Mrs Fringe Has Cooties

Not exactly me, but my tank.

This morning I woke up determined to be productive.  I would write. I would give Little Incredibly Dumb Dog a haircut and bath!  I would clean the kitchen and make dinner.  I wrote.  In the scene I worked on, there was a little tank talk.  Which made me look over at my poor, neglected little tank.  Really neglected. As in, I don’t quite remember the last time I cleaned the viewing panels, or did a water change.  Bad Mama.

Today became Spring Cleaning, Part I.  I hear some people wash their windows when they’re Spring Cleaning.  Pfft.  I’m a reefer.  Tank maintenance, it is.  First I unplugged everything and took out the pumps.

Pump 1, soaking in a vinegar bath.  A toothbrush is one of my favorite tank tools.

Pump 1, soaking in a vinegar bath. A toothbrush is one of my favorite tank tools.

A bit of coralline algae on the directional head of a pump.  This is a good, wanted encrusting algae. Comes in lovely shades of purple, red, green, pink, and white.

A bit of coralline algae on the directional head of a pump. This is a good, wanted encrusting algae. Comes in lovely shades of purple, red, green, pink, and white.

Husband drove me to the store, so I could pick up premixed saltwater and some Chemipure Elite.  Read the label, it cures everything.  I think the EPA should invest in some for the next time there’s an oil spill.  Basically, it’s a mix of charcoal and ferric oxide, to lower nutrient levels, phosphates, silica, and other bad things you don’t want measurable amounts of in your tank.  Because if you have too much of these, you get cooties.

Look through the forest of green hair algae, and you'll see a patch of red slime algae covering the middle rock. Red slime isn't really an algae at all, it's cyanobacteria.

Look through the forest of green hair algae, and you’ll see a patch of red slime algae covering the middle rock. Red slime isn’t really an algae at all, it’s cyanobacteria.

Next, time to begin the long and tedious process of scraping algae from the viewing panels.  Coralline algae is beneficial to the overall health of the tank, but not when there’s so much you can’t see through the glass/acrylic.  Toothbrush to the rescue again, along with an old credit card for scraping without scratching the acrylic.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t get it all clean, plenty of patches of algae still around, but it’s much better.

Some sheets of cyano were covering the remnants of a zoanthid colony, I think some of them will recover.  Pretties!  To my shock, my mini carpet anemone is still alive.  Unfortunately, it’s rolled itself into a ball, and wedged itself between two rocks in a way that I couldn’t get to it without shredding my hands.  Maybe it will come out now.

Another pest uncovered today

Vermatid snail tubes (if you look close, you can also see a tiny feather duster to the left of the tubes)

Vermatid snail tubes (if you look close, you can also see a tiny feather duster to the left of the tubes)

I’ve now got about a gajillion vermatid snails and their tubes all over the tank.  All over the rocks, growing from the sand bed, I even scraped tubes off of the pumps.  By themselves, they aren’t specifically harmful.  They aren’t poisonous, and don’t bite.  But those little tubes are sharp as hell, making it hard to work in the tank, and they cast fine threads out of the tubes to catch whatever bits they can to eat.  When there are so many of them, those little webs and threads irritate the corals.

After scraping and stirring everything up, I changed out about four gallons of water, a little less than half of the total water volume of the tank.  Threw the chemipure and a couple of pieces of poly-filter into the back chambers of the tank.  The sexy shrimp were the first critters to venture out.  Couldn’t get a shot of them, they’re too jumpy today.  Found a new yellow sponge growing along the bottom of one of my rocks.  I’m going to keep an eye on it, I had one pop up like that in my last tank, it smothered a delicate coral.  Then the wrasse came out of hiding.

I left to go walk a dog, then came home and walked my dogs.  Shut the pumps again and threw a little food in the tank.  The pom pom crab ventured out.

I stink.  Literally.  I smell like a blend of vinegar, low tide. and dead snail.  My back hurts from lifting and carrying water.  My hands feel a bit chewed up from all the scrapes of the vermatid snail tubes.  Looking into the tank, I can now see how much work still needs to be down, and all the coral losses from these last several months of neglect.  Somehow, though, I feel excellent.  If I can get my back to loosen up, I’ll even make dinner.


  1. whew I am tired from just reading this AND thats what I smell 😛 I may have to invest in chemipure for future house cleaning! Glad you got stuff done today. I look forward to future pictures of the critters when the settle in. I wanted to take a ride to the beach today but then it drizzled. I am hoping I do before the end of break. I am itching for a walk even though there is no boardwalk yet :(. Are there any critters out there that you can put in the tank to feed on algae? or its all a matter of balance? (like us fake tank keepers used to put catfish at the bottom to eat junk) Just wondering.


    1. A walk on the beach sounds SO good ❤
      Yes, there are critters who can/will eat algae, but things have to be stable again before I introduce any new life. It's also a small tank, so I can't add anything dependent on fresh algae to live, or it will starve once the tank is cleaned up.


  2. Wow, a lot of work/ knowledge/ delicacy goes into that 10 gallon tank! I’m impressed.

    I’m glad you got to spend the time doing it, and that it felt good (and, I suspect, restorative.)


    1. 😀 Thanks!
      The paradoxical thing about reefing is that the smaller the volume of water, the trickier it is to maintain and keep things stable.
      Every time I think that’s it! I’m done with reefing, I should break the tank down…I remember how much I love it. Stinky factor and all.


      1. I do remember that pompom crab from a mention in a prior blog post. One of these days I’m gonna steal I mean borrow and appropriately credit the pic of it and use it, since I think it’s really cool. 😀


        1. Feel free–but do credit it, you don’t want anyone thinking you would take such a shaky shot, lol 😉

          That pom pom crab is at least two years old now, and still going strong ❤


          1. Well that crab has the whole strength under adversity thing down (while looking really cool at the same time), so its longevity doesn’t surprise me in the least. 🙂


          2. lol! Unfortunately, when I spied him today, his usual pom poms of anemone bits looked more like bits of my missing ricordea mushroom coral >:o


  3. I once got two quarter sized Oscar fish and put them in a 10 gallon tank. One year later, I had a 100 gallon tank, a 10 gallon tank to hold the goldfish these rascals eat, and enough tank cleaning equipment to fill a closet!

    I feel your pain!


    1. LOL, I’m not a freshwater gal, but I know Oscars are deceptive, they start out tiny and cute, and before you know it…well, there you are.
      I began with a larger system, and downsized to this little 8.8 gallon.
      Welcome to Mrs Fringe!


  4. Just think how good you will feel when the lights come back on tomorrow. The fines will have settled,water will be clear. critters and flow will have done away with the dust and sand and corals will be happy with full PE!


  5. Then again… Always the possibility you changed too much at once, throwing off params thereby totally pissing off coral and critter alike causing a near total meltdown crash that will make you scream! Then have to stop yourself from attempting the nano- reef tank drop from the balcony maneuver. Ain’t reefin’ fun?!!!!!?

    <3. Kidding. You know this. Happy you found some time to play. 🙂


    1. lol, that’s why I stopped at a 4G change. You’ve taught me well. Besides the zoas, your leathers might well be the only corals with any life left in them 😮

      No time for fun, but dinner is on–I figured what the heck, I already stink of vinegar 😉


  6. I have always wanted to have a tank – but reading this I know I am just too lazy. Of course I fill a dozen birdfeeders every day – but they require no chemical balancing 🙂 My grandparents had a salt-water tank when I was young – it had seahorses. I loved it.


    1. Oooooh! I love the idea of a seahorse tank. One day, one day.
      If it helps, it’s a whole lot easier to keep a saltwater/and or reef tank than it was in your grandparents’ days. 😀


  7. All this talk about cooties and crabs and worms is making me itch. I read somewhere Coca Cola original was the best cleaner ever invented. How about giving the reef a sugar jolt? I wouldn’t touch the stuff, but I never follow my suggestions.


      1. A testament to the power of their product. “Coke is the real thing…4 out 5 exterminators agree.” I too am interested in that tank of yours…you really have a reef? That’s too cool…is this something a lot of people do? The balance in small tanks seems so delicate, and a living reef seems like a true balancing act of tank care.


        1. I really do have a nano-reef. A little 8.8 gallon system, downsized from a 65 gallon system. Not doing so well at the moment, but these things cycle. Building and maintaining a reef tank is all about patience.
          Not the most popular hobby, but I’m far from alone. Check out my archives, I have more photos and posts about reefkeeping in my earlier posts (July, August, September).

          I ❤ reefing, I've met some of the best people through this hobby, and it brings a peace like no other. When it isn't causing me to tear my hair out, that is. 😉


          1. I’m sure there’s a Buddhist angle there somewhere, with the peaceful bliss of hair tearing. You are just too funny sometimes – always, I mean. Going to check out your creation when I’m done with my post for the day.


          2. You’re actually spot on.
            …One of Buddha’s disciples asked him, “But Buddha, what/who is God?”
            Buddha looked at a seedling in the ground, “Sister, speak to me of God.” And the almond tree blossomed.

            Yup, reefing gives that. 🙂


          3. And “reefing” sounds so…Bob Marleyish. The Caribbean is famous for its reefing possibilities. Happy feefing to all, and to all a good reef.


  8. Goodness me! But I do understand the feeling. Many years ago Daughter #2 brought a goldfish home from a fair in a plastic bag of water as did two of her friends. Horror. Theirs died. Ours didn’t. Not for seven long years. Companions came and went down the loo but Goldie lived on. The cleaning of his tank was a love/hate affair for me. I hated doing it but loved the result. For days I would have to stop and admire my handiwork.
    But when Goldie kicked the bucket I felt free and must admit I do not miss the tank cleaning.


    1. Hmm, kind of like writing, what’s that quote? Hate writing, love having written.
      Yes, I know other parents who ended up with goldfish that lasted for years when they expected it to be quick.

      Fish are not short lived creatures 🙂 Though there are times when I’ve neglected the tank, I would miss it, maintenance and all.


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