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Reeftank Log 01/2000

Saturday, January 8, 1999

Im relieved we made it through the New Year without any power outages. I was getting a little bit nervous leading up to the New Year because of the servers Im responsible for at work and my aquariums. I wasnt concerned about any Y2K problems with the software or hardware at home and work. My biggest concern was the power systems. I thought of buying a diesel generator, but they were pretty expensive so I just kept my fingers crossed. I had UPSs on my servers, but they would provide power for 30 minutes at the most. On New Years Eve as I watched TV and saw the Far East and then Europe make it through to the Year 2000, I felt a lot more confident that there would be no problems in the U.S.

New Years came and passed without a problem except for an old email client I was using that kept producing the date 11/11/44 for any new email. Luckily, I had another email program I could use. With the smooth transition into the new year, Im looking forward to the continued growth of the specimens in my tank. Last year was full of firsts for me. It was the first time I set up a sump system and a plenum. It was the first time I tried to keep Xenia, SPS corals and clams. Fortunately, Ive been pretty successful with the new things I tried. I finally set up my 50-gallon tank, but I hope I can set up a 100-gallon+ tank in the future. Before I do that, I definitely have to move into a new house!

With my work and other personal interests, I dont think Ill ever maintain more than the single freshwater plant tank and the three reef tanks I presently have. Luckily, two of my reef tanks are plumbed to the same sump so that maintenance is simplified. I think a key to enjoying ones aquariums is to set up systems that are easy to maintain. If the maintenance schedule of ones aquariums starts becoming a burden, the aquariums will quickly go downhill. Aquariums should also be set up so that they can stand a little laziness on the part of the aquarist. Also, resist overstocking and youll free yourself from a lot of problems.

Thursday, January 13, 2000

I must comment on Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo before it sinks into the nether regions of my mind along with A Night at the Roxbury. Ive always thought Rob Scheider was funny, but I definitely had to go see his latest movie after seeing his job in the movie is a professional fish tank cleaner. There are certain things in the movie that strike home for reeftank owners in the movie that make it a must see, especially if you like laughing at yourself (warning, spoilers ahead):

1. Deuce spends much of time in the movie with a bucket full of cleaning apparatus and a big net. He looks fried and wet and has that crazed look that only aquarists and their significant others know about.

2. Deuce gives a reason (actually, two) why one should buy snails from a LFS rather than through mail order. The funniest part about the sea snail scene for me is that a coworker of mine who also saw the movie always asks how the "sea snails" are doing in the tank I have at work.

3. Deuce uses Fiji bottled water to replenish the water in his aquariums, but without any hesitation, he drinks the gunk coming out of his L.A. faucet.

4. Rushing the setup of an aquarium can be disastrous. When Antoine LeConte taps on the Living Color aquarium that has been hastily repaired, he cracks the glass and floods the living room a second time. The scene where Deuce breaks the Living Color aquarium the first time is the best piece of physical comedy in the movie. I thought the Living Color aquarium in the movie was some joke, but its a real aquarium that one can buy:

One of the film's stars is the custom made Living Color aquarium that Antoine Laconte has in his apartment. Not leaving any detail to chance, Beauchamp Hebb, the set designer, contacted Living Color after seeing their ad in the Robb Report and inquired as to whether they would be interested in designing an aquarium for the film. Living Color is one of the world's premier providers of "museum-quality" architectural aquarium exhibits and themed environments. Having designed aquariums for theme parks such as Walt Disney World, they were excited at the opportunity to work in film, a new medium for them.

Griselda Perez, a spokeswoman for Living Color explains, "The aquarium is a 300 gallon octagon with a state of the art computer controlled LSS (Life Support System) remotely located in a designated filtration room. A distinctive feature is the hand fabricated museum-quality' synthetic coral reef sculpture plantons crafted from a combination of flexible urethanes, epoxies, fiberglass and silicone. All coral plantons are exact replicas of living organisms and constructed using soft durometer polymers that provide movement' in the water for additional realism."

The fish displayed in the aquarium are exotic marine (saltwater) life from all over the world. They represent species found in the Pacific, Indonesia, Philippines, Red Sea, Caribbean and the Atlantic. There are Blue Girdled Angelfish, Orange Spined Unicornfish, Emperor Angelfish, Harlequin Tuskfish, Popeyed Seagoblins, Blue Surgeons, Longhorned Cowfish, Cleaner Wrasse (which take care of any parasites on the fish) and of course, Lionfish. All of the fish were provided by Mark's Tropical Fish and Pet Supplies store in Studio City.


The full production notes on Deuce Bigalow can be found at Yahoo.

I received several species of Xenia, a Green Star Polyp, and two Green Slimer Acropora frags from GARF earlier this week. Everything is doing fine except for the frags that were oozing just like when I received another shipment a few weeks ago. I would like to get a viable Green Slimer Acropora frag some day because they are so vivid under 7100K Power Compact light.

Tuesday, January 18, 2000

Green Slimer frag was white and dead the next day. Fortunately, the multiple Xenia cuttings and Green Star Polyp cutting from GARF are doing great. In my 50-gallon tank, I plan to have a variety of mushrooms in the lower left front of the tank. Xenia species will inhabit the left and middle top of the tank. The right side of the tank will be SPS corals. Polyp extension on the Xenia and SPSs in the tank is good. I noticed that the tricolor SPS thats partly shaded on its left side by the mass of Brown Pulsing Xenia is growing much faster on its unshaded right side. Eventually, Ill have to find a new home for that particular coral because the Xenia on the right will start growing out soon. The length of some of the stalks on the Brown Pulsing Xenia is over six inches! They hang very far down immediately after I turn off the powerheads for maintenance. A good sign is that although the stalks are shorter at night, the Brown Pulsing Xenia polyps are still pulsing in the dark.

The Tridacna crocea clam shifted a little to the left. It has been generating mucous on its bottom, but other than that, it appears to be doing fine. The clam really spread its mantle after I changed the carbon last weekend.

Moved gorgonian from the 29-gallon to the 50-gallon because it was covered with brown algae and there was no polyp extension. Since I moved it to a high current area of the 50-gallon, it has been doing fine.

Last Sunday, I received a beautiful Pom-Pom Xenia from Peter C. The Pom-Pom Xenia pulses quickly, and I put it in the center of the tank in order to show it off. I had to displace two gorgonian stalks and put them in the lower left of the tank in order to make room for the Pom-Pom Xenia.

Epoxied additional Xenia plugs to top middle rock last night. I hope all the Xenia grow as well as the Brown Pulsing Xenia. This type of Xenia is as persistent as Green Star Polyps. I tried to scrape all of it off a rock to make room for different Xenia species, but one month later, I noticed small polyps growing from small pieces of tissue I hadnt completely scraped off.

I think there are three keys to Xenia success:

1. High random water flow: I have my Red Sea Wavemaker cycle through gentle, rolling and turbulent modes. The wavemaker drives two MaxiJet MP900s and one MaxiJet MP1200 in a 50-gallon tank. The gentle mode gives the Xenia some rest while the other two modes help simulate the high energy wave action in a Xenia environment. The water flow helps remove wastes and bring nutrients to the Xenia. All parts of the Xenia are also exposed to the lights.

2. Strong lighting: The Xenia are growing on the topmost rocks in the aquarium. One 6700K 110-watt, one 7100K 110-watt, and one 7100K 55-watt provide the lighting for the 50-gallon tank. I originally only had the two 110-watt lights over the tank and all the specimens were doing fine, but I decided to add a 7100K 55-watt over the front because I love the fluorescent effect it creates with the corals.

3. Optimum water conditions: It appears theres still debate over the addition of iodine for Xenia. Weekly, I add a tablespoon (15 ml) each of Reef Evolution Iodine, Reef Evolution Strontium and Reef Evolution Trace Elements to my 50-gallon tank and 29-gallon refugium that share the same sump, and my Xenia have been growing and spreading at a high rate. I have NNR and live rock filtration in both tanks and macroalgae in the refugium. I think Xenia are like SPS corals. Some may survive in less than optimum water conditions, but the better the water quality (I love such subjective descriptions), the better the health and growth of your Xenia and SPSs.

Ive started to grow cuttings of Xenia for sale in the Bay Area. The corals available for sale are at
Baycoral.com. Im going to focus on Xenia first because people are always emailing me about the ones in the 50-gallon tank. Im going to start with the Brown Pulsing Xenia that grow like weeds, but I hope to soon offer more types of Xenia. Im personally enthralled by the varying shapes, colors and textures of the different Xenia species. The rhythmic pulsing motion of the polyps is hypnotic and unique. These are the reasons Im so strongly drawn to Xenia, and I hope other hobbyists also share my feelings. Im going to offer Xenia to local hobbyists because there are certain large or delicate species that may not ship well. A local pickup instead of an overnight shipment with its risks would help increase the survival rate of a Xenia purchase.

Im using a 20-gallon growout tank at work with a 29-gallon sump. One 6700K 55-watt power compact light and two 20-watt Triton lights sit above the coral propagation tank. A 20-watt Vita-Lite sits above the Caulerpa racemosa growing on the Cercona rocks in the sump. The sump return and two MaxiJet 900s controlled by a Red Sea Wavemaker control the water flow in the 20-gallon tank. A CPR SR2 protein skimmer sits in the sump. A Blue Devil and a Cleaner Shrimp are in the 20-gallon tank to add some color. I may move the Blue Devil since it likes to dig.

Sunday, January 23, 2000

Im so sad. For some reason, all the Brown Pulsing Xenia I had in my coral propagation tank crashed. Last Thursday, I put a lot of them out of their misery before they completely disintegrated by scraping the darkened, shriveled Xenia off their plugs. Crashing Xenia can be pretty disgusting. A vile, smelly fluid oozed out of the crashing Xenia as I took them out of the tank. The leaking fluid reminds me of the Ebola bleedouts in The Hot Zone by Richard Preston and my roommates dog that I found one morning with its GI system liquefied in a pool around its carcass - a victim of parvovirus. When multicellular animals start oozing fluid because of death or sickness, it becomes apparent that were mostly made up of sacks of water that can quickly lose their structure and shape and dissolve into a mess...

Im not sure exactly what caused the crash, but thankfully, all the Xenia I have back home are doing fine. The button polyps, Green Star polyps, Cleaner shrimp and hermit crabs in the coral propagation tank appear to be doing fine - it was only the Xenia that had problems. Im going to grow Green Star Polyp cuttings in the coral propagation tank for two weeks. Then Im going to try to put one Brown Pulsing Xenia cutting in and see what happens. I added enough Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand and Aragamax Oolitic Select to the coral propagation tank to cover the bottom with 3.5 to 4 inches of substrate. I want to see how effective a live sand bed is without any plenum. Without any fish and only one Cleaner shrimp and a few small hermit crabs, I hope the detritivore population will be undisturbed.

I brought the Blue Devil home on Friday, and it dug and spit out some sand in the first few minutes, but since then, it has been a non-digger.

In addition to the Caulerpa racemosa, I put some of the wiry red algae thats been growing in the far right rock in the 50-gallon into the 29-gallon sump at work. I hope the red algae grows and provides extra living space for detritivores in the refugium.

Monday, January 24, 2000

I looked at the undersides of some of the live rock in the 50-gallon and noticed a few areas of white sponge growth. One area is pretty impressive since it covers a few square inches inside the cave on the right of the tank. The sponges are a positive sign to me that theres small particles of food to filter in the tank - a benefit not only for the sponges, but also for the corals.

Ive been setting my alarm at 6:00 am in order to get in a morning bike ride or run. On the days I dont work out, the extra time in the morning gives me time to perform a water change. I like doing this since it frees up my time on the weekends.

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