Donya's 55-Gallon

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Donya

Donya

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Been a long time since I did an update on this. I was out of town for part of August so I just needed to keep the tank going along as it was and not much exciting has happened as a result. 
 
However, another BTAs split happening is right now. Time to keep compulsively checking the tank in the dark every 20min with a flashlight even though there is nothing to do about it. So, I guess it's soon to be back to 4 clones in this tank. The one splitting right now had moved up onto the glass to do it, so if it stays there after it heals then I'll have to try see if I can remove one or both clones safely since 4 is a bit many with other Coelenerates around. The one clone that'd I'd removed from this tank to one of my smaller tanks earlier in the year is also doing well.
 

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Hey, I had some questions about your cryptic filter.  How do you think it compares to other methods you have used?  Have you ever opened it up?  If so, how much detritus is build up in it?
 
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Donya

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Hey, I had some questions about your cryptic filter.  How do you think it compares to other methods you have used?
 
Very favorably, although with a narrow area of application to "well fed" systems that get a lot of supplemental stuff thrown at them. It's a bit odd to have to feed the filtration system, but that's how it works. I'm pretty sure my sponges would disappear in pretty short order if I stopped dosing the phyto concentrate even though they are also acting as sinks for a lot of other particulates and nutrients in the tank. As an example of what those filter feeders can do, my longspine urchin spawned in the tank not so long ago, and the water went from hard to see through to crystal clear in just a few hours with no intervention from me aside from making sure the surface agitation was good and dropping a small sock of carbon in as a precaution pretty late in the game. It was very impressive pollution cleanup per hour for a skimmer-less tank. So, I've found it very stable as biological systems go, but obviously it is somewhat application specific and probably wouldn't work to create a true ultra-low-nutrient system like some SPS thrive in.
 
The only nuissance part is that the sponges and whatever else will spread to wherever they can go without being eaten. That could threaten some corals; I'm not sure and probably it would depend on the species involved. Also, although that stuff doesn't harm the filtration aspect of the other, smaller canister that I've got chemical media in, the pineapple sponges and tube worms can be a bit sharp sometimes changing the carbon and phosphate media. I haven't had any issues yet with critters clogging the pipes. It's something I've read about, but I haven't seen any signs of that so far. 
 
 
Have you ever opened it up?  If so, how much detritus is build up in it?
 
The chemical media canister gets cracked open about weekly, and I have occasionally opened the rock+fauna one, most recently about a month and a half back just to make sure all was well before going out of town for a bit. There are two things that have accumulated in both canisters to roughly the same degrees, although perhaps a bit more in the chemical media one (which also has less flow): gray fluff that never really settles and tiny sand particles in the bottom. I don't really know what the gray fluff is...sea dust bunnies? lol Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to harm flow at all and is darned near impossible to sift out since it just breaks apart. If I started to see a decrease in flow with the prefilter off, the more compacted sand deposits at the bottom would be the first thing I'd check. But, I can't even remember when the last time was that I actually had to do anything but just have a look inside and/or change out the chemical media, so I imagine that won't happen for quite a long time yet. The vast majority of crud accumulation happens on the prefilters, which have to be attended to with every WC.
 

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Do you not add a significant amount of nitrate/pohosphate with all the algae feedings?  I still think you could dose carbon and cut back on the phyto feeding :p.

Also, did you cycle the LR in the can or in the tank and put it in the can once all the die off was gone?
 
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Do you not add a significant amount of nitrate/pohosphate with all the algae feedings?
 
 
I haven't seen much difference in that as compared to other tanks I have that are un-supplemented. I have had a couple of phosphate bombs over time, but it's been due to other things like dying macro or uneaten food that piled up under a rock somewhere. It would be hard to tell though how much is actually going in from the liquid food unless I mixed a solution of a phyto food sample with new water and tested, which I have never done. It would be worth checking at some point.
 
 
 
I still think you could dose carbon and cut back on the phyto feeding
 
 
The phyto feedings started primarily for other animals, such as the Bivalve populations. Those are very poorly documented in terms of what they do and don't eat; most mature, carbon dosed systems I'm aware of don't have the sorts of things in them that are in this tank. It could be that the system would still support those without the phyto, but it could also starve them out pretty fast even if the sponges were fine.
 
 
Also, did you cycle the LR in the can or in the tank and put it in the can once all the die off was gone?
 
 
I think I only used dry rock for the canisters, so it would have been cultured in a separate tub before going in the canister. This tank has actually had very little bought-as-live rock, only 3 pieces I think, probably about 5lbs worth. The rest has been gotten dry (most of it not of reef origin either) and either cured in-tank or in a curing tub. 
 
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Just realized I forgot to post a major update on this tank: the longspine urchin had to move for two reasons. As per usual with this tank, the reasons are somewhat weird. Not so much the first reason I guess, but definitely the second one.
 
1. If I have IDed it correctly as Diadema setosum (it is supposedly the only one with those white dots and blue markings), even the odd citations of them growing to 14-15" tip-to-tip are not the max (most source I've read put the max size smaller than that). This one is larger than when fully fanned out and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. I'd heard of enough instances of Diadema setosum in similarly-sized tanks (including long ones) so it seemed a reasonable bet here. But, in the end, this particular individual has proven not much different from the more notoriously giant D. antillarium for size and spine length. So much for going for a supposedly smaller species. Anyway, it had to be moved.
 
2. A direct result of the growth/size issues, the poor guy hit a critical mass where clean glass was a slippery disaster. I stopped cleaning the front pane when I realized what was going on, but it was too late to avoid problems. Both LPS I had in the tank sustained falling urchin damage and had polyps completely melted around the puncture sites. Soft corals do not seem to suffer from this since they just bend out of the way and even seem to cushion the fall a bit. Everything soft in the tank is fine, including the excessive BTA count, but corals with skeletons don't have the luxury of just deforming out of the way, so the damage isn't surprising. 
 
So, this is how I moved the urchin. Zero spine breakage during the move. I chased it into a tub by tapping at the spines and then lifted the tub out with heavy duty gloves on - those spines stuck right out of the top and it was running around in there quite fast and angrily. 
 
longspine1_zpsc0a8e318.jpg

 
That tub is ~13.5" long from top to bottom in the pic, and the spines are touching the plastic at one side and raised up out of the water on the upper side of the pic. Tip-to-tip when fully fanned out, it is quite a bit bigger in diameter than the tub is long. The longest spines look to be about 10" at this point based on sticking a ruler next to them. 
 
This is the new home:
 
longspine2_zps0e4d15af.jpg

 
Important things about this home:
- PLASTIC. No more slippy catastrophies with glass. The longspine is able to stick to this material like glue even on clean surfaces.
- Much more floor space. 
 
And yes that's an arrow crab hiding by the filter. 
arrowcrab1_zps8e7edd14.jpg

 
 
 
 

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Lets hope that diadema doesn't chew a hole in the plastic.  Also, can't you move the urchin without gloves?  Like pick it up by a few spines or get a bunch of spine contact on your hands and lift it up (same principle as walking on nails).  

I have seen the invasive diadema that are here in the gulf of mexico, some are the size of beachballs.  Looks like it's time for you to waterproof a spare bedroom lol.
 
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Lets hope that diadema doesn't chew a hole in the plastic.
 
I've got another similar tub that's had lots of urchins in it, including some rock-boring ones that were major chewers. The plastic has gotten a little scratched up over the last five years but they seem uninterested in eating the tub material unlike the many other odd things that they do eat, including nylon, metal plant weights, and the occasional bit of silicate rock. Plastics like the tubs and whatever is used to make filter casings goes untouched though. It's something I keep an eye on, but my powerheads haven't really been chewed on either. Some materials are safer than others.
 


Also, can't you move the urchin without gloves?  Like pick it up by a few spines or get a bunch of spine contact on your hands and lift it up (same principle as walking on nails).  
 
The outermost half of the long evil spines have almost no structural integrity. If I grabbed a few of those, they'd just break as soon as the urchin started flailing about. Might work on smaller individuals where the body weight isn't such an issue. The spines on the bottom are more resilient (shorter) and also a bit blunted from walking, and the bed of nails principal is what lets the urchin run about on those without jabbing things (they're still a bit sharp), but the long spines on the top/sides are still a problem since arms would need to remain 12"+ away from it on either side while it scrambled about and raged. On one this big I would think getting stung would be a certainty if it tried to run about, since the spines will jab into stuff and shatter with very little pressure. Biting is also an issue and would be incredibly unpleasant with one this big; other urchins that I move by hand I always move upside-down for that reason. 
 
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A while back I moved one of the BTA clones out of this tank. I had to move it back in when I needed a place to let the duncan recover from the urchin falling on it (I wanted to let the Duncan have the tank to itself to minimize chemical warfare). So, the 55gal went back to 5 BTAs when I did that. I just walked past the 55gal and saw that the one I moved back is splitting. So, it is soon to be 6 BTAs. 
 
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And again...water change with cooler new water, new carbon and phos-remover pad...6 anemones is in the process of becoming 9 anemones, possibly 10 if one of them is dividing into thirds (looks like it but hard to be sure before it actually happens).
 
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Looks like the final count after this round of splits may actually be 11 BTAs...definitely at least 10. They've healed up enough that I'm starting the new clones back on zooplankton today and will probably move to pellets in another few days. So far this round of splits has been the most nerve-wracking due to number of simultaneous splits, the running about that leads up to it, and walking in one day to see that a collector-type urchin had picked up a clone and was going on parade with it.
 

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Donya I've read through your entire thread and it's incredible. Love your tank
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WOW! Your BTA's are reproducing like our native Beadlets! Lol.
 
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Donya

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Did the first post-split feed with pellets today and all but one are eating. That one exception is in a dumb place where I can't reach it, so it'll have to move it if wants snacks; I'm sure it will in the near future. Feeding makes counting clones a lot easier, since most of them close up pretty completely on the food. I apparently was still underestimating before, since I counted 12 distinct bodies today. One is only visible when a larger clone in front of it closes up, so that's probably why I missed it before. Of the starting six, only four split, but two of those split asymmetrically at first, and then it seems the larger halves split again (so splitting in thirds really). I'll try to get some pics soon.
 
The formula for growing these seems pretty simple, at least with this strain: feed every 1-2 days, make sure there are plenty of nutrients in the water (I'm using a supplement for that), and then when it looks like some are splitting size do a water change with cool water (not frigid, just maybe 5F/3C below tank temp). Once the anemones are within a certain size range they split with high probability. Although it's perhaps slower, doing it this way seems a lot less invasive/risky than other propagating methods I've read about, which usually involve cutting the anemone in some way to trigger the split.
 
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Haven't cleaned the front pane yet so the pics are a but scuzzy, but here they are. It's hard to count the nems while they're open and waving about, but there are actually 5 here (one is almost completely hidden)
 
bta_clones1sm.jpg
 
And the rest...another clump of five on the left with two others that wandered off to the right.
 
bta_clones2sm.jpg
 

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