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Chris's Pico Pest Reef!


Chris
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Hey guys!

So, I recently had a disaster in my hobby. My apartment had to be treated for pests, and I was required to remove all of my tanks from the apartment during treatment. During this time, I ended up losing about half of my livestock - including my beloved Peacock Mantis Shrimp.

I do really miss having a mantis shrimp - they such cool little creatures. Very interactive, inquisitive, and always getting into some sort of trouble in the tank. Reminds me of my puffers, in some ways! But I don't think I want another peacock right now - I want to try a different species. One I've had my eye on for quite a while.


The Wennerae Mantis, Neogonodactylus wennerae!

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These guys max out at around 3", and are perfectly suited to small tanks. They're smashers (meaning they have modified claws to break open shellfish), just like my peacock was, but with much less power. These guys are able to hunt down crabs, shrimp, and snails, but are going to struggle to crack open anything with a thick shell.


I went to my LFS today, and picked up a 5.5 gallon Seapora glass tank for $16.99. It's a nice tank for the price - Seapora makes nice stuff, IMO. I rinsed it out, just to get any dust out of it, and this was it.

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Next, I decided to paint the back black, since the tank wasn't going right up against a wall. I taped off the rim of the tank with duct tape, cause that's all I had lol.

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I just use some Krylon Black Acrylic paint and a roller for this. I prefer spray painting but I don't have an area to do that here, so rolling paint on is the best I can do. It looks fine from the front side of the tank, but usually looks kind of "meh" from the back.

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First coat:

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I did three coats total, which got me a decently opaque surface. This is what the tank looked like, pre-fill:

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I added some sand from the Peacock Mantis tank, which has long been dried, but not cleaned. I'm hoping all that dead gunk in the sand will help get us a strong cycle in this tank. Whenever I filled it the first time, I ended up getting milk, basically. Gotta love aragonite.


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I had just used plain freshwater to fill that time, though, so I drained the tank and added in the rock. I'm using a piece of marco dry rock that I had from a previous tank, a piece of well-seasoned rock that's got some life already on it (although, not much algae due to being in a bucket), and a piece of rock I got from the LFS. I got this particular rock for a reason - but that's gotta be a surprise.

Whenever I refilled the tank (with saltwater this time) I was careful to do it slowly to minimize cloudiness. The powerhead I bought (Aquatop MCP-1) was way too strong for this tank, and was blowing water around. So, I pulled my Koralia Nano 240 out of my 10 gallon QT, and switched them around. Each tank is better off, I think. Then, I tossed in a preset heater and a thermometer, and we're off to the races!

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I'll update this post tomorrow, and tell the story of why I picked this rock, and what the extended plans are for this tank.

Edited by Chris
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RIP Peacock. 
I've considered getting a mantis, but idk much of anything about salt water stuff. Someone put it in my head that you need an acrylic tank for even one of the little guys too, and pretty much ended it. Everything I tried to read about them was also very ambiguous about which species could or couldn't crack or break glass.
Those wennerae dudes are fine for glass then? I assume so, but maybe you're just a man who lives on the edge. I might have to put mantis back on the menu if they can live in a tank like that relatively safely 

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On 10/8/2021 at 11:14 PM, Indlers said:

RIP Peacock. 
I've considered getting a mantis, but idk much of anything about salt water stuff. Someone put it in my head that you need an acrylic tank for even one of the little guys too, and pretty much ended it. Everything I tried to read about them was also very ambiguous about which species could or couldn't crack or break glass.
Those wennerae dudes are fine for glass then? I assume so, but maybe you're just a man who lives on the edge. I might have to put mantis back on the menu if they can live in a tank like that relatively safely 

Just like a lot of other oddballs, mantis shrimp get a lot of very random misinformation thrown at them.

The tank you see in the video above was glass, and so is this 5.5 gallon. I haven't been able to find a single documented occasion where a mantis broke a tank. There's a video of them breaking a small glass vial, but those are incredibly fragile. I wouldn't be constantly teasing it, trying to make it break the glass, but it was never really a concern for me. The peacock (the one I had) is generally the one most people consider more likely to break tanks, but again, it was never a problem. Mine rarely even used her clubs unless I fed her a live crab - whenever she got clams on the half shell, she just ate the meat off of it. No smashing.

If you were super nervous about it, the smaller species (Wennerae and Oerstedii come to mind) have virtually no chance of breaking glass. You could even put down a piece of acrylic over the bottom glass, just in case it's digging and happens to hit the glass and try to break it (like it's a rock, like in nature). Again, I never thought it was in the realm of possibility, and I'm convinced it's another myth, but I get that peace of mind is everything!

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On 10/8/2021 at 11:32 PM, Chris said:

Just like a lot of other oddballs, mantis shrimp get a lot of very random misinformation thrown at them.

The tank you see in the video above was glass, and so is this 5.5 gallon. I haven't been able to find a single documented occasion where a mantis broke a tank. There's a video of them breaking a small glass vial, but those are incredibly fragile. I wouldn't be constantly teasing it, trying to make it break the glass, but it was never really a concern for me. The peacock (the one I had) is generally the one most people consider more likely to break tanks, but again, it was never a problem. Mine rarely even used her clubs unless I fed her a live crab - whenever she got clams on the half shell, she just ate the meat off of it. No smashing.

If you were super nervous about it, the smaller species (Wennerae and Oerstedii come to mind) have virtually no chance of breaking glass. You could even put down a piece of acrylic over the bottom glass, just in case it's digging and happens to hit the glass and try to break it (like it's a rock, like in nature). Again, I never thought it was in the realm of possibility, and I'm convinced it's another myth, but I get that peace of mind is everything!

Nice! Alright, yeah. That's back on the bucket list then. 

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On 10/9/2021 at 1:44 AM, Indlers said:

Nice! Alright, yeah. That's back on the bucket list then. 

They're awesome animals! Just, as always, do the research. There's lots of specialized care that goes into it! Not difficult, by any means, it's just not a completely normal setup.

On 10/9/2021 at 2:51 AM, Fonske said:

So sorry about your peacock.. my LFS had one in a ~5g tank and it was so cute and so interesting to watch. Looking forward to see your new mantis!

Thank you!

On 10/9/2021 at 6:33 PM, eatyourpeas said:

I have also been under the impression that a glass aquarium is a risky proposition with Mantis shrimp. I would love to have one, some day. I fell in love with them after meeting someone who had one in a tank, and then I watched this:

There's been tons of documentaries and studies done on them - very cool animals. I really am convinced that glass aquariums are just as safe with these guys as they are any other animal - IMO, you've probably got a higher chance of cracking the tank while hardscaping than you do just keeping these guys!

Alrighty, so last night (after my last post) I realized that I had put the "special" piece of live rock in upside-down - oops! I flipped it over and re-arranged the scape just a tiny bit. Here's a FTS:

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If you didn't notice, the reason I chose that particular rock is the fact that there's three chonky aiptasia living on it, and some red slime, to boot. The girl in the store gave me the weirdest look when I asked for the rock and declined her offer to treat it with Aiptasia-X - pretty sure she thinks I'm crazy, now! For the uninitiated, Aiptasia are pest anemones that reproduce like crazy and sting corals and other anemones. They can be a nightmare to get rid of!

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Believe it or not, despite me owning several marine aquariums, I've never actually had these guys, and I've always been intrigued. I know that they're basically the devil, but that's kind of the point of this tank, right? Now, if I could only find someone who had Majanos (which are another pest anemone, but these are usually more colorful!)...

The other piece of live rock (on the right) I chose because it's covered in these micro feather dusters. Not a pest by any means, and I love having them in my tanks. However, they do reproduce like crazy, and I figured they fit the theme fairly well. Plus, it's always fun to see where they pop up next! You can see some old, dead tubes on the piece of dry marco rock in the middle from it's last tank deployment.

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I'm hoping to find some Majanos, but haven't had luck so far. I think they're gorgeous, personally. I'm also thinking some Yellow Polyps, Brown Palys, Caulerpa Prolifera, Caulerpa Racemosa, and maybe some other fast-growing macros might find a good home here. I'm always open to suggestions, too!

Edited by Chris
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On 10/9/2021 at 7:44 PM, Chris said:

They're awesome animals! Just, as always, do the research. There's lots of specialized care that goes into it! Not difficult, by any means, it's just not a completely normal setup.

Oh of course. I always do, even for the simplest things. I'd have to do a lot of research in this case especially since marine is a whole new medium for me. The mantis is the only thing that's ever tempted me to dabble in the salt world though. And yeah, they do sound extremely awesome. I really like the idea of the spearer ones, I think that's what they're called? The stabby boys. Smashers sound pretty awesome too though.

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On 10/9/2021 at 10:16 PM, Indlers said:

Oh of course. I always do, even for the simplest things. I'd have to do a lot of research in this case especially since marine is a whole new medium for me. The mantis is the only thing that's ever tempted me to dabble in the salt world though. And yeah, they do sound extremely awesome. I really like the idea of the spearer ones, I think that's what they're called? The stabby boys. Smashers sound pretty awesome too though.

Yep, spearers! I think Squilla mantises are the most common (large) spearers. I'd like to keep some at some point, but I'd want to have a breeding colony of saltwater mollies for feeders before I did. To my knowledge, they can be a little harder to keep fed (depending on the species), and some only want live fish. You certainly wouldn't be able to keep pet fish with it like you can some smashers!

 

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On 10/9/2021 at 10:29 PM, Chris said:

I'd want to have a breeding colony of saltwater mollies for feeders before I did

Yup, that's what I was thinking also. I don't know what usually get used as a marine feeder, but I cant think of anything better than a livebearer that's just gonna keep cranking out more

Tank's lookin nice btw

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On 10/9/2021 at 11:04 PM, Indlers said:

Yup, that's what I was thinking also. I don't know what usually get used as a marine feeder, but I cant think of anything better than a livebearer that's just gonna keep cranking out more

Tank's lookin nice btw

Thanks!
 

Saltwater feeder fish are kinda hard to come by, IME. I don't know that there is a go-to SW feeder around here, other than ghost shrimp. You don't want to feed saltwater predators too much freshwater protein, because (supposedly) it's linked to fatty liver disease. I don't know how true that is, but it's far enough over my head that I try and stick to that advice.

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Alrighty, just placed an order from Reef Cleaners for:

Brown Button Polyps
25 Assorted Hermits

10 Dwarf Ceriths
5 Nerites
10 Zig Zag Periwinkles
Pencil Cap Macro
Caulerpa Mexicana
Cactus Caulerpa

Not all of this is going into this tank, but a few hermits, snails, button polyps, and the two Caulerpa species definitely will be.

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On 10/9/2021 at 8:09 PM, Chris said:

Saltwater feeder fish are kinda hard to come by, IME. I don't know that there is a go-to SW feeder around here, other than ghost shrimp. You don't want to feed saltwater predators too much freshwater protein, because (supposedly) it's linked to fatty liver disease. I don't know how true that is, but it's far enough over my head that I try and stick to that advice.

With the big disclaimer that I am new to SW, and also have a temperate tank which is unusual, my fish only go for good old protein. I have never seen them interested in "vegetarian food" (they take after me), and as far s I can tell, they are thriving.

Some reefers feed glass shrimp, and I would also consider amphipods. Mine can grow to about one half inch and they are also fed to the FW pea puffers.

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On 10/10/2021 at 9:17 PM, eatyourpeas said:

With the big disclaimer that I am new to SW, and also have a temperate tank which is unusual, my fish only go for good old protein. I have never seen them interested in "vegetarian food" (they take after me), and as far s I can tell, they are thriving.

Some reefers feed glass shrimp, and I would also consider amphipods. Mine can grow to about one half inch and they are also fed to the FW pea puffers.

We were talking more about the difference in the make up of freshwater and saltwater critters - I'm not sure where "vegetarian food" comes into it 😅 I'm confused!

Glass and ghost shrimp are two common names that are given to a bunch of species of freshwater, brackish, and saltwater shrimp who all happen to be clear. Grass shrimp is another synonym. Pods are good, too, if you have a place to culture them!

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On 10/10/2021 at 6:25 PM, Chris said:

We were talking more about the difference in the make up of freshwater and saltwater critters - I'm not sure where "vegetarian food" comes into it 😅 I'm confused!

I think I managed to confuse both of us. It is either a salty dish, or a sweet treat! 🤪

On 10/9/2021 at 4:44 PM, Chris said:

If you didn't notice, the reason I chose that particular rock is the fact that there's three chonky aiptasia living on it, and some red slime, to boot.

The tank of misfit critters, my kind of tank! Looking great so far!  😍

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On 10/10/2021 at 9:30 PM, eatyourpeas said:

I think I managed to confuse both of us. It is either a salty dish, or a sweet treat! 🤪

The tank of misfit critters, my kind of tank! Looking great so far!  😍

Maybe I should re-name the thread "Tank of Terrors!" for Halloween, lol!

Noticed a few things in the tank today.

For one, I'm starting to get the lightest patches of diatoms around the tank. To be expected, for sure. Another pest, I guess? 🤔

For two, the red slime has spread overnight. I'm now seeing long strands of it coating things in the tank. You can see it in between these feather dusters:

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For three, I'm seeing more and more pods in here. At any one time, I can look into the tank and find one within seconds. A great sign! They look to be of the non-coral eating variety, so that's good. I'm also seeing some other hitchhikers - namely, little tiny white worms that have appeared all over the tank. They're not flatworms, but are more like white spaghetti worms. Strange! I haven't been able to get a pic yet - they're teeny.

And, finally, the Aiptasia are getting bigger and are gaining a tiny bit of yellow around their mouths. This guy in the back in particular has gotten huge:Aiptasia.JPG.e47a4d050b362e8eafc8a08385b6adcc.JPG

That was with the pump off - when it's on, his arms stretch a good 4" across that rock. I'm glad I got a species with at least a little color and long, flowy tentacles! Some of them are short, stubby, and brown/translucent. Not as fun to look at.

Oh, and I fed one a piece of mysis shrimp. I recorded it, but I think I'm going to gather footage throughout the week and post it all together on the weekends, to avoid unnecessary links. Here he is with his tentacles in his mouth, though!

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On 10/11/2021 at 4:42 PM, Chris said:

I'm glad I got a species with at least a little color and long, flowy tentacles!

I do love long flowy tentacles! Everyone is looking good!

If you do a Halloween themed tank, I can send Gomez, Morticia and Morgane to join the party! 🦀🦀🦀

 

On 10/11/2021 at 4:42 PM, Chris said:

For one, I'm starting to get the lightest patches of diatoms around the tank.

Food, more food for the critters! Mine already cleaned one side of the tank and are efficiently working on the other side!

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On 10/11/2021 at 7:48 PM, eatyourpeas said:

I do love long flowy tentacles! Everyone is looking good!

If you do a Halloween themed tank, I can send Gomez, Morticia and Morgane to join the party! 🦀🦀🦀

 

Food, more food for the critters! Mine already cleaned one side of the tank and are efficiently working on the other side!

I really need to catch up on your tank journal! Temperate marine tanks are so cool. I'd love to do a UK Biotope - lots of Beadlet anemones and native macros.

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The Aiptasia are looking a bit unhappy tonight - the guy in the back is open, but not as open as he has been. Water tests fine, and I mean, they're aiptasia, so what would they care anyway?

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I did find this tiny guy on the sandbed, and he looks like a tiny aiptasia:

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I know aiptasia can reproduce as hermaphrodites, but can they also reproduce sexually with eachother? If so, that might make sense as to why they're all closed up.

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