The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged Seachem

So this amounts to a chronological retelling of the story to date, this time with photos, starting  a couple weeks back now.  Perhaps not in as much detail as my minute-by-minute updates, but a good overview of the run to date.

June 21st, 2012

The ongoing health problems with the Lightning Maroon remained, and the left eye on the Lightning Maroon was showing slight swelling.

On a day initially planned to do a skin-scrape of the fish for further examination, I had to call things off because the fish had started going through pre-spawn motions.

By the time we had finished doing a skin scrape on some Banggai Cardinalfish downstairs, Barb & Heidi from the Great Lakes Aquarium got a super special treat, seeing the actual nest having been spawned while they were here.

Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawning & Eggs

June 22nd, 2012

I was genuinely worried whether we’d have eggs 24 hours in.  Thankfully, they proved to be good parents and good “clownfish”; the first spawn egg eating proved to be the typical first test run that so many clownfish seem to do.  This batch, while I didn’t get a good photo of the parents, was doing well.  The swelling on the Lightning Maroon’s eye had gone away.  Phew.

June 23rd, 2012

So much for resting easy about the health of the Lightning Maroon. The eggs were developing (a fair number that probably were infertile or diseased were removed by the pair), but some funky gunk (yes, that’s the scientific term) showed up on the Lightning Maroon’s right face.  I was once again on high alert; this wasn’t pop-eye; this was more reminiscent of the mouth-rot I had to battle back a little while ago.

June 24th, 2012

So much for being on alert.  By evening, things looked so bad on the Lightning Maroon’s face that I pulled the trigger and initiated the third course of treatment with Maracyn SW and Maracyn II SW in this system.  The telltale bulge around the right eye had started to show as well.  I felt I had little other option at this point; this fish is simply too valuable to take a wait and see approach when symptoms like these show up:

The eggs were looking good and developing fast, although I took little comfort in that given the current situation with the Lightning Maroon.  The roller coaster of stress over this fish during the past couple months has been excruciating.  No doubt, there were times I pondered whether it would all be easier if the fish just passed away – of course solely a passing fancy, but when things are clearly out of your real control, it is incredibly tough to sit there and do “what you can”.  Of course, it’s a whole new level now that we are well within sight of the next major milestone in this 2+ year long project.

June 27th, 2012

June 27th represented the 4th day of Maracyn + Maracyn II treatments, and once again, it appeared I had potentially averted a crisis or loss.  The condition of the Lightning Maroon was drastically improved.  The eggs…the eggs were showing eyes?  They had the classic silvery look of clownfish eggs before they’re going to hatch.

I had been worried that these eggs would be hatching out while I was on a trip to Boston to speak at the Boston Reef Society; but now, only 6 days post spawn, I was very worried that a hatch could come sooner than expected.  The signs (and the data out there) said it was possible, sure, but maybe not likely?  Still, if I waited too long and did nothing I could miss the hatch. Conversely, if I pulled the nest too early, I could miss killing the eggs before they actually had fully developed.  Honestly though, I felt far less pressure about the decisions I was about to make than any of the disease-related issues with the Lightning Maroon; this is clownfish breeding, I can handle it.

There was really only one route to go – I had to sit and watch the tank.  The lights go off at 12:15 AM, so I got things situated for a possible hatch.  I used a small LED flashlight at the far corner of the tank as a larval attractant.

While waiting for the lights to go out, I prepared the area  with buckets and siphons to take out larvae should they hatch in the tank.

Downstairs, I prepared a black round tub to receive broodstock water and possible babies.

Lights went out, and it was time to wait.  All pumps were turned off through an extended feed timer on my Apex Lite (which would ensure they’d all come back on in the event that I somehow forgot about them and went to be).  I did have to unplug the battery backup on the Vortech…can’t have babies going through that pump either.  I’d check every once in a while, and initially got excited around 12:20 AM when I saw movement in the beam of the flashlight – until I realized it was copepods swimming around.

Many more checks turned up nothing, and I was starting to wonder if I had jumped the gun.  Multiple plans of “what next” rolled around in my head, but they all disappeared at 1:23 AM on June 28th, 2012.

That is not a copepod.  If you can’t really see it, maybe this one will help:

The moment that first baby clownfish showed up, I pulled the tile under almost complete darkness, moving it downstairs in a bucket with a lid and 5 gallons of water from the broodstock tank.  I set it up for artificial hatching, and assumed that come morning, I’d see hundreds of clownfish swimming around.  That was the hope…

June 28th, 2012

So much for hatching overnight.  There was ONE baby in the tub.  Terrific (<-sarcasm).  1 is better than none, so in the interest of keeping the one alive, I was forced to tinge the water green with a very light treatment of RotiGreen Nano, and a very small addition of rotifers (lest the baby starve).

The worst fear is that I had somehow killed the eggs in the move or prevented the hatch, which would have generally killed the eggs overnight.  There was only one way to find out.  I took a quick look at the tile.

And here’s what I saw…

They look perfectly fine.  And what a great opportunity, thanks to the advent of digital photography and Photoshop, to get a headcount.

That’s roughly 310 eggs (each color group represents me counting to 50, with the scattered red dots representing the last 10 I counted).  It’s not an exact headcount, but gives a great approximate number of eggs.  Hardly the spawn of several thousand that some Maroon Clownfish are known to put down, but I’ll take it all the same.  So very carefully, this tile went back into the black round tub…

…So long as the eggs didn’t die, there was still hope.  The rest of the tension filled day was spent fighting the urge to recheck the tile for dead eggs.  Come nightfall, I stuck with the photoperiod that the eggs had been used to, and turned the lights out in the basement a little early so that things were basically pitch black by 12:15 AM on June 29th.  Just after 1:00 AM, a quick check with the flashlight caused me to announce to the world, “Ladies and Gentleman; we’re rearing Lightning Maroon Larvae.

June 29th, 2012.

With only hours before my departure to Boston, I had to get things set up right.  As the night progessed into the wee hours of morning (that we normally still call “night”), I fired up the lights, and checked the tile:

No stragglers – that means a 100% hatch.  That means 300-ish baby maroon clownfish.  300 chances to see something really fantastic down the line.  So long as we don’t botch rearing them!

Mike Doty, a fellow aquarist who happens to live 4 blocks away from me, had been over late (or early if you want to get technical) to see how things were set up and to know where everthing was…well that and to share a beer, toasting this milestone. Mike would be completely in charge of rearing the larvae in my absence.

 

While I got my share of incredulous inquiries about that, I actually had more confidence in Mike than myself; Mike had taken a pair of extra Maroons from me, spawned and reared a couple batches, so he was perfectly qualified in my book (I’ve done clowns, but never maroons before).  We got the larval tub set up with greenwater and rotifers, and in the early afternoon I embarked on my all-day trek to Boston.

 

 July 1st, 2012

I returned home from Boston in the afternoon, anxious to see how things had gone.  Mike had kept me updated via texts during my absence and things sounded good.  The main message I got from Mike was that my three rotifer cultures had failed to keep up with demand, and he had actually depleted his as well.  I wondered, would we wind up losing this batch to starvation?!

July 2nd, 2012

I’m indeed burning through rotifers, but the cultures seemed to rebound and were producing enough for the moment.  The rotifers in the BRT were also clearing out phytoplankton pretty frequently.

Mike and I had set up a drip for the tub using a spare brine shrimp hatchery and a micro ball valve from Julian Sprung’s Two Little Fishies.  Not only is the drip good for top off, but also for introducing foods (phytoplankton) and ammonia control (CloramX) slowly.

Seeing that there were still many babies (some losses, but still many viable larvae), I took a photo for you all; your first look at what *Could be* a larval Lighting Maroon Clownfish, roughly 4 days old.

 July 5th, 2012

Things have gone well, as I’ve slowly doubled the larval rearing volume to 10 gallons, keeping a watchful eye on the ammonia alert badge as I continue to feed 4-5 gallons worth of rotifers into the tub per day.  With the warm basement temperatures (normally in the upper 60′s to lower 70′s, but lately 78F), the rotifer cultures are now roaring; I’m forced to feed them twice daily at a rate of 30 drops of RotiGrow Plus (and 30 drops CloramX).

I’ve done a couple pre-feeding rotifer enrichments with Super Selcon as well, just to keep the DHA levels up. However, today, now just before 7 days old, we reach another step in the rearing process.  Today it was decided the larvae were finally ready to feed on APBreed’s TDO, size A.  And after the second feeding, it was fair to say they are indeed consuming it.

So now we sit and wait.  Any day now, we will catch the first glimpses of stripes as these larval Maroon Clownfish go through metamorphosis and settle out into juveniles.  Most likely, I suspect that even if we have fish that will one day show the “Lightning” phenotype, we won’t see it at this stage in their development.  But at this time, it is anyone’s guess.  If you’re a betting man or woman, it’s time to place your wagers.  Our first glimpse at the possibilities are just around the corner.

Yes, made it a point today to check how things are going in my own “super [fish] bowl”…that is the Ecoxotic cube tank that holds the Lightning Maroon.  I’ve been Vodka dosing lately and it certainly seems to be helping the corals show their ideal colors, although the Green and Purple maricultured ORA Gonioporas really have not been doing well (meanwhile the ORA Red is growing like crazy, and my Aussie Pinks are putting on growth too…the Aussie Greens, I’m not sure).

At any rate, when I check water last week my nitrates were down to 5 PPM.  Lately I’ve switched my in-house salt use; since most of my tanks are not reef tanks, it made no sense to be putting in extra cash on reef-grade salt.  So, I’ve been mixing 50% Reef Crystals with 50% Instant Ocean.  I’m continuing with regular partial water changes as well as the vodka, iron, iodide, and Reef Plus.  The biggest thing I’m noticing is that I’m once again having pH swings that trend low – a quick pH test confirmed my probe is not out of adjustment.  This is all happening with daily doses of C-Balance 2 part (6 ML each).  So, where are things sitting today, on Super Bowl Sunday?

pH (Apex) – 8.06
pH (Seachem) – 8.0
Alkalinity (Seachem) – 2 meq/L
Nitrate (Salifert) – < 5 ppm
Calcium (Salifert) – 420 ppm
Magnesium (Salifert) – 1305 ppm
Phosphate – was going to test it as I’ve never bothered…test kit defunct.

Calicium and Magnesium look fine, so I’m thinking I just need to tweak the Alkalinity a little bit…so maybe a dose or two of either Seachem’s Reef Builder or Reef Buffer ought to do the trick and knock off the low end pH overnight.  Overall, I’m pleased with the results of my low-level routine Vodka dosing – colors on the Seriatopora have dramatically improved.

Nothing special to report on the Clowns…they just keep acting like a pair but no eager reproductive activity.

UPDATE

I did some digging and found that I DID have an Aquarium Systems Phosphate and Nitrate Test Kit sitting around – I bought this back when I lived in Chicago, so I know it’s old.  But there’s no expiration date on the kits, and as far as I can tell, they *seem* to work.  The results?

Phosphate (Aquarium Systems) – 0.4 ppm
Nitrate (Aquarium Systems) – < 10 ppm (gradations on this test are 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 – the resolution is pretty coarse)

It has been a LONG time since I tested the water on the Lightning Maroon’s tank.  The Birdsnest Corals are all growing, some quite rapidly.  I already hacked off a dozen+ frags on the “Sour Apple” Seriatopora as it was starting to shade out smaller corals.  The pH swings I was experiencing seemed to have lessened in severity.  While the pH probe seemed to be still getting valid measurements, it seems a calibration may have helped.  Part of the issue may have also been temperature related – installation of an Air Conditioner in the room helped temperature more in check, which may have slowed photosynthesis a little, and been one more thing to help reduce the pH extremes  that the Apex was reporting.  Finally, I reduced the frequency I was dosing C-Balance 2 part, but I may have to step it back up after getting these readings.

pH (Seachem) – 8.1
pH (Apex) – 8.22
Alkalinity (Seachem) – 2.5 meq/L
Calcium (Salifert) – 360 ppm
Magnesium (Salifert) – 1170 ppm
Nitrate (Salifert) – between 2 and 5 ppm

So, probably a water change and staying a little more on top of a daily C-Balance dosing regime ought to keep things in line.  Frankly, I was surprised the Nitrates weren’t higher, but perhaps the very low-level Vodka dosing is doing the trick?

Birthday Corals

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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.

More water testing…

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I’m continuing to get the tank “dialed in” as they say.  Thursday and Friday I dosed the tank 3 times per day with .25 ML / gallon (6 ML) of each C-Balance 2-part solution.  Thursday evening, Jay stopped by and brought his Salifert test kit for Magnesium.  We ran it side by side with my Seachem Magnesium test kit.  The results were pretty dramatic.

My Seachem test, which is probably 3-4 years old, tested out at 950 ppm again.  Jay’s Salifert test kit came out in the 1200 range.  That’s a BIG difference.  Of course, it makes me wonder, and it speaks to a general wisdom that test kits don’t last forever.  Arguably, use ‘em or lose ‘em!  Makes me think the Nitrite readings (< 0.1 ppm) are nevertheless false.  It is probably time to just go buy a new base test kit as the few I have are now all quite old.  Afterall, how often do you test for Nitrite once things are really doing well?

So this morning, Saturday, I tested the water for 2 things:

Salifert Calcium – 435 ppm
Seachem pH = 8.1

Based on the math from Wednesday’s test, dosing with .75 ml /gallon two part over the course of a day will raise up the Calcium level by 10 ppm per day.  Based on the subsequent 2 days of dosing, that would’ve brought it up to 440 ppm.  To test out at 435 ppm could easily be within the margin of error for the test, or could also represent an update rate of 2.5 ppm calcium daily.

So for today, I’ll once again do the 3 doses for the day and see where I come out in the morning.  I’m also thinking that today might be an OK day to move the Lighting Maroon into the tank.  We shall see…

So I’ve been keeping an eye on things.  The main concern is a very slight level of Nitrite showing up on my tests…less than 0.1 ppm.  As soon as that goes away, we should be good to go.

So here’s how the water in the Ecoxotic tested out this morning:

Seachem pH – 8.1
Seachem Free Ammonia – 0 ppm
Seachem Total Ammonia – 1 ppm
(update – after letting it sit, total ammonia was actually closer to 0.1 ppm)
Seachem Nitrite – trace, < 0.1 ppm
Seachem Nitrate – 0 ppm
Salifer Nitrate – 0 ppm
Seachem Total Alkalinity – 2 meq/L
Salifert Calcium – 410 ppm
Seachem Magnesium – 950 ppm

Yes, I actually have a lot of Seachem tests on hand, but my Seachem Calcium test went bad eons ago when the powder it used got rock hard and changed color…probably moisture exposure.  I also am only semi-confident in the Seachem Nitrite/Nitrate tests at this point as well, but other test kits seem to confirm the readings.  I wish you could just get replacment reagents for these tests as it seems a big waste to order a whole new test kit because one component may no longer be working.  I asked Seachem, and sorry, they don’t sell the reagents by themselves.

Of course, after this test I dosed 6 ml of each C-Balance component because I want to see what affect it has on the water.  So a bit later today I’ll retest pH, Alkalinity, Calcium and Magnesium to know what a dose does to the system.

Second Test (midday)

This is post dosing:

Seachem pH – 8.1
Seachem Total Alkalinity – 2, maybe 2.25 meq/L
Salifert Calcium – 410 ppm
Seachem Magnesium – didn’t test

Basically, I saw virtually no bump, although the Alkalinity did turn back from yellow to “green” after a minute, which suggests a slight increase but not enough to be in the 2.5 meq/L range.  I dosed 6 ML of each two part component again, and will test in a couple hours.

Third Test (afternoon)

Seachem ph – 8.2
Seachem Total Alkalinity – 2.5 to 2.75 meq/L
Salifert Calcium – 420 ppm
Seachem Magnesium – not tested

According to the instructions, the maximum dose is 1 ML per gallon per day, and no more than .5 ml per gallon in one dose.  I’ve been doing roughly .25 ml per gallon per dose.  So…why not.  I’ll dose again now at my .25 ml per gallon, and see where things are a little bit later.

Update – Fourth and Final Test (evening)

Seachem pH – 8.2
Seachem Alkalinity – 2.5 meq/L
Salifert Calcium – 420 ppm
Seachem Magnesium – 1025 ppm

So, dosing .75 ml per gallon of C-Balance showed a rise in pH from 8.1 to 8.2.  Total Alkalinity went roughly from 2 to 2.5 meq/L.  Calcium seems to have gone up by 10 ppm, from 410 to 420 ppm.  Magnesium apparently saw a larger jump, at 950 to 1025 ppm.

Of course, I ran out of Seachem’s Total Alkalinity test reagent at the last test.  The question will be whether I get a new Alkalinity test or use the ones that come contained within the Seachem Magnesium test.  In the end, I’m not going to dose again today…I don’t want to push that max dose limit.  Obviously at this point I can probably do another three .25ml/gallon doses of C-Balance tomorrow and check again at the end of the day.  Sounds like a plan.

As far as the Lightning is concerned, I’m going to recheck the nitrites again in a day or two.  Once the minimal level has gone away, it will be time to swap Maroons and finally get things going!!!

Another day

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So it’s been what, 2 full weeks now?  Today, the maroons spent more of their day apart.  This evening, I did another water change, shook off all the live rock (and thus rearranged it a bit), dosed with Fish Protector in the makeup water and Reef Plus shortly thereafter.

The female Maroon, as cited earlier, still had spots of  Cryptocaryon (ICH) on her into the afternoon, but by night they’ve disappeared.  I should mention that besides the obvious visual cues that it was ICH and not Velvet, there has not been heavy breathing nor a total loss of appetite, both classic symptoms of Marine Velvet (Amyloodinium) even when it’s not outwardly visible.

I “polled” the advisers and got early responses from Joe, Christine and Matthew C. about my ongoing ICH problem.  I’m over simplifying their responses by a lot, but suffice it to say that if there were one word votes, it’d be 1 vote restore Hypo to 1.010 or even 1.009, and 2 votes for possible treatment with Cupramine (copper) to finally eradicate the problem.  Obviously, if this continues to be a recurring problem it will have to be dealt with.  I feel that the female Maroon has once again plateaued, albeit at a higher plateau than she was on before.

She has had less “spunk” today, not having tons of appetite by any stretch.  Unless food was moving, either in the current or alive (as in Live Adult Brine Shrimp) she didn’t see interested.  Honestly, I had my first suspicions that she might be blind now.  Hard to say.  Blindness can be temporary or permanent in clownfish and can be attributed to a variety of factors.  There are times she seems blind, but then other times where she most certainly does not.  So throw that on the pile as another of the never-ending list of problems that have plagued this female PNG Maroon since her arrival.  Oh, that, and someone took a chunk out of her left pectoral fin today.  The list of suspects is short.  VERY SHORT.  And happens to be covered in abberant white markings.

Behaviorally, the clowns were not as cuddly with each other today.  They spent most of their time about 3-4″ apart.  When I turned out the lights this evening, the female left her cave.  The Lighting Maroon quivered for her numerous times, but she moved off to a different part of the tank.  I didn’t stay to watch too much more, but suffice to to say that both fish seem to be roaming the tank more.  This, combined with the “mystery bite” on the female’s fin might suggest that the “pair bond” isn’t all that, but then I look at my other clowns that don’t have anemone homes and they tend to rove around quite a bit.  They aren’t always at each other’s side, but it’s very rare that they’re at opposite ends of the tank.

I think it’s really important to impress upon everyone how truly individual and dynamic a marine fish can be.  They most certainly do have personalities and subtle behavioral cues.  It pays to make yourself aware of those subtle changes in behavior.  I certainly believe that some folks might read way too much into it, anthropomorphizing their fish (and going off the deep end in the process).  However, if you can avoid that pitfall and be more objective about your fish, you may realize they will often give you clues when things aren’t quite right.  I.e. I’m paying more close attention to the Female Maroon today and tomorrow in light of what seems to be a decreased interest in food and behavior that may imply some blindness or at least vision trouble.  Hard to say where that’s stemming from, but it’s important to note general behavior every time you look as you’ll get tipped off when things may once again be going wrong.

Well, signing off for tonight, and hoping for a better tomorrow.  Power of positive thought seems to work folks, so please do keep sending prayers, well wishes,  good vibes and karma to the 20 gallon home of the PNG Ambassador and his wife ;)

Last night I set up a batch of saltwater for an anticipated water change today.  For those who don’t know, I basically run a 5 gallon “Homer Bucket” from Home Depot with a 25 watt Visitherm Stealth heater and a MaxiJet pump to mix the water.  I fill it to a line I’ve marked, and from there, I know that it takes five half-cups (2.5 cups total) of Reef Crystals to bring up the water to 1.025.  So, to make 1.010 water, I scoup out 2 half cups (1 cup total) and I’m good to go.

Well, I recently started using Seachem’s Reef Salt, and guess what?  Apparently by volume it is more salty ;)  2  half cups mixed up to closer to 1.013.  So of course, I tested the Maroon Clown’s tank and it’s running closer to 1.012 right now.  I’m guessing it didn’t get up there through evaporation, but through my recent water changes!  Now, this raises the question – do I have an ICH problem on the female because the specific gravity rose up to 1.012?  I honestly don’t know, I’ll have to ask the advisors about that.

And yes, there is still Cryptocaryon on the female Maroon Clownfish.  Still not doing anything to directly treat it, but keeping an eye on her.  She is still eating this morning.

So I did my 5 gallon water change, treating the water with Kordon’s Fish Protector.  Will be dosing Vitamin C in a few minutes.

The “Stinkbomb”?  Well, when doing the water change,  I was sucking out uneaten food off the glass and I bumped into a Turbo snail shell that I thought was empty.  NOPE.  It was full of black goop…a dead Turbo Snail.  VILE…it never left the water, went through the siphon hose and STILL the stench was unbelievable.  I think I found the source of my cloudy water.  WOW.

Water tests are still OK overall…today’s test showed no visible traces of Ammonia, and pH around 8.0.  SG as mentioned prior was 1.012.  I may leave it, or I may drop it back to 1.010.

The last thing I did today was note that officially ALL medications have run their courses of treatment.  Yesterday was the last day of a 5 day treatment with Maracyn SW.  So, today, a big bag of fresh GAC (granulated activated carbon) went into the filtration.  A recent talk given at NERAC V by Ken Feldman really floored a lot of people as he put the science out there on GAC vs. Protein Skimming as it relates to DOC (Dissolved Organic Carbon).  Bottom line, GAC is far more efficient and effective at removing more DOC from the water.  DOC, in laymans terms, think “fish waste”.  Or in my case, black slimy decaying Turbo snail leading to cloudy water.  I will probably change out the carbon by the weekend for another fresh bag.

The short story – yesterday the fish got fed a few times.  I’ve realized that most food blows by the female, so I’m now in the position of having to turn off the filtration so she eats.  This has the positive side that if I leave the water pump off for a bit, I could come back later and siphon off uneaten food (only the male is willing to eat food off the bottom glass).

Last night, they got another 5 gallon water change.  Today, I started off by feeding a couple times, and now at lunch, another 5 gallon water change with Fish Protector in the makup, and then the dose of Maracyn.  Also hitting the tank with the daily dose of Kent’s Vitamin C product.

The sad news is that the female, while she continues to eat, has another clear cut case of Cryptocaryon (ICH).  Nothing “serious” (as indicated by the fact that she’s still eating) but seriously, with almost 2 weeks of Hyposalinity and solid Formalin treatments, I should not be continuing to deal with ICH.  This may be a case where I have to “keep an eye on it”, maybe go for FW dips, or maybe wait it out for another week and then bring up the salinity and hit the tank with Cupramine.  In the meantime, so long as the fish continues to eat, things should go OK.  I’ve been soaking all their food with Seachem’s Garlic Guard, which is thought may help keep parasites out of the gills (key word there is THOUGHT, not “proven”).

TODAY she eats!

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This is simply a very happy day for me.  The female ATE food for the first time moments ago.  She’s not vigorous about it by any stretch.  I put in some Formula One Pellets (from Ocean Nutrition) which the male loves and as usual, she didn’t look at ‘em.  I then put in my general frozen mix of enriched brine shrimp, mysis and whatever else I threw in (i.e. could have gel diets, squid, freeze dried stuff).   I’ve been hitting the frozen mix with Seachem’s Garlic Guard since last week to increase feeding response (yes, have thrown every trick in the book at these fish).  Well, she nipped a piece of brine shrimp out  of the water column, then hit some tubifex as well.  I didn’t continue to watch, but instead ran up here to tell the world.

We are officially moving in a positive direction, finally!

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