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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Tank diversity: good, bad, ugly? We all want the nicest tank we can have, we all want brilliant colors and neat critters but should we be keeping this stuff together in a closed system. Keep that term closed system at the forefront of your thoughts, remember this is not the ocean. We can try and mimic the ocean as much as we like but in reality we have no chance. I see the scoffs already; it is in fact truth though. We have tanks as small as 1 gallon to the largest I have seen here on TRT was what, 440? Let’s be generous and say 600. Now get up from your computer go stand in the nearest ocean a little over your waist hold your arms out perpendicular from your body and do a 360 deg turn, go on I’ll wait here. The circle you have made is roughly 600 gallons, depending on your size arms etc. Knuckle dragging guys get about 100 gallons more since their arms are longer. Ok now you have an idea of 600 gallons now go back and do it again and then look at the ocean, feel small yet? So now with that in mind how can we possibly hope to replicate the ocean? Are we really trying to replicate the ocean or are we shooting for small selected bits of the oceans beauty?

We know certain things to be facts. Some corals are purely photosynthetic while others are predatory, should the two be kept together? Yet how many of us do have corals that require feeding in with corals that should never be fed? I know I’m guilty. Are water quality issues directly tied to this? I think it’s safe to assume yes. If not prove me wrong.
Some corals require basically direct sunlight while others do well in shade, some require movement yet others still waters. Does that nudibranch really belong in your tank that only gets 8 hours of light a day or conversely twelve? What the hell is a nudibranch anyway and how do they work? Should any of this stuff really be mixed? If we consider all this is it safe to say we could possibly avoid chemical warfare conflicts in our tanks by keeping fundamental basic species together. For example look at some off the zooanthid keepers here who have four or 5 species of zoos growing and thriving on one rock. No conflict, just beauty and perfection, now picture a tank full of that. Now take that same species and toss in an anemone a few hairy mushrooms and some candy cane’s what happens?

Now it’s obvious we’re not going to change our tanks. But my questions to you is how do we have success in closed systems, and do we really have success? Are the corals we keep really thriving, reproducing to their full potential? If not how can that potential be realized? If you could do it again would you only keep dedicated tanks: i.e. hards, softs etc? Snails and crabs should these guys even be in the same room?

And the biggie, fish do they belong in a closed system at all? To be honest the more I look the more I think NO. NO NO NO!!! Fish need to be fed, need to be fed lots; it’s not fair to underfeed a fish because you’re concerned about water quality. Fish produce waste, waste turns to chemicals BAD!!! Remember you have a closed system this is not the ocean. Need a reminder go back out like you did in the beginning. ;)
 

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To answer your question, you first must define terms. Diversity, good, bad, ugly. What do those mean to you?

You also seem oblivious to the fact that people change reefkeeping practices based on awareness. A typical example is that on many reef forums, it is frowned upon to keep a Tang in an unsuitable sized tank, with the outcome that these fish often go to more suitable homes. Whether that home is suitable to all people is not the point.

As aquariasts, maybe there is a tendency to overcrowd and over-diversify, but to dismiss positive changes in the course of reefkeeping wholesale seems irresponsible. For example, I've had some similar thoughts, and I don't see why it woudn't be possible to simply provide additional room for fish (buy a bigger tank) and keep species of a common bio-region.

In other words, mimic nature more accurately, not according to common practice. Of course there will be limits; there is not room for every species, nor enough time for tending to them. Still, there are many ways to add visual interest to a tank with aquascaping.

The subtext to your question seems to be that because we are incapable of reproducing nature, we should make no attempt. This is a fuzzy area, for we keep animals for many reasons and purposes, in varying degrees of domestication.

Maybe the best we can do as aquariasts (for now) is to advocate aquaculture and the preservation of natural habitats, while appreciating and promoting better understanding.

Personally, I find overcrowded, over-diversified tanks unattractive.

But then, what do I know? ;)
 

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Awsome topic MKelly, I've been hoping this one would spring up! Where are you Spanky? Yoo whooo! :) And before I forget welcome Jakeosaur99! :beer:
Well... Hmmm... Where to start? I really like non diverse tanks, although I don't have the discipline to keep one myself :rolleyes: One tank I saw recently on Reefcentral (did I just say that :eek: :funny: ) Was a complete mushroom tank. It was a 100 or something. Absoulutly stunning, it was a barebottom tank (i don't reccomend) that the bottom was a pasture of mushrooms. Every texture and color, amazing. Some other tanks that are sps are beautiful also. I've been researching this allelopathy. About all the complicated warefare that goes on between corals. It would seem that our responsibility as aquarists would be to keep this from happening at all costs. The typical phrase that competition strengthens people and business is NOT true for reefkeeping. Competition should be avoided in aquariums. One of the ways to keep allelopathy from happening would be to keep diversity out of coral selection. In theory this is good but in use it is hard to do. Everyone wants a bit of everything (myself included :rolleyes: ) So I'm not sure where that leads too...
I did the arm in the ocean thing mentally, wow that really does make you and the tank feel small now doesn't it? And the not keeping fish thing hits home. It makes a lot of since. Especially considering today was the first day in 9 months when my fish were not fed twice a day (part of my battle against phosphates and nitrates). But then again that comes back to will power and what lines can be stretched. Well thats all for now. Looking forward to what everyone else has to say!!!
 

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Thanks, Austin.

Initially, I was going to respond that it would be good to know the bio-region of a particular species when buying, however something I read in Aquarium Corals (Borneman, p.14-15) was that species of coral that have been aquacultured for ten or twenty years are no longer able to be identified.

I'm not sure if that's characteristics like growth patterns and coloration, or genetics, but this tends to counter my idea about maintaining a tank of species specific to a bio-region and simultaneously promoting aquaculture.

Hmmm ... ;)
 

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We're the only ones that have consistently aquacultured corals for 20 years or more, so I think I'm qualified to talk a little about this. :) On that note. I think that quote from Aquarium Corals is either based on extremely outdated material or it's just outdated itself or based on material written by people without a clue.

I'm here, I just want you guys to figure it out. ;)

Hint: think bacterial filtration. Everything in that closed system is supported by a bacterial filter. Fish, corals, snails, crabs, worms, pods, etc. Aren't bacteria wonderful?
 

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I guess I missed the point?, having fairly recently scratched the bacteria topic a couple weeks back, I thought this was heading down the toxins path?....well after re-reading the initial post I can see several topic are up for discussion :D
 

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:confused:
 

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I think you're taking the quote out of context. This doesn't necessarily imply all coral species will be unable to be identified after 20 years of aquaculture. However, it may suggest that if aquaculture is going to be used as a method of farming and to ease pressure on natural habitats, that our aquaculture methods may need to be better developed. Take a read and tell me what you get out of it.

Jake

Today, of course, all that has changed. The use of new techniques, more-appropriate equipment, and "natural" methods of reef keeping have allowed corals not only to be kept alive for years in home and public aquariums, but to grow, thrive, and even reproduce. Amateur aquarists have succeeded in growing massive colonies of corals in captive conditions--soft corals weighing as much as 24 kg (75 lbs.) and stony corals more than 50 cm (20 in.) in diameter that have to be pruned when they threaten to burst the bounds of their tanks. Many individuals and a growing number of enterprising companies are now successfully propogating both soft and stony corals in captivity. (Thousands of reef aquarium keepers are currently growing colonies of an Acropora species that for all intents and purposes has become a domesticated coral. It was cultivated from a coral imported on a piece of live rock by German aquariast Dietrich Stuber in the early 1980s. Growing rampantly in captivity, its descendants have provided huge numbers of staghorn fragments, which have passed from tank to tank among marine aquarists throughout the world. After 20 years of cultivation, coral biologists are no longer sure what species it is.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
jakeosaur99 said:
that our aquaculture methods may need to be better developed.

Jake
Very close, aquaculture or husbandry not exactly the same to me. That was one of my points though. Not so much that we couldnt keep or shouldn't keep corals but, how we could better keep them? which still remains unanswered ;)

Aside from that there is so much more in that post, have a field day pick it apart ;)

And welcome aboard Jake.
 

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Spanky:
Aquarium Corals : Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History, Eric H. Borneman, First Edition, March 2001
(also, the quote mentioned 20 years since the early 1980's)
I'm guessing taxonomy hasn't changed since 2001.(?)

Mike:
Aquaculture: the cultivation of the natural produce of water, as fish or shellfish
Husbandry: the scientific control and management of a branch of farming and especially of domestic animals
For me, why that question is so hard to answer is that most of us consider this a hobby rather than a profession. The hobby has contributed to the sciences, yet most of us would probably not consider ourselves scientists, even if the hobby is becoming increasingly technical, because we are not very objective and do not consistently follow scientific principles.

My intuition is that hobbyists are advancing in a more informal manner to hammer out solutions collectively to achieve a sort of "common knowledge", whereas the scientist would set out to achive a particular objective emperically with a review of peers. The end result being that as mostly hobbyists, this question is an ongoing process that is never achieved.

To me, your species-specific questions seemed rhetorical, and you seemed concerned mostly with broad principles, yet I didn't capture, with any specifics, what you were driving at. What caught my attention was that I'd had similar thoughts, though more directed. I'd like to see more development of your questions. But, I'm new at marine/reefs, so maybe someone else can jump in and show me the ropes. ;)

Jake
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Jake if you think my questions are open ended you should read Spankys stuff, the guy will drive you to drink ;) It's left open ended deliberately, to invoke thought. Rarely will you see one answer to a question here and more often then not more questions arise then answers.

If you have a more directed set of thoughts please share them.
 

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I think I'm with you now Jake, sorta kinda.

>After 20 years of cultivation, coral biologists are no longer sure what species it is.)<

If my memory serves me, no one knew what that coral was in the first place. 20 years ago. Back then coral taxonomy was based on the way a coral looked and what could be seen with the human eye, magnified or not. It was based on structure.
Now we use, and have been using, different methods to classify corals and find out what they really are.
For example, this is a example of Acropora palmata.



This is Acropora cervicornis



This was thought to be Acropora prolifera.



Even though we've known that A prolifera was a hybrid for over 20 years, you still see new text (even some supposedly scientific) mentioning it as a species still.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ok I'm home from work had some time to read your post a little more in depth and give it some thought. ;) Let's see if we're on the same page.

jakeosaur99 said:


Aquaculture: the cultivation of the natural produce of water, as fish or shellfish
Husbandry: the scientific control and management of a branch of farming and especially of domestic animals
What is it that we do as hobbyists? Which of the above definitions do we fall into? This is a hobby to about 99% of us though there are folks here who enjoy the hobby but also are connected to the hobby as a way they earn their living. Not vendors and the like but scientists and biologists etc, which BTW I am not one. I'm just the putz that drew the short straw on the Think Tank post this week ;)

Now onward! Personally I think those two definitions above are in fact one in the same. In order to be aquacultured one would first have to domesticate whatever it is you wish to raise. Or we could say aquaculture is another way of farming, for example striped bass were farm raised for many years due to pollution in the north east and particularly the Hudson River spawning grounds. Trout are farm raised muscles etc.

Now if we take the definition of husbandry and cut it short, [Husbandry: the scientific control and management of] and add [reef tanks] to the tail end of that sentenance I think we have a closer match to what we do as hobbyists. We care for and tend to the well being of a few selected species in a closed biosphere.

Now my main question was and still remains is what belongs in those biospheres and why?

jakeosaur99 said:

The hobby has contributed to the sciences, yet most of us would probably not consider ourselves scientists, even if the hobby is becoming increasingly technical, because we are not very objective and do not consistently follow scientific principles.
You are selling yourself short here and taking a few things for granted. Simple as it may seem water quality is in fact water chemistry, and that must be consistently followed in order to avoid disaster. You have to follow a very specific formula to get to the correct water parameters. You may have a few points leeway here and there as mother nature thought she needed goof room but it's not much room.
 

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Looks like I have some catching up to do.

First things first. I looked deeper into the archives and now I have a better handle on what to expect in the Think Tank (alluring name, btw,) including the style, topics and personalities. The many friendly digressions I first read misled me into a lack of clarity more than anything else, but now that I see, e.g., Spanky's DSB thread (or Jerel,) and much is revealed. That was incredible, btw.

Unfortunately, if you found me out, then you know I'm a little behind the (learning) curve here. I do like the topics alot, but should probably stick my nose in a couple books along the way before I become too active. I know some of the discussions are topics too current to have much published (e.g., DSB's,) so I'll stick around.

I don't think I'll re-quote that passage anytime soon! Thanks for the background. ;) The author should've qualified that remark. It kind of stuck out for me as not consistent. Hopefully the rest of book will more complete (just got this week.)

Jake if you think my questions are open ended you should read Spankys stuff, the guy will drive you to drink ;)
mkelly: <LOL> It's all good! ;)

mkelly:
Be forewarned, I'm going to contradict some of the things I said, which may appear like I'm unexpectedly switching sides, but actually, I merely accepted some of those ideas based on superior authority, because I could not disprove them and it seemed probable that someone more educated and experienced than myself was correct. But, they did stick out in my mind as inconsistent. Not the best things to repeat, I admit. My apologies.

I see what you mean about the crossover between hobbyist and scientist, and I'd even thought of that, but what prevented me from agreeing is that even with every test kit on the market, I would suspect the vast majority of hobbyists would be likely to make changes to multiple variables simultaneously, whereas the scientiest would be more likely to control variables. I could be wrong! :-D I do see your point (in fact I agree with you to a degree) and I will give it more thought.

What I really agree with you on is the husbandry. Mentally, I incorrectly substituted husbandry and aquaculture, because it was the only way for me to make sense of what I had been reading (that book.) Those definitions are also the reason I specifically mentioned domestication (even thought the book did not,) because it stuck out for me. Mental note to self: do not write things you do not completely agree with in order to convince yourself they're true! Of course, many aquarists make decisions based on aesthetic appeal, which is not in the best interest of the bio-system, and is your premise, so in that regard, hobbyists are sometimes not very good "husbands". No joking! ;)

I know that's at least a 180, and I'm ... fairly humiliated! Hopefully, my self-respect will recover. :eek:

others:
I may need to do a little more digging in the archives to find out more about bacteria and toxins (I had some lingering questions about bacteria recently, so I look forward to uncovering that.)

Now I have more catching up to do!

Jake
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Jake we're all a little behind the curve here bud thats why we're here ;) We learn as we go! Best thing about the Think Tank is it has made me read and research so much that it actually inspired me to go back to school. We don't have the answers when we come in here, least I don't. Spanky does but he's a lot better at this then me. He knows where he's going and forces you to think along the way. So all that being said don't be intimidated don't feel bad just go with it ;)
 

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Mkelly said:
Now my main question was and still remains is what belongs in those biospheres and why?
And an excellent question it is IMO.:)

Now it's obvious we're not going to change our tanks. But my questions to you is how do we have success in closed systems, and do we really have success? Are the corals we keep really thriving, reproducing to their full potential? If not how can that potential be realized?

Right here I think we would run into a major problem if indeed our corals were reproducing as in nature. I have a flower anemone that pumps either sperms or eggs into my system every 3 months or so. My system is 180 gallons with an additional 75 gallons of sump, and within 15 minutes the water is so cloudy I can barely see the back glass of the tank. I had a couple of rock boring urchins, as well as a certain species of snail, who did this once/month.

Now, Is this really what we want going on in our closed systems? If our hard corals were to mass spawn as they do in nature (or if I had a couple more flower anemones, or urchins that all spawned at the same time), I think there is an excellent chance we could loose the whole tank.

On the other hand;) , if the animals we keep aren't reproducing (or trying too), then are we really keeping them in the optimum environment?

If you could do it again would you only keep dedicated tanks: i.e. hards, softs etc? Snails and crabs should these guys even be in the same room?

I think there is some leeway here, but how much depends on the system.

And the biggie, fish do they belong in a closed system at all? To be honest the more I look the more I think NO. NO NO NO!!! Fish need to be fed, need to be fed lots; it's not fair to underfeed a fish because you're concerned about water quality. Fish produce waste, waste turns to chemicals BAD!!! Remember you have a closed system this is not the ocean. Need a reminder go back out like you did in the beginning.

Yes I think they do if the hobbyist can keep their water parameters in check, but this goes for any of the animals we keep. In my system, as some of you are aware, my anemone actually eats more than the fish I keep. This question however also needs to be clarified as to long term vs short term success. As an example, If the hobbyist practices good husbandry and maintenance, and has a DSB, then they can be lulled into thinking that everything is OK even though they have a heavy fish load. When;) the DSB stops functioning after 4 years or so, and they begin to experience a tank crash, can we really say that they had a successful system? In other words, the question of whether fish should be kept in a closed reef system may need to be defined in longevity of the system, or maybe not.

I think it is safe to say however, that no matter what we do, our water quality and turbulence is not going to match the ocean, but does it really need to in order to have a successful system?
Steve
 

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But my questions to you is how do we have success in closed systems, and do we really have success?
I dont think most of the present and past reefers have any succes at all.What is sucess?Keeping corals alive for few years?IMO that is the same like keeping corals alive for few months,no diferents whatsoever.They can live for decades or hundreds of years.For them few years is like few months for human.People still buying corals in the same way how they buy hamsters.How many reefers buy coral and have thought that this animals will be with me most of my live and probably outlive me?Does people when create reef tank have though that this litlle peace of ocean will be with them 30-40 years?Does they have will and patience to keep that animals for such a long period?
I dont think so,probably for 99% of the reefer that is just temporary hobby and room decoration.Untill that thinking change there will be no succes in this hobby because is not needed.

Are the corals we keep really thriving, reproducing to their full potential? If not how can that potential be realized?
IMO most of the corals we keep thrive in our aquariums(most of the corals are not complicated at all,basicaly they are very simple and tolerant animals).Problem is in aquariums,they usually dont last long and very fast go downhill taking inhabitants with them.
Reason why they go downhill fast is because they(aquariums)are not created to last long in first places.

If you could do it again would you only keep dedicated tanks: i.e. hards, softs etc
IMO most of the corals,if not all,can live mixed very well,more I have my aquariums less I beleive in chemical warfare,I mean that chemical war is something what present danger in reef aquarium,I think that is another excuse for bad husbandry,when hard corals die is quite simple to say some sinularia is responsible for that.They acusse caulerpa and soft corals for demise of hard corals but there is tank where all corals and caulerpa live for years together without problem,second loot of hard corals have toxin too,some more stronger then soft corals.Activated carbon is very simple tools for removal of toxins,not big deal .Bigest problem IMO when we keep mixed tank is growth of animals not toxins,some corals simple overgrown another corals very fast.
 

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How many reefers buy coral and have thought that this animals will be with me most of my live and probably outlive me?

Good point Blue, this is why I'm going to rewrite my Will to include you as the owner of my reef tank upon my death:) . Only one stipulation however, you must keep that Miracle Mud away from my tank:D .
Steve
 
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