This page contains all the tank events from 1 January 2006 to 31 March 2006.
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We've been concerned by the absence of the Pyjama Wrasse over the last few days but were relieved to find out yesterday that it's alive and well inside the weir of the main tank. We've now purchased a small enough net and will persuade it out again.
Lots of healthy growth from the Mushroom Coral and the Toadstool Coral.
It is difficult to see here, but the Mushroom Coral is splaying out very wide and a close inspection with the Mesoscope shows that all the tiny polyps are open and feeding.
Here's the Toadstool Coral looking larger and healthier than before.
And, through the Mesoscope, here's one of its hands, the one on the right appearing to show a small opening through which it presumably draws food.
Sticking with the video theme, here are the Red-legged Hermit Crabs in action. They spend their entire time wandering around the tank using their front claws to pick up tiny bits of food and stuff them into the their mouths between those two feeler-antenna things. What a life.
It occurred to us that it would be nice to actually show the pulsating of the pulse coral so that you can see just how odd it is. Here's a short video of a small portion of the creature.
We think this is probably a good thing - a segment of the pulse coral has split off the rock it came on and attached itself to the surrounding rock. You can see it on the right in the picture below (the end sort of tails-off in a whiter bit at the bottom).
As an aside, what we thought was new growth on the Mushroom Coral has dropped off so we're no longer so sure it's happy.
Right, with Hannibella safely out of the way we have bought some more fish. The first is a One-spot Fox-face Rabbitfish, which looks rather elegant and goes a bizarre mottled colour really quickly when it's worried. Fortunately it recovers just as quickly. The picture on the right is how it looks when it is stressed (ignore the white spots - just marks on the glass of the tank where it happens to be hiding).
The second is a Long-nose Hawkfish, which looks rather peculiar and can gobble shrimps if it gets large and is underfed. Worryingly, as you can see below, it let one of the Cleaner Shrimps give it some considerably close attention. It also has a peculiar motion in that it stops dead with its forward fins against the rock, just as though it's getting ready to launch itself onward.
Finally, one that is virtually impossible to get a good picture of as it spends the whole time bazzing around like a dog-called-Dill, another Pyjama or 6-Line Wrasse.
Noticed this evening that there is a representative selection of sump life growing/sitting/walking on the heater in the sump. Here are a few pictures of them.
The one on the left we think is of the family Spirobidae (spiral tube feather duster) and the one on the right we think is a small tubular calcareous sponge.
Here are a load of copepods. They get everywhere. You can also see more spiral tube feather dusters on the right hand side of the picture on the right. And you can see the luverly deep pink coraline algae.
No idea what these are, but there are a lot of them.
We decided to increase the waveyness quotient in the tank with a pulse coral. Weird how its little hands open and close all the time. Very wiggly.
Hannibella didn't enter the trap at all in its original position (with the opening facing into the current). It's plausible she didn't like the water running into the trap as it would make it difficult for her to back-out. We turned it around yesterday and at feeding time she cautiously ventured inside along with the two Cleaner Shrimps who'd never shown any fear anyway. Today we managed to drop the trap-door during feeding and lo, Hannibella was ours. We transported her in the trap to the sump tank where she is now in exile. Well worth the money that trap. Now for some more fish...
Been wanting for a while to show how iridescent the Green Star Coral is at dusk. Finally got a picture that shows it and, incidentally, the entire current animal population of the tank. This is with just the marine blue actinic lighting tube on.
We've been taking some pH measurements this weekend to see if we have enough buffering in the system. The graph is on the left below and beside it is a temperature graph (in centigrade) covering the same period plus the two days previous.
The vertical lines mark hours and the shaded areas are where the main tank lights are on. The tank does receive some natural light so to complete the picture sunrise/sunset times are 7:30 and 17:00 respectively. The bold line is the weekly 10% water change. The pH graph shows a bell-shaped curve during the day where the pH increases by around 0.04. The pH falls over the two days, possibly because of the jump in temperature visible in the second graph. The temperature rise can be put down to the weather warming up a lot and the way the garage (where the sump tank is located) warms as the connecting door to the house is open during the day at the weekend.
A variation of 0.04 seems pretty small, which was confirmed by Andy at Aquatic Fanatics. Andy also commented that nitrates at 25 mg/l is perfectly normal and that generally it's only tanks with more sophisticated filtration systems that manage the nirvana of near zero nitrate.
When doing the weekly water change from the RO filter it takes around 7 hours of slowly dripping water to achieve the necessary 30 litres of water (a 10% water change). To avoid this hassle, we've constructed a holding tank for the RO water.
The tank was custom made by the nice people at Tek Tanks. It is food grade, 69 litres in volume and designed to fit above the sink next to the sump tank in the garage (tall and thin at 83 cm by 35 cm by 24 cm). The nice people at Tek Tanks built it from one of their generic mouldings to our specification (open top, a float that we supplied fitted by them, an overflow, an inspection hatch on the front and a tap). At £167 it wasn't incredibly expensive.
The output of the RO unit goes all the way up to the input of the float valve (the blue pipe on the left). Supplied with the float valve there's a really clever gizmo that you fit to the RO unit which entirely shuts it down, to avoid waste of water, when the float valve is triggered. The float valve and gizmo kit is available from Atlantis Aquatics.
Now when we want RO water all we have to do is turn the tap. :-)
Saw this worm on the front of the tank. It's about 25 mm long and less than half a millimetre wide.
Our Trap-eze fish trap has now arrived (£25 from www.marineworldmagazine.com) and we've put it in the tank to catch Hannibella. It is a bit fiddly to operate as you have to push a plastic tube under the trap door to a baffle at the rear of the box to put food in place. However, we hope it will prove more effective than the net option.
In poking around with the Mesoscope we found this strange thingy. It is a small reddish-brown blob, less than half a centimetre across, with what appears to be a white beak. From this beak comes a very thin, very long, thread of sticky mucous which it uses to catch stuff and then reels in. Since you can't really see the thread in the picture, here's a short and fuzzy video of the reeling-in. If anyone happens to read this and knows what this Strange Thingy is, please tell us!
Update, 26 May 2008: Renee e-mailed us today to say that this is a Vermatid Snail. Renee has a larger variety, orange in colour and about 2 inches long, but the babies look just like this. Thanks Renee!
We're getting some signs of green algal growth. Nothing major yet, but coupled with some die-off in the red coraline algae we need to watch it carefully. We had the temperature (26.5 C) and salinity (1.023) higher for the Anemone, so now that it's gone we'll begin returning them to 25 C and 1.021 respectively. pH is 8.16ish and nitrate is on the high side at 35 mg/l, but Andy at Aquatic Fanatics didn't think that in itself this would be the source of the problem. He suggested that we measure the variability of pH across the day. If it is large then we may need to dose with something to improve the buffering in the system. We'll also keep the light in the sump tank on constantly to give the Caulerpa most effect.
Here are a first few attempts at taking photographs through the eyepiece of the Mesoscope. Having some trouble getting the camera to focus properly, but the bottom two close-ups I seem to have got lucky with. To get a real magnification comparison you need to click on the close-ups and look at the full size image in your browser.
On the left is a normal photograph of the Mushroom Coral and on the right is a close-up of one of the polyps.
On the left is a normal photograph of a group of Zooanthids that we received on a piece of rock from the aquarium shop and on the right is a close-up of the head of the middle Zooanthid. Each Zooanthid is a few centimetres tall and their heads are approximately a centimetre across.
On the left are normal photographs of the heads of two tube worms that came with the live rock, while on the right are close-ups. The feathery head is about a centimetre across. The top two are particularly interesting since the one on the left is zoomed in too far (so is pixellated) in order to be at the same size as the one on the right, which is zoomed out a lot; if you click the one on the right for a fuller view you'll see that it is of much greater resolution and would give much more detail if I can get the focussing sorted. The bottom right feather picture is an example of what can be achieved if the focus is good.
On the left is a normal picture of a Red-legged Hermit Crab that I was lucky enough to catch sitting right at the aquarium glass, the best normal picture I'm ever likely to get of it. On the right is a close-up of a Red-legged Hermit Crab away somewhere in the middle of the tank on the live rock. Click the right-hand picture for a detailed view. It's got square eyes, a pair of red-and-white striped antennae and whiskers!
Rob got his Xmas present today - an Ogles Mesoscope. This is basically a microscope designed for use on the glass of an aquarium. There isn't yet a camera adapter available for it (though one is being tested now), so we're experimenting with taking pictures up against the eyepiece. More on this later.
We purchased it from Coral Garden Aquatics, a very friendly shop near Colchester specialising in marine stuff and corals in particular. Since our soft corals are doing well, we bought ourselves a Toadstool Coral at the same time.
Alice has been worried that some of the purple coraline algae we've developed has begun to show white spots that she thinks might be bleaching. The man at Coral Garden Aquatics thought this might be due to low magnesium levels preventing us sustaining good calcium levels. We bought a magnesium test and found the level to be 1230 mg/l and at the same time we re-tested calcium and found that to be 380 mg/l (so only slightly lower than before). Optimum magnesium is between 1300 mg/l and 1500 mg/l, so it looks like we could do with a magnesium boost.
The Anemone managed to move out of the back of the tank but then sat in a hollow deflated and hasn't moved since. Today it finally shrivelled away, causing Hannibella some distress - she's moving around the tank violently disturbing the coral sand and nudging the Anemone. The aim of the exercise was to calm Hannibella down, which we have had to declare a failure since she has chased the poor Yellow-tailed Blue even more with the Anemone present. We will await the arrival of the Trap-Eze fish trap and then capture Hannibella for isolation in the sump tank.
One of the Turbo Snails was sitting on the glass sucking away like the Noo-noo, so we thought we'd capture its activity on video. Its tongue, or radula, can be seen licking away at the glass.
Took the opportunity to photograph the development in the soft corals today. The Green Star Coral's growth is only really visible immediately the lights come on in the tank since the green stars otherwise come out and cover the growth areas. The new growth on both corals is indicated in the photographs below - looks like bits of candle wax.
As an aside, the Anemone appears to have slipped down into the bottom of the rear of the tank. Not sure if this is accidental or a deliberate attempt to get back on level ground again. We hope it will make its way out of there and into the light later today.
One of the star fish that came with the live rock decided to display itself on the glass this evening. Thought it was worth a photograph or two. It is about a centimetre in diameter.
We decided that the Anemone, though looking a little recovered now, could do with more light and so we bought a T5 39 Watt marine white Arcadia lighting tube to add to the set. Also purchased two more Turbo Snails to replace those eaten by the bristle worm. Aquatic Fanatics thought that the Orange-spotted Goby could have wasted away, or become so weak as to fall victim to the bristle worm. The Goby is a very active fish and might not be able to get enough food sat down at the bottom of the tank. We'll consider trying again if we can find a reliable way of getting food down there. In the meantime the gravel will be rather browner than we'd like.
Salinity now up to 1.024 and temperature 26.5 C.
It's 2006 and the tank has been in action for just over 4 months. The Anemone is in roughly the same position, though now mounted on the rear wall of the tank and is not looking so well - darker in colour and not as expanded as before. Hannibella remains obsessed with it. When we fed the Anemone this evening and a few portions of prawn fell away, Hannibella chased after them, grabbed them and then stuffed them back into the Anemone's tentacles. This may be an attempt to feed the Anemone or it may be a useful place to put food so that only Hannibella can nibble at it. On a positive note, the Mushroom Coral's bald patch has healed over and the Green Star Coral is beginning to attach itself to other rocks so as to spread.
The Orange-spotted Goby is still nowhere to be seen. Is it possible the bristle worm could have got it?