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RicordeaFreak

Mixed 3.5g Pico 11/2016 - Present

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Grab a mug of coffee or hot chocolate and settle in, guys. I’ve got your reading material for this chilly, gloomy Sunday.

With my first saltwater aquarium just about reaching its year mark I thought It was about time to share my experience of this past year.

Specs: Aquen Evolve 4, Zetlight ZA1201, Tetra 50watt heater and Catalina 180 pump. The pump is an upgrade from the one that came with it as the flow was too weak.

This aquarium started its life as freshwater for a Betta that lived in it for a number of years (R.I.P. Emperor Zurg). I modified it with a baffle inside the filtration area to allow me to create two compartments: one for floss and padding, the other for small pieces of broken rock and where I put a ChemiPure Blue nano packet.

I don't dose this aquarium with any supplements but do perform a weekly water change of about 1/2 - 1 gallon of water. I use Red Sea Coral Pro mixed to 35ppt.

I started this aquarium in November 2016 (although I don't have any pictures). I picked up 5 gallons of premade saltwater, a large chunk of live rock, a bottle of beneficial bacteria, as well as some crushed coral for substrate from one of my LFS.

After cycling and testing for a month, I decided it was time to add livestock to the aquarium. After researching, I figured that a tiger pistol shrimp and yellow watchman goby pair would work well. Little did I know I would come to despise that pistol shrimp.

Another month went by before I added some zoas, as people claimed they were pretty easy to keep. I didn't have luck with keeping them and quickly realized that while the lighting that came with the aquarium which worked fine for the fish and shrimp, it obviously was just not going to work for coral.

This led to me purchasing a Zetlight ZA1201 from BRS in February 2017. I have been very pleased with this light for this size of an aquarium. However, it only has two channels that are controlled by a manual switch with all leds or blue only.

Zetlight ZA1201 led specs:

21x White: 12K
7x Blue: 450-485nm
4x Red: 620-630nm
4x Green: 520-523nm

Edited by RicordeaFreak
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Another month rolled by before I added a bright green candy cane coral, a green tyree toadstool leather, and a single headed duncan. In those couple months of saltwater keeping I had found myself trying to absorb as much knowledge as I could and knew I had been bitten by the reef-keeping bug.

Here are a few of the first photos I took of the aquarium on March 3, 2017.

 

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I changed the layout of the aquarium to elevate the main rock and create a tunnel under it, then swapped the crushed coral for Nature's Ocean Aragonite gravel #5 grade after learning how much crushed coral tends to trap detritus. I also modified the overflow by gluing a small piece of plexiglas to it to try and make it skim the surface a bit more. It seemed to help a bit.

With the addition of new corals I learned that the pistol shrimp would steal anything I had on the sand bed, which led to me coming home and having to reclaim my corals on a pretty much daily basis.

In April 2017 I went to Reef Currents’ 4th annual convention. So many corals and saltwater supplies packed into a relatively small area was amazing, and it was my first time getting to meet some of the big names in the business. The cost of travel and admission didn't leave my wife and me with a lot of pocket money for corals, but we had to pick up a few. I even walked out winning a Nuvo 20 for only a few raffle tickets.

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This build will be coming soon.

 

I'm a huge fan of ricordea florida, so I picked up three and one rhodactis mushroom from the vendors. My wife, who had also gotten hooked on corals, picked up pink hippo palys (her display name is pyxopotamus; she doesn't pass up anything hippo), a pink tipped frogspawn, and a palyathoa grandis for her tank that was still cycling. Also seen in the photo is a $5 piece of orange monti cap that I picked up from a LFS that has a tank dedicated to $5 frags. I now find myself going back as often as I can to hunt through what's in there for any prospects. I find joy in grabbing a tiny piece of coral only to watch it grow into a large colony. I don't mind the waiting game.

I had to remove the main rock to fit the new and temporary corals.

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Taken on April 3, 2017

 

Not expecting how huge the frogspawn would expand once it was happy led to me having to mount and move a few corals off the frag rack I made with black eggcrate, super glue and magnets. I ended up mounting the orange monti to the back wall of the aquarium along with another $5 frag of green star polyps.

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Taken on April 26, 2017

Edited by RicordeaFreak

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By May I’d had enough of the tiger pistol shrimp stealing my corals and bagged him and his buddy the yellow watchman goby to take to the LFS to trade in for something different. While there I picked up a few more $5 frags, a candy stripe pistol shrimp and hi-fin red banded goby. I’d learned that candy stripe shrimp stay a lot smaller in size than my tiger was already starting to get..

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Taken on May 4th 2017

I knew now was the best time to make the changes to the rock structure while I didn't have any fish in it, so I broke apart the large piece of rock I had taking up most of the space and managed to get a nice chunk of it in an arch shape that I kinda liked.

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Taken on May 10th 2017

Edited by RicordeaFreak

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In June I noticed early in the morning that the rhodactis I picked up from Reef Currents had started splitting and had completely split roughly 12 hours later. I also found my first baby bristle worm. These things are gross. Next to the bristle worm is a chitin, a really strange creature I’d never seen before which I learned was actually beneficial. New additions to the tank were a frag of rasta zoas and a highlighter orange mushroom. Attached are a few photos of the growth of some of the corals and a front tank shot of the overall progress. The orange montipora started to encrust onto the back wall and the green star polyps had as well, and the single headed duncan turned into five heads. The small piece of bird's nest was the only thing that was still unhappy with more tissue receding.

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Taken on June 22nd 2017

Edited by RicordeaFreak

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My birthday is in July and as a gift my wife, her sister and her sister’s boyfriend chipped in and bought me these really awesome continental drift rhodactis mushrooms. I was really surprised when I was given them; they are so nice. The only addition for this month was a green base with blue polyp montipora that I added to the back wall along with the orange one I already had, plus a purple ricordea yuma that I wanted to try as I had no luck with the nicely colored one I tried in the past.  It would soon grow to monstrous proportions wreaking havoc to any nearby neighbors. Not much else went on in the tank other than the usual weekly water change.

Here are a couple progress photos. As you can see things are starting to really take off. One point of interest for me were the orange tipped zoas that I have had in the tank since about a month or so after starting. They’d lived through the harder times and were starting to get longer than I had seen before. Little did I know at the time that these would slowly grow to be one of my favorite corals in my tank.

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Taken on July 10th 2017

Edited by RicordeaFreak

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August through October I didn't take any photos of the aquarium. I do remember running into a small tank crash I believe in August or September where I didn't do a water change for about two and a half weeks due to some problems that came up. Shame on me... Some corals lost a bit of color and tissue like my orange montipora, and my once happy acans had taken it hard and pretty much completely shriveled. It was pretty upsetting as they are one of my first corals and finally getting on track with growth. After a few weeks of doing small water changes every three days, that finally got things back to looking happier. One somewhat good thing to come from this stressing of the acans was that when the water changes were back on track I would come to find that this caused the acans to sprout a lot of new polyps in an attempt at self preservation.

Now it’s November, and I'm still on weekly water changes. I added a single polyp of a bright orange ricordea florida that I couldn't pass up but have really reached the max. Dare I say that it might be time to start removing some of the things that are outgrowing the tank? The orange and green montis as well as the GSP have spread across the back wall like wildfire, and in general things are happy. The orange tipped zoas that have been with me from the start now have some crazy long skirts; I love the way they look flowing in the water. My wife has started calling them “the creepy eyelashes” as they look a bit like eyes. My treasured acans’ babies are starting to puff up and show some color, with different colors than the original polyps! The purple yuma has grown too big for the tank and has unleashed its wrath upon its neighbors. More murderous yuma babies are starting to sprout, yay! Stare into the wormhole yuma.

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Taken on November 7th 2017

Edited by RicordeaFreak
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45 minutes ago, FarmerTy said:

Looks great! Thanks for sharing your tank!

I hope you enjoy the journey the past year has taken me through. I'll keep updating this page as things progress. Thanks for stopping by! 

Edited by RicordeaFreak

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Absolutely! The current pics look amazing! That tank looks like it can grow anything!

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Wow! I can't believe how much you get out of such a small tank. It's kind of like a TARDIS!


Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

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5 hours ago, FarmerTy said:

Absolutely! The current pics look amazing! That tank looks like it can grow anything!

I'm interested to see how the piece of green slimer you gave me does considering that the birds nest is starting to come back around. fingers crossed

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4 hours ago, ShawnM said:

Looks awesome


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

3 hours ago, jolt said:

Very nice :)

 

2 hours ago, Christyef said:

Awesome!! Thanks for sharing!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

 

Thanks, I appreciate y'all taking a look.

 

1 hour ago, Paula said:

Wow! I can't believe how much you get out of such a small tank. It's kind of like a TARDIS!


Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
 

I keep telling myself that i've run out of space, but somehow I manage to fit more in there. I attribute it to many hours of tetris as a child. haha

Edited by RicordeaFreak

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6 hours ago, JamesL said:

Very nice!

Thank you!

6 hours ago, BobcatReefer said:

Tiny tanks always blow my mind and this one is really incredible!  Well done!

I appreciate the compliment! I can't help but stop and stare at it every time I walk past.

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Why do bad things come in threes?

Its with a heavy heart that I am making this post. I didn't want to, but I could use some advice on what to do next.

First off, I had to euthanize Mr. Chompy my Hi Finned Red Banded Goby. :( He had been acting funny the past two or so weeks with what I thought was him going blind. He stopped chasing down his food and would sort of sniff out food that I would place near him and eventually I had to resort to directly feeding him with a pipette. He was still acting normal otherwise though.

I came home to feed him and his pal Mr. Pinchy the candy stripe pistol shrimp, but couldn't find him in his normal hang out. I can usually squeeze a bit of the water from thawing food into the tank to entice the pair out. This time Mr. Pinchy only came out by himself. I knew something had to be wrong for Mr. Chompy not to come out. When I finally found him he was not looking good, breathing really heavy and what little swimming he would do was either upside down or very erratic. I knew there would be a slim chance to save him if at all. I ultimately decided to not let him suffer any further.

 

RIP Mr. Chompy, Pinchy and I will miss you.

I'm sure I'll eventually get a new friend for Pinchy, but I have other issues to address first.

Secondly, I had been seeing sights of what I thought was tissue loss on my green montipora cap, but turns out is actually something munching on it. It was confirmed to me when I found a tiny orange nudibranch. I'm not too sure entirely what kind they are, but i've seen two so far which means if i'm seeing them now there has to be more than that. they didn't look like the montipora eating nudibranchs that I find online similar to this photo below, but looked more like a slug with none of the appendages and was bright orange. I'll see if I can find another one to take a picture of.

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Third, I seem to have an outbreak of flatworms, I don't think they are Acropora eating flatworms, but look similar to the first photo below and not like the red flatworms in the second photo with a three pronged tail. I don't know how I've missed seeing these before, but they are definitely prevalent now.

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I could use some advice on what to do next? I started sucking out some of the flatworms with a small hose, but am debating on flatworm exit. However with such a small tank I'm very worried about overdosing or causing the tank to crash when the flatworms start dying off. If I decide to go this route I will be sure to have fresh water made up and be ready to start siphoning them out as they release into the water. For the Nudibranchs, I don't really know what to do about them, nor really have much insight on how to fight them other than repeated dipping and checking for eggs.

What do you guys think, do I have a chance at overcoming? Or do I have to take the Ron Swanson approach?

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Edited by RicordeaFreak

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Quick thoughts:

 

1) If they were chomping on montis, my guess is they are monti eating nudis... Which I've never had to battle but I heard they are the worst!

 

2) Red planaria can be beat by siphoning out as much as possible for a few weeks, then dosing flatworm exit, followed by carbon 30 mins after initial dose and a water change following treatment.

 

3) RIP Mr. Chompy... Its always sad to lose the ones that earned a name.

 

 

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You can overcome this... my tank just went through most of the same (minus the nudibranchs).

Sorry to hear about the fish loss.  I love my pistol/fish pair, and lost my first paired up fish during the early months of the tank.  Thankfully, the pistols are resilient, and pair up quickly with new fish.

I don't have any experience with nudibranch pests, hopefully someone else can help.

As for the flatworms, that I have very recent experience with.  I did pretty much followed the approach you are proposing.  I siphoned, dosed with flatworm exit, water changed, and repeated a month or so later.  From what I have read, it is hard to overdose that stuff in the tank.  I will say some of those little buggers seemed immune to the treatment.  So I added a Six Line wrasse.  He seemed to help the most. 

Best of luck!

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