Monday, August 27, 2012

[EHEIM OPAL] Hemianthus Callitrichoides 'Cuba'

top: ooh so blissful. Totally unaware of the upcoming catastrophe

top: pulling up the carpet from the substrate. Felt like a decent thick carpet.

top: Now it is sitting in a tub ready to be shipped off to Mark :)

Hemianthus Callitrichoides 'Cuba'
So it is time to pull out all the HC and start again from scratch. The carpet was getting too thick and it was just a matter of time till it pulled itself up.
I have taken several photos of how to pull this plant out. It was actually a lot easier than I thought. Replanting was just a matter of sticking a few pieces back into the substrate and topping it off.

Here is some information on HC Cuba:
1. Plant in small patches using tweezers. Cover 80% of the plant so it doesn't float everywhere.
2. It needs high light.
3. It needs good substrate - I prefer ADA Aquasoil.
4. CO2 helps but is not 100% necessary.
5. Fertilisation helps but is not 100% necessary.

TIP: I have been asked many times how to grow this plant. It comes down to good substrate, good light and good CO2. All these three factors are necessary for a healthy growth. When i drop my lights back, the plant doesn't grow. When i drop my CO2 back, it goes yellow. Too much light and you may get algae issues. I use 2x T5HOs in a 3 foot tank. So far PMDD fertilisation is working well.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

[MARINE TANK] Ultra Golden Hammer and Yellow Tipped Torch

I got a few more corals today from Matt

Here is an updated list of my collection:
1. Green Duncans
2. Sun Coral (pain in the ass to feed but my favourite at the moment)
3. Zoas (will post up a good picture later on)
4. Purple tipped CAT
5. Ultra Golden Hammer (my second favourite)
6. Toxic Hammer Green
7. Ultra Golden Yellow Tipped Torch
8. Green Rhodactis

I must say I am very impressed with the Golden Hammer. It looks metallic yellow. I will post up more pics once the other corals have settled. Tank is in the process of a Diatomic Bloom. (Brown slime all over glass and substrate).

Biggest issue is water evaporation. I am losing about 1L/day. I have purchased a Tunze Osmolator Universal 3155 (will post up pics later on).

TIP: When a sun coral is first purchased it will likely be in its skeleton. To tease it to come out, place a half cut coke bottle on top of it and turn the lights off (polyps seem sensitive to light). Mix some frozen food in a cup and using a syringe squirt a little into the coke bottle. Wait an hour for the polyps to come out. Once the polyps extend out, gently feed them using a syringe.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

[MARINE TANK] First Corals

Duncan to the left and Zoas to the right

Left: Weir plumbing Right: Sump setup

Here are pictures of my plumbing job. I have finished the two drains and have re-routed the return pipe to the back of the tank. This will ensure I never get any flooding problems in the future.

New Corals
I have made a few purchases of the hardier types of softies.
The Duncans were amazing; they opened up the next day. The Zoas have not all opened up yet but 30% of them have. The red ones are still closed and the green ones are partially open.
The Ricordia do not seem to be doing so well. Time will tell if they survive.

Here are my purchases in non specific order.
- Ricordia (Green / Purple)
Darth Maul Zoa - has red dots in centre
Armor of God - red with pink ring
- Duncans (3 polyps)
- ACRO (not expecting this to survive was given to me for free)

Clean up crew
- 2 x hermits
- 1 x peppermint
- several turbos

TIP: I acclimitise my coral using a container within a bucket. Basically I drip water from the sump into the container till it overflows into the bucket. Afterwards I introduce the coral into the tank.

Friday, August 3, 2012

[MARINE TANK] Durso Standpipe

Above: My Durso Standpipe assembled and curing; Right: Display - no life yet

above: Before and after plumbing the Durso Standpipe into the system

The Durso Stand Pipe
I am very pleased after filling my tank. I sit back, relax and close my eyes. Then I hear gurgling as the water drains down the weir... no what?
After an hour I feel a little annoyed so I do a bit of reading on how to solve this problem. The solution is simple enough. Build a Durso Standpipe.
What is a Durso Standpipe?
A Durso standpipe is a DIY contraption that is designed to eliminate gurgling from the weir. It is designed to suck water from below instead so it eliminates the "whirlpool" as water emptied down the piping into the sump.
Here is a link to the website that i used to build my Durso.

Lighting for the Refugium
Now comes the second issue. What kind of lighting do I use in the refugium? After some researching I have come to three conclusions:
1. Lowest wattage that seems okay is 12W (20watts is optimal)
2. 6500K Cool Daylight bulb seems optimal (although some say warm bulbs reduce incidence of algae)
3. Sit it 4 inches above the surface of the water (prevents macro dying and causing rust issues)
4. Either can be left on 24/7 or on a reverse cycle

Since my main aim is to conserve energy, the phillips 12W from bunnings sufficed. I chose the reverse photoperiod to save electricity and to create a stable pH. The only downside was this increases the risk of my macro going "sexual" and releasing spores into my system. I will deal with this problem later on.

Eliminating Catastrophe
Now comes the third issue. My nano only has one drain in the weir. There are 2 holes drilled into the base. One hole is used as the return from the sump. The other is the drain. So when a snail decides to sit in the drain, it will obviously overflow my tank! Although the possibility of this happening is quite low, this makes me paranoid!
So after some brainstorming I have decided to use both holes in the weir as the drain to the sump. This leaves me with no "hole" for the return pipe from the sump. A visit to Bunnings quickly solved that issue. I put some PVC together (see below) for my "return pipe". This will sit behind my tank and connect the return pump back into the display. I will take a picture of this once it has all been constructed.

TIP: There are two popular macro choices. Caulerpa spp. and the Chaetomorpha spp. Caulerpa grows fast and is easy to keep. It however has the undesirable characteristic of going sexual and releasing spores into the system causing crashes. For this reason, 24/7 lighting and regular pruning may be of benefit. It also is invasive and can easily attach to liverock. However since it grows very fast, it is a great phosphate and nitrate sponge. Chaetomorpha is the more popular of the two choices. This macro algae (fondly named Chaeto by aquarists) is also relatively easy to keep and is a floating algae. It has the huge advantage of not going "sexual" but does not look as attractive as Caulerpa and is best kept in the sump out of sight.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

[MARINE TANK] Custom made sump

above: before and after filling of water

above: Sump

above: filtration - live rock and marine pure block

above: sump diagram and picture

Sump modification
Hence with Brett's help (credit to Brett from MASS) we have come up with a highly efficient sump that will have a DSB and refugium. The modified sump has a second area for live rock beneath the skimmer (will show some pictures of this later) and is designed to route water from the skimmer compartment in a 90 degree bend to the return pump chamber. There will also be 3x baffles before the water enters the return pump to remove micro bubbles.

Sump took a couple of days to make. I let the silicon cure for 4 days (although i hear 48 hours is adquate).

For sump filtration and denitrification I have heard good things about Marine Pure Ceramic Media Blocks (see the pic above). It is a very porous block that greatly increases surface area for filtration. Since it is thick as well, it is also great at reducing nitrates. I have placed the largest portion on this block beneath the skimmer in the skimmer compartment.

The other portion will be placed in the refugium.

For the substrate I used Caribsea Arag-alive Oolite sand in the refugium as the Deep Sand Bed and Caribea Reef Sand as the substrate in the display. I will still be fiddling around with this until I learn more.
I hear a 4-5" DSB is ideal, but there is some argument that 5" is too deep. For myself, I have used a 3" DSB for two reasons. Firstly, I am out of Oolite sand. Secondly, the sand I use is SUPER fine and hence I think 3" will be enough.

Tank Filling
This was the hardest and most tedious job! I used Coral Pro Reef Salt mix to make up the water to 1.020 but will gradually increase the SG to the recommended parameter. Water ended up all cloudy, but i think this is the combination of unbalanced parameters (calcium precipitation) and substrate disturbance. It should clear up in a few days.

TIP: I am just learning Saltwater so although these tips will be obvious to some reefers, these are mistakes that I have made and may come in handy for those following my footsteps in future. Firstly, make sure you rinse the oolite adequately before you dump it into the tank. This stuff clouds the tank like crazy! Secondly, I used tap water to rinse my oolite and I hear Prime is still effective for removing chlorine. Salt water Chloride is apparently not affected by this product. Thirdly, Never go stingy with your live rock. I am 100x happier that I got a better looking piece than my previous piece (even though i paid 3x for it).