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WELCOME TO REEF AQUARIUM FARMING NEWS 2000
All of us here at GARF want to welcome you to CORAL FARMING 2000.uring the next 12 months, the staff at GARF will be producing 12 new issues of our popular online newsletter. We decided to divide each issue into two sections, with one section being for the beginning reef farmer, and the other section will feature articles about successful reef farms that we will be visiting during the next year. During this next year we are inviting any interested reef farmers to submit articles for our newsletter. One of the most popular parts of the last 24 newsletters has been the do it yourself section. We will continue to publish many articles about building equipment and tanks for your own coral farm.
When I returned to Boise Idaho I was able to convince the board of directors at GARF to dedicate themselves to an eight year research project with of the goal of teaching as many people as possible to propagate their corals. I was convinced that at that time the technology and methods existed to reproduce many of the corals that we now kept in our marine hobby tanks. For the first time I could see way that I could feel secure and happy in introducing new people to our hobby. I have loved my Marine aquariums for so long and they have become such part of my life in the last 35 years that I was thrilled to be able to teach people how they could build zero impact reefs.
Sally Jo has written many times, that during the first few years that you are running a coral farm, it is often very important to REMEMBER DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB YET.
I would like to repeat one of my favorite stories; years ago a Chinese student wanted to start a small nursery. He went to the Old Master on the Hill, and asked him, what is the very best time to plant trees? The Old Master thought for minute, had a drink of fresh water and then he ate an orange. He finely told the young student that the very best time to plant trees was 25 years ago. As you might well imagine, this disheartened the young student for a few minutes. But after enjoying the students quandary for a few minutes the Old Master continued with, the second best time to plant trees is today.
The very best time to start your coral farm, is today. Very few of us have had the time and fore-thought to plant our corals 25 years ago, but we can start collecting captive raised brood stock now. If you live in apartment, and you only have one 30-gallon reef aquarium, you can still start your coral Farming today. Acquiring the proper brood stock takes time, and small frags and pieces of coral you plant today will soon be mother colonies. Acquiring the skills needed to be a successful reef farmer takes time, but you can develop those skills by working on your own aquarium.
One of the very best ways to acquire new equipment for your coral farm is to visit garage sales on the weekends. Many people sell their aquariums to move to a new city or when their final tropical fish passes into the Great tropical fish graveyard in the sky. Sometimes you can find entire aquarium set-ups for less than $1 a gallon. In the 1980's when I was doing research project on raising Caulerpa live rocks I put a small ad in the local classified newspaper. The ad simply stated that I was buying aquariums, and I listed my phone number so people could call to talk about aquariums. I had budgeted about $500 to purchase some aquariums, and I had almost spent all my money when a gentleman drove up in a large station wagon. He proceeded to unload several 55 gallon tanks and all the equipment that goes with them.
He then untied a nice wrought iron stand from the luggage rack of the station wagon. After he had taken all of the aquariums that were nested inside of the 55 gal. aquariums, he had a grand total of 13 aquariums, all the equipment and the stand on my front driveway. I had $84 left over and I hoped to be able to purchase the 55 gal. aquarium and wrought iron stand. I told this gentleman that I would like to buy the two pieces, and he started laughing. He told me that he was never going to move those aquariums anywhere, any time again. He sold me the entire batch of aquariums for $84. Look around. Think different. And you may well find things that hold water and can grow corals that you did not plan on using.
The next 12 issues of REEF AQUARIUM FARMING NEWS 2000 will surely have to be a community effort. We are constantly receiving e-mail from people who are farming with our methods around the world, we have farmers in Israel, England, Canada, South Africa, and in several small countries in the South Pacific.
As you start to become a coral farmer and you have your money tied up and your income is on the line, it may become harder and harder to teach newcomers how to farm corals. GARF always respects your privacy and we can completely understand how some coral farms are anxious to develop proprietary methods of growing coral faster and less expensively.
In every industry that we have studied over the last three decades we have seen how companies can cooperate as an industry to develop a larger market than any one company could ever do by them selves. The incredible growth of the Florida tropical fish industry is in part due to the cooperation and comradeship that the professional farmers have amongst themselves. One of the examples that always comes to mind for me are the Idaho potato farmers. It is no accident that even in the middle of the jungle in Palau that I was able to tell two young boys, who could hardly speak any English at all, that I was from Idaho and immediately they both said potatoes.
The Idaho Potato Council along with a collection of farmers from all over the state have built a reputation of Idaho potatoes worldwide. As coral farmers our competition will not be other coral farmers, our main competition will not even be the coral harvesters and importers. We will all compete for the disposable income of thousands and thousands of families. Video games, ski equipment, high-definition color TVs, and all the new toys that are not even on the market yet, will compete for the discretionary income.
Harvesting rock in the ocean, even rock that you plant yourself, is no easy or inexpensive job. It would have been hard to predict that companies in a rush to rip live rock from the oceans in Fiji would lower the price of wholesale rocks in Los Angeles, California below the actual cost of harvesting and processing your own ocean grown live rock. The same "one tank experts" who preach that you can only have a reef aquarium with Fiji live rock have not been to the wholesalers in California where the rock is stored in dried cardboard boxes often for over a week.
There are people who are importing live rock from the tropics who take proper care of their products. But as the gold rush continues, and companies try to harvest as much rock as possible before proposed bans might take effect, they are dropping the price below a level that honest dealers can compete with. Live rock harvest in the tropics can be a sustainable, ecologically sound practice. As you know GARF is headquartered in Idaho and we have seen the type of damage an extraction industry can cause. Our pristine mountains are full of dredge ponds that contain thousands of tons of cyanide laced sediment. Every year we hear of one of these dams breaking causing this sediment to be washed downstream for hundreds of miles. In our neighboring state of Washington you can drive for a hundred miles along the coast and as far as you can see on both sides of the highway the mountains have been stripped bare by clear-cutting.
GARF is working in several island nations to help people from those countries start small-scale coral farms that are ocean based. There is more damage being done to reefs by sediment that is from Phosphate fertilizer that washes away from farms and finds its way the 400 mi. to the ocean than by all of the hobby harvesting. Last year saw more destruction of reefs than any year recorded. The chemicals in the pollution from land-based agriculture and industry are almost all more active at higher temperatures. We, as a hobby will never be able to solve the problems that affect the world's reefs. But here at GARF we do know that having reef aquariums in public places creates an understanding and love for the ocean in people who have never been to an ocean. I was dead serious when I talked about millions of new hobbyists worldwide who may someday decide they want of reef aquarium because they've seen it in people's homes or at public aquariums or in a fine restaurant. This alone, is enough to make us want to educate people about small-scale reef farming. But there's another reason that we are so anxious to have people join the ranks of coral farmers.
The best brood stock is already in captivity
During the last 20 years, tens of thousands of pieces of the best Mushroom rocks, Green star rocks, and wonderfully colored rare soft corals have been purchased by hobbyists worldwide. Many of these corals are still alive in captivity. It is one of GARF's most important goals to collect, catalog, propagate, and distribute these corals to farmers worldwide. During the next year we will be working with two public aquariums on the East Coast so we can have genetic testing on both the corals and Zooxanthellae algae that lives inside of them. Many research scientists are trying to find out why so many corals on the wild reefs are dying. The Marine aquarium hobby is in an unique position because we have so much time to observe what happens to a reef community that we create in a closed system. GARF will be donating corals this week to a public aquarium that is studying captive raised Zooxanthellae and comparing it to both wild corals and corals that have bleached and recovered in captivity.
Welcome to CORAL FARMING 2000. I'm sure that we will have an exciting, prosperous New Year to start the millennium. Please keep track of what happens in your aquarium, and please share with us the discoveries you surely will make as you start to farm coral.
This project was started not only to supplement my income but also to satisfy my own curiosities. My decision to beginning farming was also the result of my dissatisfaction with the quality of livestock available in my area, and the needless destruction of these animals habitat.
My intention is to build a three tank, stacked farming unit for the initial propagation of star polyps, Zoanthids, Ricordia, and Xenia. These items though available in my area are often poor specimens not exhibiting the variety or beauty of those available from propagation farms such as GARF. The idea of their regular presence in the local market has been met with great enthusiasm. My local dealer often orders, "amazingly brightly colored star polyps, etc." only to receive them and find them all to be muddy brown in color and declining in health from poor handling. There is also no presence of hardier tank raised corals of any variety in this area. These factors led to my decisions on initial brood stock. The first unit will be upgraded to handle a variety of SPS corals upon full maturation and a second unit built to continue initial species production.
The design for my unit is based largely on the unit built for SallyJo with a few modifications to fit my needs and ideas.
The unit is constructed of a 2x6", 2x4" frame of pressure treated lumber, treated with a waterproofing deck stain. The maximum height at back is 64" to provide a frame for the top set of lights. Tank bases were constructed by framing 2x4 sheets of 5/8" plywood with 2x4s.
Each tank base rest on 2x4" braces placed flush with the bottom, at 36" and at 50" respectively.
The tanks are constructed of _" Plexiglas. The bottom tank measures 48"x24"x12", the other two have the same base dimensions but are only 6" deep to maximize light usage by the organisms. Leaving 12" of workspace, and for the light racks above each tank.
The light racks are mounted on the 2x4" cross supports of the frame. Three four-foot VHO lamps, driven by two IceCap 430 ballast, light the top two tanks. This gives approximately 11watts per gallon in the top two tanks. The bottom tank is lit by two, two bulb NO shop lights using two 10000k and two Magnitinic bulbs yielding approximately 4watts per gallon. It will be used as the sump, and contain a plenium for filtration.
Water is circulated from the bottom tank to both upper tanks by two Maxijet 1000s, and returned by gravity through 1" bulkheads. This bottom tank will be used to grow coralline algae on agrocrete® plugs, and to propagate lower light organisms, using the gravel bowl method. The top two tanks will be used for the rapid grow out of Zoanthids, Ricordia, and Xenia. Each contains two Maxijet 1000s for water motion.
Many of the brood colonies for the unit will initially be gathered from my existing system, along the way more strains will be added from different sources, especially GARF. The project is designed to mature over the course of several years while maintaining itself financially and hopefully putting a little extra in my pocket while I learn. Eventually I hope for it to become a fulltime business, allowing me to offer superior products at terrific prices to others like myself.
Thank you, GARF and it's members, for the amazing resource you are providing and for the opportunity to attempt to begin to do what I love for a living.
(7) 2x4x8 pressure treated lumber $20.65
(4) 2x6x8 pressure treated lumber $21.96
(3) 2x4 5/8" plywood $20.97
(2) tubes deck adhesive $ 4.38
(1) caulk gun $1.99
(2) gold/zinc wood screw 100/box $ 6.58
(12) 5/16x4" carriage bolts, nuts, etc. $ 5.58
(2) misc. drill bits $ 5.54
sand paper and block $ 9.47
(1) gallon deck stain $19.99
_" Acrylite $236.53
(1) 21 1/8"x4" (center brace for bottom tank)
(1) clear acrylic cement #4 4oz $ 2.49
(1) thickened clear cement tube $ 1.73
(1) needle squeeze bottle $ 2.77
(2) IceCap 430 ballast systems w/ $556.00
wiring harness, 6VHO bulbs,
2piece German endcaps, and
acrylic mounting plates.
(2) NO 40watt shop lights $14.95
(2) NO 10000k bulbs $ 36.90
(2) NO Magnitinic bulbs $ 36.90
(2) 1 inch bulkhead assembly $ 15.95
(1) 8 _" braided hose $ 6.32
(1) 9 1" vinyl tubing $ 11.61
Misc. PVC pipe and fittings $ 5.38
Total $ 39.26
(1) 50# bag crushed coral $ 28.95
(3) 30# bag aragonite $ 63.00
(1) 20# bag live sand $ 29.95
(1) EboJager 250watt heater $ 15.95
(6) MaxiJet 1000 powerheads $ 104.95
(1) Bactervital Marine $ 12.95
(1) Seachem Reef Builder 1Kg $ 12.95
(1) Seachem Reef Advantage 1Kg $ 17.79
(3) egg crate panels $28.47
(1) roll fiberglass window screen $4.99
(1) bucket Ocean Pure $ 50.00
Total $ 248.05
Grand Total $1431.55
To make a red flashlight, cover the lens with red acetate (hobby/craft shop). Another way is to use a simple red balloon. Cut the narrow neck of the balloon off and stretch or roll it over the lens portion of the flashlight. The tighter you stretch the balloon, the thinner the material and stronger the beam of red light.
Before going to bed, plunge the room containing your tank into total darkness. Close the curtains, hide the face of illuminated clocks, etc. After three or four hours, you can approach your tank with the red flashlight. Do not shine the beam straight into the tank. Instead shine it straight down and let the "side" of the light beam enter the tank. There will still be plenty of light to see if ... and where ... your bristleworms like to congregate.
Now that you know where the bristleworms reside, you're ready to trap them.
PREPARE THE TRAP AS FOLLOWS.
Now your trap is complete.The idea of using a "plastic lid" with an "X" came from Mr. Albert Thiel. The concept is bristle worms can push their way through the four tabs of the "X" to get inside, since they are travelling in the same direction as the tabs are bent. When they try to crawl out, the tabs bend back out, thus "shutting" the opening.
As a hint, prepare several pairs of end caps. The preparation as described above will catch medium to small worms. You can catch the bigger worms by first snipping the very tip (half a millimeter) of each tab before bending it down. By having several different pairs of end caps, you can catch different sizes of worms, depending on the"size"of your bristleworm problem.
The trap is now ready to be used.There are several kinds of baits you can use.
Different baits will have different results.