License to krill

The long term short term - 170


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The title comes from the intersection of plans and reality with this tank. When I set it up the plan was to only be in this apartment for a few months and to provide a stable home for my livestock while I moved my larger tank across the country. Fast forward 9 months and I'm still in the same place and it looks like it'll be at least a year until the big tank gets set up. Some things (the unfinished stand, the way the lights are hanging, the lack of sand etc.) betray the fact that it was meant to be temporary, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that it may be a bit longer term than I wanted.

First thing first. Thank you to Ashburn2k for holding some of my corals until I had a tank running. Thank you to cdhappy who happened to be giving away a stand needing only limited modifications on the same week I needed one. Thank you to xcaret for not only finding it, but getting it all the way from cdhappy to my place in the city. Finally, a thank you to Coral reefer for helping me get the fish tank from my office where I shipped it to my apartment, then in the door and on to the stand with xcaret.

Tank details

Volume: 170 gallons (nominal)
Exterior dimensions: 60"L x 24"D x 27.5"H
Sump: Trigger (model unknown) 36"L x 16"D x 15"H.
Lighting: 3x Radion Gen4 XR30Pro*
Skimmer: Bubble King Double Cone 150
Controls: Apex
Flow: Constantly changing

1x Regal tang
1x Hawaiian naso tang
2x Tomini tangs
1x Scopas tang
7x Chromis**
1x Pink spotted watchman goby

CUC: 5x turbo snails, lovable bulldozers that they are.

I'd like to replace the yellow and more importantly desjardini that were lost in the move, but the fact is that this tank is a bit cramped IMO with this many tangs, so unless I stumble across a great specimen that's going to have to wait a year or two until the next tank goes back up.

*Two are balanced over the tank, but I have extras since the big tank is torn down at the moment so I decided to put one right over my derasa. I've always wondered what happens if you give a clam a ton of light, so I built it a shelf near the surface and put a light right on top of it.

**One chromis is living in the sump. He jumped the overflow early on and is being difficult to catch, so he gets to live there for a while

So, step 1 was building an internal overflow box and plumbing it.

Then a rock stack. Not my best job, but it was as much rock as I was able to get here on an airplane, so it will have to do:

So, here we have the tank as it sits today:

And of course the unfiltered picture that's too blue:

Finally, some close-ups from today.
The larger goni:
IMG_0088 (1).jpg

A chalice frag that I've only had for a few months, but that I'm really liking:

And finally one of my favorites. This coral is only in B+/A- form at the moment, but it amazes me every time I look at it despite having had it for a couple years now. I'm sorry to those who get tired of me taking pictures of the same coral again and again, but I'm still amazed, so I keep taking pictures:



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Looking good! I’ve got 40-60 pounds of rock if you need some more. Also love the blasto!

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Looking good! I’ve got 40-60 pounds of rock if you need some more. Also love the blasto!
I appreciate the offer. At this point I’m going to stick with how it is. Likely I’m too change averse, but I have a hard time changing rock stacks once they’re up.


Staff member
Gotta say never seen anyone put their clam in a balcony seating area, and then throw an $800+ light over that area just for it :D


Supporting Member
So what is it that’s holding up the new (big) tank from going in?
Wife needs a job here instead of there, then finding a place to live long term, likely after a year of trialing a neighborhood by renting, moving the tank from storage in TX, and what I hope to be a slow deliberate setup.


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Unrelated: I started typing this thread somewhere, apparently closed the tab without submitting, and was mildly annoyed that I would need to re-type this post. I pulled my thread up, scrolled down to reply...and there's my (short) post waiting to be submitted already in the reply box. Kudos to whoever implemented that! Now for the actual post:

It's been a couple weeks, and this past week has been one of solid neglect of dosing and testing, although the task seems to be liking it so I might wait to find out how far is too far on that front. Nothing to look at, but last week I decided to add a fan on the top. Not pretty, but not permanent. I'm glad I did because being in a 1 story building with no A/C wasn't good for daytime temperatures last week. Even with a fan in the window the air in my apartment got up to 90 °F! Fortunately the water temp only went up to 80 °F from the target 77 °F.

The other thing I did was start an experiment with some of my SPS. I've noticed that while some acros start growing right at the tip after fragging and mounting, many encrust at the base and then grow fresh spikes up around the original frag without having the original frag ever grow. Given that coral maturity seems to be a function of tissue surface area and not volume, and given that encrusting across a surface often happens faster than massive growth I figure helping the sticks get surface area faster should be a good thing. My solution was to take and break up a couple of the 2" frags into 3/4" pieces and then glue them down close to, but not quite touching, the base. My hope is that each section will encrust a bit on its own, then merge and behave like a larger colony. I've been doing this for years with encrusting montis, so I'm curious to see if it will work out here or not.

I'm also getting some a good bit of green turf algae. The tangs seem to be loving it which is great for when I head out of town for a week a time periodically. I'll up the CUC soon, but given that it's all a short algae, the coral is winning where it meets the algae, and it provides a constant meal for the tangs I'm not going to be heartbroken if it stays.

I also got my PAR meter back from Apogee (manufacturing issue from years ago, and recalibrated when they fixed that). Looks like the clam is currently getting around 1000 µmol/m^2/s and loving it, although no notable visible changes. I spot checked a couple other places and they seemed to be in the 150-400 range depending mainly on height.

A few corals still pale, but many getting some really great color so no change of course planned.


Supporting Member
Any pics to explain for mounting technique?

I have observed the same with SPS
Here is an example, pardon the unfiltered blue. The tip on this particular stag does actually grow, but it's been encrusting quite a bit at the base as well. I had another frag, and not having any plans for it I broke it up and glued it around the base of this piece. My hope is that they'll merge in and that I'll see a sudden change in growth form right after the bases merge. I also did my green slimer, although having less of that there is only the original base and the former tip near it.


I keep thinking about doing this with some of my other sticks, but it doesn't make sense for a lot of them:

-The tenius have historically grown very well for me without much encrusting. On the plus side it's really easy to lift the colony out because even baseball sized pieces are still only attached at the original stem that was glued. On the minus side this can be a bit of an issue with them because the colony gets heavy, or I apply too much force when fragging, and suddenly the entire colony breaks off the base rock. I suppose next time I want to make a permanent tenius placement I'll put down a couple pieces to force the base a bit larger.

-The acid trip mille placements are already growing branches. In my old tank I had a 6" tall piece of this and it had only moderate encrusting at the base, which happened after or during the vertical growth. Like most of the others it doesn't grow form the original tip, but it is growing fresh tips.

-The 24k mille may be a good candidate. In past experiences it encrusted a lot before growing vertically. My piece of this has a few branches, none of which have grown, but it is encrusting. As much as I would enjoy growth, I like its current shape so I might let this one stay as-is recognizing that I could get faster growth if I chopped it. I have frags in two areas so maybe I'll divide the less nice looking of the two.

-The blue matrix acro might be a good candidate. It did a lot (several inches) of encrusting before I got good growth out of it last time, and then it started growing branches quickly. I wonder if the encrusted area was collecting most of the food for the vertical growth? This one has good polyp extension, so I might wait on it. Of course it's had that for several months now without much growth other than at the base.

-I'd chop up one of my blocks of cyphastrea, but I don't have my diamond saw with me and that's going to be too inconvenient with my coral cutters.

In other coral news, when I relocated the green encrusting porites and put an orange chalice in its place I didn't get all of it off the base rock. The remnant has been growing well under the shadow of the chalice and is now about to get in a dispute with a purple cyphastrea. I have a bad feeling that I'm going to need to kill off that section of porites, but maybe I'll get lucky and the cyphastrea will win out, which is what I would prefer. The porites is one of those things that I'm sort of neutral to, and that grows too fast for its own good. Think of it as the GSP of encrusting SPS. If it turns out that other corals win out over it I might just cover my rocks with it to keep algae at bay, but if that would result in it taking over the other corals as I expect then I'll need to contain it. I would love it of something other than coraline would encrust over all surfaces, yet lose the fight against other corals. This might prove to be zoas long term, although I wonder if they would win out over some things. I've seen them lose to most encrusting SPS, so that might actually be a good option.


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Lots of news since then. My wife started a job over on your side of the water in January, and we found ourselves a permanent home in February (anyone talks to you about timing the market, don't reference me). Got to scramble the tank from the apartment to the new place (thank you again Alex!) right after stay at home started in March.
Add some neglect on my part (months long and preceding this) and some of the SPS was lost.

I started a reasonable testing regimen a month ago, promptly discovered my nitrate was at zero (totally clear Red Sea low range test sanity checked against API). Discovered about a week later that the phosphate is also pushing zero (Hanna ULR phosphorus, double checked with Red Sea low range test), so I've upped my food input a bit, and things are perking up. It always amazes me just how nice things look when you've gotten used to them doing ok, and suddenly they're really happy again. Zoas and LPS good, but SPS not there yet. Clam is still happy though, so I'm happy.

I retrieved the big tank (still crated) in March, although I'm not comfortable having contractors in the house right now, and so some first floor renovations (like adding a wall at the back of the garage) are holding up setting up the big tank. If this were any other city I'd do it myself and have been done by now, good electrical, plumbing, drywall, etc. just isn't all that hard after you've done it a couple times, and I have the tools. Unfortunately I'm unfamiliar with the SF permitting process and don't really want to get on the wrong side of that just yet, so instead of improving the home I'm in a holding pattern. It has given me time to resolve some of the atrocious work done by past owners, and so my house hasn't tried to electrocute me in at least two months.

The algae in the fuge isn't doing great, but it's slowly growing and the green fuzz on the rocks in the display is slowly ceding to coralline. The floor interestingly is covered in coralline (bare bottom), and the walls get a good coating when I don't clean them so that's positive.

Coral reefer

Staff member
There are two options for sf regarding permits.
Don’t ask don’t tell
Or, play by the rules. To do this you just have to have lots of extra time and money and patience.


Supporting Member
I hear you. The thing that gets me is that houses in this neighborhood tend to have very different prices for those that were done with permits vs. those without. Naturally we went for one on the without end. If I'm going to redo a bunch of space though, it may be worth it long term to get it closer to the "with" side, and it's far easier to do it now vs. later. Not sure which way it'll swing in the end.
Would be nice if this whole pandemic thing ended, I miss the club meetings (although I should start spending more time in here).

Coral reefer

Staff member
Yeah it definitely depends what you’re doing and how you’re doing it on wether you want to bother with the permit or not.


Staff member
Really different prices for permitted houses and not? Seems hard to imagine given the scope of how expensive houses are. I mean hell my house is largely knob and tube wiring, and when it was built did not require a permit if you wanted to change anything, in fact it isn't even code today (but it was back then). That said my experience with the permitting process is I had my kitchen demoed and the floor leveled that required a permit, but don't even recall any inspector ever signing off on it so I feel like a chump paying money for a crew to do that "legally". My solar panels got permitted because SF was paying $11k worth of them, so that was a no brainer. But my bathroom gut and redo, yeah did that myself, no permits however the main drains were largely in the same place, I did chop out the cast iron (except the toilet) for the drains and went ABS because I don't give a shit what SF rules are, this works better and is easier. And instead of paying the going rate (well it was the going rate) of $5k per fixture, I did it myself, even updated the electrical and brought it to code including a GFCI switch next to sink instead of the ungrounded one that was there.

But ultimately it's what you feel comfortable with doing, I don't care terribly much about the resale value of my house, if anything this will be a rental house in the future to keep the property in the family and provide a source of income for me to retire on when I live somewhere else (much much cheaper),or if I do sell it it's currently worth north of a million with some minor fixes (i.e. removing fish tank related remodels :D) , but you buying the house at these rates, I could understand wanting to get something back in the future, so it's up to you.


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That's more helpful info. I should clarify that what I saw in our search wasn't a strong need to have 100% of the work permitted, it was a need to have the finished square footage correct, or at least not off by 30% which would be the case here. Downside of course is paying more property tax in the mean time.
I'd like to retire in this house, which is a long, long, way out, but I wanted to do that in the last house as well and I only ended up being there for 5 years before moving across the country. Less in the one before that, although I knew that going in and it was a small town where buying was cheaper than renting.
Honestly I think most of this is job security concerns manifesting different ways, but I still need figure it out.


I’d suggest if you do the work yourself sans permit, document all of it in detail. I can’t recall when and where but a homeowner did some work, all according to code. Somehow word was given to the city and an inspector showed up; no structural modification but according to the inspector, the homeowner needed permits and most likely whatever was covered alredy, had to be opened.
The homeowner showed pictures of all the work done, detailed pictures (back in the day of hard copies) I think the inspector instead of being an ass, gave the homeowner a chance to do “the right” thing. The homeowner went to the office of building inspection to pay for the permits; a scheduled inspection took place and the official signed ok on the work.
As a homeowner, you have the right to do the job yourself without having to hire a licensed professional but you need to comply with codes and the permit process.


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I’ve done a good amount of work without permit.

We turned our detached garage into a studio, with a full bathroom and kitchen.

In my parents’ home, they converted their attic into a second story with a full bathroom and lots of living space.

In both those situations, these home improvements are basically ignored for mortgage refinance appraisals and real estate listings. They do not increase the square footage, and don’t count towards bedroom/bathroom count. Technically they can even ask you to undo certain parts or prove they are up to code (or the bank will decline to approve you, for safety reasons). I don’t think this is done that often, but I think it is bank dependent, and also how “off code” it looks.

Minor home improvements, like refinishing a bathroom, adding outlets, or even adding a wall that does not increase square footage, should not be an issue.

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I did a pretty big renovation ofmy parent’s house in San Jose before they sold it and didn’t have any of it permitted. Again, no changes to square footage or number of bedrooms or bathrooms but I removed a fireplace, replaced wood siding with stucco, all doors and windows were replaced, kitchen and bathrooms were remodeled with changes requiring rough plumbing and electrical work. Most places that I opened up a wall I found either water damage or termite damage that needed new framing to repair.

When it was sold, they asked two questions. First, if the work was permitted. To which my answer was no. Second, if the work was done according to code. Which my answer was yes. That with the home inspection seemed to settle anything for the buyer.


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Not much real news on the tank, although it's definitely been going in a consistently positive direction since I was in here last. Ensuring that nutrients stay above zero and potassium isn't 20% low actually helps, go figure.

In related news, back on the 18th Alex finally talked me out of my self imposed COVID quarantine for a couple hours of bandsaw therapy at his place. I needed an excuse to finally get my saw unpacked, so we made some frags:

Things are stable enough in mine that I was willing to drop in a couple frags, so thank you Alex for those. Looks like he's added me to the chains for those, so hopefully they do well and I can get some back out into the community.
Next up just because I should put in a picture of my own tank, an overly blue shot of the clam. Mainly so I can track growth somewhere. The little clam shelf looks awfully goofy still, but it keeps this guy near the light. Unfortunately it figured out just the right place to squirt water between the eurobrace and lid such that it drips down the front of the display pane. Fortunately it misses the light, but I'll still need to do something about it eventually. It also decided that the plug under it wasn't sufficient and attached a bunch of byssal threads to the egg crate, so it isn't going anywhere for now.

Finally, seeing as my fragging tools were out I got a couple frags cut in my own tank. A couple I might hold for an eventual post-COVID frag swap, but I expect most of them will end up glued back down to get the % coral coverage in my tank a bit higher. I'm not historically very good at keeping algae off the rocks, but I am decent at covering the rocks in coral so that there are few places for the algae to grow. Here's the zoa healing up for Alex, albeit taken with a cell phone camera under a very white light as I'm not sure where my blue flashlight is currently: