Diatom Stage Is Tied to the Coral — Not the Tank


The 18-gallon illustrates an interesting phase in the progression from diatom to green algae growth. I added another layer of coral to the existing condo a few months ago. In the photo above, the older layer of coral is visible underneath as green and the newer layer above as reddish brown. I had assumed that the diatom stage occurred only once in a tank and that additional coral would simply evolve from white to green. But apparently the diatom stage is a necessary part of the green algae growth process for any new coral introduced into a tank.


Here’s a closer view of the difference between the two layers. I extended the condo to accommodate the additional small colonies from the tanks that I decommissioned earlier.

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Adjusting the UGF to Reduce or Eliminate Salt Crusting

Updated 2/4/16, 2/22/16, 3/6/16

5-gallon Fluval-Chi with a redesigned UGF system. The airstone has been removed from the exhaust tube, eliminating the bubbly foam that I believe is the cause of salt crusting. on the outer edges.

5-gallon Fluval-Chi with a modified UGF system. The airstone has been removed from the exhaust tube, eliminating the bubbly foam that I believe is the cause of salt crusting on the outer edges.

My 5-gallon Fluval-Chi is the tank that refuses to die.

After giving up the year-long battle against salt constantly crusting on the top outer edges of the tank, I moved the colony into the 18-gallon, with plans to decommission the Fluval-Chi. However, I was unable to net some tiny juveniles that hid in the gaps in the gravel substrate. I decided to keep the tank running, with no coral condo or lava rocks, until they grew large enough for me to net. The tank is bare, except for the substrate and UGF.

I had lowered the volume of water in the tank by about 50%, but salt crusting was still a constant problem. (The water level in the photo above is higher because I added water after the modification.)  Continue reading

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Opae K-Pop ‘Ula

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After the Bubble Scare

10-gallon as of 1/30/16.

10-gallon as of 1/30/16 (Fuji X100T).

Perhaps the upside of the bubble scare is the aftermath, when I have a chance to mull over my original goals in entering this hobby and make some decisions about how I’ll proceed for the foreseeable future. Yesterday, after a full day of observing the 10-gallon, I concluded that the opae’ula were bubble free and returned the quarantined members to the tank. At about 1:00 this afternoon, I took the photos in this post. The tank is as it was prior to the scare.

Close-up of the 10-gallon on 1/30/16. Nikon D5500.

Close-up of the 10-gallon on 1/30/16 (Nikon D5500).

My original purpose in entering this hobby was to see if I could create a low-maintenence self-sustaining and self-perpetuating environment that would come as close as possible to Dr. Wayne Nishijima’s bottles and Dennis Nakashima’s natural tanks. Both neither fed the shrimp nor used artificial filters. Nishijima’s water was, I assume, from the anchialine pool where the opae were collected. Nakashima’s, from ocean water diluted with tap water. Both neither cleaned the glass nor did water changes.  Continue reading

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Opae’ula Bubble Trouble Solved

The bubbles are gone. I hope. I sat and observed the opae in the 10-gallon for about ten minutes this morning and didn’t see any with the dreaded bubble “disease.”

What happened?

The answer is so simple that I’m embarrassed to admit it. The bubbles were really just that — bubbles. Air bubbles, to be more exact, and not symptoms of some form of infection or disease. How do I know?

Yesterday afternoon, I netted more of the bubbled opae and added them to the 1-gallon quarantine tank. And, as before, they seemed to lose their bubbles once in the tank. I assumed that it was an optical illusion, that the bubbles were still present but I just couldn’t see them because of the poor visibility afforded by the plastic container.

The obvious difference between the quarantine tank and the 10-gallon is the absence of an air filtering system. Assuming that the bubbles couldn’t be benign and had to be some kind of horrible disease, I didn’t give this difference a second thought. That is, until yesterday afternoon. Could filtration be the cause? Seemed far-fetched, but I was desperate and had nothing to lose.

The UGF in the 10-gallon runs 24/7, and it produces a constant bloom of tiny bubbles. I decided to experiment and turned the filter off last night. This morning, a few minutes ago, I checked to see if it had made a difference.

Voilà, it had, much to my relief and chagrin. I didn’t see any opae with bubbles. I’ll continue to monitor the tank throughout the day to see if this observation holds true.

I’ll keep the quarantined opae in the isolation container until I’m sure the 10-gallon really is safe. Perhaps later today or early tomorrow they’ll be able to rejoin their colony.

Another plus for the 10-gallon with filter turned off is the appearance (or visibility?) of numerous tiny juveniles. In the filtered state, I might’ve missed them because of the constant agitation of bubbles or they might’ve been hiding in the condo to avoid the turmoil outside.

In any case, the 10-gallon seems like a totally different environment with filter off. More peaceful. Less stressful? Not sure. The grazing seems more relaxed, less frenzied. Not sure if this is a healthy sign.

I remember, early on, experimenting between filter-on and filter-off periods. At the time, I found that the opae became more active as soon as the filter was turned off, but after a day or so, their activity level seemed to decline. My assumption at the time was that the chemical balance was upset by the absence of the filter. I decided to simply leave it on 24/7.

Now I’m wondering if I should move to a cycle that alternates between filter-on and filter-off. Perhaps this step is needed if bubbles begin to attach to the opae? If not, then leave it on 24/7?

I suppose another question is, are the bubbles trapped on their shells harmful? They don’t seem to be. Could they be beneficial in some way?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the support and comfort that Robin and Odin provided during this crisis, which seemed all too real at the time. I learned a heck of a lot and will no longer think of no-maintenance as an ideal. Low-maintenance, in the form of close observation-based monitoring is essential. I guess the rule of thumb is, if something doesn’t look right, investigate.

A second rule of thumb may be, don’t overlook obvious causes. In other words, don’t assume anything. In this case, I should have explored the air filter as a cause before jumping to other diagnoses. Bubbles beget bubbles seems, in hindsight, to be a no-brainer.

Before clicking on “publish,” I’ll do a 5-minute observation to make sure that I’m not hallucinating.


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Weird Bubble Growth on Opae’ula Shell

Updated 1/23/16, 1/29/16

Some of my opae'ula have developed these weird bubbles on their shell. I began noticing it about a month ago. I have no idea what it is. It looks like some kind of growth or disease. None have died as far as I can tell, and those affected seem to be moving about okay. I looked for clues online but came up empty. I remember my tropical fish developing something similar, and it was usually fatal.

Some of my opae’ula have developed these weird bubble growths on their shell. I began noticing it about a month ago. I have no idea what it is. It looks like some kind of growth or disease. None have died as far as I can tell, and those affected seem to be moving about okay. I looked for clues online but came up empty. I remember my tropical fish developing something similar, and it was usually fatal. I’m posting this photo in the  hopes that someone can provide some answers about what it is and how it should be treated. I’m thinking of doing a water change of 20-50% as a possible treatment. I’m not aware of any medications and hesitate to use any. Another option is to separate the infected from the others, but that would be a monumental task requiring dismantling the coral condominium. But it seems inevitable. Any thoughts?

1/23/16: Yesterday, I did a 50% water change. The tank size is 10-gallon, but 50% is approximately 4 gallons. I mix Instant Ocean Sea Salt with bottled water, 1/4 cup to a gallon, in a plastic gallon container and pour it in over the coral condo to avoid cratering the gravel substrate. The amount of debris that this process flushed out of the condo was amazing. It mushroomed out like gray dust clouds into the open area of the tank. By the time I poured the fourth and last gallon into the tank, the debris cloud was nearly nonexistent. In hindsight, I realize that I should have flushed the condo while I was removing water from the tank by scooping water from the tank and pouring it back in over the condo. This way I could have removed some of the debris too. One problem with scooping water out of a murky tank is the possibility of accidentally removing opae along with the dirty water. However, the debris is more like fine grains rather than powder, and the water clears quite quickly, so I should be able to see if any are in the scooper. If not, then I’ll just do it as I normally do. Up until now, I had assumed that water changes weren’t necessary. However, with the disease and the debris, I’ll probably do a water change 2-3 times a year. More or less, depending on results. I’m hoping that this water change will stop the disease and cure the ones that are infected. Too soon to tell at this point.

1/29/16: See Opae’ula Bubble Trouble Solved.

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It Pays to Be Careful When Deactivating a Tank

As noted in “Thoughts on Filtration in Opae’ula Tanks” (11/26/15), I deactivated some of my tanks to a manageable few. This is the note that I appended to the post on filtration:

[11/26/15] This past week, I decided to reduce the number of tanks by eliminating the two 5-gallons. I moved the colonies into the 18-gallon. Salt crusting had been an ongoing problem, and reducing the turbulence and lowering the water level didn’t seem to work.

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