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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lifes been taking interesting turns, but none so much as using an aquarium for both physical and mental therapy. Since this tank was set up I've learned so much more than I could have at any school. Its that learning thats kept me sharp and not let me deteriorate any more than I have.

Originally we started scouring for parts and researching everything we could as a way to occupy my time and to give me something to zen out on and lower my blood pressure. Six months of collecting, bargaining, and robbing someone leaving the hobby, I had a fully set up the tank, rocks, corals, crabs, and polyps. Thats about when I found you guys here!


Here was a lesson I had to learn: Impulse buying. With the last push of gear, I had also bought an Anemone and an Urchin and set them up in a brand new tank. I didn't even have water in it before I bought them. Im sad to say the urchin paid the price for my ignorance, and was fearful the anemone would do the same. As it turns out, the nem was doing fine, and my lack of knowledge about this beautiful addition to my tank caused me to jump to the worst conclusions. Chiiwing was instrumental in lessening my stress over the matter and I couldn't have asked for someone better. :)

First week's water change was a major wake up call. 5 gallons of water is HEAVY. I couldn't keep this up for long, it put me out of commission for a while reeling with pain. What would I need to do to stop that entirely? So, time to do more research on removing or lowering water changes, is it possible to run a semi-contained system to filter itself, and also fill itself? I'm still talking it over with some, FutureDoc being a font of information thats proven invaluable so far. Big surprise I've been overthinking everything, eh? :p

Once the tank had finished cycling, what this community calls "The Uglies" reared its ugly head. A -massive- sudden bloom of a rust colored blanket: Cyano. I fought with it for weeks with water changes, siphoning, scrubbing, hell. I even boiled a patch of sand with it in, nada. Snails, nada. What else eats this stuff...? The tank was cycled, and stable... why not see if a fish would eat it and keep the sand sifted? Thats when the first fish was bought: An adorable Lawnmower Blenny.

This blenny was awesome and had a character of personality that reminded me of a secret agent. He'd sneak out, plastered to the side of a rock with its head on a swivel, and once content he was safe he would start chowing down on the algae. Success! That was a month ago, and while he never beat the bloom, he held it in check rather well. I continued with the water changes and siphoning, but the bloom wouldn't relent. Something had to be fueling this, where were the phosphates coming from!?

One of my biggest problems that I rectified last night was my protein skimmer wasn't producing foam. It always concerned me, but everything I read stated it would start producing eventually, that theres not enough nutrients in the water, etc. If there wasn't enough nutrients, why the outbreak? Something was wrong. It turns out that my brother who helped set it up had fed the air intake into the main water body. There was no oxygen to mix with the water! All it was acting was an over glorified filter! Dipchit. 9 Hours of proper skimming and the water is as crystal clear and beautiful as it should have been all this time. The water paramaters are brilliant, even with a second addition to the tank everythings stable and happy! The bloom even seems to have been culled and died back!

Thats the other change , another addition to our little family is the introduction of a Ray. The blenny doesn't know what to do with him, but the cleaner shrimp has had a fun time at his little cleaning station keeping him up to snuff. I swear he's the most cuddly thing in the world! He loves his stomach being tickled, gives kisses and nibbles on your fingers, and will even come to investigate whatever comes in the water! I never knew a cuddly fish, its intrigued me something fierce. The other plus for this little guy is he's a top water column swimmer! Apparently he doesn't know to stay on the bottom yet.

All of these things over the past few months has engaged my mind, kept me learning every step of the way, had me moving more than I believed I could, and given me a bit of a purpose while I continue to heal. Without this tank I couldn't imagine where I'd be. Probably sat on the computer turning into a vegetable. As I continue, the tank will grow, and when something new happens I plan to record everything here. Both the good and the bad, as well as any thoughts on the matter! Feel free to message me with any questions, those of you who read this. I dont bite. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks TC. :) Its almost like having a child, I've been figuring that out with this last wave of interesting freakouts. We rescued a little Coral Catshark this week, I've researched them and studied the aquarium sharks for the past few years and believed the tank could hold him for a while while I built a 300-400 gallon tank on the porch, and thus chaos ensued. The same day we brought him home (yes I'm sure its a he, he has claspers) the ray passed, parasites had gotten to her and set a nightmare of an ammonia spike going. Insert worry one, ammonia toxicity. Immediately did a 50% water change, got prime in it, and prepared for the eventual nitrite and nitrate surge, getting a change in filter media for a nitrate reducing one and another round of de-worming meds. On schedule, with the nitrates coming in the shark started yawning, a sign of high nitrates...ok that was expected. This was going mostly as planned, he came out at night and has been eating wonderfully. He wasn't weak, and was getting along with the cleaner shrimp and blenny. No problems! ...Well. Almost none, I noticed last night a bright rose rash on his underside. Substrate is definitely too rough! Well, chit. Okay, thats an easy enough fix. Today we went out to a larger fish store that should have Oolitic sand, and got the Carrib-Sea aragonite oolitic. I've spent the past few hours getting the rock out and into tubs of tank water, getting the fish out and into their own safe containers, and replacing the sand. In that time the rash has gone entirely from Toothless, as well as the yawning so far. The sand itself had an off odor to it, like rotting seafood. I cant help but wonder if something in that sand bed was just off, nothing had died to my knowledge, and sifting through as I had removed the sand yielded nothing. It just seemed to be rotting sand. Lesson here for me: When starting another tank, don't use another person's sand bed! Get new and let it cycle itself! >< I'm waiting for the water to clear up, its going along nicely so far. Everythings happy enough, but I'm gettin worried and anxious that I've got the wrong sand, water paramaters are off (even though I've tested a couple times already) and just blerg, Its like having a child. I'm beyond fond of this little shark, and dont want to see it go the same way the ray did. Two more days for a 25% water change to complete the dosing for the medications according to the instructions on the package, everything should be fine after that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, its the next morning and things have settled down. I re-positioned the rocks after blindly arranging them last night and kept an eye on all the living bits of the tank. Nothing died and it seems the newest addition, a feather duster I noticed while doing all this seems to be loving its new position as well. Theres a ton more crevices for Toothless to wander around and explore, as well as the blenny. Speaking of which, the rash is gone! Its not fully healed but its not red or angry at all now. Keeping an eye on the rock, theres several new colonies growing that I need to research exactly what they are and what kind of care they need, one that intrigues me looks like a daisy. The zoa's I know what to do with, this thing... not so much. Lol. Back to research!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Rough week all around, life and tank. Dealing with Aiptasia was interesting for sure, though it looks like I got rid of them. Went the route of lemon juice injected into the foot of them. Been a few days and not even a single tentacle popping up. Got some green star polyps growing, which is a nice surprise and one of the colonies I mentioned previously, the algae cycle seems to be progressing with minimal impact, mostly good all around. The biggest bit I'm grieving about is the loss of the baby coral cat, tanks just too new. I've got tons of oxygen, he was eating well, he was affectionate, hand friendly, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites all kept zero nicely, just didn't make it. I'll give it another year before trying again. I'm torn up about it, but its another bit of learning experience and now understand why its suggested to wait.

With the shark gone, the lawnmower was sulking rather badly too. At the advice of a professional I've gone out and purchased a ton of inverts, and a few chromis. Without the usual movement in there the tank was depressing and sad, left me raw each time I looked at it. In addition to the hermit crabs, skunk cleaner shrimp, and snails, there are now several peppermint shrimp (just in case more aiptasia rear up), a purple lobster, Electric Fire Scallop, 6 chromis, 10 more hermits, and a large turbo snail with a thick fire red feather duster on its back. In addition to this, during a detail inspection, AKA just staring at the tank to reduce blood pressure, I noticed what looked like a tiny acropora growing. It'll be interesting to see how it grows in the months to come.

All in all, though theres a hard death, with the knowledge I've done everything right and just jumped the gun on the shark its been a bit of a boost having the professional aquarium people come in and take a look. Now to figure out wtf my anemone is sulking about, the lil chit.
 

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Anemone are difficult to keep. It's possible it's having a hard time of it. For a tank that's designed for relaxation I suggest focusing on some of the easier to keep items that show a lot of movement. This movement is relaxing and if it's xenia, clove polyps, and corals like that the amount of work is less for the same great payoff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks TC, I'm not going to be rid of the carpet, though I dont think I'm going to grab any more nems. His was another lesson on impulse buying, I got him from the same guy who sold me the rocks and most of the gear I needed to finish up building the tank. I'd admittedly mistaken anemone as some kind of plant, yea. Hell of a mind shift viewing them as living moving breathing creatures, complete with emotions. It seems to have found a place to firmly attach, finally. I've found it face down in the sand a few times, helped it back onto a rock, pried it off my fingers as gently as I could and let it attach where I put it, and then it moves again. Least I could tell with the sticky it was doing mostly well. Just not happy with its place in the tank.

I dont know if fish can grieve but since the shark died the blenny seems to be grieving worse than me starving himself. I've been dropping nori down next to his favorite hiding places, i've got a rock sitting out back in the sunshine growing its own algae, and I've got sea lettuce on order as well as a couple other macros to attempt to feed him.

Speaking of feeding! And the anemone, the pain in the *** fire shrimp, as beautiful as he is, is a royal pain in the ***! Every time I spot feed the nem, the ballsy shrimp comes over and steals all the mysis off of the nem thats stuck to it. Seriously? >< blerg! Other than those two having their issues, the tanks running fine. I've got some brine shrimp growing, hopefully I'll be able to breed them and get everything moving to use them as food. All in all not a bad couple of weeks :)
 

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I don't know if fish can grieve either but I do know that the loss of a fish does alter the dynamic of a tank and in turn can create stress on the other fish depending on the role the dead fish played in relation to the other fish. For example my blue tang was the police officer of the tank. When other fish would fight he would quickly swim in between them and since he was so much larger than all the other fish they would stop. If that fish were to die then the other fish would feel greater stress as the fights would continue longer than previously.

As long as the shrimp doesn't take 100% of the food the anemone will still get some. I feed my anemone larger foods like krill or small pieces of silver sides. You can also defend the anemone form the shrimp quite easily with your hand or with the algae scraper. Just put it in the tank and when the shrimp starts to come over frighten it away with movement. Most shrimp and fish will back off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sounds like an idea, neither of the shrimp are afraid of my hand they clean it regularly whether I have food or not. It'll have to be the scraper and nudging him away, unless I find some way to convince the nem he likes being out in the open and not wedged behind a rock next to the shrimps lair >< its a shame, I'd like to be able to see him more than just for feeding times
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Didn't think it would end this way, but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. After rigging a sump system for free with parts from around the house, tears, sweat, and pain, I've been forced to start tearing down the tank. No compromises, nothing. The blenny started eating the lettuce and is starting to regain his weight back, the new macros look gorgeous set up in the tank, though the halimeda didn't survive. But such as life. I suppose this is a close to this blog too. Thank you TC for the advice and kind words, as well as Chiiwing for all the same and more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
No worries there, I'm going to try again. Its not my decision to take it down, I fought as hard as I could to keep it going. :) thanks tc, I'll still stick around just tankless
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks chii :) sucks... The dragons breath macro just came in last night too. Haha. Gorgeous color but eh. :) any tips for when I set it back up you two? Tc mentioned a simple and cost effective way to do it
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well. It seems I'm not entirely out of the hobby after all! After a couple months of fighting and having issues, I've been able to keep most of the original set up, and have since moved the critters to a little 20g reef-ish tank. Most of what was in there has gone through too much stress and didn't quite make it. Whats left is: 6 snails, 4 hermit crabs, fire shrimp, cleaner shrimp, peppermint shrimp, purple lobster, and some scraps of the sea lettuce and red grape algae. Theres a TON of copepods and arthropods in there, and i mean a ton. i cant look at the rock without seeing something skitter across! I'm convinced they're the reason the Zoa's are the size of a quarter each now. Theres also a little Scooter in there as well now, very happy and very fat. I fear he'll eat through the pods soon enough, so have ordered a little in-tank hatchery for brine shrimp to supplement the scooter alongside the pods. the shrimp are eating like mad anything i put in there, pellet food has brought back the bloom from the big tank, time to cut back feeding again in there a little bit. Such fun! Otherwise, its been awesome watching all the fun going on in here :) I know i've not said much but i've been keeping an eye on a couple threads!
 
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