Upgradation to Reef : Updated till August 15

Diary of the Salty life

Upgradation to Reef : Updated till August 15

Postby el batty » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:17 pm

My marine journey started with a fish only setup in a 3’ like any other hobbyist with no sump and just a dream of someday making it big out there. Learnt things the hard way that we need to have our basics right if we plan to continue something long term. Shamelessly, I didn’t listen to my mentors and bought corals and eventually got them killed. Learnt things the harder way that always don’t succumb to greed and don’t always listen to the seller, they will say almost anything to get a product out of their hands. Later on after much planning I shifted to a 4’ tank with proper sump. Understood the importance of a good filtration soon after and tried my hands on corals once more…this time believing that I have sump by my side so nothing can go wrong. Yea, you need to have a chiller or maintain temperature below 29 degrees if you intend to keep even the so called hardy polyps and mushrooms alive. I then reasoned with myself that it’s not feasible to buy a chiller for a 4’ tank in my position with less ventilation and so I kept the 4’ tank as a FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rocks) and got myself a proper 3’ reef for myself.
The story of my struggles with my 4’ is documented in the other journal so, let’s not waste space here nagging about it. 3’ REEF…a proper reef with chiller and DIY LEDs..I could then go on be content with keeping corals and this time, everything survived which induced me to infer that temperature is the most important thing if we plan to keep corals. Else, it’s going to be a seasonal reef. (Sept – Feb) and march onwards give your corals to a proper reef hobbyist and again take them back post puja when the temperature is below 30.
reef_scape_1.jpg

DSC02864.JPG


3’ details:
Dimension: 36”x16”x18”
Substrate: Live Sand
Light: diy LED
Filtration: Sump
Chiller

DSC02868.JPG



You will find the LED build up well documented somewhere in the forum, it was based on 10W led chips, Chinese branded…which were procured from eBay. Skipping the minor details, there soon came a time when I felt if only I had a bigger thank then I could have kept more corals. Bingoo!!! Got it, I upgraded my 3’ reef to a 4’ reef now. The main constraints I had during my 3’ tank was the inability to keep sps whereas the soft corals multiplied like crazy. I started with a colony of 4 mushrooms in a rock, currently I have 10+ mushrooms and all are over 4” diameter. I started with 3 pieces of actinodiscus sp. And now I have somewhere around 25-30 of them. My finger leather coral grew 3 fold. It was fragged multiple times and each frag went on to become a proper finger leather coral with branches. The problem I had with sps was the fluctuation of Ca which was pretty hard to keep constant due to my inexperience and NO3. Well, the reason why I gained success is not only because of my hard work but mostly because of other people’s hard work. The substrate which I used in the 3’ was a seasoned substrate of a senior hobbyist who is not longer in the marine section. I remember having skin reactions and allergy while picking up the substrate from his tank….the bristleworms gave me a painful time…P.S: I have a monstrous bristleworm in my 4’ which was seen the day I shifted my 3’ to 4’. Pictures will be shown in due time. Bottomline is, in marine hobby, you need to give it time and the more old the substrate, the better it is.

Some changes I made while I shifted from 3’ to 4’ were the implementation of ATS, upgrading the diy LED to yet another DIY setup but this one was more potent since it was made from cree LEDS and all the credit single handedly goes to xarg0n. The drivers were shipped in through eBay too along with the LEDs..the only thing that was local was the heat sink which made out of aluminum channels…the details of the build are not revealed for many factors. Also, the introduction of seachem purigen in this tank was a big boost in the control of nitrate. This particular product was hugely beneficial but later on a side effect was also discovered. I would suggest ATS as the best method for reduction of NO3 and not commercial stuffs.
4’ details:
Dimension: 48”x18”x22”
Substrate: Live Sand
Light: diy LED (high tech)
Filtration: Sump
Chiller
ATS

Aptesia was a nightmare and it still is. With this menace it’s not feasible to do something fancy. I bought a copperband butterfly and it did its part in reduction of Aptesia but once the Aptesia were supposedly finished, it lost interest in tubiflex which was being fed as a backup. Apparently after the demise of the copperband, the Aptesia came back with a vengeance. I had successfully trained a vagabond butterfly to eat pellets but it would not only eat the Aptesia but also anything with a tentacle which included my galaxy coral and brown polyps. So it was not a feasible solution to implement in my 4’ anymore. I guess I will have to invest in another copperband butterfly and this time I will follow advice of a friend and culture Aptesia separately in case things get bad for the butterfly and it starts to starve.

Now, let’s talk about corals and other invertebrates. I currently have green polyp, orange polyp, brown polyp, spaghetti finger leather, green finger leather, Chennai hairy mushroom, actinodiscus sp var green, actinodiscus sp var violet (green and voilet mushroom), galaxy coral and a small cup coral which came as a freebie along with 4 polyps of brain coral in the recent purchase. Yes, it’s quite evident that my tank is based on mostly soft corals…but this is not going to be for long. I intend to buy acro (stag horn, not the flower acro variant) and montipora. I am curing some LR and once they are ready to be set in, I will do a little scaping and make room for the monti which I intend to get by september. I should not forget to mention the hundreds of Aptesia (harmful and a nightmare) and some feather duster which grew automatically in my tank along with a few dozen of overgrown bristleworm and thousands of brittle stars (almost everyone has them).

Let’s not forget about the fishies too now. I have had this cinammon clownfish which is with me for over 4 years now and its one of the very first fishes I bought when I started my marine journey. It has a cup anemone of its own and it doesn’t allow anything (specially me) near it as I have a habit of rescaping stuffs once in a while and the poor fellow gets to make new territory when the anemone is shifted. When I dip my hand in the tank, it automatically charges and tries to bite my finger if its within his “stay away from my anemone” zone. I have a diadem dottyback for around 2 years now, they are old fishes and even though it’s quite old, he has a bad personality which is common with most dottybacks..he tried to commit suicide once by jumping like a torpedo once out of the 3’ tank…I still have no clue what triggered that behavior but it was very lucky that someone was nearby. He’s the bully in my tank and the clown is the peacemaker. When there is more than usual bickering and bullying, he would get in between the bully and the bullied and this usually helps the new fish to get acclimatized properly. It’s a total different story if I introduce a clownfish instead. I have a yellow tang and a azure damsel and a short body yellow tail damsel. I prefer having more corals than fishes and the fishes not to be big or medium sized ones. The beauty of a reef is properly displayed when you see small fishes try to mimic their natural behavior in a limited space. A huge fish in a 4’ tank is for amateurs. Scalability is a thing I give importance in my aquariums. It’s my preferred taste. Damsels are quite active and without them the tank looks dull and inactive. I intend to add a few more fishes in my tank and maybe another tang later on. But for now, I will be adding just another couple of damsels to keep the tempo of the tank on the higher end. I would have liked to add a six line wrasse but I will avoid it as well as any other kind of wrasse as they will happily destroy my fan worm cultivation and who knows what!
The pictures will give you a brief idea how the journey has been so long and I will post some videos too which will be entertaining.
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Regards,
Subhadeep

aninda wrote:I believe in karma. That means I can do bad things to people I don't like and assume they deserved it.
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Re: Upgradation to Reef

Postby el batty » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:19 pm

The videos and other updates will be made soon. The pictures are of the 3'...the 3' has been upgraded to a 4' reef now, the updates from the 4' will be displayed later!!
Regards,
Subhadeep

aninda wrote:I believe in karma. That means I can do bad things to people I don't like and assume they deserved it.
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Re: Upgradation to Reef

Postby Dipankar » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:49 am

:-bd :-bd :x :x :-bd :-bd
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Re: Upgradation to Reef

Postby sahajaydip » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:08 am

Love this setup .Hope this Journal will help me grow some interest and knowledge about Marine.
Thanks
Jaydip

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Mytank- http://www.kolkata-aquarium.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=5342
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Re: Upgradation to Reef

Postby el batty » Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:04 am

Some things i missed out before.
Aptesia, a pest for reefers and a pet for FOWLR-ers. I didnt aim too high in my starting phase so i encouraged these aptesias, but when i upgraded to reef, it was a sad realization that i couldn't just throw away 50+ kgs of LR and so i had to use them in the reef and they can't be killed...
aptesia.jpg


The solution to the aptesia problem? Copperband butterfly. But they come with a problem of their own too...they are very hard to train to eat commercial foods, and they are picky eaters. They will eat only the aptesia, or so i thought..but when the copperband is not there in the tank, the secret of the aptesia becomes apparent. They get injured and go deep into the rock to avoid and they don't show up as long as the butterfly stays.
copperband enters.jpg



Sun corals are easy to keep but hard to maintain, if you slack, they die off. They need continuous feeding and they are non photosynthetic. This means that anyone can keep them, but you need to make sure you feed them almost everyday. they are pretty easy to spread too.
sun coral.JPG


Catching a fish is always a challenge and that's why reefers normally have the tendency to think of the fishes entering the tank as one way. They don;t bother catching the fishes and let nature take its course. That should be the way it is, but i am a little unorthodox, everytime the scape is disturbed, the corals get a little slow in their activity and it takes me back a couple of days for them to be normal. But, i take this opportunity to rescape the tank as much as possible thinking about the possibility of introductions of new corals. Its a gamble on how a certain coral will react to that position. Text book references are no use in front of practical usage. The reference material we follow are all from abroad and they are light years ahead of us in terms of equipments and maintenance, so we need to do it the Indian Way.
3' rescaped.jpg
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Regards,
Subhadeep

aninda wrote:I believe in karma. That means I can do bad things to people I don't like and assume they deserved it.
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Re: Upgradation to Reef

Postby el batty » Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:15 am

We have all heard of the symbiotic relationship between a clownfish and anemone but there are some rules of them pairing. A maroon clown will never host these cup anemones and a sebae clown/clarkii will host almost everything with tentacles. But, there are exceptions too. When there is little to choose from, they do swallow their pride and break the jinx.
clown+anemone.JPG


Finger leather has been the most awesome coral i have kept so far..i got some from a fellow hobbyist and within a mere 1.5 yrs, it has enough to cover a 4' tank if strategically placed. They are photosynthetic so when you switch on the light, you will see a withered specimen which by no means would look similar to what its supposed to be. this is the basic difference between a spagetti finger leather and an acropora. A finger leather is a soft coral and it will literally break down to dust when it dies off, but the acropora is a hard coral (sps) and day or night, it holds the structure on its own. Its photosynthetic too, but it has a hard body. A finger leather is a poor man's acropora. Finger leathers are not very high demanding, but they need temperature to remain within bounds. The rest specifications are same as most soft corals. they need medium light and its often a misconception to keep them at the top of the scape and they will eventually wear themselves and break off branch by branch.
finger leather.jpg
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Subhadeep

aninda wrote:I believe in karma. That means I can do bad things to people I don't like and assume they deserved it.
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Re: Upgradation to Reef : Videos of 3'

Postby el batty » Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:42 am

Some videos:
Sun coral after dark: I switched off the lights and used a torch to focus on the activity.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80cjuGNDZnY

This is when i got my CREE led set and i was experimenting with it, it was like showing a circus and people who are not in the hobby used to get quite entertained by it! The use of dimmer was basically for show as i mostly had to run them on approx 80-90% efficiency. All credits to xargon.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsaKF7_PQd8

Pardon the picture quality as all pictures were taken from mobile phone. (not high end).
Regards,
Subhadeep

aninda wrote:I believe in karma. That means I can do bad things to people I don't like and assume they deserved it.
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Re: Upgradation to Reef

Postby bunty123 » Tue Jun 30, 2015 5:36 pm

Going through the pics,summary and the videoes was a bliss....gotta learn from you master!
Regards from Abhirup Bandopadhyay
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Re: Upgradation to Reef

Postby anupam mukherjee » Wed Jul 01, 2015 8:29 am

Fabulous journey.... A dream to visit your place and catch a glimpse..
Regards,
ANUPAM MUKHERJEE

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Re: Upgradation to Reef

Postby el batty » Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:34 pm

OK, so enough of the 3'. It was sudden because i somehow felt that my 3' couldn't hold enough corals and it was a wastage of chiller and good lights. So, i thought of shifting to my 4' which was empty then. I shifted the whole setup which i had in 3' along with some extras. I didn't waste a single grain of used live sand as they were awesomely fertile. I added the shell dust i had in my FOWLR and topped it with the sand from the reef. I had few Dead Rocks which were not used in the 3' reef so the rock was insufficient for a 4', but i didn't wait to get new rocks and i just shifted the whole thing minus the water to the new setup. Now, the light was made specifically for a 3' setup, so i had to improvise a little with the scape and use the same light.

First i just emptied my 4' tank and added the substrate in the empty tank.
Step1.jpg


Then i just filled the tank with water and added the rocks from the 3' setup.
Step2.jpg


then i mixed the salt solution and let it be a little more concentrated than normal. After that i just dumped the 3' sand on the substrate, the whole water became murky. Thankfully the sump was hyper active and the water cleared within 3 hours. It was during the 3 hours, all the critters came out of hiding and started making traces all over the new tank. (see the white trail on the front glass, who knows what left it).
A "small" sample
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e86nb_g ... e=youtu.be
Step3.jpg


I piled up the rocks to make a semi scape type thing to get the water settled properly overnight and i released the fishes already, but i didnt release the corals by then. I kept them in a spare tank with old water and normal LED flood lights.
Step4.jpg


After approx 18-20 hours, i introduced the corals in the tank as the water was crystal clear by then but i still kept the extra powerheads and top filter running to keep the circulation a little high.
step5.jpg


Some scapes and placements as the time goes on..

scape 0.jpg


2nd scape.jpg


before ATS.jpg


I had to do some shuffling with finger leather placement to check optimal growth and effectiveness so this coral went many places over and over again.
pacement of finger leather.jpg


finger leather1.jpg


Now, i have been more than successful with actinodiscus species (imported mushrooms), i started with 3 actually, but doe to my naivety, i lost the red variant which was unfortunately eaten by an aptesia. I thought that if i managed to keep them up, more light, more growth..stupid rookie mistake, they grew profusely once they met their natural environment which is medium light, low flow areas.
i was given one green, 1 blue and 1 red and now...
actinodiscus sp. green.jpg

actinodiscus sp.jpg



Its hard to mix different types of corals as most do not have the same need. Its a boon that my light has a flaw and so, i decided to give a section of my tank for these mushrooms.
mushroom zone.jpg


Fishes, i normally don't experiment on fishes, but temptation got the better of me and i bought 3 bangaii cardinals hoping that they would show schooling behavior in the tank. I was wrong in so many ways. Sadly i got 3 males and the biggest of them chased the rest...i finally had to give them away. They wouldn't school too. But feeding them was sure a delight. They have a HUGEE mouth.
bangai triplet.jpg

bangai.jpg


Coraline growth is also something that i would like to bring to notice, i have been running this tank since at best 2 years or maybe a little more, that is the rocks. They were not the same as you can see in my previous pictures of 3' phase. I came to the conclusion that unless you have the water parameters all sorted out and sufficient light, you can't get coraline algae. Nowadays, it takes approx 2 month to properly cover a white rock into 40-60% with coraline. Sadly, all i get is purple variant, can anyone tell me how to grow the red ones? The purple one overtook the rest of the other coraline variants. They invade the wave makers and even grow on glass walls. I initially hoped to get the back glass coralined, so i didnt pastyle vinyl, but covering a area of 4' x 2' will take a lot of time so, guess i will get a white one (reflect more light and decrease loss to some extent).

Well, i will keep on updating from now on on a monthly basis. I had a lot of backlog to get even on...so there it is!

Lastly, a present FTS.
latest scape.jpg


and, a not so latest VIDEO.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbzxsKKnCks
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Regards,
Subhadeep

aninda wrote:I believe in karma. That means I can do bad things to people I don't like and assume they deserved it.
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