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A reef is a bar of rock, sand, coral or similar material, lying beneath the surface of water. Many reefs result from abiotic processes (i.e. deposition of sand, wave erosion planing down rock outcrops, and other natural processes), but the best known reefs are the coral reefs of tropical waters developed through biotic processes dominated by corals and calcareous algae.

Artificial reefs (e.g. shipwrecks) sometimes have a role in enhancing the physical complexity of featureless sand bottoms, in order to attract a diverse assemblage of organisms, especially algae, and fish.

Earth's largest and most famous reef is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, at a length of 2,300 kilometres.

A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups.

Coral belongs to the class Anthozoa in the animal phylum Cnidaria, which includes sea anemones and jellyfish. Unlike sea anemones, corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons that support and protect the coral. Most reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated water.

Often called "rainforests of the sea", shallow coral reefs form some of Earth's most diverse ecosystems. They occupy less than 0.1% of the world's ocean area, about half the area of France, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species,[1][2][3][4] including fish, mollusks, worms, crustaceans, echinoderms, sponges, tunicates and other cnidarians.[5] Coral reefs flourish in ocean waters that provide few nutrients. They are most commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, but deep water and cold water coral reefs exist on smaller scales in other areas.

Coral reefs deliver ecosystem services for tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection. The annual global economic value of coral reefs is estimated between US$30–375 billion.[6][7] Coral reefs are fragile, partly because they are sensitive to water conditions. They are under threat from excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), rising temperatures, oceanic acidification, overfishing (e.g., from blast fishing, cyanide fishing, spearfishing on scuba), sunscreen use[8] overuse and harmful land-use practices,

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ESV's Seawater mix is prêt-à-porter...

I like to mix it up a bit. Last year I gave a bag of the Tunze Reef Salt a whirl. I wasn’t overly impressed with it for the cost and, though possibly completely unrelated, I experienced a considerable increase in algae growth while using this particular salt. After finishing that bag, I planned to give it one more shot, but the shop was out of stock, so I went back to the old standby that is Instant Ocean. I’ve now been using Instant Ocean for the past 6 months or so.

About the same time that I picked up the Instant Ocean salt, I started reading about ESV’s new “B-Ionic Seawater System”. This immediately piqued my interest, as I used ESV’s B-Ionic two part solution for years and have always associated the name with quality products. I also found quite attractive the photos around the web of this salt being mixed up completely clear, zero residue. Anyone who has mixed a batch of most other salts can identify with at least one of the following; scum (sometimes brown), chunky leftover re…

Chingchai’s LED nano SPS tank

Perusing the forums, I came across what can only be expected to be an amazing tank build. In the Nano Reef section of, Bangkok, Thailand reefer Chingchai Uekrongtham recently started a new build thread entitled “Light Emitting Diode nano SPS tank thread“. The aquarium is a custom made cylindrical shape, complete with custom stand, overflow and custom sump. An awesome curved light bracket supports the Eco-lamps LED fixture model KR92-12S x 2 over the aquarium. The lighting seems to be the only gear totally decided on thus far, so I don’t really think there’s much to say except, maybe,  subscribed

Tank nightmares

Now why would you want to pull out all these rocks with gorgeous, encrusted colonies? This may give me nightmares…

JWRE's Tank

Eunice Worm

One can only hope to never find something like this in their tank. The unfortunate reality is, you may already have one :) <cue theme from JAWS>

From “The hunt for a 4 foot coral eating worm”

Track Your Coral’s Growth with Reeflines is a new website that beautifully facilitates the tracking of your corals lineage and their growth in your tank via photos. If you have a long build thread that makes it impossible to compare growth shots or, like me, folders full of unorganized coral images that never get looked at, this may just be the tool you’ve been waiting for.

Here’s a look at my Psammocora profundacella page. I took all the photos I could find of my P. profundacella, uploaded them (one by one for the time being), and now have this page dedicated to the coral. Each coral can be tagged with various info – the name of the LFS or person you acquired it from, the date acquired, and whatever else you want to remember. It is also possible to keep tabs on fragments you’ve made, and to whom they’ve been given – a feature that could be excellent for local clubs with a type of “Pay It Forward” program.

Facebook for Corals? Well, not quite, but for those of you that do indeed use Facebook, this should come a…

Geometric Pygmy Hawkfish

On a “Black Friday” visit to Old Town Aquarium (so as to avoid having to shop with family on Michigan Ave…), I scoured over the tanks for something interesting and, not seeing anything that I had to have in the saltwater department, ended up purchasing a grip of neon tetra and a few plants for my freshwater tank that I’m also repopulating post-move. While the guy was bagging up the neons, I perused the saltwater aisle once more.

The Clarion was still there, gorgeous as ever, and across the row, the tail of a pipefish was spotted hanging out of the mouth of a bubble coral. I then became entranced by a yellow Rhinopias and sat contemplating the sheer weirdness of Mother Nature. As the employee approached to ask if I needed anything else, I caught a fleeting red glimpse out of my peripheral. I assumed the half crouch middle row tank viewing stance and saw a fish I’ve been coveting since I first noticed it appearing on Live Aquaria a year or so ago – Plectranthias inermis.

The Geometric P…

Tunze Reef Salt

I’ve been using Reef Crystals aquarium salt for years now, and used the last of the bucket to fill up and cycle the Elos Mini. I thought it might be interesting to use a new salt mix. With the sheer selection of reef salts out there, it can be a pretty confusing choice. The aquarium salt test results from AWT, Inland Reef Aquaria, and the various salt parameters and opinions seen posted on the reef boards definitely do not make the decision any easier.

There are varying opinions as to how necessary the additions of some elements are in the reef tank, such as potassium or iodine. I’d prefer add these by hand later, if at all, via the plethora of available additives. But we can’t deny the importance of the triad – Calcium, Alkalinity & Magnesium. I’ve found Billybeau1′s test results of these critical three elements to be most helpful in determining my choice for the next salt I use. I could read a third party or manufacturer’s analysis until I’m blue in the face, but without access …

Death of a Rubbermaid

After a number of months, I’ve landed back in the hobby. Not that I ever left, but a gorgeous summer combined with a move that resulted in the loss of a number of stony corals took a bit of a toll on my enthusiasm and motivation to get a new tank set up right away. The corals that made it have been chilling in a rubber maid 30gal tub, and my fish have been waiting, perhaps impatiently, in a 20 long.

Over the past 4 months since we moved, I’ve been through numerous lists of equipment and about 5 tank designs (and twice that many quotes!). Having observed time and space shift conversely to the number of home projects that kept presenting themselves, I decided that the only way my animals were ever going to get out of the Rubbermaid tubs in the basement closet was to keep it simple. So, I got an ELOS mini, and the freight shipper just dropped it off yesterday.

It should see at least a fresh water run by this weekend. I haven’t assembled the sump / filtration at all, just the cabinet and …

Approaching the Equinox…

The relationship between the seasons and the attention my reef tank gets seems to be quite linear! I think the vernal equinox marks halfway on the downward slope, with it bottoming out around mid-August. I know I’m not the only one who takes a little break, as noted by & predicted by GBD in May. If my predictions and curve have been correctly calculated, by the autumnal equinox, most reef keepers come back in full gear …

Last ‘off-season’ I was fortunate to visit the Okavango Delta, with a bit of extra time to visit Zimbabwe. This year we’ll stay a bit more domestic, spending more time in the studio & saving cash for a new home, which, obviously, includes a tank upgrade – definitely looking forward to it. And with a new home on the horizon, I’d rather not add or do anything drastic to the tank.

Until then, I’m running on auto-pilot – the new ATB Multi-use skimmer is doing a great job & the old Litermeter 3 is plugging away. Aside from a bit of 2 part refill, makin…

Aquacultured ‘Black Photon’ Clowns

Came across a thread on Reef Central some time ago and just checked back today in the Clownfish & Anemone forums. Many of you are familiar with Dr. Sanjay Joshi, especially his work with aquarium lighting. If for some reason you’re not, shame on you! As he posted in January, his pair of clownfish decided to spawn. The fry of the A. percula “Onyx” X A. ocellaris “Darwin” were raised and dubbed “Black Photon” clowns. Dr. Joshi gave an explanation today of the origin of the name for his fish in the thread on Reef Central as: BLACK as in both parents being predominantly black color. The black ocellaris and Onyx Perc. PHOTON – from the ongoing ribbing I take from my friends who have labeled me the PHOTON MAN due to all my lighting work and presentations. They took it far enough that PHOTON MAN made to the cover of a reef magazine. Hence my fun name for these fish – BLACK PHOTONS Black clownfish hybrids raised by the PHOTON MAN. (lol) I didn’t see them and wish I had, but apparently a …

Name That Shrimp - Ebay Auction to Name New Species

You don’t need to be the adventuring type or dedicate your life to discovery to have a new species named after you - just have an Ebay account. The Australian Marine Conservation Society put an auction up on Ebay in which the winning bidder will get the right to name a new species of Lebbeus shrimp discovered only recently in the deep seas of southwest Australia. Hey, naming rights are sold all the time - why not? All proceeds go to saving the oceans, and, though welcome to bid, no corporate names are allowed - great in my opinion - the last thing we need is Lebbeus verizonwirelis. From their website - About the Shrimp
This newly described species is a mysterious little creature living in the cool dark depths of our South-west oceans. Despite living 400m below the surface, this shrimp species has a jewel-like appearance. Morphing from yellow to green, this spectacular shrimp is covered in scarlet spots and sports a toothed crest across the top of its body, which gives it the delightful…

Green Reefing – Earth Day Thoughts

As Earth Day rolls around, I wonder, is there such a thing as “green” reefing? I imagine reef keeping may be the epitome of the opposite of “green”… There are, however, a few steps I have been, slowly but surely, taking over the past few years to reduce the energy my aquarium requires. They may not necessarily be saving me that much money (up-front cost may well exceed savings!) but were I really concerned with the cost of a reef aquarium, I would have left the hobby ages ago! Mind the temperature
Heating & cooling elements are energy hogs, kicking on and off all day. I realize it is not feasible for all aquarium keepers to buy a full on aquarium controller, but I use one. I think any reef keeper in it for the long run would find it a boon, and if it is in the budget – pull the trigger. Too hot? Fans kick on. Keeps getting hotter? Fans stay on, lights go off. Most of the time, a few watts of fans & problem solved without a 1/4hp chiller kicking in. Adjust for ambient temperature… The Ultimate Japanese Frag Tank?

The ocean. I hope that the knack many Japanese have for keeping reef aquaria hints at possible outcomes for this coral transplant project…

“We have been replanting forests for 4,000 years, but we are only just now learning how to revive a coral reef,” said Mineo Okamoto, a marine biologist at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, who has led development of the palm-size ceramic discs. “We finally have the technology.”
Read NY Times Article

Quick thought - according to the article, this government funded project to test out new technologies that may eventually help repair the reefs around Japan has transplanted 13,000 corals, costing around 2 million USD. Though some may find that expensive, in terms of fragments, that’s about $150 / frag… I’ve seen prices higher than that for a few outlandishly named polyps on ebay…

Florida Fauna - ID’s?

Took a trip down to Siesta Key FL last week and got up early each morning to take a walk on the beach and wade around looking for critters or shells or whatever before the other tourists ravaged the areas. The beaches were pretty bare most days, just shells that would wash up. One morning, however, the currents must have been just right. Tons of urchin, various algae, all sorts of critters. Also a number of cell phones and pairs of sunglasses. Here are a few random shots of the macro algae & inverts I came across. I would love to have ID’s on any of them. #1#2#3