Sunday, March 29, 2009

It Moved!

I've had this BTA for about 16 months. I watched it decline gradually under inadequate PC lighting and high nitrates. I got my nitrates to 0 in November or December and upgraded to 6x54W T5s in December just before Christmas. The anemone grew from a shrunken two inch diameter to about eight inches now.

Friday night I watched in disbelief as my anemone moved about three inches down from the spot it has inhabited for the last five months. On Saturday morning it was still in that spot but a few hours later, to my surprise, it moved back to its normal spot. Unfortunately, Saturday night it started climbing up and over my rock wall. It probably moved about two feet. It's higher in the tank all the way at the back and kind of underneath a ledge. It was moving uncomfortably close to a Koralia so I turned it off. I reached in the tank to make sure it was off and the water felt cool. Sure enough the temperature was 76 deg F. When I performed my usual set of Saturday morning tests the tank temp was at its normal 80 deg F. So, I wonder if the tank temp has been fluctuating without me realizing it.

This morning I played around with the heater and realized that the the heater was generating stray voltage in my tank too. I would occasionally feel a slight tingle if my arm touched my light fixture while my hand was in the water. It was a 250W Stealth heater. I can no longer recommend this. My sump was just big enough to house this heater on a diagonal. Nothing larger would fit and of course everything else at the store was larger. So, I decided to go with two 200W Hydor heaters which fit nicely. And, with these heaters I don't feel any electrical tingle!

I must have had some bad Karma heading my way because after I got the heaters installed the power went out. We got several inches of heart attack snow last night and trees were snapping everywhere today. So my tank sat with lights out and no current or heat for several hours. So, if my anemone was unhappy before it must have been really upset at this point. After a few hours I hooked up an inverter to one of our vehicles to get some flow in the tank again. The inverter I had couldn't power a heater. After several more hours and power wasn't restored I went out and bought a 750W inverter from Lowes. This allowed me to turn on some lights and one of the heaters. Power came back at 6:30 this evening after about 5 1/2 hours.

The only other thing that changed was that in the past week I started dosing alkalinity made with baking soda instead of the mix from Bulk Reef Supply. Perhaps this BTA only likes the more expensive stuff.

Here are my parameters:
Nitrate 0.0
pH 8.1
Alkalinity 3-3.5 meq/l (jumped from 2 meq/l last week)
SG 1.026
Calcium 460 ppm
Magnesium 1260 ppm
Temp 79F (now)
Phosphate 0

With the exception of alkalinity, my tank has pretty much had the same parameters for the last 4 months or so. Alkalinity is the only thing that jumped. Anybody think this is what made the BTA unhappy? Anybody else dosing with baked out baking soda?

I'm hoping the anemone moves back to the front. It is barely in view now. My tomato clown looks freaked too. He stayed with it the whole time it moved.

Long post. I needed to vent.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The skin is tearing between two heads on my Green Trumpet coral.

Not sure what is causing it but the tear is growing. When I initially bought this coral about a month ago this area was swollen.

So, what is wrong with this guy? Is it an infection of some sort? Should I remove this section and frag it onto a different rock to keep it from spreading?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

And Then There Were None

My yellow star polyps have disappeared. I bought this rock for $10. It seemed that the individual polyps vanished one by one. I tried placing the rock in two different places. The first was in a somewhat shaded area in the tank about half way down. They didn't do well there so I moved them to full light at the top tank. It didn't seem to make a difference. They still kept disappearing one by one.

Earlier this week I was down to the last one. Today, even that one is gone. There is no evidence that it was ever there. It is almost as if it just decided to let go with its foot and let the current take it somewhere else. Maybe I'll spot one again someplace.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Colt Coral Fragging

Ever since I upgraded my lighting to 324 Watts of T5 luminosity my Colt coral has been growing like a weed. Not only is it growing but the polyps are feathery and voluptuous. Yes, voluptuous. A term more often used for describing the lips of a Hollywood starlet rather than the polyps of an animal that most would confuse as a plant.

This Colt has grown to the point where it was shadowing my green open brain coral and basically taking over the front-right corner of my tank. I decided it was once again time to try to frag this coral.

My previous attempts at fragging small pieces of this coral have failed. I've tried rubber banding pieces I cut to small rocks. The rubber band would eventually cut its way through the soft flesh of the coral no matter how loose I tightened it. If I went too loose the piece would eventually float away. One of these pieces has nestled itself up against a piece of live rock and does seem to have attached itself. Unfortunately, it will likely end up getting stung by both my anemone and my Toadstool.

This time I decided to try a different approach. I would spear the piece to a rock and hope it would eventually stick.

First the prep. This is the best part.
  1. Visit local watering hole and purchase one Martini with an olive.
  2. Consume olive and Martini and keep the Martini spear.
  3. Order 2nd Martini with olive to have a backup.
  4. Order 3rd just in case.
I then glued the spear to a small piece of live rock using Super Glue Gel. The rock needs to be dried off first.

Then I had to pick a piece to cut. The choice was easy since there was a large branch shading my brain.

I cut the branch with a utility knife blade right at the trunk. I then put some Super Glue Gel on the rock next to the spear to help hold the coral down. After that, I quickly lanced the coral up through the branch so the cut piece was up against the rock and so the spear would exit where the branch split into smaller branches. In the process the coral secreted slime all over the place and shrunk like a frightened turtle. This big branch was now half the height of the olive spear.

I quickly put the coral back in the tank on the sand bed. This way it was at approximately the same distance away from the light as it started.

So twelve days later it looks like this. It actually looks worse.

A lot worse.

I'll give it time and hope it improves. In the meantime the mother Colt is still growing like crazy and will soon need another haircut. I hope I figure out a way to propagate these colt pieces. It would be a shame to have to throw them out.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Chemistry was never my strongest subject in high school or college. I was much better at physics, calculus, statics and dynamics, etc... For some reason chemistry and I never had a really great relationship. Don't get me wrong, I got by. I believe I got a B in college chemistry but it wasn't an easy B. It was a struggle. Somehow, after all these years, I still remember that Avagadro's Number is 6.02 x 10^23 and that it is the number of atoms in a mole. Not sure what to do with it after that though.

So, lately, I'm wishing I remembered more about chemistry. I'd like to have a better understanding of the relationship between alkalinity, pH, calcium and magnesium. I have been using two-part additives and supplementing calcium and alkalinity. I stopped dosing calcium because I was pushing 500 ppm in my tank. I now just let the level drop between water changes. I'm measuring the calcium level of Coralife salt to be 540 ppm. Doing water changes every two weeks seems to be enough to keep my calcium level between 440 and 460 ppm. Right after a water change the level is 460 ppm after two weeks it drops to 440 ppm. I'm kind of surprised it only drops to 20 ppm. I expected my calcium consumption to be higher than that.

I have found that I need to continue dosing alkalinity. In the same time period my alkalinity has dropped from 3 meq/L to 2 meq/L. During this time I have been dosing but apparently not enough. My pH seems good. Last night it was at 8.15.

Over the last few weeks I dosed magnesium bringing my level up to 1275 ppm. I measured the magnesium level of Coralife salt to be 1335 ppm. I haven't been monitoring magnesium long enough to know how it reacts long term. However, since sea water has a magnesium level of about 1250 ppm there is a chance that the additional magnesium in Coralife salt will replenish what is consumed by my corals and coraline algae and keep the level at an appropriate level.

Here is a good article I found about reef chemistry. It provides instructions on how to adjust calcium and alkalinity levels.

I've almost used up all of my alkalinity mix. This time instead of buying it I'm just going to use baking soda and see how that goes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Neon Green Trumpet

Last Saturday I acquired a really nice looking Green Trumpet Coral.

I say acquired because I traded 12 pom-pom xenia frags for it. Actually, I only had 10 frags but the LFS gave me 2 frags worth of credit. I just need to bring them two extra one next time I have a crop ready. Pretty sweet deal, eh.