My Husband is a powerful negotiator and savvy saltwater buyer. After the initial set up of the tank and the first few fish and fauna purchases, Husband applied his considerable intellect and abounding poisson passion to finding the right coral to round out the tank. And not just any ‘right corals’; these had to be the right corals at the right prices. Thankfully, Husband has 10 years of experience in the saltwater world, backed by an enthusiasm for researching of all kinds – especially marine related – and an unerring determination to find the greatest possible deals for the best possible prices.
|The acan heads|
|The stunner chalice|
This concluded our dealing with actual store owners, and we moved on to private sellers. This is the area where Husband truly shines, and in a short time we had acquired several small corals for a killer price, including green star polyps that I had been hoping for, a tiny neon green leather, a similarly small but very green mushroom, some more monty caps, a birds nest, some accordia, a head of hammer, a baby frogspawn, a softball-sized stunner chalice, and a few more zoa varieties.
Unfortunately, once we brought home our new salty subjects and began processing them through customs and boarder control (a.k.a. freshwater dips and careful inspections to make sure they weren’t carrying any unwanted pests that could overthrow the tank) we found a few unwelcome additions on a zoa plug. Hidden beneath the tiny heads – which only closed up after the freshwater dip – was a mini army of bubble algae. Ever the optimists (yes those who know us can laugh here) we originally endeavored to scrape off the algae and save the plug, but it soon became apparent that it would be impossible to get it all. We reluctantly tossed those zoas into the saltwater buck that doubles as the holding cell and chalked it up to experience. We now know not to buy from that seller any more, and Husband found such great deals on everything else, the loss of the cost of that zoa was barley felt in the financial sphere.
|Kenya tree and star polyps|
|The toadstool is the small white disk, sans neon tendrils|
We then had one last category of acquisitions to explore; macro algae! You may recall from a previous post (I like to pretend people actually read these) the dragon’s breath that began our love of macro algae. Though nothing can match the original in awesomeness, Husband and I were determined to find more. A little Husband-magic and we found the whole-seller of macro algae for pretty much any major store or hobbyist in the area. Though mostly an online business, the seller agreed to meet us at his house where we could peruse his collection in person. After some scenic driving (we got lost because though Husband is a great navigationalist, neither of us like to drive, and finding new places is hard) we found the algae homeland. The owner was amiable and a great connection to have, and though his set up was small, he had a large variety of different algae, snails, a few fish and some of the more unusual plants. We picked out a few varieties, including a gorgonia, halimeda, some cotton candy, and red grape, which is now our second favorite macro algae. The seller also threw in some fuzzy algae, a branching red algae, and a few small snails for free.
|The fuzzy algae|
Happy with our purchases, we headed home to get everything organized in the tank and find all the new things their own home. As previously mentioned, once we began allotting rock real estate to our new residents, we quickly became aware of the fact that we may have been a little enthusiastic in our acquisitions. There was only so much room left on our shelf rock, and many corals need not just their own space to sit, but also space around them so they don't get grumpy and start trying to kill off their neighbors for more food or growing room - or just because they are in a grumpy killing mood. While corals do often have their own personalities, they are not usually very nice ones - of course when their place of original is the ocean where the law of the land is pretty much 'kill or be killed', you can't really blame them. Fortunately, Husband thought ahead and acquired some old magnets so we could glue some of the smaller corals onto them and place these around the tank. The magnets are actually glass cleaners - there is a slightly abrasive surface on one side of the magnet that goes against the glass inside the tank, and you can clean the glass off by moving the paired magnet on the outside of the tank, thus being able remove dirt and algae inside the tank without ever having to put your hand in the water.
We proceeded to pull all of the small corals out of the tank so we could properly arrange some of the larger things like the stunner chalice, the hammer, the frogspawn, and the macro algae. Once those were placed, we began the process of gluing things to magnets. It was a bit tricky, as super glue doesn't always work well with water and unusual textures, but we were successful in the end and managed to get enough coral pieces onto the walls that the rest could find homes on the remaining rock space.
We are very happy with the progress of the tank so far, though we are still moving things around to see who is happier where - each coral has its own preference for light/water flow intensity, so it will take some doing to find the right location where each coral will be happiest. We also think the tank might be a bit on the crowded side now, so some re-landscaping (re-rockscaping?) might be in the near future - stay tuned to find out!