It’s been about 9 months since the last update, and much has changed in the tank. First and foremost, the algae bloom has been on the decline, as constant removal of algae by hand at the bi-weekly water changes has finally yielded progress. In addition, various algae eating invertebrates were purchased to various degrees of success. First, the Astraea and Trochus snails have largely died out, presumably due to starvation. However, before starving out, the Trochus snails mated by releasing eggs and sperm into the water. Over the past few months, I found five or six baby snails of varying sizes in my sump and pumps. The survivors are now growing in the display tank, which puzzles me. If there was not enough food for the adults (as they died slowly one by one over months), I am curious how the babies are finding enough food to grow. The largest baby is almost as big as the adults I bought. The scarlet legged hermit crabs I bought also died slowly, one by one, and I only have one left now. Finally, I bought two Turbo snails, which have been the only thing to eat the thicker, coarser hair algae. Those two have been vital at eating the thicker strands of algae and converting it into waste which is then skimmed out.
Secondly, one of my clown fish jumped out of the tank and killed itself; while cleaning the room, I found its dried out corpse on the floor. I put a second baby clown fish through a successful 30 day quarantine in hyposalinity (15 ppt) and introduced it to the display. While smaller, this clown fish is much more curious, and will swim to people and is all around an entertaining fish.
The hammer and frogspawn corals continue to grow, there have been multiple splits in the heads. One concern I have is that my hammer may be bleaching, and the tentacles directly under the light are listless lay flat. This may be due to one of two things. The first is that my Neptune APEX controller died, and when I received the repaired unit, I forgot my light programming. For several days, the hammer was under the full power of my LED lights until I programmed it down. The second is that when I did water changes, I changed 15 gallons out of my estimated 30 gallon volume of water. That caused the water level to dip below the new growth, which may have damaged the hammer. I have begun smaller water changes (see below) as part of an experiment.
My Kenya tree coral has recovered and is experiencing a growth spurt. It has grown laterally along with the current of my return outlet, and there is a great amount of polyp extension. I speculate this may be because of the copepods I introduced into the sump, or the various other plankton that are hatching in the water and circulating (e.g. cleaner shrimp nauplii, bacteria/algae, etc). In addition, the second bubble tip anemone I bought has migrated almost entirely around the tank. Instead of being in the back, it recently moved above my leather mushroom coral. For months, the leather mushroom was stung and began to withdraw. The two have finally achieved enough space that the mushroom coral is extending polyps while the anemone takes up most of the light. I worry about crowding in this part of the tank, but there is not much I can do, as the corals are quite firmly attached to their rocks (having grown off their plugs) and the anemone is also in a tight crevice.
My icetort Acropora has done very well despite the bright light and possible lack of current. It sits on top of the rocks, nearest the lights and to the side of the return outflow. The branches have grown very high, almost to the surface of the water and it has a very nice coloration. Previously, at night, it would shift coloration to a pinkish tone, and extend polyps. While I do not see that anymore, it has polyp extension now throughout the day. I am not sure if this is a warning sign, but it is still growing.
The two chalice corals have basically grown and attached themselves to the rocks they are on. Both are extending very long polyp tentacles at night, which makes me confident they are adapting to the tank and doing well. The left specimen has begun to develop bumps and valleys, and the right specimen has begun to “drip” onto the rocks and merge onto them. Both have a very thick mucus coating that is obvious when handled. The bird’s next Seriotopora coral I had to frag; first because it was suffering from tissue necrosis and bleaching (again, probably due to my lights). After impromptu surgery with a pair of coral clippers, I had accidentally broke off some health parts, which I fragged and scattered around the tank. These all seem to be doing well, even a part that suffered from tissue necrosis appears to be recovering after a change in placement. My Uncle also dropped off two more Acropora specimens which I have placed high up.
Finally, the Monitporra specimen which I thought dead from algae covering it up, has begun to revive and recolonize its skeletal structure. If you compare photos of this with its previous state, it’s clear just how far this coral has to go, but I’m still in awe of its ability to survive almost a year without strong light.
Gallery with captions below: