LeRoy has asked me to take on the task of describing to you some of the responsibilities involved with summer maintenance. Each season throughout the year brings new challenges. I thank the great Lord above that my oldest tank has lived thorough more than twelve years of my guessing and my never giving up on what I should do next. It is not always that easy to figure out what is going wrong or what to do next. It is our hope that by sharing the following information we will save you from making many of the mistakes several of the pioneers have made along the way.
During the summer months it is so important to take the time to do some daily inspections. We start the day by making certain all the power heads are working properly. Sometimes the power heads clog and when this happens the motors tend heat up and they are not providing the necessary oxygen needed for your fish. It does not take long for the tanks to heat up so be extremely cautious of this.
Next we check all the heaters, but we do not remove them from the tanks even during the summer months. The reason we do not remove them from the tanks during the summer months is because once the lights go off at night the tanks could become too cool. Sometimes the heaters are faulty and they could stay on, and this can cause a horrible problem. It is important to remember to look for this problem. It never hurts to stick your hand in your tank to feel how warm the water is. You can also touch the front glass after you learn how it feels when the tank is at the proper temperature.
Some of the creative ways we use to help maintain water temperature is to shut off the lights earlier in the day. Do water changes. Remove the hood or on some of the tanks half of the hood depending on how the hood is constructed.
Also sometimes just removing the reflector can cool down the tank. With the tanks that we have at GARF that have hoods we place small computer fans to blow out some of the heat. On the tanks that have sumps we place small clip fans over the sump so they are blowing directly over the water.
This cools down the temperature about 5 degrees. Many of these strategically placed fans are on the same timer as the lights so at night the tanks do not cool down below 78 degrees. They are programmed to come back on when the lights come on.
Always make certain that one or two power heads are adjusted so that they are breaking the water surface. I also keep all room doors shut to keep heat out and the cooler air in. You can use a fan to cool the room at night. If the tanks become too hot the corals will certainly bleach, and when this starts to happen it is so difficult to bring the tank back to health.
Summer is a time to have fun with your family, go on vacation, and play outdoors. Summer is also the time we hear of many home reefs being lost because owners simply did not take the steps necessary to make certain their reefs remained stable. The few minutes you take with your reef to make sure it is stable is a price we all should be willing to commit to.
You can use all the tricks to control the temperature, but if you do not take this one step further all may be lost. You should have a back up generator or battery system that will run the fans or cooling systems.
It is our hope that by sharing these few pointers your reef will remain healthy. We hope you will enjoy your summer, and make tremendous memories that will stay with you for all your life time.
Ocean warming is causing terrible trouble;
Unfortunately the reefs that we keep in our home are not the only reefs in danger. Ocean warming is causing terrible trouble from the Caribbean to Australia. I have included an e-mail that I received today that talks about some of the research that is being done. At GARF we are more committed than ever to developing ways that our hobby can continue grow and thrive without taking things from the natural wild reefs.
Most of you will be aware the Great Barrier reef experienced a mass coral bleaching event early this year. This event was more severe than the event of 1998. This makes the bleaching event of 2002 the worst ever recorded for the GBR.
In response to this event, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority implemented a comprehensive survey of coral bleaching in collaboration with AIMS, CRC Reef and NOAA. A summary of this program and an overview of the bleaching event is now available on the GBRMPA web site (under "Hot Topics"): http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/
Below is a brief summary of the results of the program:
* Underwater surveys found that few reefs had completely escaped the effects of coral bleaching. However, the majority of reefs appear likely to survive the bleaching event with only minimal coral death. Extensive mortality was recorded on only a few of the inshore reefs surveyed, where up to 90% of corals were dead.
* The first signs of substantial bleaching were reported in January 2002. The worst of the bleaching event was over by April 2002.
* Aerial surveys found that coral bleaching was evident from the air at almost 60% of the 641 reefs surveyed. Inshore reefs were more severely affected by bleaching, as was the case in 1998. However, in 2002 many offshore reefs were also affected.
* The effects of bleaching were highly variable, varying from negligible to severe, even between reefs that were similar distances offshore. Bleaching was generally most severe in shallower water, and strong patterns of species susceptibilities were generally evident across the sites surveyed.
* Further surveys are planned for later in 2002 when the fate of corals that bleached during the Summer will be studied further.
* Should warm water events increase in severity, duration, or frequency in the future, coral bleaching is likely to become increasingly severe on the GBR.
We are continuing to analyse and interpret data collected from this event and will add additional information as it becomes available.
We would like to offer special thanks to our partners in this monitoring program, especially NOAA, AIMS and the CRC Reef, and to the many individuals who submitted bleaching reports to our Online Bleaching Reporting Program.