Reef Aquarium Farming News
Online Newsletter for Reef Aquarium Propagation Research

ISSUE # 7 page 1 JULY 1997


Reef Aquarium


This month I am going to start a series of articles on pest and algae control in reef aquarium farm tanks. You can rid your tank of these pests by this method

Prepare stock solution

1. 1 tsp. pickling lime - food grade calcium hydroxide
2. 2 tbls. tap water.

boil water and lime in microwave for 40 sec.
keep closed plastic container in cool place.
You will need a vet syringe from a pet store that sells vaccinations

This mixture comes out of the needle very thick. You do not need to inject the Aiptasia.
Just release a small amount on to the aiptasia and it will take it in. This mixture seems to stick to the
anemone, but it does not stick to the other inverts. We also use this mixture on problem hair algae.

We have killed 20 or 30 at a time in 55 gallon reefs and it did not hurt anything


We now over 30 production tanks in our reef aquarium propagation research lab. Most of these tanks are full of aquacultured and wild live rock. I say they are FULL of live rock and some have more than 5 lbs.per gallon. We have been researching base rock for 3 years in some of these reefs.

In some of these research tanks we feed brine shrimp, green water, and roitifers. Anytime a reef has bright light and feeding aiptasia can get out of control. For the last 13 months we have been testing Copperband Butterfly fish as a natural control of these pests.

Reef Aquarium copperband

I now have 10 of these fish living in our lab and I am going to get that many more. I have tested this fish in many different types of grow out systems. I have one in a 270 gallon round tank with 800 lbs. of aquacultured live rock. I have sps corals, Zoanthids, Palythoa, Caribbean cup corals, Gorgonians, and several soft corals in the tank with this fish. We now take coral cuttings that have Aiptasia to this tank for this fish to clean. I have watched while this fish cleaned rocks with many types polyps and I have not seen it do any damage.

I have placed several Copperband Butterfly fish in my sps coral brood stock reefs during the past 3 months. The Copperband Butterfly fish will search every part of reef for Aiptasia. I have watched these fish for hours and I have not seen them do any damage to my corals.

One month ago I put one Copperband Butterfly fish in a 70 gallon propagation tank that I have been testing a shipment of Florida aquaculture rock. This tank has one 175 watt halide and several power heads. I am certain that there were over 3000 Aiptasia in this reef 5 weeks ago. Today I counted 9 that were behind a piece of plastic that holds up the plugs.

Reef Aquarium copperband

We will continue to test these Copperband Butterfly fish to see how we can feed them if the wonderful day ever comes when we run out of these pests. I would have say that if you have problem with these Aiptasia it would be a good idea to purchase a Copperband Butterfly fish.



>Sally Jo,

>I am setting up a reef aquarium at home and read on your web page that
>you shouldn't introduce sps corals to your reef until at least one year
>has passed. What is the progression of corals/inverts you should
>introduce before you finally introduce sps?

Thanks in advance

> >Chuck Schardin

Hi Chuck,
This is a very good question and one that is being debated all around the World. I am now setting up my third system in my office and have witnessed several being set up with our methods with tremendous results.

I will try and take you step by step in how we set up our systems. We start with a plenum called eco-sand. Then I add at least four inches of CaribSea aragonite Seaflor. On top of this I add 20 pounds of our GARF grunge (this grunge is full of organisms, star fish, hermits, snails, sand stirrers and coralline). This will give me the livest live sand.

Reef Aquarium yellow tang


I than add the Idaho Aragonite base rock. I use about 50lbs because I like the reef wall aquascape. I then pick out 50 lbs.of the best live rock we have in the lab. This is very fine Carribean rock from Hatia and Panama. This rock is covered in bright coralline algae, sponges, tube worms, and corals. We import this rock so we can culture the species of sponges and coralline algaes. We now sell this fine rock and the Idaho Aragonite to help support our research.

This may sound a little silly but our tanks in the lab have cycled water for over 23 years so I siphon water from them to start my system. You can get old water from an established marine aquarium. Then I added our reef janitors about 50 hermits and 50 snails.

Because the Grunge and live rock are so well aged and seeded I start adding soft corals and mushrooms the very next day. It is important to place your mushrooms in first because they tend to do best closest to the bottom of the system. I added zoanthids, and wood polyps, sacrophyton, leather corals, and palythoas right away. These are the corals we ship as our starter packages.

I wait to see how they do and let the conditions get settled before trying some of the others. I love the zoanthids because they grow so fast and come in so many different colors. Next comes the sinularias, the brain corals, the flower pot coral and star polyps. At about six months I added xenia and some other harder to keep corals. The most important reason for waiting one year before adding the sps corals is to make sure that the conditions are right and stable. You need your coralline to be growing on the glass I use the size of a quarter as the sign for the tank being ready.

The sps corals are among the most difficult to manage. They require a mature tank and an experienced eye. There are also some diseases to be concerned about that are passing from one tank to another. These corals require excellent water quality, strong lighting, turbulent water flow. They do not tolerate rapid changes in water chemistry, temperature or lighting. They are extremely beautiful and well worth the wait. I attach all of my animals with super glue. This glue allows me to place the animal where I want it and move it when I want to. I have several cuttings from my tank that are for sale if you are interested.

I hope this answers your questions and if it leads to more, please don't hesitate to contact me again.

Sally Jo Headlee,
Pres. /Executive Director

>This is for Sally Jo:

>I read Lee's article in Aquqascape about live rock. In there he
> gave his speal about Seachem additives. I
>must tell you, I was having a problem getting my calcium levels
> above 300 with Kent products until I tried
>Seachem Reef Advantage which has Calcium, strontium and magnesium in
>it. I ALWAYS use Ocean Pure. The
>Seachem work fantastically! But, I still needed to add massive
>quantities (2-3 tsp/day in a 115 gal reef) to
>keep the levels near 400. I quickly ran out and the dealer was out
> of it and I'm back to Kent Turbocalcium or
>Thiel Pure Calcium. These don't seem to work as well. Tell me, how
> the heck can you get by, adding calcium
>once a week! Surely the small amounts of kalkwasser you mentioned
> couldn't make that much difference.

Hi Billy,

Thank you so much for your recent e-mail.

I have used only SeaChem products in my reef aquariums. We have witnessed several of our Foundations members reef tanks fail. I believe it has a lot to do with the additives and salt they use. My show tank has been set up since Feb. 14, 1996. Yesterday I tested all the different parameters in my tanks. My reason for doing so was because I was concerned that my show tank might need more calcium because I have so many growing sps corals.

My first test was for pH which tested out at 8.3 . I then tested my calcium and it was at 500. My Alkalinity was at 5DKH. Nitrate was 0 as well as the phosphate. When I add my SeaChem Reef Calcium I put the big one gallon lid full in my sump once a week and my tank is a 55 gallon.

One thing that I recommend to people who seem to have trouble with calcium levels is our special Magic Reef Dust. In Idaho we have an ancient coralline reef that has been capped off by a lava flow. This allows no other particles to seep into the ancient reef bed or anything to wash out.

We where using this aragonite for the base rock when setting up new systems. I would watch LeRoy break up the rock and place it in the aquariums. You could not believe how dirty the water looked and then shortly after it became crystal clear. I decided that this rock has to have natural calcium, strontium & magnesium.

So every time LeRoy crushed the aragonite rock I collected the dust that would fall to the ground. I started adding a tablespoon to my sump once a week. You can not believe the polyp extension or the water quality in this system. I give much of the credit to the Magic Reef Dust.

There is an article about it in last months issue of Marine Fish Monthly. When I talked to Mr.Tom Frakes about this I told him I was also convinced that because this natural product goes in as a powder I am sure it absorbs any Particulate organic carbon that might be floating around in the system.

Everytime that I propagate one of my corals I add dose of the dust to stop the Coral from sliming. Now several hobbyist are using this Magic Reef Dust. I do suggest that if you are having a problem keeping your calcium levels up you try our dust. Honestly, I am not interested in switching to any other products I love the SeaChem supplements.

You can order through the mail order pet shop in the FAMA magazine and order the 4 liter bottle. You will then have plenty calcium and at a lower cost to you. You can contact Marine Technologies at 1-800-531-0521 to order from them. I know that their 250ml bottle of SeaChem Reef Calcium is priced at 4.50 but, I would go for their bigger bottle

>Thiel products, my corals have blossomed, especially with the KSM and
>Vital Gold but I know that some people question these products. Have you
>used Iodine with EDTA ?

I have never tired any of Albert's products. There are so many debates going on in this hobby. As a matter of fact most of what I have accomplished in my system I have been told I could not do. It is a shame that there seems to be so many people out there misguiding and scaring people from trying new methods.

We are committed to sharing results both positive and negative. I have never heard one negative word about Mr. Thiel. Perhaps he is going against the grain of some of the people who are unwilling to change, which causes them and their systems not to grow. Mr.Thiel has wrote several wonderful and educational articles for the hobby.

I have never used Iodine with EDTA in it. I simply trust the SeaChem product, my Pom-Pom Xenia is the most beautiful animal and reproduces rapidly and I know it's success is due to the reef plus. After you open your bottle make sure that you place it in the refrigerator after each use.

I have never met Albert Thiel but, LeRoy who has been in this business for over 30 years has a deep respect for him and I trust that judgment. I hope that I have answered your questions and if you have any more please don't hesitate to contact me for any reason.

Sally Jo Headlee,
Pres. /Executive Director

Getting them SOLD!

If you're serious about farming corals there will eventually come a point in time when it becomes necessary to find some way or ways to move them out in a big way. At first while the operation is small, you can sell a few out of your home and trade with other aquarists for specimens you want or would also like to propagate.

Most people would never look for opportunity
like this in a fish store that didn't sell reef stuff.
Would you?

Problems are often opportunities in disguise,
just to fool your competition.

If you have been cultivating some good mother colonies to make mass cuttings from, then you are about to go into real production any week now, right? You are probably concerned about how to get rid of a big batch of propagated coral cuttings. Good question.

You could sell them on the internet but that involves shipping and packaging and corals dying in transit from hot or cold weather and just plain getting stuck in the mail or at the airport for too long. Some corals are very sensitive to transit. LeRoy Headlee mentioned Xenia as one such coral that is not transit hardy. But Xenia is very easy to propagate and grow.

You could open up your own aquarium store (like you've always wanted) but what about overhead and dealing with customers. You may have gotten into this coral growing venture because you like to grow corals, not because you like to solve customer service problems.

Reef Aquarium xenia


Last month LeRoy said that selling Xenia in your LOCAL market could overcome the problems encountered with shipping losses. But, how do you convince the local reef stores to buy from YOU? I'll go over a few ideas on moving your corals through the local retailers in your area - assuming of course that you DO have a few of them in your area.

Over three years ago I started propagating mushroom anemones (actinodiscus) and wondered if I might be able to make some money from them. So, I asked two store owners if they would be interested in any of them. One store owner said Sure, I1d be glad to work with you, but I have to make a good profit of course. Just bring them in and we'll work something out. She seemed interested enough.

The other store owner said that he had two options. He could take them in trade at 50% of retail value towards anything I wanted to buy at full retail. He would assign the values after I brought them in. The other option was that I could leave them on consignment and get 50% of what they actually sell for, cash or credit, after they sold. He then told me that a few cladiella corals that he had for sale, including the one that I had bought many months earlier, were propagated by another customer! This was the first time I ever stopped and wondered if Maybe a whole reef tank could be set up from various propagated coral cuttings?

Reef Aquarium xenia


I wasn't too afraid to leave my corals on consignment in this guy's care, he took very good care of his coral tanks. Since that time, I have talked to a few other store owners and found that the majority would like to sell some locally grown propagated corals under the right conditions. This isn't so much because they are propagated but because they come in healthier when they are not shipped overnight. If store owners don't care too much about them being propagated then we could certainly educate them (in a nice way of course) about the advantages of tank raised corals.

You know: less handling/shipping stress, increased hardiness and environmental concerns. We could actually help a store owner sell our tank raised corals better by helping him or her by printing up literature to hand out with corals sold and tank signs promoting the advantages of these tank raised beauties. Printing up a care sheet for each might be a very good idea too. Some store owners might like your help in creating advertisements to help them gain market share. Store advertisements for tank raised corals in local marine aquarium club newsletters are a good idea too.

I mentioned that most store owners I approached were interested in selling my tank raised corals. The ones that were not excited generally had one of two problems. Once you solve the problem for them, then they will want YOU to help them sell more corals.

Problem number one was that they couldn1t see any thing in it for them. To help them see the benefit for themselves, point out that they won1t loose corals in shipment. Most of them don1t care about saving shipping costs because they order enough that they are already paying the same amount for shipping whether they add on another box or not. So just point out the coral deaths in transit.

Reef Aquarium xenia

Even if their wholesaler gives them a credit for all losses there are still corals that may rarely make it through shipping and reshipping. Another benefit you can give them is that you can sell them your corals on consignment. You will leave them there in the dealers tanks to sell without any charge to the owner until they sell. You pick up a check once a month. With this problem (no benefit for the store owner) out of the way, you should have an easier time moving your tank raised corals.

Problem number two is a problem that many of you may not have noticed. Some store owners don1t want to sell your tank raised corals because they just sell salt water fish and plan on doing reef Žsome day.' Some of these salt' stores don1t sell reef' because they are intimidated and don1t want to care for corals that they don1t know a lot about. This is your opportunity to help them set up a reef section and get it running the way YOU and other reef enthusiasts like it!

The best part is that you don1t have to run the store and worry about ALL the other products and overhead. You are the coach and might even expect a better return initially while training the owner. You will of course make up half page flyers to be handed out with each coral sold so that the store owner will look and feel like an expert from the start. You can sell your own tank raised corals, live rock and live sand at the same place. Most people would never look for opportunity like this in a fish store that didn1t sell reef stuff. Would you?

Problems are often opportunities in disguise, just to fool your competition.

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