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Are You Too Close To The Sun, Wind, and Rain?

Being a Conscientious Aquarist, Part Deux

By Laurie Smith

In Part I of this article, I told you that there are two integral parts to being a great hobbyist versus just a good hobbyist. In part one, we discussed forethought where tank inhabitants are concerned- both with research prior to the purchase, and preplanning that gets you the best return for your money with livestock, all the while ensuring that natural resources are impacted in the least amount possible. In part two, we will discuss preplanning again, as well as a shot of self confidence gleaned from species specific research. This article will hopefully encourage you to reassess the equipment you think you need, in light of what your tank really needs for optimum growth, color, and the pursuit of reef happiness…

Imagine with me for a moment, that Tim Allen is a deity for some out of the way universe, chronicling his successes and failures with the human race. He knows that the best light there is out there comes from the sun, and not the moon or stars. And in the best Tool Time tradition, he gets his humans an AWESOME sun, with lots of live rock orbiting it. Shoot, he even has dead rock orbiting some of the live rock to be seeded! As he stands back and surveys his handiwork, he must place us somewhere… Of course! If the sun is so wonderful, and he worked on it so hard to make it happen, than logically the best place for us is on Mars, right? <grin>

While all of us like cool gadgets and toys, the truth is that gadgets and toys only 1.) Make it easier for us to justify skipping personally performing tank maintenance, 2.) Impress other reefers with our awesome tank equipment in place of awesome tank inhabitants, or 3.) Make us feel more confident that we have bought the best  that there is, so we won’t kill a bunch of poor little guys off again. Sound familiar? Yeah, and if I am honest with myself, I’ve done the same here and there. Did it ever really pay off? Nope… and here’s why: None of the aforementioned 3 reasons has anything to do with preplanning or the actual tank inhabitants whose needs I am trying to meet. The ONLY way to get optimum growth out of a coral or coloration from a fish is to design your tank around their researched needs, and then only house those other animals in the tank that have the SAME exact needs as the first one did. In addition to this, they must also be willing to live in proximity to each other. For example, two stony corals with a no competition zone (NCZ) around them will fight for real estate even though they have the same basic needs being met, if placed too close together.

Ok, Tim, so you still think more power is better? I once told my husband I liked the feeling of the wind in my hair- it made me happy, which made him happy. Now, that same equation doesn’t work out after a certain amount of knots (ok, yes, you caught me, I’m a punster). Put me in a new convertible Saleen Mustang with the top down and no hat, and my long hair is immediately in knots and life is… well, not so happy and I am in need of detangler and a hairbrush! A woman with shorter hair would have done fine and probably would have told him to gas it. Now, consider a 125 gallon tank with 4 Tunze stream pumps going full blast. Are they great pumps? Assuredly. Will they impress your reefer buddies? Most likely, unless they got them first!  Are they the best way to create flow in your tank? Maybe- if you have the right corals in the tank. Have the wrong corals in the tank when you turn them on, and all you will see is shredded flying coral pieces and a sandstorm to rival anything you saw in Hidalgo at the theatres. Oh, and you can forget the hairbrush- I’ve never seen it work on Xenia

Lights and skimmers follow the same pattern as flow. Remember the sun at the beginning of the article? Metal Halide lights are awesome lights, yes. But for some corals and tank animals, it’s like being on Mars. In their natural habitat, the depth of the water as well as natural environmental shading from other corals and rocks help them thrive. Light in different areas of the spectrum only penetrates so far into the water, some colors deeper than others. So, if a coral is harvested from deep water, then it makes no sense to perch it near the top of the water- something akin to a human sunbathing with only mineral oil on versus SPF 30 sun block and no umbrella at high noon.

In this same vein of thought, some corals and plants really love dirty, shallow water. Is a Deltec skimmer awesome? Assuredly. Will it help some corals thrive? Oh, yeah- I have one. Does it make my macroalgae die if I run it everyday? Yep- there are no nutrients left for the macro to live on. Properly built refugiums that employ water-scrubbing algaes and other organisms are awesome for cleaning the water of disadvantageous substances, naturally… and all it will cost you is a Rubbermaid tub, macro algae bummed off a friend, a low-tech light, small pump, and some sand. Did I mention that this is what I use on my other tank? One cost me about $35, the other more than $600. Results? Both tanks run well, though sometimes I have to turn the skimmer off to make the macro happy. Plus, the little refugium gives me a place to ‘time out’ little tank hoodlums. Priceless, in my opinion!

In conclusion, I have to tell you that in order to be a great hobbyist, you really need that shot of self confidence from your research. You have to know the ins and outs of the needs of the corals, fish, and invertebrates you are trying to take care of. And that is no easy task: It means that you must preplan your tank, and then stick to that plan. Don’t let people turn you from your research because “So and so thinks”, or “It worked for that guy”. I also like to consider the source… The internet is a great way to get information, but the discussion boards are full of "instant experts" who will proffer advice without adjusting for your particular circumstances or even knowing that their advice id dependant on one particular set of circumstances.

Do what you know it right, from the right sources… is a great place to start. See that search button? It’s waiting for you. Good luck!

Reef Systems on WWM

An Introduction to Reef Systems: What is a Reef : Aquarium, Filtration, Lighting, Livestock... & FAQs,

   Reef System Set-Up, Reef Ramblings, A Philosophy of Sorts, on All Things Reef by Tim Hayes, Being Conscientious Save money and the reefs By Jennifer Smith,& FAQs, FAQs 2FAQs 3FAQs 4FAQs 5FAQs 6, FAQs on: Reef Tank Setups, Reef Setups 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Set-Up 6, Reef Set-Up 7, Reef Systems 3, Reef Systems 4, Reef Systems 5, Reef Substrates, Reef LightingReef Lighting 2Lighting Marine Inverts 1, Lighting Marine Inverts 2, Lighting Marine Inverts 3, Lighting Marine Inverts 4, Metal Halides for 40-200 gal. Systems, MH for  Filtration, Reef Filtration 2, & Reef LivestockingReef Livestocking 2, Reef Livestocking 3, Reef Livestocking 4, Reef Livestocking 5, Reef Feeding, Reef Disease, Reef Maintenance, Reef Maintenance FAQs 2, FAQs 3FAQs 4FAQs 5FAQs 6FAQs 7FAQs 8FAQs 9FAQs 10FAQs 11, FAQs 12, FAQs13, FAQs 14, FAQs 15, Reef Op. 16, Reef Op. 17, Reef Op. 18,

    The ZEOvit System: A New Concept in Reefkeeping by Alexander Girz,

  Small Marine Systems, Nano Reef Systems by Adam Jackson, Tom Walsh's Small Reefs, Related FAQs: Small Marine Systems 1, Small Marine Systems 2, Small Marine Systems 3Small Marine Systems 4, Small Marine Systems 5, Small Marine Systems 6, Small Marine Systems 7, Small Tanks, Small System Lighting, Small Marine System Lighting 2, Metal Halides for Small Systems, Small System Filtration, Skimmers for Small Systems, Small System Stocking, Small Marine System Livestocking 2, Small Marine System Stocking 3, Small Marine Stocking 4, Small System Maintenance, Maintaining Small Systems 2, Maintaining Small Systems 3, Small System Disease, Tom Walsh Systems,       


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