August 2016 TOTM – Sand dollar

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Introduction from Sand dollar:  I’m so honored to be considered for TOTM! I have been in the hobby for a little over two years. I have always loved the ocean and searching the beach for marine life and interesting shells that may have washed up. After snorkeling in the Caribbean for the first time.

I was in awe at the variety and beauty of life in the sea. I never imagined I could have my own piece of that world until a saw a neighbor’s reef tank and talked to her about the set up and maintenance. I decided to give it a try and have been addicted ever since.

My first reef tank was a biocube 14 set up as a mixed reef with mostly softies, LPS and a few fish. I ran that tank for a year and a half and during that time read and learned more and more about the hobby. About a year in I tried my first anemone, a Rock Flower Anemone (RFA), and fell in love immediately.

When I added it to the tank, it expelled about 15 tiny babies out. They were extremely tiny and over a few weeks had disappeared under rocks and to the back, however it inspired my tank featured here, a species specific RFA breeding tank. I moved my corals and fish to a JBJ 45 tank and turned the biocube into my rock flower tank.

In addition to reef keeping , I love gardening , so it makes sense that I would want to create an underwater flower garden. I love that rock flowers are blooming all year around! Other things I enjoy are cooking, running, traveling, family time and my dogs.

sand_2SETUP: As I mentioned, the tank featured here is a bio cube 14 and I have kept it pretty simple. I am currently running stock lighting: 10K power compact, actinic and moonlight LED strip. I run actinics from 8:00am-9:30pm, 10K run from 10:00am – 5:00pm. In the 1st back chamber I have filter floss, purigen and phosguard, the 2nd chamber holds filter floss and bioballs, and the 3rd chamber holds the heater and stock pump.

The other modification I made is to cover the returns with screen to prevent any baby flower anemones from getting sucked into the back chambers. Future plans are to upgrade lighting to Kessil 160W (should be a birthday present this month!). The tank is set up with 10 lbs of black sand and 10 lbs of live rock.

sand_3MAINTENANCE:  I rely on water changes to maintain water quality. I change 2-3 gallons of water weekly, matching temp and salinity, and top off with RODI a couple times a week. I honestly do not test NO3, KH, pH, PO4, Ca or Ma very often since it completed cycling. I keep temp around 77 and Salinity 1.0124.

I dose iodine, a couple drops every other week and gently blow off sand and rocks before water changes and replace filter floss each week. Purigen and phosguard are changed out ever 30-45 days.


sand_4INHABITANTS:  This is a Rock Flower Anemone species specific tank. It currently holds 22 adult size RFAs and many baby RFAs of varies sizes.

In addition to RFAs, I have two sexy shrimp, 4 snails and dragons breathe macro algae. I also have some nuisance green and red bubble algae. I have been keeping my eye out for a porcelain crab which will also host RFAs. I have not added any fish because I don’t want the additional nutrients they would add.

What I love about RFAs is that they come in many amazing colors, sizes, and textures, so even though you have many of the same thing there is so much variety.



Their true beauty really shows under the blues, which is why I am so excited to get my new LED lighting for the tank to really make it look like a firework show.

They are active, so even though I do not have any fish there is still a lot of movement with them standing up, opening and closing and I love watching them eat.

They also will occasionally wander around the tank, so the aquascape is never boring!


sand_6FEEDING:  I target feed Mysiss shrimp and cyclopeez a couple times a week.

The babies I have been able to feed consistently have grown at a faster rate.






sand_7CONCLUSION:  So far I have had one very successful spawning and have enjoyed watching the babies grow and their colors change.

I am looking forward to more spawnings and hope the tank soon over flows with RFAs and forces me to upgrade to a larger flower garden tank.


Sand dollar

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