A few weeks ago, we move our 55 gallon aquarium across the living room. It took us five hours to move the tank less than 10 feet. We took the opportunity to rearrange the rock and corals. When we finished, everybody looked fine and all fish were present.

But, a few days later, we noticed we were only seeing two of our pajama cardinals rather than all three. At first, we thought that one of them was just hiding, or that we were only seeing two at a time. Even at feeding time, when all the fish normally come out, we'd only see two. We started thinking we had lost one.

This went on for two weeks before we decided that, yes, we must have lost one, even though we never found a dead fish. So, on our next trip to the LFS, we picked up another pajama cardinal. Almost immediately after we introduced the new fish, we did a quick count and saw FOUR pajama cardinals! It turns out we didn't really lose on, we were really just seeing two at a time. So now we have four pajama cardinalfish.

Okay, it's not exactly 200 days old; it's really 207 days old. I set up my pico on 25 May 2010. I'm happier with it now than I was 107 days ago when I made my last post (oops...), but it still needs some work. There isn't much new to report. I rearranged the rocks and added a coral.

I currently have the following corals in it:
-Frogspawn (fully recovered, and it's staying in this tank, at least for now)
-Mushrooms (green, red, blue, hairy)
-Zooanthids (I lost my green ones when a mushroom grew over them, but still have my red and green ones)
-Polyps (green button polyps and purple polyps which aren't as purple as they should be)
-Kenya tree (has at least quadrupled in size since I got it)
-Sun coral

I'll add pictures in a couple days. I just moved back home and so did this tank, so things are still recovering from the move (mostly the picky frogspawn).

My pico is 100 days old today. I'm not entirely pleased with the progress I'm making. It seems like it's going slow. I cannot get the rocks in an arrangement I like. I would also like to get more corals. I also do not have any fish yet. I'm okay with that, but my roommate and other college friends would like to see at least one fish in there. Part of the reason I don't have any fish in there yet is because I'm not sure what I want, or even what I can have in this tank.

The current stock list looks something like this:
-Frogspawn (I never intended on putting this coral in this tank. It wasn't doing well in our 55, so I moved it in hopes of saving it. I think I figured out what was wrong with the 55, but I'm not ready to trust it with this coral quite yet.)
-Mushrooms (More than I wanted. I have a green mushroom, two red mushrooms with blue dots, a blue mushroom, and a couple hairy mushrooms. I'm planning on adding a purple mushroom from the 55 too.)
-Zoas and other polyps (I have some zooanthids that are green and red, like watermelon, and I did have some that were awesomely green, but the rock they were on got flipped over while I was on vacation, and I don't think they're coming back. I also have some purple button polyps which also got messed up while I was on vacation, but seem to be coming back. I also have some purple/red/blue polyps that I got last week. I've yet to see them fully open, but they are opening a little, so I know they're alive.)
-Kenya tree (This started out itty-bitty, like a centimeter tall. It is now about two inches tall.)

I don't have any decent pictures right now, as my camera is at home and my tank is at school. Here are some phone pictures:

Frogspawn (still recovering, but looking better):

Green mushroom:


Kenya tree and mushroom:

I've been keeping fish for about 2 and a half years. For pretty much the entire time, I've kept something that needs good lights. In the beginning, it was freshwater plants (and also reptiles that need UVB bulbs). Now, I also have corals.

I know, from all the times it's been told to me, that the spectrum of light that a light bulb emits changes as it gets older. I've been pretty good about replacing the UVB bulbs for my reptiles. I've not been as good about replacing my aquarium bulbs. It always seems wasteful to me to replace bulbs that are still lighting up, and the freshwater plants look just as good with a bulb that is two years old as they do with a bulb that is brand new.

However, given recent experiences, the same is NOT true for corals. Our 55 gallon reef tank has been having issues for the past month or so, with various corals not looking too good. We aren't real diligent about changing water on this tank, and so, initially, I thought it was the water. I tested the water, and the parameters were fine, but I upped the frequency of water changes anyway. Still, corals, specifically the flowerpot, frogspawn, and a finger leather corals, were doing bad. I know flowerpots are not very well suited to an aquarium anyway, and they seem to be fine for several months and then just rapidly die. Our frogspawn has given us issues before. We had no idea why the leather would be unhappy.

Fortunately, when this was happening, I was also setting up my 5 gallon pico. By the time it was cycled, the flowerpot was completely gone, and the frogspawn was on its way out. I decided to take a chance and move the frogspawn to my 5 gallon. It started improving within days, and continues to improve still. This reinforced the fact that something was wrong with the tank and not the corals, but I was still convinced it was the water. I checked the params again, all fine. I upped the water changes more, yet still, no improvement. Our test kit isn't very new, and I thought it had gone bad and was giving us false readings.

So, the day before yesterday, we took a sample of our water to a LFS. Almost everything tested out fine, though the alkalinity was a little low. I had been telling Mom we needed to replace the bulbs for a while, but she hadn't done it. But, since the water is perfectly fine, she went ahead and bought one new bulb, planning on getting the other in a couple weeks. We also bought a new leather for our silly clowns (they had been hosting the finger leather, and the female was now trying to host a rock).

When we got home, I installed the new bulb (a 50/50 PC bulb). The difference between the side of the tank with the new bulb and the other side was incredible. The new bulb was much more blue than the other bulb. Today, two days later, everything is looking better (with the exception of the finger leather which I moved to the 10 gallon and is actually looking worse). The trumpet coral heads are bigger; I hadn't even realised how much they had shrunk back. All of the button polyps are open, not just some. The new leather looks very happy, as do the other two leathers that are in there.

The moral of the story is this: remember to replace your bulbs before they are a year and 3 months old. Also, if your corals look bad, your water tests out fine, and your bulbs are over 8-12 months old, replace the bulbs. Your corals will thank you.

I moved back to school Sunday. I took my pico down that morning right before leaving home, and I set it up after getting here. It spent about three, maybe four hours not put together. Everything is looking good, except the zoanthids and button polyps aren't opening (they were already doing that for a couple days before the move).

If you're curious, this was my method:
1. Wait until last possible minute to tear apart the tank.
2. Wrap each piece of live rock in wet newspaper, except the pieces with corals attached to them. Place the newspaper-wrapped rocks in a styrofoam cooler. Place another piece or two of wet newspaper over the rocks.
3. Remove all (or as much as possible) of the water from the tank. Keep as much as you can in buckets (I was able to get all the water in two small buckets). Put frogspawn and rocks with corals attached in one bucket, and put the loose corals or small rocks with corals in the other bucket.
4. Drive one hour to school. Unload all of my belongings from my car and my mom's car, including aquarium, buckets, and cooler. Place aquarium on desk where it belongs.
5. Start putting the water back in the tank. As soon as there is enough water for the rocks, put them in. Once most water is in the tank, add the corals. Do not worry about layout right now; water very cloudy from sand getting stirred up.
6. Allow sand to settle, arrange rocks and corals.
7. Enjoy tank.

Also, a very good friend of mine had her baby on Sunday. I drove to Louisville yesterday to see her and the baby. He is adorable, and she is doing well. I'm very happy for her and her fiancee.

The frogspawn is actually looking better!


See how the heads in the bottom of the picture look, how they're all retracted and you can hardly see the polyps? When I took this coral out of the 55, it all looked like that. But, now look at the heads at the top of the picture. They look so much better. I hope it will continue to improve.

Because the frogspawn is improving, I decided my tank is ready for more corals. I went to the LFS and purchased five "nano frags". These tiny frags are cheap and perfect for this tank. I bought a green mushroom, some green zoanthids, some red and green zoanthids, some sort of tiny leather (I think...it's almost to little to tell), and some purple button polyps. They're looking good.

Sadly, both of my rams ended up dying. :( I have completely emptied and cleaned and sterilized my 45 gallon aquarium. And when I said completely emptied, I meant it. I took out the sand that I loved in this tank, but I wanted to be sure whatever killed my fish won't strike again. I cleaned the tank first with vinegar, then I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed, then cleaned with bleach, then rinsed and rinsed some more.

I will be moving my angelfish out of the new fish quarantine tank to this tank. I'll be moving the filter from that tank over as well. He will be all alone in this tank for a while until I know the new rocks are infested with good beneficial bacteria.

Also, some of our corals in our 55 gallon tank are looking bad. I think it's the water, but all the params are fine. Our flowerpot is dead (I know, they aren't easy to care for and can sometimes suddenly die), the finger leater is looking bad (but it looks like it can recover), and our frogspawn looks like it is past the point of no return. In an effort to save it, I moved the frogspawn to my pico. I hope it will do better, but I don't think it will.