Screw You, Radio Silence!

Blech.  What with this being the most expensive week of my adult life (screw you, car!  screw you, house!), the tanks spent about ten days as a very distant priority.   Lights go on, food goes in, done and done.  Friday night was spent doing a massive equipment breakdown and cleanup in the 65g, and I can look to do the same in the 30g tonight.  We’re talking full-on strip job (hush) with each pump and powerhead left to run during an hour-long soak in white vinegar and scalding water, then breaking down the equipment and going at their innards with a toothbrush before rinsing the dickens out of them for another hour.

The full cleanup was not due to the ten days of neglect but the cyanobacteria that’s been growing like crazy since I added the Mandarin.  Cyanobacteria – better known by its common name of red slime algae – is a thick coating of crud that grows when the nutrient balance is out of control.  As the tank is set up with more than 200 pounds of live rock, a skimmer rated for 125 gallons, a refugium, seven points of current (two oscillating), and a decent canister filter, red slime shouldn’t even be a theoretical problem.   But I added Tank McNamara and *poof*! We’ve caught the evening show of Ghostbusters 2 in the Bizarro universe.

Out with the old, in with the new.  Plus this one looks like our coming Robot Overlords, so maybe it will put in a good word for me.

Out with the old, in with the new. Plus this one looks like our coming Robot Overlords, so maybe it will put in a good word for me.

I did the usual red slime removal strategies, such as moving the current to cover any stagnant areas and reducing the SPS coral feedings.  When that didn’t work, I thought not replacing the two fish lost a few weeks ago would drop the bioload so the slime would starve.  Nope… for the last two weeks it was growing thicker than ever.

During last night’s maintenance, I installed a JBJ Reaction canister filter.  I had been considering an ultraviolet lamp to treat the water and kill the algae in the water current, but most of the good UV sterilizers are in-line, which means three hours of swearing and then calling Matt to come over and run it through the plumbing.  There’s also the problem that UV sterilization kills indiscriminately, so the beneficial algae and bacteria and whatnot will also be eradicated (by the by, this is also why you try to avoid adding chemical algae killers to a tank, even though there are several brands that target red slime and leave fish and coral untouched).   The JBJ split the difference with an in-canister UV bulb rated at 5 watts, which is sufficient to kill off about half of the junk that passes through the filter and has the option to be turned off while leaving the filter active after the red slime recedes.  Also, the filter is rates for 150g, so the chemical filtration on the 65g has just been bumped up to yikes.

I also have two of these.  I took advantage of a sale over at Salty Supply to get my grubby paws on the filter and it was dropped somewhere along the road.  The UV bulb is housed in a protective glass case, and while the bulb was fine the case was shattered.  Since the damage was caused by the delivery service, the company filed an insurance claim and doesn’t need the original product returned.  The delivery service doesn’t want it, either.  So I’ll strip out everything I can use for the replacement filter and offer the cannibalized shell to Matt, who will probably attach an acrylic windmill and turn it into some sort of super-filter which solves world hunger.  Much like the mechanic who can take the rusted-out shell of an old VW Bug and turn it into a Formula One roadster, fish guys who know how to custom-mod their gear are an untapped natural resource.

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~ by KBSpangler on October 10, 2009.

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