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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK I thought as a progress to the discussions we have been having that we should move onto this topic.

One of the (what I believe) problems in this hobby is the fact that we concider our tanks to be a little slice of nature and we try to mimic all it methods. The problem is that we cant mimic these things. We must first understand that we run a closed system, and because of that natural system will ALWAYS have thier limitations. We touched on the limitations of DSB's but in reality most everthing has a limit set to it when we set a limit on the size of the system. To steal methods from nature is fine as long as you understand it will not operate the same in a closed system. This includes nutrient removal, detritus removal, feeding, filtration and so on.
So lets start here and make the distiction between what can be done and what limitation it has in our closed systems.


Mike
 

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I think one of the major limitations that we often ignore is that even in the biggest tanks the total volume and area is small relative to where our corals (wild ones anyway) come from. My point is that we mix different species in a very small area, realtively speaking, and expect it to seem natural. The reality is that for most of us, if we took an equivalent chunk of the wild reef we'd have one or two species of SPS or maybe a few soft coral species.

We try to create a bonsai reef, and that's difficult when we have limited water, organic export, and most times unnatural imports.

Sure is fun though. I'll check back for more.

-Reed
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Reed brings up a good point, maybe one worth exploring. Coral typing. Corals can be as different as a redwood to a lilypad, yet most of us put them in the same enviroment, and treat them as if them have the same demands. Would it not be better for a tank to have a softies in it, to help say the growth of other corals such as SPS and such


Mike
 

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I would like to know more about the chemical warfare portion of this mixing. When a softie, for example, employs chemicals to ward off the intrusion of another animal into its territory, is this chemical not spread throughout the entire tank?
If so, does this chemical loose effectiveness as it disperses in the water column?
How do corals use this chemical if the offending animal is on the up side of the current?
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Steve thier are so many different type of warfare and aggression, some corals (say leather) slime themselves just to clean. On the other end of the boat is the more delicate corals such as SPS. If a sps gets a slime coating from a leather its going to have a hard time surviving. A simplistic way of looking at it would be that SPS fight and defend themselves by looking to dominate the light source (as it is the most importnt source of food for them) some grow tall to shade some grow wide to offest intrution. Where light is not the most important food factor corals have evolved all sorts of naty little tricks, from stinging polups, chemical emmissions. SOme of the chemicals are growth inhibitors, some just a toxic blend designed to burn. Most calurpas found in the reef emmit the same types of chemicals. I believe the chemicals are called Alliachemical (but that is a memory thing, lol)
From a personal view corals emit a scent (yea poor word but not enough coffie) other corals in the area react that a new coral is in thier world and begin defending. If the new coral is far enough away and poses no treat eventually, the coral usually stops the defence. If the coral is close and continues to pose a treat then it will continue to defend, which in turn usually makes the new coral start up its defence system.
On the upstream thing, well in nature you usually dont getr the water going just one way, where tides in and out or waves in or out the water flow is usually random and scattered.

Mike
 

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Continuing that thought, Mike...

In our home tanks, the chemicals are essentially distributed throughout the tank and recirculated over and over (unless you have carbon or some other means of export). This is quite different from what happens in nature where the ebb and flow can distribute and dilute the nasties quite quickly. This just reinforces my original stance that we introduce many species into a closed environment, and then say that we a trying to mimic nature.

That said, I am like almost everyone else here in that I try to keep a variety of species in my tank (for aethetic purposes). I would think that success rates would go up considerably if we tried to keep a single species in a tank. This would come much closer to mimicing nature.

I personally think that picking a region where corals are collected from (say a reef zone in fiji) and keeping all species that share similar water depths and food requirements would provide the best route to success. This would allow us to focus our efforts on the currents, lighting, nutrient levels, and even mutually beneficial inhabitants (be it fish, snails, shrimp, etc.). When mixing species from different origins I think the challenge goes up very quickly.

I would like to know if people have had success creating micro environments in their tanks (i.e. a soft coral region that is segregated from an SPS/LPS area).
 

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Thanks Mike,
I am working on creating what Reedman has suggessted. If I look at some of Jerel or Gregs pictures of the Keys area, and imagine my tank sitting there, it appears that there would be a limited # of different animals. In my tank, of course, this is not the case, and I worry about a mystery death on occasion being associated with warfare.

My corals are spaced out quite a bit (don't appear to be any closer than the pictures) but I wonder if just one species that I have could be more dominate than others. In other words, when I look at the pictures it dosen't appear that ricordea are growing right next to a gorg. The ricordea in my tank are spaced about 10" from the nearest gorg, but I wonder if that is far enough in a closed environement (or if it even matters:) ).
Steve
 

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Hey Guys, considering the size of most tanks we need to think in terms of a few square feet of reef estate max.
As far as the softies as nutrient export, I have seen people do it with xenia, I havent seen glowing reports or widespread acceptance. I don't think the other octocorals consume enough DOC, etc to offset allelopathic compound production.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
allelopathic Damm I couldnt think of that word, thanks doug. I here ya Doug on the size of tanks and working with in the constraints is a tough one to. I have heard of the xenia as an export to. But most sofies soak up nutrients (to varying points) would say a mix of lesser aggressive ones (say zoo's) not maybe help tough up that nutrients level a bit

Mike
 

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Skimmers are counter productive for our systems.
We are stripping out food that our animals need to thrive.
There is no reason one can't feed their tank heavy and not use a skimmer.
A skimmer will not help with algae problems. Algae is not caused by excess nutrients in the tank, it comes from a lack of herbivores.

:D These are just a few of the things I read about skimmers each day on the boards.

Thoughts?

Steve
 

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Guess I'll have to put that skimmer back on my tank :rolleyes:

And what am I going to do with the 1000 astrea snails and 6 tangs I have in my 75 gallon reef tank????:eek: :funny:
 

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No, no shots Mike:D .

And as far as where I read this Don, some of it was in Eric's answer to a question in his forum: (note: Eric does not run a skimmer on his tank).


>>But on your food for your corals goes.By feeding your fish,then adding your exotic coral food into the system.Do you have any problems with and out break of unwanted algaes? <<

LOL - if I had algae problems, why would I use this food? I haven;t had algae probelms in my tanks for ..well, ever. At least not since the first time I ever set up a reef for about three months afterwards. I get seasonal cyanobacteria blooms every year that last about a month and go away all on their own.

A couple things here...first, there is a relatively low correlation of nutrients and algae if there is adequate grazing. If you have an algae problem, unless the tank is seriously set up wrong or mismanaged, or its a very unpalatable algae, more grazers will fix the problem. Second, I don't have high dissolved nutrients (my tank was one in Ron's first article in his series on metals...you can see the data points - very low nitrogen and phsophorous). Therefore, no algae problem related to nutrients, even if algae were directly related to nutrients. Finally, it is my distinct impression and experience that our tanks can ordinarily handle rather monstrous loads of food if you either have good uptake or export or both. Most people that begin to up their food inputs quit if they see a hint of algae starting. Its like when you first start a tank...algae respond to an increase in nutrients quickly...as do bacteria and cyano - they eventually reach a new stable level and the nutrient levels in the water drop back down again....you can do this over and over if the tank is set up right until you see the amount of food you can put in a tank till you eventually max out your uptake and export...at that point, you stop, or you increase uptake and export and feed even more. Or, you add more grazers. You force the bioload in tanks anyway...why not force the grazine, too, of it means keeping the energy available through food in the water higher. Personally, I don;t think I have really high grazing in the tank, I just have a good feeling already what my inputs can be without causing a problem. Sometimes, I may go several nights without feeding, and then decide to dump a bottle of DT's in the tank (32 oz) and a 1/4 cup of Golden Pearls. Or take half a flat of the food above and add it all at once. (No, I'm not kidding in the slightest). Best case scenario is not add foods that tend to cause higher dissolved nutrients (live foods) - and ideally, I'd be culturing live foods and keeping a steady flow into the tank. Time and practicality limit my ability to do this.

Its no magic...just ecology and biology in action. and...as has been said over and over again by myself and many others.....patience. Lots of it.


__________________
Eric Borneman

Interests: other than coral reef science, ethnobotany
 

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I have to agree with SPC on most of what he says. Althought he is the first person I've seen that feeds heavier than I do.

I run more and more of my customer's tanks without a skimmer. I also feed heavier than almost everyone (Not SPC). I have little problems with algae and the anemones seem to do well if water temp stays in the 70sF.

I do have tanks with skimmers that do about the same, But why add the extra expense.

The only tank I have with algae problems is one that I can not set up IMO properly for water flow patents.

Ray
 

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Removing a skimmer, seems counter productive also. Yes it removes particulate but maybe it is removing the excess and not enough to rid the system of all the nutrients right? Along with water changes you need to remove as much suspended particulates as you can in order to prevent toxin build-up. These skimmerless systems must have waste removal methods to be successful, so it seems they are changing fiber filters or something of that matter, which has been proven effective as long as it is kept up. Nothing wrong with that but skimming is just a different way of doing it. Water changes is what removes the most waste and replenishes the system with fresh water column to absorb more suspended waste per say.
 

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RayPollett said:
I have to agree with SPC on most of what he says. Althought he is the first person I've seen that feeds heavier than I do.
Ray, just to clarify this is not my system, I copied it from Eric Bornmans forum, it is Eric's system.

I love my skimmer:) .
Steve
 
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