Do you have circulation? Is the reef photo live plankton? Not sure what that is. Putting anything in there that is living other then algae will compete with food plus assist with water parameter fluctuations. I love that you are trying all these things and I am very curious if there is a balance of some of them that will help but as you said you are doing to much at once and don't really have a control and the one variable change to compare it with.
This next batch you are about to have please take half of the babies and go more of the route I have explained in original post. Seeded algae, Only 20-30 percent water change at most every 3-5 days and keep up on your salinity. When you described your creation of your salt water (''Always mixed and aged for at last 1-2 days before adding, with aeration'') it seemed like perfection btw. But very awesome man. I look forward to hearing about your experiences.
Thanks for the encouragement. I'm not quite ready space-wise to split my batches, but soon.
Some answers to your other questions...
- The reef phyto is not live. Even if it were, it would be single-celled phytoplankton (plant type organisms), not consumers or predators. So not competitors. I've been thinking about starting a live phytoplankton culture for feeding the amano babies. But again, not yet.
- Circulation is via a single airstone, bubbling quite gently.
- I use a kitchen scale that makes saltwater mixing fast and easy. I weigh the RO water that goes into my mixing jar, and add 33g of reef salt per litre (1 litre being 1,000g - gotta love metric). So let's say I pour 2,743g of water (2.743L), I add 2.743 x 33g of salt = 90.5g. And I use a refractometer for monitoring salinity, which reads both ppt and specific gravity. I think it's based on 77 or 78 degrees, so no adjusting there.
- Another trick for maintaining salinity is finding jars with lids that sit inside
the rim of the jar. I use ikea jars with the rubber seal on a glass lid (like pantry jars for sugar or flour). The glass lid lets all the light in for the algae, and yes the lid is propped up for the airline, but all the condensation on the lid drips back into the jar.
I think the overfeeding is just classic inexperience and lack of confidence (due to inexperience LOL). I see babies dying, and don't know why. Salinity is in the right range, so it's either foul water or lack of food. So change water, and add enough food that I can cross starvation off the list. I just don't have the confidence to not feed them. But this time around I have been running the salt jar for a few weeks with some thread like green algae, and I'm more confident that the food they need is there. So I'll change to 24hr light, cut out the feeding, and change less water. All I need now is for the adult female to release her batch.