new sand

Welcome to this most obscure of blogs, my dear reader. The aquarium is a bit of a mess at the moment for a variety of reasons. First of all there are a lot of algae growing; I have a bag with Rowaphos hanging in the back compartment to remove phosphates but this does not seem to help much (I have had good experiences with before though). Second, one of my pumps broke and so filtration runs at half capacity. Third, the mixed success of planting many different seaweeds has left loads of detritus in the tank. I have made large water changes which helped a bit. An additional tank for experimenting would be nice to have… Fourth, I have been unlucky with some of the seaweeds: the Wireweed grew really well, but the large size meant it caught a lot of the current and was easily dislodged. The Dudresnay’s whorled weed Dudresnaya verticullosa was growing really well (see here) but broke off from the rocks and could not be replanted:

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I could not attach the fine red seaweed (see last post) either and did not want to have it floating around so I have removed it. My nice red seaweed streaming from the pump outlet, most probably Devil’s tongue weed Grateloupia turutu (as the name indicates, another invader from the Pacific), broke of. A crap picture of both weeds:

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I changed the white gravel with finer, beige Maerl gravel (Cornwall’s equivalent of coral sand, see previous post) here placed in a bowl for contrast:

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I released my Shanny as well as the largest of the two Rock gobies. The former attacked to many of the snails (it was getting a bit of a mollusc graveyard) and the latter was just too voracious in general. The final straw was seeing it swimming around with half a Worm pipefish sticking out of its mouth (I still have a bunch of those). The Shore rockling did not survive, but I caught a glimpse of the Shore clingfish when I removed some of the rocks from the aquarium. The juvenile albino Edible crab (if that’s what it is) and the European sting winkle Ocenebra erinaceus I recently caught both still do well, as is a juvenile Shore crab Carcinus maenas:

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The Netted dog whelk Hinia reticulata is not one of the most impressive looking snails, but they do very well in the aquarium, burrowing and moving around:

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I am not sure whether replacing one of the actinic lamps with the daylight lamp was such a great idea, the tank looks too yellowish now, especially with the Maerl sand…However, I will stick with it and see whether it helps future attempts to successfully keep Bushy rainbow wrack Cystoseira tamariscifolia (i.e. to retain it’s iridescence). If not, I’ll go back to the original lighting. I will not do too much with the aquarium in the near future as I want to get rid of the algae first. There are not many critters in the tank, which should help (I have only introduced a nice big Snakelocks anemone Anemonia viridis recently). I will do some more water changes and order a new pump. Only then will I slowly start experimenting with seaweeds again.

I am still unsure about the chiller, but with the weather getting warmer it might be more than just a luxury to have one. Apart from the price, it standing on the floor next to the aquarium with tubes sticking out is what I don’t like about the idea though. It will also not be silent, but perhaps I could get away with disabling the noisy hood fans, resulting in an overall quieter aquarium. The stripped-down tank (note that the red encrusting algae/seaweeds at the top of the tank have died (turned white) as they were exposed for a couple of hours when changing water):

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4 thoughts on “new sand

  1. Hallo, I am a big fan of yours, we exchanged some messages a few months ago. Can you please tell about your experiences in growing the seaweeds into the aquarium ?
    Have you been successful with any particular one ? I mean something that after you have placed into your aquarium it has started really growing fine, to the extent that you need to prune it like the plants in freshwater aquariums.
    I might be traveling to England next year, I was wondering if I can collect some seaweeds and transport them successfully to my country Italy.

    • Hi Emanuele,
      thanks for the compliment. Most of my seaweed experiences can be found int he older posts, I have not experimented much with them lately. I now run my light at a very dim level, which is great as I have almost zero algae, but obviously not ideal either for macroalgae. I guess really the best thing would be to experiment yourself; you will have different lighting, temperature, tank inhabitants etc so the growth of seaweeds will not be comparable anyway. I feelt he best way is to use natural seawater and use rocks from the sea and wait for seaweeds to grow from them. You can try out also with smaller pieces of seaweed; if these do not do well they will not result in a massive die-off and nutrient spike. Transporting seaweeds might be possible if you place them in damp cloth, I have no experience with this (it will get a bit smelly I am sure!). If I were you I would stick with local species, must be easier and there will be nice species in Italy surely!
      cheers, Michiel

  2. Thanks for the answer, we have a proverb that says: “The lawn of your neigbour is always greener (than your own)” (you may have it in English too). This is to explay why I look with envy at the north sea weeds having the mediterranean sea not too far away.
    I don’t live close to the sea and for this reason I started with the plants and algae that I could find around the north Italian lakes and rivers. Some plants are extremely difficult to do well and about 10 of the 25 species I found, died within one month. Stubbornly I took it as a challenge, I decided that I had to succeed with the growth of the most difficult ones; for this purpose I started studying the natural environment collecting samples of water and mud and testing them with the aquarium chemical kits. I collected so many unexpected informations. I guess if you really wants to grow different species of seaweeds you could start making some few very simple but fundamentally importat tests while you are snorkeling into the sea. A very cheap and simple test that can be easily made is to check the light intensity where you collect the seaweed, a LUXOMETER is about 27 euro on e-bay. Than you can do other things on the site like to checking phosphates, iron, nitrates, magnesium, calcium etc. and you will do the same thing inside your tank after a few days after placing the seaweeds.This helped me a lot with the most impossible plants which eventually started growing after struggling with them. N.1 importance factor for succeed is the LIGHT, all the rest including the macro and mcro elements come afer this preliminary one.

    • Hi Emanuele,
      yes the grass is always greener on the other side! I would really like to start a ‘Cornish paludarium’, as there are many nice plants here growing on stone walls and in fresh water. Sticklebacks would be a nice and easy fish species to keep. Collecting plants and finding out how to grow them yourself makes the hobby a lot more fun I think. I have not given in to the whole test kit thing; I agree these can be useful, but what I gather from the many aquarium forums is that people that test a lot do not necessarily have less problems with algae etc. Sensible stocking and making plants work for you (removing nutrients) seems to be more sensible then chasing parameters. Having said that, it might be useful to check for things like iodine when it comes to seaweed growth. My light levels are really low, which means that macroalgae are not doing so well, but as importantly, microalgae are neither! It would be ideal to have a ‘test’ tank that does not have to look nice but that can be used for experiments with lighting etc. It would be great to see a picture of your native Italian freshwater tank btw!

      cheers Michiel

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