Follow-Up to the Daily Dispute

I recently wrote about a daily dispute that has been going on between our female Clownfish and male Scooter Dragonette that I was concerned about, and unfortunately, has ended badly.

I came home one day last week to find our Dragonette lying on the substrate. His eyes were cloudy, and at first I thought he was dead, but then noticed his heavy breathing. He wasn’t moving at all, and would only swim if he felt threatened. I then noticed his fins were torn and guessed what had happened.

I called Preuss Pets, and they told me that there wasn’t much to do except to quarantine the fish, to separate him from the female clown. We could do it ourselves, or have them do it (for $3 per day); the concern being that any torn flesh could become infected. The Dragonette would either heal himself, or die.

A few hours later he died, which wasn’t surprising from the shape he was in. In the future, I will surely be taking any fish back to the LFS that can’t get along. I never realized how much damage could be done, thinking maybe a torn fin to be the worst. That was certainly a lesson learned the hard way!

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2013 Michigan Coral Expo & Swap

We have just returned from the 2013 Michigan Coral Expo and Swap!

    

This year the swap was held in the conference center at the Best Wester Plus Hotel in Lansing. This is a much better location than last year. There are so many people at these swaps, at the previous location it was hard to even move around. This year, there was no shortage of people, even more vendors than I remember from last year, and much more room to move around.

    

Admission was $10 per person, which included a goodie bag. Inside was a $20 gift certificate to Doctors Foster and Smith, a Doctors Foster and Smith Magazine, as well as a bottle of Instant Ocean Calcium Booster.

Last year, our tank wasn’t set up yet when we went to the expo, so we didn’t come home with any coral. This year however, we purchased 4 new coral and will post pictures of those when they have a chance to setting into our tank.

I think this is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the middle of winter; meeting new people, talking about hobbies we all love, and seeing some beautiful coral. We look forward to next year!

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Homemade Neptune Apex Breakout Box

Thought I would share my just finished and tested (and works wonderfully) Neptune Apex Breakout Box. 😉 The Cable that plugs into the Apex is the same connector that Apple serial printers of yesterday used so they are cheap and easy to find. I decided on RCA plugs for the interface because I think they are clean looking and they serve the purpose nicely.
This is the inside connectors all soldered up

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a picture of it finished. The lead I have plugged into one of the ports is from an old sump alarm which when the contacts were closed with water it would sound an alarm. The alarm stopped working so I cut the lead off and soldered it to an RCA adapter and now I have email alerts for if there is a leak with my tank using my Apex

 
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Daily Disputes Between Our Clowfish and Dragonette

Ever since our Scooter Dragonette started eating pellets, our female clown, (a.k.a Mamma Clown) has become increasingly more aggravated with our Dragonette. Every day at feeding time, our Dragonette waits on the substrate under the other fish for un-eaten pellets to drop down to him. He and our cleaner shrimp are the clean-up crew of left over pellets. What has been happening more and more often, is that when the Dragonette gets into position at feeding time, Mamma Clown challenges him. She will swim right up to him, and literally push him with her head to another location. The Dragonette tries to stand his ground, and ever raises his sail fin, but Mamma Clown doesn’t seem to be intimidated by this. The Dragonette will swim away, and come back minutes later, only to be confronted by her again.

I don’t know if she does this because he is in her territory, or if she is competing for food with him. I am thinking maybe a little of both. She does this mostly during feeding time, but I have seen her do it at other times as well, and always on her half of the tank.

There hasn’t been any torn fins or really aggressive behavior, but I have seen Mamma Clown try to bite or nibble on him a bit. At first it was funny, to see Mamma Clown bulldozing the Dragonette, all the while with his sail fin raised, to wherever she wanted to dispose of him. Or, to see Mamma Clown peel out in the sand, throwing sand on him. But, it has been going on for so long now, I’m starting to wonder what the solution will be if it becomes serious. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there.

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Resolution for the New Year

With all the Holiday’s and traveling, I have barely had time to sit down and write a blog post, let alone keep up on aquarium maintenance. I’m not sure how I would do it if I was keeping an aquarium by myself. Luckily, I have my husband around to help out (and pretty much do) all of that.

Speaking of maintenance, water changes are probably the most time consuming for us, but I think only because the way we do it is not very efficient. I plan to resolve this issue this year, by keeping track of how long it takes for us to perform a water change each time, and work on ways to become more efficient. I think that for 2 people performing a water change for a 75 gallon aquarium, it should take no more than 30 minutes. That is my goal. If we perform better than that I would be ecstatic, and certainly anything is better than the hour it takes us now.

I will keep you posted on how it goes, and on ways we have found to save time. If anyone has suggestions I would be more than happy to hear them!

We hope everyone has a wonderful 2013!

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Sea Squirt!

When changing our filter sock, we always look inside to see if there is anything swimming around before replacing it. There is usually some copepods or amphipods, so we dump them back into the sump. The last sock change revealed something new, and no, it was not a Sharknose Goby.

What was in the sock were a dozen or so tiny red/purple “dots”. On closer inspection, we discovered they were moving. So we got out or microscope and captured a video of these little swimmers.

Having absolutely no idea what they were, we posted the video on MichiganReefers, a saltwater aquarium forum site, hoping for help to identify them.

Here is the forum post and the answers in response.

Sea Squirts! These little hitchhikers must have come from the new live rock when we recently had our aquascape redone.

Sea Squirts are marine filter feeders. They have both male and female reproductive organs and spawn by releasing eggs and sperm into the water at the same time. Tadpole-like larvae (what you see in the above picture and video) develop from the eggs after 3 days. This motile stage helps to distribute them and only lasts for a short time before they settle and become stationary.

Looking a pictures of Sea Squirts, the possibilities of what they will look like or what color they will be seem endless. One thing is for sure, they are unusual and cool, and a great addition to our reef tank.

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10 Month Reef Tank

It has been 10 months since we set up our reef tank. You can compare the pictures below to see how the tank has progressed since last February.

 

When looking back at our 1 month photo, I can’t even believe that anything survived in this tank. It looks so sterile! Not to mention, our aquascape looks so much better now!

On this note, we recently had our tank’s aquascape re-done by a Preuss Pets employee. Not only did he do a great job, he also assessed our tank for us, letting us know how we have done so far, and what we need to improve on. This is how we graded:

Our fish and coral look healthy, so that was the good news.

Our water quality is very good. We test often and always take a water sample to Preuss’s when we go, allowing us to compare their results with our home tests.

Our overall aquascape was rated a B-, which I think is pretty generous after seeing what an A+ looks like.

Where we fell short, however, was our sandbed. After 10 months, a reef tank sandbed should have many more organisms in it than ours does. Our sandbed is just too clean. We do a fair amount of cleaning of our tank, especially during water changes. We syphon the sandbed most every water change. But in doing this we are depleting the sandbed of all of the beneficial bacteria and organisms.

To remedy this, we need to be feeding phytoplankton (Phyto Feast) daily and for now stop cleaning our sandbed during water changes. The goal is to find a balance in having a “dirty” tank, but with pristine water quality.

After 10 months of reef keeping, I still love it and am looking forward to many more!

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Our New Aquascape

Andy has not been happy with our aquascaping for quite some time, while I have maintained the thought that it looks “just fine”. But, if Andy is one thing, it is persistent, and finally tracked down someone that would come to our house and re-aquascape our tank. That person happens to be an employee of Preuss Pets, whose work we admire in Preuss’s SPS tank every time we make a trip to the store.

Here is our tank before (old aquascape):

You will notice that all of our corals were sitting on the substrate because we were waiting to re-work the rock before placing them, as well as unsure where to place some of them.

Here is the new aquascape:

I thought our tank was “just fine”, but once the new aquascape was done, I couldn’t believe the transformation. I feel that the tank looks more real now; the way a real reef might look. This new layout also gives us much more surface area in which to place corals.

Needless to say, Andy is happy with the tank, and I am no longer “just fine” with the aquascape. I am ecstatic!

Another great thing about having someone that knows reef aquariums come to our house and re-do our aquascape, is that they get to see our tank first hand and let us know how we are doing and how things look. There will be more on how we were graded and what we learned from him next week!

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