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Member's Aquarium Series - Keith Langdon

Presented November 29, 1998 on #reefs IRC.

Thanks for coming early and thanks for letting me talk about my tanks. I have had aquariums off and on since I was a kid.  My first marine tank I set up over ten years ago.  A simple affair with a UG, cannister filter and Ultra Violet sterilizer and oh yeah, the obligatory dead coral skeletons.  I have had reef tanks for the last four years.

I started with Albert Theils book, a 90gal tank,  a wet/dry filter and the worst counter current ever made.  We were putting in all kinds of stuff, for this and that.  Buffers and Boosters, Strontium, Iodine, Kalk, Trace Elements, Coral food, Fish foods, Vital this and Vital that.  We were growing lots of hair algae and trying real hard to keep all the water parameters in check.  Seemed to us,the harder we tried the worse things got. After paying 20.00 a pound just for some rocks I wasn't about to give up.

When Sprung and Delbeek's book came out, I learned that this was a not a great approach and started down the path to real learning and understanding.  Right around this time internet access came to our little corner of the globe,that also helped out tremendously.  We sold the 90gal tank and the wet dry, moved down to a 60gal cube. I bought a Red Sea Berlin skimmer and put a plenum in, as it was the rage at the time. At this time a friend got out of the hobby, so I bought their 120 gal tank.  After a year, I grew tired of the upkeep on two separate systems (12 hour work days are the norm for me) and a tragic episode with the 120 pushed me to consolidate my efforts into one tank.  A friend who owned an LFS gave me a great deal on a 180gal All Glass tank with built in overflows, and built a stand for me.  (I had some sweat equity built up :)

This tank was set up a year and a half ago the equipment and inhabitants are listed on my pages. Some of the corals have grown quite large and were starting to do battle and damage, especially the pearl bubble.  About 4 months ago I blew the dust off the 60gal tank and plumbed it into the sump with the 180gal.  This gave me a chance to get some space in the 180 to put in a few SPS corals.  I now keep my tanks in a more "natural" manner.  Less is more, coupled with water changes, seems to work the best for me.  I use only R/O water for make up and water changes as the nitrates and phosphates are quite high out here in the country.  I also have removed a lot of rock and opened up the structure in the reef to allow more water movement.  I use a Ca Reactor for alkalinity and calcium.  I still use the same Red Sea skimmer.  I make my own food and feed daily.  The fish seem to love it and it is cheaper than buying the lttle frozen cubes.  I also periodically supplement with artemia and phytoplankton.

Some of the favorite pieces in my tank are the first LPS coral I bought four years ago.Cynarina lacrymalis It has tripled in size and has survived many moves and mishaps.   A pearl bubble that is also around four years old and it has grown from a piece 2x5 inches to a show piece that is easily 14x12 inches.  A nepthea coral that is about 12 inches front to back and is now three separate corals I frag off of it monthly, it started as a 4 inch high cutting.   I also have a brilliant green sinularia that has grown from a 3 inch cutting to a beautiful piece that I cut 3 inch pieces from monthly.  A Kenya tree that grew from a inch frag to 7 inches high and drops babies weekly.  Another is a sarcophyton that is 10 inches in diameter that started out as a cutting 3 inches across.  A finger leather that is now 8"in diameter and stands about 7" high grew from about the 3 inches high and 3 inches across.  It too drops babies at the rate of a couple a month.  My most favorite of all are my rose anemones E.quadricolor.  These guys have split every year I started with one traded three away and currently have four in the tank.

Some of the biggest disappointment and horrors: getting called at work with a hysterical Lisa on the line talking about my tank water was all over the floor. The 120 had leaked over 3/4 of the water all over the place.  We put all the animals in a make shift tank.  Thankfully, I had a rigid plastic pond liner in for the winter.  Sadly, I did lose a few corals and fish in that episode.   The other tragic thing that has happened to me was a coral spawn.  This happened at the end of September. Turned my water into skim milk.  Almost all of my fish died in this from a lack of oxygen. Those that I  could see, I got out of the tank and did some massive water changes.  I had nothing to lose. I just mixed it up to SG and changed it out.  I still lost a few of those most likely from the stress.  I also did massive water changes on the tanks. 70 gallons first and  then two successive 35 gallons. I still have some hair algae because I had to use tap water. All of the corals seemed to do just fine, except my mushrooms.  I lost all of the red ones, and the ones in the tank still haven't returned to their former glory.  Not something I would look forward to happen again.

Some points of advice:

PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE this is not an "instant gratification" hobby.

READ some good books, this hobby will teach you everything from biology and chemistry to ecosystems and ecology.  THINK for yourself don't rely on the LFS to give you the final word or any words for that matter. Remember the three basics Light, Water movement, and skimming.  Keep your tanks stabilized in temperature, alkalinity / Ca, and pH.  Most of all OBSERVE your animals they are the first ones to tell you when something isn't right.  Thanks for sticking around I can try to answer questions if there are any.

How do you make your own food? Is it live brine or something? .. and along the same lines .. What kinds of ingredients do you use in your foods, and how much do you feed a day?

I go to the store and buy fresh seafood and hit the veggie aisle for greens then throw it in the blender some mixes I use nori and some I put in vitamins.

Does your anemone go behind the rocks to split?

The last time no it happened right out in the open took about three hours or so.

What is a "kenya tree coral?"

Capnella sp.

I would also like to know about your placement of the coral in the tank ie bubble coral that's huge has sweeper tentacles right?

The bubble coral is in the uppper corenr of rthe tank it doesnt really send out to many long tentacles as I feed dailly.

I may have missed this, but what photoperiod do you use over your tank?

I have a 12 hour "day" with halides on for approx 9 hours.

About the rose anemone, do you have any clowns that live in them. I have read that the rubbing of the clowns on the anemone causes the bubble tip to form - without them the bubble tip tends not to form as often and is usually not present? What is your experience with the bubble ends?

Until September I did have a pair of tomato clowns in them. Right now I have one Clarkii.  They seem to bubble up with the presence of the clowns - Right now they are enlongated.

Q&A Session:

What species of corals spawned in your tank?

That I am not sure of it happened while we were at work  I looked in that morning a 3am and all was normal then Lisa called at around 8 am it was a very stressful morning.

Do you do any dosing? and if so what?

No I dont do anything at all.

How are the tanks plumbed together?

They use a common sump with each its own pump.

Nothing at all? Not even kalk?

I use a reactor for the calcium and alkalinty maintenece I guess the only "dosing" is a water change every other month or so.

Do you have any safeguards in place to prevent one tank from draining the other?

No they are basically "seperate" but use a common sump each has its own drain line and return pump.

What kinds of veggies do you use in the food?

Broccoli, spinach, peas, and nori.

How big is the anemone? I am fascinated w/ asexual reproduction. Does it get very big before it splits?

I would say approx. 8 inches across and they have basically grown back to that size now.

Does there seem to be any triggering event for an anemone to split?

Not one that I am aware of though it seems to happen in the spring early summer.

Why just the one Clarkii Clownfish?

The other died.

Is Lisa into reefs as much as you are? Or are you in the same boat as all of us? ;o)

She likes to look and loves to pick out stuff but basically it is the same boat.

Do you use a float switch to add topoff water, or do you just pour it in by hand?

I use a float vlave from Kent Marine hooked directly to my R/O unit, This may be a fool move but it seems to work okay.

Did the spawning hurt any corals, or just the fish?

Like I said the mushrooms were the only thing that seemed to be affected as far as corals. I have never seen the polyps on the SPS out so far as they were for the next couple days.

How big is the base on the bubble coral? My bubble coral is growing at a tremendous seems like the base isn't keeping up.

7 inches long with 3 four across it really comes out of the base quite a distance.

What is your take on feeding your anemones?

I feed my fish and they seem to pick up what floats to them and what the clowns bring. I do not feed them directly. I really dont want to asI have four now :)

Thanks for the great talk, Keith!

Created by liquid
Last modified 2006-11-24 14:04