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About MichaelAB

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  • Location
    Angels Camp
  • Interests
    Jack Russell Terriers, peacock, beekeeping
  • Tank Setup
    Red Sea Max-S 650 — 175 gallon reef (150 gallon display, 25 gallon sump)
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  1. MichaelAB

    Store Visit 6/4/16

    Alas, sorry I didn't think to ask him, and he had no name badge.
  2. MichaelAB

    Store Visit 6/4/16

    I had a very nice experience AquaWorkz this afternoon (7-10-18). Good customer service, what I felt was a fair price, and a warm reception as a NV reefer (plus the 10% discount was great!) when I flashed my card . The staffer who assisted me was knowledgeable, friendly, and spontaneously provided me exact parameters for the water in their tanks in order to enable me to know how close I would be to facilitate acclimation. He didn't talk down to me, and made me feel like a "real reefer." Yay! I purchased an approximate 3" diameter RBTA (all tips were nicely "bubbled") with pale green speckles, one of several beautiful specimens in a display tank, and a very healthy green torch with 3 large heads. All for $170.00, less the 10%, so $153.00. Compared to what I've paid for online for a small 2-headed Aussie frogspawn, a small 2-headed green frogspawn, and a nearly microscopic RBTA, I thought it a bargain. Being a relative newbie at all this with my tank a few months shy of 2 years, I could be mistaken on the size and quality to cost ratio, or whether I could have done better, but I'm pleased! And, given the mixed reviews of LFS hereabouts, I had pretty low expectations. But at least for me on this occasion, I was pleasantly surprised. Five stars today from me!
  3. MichaelAB


    Argh! My new pretty little RBT anemone is nowhere to be found. A picture of him is in my tank build log here. It’s been days. Since arrival about 2-3 weeks ago, it moved only an inch or so, and stayed put. Overnight one night it disappeared and it’s been several days now. No change in water parameters, so maybe it is too small to change them if it has died. I’ve searched with flashlight, but haven’t wanted to go in and mess around and move rocks all around. I’m sure he couldn’t have gone far in my RSM 650 in such a short time. I removed the WAV powerheads when i put him in, and there isn’t anywhere else he could have gotten tangled. My critters are all peaceful. Very upsetting. I guess I’ll be looking for another. This guy was small — maybe 2” —so maybe a bigger one would be better? Any advice on a good place to find one locally?
  4. MichaelAB

    Michael's RSM 650 November 2016

    Yay, spring is here! Renewed my cuc with more snails, and added five peppermint shrimp as an army to battle the exploding aiptasia. All my efforts using AiptasiaX were to no avail. They just keep popping up more and more. Now small ones are multiplying. I ordered a laser that was highlighted on melevsreef on youtube. That should help with the bigger ones that the shrimp will avoid. Even if it doesn't, it will give a great deal of satisfaction to do some target practice on the buggers. Also added a sand-sifting starfish who scoots around so fast! That is, when it's not buried in the sand. Added a neon green fungia, and a glowing orange tipped glove polyp. But the most exciting is that I finally felt the tank was mature enough to add a small rose bubble tip anemone. So brilliantly colored, and has kept his bubble tips so far in the first few days. He decided to move, of course, from the perfect spot, and has stayed down low where a rock and the sand meet. Way too small and "hidden" for the clowns to take much interest at present. Curiously, the cyano problem resolved and has not reappeared, but now green hair algae has taken off. It seems to be slowly backing off. I think sometimes that I am starving the poor fish, sometimes not feeding a day or two at all, just because of not wanting to add nutrients. I also noticed that the lights seemed a bit brighter and that some of the struggling corals looked like they weren't happy about it. I keep the lights already on the blue side using AI hydras. I checked the settings and found that the lights had mysteriously reset themselves off the acclimation schedule and accelerated to a much higher intensity percentage! How they did that on their own is a complete mystery. Maybe during a power outage? I intend to keep a closer eye on that, since the changes in intensity can be hard to tell with the naked eye. The corals - and maybe the hair algae -let me know, though. Still, it was very odd and concerning. One of the cardinal fish had not grown like the other three, and was showing signs of being picked on. I think something was wrong with it, or maybe it was being bullied for some reason. In any case, he's now disappeared. His remains, wherever they might be, may be adding to the nitrates? All the other critters are looking good. No fish diseases (yet?), crossed fingers. What an exciting but slow learning curve for me. Getting this all to work is like being on a teetertotter that keeps changing the fulcrum on you.
  5. MichaelAB

    Michael's RSM 650 November 2016

    Tank continues to mature. I stopped putting any more corals or fish in to allow all to stabilize and for me to gain experience. The corals I have are a mixed bag in terms of growth. Very, very slow growing, if at all, for the sps ones. A couple of the montiporas are just beginning to spread. The tubipora musica (organ pipe) coral has taken off and adds a nice wave interest. Despite the warnings, and with the bareness of the tank, I decided to get a xenia frag and keep it on a separate rock as it grows out. I enjoy seeing it, and it's a nice contrast to the slower growing corals. I'll maybe regret it, but at least now in the beginning and after a little more than a year of the tank being up and running, it's pleasant having something that makes it look like something is happening. The summer months went better than I expected. I feared I'd have to get a chiller, but with judicious use of the house air conditioner and setting up a fan that blew into the sump area, the temps remained fairly steady. I did go away for a few days in July, and the very first day, the apex stopped updating because of a power outage that disconnected the wi-fi router and for some reason it didn't restore itself. Of course this would happen when I'm not there, and that added an unhappy note of anxiety to the vacation. Never happens when I am. So a mischievous reef pixie has found me and set up housekeeping :). The temp went up to a high of 82 (usually keeping it at just about 79-80) for a few hours. As time went on, the apex would not update its firmware and stopped altogether. Neptune diagnosed it as a known hardware problem they had with some units, and exchanged it for a new one. No problems now, even though it was a PITA rewriting and resetting all the programming since there is no backup for the apex! The two main problems have been cyanobacteria and aiptasia. The aiptasia came in hitchhiking on corals last January, and I thought I had caught it in time. Apparently not! I've had some success killing those I find with Aiptasia-X, but new ones continue to sprout. Kind of a whack-a-mole experience. The cyano problem just kept getting worse despite water changes, increased flow, decreased lighting, and decreased fish feeding (to the point I thought I'd be starving them). Finally I took the leap to chemicals (chemiclean) as a last resort, and that worked well. No fish or coral problems (in fact corals have perked up a bit), though getting the skimmer back to normal has taken a long time. No fish losses for a long, long time now (in terms of my tank's age), and I have been surprised at how large the pajama cardinals have grown. The others are growing so slowly I haven't noticed, I suppose, but those cardinals sure have. The orange-back wrasse and melanurus have been great additions. The guys all "know" me well, and eagerly come up to the glass to say hello - and beg for food no doubt more likely. No further equipment problems, thank goodness, and knock on wood. Hope that pixie isn't listening...
  6. MichaelAB

    Michael's RSM 650 November 2016

    Exciting times! I got my fishes replaced, and all the replacements are doing well. QT'd the replacements and after nearly 3 weeks, most went into the DT. I am keeping the melanurus wrasse in the QT longer. I thought that I had lost him, since he stayed in the sand for 9 days straight before appearing. Now he comes out at first light and stays out most of the day. He was a bit aggressive with the QT'd flasher wrasse, so I moved the flasher to the DT a little earlier than I had planned. A set back this morning though. I got my first "real" coral frags a couple of weeks ago from WWC. I look at them closely each day and all seems well, except for a kind of fading of the color of one lithophyllon. I've been keeping it in dimmer light in the shade of a rock and it's color is slowly returning. So apparently it needs a much slower acclimation to light. However, today when looking at it closely, I noticed some small threads sticking out from the frag plug and thought they were algae strands. Got my magnifying glass out, and WHOA! I thought, can't be! Oh, no! So being a new reefer of course, I hit the panic button. Calmed down, and did some online research. I used what I had and took the coral out, injected as best I could a squirt of white vinegar into it, waited a few minutes, scraped it off, dabbed it with more vinegar and then hydrogen peroxide, then sealed the whole plug (I couldn't get the coral off without doing major damage) with gel super glue. Probably overdid it, but I sure don't want these creatures. I'm afraid that since I have one, there will be more now. I'll just have to wait and see and deal with it. And here I thought I had been being so careful in getting my first ones from a serious commercial vendor, checking them closely, and dipping them. I guess there will always be some degree of risk, unless one goes to the extreme of cutting off the frag, QTing the coral for a month or two, etc. My QT has only a small led lamp, so I'm not sure I'd like keeping corals in the dark essentially for a month or two.
  7. MichaelAB

    Michael's RSM 650 November 2016

    Pineapple sponge, with legs? lol.
  8. MichaelAB

    Random thoughts...happenings

    Yay! Congratulations. Now comes that annoying waiting-for-it-to-arrive part. Always seems like forever! The Red Sea packing crate is amazing. It's like some super-geek engineer figured out how to put all the parts in like some giant rubik's cube.
  9. MichaelAB

    Michael's RSM 650 November 2016

    I found these exploding all over my sump glass and some on the DT back glass this morning. Well over a hundred of them. I didn't see any of these last night, but today, a New Year's Day surprise. I'm assuming they're harmless. I'm also assuming they were hitchhikers on some freebie corals that came with a fish order. I dipped the corals in CoralRx. The corals have been in the tank for just a week. Seems fast for these to show up in my sump in such numbers in such a short time. I'll have to do more research. Fascinating! The first one looks like a spirorbid worm (feather duster?) according to what I can find online. The second one, I'm not sure what it is, but looks like a filter feeder, too. Anyone care to give me a direction to search for it for more information?
  10. MichaelAB

    Michael's RSM 650 November 2016

    I had another bit of a setback. Took a chance on saltwaterfish.com and ordered a "replacement" goby, pajama cardinal, and purple firefish with their holiday sale prices. I added to that order a juvenile McCosker's wrasse and Melanarus wrasse. Overnight FedEx priority shipping. Not.... The package arrived more than a day late, water cold, after being shipped from their Los Angeles area warehouse to Oakland, then sitting there all day before being shipped to Memphis. It was turned around and sent back to Oakland, then to Stockton, and out for delivery. Pajama cardinal and McCosker's wrasse DOA. The Melanarus was clinging to life, but unfortunately expired a day later. Miraculously the purple firefish, pajama cardinal and goby have perked up and are eating and moving about fine. The company has been responsive, though not quick about it, and has at this point offered me a reshipment of the DOAs, but not the Melanarus since they have a 5-hour post-arrival cutoff for "refunds." I'll get a "store credit" for the M. wrasse. My nearest real LFS is Randy's in Stockton, about a 2.5 hour round trip (other than an all-pet store and a PetSmart in Sonora), so I thought online shipping would give best selection of what I wanted, when I wanted it, and without the drive. But if this kind of loss is expectable, then I'll have to rethink that altogether. I absolutely hate thinking of these little guys being considered so expendable. I know that shipping to a LFS is not different than shipping to me by distributors, but... Having a mini-algae outbreak. Just the kind that looks like dusting on the rocks and some dust-like patches here and there on the glass. The yellow tang seems quite disinterested in it. Easy to scrape off the glass with a magnet cleaner. Nitrate is slowly coming down with the carbon dosing, just wish I could speed the process up without starving the fish, lol. Copepods everywhere - yay! Currently I'm doing some experimenting with the various powerheads I have - Neptune WAVs, and the recirc pumps supplied stock with the RSM. Getting a wave/pulse action going is a challenge with the RSM recirc pumps blasting from the back wall (output is non-adjustable) and interfering with the side-mounted WAVs. I turned two of the four recirc pumps off, and that helps, though then the DT water level drops just a small bit, but enough to be below the grill openings in the weir. So, experimentation continues. Tank is now up and running for 51 days; clowns and orchid dottyback have been doing well in DT for 30 days.
  11. MichaelAB

    Store visit 12/17/16

    Those clowns are beautiful. Looks like they've got their formal white-tie dinner jackets on. You'll give them a happy life! Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  12. MichaelAB

    Michael's RSM 650 November 2016

    Alas, my little goby found a tiny gap between the screen and the wall and went ballistic. I didn't see it for a couple of days, but it was very shy and hiding mostly so I thought nothing of it. Finally I went in to make a serious scan for it, moved all the pvc pipes out. Nowhere to be found. Searched everywhere around the overflow, and the counter the QT is on. Nothing. Short story... found his little body by the dog's water dish a couple feet away . He joined my beloved dogs in their burial plot in the garden. Now I'll be obsessive about hermetically sealing the tank . The pistol shrimp apparently climbed the back wall of the QT, because I didn't find it anywhere either. Saw a flash of movement under the ceramic spheres in the sump area of the QT, and sure enough, it was the shrimp. So somehow it climbed the back wall, got through the grate leading to a filter sock, but managed to get around the sock and then took up residence in the rear sump area. I took all the spheres out, and made a shrimp trap. But didn't have to use it, lol. He hitched a ride on the filter sock, and out he came. He was ready for the DT, so I acclimated him and in he went. He scurried off faster than I could see where he went. I wonder if I'll ever see it again. Maybe the replacement goby will find it for me one day. Yellow tang and two pajama cardinals also have gone to the DT. The orchid dottyback is very curious about those cardinals. They are anything but reciprocally interested in it. Some dusting of green on the rocks and a little on the sand. Nitrates have continued to lower; I'll test them tomorrow. Phosphates at nearly undetectable level of .003 or something like that if I'm calculating the Hanna checker correctly (3.066 x ULR reading / 1000). I've been doing some vodka dosing. Not sure that it is better than or equivalent or what to the Red Sea NoPox I had been using as part of the earlier Red Sea Reef Mature program. Since I have a GFO reactor, I figured just doing vodka dosing should be simpler and less costly than the Red Sea. But what do I know? So far, other than some very slight milky-clouding, it seems to be going in the right direction. Now on to more, more, more! Since I love the look of wrasses, I'm thinking of the next QT inhabitants. Melanarus (though the nassarius might be toast), some kind of flasher wrasse, and a fairy wrasse? I'm also thinking about my first coral. Since ultimately I hope to go the SPS route, I'm thinking it best to avoid the beginner's stuff like xenia, leather, green star polyps, et al. based on opinions that they're things that take over and are hard to eradicate later on. I love the look of frogspawn, hammers, and torches, but those stinging tentacles concern me. Any opinions on wrasses for me at this stage, or for early corals? Too soon?
  13. MichaelAB

    Michael's RSM 650 November 2016

    Fish update. Yellow tang, two pajama cardinals, goby, and pistol shrimp all doing well. The pistol shrimp stays in the tupperware bowl of sand, but the goby decided to stay in the PVC pipes nearby. One pajama cardinal (of the 3) has gone west across the waves . No idea why; probably just one of those things, I guess. The other two pajama cardinals are fine. The tang has discovered a taste for the nori clipped to the side of the tank. At first it was frightened by it and would go hide behind some PVC pipe. It was fun to watch it develop courage. Today is the end of their first week in the quarantine tank. Crossing fingers and toes that the rest make it. I did have some moments of trepidation when I realized - duh - that eventually I'll have to figure out a way to capture that little pistol shrimp when it's time for him to move to the DT. He's a wily, fast, and tiny bugger. All water parameters are good in both tanks. As for the DT, all is well. The orchid dottyback is a real charmer. For the months it was in the QT, it hid tightly in the PVC pipes - even flattening itself to the side when I looked too closely at it. Now it swims freely all around the DT and last night even came up right against the glass to do a little stare contest with me. The clownfish are active and enjoy seeking out and gobbling down copepods. I finally figured out my tubing and programming for the continuous water change using a Dos unit and the Apex. I put the OSW line down the drain pipe the clothes washer uses, and the NSW intake line directly in the saltwater mixing tank I use. I set it for 1.18 gallon exchange a day, figuring that will be just about 5% a week. Today I set up the neptune DDR and dosing system for calcium and alkalinity (calcium currently is 401, alk 9.1, and magnesium 1380 using RS Coral Pro salt) I'll try raising the calcium to 421, and the alk to 10. I'm a little nervous about dosing, but I'm giving it very precise and constricted parameters for one day and then turning it off until I see what it actually does to the water. Since I have no corals yet, it's overkill, but I think it's good for me to see if I can get the tank stable at the levels that eventual corals will like. That way I won't be doing the learning curve with live coral victims to worry about. I have to say, testing the parameters is quite an adventure in lab work. Takes much longer to do it all than I expected, but I'll probably get a little more efficient with it as I get more repetitive experience.
  14. MichaelAB

    Michael's RSM 650 November 2016

    Hi, Marius. It's a "red banded" one (Randall's, candy-stripe?). I just finished doing the drip acclimation. Got them from liveaquaria.com. REALLY tiny, and the goby with it is so small as to be almost invisible. Rather concerns me that fish that small might not have much resilience to make it after all this shipping and stuff. I'll just hope for the best. Unfortunately, one of the fish was DOA. Irked me that UPS delivered after 7pm on this next-day delivery, and the driver was none-too-gentle with the boxes getting them off the truck and handing them to me. Just dropped them on the ground, picked them up, and brought them up to me. So much for "fragile," "live fish," "This Side UP!" and all the rest. Guess it's Christmas shipping now and they're overworked. Sorry... ranting a little. Guess I'm a bit overprotective when it comes to the critters, especially with one DOA and me wondering if it was roughly handled getting here from Los Angeles. I'll see in the morning how they're making out. I don't want to shine bright lights on them to get a closer look. The clowns and dottyback in the DT are monsters compared to these wee ones