Subsea

Natural Reefkeeping

25 posts in this topic

 

My journey into marine aquariums begin in the fall of 1971 when I entered the Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston, Tx.  After four years in the USAF between 1966 & 1970, I had seen too much war and needed peace & tranquility in my life.   I found that peace & tranquility in the beauty of marine aquariums.  With all seats but drivers bucket seat removed in 1960 VW Bug, I collected salt water on an incoming tide at Galveston jetties and filled up a 55G tank with ug filter using crushed up oyster shells, from chicken feed house, for substrate.

 

In the marsh grass flats, I collected pods, grass shrimp, green mollies and sheepshead minnow.  From the jetties I collected Peppermint Shrimp, Curly Que Anemones and Flower Anemone.

 

Live Rock included an oyster cluster with numerous tube worms and microfeather duster and barnacles with their fast moving  fan.

 

At 70 years old, I continue to learn.  Like many of us here, I am an addicted reefer.

 

During my early years we had no internet nor books.  We did it the old fashion way of trying and learning.  When John Tullock wrote “The Natural Aquarium”, he brought it all together with one phrase;

 

“LESS TECHNOLOGY / MORE BIOLOGY”

 

 

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Thanks for sharing those first days of keeping a marine aquarium. How long did everything live? What kind of filtration did the tank have? Or did you just do water changes? 

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I did zero water changes.  Filtration was through a ug (undergravel filter) with 2” of crushed up oyster shells > 5mm in diameter with an air pump using uplift tubes to pull water down into the undergravel filter.  Ten years later, when my ugly oyster shells were covered with the most beautiful dark purple mat, I was told by an experienced reefer that it was cynobacteria and that was a bad thing.  It was so thick, I peeled it off like cardboard.

 

For someone that wants a relaxing marine eco system without breaking the bank, a macro lagoon with invertebrate is a good “Laissez Faire” tank.

 

Since that first Galveston Bay biotheme, I now have a 25 year old 75G Jaubert Plenum with a 30G EcoSystem Mud /  Macro refugium.  Three months ago, I turned out the lights, composted tomatoes with macro, added rock seeded with cryptic sponges and shifted this tank eco system to favor filter feeders.

 

This vidio is about 5 yrs old.

 

 

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Do you still have the sea apple? Interesting to read the "early days" of reefkeeping. Thanks for sharing!

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I kept the Sea Apple for two years.  While not “old age” it is an accomplishment.

 

I can’t find any to buy.  I am so much more prepared to handle filter feeders.

Edited by Subsea

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Three weeks ago, I received a Chilli Coral from Divers Den.  It was beautiful in the shipping bag, flying its colors.  Transfer was made to tank with colors still flying.  I went to bed with Chilli “flying his colors”.   When I woke in the morning, I was like a kid at Christmas.  With my red LED I went to view Chilli.  The rock ledge for shade had been dislodged by urchin bulldozers and covered Chilli.  To prevent accumulation of detritus/algae, I put Chilli in unlit mud cryptic refugium for three weeks.  Two days ago, I put Chilli back in display tank.  This Thanksgiving morning, I saw Chilli flying his feathers.

 

 

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The Red Flower Anemone in last picture is a survivor.  It came in on some live rock 7 years ago.  Due to a stuck ATO valve, a 500G system was diluted to fresh water.  The Flower was wilted then, not so today.  I recently doubled light intensity in this tank for photosynthetic gorgonions.  The flower is on the move.  For three days he hid behind a rock.

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Edited by Subsea

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I like bright colors as well.  

 

In my Jaubert Plenum display tank, greens are supplied by GSP, bicolor Hammer & Green Sinularia.  Grape Caulerpa Tang feeding platform provides shade for my attempt at NPS with a Chilli Coral.  Chilli is “fire engine red”.  I have four other red inhabitants: two Red Tree Sponge, two Red Encrusting Sponge, Red Flower Anemone, three Flame Scallops and one Flame Angelfish.

 

I decided that I wanted Christmas everyday in my tank.  What better Christmas color, than red & green.

 

The Gulf of Mexico farmed rock has some of the most diverse life forms and the prettiest coralline  colors that I have ever seen:   pink, mauve, yellow, red, green.  

 

Having been in “blue water for 17 years of a 35 year career in deepwater drilling, I have seen up close what lies in the deep.  As the Senior Subsea Engineer, I conducted underwater blowout preventer inspections when BOP was on wellhead.  When we moved into deep water with dynamically positioned ships, Oceeneering conducted inspections.  On one well in 5000’ a large grouper had claimed the wellhead as it’s nest.  Oceeneering ROV (remote operated vehicle) was sent to scare grouper off of wellhead.  The grouper grabbed robot arm and shook it until camera picture went out.  ROV was pulled to repair camera and was back down on wellhead in 6 hours.  At a day rate of $500K, one grouper cost operations $125K.  

 

I am 30 days into curing 90 lbs of live rock that lay in 30’ of water 20 miles west of Tampa just four weeks ago.

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After 45 years, it varies.  My first criteria is that it is easy to tale care of.  Chilli Coral is an exception to that rule.  The second criteria is that it is either pretty or interesting.  Third criteria is that it gets along with tank mates.  To this point there is a kind of social order to be dealt with..  With LPS coral, you can move them out of sweeper tentacles range or in the case of noxious chemicals from softies being removed with GAC.

 

Fish are more difficult.  Once they are in the tank, it is difficult to effect their behavior.

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With my 75G Jaubert Plenum of 25 years, I also maintained a mud macro refugium.  After discussions with Steve Tyree and my friend Timfish, I have gone over to the “Dark Side”, Cryptic Zone Refugium.  If it works, I will write my own book.

 

Three months ago, I turned out the lights in macro refugium and seeded with cryptic sponges.  

 

This week, I have siphoned out 50% of course substrate in 6” sandbed for Jaubert Plenum to eliminate de-nitrification and most importantly to export excessive muck in sandbed.

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I am reducing sand bed depth from 6” to 2”,except for 1/3 of tank where large wrasse buries himself when sleeping.

 

In two weeks, I am starting a 120G new build using a reverse flow under gravel filter with 3” of CaribSea “Special Reef Grade” aroggonite.

 

I got some new Yellow Ball Sponges today from live-plants.com

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I wanted to do an under gravel filter on my new tank and just hook to the pipes on it for water changes. I was going to do just doing could suck under my sand and rock


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Purpose of reverse flow is to not allow detritus to be pulled down into substrate.  This allows for 100% aerobic conditions in sandbed.  I personally feel that the  void under sandbed should be left alone.  The fact that oxygen rich water is pumped into void creates oxygen rich sandbed from bottom to top.  There would be no reason to pump from Plenum.

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This morning, it was 28 degrees with a dusting of snow.  Quite beautiful here in Austin.  The last two days were good for the ducks.

My outside growout system consist of three 150G Rubbermade tanks buried in the ground.  Plan was to grow temperature hardy macros and live food.  In September, I received 90 lbs of live rock for a new build 120G tank, that is curing.  Water in outside system was 69degrees with 900W heat input.  

 

I will put water into 120G new build on this Saturday.

 

I like colorful sponges.  I have four Red Tree, two Orange Encrusting and two Yellow Ball Sponges.

 

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Very nice. I'm amazed at how good your tank looks with some simple stuff.

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