SALLY JO'S 55 GALLON REEF JUNE 1997

CHANGES IN MY REEF AQUARIUM AS IT MATURES

Sally Jo Headlee

As promised I will be sharing information about the progress of my reef tank on a monthly basis. Everyone has heard that a picture speaks a thousand words and these recent pictures of my tank show a lot of new developments. LeRoy has a way of getting people interested in trying new things.

He was forever bringing in new speicmens of sps corals, but letting everyone know that unless their system was established for at least a year they should not attempt adding these delicate animals to there system. You could see people just drooling to try.

THESE PICTURES SHOW HOW THE SPS CORALS ARE GROWING IN THIS 18 MONTH OLD REEF AQUARIUM

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I on the other hand heeded LeRoy's advice and waited until my tank was growing coralline algae about the size of a quarter. This took about nine months. I then read several books and magizines, researching the proper lights, water movement, and special needs to keep these animals healthy.

I decided to start small, I went around to all the Foundations reef systems found the one sps coral LeRoy had the most of, cut a tiny piece off and attached it to my live rock. The corals polyps came out almost directly and I felt pretty confident that this new addition was happy in it's new home.

A few days later LeRoy had a special shipment come in that had tiny little frags that he gave to me to try and attach to my live rock in my tank. All of these frags made it and before I knew it LeRoy was coming in my office spreading the risk to my tank so that he didn't have the only animal of that speices in one tank.

Since then I have added over 45 different speices of sps corals and about 8 different genera. As a matter of fact I have taken cuttings of mine and spread the risk back to LeRoy's new tank as well as other hobbiest.

I have found the most important message I can convey to you about raising these animals is to pay close attention to them. For instance their color, their polyp extension, temperatures, and any sign of bleaching.

Believe me as small as some of the frags come in they do grow. After the first month of having the sps corals in my tank I decided to increase my lighting due to wanting to get better color. I then added an extra Maxi-Jet 1000 power head, because when these corals grow they need more current to reach under the branches that are growing. You also have to be careful that other animals are not fighting for the same space or trying to sting your sps corals.


THESE XENIA ARE PRODUCING MANY CUTTINGS EACH MONTH

As your tank becomes older the soft corals take on a life of their own and really grow quite rapidly. So you have to make sure their is enough room and enough light getting to all the inhabitants. I also found that I needed to add additional supplements to compensate for their growth and the needs the snails generate for calcium as their shells need to grow.


THE LEFT PICTURE SHOWS THE NEW SPS CUTTINGS ATTACHED WITH SUPERGLUE. THE RIGHT PICTURE SHOWS HOW THESE CUTTINGS GROW INTO CORAL HEADS IN FOUR MONTHS

My tank is now a year and a half old and to me it no longer looks like a soft coral tank it has taken on the beauty of a reef building coral tank. Some of these sps corals grow much faster than others and if not careful will grow right out of the water. THIS IS THE REASON THAT THE SUPER GLUE METHOD OF ATTACHMENT IS SO IMPORTANT. ! I can just pop off the animal I am moving and attach it to another location in my tank. As my system becomes older I find myself doing this often due to the growth of my corals.

My tank has been setup to test several principles of raising and propagating corals. I choose to grow as many corals in my closed system as I can. I also want to add only animals that I can successfully propagate. Although there are a few exceptions in my tank. I have added a couple of animals to save them from death in certain systems because they where being neglected or were not doing well in a less cared for environment. Out of the 163 different species of animals I have in my system only about 8 of them where ever in the ocean.

THIS PICTURE SHOWS SOME OF THE COLORED
BROODSTOCK THAT GROWS IN THIS REEF

As I have fallen in love with this reef growing experience I have realized that the success rests in paying attention to your animals and the willingness to grow with your corals. Just as we grow we don't fit in the same shoes, or the same clothes, nor do we eat the same, you have to do the same with this growing bio-mass in your closed system.

You know there are several methods available to the hobbiest, and there are even more debates out there on how to do things, but in my humble opinion instead of arguing so much we should be trying new ways, and continue to research, and share our successes as well as our mistakes then and only then can we make this a self sustaining hobby that will grow on everyone.

I had one of my staff members walk into my office a couple weeks ago and he looked at me and said " you know I just read an article in (I won't tell you which magazine) a magazine and everything your doing is everything this author suggested not doing" I looked at my staff member and smiled. It would be a shame not to know that anyone could have this tank and it's beauty on their very first try. My staff member shook his head and said that you really can't argue with your results.

The other thing that I would like to add to this is that the author of that article has been to our Foundation, has specimens from my reef and took several pictures, scratching his head saying "I have never seen polyp extension like that". Daily I thank all the knowledgeable people who came to this hobby before me. I openly thank the people who are spending so much time with these corals today, so that we can be sure that the next generations can share in their beauty. Perhaps some of us can help in the field of medical reasearch where a possible cure for aids, cancer and some of the most life threatening diseases may be found.

THIS IS THE LEFT END OF THE 55 GALLON REEF IN MAY 1997

Just as a side note I would like to say to all of you who have compassion for this hobby please be careful where you purchase your animals. There are some unhealthly corals being shipped and if you do not quarantine your corals before you put them in your system you could possibly wipe out all of what you have strived for. Make sure that you know how to treat any diseases that are out there in the hobby.

If anyone has any comments or questions about my reef I will be more than happy to respond. LeRoy gets all the e-mail so it would be nice to hear from some of you. I was so pleased to have the kindest response to my last article from a young man who is teaching students in a home school setting and has choose to follow the progress of my reef with these young students. I am thinking about having a contest in regards to naming all the different speices of corals in my tank and of course everyone will be a winner!

This 55 gallon tank now has
  • 3 - Maxi-Jet 1000 power heads
  • 4 - VHO 4' lights , 2 - actinic 03 and 2 - AquaSun 50 50
  • 2- 40 watt lights , 1- Blue Moon and 1- Triton
  • 1- Air powered skimmer in sump
  • 1- older 801 powerhead in sump

  • sallyjo@garf.org

    GROW YOUR OWN - SAVE A REEF