yardboy

Yardboy's Jetties Nano

423 posts in this topic

Many of us go on vacation to the tropics, snorkel or dive on a coral reef and when we get back home, contemplate establishing a marine tank that is just like something we've seen while underwater. Quickly we realize that it's a lot easier thought of than done! I decided to try it with a much simpler, artificial habitat.

First, a descriptionof my observations of the habitat I want to represent in my nano.

Nearly every channel into a seaport in the world has a structure of some kind to protect the channel from the destructive forces of the sea. In the Gulf of Mexico, many of the channels are surrounded by sand, which can quickly block the channel entrance during a storm. Often the channels are lined with rock, limestone or other material, to act as a barrier, holding the sand back from entering the channel. This channel, into St. Andrew's Bay in Panama City Beach, Florida, happens to be near where I live. I try and dive or snorkel there every chance I get, often every day (except the weekends with the tourists) during the summer.

St.Andrewsjetties.jpg

 

The jetties are essentially a pile of rocks, large boulders of limestone piled in a line to define the channel into the Bay. On the inside, the water has washed out behind the rock to make a "kitty-pool" that is only 6 feet or less deep, while on the outside of the rocks the channel runs to 60 feet deep. The difference in life forms between the two sides is astounding, partly due to the current and depth, and partly because during the peak tourist season, probably 2-3000 people a day snorkel along the shallow side, but the outside (which requires a dive flag to explore due to boating laws) gets only about a 100 divers a day. Kind of hard to believe those numbers when you see this pic.

fishcollectorpost.jpg

Edited by yardboy

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Even though the tourist pressure is high, you never know what you will see when you get into the water there.

Schools of all sorts of fish,

fishschool.jpg

 

As I said, you never know what you'll see,

 

genieexploringthejetties.jpg

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One of the most commonly seen fish, because it's so brightly colored and is also territorily aggressive and so doesn't swim off and hide when you approach, is the Beau Gregory, Eupomacentrus leucostictus. You can almost be sure that any tourist with a net will have one or more of these in his bucket at the end of the day.

BeauGregory.jpg

 

Unfortunately only the juveniles have the bright colors, as they get older, and maybe wiser, the become a much more dull brown, but still just as mean

 

adultBeau.jpg

 

Another common occupant of the tourist trap is one or more of the many types of hermit crab found here.

redhermit.jpg

 

Only little kids usually pick up the brown cucumbers found slowly creeping across the rocks, but they usually drop them when Mom screams to them to drop that nasty turd!

cucumber.jpg

Interestingly, as the summer goes on, cukes are only commonly found on the channel side of the jetties, where little kids fear to paddle.

 

The more diligent observer will often be rewarded by views of the several species of butterflyfishes, whose larvae have drifted here from further south. When winter comes, they will all succumb to the cold.

butterflyandgrunt.jpg

 

blackandwhitebutterfly.jpg

Edited by yardboy

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The rocks are often lined with fishermen, casting their baits far out into the channel, while the objects of their desire are right under their feet!

cdsnapper2.jpg

 

 

Queen angels are quite common on the channel side of the rocks, and are one of the few tropicals that stay here all winter long. I've dove the jetties in January, with water temps. in the low 50's and they'll be swimming around just like in the summer.

angel-1.jpg

Edited by yardboy

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awsome thread yard.. great pics.. we have break waters as u posted above, they are used to block rough seas from coming into the Casino areas... this you probably already Know :)

 

we fish the jetties alot.. but the ones we fish are in Grand Isle, LA

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Up late too eh! Yep, and I'll bet if you dove those jetties and the visibilty was good, you'd see quite similar critters, or maybe not. I've not seen many of the fish show here, even off the barrier islands. I guess the currents just don't carry them over that way.

 

To show that there is a connection to further south, we do have actual corals here, but the species are very limited. They've got to be able to handle the cold water of the winter. These are Leptogorgia. Note the white polyps. They'd be very difficult to try and maintain in a tank. I've not tried it but too many others I've heard have tried and failed.

leptogorgia.jpg

 

leptogorgia2.jpg

Edited by yardboy

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its pretty Muddy over this way.... due to shrimp boats and tugboats and so on..

youd see alot of shrimp and catfish though...lol

 

i have never dived but would like to.. i have a friend that lives in the bahamas that gives diving lessons,, what a life huh :bowdown:

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There are a few species of hard corals, mostly Oculina. In the winter they bleach out white, but in the summer they develop a tan or brown color, evidently they can take or leave the zooxan. It is illegal to collect these corals here, but there is a way to get them in your tank legally. More on that later.

 

Oculina.jpg

 

its pretty Muddy over this way.... due to shrimp boats and tugboats and so on..

youd see alot of shrimp and catfish though...lol

 

i have never dived but would like to.. i have a friend that lives in the bahamas that gives diving lessons,, what a life huh :bowdown:

 

Get your license! If you can dive in Mississippi, you can dive anywhere. I once dove off Cat Island with an Australian friend, in 60 feet of depth with 1 foot of visibility. We felt our way around the sunken shrimp boat, and I managed to see some cool stuff. Later when I apologized about the crappy conditions (did I mention the 4-6 feet swell?) he told me that "Sometimes you just have to earn your gonads!" Let me tell you, the cold beer sure tasted good later that evening, back at the dock!

 

 

There are several species of anemone present, unfortunately I don't have any clue as to what they are called.

anemone.jpg

 

rockanemoneandorangespongepost.jpg

 

The first difficulty in establishing a tank representative of the habitat you are interested in is that usually some of the dominant organisms are very difficult or impossible (at this time) to maintain in a tank!

Sponges occur in all shapes and colors and I have not been able to keep any of the ones I've tried.

pinksponge.jpg

 

stripedsponge.jpg

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Okay, so there's the background on the habitat I'm going to try and emulate to the best of my and my nano's abilities. I'll be back a bit later to show how I put it together.

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ha... i was at cat island yesterday, we stayed out there.. went floundering all night then fished all day.. yes , i would say the beer was good also at the dock..very good

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that pic above the anemone is a colony of tunicates

that last pic you posted with the yellow sponge i think is also a tunicate but not really sure on that one, but to the left of that theres a hard coral i think

any ideas on that?

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I saw a bunch of sea turtles last time i swam the jetti in port aransas, texas

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yea you can get the oculina (aka star coral) if it is on aquacultured live rock. pretty sure thats the only legal way. the lfs i work at has been getting 1000 lb shipments of key west cultured LR with tons of oculina on it.

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Joe, you are too quick for me.That is the way to get an Oculina, the only legal way. You may be right about those two organisms. The first very light colored one is possibly a tunicate. and the last pic of the "striped sponge" could be too. There are thousands of them on a dock right around the corner of the peninsula from the jetties. That white thing I believe is a sponge, but it could be anything. In the spring they are everywhere, somewhat hard and waxy feeling, and they get the size of your fist, but they disappear before the end of the summer.

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Awesome description and nice pics. Can't wait to see what you do with this set up :) Those urchins look neat, too, though not nanoish.

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Thanks Clifford.

A word about the Reef Lab. A little over a year ago I decided to build my fantasy playroom, a place to keep all my tank stuff and to experiment to my hearts delight. Thus came the "Tank Room". If you are the least interested in how I built it, go Here to read the build thread.

Later my 8 yr. old niece who loves the tanks told me it reminded her of a "Science Room" When Genie, my wife, comes looking for me, she says "I knew I'd find you in "The Lab" so to place a formal name on it I call it the "Reef Lab". The "Ghetto Beauty" was developed there, and now the "Jetties Nano"

FW folks making the transition to Salt often try and use equipment they are familiar with so set up tanks with HOB filters, canisters, etc. so I thought I'd experiment to see how well they could work.

Equipment:

10 gallon tempered glass tank

2- Aquaclear HOB filters

2-36W PC lamps with individual reflectors, retroed into a DIY canopy.

Live rock and 2" of aragonite sand.

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great shots!

regarding about your thread, we need to login.

why not you post some more info here?

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The Live Rock

After observing the life on the rock at the jetties, I knew that just buying Fiji rock wouldn't get it, so I had a few options,

1) Buy some rock from the maricultured places farther south (Sealife, Inc. or Tampa Bay Liverock for instance). Problem with this approach is similar to using Fiji. There are differences in the life associated with the rock farther south, so I felt it wouldn't be a true representation of the habitat.

2) Just steal some rock from the jetties. Though most of the rock there is limestone boulders, there is some smaller rock that appears to be aragonite. I couldn't find out much about the history of the rock, I figured that the smaller aragonite rock had been used to provide more habitat for marine creatures, so I knew that wouldn't be a good thing to do, plus I'm a wuss and don't want to go to jail.

3) The option I finally opted to do was take some base rock I'd purchased, and some rock I'd made, and stash it at the jetties for awhile to get seeded like all the other rock. I even asked permission of the park officials, and their response was "Huuuh?" After discussing it with others, it's probably borderline not permissible to do this either, but if anyone asks, I'll deny having done it to begin with. :D

baserock.jpg

I found a spot in a gap in the boulders that I didn't think the average tourist would see and that waves wouldn't wash away, and placed about 30# of rock over several trips. Then I watched over three years to see what would happen. No surprise, algae grew all over it, sponges and anemones came and went, hurricanes blew in and I was afraid it was lost, but surprisingly it stayed where I'd put it and this spring I decided it was ready.

 

Intially I only had 36W actinics for lighting, as I'd robbed the fixture from another project I'd done in the past. I decided though that this was okay as the rock had a lot of algae growing on it, ad does all the rock there in the spring. Nutrients washing out of the bay I guess.

FTS072207post.jpg

 

While the rock had a lot of algae on it, during it's devleopment I'd seen a lot of nice corraline growing, so I knew that as soon as the algae was removed, the rock would look nice.

corraline073107.jpg

 

The fish is some little guy who got in the way when I was after a Beau Gregory to place in the tank

 

stripedminnow073107.jpg

 

 

 

I kept the rock underwater except for the brief moment when I transferred it to the tank, so I thought I wouldn't have much dieoff, without out any cycle, but I still only added tough fish, the Beau

BeauGregory073107post.jpg

 

and a Molly Miller Blenny (who I caught as a rare yellow morph, but who turned the usual green after only a week in the tank) :huh:

 

blenny073107post.jpg

Edited by yardboy
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While there are many kinds of macroalgae on the rocks, the only ones I've had any success with are this guy, and I don't know what it's name is, and Halimeda.

macroalgae073107post.jpg

Edited by yardboy

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So I've caught up with my thread. Everything in the tank seems to be doing well.

A couple of observations.

1) The tank is full of crabs. Even though I got rid of the ones that came out of the rock on the way home, there are quite a few more in the tank At least 10 in a 10 gallon! From watching them, they seem to be picking algae off the rocks and eating it.

2) The algae on the rocks didn't go away until I got a spiny urchin. While others say they will eat corraline, he seems to prefer the algae. When it's all gone, I'll likely move him to a prop tank that is having algae problems.

3) All the sponges died so far. This resulted in cycle of the tank, with heavy growth of microalgae on the walls of the tank. Initially I tried to do water changes with water from the jetties, but it only made the problems worse. I began using IO mix and my rocks began to clear up.

4) I've seen no pods but then the blennies and Beau likely keep them eaten out. I trapped the blenny and small minnow and returned them to the jetties. Since I have kept everything out of this tank but stuff from the jetties I figured it'd be alright.

Snorkeling, I saw a gap between the rocks out into the channel, and since the water was clear and the light bright, I had inspiration for the aquascaping and background

5) There are brittle stars, and I've seen a very small pistol shrimp. There is also either a larger pistol or a mantis present because I can hear the snapping often during the day.

6) Right now, the tank is mostly occupied by crabs, the Beau, and anemones. There are three big ones and a couple of smaller ones. Doing fine on diet of krill and the stuff floating in the tank.

So, here is a full tank shot, with one 36W - actinic and a 36W-10000K

FTS090207post.jpg

Edited by yardboy
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I am impressed all around. Serious dedication waiting for that base rock. You sir have follow thru.

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Ultimately I'd like to have a couple of those beautiful butterflyfishes swimming around in the tank. Unfortunately I'll probably have to wait until next year. The ones I've seen there lately have been chased all summer and are wise in the ways of tourists with nets. Early next spring the new ones won't be so wiley. I've been told the only way to get them to survive is to use rock and water from the jetties initially, until I can get them to eat.

Thanks for the encouragement. Neat thing about having a lab is there's never a shortage of things to do, so I don't rush any particular project when waiting.

I hope it continues to develop the way it has so far.

I'll try and keep this thread updated. I think it's time to go diving again!

 

Oh, one more thing. In contrast to most rock from the Pacific, the rock I seeded is full of all kinds of clams/oysters. One in particular struck my eye, and it seems to be doing well. A yellow spiny oyster/clam?

yellowoyster081907post.jpg

Edited by yardboy
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thats really awesome you waited for the rock 3 years. I would have been far too impatient. I think the algae you dont know the name of is called codium, although that looks alot hairier than most codium i've seen. Maybe its fuzzy codium ;)

Nice job, the tank looks great. Keep us updated on those crabs you found because some of the really live stuff that hasnt been quarantined can have predatory crabs on it...luckily you saw yours eating algae so its most likely not the case but i would watch them if you start getting a heavy coral & fish load.

Edited by joesmoe517

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thats really awesome you waited for the rock 3 years. I would have been far too impatient. I think the algae you dont know the name of is called codium, although that looks alot hairier than most codium i've seen. Maybe its fuzzy codium ;)

Nice job, the tank looks great. Keep us updated on those crabs you found because some of the really live stuff that hasnt been quarantined can have predatory crabs on it...luckily you saw yours eating algae so its most likely not the case but i would watch them if you start getting a heavy coral & fish load.

He's right... that algea you have is codium

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tHIS IS AMAZING THREAD KEEP US UPDATED. TANK LOOKS VERY NATURAL. wISH I COULD HAVE DO WHAT YOU HAVE GREAT JOB

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