Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Seeing Pink

In my first attempt at a saltwater tank 14 years ago I wanted to grow Coralline algae so badly. I was never able to do it. I was just using the standard lights that came with my tank and I was using tap water. The only thing I was able to get to thrive in my tank was hair algae and a couple of clownfish. Everything else died within a month or so. The clownfish liked it though. They would host inside a patch of hair algae on a piece of lace rock. They wiggled around in that algae just like it was an anemone.

In my current tank I haven't seen any hair algae. There may have been a little on one of the pieces of live rock that I put in the tank. However, it quickly disappeared. This tank is definitely dominated by the pinks, purples and even some greens of Coralline algae. It continues to spread like crazy. When I saw the the first circles of the algae on the glass I was overjoyed. Now, however, the algae is starting to become somewhat of a pain. I have a hard time keeping up with it. Even though I clean your typical green, red and brown algaes off the front glass every few days with my magnet cleaner this doesn't keep the coralline under control. Once it takes root it has to be scraped off with a razor blade. It is especially bad at the sand bed where I'm afraid to clean with the magnet cleaner for fear of trapping sand in the cleaner and scratching the glass.

The following pictures were taken yesterday. This is approximately five months after starting my tank.

If you are curious you can look at the pictures from January 13th, 2008 and October 17th, 2007 for reference.

I know lots of people would love to have this problem. It does indeed look nice and I don't want it to go away. However, it does tend to increase the maintenance that has to be done. So what am I doing to get the algae to grow so rapidly? I'm not completely sure but here is a list of things that I bet contribute:

1. Only RO/DI water goes into the tank. Never a drop of tap water.
2. 48" Odyssea 260 Watt Power Compact Lights from the Fishman on eBay w/ stock 10000K daylight bulbs and true actinics. Daylight bulbs go on at 8:00 am and turn off at 10:30 pm. Actinics turn on at 7:45 and turn off at 10:45. So, I have roughly 14 1/2 hours of lighting in the tank.
3. Dose with 15 ml of each part of Oceans Blend two part calcium and pH/Alkalinity daily. Well almost daily. If I sleep in after 8:00 on the weekend (pretty much every weekend) I won't dose since the instructions say to dose before the lights come on to avoid pH spikes. My calcium level is at 460ppm.
4. Dose with 1 1/2 cap fulls of Kent Marine Tech I iodine each Sunday.
5. Water change using Instant Ocean every 3 to 4 weeks.
6. Use a protein skimmer.
7. Last but not least live rock. Unlike other algae in your tank the coralline won't show up unless you seed it. You need to add live rock. The rock I bought had a lot of coralline growing on it already. The quality of your rock probably makes a big difference.

That's all I can think of. Good luck on getting Coralline to grow in your tanks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Crawling Tongue

A few days ago I had to move my tongue coral. This thing moves along the sand bed. It moves at a pace that makes a snail look like it is reved up on Red Bull. Over the course of the last few months it moved from its home between the glass and live rock up to the front glass. It started out parallel to the glass and ended up perpendicular to it. I had to move it so I can clean the glass with my Mag Float glass cleaner.

I have seen the coral move itself at least twice. Each time it only moved a few millimeters. Just before moving the coral changes from brown to green and partially retracted its tentacles. Then, all at once it pushes itself by swelling the tissue that is in contact with the sand bed. It then extended its tentacles and turned brown again. It moves itself just a little bit and then goes back to being its normal sedentary self.

This time I'm going to watch it closely and document its progress as it moves. Here is a photo of its current location.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hosting Brain Coral

Well, it looks like it's final. My Ocellaris Clownfish has decided that it wants to host in my open brain coral rather than the green bubble tip anemone in the tank. For the last several months the clownfish has hung out near the coral. It would even venture between the walls of the big polyps. Today, I noticed it rubbing around inside a polyp over and over again and sometimes just laying down inside of it. I guess it makes sense. One of the preferred host anemones for the Ocellaris is the giant carpet anemone. This open brain coral resembles a green carpet anemone more than the green bubble tip anemone does.

It is somewhat of a disappointment though because I hoped i would be able to see the clownfish wiggle around inside the tentacles of a real anemone. I knew that it was unlikely that the two would bond when I bought the anemone several months ago but I decided to go for it anyway. This is still fun to watch though.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Your Inner Fish

I just finished reading Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. My wife reviews books for several blogs and she brought this one home. I picked up before she could read it and couldn't put it down.

This book answered a lot of questions that I always had about human development. Why do almost all animals on earth have pretty much the same body structure? Head and mouth in the front followed by two arms or fins followed by two legs or another fin and of course the anus in the rear. It is written in an easy to read format with just enough science to get the point across but not so much to lose you.

One thing that fascinates me about this hobby is how we get to raise and study animals that don't fit that mold. Anemones and corals don't look anything like us. They look more like plants than animals. The author of this book does devote some of the text to jellyfish, anemones and corals. We actually do share some of our DNA with them. We are more similar than one may think.

Whether or not you believe in evolution or creationism I highly recommend this book. If you are an evolutionist, like I am, you will find this book fascinating. It takes you through the fossil record and describes when different types of animals showed up on this planet. If you are a creationist, don't worry. The author does not shove evolution down your throat. I believe the word is written only one or twice in the entire book. If you believe in a creator you will be amazed by the common genetic formula that exists in us all and how closely we are linked to Gods other creatures. I urge you to give it a try.


I noticed what I think is a small white Conch shell on a piece of live rock today. It is no bigger than a few millimeters in length. This piece of live rock is the one I got for free because my anemone would not detach from it in the store. This rock also has a lot of stubby worm like things on it which don't seem to do much. No feathery plumes, no long wormy appendages. There are some long yellow worms on this rock also that let out their appendages and sweep for food. Some of these are visible in this photo.

Snail Orgy

This morning I noticed that one of my Astrea snails had a pile of white things around it that resembled little sesame seeds. Looking around some more I noticed them around another snail. Then I noticed them on top of several rocks. I looked back at the first snail and I happened to see an egg shoot out of the snail. It appears to me that several of the snails in my tank decided to lay eggs on the same night. Yesterday was the first day of spring. Are snails smarter than we think? Can they read the calendar? How do they know to spawn at the same time with no additional cues?
In the picture above you can see the pile of eggs lying below the snail. The vent from which the eggs were laid is also visible just below the shell and just to the left of the egg pile. If all goes well I may be overrun with snails soon.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I commented that I have some hitchhiker coral growing on the back-side of a rock. Well, I finally got my hands wet and turned the rock around and got the camera out. What I have here is a small colony of Zoanthids. These are really small and it turned out to be difficult to photograph. I took about 25 pictures before I got one that was good enough to post.

I also have a few white sponges that hitchiked their way into my tank. Here is a picture of one of them I took today. My green bubble-tip anemone is in the lower-right of the picture. Some other green Zoanthids that I purchased are in the upper-left.

Here is a picture of the same sponge taken on January 12th.

My, how it has grown.

Rod's Food

When I first set up my tank I fed only Formula One flake food. A few weeks later I started feeding frozen Formula One and frozen Formula Two. The frozen Formula One is red and mostly fish based whereas the two is supposed to be more for herbivores. My fish never really liked the Formula Two but they loved the frozen One. They also seem to love the Formula One flake.

A few months ago I started feeding frozen Rod's Food and frozen Mysis shrimp. My fish love both of these. The Rod's food is made up of all sorts of visible shrimp and fish parts and the fish go after it like crazy.

I mainly feed flake in the morning because I'm usually in a hurry. In the evening I would rotate between Formula One, Rod's food and mysis shrimp for variety. About every other day I'll clip a piece of Nori in the tank. My tangs and my cleaner shrimp go after this like crazy too.

My "problem" is that once I started feeding the Rod's Food my fish thumb their noses at the frozen Formula One. They swim up to it quickly and just watch it fall to the bottom. There the crabs and shrimp will go for it. My fish, however, have voted. They prefer the Rod's food big time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Clean Your Cup

I noticed that my AquaC Remora protein skimmer was producing les and less skimate. I had to keep lowering the cup to increase the skimate amount. Eventually, it stopped producing anything in significant amounts. There were plenty of frothy bubbles coming over the top of the tube but that was about it.

I had read that some frozen foods can interfere with the efficiency of protein skimmers. I started feeding Rod's food every few days several weeks ago. I thought, perhaps, this new food was reducing the amount of skimate.

I was emptying the cup regularly and rinsing it out. Two days ago I looked at the tube leading into the cup really closely. The tube had a thin coating of green slime on the inside. The coating was about 1/8 of an inch thick all the way around. Overall, it looked like this coating was insignificant compared to the diameter of the tube. I decided to clean the tube really well. I removed all the scum and replaced the cup. One day later the cup was about 1/4 full of wet skimate. It was producing large amounts again.

I'll probably have to raise the the cup level to make the skimate more concentrated. For now I'll let it run wet to get the most out of the water. Perhaps my "malfunctioning" skimmer is responsible for the declining health of my Xenia. I'll be sure to report how things go. In the meantime be sure to clean your skimmer regularly.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm Melting

My Xenia is melting away and I have no idea why. It keeps getting smaller and smaller. At one time it was thriving and pulsing. Now it's just a limp and miniature version of its former self.

My other corals are doing well. My branching frogspawn is growing nicely. My tongue coral is growing new polyps and even moves itself around slightly. My open brain also looks really good, although I can't really say it is growing.
My Xenia, on the other hand, is now much smaller than my cleaner shrimp. That's got to be embarrassing.
I'm not sure what to do about it. I'm dosing with Kent Marine Tech I iodine weekly. I'm at the recommended half dosage of 1 capful for each 50 gallons. You are supposed to dose at the full dosage for the 1st 4 weeks and then cut the dosage in half. In January I reported that the iodine was really helping. The xenia was looking rather limp for a while and the iodine brought it back to life. Now it doesn't seem to be helping at all. The xenia looks worse now than it ever has before.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

You Thought Your Weekend Was Bad

My poor bubble anemone had a really bad weekend. On Saturday it decided it didn't like its home anymore so it decided to move. Instead of crawling to a new home it decided to be lazy and float to a new home. I witnessed it detach from its rock and float across the tank. It tumbled through the water like a tumbleweed. Not unlike the opening scene to the Big Lebowski. It ended up getting lodged against a rock on the other side of the tank. A little later I saw it firmly attached to the left-side glass. I went and ran some errands that afternoon. When I came home I found it sucked up against the intake of my hang-on-the back filter. The anemone's tentacles were sucked into the tiny openings of the input screen. These are really small algae encrusted slits but somehow the tentacles made it in there. I was able to turn off the filter and pull the tentacles out. The anemone was shriveled up but I knew it would be fine because the tentacles came out so easily. I placed it against a rock and it soon grabbed it with its foot and opened up. Crisis averted.

So I thought. Overnight it decided to float around the tank again. In the morning it was stuck up against the filter again. This time it was much more difficult to extract it. Little pieces of junk started floating around when I started pulling it out. It took about 10 or 15 minutes to extract it from the screen. One small piece with about 3 tentacles ripped off in the process. The anemone looked really bad afterwards. I turned off the power heads to stop the current in the tank and placed it on the sand up against a rock. Again, a few hours later it attached to the rock and opened. It looks fine now but if anemones can feel pain it must have been in agony for a while.

I decided to leave the powerheads off for a while. I'm not sure what has upset my anemone. It may be the current. It is awfully high with my two new Koralia 3 power heads installed. Even with one powerhead off and one on the current is still really high. Even if it isn't the current that is bothering it I'll leave the powerheads off for a while just in case the anemone decides to dislodge itself again. With less current in the tank there is less of a chance of it floating up to the filter intake again.

What is up with the creatures of my tank getting sucked up into filters and powerheads anyway? These were episodes 3 and 4 respectively.