I Messed Up And Almost Lost It All & Week 4

A lot has happened in the past week. Everything from adding new corals, full cleaning, and a mistake I made that caused me to panic when it looked like the livestock in the jar was dead or dying. Let’s take a look at what happened in week 4!

A Lot Of Cleaning

At the end of week 3 I decided to do a really good cleaning because of some developing algae issues.

Hair algae was starting to grow in random spots quite quickly including the glass. Brown algae started growing on some rocks and sand in a low flow area of the jar. I’m not sure what the reason for the sudden explosion was.

algae on glass

It’s possible that the RO water I used for the last water change wasn’t so good. The store I bought it from wasn’t well kept, but I was there and decided the water machine would be fine. I’ve since gone back to the original store that I buy RO water from.

I haven’t been happy with the scape of the rocks so I thought I would take out all the rocks, do some cleaning to remove as much of the algae as possible, and a water change. So here is a quick break down of what I did:

coral frags brita filter
  • I siphoned the water in to a container. I didn’t do the usual “dusting” off rocks with a turkey baster because I wanted to put the frags in this water while I took my time to clean.
  • I placed the coral frags in a separate container with the original water, heater and airline.
  • I then used a soft sponge to clean the glass to remove the algae. I went ocd and cleaned/rinsed the sides many times with some fresh saltwater.
  • The sand was still left in the bottom of the jar, but I flushed so much saltwater in to the jar that it was clear by the time I was done. It’s amazing how dirty the water from cleaning the glass.
  • I scrubbed a few rocks gently with a tooth brush and rinsed them with fresh saltwater.
  • Put everything back in the jar with fresh saltwater.

Rock Work & Heater

So I ended up getting the rock work in a way that I’m more pleased with. I also noticed that the flow is much better better overall. I also managed to hide and secure the heater better with the rock ruble.

It would be awesome to have an extremely tiny heater, but there aren’t any available that are reliable or that have a thermostat. Many preset heaters have issues or would become an issue during water changes since they need to time to adjust to the ambient temperature before being turned on.

I Messed Up!

After putting everything back together with new water in the jar I wasn’t expecting the corals to open up right away. It was getting close to the time that the lights shut off so I just ignored the jar for the rest of the night.

I woke up the following day and left the house early in the morning before the lights came on. I got home around 8pm and noticed all the corals were closed and the candy cane looked completely wrecked. The forest fire monti was completely bleached and only a couple red polyps remained.

I tested the salinity of the water about 10 times. It was off the chart. I don’t know how this happened.

I premix my water a few days before I need it and test it several times with a hydrometer. I always rinse it with salt water before I take my first test and always rinse with RO water when I’m finished using it. I also make sure no bubbles are attached to the swing arm. Sometimes it needs a good tap. I thought that I didn’t “season” it after I bought it and that could have caused an inaccurate reading. But even so, up to this point I’ve not had an issue.

candy cane recovering
Skeleton showing and polyps totally receded with some die off. However, you can still see some short tentacles.

It could have been possible that the salt wasn’t completely mixed. But this rio 180 with the duck bill attachment really moves the water in my 5 gallon pail and it had been running for a couple days.

At this point it that damage was already done. I ended up adding some fresh R/O to the jar to bring it down to 1.027 and left the hydrometer in the pail of salt water to “season” it just for the sake of knowing that I did.

The next morning I did a 100% water change back to 1.025.

20 minutes after the water change, the zoas opened up and some life was back in the jar. However, the forest fire monti that I just bought looked completely wiped out and the candy cane (trumpet) looked really bad.

Later in the week things have turned around. The only thing that was lost was the forest fire montipora. The candy cane started regenerating rather quickly. I’ll make a post about this soon.

Coral Observations

These past 2 weeks I’ve been observing corals to see if they like where they are in the jar. I noticed some corals have been getting a bit darker and some had really crazy polyp extension. So I moved those ones up close to the light and they seem to love it.

Top View Of Jar

I spot fed the candy cane, war coral, and blastos. They all were very receptive of PE Mysis shrimp.

I haven’t updated about the original montipora that I bought. Well it was looking like it started to STN so I ended up fragging it and super gluing it etc. Then I noticed there was a nudi in the tank still. I managed to get rid of it and hoped that it hadn’t laid eggs. The poor coral was no longer green, it was smaller and brown.

3 days ago I moved the monitpora to the top 1/3 of the jar and I’m starting to see more of its original colour come back every day. I’ve inspected it many times and see no more signs of the nudibranchs. It’s all very positive news!

Overall I think I have everything in a great spot, although I still intend to move a couple pieces to help make room for more corals. I’m sure I can add another 6 or 7 frags in there easily.

New Purchases

Doctors Foster and Smith:

150G Coralife Marine Salt Mix – A 50G bag at my local store costs $34.99, 150g online cost $39.99 so it was a no brainer.

Moving Frags With Chop Sticks

10” aquatic forceps – The reason I bought these is because my hands are too big to be inside the jar. I usually end up knocking everything over or overflowing the jar even after I’ve taken some water out.

I’ve been using a pair of long wooden chopsticks. I’m good with them, thanks to living in Japan for some years, but sometimes they just lose grip on a frag when my hand becomes fatigued. Sometimes it feels like I’m working on a ship in a bottle and I lose my patience and become quite destructive.

Theo 50w fully submersible heater – I bought a marineland submersible heater in the beginning but didn’t realize it isn’t fully submersible. Being fully submersible makes it a lot easier to toss in to my saltwater mixing bucket without having to worry about suction cups falling off and destroying a heater or cause an electrical issue. Knowing my luck, I would end up electrocuting myself.

From Amazon:

Refractometer and 35ppt calibration fluid – I bought this because it’s a little less messy than a hydrometer. They can be very accurate when calibrated properly. After my mess up, I felt it wouldn’t hurt to crosscheck my water with another device. I’ve always used hydrometers without issue.

From Local Shops:

¾” siphon hose. As mentioned last week, I wanted to buy a larger hose to siphon out water and debris quicker and more effectively. 10ft for about $7 at home depot.

Food Grade 35% Hydrogen Peroxide – I finally found food grade peroxide in my city. In fact, I was able to get the last bottle that the store had. It was $23 for 1L but it should last me quite a long time. It came with a MSDS sheet which is no joke. It’s very corrosive and can cause serious injuries. I bought it for treating algae and will have to use extreme caution. See How To kill Algae With Hydrogen Peroxide.


I think the best course of action is to continue water changes and attacking alage. I’d also like to stop moving corals around so much, I think they would self-propagate much faster if they were left alone.

I’d like to create a section on this site to document the changes with the corals that are in the jar. It would be really good to have some sort of measure to see where they started and how they’ve progressed. It might even be as simple as a picture gallery dedicated to each coral.

I think that pretty much sums up week 4. I have a couple more articles coming this week such as How To Kill Algae With H202 and pico reef lighting. It’s going to be great!