Emulate Nature

Subsea

Premium Member
In September of 1971, I started my marine aquarium journey after I entered the Texas Maritime Academy on Pelican Island in Galveston. Chemical Oceanography was my first technical elective which addressed Dynamic Equilibrium between carbon dioxide in the athmosphere and sequestered carbon in limestone sediments that use carbonate & bicarbonate alkalinity that buffer pH but more importantly when combined with photosynthesis brings the inorganic world into the organic world by moving glucose as a carbon source up the food chain.

On Christmas 1971, I set up a Galveston Bay theme tank with water collected from the Galveston jetties on an incoming tide. The 55G aquarium had a standard undergravel filter with air lift bubbles polling tank water into substrate. For substrate I used crushed oyster shells from chicken feed store. For livestock I collected grass shrimp & green mollies from grass flats. From the jetties, I collected anemones and from inland reefs I collected live oyster cluster encrusting with barnacles and stuff. Ten years later after moving this aquarium three times, I was showing the tank off with the crystal clear water with the dark maroon covering over the sandbed, when the guest blurted out, “why are you covering your sandbed with Cynobacteria”. We have come a long way since that time.

As I learn more after 50 years, I realize how much I don’t know. Cross talking between coral and bacteria, crosstalk between bacteria in the biofilm of macro and bacteria in algae interior to excercise gene expression in response to environmental conditions. Imagine that, bacteria having an awareness to alter gene response in other bacteria for the common good. Its in the genetic dna code.

My understanding of reef chemistry has evolved to include a third major player in reef chemistry: Bacteria, Algae, and Cryptic Sponges. On my 75G display, I will illustrate the players as being interconnected and interdependent of each other. For 20 years this display was set up as a Jaubert Plenum with a 6” dsb the 30G refugium was set up as an EcoSystem mud/macro refugium. Five years ago, I remove 60% of substrate and modified Jaubert plenum to reverse flow ug filter. I also removed lights & macro and seeded refugium with cryptic sponges & mature live rock.. So, the refugium is a mud/MULM incubator for the microbial loop and a cryptic refugium which processes all DOC into DIC to be processed back into glucose by photosynthesis. It is a positive feedback loop using a diversity of cryptic fauna.

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-20389-4_9

While sponges are the oldest still living multicellular animals on this planet and omnipresent within aquatic ecosystems, they have not been studied nearly as much compared to the recognized ecosystem drivers in coral reefs: corals, algae, and fish. We therefore want to take this opportunity to illustrate the diversity, functionality, and sheer survivability of these ancient animals. Beyond its multitude of external shapes and colors, sponges hold a unique internal aquiferous system. This system of afferent and efferent canals is intricately linked to supply its key function as a filter feeder. By filtering both particulate and dissolved material, sponges fill a niche in nutrient cycling. Moreover, the survivability of sponges is demonstrated in the variety of habitats it resides in; from freshwater canals to polar deep seas. In formerly uninhabitable environments, sponges can potentially create biodiversity hotspots by providing habitat complexity and shelter from predators. This review will give insight into the early life history, morphology, diet, and reproduction of sponges. Furthermore, it is imperative to consider their function as habitat facilitator, nutrient cycler, and, last but not the least, their potential for future pharmaceuticals. The emphasis in the proceedings has been specifically put on the role of sponges as nutrient cycler as they play a role in the three essential elements: carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous. With all this in mind, it should be clear that even though sponges are relatively overlooked marine invertebrates, they should be studied similarly t
 

Attachments

  • photo412090.jpg
    photo412090.jpg
    1.8 MB · Views: 8

Subsea

Premium Member
That is alot of star polyps, lol.

They are a good biofilter and an illustration of the process involved in a climax forest on land. It took 5 years to grow from ping pong size to what you see. I lean toward invertebrates like flame scallops, sea apples and ornamental sponges. To that end, I am not married to GSP. LFS will buy all I care to remove. It’s looks like a good time to make room for diver collected live rock from Gulf of Mexico.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
As a Laissez faire reefer, I focus on systems and not individual species of coral. For 30 years I worked 28 days on and 28 days off and my goal was to establish a sustainable system by recycling nutrients. To that end, in my garage, I set up 100G macro refugiums as zooplankton generators to feed display tank while at work. I also focused on hardy, colorful inhabitants because I didn’t want finicky stuff that required pampering, more equipment and more work. I achieved that goal and spend time enjoying “old school nutrient management”.

Here is an example of a 10 month 55G tank set up with an emphasis on cryptic sponges for biofiltration.
 
Last edited:

Subsea

Premium Member
Newest 55G tank at 10 months using cryptic refugiums and diver collected live sand & live rock.
 

Attachments

  • photo412092.jpg
    photo412092.jpg
    1.9 MB · Views: 8

kharmaguru

Premium Member
They are a good biofilter and an illustration of the process involved in a climax forest on land. It took 5 years to grow from ping pong size to what you see. I lean toward invertebrates like flame scallops, sea apples and ornamental sponges. To that end, I am not married to GSP. LFS will buy all I care to remove. It’s looks like a good time to make room for diver collected live rock from Gulf of Mexico.

They're one of my favourites. People do similar export methods with xenia and even aiptasia. I'm all for easier sustainable corals. You won't catch me being a stick head anytime soon.
 

JohnL

RC Staff
Staff member
Admin
This is a great thread. Thank you for creating it Patrick. Such a long extensive history.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
What are the seedlings on the bottom left? Do you collect your own sponges or purchase them?

Under 55G ornamental seaweed lagoon are two separate crops. The 20G tank on the right is red Ogo for my consumption. The seedlings on the left will be my third planting of tomatoes. I have cherry tomatoes being harvested in greenhouse and seedlings of hybrid indeterminate Beefsteak tomatoes to be put into outside garden this week, if weather continues to be warm.

With respect to ornamental sponges, I purchase them in two ways. The bulk of of ornamental sponges are purchased individually from GulfCoast Ecosystems
https://www.live-plants.com and https://reeftopia.com. I also get sponges, gorgonions and interesting micro fauna & fana from Florida vendors of live rock

https://gulfliverock.com/premium-deco-live-rock

This rock is fully blanketed with colorful coralline algae's, these algae's come in multitudes of fascinating shades of purple, reds, oranges, peaches and yellows. Most rocks contain bryzoans,orange leather sponge,gracilaria algae,halimeda, sea grapes, cluster corals, and cup corals. All of our premium decorative live rocks contain seeded plant life,both macro and micro algae.All pieces are hand collected fresh from our gulf lease site by our diving staff and shipped directly to our customers.We do not use any chemicals in our process. The rocks pictured are for example only. All of our premium decorative live rock is as good or better than the rocks pictured.
 

kfisc

Well-known member
Such a great thread! With your years of experience, is there anything you would now tell your earlier reefkeeping self? Conversely, what do you see going on now that strikes you as perhaps a lot of baloney?

I'm recalling items such as bioballs and trickle filters. I have to confess, the trickle filter was a favorite for a long time. I'd still get metal halides, if electricity were free.
 

JohnL

RC Staff
Staff member
Admin
Such a great thread! With your years of experience, is there anything you would now tell your earlier reefkeeping self? Conversely, what do you see going on now that strikes you as perhaps a lot of baloney?

I'm recalling items such as bioballs and trickle filters. I have to confess, the trickle filter was a favorite for a long time. I'd still get metal halides, if electricity were free.

Great questions. I'm looking forward to Patrick's reply.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
Such a great thread! With your years of experience, is there anything you would now tell your earlier reefkeeping self? Conversely, what do you see going on now that strikes you as perhaps a lot of baloney?

I'm recalling items such as bioballs and trickle filters. I have to confess, the trickle filter was a favorite for a long time. I'd still get metal halides, if electricity were free.

I still use the wet dry filter with reef rubble instead of bioballs. Probably more for gas exchange than anything else.

What would I tell my earlier reefkeeping self?
Hold on for the adventure of your life and don’t lose your passion, nurture what you love, learn from your mistakes and be kind to others.

what strikes me as a lot of baloney?
Emphasis on quarantine and control of everything that goes into tank. Ten years ago, Sahara dessert dust landed in a bird bath in south Texas and it grew a phytoplankton species that was extinct for 150 million years from an ocean that covered Africa. If micro algae spores can lay dormant for millions of years and be transported by winds 5000 miles and incubate in a bird bath, I don’t want to fight with Nature so I chose to harmonize with nature.



I embrace diversity of micro fauna & fana in establishing long term stability for our ecosystems by starting at the bottom of the food chain with diver collected live rock and live sand.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
Amazon just delivered 1G of Austin Clear Ammonia. So let’s talk about Nitrogen. Nitrogen is 78% free gas in our atmosphere and is easily dissolved in water where Cynobacteria convert it to ammonia. Denitrification occurs when facultative bacteria in a low oxygen environment breakdown NO4 to consume oxygen thereby releasing nitrogen gas back to the athmosphere.

In my early reef days, the Jaubert plenum was designed to extend the facultative zone thereby promoting natural nitrate reduction as export by nitrogen gas. Fast forward 50 years and I add 1ml of ammonia for every 10G of aquarium water. Instead of big fish loads providing nutrients for ornamentals, I prefer small fish loads with big mixed gardens. I use ammonia and ChaetoGrow to grow ornamentals.
 

JohnL

RC Staff
Staff member
Admin
Are you seeking ulns?

Honestly, I don't know what ulns are Patrict. I was intrigued by the de-nitrification properties. I really should do some more research. Do you see any drawbacks in adding to a newly setup tank?
 
Top