It’s time for an update… Back in February, after the nitrogen cycle completed I stopped by the LFS and picked up some Margharita snails, Astrea Snails, Hermit crabs, and a Fire Shrimp. They’ve been hanging out in the tank for that past few weeks and doing well. Purple coralline algea is growing on the rocks as well as some of the snail shells.
During the last week or so of February while I was in Maui, the Fire Shrimp molted once, and he did it again the week I got home. So he must be growing pretty fast.
Today while we were out running errands we stopped by the fish store again.. I brought home a cleaner shrimp, Indigo Dotty, and a rock with a variety of coral polyps. Everything is in the tank and they all seem happy. I’ll get some updated pictures soon. It’s nice to have some more color and life in the tank again.
Okay, yesterday I swapped out the failed light ballast at Denny’s Pet World so now both lights are working. Also, the tank water has cleared up nicely.
So now we wait. I’ll be taking water samples for the next two weeks to track the nitrogen cycle. Once the tank has cycled completely it will be time to add some animals. I may try mail order on some of them this time around. It’s cheaper and the store fish get shipped to the store anyway.
Educational TidBit…(The nitrogen cycle)
When you first put the tank together and fill it, add salt, then add live rock/sand and/or animals the water goes through a nitrogen cycle. The waste created by the livestock creates ammonia which is toxic. As the ammonia levels rise, bacteria in the live rock/live sand start to grow and consume the ammonia. They turn the ammonia into nitrite which is also toxic. More bacteria grow and convert the nitrite into a more liveable nitrate. The level of ammonia starts to fall as the nitrites rise, then the nitrites fall as the nitrates rise. Eventually the toxic chemicals are extremely low and nitrate remains fairly constant. A healthy ecosystem in your tank will maintain the balance. This process takes a few weeks on average. Once complete you can add livestock. Each time you add any livestock to the tank the cycle happens again but the amount of rise and the time it takes to cycle will be dependent on how much you add at one time. Completely clean sand and rock will not create the ammonia and the only way to start this cycle for the first time is to add a fish. Unfortunately it is highly likely that that fish won’t live through the cycle. This is where live sand and uncured live rock help. They have live bacteria already because they actually came from either an established fish tank (sand), or the ocean (ie: the Fiji Live Rock). Adding uncured live rock/live sand to a tank that already has animals can kill everything in the tank though so you only really do this at the beginning. Later on, you want to add “cured” live rock, which has been filtered for a while to kill/remove most of the bacteria.
Okay, so it’s been a while since I posted last. I’ve been crazy busy with work and other things lately so I haven’t had a chance to deal much with the tank.
Well today was the day.. After futzing with the Internet up on Cougar mountain I headed to the store. Devon was nice enough to clean the tank out while I was at the store. We tossed the live rock I had and all the sand. She cleaned the glass and it looks spotless now.
At the store I picked up 10 pounds of uncured Fiji live rock, 20 pounds of live sand and some activated charcoal.
At home we washed off all the pumps, thermometers, filters, etc and put them back in their spot. I poured in the new sand and then filled the tank most of the way. After adding some salt and mixing that around we dropped in the live rock, then filled the water the rest of the way. I adjusted the salt again and let it roll.
So here it is, still cloudy. One of the two lights is off because the ballast failed. I’ll have to get that replaced. The bulbs are both new. The tank originally came with a 24W 10K bulb and a 24W Actinic. I replaced the 10K with another one, and the Actinic with a 24W 50/50. The 50/50 is half a 10K bulb, and the other half is Actinic. That puts the 10K at 36W total in the tank with just a little blue tint.
Oh yeah, I kept the Nassarius snails that lived through the power outage. There were 6 of the little buggers still alive after draining the tank and letting it sit for like a week. And that’s after 8 days of no power, 40 degree water temps, and no food. I couldn’t kill these dudes if I tried. You can see one of them among the empty shells here. He’s the smallest one in the picture.
The big wind storm of December 2006 here in the Seattle area wiped out power to over 1 million people with the vast majority of them in the Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Woodinville areas. My house, along with 700,000 other Puget Sound Energy customers on the Eastside was dark for days. 8 Days to be exact during an average outside temperature of 35 degrees. The inside of my house dropped to 38 degrees in the end. I had just recently revived a leather coral that was not doing well in my 14 gallon reef tank but due to the power outage, the entire tank is wiped out. The water temperature dropped below 40 degrees after 4 days or so and stayed that low. Far lower than the 81 degree heated temp I keep it at.
I lost almost everything…
1 Orchid Dotty
1 Bicolor Blenny
1 Emerald Crab
1 Fire Shrimp
1 Cleaner Shrimp
6 Astrea Snails
5 Hermit crabs (blue leg, red leg)
3 star fish
20+ bristleworms ( I had no idea there was more than one )
1 finger leather coral
1 toadstool coral
1 xenia coral
3 separate colonies of star polyps
1 vermatid snail
3 feather dusters
The only thing that woke up when I powered up the heater and lights were the 10 nassarius snails. Talk about resilient.
I am going to be moving this month so aside from cleaning all the dead stock, I’ll be draining the water and moving the tank sometime soon. After a week or two for the tank to cycle again, I’ll begin to restock. Despite the loss I feel somewhat relieved because I was worried about how I was going to move the tank without killing all of the animals myself. This way I can’t blame myself. A UPS wouldn’t have lasted more than a few hours powering the heater and a pump, and if I had a generator I couldn’t have purchased any gas because none of the gas stations had power anyway. No one else had power so I couldn’t have moved the tank anywhere. I was basically stuck letting them die. It’s sad, my favorites were the blenny because he had a cool personality and the fire shrimp because his color was so bright.
This blog is devoted to the trials, tribulations and hopefully successes I have while building and maintaining my nano reef saltwater aquarium. I created this blog a while ago when I started this project but never wrote anything. On this day, January 1st, 2007, I am starting what will hopefully be regular updates.