Donya's 55-Gallon

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Donya

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Thought I would start my second one of these journals, since the pico in my other journal is basically "done" (I'm content with its current state and won't be doing much to it worthy of updates). My new project is the 55gal I recently took home and started setting up. This tank has been outside my comfort zone from the start, since the largest tanks I've kept previously were only 20gal. I would not have been able to get it going without a significant amount of husband help.


After I'd just gotten it up with freshwater circulating (wanted to do a leak test of course before I forked out for more salt!):
55gal2.png


There are actually two canisters hooked up to it now: a Rena XP1 on the left and a Rena XP2 on the right (the one hooked up in the picture above). I'm using the XP1 for chemical filtration and whatever other media bags I need to put in, and the XP2 is going to be just rubble and other colonized material to unload a reasonable amount of LR volume to the filter rather than scattered about the tank. I will be putting some extra flow on the left where the XP1 is; the XP2 keeps things fairly churning on the right though.

I have good and bad things to say about the stand. Good things are the weight, the cost, and that it has proven remarkably sturdy. I am very happy with it now that it's actually put together. However, I have nothing forum-friendly to say regarding the process of putting the darned thing together. It's a good thing my parrot got moved into another room before that took place or he might have learned some interesting words.


So here it is salted up with sand as of today:

55gal3.png


The rocks on the right are extrusive igneous rocks, rhyolitic tuff being my best guess. I've observed that some of the rhyolitic chunks cured about twice as fast as I've seen from limestone or other carbonates of reef origin, so I'm trying out a number of those rocks in my curing tub. The rocks have a high alkali feldspar content have been buffering pH to 8.2-8.3 on their own.

I should make special note of that rock on the left. I picked up a piece of really exceptional LR to increase the biodiversity in any additional rock I add. The rock is glorious.

55gal_rock1.png


Really gorgeous rock. But, there's just one...

little...

thing...

mantis1.png


I was looking at the holes in the rock last night admiring all the interesting life it had to offer. The tank was still just a bit cloudy since I had disturbed the sand when I put the lovely rock in, so I had my nose right up to the glass. My new little friend popped out, rushed up to my face, and scared me half to death. No ominous pops or clicks, just a very sudden "HELLO THERE!" right in my face. Although my mantis IDing skills are rather poor, I'm leaning towards either Neogonodactylus bredini or N. wennerae.

While I was still waiting for the sand to settle out, I had the rock in a bag of water. The bag kept springing leaks in strange places (hmm I wonder why :sly: ), but I took no notice and messed with it barehanded for quite some time before the first face-to-face encounter. Needless to say, it will be tongs from now on. Sooooooo...I guess get to play musical tanks and see if I can find space/equipment for the mantis and his glorious rock home while I keep planning out the 55gal. There are no other rocks with burrows he'd be interested in so he can stay in the 55gal until I find something. I will admit I've always been envious of mantis shrimp tanks, but every time I've seen one in a store I always think "wow that's so cool, but I have no place to put it." Now I have a good excuse to make space. :D

More detail in posts to come. Currently I have no solid stocking ideas for this tank.
 

-Nemo-

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That picture of his little eyes are priceless.
You get one rock and go figure, he came along for the ride :p At least he made himself known quickly.

Looking forward to see what you do with this :good:
 
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Donya

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That picture of his little eyes are priceless.
You get one rock and go figure, he came along for the ride :p At least he made himself known quickly.

I know, what are the odds right? :lol: All that beatiful rock in the store tub and I picked that one.

I had a fun time moving the rock. While I was bothering about trying to find a suitable place to put the newly named Sir Didymus, I made the mistake of interacting with him a lot, offering food, etc. So, since these animals are extremely fast learners, I should have guessed that it would mean zero fear come time to move the rock; little beast wouldn't go back in all the way. As it turned out I had no suitable tongs to lift the rock out of the water, so I had to go with a rubber glove (so that my hand at least wouldn't smell like food, although there was a narrow miss at first even with that) and my husband waving a net around for distraction.

Sir Didymous's new 3-gallon bungalow (he's watching me while I type this btw):

mantis_tank1.png


It's a Marineland Cresent with LED lighting. I swapped the pump-driven filter it came with for a smaller air-driven one hooked up to a Whisper-40 air pump to accomplish roughly the same flow. It's on my desk, and the pump-based filter put a ton of vibrations into the wood. Air-driven means no vibrations going up my arms when I'm working, which is far better.

Alright, enough of that...back to the thing this was supposed to be about: the 55-gallon!

Curing/cycling progress

55gal4.png


Soon I will be getting another piece or two of cured LR from the store to supplement the rock coming from my own curing tub, since my tub only produces bacteria colonies and a small mix of Amphipods, Copepods, and Ostracods (which are all over the tank now). There are no visible worms or other scavengers in my tub, so it's not very diverse compared to what most store-baught LR would look like. The plus side is that I can produce colonized rock that's also free of certain animals when needed.

The sand is already starting to show some mucky growth:

rocks4.png


I'm going to do some before and after pictures with the rocks I'm curing (it's interesting to me anyway lol). Unfortunately, I don't have any before paired up pictures yet, but I will soon once things are cured. This batch went into the tub a couple days ago...

rocks1.png


...just as I pulled this one out (not sure how long it's been in off the top of my head):

rocks2.png


As you can see, not really anything in the way of interesting growth on the rock. Darker areas are better colonized. There is a light streak on the bottom that didn't seem to colonize at all (too smooth I guess), but I put it in the tank anyway to make room in the tub.

More on the stand of doom:
Ok a lied, I actually do have some forum-friendly things to say about the assmebly, just more in a product review sort of way. The stand is a 48" Penn Plax metal stand. These are advertized as "quick and easy" to assemble, which is simply wishful thinking if my experience was anything to go by. Having had a small amount of geology field experience, putting the stand together felt a lot like trying to break certain outcrops of granite - except with the annoying constraint that I couldn't just lay into it with a sledge hammer if I wanted a functional stand at the end. It's also a 2-person job as I already mentioned.

Older reviews for this stand complain about wobble - as I mentioned briefly in my other post, I have seen no significant wobble (especially since filled). I have a feeling that the company may have saccrificed initial ease of assembly over time for addressing that wobble issue, since the stand also has another seemingly new feature: diagonal bars that are not mentioned in the instructions and the lack of which are complained about in some old reviews I read. The legs are intended to be fit over pegs to stay in place. The kit also comes with some sticky foam to wrap over the pegs. The instructions show to hammer the leg over the foam-covered peg to ensure a snug fit.

Unfortunately, the legs I received were not uniform. Three of the legs would not fit over the pegs even without foam, since there was a visible diameter problem. On the plus side, once hammered on hard, those three legs wouldn't budge. The remaining leg just slid onto all of the pegs, which was a little worrysome. I would be very wary of a stand with all four legs like that, and I can certainly see how it would wobble even under weight - so my best guess right now is that the bad reviews for the stand's integrity are from such cases. However, the three rock-solid legs hold the fourth one in place with no issue (the fourth leg having foam around the peg, of course). Hopefully it wasn't just luck that I got a sturdy one.

I also ended up having to fork out for a 24oz rubber hammer. The company's recommendation of a regular hammer and a block of wood is a bad one. It sends bits of the protective coating flying at the edges of the wood due to irregularities in the coating, and the wood is also prone to slipping even with another person holding onto it. Speaking of the coating, it also exploded when the super-tight-fitting legs were hammered on. This left an exposed, silver ring around the top of each leg so that I had to go and buy some more paint to layer on. Also needed to layer on some foam over the top to even out irregularities, but that's probably a given with most stands.

Expenses
I know that newcomers to the hobby are interested in the costs of various marine setups, so I'll try to keep a tab on equipment and stock for this one. Not going to bother keeping track of stuff like RO and dry salt, since it gets distributed around all of my tanks.

Tank: $49
Stand: $52
24Oz rubber hammer: $20
Various dry rocks: probably ~$50 (haven't kept good track of this so far)
40lb aragonite sand bag: $25
Lighting (deep blue double T5HO): $140
Floor protection (plastic sheeting, etc.): $15
TOTAL = $351

And the "accessories"...
Sir Didymus and his lovely, expensive rock that isn't contributing to the 55gal at all: $30
Brand new home for Sir Didymus: $35
TOTAL = $65

Stuff I already had:
- Rena XP1 and XP2 canisters
- most of a 30lb sand bag
- planks to distribute tank weight
 
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Donya

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Enter the diatoms of dooooooom!

55gal5.png


I'm going to be rubbish at aquascaping, but I do love that funky-looking rock in the front. Also picked up another piece of good-looking LR today from the same place that I got my mantis rock from, but no pics yet. Hopefully no mantis this time around.

So far the tank has eaten most of a generous handful of scallop meat and only showed one itty bitty nitrite spike. Stats are zeroed out on everything now and looking good. I have been feeding my LR curing tub the same stuff as the tank and made the mistake of taking out some of the pieces I put in (the ones from the last post) to have a look at their progress. Too soon...far too soon. The entire room now smells like...well...I won't spoil it for the new salties who have yet to experience the unique odor. :sick:


Stock plan coming together
- Dardanus megistos hermits
- Maroon or tomato clown(s?) for the husband (one or the other species, not both at once)

Dardanus megistos is one I've wanted to observe for ages. Other CUC (if any significant additions) will have to be worked around them when I get a better idea of their feeding habbits, since this will be my first time to observe the species up close. It's probably good that I moved the mantis rock to its own tank and didn't subject it to any big Dardanus hermits, since the rock is covered in tunicates and sponges. The new rock isn't populated by as many fragile things and shouldn't experience any needless death and destruction.

I have read a heap of conflicting info on maroons and tomatos. Majority vote from what I've read would say that if I put two immature clowns into a tank this size, I will end up with a male and female without them ripping each other to bits - but since I have never kept any clown of any sort, I want to double-check before I do anything stupid.
 

-Nemo-

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Putting two clownfish of the same species together when juveniles is OK. One will become more dominant and larger and turn into the female, the other a male.

Maroons and tomatoes are both larger and on the more aggressive side of the clownfish so will definitely affect any other stocking considerations :good:
 
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Donya

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Good quality LR chunks really are a bit like kinder eggs aren't they...chunk from yesterday has brought with it:
- several spiny serpent stars about 2-3" armspan each, looks like Ophiocoma echinata or a close relative
- small chiton
- bunch of bivales that I thought were dead but apparently not!
- pea crab (I think) living inside one of the bivalves
- several small LPS colonies that I also thought were dead but tentacles came out!

For the LPS, I am having some ID difficulty and can't get good pics. When withdrawn, the skeleton structure they show looks like Galaxea, but I've never heard of those being random hithchikers?? The polyps haven't come out all the way yet, but have clear tentacles with white tips.

Putting two clownfish of the same species together when juveniles is OK. One will become more dominant and larger and turn into the female, the other a male.

Maroons and tomatoes are both larger and on the more aggressive side of the clownfish so will definitely affect any other stocking considerations

Thanks Nemo! :) The aggressive side of those clowns is a point of interest for both my husband and myself. Neither of us wants to cram the tank full of fish, so a light stocking is fine. In fact, beyond the clowns I'm mostly out of ideas on fish. I have wondered about a lawnmower blenny, but am not dead set on it if the clowns would go after it.
 

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LPS as a hitchiker? That's a rarity, what do the tenticals look like? Has it a mouth in the polyp and does it react to light? Popping some amino acids in should entice even the most stubborn polyp out for a good look :)
 
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Donya

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Had another go with the camera. Unfortunately I don't have any amino acid supplements on hand; I tried a dash of Kent Microvert, but it didn't seem to generate much interest. Here is a pic that shows the mouths on one patch of them. This one isn't putting its tentacles out in the pic - it closed about 5 min before I brought out the camera.:grr:

polyps2.png


And an awful one trying to show tentacles on another patch:

polyps3.png


The tentacles look very similar to white ball corallimorph tentacles - which is what I thoght I had when I first saw them. However, given that there is an obvious skeleton they popped out of, that guess is out. There are other patches on the rock that obviously didn't survive the shipping and storing, since they just empty white skeletons.

I will have a go with the camera again later when that first clump opens up again - it's much easier to photograph.

EDIT: forgot to say about the light - they don't react to flash or anything, but they did only come out once tank lights went on in the morning. I'll see if they close up when its lights off this evening.
 

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i wish i had a mantis,your so lucky
 

sorgan

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For some reason it reminds me of a half starved dendrophyllia/sun coral/astrangia. Sadly it probably isn't as you say they react to light but I just can't drive the idea out of my head.
 
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Donya

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GAB99 said:
i wish i had a mantis,your so lucky

I'm glad it's just the one though...if another little face had popped out of the second piece, I'd have been a bit stuck with where to put it lol.

sorgan said:
For some reason it reminds me of a half starved dendrophyllia/sun coral/astrangia. Sadly it probably isn't as you say they react to light but I just can't drive the idea out of my head.

You know what, after a bit of google imaging, Astrangia skeletons do look really close. The tentacles look right too. Also looks similar to the Phyllangia picture in the Borneman book. I don't see any info on care for those. :/

It's possible my light observation before was just random chance. They certainly did open up after lights on yesterday, but then they turned around and went to bed about an hour before I was going to turn the lights off. This morning they were out before the lights went on and are still out. If they're a non-photosynthetic type, it could be that it's still opening/closing based on the store's feeding times (since the rock was in a tank with other animals, not just other rock). I'll mash up some scallop meat later today and see if that interests them. If it doesn't, the serpent stars can always have a party.
 

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astrangia or Phyllangia? both pretty basic LPSNPS i believe target feed with mysis/cyclops etc like you would suns or dendro's.
if it is either of the two you are a jammy little mare :)
 
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Donya

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astrangia or Phyllangia? both pretty basic LPSNPS i believe target feed with mysis/cyclops etc like you would suns or dendro's.
if it is either of the two you are a jammy little mare :)

Thanks Sorgan! :good: Just picked up and tried a mix with some cyclops and it gets the polyps out a bit. The rest of the rock also enjoys it - a bunch of barnacles opened up out of nowhere to have a munch at the same time as the polyps.
 

sorgan

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Aye it will do, I use a mix of roties, cyclops, red plankton and amino's to get my nps to bloom then feed with mysis/krill whatever I have handy. But I have a fair few nps so it takes some feeding :)
Feed them every other day and they should flesh up and hopefully the colony should grow.
 
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New rocks to cure (for in-tank for a change, not in the canister):

rocks5.png


Thought it would be nice to have something branching. Also pulled the last batch of rock out of the curing tub since the tub finally stopped stinking to high heaven:

rocks6.png


Those went in the canister except for one that wouldn't quite fit. The XP2 canister is full now as far as rock goes.

Between the tank and the XP2 canister, there is a bit over 35lbs of rock in total. I'm not planning to add substantitally to that weight given that the current rock has had params stable while eating a heafy amount of scallop meat (the llb per gallon rule doesn't take porosity into account). Any rocks added from this point on will be more for aesthetics or prividing hiding spaces for animals than for basic filtration. I also need to allow a fair bit of stomping space for the planned Dardanus hermits.

Since the params have been stable and the tank actually requiers feeding to make sure dieoff doesn't happen, I decided it was time to have some beats to do the eating: a couple of Turbos to make a pass over the glass (with some algae supplement, since most new tank algae isn't reall enough for the species) and some Nassarius.

turbo1-1.png


nassarius1.png


nassarius2.png


Now the Nassarius can have a snack instead of the meat I add just turning into awful-looking sludge. Depending on how big the Dardanus are that I'm planning, the Turbos may end up living in my 20gal gastopod tank instead. I'm predicting that the Nassarius will not need to be moved, since I have kept them in with other big hermit species without issue, although I'll have to keep a watchful eye on it once any hermits go in.
 

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