Category Archives: Tanks

Latest Posts

Fisher Island Corals & The Saga of The Deep Dredge (Part 1 of 3)

Aerial view of Biscayne Bay, Government Cut, and Fisher Island encircled in deep dredge silt Over the past eighteen months, the Army Corps of Engineers’ Deep Dredge of PortMiami has continuously released dirty water throughout Biscayne Bay and onto our surrounding reefs. The dredging will continue until at least August 2015. Over the course of the Dredge we have observed levels of suspended silt far beyond what is environmentally acceptable or healthy in a coral reef environment, and in areas well outside the area where the Army Corps predicted. One of Coral Morphologic’s biggest concerns during the Deep Dredge has been the well-being of the hybrid fused-staghorn coral (Acropora prolifera) colonizing the Fisher Island side of Government Cut. This coral is what kickstarted our interest in documenting the extent of coral colonization within Miami’s coastal waterways, and was the subject of Colin’s 2011 TEDxMIA talk. The concerns we expressed to the State of Florida about this coral is ultimately what led them to provide us with permits to rescue corals from the dredging far offshore… but not for the hybrid itself (or any other corals on Fisher Island). [embedded content] Colin’s 2011 TEDxMIA talk on Hybrid Acropora living within Miami city limits In addition to this highly unusual hybrid Acropora coral living within the shipping channel, we have found a variety of other Acroporid corals living on the seawalls of Fisher Island. There are at least three colonies of federally-protected Elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata) and 2 different morphotypes of hybrid Acropora prolifera. As far as we know, Coral Morphologic are the only researchers documenting these critically important corals growing along man-made shorelines in Florida. Typically, elkhorn corals are found miles offshore on the outer reef crest where they receive clean water and strong water movement. Elkhorn corals were once the most important reef-building corals in the Caribbean, and the most effective coral species at dissipating hurricane storm surges for coastal communities. But since the early 1980’s more than 95% of the populations across the region have succumbed to highly infectious diseases. One such disease, white pox, has even been proven to be a human gut pathogen transmitted to the elkhorn coral via human waste from leaky septic tanks and offshore piping of sewage. In fact, white pox is the first known pathogen to be transmitted from a human to a marine invertebrate species. Over the past 5 years we have watched as these colonies of elkhorn coral wax and wane. Some years they will show remarkable growth, while another year they lose multiple sub-colony branches to white pox. However, over the past year (during the Deep Dredge), we have observed a precipitously steep decline in their health. We now feel that their survival is endangered enough by the continuing dredge silt that their plight needs to made public, and that their long-term well-being is ensured. [embedded content] Fisher Island Elkhorn Coral pre-dredge/ mid-dredge health survey It should be noted that the Virginia Key Wastewater Treatment Plant sits just ½ mile (760 m) away across Norris Cut… putting these corals within potential reach of air or waterborne contamination. Furthermore, these elkhorn corals are living on the outside of the Fisher Island marina which houses a multitude of luxury yachts, along with the occasional sewage, petroleum, or chemical spill. Despite it being less than a square kilometer in size, luxurious Fisher Island features a 9-hole golf course and lush landscaping indicative of frequent fertilizer use and runoff. The likelihood of the Federally-protected elkhorn coral self-recruiting and growing to adult size in such a manmade environment defies conventional logic when taking all these factors into consideration. Therefore, these particular elkhorn corals on Fisher Island could be invaluable to the scientific understanding of the adaptability, resilience, and restoration potential of such a keystone coral species. Furthermore, the elkhorn corals of Fisher Island are surviving in an extremely shallow sub-tidal zone where they are subject to direct sunlight and intense UV radiation. At one point in time these colonies were up to 1.5 meters in diameter. What appears now to be multiple independent branches of living elkhorn coral are all that remain of a previously contiguous mother colony. Partial die-off of coral colonies presents a dilemma for coral researchers, as it can create the illusion of multiple smaller colonies, when actually they are all clones of each other. One upside to having discontiguous colony for research is that a single branch can be removed for transplantation without risking the rest of the colony to a subsequent infection. In the past year, both of the elkhorn colonies living on the Norris Cut side of Fisher Island have demonstrated significant mortality, and evidence of white pox. Both colonies have undergone approximately 60-70% mortality since the dredging began, but appear to have stabilized during the previous cooler months. Without direct intervention we are concerned that these elkhorn colonies may not survive through summer 2015. More distressing is the clear evidence of dredge silt that has lethally smothered neighboring brain and star corals that were simply rested horizontally onto boulders when transplanted there by Army Corps subcontractors. Upon trying to fan off the silt that was choking these corals, we noticed that many were not even cemented in place as required. Rather, they were simply placed on the flat upper surfaces of the seawall boulders and left to their own devices. Even a small storm (let along a hurricane) can easily flip these unattached corals off their perches and upside down in the sediment. Whoever was paid to transplant these corals did a completely negligent job, and without any regard for the future success and settlement of the corals. An unacceptable number of these corals have already died from dredge sediment stress or simply from being dislodged from their perches. Some accountability is required for the deaths of these corals. [embedded content] Fisher Island silt-smothered coral survey Read more about our proposed solution to ensure the future survival of Fisher Island’s unique Acropora corals in Part 2. Tags: Coral Morphologic, Fisher Island, Miami This entry was posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2015 at 4:55 pm and is filed under Research. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Captive Grown Coral Colonies

Here is a captive grown colony of Cortez Favia. 7 Polyps to full colony in 1 year.

Here is a captive grown colony of Cortez Favia. 7 Polyps to full colony in 1 year.

 One of my life goals is to become a key player in the restoration of coral reefs. Until that time comes, I get to play pretend with one of the world’s largest thriving reef tanks, Joe Yaiullo’s 20,000 gallon behemoth. Last year, Joe noticed how several of our (ReefGen’s) Cortez Favia frags had fused into large, healthy colonies, and asked me to make him one for his tank. I happily agreed. As an aside, this technique is also used by Jamie Craigs from the Horniman Museum and Aquarium to produce spawning-size Acropora colonies in a short amount of time.… More:

Reef Threads Podcast #230


What tells you that a fish is healthy?

We’ve returned again because we simply can’t help it. This week’s topics include MASNA scholarships, Bryopsis, mollusk tanks, healthy fish characteristics, floors for fish tanks, and Acropora resistance. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

Sponsor: Rod’s Food
Rod’s Food website

MASNA scholarships
The MASNA student scholarship page

Fed acros are tough acros
Feeding Acropora helps them handle elevated temperatures and CO2, Leonard Ho, Advanced Aquarist

The floor under your tank
Floor selection for reef room, WindeyD, Reef2Reef.

Your email:

 

Georgia Aquarium Welcomes Baby Beluga Whale On Mothers Day!

beluga Georgia Aquarium resident Beluga Whale, Maris, gave birth early Sunday morning to a female calf. What a special Mothers Day for the Aquarium! The calf was born coming in at almost 60 inches long and 126 pounds and successfully swam to the surface to take her first breath of air. The Georgia Aquarium has temporarily closed the Beluga Exhibit to allow mom and baby some private time to bond and to ensure that all of their needs are properly met. Both mom and baby will receive 24 hour monitoring and care in this crucial period after birth.… More:

Marine Aquarium Decorations: Tacky, Tasteful, or Somewhere In-Between?

Large coral insert tank decoration at a big box pet storeI’ve always favored very naturalistic aquariums, so when an acquaintance recently asked me what I think about using decorations in saltwater systems, my immediate response (more or less) was that I find them tacky and cringe-worthy and that corals and fish should be decoration enough. But I have to admit, when pressed to explain why I think this way, I couldn’t really come up with a satisfactory answer. My contention that I prefer to keep things natural doesn’t really hold up, since, let’s face it, I’m using artificial means to provide everything from water currents to sunlight to waste removal in my tank. Not to mention, there aren’t a lot of fish and corals out there in the natural world living in rectangular glass houses (and if there are, they probably shouldn’t throw stones!). Nor could I honestly argue that aquarium decorations are just plain ugly because, as the old saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”So this challenge to my long-held viewpoint sort of got me thinking. Can I really support the assertion that ornaments have no place in marine tanks? Tasteful tank décor I’ve seen My mind goes back to a photo of an aquarium I saw in some book many, many years ago. A focal point of this tank was a spot-lit, half-buried amphora (similar to these ancient vase replicas) with bubbles created by a hidden airstone rising from its mouth.

Reef Threads Podcast #229


One of the animals in Marius Schudel’s Irish rockpool aquarium.

Postmodern Jukebox support for Gary leads off a podcast packed with reef information including clown triggerfish mariculture, Quality Marine’s fish-information QR codes, lionfish eating, Marius Schudel’s (he’s a guy!) Irish rockpool aquarium, and anti-aging nematocysts. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

Sponsor: Rod’s Food
Rod’s Food website

Prepping lionfish
Three videos about how to prepare lionfish for eating:
Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

Irish rockpool aquarium
Marius Schudel’s rockpool aquarium
Video of Marius Schudel’s Irish rockpool aquarium

Anti-aging nematocysts
Sea Anemone Delivery of Collagen and γ-PGA for Anti-Aging Benefits, Tal, Danon, Toren, Khaiat, Cosmetics and Toiletries magazine.

Your email:

 

OdySea Aquarium Coming to Arizona

 Scottsdale, Arizona will be getting a fantastic new aquarium. OdySea Aquarium is in the works to open in July of 2016. Upon completion, the 14 acre Aquarium will be the largest aquarium in the Southwest. It will be over 200,00 square feet and hold up to 2 million gallons of water.… More:

Reef Threads Podcast #228


Make every effort to attend the MBI Workshop, July 25.

It’s a new week and we have a new podcast for reef-aquarium junkies. This week’s topics are the MBI workshop, MASNA scholarships, lionfish, and the definition of a biotope. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

Sponsor: Rod’s Food
Rod’s Food website

MBI Workshop
MBI Workshop, July 25, Cranbrook Institute, Bloomfield Hills, MI

MASNA Scholarships
MASNA Scholarship applications due June 19

Lionfish overwhelm
A recap of what we’ve learned about invasive Lionfish this month (none of it good), Leonard Ho, Advanced Aquarist.

Biotopes
What Constitutes a Marine Biotope Aquarium?, Jeff Kurtz, Saltwater Smarts,

Your email:

 

Reefs.com is the world's leading destination for sustainable coral reef farming and the aquarium hobby. We offer a free open forum and reef related news and data to better educate aquarists and further our goals of sustainable reef management.