Ben Lobaugh Online

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Second week update on the nano reef cleanup

Today ends the second week of the new saltwater nano reef tank. Here is the update on the cleanup project.

The tanks started out overgrown with algae an aiptasia. The tank had crashed. Here is a photo of how it started.

Nano Reef Tank Crashed

I am dedicated to bringing this tank back up to snuff and giving it back to my buddy looking like the beautiful reef it should.

I started by removing all three large rocks for cleaning. The rose bubble anemone refused to be moved, so I wound up leaving that rock in. You can see the anemone on the left most rock in the above photo. Leaving that rock in has made the revitalizing of the tank more difficult as I have been unable to simply kill off and scrub it like the other two rocks. Minor speed bump!

Later, I took a good look at the default sump configuration and was not too thrilled with what I saw. The built in sump is convenient, and certainly makes this tank much easier to maintain, but it has not been doing a great job out of the box. There are three chambers, in the first chamber was nothing but water. The second chamber held a highly porous black sponge that contained a tiny bit of activated carbon and even less bio material. Not nearly enough bio material to build the level of beneficial bacteria I would like to see.

For the short term, I need to be collecting junk in the water, which the black sponge cannot do. I pulled that and the carbon out, then dropped the bio material to the bottom of the second chamber. Then I took filter floss and stuffed the second chamber full. The first chamber was still empty. Here is a photo of the water change 2 days after updating the sump. The filter looks whiter than it really is in the photo, it is dark brown.

Yowza! That is some gross water!

Both chambers one and two now are packed with filter floss. More bio media should be arriving shortly, and that will fill most of the second chamber. There are other specialty saltwater gadgets that could be used, but I am attempting to keep this as simple as possible.

The sump pump was also replaced. It had an anemic 80 gph pump in it. Or at least it felt like the same output as my other 80 gph pump. A 200 gph pump replaced it. This provides much better flow that everyone in the tank seems to be enjoying. The water is much cleaner as well.

Onto the critters!

Removing the other rocks helped the stock feel much better. Everyone is more active now, especially the shrimp, which had stayed in one place for the most part. I also picked up some cleanup crew to assist:

  • 10 Trochus snails – general algae eater
  • 3 peppermint shrimp – aiptasia eater
  • Emerald crab – bubble algae eater

The anemone was looking depressed initially. I fed it some brine shrimp and the next day it looked better. I have been feeding it directly every other day and it is looking happier now. It has fully emerged and opened up, and it’s arms are floating up again.

I have been heavily consulting with a couple pro saltwater buddies, Josh and Jordan. Their guidance has been invaluable. Barrier Reef Aquariums has also been critical to the success of this rehab. I highly recommend you check them out if you are in the Seattle area.

Here are some photos of the tank now:

Click on this link to see a video of the Emerald Crab dining on some algae.

New fish tank, saltwater- I have never had this before!

For over three decades I have kept aquariums. I tried to calculate of all the individual tanks over the years and came up with a rough 400 gallon number. In all of that time I have never had a saltwater fish tank! My friends Joshua and Jordan were the salt pros and I was the freshwater guy. 

A  buddy with a nano reef tank asked me a couple weeks ago if I could take care of his tank for a while. An established tank, with a built in sump. It is the perfect salt water aquarium starter package. I gladly agreed and the tank is now sitting next to my desk where I get to look at during the work day. 

Tank: Fluval Evo 13.5 

Current stocking:

  • Rose bubble tip anemone
  • Frosted Clown
  • Black and White Clown
  • Watchman Goby
  • Pistol Shrimp
  • Yellow Coral Banded Shrimp 
  • Peppermint Shrimp
  • Emerald Crab (I added)
  • Trochus snails

Photo of the tank after moving it to my house

Algae and Aiptasia got a foothold during my buddy’s vacation. We are currently battling it out, but I am confident that we will be the victors and the tank will be pristine again soon!

Some photos of the stock:

Video of the Emerald Crab

free 90 gallon tank and stand

Free 90 gallon fish tank! Big project alert

Some of you may know- to add to the list of crazy traits I have, I love fish keeping. When I was born my parents had 21 fish tanks in the house, in fact, they met at a fish club show. Growing up I was around all varieties of tanks, from 5 gallons to 125 gallons. Small community fish to fish large enough to take a finger off.

Over the last four years I lived on a small powerboat- not really enough room to have a proper tank, so I have been without fish a while. After moving into our project house, I set up my old 30 gallon tank, but I wanted more.

Yesterday on OfferUp I saw a 130 gallon tank listed, FOR FREE! Hard to pass that up. I headed over and picked it up a few hours after it was posted.

free 90 gallon tank and stand

Tank size from a picture is a bit hard to determine, so I will post photos of the measurements below. Suffice to say this is a 90 gallon tank, not a 130. But hey, it was free!

The tank material is acrylic. I believe this is the first acrylic tank I have owned. There is a slight haze to it that I can get off with a good buffing. Sometimes when filled with water the haze disappears, so I will try that first.

The stand looks rough in the picture- because it is rough. There is a lot of rot and water damage on it. I do not trust it with the 800 pounds it will be holding. No big deal, we were already knew it needed work from the posting photos. I will take the doors off the front and build a new skeleton inside it. Piece of cake.

Sadly, there are several projects around the house that are higher priority than getting this tank running, so it will be a few months until she is up and running.

I prefer under gravel filters but am tossing around the idea of building an external sump. What do you think? Shoot me a message.

Outer tank size

Inner tank size

How to get rid of black algae in an aquarium

For years, well really nearly 3 decades, my father and I have been raising tropical freshwater fish. Occasionally the tank will somehow acquire a growth of black algae.

Black algae is insidious. Once you get it it is impossible to get rid of without tearing the tank apart and bleaching everything. The danger here is that bleach is highly toxic to fish. Even a single drop can kill off an entire 120 gallon tank full of fish.

Maybe the most popularly debated topic online is how to get rid of black algae, and until now nothing has worked.

I accidentally ran across the answer over a month ago!!! Here it is:
Heat!

My heater (~16 years old!) failed and failed on. The temperature in the tank spiked to 110F before I noticed.

Over the weeks the tank, which previously was completely covered with black algae, has cleared up. Even the normal green algae is gone!

I do not recommend getting your tank that hot with the fish in it. All but 2 of my fish died :(. You can put them in a temporary holding tank, or buckets, while you heat up the tank.

I am curious to know of anyone else out there who has tried this method and how it worked for you.

Edit (Feb 2017): Noting from a commenter- My tank did not have any live plants in it. They are all plastic.

Here are a couple pics of my tank today. I wish I had a before pic to show you, even the plants were covered in the black algae.

IMG_2518 IMG_2519

 

Feast of Fish!

My childhood friend Josh came over last week with a backpack full of fresh fish. 12 pounds of fish to be exact! Neither of us had cooked fish before but we were up for a new challenge.

There was Red Rockfish and Halibut. We decided to split the cooking into pan frying and baking in hopes that one of the methods would turn out good. It all came out amazing! We gorged ourselves on fish. I was eating fish for the entire following week. It was truly delicious!

 

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