We are looking at more ways to reach even more people through videos and dedicating time towards our first book. I have been working with LeRoy trying to come up with some programs that will encourage people to visit our site more often. which in turn we hope will increase the amount of information to pass unto you. One idea is an interactive site that allows people to guess what type of coral we are featuring in the picture. Along with guessing what type of coral is in the picture we would also share which tank it is in. If it is in more than one tank what type of lighting is used. As well as what type of equipment, placement, and feeding needs to be given to provide optimum results. We would also share what generation the animal is as well as how to propagate him.
We have also discussed an interactive section for the visitor being able to pick the pictures of the week. I take about 500 pictures + every week this would give you a say in which pictures we talked about. At the end of a 12 week period we would than develop a calendar which would share in depth the what we do every day, every week, every month, and so on. Keeping our site up to date and trying to answer all the e-mails that come to us does take a great deal of time. Each letter is important to us. However, it has become harder and harder to answer all of them. We are hoping that by placing a search engine and site map on the site we have made our site easier to work with and more informative.
This first picture shows my oldest reef aquarium. This reef now has 6- 110 watt vho bulbs.
If you were to travel back to the same spot on the reef you would find much of the algae completely gone within six weeks. What I noticed is each type of snail or hermit seems to work on a different type of algae. At different types of year you can find different types of snails, as well as hermits.
So we tried working with all the different types of problems the captive reef suffers from. Putting together the best possible solution for each problem. However on the natural reef there is a great deal more animals to take care of the problem, we feel the amount and mix of janitors we recommend given time will take care of any algae problem. We always talk to each person so we can make the best custom mix of Janitors™ for their reef.
I continually spend the most time with it since it was the first time I had ever really touched salt water. I never had a fresh water tank. Again you can see the janitors are fast at work for I give them very little time to play. For I am constantly moving animals to other locations in the tank, and replanting my garden as I like to showcase different animals from time to time. We laugh at the office for when LeRoy points out how much he likes one animal in my tank, the next time he looks he can't find it. Usually meaning I have placed it in the back of the tank and featured a new one in front. I have tried to take what I have learned by watching the wild reef and transforming that knowledge to bring my captive reef a success.
If one were visiting the reef several times a year like I do you would notice that there is a definite spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons, even on the reef. For the spring brings forth algae on the rocks when the tide is out, if you look closely you will find baby snails and hermits all over the rock that has algae.
Mishandled live rock can put reefs out of balance, but by using all man made rock to start our reefs we feel we leave a big part of the problem behind. I can not stress how mishandled we have seen the 'fully cured' live rock, which has for the most part been sitting in a box with no water or light for who knows how long. Often placing high output lights on this rock that may come from 20 -40 feet which has had no light or water can cause problems from day one. The best way to secure success with your live rock is to make certain you match the conditions that the rock came from, or follow our success and make your own rock. This project can brings so much joy you get to in create different environments for fish and coral.
| || Making your own rock leaves out the unwanted algae, Aptasia, Mantis shrimp and other unwanted guests.
If you have any question about our success with making our own rock, seeding it with live sand and placing corals in the next week you can follow the over 40 separate systems featured on our web site that were started this way.
It is fun to look back on how far we have come and how much the tanks have matured and how much better the rock looks. Eddie Postma is constantly showing me his new rock and loves to express his creative ability making rock.
He gives each rock its own life through shaping them, following up with curing them and packaging them up to safeguard them through shipping.
Some future goals include making farming reefs in the ocean. This will provide new places for baby coral to settle on and provide new hiding places for fish. Our efforts may take some of the burden off of the wild reefs.
Eddie has custom made many of the rocks for GARF's systems but has also extended his talent to others who have asked him to custom make the rock a certain way, letting him know the size of the system. Eddie also has a green thumb on one hand, plants love to be nurtured by him, he has a blue thumb on the other hand for he has saved our office tanks from disaster more times than I could count. He is also very handy with a knife and has craved the most incredible pieces of woodwork; they are indeed beautiful and unique. Thanks Eddie!
A smile crosses my face each time he sets out to train people how to make rock. For the talent he has was a gift that is hard to pass unto to others, but he is patient and caring. He will be on hand to teach how to make rock, how to cure rock, and perhaps we can talk him into sharing a little of his wood craving talent during our up and coming coral farming conference on October 21 and 22.
At this time we have about 60 people signed up and the room is limited to 125, I do suggest if you are planning to attend give the office a call 800-600-6163 so that we are certain to secure your space. I think it is by all of the love and talent found at GARF that our outdoor wetlands and indoor reefs capture so many hearts across the World. There is also a deep pride in knowing that for every piece of rock we make more rock stays in the ocean.
We have tested putting small pieces of our rock down in the tropics and checking it in six weeks and then again each year for several years. Some of the places we put the rock it was 40 percent coralline algae covered in six weeks.
A great deal more research needs to be completed before going ahead with this goal but it is something we feel very strong about. Meanwhile we continue to preach SAVE A REEF - GROW YOUR OWN, and I guess the best feeling about this vision is that we are not just preaching this method, we are doing it and teaching it.
For those who are having a hard time believing I suggest looking at the other parts of our web site. We share all details on how to make rock, how to cure rock and the different shapes that seem to work the best for us. If you really feel like taking on a project there is even information on how to make a tank from scratch.J
The reef pictures give you a little idea on how packed my reefs really are. You will notice that I still have the soft corals in with the small polyp stony corals. In fact I have animals from different oceans, glued to the same rock. Working with both types of corals in the same tank can bring tremendous challenges. For the soft corals grow much faster than the small polyp stony corals, so staying committed to propagation is important. Being careful which animals you cut directly in the tank almost should be considered for some of the soft corals can be quite toxic, not only to fish but other animals as well.
I feel that at this point in my article it is important to share my views on the hobby of reef keeping. Some people enter this hobby for the enjoyment of spending time with the family watching the fish swim and beg for attention. Some people join the hobby for the love of the corals, and the mystery of caring for this ecosystem, NO ONE enters this hobby to kill the wild reefs, nor cause their demise.
It is my belief that as a team of people who carry compassion for the reefs; we can and should be the voice for the protection of the wild reefs. Why are the reefs struggling to survive? One has to look at the whole picture; one has to do some serious soul searching, for we are all to blame. Some of us more than others, and some of us with no unawareness of what we are doing that causes damage. When we look for the answers we find that over 3/4 of our planet is covered by water, however less than 10% of that is actual reef. Many people do not even know that corals are alive, let alone that they are an animal that needs our help.
Long ago wetlands were scary and meant alligators and swamps. Others wanted to move or build their homes right up to the waters. Farmers developed fields of crops and somehow plowed right over many of the natural wetlands. Long ago laws had to be formed as to what could be dumped into our rivers, or stored in containers. What was left out of those laws was that often the fine is cheaper if you get caught dumping things into our rivers than it costs to house them properly. Human population is increasing, placing more of a demand on our environment. Mother Nature has been fighting back for some time, yet mostly her champion's warnings have fallen on closed ears. It seems that if it does not impact us on a daily basis it is not really our problem.
|NOTE THE SMALL GREEN TREE ATTACHED WITH NETTING |
Believe me when I say that the reef is fighting for its life, and it needs us to be its voice. We as hobbyist have a huge responsibility, not only to care for the life in our glass boxes but also to spread the truth, to educate people on the reefs and the fight to sustain them. Soon it could very possibly be against the law to get anything from the wild reefs. However one must realize that it is not what is coming out of the ocean that is killing the wild reefs. Over time we as the human race have dumped horrible chemicals into our rivers, we developed right up to the waters that we all love. Pollution, over development, warming of the temperatures, loss of our natural wetlands, all have a huge roll in giving the wild reef the fight of its life time.
All of here at GARf believe that if we train people to farm on their reefs that they will take the future steps that will be needed to protect their source of income. If the governments of the U.S. and other countries pass restrictive laws on importation of all corals they may well kill the very hobby that can do much to educate people worldwide on the value of healthy reefs.
Being a Gardener, and understanding the fight to help save the rain forest I realize that Mother Nature has a tremendous strength, for in Idaho with some of our trees there is no way for the seedlings to germinate other than through fire. Perhaps some of the bleaching involved with the wild reefs is Mother Nature's way of reseeding the reefs. Tremendous research needs to begin to find answers to the millions of questions left unanswered as to what bleaching is and the long-term effect that has on the Worlds reefs. Reefs all around the World are suffering, some have to do with warming temperatures, most have a great deal to do with pollution, very little has to do with this hobby.
However we do have some negative impact on the reef, some of the methods used for fish harvesting, rock harvesting, and transportation of the livestock is shocking. When one understands that when these animals are shipped from one location to another by airplane, it is a fact that dead people, cut flowers and mail get on the plane before our live animals. This seems to be something all of us hobbyist could have some positive input in. No one forgets the smell of a dead animal, nor the way they seem to get neglected from one site location to another.
Even when one is resting, playing or simply getting away on vacation we can do more, much more in regards to the educating people about the wild reefs. Stop putting on suntan lotion or sun block before going in the water to swim with the fish. It doesn't make too much difference when one person does it. Add that up to the thousands daily playing among the reefs it adds up. We would never think about putting our hands in our tank with lotion on.
|NOTICE HOW THE GREEN TREE MATURES WITH NETTING
The golf courses built right up to the ocean are unbelievable. However, if no one chooses to play there demanding wetlands to filter out all the garbage would make some sense. No matter who we are or what role we play we can all make a difference one tank at a time or one ocean at a time.
I have heard repeatedly how bad this hobby is for the wild reefs, I have seen and participated in programs to help save the wild reefs and am proud of the role GARF plays on this frontier. It is through this hobby that modern developments in understanding the needs of these animals have come to light. We should be continually asking questions, never forgetting to take the time to educate others.
Can we stop the oil tankers from spilling? Can we cause the rivers to be cleaned? Can we get people to wash off sun tan oil before going in the water around reefs? Can we stop over development? Will people be able to avoid the warming of the ocean waters? If we believe it - we can achieve it! Is the fight worth it? You bet, and we marine hobbyists can make a difference. Don't buy fish, either to consume at the dinner table or to showcase in your reef if you don't know how they were caught. Respect the ocean when on vacation, show others how not to abuse her. If we do not provide the money for poisoned fish the market will cease. Each wild reef has its own battles; the people who live and survive by the reef need to be educated for her loss to them could mean everything.
It all sounds so overwhelming, and the fight will not be an easy one. If we do not get involved in positive ways, the course of action will force pointing the bad finger at this hobby. Perhaps the final blow could be the banning of wild collection. What is coming out of the reef not the problem it is what is going into the ocean that causes the worst damage. Banning our hobby is not dealing with the problem and the wild reefs could be lost forever to future generations if native people do not have ways to farm and manage their resources.
Building land base reef farming operations to safeguard some of the animals that are in danger makes sense. Learning ways to breed corals, as well as fish has to be part of our plans. Finding new ways to fight each type of reef disease and other plagues is important, but the best gift we can give her is to never ever give up the fight.
I feel that as a hobby, we are progressing in a very positive way. We are doing many things to make the hobby sustainable but more importantly we are sharing the compassion for these animals and we are being their voice. As an Industry we can work on making the hobby better. Transportation of these animals needs to be addressed. Sharing the work and accomplishments of each reef system is all of our responsibility. Back stabbing, and trade secrets is not a part of a team effort and will get us no where fast.
If we think back it wasn't to long ago that all the fresh water aquarium fish were all coming from the wild, now land base operations are actually supplying most all the fish being marketed to the fresh water tank owner.
We have watched the desire to have backyard ponds grow. We hope these same people will take the next step into caring for a salt water system. For if you enjoy the beauty, serenity, and peacefulness of an outdoor pond, an indoor reef will bring you as much or more. There is no reason in the World that you can not be successful and taking this step will enrich your lives.
These changes help make this hobby so worthwhile. It is important to visit other tanks, shop at new pet stores and visit Internet sites. Look into a local marine club for they have so much information and a networking team in place. If you have a local Public Aquarium see if they have a volunteer program in place what a great opportunity to learn.
One simple suggestion is just to review the bullet proof reef system. We are watching them being set up all across the World. They don't just work for us at GARF but in they are now in almost every State across the USA. If my first reef was the first bulletproof reef system perhaps one could call it a fluke, perhaps one could call it a miracle, but this is not the first bullet proof reef system. This is not the first time we have shared these systems with the public, for they were featured in SeaScopes over five years ago. I look into the beauty of these reefs daily. To be honest we have lost count how many of these tanks have been set up, yet are excited to hear daily of the hobbyist who have taken the plunge.
Are there other successful ways to maintain a successful reef system? You bet! New ways are being studied each day, more equipment, hardier corals, pet stores are updating their systems, and individuals are sharing their knowledge.
It also would not hurt to attend our annual Coral Farming Seminar in October. We still have some space left and I learn so much for all the gifted speakers who share their hands on knowledge. We also have workshops where you will learn to make rock, propagate corals and see the GARF tanks that are showcased in an old Victorian house on Warm Springs Ave. Boise, Idaho is indeed beautiful as Fall begins to set in and the leaves are turning color. You can call our office at 800-600-6163 for more information on this event. You will be able to meet with Stanley Brown, Steve Tyree, The owner of CaribSea, & Dr. Morin owner of Sea Chem Labs. We will host a raffle and the first coral show. Details on the coral show are being worked out as we speak. Ribbons will be awarded for the best coral in each class. We will only showcase propagated animals, and this will be open to all that attend the conference.
I think back on where we were five years ago and it is amazing how far all of us have come! GARF thanks all of you who have supported our efforts, who have shared their questions, those who have visited our site, and provide the commitment it takes to care for these reefs that give us so much. It is hard for me to imagine where we will be five years from now. That thought kind of scares me for many of my corals will have outgrown their home and be passed on to the many reef keepers around the USA. Lights will have been switched, equipment upgraded and perhaps we will be spawning corals, and sharing those projects with you.
At this point we are working on setting up a whole new system. All the tanks have been purchased and are setting in my Greenhouse waiting for the instructions and LeRoy's planning. There will be 4 125-gallon systems, with 6 55-gallon systems and 3 300-gallon systems; I get the hot tub in the cornerJ .
LeRoy's note - people have said I doctor the color in the pictures of our corals. That is not true! I do everything I can to show the real life colors of our corals. We have invited hundreds of people and many hobby authors to our foundation for over 6 years. Almost every person who sees our collection comments that the pictures could never show the great colors that we have. That is what happens when you have two dedicated collectors working 16 hours a day 7 days a week for years at a project. The most important thing needed to have GREAT colors is the genetics. The next thing is the culture conditions, you can not get great color from brown corals! Please come to the seminars in Boise and see for your self how great genetics and careful maintenance can produce world class corals.
Please contact us at www.garf.org
free reef help line 208-344-6163