Maintenance day comes once a week when the necessary checks and cleaning are done to keep the display (a soft coral reef) looking at its best. The display is fine during the week, just the slow accumulation of algae on the viewing glass. It only needs a daily top-up to adjust the water level and, of course, the inmates need feeding. Feeding is a real pleasure, the fish have been in for well over five years and nearly talk to me when I’m near. ‘Food, you idiot’ I can almost hear them call.
Anyway, the maintenance. As usual, the glasses were cleaned, no big deal, not a lot of algae. Pumps, skimmer, lights and filters were checked, as was the temperature. No problems.
Having finished, I always make time to look at the display, to appreciate it. It was during this that I noticed a large soft branching coral leaning way over another, and the smaller one had some of its polyps closed. Clearly didn’t like being in contact. Right, thought I, I’ll check the size of the bigger coral. So I carefully bent the bigger coral so I could see the base. The coral now nearly covered the rock it had been ‘planted’ on. As I released the coral the epoxy putty that fixed the rock came away. The rock fell over. ‘Oh dear’ I said…or something like that!
Having brought the packet of epoxy putty from storage in preparation, I studied the position the rock would need to go in so that the bigger coral would not over reach the smaller one. During this my eye was drawn to a solid mass of colour further along the back of the tank. This mass turned out to be ten baby toadstools (Sarcophyton sp). The heads were from about ¾” to 1 ½” in diameter. From above they were a solid mass of polyps. It was obvious that, left alone, there would be problems with growth, eventually affecting two larger toadstools. These ten babies were pruned, this was done by removing the heads. It is likely that at least some of the stalks will form new heads. Having removed these ten, I saw two more lower down (I was a bit surprised – what about the light?). These two also had their heads removed. Sounds like something from the French revolution. There remains a group of three slightly larger toadstools, a bigger one toward the back glass, and one on the left, nearer the front, half way down the reef.
Job done, except I still needed to put the other coral rock back with the epoxy putty. This is an easy job and didn’t take long.
Once again I sat back and viewed the display. Some of the corals were not too pleased at my efforts and were sulking. Not a problem, they’ll soon be out again.
I put away the equipment and additives etc needed for the routine maintenance. Cup of coffee time.
I’m not sure what made me do it, but just before I lowered the lighting array, I ran my eye over the back of the tank from above. Maybe I was hoping to see a baby coral of a different type or something. What I did see was not pleasing.
At first I thought there was only one. Easily recognisable. Not wanted. An aiptasia anemone. Soon sort you out. I have a continuing argument with aiptasia and have fairly regular skirmishes with them. I’d discovered the aiptasia because with the toadstools present it couldn’t be seen.
Out came Joe’s Juice (good old Joe, whoever he is!) and I placed the syringe over the anemone. No problem. The anemone reacted swiftly as usual.
Trouble was, I now realised there were more than one, maybe five or so, but not particularly large, the tallest being around 1″. They were accessible. I’ve learned to be quite sneaky, not throwing a shadow over the anemones or touching them as they may retract. The fluid was applied successfully – the anemones reacted as they should.
The maintenance took twice as long as normal. Still, if I hadn’t done the toadstool pruning…
I’m always on watch for changes in the display and coral problems (usually excess growth).
I just wish the aiptasia could be more useful, like providing food for a reef friendly colourful creature that will most definitely eat them.