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7.5 Gallon Bookshelf Nano

August 22, 2023

I bought some corals online. I got stuck in a cycle of shopping for expensive chalices, but balked at spending that much money on something I haven't seen before. I felt like I had to break the fever. I ended up getting some zoas, a tyree red watermelon chalice, a rock flower anemone, and a pink cadillac acro. I tried to get things that were versions of things I’d seen before but my local shop didn’t seem to have.

Cultivated Reef seemed to have a decent reputation and the aquaculture thing seemed nice. They had a lot of things that seemed to be around when I had my first tank 15 years ago, which made me think they had things that were hardy.

I’ve kind of been on the hunt for a good yellow zoa. I was very impressed with the one I got from @Alexx. This yellow brick road zoa is also very nice. The skirt is a bright lime green with a yellow center. A very nice one.

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I had never heard of rock flower anemones until recently. The pictures were pretty impressive. I didn’t recall seeing them in local shops, but I may not have known what to look for. I like this one. It wandered off the ledge I initially put it on. I’m pretty sure it didn’t like the flow. It moved again after I sloshed it around pretty good during a water change. It seems to have found a place it likes, but it’s wedged under a rock. One the one hand, I like that it’s in a spot that I would otherwise not be able to place it and it’s got a little spunky character in that it just goes where it pleases. But, on the other hand, it’s in a place where I can’t feed it and it doesn’t get direct light. Hopefully, it won’t get too big or wander too much. I’m willing to be convinced that it’s irresponsible to have one in a tank like this, but the little research I did made it seem OK.

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The “CR Hot Tuna” zoas are nice but may look better as a big mat. The centers aren’t inky black in the white light and the pink rim is nice but it isn’t as bright as most of the other things in the tank. I’ll let it grow out a little and reassess. I may eventually end up passing on that one.

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I feel a little bad getting an acro that has a high chance of dying, but it was only $10 and I got the impression I was practically doing someone a favor by taking their yard clippings. The acro has suddenly made me crazy about flow, which I’ll make a separate post about. I fiddled with the powerhead and it ended up blowing straight at it. After about a day, I could see it was bleaching where the powerhead was hitting it. About 24 hours later, I moved it to another spot just a couple inches away with less flow. That seems to have at least stanched the bleeding. The day after moving it, it tentatively looks like it’s slowly regaining color in some areas. This picture is from right before the bleaching. The right two growths turned completely white. My hope is that I can use this acro to learn on. I’m a little intimidated by them. I know it’s very early to add them, but for $10 I wanted to see what happened and maybe learn something along the way. High Tide Aquatics has an acro that I’m really excited about with a deep purple base and green tips. When my tank is more mature, I’d try one of those in this same spot and hopefully use my experience with the “RRC Pink Cadillac” to make that work.

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I got a “mandarin orange” zoa also because it was cheap and I wanted to see if it was the same as the zoa I got from Alexx, which there wasn’t a trade name for. The pictures looked similar and the description was the same: orange skirt with a yellow center. The Mandarin Orange zoanthid I got has a very nice yellow center, but the skirt is more maroon versus a thicker, bright orange skirt on the ones that I had. Still a nice one, because of my limited space, I’m just gonna donate this one to whomever wants.
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I got some green star polyp for the magnetic rock. I figured they could handle the high flow and it would be nice to have some green up there. I know it’s widely available, but I didn’t recall ever seeing it locally and it was cheap. Seems like a nice version of a GSP.

I got a Tyree red watermelon chalice. I’ve seen several watermelon chalices and I think they’re really nice. The one seems to have been around a while, which I take as a good sign. The piece I got is very small, one eye, which seems typical of many chalices online. The green center and rim are nice, but it’s not very red or watermelon-like right now. Hopefully, it just needs time to get bigger and color up. We’ll see.

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There’s only a couple spots left in the tank. Hopefully, this will break the fever and I’ll just grow out what I have for a bit.
 
August 25, 2023

I was at High Tide in Oakland getting water and I finally asked about a wait list for a bright yellow coral that I had been really impressed with ever since the first time I went there. Kenny said there wasn’t one, but then he offered to cut me a $40 frag! I was pretty excited since I was already prepared to wait for it. It’s definitely one of my favorite corals that I’ve seem IRL. A really glowing yellow color. I think it’s a “24K Leptoseris.” That coral is around online, but it can be hard to tell from the pictures if it really looks like that. Under blue LED, it is very very bright. It’s still yellow under the white light, but less stunning. Highly recommend this one. I put it in one of my two remaining primo spots. I know next to nothing about leptoseris, but they seem fairly hardy. A really nice find at High Tide. For a local shop, it’s really a good one.

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September 17, 2023

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No major changes. The pho4 is low, so I stopped using AB+ and increased the phyto to three drops per week. Will monitor and adjust. Not sure what I’m targeting, but over the past couple weeks a gallon water change every five days seems to take it from 0.04 to 0.01. I'm open to what the right range should be. My concern previously with phyto was that it could raise my pho4 when I had hair algae and early signs of bubble algae. But now that it’s low, I don’t want to run it too low for fear of the dreaded cyanobacteria.

Pink Cadillac acro is slowly but surely regaining it’s color. It doesn’t seem to be growing yet. It’s still a brown stick. It’s possible this one only looks good when it’s growing quickly at a certain size and that - in my tank - it’s always just going to be a frag.

My RFA suddenly decided to start moving around. Doesn’t seem like a good sign. It briefly moved to a spot where I could feed it some pellets, so I did. After a day, and a trip inside the rockwork, it's back in its old spot.

The anacropora is still growing but not as quickly and it’s not branching as heavily. It’s growing thicker.

The ricordia is a little less peach and more orange now. It’s also a little less fluorescent, but still very bright. Its foot moved 180 degrees one night. Meaning, the smaller, newer mushroom moved from the 12 o’clock to the 6 o’clock position around the mother coral. Maybe it tangled with the torch and went running? Maybe the glue came loose suddenly?

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The orange chalice seems to be growing. It’s fought with the torch a few times and lost, but not too terribly. I’ve worked hard to separate them.

The 24k leptoseris is growing quickly. It’s already covering the epoxy.

The bubblegum monti is growing green at the two tips closest the light. It still has some algae problems. I may not have selected a great piece when I bought it. The flow may also be a little too low.

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I can’t tell if the watermelon chalice is shrinking or becoming less fleshy/puffy (I’m not sure how to describe it). It isn’t obviously growing and it seems the skeleton underneath is more and more readily visible. I could be wrong about that. The red color looks better IMO. I'm not going to make any changes and see how it develops. It's probably fine.

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I have to re-epoxy and glue the torch. I bonked it during a WC and it’s nearly come loose. I don’t love the Aquamend epoxy and superglue gel technique. It works OK, but I wish it was a little stronger. I won’t want cement level permanent, but these come loose a little too easy. For example, the digi is loose and I completely knocked the plating monti off its mount before fixing it a few days ago.

Everyone else seems good. Some finicky, but nothing I’m too worried about. Lots of little critters.
 
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Flow

I’ve become very tempted to mess with the flow. Having an acro in the tank is making me want to tinker with things, which seems like a bad impulse. The other factor is the Tunze 6040 is louder than I would like. This is especially true when it’s in pulse mode where the tone switches from lower speed to higher speed. It’s way easier to tune out a constant hum as white noise but – to my ears – the switching tones made me crazy. Even if it’s a steady speed, if I crank it up, the noise is a little too present for my neurotic tastes. It has all these fancy settings, but I can't use them because the sound is too annoying.

It's making me consider an MP10. They’re viciously expensive and online opinions are all over the map. I have had the chance to see a couple lately and they seemed quieter than my Tunze. It would change the direction of the flow by firing directly into the rockwork, instead of glancing off the top of it. The MP10 fires straight out. The Tunze fires a V shape at an upward angle. I’m willing to spend the money, but I’ll be disappointed if it’s not noticeably quieter. It would also change the flow and the occupants would have to adjust to that (which they might not like).

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My worry is I’m solving a fake problem. I very much like the small Tunze controller and the feed button is as ingenious as it is simple. Being able to pause it for 10 minutes at a time has proven unexpectedly helpful. The MP10 controller is also much larger and the controls are on the bottom, where I can't reach. Plus, almost all the noise in the tank comes from the skimmer. I’d really be getting more flow and a different direction, which I’m not sure I even need or will make things better. The tank occupants (except the orange zoas) seem pretty happy now.

For now, I’m leaving it, but I am very curious.
 

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It doesn’t seem like you have enough room on the back of the tank for an MP10’s dry side. Plus, you’d probably only run it at 10-15% max for your size tank. I’d advise against. Tank is looking good.
 
Tank looks great. I don't think the SPS would benefit from the MP10 if things look good at the moment. You'll likely spend too much on the MP10 and then feel disappointed at the results. There are cheaper options that are just as quiet, if you still want to play with flow.
 
I second the folks that say keep it as is because your tank is so small and you'll lose the clean tank aesthetic. Keeping a true mixed reef is one of the most difficult ventures as it's so hard to replicate environments where all the animals are happy. The fact you're doing it in a pico increases the challenge massively.

Things look stable and fine now and you can always adjust your nozzles as needed.

You could try putting silicone tubing around the body of the tunze pump anywhere it contacts the tank to reduce vibration at higher constant speed too.
 
I second the folks that say keep it as is because your tank is so small and you'll lose the clean tank aesthetic. Keeping a true mixed reef is one of the most difficult ventures as it's so hard to replicate environments where all the animals are happy. The fact you're doing it in a pico increases the challenge massively.

Things look stable and fine now and you can always adjust your nozzles as needed.

You could try putting silicone tubing around the body of the tunze pump anywhere it contacts the tank to reduce vibration at higher constant speed too.

That’s a very good point about the mixed reef. It is hard to keep everyone happy, especially in such a confined space. I count myself lucky that everything has worked out as well as it has so far.

I hadn’t heard of those Jabao powerheads, but it seems like people like them. I can stomach the cost of the MP10 – especially since I can grow with it when I eventually get another, bigger tank. :)

One other consideration is that a forward firing powerhead might decrease the surface agitation. I sometimes wonder if the surface agitation is oxygenating the tank. It seems like that could be causing the skimmer to push microbubbles out the bottom (oxygenation is the official diagnosis for that in the manual). Less surface agitation might also mean less evaporation and filling the ATO reservoir.

The question seems to be: is tinkering with the flow going to make this tank better?

I'm not hearing any strong yesses. Another way to think about it is that the flow doesn’t appear to be causing any problems. So far, it's not stopping me from doing what I want to do with the tank. Until it starts limiting me, I’m going to stick with the Tunze powerhead I have. Making it a little quieter alone doesn’t seem worth the expense and pain of install. However, even assuming an MP10 was free and it took me 5 minutes to install, the upside just isn't clear.

The acro - arguably the main beneficiary of altering the flow - seems to be doing OK. I still don’t have clear evidence that it’s growing, but it’s definitely recovered. It’s not bleached anymore and the skin has regrown a nice purple color, except at the very back by the powerhead. The digi and anacropora also don’t seem especially bothered by the relatively low flow areas they’re in.

That said, I’m ready to move on from the RRC Pink Cadillac if anyone wants it. Free. I’d like to free up that spot for a nice SPS. (You can also have the mandarin orange zoas too). It’s getting a nice purple color, but I’m looking for something brighter.

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In my head, I envision a GARF bonsai-style acro with bright green polyps. Bright is something of a theme in this tank. To me, there’s really only one, high-flow spot for an acro, so I’m trying to be choosy. I’m open to suggestions. High Tide had a really nice tenuis with thick branches and big scales like a snake. I passed at the time because I was fixated on a purple and green acro, but if it’s still there next time, I’ll probably scoop it.
 
I recommended the jebao pumps because they are daily low profile, a wide water current and they have a low flow rate on minimum setting, less than an mp10 and this gives you more control of your flow.

I have two of them on a 32g biocube at max power so they should be great in a 7g
 
That’s a very good point about the mixed reef. It is hard to keep everyone happy, especially in such a confined space. I count myself lucky that everything has worked out as well as it has so far.

I hadn’t heard of those Jabao powerheads, but it seems like people like them. I can stomach the cost of the MP10 – especially since I can grow with it when I eventually get another, bigger tank. :)

One other consideration is that a forward firing powerhead might decrease the surface agitation. I sometimes wonder if the surface agitation is oxygenating the tank. It seems like that could be causing the skimmer to push microbubbles out the bottom (oxygenation is the official diagnosis for that in the manual). Less surface agitation might also mean less evaporation and filling the ATO reservoir.

The question seems to be: is tinkering with the flow going to make this tank better?

I'm not hearing any strong yesses. Another way to think about it is that the flow doesn’t appear to be causing any problems. So far, it's not stopping me from doing what I want to do with the tank. Until it starts limiting me, I’m going to stick with the Tunze powerhead I have. Making it a little quieter alone doesn’t seem worth the expense and pain of install. However, even assuming an MP10 was free and it took me 5 minutes to install, the upside just isn't clear.

The acro - arguably the main beneficiary of altering the flow - seems to be doing OK. I still don’t have clear evidence that it’s growing, but it’s definitely recovered. It’s not bleached anymore and the skin has regrown a nice purple color, except at the very back by the powerhead. The digi and anacropora also don’t seem especially bothered by the relatively low flow areas they’re in.

That said, I’m ready to move on from the RRC Pink Cadillac if anyone wants it. Free. I’d like to free up that spot for a nice SPS. (You can also have the mandarin orange zoas too). It’s getting a nice purple color, but I’m looking for something brighter.

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In my head, I envision a GARF bonsai-style acro with bright green polyps. Bright is something of a theme in this tank. To me, there’s really only one, high-flow spot for an acro, so I’m trying to be choosy. I’m open to suggestions. High Tide had a really nice tenuis with thick branches and big scales like a snake. I passed at the time because I was fixated on a purple and green acro, but if it’s still there next time, I’ll probably scoop it.
Def post up any corals you're trying to rehome here: https://www.bareefers.org/forum/forums/pay-it-forward.80/

There's a lot of bright sps that you can put there that don't have too many crazy requirements.

The garf bonsai is one of those older school corals that look better under more white light, so it might get washed out by modern blue heavy LEDs. A goldenrod anacropora might look super bright in that spot. But if you want to stick with a secale, maybe the Battle Corals one would be better since it colors up a bit more than the garf.
 
Dang I wish I knew. Those are really nice. I wish I had room for another one! I really like mine. I'm surprised they aren't more popular. Every tank should have one.
You have plenty of room for RFAs along the bottom of the tank! Honestly they are a perfect nano tank inhabitant.
 
October 4, 2023

I added a kryptonite trumpet / candy cane coral. This was the star of my last tank many years ago. I love that they’re still around. Even though they’re common, I’m excited to have one again. I mounted it in a recess in the center. I know they grow fast, but either I’ll prune it or I’ll let it’s neighbors beat up on it. Looks great in both blue and white light. I kinda feel like every tank should have one of these.

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Baby trochus snail. (edit: It's a stomatella snail).

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I lost a few polyps on the orange and yellow zoas. They slowly got smaller and melted away. There’s a clump at the rear that seems OK still. It’s my only unhappy camper. There’s not a lot of changes I can make in this tiny tank, but it must not like something I’m doing. It’s growing on some parts and shrinking on others. Right now, it’s losing polyps faster than it’s growing new ones. I can’t figure it out. The other zoas, including some just a couple inches away are fine.

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The GSP grew rapidly on the plug but has not attempted to jump to the magnetic rock. I put some epoxy under it to give it a path to the rock.

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The RFA has grown from a quarter to half-dollar size. It’s not roaming. I bought an eye-dropper with a kinked neck that lets me accurately spot feed small pellets. I’m feeding it a couple pellets about once a week.

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The skimmer still produces a lot of microbubbles. My theory is the leak in the back is oxygenating the water which is then causing microbubbles to come out the bottom. Right now, I can live with the bubbles, but it’s also a distraction (for me) close up. I bought silicon to seal it, but pulling the skimmer out is enough of a PITA that I haven’t gotten around to it. It could be a while.

Not much else to report. Steady growth mostly. Digi is actively growing in more places. The watermelon chalice continues to turn red and is more clearly growing out like an ink blot.
 

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I recommended the jebao pumps because they are daily low profile, a wide water current and they have a low flow rate on minimum setting, less than an mp10 and this gives you more control of your flow.

I have two of them on a 32g biocube at max power so they should be great in a 7g
I'll definitely keep those in mind if I do end up changing the flow.

You have plenty of room for RFAs along the bottom of the tank! Honestly they are a perfect nano tank inhabitant.
They really are! It might be more cramped than it looks, but you're probably right I could squeeze one more in. I'm a little tempted to grow out a scoly, RFA, or something like that on the bottom right side.
 
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