Dipping Into The Salty Side

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Jan 23, 2021
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So at the end of December- before Christmas, my sister got herself the Fluval EVO 13.5 saltwater tank kit. Normally I don't like kits, but based on some reviews and videos it seemed the kit was decent.

She got a custom insert for the filter area to better take advantage of the space, added a Finnex titanium heater and got a custom insert for the lid opening (feeding opening) to cover it and cut down on evaporation

She had some Aragonite sand already from a Shellie tank she set up in the past. She also got some live rock from Fish Planet and got a Kenyan tree coral. Next week we went looking for a clown fish, my Sis has wanted one for a long time (dreaming of a reef tank for a while) and had an idea of the variety she wanted. She found a domino clown and named him Sir Gilbert, but I didn't know that they were so darn active and nicknamed him Mr. Wiglsby...he just doesn't stop moving! Sis also got three redleg hermit crabs and a handful of empty shells, one turned out to be a free snail. Also added a second coral; a rico- also known as a mushroom coral.

We added a squat lobster a couple days later. Sis got him/her from Fish Planet. During this time one hermit decided he wanted another's she'll and so tore him limb by time to evict him, even though we have a slew of empty shells waiting for a new tenant. It was horrifying brutal so we are down a hermit.

Last week we also stopped at the Petco in Kenosha which has a surprising nice selection of saltwater fish and corals. That's where we got a Duncan coral frag. We are hooked on corals!

Just yesterday we checked out two new to us fish stores. The one in Elgin- Zooxae; was more of a showroom, beautiful and slightly overwhelming. There were some coral we were interested in learning about, but the staff all seemed too busy to help us so we left .
We then went to Beyond the Reef in Schaumburg. They had a very nice selection of frags and both salt and freshwater fish/supplies. We got two more corals, a rainbow acan and a toadstool. I also got some aponogetons for my 125, and Sis got herself a goby and pistol shrimp pair for the reef tank.

We would like to add another acan and possibly one or two more ricordea, Sis also wants to add one more fish, but is still deciding on what species.

I was going to get some photos but my phone died on me last night. I am finishing typing this at my work break and will try to add photos when I get home later this afternoon.
It was surprisingly easy to set up. I think if it was bigger and needed a sump and protein skimmer and diffuser or whatever the special saltwater toys are, it would be a lot more intimidating and expensive. Don't get me wrong, this little tanks has been pretty expensive already and we have split some costs on it.

We want to add a couple more corals as well as that extra fish. When we got the rainbow acan we didn't realize that within the world of peaceful acans the rainbow is aggressive to corals within 5", tough in a 13.5 gallon. Fortunately it's a relatively slow grower. I'm on my way home so looking forward to getting some pics, maybe a short video, it seems to show the best colors.
Well they can do one of two things or they can do both. First they send out chemicals in the water that will inhibit the growth of other corals. The second thing they can do is to send out tentacles to sting other corals if they can get close enough to them. To solve that problem we we're trying to buy passive corals, and have our corals separated by a significant amount of space. We also have carbon in the filter to remove any chemicals that the corals may be putting out to inhibit the growth of other corals. The saltwater world is pretty interesting. For example some corals can actually walk around a tank! I can see a sea star or an urchin moving but I don't see how a coral could actually move around a tank, but some corals can.
Mushroom coral

Kenyan Tree coral ^^ above
Duncan coral ^^ above
Toadstool coral ^^ above
Rainbow acan^^ above
In the video you can also see the Domino Clownfish, Redlegged Hermit crabs, and a peek at the squat lobster' claw, lol.

Here are some photos of him when we got him on the 2nd.

I didn't know corals could be aggressive. :lol: What do they do, glare balefully at other corals within range?
In addition to the two things already described, I will add that some leather corals can aggressively snot on their neighbors to irritate/burn them (or in more refined terms, it is a deliberate sloughing of their slime coat).
In addition to the two things already described, I will add that some leather corals can aggressively snot on their neighbors to irritate/burn them (or in more refined terms, it is a deliberate sloughing of their slime coat).
Yeah, when they send out tentacles they also spew chemicals to burn other corals. We have named the acan Audrey II, LOL
By the way, that squat lobster is excellent! I've seen some of the much more drab larger species at public aquaria from time to time but never seen any squat lobsters in shops. Lucky find!
(those pics must have been there when I posted before, but they didn't load on my phone for some reason - only seeing them just now)
Yeah I never heard of a squat lobster before. When my sister mentioned that fish planet, the pet store- had them I told her that she should grab one and I'll pay for it. Definitely was a great purchase although all I see is the claws every so often from him. But my sister also got a pistol shrimp and a Gobi pair and all you really see of them is where they excavated their hole and covered it up with a whole bunch of empty hermit crab shells. It's the nature of the beast to hide.
Not a Rock lobster, but a squat lobster!
Yes I'm of the generation growing up with the b-52's so that song is very familiar with me and it was the first thing that I thought about when my sister told me that the store had a squat lobster. Matter of fact I can't say squat lobster without my brain inserting the musical tune for a rock lobster. It's hilariously pathetic!
Sounds like an exciting project, Nat! Every time we go to Petco, Mrs. Badger asks me about starting a saltwater tank. I just don't have the nerve or the work ethic. :)
I made the change last year and believe me, it ain't difficult. The fish, frags and other live stock can be expensive though, but when I think of all the stuff that has been discarded from my freshwater tanks it evens out. Plants for instance. How much I spent on those is beyond calculation. The number of lost fish, the amount of extras such as all the filters and heaters I've had along with the pipework and canister filtration bits and pieces, makes me wince. And to top it off, the beauty of a marine tank is exactly that. Beauty. Sheer unadorned beauty.
The management of the tank seems so much easier, the fish are electrifying, the blue lighting in a dark corner of the room is superb. In fact the TV has become secondary to watching the antics in the fish tank.
Just go for it.
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Sounds like an exciting project, Nat! Every time we go to Petco, Mrs. Badger asks me about starting a saltwater tank. I just don't have the nerve or the work ethic. :)
This setupade it easy to get started with a small tank as the refugium is built-in. The fish and corals are pricey, but you have to shop around a bit to see who has what and at what cost.

I am thinking about resealing the 40 cube I kept from my last fish room and making a bigger reef tank, but I have to work on the sump for something bigger and don't have the time right now.

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