Sunday, October 28, 2007


Now is as good of a time as any to list what is keeping my tank's inhabitants alive. Here is the list in no particular order.

72 gallon bowfront all-glass aquarium with stand.
48" Odyssea 260 Watt Power Compact Light from the Fishman on eBay.
40 pounds of live rock. Will add more later.
60 pounds of Caribsea live sand.
1 Emperor 400 filter.
1 Emperor 280 filter.
1 AquaC Remora protein skimmer (used from Ebay).
1 Maxijet 1200 powerhead for protein skimmer (purchased new).
1 AquaC preskimmer/ bubble eliminator for the Maxijet 1200.
1 250W Marineland Stealth heater.
Instant Ocean Salt.
100 GPD Reverse Osmosis + dual DI canisters from Pure Water Club.

The preskimmer is somewhat of a pain. It is very sensitive to changes in water level and it seems like I am always adjusting the height. Also, a Green Chromis swam into it once. As soon as I turned off the pump he swam right back out. Do you think that maybe he saw Finding Nemo?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More Livestock

I had planned on going to the Morton Arboretum today to take some fall foliage pictures with our Canon XTi. However, the morning was cloudy and the forecast called for rain so I put those plans on hold. I suggested we head into the city to visit the Shedd Aquarium but my daughter turned her nose up at that idea since we were just there (in January). So, I decided that it was time to add more livestock to my tank and off we went to Beyond the Reef in Schaumburg, IL. Let me tell you, Beyond the Reef is a really nice LFS. All they stock is saltwater fish, corals and supplies. We probably spent an hour there admiring their wares. My daughter even said, and this is a quote, "Why should we pay to go downtown to the aquarium when we can come here for free."

We bought a Royal Gramma and an Emerald Crab. I bought the Royal Gramma because it is simply a beautiful fish. The emerald crab, well it's anything but beautiful. It's green and it's legs are as hairy as a french woman's. I bought the crab because rumor has it that it will eat bubble algae. I have some that hitchhiked into my tank on two pieces of live rock.

The tank seems to be doing great. The snails have eaten most of the non coralline algae off of my live rock and glass. These guys really work hard. Check out this picture of my glass. It is completely covered with snail bites.

The colors of the rock seem to be more vibrant now. I have some desirable looking macro algae mainly growing on one rock. This rock also has a lot of red coralline plate algae growing on it.
The only thing I'm not happy about is my peppermint shrimp. I haven't seen either of them for about a week. I can only assume at this point that they are no more. Edit: My son spotted one of them just as I was typing this. Weird.

I have two worm hitchhikers in this tank that I've seen. One is a small Christmas Tree Worm.

I've read that they are really not recommended for aquariums so we'll see how it does. It is really cool to see how quickly it can retract into its tube. If you want to see how quickly they can retract check out this video on YouTube.

I also have spotted what I think is a Spionid worm. It basically lives in a tube in an empty shell. It literally reels out two sticky antennae, sometimes one at a time, and snags the sand. It then reels the antennae back in and eats whatever plankton it happened to get. The shell eventually fills up with the sand that it reels in. Here is a picture of it. If you look closely you can seen an antenna sticking out of the white tube in the shell.

I can't wait to add to this tank. I would like to get a yellow tang, a six line wrasse, and one or two cleaner shrimp. I would also like to add some soft corals so I better not add too many more fish.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If at first you don't succeed...

Still in "pain" over the loss of the Green Chromis I took a water sample to Exotic Aquatics, my local fish store (LFS). Everything tested perfectly. Ammonia - zip, nitrite - nil, nitrate - goose eggs, pH - a perfect 8.2, phosphate - not a trace. My water conditions were described as perfect. Must've been a fluke. Perhaps he was attacked in the middle of the night by some unknown creature that lurks in the shadows of my tank. So I decided to replace my Green Chromis. He is in his bag acclimating to his new home as I type. I hope this one decides to live longer than a day or two.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Well, it was inevitable. I've lost my first fish. A Green Chromis has perished. I couldn't find it this morning when I turned on the lights. When I came home from work I found it on the sand in the back of the live rock. It's gills barely beating. When I moved the rock it swam out. However, since it was swimming in a style resembling somersaults I knew its minutes were numbered. I knew it wouldn't recover. The only thing left to do was sacrifice it to the porcelain god and hope that with this sacrifice the rest of the fish would be spared. At least this was only an $8 fish. This is why you start with the cheap fish. Yes, all of you fresh water enthusiasts 8 bucks is as cheap as it gets. I did measure ammonia and nitrites. The ammonia is somewhere between 0 and .1 mg/l. It's so hard to read the color. Nitrite is at 0 mg/l. Good bye Green Chromis. We loved you.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Couldn't resist adding more

Yesterday (day 7) I couldn't resist expanding the reef. Ammonia and nitrate measured zero so I figured what the hell. I always loved the green chromis so I bought three of them. They like to school so they are more comfortable in groups. They are a lovely fish. In the back of the tank they look green while in the front they appear blue. Their color always seems to change based on the way the light reflects off of them.

I also purchased ten more hermit crabs and ten more snails. Even though I only paid for ten of each the guy at Exotic Aquatics gave me about 20 or 25 crabs and about 15 snails. He also gave me an assortment of empty shells for the entrepreneuring crab that wants to move on up to a bigger shell.

One of the empty shells didn't turn out to be empty at all. It was home to what I think is a Christmas Tree Worm.

There was also a tiny Brittle Star hitchhiker no bigger than the the diameter of a pencil eraser from tip to tip in the bag of water. My youngest son spotted it and saved from what would've been a ride down the drain. We released him into the tank and he drifted until he, or she, was able to grab a rock. It then disappeared. I doubt we will ever see it again.

Today is day eight. Green algae is now starting to grow all over the glass. The brown algae seems to be slowing down but that may be due to the crabs turning over the live sand and the snails eating it off of the live rock.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Crabs, Snails and Hernias Oh My!

Last Friday, day five, I added ten small blue legged hermits, one large red hermit and five snails to the tank. The red crab, who my boys call Mr. Crabs in honor of Sponge Bob's miser boss, pretty much sits around and does nothing. The blue crabs and snails are always hard at work cleaning the tank. The snails are quite effective at removing the brown algae that has started to grow on the live rock.

Yesterday I prepared for a water change by making a new batch of salt water. Somehow I must've lifted a bucket wrong because a short time later I noticed I had a hernia. That's just fantastic. I didn't feel a thing when it happened so I don't know for sure if that's what casued it. However, the bucket was the only thing I lifted in the last 24 hours. So now my new found hobby, my new obsession, is going to require me to go under the scalpal. Everyone talks about how expensive this hobby is. Has anyone factored in the cost of surgery? Looking on the bright side, at least my deductable is paid off.

Yesterday, on day six, I measured ammonia and nitrite levels. Ammonia is at 0. Nitrite is at .1 ppm.

Today, day seven, I noticed some small patches of red algae growing on the sand bed in the middle of the brown.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brown Algae

This is day four. This morning one of my clown fish looked like it was close to death. It was plastered flat against my skimmer's overflow box and was barely moving. When I reached in for it, it swam away like nothing was ever wrong. Weird.

Also, when I turned the lights on this morning I spied numerous "bugs." Some were crawling. Some were swimming. I even spotted a tiny snail scooting across the sand bed. It appears that the tank really comes alive in the dark.

When I came home from work this evening I found my formerly pristine white sand bed to be brown in large spots. The brown algae bloom has begun. Not a sign of it this morning at all. Now I have large patches of it on the sand. I can also see that my live rock is starting to turn brown in spots too.

I haven't seen either of my two peppermint shrimp now for 24 hours. My youngest son loves shrimp and wanted to name them fried and popcorn. Should I worry? Wait. I just saw one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Day Three

My tank has been inhabited for three days now. So far so good. No deaths that I know of anyway. My two common clowns swim all over the tank. My two pepermint shrimp, well I don't know where they are. I saw one this morning. I know they are mostly nocturnal so I'm not too worried. Ammonia and nitrite are both at 0.

I love looking at the live rock. I bought my live rock from Birds and Beasts in Crystal Lake, Illinois. At $8/lb I overpaid. However this live rock had more life on it than I have seen in any other pet shop. It is totally encrusted with Coraline algae and some red and green macro algae. It is also much more porus than the rock I have seen at other local fish stores.

What is that anemone-like thing in the center of the picture. I'm told that it isn't the dreaded Aiptasia pest anemone. Could it be Nausithoe cf. punctata which is the polyp stage of a jellyfish? Whatever it is I have hundreds of them all over my rock. Hopefully they don't become a problem.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Saltwater Redux

It's been thirteen years since I had a saltwater tank. It was a miserable failure. I dreamed of a living reef with soft corals and thriving anemones. Instead what I got was a thriving crop of hair algae. Every few weeks I had to remove all the rocks, lace rock I believe, from my tank and scrub them with a toothbrush. The only fish I managed to keep alive were two common clown fish. That was until we moved. They died an undignified death in a Styrofoam cooler in my foyer and that was the end of my tank.

The tank actually sat empty in my family room for at least a year, maybe longer. I kept threatening to resurrect it but never did. I was haunted by the brushing of the rocks and the cost of all the fish I lost.

Eventually the tank became a freshwater tank. Our water supply is extremely hard so I even failed at that. I then figured out that African cichlids thrive on hard water and converted the tank over to an all African cichlid tank. The tank was nice. It was colorful but in my mind I knew it didn't come close to a salt water tank. Oh, I tried to convince myself it did but I knew what I wanted all along was to go back to a saltwater tank.

The Flood

One weekend I came home from working out and walked into my laundry room to find my feet in about an inch of water. The washing machine had overflowed and leaked under the walls into our family room. I dried as much of the carpeting as I could but, unfortunately, the 55 gallon cichlid tank was in the middle of the flood. Within a few days the room stunk to high heaven and the carpeting had to be replaced. The only way to remove the carpeting was to move the tank. I happened to have a 75 gallon tank in the basement that I had just bought for $50 from a friend. I set it up and moved the the cichlids there. The carpet was replaced and the previous location of the tank in the family room remained vacant for almost two years.

Scratch the itch

The vacant spot in an alcove in the family room had to be filled. As of last week it is home to a 72 gallon bowfront All Glass aquarium. On Saturday October 13'th, it was filled with RO/DI water and added countless cups of Instant Ocean. On Sunday I purchased 40 pounds of live rock and 60 pounds of live sand and placed them in the tank. It took about a day for the tank to clear up from milky white after the sand was added. On Monday I replaced the two clown fish I lost 13 years ago. So far so good. Today, I added two Peppermint Shrimp because I freaked out about all of the Aiptasia that I may have just added to my tank with that live rock.

This blog will document my progress on this tank. I'll post pictures. I'll share my successes and failures. Hopefully, the failures will be far and few between.