Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Migrating Blog to ReefAddicts site

I decided to migrate this blog to Melev's ReefAddict site.  I like the site, like the format and proposal they have, and like the founder's "will help" attitude.

The link to future posts is:

See you there!

Snorkeler (Fabio Paoli)

My happy Palithoa

Here is a picture of my Palithoa, showing what I mean.  It is happy, but the Valonias are everywhere, on the rock below it and on the rock it is attached to.  Notice how the tentacles of the left hand side polyps are extended.  Even when the tank was new and the Palithoa had just been implanted it never extended tentacles so wide and open like that.

Water quality must be improving.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Discouraging and encouraging

It is interesting to note how maintaining a marine aquarium sometimes is a roller coaster of emotions.

Right now it is quite discouraging to see the plague proportions my Valonias have reached.  Shortly after the Valonia eating crab died I spent 5 days away from home (birth of a child, praise the Lord) and left my auto-feeder on.  I think it auto-fed too much, as mu green hair algae grew a lot, an so did the Valonias.  There is a FOWLR acronym in reef keeping, meaning Fish Only With Love Rock.  Not my case, as I have a few corals, but assuming it were my tank right now is looking more like FOWLV, Fish Only With Live Valonias.  They are really everywhere.

I intend to do some major cleanup of the rocks, maybe in a month's time, maybe earlier, taking each rock out and scrubbing the Valonias out of them.  I'm also going to study Valonias and Green Hair Algae more, ordered a book on Algae which I hope will help me design future steps.  Probably they'll involve getting livestock that eats Valonias, and, installing an Ultra-Violet Sterilizer to gradually kill the spores that Valonias release, reducing their success rates.

My corals seems a lot happier recently.... yes, the Zoanthus colony and the Palithoa colony are wide open now.  Specially the Palithoa was a surprise, as it had been shrunk and only shyly open for the last months.  But in November it started opening again, extending it's border tentacles, I am so happy with that.  Why?  Well, it means I'm getting the water quality under control again!  What was the main reason, IMHO?  Less feeding, definitely.  The fish might be going a little hungry right now, but I'm sure there is less stuff left in the water which means less nutrients.  Second main reason probably is better controlled Alkalinity and Calcium.  Aside from two 40L water changes in the recent weeks (done to cleanup green hair algae) I've been using Purple Up, a suggestion from my LFS.  It is simple to administer and helps to ensure Ca, Iodine and other elements don't go too low.

So, it is a roller coaster sometimes.  But one can not give up.  Even people who later became Tank Of The Month at ReefCentral had plague proportion Valonia invasions (seapug did, read this post, and a few years later his tank was TOTM).  It is possible to revert the situation, without going crazy.  I think with careful study and further steps I'll win this battle, Lord willing.

As many people will tell you online, patience is an important, if not the most important, attitude for successful long term reef keeping. Lots of study and careful planning come next, I guess.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mithrax crab died...

Two days ago the shrimp died, apparently from harassement by Mr. Six... today the Mithrax Crab appeared dead too.

But the corals look happy, the Zoanthus, Palithoas and Hammer corals are expanded and looking very healthy... so it is hard to believe in water quality issues...
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

No more siphons: SW mixing containter now has a faucet

Yesterday we got busy eliminating the "last reason" to use siphons during water changes: our new saltwater mixing container didn't have a faucet.  Now it does!

Thew whole point of this is with a faucet I can fill up my plastic jerricans by just opening the faucet.... no hoses, no siphons.  No spilling water on the floor, no running freshwater in the hose to clean it afterwards.  Less of a mess, quicker turn around time.

I drilled a hole into the Rubbermaid container we use to mix water and installed a simple PVC faucet.  Here is my kid testing it (we filled the container to the top to see if it leaked):

And here is it in the "saltwater mixing room":

Maybe I'm a little bit paranoid with efficiency, of getting things done in the quickest way possible.  :-)  But I like it.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

LED lighting fixture:new milestone

Time to share a little more of my progress constructing a LED light fixture.

Last weekend I completed an important milestone, I prototyped the circuit +power source that would drive the LEDs (turn them on of off) with dimming capability. The power source is a simple PC ATX power unit, a used one in fact.  The driver circuit is a simple MOSFET Transistor switch with a current limiting resistor, and a fuse to protect against over current in case a LED blows.

The dimming is done using an Arduino controller.  Never heard of Arduino?  They are a lot of fun, if you like to play with robotics or other types of programmable toys.  Check out: .  One day when my kid is a little bit older I hope to build small Arduino controlled robot car or boat with him.

Enough talking, here is a video of the prototype working:

It is dimming the LEDs up and down very fast just for testing.  Obviously the final Arduino program will dim very slowly to simulate sunrise then sunset.

Nice huh?  It is great to reach a milestone like this one when things work.  It wasn't all rosy all the time, though.  I spent almost an hour figuring out why the circuit wasn't working, and in the end I had forgot to make one connection.   Once fixed, it came to life!

I was only able to build this driver circuit thanks to the help of kcress from ReefCentral, as registered in this thread: . ReefCentral is a great place where you find lots of helpful people from all walks of life.  If you have a saltwater aquarium you MUST have an account there and participate in the forums.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Water parameters unmoved

I'm a little puzzled... after more than a week of daily dosing Mg and a few doses of Ca (separated by 12h) there has been no move in concentrations... Ca still at 350ppm and Mg still at 875ppm.

I've seen some whiteish powder-like deposit in the sump, maybe the Mg has not dissolved but rather precipitated in association with something else?

Anyway, I just mixed new SW, will measure it's Ca and Mg tomorrow to see if it's at least close to Ca 420ppm and Mg 1280ppm.
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