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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Problem Solved.

MG levels have risen to 1200 and have stayed constant for a night. Calcium levels at 400. Will continue raising calcium to 430-440 so I can push MG to 1300.

The cause of it, as expected was inside the chemical filter. The carbon absorbed everything that i dosed in. everything. It just goes to show that my chemical filter's been working!

Alright problem solved. Once my exams end, will document more technical stuff about this aspect of water chemistry.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Google Me!

The Deep Blue Sea in my HDB has been indexed by Google!

More problems

Still have yet to find the source of the MG problem. I scrubbed the tank and did a water change today with MG enriched water but still no change. I didn't flush the water that i took out of the tank away. I've kept all 20L in a jerry can. Poured 10L into a pain and dosed MG supplements. I've yet to test the old water in the pail but if i'm able to raise the MG in there, then the problem is not in the water but in the tank. I'm beginning to suspect its the chemical filtration. That bag of nitrate filters is doing something bad to the water. That's my guess. stick around to find out more.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Magnesium Problems

Can't seem to raise the magnesium no matter what. I've tried to evaluate all possible causes in a very logical way. Here's my chain of thoughts:

Firstly, MG additive might be fake and useless. I dosed a small portion into one cup of aquarium water and tested it. MG levels rose like nobody's biz. MG additive is working.

Secondly, Something in the tank is absorbing all the MG. As far as I know there are only 3 sources of absorbtive material in the tank. The carbon, the phosphate remover and the nitrate remover. Phosphate is close to zero, nitrate is high. They're not even working that well. How are they gonna absorb my MG?

Thirdly, I don't know what the heck is happening! HELP!

Day 35: Updates

The tank's been running for 35 days now. To take a step back and sum up all that has happened. I'm not at all pleased with all that's taken place. This is what I expected:

1. Better control on Algae and Diatom Growth
2. Better Coraline growth
3. Better water stability and parameters

I've managed to find out what's the reason for the slow growth and possibly even retardation of coraline. Its because of the low magnesium levels. I bought a test kit today, and i measured 1030. Ideal levels are 1300-1500. As such i've dosed the necessary additive and let's see what happens tomorrow.

Diatom Growth is caused nutrients. Phosphates are close to zero, nitrates howeever are way out of control. went from 12.5 to 25. Nitrate remover should stop this rise but it didn't. My conjecture is that the nitrate remover is too tightly packed in the filter and little water is flowing through it. I'm going to loosen it tomorrow.

1. Mr. & Ms. Mo are fine. not in the best condition but hopefully with more water parameter tweaking their health will improve.
2. Sailfin tang is doing well. Its white spots are getting less from day to day and it has also started taking pellet food.
3. Doctor shrimp is no longer a coward, it has ventured to exploring other parts of the tank though still not brave enough to snatch food during feeding time.
4. Hammer corals are fine. Mushrooms have become lusher since i first got them.

Let's just see how it goes.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rocks are coming ALIVE!

Water parameters are very important when it comes to marine aquariums. The most basic of which are salinity, pH, dKH and i've explained them in previous posts. After the basics are met comes more complex parameters such as magnesium, calcium, iodine, strontium levels. Calcium is particularly important when it comes to corals and coraline algae growth. Just over the past couple of days i dosed calcium supplements into the water and with a keen eye, the changes are pretty much noticeable. Pinkish/Reddish coraline patches have started appearing on what was bare rocks previously. If I'm able to keep this level of Calcium in the water, I beleive that in a week's time I should have observable coraline algae growth.

Its been a traumatic week for the aquarium. Algae growth was really strong and despite the introduction of chemical media, the growth was still signifcant. That led me to deduce that something's dying inside and leaching ammonia. My deduction turned out to be right. The bleached coral i thought was recovering actually started to die without me knowing. It was only when i fished it up and sniffed that stench did i realise it's health took a turn for the worse. Without that dying coral, conditions have improved. Just 2 days ago, i came back and found the floor flooded and the tank drained off 2inches of water. I was frantic checking for leaks everywhere but couldn't find any. Finally isolated the leak to an overflowing skimmer. I modified the skimmer and somehow my modication clogged up the return flow of water back into the tank and it flooded my room. Mopped up the mess and topped up sea water. When things like these happen where you lose water and top up water, all the effort in dosing of additives for the past couple of days to stablize the water will be gone to waste and started all over again. Finally I'm glad i'm back on track.

Sailfin Tang's displaying wierd symptoms of whitespots. The whitespots goes away in the morning but when evening comes and my lights go on, the white spots will start to return. I'm wondering if the lights are stressing this poor fish. Nonetheless its still as greedy. It has already wiped by tank clean of green algae. Now i'm waiting for another Tang to come scrub the tank of brown diatom 'algae'. Cleaner shrimp's set up a cleaning station and Sailfin Tang's visited it quite a couple of times. Somehow cleaner shrimp has retracted away each time. I wonder why.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Creatures of the Night

If you ever scuba dived, the sight of coral reef formations and fishes weaving in and out is just mesmerizing; and if you're a curious one peeping in between the nooks and crannies, you'll discover lots more interesting organisms. Its like a busy metropolis, bustling with colorful life.

Staying on till dusk, though in the same place, you'll find that the mood changes dramatically as your vision becomes limited by the diminishing light. It creeps me out and I get the feeling of what was in the day, is no longer at night.

Coming back for a night dive you'll realise that it has all taken on a new atmosphere. One that is mysterious, spooky but yet mystically and magically alluring. Fishes exhibit different behviour, critters come out to scavange, coral polyps extend their tentacles to feed.

The timer of the aquarium switches off at 0045 and I was there to watch it. The moments the lights went, the fishes were tensed with their fins errect. The swimming became much slower as though proceeding with caution as they slowly eased their way into the safety provided by the rocks. I bought 2 sexy shrimps and a skunk cleaner shrimp today. They didn't come out at all the entire day but as soon as the lights went off, they started prowling the tank. I saw a bug, something like a worm squiggling throught the water, and when it hit the surface it secreted some fluid and it did that 3 times.

Very interesting stuff. Perhaps i should install a LED to simulate moonlight so i can observe such life much more easily. Hopefully i'd find some way to capture such night life on video. Its really amazing.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Mysterious Lifeforms

The MOs ain't the only ones in the aquarium. Just on this little rock alone you can see 5 living organisms. 2 of which are not very visibly seen. There's the mushroom, the tube worm with its radial white tentacles. When it senses danger it will retract back into its 'tube'. Its called a tube worm because as it grows, it secrets some calcarous deposit around itself forming a tube structure and somehow this tube structure also adheres itself to the rock. Its kinda like it buidling a little 'house' for itself and the house is a calcareous tube and hence the name tube worm. Maybe in the next picture you can see it more distinctly. Looking slightly left from the top tip of the mushroom you see this red lil thing. I have no idea what's that but i'm pretty sure its a living thing. Behind that red little thing there's another mushroom, a much smaller one and if you look hard enough, you will see some red hair thing. that's another tube worm.
Aonther shot, this time with Ms. Mo hanging around. In the distant background those wavey tentacles are the hammer coral. Also another uninteded lifeform that came along. There's also a cluster of what i believe to be trumpet corals growing. Hopefully I get to picture them the next time.

Today I got a Sailfin Tang to resolve the algae issue. Its munching so much on algae right now but bad news, its got ich. White spot disease! so hopefully a doctor shrimp will help it out tomorrow. Oh yes and I found copepods today! YAY! Copepods! There's one more mysterious lifeform that caught my eye but this one is really microscopic. I thinik its a glass anemone. Check back for more

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mr. & Ms. Mo

Alright so this pair of nameless percula clown's finally got a name. I think its quite cliche to name clowns as Nemo but I guess after that motion picture, that name's kinda stuck to anyone trying to name a clown. I tried avoidng that, thinking of a better name and so after referring to them as the MOs, and since the previous owner wasn't too keen to give them a name, I shall call them Mister and Miss Mo! Not all that cliche after all eh?.
Percula clowns are i think bisexual? Or is there a more appropriate scientific term for exhibiting sex changing behaviour? In single sex environments, percula clowns can change their sex in order to procreate.
When I started naming my fish, people asked me how do i tell them apart cos they all look the same! well maybe not that obvious in these pictures but you can tell them apart by the fins. In the top most picture you see Mr. Mo on top with a darker black rim on the top fin and Ms. Mo has a paler fin in comparison.

This is the first time I spent so much time taking pictures of what's in my tank. I must say this SLR does really make a difference comparing to the other pictures I took. Someone commented that me recongizing my fish is pretty obsessive but not so I feel. Unless I can idenify fish in a bunch of anchovies, now that's CRAZY!

So what can be expected in the coming months. Exams are here and its going to be a hectic next 2 weeks. I have two topics I wish to blog about. First is about tackling the nitrate problem. Gonna start on that tomorrow. Also you guys know that this tank setup is relatively new and so I haven't really bought anything. However there's just an amazing amount of unvited, mysterious, some welcomed and some unwelcomed lifeforms flourishing in the deep blue sea in my HDB and i plan to shed more light on them in a series of blogs. Check back!

Safe Heaven

Just last thursday I had my last management & organization tutorial and tutor mentioned something that in life its very important to find your safe haven. When it comes to management it can be a lonely job up there and its essential to find a source of rejunvenation.

I was just thinking perhaps the Deep Blue Sea in my HDB is that safe haven for me. Its something that makes me happy and takes my worries away. For the past week I've been doing some hard core coding in the computer labs, and I stayed a total of more than 24hrs in the lab just yesterday! But when i come home or when i'm on my way home, i usually find myself thinking how are the fishies? did the timer swtich the lights on? has the coral larvae grown a little more? is the chemical media working to clear up the water. Sometimes i come back and there's algae and i have to scrub the tank a little, other times everything looks good and i just feed my fish. But yeah it does take my mind away for a bit.

So today I did a full water parameter test.
Salinty: 1.022
Temp: 26.5
pH: 8.0
dKh: 10
Nitrite: undetectable
Nitrates: 25mg/L

I added some buffer to raise both the pH and dKh. Optimal levels are 8.3 and 12 respectively. Nitrites are zero! Lovely! Even with the pair of clowns and all the uneaten food rotting away, nitrites and zero which means the bio filters are working! Nitrates stayed at 25mg/L and so its bordering between an ok and a its time to do something kinda level.

There's been signifcant diatom and algae growth and its really irritating! I was thinking of a fish that eats them up or perhaps the UV light to destroy them but as I was analysing further, I realise that diatoms and algaes are not problems, they are symptoms. symptoms that there is a fair amount of nutrient levels in the water. I've introduced a phosphate remover into the system last week and through my observation diatom growth is still strong. So the next source of nutrients would be nitrates.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Updates Updates! Finally!

Finally pictures! Pardon me for dropping off there after all that updates on the major overhauls that was being carried out. Yes, so got more new rocks, infact i'd say i got a very good deal, rocks that are heavily encrusted with purple coraline algae. Thanks Anne for those really matured live rocks, think you can quite see the sharp contrast between my other rocks and the newer ones. Got a few pieces of corals, mushrooms, sponges, fan worms that came along with those new rocks. Will document them soon.
Frontal view of the tank. there you see my pair of MOs. True percula clowns and they're doing pretty well, feeding with adequate apetite. Something tells me they're not really happy, maybe that's cos the tank's really bare and the sandless glass base must be really glaring especially with those powerful lights. Been so caught up with school, I haven't yet have the time to continue my work on the aquarium. Trying hard to be disciplined and keep to those frequent water parameter testing as this is still the start of the aquarium's life cycle and fluctuations are bad. You might ask why ain't there any sand? The reason is because sand traps dirt and will inturn pollute the water. Having bear glass makes it easier to suck up debris with a thin rubber hose and some siphonic action. I intend to lay the ground with more corals anyway so for now, i'd just let it be. If not i'd just have a thin 0.3cm of sand.

Overall i feel that this is a much better lay out, more room. the rocks are not leaning on the glass, or at least just minimally. they're stacked on one another and self supporting so there's a fair bit of hidding space behind. Ok gotta get back to work.

Friday, November 17, 2006

No pain no gain!

Its been a series of bad things. the coral and then the algae, and then the broken UV filter. So today I did something drastic. I had a major cleaning operation. Took all the rocks out, gave them a good scrub, did water change and got myself very tired but happy. So here's the series of events.

1. Bought 20L of sea water
2. Turned off all filtration
3. Removed all rocks
4. Cleaned up the filter and protein skimmer
5. Scrub the rocks that needed scrubbing
6. Tank debris had settled by now so siphoned it all up
7. Re-arrange rocks into the half filled aqaurium
8. Top up water
9. Get all system equipment up and running again
10. Mop up the mess!

I usually like to do such big operations when mum is not around, but today the operation took too long and so she came back from work to see all that mess. Surprisingly she didn't say anything, just past me extra rags to help with the mopping up. Dad told me that I'm a very lucky boy cos mum says nothing about my fish. The last time dad kept a fish, ONE fish, he claimed that mummy nagged him for 3 years!

Pictures of the tank? Take it as a lil suspense, I'll get one up tomorrow.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sad day

It was a sad day. The coral is bleached beyond words. Must have been badly burnt by all that marine salt. The mucus is just crazy. Took it out for a srub and isolated it. Its still alive but its starting to stink in that small container. There you go, one heavy price to pay for a moment laziness. That's the way it is with marine aquariums, and all the more so that I have a small aquarium and hence the margin for error is much much much less. That's not the only bad thing, unfriendly algae is starting to grow. This is a bad sign and just when i wanted to install the UV radiation filter to kill off all the free swimming algae, the device is broken so ugh! Got more live rocks today. the best i've had so far. Entirely encrusted with coraline. Just inspected the rocks again and found good things and bad things. Good things are there are some corals attached to some rocks. Bad thing is there's a patch of red unfriendly algae which i'd have to scrub off asap. I need my UV!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Oh No!

Bad things happened today. To think about it so much happened I have no idea how to begin. I introduced a chemical phosphate removal media into the filtation system this morning. In the process of meddling with the hoses, lost a little aquarium water. In the case of natural evaporation, you can't top up the water with salt water because only water evaporates, salt stays behind. If you keep topping up with salt water, then the salinity of the aquarium will be affected. You'd need to use plain water. Tap water has chlorine, and so i went to the supermarket to buy a couple of litres of distilled water. Today's case was a matter of both, I needed to add both salt water to replishnish the water lost through all that messing with the filters as well as to top up distilled water to compensate for the effects of evaporation.

This is what you should do, mix marine salt with distilled water outside the aquarium, stir and dissolve it in a bucket or something to a salinity level slightly below that of the aquarium, pour in it, and everything is good. What you should not do, is to top up the aqaruium with distilled water and dose salt salt into the aquarium directly. Knowing full well what i shouldn't do, I did exactly that and for that laziness, bad things happened. So the salt mix settled and covered the coral. I thought that the water will dissolve it in a matter of minutes, but I was wrong, the concetration of salt on the coral itself stressed the coral out so much that it secreted so much mucus and it started to bleach.

All that happened today caused a drastic change in water parameters and for that, I've observed many negative effects on the tank and whatever's inside. I ought to be shot for this.

In my mind I'm also thinking, is it the salt? or is the distilled water? or is it the phosphate remover? Too many variables all done at one time, its hard to isolate the cause.


It has to be a nemo!

Cliche as it may sound but the first pair of fishies in the tank had to be nemos! These are not just any 2 nemos but a pair of mated Percula Clowns. Thanks to Andrew a long time friend who passed on this pair to me cos he was about to decomission his tank. I was really reluctant to take them in as I felt that the aquarium was still not ready, but couldn't just let these 2 fish die yeah? Anyway they're happy and well, swimming around exploring their new environment. Received them in the most unlikely of situations, at 1am at night, no food, no nothing, so these poor fishies have been starving and are still starving. Fish shop opens only tomorrow, so they'd have to hang in there before I get them something to munch on.

This aquarium project was started as some sort of a project that would invovle a community of friends and its working out after these couple of weeks. Though Andrew didn't buy me the fishies nor did he adopt them, they were his fishies and so long as these fishies stay alive, everytime Andrew visits he can say "hey that's my fish!" and rightfully so! It's an aquarium that a community of friends will take ownership of someday, hopefully. So cheers! the first pair of fishies in the aquarium!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunlight for the aquarium!

All the time that i've been in this aquarium hobby, its always a practice that we do not expose the tank to direct sunlight but today, i just stumbled upon a blog and this guy had something called Sun Tunnels and they're basically tubes all the way through the ceiling which directs sunlight into the aquarium. An aquarium illuminated by natural sunlight! Way cool! Check out Reef Rancher's on the reefers' blogs links on the right side

Tube Worms

One of the things I like about getting fresh live rock from the fish shop is cos of the hitchikers that come along with it. Sometimes you get crabs, other times you get mushrooms and of course more nasty stuff like perhaps a mantis shrimp. The rocks I have with me were pretty bare but as I was observing and just gazing into the empty tank, its not entirely lifeless! So far I've spotted 2 tube worms. After the bacteria, the first living organism in my tank was a coral, and the 2nd to be discovered was a white tube worm living under the coral and my latest discovery is a very shy red colored tube worm living on one of the rocks. Need to get a camera powerful enough to capture it. They're really quite minute.

The thing about marine aquariums, you're never quite sure what exactly you've got in that tank! Surprises are not hard to come by if you look hard enough.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Progress update & more about bacteria

I've been spending quite a fair bit of time discussing everything except the aquarium. Well one of the reasons is that for now there's really not much to show or to talk about. The other reason is that I intended this to be a very informative blog for readers to learn about reef keeping. So here's the aquarium till now. If you compare the this with previous pictures, you'd realise that its less boring now and will those little itsy bits along the ridge, its kinda breaking away the outline of the boring break rocks and making everything look more natural. These is one of the techniques used in rock scaping. Big pieces of rocks are used to form the base structure and then tiny bits such as tonga branches, coral bits etc are used to break away the less sightly appearance of those big bulky rocks. Also I read somewhere that if you do make 'caves' for fishes to swim behind the rock work, your 'cave's' opening should never face the front of the tank directly. infact it should sharply angled towards the side of the tank. So that when fish swim in and out, from the front of the tank, you get to see their full side body, which is much more aesthetic then watching a fish swimming with its face towards you. Was trying hard to implement that into the scaping here but wasn't very successful.

This morning before I headed off to school, I tested the Nitrite levels. Just couple of days back I tested and it indicated a 0.3. Today Nitrite levels is in the good range! I didn't change the water, all i did was just leave it and nitrite levels fell by itself. What does this mean? That the bacteria are doing their job. They've been chowing down and converting nitrites. Its a very good sign! As we've discussed before, what happens next is that there should be a rise in nitrates. This is the most irritating part because nitrates in my opinion are the hardest to get rid off naturally. thats another stage of the nitrogen cycle and will save that explanation for another blog. Guys have a good weekend!

Friday, November 10, 2006

More Water Chemistry!

In my blog I've always made it a point to explain aquarium maintainence using simple science because I believe that everybody have some basic scientific knowledge and by demonstrating that such simple and basic knowledge can actually be applied in reef keeping, it will make this blog more interesting and easier to relate to.

Maintaining an aquarium reminds me of secondary school chemistry. There was a topic called QA or qualitative analysis where you test for the prescence of certain chemicals with reagents. Alot of colorful chemical reactions.

Today I did a pH test. If we all recall, the pH scale ranges from 1-14. 1 being the most acidic, and 14 being the most basic/alkaline. What I have here is a pH indicator, almost like a universal indicator. Universal indicators give absolute value readings of pH 1,2,3,4 etc. The pH indicator here with me is specially catered for alkaline solutions and it gives a reading to an accuracy of one decimal place. Sea water unlike freshwater is alkaline and its pH ranges from between 8.1-8.3. I usually try to keep the tank's pH at 8.3.

From the pictures you see that the indicator is actually orange, but as i dripped it into the vial with aquarium water, it changes to take on a blue tint. Matching that with the chart, we see that the pH is actually 8.0, not all that perfect. I'd need to raise it up to 8.3 somehow. How am I gonna do that? Well we'll discuss that soon enough.

What else happened? Thanks Roger for giving me some very pretty rocks. I met Roger from the forum, was a quick deal, i texted him, he said come get the rocks and I did. Very friendly chap, spent a while admiring his tank while i was at his office. My rock scape looks alot much more natural now with those small itsy bitsy ornamental pieces. Pictures another time.

More about the Live Rocks + the strange comment

So continuing from where I left off, how can a rock be alive? Well its not actually alive but more like these rocks are super porous and these pores actually house millions of tiny friendly bacteria in them. Very similar to what i'm hoping to achieve in my bacteria farms housed in the filter canisters. Besides bacteria, these rocks may also have nooks and crannies where organisms such as copepods, crabs, worms, algae, plants live in and on the rocks, hence the name live rock. Live rocks are an essential part in any marine aquarium because the bacteria which they house helps to regulate the water quality. As two of our friends here have pointed out either in earlier comments or on the shoutbox that rocks should go in first, live rocks play a very important role in establishing and stablising the environmental variables in the aquarium. When we buy new live rocks from the shops, the live rocks that they sell may have been out of the water for an extended period of time while being transported from their orign to the shop and hence the organisms inside them might have started to die. When you put these rocks into your tank, these dead and half dead stuff will rot and hence bring about a spike in ammonia levels, just like what the shrimp was intended for in my earlier blog about the nitrogen cycle. But over time, the bacteria colonies will actually start to grow again and start converting ammonia to nitriites and so on. This whole process is known as curing of the live rocks. So what i need to do now is to let the rocks sit in the tank for a week, and measure water quality again.

If you notice the reddish tint on some rocks, those are coraline algae, considered to be a sign that the live rocks are doing well. Over time if all goes well, all the rocks should be encrusted with coraline which can be quite beautiful to look at.

Now not forgetting the strange comment that xersion made. It can't be so co-incidental that you sold me the rocks right!?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Have you heard of a rock that's alive!?

Thanks eggplant and mr. anonymous for the comments on the coral, well I so happen to chance upon it, I didn't intentionally looked for a coral to put it in, but anway, its doing fine, will blog in specific detail about it sometime soon. Exciting new progress, got 26Kg of LIVE ROCK from Patrick, also another aquarist I met over a forum. Rocks came from an established aquarium and according to Patrick he's had time for a while and when he got it, he performed a fresh water dip to remove all kinds of nasty worms and parasites living on it. I'm not too worried about whatever dead matter there is inside. This is stage one of the live rocks. These are all big rocks and they form the base of the aquarium's rock structure. I'm going to get some tonga rock branches. Alright gotta take grandma marketing. Sorry for the abrupt stop in my blog, but will continue later on.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Chemistry and the Nitrogen Cycle

Couple of post back I was discussing about the prawn and the nitro cycle and its time i continued the story. I left off in stage one of the nitrogen cycle where bacteria will start chowing away the ammonia. So what happens after? Well the bacteria do not really eat away the ammonia and the term use to describe it is that the bacteria converts ammonia into nitrites or NO2. After more than a week, i did a NO2 test with the aquarium water this morning. A sample of aquarium water is collected in a test vial and subsequently chemical reagents are added to it. The aquarium water will then take on a color indicative of the NO2 levels in it. This color is matched to a chart from which a numerical value can be derived.

From the chart we see that NO2 levels are in the 0.3mg/litre range. In my past experience I usually manage to maintain NO2 levels below the 0.3 mark but this is still in the aquarum's early stages so we shall wait and see. Nitrites when present in concertrations above 1.6mg/litre can be harmful to fishes so its best to keep it as low as possible.

On the other hand, this is not entirely bad news because it means that stage 1 bacteria are successfully converting NH3 NH4 into NO2! The stage 1 bacteria are growing! What happens next? thats stage 2 of the nitrogen cycle and this is where another kind of bacteria will convert the nitrites into something else but that's another topic for another time.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ta Da! Coral!

This is a coral. The first piece to go inside the tank. As there where I got it? that's a secret. Who gave it to me and how I got it? that's also a secret. The whole thing is pretty calcareous, stony and hard and if the brown texture is actually xooxenthalae plankton living inside the coral's bony skeleton. Yeps. Update more soon.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Feeling Cool Under The Scorching Sun

Today is the first day I left my metal halide lamp running. its been running for 7 hours now and thats the approx. photo period that i'd expose my tank to. Although there's nothing in the tank, I kept it on to test and ensure that the chiller is able to still do its job despite the extreme heat radiated by the lamp. Water temperature is now sub 27degC. Lovely. Rocks later today? :) let's see how it goes.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles!

The long awaited protein skimmer is here. If you compare this tank pic with the previous ones, this grey plastic device hanging at the back is a protein skimmer. What the skimmer does is that it produces many many fine micro bubbles. To simplify things these bubbles all have an ionic charge which causes waste materials in the water to stick to the bubble's surface. The more and finer the bubbles, the greater the total available surface area and hence more waste could adhere themselves to the bubbles. The longer the bubbles take to float and reach the surface, the more time there is for waste material in the water to stick to the bubbles. Hence the protein skimmer produces many micro bubbles and churns them in a way such that they would take a longer time to float to the surface as compared to simply floating straight up. After waste or in particular protein wastes are stuck to the bubbles, the bubbles float upwards and froth into a foam which then overflows into a collection cup. all i need to do is to empty that cup every other day. So in short, thats what a protein skimmer does is that it skims and remove protein waste from the water. This is quite like how you see the white water form when waves wash up to shore and sometimes you get some disgusting slimy foam on the beach.

Today, I spent another bomb but this should be the final piece of equipment. The tank is fully functional now. Lights, filtration, chiller, skimmer, can't ask for more. Thanks to this very interesting aquarist Patrick who sold me his skimmer at a low price.

One thing about the bubbles, bubbles are escaping into the aquarium! Nothing wrong with it, but aquarists generally regard this as unsightly. Will need to modify the skimmer a little bit.


I've set up a column on the right to note down all the major events with the aquarium. I don't consider buying equipments a major event but more like events that would affect the aquarium. Say for example I need to note down when I started the nitrogen cycle so I can guage how long before I can add fishes. I need to note down when I introduced activated carbon into the filter so I'd know when should I replace it. Things like when I add my first piece of live rock, fish etc. Basically they're important reference times.

Today I tidied up the wiring under the table I've taken apart the lighting so I can re-arrange it and have it more securely installed. Tomorrow I'm going to collect a second hand protein skimmer from a fellow aquarist. The skimmer will be installed and will start bubbling asap and hopefully on monday I can put my first piece of rock into the aquarium.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Its so Cool, I'm Shiverrrrrrrrrrrring!

Think I'm getting old, together with all that dim lighting, the handshaking is quite obvious. The pictures didn't turn out as sharp as i wanted them to be but the shaking all starting to fit in when I was just about to write this entry. I've been in this hobby for years now and I've always wanted a chiller. Basically its a device that lowers the aquarium water's temperature. Its natural that the aquarium water's temperature will settle to that of the room's ambient temperature and with the effects of strong lighting, it might even be higher then that of the room. Room temperature in sunny singapore is roughly between 28-30degC but if you've gone scuba diving, you'd realise that even in shallow tropical waters, water temp is around 26-28 or lower. All this while i've not gotten a chiller because it was expensive. a good chiller could easily set you back 1000 bucks and the bigger the tank, of course the bigger and more expensive chiller you'd need. So to save that money I've experimented with many ways to lower water temperature, by using fans to increase the rate of evaporation, by piping tank water through a styrofoam ice filled box. All these worked, but its not a solution in the long run. Through it all I've observed one thing that fish/plants live better in cooler surroundings. Its just like how potted table plants grow better in an air con office then in your polluted sunny HDB balcony facing the road.

I'm glad a friend from the reef club let me have his second chiller for cheap. Saved me a fair sum and i'm quite confident that the new inhabitants of the tank will appreciate it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Prawn's Gone!

Waiting for the tank to cycle is the most 'uggggggggggh' part of setting up an aquarium. So now the shrimp's almost rotted completely and its broken down into bits and much of it has been chowed down the filter. As i said the water is supposed to stink and milk up, but the smell's gone and the water's all clear! Not kinda what i expected, so at this stage it leaves me wondering did the rotting prawn do anything at all.