks distributed by SeaChem . The main reason I used it was its high iron content. Because I would rather have the plants absorb as much of their nutrients as possible via their roots, especially iron, I decided to add it as part of the subsoil. Available at any LFS, I would think. A lot of people recommend marine mud, and I would rather have had that, but I don't have easy access to it.

Sarah,
I have kept that big worm for years. I always enjoyed watching it make tracks in the substrate, but really fell in love when I saw it reach out of the sand and grab a bite of a mushroom. It was like something out of the movie "Tremors." I only get a good look at it every few years when I break a tank down. Here's the most recent.



Maybe it isn't sensible to keep it, but it has never bothered any corals or critters I actually care about.

My current suspects for the plant disappearances are the cortez ceriths. I saw one digging a furrow right through the middle of the small remaining patch of stargrass. It would fit the M.O. of the midnight snacker.


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Current Tank Info: 90 gallon SPS, softy & anemone; multiple tanks for the solar sea slugs.
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Old 12/17/2005, 05:46 PM   #13
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An update.

It looks like stargrass may not do well in the tank, at least as long as something keeps eating it. The last sprig disappeared a few days ago.

The turtle grass and remaining manatee grass seem to be growing well, though.



I have added a rock with some cladocora colonies. Started as a few separate polyps, and they are now a single mass. Also added a few gorgonian frags from the reef.





I like this view from the left end. Makes it look full.



The tank is infested with detritivores, like these amphipods.



The porcelain crabs seem to be helping out a lot with keeping the sandbed clean as well. In the reef, they spend most of their time suspension feeding, but they really seem quite content to sift the debris on the sand.



I am going to see how things go for a while, then redo the aquascaping and maybe order a few more plants.


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Old 12/30/2005, 03:06 PM   #14
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So, things have stabilized, and it looks like the remaining manatee and turtle grasses continues to do well. Aside from whatever ate the stargrass, the tank supports plant life, and it would be nice to fill it in a little.

I plan to get some more manatee and turtle grass to start with.

It would be great to get some sargassum as well, but have not found a source. Any ideas?

Also, the widgeon grass I got from billsreef was a total loss. It may simply have succumbed because of the cyano bloom, but I was wondering what people's experience with it was before I tried it again.

Thanks again, all.


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Old 12/30/2005, 04:20 PM   #15
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Widgeon grass did great under minimal lighting in my brackish tanks along with tapegrass, Vallisneria americana. I could never get either to do well in excess of 22ppt salinity. I think it is reported to survive at higher salinity, but that never worked out for me. (?) Probably would have need more light at the higher salinity than I had... a theory at least.

>Sarah


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Old 12/30/2005, 04:27 PM   #16
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That's interesting. Back when I was into brackish tanks, I would have loved to find a plant that did well in that range. I guess I'll stick with what is growing for me, then.


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Current Tank Info: 90 gallon SPS, softy & anemone; multiple tanks for the solar sea slugs.
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Old 07/18/2008, 06:23 PM   #17
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this tank still going? would love to see how it has grown out


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Old 07/20/2008, 10:37 AM   #18
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I'm afraid that one got shut down last year. I am still growing macros in my Caribbean tank, but have taken a break from seagrasses for now.


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Current Tank Info: 90 gallon SPS, softy & anemone; multiple tanks for the solar sea slugs.
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