It has been quite some time since I have posted anything about Box of Slugs 2, the tank at home that is connected to a coral reef aquarium. There has been a lot of excitement, such as the appearance of several species of Sacoglossans that had ridden in with live plants. However, without large grazers such as urchins or snails, it has also been difficult to control the growth of algae, such that much of the tank was quite furry and subject to blooms of cyanobacteria (blue green algae, a.k.a. red slime).
The mass of hair algae may have had some benefits as food for growing Elysia, but it also created dead spots with poor circulation, and overwhelmed some of the desirable species of macroalgae.
After a few tweaks, and a little patience, the mass of filamentous algae has died back, and the macroalgae and seagrasses are thriving. I got rid of the large rock that impeded flow, started dosing vinegar as a carbon source for the plants, and assembled a filter to remove debris and increase circulation.
The tank is looking pretty good at this point. There is a variety of macroalgae (Penicillus, Udotea, Avrainvillea, Halimeda), along with some Bryopsis and turtle grass. A few gorgonians add a little variety. All the plant species seem to be growing well, and there is little sign of the plague algae coming back.
Probably the most important change was the addition of this filter to increase circulation and remove some of the debris. It consists of a sponge sleeve over a perforated 1″ PVC pipe, connected to an Eheim 1048 pump.
The pump is stuck to the wall of the tank with a magnet. The arrangement allows the pump to be partway out of the water to minimize heat transfer. The output goes through a Hydor Flo rotating deflector, which provides circulation throughout the tank.
The resident slugs are three E. crispata. I have decided to separate the larger Elysia species, with clarki in the hatchery at USG and crispata in BoS2. Each system also has a few smaller hitchhiking species. BoS2 has a few of the frilly presumed Cyerce, while BoS1 has some presumed E. papillosa.
The E. crispata seem quite happy, but are largely ignoring all of the macroalgae species in favor of a few small patches of Bryopsis.
They were less shy today.
Their eyes are quite entrancing. It must be nice look straight ahead when hunting amphipods.
Between teaching on the other campus and taking a little vacation, I have been letting the colonies coast for a few months. The second generation of E. clarki have not been growing particularly quickly, so I have not seen eggs in quite some time.
It is time to get more serious for the fall. I got some new Bryopsis from Justin to refresh the stuff that has been growing in the tank for months. The good news for him, but not so much for me, is that he is finally defeating Bryopsis in his >500 gallon system, and it has dwindled to very little. Unfortunately, that means I will not have a backup supply if the current crop starts to die off.
More importantly, the newest infusion of broodstock arrived from KP Aquatics yesterday. I ordered 3 new E. clarki for the office and 3 E. crispata for home, plus about 20 Penicillus to try to stay ahead of their appetites.
The clarki have settled in, and are looking happy.
As always, the good folks at KP threw in a few extras, including this presumed E. papillosa. By the time I arrived this morning, she had already laid eggs.
In the ongoing effort to reduce the amphipod population, I am trying a pair of pikeblennies in the growout tank. The idea was that they would make a dent in the amphipods, then I would move them to Box of Slugs 2, at home, to be able to enjoy them more. Given their shyness and speed, I am now a bit dubious that I will ever be able to catch them. One is considerably larger and more colorful, and they have not tried to kill one another yet, so I am thinking they may be a male-female pair. They are so interesting to watch, like tiny snakes hunting in the undergrowth, that I am very much enamored with them. With a little time, I hope they settle down and let themselves be photographed in more flattering poses.
When possible, I will post photos of the pretty new E. crispata.