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"Pearls of the Antilles" llj's Macro-algae/Reef scape

Discussion in 'Aquascaping Journals' started by lljdma06, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    "Pearls of the Antilles" llj's Planted Marine - 11/26 photos

    Hi everyone! I've been keeping FW fish for about 22 years, the last five of which have been focused exclusively on Planted tanks. I do think, however, that the time is right to begin a saltwater journey. After all, I do live in Miami, FL and it is actually easier to setup a SW system here than a planted tank! Try and figure that one out, but it's true. You can find a LFS around the corner that sells lovely frags, but ask for a pot of HC and you'll get a funny look! :ehhh:

    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 challenges in a system and I think resisting the urge to make it a blend of species from different parts of the world is a good challenge. The second challenge for this system will be a heavy emphasis on Macro algae, so yes, in essence, this will be a planted Marine, rather than confine the lovely macro species to a refugium. Will keep some corals as well. So this is what I have so far...

    Tank: 36g corner bowfront, 21" deep, 21" radius

    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. Will buy a clip-on moonlight & a red LED to watch nightime critters.

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

    Circulation: Two Hydor Koralia nano 425s, I'll 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: Going with a sandbed. Not sure how deep yet or whether it'll be a mixed substrate until I know what path I'll be going on with thiis system.

    Live rock: I've made the decision to go with aqua-cultured LR from Tampa, FL.

    Water: I'll be using RO/DI water, mixed with a Salt mix. I've got the following unit from an auction at the AGA convention last year, very cheap.

    [​IMG]

    Refugium: Not having this as I will be featuring macro algae prominently in the scape.

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

    Heating: Two 75W heaters for the Winter months, otherwise, I think I can maintain a stable Spring/Summer/Fall temp that is room temp. My house is at 76.

    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...
    -Looking into purchasing a Macro algae book.

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

    Based on what I've read, I've made a preliminary livestock list. Not going to put all of these in the system, it is only a nano, but these are species I'll be looking more heavily into.

    Fish

    Sailfin Blenny - Emblemaria diphydontis
    Neon goby - Elacatinus oceanops
    Royal Gramma - Gramma loreto
    Blackcap Basslet - Gramma melacara
    Chalk bass - Serranus tortugarum

    Sessile inverts

    Corallimorphs
    Ricordea florida
    Discosoma sanctithomae
    Discosoma neglecta
    Discosoma sp. (mushrooms)

    Zoanthids
    Palythoa caribaeorum
    Palythoa grandis
    Zoanthus pulchellus

    Gorgonians
    Erythropodium spp (Caribbean encrusting gorgonian) - could be cool, doesn't look like your typical Gorgonian and likes brighter light from what I've read.

    As I plan to have a DSB, feather dusters worms may also be an option, but I need to look into this more.

    Motile inverts

    Cleaner shrimp
    Lysmata grabhami
    Lysmata wurdemanni

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

    Snails
    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)
    Cittarium pica - I've seen these snorkling and hey, if it doesn't work out, I can always eat it. LOLOL... They are edible.

    Sea slugs
    Elysia crispata (needs algae Bryopsis, Derbesia, and possibley Halimeda, advanced species, at least based on what I read)

    Macro algae
    Halimeda copiosa
    Acetabularia calyculus
    Udotea sp
    Galaxaura sp
    Dictyota sp

    Thanks for looking. I'm SUPER excited about this. Kind of taking planted tanks to the next level for me. I found out about a couple of other Marine planted tanks after I started thinking about mine. I know George Farmer has one, correct? That's the one someone showed me after reading my journal in the other place where I lurk. :lol: Right now, it's in the planning stages and I'm basically pricing and purchasing the big ticket items and doing the reading. The tank was an old FW planted tank that was treated for ich about 2 years ago, but I did a copper test and everything came out fine, no copper.

    Can possibly do local collecting with this system, which would be amazing!

    Liz :)
     

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  2. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Nice. Looks like you are going head first into it. I'm going to be watching this thread. Looking forward to seeing how it all shapes out.

    -John N.
     
  3. ianho

    ianho Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Also looking forward to how this pans out llj!

    Planted reef tanks are great!
     
  4. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    Ahhhhhh. The RO unit. I remember now......planning ahead :)

    AC
     
  5. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    Thanks everybody. Yeah, Andy, the RO was purchased way back, I couldn't pass it up in the auction. Too good a deal to let it go.

    Scaping will be a challenge, this is a corner bowfront, so hopefully the LR will cooperate. Going with uncured rock, so no insta-tank here, but a slow agonizing process of "OMG! WHAT just dove into my sand bed" or "That rock wasn't there 10 minutes ago"... A couple of books touched on some innovative ways to mount the LR and I may use them. I'd like caves and overhangs, as I think it would be cool. Have an overhang with Halimeda sheltering some shrooms... Could be really pretty. Whether it's FW or Marine, it'll always have that Liz style...

    Here's a bit of an Update:

    Ordered the following. No going back now.
    2 Koralia nano 425s
    1 Hydor Slim Skim nano (this tank is going to feature macro heavily, I didn't think heavy skimming was necessary)
    2 Coralife digital thermometers
    2 Eheim Jager heaters at 75W each (deliberately went with less wattage)
    1 Portable refractometer (the splurge, but if I go collecting, may be interesting to measure the sg of the local water)
    2 API test kits (Saltwater & Reef, tests what I need to test for now). Salifert is way too expensive.

    Didn't order the saltmix yet, I have to do more homework. Some like Oceanic are very accessible (local pet store), but I've read about alkalinity issues in some saltmixes. With corals and now macroalgae and sea grasses possibly in the mix, I have to be careful about maintaining alkalinity. There are still some odd and ends, like the mag float, buckets, and other things, but I can go do that on my own time. Ordered the big ticket items and that's important. Not too expensive either, really helps having the tank and lighting already. Want to look for a book on macro algae.

    Liz
     
  6. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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  7. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds great!

    Here is George Farmer's macro algae tank

    [​IMG]

    It is stunning. It makes me seriously consider having a go at "the darkside".
     
  8. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    Hi ShadowMac! Yes, I've seen this scape and read the blog in PFK. Was going to comment on it and ask why he lost some macroalgae species (he mentioned that in the blog), but PFK has yet to approve my registration. It is a very lovely scape. I'm going in a different direction, however. Plan on keeping more corals & inverts and I'm limiting myself to the region above. Also, I'm usng uncured LR, so the process slows down significantly. No insta-tank here! LOLOL, will be very lucky if I can get the tank setup and cycled by the end of August, but I think I'll just have the LR placed by August. When you use uncured, though really any LR, you should be doing most of the scaping underwater. See, LR whether cured or uncured has living organisms inside. Uncured means that the rock hasn't yet gone through an initial "die-off" period (creatures die in transit, but some hardy ones live), while cured rock means that the LR has gone through this period. Cured LR can usually be added to an established system with minimal issues, that is, unless it dried off. Then the organisms that survived the initial die-off that cures the LR die-off, which can cause a tank to crash. I'm deliberately using un-cured, so I'll get this initial die-off happening inside the tank. So about a month maybe of cycling with ammonia & nitrite spikes and you add absolutely no stock while this happens. After the cycling ends & I reduce my nitrates to acceptable levels, I can add cuc and probably the macro-algae. Haha, gives me a lot of time to definitely think about where I want to go with the scape. Corner bows are a challenge to scape. Odd shape.

    Liz
     
  9. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Liz,

    please keep us all updated on your progress. I have NO experience with salt water, but will one day probably find myself dabbling in a setup. George's tank is gorgeous and I would love something like that along with a few freshwater scapes. Hopefully, I can learn from your process.

    I think this is a suitable topic for this forum, although not the conventional scape. there is still many things that can apply, especially regarding aesthetics.

    I will be following this thread closely. Best of luck to you.

    -Mac
     
  10. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    That is very kind of you, Mac. Of course, I'll keep everybody updated. In addition to macroalgae, there are several vascular plants that can be used too, but I'll have to look into those more. I'm a big reader. LOL, I've got a picture of me in my costume (I sing opera) reading the Borneman. The seagrasses, in particular, are prominant in South FL and the Caribbean. This is a good place for this journal. If people can make FW scapes with marimo balls, also an algae, no reason why a SW tank can't be featured here as well. The thing is finding a happy medium where aesthetics are met, yet the organisms are in an environment where they can thrive.

    Update: The items I ordered in post #5 have shipped. :)

    Liz
     
  11. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    You have us on pins and needles. :popcorn:

    It's rare that you can follow a Reef/Macro Algae build like this. I have no knowledgeably information about the subject, yet I feel so excited for you and this project. :amillanbliss:

    -John N.
     
  12. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    You are very kind, John. I've had to do a lot of research in specialty forums, but if it helps members here, even if I epic fail, I'm very satisfied.

    Thought I'd include a picture of the tank with the full lighting setup, 36g corner bow.

    2 x 65 CF
    2 x 14 NOT5

    Please excuse the state of the tank. I'm still in the process of removing surplus plants and wood from the previous FW system, so yes, the water looks like someone went peepee in the tank. It's the tannins from the Mopani wood. I swear! The nice thing is that it's got a sand substrate so while I most definitely will not be using that substrate, the aragonite sand will look pretty similar. This may be mixed with something else depending on what direction I decide to go... Hehehe have been reading a lot on macro algae and seagrass. Evidently there are several varieties of seagrass that are not quite so demanding. I know that macroalgae is totally feasible, but seagrass... Now that would be pretty special. You can supplement CO2 in two ways, either via gas (some reefers don't like this) or through calcified carbon or through potassium carbonate. I must do more reading on this as the chemical means of Carbon is much more feasible for a SW system, especially if I also plan to have corals. I've asked a couple questions in those specialty forums. I'll definitely keep everybody here posted with where I can go, but enough of me yapping, the "peepee" tank...

    [​IMG]

    Oh and some pictures of me in Rigoletto. I sing opera. Dramatic Mezzo or contralto, depending on who you talk to.

    Me reading my Borneman, or Slaroc as ianho dubs it.

    [​IMG]

    Me just being bored. Maddalena (me) doesn't sing until Act IV, it's a long wait.

    [​IMG]

    I promise, I'll post more pictures as this tank gets started. Hahaha, wait until I setup and like actually do things to the tank. You'll be really sick of my pictures by then. :) Will be looking at updating my livestock list in the next few days. Depends on how my seagrass inquiries go. Thanks for looking! I'm so excited that you're excited! :amillanbliss:

    Liz
     
  13. saumya

    saumya New Member

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    greetings from India, i have been following this thread for some days now, apparently a marine marcoalgae tank might be the only way ( or one of the few ways ) to legally persue the SW hobby in India ... so would love to know more about these setups, thanks for posting.

    p.s. the pic of you reading the borneman book while waiting in the wings was cool, awesome dedication to the hobby! cheers!
     
  14. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    Wow! This is truely a global forum! It must be very frustating to not be able to pursue a hobby, but environmental regulations can be understood. It is like me not being able to use Hygrophila polysperma, frustrating, as I really love this plant for simple scapes. My scape will focus on the Caribbean and South FL, but building a system like this is similar regardless of the region you choose to focus on. I've stumbled across several macroalgae from the indopacific in my research, so I'll be more than happy to share information on these species in this thread too. :) Haha, it's not hard to be dedicated to such a wonderful hobby. Especially when I've got more than two hours before I go on stage! It calms the nerves too.

    Today wasn't a super busy day. Went to some LFSs in my area. Picked up some bulbs and a background. Bought the graduated blue background, which I like better than just the plain royal blue. It'll serve as a temporary background until I make one for photo shoots. I want something a bit more subtle than just deep royal blue. Want it to look like how it looks when you snorkel in the shallow reef, having done this.

    The lighting I got...

    [​IMG]

    Now, you may ask, doesn't Liz already have her bulbs? Well, yes and no...

    Previous bulb configuration:

    1 65W CF 10k
    2 65W CF Actinic
    1 14W T5 10k
    1 14W T5 Actinic

    Based on what I've read about Macro algae and seagrasses, I need at least 3-5WPG of full-spectrum lighting (Can be anywhere from 5-10k). With the above configuration only 79W are full-spectrum, so only 2WPG, give or take...

    Yes, there are better ways to measure light, I know, I know... but this is the easiest for me to understand, because I really don't care about PAR, and I'm not going to invest $150 for a PAR meter. So, I'll stay in the dinosaur age and use WPG. :lol: It's lame, but it's served me well and I know enough about the different types of lights to know their differences in intensity. It's also easier for Newbies to understand, even if it's flawed. Rather be able to get newbies to duplicate good results quickly than bog them down with details they don't need. No disrespect to the light experts here... Love all of you!

    Back to the SW stuff... While corals need actinic, corals will not be playing a major part in this scape, but only a supporting role. I think I'll have enough Actinic for them. I'm really limiting species right now and you'll see this in a revised stock list that's coming soon that will include species of macros not mentioned before and seagrasses. Probably tomorrow I'll post the list. I'll include some Indopacific macros for you, Saumya.

    New bulb configuration:

    2 65W CF 10k
    2 14W T5 Actinic

    So now 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.

    You also notice a 50/50 in the mix in the photo. Still not sure if the above configuration looks best, so I got a 50/50 just in case. If I don't need it, which I don't think I will, I'll sell the bulb. I can also opt to switch out one of the T5 Actinics for another 10k, which would bring me to 4WPG. Don't think I'll need this, but it's an option, if the macros and seagrass are especially light hungry, but I think again, I'll be ok.

    Haha, can you tell I've been thinking about this? We'll see, still could be an epic fail...

    Thanks for looking. I'm adding more pictures now... :D

    Liz
     
  15. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    Hi everybody! Here's another revised stock list, but you can see that I've narrowed things down, and I'm including some pictures, especially of the big ticket items. These images are not mine, so please don't reproduce them. They're only here for educational purposes, especially since the macros and seagrass are not commonly seen. Not a lot of corals, but that's ok. Eventually, I'll edit this post to include some information on the macroalgae and seagrass care, but I really need to clean my house now and I've been very lazy. :-"

    Fish

    Serranus tortugarum - Chalk bass, a shoal of 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 before I decided on this. A bit risky, but potentially so beautiful. See the group photo! Woohoo!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sessile inverts

    Corallimorphs - would prefer an actual species rather than just a genus, so the Discosoma sp went off the list.

    Ricordea florida - love this coral, a definite.
    [​IMG]

    Discosoma sanctithomae

    Discosoma neglecta
    [​IMG]

    Gorgonians

    Erythropodium spp (Caribbean encrusting gorgonian) - I really like this, doesn't look like your typical Gorgonian and likes brighter light.
    [​IMG]

    Motile inverts

    Cleaner shrimp

    Lysmata grabhami - would love a mated pair
    [​IMG]

    Lysmata wurdemanni - Might be chalk bass food. :(

    Crabs - pictures not needed for now.

    Mithrax sculptus - will eat algae, I know, but useful for pruning
    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)- Yes, I still kind of like it.
    [​IMG]

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

    Macro algae - You can see that 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, at least for Marine. Mostly greens and darker reds. All species can be found in the Caribbean. Bonus. May or may not use all of these species. Images are from the Marineplantedtank website that I previously linked to.

    Halimeda sp
    [​IMG]

    Halimeda discoidea
    [​IMG]

    Halimeda opuntia
    [​IMG]

    Acetabularia calyculus
    [​IMG]

    Chondria sp.
    [​IMG]

    Gelidium Sp - also an Indo-pacific species!
    [​IMG]

    Ochtodes sp
    [​IMG]

    Dictyota sp
    [​IMG]

    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
    [​IMG]

    Halophila decipiens
    [​IMG]

    Halophila engelmannii
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for looking. Again, will probably narrow this down some more as I would rather have fewer species. I'm also getting some moonlights from a friend in South Carolina. Yay!

    Liz
     
  16. ianho

    ianho Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I love the look of the Acetabularia calyculus!!

    I'm not sure about the Serranus tortugarum, they look to Cichlid for my liking. Would there be anymore fish?
     
  17. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    You think I couldn't resist something that looks just like Hydrocotyle verticillata? LOLOL

    No, no other fish species. Just the chalk bass. The challenge with Marine is selecting a fish. Most fish that are suitable for nanos tend to be either solitary, or if they are social, are bottom dwellers (jawfish). The chalk bass is social and is found in groups in the wild. They can be compared to tiger barbs, actually. They can be belligerent, but if kept in a group and introduced at the same time, agression is kept in check. They are also fish that outgoing and swim in both open water and around rock work and plants. Honestly, I didn't want to spend hours trying to find my fish. LOLOL I want to be able to glance at the tank and see fish. The colors are also not so intense, which would detract from the macro algae and the seagrass. They get about 3" max. I'd be getting them at about 1", so I can put all 5 together.

    Liz
     
  18. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    you'll be signing up to the Barrreport to read all the macroalgae articles next. lol. I think Tom loves his reefs as much as his freshwaters.

    Those first couple o macroalgaes loo alittle like Pellia. Meaning glasslike and give the appearance of a jellyish texture until you actually touch them and find out they aren't slimy at all.

    AC
     
  19. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    I've been a member of the Barr Report for a few years, I just don't actively post. I do remember his macro section. I may pay a visit. Don't know what they'd think of my system, though. My color temp for my bulbs is on the high side, but I've got corals too, so I have to please both.

    They do, don't they? Hehehe, one looks like Hydrocotyle, other look like Pelia. I think some of the reds looks like Amana gracilis and a red Bolbitis. Not trying to do this, but those are the macros that I liked best and were found in my area. I didn't like any Caulerpa species or things that were jelly-like. The tank isn't large, either, so I didn't want macro algae that grew particularly large, thus overwhelming the tank.

    Liz
     
  20. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    Looks like Mithrax(emerald crab) may be off the list soon. Rather than eat specific types of algae like the slug does, mithrax likes to eat all types of algae & I'd potentially be offering him a buffet of greens. :lol: This is the problem with combination systems. What's reefsafe may not be macro algae safe, and vis versa. Big challenges for stocking.

    Have read about a dozen profiles for the following crab.

    Stenorhynchus seticornis - Yellowline Arrow Crab. They had them at a local store as scavengers, consistent with the literature. I've seen them in the reef display tanks in several stores.

    [​IMG]

    Definitely not an algae eater, but about half the sources say it's not reefsafe, as it eats beneficial worms (bristle worms). The other half say it's fine. Granted, my tank isn't as heavy a reef as other tanks. There is also a possibility that bristle worms are not as beneficial to my macro algae. Decisions, decisions.

    Liz
     

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