The Teabox

Let me tell you about the Teabox.  I hate this tank.  I hate it with all of my heart.

The Nanocube at three weeks.

The Nanocube at three weeks.

When I first made the transition from freshwater to saltwater, I bought a Nanocube.  It’s how most people are starting out these days and if you do the research during setup and stocking, the tank can thrive.  Oh, how mine thrived.  The sea mat corals covered everything and the fish were so happy they occasionally invited friends over to brag.

But the older model of Nanocubes had issues with cracking.  As I had no desire to wake up one morning and wade across the kitchen, I traded the Nanocube out for a Biocube 14.   Oceanic’s Biocube was slightly larger than the Nanocube and was getting rave reviews from nanoreef hobbyists, so everyone benefits – the fish have more area to swim, the coral gets more light, and I don’t have to worry about ending up as a pithy headline of the day on Fark after I slipped on a clownfish, split my head open, and had my brains slurped up by my dogs.

For the first six months, the Biocube seemed an ideal tank.  I traded in my  orange perc for a pair of tiny onxy percs, and the coral continued to grow.

Then… the algae.

All tanks go through a few phases where different types of algae dominate, and the hair algae phase had already come and gone.  But it came back and it was furious.  Aggressive.  Coating everything in its path, like some sort of horrible underwater kudzu.

As algae in an aquarium is a response to something out of balance, the first thing to do was to get the balance back under control.  Typically this is restricting the nutrients that are available to the existing algae so it can’t grow and the tank’s clean-up crew removes it during their usual feeding routine.  I reduced feedings and added some Purigen.

The algae kept getting worse.

I started to remove it daily, the big clumps by hand and the little ones with tweezers. I also started doing massive water changes to export the unwanted nutrients, and kept the lights off for 14 hours a day.  I’d been using the Berlin live rock method for filtration but stuck a filter system and skimmer on the tank for good measure.

The algae kept getting worse.

By this point, the lights are off for days at a time.  I’ve moved the fish and all of the coral I could to the new 30g reef and have cut out all feedings.  The manual removal, chemical filtration, and water changes continue.

The algae kept getting worse.

Mister Horrible checks out his reflection.

Mister Horrible checks out his reflection and promptly throws up.

I removed the cleanup crew and added a sea hare, Mister Horrible, who mowed through the hair algae like a combine through wheat. When the algae kept getting worse, I returned him to the store and started using chemicals to kill the algae (Of note is Chem-Marin Stop Hair Algae, a fairly new product that literally melted hair algae and could be siphoned out of the tank without muss or fuss.  Very effective and low-impact as long as you keep it off of the coral.).

And the algae kept getting worse.

After countless wasted hours and a lot of wasted money, I gave up and broke down the tank.  Removed the rocks and sand, chiseled off the coralline and the hair algae, and bleached the ever-loving crap out of it for a week.  Then for good measure, I blasted out the three chambers on the back with a garden hose…

… and a tea bag floated out.

A Celestial Seasons tea bag, from the looks of it, and well on its way to decomposition.

Neither Brown nor myself would put it in there, obviously.  We have no idea where it came from or why it ended up in the tank.  The best explanation I can come up with is that we had a party and some idiot thought it would be fun to drop a tea bag in there.  And yeah, it was over a year ago and I”m still rather pissy about it, although it’s comforting to know that everything I did wasn’t in vain, just not enough to keep up with the nitrates thrown off by a wad of rotting leaves.

The Teabox has undergone a rebirth of sorts since then, but this wasn’t successful either.  More on this later.

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~ by KBSpangler on February 28, 2009.

4 Responses to “The Teabox”

  1. A thought on the source of the teabag: I had a cat that loved to leave his toys in his waterbowl… perhaps your errant guest merely left the teabag somewhere odd, and the cat contributed to the tank water?

    Only a thought.

    • Sadly, we don’t have a cat and the tank is completely sealed with a flip-top lid. This was an act that was either purely malicious or careless.

      • So much for the devil’s advocate. To the devil with them!

        Seriously, that’s so sad to hear. *shakes head* What goes on in people’s heads? I don’t get it…

  2. A tea bag is a strange addition to a tank, but it can be worse. Some lovely individuals have been known to throw a penny into an aquarium and make a wish. Unfortunately, copper is extremely toxic to marine invertebrates.

    On the other hand, I wish I could find such a concrete cause for the hair algae in my tanks.

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