At long last - satisfaction and pleasure achieved

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Lynnzer

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Regular members may well remember my saying that I was switching from freshwater to marine. It's was some time ago, and I remarked that it wasn't particularly difficult having got a tank up and running.
Well ........ it sure as hell wasn't easy either.
My efforts did produce a tank of 120ltrs with a scattering of live rocks and fish with frags to make it look appealing. And that sort of describes my finished work. I did like the look of it but somehow it didn't really work for me.
The fish were added after some minimum research but mainly on how they looked so although they looked nice in themselves they also produced problems. Frags disappeared. Eaten ..... and that's so disheartening as they don't come cheap. I also got a bit overwhelmed with red cyano that made it look messy.
I managed to clean things up but the one thing I needed to do was to create a natural looking reef and add fish that didn't eat corals, and frags that stood a chance to thrive.
Many frags were lost previously for no obvious reason, however at some stage I discovered that the water parameters were way out. I mean WAY OUT.
The salinity was well out of kelter with the needs of corals and fish. I knew that evaporation took place and left high salinity levels but I think I topped up with a mix of salt water and RO. Anyway the frags I lost cost a bloody fortune.
I also didn't like the live rock structures. Making a properly stuck together architectural kingdom fit for fish was pretty unsuccessful. Gluing rocks together wasn't easy and when you think of it, a large structure weighing a good many pounds was always going to break apart as soon as it was lifted unless it was glued very firmly. In the end I placed individual rocks one on top of another to get as good as I could as a makeshift reef.
It sort of worked but I was still stuck with fish that ate corals, and a lack of sophistication with the tank and it's accessories.
SO I TOOK THE BULL BY THE HORNS.
I had discovered Reef Experience in Bowburn by this time and was wowed by the display tanks plus all the frag tanks and myriad of fish for sale. After some time musing things over I placed an order for the D-D Reef Pro 900 with a host of accessories.
It took a few weeks to arrive but that didn't bother me as I had to move my AquaOne 120 ltr tank upstairs to make room for the new one. That wasn't easy either.
Anyway, I set the new tank up in much the same way that I had done previously by placing rocks loose on top of others. It didn't look too bad as the new tank had a lot more room so looked less cluttered. It lacked a decent amount of corals still as I had put back some of the fish that looked good but were coral snackers. It took me a while to realise that what I'd created was just a larger version of the previous tank and though it looked a little better still fell way short of my dreams. So I started over again.

I transferred all the coral rocks into another tank that had safe fish in it. Then I put all the coral eaters and other waifs and strays into another tank. I was in no hurry to throw another architectural monstrosity together so took my time from thenceforth to create a masterpiece.

I read as much as I could about gluing rocks together, how to create a true 3D reef with the fish's best interests at heart such as natural hiding places and swim-through caverns and bridges. Also the placement of the rocks to create good ledges for coral frags in the right places for best PAR needs.

I bought a load of new rocks, not live, and attempted to glue them using the old superglue and cigarette filter method. It didn't work. The weight of the rocks was just too much. I then tried the superglue and bicarb method. That was a bit better but still wasn't sufficient to withstand picking the rocks up. Further YouTubing it, I came across the method of using expanding foam filler. I bought some Good Stuff that is toxin free and got to work with that. The rock touching points always have crevices so I filled those in. After completing the foam sticking, the assembly still had some movement that I didn't like. After all I had to lift the whole thing up and into a new extremely expensive tank. I then used the previous superglue methods to give more rigidity at places liable to flex. It took me 4 days in the rear yard on a carpenter bench.
My neighbours were amused and amazed at what I was doing. It all looked so unimpressive but I knew what I was doing and was really chuffed at the progress. I gave it a couple of days to properly set and my son and his friend came down to lift it into the tank for me. That was last Saturday evening. I don't know the exact weight but I know I spent about £55 on rocks at £6 per Kg so it was heavy but it was really strong and held together exceptionally well. Oh, the Good Stuff had a sort of orangey colour that didn't look nice so I mixed some concrete together using clean coral sand to cover as much as I could. The rest I painted with inexpensive acrylic paint from Wilko. The white worked well as it looked more or less the same as the new rock. Time will see them all covered in coral anyway.

The next morning I got stated on adding the corals from the upstairs tank and finally added fish. I bought a Pyramid Butterflyfish and added the Tomini I already had upstairs as centrepiece fish. They work well together, are peaceful and don't snack on corals. I also added a single clownfish that is the leftover of a pair that was bullied by another clownie resulting in the other one being ...... well, it sort of disappeared altogether. This one is much more colourful than the standard black and white Clarkii. Then the addition of an existing Pyjama Wrasse, a Bicolour Blenny, a Chalk Goby to sift through the sand and also another goby I bought to keep it company, can't remember the name but it's the same size and has a wide black horizontal stripe on it's side. They get on well together and keep the sand clean between them. I then bought 5 Banggai Cardinalfish to give a shoaling effect and a 6 line Wrasse that completes the inhabitants for now. They have plenty of room and look really at home. I also have a couple of red scooter blennies and a gorgeous Mandarin. Did you know they are covered in poisonous spines all over their tiny body? anyway, I won't be adding these soon as I need the tank to properly establish with a good colony of copepods first. I add a few sachets every week to build them up.
Once this takes place, the addition of the scooters and the mandarin, I may also add a single leopard wrasse to complete the picture. I have a pair of these upstairs hoping they may become amorous. So far they haven't although they don't fight.
The lessons I've learned along the way are many, and I know for a fact that i am still only a keen amateur.
Anyway, my tank is here for your observation albeit it looks a lot less stunning than it does to the naked eye. I'm trying to set up a streaming video so keep watching and you might get to see it live later on.
 
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The clip on my last post fails to bring out the 3 dimensional construction of the reef, and also doesn't show much of the corals in place. I guess there's nothing quite like seeing things at first hand eh?
Anyway, the lights have just come on this morning and I've uploaded a fresh video scanning the tank to show even more. Hope you like it. I'm repositioning some of the coral later as the new wavemaker is drifting the sand over a couple of them towards the bottom of the tank.
As you can see, the reef itself doesn't encroach onto the glass at all giving the fish plenty of free swimming space while still providing lots of rockery for the smaller fish to call home and feel safe. It also allows access to the magnetic cleaner to scrub all the glass unimpeded.
 
It looks absolutely brilliant! Wow wow wow. I know very little about marine, I tried it once, spent £2000 very quickly and gave up haha! The structure you've built looks really good, you can really appreciate it in the second video but still looks good in the first.

Wills
 
My Japanese companion robot says the same thing

At long last - satisfaction and pleasure achieved​

 

Had a makeover and new stock of fish. Coral has done really well too.
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I just took delivery of a couple of bags of amphipods ( Gammarus Shrimps )but never thought about the order I placed. The ones I received are in pond water, ie freshwater. Can these be acclimated onto saltwater by a drip method.
 

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