ISSUE # 5 page 2 May 1997
|QUOTE OF THE MONTH
Trade info, give info, no-one else will put me out of business, only
I can do that. If 1,000 of you set up systems there will be a 1,000
different ones, I wish them all well. It takes a particular kind of
person to do this and make it work, there really are not that many around so
I dont see it getting over-competitive, help one another, it will help
I was born and raised on a dairy farm in upstate NY, have a BS in Animal Husbandry and 10 hours towards a Masters in Fisheries Science. I am a lifelong aquarist. Also, being an accountant, and of Irish descent I try to do things cost effectively.
The question of CAN REEF SPECIES BE PROPAGATED ?
is no longer relevant.
Many can and in the future, many more will be.
The big question for me is:
Can captive reef propagation be done cost effectively, and profitably?
Can you make a living doing it?
The question of CAN REEF SPECIES BE PROPAGATED is no longer relevant. Many can and in the future, many more will be. I personaly firmly believe that captive breeding is a necessity due to reef destruction, and the inevitable decline of the reef environment as the overall environment deteriorates.
I spent two years in the Philippines in the early 80s and can attest to the total lack of environmental consciousness that is inherrent throughout the nation. This itself could make several articles, sufice to say, that it is only a matter of time until they have destroyed all their available collectable reefs. As you fly in you can see a muddy ring surrounding the nation from runoff of soil eroision, when you land, its worse. Captive reef propagation is needed, for a number of reasons.
You will increase your chances of making a profit if you can produce quality reef animals such as this sps coral head.
There are a large number of cost factors though that have not yet been 'nailed down', and it is for this reason, along with others that I started putting this 'project; together, paralleling much of GARFS research and, also, I wanted to do it. Joe also is a reef nut, and we have spent many hours swapping 'what ifs'.
We have separate pursuits, but share info. I have come up with a system, that paralleled one of LeRoys and this is what I will discuss. My goal is to have a system that would generate a gross income, from sales of $50,000 a year. From that of course must be deducted the costs of goods sold, which, at this time is a real nebulous gray area, unknown, zippo, and limbo land.
There are a large number of cost
though that have not yet been 'nailed down
such as the costs of goods sold, which,
at this time is a real nebulous gray area,
unknown, zippo, and limbo land.
My desired products are 3 sizes of 'live rocks' with various species of coraline algae, caulerpa, and cultured reef organisms such as mushroom anemones, sea mats, tube worms, SPS corals etc. Each size is a base rock, cast from cement and coral mix, with coraline algae grown on it to which either one, two or three 'plugs' have been inserted to precast holes and grown onto it along with other species-caulerpa, tube worms, etc. These are designed to wholesale for $10, 15, and 20 each.
The colonies in this picture are ready to cut onto new coral starts. This reef is used as a show tank that provides many extra cuttings for the coral reef farm.
Typically this looks like this: standing in front of a group of four tanks, you see two lined up end to end. The one on the right is #1, at the left end of it 2 siphons extend from it over into the left sided tank at its right end tank #2,.behind them, back to back would be 2 more. The tank behind the left one which is #2, is #3. At the left rear of #2, 2 siphons go into the #3 tank. On the right end of #3, siphons enter #4, and at the right 'front' of #4 a powerhead is mounted with plastic hose to remove water from #4 into #1.
This has several purposes, these are growout tanks and this helps to distribute, larvae, spores etc from tank to tank. More importantly it helps to equalize the various water chemistry parameters, making it much easier to monitor them, without the expense of drilling and installing piping.This is an experimental system and this helps greatly on lessening water maintenance time. Also, additional powerheads are used per tank. ON ALL POWERHEADS FILTERS ARE REMOVED!!!!!! This allows natural food to circulate and importantly, larval forms of our species. Submerged heaters are used in the system. I explained this as a 4 tank unit. You can vary it for as many as you wish. the more tanks the more stability. Initial setup was with four 29 gals. I allow a 3' aisle on each side ot a row of tanks.
An impotant factor,along with GARF'S grow - as - you - go philosophy is that using this method, you can set up bare bottom tanks into the system, actually using them as reservoirs as you complete them.They cycle readily as the entire system is handling the nitrates, nitrites, etc. My intial tanks housed live rock and then the targeted species to be propagated. Subsequent tanks housed base rocks for growth of coraline algae and plugs. Water circulation depends on size and/or number of powerheads.
An important ongoing shift now is the use of plastic stock tanks for the gowout of coraline algae on the base rocks.this is another of LeRoy'S suggestions and is very cost effective over use of tanks or plywood vats for this. In our area(upstate NY) we have a number of farm supply stores that carry these in from 175 to 400 gallon size, the two best suited are 250 and 350 gallons. Again, I suggest 'plumbing' them in a series with siphons, it saves a lot of maintenence time. Also, my original plan for the full operational system called for 14 each 150 gal vats for corraline growout, with the stock tanks this can be decreased to 5-7 stock tanks. this may seem like a lot but the corraline growout is important, can take the most time, and is the basis from which the rest of the product is developed.
To this I must add a recent comment by Tom in his article in Marine Monthly (excellent, get it), he describes taking a piece of rock with corraline alagae and 'brushing' it over the top of the tank for bits and pieces of algae to spread throughout the tank, IT WORKS! Its an excellent way to seed the tank. You can save a month or two in growout time.
My design has used 75 gal tanks over 55 gal, but this is a question of cost versus working area. the 55 gal is usually per gal cheaper than a 75, the 75 obviously holds more, but, the increase in width allows more rack space within to hold plugs. Each of you has to weigh this, but, if its posible, I would go with the 75s. The 55 may be easier to pick up at garage sales, newspaper ads etc, there is nothing wrong with using both in a system, just remember to build the racks accordingly.
I mentioned plugs above, these are cast as again per GARF, Portland #3, but, crushed coral is cheaper than the aragonite so have used that. The 1" plug works well, cast in the 1" holes in a board. you can cast enough plugs and bases in an afternoon to last a month or more. The small size so far have cast in 'dixie cups' for a 5" dia, the 7" and 10" bases in paper butcher meat trays, then after cast a little hand molding, pencil hole prodding etc to individualize, then dried for several days, soaked in a heavy vinegar bath a few days to a week then aired another week, soaked in fresh water 3-4 days , then used . Dont hurry this process, Portland cement is extremely toxic in concentration to creatures, give it time. Get in a hurry with this and you will rue the day you did.
I plan to produce
1100 each 5" rocks,
1100 7" rocks, and 1100 10" rocks per year,
along with a few fish, individual species (tube worms etc)
for a gross revenue of $ 50,000
These are the basic components of this system design, ala GARF modified to the individual doing it. This system is designed, with 22 each 75 gal tanks for plug grow out, and another 5-7 stock tanks for corraline base rock growout. I plan to produce 1100 each 5" rocks, 1100 7" rocks, and 1100 10" rocks per year, along with a few fish, individual species (tube worms etc) for a gross revenue of $ 50,000. As mentioned previously, cost factors are a complete guestimate and that is what has to be nailed down in the first year. You are right, I am still going to be bean counting along with counting these beans on this.
The space requirements for this are not small, 7 stock tanks alone, side by side and end to end easily fills most basements. The tank racks, double racked, with a 3' corridor around each row requires a room 24' long by 16' so as to have two rows of tanks, plus a workbench along one wall. Additionally, besides the above tanks which are production grow out, it needs at least 4 tanks to house seed colonies of the species produced. I am working towards having a minimum of six major species to make plugs with, in various colors.
Additional space is needed for (in my case)
artemia,rotifer and euglena cultures along with a few others. A small
house is not at all out of the question to use for this system. Especially
with the use of a kitchen, one room for office, and a utility room for
DO NOT CAST BASES IN THE SAME AREA AS YOUR TANKS!!!!!
This is admitedly an oversimplification, and I will be glad to amplify on parts, also can do some email answers. My purpose with this is to come up with a workable production system to produce saleable reef specimens. This satisfies my aquarists urge, and I think will make a contribution to the conservation of our planets environment, and, may also result in the captive breeding of species made extinct through habitat destruction. and hopefully, make a living.
Many reefs have been destroyed in the Philippines, but also off the Florida Coast through illadvised misuse. hopefully, if enough of us begin to do this, we can make a livelihood, and help save our reefs.
'Murphy' is an everpresent partner in these
kind of endeavors,
know he is there and plan for him!
editors note - Murphy says: if anything can go wrong
- it will- at the worst possible time :)
Two last things to mention: 'Murphy' is an everpresent partner in these kind of endeavors, know he is there and plan for him! Hang your electrical plug in strips, not on the floor! Dont crowd tanks, power outages can be costly. keep fish out of the grow-out tanks, they will browse, put them in the stock tanks with the corraline, and if you want a couple live rocks.
This is not a formula production thing, some rocks will grow out gorgeous in 2 months, some will take 6, you cant hurry it much.Trade info, give info, no-one else will put me out of business, only I can do that. If 1,000 of you set up systems there will be a 1,000 different ones, I wish them all well. It takes a particular kind of person to do this and make it work, there really are not that many around so I dont see it getting over-competitive, help one another, it will help you. Down the road I hope to have some production and cost figures to share.
Lastly, my thanks to Leroy and GARF, without them we would all be a lot further behind. Thanks much, may your tribe increase!
Coralline algae is one of the most important things to grow on tank raised live rocks. Coralline algae can not grow in a system until you introduce it by adding live rocks. The more types of Coralline that you introduce the more types you will find growing on your tank raised live rocks.
Ask your reef store if you can help by scraping the front glass on their coralline covered show tank. You can attach a small siphon to the razor and collect the coralline that you remove.
|Calcium is one of the most important things to add to your live rock growing tanks. Calcium levels in your live rock grow out tanks should be kept at about 400 mg/L at a specific gravity of 1.024. We have found that by using SeaChems Reef Builder and Reef Advantage in alternating doses in our make-up water we have had no trouble keeping both the calcium and alkalinity at the proper levels for rapid coralline growth. This simple method of treating our make-up water also keeps the strontium level in our grow out tanks high enough for the coralline algae to thrive.|
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This picture shows tank grown aragonite live rocks that are 8 weeks old. The Coraline algae has started to cover the aragonite. You must keep the Phosphate level in the live rock grow out tank very low. Protein skimming is important in the grow out tanks because it controls phosphate. Make-up water can be a source of phosphate. You may need a reverse osmosis or deionization system if your water source has phosphates. Feeding is the most common source of high phosphate levels. We use a phosphate removing filter in tanks that are not producing coralline algae fast enough.
Lighting the live rock grow out tank with 2 Triton 40 watt bulbs to each Blue Moon 40 watt bulb has produced the fastest growth of Coraline algae. We keep the lights on for 14 hours and the Coraline algae grows on every part of the rock that is exposed to the light. We have found many types of coralline algae that thrive in different types of light. Some colors of coralline grow best in the top section of the grow out tanks while others always grow best in the lowest part of the system. The best way to get good coralline algae growth on your tank raised live rock is to start the systems with a large number of different species of coralline algae.
In our research lab we have experimented with several different methods to speed up the growth of coraline growth. We have noticed that new coralline algae starts to seed itself in the first month and it usually is found on the bottom base rock where the lighting is not so bright. This may have something to do with the fact that all our tanks are started by adding GARF Grunge, which has an abundent mixure of small pieces of coralline algae. Several colors of Coralline algae can be grown on the same tank raised live rock.
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