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mitten_reef

True Reef: the real reef inspiration.

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mitten_reef

I’ve been contemplating how poorly we come to define what coral colonies should look like, both from the hobbyists, and much worse from vendors.  I’m hoping that our community can share inspirational real reef images, both for our artistic aquascaping perspective and for understanding the true scale of nature. I’m obsessed with the bommie reefs, below is an example, but admittedly can’t stop cluttering up my tank with tiny frags. 
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@DNR88, you’ve been showing a lot of nice dive images/YouTube, please add some here.

 
@SaltyTanks, please add some of your wonderful dive photos. 


@billygoat, I bet you’ve done plenty of research on your biotope reef. 
 

If anyone else would like to share images that inspire you, please feel free to jump in and share. They don’t have to be your personal images, but please keep to the natural/wild reef theme, ie no inspirational tank images. 

 

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billygoat

Cool idea! Naturalistic aquascaping seems to be a bit underappreciated in the modern reefing community. Perhaps understandably so - many natural reef environments are actually not very colorful (most corals in nature are some shade of brown), and besides are extremely complex and therefore very difficult to accurately recreate in a small aquarium. I think there's a lot we can do to capture at least a bit of that realism, though.

 

Personally I take a lot of inspiration from my memories, since I used to live in the West Indies, but I also like to watch amateur dive videos. Short clips like this one from St. John (which is a quick boat ride away from where I used to live) can really give you a great idea of the stuff that lives in the nearshore areas where many of our corals naturally occur.

 

Online dive identification guides like Florent's Guide and blog/photojournal sites like Snorkel St. John are also really cool. 👍

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DNR88

Great idee @mitten_reef! Some first pictures, I mainly concentrate on the bommies from nature, because that's what we can re-create in our tanks.

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DNR88

Some more bommie-inspiration from my computer.

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DNR88

Some more from Tormentos reef (Cozumel).

690144569_TormenterosReefCozumel6.thumb.jpg.ac795a4f7779a2394b61179dfd17a279.jpg

 

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SaltyTanks
18 hours ago, mitten_reef said:

I’ve been contemplating how poorly we come to define what coral colonies should look like, both from the hobbyists, and much worse from vendors.  I’m hoping that our community can share inspirational real reef images, both for our artistic aquascaping perspective and for understanding the true scale of nature. I’m obsessed with the bommie reefs, below is an example, but admittedly can’t stop cluttering up my tank with tiny frags. 
E7A751DC-DF43-4DEB-B1A0-70568702B09F.jpeg.3d371c51168ddf2b51ece2131128ffda.jpeg

@DNR88, you’ve been showing a lot of nice dive images/YouTube, please add some here.

 
@SaltyTanks, please add some of your wonderful dive photos. 


@billygoat, I bet you’ve done plenty of research on your biotope reef. 
 

If anyone else would like to share images that inspire you, please feel free to jump in and share. They don’t have to be your personal images, but please keep to the natural/wild reef theme, ie no inspirational tank images. 

 

This is great, @mitten_reef.  Pics & posts coming up soon!

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jbb

Love this idea !  

 

Coral Morphologic has an awesome underwater camera system that plays live video near miami.  I have found many areas that I would love to try and recreate in an aquarium.  Below is the link to the camera site and they can also be found on Facebook as Coral City Camera 

 

 

http://www.coralcitycamera.com/

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billygoat
27 minutes ago, jbb_00 said:

Love this idea !  

 

Coral Morphologic has an awesome underwater camera system that plays live video near miami.  I have found many areas that I would love to try and recreate in an aquarium.  Below is the link to the camera site and they can also be found on Facebook as Coral City Camera 

 

 

http://www.coralcitycamera.com/

Wow... I could watch this for hours. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing!

 

One thing I'm noticing from all of these near-shore pictures and dive videos, especially those from Florida and the Caribbean: coralline algae is not present in any conspicuous way. Pink and red corallines dominate the rocks in our tanks, but in nature these same spaces are almost exclusively controlled by other sorts of filamentous algae, sponges, and similar encrusting organisms. I imagine that in these natural environments coralline is forced to exist in areas where more aggressive algae cannot grow, such as shaded spaces or areas that are heavily grazed. Just some food for thought. 🤔

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mitten_reef

Here are some awesome looking acropora colonies and others sps reef.  
amazing insta account to follow  

 

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SaltyTanks
I'm super excited about this new thread.  Thanks again, @mitten_reef!  I'll start by sharing pics from a trip to Fiji I took with my wife back in 2013 - before I entered this hobby.  Now that I'm a bonafide reefkeeper (or at least a wanna-be), I'm finding new appreciation looking back through these pics - context & inspiration for my tank.  Very excited to see what others find inspirational and collectively building this thread into a resource for the betterment of our tanks:)
 
Top down view of the house reef in front of our hotel on Tokoriki Island. Fantastic snorkeling conditions - pics taken between 0 - 20 feet deep, mostly on the outer reef that had some great ridge formations toward the drop off.  Lots of light & alternating flow.
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In 3 feet of water just off the beach in a sandy spot was this pink carpet nem with a 1 baby clown + its mother.  The color on this amazed me.
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The outer reef with its ridges, ledges, and overhangs were amazing.  Great contrasts...
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I was really amazed seeing this green coral on the reef.  Can anybody help me out with coral ID?  Funny how we try to avoid common coral greens in our tanks, yet I've only rarely seen it show up on the reef in natural light.
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I like this one as inspiration for varying texture shapes...
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We did a 1/2 day snorkeling excursion trip to a small uninhabited island nearby - where Tom Hanks filmed Cast Away.  Different flow pattern here - steady directional flow sweeping us down the beach.  This spot had great pillars, really large colonies, and striking mixed reef coral combos growing within very close proximity to each other.  The pillars here is what inspired my current 40 gallon aquascape....
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I think the look of this giant spherical brain coral (~3' diameter at least) with the reef reaching over it looks amazing.  Would love to try and recreate this in a tank...
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I can definitely image scooping this little patch of reef into a tank...
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I didn't realize it at the time, but with reefkeeping knowledge I now realize how cool it is here to have these stags & sps mixed in with the yellow leather softies.  The constrasting shape forms and colors were amazing.  And the blue (damsels or chromis?) shoaling in the mix was the cherry on top...
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just hit my 25 mb image limit.  More to follow soon....
 
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DNR88

Those pictures are fantastic! 👍😁

 

Hopefully you have more bommie/pillar/shallow reef/sandy bottom-pictures. 😋

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SaltyTanks

Here's some more Fiji scapes...

 

p8202114.thumb.jpg.c708797098054b30813c8469c573ef61.jpg

 

Humungous tabling acro...

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giant goni colonies!  

p8171499.thumb.jpg.3893aa79ca012fd93fd4ade2d6b4e8b7.jpg

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billygoat
On 4/12/2020 at 1:01 PM, jbb_00 said:

Love this idea !  

 

Coral Morphologic has an awesome underwater camera system that plays live video near miami.  I have found many areas that I would love to try and recreate in an aquarium.  Below is the link to the camera site and they can also be found on Facebook as Coral City Camera 

 

 

http://www.coralcitycamera.com/

So I've been watching this camera for... well, a long time (😅) over the past couple days... and I've seen some really awesome stuff! I like it so much that I have to thank you again for sharing it. Man-made reef or not, it's really great to just watch the fish swimming by. I've been able to identify a variety of really cool species, including stingrays, a shark (very vague and mysterious; I couldn't get a species ID), numerous parrotfish, a cowfish, pairs of French angelfish, and a foureye butterflyfish. I'm loving it! These Caribbean species really strike a chord with me. Thanks again. 🙏

 

Edit: there's also a very distinctive ocean surgeonfish (Acanthurus bahianus) that lives in this area - it has no caudal fin! It's incredible to see this fully-grown, adult fish with no tail at all. It must live in the area around the camera because I've seen it multiple times over the past few days.

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jbb
1 minute ago, billygoat said:

So I've been watching this camera for... well, a long time (😅) over the past couple days... and I've seen some really awesome stuff! I like it so much that I have to thank you again for sharing it. Man-made reef or not, it's really great to just watch the fish swimming by. I've been able to identify a variety of really cool species, including stingrays, a shark (very vague and mysterious; I couldn't get a species ID), numerous parrotfish, a cowfish, and a foureye butterflyfish. I'm loving it! These Caribbean species really strike a chord with me. Thanks again. 🙏

I'm right there with you , I watch it constantly.  

 

I wish they would bring their coral store back, they had awesome stuff.

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SaltyTanks

Here's some Caribbean reef pics out of Honduras.  Pretty much just like @billygoat 's tank, which I think is one of the best tanks in our community - if not the best.  I think the dimension and wild movement on the reef from the gorgonians and seafans to be very inspirational.  Even though they don't light up with florescent colors under blues, they still can add so much dynamic depth to our tanks.  

 

DSC09338.thumb.JPG.ff9275fa8bc178fc17eddd6c1206b7cf.JPG

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I love the contrasting primary colors in this one...

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And I can't get enough of the perfect spheres dropped in random reef chaos...

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mitten_reef

Wow, I’d love to make it there (Fiji) one of these days. Amazing photos man!  

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billygoat
1 hour ago, SaltyTanks said:

Here's some Caribbean reef pics out of Honduras.  Pretty much just like @billygoat 's tank, which I think is one of the best tanks in our community - if not the best.  I think the dimension and wild movement on the reef from the gorgonians and seafans to be very inspirational.  Even though they don't light up with florescent colors under blues, they still can add so much dynamic depth to our tanks.  

Absolutely gorgeous photos. Did you take those yourself? Those are some incredible habitats that really showcase the diversity of Caribbean reefs.

 

Thanks for the compliment as well! My humble tank seems like a pretty far cry from these wonderful reefs, but it warms my heart to hear that you like it. Means I must be doing something right. 😂

 

1 hour ago, SaltyTanks said:

 

 

And I can't get enough of the perfect spheres dropped in random reef chaos...

 

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I absolutely agree about the crazy shapes of bouldering brain corals... this one in particular (I believe the species depicted is Diploria strigosa) is really incredible. Given good conditions, colonies of Diploria can grow upwards of 5 feet across! That's insane. Brain coral is one of the most iconic and beautiful stony corals in the Caribbean, and unfortunately also one of the most vulnerable to bleaching due to rising ocean temperatures. 😥

 

 

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mitten_reef

Another SPS field  

 

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SaltyTanks

Has anyone come across this type of stony coral in a reef tank with this 'leafy' growth pattern?  I think it's a super cool looking growth pattern that would look great in a tank scape.  These pics were taken in Roatan and I believe its name is agaricia tenuifolia (aka thin leaf lettuce coral).  To me it looks just like my jack-o-lantern leptoseris except it plates up in colonies like lettuce.  I wonder what it would look like under blues?!?!

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mitten_reef
11 minutes ago, SaltyTanks said:

Has anyone come across this type of stony coral in a reef tank with this 'leafy' growth pattern?  I think it's a super cool looking growth pattern that would look great in a tank scape.  These pics were taken in Roatan and I believe its name is agaricia tenuifolia (aka thin leaf lettuce coral).  To me it looks just like my jack-o-lantern leptoseris except it plates up in colonies like lettuce.  I wonder what it would look like under blues?!?!

dsc08723.thumb.jpg.aef9da2a92b9b48965b6a701a6a4fc9c.jpg

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If you look up branching pavona, branching leptoseris, or potato chip corals (any of those). You may find those to be a decent substitute in the aquarium scale. 

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debbeach13

Love this thread. Thanks everyone for all the pictures.

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lizzyann

Wow, love these photos! Very inspiring. I definitely have an extremely unnatural reef, but I think if I was going to have a second tank or have to start over at any point I would absolutely go for this look and a single location to pull from!

 

4 hours ago, mitten_reef said:

If you look up branching pavona, branching leptoseris, or potato chip corals (any of those). You may find those to be a decent substitute in the aquarium scale. 

@SaltyTanks Ditto. I love my leafy green! It was sold to me as "mint pavona." I think it's Pavona frondifera.

 

Not saying it's the same coral as the one in your pictures as it doesn't have the same surface texture, but it has the similar wavy, lettuce-y growth pattern and is pretty easy to find if you want something similar!

 

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hinnenkm

Wow, this thread is incredible and not being able to travel just makes me want to get in the water that much more!

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