New Corals And Algae Outbreak – Week 3

I changed the scape in the jar. I’m still not pleased with it over all, but it’s coming along now that corals are in there. One of the biggest issues I have is that the heater is wide and awkward. I’m looking for a smaller reliable alternative.

I also had an issue with the new lid. Anytime I wanted to open the lid, for water changes, the heater cord or airline would knock over or push rocks where I don’t want them. I also haven’t figured out a good way to seal the jar with the new lid, so salt creep is an issue.

There has been a bright green appearance on the LR that I got from the LFS near the beginning. I’m excited because it doesn’t come off with a toothbrush which suggests to me that it may be the early onset of coralline algae.

On the other side, diatoms and algae have made an appearance. The diatoms disappeared from the sand quickly, but algae is growing on the glass and a little on the rocks. It looks really bad when coral slime mixed with bubbles gets stuck on those areas.

A very tiny brittle star, spaghetti worms, copepods, and bristle worms were all observed in the jar this week.

Here is a breakdown of week 3!

Added:

  • Green Candy Cane (11 heads)
  • Zoanthids & Paly (35+ various polyps combined)
  • Montipora Confusa (2.5" x 1")
  • Forest Fire Montipora Digitata (1 frag 1.5" tall)
  • ​Teal Birdsnest (3 frags)
  • ​Warcoral (1 frag 2” x 1” but accidentally broke a piece off, so now there are two frags)
  • ​Green/Blue Ricordia Florida (1x 1.5” and 3 smaller ones. I previously said no mushrooms, but I couldn’t help myself. At least they aren’t fast propagating discosoma)
  • Bought a BettaMag to clean the glass inside the jar

I have been looking through ads (Kijiji) and forums to find some cheap frags. A bunch of people responded to my requests with “yes, I have a lot for sale etc… come over.” So I would reply with “What’s your address so I can come, here’s my phone number…” 90% never got back to me.

However, I was able to snag frags from two people. 1 was just trying to clear his frag tank and the other was shutting down his tank. Overall, I spent $160 total on the corals listed above. I'll wait a while before I add any more corals, unless a super deal comes my way.

The guy who was shutting down his tank had neglected it for quite some time. The amount of pail looking Algae and Gigantic Aiptasia was a bit shocking. In the back of my mind, I heard “don’t buy these, it’s just a problem waiting to happen,” but I ignored it because I couldn’t pass up a good deal.

Here is what I did to prepare the neglected frags before adding to the jar:

1. Prepared a container to dip the frags ( Coral RX, Rio 50, small heater, light, tweezers, toothbrush, old 1 gallon Britta Filter Unit, 2 gallons of salt water that I prepared the day before 1 gallon for the dip and 1 gallon broken up in the steps below)

2. I did the dip for 8 minutes with the rio blasting everything in the container. At the 8 minute mark I pulled a frag, and scrubbed it with a tooth brush to remove the algae. The rock was literally crumbling from the brushing. I even had to brush the corals gently to remove algae that was growing on and between them. I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant.

3. I then rinsed the frag in the 1st bowl of saltwater to remove anything that was still clinging on. Some pieces needed some more brush work.

4. Then I placed the frag in the final bowl of water. In this bowl I noticed some small aptasia. I used a pair of tweezers and pulled them off the best I could and superglued the area where they were.

5. Repeated the above steps until all the frags were ready to be placed in the jar.

I wanted to use hydrogen peroxide but I felt that I was already beating these corals up, they didn’t need to be burned because of my big clumsy hands.

Removed:

  • Green Bushy Acropora
  • Asterina Starsfish

The acro was way too sensitive and making a huge mess in the jar. It would be fine all day and then if I looked at it the wrong way it would start to spew out mucus. Water changes stressed it out and made it worse. It was time to go before it caused problems for other corals or killed itself.

I removed some asterina starfish, there were a lot. I kind of regret removing them but they make me nervous​.

Maintenance:

  • 150% water changes and more!

​I really needed to do some heavy cleaning this week so I changed a lot of water. 1 100% water change is less than 2 gallons, still much easier and cheaper than a larger tank. I could do water changes every day, no problem! But I don't think the corals would appreciate it in the short term.

I’ve been using long chopsticks to help move things in the jar and clearing sand away from the glass to make way for the BettaMag. This has been great instead of putting my hand inside which would displace the water outside of the jar. I’m keeping an eye out for someone selling a used pair of long tweezers.

Problems:

Algae

About a week ago I got a refill of RO water from a different grocery store. This store doesn’t feel well kept compared to the one I normally go to. I want to blame the recent algae outbreak on the newer water, but I can’t say for sure. I noticed some hair algae on the coralline encrusted LR that I got from a LFS.

I tried to peroxide what I could see but when it was out of the water it was very hard to locate. It was also quite hard to access because the LR is basically a branch with multiple smaller branches, very tight spaces. And 3% peroxide is probably too weak anyway.

I did my best to get what I could see and must have got some peroxide where critters were hiding. A huge bristle worm came out looking for somewhere else to go while I had the rock out in my hand. Geh.

I think a potential problem with an under-stocked jar is that there isn’t much competition for nutrients. So the algae has a “free for all” if I keep the lights on. Algae is inevitable, so I’m glad to see this problem happening now when the jar is young.

Water Changes

I have a few issues with water changes in the cookie jar.

  1. My siphon hose is quite small and I feel like it takes a lot of water but not a lot of debris floating around. The reason I did 300% water changes this week was 2 part. 1 to siphon the water once. 2. Fill the jar and do another siphon to help remove more debris.
  2. If I use a larger siphon hose, it can easily bump rocks, frags, or suck up sand.
  3. My sand is not evenly spread across the bottom of the jar. It actually slopes backwards towards the rock and heater. This means some water/debris will be nearly impossible to get out unless I get the siphon hose back there. I thought about removing the sand completely for easier cleanup.

Coral Slime Mixed With Bubbles

coral sliming

With microbubbles floating around the jar nonstop, I seem to notice where coral slime settles or gets stuck on a piece of rock because the bubbles stick to it like glue. I think it will be less of a visual annoyance when the corals have filled out and less rock is visible.

I noticed the skimmer effect of the jars neck where a lot of this slime congregates. It’s easy to remove by wiping the inside of the neck.

Plans:

  • Buy a larger siphon hose and figure out a way to do water changes easily and less destructive.
  • Keep up on algae removal and water changes. I’ll drain the jar, scrape out as much algae off the glass and rocks as I can, fill it up, and siphon it out again. I don’t mind doing extra water changes and cleaning until the jar is more stable and algae is less of a threat.
  • Buy stronger peroxide to help spot treat problem areas.
  • Figure out a more permanent aquascape and glue frags down.
  • Decide if I’m going to get a different heater or continue to use the current one. I could use a zip ties and suction cups to keep the heater where I want it. It’s not designed to be flat against the glass it’s designed to stick out, unfortunately.
  • Use the old lid (plant pot saucer) until I can figure out a way to seal the jar better.

Closing Thoughts:

It’s nice to see some life in the jar and a few new challenges.

I still dislike the sound of air bubbles powering the jar. I thought about purchasing an MP10 so that it doesn’t contribute heat to the water column, but it’s expensive and would need frequent cleaning to keep operating properly. I’ll deal with the noise and refrain from adding more work that isn’t necessary.

After all, keeping things simple is what a reef jar is all about.

  • November 23, 2015
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