The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts in Coral

Yes, there is one sure fire way to get an update – heckle me into it via the comment system here at www.Lightning-Maroon-Clownfish.com

So for starters, let’s talk NPS (Non PhotoSynthetic corals).  Yes, I’ve had some Balanophyllia for a while now, as a somewhat local reefer grows them like crazy and they always end up donated to our club for fundraising…but no one out there actually pays what they’re worth, so I always do.  Well, they’ve been doing great despite outright neglect.  With a mandate to get some Tubastrea for our club’s fragging demo too, it seems I’ve become a NPS guy…at least a little bit.  We received an Aussie Black Tubastrea, and I wound up buying all the frags we made of that.  And I even went and found some orange Tubastrea recently to help round out the NSP nook in the Lightning’s tank.  Afterall, the hardscape we constructed did leave a large portion of the tank and rockwork shaded, so NPS is a logical addition there. And what I’m learning is that the fish benefit from the feeding too (since I make sure to include things like brine shrimp and fish eggs).  So it’s really no harm to feed the NPS since I have to feed the fish heavily anyways.  So without delay, here’s the NSP nook.

Tubastrea

Tubastrea

NPS Nook

Now I know you want an update on the Lightning Maroon, Ted, but I’m not ready yet.  Afterall, one of the reasons I shot photos today (since I shot these before you gave me that nudge) was to document the ORA Red Goniopora I’ve been keeping.  For a long time I’ve been watching it and thinking the polyps were not extending as far as they used to, but it turns out that’s not the case. The coral is in fact getting LARGER (so the polyps are the same length as always, just proportionately smaller).  How do I know this?  Well, I looked back to the photos I took for CORAL magazine last year and that was a dead giveaway.  But then again, so was this:

Out of control ORA Red Goniopora

Um, yeah, I didn’t put it that close to the glass last year.  Someone has been doing some growing.

So about those pesky PNG Maroon Clowns?  Yeah, they have been going through the motions of nest cleaning since MACNA 2011…aka September of last year.  STILL no spawns that I am aware of.  We’ve lengthened the light time period, the tank has gotten warmer with the onset of spring, and still nothing.  I know it will happen, and after being reminded by commercial breeders who’ve sat on clownfish for 5+ years before getting spawns, I know this can simply take a while.  So I’ll leave you with a full tank shot for now, which if nothing else is proof of how well the Ecoxotic Panoramas are growing the SPS corals these days!

Full Tank Shot - 3/26/2012

September 26th, 2011.  On Facebook:

Matt Pedersen – officially driven mad by Aiptasia, I broke down and brought out the big gun. LiveAquaria.com Diver’s Den spared Four Eyed Butterflyfish, who’s already cleaned out two tanks of Aiptasia, has entered the Lightning Maroon’s domain. 2 minutes in, Aiptasia started dying. Will be documenting before & after + collateral coral damage (none is currently expected).

Foureye Butterflyfish, Chaetodon capistratus, in a SPS-dominated reef aquarium

Yes, indeed, the Aiptasia have gotten out of control.  Originally found one or two that came in on frags and manually removed them – I thought I was in the clear.  Sadly I wasn’t.

When they started popping up, I started hitting them with a Kalkwasser slurry, but that just didn’t seem to work well.  The Aiptasia marched on, so I took the next step and ordered up some Joe’s Juice.  Of course, it kills them, but I’ve found with products like this that there’s potential for a side effect – in dying, they seem to propagate even more.  Sure enough, what was an infestation quickly became a plague after an attempted eradication with Joe’s Juice.

I had a few options.  First that came to mind was Peppermint Shrimp.  The biggest issue there was simply one of quarantine.  NOTHING hits the Lightning Maroon’s tank without either a dip (in the case of coral) or QT (in the case of fish and inverts).  Thus, for the same reason that Peppermint Shrimp were out, so too where the Berghia Nudibranchs, again, at least in the short term until I figure out whether I can get some that won’t require QT (and feeding in QT).  I’m a butterflyfish fan, and there are many Indo-Pacific Butterflies that can be used for Aiptasia control.  Sadly, none of those species were on hand, and they, like any other fish, would have to go through extensive quarantine.

But I did have the Foureye Butterflyfish.  Actually I think I have 14 running around at the moment, but the one particular specimen was purchased from the LiveAquaria.com Diver’s Den.  This meant it had gone through extensive QT before ever being shipped to me.  It originally lived with my Onyx Percula pair, killed a proposed mate, and wiped out any Aiptasia in the tank while leaving the rest of the coral life alone.  It then moved on to another tank housing a captive-bred Latezonatus pair from Karen Brittain’s breeding, where once again, it demolished the Aiptasia population while leaving the larger Long Tentacle and Bubble Tip Anemones untouched.  Furthermore, I’ve kept Foureye Butterflyfish in reef tanks with corals like Fungia, Turbinaria, and various Gorgonians – none were bothered.  However, larger brown Palythoas lost their long tentacles.  And, if I think back, I’m pretty sure I had some specimens in an SPS tank before, at least temporarily, and saw no real damage there either (i.e. Xenia and Montipora and whatever else was in there at the time went untouched).

So it was indeed a gamble, but the Foureye had been here for months and had not shown any signs of disease.  It had lived with some of my most valuable clownfish without issue.  It went into the Lightning Maroon’s tank on the 26th of September, and it is doing well and taking a toll on the Aiptasia population.  While not eliminated yet, their presence is reduced.  The Maroon pair pushes the Butterfly around a bit, which had me concerned.  However, there hasn’t been a single split fin on the Butterflyfish, so the aggression from the Lightning Maroon and her mate is largely bluff.

Since introduction, I have seen the Butterfly nipping in the vicinity of a Birdsnest Coral, but I think it’s actually trying to get at some Aiptasia underneath.  There has been no visible damage to any of the corals in the tank, including the Gonioporas (which I was very concerned about).  It turns out that the Lightning Maroon and her mate are causing more problems for the LPS in the tank, as they’re routinely moving rubble AND frags all over the tank.  Often times I’m finding the smaller Goniopora frags either burried in rubble or upside-down on the other side of the tank.  Some have certainly suffered from this abuse.  Even the ORA Red Goniopora isn’t opening quite as far these days, I suspect not because the Butterflyfish is nipping at it, but because the Maroon Clownfish have been dumping rubble on top of it!  So…much of the “Coral Bones” rubble was pulled out of the tank on October 10th, and the rest will probably come out soon.  It was a good aquascaping idea, but I was quickly reminding that a pair of Maroon Clownfish generally have their own ideas about how the tank should look.

Just like it sounds, nothing but picture upon picture after picture of the Lightning Maroon and its new mate, the proven male PNG White Stripe Maroon Clownfish (also a SEASMART-caught Maroon fish Fisherman’s Island).  The pair is definitely becoming more bonded with each day.  Given that the Gold Stripe Maroon pair (where the Lightning’s mate used to be actively spawning) just spawned for the first time (as far as I can say with certainty) yesterday, well, perhaps that bodes well for a “sooner” rather than “later” first spawn for this pair too.  I’ve certainly upped the feedings (say hello to more PE MYSIS Mrs. Lightning).

Here’s a gallery of the pix!

It’s been almost 4 months since the Ecoxotic was set up for the Lightning Maroon…and some SPS!  Overall, I’ve been very, very pleased with the tank.  Unlike some of the other smaller tanks on the market, I love how easily and brilliantly this one cleans up.  Being glass, I can take a razor blade to it if the algae gets out of control.  Using 7th Generation Glass Cleaner, I can deal with some really nasty salt drips and spills.  But perhaps the best part is how wonderfully the stand cleans up.  Once Ike turned me onto Cabinet Magic, well, this tank can be restored to showroom quality in minutes.  The only thing I can’t clean up is the back plastic filter box; the moment it got coraline algae growing on it, I couldn’t get it off even with a safe-for-acrylic algae pad.

One of the questions I got a lot was about the skimmer.  People want to know if the built in skimmer really gets the job done.  Well, what can I say other than “it works”?

Of course, that was only a couple days after cleaning.  You should see it after a few weeks  – the sludge in the riser tube gets sickly.  Noise?  Well, it’s not whisper quiet – most all of the noise comes from the skimmer churning up the air.  Everything is pretty sealed up, pretty quiet, and since there are no fans on the lightning, well, this tank runs at a respectable and reasonable level of noise.

Of course, the thing people really want to know is how are the LEDs at growing coral?  Well, they are pretty darn good at growing the corals I’ve thrown in there.  The Birdsnests are branching like crazy, so light is clearly not an issue.  Still, color has been an issue, even on the Birdsnests.  Most of the Birdsnests browned out pretty much on introduction, but after a couple months the color was starting to come back.  At night, with the actinic Stunner Strip, and corals that are dull are popping.

Well, it turns out that there was a reason that Ecoxotic refined the Panorama units to include more blue.  It seems that the actinic blue wavelengths are important not just due to the florescence they create, but they also help actually develop the overall general coloration of the corals.  You see, while I really like the “white light” look, it’s good for growth but not so much for color.  Of course we kinda already knew about that, which is why no one runs 5500K bulbs anymore, let alone 10K by themselves!

Part of the solution?  MORE BLUE!  And so begins the a step-by-step addition of a second actinic stunner strip and an all blue Panorama module.

Here’s the stock Panorama setup – one actinic Stunner Strip and four of the Gen 1 Panorama Modules.  ALL of the photos before, during, and after, were photographed on manual settings so Shutter Speed (if I recall correctly, 1/60 on tank shots, 1/200 on light shots), White Balance (probably set at none or fluorescent..can’t remember now), Aperture (3.5 on full, 4.5 on closeups) , ISO (400 on tank shots, 200 on light shots?), all are identical to give a true comparison.

Step 1 – reposition the existing stunner strip to the open space on the left.  Take the cover off the pigtail and daisy chain on the second stunner strip.

Step 2 – Mount the second stunner strip in the far right space.  This was done using the clips and 3M double sided foam tape, as I did with the first one.

Step 3 – disconnect, and reroute the connection on the stunners to run on top of the Panorama modules.  Cap off the pigtail on the second stunner strip and tidy up the loose end with the included cord clips.

Step 4 – install the Stunner Strip Reflectors.  Now, seriously, these are a no-brainer…they just clamp on and are good to go.  I’m not sure how much more the add, but the certainly don’t hurt things.  Then again, look at how much more things *pop* once the reflectors are installed.

Step 5 – break out the all Blue Panorama unit.

Step 6 – Install the Panorama unit in the middle spot.  For this, I once again just used 3M double-sided foam tape.

And there it is.  “More Blue”!

Of course, it’s hard to say just exactly what the difference is until you see the before and after, side-by-side.  Before is on the left, after is on the right.  Again, the settings for all of these were the same, so the difference is accurate as seen.

So overall, things are looking good and I expect they’ll only get better.  I should again point out that corals were growing well under the stock lighting – this additional blue is to see how much more color I can bring to the mix via lighting.  Here’s some closeups after pimpin’ out the lighting a bit…

This is a bright red birdsnest I got from Frank, a local reefer.  Already shifting purplish after a couple days under the LEDs.

I believe Morgan called this one a Sour Apple Birdsnest..it was a minty seafoam with orange base, but here…well, it’s looking lavender.

The ORA Red Goniopora is lookin’ sweet!

The Alveopora is lookin’ sweet too!

Under the overhang, I’ve placed some Balanophyllias…they grow like weeds, got ‘em from Tiffany and can be traced back to a Diver’s Den offering on LiveAquaria.com.  I’ll keep sayin’ it – NPS is the new SPS!

That about wraps it up for the moment!  My next project – a third introduction of the little male PNG Maroon to the Lightning…will this be the time it works?

Birthday Corals

2 comments
Ecoxotic FTS - 2-15-2011

Ecoxotic FTS - 2-15-2011

Yeah, I took a small chunk of my birthday money and ordered corals for the tank.  While I really, really would’ve liked to pull the trigger on some of the fantastic Goneastreas that have been showing up in the LiveAquaria.com Diver’s Den, I really can’t spend that kind of money on coral for this tank.

So…I turned to eBay and found a seller from Peoria, IL, who goes by “woosaquatics123″.  What clued me into this vendor was a relatively good feedback rating (I always go see what any negatives and neutrals say, knowing that the one negative feedback I ever got from a buyer was a buyer who didn’t have a clue what he was talking about on a WISIWYG auction that even had a RULER in the picture).  That, and when viewing completed listings, it seemed that most frags sold for the opening bid.  I have a feeling that after this post, that might not be the case.  Of course, woosaquatics123 also had multiple small Goneastrea / Favia frags that were of interest to me, including a small 2 head frag of the “Reverse Prism Goneastreas” that have been showing up in the Diver’s Den.  I hate to say it, but $10 for a frag vs. $200 for a colony…sometimes you just have to pull the trigger on the $10 frag.

In the end, I lost a couple things that would’ve been nice to win (like a beautiful little Pink Goniopora) but I got my “colored chips”.  The score included an 2 polyp Aussie Reverse Prism Goneastrea, a 1 head beg-and-plead frag of Dragon Soul, a surprisingly stunning LE Joker Goneastrea, a Red/Green or Brown/Aquamarine Platygyra maze brain (color really varies with light), a nice Aussie red green and purple Blastomussa wellsi, a good sized chunk of Sympodium (fell in love the very first time I saw it) for 1/3 the going rate, and another surprisngly stunning Aussie Goneastrea that seemed kinda “normal” in pictures and has teal eyes and green skin.  There was also a mix-up…I got sent a Favites that I hadn’t bid on instead of another Favites I had bid on.  You know it’s a good seller when they say “keep the frag” and refund the payment for the coral you didn’t get.

Opening up a box from Woos Aquatics.

Opening up a box from Woos Aquatics.

In fact, I’ve withheld this post until my next round of auctions close.  Yeah, those things I missed were up again, as well as more pieces of some of the things that I really, really liked.  I don’t need to encourage potential competition!  Insurance frags.  That, and in a composition, it’s usually recommended to “reuse” certain elements in the piece more than once.  Ideally at least three times.  And so…no harm in having more than one piece of the same thing.

Here’s most of the corals added on 2-15-2011:

The "mistake" Favites - 2-15-2011

The "mistake" Favites - 2-15-2011

Aussie Goneastrea - 2-15-2011

Aussie Goneastrea - 2-15-2011

Platygyra - 2-15-2011

Platygyra - 2-15-2011

Dragon Soul Favia / Goneastrea - 2-15-2011

Dragon Soul Favia / Goneastrea - 2-15-2011

Aussie Reverse Prism Goneastrea - 2-15-2011

Aussie Reverse Prism Goneastrea - 2-15-2011

Aussie Blastomussa wellsi - 2-15-2011

Aussie Blastomussa wellsi - 2-15-2011

LE Joker Goneastrea - 2-15-2011

LE Joker Goneastrea - 2-15-2011

Some additional shots of corals that I traded fish for on 2-12-2011:

Green/Pink/Purple Birdsnest Colony from Cosmic Aquatics - 2-12-2011

Green/Pink/Purple Birdsnest Colony from Cosmic Aquatics - 2-12-2011

Incredible Hulk Clove Polyps from Cosmic Aquatics - 2-12-201

Incredible Hulk Clove Polyps from Cosmic Aquatics - 2-12-201

Sour Apple Birdsnest from Cosmic Aquatics - 2-12-2011

Sour Apple Birdsnest from Cosmic Aquatics - 2-12-2011

And finally, a couple more full tank shots of the Ecoxotic 25 gallon LED Aquarium System….

Ecoxotic FTS - 2-15-2011

Ecoxotic FTS - 2-15-2011

Ecoxotic FTS - 2-15-2011

Ecoxotic FTS - 2-15-2011

One final note – every coral that goes into this tank is going through a pre-treatment with Seachem Reef Dip.  I’d be an idiot not to.

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