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Karma bites me in the ass!

I regret deleting myasthma...sort of. I felt that chapter of my life was over and needed a fresh start. However; I've been putting off starting a new LJ because I'm not very good at maintaining one, obviously. But I miss the connections I had here. I miss my girls. I miss chatting with you and just having you be a part of my life. I feel like a complete ass for doing what must seem like turning my back on these very important relationships that I wish I'd known to nurture better.

Well, If anybody cares, I'm alive and well. If there's any interest, I might start posting again but I'll understand if you've moved on to better things. I wish you the best as always!

Ionic Balance 101

So it has been a while since I’ve written anything down so here it goes, a big update!

Our trip to Phishy Business on the 8th saw us walking away with 3 zebra hermits, 1 scarlet reef hermit and 1 Halloween hermit. I also ventured to get a few of their $5.00 frags; got a button polyp and 2 mushrooms. No black sailfin blenny tho.

On the 10th we went to Reef Systems and after getting a wealth of info from the owner (my head’s still swimming), we bought a cabbage leather and another soft coral the name of which now escapes me. We got a bonus with the cabbage since it has a little xenia polyp attached to its base. Hopefully it will grow away from the cabbage.

After talking to Todd, owner of Reef Systems, we decided to eliminate the filter media in our canister filter in order to eliminate the amount of nitrates being introduced into our system. Actually, I’m a bit chicken shit so I only eliminated the sponges. I left the bio media in. If the nitrates fail to lower and our ammonia and nitrites continue to be at 0, I might go ahead and remove everything else from there.

After getting a quick lecture on Ionic balance, we are also testing for alkalinity and calcium in our water to figure out the right amount of buffer dosing we need to apply. Once we’ve got the dosing figured out, we’ll go ahead and get our first stony coral. We’d really like to get either a frogspawn or a hammer. They resemble anemones more than actual coral and the fact that they are stony corals, makes them a bit of a contradiction in terms.

Last night we tested both calcium and alkalinity and figured our alk is way too high while our calcium is way low. We dosed the AB buffers this morning as recommended and will test again this evening to see if there’s any improvement. The idea is that once we figure out the right amount to dose, we’ll dose a little bit every day to maintain the ideal water parameters. At least I think that’s what Todd meant. We might have to go back to Reef Systems for another lecture. He talks a lot and way fast but everything he says makes sense and he’s so passionate about it that it’s hard not to get sucked in to what he’s saying. Hopefully next time I won’t be nursing a headache so it’ll make more sense to me.

This morning we also tested for ammonia, nitrates and nitrites. Both our ammonia and nitrites are at 0 but our nitrates are still between .5 and .10. Bio media may be going bye, bye!

On the 11th we made a trip to Phishy Business to take advantage of the last day of their sale. Since Reef Systems only had the alkalinity test kit we wanted, we got the calcium one from Phishy. We also got a couple of frags; got a star polyp, a softy which was not properly identified and another mushroom from the $5 bin. Nice surprises with this purchase! The yet to be identified piece was semi-attached to a shell that came loose during transport. The shell, I noticed, had a mushroom growing on it! I was getting ready to find a spot for the little shell in order to epoxy it to a rock when I noticed little legs quickly tucking back into the shell!! We got a hermit with a mushroom shell!! We thought it was the funniest thing ever. The $5 frag was even more interesting. I’d gotten it for the mushroom on it but the mushroom was growing over a second rock which is hosting some itty-bitty button polyps. The mushroom was also sort of attached to a mat of star polyps. So there we got 3 for the price of 1! The mushroom has let go of the other pieces now too so we’ve been able to place those in other places. Hopefully we’ll start to see some growth soon. J

We need to get our next batch of water ready to make a large water change. I need to get rid of that velvet stuff. I’m convinced it’s actually cyano so before it spreads to any other parts of the tank, I’m putting a stop to it now! I’ll have to siphon the rocks and substrate and clean up the glass. Instead of doing 1 major water change, we’re thinking of doing small consecutive ones. Perhaps 10% every 3 days until we get down to 30 or 40% but I’m not completely sure if that will really be better than just doing a 40 or 50% change at once. We just don’t want to expose our corals, which are placed high on the rocks, to air for too long. We’ll see what we finally decide. We still have a few days to make up our minds since the water won’t be properly cured for at least 3 days.

I realize that I’ve spent A LOT of money on this already but considering that I never get my hair done or my nails done and it has been ages since I’ve bought myself a new anything, I should be allowed this small luxury. Yes, I’m excusing my addiction!

Forgot to report a most hilarious incident this morning. As I’m getting water from the tank for my test tubes, I noticed what was obviously the carcass of our beloved fire shrimp!! THE HORROR!!! All kinds of horrible visions danced before my eyes. We’ve got a deadly predator in our tank and one big enough and deadly enough to kill our shrimp! My heart stopped, I let out a loud lament and tears were beginning to well in my eyes. Ben ran over to see what was the matter and looked in horrified at the scene. - What, ain’t laughing yet? Wait! - There, in the middle of our tank, to our surprise and relief we see our beloved fiery perched upside down on a rock! Yep, it has molted and what we were looking at was its old exoskeleton. PHEW!!! Kinda neat and gross at the same time.

Pictures to come.

Little maintenance performed last night.

Our new readings are really good:
Temperature – 75-78
Ammonia – 0
Nitrites – 0
Nitrates – < 20 ppm
pH – 8.4 ppm
Phosphates - < .25 ppm

We moved 10 gallons out of the display tank and into our new QT. Topped off main tank with pre-mixed saltwater. The specific gravity in the mixing container was lower than we first thought so that might reduce the salinity of our main tank again. Since I’ll need to vacuum the gravel and rocks this weekend, I’ll add water with higher salinity then to stabilize the main tank again.

Everyone in the tank seems happy. The fire shrimp has become a lot more adventurous walking all over the rocks and to the other side of the tank. He even decided to examine one of the power heads which scared us! We were afraid he’d get sucked in but he did good job of staying away from its propeller.

We were close to witnessing a hermit crab change shells but it didn’t seem to like the one it was exploring so it stayed in its old/new shell. The shell he’s been sporting is one of the new ones and I’m guessing he hasn’t completely made up his mind if it’s to his liking or not.

I’ve spotted something new in the tank. It seemed like a tiny little worm thing shooting through the water column. It was hard to get a good look because they seem to come out when the lights are off and don’t stay put in one spot for very long. This morning I got the chance to see 3 of them with 1 stopping right on the substrate against the glass and a second smaller one right behind it. It was still difficult to see any detail on their bodies to properly identify them but so far I’d say they are a sort of shrimp. I’m hoping that whatever they are they will not harm any of my critters or fish! The idea of having some sort of pest in the tank scares me. With all the time, careful thought and money spent on this hobby, I’d hate for anything to go wrong. I know mistakes will and have been made but I don’t want anything catastrophic to occur. Wait and see, I guess.

Tonight I’m hoping to stop by Phishy Business and pick-up our next critters and fish! We’d like to get 3 dwarf zebra hermits, 3 trochus snails, 1 scarlet reef hermit and 1 black sailfin blenny. If they don’t have the blenny then I’d like to get a court jester goby or my royal gramma! I really hope they have the blenny though. We need to get a handle on that velvet algae before it gets out of hand.

New critters AHOY!

It has been a while since my last entry so here’s a quick update:

On the 30th we added 2 Fighting Conch and 2 more Mexican Turbos.
On the 3rd we added 1 Peppermint Shrimp, 3 dwarf blue legged hermits, 3 red tipped hermits, a handful of Caulerpa and a .25lbs. live rock which I was hoping to use to anchor the caulerpa to but that didn’t work out like I planned. The caulerpa has been put in the substrate where I hope it’ll take root. Actually, I’d really like it if it rooted itself to some of the rock and that’s if our critters don’t devour it first! We shall see.

We did have a couple more demises. Another nerite and one of our blue legged hermits met their maker. Not sure what killed either but I suspect that the hermit molted and died when it wasn’t able to find a new shell or perhaps another hermit fought him out of his shell. Don’t know for sure but still, a tragic loss.

Last night I added about a dozen empty shells which I hoped the hermits might use and this morning, we found that 2 hermits have indeed moved into new shells! Exciting!

There’s new growth on one of the rocks which troubles me. Looks like a dark velvety algae which I haven’t been able to identify yet and the critters don’t seem very interested in eating. I’ll try adding more water flow and hopefully that combined with the caulerpa and a water change will help kill it! It doesn’t look bad but I’m afraid it will keep that rock from growing anything else on it or that it’ll smother the feather duster worms it’s been hosting. Worst case scenario is that the stuff will spread throughout the tank! Drastic measures may be taken which will involve removing the rock to a QT (quarantine tank).

I’ve added different filter media to our canister in the hopes that it will help the growth of our beneficial bacteria and will help control our ammonia, nitrites and even our nitrates. I also added a bag of BioSpira which is basically the beneficial bacteria. I’m hoping the bag was enough to help it colonize and establish itself in our canister filter. We also bought a 10 gallon aquarium kit which will serve as our QT. I’m aiming at setting it up tonight! I’d like to be able to get our next fish this week if possible. I’m hoping to add a Black Sailfin Blenny or a Court Jester Goby. If we can’t find either available at the moment, I’d like to add my Royal Gramma! Phishy Business is having a huge sale so I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll have what we want in stock.

Tonight I’ll set-up the QT, test the water, maybe do a small water change and add another power head to our tank. I’d really like to go to Phishy Business tonight but I think I’ll wait until tomorrow instead. I hate waiting though. I want my fish NOW! XD

On a side note, the basement is a mess! Our little project is taking over the entire area slowly but surely. I really should do some tiding up tonight since I’ll be setting up the QT and will need to make room for it anyways.

Chemistry lessons

Stupid water chemistry! Our nitrates are high and we've got ammonia present. Not good! ;-( Sooo, we've done a 10% water change to see if that will take care of the problem. It's probably due to the new bio load introduced with the snails, crabs & shrimp but it's really causing a problem with our algae bloom and cyano bacteria or diatoms! YUCK!
We'll test it again tomorrow and see where we're at. Of course this means no adding livestock until our ammonia and nitrites are both 0 and our nitrates are somewhere around 10 or lower. :(

OH! found out what those things clinging to the glass are. They are not urchins as I first thought but hydroids! I guess they're a type of jelly fish and they are OK as long as they don't get out of hand like grow too big or too many! I think they're cool!

Here are a couple of pics
Read more...Collapse )

It’s not a hobby, it’s an OBSESSION!

Friday 4/25/08 we set up our saltwater mixing container  which should make water changes easier and faster. I also added bio media to our filter in order to get the most out of our nitrifying bacteria. On Sunday we did our 50% water change and finished affixing the rocks to a more permanent set-up by using epoxy to secure the pieces together.

 

So far our readings are good and our Guinea Pig & Canary seem to be doing well except for the temporary stress induced by the moving of the rocks and water change.

 

An algae bloom is starting and it’s the brown algae which may in fact be a bacterium called diatoms. Because of this we decided to add our first half of our clean-up crew. We got our new critters from Phishy Business. We were told that hermit crabs would not be good with our snails because they are known to kill snails for their shells. So, no hermits…for now! Apparently we can get hermits as long as we provide empty shells for them. That should keep their aggression towards our snails to a minimum. I hope so!

 

This is what we’ve got so far:

 

10 Cerith Snails 
10 Nassarius Snails

5 Nerite Snails 

2 Emerald Crabs 

1 Mexican Turbo (El Camino!) 

And just for fun, we got ourselves a beautiful Fire Shrimp!! J

 

We’re hoping to add some Dwarf Zebra hermits along with some Dwarf Blue Legged hermits  & Dwarf Red Tip hermits. I’d also like to add at least one more emerald crab. They are adorable and add so much character to the tank. We might be adding our crabs later in the week. First we need to see how well our new additions are doing and how our water readings are.

 

We just got accessories for a drip line in order to acclimate the livestock better. We should do this especially with the inverts due to their sensitive nature. As a matter of fact, we suspect that one of our nerite snails might be dead. Hard to tell but we found it on its shell and did not show signs of wanting to right itself up. Ben righted her but she still wasn’t moving. Hopefully we’ll find her moved by this evening.

 

Next buy will likely be a quarantine tank for new fish!

 

Note: I added links to this post in case anyone’s interested in learning more or would like to just plain understanding what it is I’m talking about.

 

Pics of our marine tank and its inhabitants behind the cut.

 

 

Under the sea!

Ammonia is starting to rise a bit. Hopefully the damsels will be able to handle it and hopefully the bacteria will start turning that stuff into nitrites soon and so on...I don't want to put those little guys through anymore than necessary! 

Got my order in this morning!! YAY!!! We'll set-up our water changing station tonight. *does happy dance*

Here's a pic:



Here's one with the fishy:

 

Feather Dusters!: 

First Entry

I should've started this thing weeks ago but oh well!

The story so far is that we've got ourselves a 39 gallon saltwater aquarium currently going through its cycling stage. In it we have about 1.5" of sand; combination of dry sand and live sand. We also have 2 Yellowtail Damsels (Guinea Pig & Canary) to help with the cycling and about 45 lbs. of live rock! 

We're going for a Fish Only With Live Rock (FOWLR) set-up and so far so good except for a couple of hiccups. Mostly the hiccups have to do with things not being done in the order I would've been more comfortable with but we shall see how it works out in the end. I'm definitely rethinking the way we've set-up our live rock so far so I'll try to convince my partner in crime, my beloved Ben, to rework things a bit. I think we've got one piece too many but it would be heartbreaking to do away with anything we've gotten in there so far. We still need to epoxy some pieces together so maybe in the process we can try a slightly different rock configuration. 

Right now we're crossing our fingers that our "hardy" damsels live thru the ordeal. Poor things! That's definitely one thing I'd do different if I had to do it over again! I would not add any livestock until we had all the live rock figured out and positioned just right and FULLY CURED!! God knows there's still stuff dying off those pieces especially the stuff we got yesterday. *sigh* No point in griping over it now, I guess.

So we've got our tank cycling, our damsels are eating and out of hiding and tonight we shall test our parameters. I'm sure the ammonia levels are on the way up again. Tuesday night we had 0 ammonia but I'm sure that has changed drastically. Hopefully the bacteria in our tank will be able to handle the new bio load and we'll start to see some nitrites in there soon. Fingers crossed!

I'm waiting on my order from Drs. Foster & Smith so we can begin curing new saltwater for our first big water change. The order should be in tomorrow but we figure we can start filling our container with water and salt tonight and get the powerhead to start mixing it up for us. I'm hoping we can do the water change on Sunday. 

Stay tuned...

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