THIRD QUARTER 2018 I VOLUME 12
CYPHASTREA LPS FRAGGING GUIDE REEF SPOTLIGHTS: BELL'S 10G, JAY'S OFFICE REEF & SOFTY BUT GOODY
Reef Hobbyist Magazine
SMALL SIZE, BIG COLOR John Bell is a dedicated nano reef hobbyist from Chesapeake, VA, with too many tanks and too many dogs. With small reef tanks, every detail counts. John has mastered the art of small-tank design and maintenance and shares his latest 10-gallon creation here.
SCATS: A NEW APPROACH TO AIPTASIA ERADICATION Kyle Woekel is from Monmouth, OR, and is the owner of Tampico Coral Farms. Here, Kyle describes how an offhand remark at a reef club meeting opened up a new option for battling this unrelenting pest and his successful use of scats to eradicate this scourge.
18 ON THE COVER
UNCOMMON CLEANING CREWS pt. 1: rock scavengers
Sabine Penisson is a French photographer and author focused on coral reef fauna. Cleanup crews are a utilitarian necessity for all reef tanks but can also be composed of interesting and exquisite animals. Sabine suggests some uncommon creatures to perform cleanup duty on your reef and bring a new aesthetic to your display. Cover image by Sabine Penisson
CYPHASTREA, A FORGOTTEN BEAUTY Darwin Ngo is a co-founder of Legendary Corals and lives in San Jose, CA. If you're looking for beautiful, hardy corals to fill some of the darker corners of your reef, consider some of these wildly colorful Cyphastrea, which will thrive even in low-light areas.
JAY'S ECOTECH OFFICE REEF Jay Sperandio has been in the hobby since starting at EcoTech Marine nearly 10 years ago. You might expect that the office tanks at EcoTech would be world-class displays, and you wouldn't be wrong. Read all about how Jay's showpiece continues to thrive year after year.
LPS FRAGGING GUIDE Michael Rice has been the marketing director with Denver aquarium store Elite Reef for nearly a decade. Fragging LPS presents many challenges based on skeletal structure and growth forms. Learn how to overcome these obstacles and produce ideal frags in this step-by-step guide.
SOFTY BUT GOODY Michael Cuttone is a long-time reef hobbyist from Long Island, NY. After several setbacks with SPS-dominated reefs, Mike turned his attention back to his first love—soft corals. Join him for the tale of how he came full circle in the hobby with this mesmerizing reef filled with mature softies.
THIRD QUARTER 2018 | Volume 12 Copyright © 2018 Reef Hobbyist Magazine. All rights reserved.
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'd always dreamed of keeping a successful saltwater reef tank. But like all dreams, it involved a series of steps. I started keeping freshwater fish 40 years ago in a 5-gallon tank. Eventually, I tried a 55-gallon, fish-only marine tank in the '80s. But like many saltwater hobbyists at that time, I didn't know what I was doing. I had to move after a year, so I tore down the tank and stuck with freshwater aquariums until a few years ago. That's when I found out about nano reefs. The idea of keeping corals and fish in a small
tank without spending thousands of dollars on a large system was very appealing. After some research, I started a 4-gallon pico tank. It was quite successful, but the tank crashed after a dosing mistake. Following the crash, I decided to move up to a 10-gallon tank. My goal was to create a reasonably low-cost and low-maintenance mixed reef right on my desk where I could enjoy it all the time. This tank has been running for 3Â˝ years now, and although it hasn't been quite as easy as I wanted it to be, I'm very happy with the results.
Doug, the Leopard Toby Puffer
SYSTEM Display: Innovative Marine 10-gallon NUVO Fusion all-in-one, 12" × 15" × 13" Lighting: NanoBox Reef Tide Plus with Bluefish controller Heater: Finnex titanium 50 watt Cooling: 80 mm Enermax computer fan Circulation: NUVO Fusion return pump, VorTech MP10wQD Skimmer: Eshopps Nano Filtration: InTank media basket with filter floss, 1 Tbsp. of carbon 5 times per month Auto Top-off: Tunze Nano Osmolator 3152 Dosing: BRS dosers with ATI Essentials 3-part (Ca, Alk, Mg) and Red Sea NO3:PO4-X Controller: Neptune Apex Lite with pH and temperature sensors, VorTech wireless control module
Norbert, the Tail Spot Blenny
LARGE-POLYP STONIES (LPS) - sun coral (Tubastrea sp.) - Hammer (Euphyllia sp.) - Blastomussa merletti - Favites sp. - Acan Lords (Micromussa lordhowensis) - candy cane (Caulastrea sp.) SOFT CORALS - zoanthids - Palythoa spp. - Ricordea mushrooms
LIVESTOCK FISH - Doug, the Leopard Toby Puffer (Canthigaster leoparda) - Norbert, the Tail Spot Blenny (Ecsenius stigmatura) - Oswald, the Gold Assessor Basslet (Assessor flavissimus) INVERTEBRATES - dwarf cerith snails - Nassarius snails - Astraea snails - (2) Peppermint Shrimp - Blue Leg Hermits (population varies depending on Doug's appetite) SMALL-POLYP STONIES (SPS) - green, red, and Idaho Grape montis (Montipora capricornis) - Tyree Minefield Cyphastrea - Stylophora sp. - Montipora setosa - unidentified chalice - ORA Pearlberry (Acropora sp.) - Bubblegum Montipora - Cali Tort (Acropora tortuosa) - Red Dragon Acropora - other Acropora spp. Reef Hobbyist Magazine
Various rainbow acans
PARAMETERS Temperature: 77.5° F Salinity: 1.025 SG Nitrate: 2–5 ppm Phosphate: .03–.1 ppm Alkalinity: 7.5 dKH Calcium: 430 ppm Magnesium: 1400 ppm FEEDING AND MAINTENANCE - PE Mysis and PE Calanus; one quarter cube of each per day - Brightwell coral foods (Reef Snow, Blizzard, and Amino); 2.5 ml per day - 2-gallon water change once a week - scrape glass, change filter floss, and empty skimmer cup every 3–4 days - stir and drain rear chambers once a month This tank build was a study of conflicting requirements. I wanted a mixed reef, but I also wanted low maintenance. I wanted reasonable cost, but I also wanted automation to save time and improve reliability. I wanted Acropora (intense light), but I also wanted acans (low light). I wanted lots of fish, but I also wanted to keep nutrients under control. I eventually found solutions to everything—once I redefined my idea of reasonable cost! Because I wanted a mixed reef with plenty of SPS, I knew from the start that I would have to invest in good lighting and water
circulation. And since SPS love stable parameters more than perfect levels, I knew I'd have to use a doser. The BRS dosers are very slow, making them extremely precise for dosing the small amounts needed for this tank. For ease of maintenance, I selected an all-in-one tank, a high-quality LED light, and simple filtration with floss and carbon. To keep the system running smoothly and reliably, everything is controlled from my phone by either the Apex or the Bluefish controller, including pumps, heater, skimmer, lights, dosers, auto top-off, and cooling fan. Keeping a mix of corals that need different lighting intensity is a challenge in such a small tank, since the lighting is almost as intense at the bottom as it is at the top. I try to shade the low-light corals and set the intensity of the fixture in the upper-middle of its range. To export the nutrients resulting from feeding the fish, I've found the combination of skimming and NO3:PO4-X (carbon dosing), together with a 2-gallon water change every week, is very effective. The biggest challenge in keeping a mixed reef in such a small tank is maintaining stable water parameters. Small changes can cause a huge effect very rapidly. It's easy to get an unintended alkalinity spike that will kill most of the SPS (done that); to reduce excess phosphates too quickly, killing most of the SPS (done that too); or to have a nutrient spike that will brown out all the SPS (done that too, more than once). But on the positive side, recovery is very easy too. When a 50 percent water change can be done with a 5-gallon
Reef Hobbyist Magazine
Ricordea display the best colors and growth with moderate lighting and flow.
bucket, almost any problem can be fixed in the time it takes to mix and heat new salt water. Over time, I've learned what works best for me. For example, I eventually gave up on GFO (granular ferric oxide) to control phosphates, as I found my phosphate levels bouncing up and down to extreme levels as the GFO was depleted and then renewed. Instead, if phosphates get too high, I use one drop of Blue Life USA's PhosphateRx (lanthanum chloride) and repeat once a week until I get to the right level. Besides the stability problems that come with having a nano reef, my biggest challenge was a strange infestation of some bacteria-
like stuff that started growing all over the rocks and eventually the corals, killing many of them. I never did learn what it was, and I almost shut down the tank and started over because nothing I tried got rid of it. But another nice thing about having a small tank is that I can do almost any kind of maintenance very quickly. I drained all the water, pulled out every rock, and scrubbed everything with a toothbrush. I then vacuumed the sand thoroughly. The whole process took about 30 minutes. I repeated the process every 2 weeks for 3 months. After that, the strange growth never came back, and all the corals and fish were perfectly happy again. Keeping this tank is an exercise in constant change. I've lost my share of corals over the years, but many others have survived and grown from when I first set up the tank. Others have almost died and then bounced back stronger than ever. The biggest lesson I've learned with this tank is that persistence really pays off, because things are constantly changing in a small tank. A setback that seems like the end of the world is forgotten 3 months later. Changing the aquascape is easy in a small tank, so I never hesitate to move things around. I've also learned to never buy corals that I don't really love. In a small tank, there's no room to hide corals that I don't find appealing anymore. WORDS OF WISDOM Research everything! Trust but verifyâ€”you will find many different opinions on the "best" or "only" way to do things. Keep looking and see what other people think, especially those who are successful with reefs that you like. Second, take pictures and notes. Start a tank journal. You'll be amazed at how far you've come when you look back. Finally, get involved in the reefing community, either online, locally, or both. Most reefers are incredibly nice people who want nothing more than to help other reefers. All they ask is that you pay it forward. And when things go badly, there's nothing like having other reefers to encourage you and help out with advice. In the future, I plan some significant changes to the aquascape to get the acans under more shade so their rainbow colors will improve. At the same time, I'd like to move some of the zoas out from the shade so they'll grow better. I may also remove a few corals I don't love to make room for ones that I enjoy looking at more. But for the most part, I'm going to just continue to enjoy the view of this desktop reef from my chair. R
Coral colors are best when viewed from above.
Reef Hobbyist Magazine
SCATS: a new approach to Aiptasia eradication
KYLE WOEKEL INTRODUCTION Aiptasiaâ€Śjust the name brings up feelings of fear and dread among novice and veteran marine aquarists alike. For those of us who have dealt with these pest anemones, we know how difficult they can be to eradicate from an established system. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, don't worry, your time will come. I hope this article will give you an alternative approach to clearing your aquarium of these pests when you find your tank afflicted. THE PEST Aiptasia is a genus of anemone from tropical seas worldwide and is also known as the glass anemone. Like many other cnidarians (stinging-celled animals), they possess symbiotic algae in their tissue and do very well in brightly lit aquaria. Unlike many other corals and anemones though, they do equally well in dimly lit aquaria and associated filter compartments (sumps, protein skimmer bodies, etc.) as long as there is a steady supply of foodâ€”and in most aquariums, there is. While these anemones can grow to around 4 inches in diameter (Shimek, 2004), most never reach half that size. The reason these anemones have such a bad rap in this hobby is two-fold. First, they have an incredibly fast method of asexual
reproduction. If conditions are to their liking, one anemone can turn into several hundred in just a few months. They do this by a process called pedal laceration, where the anemone slowly moves across a surface, leaving little bits of flesh in its wake. Each one of these bits of flesh has the ability to grow into a perfect clone of the parent anemone. As if this weren't bad enough, these anemones can also reproduce by releasing larvae out of their oral disks, which then float around until they find a suitable substrate on which to settle. Both of these techniques of reproduction can lead to plague proportions of anemones very quickly. At this point, you're probably saying to yourself, "So what's the problem? It sounds like you have just described the perfect anemone for a fish tank. Isn't this what we all want, a fast-growing, easily-reproducing, hardy animal?" I am here to say, "Not so fast!" There is more to this story. The second reason glass anemones are such pests is that their stings are stronger than most species of ornamental corals, and they can literally sting your prized animals to death in a matter of days. At first, it might be novel to see a few glass anemones adding life to your brand-new aquarium, but fast forward a few months and once those few anemones have turned into a few hundred anemones, it's not so novel anymore. That thumbnail-
sized zoanthid or Acropora frag that cost an entire day's wagesâ€Ś remember that one? Consider it a goner if you don't act quickly when your aquarium is first infected with Aiptasia. TRADITIONAL SOLUTIONS There are two primary methods of treatment for an Aiptasia infestation: chemical and biological. The chemical approach may work if there are just a few anemones to deal with. Be warned, though, that if you can see a few, there are likely to be more hiding elsewhere. Injecting or covering the anemones with kalkwasser slurries, lime juice, boiling water, or any of a plethora of products marketed specifically for Aiptasia removal are all approaches that have been used successfully to clear this animal from tanks. In tanks that have a full-blown outbreak of hundreds or thousands of these pests, chemicals are rarely a good idea. First off, it becomes too time consuming to inject or cover every single anemone with chemicals. Second, if you are using a product bought from a store, it can become quite expensive. Then there is the issue of poisoning your aquarium. Consider this a warning: if a product can kill an anemone, you can bet it may kill the very closely related corals in your tank. Turn off all flow while dosing the anemones, and be very careful not to accidentally smother other corals with chemicals. When anemones reach plague level, biological control is by far the safer and easier way to go. It is not hard to find an animal that will eat Aiptasia. It is, however, hard to find an animal that will eat Aiptasia and is also well suited to life in a reef aquarium. Traditional animals for controlling Aiptasia include various butterflyfish, angelfish, filefish, Peppermint Shrimp, Aiptasia-eating nudibranchs, and others. While any of these animals will work for some tanks, none of them will work for all tanks. The reasons any of these options can be iffy are many but include delicate species, fish that will also eat your corals, or species where some but not all individuals reliably eat Aiptasia.
A NEW SOLUTION In this article, I would like to offer the group of fish known as scats as an alternative option. These fish are not commonly thought of as good Aiptasia eaters. For that matter, scats are hardly even recognized by saltwater aquarists at all. Scats are a group of fish that may be more familiar to those of us who keep freshwater tanks. While often sold as juveniles in the freshwater section of pet stores, this fish truly belongs in a brackish or saltwater aquarium. Scats often live in estuarine environments and have the ability to go between fresh water and salt water at will, but they will not do well if kept permanently in a freshwater environment. Before delving into their ability to eat Aiptasia, let's take a quick look at this group of fish: The family Scatophagidae has at least three species (fishbase.org), with a fourth (Scatophagus papuensis) being cited in some literature (wetwebmedia.com). The two species most commonly encountered in the trade are the Green and/or Ruby Scat (Scatophagus argus) Reef Hobbyist Magazine
Green Scat (Scatophagus argus) | Image by wrangle
and the Silver Scat (Selenotoca multifasciata). Green Scats come in two color forms, the green variety and the red or ruby variety. In older literature, the Red Scats were incorrectly listed as Scatophagus rubrifrons but have since been reclassified as a color variant of the same species. In my experience, as they get older, they lose most of their red coloration and look identical to Green Scats. Green Scats have a base color that is silver-green with black spots covering their body. This fish can grow to a large size of around 12 inches, so small tanks are not going to work for them. A 90-gallon aquarium would be the minimum for an adult Green Scat. These fish are quite personable and will come to the top of the aquarium when they think food is going to be presented. In my coral propagation greenhouse, I have a scat in a 400-gallon coral tub that will even let me pet him. Do note, however, that just like their rabbitfish cousins, the dorsal spines on scats are reported to be mildly venomous (fishbase.org). Silver Scats are so named because of their body color. They sport a silver base with vertical stripes on their upper half and black speckles on their bottom half. This is also a large fish, growing to around a foot long. If you have ever seen a fully grown rabbitfish (genus Siganus), then you have a pretty good idea of how large a fully grown scat can become. Care requirements for this fish are identical to the Green Scats. The only behavioral difference that I have noticed is that this species is a bit less bold than the Green Scat. Some folks differentiate the Silver Scat from another species called Scatophagus papuensis, which looks identical to the Silver Scat but only grows to around 4 inches. While there is debate on whether this is a different species or not, I can verify that I have kept Silver Scats in large aquariums, and while some do grow to be monsters, others from the same group will never reach more than 3â€“4 inches long. At this point, I am sure you're asking what's with the name. The genus name Scatophagus literally translates to "dung eater" (fishbase.org), as this fish is known to eat just about anything, including dung. This is good news for the aquarist, as I have not found an aquarium food that these fish will not eat. The scats are related to tangs and rabbitfish, and similarly, they need a large amount of greens in their diet. This can be provided through any of the commercially available foods containing spirulina. Algae sheets and freshly harvested macroalgae (Caulerpa, Halimeda, etc.) from a refugium are also greedily consumed. These fish will make short work of any nuisance algae in a display tankâ€”yet another reason to consider this fish for your display. I first became aware of this fish as an option for Aiptasia control several years ago when I went to see a lecture by the esteemed Robert Fenner at my local aquarium club's monthly meeting. In this lecture, Mr. Fenner briefly mentioned European aquarists using scats to eat Aiptasia. Scats were a fish that I knew well, as I had kept them on a few different occasions in brackish-water setups. That week, while perusing my local pet store, I noticed that they had four Green Scats in the freshwater section. I went ahead and bought all four of them and drip acclimated them over a period of around 8 hours to my saltwater quarantine system. After quarantine, all four scats went into my coral propagation greenhouse. Over the course of around 2 months, I noticed the Aiptasia in the infested Reef Hobbyist Magazine
This juvenile Silver Scat is being placed in an aquarium. Make sure to wear gloves when handling this fish since its dorsal spines are venomous.
culture vessels had all but disappeared. At this point, I started to get a bit worried. I reasoned that if this fish was so good at eating Aiptasia, it might also be very efficient at eating my prized corals. I watched very carefully over the next several weeks and could hardly believe it when I realized that out of all four tubs, each with a single scat, there wasn't a single coral that showed signs of being eaten or even nipped at. I've kept these fish with just about every major group of coral in the trade, including SPS (small-polyp stonies), LPS (large-polyp stonies), leathers, mushrooms, zoanthids, xeniids, and even Rose and Sebae Anemones, and not once have I seen a scat so much as give one of these animals a second glance. And it wasn't just these four original fish that worked so well to eradicate Aiptasia. I have replicated these results more than once in my greenhouse, as well as in some of the large reef aquariums that my company maintains.
Currently, I keep two Ruby Scats in my greenhouse: one in a 400-gallon culture tub designed for leather corals and one in a 100-gallon horse trough that I use to quarantine new livestock. I hadn't dealt with an Aiptasia anemone for quite some time until recently when I picked up a brand new Acanthastrea from a wholesaler and promptly put it in the 100-gallon tub for quarantine. To my dismay, I watched as the large Ruby Scat came sauntering over and appeared to start nibbling on the new coral. As I stuck my hand in the tub to shoo the scat away, I saw that it was nibbling not on the coral itself but a big Aiptasia anemone attached to the coral's skeleton. While this coral is still in quarantine, I can say that it appears to be Aiptasia free and with the help of my anemone-eating friend should remain that way for the rest of its life. CONCLUSION Is a scat a good choice for your aquarium? Let's look at the facts: these fish are personable, colorful, reasonably priced, very hardy, and quite effective at eating Aiptasia and nuisance algae. Whether or not you have a pest-anemone problem, if your aquarium is large enough, there really is no reason not to give one of these fish a try. R
Adult scats congregating beneath an egg crate rack. Make sure to provide hiding spots for your scats so they feel secure.
CLEANING CREWS part 1: rock scavengers 18
he aquarium trade offers a wide range of utilitarian cleanup crew animals for marine and reef tanks. Cleanup crews are needed for a good balance in the aquarium, and care must be taken to maintain a long-term, diverse, and thriving population for optimal results. There are the very popular options that most hobbyists know, and then there are the less common ones. In this article, we will review some rock scavengers in the less common category. In addition to the commercially available animals, some live rock hitchhikers are also excellent scavengers, including polychaete worms, mysids, amphipods, copepods, Stomatella snails, and Euplica snails. Their millimetric (or even nanometric) size allows them to clean even the most minute rock crevice, which our larger, commercial animals cannot do. MOLLUSCS: SNAILS AND SEA SLUGS With the first algae growth in a new tank, we often purchase a handful of Astraea, Turbo, Trochus, or Tectus snails. In addition to these four, small porcelains, such as Ring Cowries or Money Cowries, are must-haves for discreet and effective algae eaters. Reef Hobbyist Magazine
Sea hares are large greenish to beige sea slugs and are major assets in fighting filamentous algae invasions. They will eat all your filamentous algae but don't always transition well to regular aquarium foods. To keep them healthy when your algae is gone, give them to another aquarist with an algae problem. Note that sea hares are incompatible with unshielded powerheads and overflows.
DECAPOD CRUSTACEANS: HERMITS, SHRIMPS, AND CRABS Hermit crabs are not as popular as they were in the past. Since they are seen as bullies and avid snail predators, many aquarists don't want to give them a chance. But the smaller species are well adapted to reef aquariums; they don't shove corals and are not aggressive. Species such as the Scarlet Hermit, Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit, and Red Leg Hermit are all from the Caribbean and therefore readily available in the American trade. Note that these three are considered mainly herbivorous and consume diatoms and cyanobacteria. More unique, the beautiful Halloween Hermit, also known as the Orangestriped Hermit, has quite a strict dress code. Most of the time, these crabs inhabit the empty shells of cone snails with long longitudinal apertures. They're quite reef safe, like all other medium-sized Diogenidae, though
Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit
Reef Hobbyist Magazine
Bruun's Cleaner Shrimp
a meaty meal given from time to time will reduce some possible predation on other cleaners. In small tanks, you can go for Sexy Shrimp, Glass Anemone Shrimp, Pederson's Shrimp, Bubble Coral Shrimp, and Arrow Cleaner Shrimp. They are all very small, between 1 and 3 cm, depending on the species, and live in pairs or groups. Some are commensals of LPS (large-polyp stony) corals. The Bubble Coral Shrimp, for example, lives between Bubble Coral bubbles. Some are commensals of anemones, like the Sexy Shrimp, which lives with anemones of the genera Stichodactyla and Condylactis. In nano reefs, Sexy Shrimp and Glass Anemone Shrimp will feel at home in small anemones such as Mini Carpet Anemones, Rock Flower Anemones, or Bubble-tip Anemones. If anemones are absent in the system, they may adopt hairy Rhodactis mushrooms or LPS corals, such as Fungia, Catalaphyllia, or Euphyllia. They are not too difficult to keep, as long as there are no predators, such as wrasses, gramma, hawkfish, or Pseudochromis. Bruun's Cleaner Shrimp is also well adapted to small tanks. It doesn't need specific hosts and, as a fish cleaner, jumps from fish to fish. This shrimp looks like a Glass Anemone Shrimp, but it is bolder, going willingly into the open water to meet fish to clean.
Unidentified coral crab
Last, but not least, the Longarm Prawn is a reef-safe shrimp that is easy to acclimate and keep. This shrimp is grayish-blue in color and has large, prominent compound eyes. A little-known but beneficial asset is that it looks like this shrimp has a particular taste for Bryopsis algae! In the crab family, everybody knows the classic Mithrax Crab, prized for its appetite for algae (including Valonia bubble algae), but there are some other small, pretty, reef-safe crabs as well. In nano reefs, choose the charming Pom Pom Crab, with its two mini anemones that are used as a predator repellent and a food collector. Living amongst branched scleractinians (Pocillopora and Acropora, for example), small coral crabs can be found in maricultured pieces as a bonus or can sometimes be purchased in shops. Many of these are beneficial crabs, protecting their host coral from parasites. They are highly recommended for aquarists having troubles with Red Bugs, flatworms, or similar pests. The most peaceful and safe of all are porcelain crabs. You'll readily find Neopetrolisthes and Petrolisthes in the trade (the latter genus
Pom Pom Crab
Reef Hobbyist Magazine
Blue Tuxedo Urchin
mostly found as hitchhikers on live rock). These crabs are small and suitable for any size reef. They are commensal with almost all anemones and are not shy. They come out during the day to enjoy food filtered from the water column. The way they eat is a show in itself, as they frantically move the thin cups of hair on the tips of their chelipeds to collect food. ECHINODERMS: URCHINS, SERPENT STARS, AND STARFISH
Red Pencil Urchin
Some sea urchins are well known to aquarists, including the pretty little Blue Tuxedo Urchin, the very entertaining Collector Urchin, and the various longspine urchin species. The Blue-spotted Urchin is the most flamboyant, with its bright-red epithelium and electric blue dots. As one might expect with such bright colors, they are venomous, but the toxin is weak and not dangerous to humans (except for people who are allergic). Easy to acclimate, they are big, growing up to about 8" in diameter, so they require a spacious tank and abundant food.
The Banded Sea Urchin is another pretty species that comes in various colors. This black-shelled urchin is widespread in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It has long spines for rapid locomotion and defense but also has short, thin, and black secondary spines. The long spines are thick and hollow, wider at the base than at the end, and can be black, cream, purplish, or even bicolor. Some are white with black rings, like a little marine porcupine. When the aquarium lacks natural seaweed, most sea urchins, driven by hunger, will try to feed on various colonial corals. This can be avoided by feeding them dried algae, which they usually accept. Sometimes found as hitchhikers, rock-boring urchins drill holes in the rocks for shelter. The most common is Echinometra mathaei, which sports a black test (shell) and thick spines, is slightly conical, and usually cream to purplish but sometimes brown or black. Since they are nocturnal, one might believe they're useless in the aquarium, but they are good algae eaters. Pencil urchins have a wide omnivorous diet, including molluscs, corals, and other sessile invertebrates. Big and very powerful, they can move large pieces of rock, endangering the safety of the aquarium. They are OK in a fish-only aquarium with well-secured, immobile decor.
Unidentified rock-boring urchin
Last and most original is the Helmet Urchin, so named because of its shape. The spines are rounded but flat like scales, with a fringe of elongated but equally flat spines circling the upper side of the urchin test. This urchin holds particularly firmly to rock, exposed to the strongest of waves. This species inhabits the intertidal zone and is most often found above the surface of the water. With such a strong hold, they're rarely collected, though they are easy to maintain if we take care to provide a rest area above the surface that has good wave action, allowing the urchin to be properly hydrated. Brittle/Serpent Stars are a separate class of starfishes, with slender and very flexible arms and a round central disk containing all the vital organs. Species in the trade can be divided into three groups based on their method of feeding. They are either planktivores (filtering food from the water column), scavengers, or predators. Their food palette varies from the passive capture of planktonic organisms to the active and carnivorous predation of large prey, such as molluscs or fish. The scavenging species are the best cleaners in the aquarium and should be chosen first in the cleaning team, with one specimen per 20â€“25 gallons of tank volume. Besides best sellers like the Banded Brittle Star, there are brightly colored species coming from the Caribbean: the fire-red Scaly Brittle Star and the slightly duller Ruby Brittle Star. Another red species, the Red Serpent Star, comes from the western Indian Ocean and exhibits a beautiful red central disc ringed with a lighter salmon color. The large Green Brittle Star divides aquarists. Classified by biologists as an active and voracious predator, able to immobilize and kill relatively large fish that it traps at night, the Green Brittle Star nevertheless has its fans among aquarists who claim to have had these starfish in captivity long term without mysterious losses in their fish population. Happy chance or bad reputation unjustified? We will not declare with certainty, but beware. It is probably better not to experiment at home, especially as other less-risky species are easily found. Reef Hobbyist Magazine
Tiled Starfish (Fromia monilis)
Reef-safe starfish have some notable issues. Fromia species are extremely delicate to maintain, most of them dying within a few months to one year in the tank. They are prone to bacterial infection and, most of all, proper feeding is a real issue. They feed on organic bacterial films, microalgae films, and associated benthic microfauna, such as copepods, on the surface of hard substrates. These films must be renewed often as the starfish will pass again and again over the surface of rocks and walls, and they don't readily take substitute foods. The least difficult of these beautiful reef-safe starfish is the iconic Blue Linckia and its tan, red-spotted cousin, Linckia multiflora. Nardoa and Echinaster species are less famous but somewhat easier to maintain, as they have a more omnivorous and opportunistic diet, allowing them to enjoy the detritus of the aquarium and targeted feedings of chopped molluscs. If the aquarium scavenger team was traditionally regarded as useful more than beautiful, we hope that this panorama will allow you to find a combination at once original and aesthetic, enhancing the general harmony of your aquarium! R
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Legendary Corals Blizzard Bizzaro Cyphastrea
DARWIN NGO Images by author except as noted
Cyphastrea, a forgotten beauty C
orals from the genus Cyphastrea are some of my favorites to collect, and for good reason: they grow easily, are undemanding as regards lighting, and come in a wide assortment of colors, including pinks, blues, and yellows. I even have a colony with white polyps! Cyphastrea also come in an assortment of shapes: some are smooth, some bumpy, some have large polyps, and some are branching. Their ability to live and thrive in low light is Cyphastrea can grow where there is no light. This is the underside of a frag disk.
amazing; they are even able to grow where there is no visible light. This coral can add color to the darkest areas of reef tanks where other corals wouldn't survive. There are just so many reasons why Cyphastrea are awesome! Unfortunately, many of the Cyphastrea in the hobby are unknown to the majority of reefers. I'm often asked about new and colorful zoas or acros, but no one ever asks me about Cyphastrea. Jason Fox Fender Bender Cyphastrea | Image by Jason Fox
There are only a handful of Cyphastrea strains that most hobbyists would recognize. Compared to other corals, Cyphastrea are far from the spotlight. This article is meant to bring them a bit of the attention they so rightly deserve.
Meteor Shower Cyphastrea | Image by Top Shelf Aquatics
Legendary Corals Blue Mist Cyphastrea
So why aren't Cyphastrea more popular? One reason is the rarity of colonies with amazing colors, which makes it hard for this genus to garner any attention. With the lack of colorful Cyphastrea in most local stores, the few pieces that stores do have go unnoticed in tanks full of neon-colored zoanthids and flowy Euphyllia. Another reason Cyphastrea aren't more popular is because one of the bestknown strains, the Meteor Shower Cyphastrea, has garnered a dubious reputation. This coral is popular for its blue or green base with contrasting, large red polyps. Although beautiful, this coral is known for being an incredibly fast grower, so fast that people became afraid of adding it to their reef tanks for fear of losing space for other corals. As it is a fast grower, the price for the Meteor Shower Cyphastrea remains relatively low. With its cheap price and fast growth, people see it as a generally undesirable coral to collect. Unfortunately, because this Cyphastrea has a bad reputation, many hobbyists view other Cyphastrea in the same light. What type of coral are Cyphastrea? Most Cyphastrea are strictly encrusting, and all are classified as LPS, or large-polyp stonies. These corals grow by spreading their tissue and skeleton across the surface on which they grow. Cyphastrea grow completely flat to the surface with the exception of Cyphastrea decadia, which branches like an SPS (small-polyp stony).
Cyphastrea decadia | Image by Jared Burbank
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Legendary Corals Snapdragon Cyphastrea
SoCal Aquafarms Creamsicle Cyphastrea
SoCal Aquafarms Raspberry Cyphastrea
Cyphastrea care is incredibly easy in a mature and stable tank. They're one of the best LPS corals for beginners to try and are a great option for tanks without highend lighting. They are also a great indicator of your water parameters, since they visibly react to declining water conditions. Cyphastrea enjoy being placed in lower areas of a tank where light and flow aren't too strong. Because of this, Cyphastrea can be used to bring color to dark areas of your tank where other corals wouldn't thrive. All LPS benefit from
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regular feedings of coral food, and this will enhance your coral's growth rate tremendously. The biggest challenge for many Cyphastrea owners is trying to achieve specific colors. Cyphastrea colors will change dramatically depending on the type of light to which they've adapted. As an example, I grew a few Cyphastrea under different lighting but in the same tank setup. An orange Cyphastrea was grown under pure actinic T5 bulbs, which caused it to develop a deep-red coloration. Under pure blue LEDs, it became an entirely different-looking coral with a striking neon-orange body. This is due to the actinic bulbs giving the coral a different light spectrum than the LEDs. Fragging Cyphastrea can be a bit difficult for the average hobbyist. It is possible to use a pair of bone cutters to frag Cyphastrea, but pay attention to this coral's structure. Cyphastrea is a thin encrusting coral growing as a sheet on hard surfaces. When fragging Cyphastrea, avoid touching any of the tissue since, as mentioned, it is rather thin. Strong pressure or squeezing of the tissue will cause it to rub or flake away, killing that portion of the coral. Be aware that at the point of contact, the bone cutters will crush a good amount of the flesh and skeleton of the coral. Since Cyphastrea is an encrusting species, pieces of tissue may also flake off the surface on which it grew. If cleanly cut, the frags will heal in a few days. The best method of fragging Cyphastrea is with the use of a bandsaw. The blade allows clean and precise cuts, preventing any crushing of the skeleton. With cleanly cut frags, rather than inconsistent chunks, mounting onto small frag plugs is much easier. Listed below are a few notable Cyphastrea strains. Some you may know and some you may not. These pieces are highlighted for their uniqueness and overall appeal among hobbyists. Maybe one of these would be perfect for your tank! WWC BIZZARO CYPHASTREA Released by World Wide Corals back in 2013, the WWC Bizzaro Cyphastrea is still one of the hottest morphs to date. This Cyphastrea has a blue/purple base with contrasting yellow and orange polyps that look like little flowers. The bright polyps on the blue base will make this piece stand out among other corals in your reef tank. Even 5 years after its release, this Cyphastrea still demands a high price due to its bright color and popularity. LC DESERT OASIS CYPHASTREA My, oh my, just check out this vivid bright-orange coloration! Found in 2014 in California, this is still a relatively unknown piece in the hobby. Under lower lighting, this variety gains a red hue and green tips to its polyps. The Desert Oasis Cyphastrea is a relatively good grower and can add a pop of color to any dim corner in your reef. UC SPLENDIFEROUS CYPHASTREA A very fancy name, but I can't blame Ultra Corals for naming this Cyphastrea "Splendiferous," for it is indeed splendid. This is a relatively new Cyphastrea to the hobby, being released around 2015.
World Wide Corals Bizzaro Cyphastrea
Legendary Corals Desert Oasis Cyphastrea Ultra Corals Splendiferous Cyphastrea
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Jason Fox Techno Cyphastrea | Image by Jason Fox
Not many LPS corals in this hobby are pink, let alone a Cyphastrea. However, the truly stunning trait of this Cyphastrea is its white polyps! Almost no (healthy) corals in this hobby have any white coloration. Golden yellow skirts complement the white polyps to add an extra touch of color. This Cyphastrea does not grow very fast. JF TECHNO CYPHASTREA This is the newest release from Jason Fox. This coral has hot pink eyes with an orange center. The base color ranges from a baby blue to a deep blue-purple depending on where it is placed in the tank. JF PARTY CRASHER CYPHASTREA This coral has a deep purple base and large orange polyps with hot red rings. This one is a little tricky to keep, as it's hard to retain the deep coloration. We recommend keeping this piece under much lower light. Blue lights will allow you to view the colors the best. Cyphastrea are truly some of the most beautiful corals out there. With so many uniquely colored morphs in this genus, they should have a place in every reef. The next time you swing by your local fish store or attend a reefing event, keep an eye open for a pretty Cyphastrea! R
Jason Fox Party Crasher Cyphastrea | Image by Jason Fox
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JAYâ€™S ECOTECH OFFICE REEF INTRODUCTION My first experience with a saltwater tank was when I was 6 or 7 years old. We lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where my parents were teachers at an international school. One summer, my dad shipped a 29-gallon aquarium with an under-gravel filter from the United States. Since we lived only 5 minutes from the beach, we brought back buckets with salt water and sand right from the shore. We caught small fish from the rock pools at low tide with small nets and Tupperware and put them in the tank. The tank would usually need to be refreshed every few months, but sometimes a particularly hardy damsel or lionfish would survive longer. Fast forward to the present, and I have continued to progress as a hobbyist and am now an employee of EcoTech Marine. I love this Bubble Magus doser
hobby, the industry, and most of all, my fellow hobbyists. Attending tradeshows and talking about reefkeeping is something that I look forward to year after year. Currently, I am proud to be involved with investigating reefkeeping at a higher level and distilling the results of our research with CoralLab. Together, we are able to produce and share easy-tounderstand and usable templates, programs, and concepts that hobbyists from all over the world can employ to assist them in succeeding with their reefs. MY OFFICE REEF My reef tank in the EcoTech Marine office is approximately 3 years old. Equipment-wise, the tank largely runs EcoTech equipment VorTech MP40
(obviously). I have five XR15 G4 Pro Radions with diffusers over the top of the tank. For water movement, I run two MP40s at minimum strength and a Vectra M1â€”actually an original prototypeâ€”as a replacement for the stock pumps that came with the tank. I use the Innovative Marine Ghost Skimmer with a filter sponge for filtration, and I have a reactor that runs either Nyos carbon or D&D Rowaphos. I dose alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium from Nyos or ESV, depending on what's in the back room. Parameters are standard reef tank targets. The system gets a 10 percent weekly water change, and that's about it. The lighting program I run is the straight AB+ mode from CoralLab (template in EcoSmart Live). I am running the program at 80 percent intensity, which results in a max output of 55 percent of the lights' potential. The Radions run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the standard one-hour ramp at each end. The pumps run an alternating "reef crest" and "constant" mode ranging between 20 and 50 percent (also from CoralLab, per World Wide Corals). SPECIFICATIONS Tank: Innovative Marine SR-80 Lighting: (5) EcoTech Radions (XR15 G4 with diffusers) Water Movement: (2) EcoTech MP40s, Vectra M1 Controller: EcoTech Reeflink Doser: Bubble Magus Filtration: IM Ghost Skimmer and filter sock Reactor: IM stock unit with carbon Yellow Tang
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Five EcoTech Radions illuminate this reef.
LIVESTOCK CORAL - WWC bicolored Euphyllia - Montipora spp. - Acropora spp. - Pocillopora spp. - Favites spp. - Fungia spp. - bird's nest coral - various chalice corals FISH - (1) Yellow Tang - (1) clownfish - (1) Banggai Cardinal - (1) Pajama Cardinal - (1) Red Tail Filefish - (1) Watchman Goby - (1) Sunrise Dottyback - (1) Red Scooter Dragonet - (1) Flame Hawkfish - (4â€“6) chromis OTHER - sea cucumbers - brittle stars - various cleanup crew R
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LPS FRAGGING GUIDE
A Dremel, side cutters, hammer, flathead screwdriver, and glue are all that are needed to frag most LPS corals.
he topic of coral fragging is a truly inexhaustible subject with many different techniques and best practices specific to each type of coral. In the last issue of Reef Hobbyist Magazine, I wrote about some of the easiest corals to frag (the soft corals), and now it's time for me to share some of my favorites to frag!
LPS (large-polyp stony) corals are some of the most sought-after corals in the hobby, but at the same time, their slow growth and thick calcified growth forms can make them some of the hardest to frag and regrow successfully. Today, we'll look at branching Euphyllia, which includes Frogspawn, Hammer, and Torch corals, Micromussa lordhowensis (formerly known as Acanthastrea lordhowensis), and Cyphastrea. These are all popular corals that come in many color varieties, making them perfect for the captive propagation enthusiast. The methods outlined here can also be used to cut up a multitude of other corals that have similar growth forms.
Use side cutters to score the branch before gently twisting to break it off.
Branches are easily cut using a Dremel tool.
Branching Euphyllia have always been some of the most popular corals in the hobby. Tons of color varieties coupled with beautiful motion, even in low water flow, make these corals a staple in many hard-coral or mixed-reef aquariums. Branching Frogspawn, Hammer, and Torch corals are also some of the easiest hard corals to frag due to their growth patterns and brittle branch formations. With all fragging techniques, it's important to only cut the calcified skeleton well below the fleshy polyps. This will result in the healthiest frags that will heal and begin growing again quickly. Any time you plan to work with Euphyllia outside the tank, be sure to give them a good shake and ample time to fully retract underwater to avoid damage from the fleshy polyps draping over the sharp edges of the skeleton.
method is to resist cutting the branches with a single cut. If you try to snip through a branch with side cutters, you will find the brittle (and mostly hollow) skeletal structure of branching Euphyllia results in more shattering than cutting. Instead, it's best to score the branch with the cutters where you would like it to separate and
The simplest method of fragging these branching-type corals is accomplished using side cutters or frag cutters and your bare hands. This method can be very precise, allowing you to break branches off at exactly the point you would like. The key to this A diamond-coated bandsaw blade makes quick work of a Euphyllia skeleton.
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Freshly mounted Frogspawn frags
give it a gentle twist to break it off. This usually leads to a pretty clean break. The downside to this method is that the bottoms of the cut branches will rarely be flat, leading to a bit more difficulty in gluing them in a vertical position. If you have a Dremel tool at home, this can also be used to frag branching Euphyllia and will usually create more precise cuts and better looking frags. To frag with this tool using a cut-off wheel, simply cut through the branch parallel to the surface of the Euphyllia head. This will give you flat-bottomed frags that can easily be glued to plugs or rocks, and the frags will also stand up straight, making them more presentable. For branches that are too thick to cut all the way through, cut as far through as you can to score them, and then break them using side cutters or a tool to pry between the branches. This method will yield a flatter cut than prying alone. Though cutters and Dremels work fine, my favorite tool to cut Euphyllia is a Gryphon bandsaw. This tool provides a liquid-cooled blade to keep the coral cool and produces the most accurate cuts. It also makes the flattest cut, which leads to more secure mounting on plugs and better-looking frags. Using this tool, I simply cut below the flesh on the branches, parallel to the surface of the head.
The Gryphon bandsaw is my tool of choice.
A Dremel tool can be used to score the surface of Micromussa colonies.
A flathead screwdriver and hammer are perfect for breaking along the scored lines.
Separate each frag by applying pressure on the scored lines.
Use a bandsaw to follow corallite boundaries more closely.
Micromussa, which was known as Acanthastrea before recent taxonomic reclassification, is another LPS coral that can be fragged relatively easily at home. Unlike branching Euphyllia, Micromussa has a more robust skeleton that usually needs at least a Dremel to be fragged effectively. Most colonies are too thick to cut all the way through using a cut-off wheel, so instead, I use the cut-off wheel to score the colony's surface into a grid of individual frags I would like to cut. It helps tremendously in healing if you can follow corallite boundaries, but Micromussa is very durable and will usually heal even if the polyps are cut in half. Once I have the colony scored into frags, I use a thin-bladed flathead screwdriver and hammer to break them apart. Thicker-bladed tools, such as a chisel, will cause more damage around the cut lines. If the bottoms of the frags aren't level enough to be easily mounted, the Dremel tool can
also be used with either a cut-off wheel or sanding drum to flatten the bottom for secure mounting.
Similar to Euphyllia, the best tool I've found for cutting Micromussa is the Gryphon bandsaw. The bandsaw makes it easy to follow corallite boundaries closely and cut the bottoms of frags flat. The key to following the boundaries is to look for those that form semi-straight lines across the colony. Cut directly across this boundary and then look for another easy-to-follow line in the pieces. Once cut up, I trim the bottoms of the frags parallel to the polyp surface, which gives me a good surface for mounting and results in better-looking frags. Fragging Cyphastrea is very similar to fragging Micromussa but without the need to follow corallite boundaries. This makes them
A Dremel tool easily scores out Cyphastrea frags.
A thin-tipped flathead screwdriver is used to break along scored lines.
Frags are divided into the desired size.
Each piece has been cleanly separated.
A bandsaw can be used to cut excess skeleton off the back of frags.
These freshly cut Cyphastrea frags are ready to be mounted.
easy to divide up into uniform frag sizes. Using a Dremel tool, I begin by scoring the colony along grid patterns that will yield the frag sizes I'm after. Then, I break them apart using a thin-bladed flathead screwdriver. After the colony is divided up, I use the Dremel to grind or cut the bottoms flat to make them easier to mount. The thinner you get your Cyphastrea frags, the quicker they'll grow after they're mounted. As you may have guessed by now, my favorite tool for cutting Cyphastrea is once again the Gryphon bandsaw. This is especially useful when cutting the frags to be as thin as possible. This leaves less distance for the Cyphastrea mat to bridge before it attaches to the new surface on which it was mounted. These techniques can be applied to a multitude of similar corals. The methods I use for branching Euphyllia can be used for nearly any type of branching coral, including Blastomussa merletti, Duncans, candy canes, and many others. Methods used to frag Micromussa may be used with any large-mouthed LPS corals, including Favia, Favites, and Montastrea. Finally, techniques used to cut Cyphastrea can be used to cut LPS corals with small and numerous polyps, such as Turbinaria, Leptastrea, some chalices, and others. Nearly all corals carry toxins of one kind or another, so I can't stress enough how important safety is when fragging any coral. Wear safety glasses the entire time to be sure no liquid or coral shards get into your eyes.
This Cyphastrea frag has healed and is encrusting quickly.
All too often, discussions of fragging fail to include the details of mounting the new frags, but this is equally as important as proper cutting techniques to maintain the health and aesthetics of the coral. The way you mount them is the basis of how they are presented to potential new owners, and it's also very important in how they will grow out in a display. For LPS corals, I usually try to leave as little skeleton on the new frag as possible. As you explore how much you can take off the backs of your frags, look out for color other than white in the areas you're cutting into. Dead skeleton can be safely removed, but any color is an indication of areas still inhabited by living coral flesh. Taking care in your mounting technique also ensures that frags stay attached long term, giving them a better chance to heal and grow. To help freshly cut hard corals heal, I add enough iodine in a separate bowl of tank water to turn it a light amber shade. I soak the frags in this solution to sterilize cuts and cool the cut area. After all frags are cut, I then soak them for about 15 minutes in an amino acid bath of salt water from the coral's home system mixed with enough amino acid dip to lightly tint the water. I've used many different brands of amino solutions, and they all seem to work equally well, whether it's AcroPower from Two Little Fishies or Reef Plus from Seachem. This seems to enhance the healing process and prevent most coral death due to fragging. As you've seen, there are multitudes of different tools and techniques that can be used to cut LPS corals. The real keys to cutting hard corals are practice and perseverance. Pick a colony to frag, choose a tool and technique, and you'll be fragging in no time!
R Reef Hobbyist Magazine
SOFTY BUT GOODY MICHAEL CUTTONE
riginally, I had an SPS (small-polyp stony)-dominant reef tank that had been running for 2 years. Unfortunately, Acropora-eating flatworms got into my system and destroyed most of my corals. At that time, I decided to start fresh with a new setup. I removed all the Acropora and let the tank sit fallow for 3 months while I prepared for the upgrade. I felt sure there would be no more flatworms or eggs left if the flatworms had nothing to eat. Once my new setup was ready, I began stocking SPS in the tank. All seemed to be fine for a while until one night when RTN (Rapid Tissue Necrosis) set in and the SPS started to decline. Some soft coral and LPS (large-polyp stonies) that had made the transfer from the original tank were unaffected.
Everyone that had seen the tank being recreated mentioned the wonderful movement made by my Goniopora, Xenia, and various LPS corals, but no one seemed to notice the new SPS frags with all their new growth. It's more common for a novice to say this, but the truth was I enjoyed the movement of the softies so much more than a tank full of SPS, and I think I had been caught up in the social stigma that soft corals are easy beginner corals and not taken seriously amongst real reefers. I'm not embarrassed to say that I'm proud of my stress-free, softy-dominant reef. As far as future plans for this setup, I have been entertaining the idea of adding an additional tank to either give some more room to the existing corals (as I love huge grownout colonies), or maybe I'll get crazy and see if I can grow a predominantly soft coral tank alongside an SPS tank all tied in to one system. The most important thing for me is to take my time, enjoy my coral and fish, and not stress. LIVESTOCK FISH - Atlantic Blue Tang - One Spot Foxface - Starry Blenny - Ruby Red Dragonet - Lawnmower Blenny - Yellow Stripe Possum Wrasse - Blue Neon Goby - Royal Gramma - Bristletail Filefish - Six-line Wrasse - (2) Black Ice Snowflake Ocellaris Clownfish INVERTEBRATES - mushrooms - Goniopora spp. - Xenia (purple and red) - Cabbage Coral (neon green) - Capnella sp. - Sinularia spp. - Nephthea sp.
- Papaya Clove Polyps - finger leather corals - Yellow Fiji Coral - Tracy Morgan Gorgonian - trumpet coral - zoanthids - Squamosa and Maxima Clams Reef Hobbyist Magazine
It's a huge bonus to have my equipment in another room behind the display.
- plate coral - toadstool corals - blue photosynthetic sponge - Coco Worms - green star polyps - Sympodium sp. - Palythoa grandis
- Leptastrea sp. - acans - Blastomussa wellsi - Reverse Superman Monti - Sunset Monti - Montipora spp. - flower anemones
SPECIFICATIONS Display: Reefomania 140 gallons, 48" L Ă— 30" W Ă— 22" H Stand: custom Sump: 75 gallons Settling Tank: 30 gallons, fully drainable conical Lighting: ATI Powermodule (T5/LED combo), (2) Reef Brite LEDs Skimmer: Super Reef Octopus XP-5000sss Return Pump: Iwaki MD-30RT-115NL (max flow 600 GPH) Closed-loop Pump: Reeflo Dart-Snapper Hybrid Carbon Reactor: NextReef MR1 Doser: BRS doser (50 mL per minute for kalk) Auto Top-off: Tunze Osmolator Universal 3155 Heating: (3) Eheim heaters It gives me great pleasure to see corals grow in harmony together.
30-gallon conical settling tank
LIGHTING I use an ATI LED Powermodule with two 48" Reef Brite Tech blue strips, one on each side. My blue LEDs on the Powermodule start ramping up at 5 a.m. and hit 20 percent at noon. The outer channel on the T5s ramps up between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Next, the inner channel starts ramping up from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The T5s are set to 80 percent from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The inner channel ramps down until 6 p.m., the outer channel ramps down until 7 p.m., and the blue LEDs ramp down until 9 p.m. The Reef Brites are on from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. I use both ATI & GE 6,500 K bulbs. FILTRATION My skimmer handles 600 gallons per hour. For that reason, I do not drive more flow through the sump than that. From the display, a 1" drain flows into a 30-gallon conical settling tank before going to a 75-gallon sump and the skimmer. The settling tank is set up so that water enters it below the surface and creates a circular motion with very little flow in the center. The settling tank acts like a whirlpool. Creating a soft coral forest is my passion and goal.
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Using egg crate as a flow break allows the detritus to settle to the bottom of the tank. I also have a drain valve in the bottom making it much easier for me to do a water change and get that buildup out. Having things set up this way allows me to monitor the amount of food and nutrients going into the tank and prevents me from having to run granular ferric oxide or macroalgae. WATER CIRCULATION I have a closed loop run with a Reeflo Dart-Snapper Hybrid pump. I did not want powerheads in the tank, and in my opinion, closed loops give better flow. I have two holes in the tank bottom, two holes in the back, and two returns that run up and over the back.
FEEDING I have about 20 fish, and I feed my fish and coral five or six times a day. I know this sounds like a lot, but I do multiple small feedings. I feed my own food blend at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 p.m. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and foremost, I would like to thank my wife, Lisa, and my two daughters, Sydney and Hannah, for putting up with me and my hobby. Also, thanks to Marek for building this beautiful tank and the great people who I have met in my local club (LIRA). Thank you all for your generosity, knowledge, and willingness to share. R My pink Sinularia is nearly 24" across.
MAINTENANCE I change 40 gallons of water every week; 30 gallons gets drained from the settling tank and 10 gallons gets siphoned from the display tank or frag tank. I clean my glass every 2 or 3 days. The skimmer cup is cleaned every 2 days. I use a turkey baster to blow detritus off my rocks at night at least once a week. This puts the detritus up into the water column and helps feed my coral at night. I run carbon and change it out every 2 weeks. I use Coralife salt and dose kalkwasser at night to keep the pH up. The auto top-off is filled when needed. WATER PARAMETERS Specific Gravity: 35 ppm pH: 8.07–8.31 (Apex) Calcium: 480 ppm (ELOS)
Alkalinity: 9.5 dKH (ELOS) Magnesium: 1420–1450 ppm (ELOS) Temperature: 77° F
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