I’ve built this using WordPress. It is absolutely fantastic for blogs like this and makes putting things together and managing them very simple. I recently had the need to move another one of my WordPress sites from one URL to another. Thankfully, there is a great (FREE!) plugin to do just that.
I’m sharing the link to the guide for doing this yourself if you ever come across the need:
This is a slight deviation from reefing, but it is related for all of you DIY electronics reefers out there. I stumbled across this video recently and it is AWESOME! It shows you how to make a modular design for a snap-fit case. You can change a few variables and it automatically resizes and adjusts to the new variables.
One thing that I notice comes up quite a bit in discussions about EcoTech’s Vortech propeller pumps is, “what does
LED color mean?” EcoTech really should have made life a lot simpler for everyone and made these codes readily accessible. Their website can be a bit troublesome to navigate and find what you are looking for.
I even know where these are and I have trouble getting to them quickly when I want them. Like other things I’ve included on this site, I’m going to add these to my list of useful items to have…
My oldest had a snow day today. What better to do on a day off from school than to bake?! I’ve made a lot of brownies from a lot of different recipes. They always leave something to be desired. These were almost perfect!
The ingredient list is small and you probably have everything in your cabinet already. On top of that, these are incredibly chocolate-y with just one type of chocolate. We added chocolate chips, just for fun but you do not need them.
These were more cake-like than fudgey, but they were moist and delicious. We might mess with the recipe a bit to get a fudgier end, but these are great as is.
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter, cubed
3/4 cup baking cocoa
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2-2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/3 cup whole milk
In a saucepan, melt butter. Remove from the heat. Stir in cocoa; cool. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until blended. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture. Stir in vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture until well blended.
Spread into a greased 13×9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-28 minutes (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.
For frosting, in a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cocoa and vanilla. Add enough milk until the frosting achieves spreading consistency. Spread over brownies. Cut into bars.
It’s been just over 2 months since I got my first Battle Box from Battle Corals. I could not be happier! Everything has been growing, encrusting and they are starting to show their colors.
Not pictured are the ultra pink milli, fox flame and pink tabling acro. The latter two haven’t colored up yet and I forgot to take a pic of the milli 🙂
The rest of the tank has been growing pretty well too. I’m battling some cyano, which you can see in the pictures, but it is starting to die back. My nutrients have been stuck at zero and I was dosing PolypLabs Aminos to try and feed the corals. Turns out I was mostly feeding the cyano.
Here are just a few more random pics from the tank.
All pictures on this page were taken with a Nikon D5000 using a Tamron 90mm lens
It is cider time! We love making spiced cider on the weekends to sip on while watching a movie or just hanging out. I thought, “There has to be a cider pancake recipe!” I was not disappointed. These pancakes were AWESOME!
Apple Cider Pancakes – sweet and fluffy pancakes made with apple cider and topped with cinnamon sugar apples! Perfect fall weekend breakfast!
True to form, it has been a while since I came to the site to provide an update. There’s a lot I probably should talk about, but I don’t have pictures of too much and what good is a post without pictures!?
One cool update is that I got my very first Battle Box from Battle Corals. Adam (the owner of Battle Corals, not me Adam) is a super nice guy. I let him know that I wanted all branching corals, nothing encrusting, and not much green. We emailed back and forth a couple of times and I decided to place an order for the $300 Battle Box. That is supposed to come with 6-8 corals. Mine came with 10!
I was totally blown away by what I got. Take a look: (crappy cell pic)
Insane combo, right?! These corals have all since moved up to the rockwork and every single one has already shown significant encrusting. I’ll post up an update on each coral when I can get some pictures of them. Maybe today!
With the 50g Cube finally back up and running I was able to break down my two holding tanks. One was for my fish and the other was for my corals and inverts. This was a good window to finish quarantining the inverts and corals, but man the corals did not do well in holding. Only one actually died, but all of them receded back pretty severely. I’m not 100% on why since the water quality should have been great considering it was all new water to begin with. I suspect having zero nutrients was part of the problem. I did add some food to the tank each day to give it something, but nothing really helped. It was just a matter of time before either the new tank was ready and the corals could move in or they would all die. Thankfully it was the former and not the latter.
I should have taken some pictures on day 1 when they first went into the tank, but honestly I thought they were going to just fade away so I didn’t bother. To my surprise they started looking a lot better the very next day. The “before” pictures are from 6 days after going in.
You can see the zoanthids (bam bams to be specific) in this image are clearly unhappy, but they’re opening up. When they first went in, they were barely opening at all. You could just see a hint of orange. And now here they are today, just 4 days after the last picture. Yes, there is some algae but it will die back. The polyps are starting to look right again! They’ve got lashes again and they’re wide open.
Same thing goes with these acans. These were shrunken down to mostly just exposed skeleton and a bit of tissue in the middle of each section. This coral came back from looking entirely dead once before so I had hopes it would recover. The rate at which it has recovered has been awesome! Again, here we are with the day 6 “before” picture.
Already most of the polyps are back out and they have their feeding tentacles out. Wonderful! Then just another 4 days later…
They’re all totally full and starting to jockey for space.
Needless to say, I’m really happy to see things coming around. Unfortunately it isn’t all good news. There are some things that I would rather have seen die but somehow they’ve survived… Texas. Trash. Palys. These things just won’t die!
Can you see those son’s of b’s back there!? They were in an unheated tub of low salinity water in the dark for 4 months. HOW DID THEY SURVIVE!? I pulled the rock and saw these remnants and thought to myself, “Nah… they’re dead. There’s no way they lived through that…” I WAS SO WRONG! I think I’m going to pull this rock out before they have a chance to take hold. They’re damn near impossible to eradicate otherwise.
All in all this is great news. My tank is back up and running and corals are growing. Not much more than that to ask for 🙂
Out of order and as promised, here are the details on the final steps getting the stand put together. I’ve yet to finish the doors, so that will come in a subsequent post. They will be finished the same as the rest of the tank and unless I wind up doing something CRAZY, they’ll look the same as the drawing. Now then, onto the fun…
When we left off I had just finished putting the top and bottom bases on the frame. I was able to get the frame squared again after the assembly work racked it by about 1/4″. Phew! At this point the only thing to do is start the finishing.
My previous stand was made of veneered MDF. If you don’t already know, MDF and water are a BAD combination. The MDF swells pretty severely when wet and becomes very unstable. Since this stand is solid pine that shouldn’t be an issue, but it is still good practice to seal it well.
I opted for a multi-step approach. First, I sealed the edges all around the bottom of the frame with silicone. I don’t expect any water to actually collect under here, but at least this will keep it from getting trapped in a joint. Next, the entire inside of the frame got two coats of Killz Latex paint. This is a stain blocker and primer and it helps provide a good layer for the next layer of finish to stick to. Killz will keep any sap in the wood from leaching out and making a dark spot too. After the Killz came three coats of Rustoleum Appliance Epoxy Paint. Unfortunately the paint needed 24 hours to dry between coats, so this held me up for quite a while.
Expoxy Paint and Silicone Sealant for the Base and Inside of the FrameIf you’ve never used an epoxy paint there are two things to know about it: 1) it is hard as a rock when applied properly, and 2) it STINKS when you’re applying it so open a window or work outside. I went with three coats on the base just to make sure I wouldn’t damage the finish when sliding things around under there. Water beads up on the epoxy and protects the wood underneath. The frame itself only got one coat since they just need splash and humidity protection. Here’s how it came out:
Next up, it is time to stain the outside of the stand. I went with another Rustoleum product called Varethane. It is actually a surface treatment and not really a stain, but it comes in a nice antique whitewashed finish that matched the look I was looking for. I thought it would be a quick way to finish the stand, but it turned out I was in for quite a few coats. After one coat the color change was very subtle. You can see in this picture the difference between a scrap of unfinished pine and the stand with one coat of stain.
Subtle, right? There’s a balancing act between letting the stain sit longer to get a deeper finish and letting it sit too long and leaving splotches. I opted for the safer route of more coats. It took 5 coats to get to the look I wanted, but it came out awesome!
Now it is time to lock in that finish and protect it. Pine, if you don’t already know, is very soft so it very easily gets damaged from accidental bumps and scrapes. Also since the finish is actually a surface treatment, it needs to be protected so it doesn’t wear off. My initial plan was to use polyurethane as the sealant. It dries rock solid and provides great protection. I did one coat on the top and realized I made a big mistake… Polyurethane dries with a yellow tint! Crap! Luckily it was only on the top and you won’t see it once the tank is sitting there.
I switched to using polycrylic which dries completely clear. It’s actually easier to work with than polyurethane, so that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I did three coats of the polycrilic all around. I used 220 grit sand paper between coats and 400 grit on the last one. The final product is silky smooth with a rock hard protective finish. Now that the messy work was done, it was time for the stand to move upstairs!
You can really tell the difference where the polyurethane went on top versus the polycrylic that went on the rest. Glad I caught that early! One nice surprise was just how light the stand is. It is 36″ x 36″ x 30″, so it is quite big and awkward to carry, but I easily got it up the basement steps by myself.
The moment of truth is to see if everything stayed level and survey says….
NAILED IT! Woot woot! Now the last bit of construction on the frame is to fit up the electronics section. A few pieces of plywood later (and several days because I did the same epoxy paint finish on this) and voila!
The last thing I’ll touch on in this post is the ledge for the top. It is just a simple butt joint for the three pieces of pine, but it really completes the look.
And I’ll leave you with this final picture. I couldn’t help myself and I had to slide the tank onto the stand and the front door clamped on to see how it would look. GLORIOUS!
Take a look at how things turned out (minus the doors) in this post. Look for my next post soon about the aquascape and mounting the light.