Nutrient Management by Old School Reefer

Subsea

Premium Member
In September of 1971, I entered the Texas Maritime Academy on Pelican Island next to the Galveston ship channel. It was educational/amusing to see the 18 year olds in the Cadet Core marching around campus. I had just discharged from 4 years active duty with four 90 day tours of duty in Cambodia. We did’t spit shine our boots in the jungles.

As a marine engineer student, the first technical elective I took that first semester was Chemical Oceanography 101 in which I was introduced to the concept of Dynamic Equilibrium where carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and calcium carbonate in limestone sediments acted to maintain alkalinity in our oceans. So with this limited knowledge, I decided to set up a 55G glass tank as a Galveston Bay theme. I used standard undergravel filter with crushed up oyster shells purchased from chicken feed store. I found a large oyster cluster in Galveston Bay with fan & tube worms for live rock center piece in tank. From the grass flats & marsh reeds, grass shrimp and green mollies were collected . Anemones from the jetties in Galveston completed stocking this 55G tank. All movement for filtration was provided by one air pump on uplift tubes. I dragged that tank around for 10 yrs. The last time I moved that tank in 1980, I showed off the tanks fish and commented about the beautiful dark burgundy carpet over the ugly crushed up oyster shell. A visitor looking at my tank asked me why I had the cynobacteria mat so thick everywhere. We have come a long way from that day.

As my fascination with the marine aquarium hobby continued and my career took me offshore into “Blue Water” as a subsea engineer whose department was underwater blowout preventers. Depending on locations in the world, work schedule was 14/14 or 28/28 on/off. So with a 150G reef tank in my new home, I plumbed a remote sump that grew into 1000G of algae refugiums and two propagation/growout troughs that were 4’ by 8’ by 12” high. With zero nutrient export, I feed heavy when home on days off but no food was added to tank when I was away. Even though I didn’t know all the details, I did know by cause & effect that my algae filter refugium was a two way street with recycling nutrients. This is the focus of the thread: Recycling Nutrients

I briefly described how CO2 as a gas can seek equilibrium with water to combine with alkalinity & photosynthesis to produce glucose which is carbon. So, let’s follow nitrogen as a gas, as it seeks solubility equilibrium to dissolve in water. Add bacteria, like Cynobacteria, to convert free nitrogen gas into available nitrogen in a process called “nitrogen fixation”.

[Nitrogen (N2) fixation is the microbially mediated conversion of relatively inert dinitrogen gas to biologically available ammonia. ... In the marine environment, N2 fixation occurs in numerous ecologically diverse nearshore, coastal and open-ocean environments.]

www.sciencedirect.com
Nitrogen fixation in the marine environment: relating genetic potential to nitrogenase activity
Nitrogen fixation can be an important source of nitrogen for biological productivity in the marine environment. Biological nitrogen fixation is cataly…
www.sciencedirect.com www.sciencedirect.com

Abstract
[Nitrogen fixation can be an important source of nitrogen for biological productivity in the marine environment. Biological nitrogen fixation is catalyzed by the enzyme nitrogenase, which is possessed by diverse microorganisms representing virtually all phylogenetic groups. Interest in nitrogen fixation in the sea has usually been focused on rates of nitrogen fixation, but information on the types of species present with the capability for nitrogen fixation can be important for predicting nitrogen fixation rates in situ. Molecular tools for detection and characterization of the nitrogenase (nif) genes and immunoassays for nitrogenase protein can provide new information on the factors regulating the distribution and activity of diverse nitrogen fixing organisms in the marine environment. Amplification and characterization of nifH sequences has made it possible to identify the type(s) of organism responsible for nitrogen fixation, such as in aggregates of the cyanobacterium Trichodesmium. Differences in nitrogen fixation patterns have been linked to genetic differences between Trichodesmium strains. Further development of these approaches will provide new and powerful ways to link the genetic potential for nitrogen fixation to nitrogen fixation rates in the ocean.]


Here we are in 2022. I am not sure my methods have changed much since 1971. I just know more about why the method works.

I have been practicing the Trident Method for > 45yrs but without the skimmer.
 

salty joe

New member
This is the focus of the thread: Recycling Nutrients


I have been practicing the Trident Method for > 45yrs but without the skimmer.

By recycling nutrients, would that mean feeding algae that was grown in a refugium to the tank?
What is the Trident method? I Googled it and only found the Trident water analyzer and I know that hasn't been around for 45 years.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
Feeding fish macro from a refugium is one example of nutrient recycling.

The real nutrient recycling is microbial loop moving organic carbon up the food chain. Detrivores like amphipods & copepods consume detritus and in turn are eaten by higher life forms.. Sponges consuming DOC & POC (bacteria) to feed grazing Angel fish. Both Hippo Tang & Algae Blennie nibble on ornamental sponges.

https://www.triton.de/en/method

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/cont...ow-it-works-and-interpreting-lab-test-results

Salty joe
The Trident Method goal is zero water change. I have been practicing zero water change for > 45 years. Pardon the tongue & cheek use of practicing the Trident Method.
 

salty joe

New member
I also do no water change but have not read about triton, I'll check that out.
I won't feed algae from my algae filter because I fear I might contribute to a buildup of something bad. My algae filter is strictly export.
I also don't have a skimmer but don't have coral yet, so we'll see.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
I also do no water change but have not read about triton, I'll check that out.
I won't feed algae from my algae filter because I fear I might contribute to a buildup of something bad. My algae filter is strictly export.
I also don't have a skimmer but don't have coral yet, so we'll see.

I tried to use your profile to find your tank thread, but I am a dinosaur with those things. Please link your tank thread.

Every display tank I own has both utilitarian & ornamental seaweeds (macro algae) as part of the display. In the tanks with the heavy grazers like tangs & urchins, I prune and export from my two seaweed lagoons (picture 2 & 3). I stopped using protein skimmers 40 years ago. When I design marine eco systems, gas exchange is a top priority. This is accomplished by robust circulation at the surface of the display tank and cascading water into a sump.
 

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Subsea

Premium Member
While not normally talked about, the solubility of aroggonite in seawater starts at a pH of 7.7. A friend used pH probes to demonstrate pH gradient in a dsb in conjunction with Jaubert Plenum keeping up with alkalinity & trace mineral demand as a passive buffering system requiring zero mechanical equipment using “dynamic equilibrium” as the control system. In my ornamental mixed garden lagoons, I have no need for high calcification rates.


I don’t know exactly when, but once the SPS rage came in, pH stability and elevated pH suited the high calcification rates that reefers were pushing for. The normal pH swings on a healthy IndoPacific reef are 8.3 - 7.8

https://journals.biologists.com/bio/...gen-saturation
ABSTRACT

Coral reefs are essential to many nations, and are currently in global decline. Although climate models predict decreases in seawater pH (∼0.3 units) and oxygen saturation (∼5 percentage points), these are exceeded by the current daily pH and oxygen fluctuations on many reefs (pH 7.8–8.7 and 27–241% O[SUB]2[/SUB]saturation). We investigated the effect of oxygen and pH fluctuations on coral calcification in the laboratory using the model species Acropora millepora. Light calcification rates were greatly enhanced (+178%) by increased seawater pH, but only at normoxia; hyperoxia completely negated this positive effect. Dark calcification rates were significantly inhibited (51–75%) at hypoxia, whereas pH had no effect. Our preliminary results suggest that within the current oxygen and pH range, oxygen has substantial control over coral growth, whereas the role of pH is limited. This has implications for reef formation in this era of rapid climate change, which is accompanied by a decrease in seawater oxygen saturation owing to higher water temperatures and coastal eutrophication.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
To go along with the theme of emulating nature. I will throw this quote into th mix. Thank you Michael Hoaster

[As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey ]

Just did clean glass.
 

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JohnL

RC Staff
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Admin
To go along with the theme of emulating nature. I will throw this quote into th mix. Thank you Michael Hoaster

[As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey ]

Just did clean glass.

Great perspective Patrick
 

Misled

RC Mod
Staff member
RC Mod
[As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey ]

That's a blast from the past. He did the algae scrubbers we had at PPG aquarium. Very smart man!!!
 

Subsea

Premium Member
That's a blast from the past. He did the algae scrubbers we had at PPG aquarium. Very smart man!!!

Jessie,
Were you a member of Pittsburg reef club. I attended a hobby conference there with Dana Riddle & Anthony Calfo. Your zoo in Pittsburg is top of the line.
Laissez les bonne temps roulee,
Patrick
 

Misled

RC Mod
Staff member
RC Mod
Yes Patrick, been a member about 30 years. Calfo has been a friend longer than that. When I got out of the Marines I met him at a LFS he worked at. I had dove the west Pacific and the GBR when I was in and wanted a salt water tank. He helped me out. When reefing started to come around we all dove in head first.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
Yes Patrick, been a member about 30 years. Calfo has been a friend longer than that. When I got out of the Marines I met him at a LFS he worked at. I had dove the west Pacific and the GBR when I was in and wanted a salt water tank. He helped me out. When reefing started to come around we all dove in head first.

I think I may have meant you. Calfo was at the height of his author speaking tour and his personal body guards were a husband & wife team I knew in an earlier life from New York City.
 

Misled

RC Mod
Staff member
RC Mod
Very possible. We had a MACNA conference here a while back. I met tons of people from that. Also spent quite a bit of time at Calfo's LFS and the vats he had at his house. I spent some time helping design the PPG aquarium about 15 years ago. The curator got canned for some problems a contractor caused. I got out of it after that.

I think about how the hobby has changed over the years. There are some threads in the way back machine I'll dig up and post tonight. I've been through the chalice trends, breeding clowns, RBTA propagation and the current stick stuff. I'll be setting up a new tank this year. It will be more like what we did in the past.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
I am growing Red Ogo / Tang Heaven Red / Gracilaria Parvispora for my personal consumption. I am using RO water and dosing inorganic nutrients using ChaetoGrow, nitrogen & phosphorus. When I first did this 10 years ago, it was in conjunction with 10K gallon greenhouse growout system. During the heat of the Texas summer, I evaporated 150 GPD. Makeup water was supplied from Middle Trinity at 1000’. This formation is an old inland sea full of silicates with a TDS of 950 ppm. Unfortunately for taste buds, sulfur in ground water ruined the market to Asian restaurants.
 

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Misled

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So here's a couple posts from my last build. The first is from Richard at TBS.

I have been shipping live rock going on 40 years now.....I have seen the industry evolve, change, morph and then change again.

When we were collecting rock from the ocean in the early 1980's it was the only game in town. Then the ban on live rock from state and federal waters went into place.

A few of us went the aquaculture route but there simply was not enough of cultured live rock to fit the void in the industry that was suffering from not enough rock.

This created a demand for more rock which resulted in all the man made/manufactured dry live rock. The marketplace quickly began filling with all types of artificial dry rock, as there was not enough 'real' live rock to fill the demand.

The Dry dead rock industry blossomed as folks had to use something in their reef tanks, and the result was many reefers went with it as they simply could not get 'real' live rock.

But now most folks have figured out that dry/dead rock presented a lot of problems when starting and trying to get a new tank established. The algae problems developed and the tanks took forever to come around to a point where they were successful in keeping stock alive.

And the industry is shifting again as I get daily calls from folks really tired of the dry rock look, and it's results. Reefers are reverting to real live rock again as it will provide a biologically stable tank with diversity that will never happen with dry rock. I have had many folks throw in the towel, ditch the dry rock and go with 'real' live rock again. Especially the hard coral folks who have reported that after restocking with 'real' live rock, not only did their coals do much better, their tanks are actually alive now.

So....another morph in the industry, evolving to the 'real' thing again and happy tanks.

Unfortunately we are in the same boat again with availability of 'real' live rock again as the biggest producer of it was Walt Smith who literally supplied the world with his wild harvested live rock. That all stopped the first of this year. Now there is a HUGE vacuum for live rock as those of us who are producing it simply cannot fill the void Walt left. After the ban in Fiji in February I started getting calls from all over the world from Walt's customers looking for containers of live rock <25,000> pounds each shipped to them.

I have to turn them all down as it is simply not possible me to fill that volume, so they are forced to go the dead/dry rock route as there is nothing else to use in their tanks.

This has eliminated the ease of setting up a reef tank and have it ready to go in a couple of weeks. The trend I am seeing now is folks frustrated with the look and function of dry rock and created a new market of "I need some real live rock" to add to my tank and it's biodiversity and benefits.

So here we go again, market is shifting again, and I see it everyday with the orders from folks saying 'I need something to make my tank come alive" please send me some to populate my tank.


Richard TBS
www.tbsaltwater.com
 

Misled

RC Mod
Staff member
RC Mod
My reply.

bIcQYbB.jpg


I'm going to get into some of what Richard spoke about in his post, but I'm going to take it a little further. Most of you know I've been in the hobby over thirty years now. Back then, live rock was very live. For the really good stuff, we were paying anywhere from 15 to 20 dollars a pound. At that time there were around 6 very good LFS's in this area. Saltwater was taking off here, and the word reef was being thrown around. The mags were showing some pics of tanks and we all started going nuts trying to get tanks going up here. We all had bleached out coral heads in our fish tanks. What happened next was beyond what we ever thought was possible.

The guys at all the LFS and a few of us hobbyists got together every once and a while to have a little talk about things we had heard, (no real club yet, or internet forums, but that happened later). On one of the meets, someone showed off the "new" live rock. There was green stuff, all kinds of strange colors, bi-valves, limpets, worms and all these tiny bugs, (pods)!!! Now mind you, this scared some of us. My wife had dreams about things crawling out the tank and eating her. She also spent hours sitting in front of it watching all the life moving around. This was something quite new.


I'm going to end this part of the story for now anyway. This is where I want some of you as old as me to go back too. I didn't have a skimmer. Had a big hang on , (Aquaclear I think), hanging on the back with carbon in it. That's it. Nothing else. There weren't many corals added. A hammer, a bubble and a few shrooms. Three or four fish. Back in the day, it was a beautiful tank. Hammer and bubble grew, mushrooms multiplied. Things were stable for quite a few years. If you bought any green stripped mushrooms in the area, they probably came from my tank. Thing is, there is something that I don't remember having in that tank, algae outbreaks. I don't ever remember seeing cyano. I can't say it was because of the live rock, but I'm pretty sure it was because of the live rock. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
Misled I never meant Richard in person. We connected in the the middle of a fishing tournament out of Biloxi, Mississippi. He traveled from Tampa Bay to fish the tournament and I was on a floating semi submersible drilling rig in 3500’ of water in the middle of tuna feeding grounds in the Deep Blue. My job as a subsea engineer was the underwater blowout preventer which stood 40’ tall and weighed 250 tons. When everything was tested and latched to the wellhead, my job was easy to maintain if you stayed on top of the little things called preventative maintenance & quality assurance. During those early days in the offshore oilfield, communication was by radio or a Marasat phone at $10/minute. As a department head, I was allowed to use this phone and indulged myself with pulling the trigger and ordering The Package. When I finally caught Richard on the phone, I was patched in to him thru a marine operator. He was on one of the yachts circling our drilling rig during the July 4 tournament sponsored by casinos in Biloxi. In addition to his fishing yacht, Louisiana Offshore Magazine had a boat full of super models that would tease the men lined up on the side rails of our floating rig. The barge engineer noted the list of the rig every time the boat full of models cruised along side of us. Several boats would come along side of the rig and catch small fish amongst the underwater structure to use as bait.
 
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Subsea

Premium Member
Let’s talk about cross talk between coral and bacteria: Coral Holibiont

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcimb.2014.00176/full


Introduction


Multicellular hosts harbor communities of beneficial microbes (Bosch and McFall-Ngai, 2011). Compelling evidence illustrates how microorganisms have facilitated the origin and evolution of animals and are integral parts of all animal life (McFall-Ngai et al., 2013). The coral holobiont is comprised of the coral animal and its associated microorganisms consisting of bacteria, archaea, fungi, viruses, and protists including the dinoflagellate algae Symbiodinium (Rohwer et al., 2002). The coral holobiont is a dynamic system, whose members fluctuate depending on environmental conditions and daily requirements (Shashar et al., 1993; Tanner, 1996; Ainsworth et al., 2011). In their review of animal evolution, McFall-Ngai et al. (2013) proposed that our understanding of microbes' role in the evolution of animal partners could be increased by examining mutual interactions and reciprocal influences during development and genomic evolution. In this review, we follow their framework to evaluate the role coral-microbe associations have played in (1) genome evolution in both host and microbial partners, (2) shaping and driving coral development, (3) modulating holobiont homeostasis, and (4) defining the ecology of interactions in the coral holobiont. We aim to review the current literature on coral-microbe interactions in order to create a consolidated resource of knowledge in an emerging and quickly developing field. As the symbiosis between corals and Symbiodinium represents a long-standing field of investigation (Trench, 1983, 1993; Weber and Medina, 2012) we will focus in this review on our emerging understanding of other microbial components of the holobiont that we collective refer to as the microbiota.
 

Subsea

Premium Member
So, if I read correctly, bacteria are the “microbial overlords” in the marine environment. Considering quorum sensing bacteria and crosstalk between bacteria in surface film and bacteria in body mass of algae & coral to optimize growth in each, I agree with “microbial overlords”.

PS. In the movie, War of the Worlds, the invading Martians were finally killed by Earth’s “microbial overlords”.

Nano Sapians said:

I would say that back in the day, while we didn't have the in depth knowledge of the various microbes present on the reef or in a reef aquarium (and in/on the coral itself) that we have today, we did have a pretty good general idea that microbes were in the driver's seat. It was inconceivable that any competent reef aquarist would add substances/products of any sort that had the potential to disrupt a healthy, properly functioning reef biotope.

Nowadays, with the addition of so many products to 'fix anything' (and so little known about possible long term consequences to the microbial communities)...let's just say that things are 'different' and leave it at that.
 
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