Chris's Pico Pest Reef!


Hey guys!

So, as some of you know, I recently lost a lot of fish due to a pest treatment in my apartment. All of my fish had to be removed and kept elsewhere, and I ended up losing around 1/2 of my livestock - including my beloved Peacock Mantis Shrimp.

In fact, every single fish and animal you see in that video is dead, which kills me. :(

However, all we can do is appreciate the time we had our pets, and try and plan better for the future.

I do really miss having a mantis shrimp - they such cool little creatures. Very interactive, inquisitive, and always getting into some sort of trouble in the tank. Reminds me of my puffers, in some ways! But I don't think I want another peacock right now - I want to try a different species. One I've had my eye on for quite a while.

The Wennerae Mantis, Neogonodactylus wennerae!

These guys max out at around 3", and are perfectly suited to small tanks. They're smashers (meaning they have modified claws to break open shellfish), just like my peacock was, but with much less power. These guys are able to hunt down crabs, shrimp, and snails, but are going to struggle to crack open anything with a thick shell.

I went to my LFS today, and picked up a 5.5 gallon Seapora glass tank for $16.99. It's a nice tank for the price - Seapora makes nice stuff, IMO. I rinsed it out, just to get any dust out of it, and this was it.

Next, I decided to paint the back black, since the tank wasn't going right up against a wall. I taped off the rim of the tank with duct tape, cause that's all I had lol.

I just use some Krylon Black Acrylic paint and a roller for this. I prefer spray painting but I don't have an area to do that here, so rolling paint on is the best I can do. It looks fine from the front side of the tank, but usually looks kind of "meh" from the back.

First Coat:

I did three coats total, which got me a decently opaque surface. This is what the tank looked like, pre-fill:

I added some sand from the Peacock Mantis tank, which has long been dried, but not cleaned. I'm hoping all that dead gunk in the sand will help get us a strong cycle in this tank. Whenever I filled it the first time, I ended up getting milk, basically. Gotta love aragonite.

I had just used plain freshwater to fill that time, though, so I drained the tank and added in the rock. I'm using a piece of marco dry rock that I had from a previous tank, a piece of well-seasoned rock that's got some life already on it (although, not much algae due to being in a bucket), and a piece of rock I got from the LFS. I got this particular rock for a reason - but that's gotta be a surprise.

Whenever I refilled the tank (with saltwater this time) I was careful to do it slowly to minimize cloudiness. The powerhead I bought (Aquatop MCP-1) was way too strong for this tank, and was blowing water around. So, I pulled my Koralia Nano 240 out of my 10 gallon QT, and switched them around. Each tank is better off, I think. Then, I tossed in a preset heater and a thermometer, and we're off to the races!

I'll update this post tomorrow, and tell the story of why I picked this rock, and what the extended plans are for this tank.


RIP Mantis Shrimp... loved those videos


RIP Mantis Shrimp... loved those videos
I loved that tank. She almost made it, too. I was in the process of setting tanks back up when I noticed she hadn't moved in a while.


Alrighty, so last night (after my last post) I realized that I had put the "special" piece of live rock in upside-down - oops! I flipped it over and re-arranged the scape just a tiny bit. Here's a FTS:

If you didn't notice, the reason I chose that particular rock is the fact that there's three chonky aiptasia living on it, and some red slime, to boot. The girl in the store gave me the weirdest look when I asked for the rock and declined her offer to treat it with Aiptasia-X - pretty sure she thinks I'm crazy, now! For the uninitiated, Aiptasia are pest anemones that reproduce like crazy and sting corals and other anemones. They can be a nightmare to get rid of!

Believe it or not, despite me owning several marine aquariums, I've never actually had these guys, and I've always been intrigued. I know that they're basically the devil, but that's kind of the point of this tank, right? Now, if I could only find someone who had Majanos (which are another pest anemone, but these are usually more colorful!)...

The other piece of live rock (on the right) I chose because it's covered in these micro feather dusters. Not a pest by any means, and I love having them in my tanks. However, they do reproduce like crazy, and I figured they fit the theme fairly well. Plus, it's always fun to see where they pop up next! You can see some old, dead tubes on the piece of dry marco rock in the middle from it's last tank deployment.

I'm hoping to find some Majanos, but haven't had luck so far. I think they're gorgeous, personally. I'm also thinking some Yellow Polyps, Brown Palys, Caulerpa Prolifera, Caulerpa Racemosa, and maybe some other fast-growing macros might find a good home here. I'm always open to suggestions, too!


Alrighty, just placed an order from Reef Cleaners for:

Brown Button Polyps
25 Assorted Hermits
10 Dwarf Ceriths
5 Nerites
10 Zig Zag Periwinkles
Pencil Cap Macro
Caulerpa Mexicana
Cactus Caulerpa

Not all of this is going into this tank, but a few hermits, snails, button polyps, and the two Caulerpa species definitely will be.


Here's a video detailing the first two weeks of this tank:


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