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A Two Headed reef, The Tale Thereof


Ronjunior
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A Two Headed reef, The Tale Thereof

OK, after 10 years of being fishless, I started out with a Lake Malawi African Cichlid tank because I didn't think I could swing the dream reef setup I always wanted. So with a little (quite) a bit of bartering and trading of my time and stuff, I ended up with a 2 month old 125 gallon fishless tank and temporary 55 gallon housing. A Cichlid tank was my 2nd most wanted setup and seemed doable and ended up with around 30 colored tank mates. Wondering the whole time if I'd regret not doing saltwater, the opportunity arose four weeks later for an affordable 135g saltwater tank/stand setup with tons of live rock, a few fish and invertebrates. Taking my the wife June’s(wife) suggestion of why don't you buy it and save the trouble and research of building your own stand and sell off what you don’t need, I didn’t hesitate; I bought it before she could change her mind :) I carted an entire trailer full of buckets, bins and garbage cans full of water, rock, fish and substrate. Nobody tailgated me for the 80 mile trek home in fear of what was splashing from the back of my hauler and leaking out of my truck.(naughty)

 

Needless to say, I am overjoyed in my…er…our decision of having a saltwater tank!(clap) I still enjoy the Cichlid tank, but I can’t stop staring at the saltwater fish swimming around the tunnels in the rocks. The cichlids are fun to feed and flock like seagulls at a fish cleaning station, but they could eat all day. The saltwater fish act a little less like pigs and swim more gracefully. I would love to keep the 135 gallon tank for a great Cichlid display, but that’s a hard one to sell to the better half!

 

The next step was to choose the location. My neighbor and I had one opinion, but June had hers of behind the couch. We ended with a compromise and I love where it is now! I can sit at a slant or lean my head on the back of the couch and drool. If I focus right, I can even see the reflection of the big screen TV in the aquarium.

 

Location led to the question of how to build a double six foot reef that would look good on both sides and one end, seeing this is now a room divider. I didn’t want to stack rock up the back of the glass because it would look silly and cluttered on one side. I chose to use only part of the rock and stack it down the middle. We had a slumber party this weekend and the kids watched the fish for hours…some on the couch and the rest on the other two sides by the kitchen nook. It’s a good thing there is extra viewing capacity with our large extended family! There is even one chair at the kitchen table where you can view both sides of the reef with the mirror effect of the glass.

 

I don't have a picture of “the before” with crushed coral, but after 4 days of having it at home, I changed to a silica sand bed and snapped a couple. The fine grain sand is a little messy if current is pointing downward, but the natural wavy look and prints from the urchins and crabs look pretty cool. Sand scatters when my Seychelles Clown dives to stir up food, then the sand drifts down slowly like falling snow.

 

For now we have a Blue and a Yellow Tailed Damsel, Seychelles Clown, False Percula Clown, Coral Beauty and Lemonpeel Angelfish, Lawnmower Blenny, 2 Pencil Urchins, a Coral Banded Shrimp and a few crabs.

 

I’ve rambled enough I’ll post more pictures later, but here is a start. No pictures of the sump, it's too small and the plumbing is temporary. There isn’t much in the reef color department and it will be slow in getting there. I would like to find an anemone for the clownfish soon though; it’s very enjoyable to watch them bask in the tentacles.

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Nice! This looks like a really fun project.

 

Do you have a canopy for the tank? Hmm...if this was my tank, I would make it a true room divider and have the canopy reaching the ceiling. That would look awesome. It'll look like a built in wall tank.

 

Good luck!

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Trouble in underwater paradise! I have a very small sump and couldn't fill the tank much without limiting the output of my inline pump/canister. Today I put the sump in a long term "temporary" bucket so I could increase the water level and output flow and be safe without flooding during a power outage. Problem is, now I've got many microbubbles that I didn't have before! I have the overflow runing into the sump, it floods into the "rubermaid", the inline pump siphons from the bottom towards the back into the Ocean Clear canister and back into the tank. There doesn't seem to be bubbles around the siphon in the rubermaid that I can see. I'm stumped on what to do to fix the tiny bubbles. Needless to say there is no protein skimmer yet causing bubbles since I lack a complete setup.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Alright, it's about time I updated pics. I changed things around a little to create about 5 tunnels which the fish love for doing laps, expecially my angels. Rocks have a lot more red algae, which someone said was sponge? When Flyguy and I exhange help for his better substrate, I'll rearrange again and epoxy the rocks. I may do 2 separate little curved reefs in the shape of "j"s or something to give some larger open areas for bigger corals. Also leaving a full sandy gap between the 2 reefs for more coral growing/swimming room. All the while leaving a little wiggle room on the sides for swimming end to end and cleaning the glass. Maybe plant flat mushrooms and such in the narrow parts. (if only I had 24" or more to work with). I still have a few weeks to scratch out the final plans on paper. There are some pretty small softies and mushrooms here and there, but hard to see. I'll post some closeups tomorrow.

East Side

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West Side

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Open End

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I'm running 2 VHO blue actinic 03, 1 50/50 and a sad 40watt 50/50 that doesn't like VHO and dying inch by inch. Need to replace, probably with aquasun VHO. I'll get more pics up tomorrow from my camping gear trades. PC running slow, doing some maintenance to speed up for Photoshop.

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  • 2 weeks later...

More pics I forgot to put up last week of some cool corals from the last trade of my extra camping gear. I'm finally getting a shelf cleaned out in the garage which won't stay that way for long...come on, I'm a guy :)

I ended up with a major depressing setback in this tank over the past few weeks however. A new Kole tang introduced had ich and spread to most of the tank mates from what the eye could see. They were treated, but the suspected culprit ended up with some nasty unidentified "plague" that spread rapidly and wiped out most of my fish, day after day until I was left with my Lemonpeel angel, Blue Devil damsel and a Lawnmower blennie. And I just had my favorite Naso tang coming to me and eating out of my hand and plumping back up. The worst part, was the Naso was an early birthday present and it isn’t quite my birthday yet.

Buyer beware, the supposed reef safe ich treatment by Kordon, 100% organic, is not 100% reef safe from my experience! It did kick the ich though. My Kenya tree? on the shell above melted away and my star polyps closed up almost completely and some melted too. Hair algae started to grow quite a bit since, (didn’t notice any before except on 2 imported aquacultured pieces of corals on rock) and other algae as well, especially around my monti frag with the pinkish Caribbean stars and polyps. More hair algae is growing elsewhere in a hurry ever since the Kordon...It's the last time I treat fish in the tank and would love to know what is in that smelly stuff besides garlic. Some stars of both species are starting to peak out more after a 30gal water change, even though I just did one the night before the unanticipated ich treatment around a week ago. Hopefully they will come back and show their full beauty.

Other corals in the tank seem to be doing just fine with seeing Kenya trees popping up here and there throughout on their own. (hopefully the stuff isn’t like dandelions (scary) ) I’ve seen a few mushrooms growing along with many bugs here and there as well as some unknown feather dusters in holes in rocks. (no tubes showing) Not sure if I’m finding more due to having no fish to watch, or the fact their not eating the bugs since being in QT. Also, the microbubble problem seems to be mysteriously licked so I can see more clearly now.

The rock has been completely changed to open up some space for larger (future) corals and will take new pics soon.

 

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Here's a beautiful new specimen care of Stacey (Spayne) and Jay on Sunday. Thanks, we love it! My wife is starting to like the frogspawn more than the hammer coral...but I think it's only because size does matter! A piece of both of these will go into the classroom tank when they are fraggable along with any others we can grow by the summer before school year of 2007 (tentative goal). I'd like to add other colors of the same LPS for contrast as well like I've seen in other people's tanks. I don't know if frogspawn and hammer will tolerate each other or not being too close. My goal is to have this tank and the one for my wife's school to have 100% aquacultured corals. For the school tank, I'll take frags from our home reef or donations that are guaranteed homegrown. Fish on the other hand isn't going to be that easy for home (I like variety). At school, will likely only be a tank bred clown fish or mating pair. I would think the kids would love to see that along with an anenome. The goal is to get as many colors and textures in there as possible since the kids my wife teaches are just learning to speak english coming from many ethnic backgrounds. (Grades 5-6 ESL) With her shared classroom with 2 other teachers, the tank would get many peering eyes from all the kids they pull into the room throughout each day.

It's nice to have a few corals in the tank you can see from a distance. The above pictures seems like a lot, but I have to look hard to see them. Some day though; it's hard to be patient when my yard grows up so darned fast from little cuttings I've shared over the years.

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A solution to cut down on power heads needed for having 2 sides of the reef open for corals: I split the stream into two outputs using a garden water supply "t" and added tubing to make things reach further from where the power head is buried. My 2nd one, (not pictured), has flexible tubing coming out of the "t"s as well. I have some thin rock covering the power heads and may end up just epoxying them so they don't fall exposing the ugly blacklings.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here are some of the latest corals aquired over the past month. My first SPS's. The tips were white when I got them and many of them are looking better by the day.

Just 1 more day until the display tank is hopefully fish safe from the unknown disease that wiped out most of the fish I had. Keeping the fingers crossed and will QT newcommers from now on for at least 3 weeks; which is hard. I'm sure the fish I have in QT can't wait for their "get out free" card.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, it's now Beer30 and time to rest the body for just a few. Instead of coal in my stocking this year, I got an IOU for new sand. It's been a lot more work than I thought to siphon out the old silica sand and hope to NEVER do it again! I've been at it for 8 hours trying to get out the last particle under all the rock. I had planned on not moving the rock, but that hope didn't last long. Suppose I should have taken the piggy bank to Home Depot and bought another garbage can to put my rock in for cleaning, but too late now. Once the water clears, it's time to restack and put in the new special grade aragonite.....if this stuff blows around I'm dumping epoxy in to hold it still.

I forgot to take a picture of the last rock change, but plan on doing something similar. Well, time to go back to it, dry the rest of my mess and wash the towels....every last one of them; whenever I had my back turned, something was either siphoning onto the floor or overflowing.

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Well, the house still stinks of dirty socks but the sand is swapped out. Who would have guessed reef water could make carpet smell like a locker room. A few more days of Lysol should do the trick again....I hope. I lost one coral for sure in the process, a yellow Monti and likely a ricordia. The Monti was nowhere to be found after I got everything back together and my 2 candys are a little peeved and so are some softies after days of cloudy water and no light. Hopefully they'll be OK in due time. Some other SPS's broke in pieces, but I'll glue them to rubble and may have some trading material later. My untouched heater started dying during this change as well, just a bad coincidence, but luckily I caught it before the temps went too low. It may just be our imagination, but the aragonite seems to be reflecting more light than the white silica sand which is nice. The sand isn't perfect for staying still, but I think it will do....well it better because I'm NOT changing it again! Pictures to come when I get the tupperware of "fragites" taken care of.

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  • 9 months later...

Guess I haven't updated in quite awhile. Have more fish and things are healthy other than a few bullies picking on some fins. Those I've traded out. I've lost a few monties due to not changing my actinics in time and a purple stung by frogspawn. Most recovered and never got a suspected bug from a fellow reefer which is a good thing. (clap)I picked up our first anemone a few weeks back from Patrick; the price was right. Was eying a cool yellow sabea from Caye's with ribbed tentacles, but the green was promissing and a little timid attempting a sebae. Hope it stays that green though! Now looking for a Red BTA in the bargain bin.

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