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This is my first crack at a blog, so I hope that I do not violate any of the normal protocols or customs for managing one. Deciding where to start is always the most difficult . . . .

Well I have been in this hobby for a little over two years now, and I have decided that I wanted to double my pleasure. Therefore, in addition to my 144g half circle reef I have decided to add a 240 gallon FOWLR system. Unlike my reef tank, which was a brand new setup, this system has been up and running in another reefers home for about 4 years. While I am certain to make certain modifications to customize the system, the setup is pretty much there. Along with the system I will be inheriting a number of truly awesome fish, including a mated pair of crosshatch triggers, aussie harlequin tusk, majestic angel, queen angel, polleni grouper, and several others. I think I have my work cut out for me to get this system moved and back to running properly. I obviously will make some posts on the move and progress setting the new system up.

For the tank that already have . . .

To quote Dickens: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . ." The past two years with the reef has seen me learn an incredible amount about this hobby. I have gotten pretty close to the perfection of my plan for the tank to see it all start slipping away, and there I sit now trying to hold it together and start moving back in the good direction.

Some of you know the story. I received my tank as part of a filming of TLC's While You Were Out and due to a lot of persistence by my wife Ashley. Brian (from Kingfish), Aaron (from Aquatek), the folks at Oceanic, and Current USA all provided products and labor to appear on the show. I received a Oceanic 144g Half Circle reef tank. When I received the tank it had the basic Oceanic Sump, Coralife 2X150W HQI MH fixture, with PC actinics, a Tunze 6100 stream, 1/4 HP Current chiller, Eheim 1260 return pump, 150# live rock, some nice softies, 8 damsels, 8 chromis, 2 yellow tangs, and 1 copperband butterflyfish. I was excited, astounded and knew nothing about how to take care of the tank.

I had Brian maintain the tank for the first six months as I poured over every article I could read on Wetwebmedia and other sites. I watched the tank cycle, lost a yellow tang and the copperband within my first week as a reef keeper and kept going. Brian also proved to be a mentor and a friend and taught me much as he did his work. I quickly moved to upgrade and in the first several months I added a Euroreef 6-2+ skimmer, a refugium, switched the Eheim 1260 for a 1262, and added an Iwaki 55RLT to run the chiller. Within the first year I also remade the fish lineup by removing all but one of the damsels (a very timid yellowbelly damsel remains in the tank to this day), and adding a pair of clown fish, a barred (S. doliatis) rabbitfish, bangaii cardinal, blackcap gramma, pyramid butterflyfish, regal tang, clown fairy wrasse, and sunset basslet. I also was slowly adding some hard corals (primarily LPS) and perfecting my parameters.

By the end of the first year I was maintaining the tank by myself and pleased with its condition. I hosted an ARC meeting at my house and thought I was well on my way to entering the tank for TOTQ in the coming months. The first half of year two continued to go swell. I upgraded my lighting to a Current Outer Orbit 250w HQI/T5 actinic setup and added my two show fish, an orange spot rabbitfish and Achilles Tang. Still didn't enter for TOTQ because I wanted it to be perfect and had a couple of corals to add. Then things took a turn for the worse and has started a string of bad events that I am still fighting.

First, due to personal occurrences my maintenance of the tank slipped as a result of time away from home. My tank went from weekly 10% water changes and almost daily chemical dosings, to one water change per month and occasional chemical dosing. The Achilles Tang was the first livestock to suffer and he passed around Labor Day. Soon algae started taking hold and claimed some of my corals. After resolving some of the threshold problems that were causing the lack of maintenance, I had Brian and John from Kingfish come out and see if we could get this tank back to right. We did a lot of fragging of what was dead, did our best to clean up the algae and started over with good maintenance.

Back on the right path, but still battling a lot of algae. Then needed to move the tank for a flooring install. Brian and John again assisted moving the tank to a stock tub and then back over the course of the week as the fish room floor was redone. I lost the Sunset basslet from that move. As part of the resetting of the tank I added a Geo calcium reactor and an Aquacontroller Jr. to the setup to cut down on the chemical dosing needs. Brian and John did a great job with the new aquascaping, but the algae was back after a couple of weeks. Then on Christmas Day, my prized Clown Fairy Wrasse decided that he was going to commit overflow suicide.

Fast forward to today: Still battling this crazy algae that is trying to overtake all of my corals I decided maybe new light bulbs would do the trick. (After adding a bulked up clean up crew). I have had good experience in the past with XM bulbs so I went with some 10Ks. Installed them yesterday and they still have not fully fired. They fire only to that initial point of when the lights first come on and then do not get brighter. Do not know if they are defective or just need longer to burn in then ones I have previously received. Regardless the frustration is building. I will do a water change tonight, hope the bulbs look better tomorrow, and then try to stay positive.

Best part of this blog . . . . A place to vent my frustrations.

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I hope the new FOWLR goes well. You certainly are getting a fantastic group of fish. Mated Crosshatch! Color me green and it's not easy being green.

I am sorry to hear about your tough luck on the reef. It sounds like you are in good hands. I am sure things will turn around.

My feeling on bulbs is if they don't look right send them back. If you don't do it now they won't take them back. I don't know what ballasts and such you have, but go with your gut. Bad bulbs suck and cause problems.

BTW Great start to the blog.

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  • 5 months later...

The FOWLR has been set up for about three months now and things are going well. Brian and John from Kingfish provided great assistance with the move and set up. In fact, we have had a 100% survival rate on the fish that were relocated with the system. They include: mated pair of crosshatch triggers (Male 10", Female 8"), Queen Angel (8"), Majestic Angel (6"), Purple Tang (6"), Herbraicum Goldbar Wrasse (7"), Harlequin Tusk (7"), Polleni Grouper (5"), mated pair of true percula clownfish in huge Sebae Anemone (12" +), and 2 (1 pink, 1 green) flowerpot anemones.

Here are some pics:










In addition I have added a Lemonpeel Angel, who was actually the first fish placed back in the system, and a Blue Spotted Toby who was also added early on in the process of replacing the fish to the system. I have had one set back when I tried to add a pair of Semi Larvatus Butterflyfish that died in just a few short days. I am thinking of going with Saddled Butterflyfish on a second attempt.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 years later...

Just when I was going to post an entry on the success of moving both tanks with no livestock loss, it struck. We moved the tanks over the 4th of July Weekend to our new home with the help of Sea Clearly (Misti) and Fishworks (John Y.). The fish survived 3-4 days of living in Rubbermaid stock tanks for the breakdown and setup process. Reworked the FOWLR setup quite a bit to avoid plumbing through walls and was very happy with the new setup. Brought the fish over and they all seemed happy and were eating well. I had not suffered any fish loss (or seen any ich in tanks) for over two years at the time and most of my fish had been in the tanks for 3+ years. Some fish found new homes as we planned to change up the stocking plan for the tanks, but I didn't add any new livestock to the tanks as I wanted to let everything settle back in first.

About two weeks ago (nearly 30 days after the move) I noticed the first spots on a Barred Rabbitfish in the FOWLR. Made sure to get the UV sterilizer up and running and hoped for the best, as all the fish were fat and healthy, and quarantine and copper was not an option given the size and number of the fish in the system. Continued to feed regularly with garlic and selcon additives. Spots soon spread to the Lemonpeel Angel and in a couple of days he had passed, but the Rabbitfish was looking better so I remained hopeful. Then last week it took a turn for the worst. The Majestic Angel started showing spots and then progressed to stop eating. I figured his days were numbered. During his slow decline one of the Saddleback butterflyfish got some spots and was gone within 36 hours of first symptoms and the Majestic passed the next day. (Thursday). By this time the purple tang looked well salted as well. Luckily the pair of crosshatch triggers and the queen angel were healthy and clean. Turn the page to this week. The purple tang was still fighting, barely, and eating habits had started to falter. I hoped he would pull through, but was not optimistic. Monday I noticed the other saddleback butterflyfish and harlequin tusk had started to show symptoms. By last night the were both gone, but purple tang is showing improvement and appetite was back. Strangely the Rabbitfish that started this whole epidemic has no been symptom free and happy for over a week.

As of today, the purple tang is the only fish showing any symptoms and I hope that we are about to close the door on this. In 5+ years in the hobby I have only gone through this once before. At least that time I could trace it to the addition of a Powder Blue Tang. No addition this time, so I have to assume that it came along with some of the new substrate we put in the tanks when we moved them, and that the stress of the move had the fish vulnerable. My goal at this point is to get my remaining fish through (especially the pair of nearly irreplaceable crosshatch triggers) and rebuild. I wanted to change up the stocking a little, though this isn't the way I intended to go about it.

On the other hand, the aquatic nursing home know as my reef tank (most recently added fish was in August of 2006) has done well with no signs of sickness in its geriatric population.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The ich has been defeated and the FOWLR is in recovery. Still trying to settle in and have some cyano that hopefully will disappear after several more water changes and just some time of acclimating. The purple tang battled and has made a full recovery. The final butcher's bill on the ich attack was my lemonpeel angel, majestic angel, harlequin tuskfish, and pair of saddleback butterflyfish. The angels and tuskfish had been in the tank for 3+ years and were fully mature so their loss will be felt. It probably was too much to hope that we could move two tanks without any losses and I am thankful for the survival of my most prized inhabitants (pair of crosshatch triggers and 12" queen angel).

Now I am going to work to restore both tanks to their greatest potential. Once they are looking right, I hope to host a meeting and have everybody out to see them in their new setting.

BTW- I am very happy with some of my new equipment that I switched out in the tank move. The old components were great, but a little overkill for the tank. The reeflo Orca skimmer is really rocking and pulls a lot of nice thick skimmate out of the tank. The Dart Supergold is incredibly quiet and does a fine job handling the return alone. A nice thing when the loudest part of the entire setup is the canopy fans.

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