I have a lot of thoughts to talk about today, so I will do my best to break them into cohesive sections for you today. I have continued to be diligent with my AIO Waterbox Nano 20 and it’s really started to pay off.
Tunze Macro Algae Reactor 3181: I have been battling to get my nitrated down since purchasing this tank off of craigslist. The tank started out at about 5.0 ppm nitrate and that is way too high. So, the first thing I did was make sure I really had my feeding dialed in and I became a very stingy feeder. Between frequent water changed (gravel vacing my sand) and tight reigns on my feeding I was able to get my nitrate level to come down. Not overnight though. Still, 3.5 months into this tank I was still running a consistent 1.0 -2.0 ppm nitrate. Enter the Tunze Macro Algae Reactor. I have to say that this thing is a dream. I could not be more pleased with it. After a few days of running it my nitrate levels dropped to 1.0 ppm and then 0.0 ppm, but you don’t want 0 nitrates in your tank. I knew if this happened I would have to dial back the reactor OR increase my feeding. So, I decided to leave the reactor running as is and to ONLY double the amount of food I was currently feeding the tank. I have a clown and a Mandarin Dragonet. I was feeding 1/8 of a cube of frozen food a day. Now I feed double that. Everything in the tank is much happier it seems and the last time I checked my nitrate levels they were around 0.05 ppm. So that’s perfect. Just a bit of nitrate in the water, but nothing over the top AND I get to feed my fish and corals more. Win/Win. I know people say it all the time that nothing in the hobby ever happens fast. I think this is so true. The best we can do as reefers is testing your tank often and make one change at a time and then wait…. wait and see what happens. If I went to zero nitrates, freaked out, dialed the reactor back and adjusted my feeding I would have no idea what really worked or what I was adjusting. I knew this could happen. I decided that feeding more was a better option first since that will increase the nitrates in theory and my fish and coral get more food. If I did that for a week or two and my nitrates were still undetectable. I would have THEN started thinking about dialing back the reactor. As it turned out, I did not need to do that and this reactor solved my nitrate issue and allowed me to feed more. So, it was a great purchase to make. I would like to send a shout out to https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/. I went on there website looking for a protein skimmer that would fit into the back chamber of my Nano. After using the chat feature on the site and telling them what I was trying to accomplish they suggested this algae reactor. They could have pointed me towards a protein skimmer that fit, but they thought about my problem and worked through what may be the best solution. They gave me a few different tools I could purchase and I went with the reactor, but I just wanted to tell them thanks. It’s nice to have a sounding board before you make a $300 purchase. Thanks BRS!!!
Maturing Tank: My tank is just over 3 months old now. Well, that’s not entirely true. I purchased it off of Craiglist and the previous owner had it running for a year. I did everything in my power to get everything to my place and set up as quickly as I could. Even buckets and buckets of his putrid water. I also later took the rocks out of the water and aquascaped them (took me about an hour) and then put them back into the tank. So, I guess I could say the tank is 1 year and three months old, but I am just going to count the time it’s been with me. I have started to notice Coraline algae on the powerhead and the spots are getting bigger. I wish it was on the rocks, but I am sure it’s just a matter of time. The cleanup crew is taking care of the algae in the tank and my sand is staying clean. *knock on wood*. I feel like the tank is doing really well and the fish and the tank are stable and in a really good place. I am only doing a 5 gal water change once a month. When I was having different issues in the tank I was doing it a bit more often, but I think I am finally settling into a rhythm.
SPS and Torches: I also made a big step and moved from mushrooms and zoanthids to torches and SPS. I started by getting a SPS from my LFS’s $9.99 section. I had a coupon for something free out of that section. So, I found an SPS stick that looked nice and clean and decided that it would be my canary in the coalmine. It’s really happy and its tips are glowing and bright and its polyp extension is solid. So, I purchased a small (but expensive) rasta torch. Kinda went from a free SPS to one that was just over $100. ROFL!!! A few weeks later once both the SPS stick and the Rasta seemed to be happy I purchased another torch. This time a much bigger gold torch. Lets not even talk about the price. Everything is happy and healthy and I started to dose Brightwell Coral Amino. Everything in the tank is LOVING IT and my colors have never been better.
Supplements: Let’s take a second and talk about supplements and dosing your tank. I purchased some Zoanthids from a guy and the colors on his zoanthids were just amazing. He told me what he dosed and suggested that I get a dosing pump and try All-For-Reef. So, I rushed out and purchased the solution and a Kamora dosing pump. Once it arrived I was eager to get it set up and dosing, but I had not tested my tank parameters that week. So, I held off and tested my tank. Once I did that and I started to think about “What problem am I trying to solve?” I realized that I could not use this solution (at least not now). My Cal, Alk and Mag levels in my tank were spot on. I did not want to start adding more. What I wanted was the trace elements and not the Cal, Alk and Mag. So, to this day the All-For-Reef and the dosing pump are in the cabinet under my tank, waiting for my tank to mature and for me to get more corals. I am sure I will need it eventually, but not today. In, leu of that. I decided that continued water changes and Brightwell Coral Amino Acids were the way to go and it’s been working out so far. I think the moral of the story is to slow down, curb your excitement and ask yourself what problem are you trying to solve. Once you think you know the answer then make a purchase. I am glad I have everything I need to dose my tank if I need it, but I really did not need to make that purchase. That being said, it’s better than dosing something to the tank I did not need to dose. So, I am glad I thought it through before doing something I would regret. Slow and methodical wins the race in this hobby.
Pod Population: The jury is still out on this, but about 2 weeks after starting to use this Algae Reactor I started to notice pods all over my glass. I was under the impression that pods cannot really live in the reactor because of the water flow going through it, but something has changed. I have not added pods to the tank in a month and to have a pod population explosion; something is happening/working. Not sure if it’s a fluke, has something to do with the reactor or what, but I am watching closely and will keep you posted. I am going to not purchase any more pods for the tank until I no longer see them on the glass. My Mandarin is eating frozen now, so I can do this little mini-test and he will be fine. I just want to see if this pod population can sustain itself and the only indication I have at this point is the numbers of them on the glass. So, we will see how long that lasts.