License to krill

Maureen's Classroom DSA 105


Supporting Member
January 2019 - Suspended frag investigation makes it difficult to clean and work in tank. End of semester craziness and 2-week break left tank to its own devices for the most part. Have a few tufts of green algae and some cyano on the sand. No fish (goby from @RandyC disappeared Nov-Dec). Needs a bit of storming at next water change. I am pleased to see coralline on the glass after a couple weeks of no cleaning because for the longest time I had none (urchins, low Ca/Alk) and my dosers dose into my sump that I think has low flow and even though I stagger the dosing it seems like it precipitates in there.


Hollywood Stunner Echinophyllia differences - huge one is pale and overlit I think - compare to frag below it that has been growing on the sandbed. In person they look very pale vs dark:

Check out yellow porites response to OysterFeast:

Added little frag holders on the sand and one side of tank:


Haha - front frag looks like a hand making peace sign:

Good tidings for the New Year are in the QT:




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So a kid asks what are the silver things in the tank? I'm thinking some fool put in staples or something. Nope!


Clownfish eggs! Snapchat must have had tons of pics of them today from students. I think I got these clowns in 2002 or 2003 and they have not laid eggs that I have seen in years. Colleague said we must take excellent care of them to lay eggs. Not really - I think they were fed 3 times in two weeks during winter break. Lucky us!


Supporting Member
Latest (and best) attempt at coral fragging with 70 students! Instead of having fragging and mounting going on at the same time, a few students used bone cutters and Dremel in an earlier class, then I fragged a ton in the evening. Today they just rotated through gluing frags onto plugs in small groups. QT is now frag holding pen, ready for Day 2 of other students tomorrow. Had to make some tiny frags!

Ha - students with neat writing had numbered 60 frag plugs. I cut up tons of frags yesterday and carefully placed them so we could probably keep track of different Cyphastrea and other encrusters by name or color. Then, the boy who offered to remove the frags for the class to mount knocked the powerhead with the tongs, upset all the frags, then scooped out handfuls and dumped them into water tubs for the class. So much for labeling. Hopefully tomorrow goes as well and we find places for all the plugs.


Supporting Member
End of school year update! It was an intense year, with 2 sections of Aquatic Studies elective per semester, so ~140 kids took the class. Last year I had an enthusiastic geeky bunch of mostly 8th grade high achievers who couldn't get enough science. This year, the admin made the additional section for 7th graders, Special Day Class students who only took PE and my class with mainstream students, and quite a few students with academic, attention, social, and behavioral issues. Many of them have trouble with less structured activities like tank care and need supervision every minute. Bottom line is science and ocean stuff is for everyone and I'm glad more kids have access to this unusual class in middle school, so I need to make some changes to make this a cool class but less intense for me.

We had ups and downs with the tanks this year and I appreciate BAR member input every time I posted about our issues in different forums! We dabbled in growing suspended frags and got no clear results and lots of mix-ups, but outstanding, fun experience nonetheless.
2 days before school ended all teachers received notice that no pets, including fish, are to be left in classrooms over summer. Cleared out other animals, but principal gave me the OK to leave tanks and said he would take a slap from the school district for me if it comes to that, since "there are not really live animals in your ocean tanks." Works for me. New, sub custodial staff so I don't know how summer floor cleaning will go (chemicals). Fingers crossed.

Frag tank wins as MVP! Stable, beautiful, healthy, despite lots of student hands. So glad I chose this long, skinny, short 22g tank.

29g Clown-BTA tank seems stable despite wimpy skimmer and "temporary" lighting all year. No bubble tips and one time the female leapt out onto the floor, but steady egg laying from this 15-year-old pair of ocellaris. Green BTAs continue growing and splitting, not sure if it is due to great or not great tank conditions.

Near the end of the year, set up a 20g with PC lighting intended to be for softies, low-light stonies, shrimps, but never got it properly cycled for some reason (overdosed ammonia?) and time ran out. I think it's ready now, but will wait for new classes in August to move stuff into it.

We cultured rotifers and two types of copepods, all Reed Mariculture products I highly recommend. Big problems this year with culture crashes due to contamination (soap, 2-part), adding FW instead of SW, cross-contamination by using same equipment in different cultures, and who knows what other student errors. Will do rotis again next year and am considering pods and/or artemia if I can physically separate them more.

Big tank...hmm. Various issues. Separate post coming next.



Supporting Member
Big tank has some issues as you will see. It's not just lighting spectrum difference in photos.






Bad coral bleaching. Hair algae. Bit of caulerpa, which I did not know was in my system. When school got out and I was able to breathe, I saw that I had changed multiple factors and did not spend the time monitoring, thinking through, and responding to problems that the tank needed.

Mid-March I removed a gigantic Echinophyllia Hollywood Stunner. I forget when, maybe May, I noticed a cloudy area in the sump return section which turned out to be a large concentration of precipitated 2-part. I responded by cleaning sump, assuming it was because the Echino had been sucking up most of the additions and reduced dosing by about half. Meant to test frequently but did not.

Sometime around then I had decided to redo my in-sump refugium that was basically live rock, weak chaeto, and weird algae blobs. Took one of the live rocks out to seed new 20g tank and removed all algae and was going to change light, only I never got around to it so it is basically not a fuge (no light). And I have no fish in the DT to eat algae. I was thinking it was phosphates or something in my RO/SW but the other tanks only had algae growing on powerheads even though they got more food. Too many student hands working in the tank and disrupting too much. Hadn't been feeding tank much, thought maybe corals, nem, and shrimp needed more food, so starting feeding more. Wasn't paying attention to sandbed or water changes to deal with algae cause.

I had been wondering why some small acros I had were staying brownish since the fall, borrowed PAR meter and got a lot of measurements and got confused after trying to quickly figure out through internet searches how much light I "should" have, read that others with my same tank or corals had way more light than me, cleaned the Kessils, and then thought I would increase intensity. I thought it was gradual but could it have been too much light? Don't think so. In late May I realized maybe that was a bad idea and started reducing intensity. Now it might be too low.

__Fast forward to now. Gave tank a good cleaning after a few weeks of none: scraped walls, soaked (briefly) powerheads, pulled algae, removed and scrubbed a rock or two, removed some sand detritus, cleaned detritus from sump, did water change, tested water, really looked at it. Feel better about it now and ready to deal with it and get it back to good health but not sure what to do.

Testing - started with the basics and tested everything just to have the info:
Salinity: was 38-39ppt! now 37 (normally it is ~36, thought Apex was wrong because all other tanks' salinity is fine at 35. I was following the recent post about 2-part raising salinity, so seems like that's not it unless my additions are unbalanced)
Temp: 78-80deg (77-78 in Apr/May)
pH (Apex + API): 8.3 PM - 8.45 AM (Dose Alk at night when no students are raising CO2. Since I started that, no changes between school and non-school days. There were a couple dips to 8.15 in Apr/May)
dKH/Alkalinity (Hanna): 9.1 couple days after water change. Been ~8.4
Calcium (Red Sea): 425
Magnesium (Red Sea): 1440
Nitrate (API): 0
Phosphate (Hanna): 0 (could be there but not measured or is taken up by algae)

Why the coral bleaching? What should I try to fix this?
All the tissue is there. In the photos of the war coral and cyphastrea you can see that the areas that were shaded from the light have more color than the surfaces in full light, which is why I suspect light problem. Acro has good PE, but maybe that's about feeding, not light.
Feed more? If I feed OysterFeast, everybody puts out feeder tentacles. LPS accept meaty bits. Have been feeding infrequently.


Supporting Member
Many times coral will bleach out due to temp changes, has the tank been at a stable temp? even from the heat wave a few weeks ago?


Supporting Member
Big tank not great - coral still bleached. Hair algae and bit of caulerpa growing on rocks and some pale green on sandbed in some places that forms small mats with sand. Green mat:

Have been doing some big water changes every 1-2 weeks and pulling algae. Also started feeding Phyto- and Oyster-Feast couple times a week and feeding LPS and shrimps some chopped clam or fish, in case I was starving everything and to possibly increase nitrate and phosphate to benefit the corals. Shrimp, anemone, 3 gorgonians, duncan, and some others seem very happy with the food. However, since my refugium is not operating, I guess that's a big reason for the algae.
Setting up a new fuge light tomorrow and I think I have a chaeto source.

Any other suggestions? I am still trying to figure out what I should be doing with lighting schedule, but fuge is first priority.


Supporting Member
Do you have tangs in your tank?

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Oh yeah - forgot to mention I have no fish in there. I have urchins and couple big snails. Planning to add fish around Sept. That's why I was thinking fuge ASAP.


Supporting Member
A fuge is all well and good, I have one myself, but I'd add some KNO3 or feed more. Since your tank isn't covered in brown bubbly slime I doubt you have 0 phosphates, but even too close to 0 phosphates or nitrates (and you have both) is an issue. Corals need nutrients just like flowers and they get pale when starved.

About two years ago I had a periodic RTN issue. Had issues with things growing slowly or stagnating, but looking decent otherwise. Seemingly small things like adding an activated carbon reactor would prompt one of the softball to basketball sized colonies to RTN in 48 hours. A couple weeks would go by and then another would die. Everything in the tank was a bit pale, although I didn't realize it at the time. Sometimes colonies would slowly die over a week instead of 48 hours, but when you have a 1" to 2" per day tissue loss it's still not good! I tried iodine, I tried different forms of iodine, I tried coral dips, I tried H2O2, nothing. I didn't think about the 0 nitrates (unknown phosphate) because my macro grew and my tanks have always read 2 nitrate on my test kits (API, then Red Sea Pro).
I had (and still have in that tank) algae issues, so I didn't want to feed more. One day I started dosing nitrate. The two colonies that had RTN issues stopped within 48 hours. Over the coming months everything colored up enough to show me that it had been pale before hand, growth took off (along with alk and ca consumption), and I haven't had an RTN issue since.

A month or so ago I was home and things looked a bit pale, sure enough the KNO3 reservoir was out. Refilled it, came back a couple weeks later, more pale.....turns out that dosing pump had died. I put in some KNO3, watched my ORP rise up 30 points (and stay there), and I'm assuming (not there now), that things are going better.


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Celebration time! Tanks survived new, serious classroom floor cleaning!

My method is to turn off or remove skimmer and lights on all tanks. Leave pumps on. Tape Coroplast cover on each tank and add plastic wrap to cover gaps. Cover ATO reservoirs with plastic and move buckets of FW and SW out of the room.


Custodians said they would open doors when they could between stripping and waxing/sealing coats and when they move furniture to repeat on other side of room. When totally done and I get the OK, I open doors and blast fans to pull in fresh air and blast it out other door. When eyes stop burning and smell is reduced, remove tank covers. Later, uncover everything else.
Last night after some airing out I tested ammonia in the 3 tanks I could reach from cured floor and all were ~0.25-0.5. This morning they were all 0. One pink urchin was on a big circ pump and turns out it was dead. Cause unknown, could be unrelated. Other urchins and inverts were out and about and acted fine.

Feeling relieved! A cool thing is that the corals and inverts were in night mode from 36 hours of no light, which I never get to see. Aired it out all day today and set up lights. Will get skimmers going next week after adjacent room is done.


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I did not know I was having an Apex problem bc I was not checking Fusion and had not received any alarms. One night last week another teacher and I went to our building for some last minute prep and when we were leaving ~10:00pm it looked like my big tank's lights were on at full intensity. I checked Fusion, learned it was disconnected, and needed a reboot. I'm thinking it was due to district network work, which happens periodically with no warning. I switched to manual control of lights until I rebooted. I think lights had been on 24/7 for some time. I think that's weird since I checked the settings and the default is OFF. Light logging is not available on my Fusion now - shows ON for 24 hours Aug 20 and that's all that shows. It says TBL (table) for now, which I think indicates it is okay, although I have never seen TBL before. My circ pumps also show TBL, which is also new. I will mind the dashboard this weekend to see if it changes according to the programming. I see I need to update firmware on my laptop and phone, so I probably need to on the desktop at school, as well.

In other news, school admin couldn't get 8th graders scheduled into classes properly, so my schedule just changed to six regular science classes and just one Aquatic Studies instead of two. Bummer for the extra 75 kids who thought they were taking it but ended up in other electives. Bummer for me who now has to pick up the slack since our classes meet every other day. Fortunately, admin assigned me 5 helper kids (some great, some need opportunity to help and find success somewhere) from last year's Aqua classes. Four are girls, which is okay with me because there seems to be a small percentage of female reef hobbyists.


Staff member
Yikes, that’s scary about the Apex acting wonky. Do you have HeartBeat activated? That should at least notify you when it loses connectivity.


Supporting Member
Uh, no, I do not have Heartbeat activated! Thank you. I thought my Apex was too old - fully wrong. Adding to my to-do list.
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