My 18g Cubish Tank

clownfish4

New member
Thanks Christian! I agree, I think the new rock work is much better. As for the skimmer, the jury is still out. I haven't had much of anything in the tank for it to pull out, so I haven't been able to really test it. Hopefully once the fish go in tomorrow I'll start getting some bioload to kick it in.
 

clownfish4

New member
Thank you Jenyphur! It's been a long time coming. I haven't had fish in about a year and a half, so I am very excited!

Nitrate was still 25 after my water change yesterday so I changed another 5g today. Now my water parameters are:

Nitrate - 10
Calcium - 410
Magnesium - 1200
Alkalinity - 6.8
Phosphate - 0.9
Temp - 77 F
pH - 8.13
Salinity - 35
ORP - 400

I dosed an ounce of soda ash to bring my alkalinity up to 9. I'll be dosing an ounce of magnesium later tonight and throughout the rest of the week to get it to 1300. The phosphate measurement surprised me. The only source I can think of is leaching from the rock. Since there aren't any other nutrients in the water, I assume the ATS doesn't have everything it needs to start growing. Hopefully once the fish go in and I start feeding it will kick off and drop the nitrate with my skimmer.

I also started a small test batch of brine to get a baseline of how long my eggs will take to hatch. I won't be feeding at all tomorrow, but will start another batch of brine tomorrow so I have it ready for Wednesday/Thursday.
 

clownfish4

New member
My livestock arrived around 10 AM this morning. I made the foolish mistake of thinking I would receive four bags, one for the wrasse, one for the two cleaner shrimp, one for the gobies and pistol shrimp, and one for the motipora. I should have known better; every specimen was bagged individually, which makes sense. Needless to say, I was not prepared for this:

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr


So, what do we do when we're caught off guard, improvise! Fish went into the sump to acclimate:

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr


Shrimp and coral went into a 5g bucket with a heater to acclimate:

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr


They all drip acclimated for about 2 hours, then I put the two skunk cleaners and the montipora into the main tank. Next I put the pistol shrimp in the breeder box and what happened, he slipped right through the slots in the bottom and was roaming between the bottom and netting :headwally: Next I put the two gobies in the breeder box, no issue there, then put the wrasse in the other side.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr


About an hour later, the wrasse slipped through the tiny slits and wedged himself between the netting and bottom :headwally: So, I loosened the netting to give him some room. I put the larger goby in the main tank, though he nearly landed on the floor because he jumped out of the box when I tried to get him. Now the box is tilted on the side and I am patiently waiting for the smaller goby and wrasse to swim out. Then I'll put the pistol shrimp near the gobies.

Best laid plans always change! I'll post more pics once everyone starts cooperating. I mean, if they start cooperating.
 

clownfish4

New member
Everyone is in tank. The cleaner shrimp, gobies, and pistol shrimp are doing great. The wrasse hid himself away somewhere and I cannot for the life of me find him. I decided to feed today because everyone was looking so good. Everyone devoured the homemade food I made, but it wasn't enough to draw the wrasse out of hiding. Hopefully he comes out in the next day or two. The gobies and pistol made their den on the front of the back right rock, which is perfect! Here are some super fancy iPhone pics.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr
 

clownfish4

New member
This morning I was looking at the tank and saw these bright orange eyes starting back at me. The pink streaked wrasse has been hiding in the gobies den. Surprisingly they don't seem to mind. They have completely excavated under the rock and are popping out on multiple sides of it now. Now that I know where the wrasse is hiding, I am target feeding into the den so he doesn't starve. He is slowly starting to swim around when I am far away from the tank, but dives into the den anytime I get close. Once he warms up I'll get a pic, he is gorgeous!
 

Jenyphur

New member
The goby is so cute!!! I love watching them...and trying to find them. My watchman found the pistol shrimp and I haven't seen much of the duo since then. But when I feed, they do pop out for a few seconds to let me know where they are so i can target feed them. Love this little pair.

Great updates. Thanks for sharing.
 

clownfish4

New member
Thank you Jenyphur! My gobies do not hide, at all. most of the time they sit right out in the open on the sand bed. At night they retreat to their caves. They have excavated under every rock in the tank and move around between them. As far as I can tell the pistol shrimp never leaves the cave under the back right rock.

I cleaned the tank today and it is looking much better with all the algae off the acrylic. I got a picture of the wrasse, but it was before the cleaning. I haven't been able to get another one since. He is spending more time in the open now, but is still very skiddish. I was expecting him to act like a more peaceful sixline wrasse, but that has not been the case. He's more of a cardinal, he doesn't swim much. When he is out of the cave he just hovers and slowly jolts every now and then. I'm a little disappointed he isn't more active, but he is still pretty. I'm debating adding one more fish that is more active. I'm considering a single clownfish, but am not sure if I will get anything, or something different, at this point.

My water parameters are being a bit of a pain. My ATS has ZERO algae growth even though my nitrates and phosphates are high. The good news is there's not much algae growth in the tank either, mostly just diatoms. I'm wondering if I don't have any spores to start the growth since I used dry rock. I'm also having a hard time keeping my alkalinity up. I have my doser running at night for alk and during the day for calcium. My calcium levels are perfect, but my alkalinity doesn't want to go above 7. I've been trying to set my doser to maintain and doing manual doses to get it higher. Twice now I've manually dosed enough to raise it to 9, but two days later, with the doser running, it is down to 7. On 3/15 alk was 7.0. I dosed 1 ounce of alk and increased the doser from 5 ml to 10 ml a night. When I tested today, 3/17, it was at 7.3. I'm going to raise my alk dose to 20 ml tonight and retest tomorrow. The calcium doser is currently at 5 ml.

I'm also considering getting a second doser for magnesium, but then I'll have a fourth doser that isn't doing anything. I'm trying to think if there is something I can use it for. I'll also be using my doser for water changes going forward. Since my total volume is only 20 gallons, a 5 gallon water change causes a lot of disruption to the tank.

Here are my parameters for 3/17:
Phosphate - 0.1 ppm
Alkalinity - 7.3 dKH
Calcium - 400
Magnesium - 1245
Nitrate - 50

I'm still trying to figure out when I'm going to add snails. Since I have minimal algae growth and high nitrates, I expect they would die if I added them right now. Speaking of which, one of my cleaner shrimp died Wednesday, the day after I got everything. Everyone else is fine. The jury is still out on the skimmer. It was full of nasty stuff today, but running much too wet. I dialed it down a bit and will see how it performs now. At the very least it is creating a horrible smell, so it is definitely working!

And now for some pictures! My apologies, I don't have a fancy camera so I use my iPhone. The picture of the montipora does not do it justice. It has very bright red spots with fluorescent green all around them.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr
 

clownfish4

New member
Yesterday I increased the alk (soda ash) dose to 20 ml. It does from 2300 to 0900. Today I did a 5g water change around 7 1900. About an hour after I tested and alk was 7.9 dKH. I'll test again tomorrow with the hopes that it is 7.9. If so, I'll manually dose to bring it up to 9 and hold there.
 

clownfish4

New member
My alkalinity seems to be holding with a 20 ml/day dose. The biggest issue I am having now is hatching Brine shrimp. I'm using the San Francisco Bay inverted bottle bases. My issues are I can't tell when the eggs hatch, so I just go with 36 hours. The shrimp fit through my Brine shrimp net, so I had to make my own sieve. When I siphon out the Brine, even when leaving several inches of water in the hatchery, a lot of unmatched eggs come out. Most of the eggs are bubbling it and sticking to the sides of the bottle and not hatching.
 

clownfish4

New member
Quick update:
- The COR15 showed up in stock yesterday so I ordered one. Should be here mid-next week.
- I have a major diatom outbreak (expected). I'm continuing 5g (~25%) water changes until they're gone. I decided not to get a DOS for water changes. I'm just using airline tubing to siphon each at a relatively similar rate and using valves to adjust the faster of the two.
- I'm going to start dosing Red Sea Trace Colors and will stop water changes once the algae subsides.
- The skimmer is doing great but the ATS still hasn't kicked off.
 

clownfish4

New member
The stringy algae is byropsis :headwally: I raised my magnesium so it tests greater than 1500, but it doesn't seem to be impacting it. I'll wait a few more days then try spraying it with peroxide. My COR pump arrived but will take time to plumb in.
 

clownfish4

New member
The increased magnesium and hydroxide had no measurable effect. I ordered some Purigen and PhosGuard since my nitrates and phosphate have been higher than desired. I'm going to run these with carbon and see if I can starve the algae to death.

The skimmer is doing well, but still too wet at the lowest setting. I raised it higher in the water column, maybe 1/4" higher than the recommended waterline level. The ATS still has no useful growth, just some light green/red algae that is so thin it would have to be scrubbed off with some elbow grease.

Diatoms are going crazy. I cleaned the glass yesterday and it is completely covered again less than 24 hours later. The byropsis is on all the rock, sand, glass, returns, etc. It exploded in a very short time. After I get the Purigen, PhosGuard, and carbon running I am going to continue 5g weekly water changes. If my levels don't drop I will do larger water changes. Once all my levels are close to 0 I will continue running the media but stop water changes and watch it, with the hope that it will stabilize.
 

clownfish4

New member
A week after adding the PhogGuard, Purigen, and carbon I am seeing significant effect on the algae. Before I added it my tank walls would be completely covered in diatoms a day after I cleaned them and all of the rock was covered in lush, green byropsis. Now, my walls barely grow any algae, all of the byropsis is brown and looks to be "melting", and the amount of byropsis in the tank is less than 20% of what it was. Below are some photos from today. The tank doesn't look great, but it is significantly better than it was.

Oddly enough, my phosphate only dropped from .3 to .2, but nitrates dropped from 10 to 2.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr
 
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clownfish4

New member
DISCLAIMER: Ignore all the wires, I wanted to get everything in it's place before doing the cable management. That is the next project on the list.

I'm still battling some pretty bad algae problems, but I made a lot of progress in the past couple of days.

Yesterday I got the COR-15 plumbed in and mounted all the Apex units. My favorite part about this pump is that it's powered by the Apex, so it freed up an outlet on the energy bar. The COR-15 pushes the same amount of water as my old pump at ~20% power. I cranked it up to 35% which seems to be about the max my sump can handle with the filter bags in the baffles. I assume if I pulled the filter bags out I could push more through, but I'm happy with the ~210gph, giving me roughly 14x turnover. Ideally I'd like to get that up to 20, so I may try adjusting the placement of the filter bags.

Today I added a UV sterilizer. I went with the Green Killing Machine as it is a drop in and small. I have never used a UV sterilizer in my 16 years in the hobby, as I've never considered them necessary, but I'm about at my wits end with my current algae issue, so figured why not. The GKM is cheap and super simple, both of which made it worth trying, and it took the open outlet on the energy bar from adding the COR.

I'm also doing a 3 day blackout to try and kill more of the algae off and got a nice pic of my gobies sharing their den, minus the algae on the acrylic in front of them. I have not seen their pistol shrimp in weeks, so I'm assuming he may have died.

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr

Untitled by Mike Burns, on Flickr
 
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