Aquarium Update 16

It has been more than five months since the last update on my Red Sea Max 130D so high time for nr 16. I have bought a media basket to force the water more through the filtration material, which cannot be a bad thing, but otherwise have done very little. I have not been diving as much as I wanted, and still have not gone to any of the deeper sites where I perhaps could have found some Dahlia anemones, larger Brittlestars or other interesting things. I have a red seaweed growing from the rocks; it has encrusted all rocks in a deep red colour and grows out of in a bit of a lettuce-shape. At first I thought it was the invasive species Grateloupia but the shape and colour are a bit different, I will enquire at the Seaweeds of the NE Atlantic facebook group what it is. I have some green algae but they grow in tufts that can be easily removed so I cannot complain really. Below a shot of the tank, it does not look great but there you have it:img_7419The anemones are still so-so. I think that plumose anemones need very fines foods and water changes, which I do not really do and as a result they are often closed and not growing. The strawberries and beadlets still don’t do as well as they did, no idea why. My Red-speckled anemones (Anthopleura ballii) on the other hand do great and are my favourites. Below a photo of a specimen I collected at a good low tide in Flushing this week and one in my aquarium that has grown quite a bit. It fluoresces in the middle. img_5611img_7401I have some squat lobsters rummaging around as well as a cool hairy crab. I have got rid of prawns as they are so aggressive! Every time I opened the hood and stopped the pump, they came swimming to the top, legs tickling and scraping on the plastic and attacking my fingers. They are part of the reason that my fish have not fared too well. I had some Pollack for a while but they eventually succumbed. I believe my flow is on the strong side, and with an occasional missed feeding and less energy, the prawns and anemones will not tolerate any slip up! I caught some Sand smelt (see here for two videos) with my big net from the quay but these formed a meal for other inhabitants within the day. I caught a Topknot (by hand) (see here) but that disappeared after a while too. I have two or three Cornish suckers that do well though. As soon as I feed they stick their noses from under rocks and dart out to catch some defrosted shrimp but otherwise you hardly see them. I was lucky to catch a bright green juvenile Ballan wrasse Labrus bergylta of the quay which does great (they are not as nervous as the more common corkwing wrasse). I caught another individual (I only ever caught three) but the first one started picking on it, changing from bright green to a more subdued marbled green. I was not in time to release one of them and the second fish died unfortunately.

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Chiller

After a year and a half of running a supposedly cold water aquarium at room temperature (usually above 20C), I have finally bought a chiller! I found it very hard to choose between the several available brands, with mixed messages on forums about noise, ventilation and size. In the end I decided on a D-D DC300 chiller; however, the supplier was out of stock and suggested to take the 750 Watt model instead. As it was not that much more expensive and as running a larger chiller at shorter intervals is more econonomical (and also after a year of indecision I of course could not just wait for a couple of extra weeks), the D-D DC750 chiller it was. I ordered an Eheim compact +2000 pump (1000 to 2000 l/hr) to go with it online and got some insulated tubing from my local stoner hydroponics guy. When the chiller arrived it was a lot bigger than I thought. I placed it in a kitchen cabinet out of sight, and hopefully hearing, and with help from friends drilled two holes in the wall to the living room, to lead the tubing up to the tank:

IMG_8466(I still have to drill holes in the surface for the two electric cables.) The chiller is set at 17C, which results in about 14-15C in the aquarium. With a lower temperature setting, ‘tank sweating’ (condensation) occurs. So the temperature is still at the upper end of native tanks, but I think (hope) it might make the difference for some species of algae and some sublittoral species. The chiller only comes on about four times per 24 hours for a half hour and the noise is not too bad. The inside of the cabinet heats up quite a bit, but I think it should not be a problem. I had planned to fit the outflow through one of the two holes drilled in the back compartment for the two Red Sea Max pumps, but the tubing was too stiff/the compartment too small to make the angle. I have now just tie-wrapped the tube into the tank:

IMG_8465I still have to find a proper solution to close the two holes, as I do not want the water to be sucked into the back compartment that way (bypassing the filter/skimmer). I have set the pump at 2000 l/hr which (with the loss because of chiller and tubing) is still not very strong (the two RSM pumps had a combined 1100 l/hr). I might re-install one of the original pumps to get some extra flow directed at the water surface. Next project: finally installing my LEDs!

new inhabitants

Last weekend I went for a bit of snorkeling off Pendennis Point to catch some new inhabitants of my tank: some Snakelocks anemones and a Leach’s spider crab (just one for a start). Although it was overcast and late, it was nice to be in the water. I was lucky to straight away find a diving knife, this helped me to cut of some kelp housing snakelocks. I took a perforated plastic Lidl bag with me in the water to serve as a net for the crab, low tech but it worked fine. The tricky thing was to get the snakelocks from the kelp afterwards (I did not want a load of rotting kelp pieces in the tank):

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With some finicking I could get the anemones off the kelp and on the rocks or gravel. The Leach’s spider crab (decorated with small pieces of red seaweed) quickly hid behind a rock. However, after two days it was accustomed to its new surroundings and found a place underneath one of the anemones right in the front of the tank:

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my Red Sea Max 130D

After moving to the seaside, I was sure that I wanted to have a native marine aquarium but I was not too sure about what set-up to buy. I have quite a bit of experience with tropical fresh water aquariums¬† but marine tanks always seemed to be much more difficult with sumps and skimmers and all that. However, nowadays everyone can start the hobby with a of ‘plug-and-play’ aquarium. After a bit of online research, I decided to go for a Red Sea Max 130D. At 130 liters it is a medium-sized tank, although I guess it is still often classified as a ‘nano’ tank.

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All equipment is hidden in a compartment at the back behind black-tinted glass:

130d_filtration_bigWater flows into the back compartment through a sieve, this sieve cannot be removed for cleaning which is unfortunate as it easily gets clogged, especially when you have lots of seaweeds in the tank (I do not use the extra comb (1) because I did not find it very effective and it takes up too much space). Water then flows through a filter pad (2) into the skimmer compartment (3). The stock RSM skimmer is very noisy and I only use it at night. I find that the skimmer cup is not very easy to clean either. There is an empty compartment (4, 5) for a chiller pump that I hope to fill up soon (of course I do not use the heating element (6)). Water flows then through ceramic (7)- and carbon (8) filter material before two pumps jet the water back into the main tank compartment again (9). This design is quite bad, as the filter material can only be accessed after removing the pumps and the bags are stuck in a narrow compartment. I also use a bag with RowaPhos to remove phosphates to keep algae in check.

So filtration, skimming and design could have been designed better (as well as lighting, see a previous post) and it is perhaps no surprise that internet forums abound with descriptions of RSM tank modifications and additions (e.g. this media bag and skimmer replacement option). Although I am overall happy with my Red Sea Max tank, if I would by an aquarium today I probably would assemble it from separately ordered parts.