Mariculture vs Aquaculture Frags: How to Have Success with Maris!
While I always think its better to buy aquaculture frags from established tanks as the colors are already mature and you know what you're going to get, getting some mariculture colonies is a nice way to jump start your tank and have it look mature quicker.
For maris, some have more difficult times transitioning, which is why not everybody buys maris. I've had decent success with them with the following method:
1) Remove plug and put on my own... Plugs are just covered in all types of algae you don't want to go nuts in your tank.
2) Dip them all, not so much looking for AEFW but black bugs and sea spiders will make you shut down your tank. There is no cure for either but total shutdown.
3) Keep your tank alk at a lower value, below 7.5 dKh... Natural reefs have pretty low alk, often 6.5 dKh and below so having yours low too helps the transition IMO.
4) Put them directly in high light > 250 par. None of that "start them on the sand bed" business unless they are deepwater acros.
They will take a long time to settle on final colors. I've had some do it in months, I've had some for 2 years still not color up.
For price value, you can't beat maris. Just don't expect all the colors to be there for awhile and expect a higher mortality rate than just collecting aquaculture frags.
I like to have a mix of maris and named pieces in the tank when first starting so it doesn't look so bare but over time, I usually phase out the maris to make room for my named pieces, unless I find a gem of a mariculture... Then I name it. [emoji16]
All I can say is avoid spathulata and abrotanoides. They will reel you in with their amazing colors straight from the facility but are crazy difficult and often don't make the transition. I personally avoid millis these days too... Talk about ultimate bait and switch. They have ridiculous colors coming in and all end up turning into pretty boring colors under our lights for the most part. Plus, they have the highest mortality rate in my system... I've probably bought over 30+ maris over the years, with probably a 80% survival rate long-term and the 20% of deaths, about 3/4 of that are millis. They just do great for 2-3 months and then spend the next 3 slowly STNing away. Just my personal experience though, maybe they just don't like my tank. FWIW, my aquacultured millis are growing just fine.
Here's exactly what I'm talking about with the old tank. I circled all the maris. Makes it look fuller when you first start your tank so you aren't staring at a bunch of 1" sticks.
I sold most of them off over the years as my named pieces started growing larger. The gems I kept and named.
As opposed to the new tank where I have a bunch more named pieces and much less maris.