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    Posted: January 11 2010 at 10:32pm
How do I know if my tank is ready for a dragonet?  I really want to pick up a mandarin goby, but want to be sure my tank is ready.  My 90 gal has been running for about 9 months now, and although I'm still struggling with some basics (like getting corals to actually grow instead of just stay the same . . . or my latest problem, which seems to be an abundance of cyano), my water levels all seem to be pretty perfect and have been for quite a while. 
 
My latest clue that I might be ready for a dragonet is the huge number of copepods that I notice whenever changing my filter sock.  I've heard dragonets pretty much only eat copepods, and you need to have a tank that can supply enough of them.  So how do I know if I have enough, and are there other factors to consider that should cause me to wait a while longer?
 
Thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CapnMorgan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2010 at 10:47pm
IMO I would wait until I had my tank totally stabilized. You are right in that copepods are a must to keep a mandarin, but just keeping a mandarin is going do really cut down on your pod population so you'll want to be sure your fuge is constantly churning them out.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lexnano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2010 at 10:48pm
If you look around you should be able to find one that is trained to eat frozen foods.  I was able to find one that was trained on frozen.  There are articles that show you how to train one to eat frozen.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote towny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2010 at 11:16pm
Thanks.  At what point is a tank "totally stabilized?"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 12 2010 at 11:26am
Totally stabilized means not having the problems that you mentioned.
 
Do you mean Amphipods? Copepods are microscopic and would not be seen in a filter sock. Speaking of filter sock, if I were wanting to keep a mandarin, I'd consider removing it permanently to let the bugs flow through. Bugs help reduce cyano. Can you see lot's of bugs at night? How about during the day? This a Grammeras Amphipod:
 
 
What are the fish currently in this 90? It's important to watch the balance of Herbivores vs. Carnivores as described here: http://www.utahreefs.com/SeaStar/SeaStarJunePrint.pdf
 
If I were battling Cyano, I'd work on understanding that and eliminating it before adding a Mandarin. The addition of a bug eating fish like that would only make the Cyano battle more difficult.
 
Also your statement that coral are not growing is a very big concern. We can help with that. To start with, what are the actual numbers of the water parameters that you testQuestion
Can you post a picQuestion
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote towny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 12 2010 at 1:46pm
Thanks much, Mark.  I'd appreciate any help you can give me.  The hobby has been a challenge thus far, but I feel like things are starting to look better.
 
Apparently, I do mean amphipods (had always thought they were copepods).  Mine look pretty much exactly like your pic.  I see tons of them in the sump, but not so much in the display.
 
My fish are as follows:  3" hippo tang, (2) ocellaris, bengaii cardinal, six line wrasse, firefish.  I used to have more, but lost a bunch due to an outbreak of ich (or something) 3-4 months ago.  Lost a clown, a diamond goby, two neon gobies, a royal gramma and a goldrim tang in a period of two weeks.  Since then, I've only replaced the clown, which unfortunately brought ich back into the tank.  My hippo has had small amounts of ich off and on since then, which I've combatted with garlic oil, so I've been really hesitant to add more fish.  I'll be hooking up a UV soon to hopefully ensure continued good health.
 
Water params are as follows:
 
pH  8.3
SG  ~1.024
Temp  78F
NH4  0
NO3  0
NO2  0
PO4  0 - .25
Ca  400
Alk 8.4 dkH
 
I don't test for Mg or iodine, but I dose iodine with a Kent solution at half the recommended dose (I've heard it's easy to overdose).  I also dose Mg in small doses every now and then.
 
I'll attach a pic of the tank tonight - you'll see my lovely cyano crop (which I've had for a very long time).  I have good flow, two K-4's and a Mag 9.5 split two ways for the return, but a shortage of cleanup crew right now.  I'm about to boost with 40 more astreas (currently have 20 astreas, 10 ceriths, 15 massarius, ~40 crabs (red and blue leg, several of which are HUGE) and a serpet star. 
 
Filtration is a 30 gal sump, 1/2 of which is a fuge with biosediment, a little LR, some macro (caulerpa), and two mangrove sprouts I just picked up last week.  I have 120 lbs of LR and a 2" sand bed in the display.  I also have a bag of carbon in a high flow area of the sump.  Coralife 220 gal skimmer.  Interestingly, the macro in the fuge hasn't done that well.  I think it gets overrun by cyano.  I actually turned off the skimmer a few days ago to make sure the magroves get the nutrients they need.
 
Lighting is 2 x 250W MH, color is 20k.
 
As far as coral growth goes, about the only thing that grows is kenya tree, green star polyps, and acans.  All of the above are doing quite well.  Frogspawn has shown signs of growth recently, but it is VERY slow (I've had it for 9 months, and it doesn't even have one new full size head yet).  I have lots of other softy frags, and although most of it looks happy, it doesn't seem to grow at all.
 
Thanks again!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote towny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 13 2010 at 10:19pm
Mark,
 
I've attached some pics of the tank as requested and would love any insight you can give me.
 
Thanks,
 
Kevin
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote downhill_biker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 14 2010 at 2:30pm
Mark, I am agreeing with you that it was most likely amphipods that he was seeing, but I can see copepods, and even smaller organisms in my tank all the time. They can definitely be seen by the naked eye, if you have good eyes. I can even see much, much smaller organisms, about the diameter of a small needle.

To answer the original post, looking at the pics you have enough substrate and rock to sustain a good copepod population. The sump/fuge will definitely help, especially if you have some rock rubble and cheato in there. This is an area where the mandarin cannot get to, and it will keep the population going. I agree with others though, you want to work out all of the kinks and get completely stabilized.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 14 2010 at 9:48pm
Thinking....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote towny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 14 2010 at 10:48pm
Thanks, Mark.  I appreciate your time and insight.  (and everyone's on this board, for that matter)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 15 2010 at 10:02am
Okay, I definitely don't want this to be difficult for you, but I believe a little extra effort now will make this an enjoyable hobby in the long term. I've taken a couple days to formulate some thoughts and some recommended actions. As I see it, this tank does not have a major problem so everything we are going to work on should be considered as a way of tweaking the system. If there is anything here that doesn't feel right to you, that's okay.
You are the best judge of what should work. You are the one that has the ability to see it up close and to be able to stand back and take in the whole picture. I'm only looking in through the window. Wink
 
1) First off, can you hold off on adding the UV Sterilizer. I don't see it making the differences you are looking for, plus it may mask some of the things that we need to observe as we consider the following things together:
2) How is the Ich situation? Has it completely disappeared? If not, I have a suggestion.
3) The tank has a 2" sand bed of what particle size? Where are the shallowest and deepest areas?
4) Can you do a test for Iodine at a trusted LFS or with another hobbyist?
5) Assuming you supplement Alk and Ca, let's see how well Alkalinity can be raised by discontinuing Ca and adding just Alkalinity. Let's target an Alk of 10 with Ca 350-400
6) Have the new Astrea Snails survived and are they cleaning the rock?
7) You said that half the fuge area is "biosediment". Please describe the biosediment and or post a pic.
8) Where did the LR come from? Do you know it's history? Did it experience any medications?
9) Mangroves take most of their nutrients from the substrate, not so much from the water, so turning off the skimmer doesn't matter to them.Smile
10) Can the pic size be doubled, please?
11) May we see a closeup pic of the rock?
 
That's all. Take your time. No need to hurry.Smile 


Edited by Mark Peterson - January 15 2010 at 10:05am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote towny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 15 2010 at 4:33pm
Mark,
 
First of all, thanks for being willing to put some time into helping me troubleshoot.  Addressing each of your items:
 
1) First off, can you hold off on adding the UV Sterilizer. I don't see it making the differences you are looking for, plus it may mask some of the things that we need to observe as we consider the following things together:
I will hold off on installing the UV sterilizer if you think it is best to do so.  I think I'll buy one anyway (someone's offered me a great deal) as an insurance policy in case I have another outbreak of ich.
2) How is the Ich situation? Has it completely disappeared? If not, I have a suggestion.
The ich is completely gone (maybe that's a misnomer, but it's at least visibly completely gone).
3) The tank has a 2" sand bed of what particle size? Where are the shallowest and deepest areas?
The particle size is very fine (sugar) for the most part.  It's natural ocean floor sand, so it contains larger particles and some shells, but generally it is quite fine. This is the stuff: http://www.petsolutions.com/Ocean-Direct-Caribbean-Live-Sand+I18400920+C45.aspx.  I actually really wish I'd gone with something larger in size, because this stuff blows around everywhere and is really annoying.  One of my many newbie mistakes.  In most of the tank, the bed is a pretty consistent 2" to 2-1/2" deep.  I've recently added my second K-4 and changed the flow direction from my return though, so on the left side of the tank, I have a shallow pocket in the corner (1") surrounded by several 4" piles where things haven't settled out yet.
4) Can you do a test for Iodine at a trusted LFS or with another hobbyist?
Yes, I'll get this done over the weekend.
5) Assuming you supplement Alk and Ca, let's see how well Alkalinity can be raised by discontinuing Ca and adding just Alkalinity. Let's target an Alk of 10 with Ca 350-400
I do supplement Alk and Ca (Was using B-Ionic, but am having to make the switch to Kent now that B-Ionic went out of business).  I will try raising Alk without Ca as you have suggested.
6) Have the new Astrea Snails survived and are they cleaning the rock?
New astreas aren't in yet, but hopefully will be this weekend.  Having a little difficulty connnecting with the seller.
7) You said that half the fuge area is "biosediment". Please describe the biosediment and or post a pic.
It's called Kent Marine Biosediment.  http://www.petsolutions.com/Marine-Biosediment+I51900679+C45.aspx  It's about 3" deep in the fuge (mostly 3", but is closer to 1" at the far upstream end).
8) Where did the LR come from? Do you know it's history? Did it experience any medications?
Got it from a guy whose tank had just sprung a leak and he was leaving the hobby.  It was established for 8 years.  I took about 30 gallons of his water too as I was literally JUST starting up my tank.  The rock did have to sit in cold (room temperature) water overnight before I got the system running.  Interestingly, the rock had no coraline algea on it, at least not the pink and purple hard stuff.  Several pieces did have a very dark purple softer algea on it, but that faded away after a while in my tank (not sure why). 
 
One of the things I've found unusual about my tank is that coraline doesn't seem to grow, except for on a few crab shells. 
9) Mangroves take most of their nutrients from the substrate, not so much from the water, so turning off the skimmer doesn't matter to them.Smile
Thanks for the tip.  Guess I'll turn the skimmer back on.Smile
10) Can the pic size be doubled, please?
I'll try to upload bigger pics tonight.  I had tried preivously, but it was rejecting anything over 150 KB.  I'll have to try something else.
11) May we see a closeup pic of the rock?
I'll attach tonight as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BobC63 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 15 2010 at 7:42pm

The only issue I can see as a potential problem is that you already have a 6 - Line Wrasse in there. The 6 - line and Mandarin will compete for food.

Also, if your 6 - Line is larger than 1" long it may harm the Mandarin.
 
I have a 2.5" long 6 - Line in my 225g, and when I put a 1.5" Mandarin in the same tank the 6 - Line harrased the Manadrin constantly - pecking at it and chasing it around the sandbed. I had to take the Mandarin out, or I am sure it would have died...
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote towny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 17 2010 at 5:46pm
Here're some larger pics (this seems to be the absolute biggest I can get keeping it under the 150 KB.  Not sure how others seem to post much large pics.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote towny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 17 2010 at 5:48pm
Also, I've been thinking of getting rid of my six line wrasse (bullies other fish, and it might do my tank good in other ways).  What's this bottle fish trap I've heard about?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 17 2010 at 7:19pm

Thanks for the generous response to my questions and for posting larger pics.Big smile

One of the most immediate problems I notice is hair algae ready to bloom any moment on the LR. You said you have 30 snails(Nassarius snails don't count). This tank needs 80 more snails urgently. Try to get 30 Margarita, 30 Astrea and 20 Cerith Snails. I hope you are getting them from Chad here on the MB. He is the best source.
 
I believe that special LS contains a lot of silica sand, nothing really wrong with it, but it is not the best. Also, all of the products that claim to be LS are really just a load of sand with some bacteria and nothing else. The problem with these LS products is that most of the bacteria die off during storage. The bacteria can again reproduce and their numbers increase quickly once they get into a tank environment where there is food. I don't mean to make you feel bad about your purchase but just thought you ought to know the truth. At this point the best thing you could do for that sand is to add a quart or more of LS from a healthy tank from someone here on this MB. The variety of worms and bugs bacteria and crud that will be transferred into your tank will help it to blossom in beauty and health.
 
The sand storms and sand pileups can be resolved by repositioning the return nozzles and powerheads. I notice that all four water streams are aimed down. Let's aim all of them up. Start by unplugging the two stream powerheads. We are going to move them down after playing with the Loc-line nozzles. Turn the return nozzles up slightly and across the water surface. Also aim the left nozzle directly to the left and the right nozzle directly to the right. Move the K-4's down as far as possible, even close to the sand if possible. The back bottom corner is best but with the rock where it is that may not be possible so move them down the side glass and position them in front of the rock. Aim them up diagonally so the streams hit the water surface at each side of the center top. This will make it so the streams make the surface water roll and then the streams move toward the center and hit each other in the center sending water turbulantly down toward the bottom. If that creates too much down current so that the sand blows away from the center, adjust the K-4 streams slightly offset so they glance off each other instead of hitting head on. This may be hard to picture. Feel free to call so we can talk through it.
 
Regarding Alkalinity, you may not have read this yet. http://www.utahreefs.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=9244
Please read it and learn how Alk and Ca supplements are actually made with ordinary household chemicals.Smile
 
The rock is 8 years old and has No Coralline Algae?!Shocked We can try to change that. The way the rock is set on the bottom of the tank concerns me. Recently a hobbyist here cleared some rock off the sand. This opened up the sand bed which resulted in an immediate significant improvement in tank health. You might even consider selling some of the LR to someone who is starting a new tank and add some clean, fresh, sterile LBTR in it's place. Coralline Algae grows great on LBTR. The pics of what it looks like are in the thread above.
 
One last thing I am concerned about is that some chemicals could have been used in the past that may have been absorbed into the LR. This is inhibiting the growth of Coralline Algae on the LR as well as leaching into the water. This may be part of the reason some Coral don't grow. This is a remote possibility so let's save this thought for later.Smile


Edited by Mark Peterson - January 18 2010 at 11:08am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote towny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 18 2010 at 11:57pm
As always, thanks for the comments, Mark.  Sounds like I've got a lot of changes to make.  In a few days, I leave town for a week, so I'm probably going to have to address most of these when I get back.  In the mean time, I got some new cleanup crew in today (40 astrea and 20 cerith snails) and yes, I got them from Chad as he is indeed the best deal in town.  For what it's worth, I also got two peppermint shrimp and a brittle star.  Added a huge long spine urchin the other day as well.  I'll try to find some margs when I get back into town.
 
The reason I had all of the nozzles and powerheads pointed down was to help with the flow directly across the rock and coral, hopefully helping with the algea problem.  I'll change per your recommendations.
 
I read the thread on the homemade alk and ca supplements.  Great info that is sure to save me some $$ down the road, so thanks. 
 
When I do get back into town, perhaps I could give you a call to discuss the changes and learn more about the rationale.  Thanks again for your help.  I leave Saturday, so still have some time to make additional changes before I go, but I'm fairly swamped at work and may not have that much time. 
 
Thanks again,
 
Kevin
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 19 2010 at 10:03am
Looking forward to it.Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aquarium Creations Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 19 2010 at 10:41am
what was the price per snail?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote towny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 19 2010 at 11:24am
I should probably let Chad quote his prices (sorry!), since I believe he has different pricing at certain times (club meetings, etc.).  I just don't want to be inaccurate about his pricing.
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