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LAST MONTHS ISSUE | HOME | JULY ISSUE PAGE 1 | JULY ISSUE PAGE 3

IS BIGGER BETTER? / A Lesson in Viability
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME - Lighting GARF's expanding lab
HERE COME THE XENIAS


Reef Aquarium Farming News
Online Newsletter for Reef Aquarium Propagation Research

ISSUE # 20 page 2 AUGUST 1998


Welcome to page two of our August issue. We are proud to have another great article by Karen Holtz. We have an article on lighting by our volunteer of the Year Michael Holcomb. We are also posting the winning article in our essay contest. - HERE COME THE XENIAS - Michael Vendetti wins a $100 gift certificate. Please e-mail your entry to me at leroy@garf.org you can write about any subject that deals with I GREW IT MYSELF. You have a very good chance of winning!


IS BIGGER BETTER? / A Lesson in Viability

Karen, The Rocker.

Almost three weeks ago, I opened a box from GARF with the same expectation as a child on Christmas morning. A like box from GARF had been sent in the very early spring. The box had been left out on the runaway over night and the tender xenias were badly decomposed before delivery not 24 hours later. The weather is now warm, almost hot. LeRoy and I had spoken several time regarding the heat and the need for ice packs.

Xenia tag at 1 week old
Xenia tag at 1 week old
I gently carried the box up to my snug office and peeked inside. There were three beautiful Xenia frags, an Anthelia and an Aragocrete egg covered with many, many zooanthids. The bags were delightfully cool and the frags hung upside down from Styrofoam donuts. They were all intact but closed and waiting for their new aquarium. I resealed the box and left for home a few hours later with the box beside me on the seat in the car.

Xenia Tag several weeks later
Xenia Tag several weeks later
Once home, I floated the bags in the dark aquarium and then slowly began acclimation. In the bags were two Figi Pom Pom Xenia frags, (the hardiest of all the Xenias) a Creeping Xenia frag, an Anthelia frag and an Aragocrete egg covered with perhaps six different types of Zooanthids. LeRoy had told me that the Xenias would be good looking but right now all they looked was small. What I had hoped for were frags that were Large and luscious. Something about 6 inches by eight inches and ten inches tall, well almost.
Creeper Xenia grows very fast
Creeper Xenia grows very fast
The Creeper frag was more like it. It was three inches long and about an inch wide. I slowly added aquarium water with my nose pressed against the glass. Half way the Figis relaxed and began to pulse., however the Creeper did not look well at all. The Anthelia was closed an uncooperative and the Zoos were open and enjoying life. I gently placed the new Xenias next to my prize Xenia, in the best flow and lighting situation in the tank.
At 2:00 AM the Creeper was decomposing as I watched. The small Figis were pulsing happily. What had gone wrong? A call to LeRoy the next morning helped to clear up the situation. The Larger Creeper, though the hardiest of LeRoy's Xenias, had produced a massive mucous cloud that had filled the water and supported a massive bacteria proliferation. The bacteria had used up all the available oxygen. The Creeper was dead long before it got to me from lack of oxygen in the water.  The Rare Fiji Pom Pom Xenia is shipoping very well now
The Rare Fiji Pom Pom Xenia is shipoping very well now
Since that time the new Xenias have gone through a series of traumas. The weather turned hot a single day and the tank was HOT when I got home. I added six gallons of COLD water before finally finding a thermometer. The was 86 degrees! My prize Xenia did not look very happy but seemed as if it would make it, until a power outage that lasted for 24 hours. Finally the swamp cooler was on and power restored. My large prize Xenia was gone but the two small Xenias from GARF are still pulsing away.

Tree pulsing Xenia grows in branches
Tree pulsing Xenia grows in branches

Is bigger better? Nope, not in the case of reef frags! It seems that small frags have more ability to adjust to adverse conditions and survive.

Karen Holtz

Thanks for reading!



DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME

Lighting GARF's expanding lab

Michial Holcomb

When volunteering at GARF one of my most frequent tasks is repairing the existing lighting systems and setting up bulbs and ballasts on new tanks. Most weeks there will be one to four bulbs that have stopped lighting, most often the problem is not in the bulb, but some connection between the outlet, the ballast, and the bulb. To make things more difficult most ballasts are placed in large groups behind the tanks where they are inaccessible and the wires from all the ballasts are held together in large groups by cable ties making it very difficult to follow the cords from any set of end caps back to the ballast.

A few weeks back I worked on two Triton bulbs that were not working, so I went to a box of used bulbs and took two out and put them in place of the Tritons and they lit, but they were rather bright. Looking closer at the bulbs I realized that they were VHO's, I found the ballast that ran the bulbs and found that it was an old 2 bulb energy saving shop-light ballast intended to light to 40 watt bulbs with 34 watts each. Now three weeks later the bulbs are still working properly and seem to be at the same brightness as those being run with VHO ballasts.

Last week I found a tank with a plant light bulb that had started to flicker and a VHO that had stopped working. I replaced the VHO, but it still didn't light so I took my volt ohms meter (VOM) and checked the electricity from the end caps as well as those from the plant light. Since there was current between the end caps as they had been set up, but slightly more current between the plant light end caps and VHO end caps, I tried two VHOs in the crossed end caps and they both lit.

On another tank there were four Triton and Blue Moon bulbs none of which were lit to their full intensity. They were being run on two, two bulb energy saving ballasts. Using my VOM I determined that electricity was reaching all of the end caps, I also found that from each ballast there were two end caps with a slightly greater current between them. I used those end caps to light two VHOs.

A brief summary of what I have learned about the fluorescent lamps follows, please keep in mind that I do not know how safe the ballast are and should you try anything that follows on your own systems, you do so at your own risk.

From a standard, two bulb, non-electronic, P class, shop-light ballast there are 4 pairs of wires. One pair of wires (white and black) go to the outlet, another pair (yellow) go to one pair of end caps, and the other two pairs (one red pair and one blue pair) go to the other two end caps (blue to one, red to the other) in the standard setup. When using the standard setup with the standard ballast it is possible to run most if not all normal output (NO) 48" 40 watt bulbs; it will be difficult if not impossible to run two VHOs in this setup unless the ballast is no longer functioning properly. However if the end caps attached to the yellow wires are not used and the red end-cap is put on one end of a VHO and the blue on the other a VHO will operate as will a NO bulb, but it will look as intense as a VHO. Crossing the end caps of different ballasts (particularly single bulb 40 watt ballasts) can allow for a mixture of VHO and NO bulbs with fewer wires being left unused.

Watt reducing, energy saving, and electronic shop-light ballasts may not work or may work differently than standard ballasts when used on aquarium bulbs, some of these ballasts will even burn out when used on actinics. With some of the watt reducing ballasts (40 watt bulb run on 34 watt) it will be impossible to get Tritons, Blue moons, or actinics to reach their normal intensity, however one VHO can be lit in the same fashion as described for standard ballasts.

I strongly recommend starting with used fluorescent when not following the wiring diagram as there may be a decrease in bulb life, so far at GARF there has been no noticeable affect on VHOs when used in standard and watt reducing ballasts rather than VHO ballasts, but it is too soon to tell whether there is a long term affect. When using 40 watt ballasts for VHOs please take extra care in placing them away from the tank and away from flammable materials.

BE CAREFUL

Be careful when purchasing ballasts from the hardware-store, most ballasts now available are some sort of energy saving or electronic ballast. Ballasts sold as replacement ballasts are most likely one of these types and will not light Tritons actinics, or Blue Moons, standard ballasts that will light these bulbs are usually only available as complete shoplights and cost about $9. Shoplights with the standard ballasts are getting hard to find and in a few more years it may not be possible to find them at all.

Most standard ballasts that I have purchased are about 14cm in length and are fairly heavy. The length of a ballast seems to be the best way to distinguish between energy saving ballasts and standard ballasts because the energy saving ballasts are longer than the standard ballasts. Standard ballasts seem to have the following dimensions (different brands have slightly different sizes, but they are very close to these dimensions in all brands that I have seen) 14cm long, 6cm wide, and 4cm thick.

The last major chain that I was able to get shoplights with standard ballasts from was Ace Hardware, but that was a few years ago. If you find a national chain that still carries the old shoplights with standard ballasts please let LeRoy know so that a list of places to get standard ballasts can be added to this page.


Here come the Xenias

Michael Vendetti

About a month ago, I ordered three Fiji and one Bali Xenias. Also one Woods polyp from GARF. The next day I waited for what seemed like forever, for them to arrive. Finally they arrive around 4:00 PM and within hour and a half they were in my 40 gallon reef tank which has three 36" VHO's, controlled by an IceCap Ballast.. A hang on the back filter (Aqua Clear 500) and NO Protein skimmer. I also have about 30 to 40 lb. of live rock and about 10 lb. of live sand. The live sand came from Inland Aquatics.

Bali Xenia growing in 150 reef
Bali Xenia growing in 150 reef

I also have one Pom-Pom Xenia which I also obtained from Inland Aquatics. It had already divided 6 or 7 times so I put all my new Xenias in there within a few hours of getting the corals in the tank they were opened as large as they are to this day. They have since divided 2 or 3 times, and the Bali which is a slow growing coral I was told, has doubled in size without any help from me!

bali xenia

Every thing was doing so good then summer hit. We at, the time didn't have air conditioning but, I did have a chiller. We discovered that the controller wasn't switching and I lost one of my Pom-Pom Xenias and a 7" Pagoda cup coral. It looked pretty bleak. I thought that I might loose two more Xenias but by that time I found out that we could manually control the chiller as long as we were home. So we call the company and they help us find the problem, (My dad had wired the sensor wrong).

Bali Xenia growing in 55 gallon reef
Bali Xenia growing in 55 gallon reef

But at the moment I am worried about my Bali Xenia. Because it's not doing too well right now. But every thing else is doing great all of my other Xenias are on the rebound and its starting to look better every day.

Every week I ad one cap full of Reef Plus, Reef Calcium, and two capfuls of Reef Complete.

Woods polyp and Sarcophyton growing in 55 gallon reef
Woods polyp and Sarcophyton growing in 55 gallon reef

Of course I rely a lot on GARF for support and to help me with my corals. My parents have said that when I turn 16 they will fly me to Boise to see GARF. I hope that the new site will be complete. Well that's all for now thanks for reading.

Michael Vendetti


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COVER AND INDEX
LAST MONTHS ISSUE | HOME | JULY ISSUE PAGE 1 | JULY ISSUE PAGE 3

IS BIGGER BETTER? / A Lesson in Viability
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME - Lighting GARF's expanding lab
HERE COME THE XENIAS


Email:leroy@garf.org


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