Welcome to the May, 2000 issue of our newsletter. The first article tells about our donations to a public aqiairium of corals for DNA research. We have a great article on the use of shrimp to control starfish. We have some wonderful new aquaculture rock from Florida this month and I hope you find this information helpful.
|GARF has agreed to participate in a continuing research project that will consist of selecting a group of seven species of corals. We will supply Zooxanthellae DNA samples for Dr. Baker at an eastern public aquarium. When these colonies arrive from the collecting station we will divide them into five smaller colonies that appear to be representative of the species we are working with. We will then divide these 35 smaller colonies into 70 colonies that will be used in this experiment.|
|Fragments from each of the many colonies will also be sent to Dr. Baker alive. Fragments from the same colonies will be distributed into test systems at Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation. This research will consist of testing our theory that adult corals are able to change their symbiotic organisms by one of three methods. We are hoping to learn how to accelerate the domestication process in captive raised corals. The methods we are testing at the Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation consist of:|
2. Injecting a solution of Zooxanthellae into imported corals
3. Allowing the captive raised Zooxanthellae to be absorbed during the feeding process.
We have been conducting experiments during the last year that show promising results for the method of bathing freshly cut corals in a solution that is made from strains of corals that have been that have been at GARF for more than five years.
We have been dividing colonies of freshly cut corals into two of our flow through multi tank units. The cuttings in the first tank are in a constant flow of ultraviolet light sterilized reef water. As water enters the second chamber we are able to add water that contains Zooxanthellae. Up to this point we have had to use empirical data that suggest that the treated cuttings in the second tank attach to the substrate faster than the untreated cuttings in the first tanks in the units.
|During the coming year Dr. Baker will be cataloguing the strains of Zooxanthellae that occur in our systems so that we can find marker genetics that will allow us to decide the best way to treat incoming coral cuttings. We have been using our simple method on ocean farmed Solomon Islands fragments and aquacultured soft corals.|
Research in the Atlantic Ocean has shown that many large heads of coral contain different strains of Zooxanthellae in different parts of the colony. Researchers have been able to find large coral heads with only one section of the coral bleached. It is hoped that by having collected so many strains of Zooxanthellae together in captivity that we may have created hybrids that have more vigor.
One of the most important things that you need when you are growing tank raised Aquaculture rock is a source of invertebrates, coralline algae, and beneficial macro algae. In 1994 when we were setting up the original GARF grow out tanks we were fortunate enough to be able to purchase Florida live rock. Unlike the stripped and washed version of live rock that comes from many Pacific nations Florida live rock is full of life.
When we first visited the rock farmers in Florida in 1994 we were able to visit Dale Barger as he was starting to stock his aquaculture rock farm with premium honeycomb limestone from the Bahamas. We visited several of the live rock collectors who were harvesting Florida rock at that time and we were most impressed with Dale Barger's rock because of the heavy growth of sponges and other invertebrates. Dale was planting his rock farm at the same time our friend Tom Frakes was planting his farm in Florida. Much of this aquaculture rock is now over five years old and it is beautiful.
Several years ago when Tom Frakes was in Florida harvesting some of his rock we were able to get several batches and many of the corals and invertebrates are still alive on this rock. Our experiments have shown us that this is the very best type of rock to use to start a captive reef especially when you can purchase the rock directly from the collector.
It is very easy to understand why rock that was grown by Dale Barger, collected by Dale Barger, and shipped by Dale Barger will arrive in much better shape than rock that has been sitting in a cardboard box for about a week :)
|Florida Aquaculture Rock always has many surprisingly beautiful macro algae and sponges a growing on it. The most interesting macro algae on this piece of rock is a beautiful red Proto-Caulerpa that is proving to be very hardy in captivity.
Live rocks from this part of the Gulf of Mexico often have many species of Coralline algae growing on the same rock. On this piece of rock you can see many types of branching Coralline algae that would have surely been scrubbed off of any rock imported from the Pacific.
To the left of the Red macro algae there is a nice colony of live coral that is very hardy in captivity. These corals often live for years.
|One of the best things about Florida Aquaculture rock is all the beautiful types of feather duster worms that grow so well in the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these feather duster worms reproduce in captivity. |
In the years since we started testing Florida aquaculture rock we have noticed many different types of feather duster worms and interesting sponges growing on our Aragocrete live rock. It is very exciting to sit down with a magnifying glass and study the Florida Aquaculture rock when it comes in because it often has barnacles and small live corals.
One of the other benefits to using Florida aquaculture rock to seed your live reef is the fact that this rock started out as road fill. By carefully choosing the right area to plant this rock Dale Barger has created a great ecologically sound way for you have beautiful live rock.
|This is another picture of the same rock and you can see how many different feather dusters grow on one small rock. Each rock is totally unique and Dale packs his rock to be shipped in 30 pound boxes that include a variety of types and sizes.
During the next two semesters you will be able to follow the progress of our six new aquacultured bulletproof reefs. Each of these reefs will have three reef tables sitting on an Eco-Sand Plenum that is covered with CaribSea aragonite Gravel.
We use a mixture of two types of CaribSea gravel in our reefs. The mixture of CaribSea Aruba Shell and Seaflor special grade make a perfect nitrogen-removing filter.
ARAGOCRETE TM CAVE TABLE
AND TWO CAVES
|The Eco-Sand Plenum consists of the light grid plate with a Geofabric nylon mesh above it. This nylon mesh allows part of the gravel to fall down between the course plastic threads. Because the Eco-Sand Plenum comes as one complete filter plate there is no way to set up wrong. You just pour the gravel on to the plate and the proper amount falls down between the nylon threads.|
|On top of these three reef tables we will add two large Aragocrete Cave Arches that will reach almost to the water surface. The final piece of Aragocrete sculpture will be a large Aragocrete cave. These six pieces of Aragocrete will weigh approximately 50 lbs. and they will make up the majority of the finished reef. We will then finished the rest of the reef structure by adding 30 lbs. of Dale Barger's Florida Aquaculture Rock. what we have used this combination in tanks before we have noticed that the animals from the aquaculture live rock soon to migrate to the Aragocret, and it is always fun to watch the Aragocrete Sculptures take on the purple and pink colors of coralline algae.|
Each of the Eco-Sand Plenums come with the three quarter inched up right pipe and we will start bringing the Aragocrete and CaribSea gravel to life by using the Eco-Sand Plenum as an under gravel filter for the for several months. As soon as we have brought the salinity and temperature of the Ocean Pure to 1.024 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit we will add the GARF Grunge and Reef Janitors.
|Each of these brood stock reef will be equipped with three maxi jet 1200 power heads and only one of them will be used to power the Eco-Sand Plenum. Powering the plenum for a short will speed up the conditioning of the new systems with bacteria and other microorganisms. During the first 20 years of my marine aquarium keeping experiences we set up literally hundreds and hundreds of under gravel filters. These filters often work very well for several years and then they would clog up and they no longer effectively acted as an efficient bacteria filter. The other to power heads we placed so that they create a rotating water flow.
After the first two months when we have seen indications that the gravel bed is becoming populated with worms and chitons we will remove the Maxi Jet power head from the intake to cap it with a three-quarter inch PVC cap.
This method of starting a brood stock reef has allowed us to
|These systems will then be stocked with 30 pounds of Florida Aquacultured rock. We will light these systems with 3- 40 watt bulbs consisting of 2- Actinic whites and 1- Actinic blue. For the first few weeks after the tanks are set up we will use only the actinic bulbs. after we have started to see an increase in the amount of coralline we will add the two Actinic White bulbs. During the next two semesters we will be reporting on these tanks progress. |
Sally Jo has several of the systems that are over one year old and it is amazing how many types of corals thrive in this system. The aquaculture rock we have tested in the past varied quite a bit in quality. We have not seen rock with this many live animals since we tested the rock from Tom Frakes.
THIS WONDERFUL FLORIDA AQUACULTURED LIVE ROCK FROM DALE BARGER