Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy as a Tridacna Maxima

I've been longing for a clam for some time. I finally came home with one yesterday. It's only a few inches long.

Last night I placed it high on a rock and placed a small rock next to it to keep it in place. This morning it wasn't there. It had fallen between two pieces of LR. I decided to place it in the sand so it wouldn't fall again. I hope it gets enough light there. This evening I burried a piece of rock in the sand and placed the clam on top of that. This will allow me to move it without breaking any of its byssal threads that would otherwise attach to the bottom of the tank.

It doesn't look like it has fully extended its mantle yet. Then again I disturbed it this evening to place the rock under it. It quickly draws in its mantle when my yellow tang swims close by.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Another close up of my BTA.

What a gorgeous creature. Looking closely at its flesh you can see patterns that are reminiscent of the colors and patterns of oil on water.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Baby Coral

Under my toadstool grows a tiny leather coral. I've noticed it a few months ago. It is now large enough to photograph, but barely.

Here is a crop of the same picture.
It is most likely a Colt since I already have a large one in my tank. If I'm lucky it may be something new like a Kenya Tree.

Only time will tell.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Crazy Clown

For over a year I tried to get my ocellaris clown to host my bubble tip anemone. I finally gave up and bought a tomato clown that happily lives within its tentacles.

A few weeks ago I put a small plastic container in my tank to grow out some Xenia frags. Guess who has decided to make it his home. This clown basically lives inside the container now and swims all around it. If my tomato gets to close to it he defends it and chases his cousin away. Kind of nutty.

So don't expect your clown to host with the anemone you put in your tank. He may prefer a piece of plastic.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Xenia Frag Farm

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

I got tired of all of my Xenia frags taking up valuable real estate on my sand bed so I built myself a frag farm. I already had a piece of egg crate so all I needed to do was purchase the 1/2" PVC pipe and fittings. No PVC cement was used. Everything is just press fit. This will allow me to make changes and I didn't have to worry about letting the cement cure.

My LFS was on the way home so I stopped in. I was looking for a clam but the one I liked had been sold. Instead I decided to purchase some SPS corals.

First is an orange Montipora Digitata.

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

Next is a Green Slimer Acropora. This staghorn coral is huge. It got its name because it produces a lot of slime when disturbed. This one lived up to its name.

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

I dipped these corals in an iodine solution for about 7 minutes to kill off any flatworms or red bugs that might be along for the ride.

Thankfully my wife is understanding of my obsession. I do feel like I need to contact Reefaholics Anonymous.

My name is Paul and I'm a Reefaholic...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Frags

Bought three new frags today.

A Favia
From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

Two candy cane polyps
From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

and some yellow polyps
From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

Saturday, January 17, 2009


From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

Here is a macro shot of my new zoas.

While working on these photos I discovered I had dust on my DSLR's sensor. I bought a bulb blower which removed most of it. There are still some small dust or pollen particles on the sensor that need to be cleaned. I'll have to figure out what to use to clean it without damaging the camera.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Maintaining Your Overflow Box

Tonight I noticed that the water in my tank was much higher than it should be. It was starting to submerge the cross brace. My Hofer Gurgle Buster had gotten clogged with some big chunks o algae. This caused the water level to rise in the overflow box which caused the level to rise in the tank. The water level had not yet reached the hole on top of the gurgle buster which is there to start a siphon and quickly lower the level if it ever gets submerged.

I pulled the Gurgle Buster out and cleaned it but the level didn't drain quickly. The reduced flow had caused some extra bubbles to accumulate in the siphon tube and reduced flow. So, I spent some time cleaning the algae out of the tube. I really need to get a flexible brush because using paper towels is a pain in the arse.

I cut some pipe off the Gurgle Buster to lower the level that the siphon action will start if it ever gets clogged again. everything is running again and working normally.

My salinity dropped from 1.025 to 1.024 during all of this because the elevated level in the tank dropped the level in my sump which allowed more RO in to maintain the level. I'll just let the salinity rise again to 1.025 as the water evaporates. Everything should be fine.

Since the tank consumed so much RO water during this the container got close to being emptied. This would have halted the rise of water in the display tank. Had I plumbed an RO unit directly into my sump for a totally automated top off system I could have had a flood. Requiring some extra maintenance may be a good thing after all. From now on the Gurgle Buster and siphon tube will get cleaned during water changes every two weeks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unexpected Child

Since replacing my light fixture with my new T5 6x54W Nova Extreme Pro I've been increasing the amount of light that all 6 bulbs are on by hour per day. Soon after installing it my toadstool developed a spot of sunburn even though all 6 bulbs were on for only about 4 or 5 hours a day. At that point I throttled the lighting way back so that only 4bulbs on were on for 4 hours per day. I kept adding an hour of illumination per day until today. Now, 6 bulbs are on for 12 hours a day from 10 am to 10 pm. 2 bulbs are on from 9 am to 10 am and from 10 pm to 11 pm to simulate dawn and dusk.

All signs of sunburn on the toadstool are long gone and the toadstool now looks very healthy. In fact it has decided to have a child. Just under the top of the toadstool is a very small toadstool growing sideways off the main stalk. I commented on a small ball of tentacles a few days ago. It tuns out that it is a small toadstool. I wasn't able to see it until last night after all off the lights went out and all of the polyps retracted. The toadstool must be enjoying the new lights.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I purchased a zoa rock about a year ago. It game with a little patch of green SPS coral on it.
From Paul's Reef

The zoas have not done well. There are only 4 or 5 left and they never open completely.

The green SPS coral from what I can tell is porites. It, on the other hand, is doing well. It is spreading over the rock. In certain places I can actually see day to day growth.

Here are some macro shots of the porites along with a few remaining zoa polyps.
From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

I'm not sure what did in my zoas. This isn't encouraging since zoas are supposed to be easy. To encourage the porites to grow I placed the rock high in the tank so they would get a lot of light. Did the zoas not like this location? I moved the rock to the sand substrate when I upgraded my lighting to T5s. Hopefully, they like it there. The porites do. They're still growing.

Perhaps the zoas didn't like my higher nitrate levels. Perhaps this colony was finicky. I bough small zoa frag last week. We'll see how well this one does.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This Bud's for You

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

My toadstool has developed a little ball of tentacles. I'm wondering if this is a bud and it is basically going to frag itself? It is only loosely connected to the mother. I never noticed it before because it is obscured when the mother's polyps are extended.

I always thought these budded from the foot. Indeed, there are a few polyps growing off the foot that I have been watching. Unfortunately I have yet been able to take a decent picture of them.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'm a TDS Meter Believer

So, I've had some time to use my TDS meter. What I found was that the output of my RO/DI unit was not the pure water I was hoping for. Instead of having a low reading, close to 0, the output was measuring anywhere from 200 down to 40ppm. The longer the RO/DI unit sat idle, the higher the reading would be. If I ran it for a long time the reading would drop.

My meter has two inputs. A slide switch selects which input is displayed on the LCD; in or out. I originally hooked it up to measure my water supply into the RO unit, municipal supply and the output out of the DI that went into my storage container. My municipal input has a TDS reading of about 300 ppm. Since I can't control it and since it doesn't need to be monitored regularly I moved the TDS in probe to measure the water out of the RO filter which feeds the input of the DI filter.

What I found was that the RO output had a TDS reading of 6 ppm. Since the DI output was varying between 200 and 40 it was obvious that the DI resin was actually contaminating the water rather than filtering it. Time to change the resin. The resin indeed was very dark but I never noticed it because the location of the filter is pretty dark.

So I ordered more resin from the Pure Water Club on eBay.This where I bought the filter 15 months ago. The refill resin arrived quickly and I replaced the resin in the two canisters. Now, my RO/DI filter produces pure water with a TDS measurement of 0 ppm.

The moral of this long-winded story is if your RO/DI filter is more than 6 months old you really should get a TDS meter to verify your water quality is what you think it is.

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Frags

I've been resisting going to the LFS for some time. I love visiting the place but if I go in I always come out with something. I decided it was time. My nitrates are at 0.5 ppm and I have new lights. I like buying frags. They sell frags for$19. If they don't make it its not the end of the world. I can buy 3 frags for what the price of one coral usually costs.

So here's what I got.

An orange (or is it red) monti cap frag. It's about 3 inches across. I was bale to wedge into this piece of LR so thats where it is going to live.
From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

and a Zoa frag. This frag is only about 2 inches across but has two different types on it.
From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

I bought a zoa rock a long time ago and it didn't do well. There are only about 4 polyps left on it. I want to see if this one does better before buying more.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Caught You

I caught the smaller of my two known Mythrax crabs that I talked about in my earlier post. I basically took the piece of live rock out that he called home, held it over my refugiuem and prodded him with some pliers until he came scooting out and dove into the fuge.

I then picked him up out of the fuge and took these pictures:
From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

He's back in the fuge hiding under some Chaeto.

I Can See Your Beady Red Eyes

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

I have another Mythrax crab. This one hangs out in a crevice in my live rock right in front of the tank. He is also a mason. He gathered up a bunch of live rock rubble and he uses it to wall himself off inside his crevice.

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

I thought I had a picture of him completely walled off but I looked and can't find one. You'll have to take my word for it. I only noticed this guy originally because I saw a piece of rock wiggling. I wasn't sure what it was at first because the crab was not visible behind his wall. A few days later the top of the wall was gone and I was able to see the crab tucked away in its home.

My tank is also home to another Mythrax crab. The other one has hairy legs and probably has a leg span of about 4 inches. I need to get him out of the tank and into the fuge before he develops an appetite for corals and fish. He moves so fast that I have not been able to catch him yet. I need to implement a trap by tying a piece of shrimp to a small rock and putting it in the bottom of a small plastic container. Crabs check in but they can't check out. I may try to get this small one out sooner than later while he is still easy to catch.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tentacle Lickin' Good

From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

I fed my Bubble Tipped Anemone a small sliver of frozen Formula One yesterday. It closed around the piece of food and ate it. When it started opening back up I was able to snap this picture of the anemone with a tentacle still in its mouth. I never really knew before how it got the food to its mouth. I always thought that the tentacles kind of pushed it in that direction until it fell in. From this picture it looks like a tentacle grabs the food and places it in the mouth.

How does it do this? This animal has no brain. How does it know the spatial relationship between its tentacles and its mouth? Simply fascinating.

Confused Clown

Every few days my BTA expels all of its water and shrinks down to nothing for an hour or so. My tomato clown doesn't seem to be too happy about this situation. It still tries to root around the deflated tentacles nonetheless and looks very confused when the anemone does this. Lucky for the clown the anemone reinflates itself rather quickly and all becomes right in the world again.
From Paul's Reef - Apr 15, 2008

Friday, January 2, 2009

TDS Meter

I purchased an HM Digital DM-1 dual in line TDS Meter from Bulk Reef Supply and received it today. A TDS meter is used t measure the amount of Total Dissolved Solids in RO/DI water. My RO meter is about 14 months old so I figured it was time to check on the performance of the filter. Since it is a dual meter it allows me to check on both the tap water and RO output. If I want I can place the first sensor between the RO and DI sections but haven't done that yet.

My water input measures 313 ppm. The output of the RO filter was measuring 60 ppm, not great when the goal is 0 ppm. I have never flushed the membrane so I went ahead and flushed it for about 45 minutes. I also positioned the two DI canisters so they are vertical instead of horizontal. This ensures that the water goes through the beeds not over them. After flushing and running the RO filter the output is now down to 8 ppm of TDS. Much much better. I did notice that the beads in the two DI filters are now dark. The second filter is much darker than the first which makes no sense to me. It's probably time to replace the resin.