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Thread: My Chunk of the Ocean

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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    My Chunk of the Ocean

    I have been dreaming of purchasing a saltwater aquarium for the last four plus years. That dream came to an end when my son was born in 2002. We needed to spend the tank money on his furniture. Fast-forward to the end of 2006 when I received a nice sized end-of-year bonus from work. I have three fresh water tanks in my house and one at work and I wanted to add a salt tank in my home office. My wife was hesitant about putting it in my office so I compromised with her to purchase the aquarium but it will be placed in the den where the whole family will be able to enjoy it.

    After doing research on manufacturer’s websites, TalkingReef and other blog sites, I decided on the AGA 54 corner, thanks Carmie . I ordered the tank, AGA Model 1 sump, Nova Extreme 24” light (1x24 watt 10,000k, 1x24 watt 9,600, 1x24 Actinic 420nm & 1x24 Actinic 460nm - I changed two of the bulbs on a recommendation from the LFS), CoraLife Super Skimmer, Mag 7 pump 900 g/h for the return from the sump, heater, digital thermometer, sand, 25 lbs Live Rock and 25 lbs of Base Rock from the LFS.

    On February 25th, the tank, stand and everything else we needed to get the tank running was delivered. Since this is our first salt aquarium we decided it was worth the extra money to have someone who knows what he is doing setup the tank. Chris, the installer, had picked up the tank from the LFS and painted the two flat sides of the tank black. He also brought with him 60 plus gallons of RO saltwater to get the tank started. We have a RO system in the house but it was easier to let Chris mix the water because he knew the process.


    As you can see the tank is at the top of the stairs that lead into the den. From the couch you get a great view of the tank.

    We added a Maxi Jet 900 Power Head to the front left corner to counteract the returns that are breaking the water surface and moving the water in a clockwise direction.

    Within the first two weeks all the levels were at zero, so the water Chris brought got us off to a GREAT start. You can see the algae on the sand.

    Last edited by nbkcu33; 05-02-2007 at 05:54 PM.
    Matthew
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    A pie shaped chunk of the ocean in my house. AGA 54 Corner Reef Ready
    LPS Mixed

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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    On March 3rd we went out & got the first portion of the cleaning crew: 12 Astrea Snails, 12 Margarita Snails, 6 Red Leg Hermit crabs and 12 Blue Leg Hermit crabs. We also fell in love with a White Star coral so it came home with us.



    On March 11th we added a Zoanthid and an orange Sun Coral.




    I also learned that all corals are not filter feeders and purchased Cyclop-eeze for the Sun Coral.

    On the same weekend I went and picked up a Toadstool Leather from a different LFS, which we placed on hold even before the tank was installed. When I placed it in the tank there was too much water flow from the return, across it, as you see in the picture.



    During the following week we had a rather hot day here in Georgia. The A/C was not on in the house and the tank paid the price. The Toadstool, which had three stalks, was reduced to one dying stalk and the White Star completely died off.

    Since there is an A/C duct right behind the tank I built a deflector to direct the cold air onto the sump to help keep the tank cool. I do not have room near the tank for a chiller so this will have to do.



    We also started to find several empty snail shells littering the bottom of the tank. A few days later some of the crabs had moved into snail shells.

    We added another 16 Margarita Snails on March 18th, to replace the Astrea Snails that had disappeared. We found out that the crabs had been eating the Astrea Snails. So I started to feed the crabs with Formula Two Marine pellets. We also added an Emerald Crab, Rex.

    Last edited by nbkcu33; 05-09-2007 at 03:29 PM. Reason: Add'l info
    Matthew
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    LPS Mixed

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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    I am glad to say the White Star has started to grow again, but the Toadstool has not come back.




    I have left the “dead” Toadstool in the tank hoping it might come back but in the meantime we got another Toadstool that also has Pineapple Favia beneath it.



    We also got a Ricordia



    And a Cynarina



    I did the first water change on March 25th.
    Matthew
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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    Then we went all out. We added a pair of Clown Fish (Woody-the bigger one, and Jessie), named by my 4-year-old son.



    Sally the Regal Tang



    And Jacques the cleaner Shrimp



    On one trip to the LFS we fell in love with a Xenia, so in it went.



    We have not been able to get the Xenia into a pulsing rhythm yet, but it doesn’t appear to be unhappy. We changed its location several times and hope it is happy where it is now.

    The Regal Tang has a white dot on its dorsal fin, which showed up about one week after adding her to the tank. I have read that they are susceptible to Ick when stressed. I have been treating the food, MYSIS shrimp, with Metronidazole for about a week. The dot has grown and now looks like three dots on top of each other. HELP!!!
    Matthew
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    A pie shaped chunk of the ocean in my house. AGA 54 Corner Reef Ready
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    Curious Reefer Bluemax4's Avatar
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    WOW I'm glad that it went ok. I like the tank.

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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    Matthew,

    I love the tank on the landing! It looks great! Do you have a recent full tank shot? How deep is your sand bed? How much LR do you have? What are your water parameters now? What is your lighting cycle? How do you have your sump set up? What are you feeding? Are you adding anything like garlic or vitamins? Tangs need veggies.

    Your idea about the AC vent is clever. You could also install a fan in the cabinet where it would blow across the sump.

    How long have you had your tang? Did you quarantine (QT)? If he has ick you will need to pull him and the clowns out and put them into a hospital tank because the effective treatments for ick will kill your inverts. Here is an article Reefreaders - Quarantine Now! that will explain how to set up a QT tank. Ick is treated with copper, hyposalinity and elevated temps. Change the SpG & temp slowly to avoid stressing the fish further. You will need to let your display tank lie fallow for 6-8 weeks in order to make sure the parasite's life cycle is broken.

    How big is the tang now? They grow to be about a foot long.
    Carmie


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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    Carmie,

    I hope I can answer all your questions, so here I go:
    · The sand bed is only 1.5 inches deep. I know I need to add more. It should be 4 inches, right?
    · There is 25 pounds of LR and 25 pounds of Base Rock. There is green algae on most of the Base Rock.
    · The water parameters are
    1. Nitrates = 20
    2. Nitrites = .5
    3. Alkalinity = 230
    4. PH = 82
    5. Specific Gravity = 1.024
    6. Temp = 76.2F
    · The lighting cycle is The Lunar is on all the time. The Actinic is on from 10 am until 10 pm. The “Daylight” is on from noon until 8 pm. I get home late and this way I can see everything awake for an hour then watch it all go to sleep.
    · I am feeding MYSIS shrimp, Formula 2 pellets, Cyclopeeze and seaweed.
    · There is garlic in the pellets. I am adding Prime, Tech A & B and Iodine
    · See the pictures below for the sump setup.
    I guess I should have cleaned the skimmer before taking the picture

    We got Sally two weeks ago and she is about 4 inches long. I did not quarantine. What do you want from a newbie?

    I almost forgot the full tank pics.

    Last edited by nbkcu33; 05-03-2007 at 10:38 PM. Reason: fix spelling
    Matthew
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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    Looking good! The little racks on the door are a great idea! Did your stand come that way or did you add them? I'm buying some to add to my door! It looks like your skimmer is working just fine.

    As far as sand beds go there are shallow sand beds and deep sand beds. Both have their proponents. If you decide to increase your sand I would recommend going deeper than 4" because it will compact and that is the depth you are aiming for. I will be adding another 50# to my tank in about a week because my initial 4" is down to 3.5".

    Have your nitrites ever been zero? What is your ammonia? You will want to work on getting the nitrates to 0 and getting the nitrates down. Have you done another water change? I do about a 10% water change weekly. I would also start pulling the bio-balls from the sump. They are fine for FO tanks but not for reef tanks. The bio-balls are great for ammonia ->nitrite -> nitrate but then it stops there. Corals don't like nitrate.

    Are you testing for calcium and iodine? I believe that you don't want to dose what you don't test for.

    I would get a small tank to set up as QT and make it a habit to use for every thing new you add. I have read so many threads where someone doesn't QT and ends wiping their whole tank out. Besides protecting the fish you already have from outside diseases it also gives your new fish a place to recover from the rigors of shipping.
    Carmie


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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    Carmie,

    The racks on the door are from Wal-Mart. They are shower racks on which I removed the suction cups and used RG-59, cable wire, nails to attach them to the door.

    The reason I am adding Calcium and Iodine is because I was told to help promote the growth of the corals. I understand that I might be adding too much so I will pick up a test kits for the Nitrates, Nitrites, Calcium and Iodine and get more sand.

    While at the LFS I will look into a QT. BTW the Ick spots are getting smaller and no one else is showing any signs of Ick.

    I still have a lot to learn.
    Matthew
    [
    A pie shaped chunk of the ocean in my house. AGA 54 Corner Reef Ready
    LPS Mixed

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    Grand Master Reefer Seahorsedreams's Avatar
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    Your tank is very beautiful. I hate to be the one to tell you but maragrita snails are a cold water snail. I have no idea why they keep showing up in the hobby for our reef tanks. They will eventually cook and die.
    Renee

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    Apprentice mikellini's Avatar
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    I just read an article by Randy Holmes-Farley in regards to dosing for the new aquarist, you should check it out in this month's issue at reefkeeping.com. He basically suggests iodine supplementation is not a good idea, and that the main focus in a reef tank should be alkalinity, calcium, and pH. He also mentions, in a previous article, that nitrites really have little effect on reef aquaria as compared to freshwater, and shouldn't really be tested for unless as supplemental information of the initial 'cycle' phase. If I were you, I'd probably look into ammonia levels instead of nitrite levels, which could be high due to organic decomposition (coral death), and do substantial water changes and/or remove the remnants of the dying corals if they are high.

    I think you've got a great start, and you've come to the right place for info! Keep us posted...

    p.s. Love your sun coral, got another shot of it?

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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    Thanks Mikellini, I have one more picture of the Sun Coral. It is not as happy as in the first one but it still looks good.


    Last night I was up late and the tank had been "asleep" for about two hours and I saw something incredible, the Cynarina was feeding. It is a beautiful coral during the day but at night while feeding...I can't describe it. Look for yourselves.


    Today I added a 9-watt Coralife UV sterilizer with a Maxi-jet 600 pump. Right now I just have the water circulating through the unit but the light is not on. The UV unit is not on the tank return but siphoning and returning to the sump. Once Sally’s Ick clears I will turn the light on.
    Matthew
    [
    A pie shaped chunk of the ocean in my house. AGA 54 Corner Reef Ready
    LPS Mixed

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    Grand Master Reefer gwen_o_lyn's Avatar
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    Hi Matt,

    I'm only 10 miles N of you. Let me know if you need any help. I will PM you my email address. I work in Kennesaw and live in C'ville.

    Are you in the Atlanta Reef Club? I would love to give you some more information on it because it's a wonderful club and good sized too. I sometimes head up north to hang out with the Chattanooga Reefers, a smaller club and not so structured which is refreshing at times.

    I have plenty of corals I could give you too, but there's only one problem. I have nudibranchs (zoa-eating kind) and unless you QT the corals, you are taking a chance. They aren't going to eat the corals I would give you, but I see you have a zoa frag and they could eat it. Ridding them from your system could be a headache. Once my new setup is going, I will be attempting to rid them again and maybe in the future I can hook you up??


    I hate to be the tang police but a 4"er isn't going to be that happy in a 54g. I'm really pushing it with my tang in a 72g, but he is admiring his future home for now.

    Like Carmie said- the bioballs have to go. They aren't good for reef tanks. As for sand, I got rid of it. I'm on the bare bottum - no sand - bandwagon for now. We all do tanks different, but there are many things we all agree on (like taking out the bioballs, testing anything that you dose, and that dosing this and that isn't really needed since water changes will take care of that)


    Talk to ya soon,
    gwen
    Gwen - 2008 Atlanta Reef Club Board
    MACNA XX Committee
    125g RR AGA "The Simple Reef Tank"

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    Curious Reefer sscheitel's Avatar
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    Matt

    Do you have test kits for all the dosing agents you are adding? If you are going to dose....you should test. Salifert makes good test kits..get good test kits. No strips..they are not accurate enough.

    Also, your tank is not a chemistry set...frequent water changes is the best medicine for a sick tank, fish or coral.

    You have your temp at 76.2...raise this a smidge...to around 78. Sick fish tend to do better in a higher temp than 76

    Good luck !!

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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    Hi Matt,

    I've been sick and haven't been around for a few days. How is Sally? I don't have a UV but I think that if you have ich in your tank you should turn it on now. I believe that it will help control it.

    Here are a couple of articles about ich.

    Marine Ich/Cryptocaryon irritans - A Discussion of this Parasite and the Treatment Options Available, Part I by Steven Pro - Reefkeeping.com
    Marine Ich/Cryptocaryon irritans - A Discussion of this Parasite and the Treatment Options Available, Part II by Steven Pro - Reefkeeping.com
    Carmie


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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    Gwen, thank you for the info on the Atlanta Reef Club, I will look into it.

    The tang was added thanks to my son’s love for the Disney movie Finding Nemo. I explained to him that Sally might get too big for the tank and we might need to give her away. His reply to that was “Let’s just get a bigger tank”. You have to love the way the mind of a four year old works.

    Sally’s Ich is clearing but slowly. I have pushed the temp up a few degrees in the tank to help kill the Ich. As far as using the UV Sterilizer to help clear up the Ich, I was told that the Metronidazole and the UV would not be a good combination. Does anyone know if that is true? Again the newbie is asking questions.

    I have purchased the appropriate test kits, and I am glad I did. I found out the Calcium was around 300 so I added some of the Tech A & B in the meantime. I have prepared some water to do another water change but I did not have time this past weekend. We have a crazy house; anyone with children would understand. Hopefully, I will do the water change tonight.

    The Bio-balls are gone from the sump. That actually worked to my advantage because the water flow into the sump was so high, thanks gravity, the water was backing up over the Bio-balls and leaking from the sump. Now the flow is straight down and not backing up. Is there anything I should put in place of the Bio-balls or just leave that area free flowing?
    Matthew
    [
    A pie shaped chunk of the ocean in my house. AGA 54 Corner Reef Ready
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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    One more question. I have used MelaFix in my freshwater tanks to help contain fin rot and cotton mouth. Would MelaFix do any good in the salt aquirium in the fight against Ich?
    Last edited by nbkcu33; 05-07-2007 at 03:30 PM. Reason: Correct Spelling
    Matthew
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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    I've never heard that MelaFix is effective against ich. Many compounds can be altered bu light so I guess the UV could affect the Metronidazole.
    Carmie


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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    Here we are on week 3 of the Ich watch and it still has not cleared. None of the other inhabitance of the tank has shown any signs of Ich. I know I need to setup a hospital tank to treat Sally more intensely. I was thinking about taking Sally for a freshwater swim . Will that help get rid of the Ich? If so are there any water parameters I need to check before Sally’s swim? NEWBIE!!! I have not turned on the UV sterilizer yet because I am still medicating the tank.

    The only other thing going on in the tank is the Toadstool had four black growths on it. I moved the water around the Toadstool and the growths fell off leaving holes in the top of the coral. I know a picture would help in the diagnoses but I do not have one yet. Can one venture a guess as to what the growths could have been?
    Matthew
    [
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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    Ich is a parasite called Cryptocaryon irritans and only lives on the fish during 1 stage of its lifecycle. Some fish, like tangs, are more susceptible to ich which is why you see the spots on Sally. Since the parasite itself is also in your tank a freshwater dip won't do much good. The only cure is to remove all of the fish to QT and treat them there for 6 weeks. Ich does not live on corals or inverts so they can stay in your tank while your fish are in QT. The parasite will die out in your tank because there is no fish to host it.

    I don't have any idea about your toadstool. Hopefully someone else will be able to help.
    Last edited by CarmieJo; 05-18-2007 at 11:10 PM. Reason: typo
    Carmie


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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    Ok everyone I have given you a week of silence so here I go again with another NEWBIE question. Ready, is there anything I should add to the sump since I removed the Bio-balls? I know the sump is really just an extension of the water column and a place for the filtration and skimming process. Should I add Live Sand, LR or anything else in the sump? I have read about fuge but I not clear on what it is or the functionality of it.
    Last edited by nbkcu33; 05-18-2007 at 10:23 AM. Reason: edit text
    Matthew
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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    I have LR rubble and caulerpa in mine. If I had more room I'd also add a DSB in my sump/ refugium. Here is an article that might be helpful. Reefreaders - Refugium I would encourage you to try and add some macro for nutrient export and to increase your pod population.
    Carmie


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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    Ok, here we go again. I have algae, green, bubbles on some rocks. I was told that an Emerald crab would get rid of the bubbles before they pop sending algae all over the tank. We already have Rex but he seems to stay on the right side of the tank and the bubbles are on the left, so we got another Emerald crab, Shrek, yes Shrek like the ogre. Leave it to a 4 year old to name your tank inhabitance and this is what you get.
    Well now both of the Emerald crabs are hanging out on the right side of the tank. Does anyone know the best way to remove the algae bubbles; nature’s way is not working?

    While at the LFS we saw a Flowerpot coral & my wife fell in love, so in it went into our tank.

    The original toadstool has finally separated from its rock so it is officially dead. We have not removed the rock because we have found a Feather duster growing on it. We like the look of the Feather duster and would like it to remain in the tank. Just today we found a few white “caterpillars” on the dead Toadstool’s rock. I tried to get a good picture of them but they will not sit still. Below is the best picture I was able to get. Can someone please identify these critters? They are about a 1/8 of an inch long.
    Matthew
    [
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    Curious Reefer nbkcu33's Avatar
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    Sorry for the long absence. I have been fighting with this tank for the last two months. I have been going 10% water changes every week but the numbers are way off. The only thing that is close is the salinity. I took a sample to the LFS and they told me the phosphates were very high. So they sold me some Stability and had me turn off the UV and to continue dosing with Tech BC (both parts). I have lost all but two corals, the Zoanthid and part of the Cynarina. The fish with the exception of two Green Chromos are fine. The Crabs are the shrimp are fine but the snails just continue to die. I have taken water samples to three different LFS and on one can figure out what is going on. It is almost like the tank is cycling again. The only thing that has changed is that I added some Live Rock fragments to the sump, but the rock was cured. If any one has an idea what might be going on, please let me know.
    Last edited by nbkcu33; 08-06-2007 at 09:37 PM. Reason: correct spelling
    Matthew
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    SPS Reefer / TR Admin lReef lKeeper's Avatar
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    what are the exact water parameters ??

    when we ask this ... we mean test them and post them right now (not parameters from last week or last night, as they are constantly changing).

    and how long was this tank set up before you started adding livestock to it ??

    BTW ... the tank is to small for that tang !!
    lReef lKeeper (Bobby) Admin and Reefer

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    Custom 4x2x1 60 gallon, 40B sump

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    6x54w HO T5 fixture, 300+g rated Frankenskimmer, ATO, 3 Media Reactors (1 p04, 1 N03, 1 Carbon)

    www.lmas.org





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