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ISSUE # 12 page 2 DECEMBER 1997
REEF AQUACULTURE PRODUCTS REPORT #4 DECEMBER 1997
Merrill A little over ten years ago, Interpet, Ltd. of England became interested in lighting that followed the "Chlorophyll Curve". Together with the scientists at Thorn, EMI (producers of lighting equipment in England), Dr. Neville Carrington, Adrian Excell, a German lighting expert and the group at Thorn brought this "tri-phosphor" fluorescent lamp to development and market. The purpose for this development was to grow aquatic plants and corals with one tube of its kind and not having to use a combination of lights. We were involved in the testing and grew every type coral available at the time, including SPS corals.
The "tri-phosphor" mixture was so unique that a patent was applied for and received. Another patent, the most important one, was that this particular Triton fluorescent tube was developed to be extremely bright -- to continue to be bright throughout the life of the tube; and if it fell 10% of this brightness, it would automatically shut off. The mixture of rare earths (the "tri-phosphor") was also developed to bring out the color of fish and aquatic life -- the first and only tube to be made just for aquarium purposes. This was introduced at an American Pet Products Manufacturer's Association trade show and was an immediate success. Every manufacturer "jumped on the bandwagon" with "tri-phosphors" of their own, but anything that came even close to the Triton was challenged by the manufacturer Thorn and they all had to change their formulas. No manufacturer can make the Triton mixture nor could they have the patented shut-off when the tube was no longer effective. During this period, Thorn EMI of England was purchased by General Electric (G.E.) of the United States and further challenging of other "tri-phosphor" tubes that competing companies produced was enhanced.
To complete a line of fluorescent tubes for the marine aquarium field, General Electric developed a blue fluorescent tube due to the demand for "dawn and dusk" and a belief in the hobby that you must have more blue light. They sent their scientist to the reef, measured the light at the reef and duplicated it in "Blue Moon" fluorescent tubes. (It should be noted that "actinic" -- a type of blue is in Triton and Blue Moon; but it does not give the purplish hue.) Perhaps, this is the reason that this lighting produces so much coralline algae. Actually, I have grown (and am growing) every type coral I can get my hands on with these tubes -- utilizing some Blue Moon in with the Tritons; but successfully growing the same without the Blue Moons and only using Tritons.
However, I am using "Triton Enhancers" (a reflector made of anodized aluminum) that forced the light down in the aquarium. I use Triton End-Caps so that I can lay the tubes on the aquariums with the "Enhancer" over it. The combination of Blue Moon and Triton, where used, is two Tritons to one Blue Moon. In every case, I use an Enhancer to reflect the light. We recommend three tubes to a 55 gallon aquarium. Where only two tubes can be used, we use two Tritons. We have been successful down to a 28" depth with the above. Right now, all the ballasts are still of the older tar types which have been in use for years and I think that the new electronic ones would give even better success. It is a fallacy that you need metal halide lighting to grow corals and I will try to have pictures for you before this is published. The aquariums are full of coral and gorgeous to every visitor – knowledgeable or not.
These aquariums have been seen by many experts in the field such as Julian Sprung; and the success of these tubes and growing corals (and aquatic plants) can be verified by the Chesapeake Marine Aquarium Society, representatives of the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
THE LOWER REEF LAB IS GETTING VERY CROWDED WITH LARGE AQUARIUMS. WE HAVE BUILT THE FIRST OF THREE GREENHOUSES WE HAVE PLANNED FOR THIS PROJECT.
We will writing some articles about these greenhouses for the next several issues. The first one is now running with 4 large 300 and 400 gallon square tanks. We will add as many systems as we can fit in it during the next semester.
These filters grow more food animals than any type of system we have tested during the past 30 years. These filters will supply much of the food we need in our new Jawfish breeding project.
Several species of Cerith snails are very active Mud diggers. These snails constantly dig in the mud and eat micro algae. The control of unwanted algae in these filters will a major part of our research during the next two years.
THIS NEW ALGAE IS ULVA FROM HAWAII. IT IS ONE OF THE MANY CROPS THAT CAN BE HARVESTED FROM THESE MUD FILTERS.
We use this algae to feed our tangs and it sells very well to reef keepers.
We will continue to update the research data in the months to come. This new type of filter may work very well in aquaculture systems.
REMEMBER THAT THIS IS A HOBBY AND HAVE FUN!!!!
The last several weeks I have received a spate of emails, some on making rocks, some on what to include in the records for costing, and, to me, a surprising number reflecting confusion on what they are seeing in print as to 'the way that they should go'. Let me state up front, that I am unabashedly in favor of the Bullet Proof and Handy Reef Systems, or my own 'hybrid', the KISS(Keep It Simple Stupid) system. So, before I go into this discussion let me state my bona fides or credentials, again, so you all willnot think I am 'shooting from the lip". I was born and raised on a dairy farm in upstate NY, and have lived much of my adult life in the country and on farms. I got my first aquarium when I was 10, which quickly escalated to half a dozen and have had various numbers every since, along with various configurations of outdoor pools, ponds and streams. So, subtracting ten from my age I have been keeping aquaria a bit over 45 years. I also have a BS, in animal science, with a a minor in fisheries science, and am about halfway through a Masters in fisheries science. I worked for a chain pet company as a store manager, and for two major fish farms in Florida plus another combination fish farm/transhipper, and also built a fish hatchery in southern California. I also owned and operated a pet shop/marine store in Ohio . All of this is to point out that while not one of the 'reef gods', I probably do qualify as one of the 'old men of the hills' in the hobby. One of my early interests was in marines, and I set up my first marine tank, a 20H back in 1969, I was really hooked on damsels and clowns and stayed with them for the next half dozen years, along with the freshwater stuff. In the 70s I got a copy of Bob Straughans book on marine aquaria and after reading it began a correspondance with him. In later years I thought back often on our correspondance, I even wrote several letters to Mr Eng and, finally got one through and then several others. I was using the Aquarium System undergravel plates then and liking them and having great success with them, both in my shop and at home. One of the letters I had from Bob S. early on was a suggestion from him to plug the air return tubes on my other ugf's and see what that would produce. At that time I had a letter from Mr Eng stating he liked bigger systems best with deep gravel and gravel stirring fish and inverts, and I was trying to resolve this conflict or conflict that it seemed to me when events happened to remove me from this scene for awhile, one was the Yom Kippur War in Israel in 1973 which I participated in, and another was a divorce, and later working in the commercial fish producing business took me out of the hobby for awhile. During this time Bob died and later Mr Eng. Years later, after moving to Israel, and working in aquaculture there I visited the Eilat Coral Sea exhibit a number of times as I lived just an hours drive north of there, and became a frequent visitor there and acquainted with a number of the staff . I was reminded of this the past season when Mr Julian Sprung showed slides of his visit there and talked of the plankton enriched waters that fed the exhibits there and allowed them to use lower levels of lighting at the exhibit to keep the corals in good health and condition. This is something that was programmed into the construction from the beginning.This is a project that was designed from the beginning to keep things simple and the simplest way they found to achieve most of their goals was to pump plankton rich water into the system and remove the other water with system wastes. Now, what does all of this have to do with the price of coffee anywhere? Well, the one thing in common in the emails I have received is puzzlement as to 'which way should I go"? And, what I would like to show and state here, is, that, its all up to the doer. As my friend Tom often likes to state, " there's more then one way to skin a cat". Picking up books that have come out over the last couple of years, scanning FAMA and MFM and Sea Scope and the GARF newsletters and browsing the webb I see a lot of different stuff out there folks, and you know what? One way or another, most all of it will work. Heresy? Nope, look at the evidence, this isnot a new hobby, dispite what some would have you believe, its been around for a long time. it has gone through a number of evolvements, most for the better, now, its a bit like aviation, you can do it plain and simple, as with gliding, or get super high tech with private jets. Its truly up to you, and, your pocket book. But, (you knew I was going to do that didnt you?), one thing missing from many of the systems that are being offered, or pushed, depending on viewpoint, is that, most of the salespeople donot deal with the WHOLE environment! And, this is where I put my 2 cents in. It doesnt make any difference to me whether someone wants to be high tech or low tech, either you can make work. But, when I read of this one saying total skimming, and that one saying never, and not mentioning water changes, frequency and amounts, or the biomass in the tanks, or the feeding frequency, and all of the other factors that add up to the total picture of our tanks, I get a little frazzled at the edges. I think its time for the hype to be put aside and get back down to basics. Our fish and inverts and corals live in water. Salt water to be a bit more precise. We do things to it to alter its composistion and chemistry,we add feed, shine lights through it, aerate it ornot, put in living organisms to add urea and other stuffs to it, the water changes, sometimes we add plants that extract some of the urea and their byproducts, sometimes we have no plants. sometimes we do other things to it, and once in awhile, we remove some of it and replace with other newer made water. If, we do anyone thing to the water, it has an effect on it, we need to know and to understand all of the effects of our actions on the water if we are going to keep our critters alive. Whatever system that we espouse we need to know what its efects will be on the water, and how to compensate for those changes, only then will we have success in maintaining our marine aquaria, or freshwater tanks or ponds, or lakes or oceans. Everything that we do, has an effect, good or bad. if you do one thing, you had best know how to compensate for that action, like a teetertotter, push down on one side and you raise the other. This is one of the basic reasons why I like simple, my old correspondence way back when with Bob Straughan and Mr Eng showed me two sides of the same picture early on. It took years for me to grasp just how subtle the picture was, and is. Bob knew, and tried to show the different ways, I have always thought what a shame it was that he didnot get the credit that he deserved, and still doesnt receive it. Its a fickle world that we live in. To one of my correspondants who asked if he should skim forever as he was told, I said o k, if you do lots of water changes to compensate for whats getting skimmed out of the water, and feed your corals heavy to compensate. To the one who wanted to know other things I told him other things and so on. Everyone of them was wanting to know if they should do THIS, without considering THAT. Keep in mind folks that the environment in your aquarium is a total environment, and nothing that you do to it is isolated from all other effects. My advice, Keep it Simple. Lots of aeration and water movement, low biomass, stable temps and salinity and ph, feed regularly, add moderate amounts of additives per your creatures needs and feed them properly whether fish or corals or inverts, and do regular water changes. I would also suggest some plants for 'scrubing' of the water, particularly if you are low on changes. Read all that you can, talk to others, and weigh everything carefully that you hear. Just remember, it is a whole thing, treat it as a whole , and take time to enjoy it. Thats what this hobby is all about.
More later, Leroy