From Reefbuilders

Those corals are at the northern point of Lambumbu Harbor on the Northwest (leeward) coast of Malakula in Vanuatu. This photo was taken by Chris Maupin during daytime spring low tide which occurs during Austral winter.

In an effort to make Jake’s head explode, I like to write about all the mistakes I make with my home reef system. Even though they may seem embarrassing, everyone makes bone head mistakes, and I think we all learn by hearing about others mistakes. Pretending they didn’t happen helps gives us a false sense of security, so here is how my day started at 5:15 am.

After dreaming about Chris Maupin’s photo above of corals exposed at low tide, I woke up to get ready for work, went downstairs and something sounded wrong in the area of the tank. With a sinking feeling I took a look and the water level in the tank was about a third lower than it should be – meaning the top 6 inches of my reef, a whole lot of coral, was exposed to air just like in the photo above. Ran under the house to check the sump and it was half empty. Ran back upstairs and looked behind the tank, stepped in water, and started flipping switches so the pumps that were running dry could have a break. Turns out I had left the valve that fills my experimental auto feeder open and the tank drained overnight. What a nice thing to wake up to three days before a two week vacation. At least it happened at night when the lights were off and the fans weren’t running.

I have written a lot about being prepared for disaster, and luckily I take my own advice to heart.  I went back under the house, flipped a switch and delicious, mixed, heated and aerated salt water from the 200 gallon reservoir I always keep filled started filling up the system. Within ten minutes I had circulation restored and began cleaning up. I didn’t have much water to clean up because, as planned,  it all went down the piping hole in the floor into the crawlspace under the house. I turned on all my circulation to blow the mucus off the corals that had been exposed. Most of the corals looked no worse for the wear, but we’ll see about the Seriatopora and Archohelia when I get home tonight (I expect them to be beaten but will recover). I even made it to work almost on time.

Moral of the story, corals are amazing and can do well for a while even when exposed to air, planning for the worst makes your life easier, add an emergency overflow drain into your autofeeder (if it fills with via a pump),  and know that mistakes will always happen (mine seem to happen about every two years).

From Reefbuilders

Metasepia pfefferi is an amazing species of flamboyant cuttlefish and I have recently had the opportunity to obtain multiple specimens of this species for the first time in 8 years. These flamboyant cuttlefish wasted little time getting on with mating, and with a little luck we’ll get to observe egg laying – and with a lot of luck egg hatching. I am incredibly excited about this video – you can see the males hectocotylus near the end of the vid! Currently, the Steinhart Aquarium has one Flamboyant on display and several more ‘off show’ for a breeding attempt. Before people rush out and try to obtain these guys, please remember that like all adult cuttles, they ship poorly. What does that actually mean? 80-100% DOA or DAA for animals that retail in the 300 to 600 dollar range. Furthermore, since they have a short lifespan (12 months or so) getting adults means that your time with them is going to be to short.

Metasepia are astonishing little animals found primarily in muck habitats. These vast, rolling underwater plains of settled silt and mud appear desolate at first glance, but are in fact populated by an unexpectedly large number of strange animals including frogfish, ghost pipefish and a stunning array of nudibranchs. Fitting right in with these odd neighbors, the Flamboyant Cuttle  is normally a master of camouflage blending in completely while walking along the grey substrate. When startled, however, those previously subdued colors change to bright purples, reds, yellows and whites. The colors shine out in coruscating patterns along the animal’s body probably to indicate the animals toxicity. The idea of keeping the more exotic cephs has generated much discussion in cephalopod circles, mostly because the size and health of their wild populations is unknown (and, at least in areas collected the populations seem to suffer). Even the sharing of information, photos or video of these animals in captivity can be controversial as some fear that detailed information and attractive photos and video may encourage inexperienced saltwater aquarists to obtain specimens and encourage over-collection, perhaps impacting the ability of wild populations to recover.

Personally, I believe that the admiration of a species can be of benefit to its preservation in the wild rather than its detriment.  My hope is that the open sharing of information empowers aquarists to make sound, rational decisions regarding the advisability of keeping and not keeping these animals. In other words, keeping Metasepia is not something that should be entered into on a whim and even experienced cephalopod keepers with mature tanks should think long and hard before trying to obtain this species. Their needs are resource intensive, expensive, and not yet fully understood, so at this point in our understanding of these animals getting one just because ’its cool’ seems to be a disservice to these incredible creatures. Hopefully, captive bred Flamboyants will be available, but until then enjoy the video.

From Reebfuilders

 

Cuttles cuttles cuttles. You probobly know the drill, but there is some great footage in this KQED Quest piece.

 

 

 

 

 

From Reefbuilders

Most reefers have a ton of tools laying around to manipulate corals, make frags and retrieve lost items from the bottom of the tank. Tweezers, hemostats and clippers have become an important part of reefkeeping. Annoyingly, they are often kept out of reach, or worse, rested on top of the tank where they can rust or worse – bumped into the tank breaking corals on their trip to the sand. A magnetic tool holder is a cheap and easy way to avoid these issues. The can be installed out of the way in the canopy or in the stand, keeping reefing tools secure and out of the way. I put one of these magnetic strips above my tank years ago and its one of the best things I ever did. You can even slap a small metal wire basket to the magnetic strip for storage of odds and ends like superglue and algae scrapers. There are a variety of magnetic tool holders available – click here for the one pictured at right.Keep your metal reef tools handy and out of the way

 

From Reefbuilders

This deep reef tanks rock wall is on the left side of the tank, making it feel like the wall extends upwards and like there is more water space than there actually is

Reef Aquarium ‘Rock walls’ have gotten a bad rap over the past , as Adam Blundell recently pointed out. This reputation is not necessarily undeserved as there are plenty of rock walls that are unappealing, flow stopping, detritus collecting piles of ugh. Quickly stacking rock against the back wall of a tank is not something we advocate or enjoy looking at. However, with a tiny bit of thought and effort, its not all that hard to make unique and interesting looking rock wall reef aquarium. Continue reading to learn more about two creative reef rock walls on display at the California Academy of Sciences.

 

The reef rock walls were constructed the same way in both tanks – a bottom plate and back wall of fiber grate onto which rock is affixed with underwater epoxy and cable ties. The fiber grate armature prevents the rock structure from touching the walls of the aquarium, allowing water to move around and under the wall. Instead of filling up the back wall of the tank, these tanks use the empty space on the back wall to create a feeling of depth and openness. In the case of Matt Wandell’s ‘Deep Reef’ tank pictured above, the rock wall is on the left side of the tank, instead of the back wall. This allows for good, fast vertical flow against the rock wall that not only brings food the non photosynthetic corals, but gets the anthias all swimming in a very natural vertical orientation.

The Rhinopias exhibit is one of mine, and the rock wall is in one of the back corners of the tank. This tank has intermittent high flow to help the SPS thrive, but also has ‘eddy’ spots to allow the display fish spots to hang out. The point is that rock walls are not bad things in and of themselves. If you are willing to spend a little time planning the build instead of just stacking rock, you can make a rock wall, well, rock.

 

This rock wall is in the back left corner of the tank giving a visual focal point.