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Old 06/23/2018, 10:06 PM   #51
Michael Hoaster
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The weird stuff is the fun stuff, isn't it?

I wanted to mention a couple other things I dose. These are not for the plants, but for filter feeders and the tiny creatures at the bottom of the food chain. They are phytoplankton and sodium silicate. Sponges, feather dusters, tunicates and a wide variety of really small critters should enjoy the phytoplankton. Sodium silicate is for sponges. Silicate is the building block of sponges, and our aquariums provide very little of it. It's what calcium is to corals. If you have sponges and feed them, but they don't seem to grow, silicate is likely the missing piece of the puzzle.

So, in attempting to start up a new ecosystem, it makes sense to feed the bottom of it. It's kind a microcosm of the beginning of life on Earth.


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Old 06/24/2018, 06:43 AM   #52
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This is a different product - not alive, not full of good stinky organics, but here's a snapshot of what a "mud" might contain that's different from the normal caco3 substrates we use in the hobby.
Miracle mud analysis
http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/faq...dent-analysis/
Things I think are interesting and good in it. Iron, manganese, a few other trace elements one would normally dose, and lots of silicon.
(I think it's weird that we obsess about matching precise NSW values in everything, except we insist zero silica is a must have.)


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Old 06/24/2018, 09:04 AM   #53
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Cool! I always wondered about that stuff. Thanks taricha!

It would be interesting to see a comparison of all the 'muds' commercially available to aquarists. I'm sure that most, if not all, can be beneficial, especially for reef tank applications (refugia). Kinda pricey though. They may save some cash on dosing.

For most people, silica = diatoms, so they avoid it. If diatoms are the first algae to form in my tank, I'll take it as a good sign, that life is beginning. Like I did with the previous tank, I'll mix in some silica sand to help provide a baseline source of silicates, and dose sodium silicate to provide a surplus.


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Old 06/24/2018, 09:58 PM   #54
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I wanted to elaborate a little more on some of the ideas, and methodologies for this aquarium.

First, let me say I wasn't a particularly good reef keeper. I came to the conclusion that I just wasn't up to it. It was too much like work to me. I wanted something beautiful to look at, but easier to do. So I tried something different-a fresh water planted tank. I had some success and I learned a lot about a whole, new side of aquarium keeping. I had a beautiful, planted display, and all was right in the world…

But, eventually I got the salt water itch again. This time, wouldn't it be cool to combine what I learned on both sides of the hobby? And do I really need to try to keep the most challenging creatures in the sea? How about something easier?

Algae is Mother Nature's way of telling us we need plants. Why argue? Why do we struggle against Nature? Wouldn't it be better to work WITH Nature? Using plants to balance with animals is an elegant solution to the biggest challenge of aquarium keeping-nutrient control. Algae scrubbers and refugiums are great, but why not put the plants right in the display? Why not make THEM the display? And couldn't we learn more about Nature if we used IT, rather than man-made devices?

What I wanted was just one big tank, chock full of nature, and low on external devices. I want to see if it is possible to assist nature in building an ecosystem in a box. I provide light, water movement, temperature control, food input and export. Nature does the rest. So, rather than buying a gizmo to solve a problem, I ask myself, how does Nature do it? How can I facilitate that natural process? How does one process influence another? How does Nature coordinate all these processes in functioning ecosystems?

So much to learn! I believe this naturalist approach to aquarium keeping has a lot to teach me.

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you!


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Old 06/26/2018, 07:12 AM   #55
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Great stuff man, and as I've said, I love the theory and practice behind your tank. I'm sure to incorporate much into my final build. So far, with my smaller version of my system, I haven't had as much luck with the macros. My 20g long still has the black Gracilaria living, but not growing all that much. And in my 20g high, the two species of Ulva died off, except for one large leaf of Ulva lactuca that is still hanging on.

So, my plan for the future of the larger tank is to, like you, build from the ground up...get as much life into the sand bed as I can. The main difference is that I most likely won't grow seagrass, at least for now, until my tank is established. I may rethink that approach later. But, I want my local macros to thrive. Adding a dosing process of CO2 along with my fancy new light fixture should do the trick, along with some tweaking of nutrients via dosing. The heavy bioload should provide more than enough nitrogen.

In my current tanks, the lighting seems to be the missing link. I may try a simple plant grow light and see how that does.

Anyway, while here, I'll definitely be glued to this thread watching your progress. Not only is this thread of yours a resource for me, it's entertaining


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Old 06/26/2018, 10:36 AM   #56
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Thanks Kevin. So glad to hear this is entertaining!

I'm really looking forward to your final build! I've enjoyed following your journey. Your oyster reef is unique!

I'd like to offer some thoughts and advice.

I agree that your equipment has limited your success with macros. In the mean time, you've focused on the fish (and the rest of the ecosystem) with great success. Once you have all the tools you need, you'll have the opportunity to focus more on plants, if you like. It does require focus and priority. I think it will require somewhat of a shift in your thinking, putting plants at the top of your priorities. Luckily, you have sturdy fish and no corals to distract from the focus required to have success with plants.

I'm not suggesting you become a full-on plant nerd. I'm just saying your INITIAL focus should be to optimize conditions for the plants you want. When starting up the new build, ask yourself, "how do I optimize this tank for plant growth?" I really believe it takes this kind of mentality. And luckily, taking care of plants also helps the rest of the ecosystem.

Feel free to question this. After all, I may be wrong! I know I have much to learn.


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Old 06/27/2018, 06:04 AM   #57
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Quote:
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I'm not suggesting you become a full-on plant nerd. I'm just saying your INITIAL focus should be to optimize conditions for the plants you want. When starting up the new build, ask yourself, "how do I optimize this tank for plant growth?" I really believe it takes this kind of mentality. And luckily, taking care of plants also helps the rest of the ecosystem.
Thank you for the advice Michael. I really appreciate it. The quote above is exactly what I'd like to do. That is why this thread is so important to me, because in just a few pages and posts, you've written the basic steps and explained it so clearly, and I thank you for that. The problem that I had with my current tank is that it was never supposed to be permanent, so pumping dollars into it isn't really an option.

My plan for my larger tank is to also build from the ground up, establish that food chain. I have the luxury of collecting my own live mud and sand right from the ecosystem that my fish are from and will take advantage of that to seed my substrate. I have the lighting that I think will be perfect for growing macros and even grasses if I go that route. The beauty of the temporary tank is that I can keep raising the fish while my ecosystem builds and matures in the other tank. I don't need the fish in it right away, so I can get the plants growing, etc. although I may need to dose ammonia unless I can get enough of an invertebrate bioload going. Plus, I'd want the tank fallow of fish anyway to reduce the chance of fish parasitism later on. I also need to make sure that I provide the trace elements needed for the macros to thrive.

I think the next piece of equipment that I might need to buy is the CO2 regulator. However, I got to thinking, since I'm on well water, it is possible that I already have high CO2 levels even after it goes through RO/DI filtration. I was reading how reefers on this forum feel the need to off gas CO2 in between the RO and DI stages. Since I want CO2, then I wouldn't have to do that, and maybe won't need the regulator? How would I know that? Is there a test for that?

And here is another question. Do you think that I should build my substrate in case I may add grasses? If I didn't add grasses, would the macros use those nutrients just as much? I guess that was my initial concern, not that I wouldn't want them, but collecting the species that I want might be difficult.


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Old 06/27/2018, 09:48 AM   #58
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Do you grow your own phyto? If so what fertilizer do you use? Will you be trying rotifers too?


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Old 06/27/2018, 11:10 AM   #59
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You are welcome! I agree, no need to spend cash on the temporary setup. Save it for the big show! As for CO2, that's up to you. You don't have to supplement it. Injecting CO2 just makes it easier to have success with plants. Without supplementation, plants grow slower, since they have to work harder to find available CO2 (or bicarbonates). I would think there is a way to test CO2 levels.

I think you are good to go, using local substrates. They probably have everything grasses and macros need. I think it gives you an edge, having a natural substrate that is already 'seasoned'. I have to buy the clean stuff, and add dirt and mud to season it.

Starting up the big tank, I'd advise you plant heavily, to outcompete algae and to see what does well for you. If you have a local grass, you might give it a try. Or maybe you have a favorite local macro. Research the needs of the plants you like and try to provide as ideal conditions as practical.

It really takes a committed effort to grow plants. So far, you have not had much luck with plants. What do you plan to do differently?

Then, the focus changes as your tank matures. First the focus is substrate, then plants, then other inverts like tunicates, then fish. Each stage supports the next, from the bottom up!


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Old 06/27/2018, 12:43 PM   #60
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Rispa, I do not grow my own phytoplankton. Too lazy!

Florida Aqua Farms sells the stuff to do it:

floridaaquafarmsdotcom


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Old 06/27/2018, 03:08 PM   #61
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It really takes a committed effort to grow plants. So far, you have not had much luck with plants. What do you plan to do differently?
The smaller tank was supposed to be a "holding tank" for newly collected fish that turned into a display tank. I set up the tank, cycled it, then dumped the fish in. Then, I started adding plants and other critters as I collected them. It was kind of like I was trying to get to the correct end but after I had already set up a fish only tank. Once I break this tank down and move everything to the final display, then I will set this tank up again for a species tank (maybe seahorses, pipefish, or sticklebacks), or maybe just use it as a grow out tank for fish fry...

For the big tank, I'll start with the plants, mud, live sand (to seed store bought sand that I have sitting in my basement). Once I'm happy with that, then I'll add more critters and fish. During my first attempt, my hope was that the high fish bioload would supply enough nutrients for the macros to thrive. Instead, cyano and hair algae ruled the roost, because they were introduced, perhaps? So, in my big tank, I will have to dose the nutrients. Also, I will introduce the macros to the tank immediately as the tank cycles. Maybe that will outcompete the nasties. Another difference, as I said before, is much better lighting. After the tank sits fallow and the food chain is established, then I'll add the fish last. Sounds almost like your plan! I wonder where I got those ideas

I've always wanted my blenny oyster reef tank. But, when I started this venture years ago, it evolved over time to a desire to set up an entire ecosystem.


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Old 06/27/2018, 10:16 PM   #62
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Starting out with good lighting is good! That all sounds good. A fish-less cycle too.

Everyone gets an algae phase. It's inevitable. Figuring out how to favor your macros, while removing algae, will enable you to win the battle.


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Old 06/28/2018, 07:36 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster View Post
I wanted to elaborate a little more on some of the ideas, and methodologies for this aquarium.

First, let me say I wasn't a particularly good reef keeper. I came to the conclusion that I just wasn't up to it. It was too much like work to me. I wanted something beautiful to look at, but easier to do. So I tried something different-a fresh water planted tank. I had some success and I learned a lot about a whole, new side of aquarium keeping. I had a beautiful, planted display, and all was right in the world…

But, eventually I got the salt water itch again. This time, wouldn't it be cool to combine what I learned on both sides of the hobby? And do I really need to try to keep the most challenging creatures in the sea? How about something easier?

Algae is Mother Nature's way of telling us we need plants. Why argue? Why do we struggle against Nature? Wouldn't it be better to work WITH Nature? Using plants to balance with animals is an elegant solution to the biggest challenge of aquarium keeping-nutrient control. Algae scrubbers and refugiums are great, but why not put the plants right in the display? Why not make THEM the display? And couldn't we learn more about Nature if we used IT, rather than man-made devices?

What I wanted was just one big tank, chock full of nature, and low on external devices. I want to see if it is possible to assist nature in building an ecosystem in a box. I provide light, water movement, temperature control, food input and export. Nature does the rest. So, rather than buying a gizmo to solve a problem, I ask myself, how does Nature do it? How can I facilitate that natural process? How does one process influence another? How does Nature coordinate all these processes in functioning ecosystems?

So much to learn! I believe this naturalist approach to aquarium keeping has a lot to teach me.

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you!

Minimalist is a good word to sum up my maintenance schedule. That makes me a “Laissez Fare” reefkeeper. Nature had billions of years to work out the details. I emulate success when I see it. I allow Dynamic Equilibrium to operate my ecosystem. Using aroggonite sandbed for passive calcium and trace mineral addittion when pH drops during lights out and in deep sandbeds. On the top end, carbon dioxide gas dissolves in water to form carbonate & bicarbonate alkalinity which combines with photosynthesis to form glucose which is nature “carbon pump”.

Michael, in an earlier post you said macro was 560/30/1. How did you come up with that carbon number? When I was considering selling Red Ogo as a gourmet food, I sent a sample to be analyzed by an agricultural lab. Analysis validated 30:1 of nitrogen to phosphorus. However, my chemistry is not sophisticated enough to deduce carbon from individual elements.

Carbon is a perfect example of Dynamic Equilibrium. As alkalinity is consummed during photosynthesis, carbon dioxide solubility feeds carbonate & bicarbonate alkalinity. Carbon dioxide solubility is a two way street, meaning that when lights are out, macro produces carbon dioxide and consumes oxygen. Nighttime oxygen concentration in water has probably killed more healthy fish than all other things combined.


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Old 06/28/2018, 08:55 AM   #64
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Patrick, rather than track C-N-P ratios down in my notes, I just googled it. Here's one:

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/0b2...32639335d7.pdf

"Unicellular algae such as phytoplankton and benthic microalgae have an elemental ratio of carbon to nitrogen to phosphorus (C/N/P) of approximately 106:16:1, known as the Redfield ratio. Benthic plants, including benthic macroalgae and seagrass, have a significantly different and more variable C/N/P ratio, with a median of 550:30:1, herein called the Atkinson ratio."


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Old 06/28/2018, 09:19 AM   #65
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Variable ratios is accurate. I was so surprised to see significant sulfur in Red Ogo, which in my opinion detracts from eating fresh. My ground water comes from a limestone formation, which was a shallow salt water inland sea. It is full of calcium, magnesium, & sulfur but void of N, P, Fe.

I recently purchased Reef Grade silicate for my sponges. When the drop of silicate concentrate hit the water, it immediately crystallized. I think that Edwards Plateau Aquifer is full of silicates. I will send water off to be tested.


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Old 06/28/2018, 09:27 AM   #66
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The smaller tank was supposed to be a "holding tank" for newly collected fish that turned into a display tank. I set up the tank, cycled it, then dumped the fish in. Then, I started adding plants and other critters as I collected them. It was kind of like I was trying to get to the correct end but after I had already set up a fish only tank. Once I break this tank down and move everything to the final display, then I will set this tank up again for a species tank (maybe seahorses, pipefish, or sticklebacks), or maybe just use it as a grow out tank for fish fry...

For the big tank, I'll start with the plants, mud, live sand (to seed store bought sand that I have sitting in my basement). Once I'm happy with that, then I'll add more critters and fish. During my first attempt, my hope was that the high fish bioload would supply enough nutrients for the macros to thrive. Instead, cyano and hair algae ruled the roost, because they were introduced, perhaps? So, in my big tank, I will have to dose the nutrients. Also, I will introduce the macros to the tank immediately as the tank cycles. Maybe that will outcompete the nasties. Another difference, as I said before, is much better lighting. After the tank sits fallow and the food chain is established, then I'll add the fish last. Sounds almost like your plan! I wonder where I got those ideas

I've always wanted my blenny oyster reef tank. But, when I started this venture years ago, it evolved over time to a desire to set up an entire ecosystem.
Kevin,
I have so much enjoyed following your Chesapeake Bay biotheme. With respect to a planted lagoon, why not plumb the two systems together. Use a UV sterilizer from your fish tank into your planted tank, then gravity feed back to fish tank. Nutrients from fish tank grow macro and pods in macro lagoon but UV sterilizer prevents introduction of parasite. Live food from planted refugium feeds fish tank.


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Old 06/29/2018, 04:57 AM   #67
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Nutrients from fish tank grow macro and pods in macro lagoon but UV sterilizer prevents introduction of parasite. Live food from planted refugium feeds fish tank.
Let's not say "prevent" but it will help to minimize the risk if operated properly. Still, there are a lot of parasites that would be able to navigate through the "portal" to each tank. But if you have clean fish anyway, there should be no concern.


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Old 06/29/2018, 03:42 PM   #68
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Let's not say "prevent" but it will help to minimize the risk if operated properly. Still, there are a lot of parasites that would be able to navigate through the "portal" to each tank. But if you have clean fish anyway, there should be no concern.

Let’s consider that the only portal is thru UV sterilizer. Then using a 40W LifeGuard UV sterilizer with a flow rate of 250 GPH, what marine parasite can survive that dwell time at that intensity.


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Old 06/29/2018, 03:46 PM   #69
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Since we are addressing sterilization, how can desirable macro be considered clean of nuisance algae when transferring into tank.


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Old 06/29/2018, 06:46 PM   #70
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I recently purchased Reef Grade silicate for my sponges. When the drop of silicate concentrate hit the water, it immediately crystallized. I think that Edwards Plateau Aquifer is full of silicates. I will send water off to be tested.
Let us know how that turns out.
I had asked "Mr Tyree" if I needed to supplement my sponges.

"Once the cryptic zone is established, some additions may be necessary. We are still experimenting with the best ways to supplement sponges."

So down the road I will need to add some stuff and any info you get about the water test would be cataloged for the future. I'm on rain water, but if we dont get any rain soon its gonna mean I have to buy well water.

Cheers


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Old 06/30/2018, 09:51 AM   #71
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Today I hope to finally get some things done. I had a setback or two, but I have a plan.

My jigsaw generates too much vibration, when trying to cut the overflow down. It came loose from the back wall, so I had to re-glue it. Today I'm going to try using a dremel with a cutting wheel. It will likely be slow, tedious work.

One step at a time!


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Old 06/30/2018, 03:57 PM   #72
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Let’s consider that the only portal is thru UV sterilizer. Then using a 40W LifeGuard UV sterilizer with a flow rate of 250 GPH, what marine parasite can survive that dwell time at that intensity.
It's like Ian Malcom said, "uh, life...finds a way." 😂


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Old 06/30/2018, 06:21 PM   #73
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It's like Ian Malcom said, "uh, life...finds a way." 😂

“Nature finds a way” is exactly my sentiments. It is for that reason I don’t bother with QT. I focus on reducing stress with stable systems and enhancing fish immune systems with live food.


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Old 07/01/2018, 07:11 AM   #74
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Wow, a lot has happened in this thread, really interesting stuff guys. Michael, good luck with the overflow. What was the purpose for cutting it down? Are you reducing the size, lowering the water level of the tank, or trying to make it more effective?

Quote:
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Kevin,
I have so much enjoyed following your Chesapeake Bay biotheme. With respect to a planted lagoon, why not plumb the two systems together. Use a UV sterilizer from your fish tank into your planted tank, then gravity feed back to fish tank. Nutrients from fish tank grow macro and pods in macro lagoon but UV sterilizer prevents introduction of parasite. Live food from planted refugium feeds fish tank.
Thank you Patrick. Right now, the tanks are kept in separate rooms, far apart,and space is an issue. The 20g high is a holding tank (QT) for inverts and macros now, and is fishless. My plan to is to rid any invert of macro that I collect and render it free from fish parasites by keeping it fish free for 6 weeks and then add them into the tank, hence the need for better lighting.

But, once I set up my big tank, that will free up the 20g long fish tank for me to convert it to a stickleback tank, and that sounds like it would be a great set up since young sticklebacks are pod hunting machine. Thanks for the idea!


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Old 07/01/2018, 09:14 PM   #75
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Hey Michael, the more that I think about it, your suggestion about me using a CO2 reactor makes much more sense. Even if well water has elevated CO2 levels, I suspect that it will off gas fairly quickly and stabilize, just that it would happen in my tank after each water change rather than a post RO off gassing tank. In addition, I'd need a lot of water changes to achieve the Atikinson ratio that you mention above. I'd be better off investing in the equipment. Thanks again for the suggestion way back in your other thread.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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