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ninjamyst

Are we over complicating tanks?

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After 40 years since this hobby took off, we still don’t know enough to come up with the silver bullet. There are plenty of tools and approaches that will help you succeed but how we use it is another topic entirely. We know the basics that should be enough to keep successful reef tank but even with all that available knowledge, we seem to fail occasionally. 

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Oh, one more point.  Equipment and simplicity are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  I feel that you can employ dosing pumps, ATO units, RO/DI, wavemakers, programable LED fixtures, etc, while still taking a simplistic (or even natural) approach to reefing.

 

On dosing, using two part and/or Kalkwasser to replenish elements consumed by stony corals and coralline algae can be a necessity.  Relying on water changes alone works fine for soft corals, but can become costly and time intensive in larger systems with stony corals.  Automating the additives just makes it more convenient (and vacation friendly).

 

So what might not be considered simple?  IDK, maybe carbon dosing along with added amino acids, or maybe deep sand beds.  I'd classify certain livestock as not simple, with special feeding requirements (multiple daily feedings, special live or frozen foods, target feeding, etc).   We can also separate simple and natural.  It's not exactly simple to culture your own phyto and pods, but it can be part of a natural approach to  reef keeping.

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9 minutes ago, seabass said:

Oh, one more point.  Equipment and simplicity are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  I feel that you can employ dosing pumps, ATO units, RO/DI, wavemakers, programable LED fixtures, etc, while still taking a simplistic (or even natural) approach to reefing.

 

On dosing, using two part and/or Kalkwasser to replenish elements consumed by stony corals and coralline algae can be a necessity.  Relying on water changes alone works fine for soft corals, but can become costly and time intensive in larger systems with stony corals.  Automating the additives just makes it more convenient (and vacation friendly).

 

So what might not be considered simple?  IDK, maybe carbon dosing along with added amino acids, or maybe deep sand beds.  I'd classify certain livestock as not simple, with special feeding requirements (multiple daily feedings, special live or frozen foods, target feeding, etc).   We can also separate simple and natural.  It's not exactly simple to culture your own phyto and pods, but it can be part of a natural approach to  reef keeping.

I agree..... “Simple” can vary depending on the type of tank. 

 

I like bare bones reefing and that will not work if you want a tank full of acros.  

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2 minutes ago, A Little Blue said:

After 40 years since this hobby took off, we still don’t know enough to come up with the silver bullet. There are plenty of tools and approaches that will help you succeed but how we use it is another topic entirely. We know the basics that should be enough to keep successful reef tank but even with all that available knowledge, we seem to fail occasionally. 

When I think about how many people enter and then leave this hobby, I fear that there are likely a lot more failures than we read about.

 

Many of the approaches to reef keeping (past and present) have been developed with only a partial understanding of why things are done a certain way.  As a result, deviations to a particular 'method' would sometimes result in success, sometimes in failure.  

 

Today, with the coral reef/coral research done in the last 10-20 years, we now have a better idea of what is going on in a reef system (although we still have much to discover).  A lot of this information is contained in scientific papers that are not all that accessible to the average aquarist, so lots of digging and then reading/interpreting are required to determine what should, or shouldn't, be applied to our captive systems. 

 

 

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35 minutes ago, WV Reefer said:

I agree..... “Simple” can vary depending on the type of tank. 

 

I like bare bones reefing and that will not work if you want a tank full of acros.  

I would say that may be true for some systems, but my experience differs.

 

In my small 12g  'bare-bones' system I've had a few Acros.  The Red Planet type below grew from a teeny-tiny frag to a 4" piece that became too aggressive/too large and had to be rehomed:

 

RP8_061514.jpg

 

12g RP Acro Top Down_010115.jpg

 

 

This one was a single frag-spike and one was given to me as a present by my son.  It nearly doubled it's mass in a couple months with all the base spiking activity.  I ran out of room for it, unfortunately:

 

12g XMAS Acro_102113.jpg

 

I have had a type of Granulosa in my system for eight years that has all but died out in the hobby (prossibly because it plates well, but only produces 'nub'ins' instead of spikes under LEDs).

 

I guess the takeaway to all this is that many Acros will grow and do well in 'simple' systems, but they need a lot of space as they can grow really quickly once they get 'happy'.

 

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3 minutes ago, jedimasterben said:

 

 

Yes.

...and that succinctly sums it up in just one single word  😄

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Morton salt, tap water, and an oscillating fan for surface water movement. 

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someone in a group today posted a list of things you supposedly cannot do with a saltwater tank, one was low maintenance and one was low cost.

 

I do both, and have done so for 20 plus years. I have no problem using a Sicce return pump that cost me $90 over one that costs $300+ does it have all the bells and whistles no, but its all I need, I just need something to take water from sump and pump it back into the tank, add in $20 random flow generator and presto good random flow throughout the tank, no expensive wave maker needed.

 

Of course my system and method may not work for a 6 foot long tank, but it works for my cube tank and I don't have to risk anemones being killed by wave makers or pumps inside the display.

 

 

Some issues some have I do think stems from lack of maturity in a tank when starting with dry rock, as mentioned earlier by others even if cycled there life just wont be there quickly when starting from dry and people may be rushing their tanks thinking cycled means matured.

 

I am not exactly keen on the dry rock/man made rock, but that is the norm these days where outside the US it can be impossible to find any rock that has spent anytime in the ocean but back when life rock was the norm, there seemed to be less of these issues but of course we were introducing a lot more life into the tank with live rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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44 minutes ago, nicholc2 said:

Morton salt, tap water, and an oscillating fan for surface water movement. 

 

Don't temp me,  I'd try it for giggles

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2 hours ago, Nano sapiens said:

When I think about how many people enter and then leave this hobby, I fear that there are likely a lot more failures than we read about.

 

Many of the approaches to reef keeping (past and present) have been developed with only a partial understanding of why things are done a certain way.  As a result, deviations to a particular 'method' would sometimes result in success, sometimes in failure.  

 

Today, with the coral reef/coral research done in the last 10-20 years, we now have a better idea of what is going on in a reef system (although we still have much to discover).  A lot of this information is contained in scientific papers that are not all that accessible to the average aquarist, so lots of digging and then reading/interpreting are required to determine what should, or shouldn't, be applied to our captive systems. 

 

 

Agree. Knowledge is crucial. B4 translating German publication in the 80’s, American aquarists had no idea how to keep SPS corals. With help of “Berlin” method and Kalkwasser (both German inventions) we became just a little more successful (progress accelerated from there). There is still a lot to learn and things to test for b4 we are going to understand reefkeeping and keep corals/reef tank thriving long term. 

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5 hours ago, JBM said:

I just watched a youtube video yesterday of some coral guy by the name of Jason Fox. He has well over 5,000 gallons of sw in his home. He doesnt dose anything, and only does water changes with Instant ocean, not even Reef crystals.

 

Yep, I'll stick with my water change only method

I think you're underselling his set up a little there 🙂 He runs a large calcium reactor and doses mag.  He also has a massive sump and skimmer on his systems. Seem to remember he's pretty hot on regular param testing as well.

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1 hour ago, ajm83 said:

I think you're underselling his set up a little there 🙂 He runs a large calcium reactor and doses mag.  He also has a massive sump and skimmer on his systems. Seem to remember he's pretty hot on regular param testing as well.

as far as the system size goes especially for a vendor/grower, I'd still consider that to be quite simplistic approach.  As far as number of "specialty" equipment per system, it was fairly simple as I recall. but i also don't know what other vendors do in their grow-out systems.  

 

I think the biggest emphasis was more so that JF believes in water change above most other additive program at the time of that video being released.  

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Most run Alk around 9 or higher, nutrient rich tanks and cook corals with ridiculous amount of blues. 

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The answer to this question depends on what kind of tank you want and what result you feel is successful.  The later being very subjective; one man's weed is another man's flower kind of thing. 

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10 hours ago, micoastreefing said:

as far as the system size goes especially for a vendor/grower, I'd still consider that to be quite simplistic approach.  As far as number of "specialty" equipment per system, it was fairly simple as I recall. but i also don't know what other vendors do in their grow-out systems.  

 

I think the biggest emphasis was more so that JF believes in water change above most other additive program at the time of that video being released.  

I agree but that's not what I replying to...the poster said "He doesnt dose anything, and only does water changes with Instant ocean, not even Reef crystals."

 

It makes it sound like he does a water change once a week and that's it.  In reality the calcium reactor is constantly dosing calcium, carbonate, magnesium, strontium, borate and all the other trace elements in the coral skeleton/media that his reactor is dissolving into the water.  You won't get results like Jason just by doing a water change once a week.

 

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“Elegance in Simplicity” was a thread title I once wrote as I marveled at how perfect biochemistry on the reef was.  With near zero measured nutrients in water column, how can the reefs in the wild exist in a nutrient desert.  Between the “microbial loop” and the “coral holobiont” as an interconnected and an interactive community of bacteria, algae and sponges, the most productive ecosystem in the word exist in a nutrient desert.

 

My 25 year old tank is not pristine, but it is mature.  I recently added three filter feeders that like a high nutrient system:

sea apple, two deep water gorgonions (NPS).  Gorgonions were introduced two weeks ago.  Sea Apple was introduced 30 days ago and just did extend tentacles in a feeding response.  This tank has two flame scallops for ten months, but only in the last two months have they chosen to be somewhat in the open.   I also have a Chilli Coral in my cryptic sponge refugium for almost a year.

 

I recently started dosing organic carbon to grow more bacteria (skimmerless for 35 years, reefing for 47 years).   While phytoplankton is a building block for the marine food chain, bacteria have a parrellel role by moving the food from one trophic level to another thus  feeding the reef.  I also recently started dosing amino acids, but after some education from European reefers, I am told that amino acids are produced by bacteria acting on protein.   Out of the 22 amino acids, 75% come from animal protein and 25% from plant protein.  

 

The bacteria are the true  “microbial overlords” in our reef tanks.  Bacteria have had almost 5 billion years to work out the details.  Just feed them and give them oxygen.

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2 hours ago, Subsea said:

I recently started dosing organic carbon to grow more bacteria (skimmerless for 35 years, reefing for 47 years).   While phytoplankton is a building block for the marine food chain, bacteria have a parrellel role by moving the food from one trophic level to another thus  feeding the reef.  I also recently started dosing amino acids, but after some education from European reefers, I am told that amino acids are produced by bacteria acting on protein.   Out of the 22 amino acids, 75% come from animal protein and 25% from plant protein.  

 

So you are saying an increase in bacteria will increase amino acids so there's no need to dose additional amino acids like Acropower right?

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5 hours ago, Subsea said:

“Elegance in Simplicity” was a thread title I once wrote as I marveled at how perfect biochemistry on the reef was.  With near zero measured nutrients in water column, how can the reefs in the wild exist in a nutrient desert.  Between the “microbial loop” and the “coral holobiont” as an interconnected and an interactive community of bacteria, algae and sponges, the most productive ecosystem in the word exist in a nutrient desert.

In recent years, scientists have realized that the reason that the water column is so depleted of nutrients is due to tight recycling/sequestration.  The system is actually 'nutrient dense', but the nutrients are locked up in the micro and macro fauna/flora.  Any influx of nutrients from the 'outside' are readily consumed/sequestered.  Microbes play a huge role in this process and it has been said that if one doesn't understand the microbes (and their functions), then one doesn't truly understand the reef.

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3 hours ago, ninjamyst said:

So you are saying an increase in bacteria will increase amino acids so there's no need to dose additional amino acids like Acropower right?

A 'natural system' reef tank has no need for added amino acids.  If this were not true, then long-term aquaria like mine would be full of unhealthy organisms.

 

The sale of amino acids came about due to the prevalence of ULNS/LNS systems for SPS dominated systems.  One is basically putting back in what one has taken out via super-efficient filtration and/or lack of sufficient nutrient inputs.

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10 hours ago, ninjamyst said:

So you are saying an increase in bacteria will increase amino acids so there's no need to dose additional amino acids like Acropower right?

Its “A Question of Balance”.   Bacteria acting on protein (uneaten fish food) produce amino acids.  Bacteria need organic carbon to grow.  Because many sponges and filter feeders eat bacteria, I feed bacteria organic carbon.   So I get two advantages to increased bacteria populations.   Bacteria feed filter feeders including corals & sponges and bacteria convert protein to amino acids.

 

Using some AA humor, “I give Vodka to The Sponge”.

 

Note:  Coral can produce all 22 amino acids without having them dosed.

 

https://www.advancedaquarist.com/2014/3/corals

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30% Water change with RSCP every 6 months, a UV, no dosing. Super happy softie reef. Most of the corals were the “beginner” corals I gave to him when I upgraded tanks. Fist sized pipe organ is now like a basketball. (My uncles tank I set up)

 

JGSoxod.jpg

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2 hours ago, HarryPotter said:

30% Water change with RSCP every 6 months, a UV, no dosing. Super happy softie reef. Most of the corals were the “beginner” corals I gave to him when I upgraded tanks. Fist sized pipe organ is now like a basketball. (My uncles tank I set up)

 

JGSoxod.jpg

That is a gorgeous display.   How long set up?

 

PS:  In a recent conversation with Randy Holmes Farley, he commented on UV sterilization in a reef tank, 

“UV radiation ruptures bacteria membrane spilling their guts in the water”.  When I questioned him on using “bacteria guts” to feed filter feeders & sponges, he agreed that it would feed a high nutrient system.  

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26 minutes ago, Subsea said:

That is a gorgeous display.   How long set up?

 

PS:  In a recent conversation with Randy Holmes Farley, he commented on UV sterilization in a reef tank, 

“UV radiation ruptures bacteria membrane spilling their guts in the water”.  When I questioned him on using “bacteria guts” to feed filter feeders & sponges, he agreed that it would feed a high nutrient system.  

Problem is uv for big tanks are huge and mounting and plumbing it become a problem for me.  I got a 13w uv but it did nothing for my dino problem.  I need at least a 20w but those are huge.

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