Coldwater marine aquarium Blog 2008 February
8 February 2008
Kelp coralline

Kelp holdfast gripping coral weed (Corallina officinalis). Very nice coralline algae. The norwegian name for coral weed is "krasing" which means "crushing" which I guess comes from the sound it makes when you walk on it. It is very common, but I didn't know it could be so nice looking. It's like a northern miniature stony coral.

Look how the kelp has grown!

Been a while since last update now. But I haven't really seen much into the tank myself this time either. It has been winter and dark here. Light was only on for 4 hours a day in January, and those hours I am mostly at work. The weather has been horrible too. But now in February the light is returning. I expect there will be more updates in the months to come. I am really itching to get out and find more algae and animals. In December and January I was only out collecting a few times. I found some nice coralline algae, most likely ( Lithothamnion glaciale). Will get more of those later. There were also some hydroids that, to my surprise, seem to do well in the tank. Haven't gotten any pics of those yet, but the species are most likely Tubularia larynx, and Obelia geniculata. I also took a large chunk of bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus) on a rock. That is one of the boldest moves I've done in a long time ;-). But since the tank is such a dream to work with right now I felt like it was worth trying. We'll see how it goes. I also found a few more sugar kelp specimens, and some red algae.

Bladder wrack

Bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosis). Just added to the tank. Will it thrive?


The coralline algae in this picture is most likely Lithothamnion glaciale. This piece is growing on a rock and was recently added to the tank.

New chiller


Old AquaMedic Titan 1500, left. And new TECO TR20.

Just got my new chiller, a TECO TR20. Very satisfied with in Germany for the shopping experience and UPS for transport. No problems there. When it comes to the chiller itself, I won't say it's perfect, but I conclude that I am satisfied so far, after about one week of use. I'll take the negative things first: The hose connectors are sort of over ambitious. I think they have tried to make something that is elegant and makes the chiller very service friendly. You can just shut the valves and disconnect the chiller without any spill, theoretically. The valves leak though, so you can't. The connectors are a bit scary too, if you touch them when the chiller is installed water leaks out in at least two different places. Pretty low quality stuff. The main problem however is the design of the valves in terms of water flow. They seem to be designed like some mini version of an ordinary bathroom tap. That is a high pressure tap. The design is extremely flow restrictive! With the AquaMedic chiller I had 1500 liters/hour on my return, now I have 900 thanks to this stupid solution. I could have found some new connectors and avoided the whole problem of course. But then again, my drain is so incredibly much more quiet at 900 l/h. So I'm sticking with it for now. The chiller comes without an instruction. There is no instruction on the net either. That was a slight problem because the control unit is not logical. You can adjust values that have no effect on the chiller. There is an instruction for the North American version, it has the same panel. But it doesn't work the same way! So that instruction doesn't help. Also, silent mode just doesn't work. I press the button, light comes on, nothing happens.

I like the overall design of the chiller. It seems like they have tried to do something different. The air flow design is comletely different from the AquaMedic design. The AquaMedic has a weak fan next to the condenser. The fan doesn't create fast air flow. The chiller is open and volumous. Perhaps the best chiller in a tight environment. The TECO is compacted and closed and has two powerful fans that create a real jet stream through it. The TECO has a very quiet compressor, but is still more noisy due to the two fans. The design is perfect for me though. The powerful fans work in serial with the fans in my chiller box and create a great stream leading all hot air far away from the chiller. The high frequency noise from the fans is efficiently reduced by the sound dampening mats in my box. For people with understanding of air flow and wanting to build sound dampening cabinets, the TECO is a better chiller. Another thing, the thermostat can be set all the way down to 0 degrees (C), sweet! The TECO is clearly more powerful than the AM, and it fits perfectly into my box. So if things keep going as well as they have until now my chiller problems are solved. I now also have a spare chiller, which is essential for really serious long term coldwater aquaristics.

Some electrical stuff

Bought myself a gadget that can measure effect and current in household equipment. Very interesting results. Now, I assume that this thing actually works and is exact. That is probably a very risky assumption. I guess I should have double checked with other devices. Still I take the chance: I always thought that you could take the current and multiply it with the voltage and you would get effect. Nope, not with AC current combined with engines and transformers. I also though that the effects specified on the pumps and chillers were what the devices used. Nope, the effect varies. Here are some findings:

DSB studying

I've taken a few samples from my live sand and checked for life earlier. Then there were still a lot of algae on top of the sand. The samples were taken from the top of the sandbed in areas where there seemed to be a lot of life. They contained large amounts of animals, segmented worms, rounds worms and crustaceans. This is the first time I took a real core sample of a random point on the bed. Now the bed is quite clear of non coralline algae. A tube was pushed straight into the sand all the way to the bottom, closed at the top and then lifted up. The water on top of the tube was emptied out. The total depth of the bed was about 10 cm. I took small samples from various depths of this core and looked at them at 40X magnification. The result was quite disappointing. After careful study of about 7 samples of estimated 0.2 cubic centimeters I could not recognize any living animals. Well I saw one round worm and something resembling a flat worm, but that is so little it rounds off to 0. So I must conclude that the sand is dead as far as animals large enough to be seen clearly at 40X are concerned. I am theorizing that if there ever was an infauna in this sand it must have died from starvation.

The sand consisted of rock and calcareous particles of very varying sizes. I would say that the dominating ones were about 4mm i diameter. So it is a coarse sand, almost gravel. But between the dominating large grains there was a lot of smaller ones all the way down to fine dust or mud. I think that many of the particles must be organic in nature. There were some long strands that seemed to be algal threads. The color that I usually see on algal threads was gone so they must be dead and decomposed. If it is correct that there is a lot of bio material in the tank then this must be somehow depleted of nutrient value for animals. It could also be that the low temperature has an effect. There is no doubt that bio processes are going extremely slowly now. For example, I stuffed some pieces of sea salad under a rock more than a month ago. They were supposed to be food for detrivores. I can see a piece of it when I shine the torch underneath there. It is still green. The sand was also very uniform in the whole depth. It had the same color, composition and smell from top to bottom. It smelled very slightly of skimmate, no strong smell. I take that as a sign of very low bio activity.

Hitch hiker

I had known about this 7 cm long hitch hiking sea hare (Aplysia punctata) for some time. But there was never an oportunity for a good foto. Finally I took it out for a quick foto session in a jar. It got a bit stressed when I pushed it down from the top of the jar and you can see the result in the last picture. That stuff doesn't look healthy, but what a color!

Two spotted goby

Two spotted gobies are semi pelagic during daytime, and hide during the nigh. Now in winter they seem to be hiding a lot during day time too.

Squat lobster

Squat lobster (Galathea squamifera). I placed at least 6 of these in the tank in August. But I have hardly seen them. Very shy and night active animals. A few individuals have started to venture out during daylight hours now.

Bristle star

Here you see the arms of a bristle star. It is filtering the water. They always hide the body in a narrow crack and only expose the arms. This could be Ophiopholis aculeata.

Dahlia anemone

Dahlia anemone (Urticina felina). This is an old picture taken just after I found it this summer.

Pink shrimp

Pink shrimp (Pandalus montagui).

Pink shrimp

Pink shrimp (Pandalus montagui).


Palaemon sp.

Sand goby

Sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus). I think.


One of the mussels is sticking it's foot out. They use the foot to move and to attach the treads that hold them in place.

Sea squirts

Sea squirts. Seemingly doing fine.

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