Friday, July 20, 2007

Reeftopia, Part I


I have been plagued with the fascination of contained ecosystems since I was a kid. Started with ant farms and collecting pill bugs from the garden. I was 10 years old when I bought my first aquarium from the local pet store. I remember I saved my allowance for weeks just to get the 5 gal. Hexagon Eclipse tank. I kept a Calico Ryukin goldfish named “Purty”. My fascination grew with my age and a few large planted tanks and one Marine system later, behold “Reeftopia."

“Reeftopia” is my 10 gallon nano reef system that resides on my desk, in my cubicle, at my job, in my life. Most of my experience with keeping tanks has been fun and enjoyable, rarely to the point of obsession. When I discovered mini reef keeping and all the possibilities, I acquired the fixation. I daydreamed of all the gorgeous mixtures of miniature organisms functioning and growing together in a tiny reef system. Tiny Zooanthid gardens, little clusters of cloves, tiny branching Acroporas, just below the waters surface; the possibilities are endless! I truly admit that I have become obsessed. You know, one of those people who can stare blankly at the tank for hours without hesitation or distraction.

I started the tank about 8 months back to “fit in” with the crowd here at the MD headquarters. I have kept extensive freshwater planted tanks and one FOWLR system. Never had enough money for corals and inverts and was scared to experience the horror stories I have heard about contained reefs. I wanted to keep it natural so I supplied the tank with a Hydor Thermo-filter and x2 Aquaclear hang on power filters. One filter for strictly mechanical filtration and the other one I stuffed with Chito and Coulerpa. I do not use carbon or any chemical filtration in my tanks on a normal basis. Some situation may call for special filtration, but water changes should handle it!

Once established, the wonderful staff at Marine Depot Live hand selected my first corals for me. I don’t have any pictures of this stage but it was truly a new venture. I started with just a couple of Candy coral and a Pearl Bubble Coral with the company of a damsel that was left from the cycle, and a big ol' Clarky Clown.

I began reading more and seeing pictures of these gorgeous nano-reefs and learned that this is really a fairly new way to keep reefs. Tiny little systems make the maintenance of a large reef seem minute and you still have the ability to create the rainbow essence of a reef. Not more than a week later I bought more coral, Zooanthids and a Galaxea. Now at this point I was not aware that my new tank friends would not be friends forever...