Tips

Discussion in 'User-Created Articles' started by jhnrb, Oct 7, 2005.

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  1. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    Salt Mixes

    Not all Salt Mixes Contain the Same lLevel of Minerals.

    If your tests show monderately low readings of calcium and carbonates, one avenue open to you is to use a salt containing higher levels of calcium and carbonate. Some salts may be considered fish salts, having lower levels, while other salts will have enhanced levels of these minerals and can be thought of as reef salts. A change of salt may well keep you running over for some time, but it is probably just delaying the moment until a supplement is needed.
     
    jhnrb, Jan 30, 2006
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  2. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    Trace Elements/vitamins

    Do I Need to use any Other Form of Supplementation and are Vitamin Supplements Necessary.

    Many reefkeepers add supplementary trace elements, such as iodine, strontium and magnesium, along with vitamins. On the whole this is neither necessary nor appropriate. In a general reef aquarium, where water changes are performed regularly, trace element additions are probably not requried. Vitamins should be present in the food you feed to your animals. There is not much point in adding them to the water. If you feed a varied diet, save your money to use on good quality salt for those regular water changes, instead of adding products of questionable value.
     
    jhnrb, Jan 30, 2006
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  3. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    Miracle products

    Don't Expect miracles from aquarium products.

    There are no miracle products that will atuomatically give you a perfect reef with healthy corals growing out of the tank. There are no miracle products that will exclude or eradicate all species of pest altae. Finding the cause of the problem and eradicating the cause is the most effective way for long term success.
     
    jhnrb, Feb 7, 2006
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    jhnrb

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    Iodine

    Should I add iodine to my reef aquarium?

    The dosing of iodine is somewhat controversal. There is conflicting scientific evidence as far as both these minor elements are concerned--and interpretations of the evidence also differ. With regard to iodine, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence to support its addition. If you want to add it do so with food so that it can be utilized directly by the animals. Do not exceed natural seawater levels of iodine--about 0.24 mg per gallon (0.06 mg/L).
     
    jhnrb, Feb 7, 2006
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    Strontium

    Benefit from adding strontium.

    Strontium is probably best ignored as it is incredibly difficult to get any sort of meaningful result from the test kits available to aquarists. Unless you are an advanced aquarist, the corals you are keeping are unlikely to benefit from supplementation. One often repeated axiom of reef keeping is that if you can't measure it with a test kit, then don't add it.
     
    jhnrb, Feb 7, 2006
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    Magnesium

    Check magnesium levels before supplementing them.

    Often magnesium additions only seem to be needed if inappropriate methods of adding calcium and carbonates are being employed. But, if something does not seem right in the tank and all other parameters check out, it would be worth checking magnesium levels and then supplementing them if required.
     
    jhnrb, Feb 7, 2006
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  7. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    link to cutting hole in glass

    This link posted by other member but thought it deserved to be also posted here.
    If you want to cut a hole in your aquarium make sure the glass is not tempered and check out this link. http://ozreef.org/content/view/165/29/
     
    jhnrb, Feb 15, 2006
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  8. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    More Tips Part-1

    Tips and Recommendations for your Reef

    Part I

    During the Macna IX conference I had the opportunity to talk to just about every speakers, most exhibitors and a great number of hobbyists.

    Here are some tips and recommendations that may indicated trends to come, or techniques you may wish to apply to your aquariums.

    Add Kalkwasser at night, using the drip method. This tends to give you a more stable pH with fewer fluctuations and if you have any, they will be much smaller. Do not add KW in large batches at one time. This can cause chemical reactions between the KW and the components of the dKH and result in the precipitation of calcium carbonate (a white powder).

    In the worst of all cases a calcium fall-out will or can occur, where the entire tank covers itself with a microscopic thin layer of calcium carbonate. If this happens to your tank you have a serious problem as this layer is really hard to remove, and coats everything in the aquarium.

    Usually you will need razor blades just to get it off the glass or acrylic. It will coat the inside of hoses, pumps and so on. Be real careful. This coating is so hard to remove that I know of hobbyists who had to take their tank down and clean all parts including their pumps and hoses and anything else installed with very acidified water just to get rid of the calcium coating. Avoid it. Be careful. Do not add clacium hydroxide powder directly to your tank. This is the real dangerous way of adding KW and is the one that most often leads to a calcium fall out.

    Calcium fall out is more likely to occur when you have a combination of a high dKH and add large amounts of KW all at once. Not only will the tank be cloudy but the ensuing mess is something you do not want to have to deal with. Drip KW and be safe.

    By adding the KW at night, you are also adding the KW when the Carbon dioxide levels in the tank are at their highest. This reduces them and prevents the low morning pH syndrome that you may otherwise experience or have experienced. The KW will neutralize most of the carbon dioxide and the end result will be that the pH of your tank will level off and not swing as much. Remember that you are trying to keep the pH at a morning low of 8.2 and a high of 8.4 to 8.6 in the evening.

    If due to the high calcium demand in your tank the addition of KW, whether in clear or milky solution, is not allowing you to keep the Calcium levels you wish, you may need to consider the use of another calcium additive in addition to KW, or instead of Kalkwasser. Recently, several two-part additives have come on the market that allow you to maintain both a high alkalinity and a high calcium level. This tends to promote coralline algae growth but increase the calcium demand even further.

    Carefully follow the instructions that come with these additives as they have to be added in a certain fashion. Read teh instructions several times if needed so you understand how to deal with them. Note also that these two part additives will raise the specific gravity. Keep an eye on it. You should aim for a salinity of 35 to 36 ppt (parts per thousand). Salinity is not temperature dependent so it is an easier way to monitor whether your tank is running at the right level.

    If you wish to improve on your filtration you may wish to try brown algal turf scrubbers. Check the article on our web site by John Walch on Algal Turf and how to get it started. The article is in the SW Library. Do a "find" for Turf or scroll through the various sections. These units are typically operated on a reverse photosynthesis cycle as explained in the article. You will need a "see" patch of brown turf and this can be ordered from The Aquatic Wildlife Company at (423) 559 9000. Algal scrubbers with green micro-algae are not what you want. They are not nearly as effective as the ones with the brown turf algae. You can set them up with or without dump buckets.

    You can also use green macro algae in the tank to filter the water. The preferred alga is Caulerpa prolifera. Make sure you have plenty and that you feed it algal nutrients so it does not die off. Several such products are on the market. Again you will need a seed batch of this alga. Caulerpa prolifera is much easier to get though than brown turf algae. You do not need a massive amount either. Just a few blades that are in good health and look nice and green and have no visible damage will do.
    Your LPS may have some available or you can order them from companies such as Tampa Bay SW, GARF or The AWC. Make sure you get the C. prolifera variety, the one with a non serrated wide and tall blade. This alga grows easily if you feed it with a macro-algae nutrient, that should contain iron. If the alga start to become to widespread you can take some out of the tank and either use it to make food out of and blend it with other food stuff items (see article in the SW Library by Sanjay Joshi on making your own food) or you can give them away or sell them back to your LPS.

    A new lighting source called Fusion Light is on the horizon. Right now it is still too expensive for hobbyists to implement but Julian Sprung who mentioned it feels that the prices will come down. This light is higher in PAR than MH lights and does not loose its spectrum and one bulb replaces about 4 of the 250 watt MH bulbs. Keep on eye out for this new device. Right now little information is available and the unit is real expensive. It is something to keep an eye out for.

    Overskimming may have its drawbacks according to several authors I spoke too, including Dana Riddle, Noel Currey, John Walch, Helmut Debelius and others. More experiments are being undertaken to confirm this premise. If you use a real strong skimmers you may wish to increase the amount of additives you supplement your tank with, to ensure that all the nutrients, including iodine, are always present. By compensating in this manner you are reintroducing the needed nutrients and elements that may have been removed by skimming too forcefully. Usually this is done by using 150 to 200 percent of the recommended dose of the complete additive you are using.

    (CONT)
     
    jhnrb, Feb 24, 2006
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  9. jhnrb

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    Part-1 (cont)

    The use of excessive amounts of carbon may lead to RTN (rapid tissue necrosis) or White Band Disease. When using carbon use smaller amounts and use them intermittently. Run a batch for a few hours and remove it. That should take care of improving your water quality. Remember that carbon will quickly remove iodine from the system. Note that after you have used carbon for such a short amount of time it is not spent. You can spread it out in a thin layer and let it dry and use it again. Before doing so the next time, rinse it with purified water first to remove any residual dirt or detritus.

    The whole issue of RTN in SPS corals is still not quite understood except that lack of light and lack of water motion do promote its appearance. The exact causative agent though is not known yet. RTN and other coral disease are actually bacterial in nature for the most part. This is a secondary step in the process. What allows the bacteria (often Vibrio sp. is blamed) to actually destroy coral tissue is what is not quite clear yet.

    Note that RTN is most prevalent in SPS type corals and not so much in LPS type corals although they, too, can be infected with bacterial diseases. Brown Jelley is one of the more common ones (check the article in the disease section of the SW Library of the web site on this disease and check the one in the Netclub library as well).

    Keep lots of free space between the live rock to promote vigorous water motion. Corals placed too close together inhibit water motion and water movement over the coral tissue and polyps. Good water motion allows the sloughing off of slime and detritus from the corals you have. This is especially important with SPS corals but applies to LPS corals too. Goniopora is a good example of the latter. Removing slime and detritus that may accumulate on the corals or between their tentacles prevents decay, which may lead to disease and tissue necrosis.

    SPS corals grow rapidly. This prevents light from reaching corals that are lower or suddenly shielded from the light source. This can lead to disease. Trim and frag (fragment) your SPS corals regularly so that this cannot happen. More and more speakers and authors are stressing the need for very high circulation and water motion within the tank. Figures of up to 20 times the tank content per hour where mentioned several times. This requires good pumps on one hand, and it also requires that you clean your pumps more regularly to prevent a slow down in their output.

    Do not overpopulate the tank. This inhibits water motion in all areas of the aquarium. Julian suggested that the amount of rock used nowadays is far higher than what people should use. This is kind of a shift in thinking as a while back just about every author recommended large amounts of live rock. Mind you, if you are keeping LPS corals you do not really need to lower the amount of rock that much if at all. All you need to do is ensure that water flow is strong and reaches all areas of the tank and that dead spots are avoided. Powerhead pumps and irregular flow of water will achieve this.

    Use live sand and use a coarser grade (as suggesed for instance in my article in the NetClub Library). Reduce the amount of rock and increase the amount of live sand. Make sure it is "live" and has plenty of worms and so on in it. If you have not read the Live Sand Update article recently, you may wish to do so. I use a mixture of 50 % live sand, 25 % crushed coral and 25 % crushed shells and place it directly on the bottom of the tank. Thickness is from 2 to 3 inches. No plenum lately although I have obviously used them in the past.

    Use Reef Janitors and use them at the rate of 1 per 2 to 2.5 gallons. Watch their growth. Get small ones to begin with and replace them or place them elsewhere when they get larger ( the sump is a good spot ). If you do the latter you will need to feed them. You can use red legged or blue legged ones. The key is to get real small ones and when they get larger and show signs of becoming aggressive, remove them. I have tried hermmits from many different suppliers and keep going back to the ones from GARF. I seem to have better success with those.

    A few Atrea Snails in the tank are desirable. 1 per 5 gallons is IMO enough.

    Pay real close attention to how you position the animals in the tank to avoid nettling and stinging. Watch for those corals that have sweeper tentacles. Place them far enough apart so no stinging can occur during the night especially. You will rarely see sweeper tentacles during the day so you will need to look at what is happening in your tank at night. Use a red light or a flashlight covered with red acetate to see what is going on. Corals do not react to red light so you get a chance to really see what is happening in your tank and what creatures may be present that you were not aware of.

    Since SPS corals grow rapidly, leave plenty of space between the frags to allow for growth without inhibiting light and water motion. Watch growth rates and frag them when they get too large or start restricting lighting for what is underneath, cutting down on water current, or stinging adjacent corals. You can place the frags in your own tank, using epoxy to hold them down, or you can sell them to a pet store or other hobbyist. Use the reefkeeping mailing list if you wish to advertise what you have for sale.

    Since many corals need nutrients in the water, do not overskim and do not use mechanical filtration. Overskimming and mechanical filtration remove valualbe food stuff from the water.

    It is not a bad idea to add live plankton to your tank from time to time to ensure that enough food is available. In this respect, the higher the temperature you run your tank at the more you will need to feed, as higher temperatures promote higher rates of metabolism. You can grwo such plankton yourself or you can order it from several companies that advertise in hobby magazines. I get mine from AWC now. Excellent quality.

    When a problem occurs in the tank, deal with it immediately. Don't put it off or you may end up with more damage than you expected. In addition, the longer you wait the more difficult it may be to solve the problem. Not only may it become more difficult to deal with that one problem, but others may start as a result. This is the so-called downward spiral effect: when one thing goes wrong and you do not deal with it, more will go wrong and solving the problem becomes more and more difficult.

    Keep Nitrates (total nitrates) real low. The recommendation is now to keep the level below 5 ppm total or lower if possible. I have always been in favor of keeping nitrates real low and am happy to see that other authors are starting to recommend the same.

    Acclimate your animals to both the water quality of your tank and to the lighting conditions over your aquarium. The SW library of our web site http://www.athiel.com contains several articles that you can read that will give you more information on how to do so. Read those articles if you have not done so yet and read the one in the Netclub Library as well. Also read the articles by Dana Riddle in the SW Library of the web site. All are helpful and provide some additional insights.

    CONT. TO PART-2
     
    jhnrb, Feb 24, 2006
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  10. jhnrb

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    Part-2

    Tips and Recommendations for your Reef Tank

    Part II

    Here are some tips and recommendations that may indicated trends to come, or techniques you may wish to apply to your aquariums.

    I have listed them below one after the other. If you have any questions about them feel free to Email Me

    If one or more of your SPS corals show signs of RTN, or White Band Disease as it is called by coral researchers, it is best to immediately deal with the situation. Cut about half an inch above the infected area with nips and remove the healthy parts. Discard the affected portions. Use epoxy or some other means to put the frags you have collected back in the tank, but first dip them in an iodine solution to remove whatever bacteria may be present on them.

    The non-affected frags will grow back and become healthy specimens again.

    An important fact to realize is that if RTN starts in your tank, you need to take a careful look at water currents and motion and at lighting. Maybe the water motion is not high enough. It is recommended to increase it to 20-25 times the content of your tank per hour. This may require additional pumps to achieve. Powerheads can do so but you may wish to submerse a stronger pump such as one of the Eheim types in an inconspicuous spot.

    Look at lighting too. Maybe it is not reaching all the corals. To learn more about lighting you should read the articles in the S/W Library of our web site, under the heading lighting. I had several interviews with Dana Riddle who has been doing research on PAR (photosynthecially active radiation) and he recommends how one can deal with ensuring how to get enough light in your aquarium for both LPS and SPS corals. Current and water motion are important to remove detritus and mucus from corals, but light is very important too.

    Bathing/dipping frags: Recommendations on how strong to make the iodine bath vary but 10 drops per gallon of saltwater used is generally accepted and dip for 3 to 5 minutes. Some authors suggest dipping for even longer. Add iodine to the tank as well. Double your normal dose to deal with bacteria in the tank itself. Because the iodines supplements sold differ so much (from 2 % solutions to 10 %) you may need to adjust for that concentration. The recommendation above is for the 10 percent one. TAD sells such an iodine supplement.

    If this happened to you you will need to take a real good look at your lighting and water circulation. Does it reach all corals, even the lower parts of it and is the water circulation strong enough to keep your corals clean of debris and detritus and especially mucus (as bacteria collect easily in the mucus). Enough water circulation will ensure that the large amount of mucus produced by corals, especially SPS ones, will be removed. Mucus loads itself with bacteria and that could account for the onset of rapid tissue necrosis or white band disease as it is now called in the scientific community.

    If you see diatoms grow on the skeleton of corals (LPS) you have too much silicate in the water and encrusting diatoms are the result. These grow upwards and can and will in many cases harm your corals by pushing the polyp out of their way resulting in the polyp tissue detaching from the coral skeleton. You need to intervene to remedy this by lowering the silicates in your tank to below 0.5 ppm. Tissue that recedes on corals is often the beginning of more serious problems that lead to the loss of specimens. Do not let it happen. Keep you silicate levels low and deal with encrusting diatoms immediately before they do any damage.

    You can use green macro algae in the tank to filter the water. The preferred alga is _Caulerpa prolifera_. Make sure you have plenty of growth and that you feed it algal nutrients so it does not die off. This algae grows upright and the broad leaves rise towards the surface. Several such products are on the market. There are two methods to do this: place the algae directly in your aquarium, or in a separate tank through which your tank water circulates. In the latter case the algae are placed in some sort of mud, the exact composition of which is not know. Mike Paletta referred to this and wrote and article about the topic and stated that he would set up such a tank. I looked up the supposed patent that existed on this mud and there is in fact none. The key though is to find out what the mud is made up of. Mike thinks it is plain sediment from around reefs but he is experimenting more to determine what exaclty it is. At this stage we do not know for sure what the mud is made up of. Richard from Tampa Bay Saltwater thinks it is the sediment that collects at the bottom of live rock holding vats and sells that mud. You can order it by the pound. Click on the Tampa Bay SW Banner on our site to link up to theirs and order if you wish to do so.

    "Coarser" layers of substrate can be obtained or made up by using a mixture of 50 % live sand, 25 % crushed coral and 25 % crushed shells. This material does not pack as much as the plain live sand, and can safely be used without a plenum. Note that you will still need sand stirrers though. These can be ordered from companies such as Tampa Bay Saltwater, GARF, and The Aquatic Wildlife Company. Recommendations were given already as to how many you should place in your tank.

    Mike suggested that since Colt Coral releases toxins a good place to put them is near the overflow so the toxins are removed from the tank and end up going through your skimmer. He did not elaborate on this much and I have seen many tanks with Cladiella all over the tank without ill effects to other corals. Keep it in mind though as a tip should you notice that other corals in your tank are not doing well, you have Colt coral, and cannot seem to find any other reason for your corals to look drab.

    In small aquariums you cannot place large fish, or fish that grow to large sizes, as this will create a problem both in terms of load and territorial behavior and possibly aggressiveness. Stick with small fish only. There are plenty to choose from.

    (CONT)
     
    jhnrb, Feb 24, 2006
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  11. jhnrb

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    Part-2 (cont)

    With less water motion in the tank the temperature has a tendency to rise. This increases the amount of undesirable bacteria and can lead to diseased corals, especially SPS types. If you wish to lower the temperature of your tank because it rises too high (>84 degrees F.) you can use blue icepacks. These can be obtained from many places usually your local large supermarket. Of course if the high temperature is a constant problem you may need to consider the addition of a chiller. Most people, in my experience, do not need chillers though.

    For the past 18 months or so I have been very actively engaged in fragging LPS corals and propagating them in that fashion. Although this is not difficult to do, I have found that it requires practice and that one needs to see exactly how it is done. The method used differs from coral to coral but propagation by breaking the skeleton is now a viable option for LPS corals. Much of this is covered in my new book. Propagating them is not difficult now that I have refined the techniques. One article in the Netclub library describes how you can do so with Elegance coral. Note that you should not try that method with other corals as the techniques differ, depending on what coral you are dealing with.

    Use the purest water you can get to add to the tank or to use for KW additions or for any other mixture you prepare that ends up in the tank. Whatever pollution you do "not" put in the tank will "not" have to be removed later. Use some device to polish the water source you are relying on. If necessary use compounds to remove silicates. You may wish to read the articles on dealing with silicates and diatoms in the main SW Library of our web site if you have not already done so.

    Keep the live rock off the sand if you can. This may prevent the build up of detritus and eventual production of hydrogen sulfide which harms corals and may lead to disease and losses. Clean all the rock you add to your tank thoroughly. Whatever you remove before adding the rock will not die off in the tank and will not pollute your water.

    If you set up a so-called algal scrubber make sure you use brown turf algae only. There is an article on our web site on brown turf and where to obtain it. It was written by John Walch who has been working with this method for over 10 years.

    Read and read and read more. Understanding how fish and corals interact is important to the success of your tank. The more you know about the animals you own, or those you plan to buy, the more your chances of success are enhanced. Over the last few years more and more books on reef aquariums have appeared on the market so your choice is wide. I cannot stress this point enough especially since with all the new coral diseases that are being diagnosed, the importation of corals may become even more restrictive than it already is.

    Measure salinity as opposed to specific gravity. The former is not temperature dependent whereas the latter is. Aim for 35 to 36 ppt. Although we are used to measure with simple devices and measure the specific gravity, depending on the temperature, we could actually be far off the real salinity around the reefs of 35 ppt. I suggest you look into trying to measure ppt rather than s.g. Alternatively raise you s.g. to 1.026 and you will probably be closer to 35 ppt than you are now. Both Martin Moe's and S. Spotte's books have conversion charts that show how much salinity in ppt a specific gravity is equal to at a certain temperature. Adjust your s.g. to match what it should be to correspond to 35 ppt or even 36 ppt.

    Identification of corals in an aquarium (especially SPS ones) is very difficult because corals that have a particular shape in nature may look different in an aquarium due to the lighting and water motion changes that exist in our tanks, and due to the water chemistry that is totally different than the one around the natural reefs. This may make a coral that looks bushy and branched looked totally different in a tank, and vice versa. You can usually identify it when you first receive it because your supplier sends you what you ordered. After growth occurs though the shape of the coral may no longer correspond to what it should traditionally look like. It is, therefore, a good idea to keep a log of what is placed where in the tank so you can keep track of what you really have, even if the shape changes.

    Rapid Tissue Necrosis or White Band Disease spreads from one coral to another. If you notice it in your tank you must intervene immediately to prevent the spreading and the loss of more corals. Chech the other Macna update articles for more details. As indicated there one of the main problems you run into is usually a lack of enough water motion which leaves dirt, detritus and mucus on the corals (LPS and SPS). Make sure you increase currents make them multi directional not just laminar (one direction - one layer).

    Always be on the look out for predators in your tank, whether it be snails, worms, nudibranchs, or anything else that is parasitic. If you see anything suspicious get a second opinion to determine whether it should be removed from the tank.

    Hydroids are a pest and multiply rapidly. They can be siphoned out of the tank. At this stage it is not quite kown what actually eats them according to G. Schiemer. They should, however, be removed or they will overgrow the tank.

    Ensure very high water turnovers within the aquarium. Greg suggests 16 to 20 times the volume of the tank per hour and states that on his tanks the turnover is definitely in the 20x range. This will keep the tank cleaner and the water quality higher but also prevent disease in many a case.

    Testing is the only way to know whether your tank's water meets the generally recommended water quality parameters. Equip yourself with the needed tests if you have not already done so. Remember too that the chemicals used to make these tests age and that tests are not chemically active any longer if they get too old, if the bottles are left open, if powders used have absorbed moisture and are caked, and so on. Make sure that they are giving you accurate results or you will not be able to gauge whether the water quality in your tank is correct.

    CONT. TO PART-3
     
    jhnrb, Feb 24, 2006
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  12. jhnrb

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    Part-3

    More Tips and Recommendations

    Although you may think that corals with bright colors are healthy and doing well, this is not necessarily the case. Many corals, especially SPS ones, do not loose their color even if they are diseased. Sponges are notorious too for keeping their colors for a long time after they are actually dead and rotting away on the inside and polluting your water at the same time. Only careful observation and growth are signs that the coral is doing fine. You cannot make assumptions about what goes on in your tank. You either test and ascertain that all is ok or you carefully observe an animal and make sure it is healthy.

    Change the lighting conditions on your tank too rapidly and exposing the corals to it is not a good idea at all. You may end up with the bleaching phenomenon or the loss of zooxanthellae. When changing light or lighting conditions (or replacing bulbs) allow the corals to gradually adapt to the new intensity and spectrum and photosynthetically active radiation or photosynthetically useful radiation as some call it (PAR and PUR). Note that bleaching can occur both as a result of too much light too soon or not enough light for too long.

    Rapid growth is a definite sign of good health. This is especially so with SPS corals but also with LPS ones. LPS corals do not grow as fast as SPS ones though. Stimulating growth in LPS corals is done by running your tank at a higher temperature (say 80 F) and feeding them frequently and running real high intensity lighting (10 or more watts per gallon with the usual caution that if you increase the intensity you need to do so slowly. Note that watts/gallon is not a good measurement but one that is easy to understand. If you were to measure how much light the corals actually receive from this strong intensity you would find that it is probably only moderately above the recommended levels of 400 microEinsteins especially if the corals are not near the surface.

    The main reasons for stress that corals experience are: shipping and being "banged" around in bags, water quality that deteriorates during shipping, temperatures above 84 degrees Fahrenheit, going from the dark period of shipping to the very intense lighting exposure in the tank too rapidly.

    RTN, or rapid tissue necrosis (white band disease) can be treated as follows: prepare a mixture using saltwater at normal parameters and dose it to 15-20 mg/L of Chloramphenicol. After 24 hours perform a 100 percent water change and add medication again at the same dose and leave the coral in that water for another 24 hours. Aerate the vat or tank of course. You may find that it is not that easy to obtain Chloramphenicol as it has been taken off the market for human treatment. Veterinarians still have access to it though, and certain European and Asian countries do not have the same restrictions on it as the US does. Explain to your Vet. what exactly you are going to do with it, or he or she may not be willing to prescribe it for you.

    If you experience water quality that is out of the normal parameters in several areas it is usually much easier to bring the water back to where it needs to be be quality wise by performing large consecutive water changes, every day, until the parameters are back to normal. Note that when you change large amounts of water it needs to be tested carefully so it meets the generally accepted water quality parameters itself. The SW Library of our web site has articles on this subject and so does the NetClub Library.

    To prepare a saturated solution of KW use treated water (RO or DI), make sure it does not contain PO4 and/or SiO2 and then add 2 to 2.5 teaspoons of calcium hydroxide. Shield it from the outside air somewhat. Do not use aerators on this mixture as this introduces CO2 which will desaturate the KW. Saturated KW has a pH of over 12. After you prepare KW you may be left with powder on the bottom of the container. It used to be accepted that you could make more KW using this residue. It has since been found that it is difficult to make a saturated solution using only the residue. Often you will need to add more calcium hydroxide. The residue contains calcium carbonate as well (this is formed as a result of the reaction between carbon dioxide and KW).

    Corals grow as a result of photosynthesis (at least many do) and feeding or uptake of foodstuff from the water. As they grow the amount of food needed increases. You are indeed now dealing with a larger coral. Keep this in mind when you feed. More or larger corals means that more food stuff will be needed.

    The higher the temperature of your tank, the higher the rate of metabolism, the more foodstuff will be necessary for the corals.

    Patience is a virtue you must culture when running reef tanks. There are no instant reefs. Gradually build up the load. This will avoid lots of problems. Before you add other animals make sure that all water quality parameters are in line and that no disease is present in the aquarium. The last thing you want to do is add lifeforms if the tank conditions are not optimized.

    Not all hermit crabs are diurnal. Some are nocturnal so you if you think that some of the ones you have are not "eating" away at your algae, you may actually have the type that feeds at night.

    All reefs are full of very small single cell animals called Foraminifera. These are housed within a chitin and calcareous shell. Some are easy to recognize: the white spiral-like small ones usually found on pieces of live rock.

    When new corals arrive at your house, and you remove them from the container in which they came, the stress from transportation has probably resulted in a large amount of mucus being produced. This should be removed by cleaning the coral in some tank water, outside the tank. Move the coral around in that water with some degree of force in the swirling or other motion you use so the mucus detaches.

    Water that is removed from a tank should never be added back to the tank. Hobbyists often ask this question: after I siphon out water to get rid of detritus on rocks and sand, can I filter the water and then add it back to the aquarium. The answer is an unqualified NO.

    Keeping an open mind for new techniques and new approaches is a requisite to success. If you remain stuck in the paradigm you are now in you will not be making progress. Be willing to look at alternatives and to adopt new methods. What worked for you for years may still be fine but there may just be a better way to do so. With an open mind approach you will be able to accept this fact. If you remain stuck in your belief systems (paradigms) you will not.

    Quarantining fish and corals is starting to be seen as more important than in the past. mainly because of the many new diseases that seem to have appeared around natural reefs. Consider setting up a quarantine or hospital tank and treat fish and corals there before addding them to your aquarium.

    This has probably been pointed out to you before but still hobbyists believe that some angels and some butterfly fish can safely be added to reef tanks. They cannot. Even the Pigmy angels can be a problem. Not all may harass your corals at first but, as they age, they become more inquisitive and may cause corals to remain closed while they "inspect" them to determine whether they are actually food material. I personally do not recommend them for reef tanks.

    Brown turf algae can be found on rocks off the coastal areas of the Atlantic. Alternatively you can order it from companies that use algal scrubbers in their systems. A common turf algae is Ectocarpus sp. (E. breviarticulatus, E. subcorymbosus and so on). Turf scrubbers need to be trimmed back from time to time or they will start to trap food particles and detritus.

    Organisms and lifeforms that use light as an energy source are called autotrophic. If they cannot do so they are called heterotrophic. Autotrophs are primary producers and Heterotrophs are consumers.

    Six line wrasse remain small and eat bristle worms. They are also totally reef safe. Many hobbyists use them to control these unwanted pests. They are easy to obtain and not expensive.

    END.
     
    jhnrb, Feb 24, 2006
    #92
  13. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    Tips And Recommendations

    Tips and Recommendations for your Reef

    Part I

    During the Macna IX conference I had the opportunity to talk to just about every speakers, most exhibitors and a great number of hobbyists.

    Here are some tips and recommendations gleaned that may indicated trends to come, or techniques you may wish to apply to your aquariums. Some should be taken into account immediately. I have added many personal ones to these two documents (of which this is part I).

    -Add Kalkwasser at night, using the drip method. This tends to give you a more stable pH with fewer fluctuations and if you have any, they will be much smaller. Do not add KW in large batches at one time. This can cause chemical reactions between the KW and the components of the dKH and result in the precipitation of calcium carbonate (a white powder).

    -In the worst of all cases a calcium fall-out will or can occur, where the entire tank covers itself with a microscopic thin layer of calcium carbonate. If this happens to your tank you have a serious problem as this layer is really hard to remove, and coats everything in the aquarium.

    -Usually you will need razor blades just to get it off the glass or acrylic. It will coat the inside of hoses, pumps and so on. Be real careful. This coating is so hard to remove that I know of hobbyists who had to take their tank down and clean all parts including their pumps and hoses and anything else installed with very acidified water just to get rid of the calcium coating. Avoid it. Be careful. Do not add clacium hydroxide powder directly to your tank. This is the real dangerous way of adding KW and is the one that most often leads to a calcium fall out.

    -Calcium fall out is more likely to occur when you have a combination of a high dKH and add large amounts of KW all at once. Not only will the tank be cloudy but the ensuing mess is something you do not want to have to deal with. Drip KW and be safe.

    -By adding the KW at night, you are also adding the KW when the Carbon dioxide levels in the tank are at their highest. This reduces them and prevents the low morning pH syndrome that you may otherwise experience or have experienced. The KW will neutralize most of the carbon dioxide and the end result will be that the pH of your tank will level off and not swing as much. Remember that you are trying to keep the pH at a morning low of 8.2 and a high of 8.4 to 8.6 in the evening.

    -If due to the high calcium demand in your tank the addition of KW, whether in clear or milky solution, is not allowing you to keep the Calcium levels you wish, you may need to consider the use of another calcium additive in addition to KW, or instead of Kalkwasser. Recently, several two-part additives have come on the market that allow you to maintain both a high alkalinity and a high calcium level. This tends to promote coralline algae growth but increase the calcium demand even further.

    -Carefully follow the instructions that come with these additives as they have to be added in a certain fashion. Read teh instructions several times if needed so you understand how to deal with them. Note also that these two part additives will raise the specific gravity. Keep an eye on it. You should aim for a salinity of 35 to 36 ppt (parts per thousand). Salinity is not temperature dependent so it is an easier way to monitor whether your tank is running at the right level.

    -f you wish to improve on your filtration you may wish to try brown algal turf scrubbers. Check the article on our web site by John Walch on Algal Turf and how to get it started. The article is in the SW Library. Do a "find" for Turf or scroll through the various sections. These units are typically operated on a reverse photosynthesis cycle as explained in the article. You will need a "see" patch of brown turf and this can be ordered from The Aquatic Wildlife Company at (423) 559 9000. Algal scrubbers with green micro-algae are not what you want. They are not nearly as effective as the ones with the brown turf algae. You can set them up with or without dump buckets.

    -You can also use green macro algae in the tank to filter the water. The preferred alga is Caulerpa prolifera. Make sure you have plenty and that you feed it algal nutrients so it does not die off. Several such products are on the market. Again you will need a seed batch of this alga. Caulerpa prolifera is much easier to get though than brown turf algae. You do not need a massive amount either. Just a few blades that are in good health and look nice and green and have no visible damage will do. Your LPS may have some available or you can order them from companies such as Tampa Bay SW, GARF or The AWC. Make sure you get the C. prolifera variety, the one with a non serrated wide and tall blade. This alga grows easily if you feed it with a macro-algae nutrient, that should contain iron. If the alga start to become to widespread you can take some out of the tank and either use it to make food out of and blend it with other food stuff items (see article in the SW Library by Sanjay Joshi on making your own food) or you can give them away or sell them back to your LPS.

    -A new lighting source called Fusion Light is on the horizon. Right now it is still too expensive for hobbyists to implement but Julian Sprung who mentioned it feels that the prices will come down. This light is higher in PAR than MH lights and does not loose its spectrum and one bulb replaces about 4 of the 250 watt MH bulbs. Keep on eye out for this new device. Right now little information is available and the unit is real expensive. It is something to keep an eye out for.

    (CONT)
     
    jhnrb, Apr 7, 2006
    #93
  14. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    Part-1 (cont)

    -Overskimming may have its drawbacks according to several authors I spoke too, including Dana Riddle, Noel Currey, John Walch, Helmut Debelius and others. More experiments are being undertaken to confirm this premise. If you use a real strong skimmers you may wish to increase the amount of additives you supplement your tank with, to ensure that all the nutrients, including iodine, are always present. By compensating in this manner you are reintroducing the needed nutrients and elements that may have been removed by skimming too forcefully. Usually this is done by using 150 to 200 percent of the recommended dose of the complete additive you are using.

    -The use of excessive amounts of carbon may lead to RTN (rapid tissue necrosis) or White Band Disease. When using carbon use smaller amounts and use them intermittently. Run a batch for a few hours and remove it. That should take care of improving your water quality. Remember that carbon will quickly remove iodine from the system. Note that after you have used carbon for such a short amount of time it is not spent. You can spread it out in a thin layer and let it dry and use it again. Before doing so the next time, rinse it with purified water first to remove any residual dirt or detritus.

    -The whole issue of RTN in SPS corals is still not quite understood except that lack of light and lack of water motion do promote its appearance. The exact causative agent though is not known yet. RTN and other coral disease are actually bacterial in nature for the most part. This is a secondary step in the process. What allows the bacteria (often Vibrio sp. is blamed) to actually destroy coral tissue is what is not quite clear yet.

    -Note that RTN is most prevalent in SPS type corals and not so much in LPS type corals although they, too, can be infected with bacterial diseases. Brown Jelley is one of the more common ones (check the article in the disease section of the SW Library of the web site on this disease and check the one in the Netclub library as well).

    -Keep lots of free space between the live rock to promote vigorous water motion. Corals placed too close together inhibit water motion and water movement over the coral tissue and polyps. Good water motion allows the sloughing off of slime and detritus from the corals you have. This is especially important with SPS corals but applies to LPS corals too. Goniopora is a good example of the latter. Removing slime and detritus that may accumulate on the corals or between their tentacles prevents decay, which may lead to disease and tissue necrosis.

    -SPS corals grow rapidly. This prevents light from reaching corals that are lower or suddenly shielded from the light source. This can lead to disease. Trim and frag (fragment) your SPS corals regularly so that this cannot happen. More and more speakers and authors are stressing the need for very high circulation and water motion within the tank. Figures of up to 20 times the tank content per hour where mentioned several times. This requires good pumps on one hand, and it also requires that you clean your pumps more regularly to prevent a slow down in their output.

    -Do not overpopulate the tank. This inhibits water motion in all areas of the aquarium. Julian suggested that the amount of rock used nowadays is far higher than what people should use. This is kind of a shift in thinking as a while back just about every author recommended large amounts of live rock. Mind you, if you are keeping LPS corals you do not really need to lower the amount of rock that much if at all. All you need to do is ensure that water flow is strong and reaches all areas of the tank and that dead spots are avoided. Powerhead pumps and irregular flow of water will achieve this.

    -Use live sand and use a coarser grade (as suggesed for instance in my article in the NetClub Library). Reduce the amount of rock and increase the amount of live sand. Make sure it is "live" and has plenty of worms and so on in it. If you have not read the Live Sand Update article recently, you may wish to do so. I use a mixture of 50 % live sand, 25 % crushed coral and 25 % crushed shells and place it directly on the bottom of the tank. Thickness is from 2 to 3 inches. No plenum lately although I have obviously used them in the past.

    -Use Reef Janitors and use them at the rate of 1 per 2 to 2.5 gallons. Watch their growth. Get small ones to begin with and replace them or place them elsewhere when they get larger ( the sump is a good spot ). If you do the latter you will need to feed them. You can use red legged or blue legged ones. The key is to get real small ones and when they get larger and show signs of becoming aggressive, remove them. I have tried hermmits from many different suppliers and keep going back to the ones from GARF. I seem to have better success with those.

    -A few Atrea Snails in the tank are desirable. 1 per 5 gallons is IMO enough.

    -Pay real close attention to how you position the animals in the tank to avoid nettling and stinging. Watch for those corals that have sweeper tentacles. Place them far enough apart so no stinging can occur during the night especially. You will rarely see sweeper tentacles during the day so you will need to look at what is happening in your tank at night. Use a red light or a flashlight covered with red acetate to see what is going on. Corals do not react to red light so you get a chance to really see what is happening in your tank and what creatures may be present that you were not aware of.

    -Since SPS corals grow rapidly, leave plenty of space between the frags to allow for growth without inhibiting light and water motion. Watch growth rates and frag them when they get too large or start restricting lighting for what is underneath, cutting down on water current, or stinging adjacent corals. You can place the frags in your own tank, using epoxy to hold them down, or you can sell them to a pet store or other hobbyist.

    -Since many corals need nutrients in the water, do not overskim and do not use mechanical filtration. Overskimming and mechanical filtration remove valualbe food stuff from the water.

    -It is not a bad idea to add live plankton to your tank from time to time to ensure that enough food is available. In this respect, the higher the temperature you run your tank at the more you will need to feed, as higher temperatures promote higher rates of metabolism. You can grow such plankton yourself or you can order it from several companies that advertise in hobby magazines.

    -When a problem occurs in the tank, deal with it immediately. Don't put it off or you may end up with more damage than you expected. In addition, the longer you wait the more difficult it may be to solve the problem. Not only may it become more difficult to deal with that one problem, but others may start as a result. This is the so-called downward spiral effect: when one thing goes wrong and you do not deal with it, more will go wrong and solving the problem becomes more and more difficult.

    -Keep Nitrates (total nitrates) real low. The recommendation is now to keep the level below 5 ppm total or lower if possible. I have always been in favor of keeping nitrates real low and am happy to see that other authors are starting to recommend the same.

    -Acclimate your animals to both the water quality of your tank and to the lighting conditions over your aquarium.

    EXCERTS FROM FULL ARTICLE

    (CONT TO PART-2)
    Posted jhnrb
     
    jhnrb, Apr 7, 2006
    #94
  15. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    Tips And Recommendations Part-2

    Tips and Recommendations for your Reef Tank

    EXCERTS FROM FULL ARTICLE

    Part II

    -If one or more of your SPS corals show signs of RTN, or White Band Disease as it is called by coral researchers, it is best to immediately deal with the situation. Cut about half an inch above the infected area with nips and remove the healthy parts. Discard the affected portions. Use epoxy or some other means to put the frags you have collected back in the tank, but first dip them in an iodine solution to remove whatever bacteria may be present on them.

    -The non-affected frags will grow back and become healthy specimens again.

    -An important fact to realize is that if RTN starts in your tank, you need to take a careful look at water currents and motion and at lighting. Maybe the water motion is not high enough. It is recommended to increase it to 20-25 times the content of your tank per hour. This may require additional pumps to achieve. Powerheads can do so but you may wish to submerse a stronger pump such as one of the Eheim types in an inconspicuous spot.

    -Look at lighting too. Maybe it is not reaching all the corals. To learn more about lighting you should read the articles in the S/W Library of our web site, under the heading lighting. I had several interviews with Dana Riddle who has been doing research on PAR (photosynthecially active radiation) and he recommends how one can deal with ensuring how to get enough light in your aquarium for both LPS and SPS corals. Current and water motion are important to remove detritus and mucus from corals, but light is very important too.

    -Bathing/dipping frags: Recommendations on how strong to make the iodine bath vary but 10 drops per gallon of saltwater used is generally accepted and dip for 3 to 5 minutes. Some authors suggest dipping for even longer. Add iodine to the tank as well. Double your normal dose to deal with bacteria in the tank itself. Because the iodines supplements sold differ so much (from 2 % solutions to 10 %) you may need to adjust for that concentration. The recommendation above is for the 10 percent one. TAD sells such an iodine supplement.

    -If this happened to you you will need to take a real good look at your lighting and water circulation. Does it reach all corals, even the lower parts of it and is the water circulation strong enough to keep your corals clean of debris and detritus and especially mucus (as bacteria collect easily in the mucus). Enough water circulation will ensure that the large amount of mucus produced by corals, especially SPS ones, will be removed. Mucus loads itself with bacteria and that could account for the onset of rapid tissue necrosis or white band disease as it is now called in the scientific community.

    -If you see diatoms grow on the skeleton of corals (LPS) you have too much silicate in the water and encrusting diatoms are the result. These grow upwards and can and will in many cases harm your corals by pushing the polyp out of their way resulting in the polyp tissue detaching from the coral skeleton. You need to intervene to remedy this by lowering the silicates in your tank to below 0.5 ppm. Tissue that recedes on corals is often the beginning of more serious problems that lead to the loss of specimens. Do not let it happen. Keep you silicate levels low and deal with encrusting diatoms immediately before they do any damage.

    -You can use green macro algae in the tank to filter the water. The preferred alga is _Caulerpa prolifera_. Make sure you have plenty of growth and that you feed it algal nutrients so it does not die off. This algae grows upright and the broad leaves rise towards the surface. Several such products are on the market. There are two methods to do this: place the algae directly in your aquarium, or in a separate tank through which your tank water circulates. In the latter case the algae are placed in some sort of mud, the exact composition of which is not know. Mike Paletta referred to this and wrote and article about the topic and stated that he would set up such a tank. I looked up the supposed patent that existed on this mud and there is in fact none. The key though is to find out what the mud is made up of. Mike thinks it is plain sediment from around reefs but he is experimenting more to determine what exaclty it is. At this stage we do not know for sure what the mud is made up of. Richard from Tampa Bay Saltwater thinks it is the sediment that collects at the bottom of live rock holding vats and sells that mud. You can order it by the pound. Click on the Tampa Bay SW Banner on our site to link up to theirs and order if you wish to do so.

    -"Coarser" layers of substrate can be obtained or made up by using a mixture of 50 % live sand, 25 % crushed coral and 25 % crushed shells. This material does not pack as much as the plain live sand, and can safely be used without a plenum. Note that you will still need sand stirrers though. These can be ordered from companies such as Tampa Bay Saltwater, GARF, and The Aquatic Wildlife Company. Recommendations were given already as to how many you should place in your tank.

    -Mike suggested that since Colt Coral releases toxins a good place to put them is near the overflow so the toxins are removed from the tank and end up going through your skimmer. He did not elaborate on this much and I have seen many tanks with Cladiella all over the tank without ill effects to other corals. Keep it in mind though as a tip should you notice that other corals in your tank are not doing well, you have Colt coral, and cannot seem to find any other reason for your corals to look drab.

    (CONT)
     
    jhnrb, Apr 7, 2006
    #95
  16. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    Part-2 (cont)

    -In small aquariums you cannot place large fish, or fish that grow to large sizes, as this will create a problem both in terms of load and territorial behavior and possibly aggressiveness. Stick with small fish only. There are plenty to choose from.

    -With less water motion in the tank the temperature has a tendency to rise. This increases the amount of undesirable bacteria and can lead to diseased corals, especially SPS types. If you wish to lower the temperature of your tank because it rises too high (>84 degrees F.) you can use blue icepacks. These can be obtained from many places usually your local large supermarket. Of course if the high temperature is a constant problem you may need to consider the addition of a chiller. Most people, in my experience, do not need chillers though.

    -For the past 18 months or so I have been very actively engaged in fragging LPS corals and propagating them in that fashion. Although this is not difficult to do, I have found that it requires practice and that one needs to see exactly how it is done. The method used differs from coral to coral but propagation by breaking the skeleton is now a viable option for LPS corals. Much of this is covered in my new book. Propagating them is not difficult now that I have refined the techniques. One article in the Netclub library describes how you can do so with Elegance coral. Note that you should not try that method with other corals as the techniques differ, depending on what coral you are dealing with.

    -Use the purest water you can get to add to the tank or to use for KW additions or for any other mixture you prepare that ends up in the tank. Whatever pollution you do "not" put in the tank will "not" have to be removed later. Use some device to polish the water source you are relying on. If necessary use compounds to remove silicates. You may wish to read the articles on dealing with silicates and diatoms in the main SW Library of our web site if you have not already done so.

    -Keep the live rock off the sand if you can. This may prevent the build up of detritus and eventual production of hydrogen sulfide which harms corals and may lead to disease and losses. Clean all the rock you add to your tank thoroughly. Whatever you remove before adding the rock will not die off in the tank and will not pollute your water.

    -If you set up a so-called algal scrubber make sure you use brown turf algae only. There is an article on our web site on brown turf and where to obtain it. It was written by John Walch who has been working with this method for over 10 years.

    -Read and read and read more. Understanding how fish and corals interact is important to the success of your tank. The more you know about the animals you own, or those you plan to buy, the more your chances of success are enhanced. Over the last few years more and more books on reef aquariums have appeared on the market so your choice is wide. I cannot stress this point enough especially since with all the new coral diseases that are being diagnosed, the importation of corals may become even more restrictive than it already is.

    -Measure salinity as opposed to specific gravity. The former is not temperature dependent whereas the latter is. Aim for 35 to 36 ppt. Although we are used to measure with simple devices and measure the specific gravity, depending on the temperature, we could actually be far off the real salinity around the reefs of 35 ppt. I suggest you look into trying to measure ppt rather than s.g. Alternatively raise you s.g. to 1.026 and you will probably be closer to 35 ppt than you are now. Both Martin Moe's and S. Spotte's books have conversion charts that show how much salinity in ppt a specific gravity is equal to at a certain temperature. Adjust your s.g. to match what it should be to correspond to 35 ppt or even 36 ppt.

    -Identification of corals in an aquarium (especially SPS ones) is very difficult because corals that have a particular shape in nature may look different in an aquarium due to the lighting and water motion changes that exist in our tanks, and due to the water chemistry that is totally different than the one around the natural reefs. This may make a coral that looks bushy and branched looked totally different in a tank, and vice versa. You can usually identify it when you first receive it because your supplier sends you what you ordered. After growth occurs though the shape of the coral may no longer correspond to what it should traditionally look like. It is, therefore, a good idea to keep a log of what is placed where in the tank so you can keep track of what you really have, even if the shape changes.

    -Rapid Tissue Necrosis or White Band Disease spreads from one coral to another. If you notice it in your tank you must intervene immediately to prevent the spreading and the loss of more corals. Chech the other Macna update articles for more details. As indicated there one of the main problems you run into is usually a lack of enough water motion which leaves dirt, detritus and mucus on the corals (LPS and SPS). Make sure you increase currents make them multi directional not just laminar (one direction - one layer).

    -Always be on the look out for predators in your tank, whether it be snails, worms, nudibranchs, or anything else that is parasitic. If you see anything suspicious get a second opinion to determine whether it should be removed from the tank.

    -Hydroids are a pest and multiply rapidly. They can be siphoned out of the tank. At this stage it is not quite kown what actually eats them according to G. Schiemer. They should, however, be removed or they will overgrow the tank.

    -Ensure very high water turnovers within the aquarium. Greg suggests 16 to 20 times the volume of the tank per hour and states that on his tanks the turnover is definitely in the 20x range. This will keep the tank cleaner and the water quality higher but also prevent disease in many a case.

    -Testing is the only way to know whether your tank's water meets the generally recommended water quality parameters. Equip yourself with the needed tests if you have not already done so. Remember too that the chemicals used to make these tests age and that tests are not chemically active any longer if they get too old, if the bottles are left open, if powders used have absorbed moisture and are caked, and so on. Make sure that they are giving you accurate results or you will not be able to gauge whether the water quality in your tank is correct.

    (CONT TO PART-3)
     
    jhnrb, Apr 7, 2006
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  17. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    More Tips and Recommendations

    EXCERTS FROM THE FULL ARTICLE

    -Although you may think that corals with bright colors are healthy and doing well, this is not necessarily the case. Many corals, especially SPS ones, do not loose their color even if they are diseased. Sponges are notorious too for keeping their colors for a long time after they are actually dead and rotting away on the inside and polluting your water at the same time. Only careful observation and growth are signs that the coral is doing fine. You cannot make assumptions about what goes on in your tank. You either test and ascertain that all is ok or you carefully observe an animal and make sure it is healthy.

    -Change the lighting conditions on your tank too rapidly and exposing the corals to it is not a good idea at all. You may end up with the bleaching phenomenon or the loss of zooxanthellae. When changing light or lighting conditions (or replacing bulbs) allow the corals to gradually adapt to the new intensity and spectrum and photosynthetically active radiation or photosynthetically useful radiation as some call it (PAR and PUR). Note that bleaching can occur both as a result of too much light too soon or not enough light for too long.

    -Rapid growth is a definite sign of good health. This is especially so with SPS corals but also with LPS ones. LPS corals do not grow as fast as SPS ones though. Stimulating growth in LPS corals is done by running your tank at a higher temperature (say 80 F) and feeding them frequently and running real high intensity lighting (10 or more watts per gallon with the usual caution that if you increase the intensity you need to do so slowly. Note that watts/gallon is not a good measurement but one that is easy to understand. If you were to measure how much light the corals actually receive from this strong intensity you would find that it is probably only moderately above the recommended levels of 400 microEinsteins especially if the corals are not near the surface.

    -The main reasons for stress that corals experience are: shipping and being "banged" around in bags, water quality that deteriorates during shipping, temperatures above 84 degrees Fahrenheit, going from the dark period of shipping to the very intense lighting exposure in the tank too rapidly.

    -RTN, or rapid tissue necrosis (white band disease) can be treated as follows: prepare a mixture using saltwater at normal parameters and dose it to 15-20 mg/L of Chloramphenicol. After 24 hours perform a 100 percent water change and add medication again at the same dose and leave the coral in that water for another 24 hours. Aerate the vat or tank of course. You may find that it is not that easy to obtain Chloramphenicol as it has been taken off the market for human treatment. Veterinarians still have access to it though, and certain European and Asian countries do not have the same restrictions on it as the US does. Explain to your Vet. what exactly you are going to do with it, or he or she may not be willing to prescribe it for you.

    -If you experience water quality that is out of the normal parameters in several areas it is usually much easier to bring the water back to where it needs to be be quality wise by performing large consecutive water changes, every day, until the parameters are back to normal. Note that when you change large amounts of water it needs to be tested carefully so it meets the generally accepted water quality parameters itself. The SW Library of our web site has articles on this subject and so does the NetClub Library.

    -To prepare a saturated solution of KW use treated water (RO or DI), make sure it does not contain PO4 and/or SiO2 and then add 2 to 2.5 teaspoons of calcium hydroxide. Shield it from the outside air somewhat. Do not use aerators on this mixture as this introduces CO2 which will desaturate the KW. Saturated KW has a pH of over 12. After you prepare KW you may be left with powder on the bottom of the container. It used to be accepted that you could make more KW using this residue. It has since been found that it is difficult to make a saturated solution using only the residue. Often you will need to add more calcium hydroxide. The residue contains calcium carbonate as well (this is formed as a result of the reaction between carbon dioxide and KW).

    -Corals grow as a result of photosynthesis (at least many do) and feeding or uptake of foodstuff from the water. As they grow the amount of food needed increases. You are indeed now dealing with a larger coral. Keep this in mind when you feed. More or larger corals means that more food stuff will be needed.

    -The higher the temperature of your tank, the higher the rate of metabolism, the more foodstuff will be necessary for the corals.

    -Patience is a virtue you must culture when running reef tanks. There are no instant reefs. Gradually build up the load. This will avoid lots of problems. Before you add other animals make sure that all water quality parameters are in line and that no disease is present in the aquarium. The last thing you want to do is add lifeforms if the tank conditions are not optimized.

    -Not all hermit crabs are diurnal. Some are nocturnal so you if you think that some of the ones you have are not "eating" away at your algae, you may actually have the type that feeds at night.

    -All reefs are full of very small single cell animals called Foraminifera. These are housed within a chitin and calcareous shell. Some are easy to recognize: the white spiral-like small ones usually found on pieces of live rock.

    -When new corals arrive at your house, and you remove them from the container in which they came, the stress from transportation has probably resulted in a large amount of mucus being produced. This should be removed by cleaning the coral in some tank water, outside the tank. Move the coral around in that water with some degree of force in the swirling or other motion you use so the mucus detaches.

    -Water that is removed from a tank should never be added back to the tank. Hobbyists often ask this question: after I siphon out water to get rid of detritus on rocks and sand, can I filter the water and then add it back to the aquarium. The answer is an unqualified NO.

    -Keeping an open mind for new techniques and new approaches is a requisite to success. If you remain stuck in the paradigm you are now in you will not be making progress. Be willing to look at alternatives and to adopt new methods. What worked for you for years may still be fine but there may just be a better way to do so. With an open mind approach you will be able to accept this fact. If you remain stuck in your belief systems (paradigms) you will not.

    -Quarantining fish and corals is starting to be seen as more important than in the past. mainly because of the many new diseases that seem to have appeared around natural reefs. Consider setting up a quarantine or hospital tank and treat fish and corals there before addding them to your aquarium.

    -This has probably been pointed out to you before but still hobbyists believe that some angels and some butterfly fish can safely be added to reef tanks. They cannot. Even the Pigmy angels can be a problem. Not all may harass your corals at first but, as they age, they become more inquisitive and may cause corals to remain closed while they "inspect" them to determine whether they are actually food material. I personally do not recommend them for reef tanks.

    -Brown turf algae can be found on rocks off the coastal areas of the Atlantic. Alternatively you can order it from companies that use algal scrubbers in their systems. A common turf algae is Ectocarpus sp. (E. breviarticulatus, E. subcorymbosus and so on). Turf scrubbers need to be trimmed back from time to time or they will start to trap food particles and detritus.

    -Organisms and lifeforms that use light as an energy source are called autotrophic. If they cannot do so they are called heterotrophic. Autotrophs are primary producers and Heterotrophs are consumers.

    -Six line wrasse remain small and eat bristle worms. They are also totally reef safe. Many hobbyists use them to control these unwanted pests. They are easy to obtain and not expensive.

    END.
    Posted by jhnrb
     
    jhnrb, Apr 7, 2006
    #97
  18. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    Nagging Nitrates

    Just cant seem to get those nitrates under control and you have done everything you can think of to get un down. try at least once a month taking a small pump with a hose on the end OR TURKEY BASTER and blowing around the rocks, coral bases, and dark recesses of the system, clean out detritus from all sumps, change filter media every 10 days, and or add a nitrate reactor. nitrates once high, will take some time to come down and stay down so if you get um down and they go back up in couple days keep doing what you do to get un down initially and increase the maintenance. always stir things up just before water changes and cleaning equipment. do not disrupt the sand bed unless absolutely neccessary such as large substrait, or hardening and then only disturb the top 1/4 inch or so.
     
    jhnrb, Jul 9, 2006
    #98
  19. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    To Maintain An Accurate Test, Always Throughly Clean The Test Tubes, Hydrometers, With Distilled Or Purified Water After Each Test.

    Compare Your Salinity Test With A 2nd Tester At Least Once A Month, And At Least Quarterly Take A Sample To Your Lfs Or Friend To Do A Series Of Tests As A Comparison To Your Tests. If Different A Third Test Comparison May Be Needed.
     
    jhnrb, Sep 21, 2006
    #99
  20. jhnrb

    jhnrb

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    Water Yellowing Test

    Carbon Yellowing Test

    TAD Reefs have decided not to continue to market the Carbon Yellowing Test. Alan Adams has suggested that since some of you may be interested in this test and in its applications, that I write a short article on what it can do for you and how to make one yourself. I will gladly comply.

    The Carbon Yellowing Test can be used to determine whether your aquarium water is starting to develop a yellow tinge, an imperceptible one that the naked eye will not see because it is real faint.

    The fact is though, that when the water starts to take on a yellow tinge, this is an indication that your skimmer is not removing all the breakdown products of organic matter. It is also an indication that if you are using carbon, that the carbon is no longer removing the yellowing matter that it should remove.

    When the water starts to show this light yellowing, a skimmer adjustment may take care of the problem but, if you have a heavby load and it does not, you may need to run activated carbon for a few hours to solve the problem and remove the yellowing matter (albumin or Gilvin as it is called).

    If you are using carbon, the fact that the water starts to show yellowing simply means that it is time to change the activated carbon.

    So how do you tell whether this yellowing is actually taking place if, as I indicated, you probably cannot see it with the naked eye.

    You can use a Carbon Yellowing Test to do so and the test is easy to make yourself.

    Here is what you need to do:

    Get a small piece of clear acetate from an arts or crafts shop
    Get a yellow grease marker
    Make some faint yellow lines on that acetate
    You now have a Carbon Yellowing Test
    How should it be used?

    Hold the piece of acetate with the faint yellow marks under water in the aquarium and look at it from about 12 to 14 inches away. If you can see the faint markings your water is not yellowing. If you cannot see the markings your water "is" yellowing.

    After usage, dry the test sheet and store it until you need to use it again. Dab the water off. If for some reason the yellow markings disappear, just make new ones and you can reuse the test again and again for as long as you want.

    What should you do if the water is indeed yellowing?

    1.Check your skimmer and make sure it is running optimally and adjust it if it is not.

    2.Use a little carbon for a few hours on the tank to remove the yellowing matter.

    After you have run the carbon, place it on a shallow tray and let it dry so you can use it again. When it is dry, store it in a container so pollutants in the air are not uptaken by the carbon.

    If the yellowing persists and comes back too frequently, you may need to evaluate whether your skimmer is actually capable of removing enough organic matter and its breakdown by products from the water. Due to the load in the tank, it may not be and you may need a more efficient unit. You can run carbon from time to time to remove the yellowing of course but, remember, when you do so you will need to take into account that the amount of beneficial nutrients will be depleted as well and that you may need to supplement with some more additive as you normally do.

    END.
     
    jhnrb, Oct 8, 2006
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