The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged Panorama

Yes, there is one sure fire way to get an update – heckle me into it via the comment system here at

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.



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

Well, there’s a lot of random things to update on, sadly the only thing I really would love to shout about (a spawn) hasn’t happened yet.

Meanwhile, a followup on the last pairing trial, the third attempt at a “Female Flip”, pairing a loner white stripe maroon with the massively larger “Labrador” white stripe maroon.  The short story is that we’ll never know if it was going to work, as the Labrador Maroon Clown died.  What I suspect happened was the bowl, which was tilted to allow tank water to circulate through, righted itself and in the process, closed off enough of the flow to cause the fish to asphyxiate.  Of course, that could also not be what happened – this fish was probably a decade or more old, and may have just hit the end of the line.  Hard to say based on the circumstances I found the dead fish in.  Before it passed away however, the smaller maroon showed up simply torn to shreds.  The best I could determine was that perhaps the small maroon had entered the larger fishbowl, received a beating, and then left.  If that’s the case, it would mean that the “female flip” had failed (or at least had not worked yet).

On the water quality front, things are again driving me nuts in the Lightning Maroon’s tank.  The pH hit a record high of 8.7 last night, and was 7.94 this morning.  This, despite having not treated the tank with anything to raise the alkalinity or calcium levels (i.e. no dosing of two part) for a week.   The corals are definite not looking happy; the Australian Blastomussa that had gone from 1 head to 5 heads appears to have died, and earlier last week I removed the Dragon Soul Favia that had also been previously growing well.  The Frags of Aussie Pink Goniopora and Green Goniopora are failing to extend their polyps as well.  I’m feeling terribly limited in options to deal with this problem given the small size of the tank, and that normally, it is simply a matter of depressed pH that occurs in smaller tanks.  Time to hit the reef chemistry books yet again and see if I can’t figure something out.  For now, I’ve reprogrammed the lights via the Apex to start turning off (thus slowing photosynthesis) if the pH hits 8.4, and then again more shut off at 8.5.  Still, I’ve not yet programmed things correctly, as the pH is 8.46 right now and the light that is supposed to be off, is not.  GRR.  This simply cannot be GOOD for the fish, and I’m leaning towards water changes + buffer to at least help eliminate or reduce the low end of the swing – i.e. perhaps 8.3 to 8.7 is better than what I’m currently experiencing.

The final update, our club’s Apogee Quantum (PAR) Meter is finally here in working condition.  I got to test PAR readings out of the modified Panorama fixture.  With the 4 12K Gen 1 Panorama Units, 2 blue Stunner Strips, and 1 Gen 1 Blue Panorama Unit all running, it’s a total drain of 77 watts.  For that 77 watts, with a semi-dirty cover glass, I am getting PAR readings of 150 to 250+ in the upper third of the tank where I have the majority of the Seriatpora corals growing.  At the bottom, the readings obviously vary, but are generally 60-100 (i.e. the ORA Red Gonipora is thriving at a 100 PAR reading).  As most of you know, these levels are capable of growing just about all photosynthetic organisms we may desire to keep, with the possible exception of Tridacna clams (which, per James Fatheree, really want PAR levels more like 500+).  Right above the glass – 700+.

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 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  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?

This is arguably the most special part of the ensemble.  No words spared, it’s another in-depth unboxing article you’ll want to check out if you’re into LEDs.  Bottom line for me – Modular LEDs = a win for consumers.  Check it out on ReefBuilders –

Ecoxotic 18" Cube 25 gallon LED Aquarium System being water tested.

Ecoxotic 18" Cube 25 gallon LED Aquarium System being water tested.

Yes, that is the blazing light of Heaven, apparently having be collected, stored and rebroadcast via the LEDs in the Ecoxotic Panorama fixture above what will be the Lightning Maroon’s permanent home.  I’m just throwing out this sneak peak for now so you all know I’m really working my buns off on it.

FYI, the ghetto extension cord is because my wife decided she liked the tank in the “other corner” better…the one that has no electrical anywhere near it.  Of course, my calls to local electricians have gone unanswered and messages unreturned.  There is ALWAYS something.

Stay tuned…as of tonight I have some pretty in-depth drafts on the full unboxing of the setup.  Those will probably go up on ReefBuilders.  Depending on my time and energy, I may rebroadcast them here later, or I may even elaborate further.

But for now, enjoy the sounds of a heavenly choir going “AAAAAAA” as you bask in the glow of the Ecoxotic Panorama.

So here’s the rundown so far:

Monday, get everything basically assembled.  Shoot something like 630 + images on this first day alone.  Pester Ike Eigenbrode way too much, but he’s cool about it.

Tuesday, rewire an outlet and reset every clock in the house.  Get reluctant approval from my wife on final location and orientation of the tank.

Wednesday, help an under-the-weather wife most of the day, run late evening errands.  While running errands, talk about tank strategy with one of the few local SPS gurus in the area, Jay Hansen, and decide that maybe there won’t be any anemones in this tank (refraining from spilling any aquascaping details so Johnny Ciotti won’t know what hit him).  Also realize that maybe I will be delving into the realm of controllers.  Get a couple higher quality surge protectors, double-sided mounting tape, and install the blue Stunner Strip on the Panorama Fixture.  Note that Renee has now stated that the tank is “way too bright”, to which I kinda responded, “just like the corals want”!

Notice there has still not yet been a water test.  Notice I haven’t posted any pictures.

Assume there is much much more to come.

The Ecoxotic Has Landed!

Boxes from Ecoxotic add to the chaos of another tank project!

Alice, trapped by boxes from Ecoxotic, flooding an already chaotic front entryway tank build, resigns herself to a day on the pillow.

Cat officially out of the bag, just before 11:00 AM this morning, as I sat here in my boxers on a chilly MLK Day holiday, a big thump on our front porch got the dog in attack mode.  FedEx was here, dropping off boxes.  Big Boxes.  Boxes that said “FRAGILE” and had “ECOXOTIC” on the shipping label.  I threw on a pair of pajama pants and flip flops to drag and carry this stuff in off the snow-covered porch.  I’m pretty sure the Fed Ex guy thought I was bonkers.  As I stood over the 3 big boxes now spread out in our entryway / living room, I get excited.  It is official, the Lightning Maroon’s new home has arrived, courtesy of ECOXOTIC.

Of course, I’ll be doing some pretty extensive gear coverage on the Ecoxotic equipment for ReefBuilders as well as here at The Lightning Project.  Now, the big question is this – can I get the tank set up and running before my wife shows up after work?  I’m guessing not, simply because this is my first chance to check everything out up close and personal.  I should take my time and enjoy the process, and my wife will never understand why I’ll be doing an entire “unboxing” photoshoot anyway ;)

It’s going to be a very interesting month for The Lightning Project – thank you to everyone at Ecoxotic, and especially Ike,  who bent over backwards, with extreme generosity, to make this happen.  I already have well cultured live rock to get this tank up and running quickly, so we should be in business in no time!  Of course, I’m not sure I’ll be able to top John Ciotti’s Upside-Down Reefscape, but I vowed to at least try since this tank will be one of only two main floor display tanks (everything else in this house is bent towards breeding exclusively).   Time to show the world that I can at least TRY to set up a “pretty” tank!

As I mentioned in my last post on this matter, I will be doing my best to remain neutral and unbiased in any gear reviews.  Still, I don’t think that’s truly possible given that I was already a “fan” from a distance (up until MACNA I’d never seen Ecoxotic products firsthand, but the concept of modularity and overall design of their LED’s had me already thinking they’d done a better job than other manufacturers).  Anyway, as a “fan”, I have to point out that Ecoxotic does a good job of “Endangering The Status Quo” (their trademarked tagline) when it comes to how aquarium manufacturer’s engage the aquarium hobbyist.  They bring their “A-game” when posting content to places like the Ecoxotic Youtube Channel, Ecoxotic’s Twitter Feed, Ecoxotic’s Facebook Page, Ecoxotic’s Blog and a whole host of goodies all encapsulated under Ecoxotic’s Aquarium & LED Lighting Community Page.  Don’t even get me started on their 12 days of Ecoxotic just last month!  In my opinion, the crew at Ecoxotic has indeed raised the bar for the quality and caliber of content they put out in relation to their products.  Now it’s time to see how the quality of the products themselves stack up to their brand promise!

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