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Old 05/23/2017, 07:07 AM   #2601
Chasmodes
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That's me, overflowing with excitement of your new arrivals!

Do you know how big the pike blennies are? I was thinking that they might like having an old worm tube to hide in. If you don't have one, maybe make a DIY one

I think that they're a perfect addition for the grassy lagoon.


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Old 05/23/2017, 04:07 PM   #2602
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The new fish are in the QT!

I'm a little bummed KP didn't give me the sailfin blennies in the ratio I requested. I asked for two dark (male) ones and four light (female) ones. They sent me 4-5 males and 1-2 females-not a good male to female ratio. They seem pretty mellow, so I hope they get along okay.

The pike blennies are so cool! 3-4 inches long and very slender-almost like a pipe fish. And their heads are hilarious! Weirdness galore!


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Old 05/23/2017, 06:36 PM   #2603
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That's awesome! Sorry to hear about the ratio problem though.


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Old 05/23/2017, 08:15 PM   #2604
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It's really hard to say what the ratio is, at the moment. It could be 3-3. We'll see. Let them settle in.

I was watching the pike blennies. Hard to see any sexual differences, until one of them flashed. It raised its exquisitely marked dorsal fin and opened its ridiculously large mouth, and on the inside, it was bright yellow! I'll HAVE to get a picture of that.

I cannot wait to get these new fish in the display. But of course, I must wait…


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Old 05/28/2017, 06:38 PM   #2605
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Five days since my last update. That may be a record! Just not a lot to report, but I'll think of something of course…

OK, so the blennies in QT seem to be doing well, though one of the pike blennies may not be getting enough food. I'll keep an eye on it. They aren't near as quick at feeding time as the rest of them. Also it's just about impossible to account for everyone, with all the ulva in there. I still don't know the sailfins' male to female ratio. As far as I can tell, everyone's healthy.

My experiment with the new plant tabs seemed to go well, with some growth showing. I bought some empty gelatin capsules and made up some 'fertilizer pills' with the crumbling tabs. This way I'm able to get them into the sand before they dissolve in the water column. I pushed ten of them in, around the DSB, so I'm fully committed! These things have a massive 20% phosphate, so I'm taking a bit of a chance here. Every morning, when I take my first look at the tank, I half expect a massive algae bloom, but so far we're good. The reason for taking this risk, is to see if I can get the grasses growing again. Seagrass prefers root uptake of phosphate. Wish me luck!

So, the 'big three' are covered - carbon, nitrogen and phosphate.

My little sponges and sea squirts are all doing well. I have to take the turkey baster to the purple ones every few days, as they collect detritus, unfortunately. I've tried adjusting their angle to the current, but I've yet to find the sweet spot. Despite their small size, they are pretty. I'm not convinced they are purple tube sponges yet, as they don't have the large opening in the middle, like the yellow one does. I'd love to get some pics, but they're just too small for decent ones at this point. But they are growing!

The largest molly fry are close to two inches long now, but no sexual differences yet. I'll probably remove most of them before I add the new recruits. I want the blennies to have the run of the tank for a while, so they can get established before the next wave of inductees.

As I mentioned before, I do have a few aiptasias. I've been killing them with ammonia and a syringe. It works well, but I have to stay vigilant. I go after them every few days. Again, I would not recommend this method, unless you have a large tank with lots of plants.

The halimeda on the back wall was looking pretty good, but now it doesn't. The ones on the DSB are doing much better. I wonder if it's calcium-limited. I'm still trying to figure out what to grow up there. I still have ulva up top.

Tim, the lonely barnacle blenny is still doing well. I look forward to getting the new ones in there with him.

Well, that's about it. Any questions?


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Old 05/30/2017, 10:32 AM   #2606
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Great update Michael! I'm glad to hear everything is going well. I'll be watching for the plant tabs results and how that works out. With the pike blenny that isn't eating well, is it too slow and others out compete them for the food, or just a picky eater? If it's competition, can you spot feed it with the turkey baster until it becomes a more aggressive eater?

I bet your QT tank is as fun to watch right now as your DT (albeit probably not as pretty).


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Old 05/30/2017, 02:51 PM   #2607
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Yes, watching the QT is fun! The pike blenny that isn't getting much food is too picky. It may be that he's too old to change. There are some pods in there, so hopefully he's getting something. It's hard to tell the two apart, so I'm not totally sure one isn't eating. When I feed them, one just seems to eat more than the other.

If the fertilizer tabs work I will be a happy camper. I'm still a little scared, but so far, no algae bloom. I've removed two of the hideous rubber bands from the roots. I'm seeing the old grasilaira hayi starting to grow again, so it looks like rubber banding the new one is unnecessary. Yay!

The QT is not pretty. The walls are coated with cyanobacteria and ulva is everywhere else. Any plant material I remove from the display gets tossed in there. Sort of like a junk drawer…


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Old 05/31/2017, 10:42 PM   #2608
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Great update nevertheless! Looking forward to the blennies being ready for pics. I'm trying my best to be patient lol.


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Old 05/31/2017, 11:00 PM   #2609
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I've been rereading Walter Adey's book, Dynamic Aquaria, yet again. It surely is the main influence on my current aquarium keeping philosophy. He and Ron Shimek have both convinced me that even in the artificial settings of our glass boxes, natural ecosystems can exist. We can't completely duplicate nature's biodiversity, but it's amazing how well nature steps right in to fill in the blanks.

Anyway, I was reading today and came across something that makes me feel a little less reckless in my use of ammonia as a nitrogen source.

"The major concern of traditional aquarium science has been the removal or deactivation of ammonia. Yet ammonia is a primary nitrogen source for most aquatic plants. If the normal community of plants is present and fully lighted, ammonia is not only not a problem--assuming loads are reasonable, it is necessary and in great demand."

The book is not for everybody, as it covers broad, scientific information. It reads more like a college biology textbook, than an aquarium how-to book. But I love it. I've never read anything else like it in 'the aquarium literature'.


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Old 05/31/2017, 11:14 PM   #2610
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Thanks wilder! Nice to hear from you again.

Patience has got to be the biggest 'struggle' of this hobby! At least it is for me. It seems to help if I find myself getting impatient with one thing, to refocus on something else that I CAN fiddle with. There's always something!

I can't wait to get the new guys in the display! Ironically, once I get them in there, they'll probably become invisible. The sailfins especially are so mottled they will blend right in with substrate. Even Tim, who is pretty colorful, is pretty hard to spot, if he's not in one of his usual spots.

I look forward to getting pics! I'm even considering an add-on macro lens for the iPhone.


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Old 06/03/2017, 03:56 PM   #2611
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Today I may have killed the last aiptasia in the tank. I kind of doubt it, but that would be awesome! Regardless, I am close. I think one of the key benefits of using ammonia is that it is so deadly, even if the aiptasia ejects spores, most of them are killed as well. I think that is the big difference, compared to aiptasia-x or other remedies. I'd kill one, but ten more would pop up the next day. With ammonia, nothing pops up. Again, I don't recommend this method unless you have plenty of plant material to absorb it.

Another thing I did was prune/export a lot of macros--mostly the corpse bride grasilaria and ulva. I'm trying to limit competition for nutrients for the seagrasses. Those two are the fastest growing, so they get whacked most frequently. This signals more bravery on my part, concerning usage and dosing. As I get more comfortable, I'm trying to tilt the balance towards the grasses.

I am seeing some growth with the grasses getting taller, and that's good. Now if I can get them to start shooting out daughter plants that would be great! I'm crossing my fingers those phosphate-heavy fertilizer tabs do the trick.

The halimeda continues to decline, as does the red grape, which I've never had any luck with. The one exception is a tiny plant growing off a piece of rubble. It is slowly growing. I have three, small blue hypnea plants growing as well, adding that nice, blue hue. There are three tiny grasilaria hayi plants sprouting from the same spots on the root where they used to grow. I also spotted some of the whitish sponge on the underside of the same root. This is the same sponge I had a lot of before, that looks almost like a white turf. No doubt it is enjoying the sodium silicate dosing and phytoplankton additions.

I took the magnifying glass to the biggest mollies. I am seeing some slight dorsal fin enlargement in a few of them, indicating 'maleness'. I also witnessed some male behavior in one, doing a little nibbling 'down there'. It's kind of cool to think that all of them were born in my tank, and have never known any other home. Almost all are white, but there are just a few that are kind of dark olive color, which I suppose are closer to wild coloration. I do expect to remove most of them when I introduce the new blenny crew.

They all seem to be doing well in QT. Things get a bit testy at feeding time, but with all the cover, they can avoid each other if they want to. Ironically these tiny fish ignore the smallest bits of food. I used to have a large hippo tang that would greedily devour cyclops, but not these little 'big mouths'. They'd rather squabble over large mysis that are half their own size.

No pics today, unfortunately. My back is trashed, so I avoided scraping the glass. Not much different to see anyway, but things are going well.


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Old 06/05/2017, 07:39 AM   #2612
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Things seem to be going well. Nice updates/reports. Not only are they great for your documentation, they're well written and we can follow along almost like being there.


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Old 06/05/2017, 10:04 AM   #2613
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Thanks Chasmodes!

A quick look around the tank and no aiptasias are evident! Again I doubt they are completely gone but I believe I am close.

The yellow tube (vase?) sponge is gone. I have no idea why. My best guess is that it was competing for space with the sea squirts, and the sea squirts won. I haven't been able to find where it ended up. If I can find it, I'll try to relocate it in a more favorable spot. Bummer…


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Old 06/07/2017, 02:22 PM   #2614
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Hey Michael,

After having my short stint of macroalgae tank before my tank upgrade, I couldn't have my upgraded tank without having a connected display refugium. The plan is to have it be like a patch reef in the Florida keys (a little mount of rock with soft coral/macro algae surrounded by seagrass). I wanted to ask a couple questions if you don't mind me eating up your thread.

After all your experiences, do you still recommend putting a mud bottom for the seagrass area? Any reason why that would be problematic connected to my SPS system?

Also... I was thinking of reusing my 6 bulb ATI T5 fixture for the macroalgae tank. Are you still a T5 fan for the macroalgae/seagrass?

(maybe I will start a thread here just for my display fuge portion of my new build. The macroalgae group on RC is as good as anywhere...)


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Old 06/07/2017, 02:49 PM   #2615
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Hey HuskerBioProf!

If you plan to plant seagrass, then yes, I would definitely recommend mud or potting soil, or both, under a fine grain sandbed. Florida Pets' mud is the real deal. I'm partial to GCE's live sand in the refugium pack as well. Both of these substrates have abundant detrivores in them. The mud is rich in nutrients that grasses love. I see no reason they'd harm a connected reef tank. Especially buried under sand.

I personally have no experience with T5s, but I know Samala (in Old Helpful Posts) had great success with fluorescents, with her seagrasses, so I think that would work great.

It would be great to see a thread about an attached fuge like that. There are others, but they rarely post. Bring it Prof!


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Old 06/07/2017, 03:10 PM   #2616
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I must have misremembered the lights you run. I would rather sell my T5 unit and run LEDs if I could get away with it. I will already be running a 60" T5 unit on my display, so bulb and energy cost cutting would be nice.

Regarding the mud/nutrients, I'm torn... This is partly its own display tank, but it is also for nutrient control of my SPS tank. It seems like it would be counter productive to be adding too much in the form of nutrients to seagrass/macroalgae tank. Although SPS tanks don't like it to be as sterile as people used to think. I'll think it over.

I have gotten macroalgae orders from GCE before, and they were fantastic. The macroalgae certainly seems a lot easier to keep/grow than the grass. I'll keep checking back and will probably have more questions.


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Old 06/07/2017, 05:28 PM   #2617
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Yeah, I'm on a single 400 watt metal halide. You can definitely get away with LEDs, if they are bright enough.

Sure, avoiding seagrasses and the mud, would simplify your situation. Seagrasses aren't fast growing enough to be effective nutrient export media either. A mix of fast and slow growing macros would make more sense for nutrient uptake/export in a refugium.

It took me two years to finally get my grasses to where I wanted them. Then I got ICH, treated the tank with hypo salinity and watched them slowly wither. So now, I'm trying to bring them back, and it is slow.

But I'm psyched with what I accomplished with hypo. Besides getting rid of ICH, I am all but finished eradicating aiptasias, I got rid of the too fast-growing caulerpa and I've done away with the turtle grass, without disturbing the rest of my ecosystem. I'm rebuilding my detrivore community with more diversity than I ever had before, and I'm having luck with sponges finally. I'm also very excited about my new fish community, which I'm starting with three different blenny species.

Sorry, I kind of rambled there a bit. Good luck with your fuge and sps display!


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Old 06/07/2017, 07:06 PM   #2618
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Yes, I was following along with the ich and hypo. I won't really need the nutrient export. The goal will be (in this order):

1. Because I think it will be cool, and I want to have 2 different types of tanks that give me the feeling of being surrounded by the ocean (with diverse types of habitats)
2. To provide copepods to feed constant eaters in my display
3. Provide some nutrient export

If the tank has some macroalgae, I would be fine with the sea grass not doing much export. I just don't want it to be adding gunk to the system, if possible.

We'll see. The turtle grass, in particular, just gives me such fond memories of the Florida Keys.


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Old 06/07/2017, 09:04 PM   #2619
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Right on. Connecting a reef with an adjacent lagoon is what Walter Adey did in his Smithsonian Exhibit.

If you don't need to export much, I'd suggest slower growing macros, like the reds. The fast growing greens will either keep you busy with pruning, which gets old fast, or they'll run out of nutrients and die back or go sexual.

I found turtle grass to be the easiest grass to grow, so give it a go if you're feeling it.


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Old 06/08/2017, 06:45 AM   #2620
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster View Post
Connecting a reef with an adjacent lagoon is what Walter Adey did in his Smithsonian Exhibit.
I loved that tank with the dumping bucket waves over the reef and the connected lagoon. I used to work on the other side of the mall and spent many lunch hours visiting the museum to keep up with the goings on of that tank.



What do you think of the pike blennies? Are they getting along with the other ones OK?


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Old 06/08/2017, 07:48 AM   #2621
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Hi, I've been tagging along with this thread for a while and want to say you have a beautiful tank. Just thought I'd throw my two cents in about determining the difference between male and female mollies. At two inches you should definitely be able to determine gender not by looking at the dorsal fin but at the anal fin. Females will have a full/normal anal fin and the males have a "stick", more or less, called a gonipodium. Hopefully this helps you with determining their genders. Cheers!


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Old 06/08/2017, 07:54 AM   #2622
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Wow Chasmodes, I'm jealous! I've studied that tank in his book, but I've never seen it personally.

The pike blennies are so cool! I've got them both eating well with frozen mysis. Things get competitive at feeding time in the QT, but they hold there own, despite not being as fast as the others. I'm really looking forward to getting tham all in the display!


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Old 06/08/2017, 08:55 AM   #2623
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It really was an amazing tank. An LFS that no longer exists had a similar smaller scale mechanism with a bucket dump type wave maker. Those two tanks were my favorite tanks to visit back then. Wave makers have come a long way since then!

There was another public aquarium in the basement of the Dept. of Commerce building that has since closed that had some nice saltwater biotope aquariums, but nothing like Walter Adey's tank. It was quite unique at the time.


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Old 06/08/2017, 09:10 AM   #2624
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Thanks eastlake, and welcome! It's great to hear from someone new. I appreciate the reminder about the anal fin. Excellent picture, showing the difference, too. I forgot about that. I'm going to go take a look right now to see if they show a difference.

OK, so I took a look. First of all, they're really more like an inch and a half, and that's only the biggest four or five, so not much to see just yet. I did see one or two showing a gonipodium though, as well as some difference in the dorsal. From my group at least, it looks like those two indicators of 'maleness' come in at about the same time. But I agree with you that the anal fin is more obvious. Very helpful!

Thanks also for the tank compliment. It's certainly nowhere near its' full glory from a few months ago, but I like how it's coming back in the more focused direction I've chosen.

I look forward to hearing from you again!


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Old 06/08/2017, 09:50 AM   #2625
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I'm glad it was helpful and you're tank is a very interesting one to follow as I haven't really ever seen, certainly not in person, a marine aquarium with a focus on plants and algae, and if I see a place where I can slip in a relevant comment I will certainly do so . I liked the gramma harem a lot, they're one of my favorite fish, maybe the Cuban gramma will be more widely captive bred or available with the opening of Cuba's borders when/if you decide to do another group of them.


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