Long term care of invertebrates in the pico reef
Hello I haven't been here in a while, TF is my youtube friend though and your site upgrade looks fantastic
fav'd the site so I can look around at all these great tanks on this nice format.
After working with only micro tanks for a long time now I enjoy finding new places to review the ethics and the science of this unique approach, and maybe someone can chime in as to your take on micro reefs. My main point is that the animal quality dictates the appropriate size of the tank, not a subjective and possibly dated random gallonage number. When corals plate on glass, up the sides of a tank, share the volume without warring, and are able to be fragged, this describes a balanced system and gallonage still hasn't been detailed. its my opinion that if inverts will live inside a system for 40 months its a balanced system, even if it appears too small on first glance. When invertebrates molt regularly, choose territories within a system and have no predation stress, it seems to be in balance. How much longer than 40 months is needed to say they are comfortable?
Keeping micro systems changed alot of what I had been told earlier about coral systems...that they couldn't share small spaces without chemically killing each other, that there was no way to feed small tanks without polluting them and that all small tanks are unstable. Its shocking to see a small reef, but why don't the corals and animals seem to mind? it simply turns out that successful reefs can be far smaller and more attainable than once though, so now we have to decide if its the right thing to do.
Here's my update vids since last year:
inverts in the pico reef:
coralline algae production, dosing, and removal in the pico reef+ pico design pics 2000-2010
the above picture is a frag of alveopora that has grown up the glass like xenia since being introduced in 2007. The way I battle that algae in between the base and the glass that the lighting causes is to put a piece of black tape over it for two weeks which was done after this pic taken about 7 mos ago. An eyepatch to prevent subskeletal algae accumulation lol
Corals are displaying unique growth morphologies and are up to about 20 genera of mixed stonies in this gallon, with the original sandbed and rocks.
Here are the major techniques to making any pico reef run as long:
-you don't feed in between water changes. feeding pico reefs like large reefs are part of the reason they are unstable. An ideal approach is to feed the tank with a very large amount of high quality frozen feed, I use marine bioplankton with cyclopeeze, let it swirl for 3 hours then change out 100% of the water, never do partial water changes. You can do this once a week minimally and keep most of the common reef animals more successfully than larger tanks do with sparse feeding designed to lessen the nutrient impact on the tank. All feedings are larger than normal, left in the tank for a few hours and then coupled with a full export change. This method is completely repeatable, and the only way to meet the nutrient needs of a 4-5 year old pico reef I could find.
-100% water changes. Found to be harmless again not recommended by older references, accomplishes full export of nitrate and phosphate rather than partial export. There are many models in nature for flushing, emersion exposure, and this is a mimick. Critics of emersion exposure leave that part of nature out of the argument.
-Dosing of liquid two part dosers. Nobody would recommend dosing a tank this small, that doesn't mean its right. aging pico reefs consume the alkalinity portion of the water faster than larger tanks do, due to organic acid production within the system and ratio of carbon dioxide producers to water volume...and, calcification in the system among corals and live rock animals is more marked in the gallon reef, dosing is exactly the right thing to do. applying tenets that run larger tanks to pico reefs is the formula for failure this is just one way that works among many.
-using a system that either fully seals the tank, or partially seals the tank to reduce or stop evaporation. Constant topoff used to be a problem in small tanks but is not any longer. A reef vase of one gallon goes 4 days in between topoffs, and the square sealed reef seen here did not evaporate at all, it did not require freshwater addition to maintain consistent .023 water salinity.
dosing system, no test for alk or ca++
This is a repeatable system for dosing a pico reef correctly that has already been calibrated for pico reefs ranging 2-3 gallons using reef crystals salt. Under this method no testing for calcium or alk will be needed, it will grow coralline algae profusely and stony corals as well. The point was to have a reef that did not require water testing at any time other than temp and salinity at change time. All dosing must take place before the lights come on during the day for any pico reef, if you dose after lights on, or in the afternoon, it can easily kill your tank with a giant pH spike. In the morning, it will not.
C-Balance two part doser, not calibrated for any other formula. The instructions on the bottles are not what's being used, what works is whats being used.
2-3 Gallon pico reefs:
Mondays, before lights on add ~2/3 capfull of part A and then 25 mins later the same amount of part B. add in high flow area, slowly till dissolved.
skip sat then dose Sunday morning, later on is blast feed/water change day.
If you don't get a spot of pink coralline on the front glass within a month, increase to 3/4 capfull. When you get the first coralline spot don't increase dosage until later on when the coralline starts to bleach from calcium or alk competition within the tank. The dose doesn't have to be perfect, C balance will not precipitate within a capfulls dose on this interval. On my aged vase reef I use 3/4 caps this often, a huge amount per water volume just to keep up with coral growth.
I often feed midweek and do a water change, two full changes a week is easy when Im home. On vacation, it will wait a week for me to get back untouched because of the topoff restriction. it will accumulate a little algae on the glass over that time but I just clean and start over when I get back, its very forgiving of maintenance. To keep as heavy of a bioload as I do, twice a week is ideal.
*method not tested with fish nutrient requirements as fish are not suited to pico reefs longterm. These are for invertebrate systems which can thrive long term
wow...thats impresive...i have seen some nice softy picos but no stony...you have jumped one of the hurdles in salt...congrads
Welcome to TFK Brandon. Great thread you have going here. I love the idea of a 100% water change on fishless micro reefs! Very unique approach.
now i have been looking at a number of places that promote the care of micro reefs and none of then i mean none of them are as thorough in there information as you have been.. thank you for that... i to love the idea of a 100% change and as i have in the lst 2 weeks begun to experiencing some issues with my tank have taken to more frequent changes to address them but i must say after reading this i am inclined to go as far as a 90% in my large reef....
this also brings to mind that i have considered a pico in the past and held off for a number of reasons that you addressed very well in your article.... perhaps i will do one after all LOL the thoughts continue and i am gretful for your sharing this valuable information with us....
thank you all very much for stopping in I am about to head off to work but when we open I will promptly get back online and start checking out your tanks for sure!
not everything from pico reef care can be extrapolated back up to large tank care but I really feel the water change thing can, if its practical. I never take time to match the params perfect, and much of the time the temp of the water I dump in the tank is about 72 and then its heated rather quickly up to 78 internally by the oversized heater, but the salinity I do match well.
For tanks under five gallons, I never could understand why we do partial changes and leave in partial wastes. Those blue water containers are the ones I use to store change water (open capped, never with a lid) and if the tank is five gallons or less, its still just one container to do a 100% change and start clean each week, same amount of time practically...
the biggest suprise Ive seen in all pico reefs ranging .5-3 gallons is that these tanks will let you get away with meager 20% changes, even as low as monthly, for a few months and it makes the weekly thing seem like overkill. then you start reading on the forums about algae battles and rarely do the tanks ever make it back from the brink. I just started treating my new picos, like old men picos, and it made them live much longer without algae crashes.
When the average strand of green algae or cyano starts up, a natural presence on the reefs, I also battle it uniquely by not using animals to eat the algae (a clean up crew as usually recommended) I burn out the new growth with a blue jet laser lighter and its instantly gone. I use a universal exclusion method for algae control in the pico reef...either I will permanently remove the substrate its on from the tank, or I will burn it out during one of these draining water changes. Either way, we are on five years now with no algae and that part for sure can be carried up to large reef care as well, happy Thanksgiving I wish you all an algae free system and this'll do it
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