November 8 2012
It is time for an update again. Very little has happened in the past 3 months, which is why I skipped a few updates. But I figured I should post a little update now.
I took down the refugium (phyto-) for about a month and put it up on its new taller stand. The move went very smoothly. Other than that the project has been on halt. The refugium also crashed during my week away in the summer vacation. So the animals had to go without food for one and a half months in total. They seem to have done OK though.
Working with the aluminium for the double glass frame.
The scene when I came home from summer vacation: Algae blooming on the detritus on the bottom, but not in the water column.
Newcomers: I added an oyster and a few other clams in early summer. Two of the other clams died immediately, as usual. Reason unknown. The oyster does fine.
One of the little charming hitchhiking nudibranchs wasn't so little and charming any more.
The common sea stars (Asteria rubens) did incredibly well. Warm summer water combined with unlimited food access made their growth almost explosive. After a few months I returned them to the ocean. They had done their job well. The dog whelks (Nucella lapillus) I am not quite so sure about. They certainly haven't shown any greedy feeding behaviour. Then again, they are smaller and more slow growing animals. I still keep them.
I am currently running out of Potassium nitrate, and earlier this year I was not certain if my german supplier would be able to ship Seachem Flourish to me anymore. I guess both these things should be easy to find other sources for. Especially the potassium nitrate. Still I decided to take the bold step and try a different nutrient formula. So I ordered F/2 ingredients from Florida Aqua Farms. I don't remember the exact cost, but it was fairly cheap and fast. When I think about it, it would be almost crazy to do this experiment without testing if F/2 is better than my alternative formula. I have now just restarted the refugium with this formula.
Florida Aqua Farms F/2 Formula. They decided to send liquids in taped and zip locked plastic bags. Here is a little secret about liquids: If something isn't liquid proof, then it doesn't help to use 5 of that thing.
One of the things I would really like to do is to find a better solution for the ozone. The water turns brown very quickly in this system, so ozone is absolutely needed. It is not a problem to add ozone to the water. The problem is that it is recommended to filter the water with activated carbon before it returns to the aquarium. I don't have a good solution for this. I need a filter container that can both hold enough carbon, and let a high flow of water through at very low pressure. I don't know of any such solutions. So I may have to build my own. I am currently investigating possibilities. It seems impossible to get acrylic cement in Norway. Even a company that specializes in acrylic only sells 1.2 kilos boxes of Acrifix that cost 1500 NOK (200 EUR). So it seems like ordering from Italy is my only option if I want that. I have found a glue that works reasonably well in Norway. But I am not satisfied with the capillary action properties of it. Plus it definitely doesn't give the same bond strength. So I want a real acrylic cement. Also, I want to get the zooplankton project set up. But before that I must complete and test the nutrient switch. I can't introduce two major changes at once of course.
If you want a challenge, try to count the number of species in this picture! Notice the brown layer on top of the rocks to the left. It is not just mud, but hundreds of 5mm tall tubes with small tentacle crowns on top. Probably some type of worms. I must take a look at them in the microscope.
It is a little sad that most sea squirt die quickly. If you look at the updates from spring this year you can see how many I have lost. But at least there are some that are hanging in there and growing. After some more reading I am suspecting that these animals have very short life cycles. So that could be an issue.
A bit hard to see, but here is one of the tube anemones (Cerianthus lloydii) that I collected earlier this year.
This horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus) is one of two that has been with me from start last year. I think it has grown steadily all the time. I need to measure them by the way, as I wrote the intial size down when collecting them. These clams can get old and large. I have 5 or 6 of them and like mussels, scallops and stone boring clams the survival rate is 100% (unless preyed on).