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Pearls of the Antilles - Macro algae reef system

Discussion in 'Marine Plants - Macroalgae' started by lljdma06, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    Started with a question, might as well keep everybody posted on my build here too.

    I've been keeping FW fish for about 22 years, the last five of which have been focused exclusively on Planted tanks. The time is right to begin a saltwater journey. After all, I live in Miami, FL and it is actually easier to setup a reef system here than a planted tank! Try and figure that one out, but it's true.

    My parents are Cuban and for the name of this system I drew on an old reference to Cuba as the "Pearl of the Antilles". For this system, I'm restricting myself to species that are found in the Caribbean and we'll throw in Florida too, as it's the place where my family currently lives. You have to throw in a challenge in a system and I think resisting the urge to make it a blend of species from different parts of the world will be my challenge. Besides, that it's also a planted Marine. Big challenge!

    So this is what I have so far...

    Tank: 36g corner bowfront, 21" deep, 21" radius; here it is... Looks terrible, am still dismantling it as a FW. Did a copper test, no copper.

    [​IMG]

    Lighting: Going with 2 x 65 CF fixture and 2 x 14W NOT5, so 158W. These are from old planted systems and I've already changed the bulbs for SW bulbs (10k & Actinic) I think it's plenty for what I want.

    bulb configuration:

    2 65W CF 10k
    2 14W T5 Actinic

    So my full-spectrum load is 130W or 3.6WPG, much better for macros and maybe some hardier seagrass. The 28W of Actinic should be sufficient for the species of coral I intend to keep. A friend in another forum is sending me some red LEDs and moonlights for night time viewing!

    Skimmer: Hydor slim nano. My friends rave about it and I think it'll fit nicely.

    Circulation: Two Hydor Koralia nano 425s, I can supplement with some Rio 50s that can be used for target circulation and surface agitation. I don't plan on having an extra filter, though I do have two spare Aquaclear 70s should the need arise.

    Substrate: Think I'll go with a sandbed, but I have to think about what I want to keep more before I make my final decision on its depth. Will consider a mixed substrate, but only if it isn't too gross. I'm a girl, see, and I don't like to play with mud...

    [​IMG]

    Live rock: It's either going to be LR from Tampa bay saltwater or Sea Life Inc. tbs allows pickup, and I'm planning a trip to Tampa. Can alter plans and plan a trip to Tavernier if Sea Life also allows pickup. Love living in Miami!

    Water: I'll be using RO/DI water, mixed with a Salt mix. I've got the following unit from an auction at a convention, very cheap. Purchased a refractometer. Will be Kalk dosing but not opting for CO2 gas injection. I also purchased test kits. API for now, but will supplement with other tests in the future.

    [​IMG]

    Refugium: Not having this as I will be featuring macro algae prominently in the scape. I like them. But will have a hosptial/quaranteen tank.

    Sump: Don't think I'll need this either.

    Heating: Only really need heat in the Winter. Otherwise home's a constant 76. Got 2 Eheim Jager heaters at 75W each (deliberately went with less wattage).

    Books: I've purchased the following...

    The New Marine Aquarium by Michael S. Paletta - read this already, good. :)
    The Simple Guide to Mini-Reef Aquariums by Jeffrey Kurtz - read this already too, very good.
    The 101 Best Saltwater Fishes by Scott W. Michael - use this to look up species at the LFS
    Marine Invertebrates by Ronald L. Shimek - use this for invert ID
    Aquarium Corals; Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History by Eric Borneman - reading this now, wow... See, me reading the Borneman before I go on stage. I'm an opera singer.

    [​IMG]

    website

    http://reefguide.org/carib/index.html - For me, this will help identify Caribbean species. There is also a field guide that I want to purchase from Amazon.com

    Now for the fun part... This stock list is constantly being edited. The crabs are giving me the most trouble. I've got a mixed system.

    Fish

    Serranus tortugarum - Chalk bass, a shoal of 4-5. So this is a species tank essentially. Very odd, but I think it's fascinating and it'll work. Did a lot of reading & debating with other salties before I decided on this. A bit risky, gotta get them small and young for it to work, but potentially so beautiful.

    Sessile inverts

    Corallimorphs -

    Ricordea florida - love this coral, a definite.
    Discosoma sanctithomae
    Discosoma neglecta

    Gorgonians

    Erythropodium spp (Caribbean encrusting gorgonian) - I really like this, doesn't look like your typical Gorgonian and likes brighter light. There are picture of it going up walls of aquarium glass. Fascinating.

    Motile inverts

    Cleaner shrimp
    Lysmata grabhami - would love a mated pair.
    Lysmata wurdemanni - everybody knows what these look like. Might be chalk bass food. :(


    Crabs - having a hard time with crabs. Mithrax, Sally lightfoots, and Arrowlines have been shot down by others. Looks like it's just hermits. :lol:

    Paguristes cadenati (potentially harmful in large numbers, but they are very little)

    Snails - pictures not needed for now.
    Turbo sp
    Trochus sp.
    Tectus spp.
    Strombus alatus (no large hermit crabs if I go this route; may be too large for the tank, but definitley a FL native)

    Sea slugs
    Elysia crispata (needs algae Bryopsis, Derbesia, and possibley Halimeda, advanced species for a mature tank)- Also have to cover my intake for my powerheads lest they be sucked up.

    Macro algae & Vascular Plants - or what makes this tank unusual. :)

    Macro algae - In the macro algae, three distinct leaf shapes are emerging. Excellent for layout contrast. The colors, barring the dictyota are also on the subdued side. Mostly greens and darker reds. I am aware, though, that many of the red macro algae species can have huge variations on color. All species can be found in the Caribbean. Bonus. May or may not use all of these species.

    Green macro algae
    Halimeda incrassata
    Halimeda discoidea
    Halimeda opuntia
    Acetabularia calyculus

    Red macro algae
    Chondria sp.
    Gelidium Sp
    Ochtodes sp

    Brown macro algae
    Dictyota sp

    Sea grass - These are the three toughest species, based on my reading. I'm most in love with the shoal grass, but am considering the other two as possibilities.

    Halodule wrightii
    Halophila decipiens
    Halophila engelmannii

    Thanks for looking. I'm very excited to do this build. I apologize for the length of this first post. This has been condensed from other journals to get all of you up to speed. Will keep you updated.

    Liz
     
    #1 lljdma06, Jul 5, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2011
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think you will be okay with the coral listings, but Acetab, I'd scratch this one from the list, it's a nasty ittle weed species, hot water, long days and foul conditions=> good growth, it's rare in other cases.
    You'll have to look for the Halophila fairly well and ask, but someone might come up with some for you.

    Most of the other macros will be okay. I'd suggest adding things you REALLY want now.........then slowly trying a new item one at a time.
     
  3. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    Oh no! The planted people loved the Acetabularia! They think it looks like Hydrocotyle verticillata. They will be disappointed. I thought the little whirls with the Ricordea and shrooms would give an interesting effect, but I'm not looking to duplicate its optimum growth habitat in my tank. Don't think the rest of my livestock would appreciate it. The Halimeda incrassata will duplicate the effect. There's going to be a reduction of species. Those are just the Caribbean species that caught my eye enough that I think I could build a good scape out of it and they wouldn't be too hard.

    Do you think bigger waterchanges are in order in the beginning? That's the impression I'm getting from reading in this section. Makes sense. Most reefers say between 10-20% weekly, depending on who you talk to. Bigger waterchanges don't bother me.

    Thanks again! :)

    Liz
     
  4. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    One more question. Should I post the build in Reef Central? Thanks again.

    Liz
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, in the summer, simply go down to Key Largo and grab some stones that get covered, then carefully bring them back to the tank, they will last a few days, maybe a month.

    Cymopolia is a much prettier delicate calcaerous species, I found some down near Bahia Honda.
    Water changes save $ due to salt mixes.

    So there's an economic part to that. Reefs love massive water changes, adds the Ca and KH back and micronutrients that they try to dose and balance like 10 little indians on a timbel.

    Tanks in the 100 Gal and less range, it's easy to do large weekly water changes and pre mix the water good. 32 Gal trash can barrels work good for this.
    I get a good deal on 150 Gal salt mixes, this means 5-6 weeks worth for my 70 Gal if I do 50%. So 30-35$ for 1.5 months, many spend that on skimmer pump electricity and lighting waste.

    Time for balance and test stuff?
    There's a cost associated with that.

    These issues seem pretty well balanced to me.
    You can go either way.

    You really do not gain much by smaller water changes, if you bother with them, go BIG. Or maybe every 2 weeks and dose in between for KH/traces and Ca++. Macros are large consumers of Ca and KH
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Too late:)

    It's a VERY different place than here.
    The no# of post is staggering and hard to keep up with some times.
    The macro section is fairly sleepy, lots of ID what's this stuff.
     
  7. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    Yes, you know you're in a massive forum when the members online list takes up your entire laptop screen, and mine's no netbook! I did notice that the macro section is kind of sleepy. But what do you mean by "Too late"? I can't put the build up? LOL... Tbh, I'm getting kind of tired, it's in 4 places already, and while email notification is great, Reef Central may be just the place to post the finished product. Can't believe I was a member since 06 and only made my first post yesterday. You go to ASW too. Saw you there. My journal is there.

    The large waterchanges go in line with what I do with my planted tanks, so very easy to do and salt is cheap here. Hahaha, I did buy a skimmer, but a small one and it's best for when I travel and other people have to care for the tank. Will check out Cymopolia.

    Liz
     
  8. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    I got a package in the mail... :D
     
  9. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    Like I said, I got a package in the mail today. Woohoo!! :)

    [​IMG]

    Big box... I like Drs Foster & Smith. I've ordered from them before and they always do pretty well. Big summer sale. Free shipping. Came pretty fast.

    Two Koralia Nano 425s Very good for flow.
    [​IMG]

    The Hydor Slim Skim Nano - The regular slim skim is too big at 17" tall. This was smaller and with the larger waterchanges I plan on doing, doing some different things as it's a planted Marine, the nano will suit me just fine.
    [​IMG]


    Thermometers (one for the main tank, one for quarantine & waterchanges)
    [​IMG]

    My test kits. Went with API for now, may go a different route later as the reef progresses and opt for better quality test kits, but at least I've got test kits. I can't afford Salifert. I still think I need like two more, but I'm good through the cycling process and can test my Ca and Carbonate hardness.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I opted not to get a hydrometer, instead going for a refractometer. This seemed like a reasonably priced one and it got pretty good reviews. Several people I know have it.

    Honestly, I had a good laugh when I saw it. ;) I got a bawdy sense of humor.
    [​IMG]

    I also got two Eheim Jager heaters at 75W. I prefer to underheat tanks and FL is warm most of the year. Got two incase one busted. Happens. In the next few days I'll be making a list of the rest of the things I need (chemicals, salt, odds & ends). The plan is to head over to Big Al's at Tamarac, FL about an hour from my house. I could go other places, but I thought I'd dive in and make this whole build process extra fun by going to such a large place. It's a biggie SW lfs in South FL. It's like a mini aquarium with shark tanks and mini reefs. It's fun to go and enjoy. I'll take pix, promise.

    Also, will be including detailed write-ups on each of the products as I set them up, so be prepared for these types of posts as I begin the process of setting up the tank. It's a build thread, so going to show the build process in all of its glory. The RO/DI post, I promise, will be especially funny. I'm no plumber. :lol:

    Hopefully my moonlights will show up soon. Of course, I'll post pictures of those too. Thanks for looking. I hope I'm not being too much of a bother.

    Liz
     
  10. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    Hi Everybody! I got another present today.

    :)

    [​IMG]


    On the left are two blue LED strips that have an optional connection for a bubble want. Submersible. Could be use for surface agitation too. On the right, the little square, is a fixture with two red LEDs for nightime critter viewing. :D
    [​IMG]

    Hehehe, my cat can't stay away...
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for looking. The tank is starting to take shape. Can't wait to actually put water in it.

    Liz
     
  11. JJ..Bequiet

    JJ..Bequiet Prolific Poster

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    Looks like its about to come together!
    When I had my macro/reef tanks I never used a heater in florida except for 3 weeks when it was very cold.
     
  12. JJ..Bequiet

    JJ..Bequiet Prolific Poster

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    Oh yeah, and sometimes crabs can be more trouble than they are worth.
     
  13. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Lifetime Members
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    ....depends on how you got them....:rolleyes:


    (troll comment, I know...but i couldn't resist)
     
  14. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    It's ok. Was wondering who'd get to it first...
     
  15. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Good luck with the build and setup.

    I think the detail you are providing is excellent and will help many folks, especially with products and setup.

    I have already learned a bit about SW 'plants'...

    Thanks for sharing all the great detail. I know it takes time to do so..

    I have settled for a build thread on THIS forum and simply post a link to it in RC or others..

    I will post the more final details on other threads, but all scoops happen here :)
     
  16. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    Thanks, I'll continue to post here for sure. It's been an interesting process. I've done a lot of reading right now. The Borneman isn't difficult, but sometimes I feel like I'm back in College Biology class. Where is your build thread? :)

    @JJ... Exactly, I think there are three weeks out of the year where it really dips. Those are the days when the heater goes on. Otherwise, room temp is very stable, especially with Central Air.
     
  17. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    I assume that is YOU on break reading all of the coral and SW books :) I did tons of reading myself when I started seriously into planted tanks. Still read the forum daily and try to increase my knowledge base and toolkit.

    There are lots of smart folk here (not me!) with much varied experience and very willing and able to discuss almost any subject as far as I can tell. Kinda scary at times when folks are discussing atomic mass and ratios :) I think I went to high school but can no longer remember...

    Here is my 'build' thread. I am just purchasing it all and assembling at home, so I am not doing too much 'building' lol The tank and stand are now complete and the pics were just posted, so go to the last page...

    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8435-New-Tank-Build-Thread?p=70023#post70023

    I also am here in S. FL and I don't use a heater. A few days the water is cooler but I don't have any delicate species. I would keep a small one on hand just in case, as I am not familiar with your species requirements.

    I can't wait to see how this progresses for you. I will need a matrix of species to pics as it is all a mystery to me for SW!

    Best of luck!
     
  18. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    Yes, that's me doing the reading. The rest of the cast thought me rather odd. Oh boy, when I started doing planted tanks, I did a lot of reading too.



    I just read it and made my comments. :)

    I've got two Eheim Jagers at 75W each. I'll monitor the temps, as soon as the house temp dips below the required level, I'll add them. Most of my species are not that difficult and are ok with standard reef temperatures.

    Honeslty, I can't wait either. I have to make a list of the rest of the items I need today. I don't want to be surprised when I come to the actual setup, so if I can find the stuff locally, I will, otherwise, I'll have to make another order.

    The next big project is setting up the RO/DI unit.

    Liz
     
  19. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Prolific Poster

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    Check list of what I have and still need... feel free to add...

    While I have some supplies for my SW venture, I know I still need things, so I'm going to take the opportunity to make a list of the things I have and the things I still need.

    Things I have...

    Main Tank
    Tank
    Stand
    Lighting (2x65W CF fixture & 2x14W NOT5 fixture)
    Bulbs for the lighting (2 10k 65W, 2 14W Actinic)
    2 Koralia Nano 425s
    Hydor Slim skim nano
    1 Eheim Jager heaters (75W)
    1 Coralife digital thermometer
    Tank background
    Moonlight
    Redlight

    Quarantine Tank
    10g tank
    2x14W NOT5 fixture
    1 Pengin 550 powerhead (14.5x flow)
    Glass cover
    1 Coralife digital thermometer

    Things that apply to both systems
    Test kits (Copper, Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, Calcium, Carbonate hardness, Phosphate)
    Portable refractometer
    RO/DI unit
    Rio 50 powerhead (just an extra one)
    Airline control valve (for drip acclimation)

    Things I still need

    -Saltmix
    -Powerhead or pump for the waterchanges - Planning 50% weekly, so about 15g
    -Container for RO water storage - Thinking trash bins
    -Containers for mixing SW & SW storage - Thinking trash bins. :D
    -Algae magnet
    -Thermometer for the waterchange water - cheapie
    -Powerstrip for the main tank (I have powerstrips for the quarantine & waterchange water)
    -Lighting timers
    -Stuff to hook up the RO/DI unit (no clue what I'll need.)
    -Something to measure TDS
    -Test kits that apply to macro algae keeping
    -Chemicals to dose Ca++
    -Chemicals to dose trace
    -Chemicals to dose kH
    -Nets (I won't be mixing my FW & SW stuff)
    -airline tubing (acclimation process)
    -2 Smaller buckets for drip acclimation
    -Waterchanging syphon
    -10k bulbs for the Quarantine tank
    -Aragonite sand
    -LR
    -2 small heaters for SW & quarantine (but not needed until the winter.

    Is there anything that I'm missing? I think I've got everything, but would love to run this by all of you first. Yes, I'm placing importance on quarantine. I'll be heading to the stores tomorrow and in the next couple of days to find the items. Feel free to add to the list... I know I'm missing stuff.

    Liz
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Test for dKH, Ca++, Mg++ and N and P. Salinity too obviously.
     

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