GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

Zero impact reef keeping

SALLY JO HEADLEE

Aragocrete™ and glue reefs can be enjoyed more because they have almost no impact on the ocean reefs.

There are as many ways to set up reef aquariums as there are to grow a garden. We have found a way that works for people all around the world. LeRoy has been researching Marine Aquariums since the Summer of 1967. When he gave me my first reef 8 years ago I asked many questions, and I studied all of the books. I wanted to not add to the problems the wild reefs are having by taking rock and corals from the wild.

The bullet proof reef system works very well, and you can save money by following our instructions. REMEMBER - HAVE FUN AND SAVE A REEF BY GROWING YOUR OWN

This month I will again be sharing the success of my youngest bullet proof reef system. This tank was set up on Feb 14, 1999. You can follow this tank from day one when the first Aragocrete rocks were being place and the landscape was being formed.VISIT SALLY JO'S 40 WATT REEF ON DAY ONE

SALLY JO'S REEF AQUARIUM CARE SCHEDULE

A plan for performing work and achieving the objective of having a beautiful reef aquarium

We have tanks that are 500 and tanks that are only 8 gallons. One of my weekly responsibilities is to dose all the tanks. I began adding supplements to all of the systems when they first set up. In the tanks that have sumps I place the supplements in the sump. In the tanks that have no sump I place the supplements directly in the tank it self. The recipe I use is as follows:

Sea Chem. Liquid supplements per 55 gallon

Two tablespoons Sea Chem. Reef Plus twice a week ***See further note

Two tablespoons Sea Chem. Reef Complete twice a week

Two tablespoons Sea Chem. Reef Calcium twice a week

The capful measures to one tablespoon.

***Further note on the Sea Chem. reef plus: make certain to refrigerate this supplement.

On tanks that have a skimmer make certain to hold off on adding the other two supplements until the skimmer has slowed. In tanks that don't have skimmers yet you can add the other two supplements right away.

Make up water: This is done every single day! To all tanks

I Use

Week two - SeaChem Reef Advantage Calcium. One tablespoon per gallon of makeup water

Week three - SeaChem Reef Builder one tablespoon per gallon of make up water.

Week four - SeaChem Reef Advantage Calcium. One tablespoon per gallon of makeup water

REPEAT.

 

I allow the makeup water to sit out in open air for 24-hours before placing in my tank. If the tank has a sump I pour the water in the sump. If the tank has no sump I allow the water to slowly pour out of the gallon container until appropriate level is reached in the tank. Salinity is checked in all the tanks each and every single day. At this time we use over 50-gallon containers to add make up water each day.

The following week we use the Sea Chem. Reef Advantage Calcium. One tablespoon per gallon of makeup water. Allow all the containers to set out 24 hours before adding to the tank. We also rinse out the container after each use. We do this for a full week and then switch back to the other.

We have been using this recipe now for over 6 years. You can see by these pictures how well this has worked for us. I increase or decrease the amount of supplements depending on size of the system.

We do at least a 10% water change every month. We now only use Sea Chem Salt in all of our reefs and LeRoy says it is better than the new Instant ocean.

THIS IS HOW THIS REEF LOOKS ON 12/01/01

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

It is hard to believe that this tank is reaching the two-year-old stage. I am going to explain the inexpensive equipment that we use to start the bulletproof reef systems. I will go into detail to show you the upgrades that I make along the way. These upgrades are made if we are going to keep some corals later that demand more light and water flow. You will be amazed when you find out how many corals and clams can be kept with 40 -watt lighting. Because of the success of this system I feel it is important to again highlight the tank that so many people try to tell you can't be done.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

All of the four tanks in my office including the cutting unit were set up utilizing the bullet proof reef system. My oldest unit is now almost five years old. My middle reef aquarium (sometimes called the old man tank) is now almost four years old. The Xenia cutting unit and my youngest reef aquarium are reaching the two-year-old stage. The three 55-gallon reefs are sitting side by side in my office, and each one reflects such breath taking beauty. I work very hard each day to keep each one of these systems functioning properly. One of the concerns I had two years ago about setting up another system in my office is that I do spend a great deal of time on all of my tanks. Could I find the time and room in my heart for another one?

Well before I could make that decision I noticed LeRoy running around the office and hiding things. I was certain he was up to something. He was buying tools, telling me I could not go in certain places and asking me to sign checks but being vague on what he needed them for. Still today I am amazed by the workmanship of his gift. When I walked into my office the following the day guess what I found. Yep another aquarium looking at me. It was silently challenging me to take on the task of rolling up my sleeves and creating another bonsai captive ocean.

LeRoy also surprised me with a hand made cutting unit to house many of my fast growing captive raised animals. This system has 3-tanks stacked on an oak rack. All of these animals have indeed grown since they where established in my new unit. I am actively propagating from them and have once again just about ran out of roomJ

I will say that the past five years has taught me a great deal. In each future article I will try very hard to convey all the information and document the results through pictures. I have many tasks that take up my time however, I feel that it is my utmost responsibility to share what is working at GARF and what might have not worked as well.

I had made some up front decisions in regards to this newest bulletproof reef system. I decided since so many people engage their heart when setting up a reef system I want to give them the success shared at GARF. From the very beginning I decided to not upgrade this system. I would push the inexpensive bullet proof method to show new possiblities. All of our 55-gallon reefs start with 3-40 watt bulbs and after a year we often add VHO lighting. Other normal upgrades, like placing a sump below the aquarium and adding a UV sterilizer are things that are proving less important than we thought they were. .

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

I wanted to continue to prove that one can have a very successful reef tank, with little equipment and tons of animals. Hundreds of people all around the world have shared their success with this simple system.

We have over 40 separate systems that we have tested for many years. We know that each day brings us more information. New ideas are formulated but we continue to remain committed to the fact that if it is not broken there is no reason to defeat one's self by trying something that has not been proven.

My reason for sticking with the bulletproof reef system is that it works, time and time again. I follow the simple recipe shared through out our vast website and shared in many of the on-line articles. I do suggest taking a close look at the years of pictures. At our web site www.garf.org we share hundreds of detailed pictures. You can actually see how much the animals grow in a very short period of time. As my older tanks continued to grow the amount of biodiversity makes the system much more stable.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

When speaking to reef aquarium keepers, I find there are few people who can stand up and share the success of their five-year-old reef. Each year and sometimes each day brings forth-new challenges, but this bulletproof reef system remains bulletproof. I want to convey as loud as I can to your heart and your mind that GARF's way is not the only way, but it works, almost every single time. I have now taken over 50,900 pictures of these tanks. They have been featured in several marine magazines, new reef books, and of course on our web site.

I think I can honestly say that there are no better-documented reefs in the World. It is through this experience and my willingness to share that I hope to give you the confidence to take on the challenge of reef keeping.

I think at this point it is important to remind our readers that before starting my reefs I had never kept a fresh water. I plunged or perhaps it is better to say that LeRoy dunked me into the salt-water hobby. I never would have attempted to take on the challenge. I read the books, I asked questions and I felt that it was way too complicated for me. After having said that and then looking back on the years of pictures and at the animals living in our systems I feel humble.

The gift LeRoy gave me with the first empty tank and the full challenge may never be put into words. Looking at the 200 CDs with over 50,000 pictures I have taken I can not find words to match any of these pictures. I suppose I could say if I can do this so can you. I suppose I can say that this by far has been one of the most rewarding accomplishments in my life. I suppose I could tell you men to do what LeRoy did for me. Buy your partner a tank for Valentines day. Take some time, look at the pictures at www.garf.org, and follow the progress of each system that has been documented for the past five years. Perhaps that is all it will take from me to give you the gift LeRoy gave me almost five years ago.

There is a wonderful feeling when one shares ones corals with another. A vision is unfolding when focusing on taking the burden off the wild reefs. There is a deep feeling of accomplishment when we are finding new ways and conditions to sustain these remarkable animals in our little glass boxes. None of this would mean very much if we did not take the time to share this success with others. I know that at times when we speak of the bulletproof reef system we tend to confuse others. However it is with this article I hope to shed some light on the subject and pass our success on to you.

We can change, learn from our mistakes and make the World a better place for the future. This is honestly what keeps me going. I have dedicated my life to sharing these tanks with you, not only with my words but also through pictures and dialogue. I think in some regards that the miracle was in trusting LeRoy and his 33 years of experience in reef keeping. His 33 years of experience is not necessarily a miracle but one could say it paved my way to the bulletproof success that I have been able to share.

He suggested I start out with a bulletproof reef tank. It certainly sounded good. Little equipment was required and I had done my homework on this subject. I however bought new light to the idea. And the first GARF Aragocrete rocks where formed. I certainly did not want to risk introducing someone thing from the wild that could erase my success before I started. Also I wanted to prove to people we do not have to rely on the Ocean to create this beauty. For if I found success I wanted to make sure I was not adding more burden on the already struggling wild reef.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

 

 

Before I go on let me promise to you that I will not sway off the subject of the Bulletproof reef system, nor discuss any of the upgrades that I make along the way with any of the other tanks. For that is where I think I confuse people. Let me try to make this as simple as it has been for me, with the hopes that it will be as successful for you.

Material list

Hardware

Standard 55 gallon glass aquarium

Stand that will hold the weight of this tank

Sand Plenum - Use this link to custom make your own: Building Plenums

Instant Ocean Salt

3 Maxi Jet 1200 power heads.

One Aquarium Systems heater

Salinity Gauge

Test Kits

Carib Sea aragonite Gravel - 87 pounds Seaflor special grade

65 lbs. of the Aragocrete™ rock fully cured (follow the instructions posted on our site)

Lighting

3- URI 40 watt bulbs 2- White Actinic (50/50) and 1-Actinic blue

1 Ballast that will run the three bulbs - we sell a new electronic ballast that comes from Mexico for $44.00. We have to purchase 24 at a time so we sell the extra.

3 sets of end caps. - Aquarium Products

1 reflector, we use a polished aluminum reflector from Aquarium Products

1 Timer

high quality fresh water

I add a SeaClone Skimmer after the first 4 months.

Maintenance

Sea Chem. Supplements

GARF GrungeTM™ 16 pounds

GARF's reef janitors for a 55-gallon

Spiralina Flake Food

Set up

1 Powerstrip

Towels

1 Five Gallon Bucket

Permanent Marker

Propagation

A couple of tubes of glue

Scissors

I, of course, have over 40 separate systems at GARF to steal any of my cuttings from.

After all of these items are checked off you are ready to take the next steps. These steps are the most rewarding. In the beginning process the biggest gift you can give yourself is to enjoy each and every one of the steps. It is also time to do some soul searching. Ask yourself how much money do I have to spend, how much time do I have to commit to this new venture, and will I make the promise to stick with it.

Many animals are killed because people step into the hobby and loose interest, move, or give up. With the bulletproof reef system you do not have to have a Ph.D., nor is it that difficult to understand. For this simple reason it is easy to pass on. For very little can or does go wrong with this system. Little mistakes do not become big mistakes.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

Once the plenum is set in the new system, the Carib Sea and the GrungeTM is set on top of the plenum. I do not mix the two together I just sit the GrungeTM on the top layer. The more GrungeTM one has the faster the tank cycles. One powerhead is on the top white pipe of the plenum and the other powerhead is directed in the opposite direction to add current going both ways. The powerheads are not turned on until the water is in the unit. It is also important to note that since I do not use a skimmer at the beginning stages of setting up a new tank that the powerheads need to break the surface water so as to create oxygen when you place the first fish in the system. I than began to add my fully cured man made rock to the tank. With just a little water to keep the GrungeTM happy I can see how my rock formation is taking place. Landscaping is indeed a very important stage for the tank. Make certain to create places for your fish to swim through, or hide amongst. Create ledges to house several animals.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION The more environments you create the more animals you will be able to successfully maintain. Try and make certain the rock will stay solid in place. Once this is achieved I than add aged water from other tanks at GARF. For I feel with aged water I increase the cycling time as well. Make certain the salinity is 1.023, and the temperature of the water is no more than 78 degrees when placing in the tank. Once all the water is placed in the tank it will take about 24 hours for the tank water to clear. This is a good time to work on the lighting. I use two 40 watt blue lights and one 40 watt white light. I find that the blue light really helps the coralline algae's start to grow faster. I use one ballast that will run the three light set up. The lights are place directly on top of the tank with a reflector setting directly on top of the lights. I place the lights on a timer allowing for about 12 hours on off time. The heater is set at 78 degrees and is set directly in the tank.

Sure enough although we have done this several times it still amazes me when I come back in the next day and all the dust is settled. I add the GARF reef janitors on day one. I move any rocks that I do not like the placement. Adjust the powerheads and begin the plan on where animals are going to go.

I do not place a skimmer on my new bulletproof reef system for several months. I do not want to skim out all the beneficial organisms in the GrungeTMTM. It is the GARF GrungeTMTM that will seed my man made rock and cycle my tank.

As I stated at the beginning of this article I was not going to upgrade this bulletproof reef system as I had in the past. I was committed to using the lower watt bulbs for the soft corals and I had already cleaned up so much water from the overflows from the sump problems. I wanted a tank with as little headaches and as little mistakes as possible. I much had my mind made up that this was going to be my soft coral tank. For I had completely run out of room in my other units. For years people have been telling my tanks were full. They were right and I had to move many of the fast growing soft corals to make room for all the sps corals to grow. Within the first two days I started to add some mushrooms and other soft corals that I knew would do well in this young of tank. Taking the animals from my older tanks that needed more room to grow. I have done this so many times it is hard to remember being afraid to place my first animals in a new system. I do tend to place several animals in the tank that are hardy. It is my feeling that the more animals in the tank the more one comes closest to mimicking the natural reefs. The natural reefs have as much bio diversity as the rain forest. So within the first week I begin to place corals and watch them very carefully. I have learned over the years which animals tend to take the move in stride and actually love the roominess of their new home. I think the sooner you are able to enjoy your tank, watch animals grow and move in the system the more one stays involved with it.

I then place fish in the tank within the second week when the tank becomes more stable. I like the cheap, mean fish that live and have a purpose in my coral reef. I do not place fish that are not reef friendly. I do not place fish that require special care, or fish that will eat the janitors. I stick with captive raised clowns; I like the mixed damsels, and or course no reef tank really looks like a reef tank without a Tang. My favorite tangs are the Red Sea Tangs, and the Purple tangs. I really like to bring in all my fish at the same time. That way there is not as much fighting over territory nor risk of introducing sick fish after you have fallen in love with the first ones placed in the tank. In my third bulletproof reef system you see in the pictures on our web site there are nine. I have three captive raised clowns, three different types of damsels, one purple tang and one Red Sea Tang. These fish where placed in the tank after the second week and they are now almost two years.

All of the cuttings are captive grown at GARF. There are just a few exceptions. The clam I saved from an already existing tank because I felt it needed more love. I gave it a bulletproof reef home after the second week. I tend to "borrow" animals that call out to my heart, from the 40 separate systems here at GARF. I bring them into my office to watch and to propagate them. I love to share them with others.

Now that the tank has been setup. Janitors are cleaning the glass, stirring the sand, and dusting the rock. Corals are extending fish are happy in their new home. I begin to add supplements. It is important to note that we have over 40 separate systems running differently.

We have tanks that are 500 and tanks that are only 8 gallons. One of my weekly responsibilities is to dose all the tanks. I began adding supplements to all of the systems when they first set up. In the tanks that have sumps I place the supplements in the sump. In the tanks that have no sump I place the supplements directly in the tank it self. The recipe I use is as follows:

Sea Chem. Liquid supplements per 55 gallon

Two tablespoons Sea Chem. Reef Plus twice a week ***See further note

Two tablespoons Sea Chem. Reef Complete twice a week

Two tablespoons Sea Chem. Reef Calcium twice a week

The capful measures to one tablespoon.

***Further note on the Sea Chem. reef plus: make certain to refrigerate this supplement.

On tanks that have a skimmer make certain to hold off on adding the other two supplements until the skimmer has slowed. In tanks that don't have skimmers yet you can add the other two supplements right away.

Make up water: This is done every single day! To all tanks

I Use

Week two - SeaChem Reef Advantage. One tablespoon per gallon of makeup water

Week three - SeaChem reef builder one tablespoon per gallon of make up water.

Week four - SeaChem Reef Advantage. One tablespoon per gallon of makeup water

REPEAT.

 

I allow the makeup water to sit out in open air for 24-hours before placing in my tank. If the tank has a sump I pour the water in the sump. If the tank has no sump I allow the water to slowly pour out of the gallon container until appropriate level is reached in the tank. Salinity is checked in all the tanks each and every single day. At this time we use over 50-gallon containers to add make up water each day.

The following week we use the Sea Chem. Reef Advantage. One tablespoon per gallon of makeup water. Allow all the containers to set out 24 hours before adding to the tank. We also rinse out the container after each use. We do this for a full week and then switch back to the other.

We have been using this recipe now for over 6 years. You can see by these pictures how well this has worked for us. I increase or decrease the amount of supplements depending on size of the system.

We do at least a 10% water change every month. We have only used Instant Ocean Salt in any of our reefs and LeRoy has been using this salt for over 33 years.

Next time I will continue with some more information.

Remember - SAVE A REEF - GROW YOUR OWN.

NEW PAGE 2/05/01 - VISIT SALLY JO'S 40 WATT REEF ON DAY ONE
EVERYTHING ABOUT STARTING A 40 WATT BULLET PROOF REEF