|Tom Walsh, 3/99
Hi Sally Jo & Leroy,
It was great talking with you both yesterday. Here's some stuff on my reefs.
I actually set up these reefs on a dare from a friend of mine. Everyone I spoke with said it was not possible to set up a reef that was smaller than 55 gallons. I did not have either the space or the money to set up an elaborate system so thought I would try something simpler.
It began almost 9 years ago with a lot of feather dusters, two clowns and a yellow tail blue damsel in a twenty gallon long tank. I read everything I could get ahold of and decided to go out on a limb and purchase a rock with one blue mushroom on it. I believed my efforts would be doomed to failure since the man at the LFS assured me that the single mushroom would not live without a wet/dry filter and it certainly would not multiply unless I had at least "a pair" !! It wasn't long before I began to realize that not all employees in LFSs are experts and that the fact is, many don't have a clue.
Soon the one mushroom turned into several and on the basis of that apparent success, I was hooked and addicted to reefkeeping.
I decided that we had two bookshelves that served as room dividers and that one twenty long would fit nicely on top of each one. The quest for a reliable, inexpensive set up began.
A friend introduced me to the skilter 250 and suggested that I enhance it with a wooden airstone. I did and have run it ever since as the main mechanical filtration on both tanks. Each tank also has a second filter, a millennium 2000 on one and a penguin bio wheel on the other.
Since I only had a few mushrooms & feather dusters, one strip light proved to be effective enough. When I began to look for other corals, I also began to realize that they would need a lot more light. I couldn't afford any expensive lighting systems, so I decided to try two double strip lights on the top of each tank. I run four NO flouresents on each tank, (2) coralife 10,000K bulbs and (2) Magtinics. This has proved to be sufficient for all the corals I have wanted to keep. It doesn't seem like an awful lot of light (80Watts) but the tanks themselves are very shallow.
I originally put a thin layer of dolomite on the bottom of the tanks (mostly for decoration) and it remains until this day. Since live rock was so expensive, I began with Florida base rock and allowed it to seed itself from the few pieces of live rock I was able to obtain.
Each tank has a small 75 watt heater and I try to keep the temperature between 76 & 78 degrees.
Not much is added to the tanks. I do a 25% water change every 3 - 4 weeks. Each week I do add Kent Marine Tectra I (iodine supplement) and C-Balance.
Each tank contains four fish (Fridmani Basslett, pair of percula clowns, pygmy angel, ,,,,,,,, pair of oscelaris clowns, royal gramma and flameback angel in the other.) There is a host of hermit crabs and snails (GARF janitors) and two emerald crabs in each tank. One tank has a pair of cleaner shrimp, the other has a trio of fire shrimp.
Gorgonians, soft corals, anemones, mushrooms, large polyp stony corals and SPS corals inhabit both tanks. Although they do not grow rapidly, the various acroporas, pavonis, hydnophoras montiporas and others have adjusted very well to the light levels and maintain good colors.
I have recently begun feeding DT's Plankton a couple times a week and have noticed some positive effects on the tubastrea and elegance corals. Tubastrea and the blood & fire anemones are feed black worms a couple times a week.
I am currently keeping four kinds of Xenia and all seem to be doing well.
Since I work in a high school, I thought it would be a good thing to place a small reef in my office for the kids to see. I have a 10 gal reef set up similarly to the others and it contains yellow, green & tan leathers, blue, green and red mushrooms, blood anemones and a fire anemone, clove polyps, button polyps, calastrea, a gorgonian and three types of Xenia. There are also three fish: a fridmani basslett, a maroon clown & a royal gramma. This tank contains 2 NO flouresents: a coralife daylight bulb and a magtinic. It runs soley on a skilter 250 with an airstone use the same schedule of water changes and the same supplements as for the 20's.
One thing I have learned is that you need to keep an open mind and share what you've learned with others. This is what I appreciate most about GARF and the work you are doing there.
I am also indebetted to the Chesapeake Marine Aquaria Society in Baltimore and can't recommend strongly enough getting involved in a marine society of some sort. I visit the tanks of these hobbyists and am in awe of their skill level, their determination and dedication. All of it is reflected in the amazing reefs they keep.