Note from the Editor:

This article, Part 2 and the conclusion of which appears today, was originally published in Marine Fish Monthly some years ago. It is published again here with permission from the author. While some of it may feel dated, the article is as interesting now as it was then. The photos herein are also courtesy of the author and published here with his permission.


During the last few years of the test tank, Marc sent me a product that later became Reef Bugs™ and is now sold by Reefbrite™. They worked great because it was a live product. With a size range from one to ten microns, they fit in well with the other foods to widen the spectrum even more. Under normal use, my tank seemed to run cleaner. When I went far beyond the recommended dosages, I saw the growth of white hair like strands of bacteria which were pretty in small amounts. Now that many of Marc’s other products are off the market, the expanded use of Reef Bugs™ has helped me fill part of that void.

All of these were medium-length observations on a small scale. Of course I may just be a person that is easily entertained but I was quite excited! I was seeing the beginnings of spontaneous growth on rocks that were seeded in the ocean, but long starved of food in my tanks. My once live rock had been through the curing process which simply got rid of a large percentage of the beautiful living organisms that were on it before dying in the shipping process. Now some of the remnants were coming back to life!


I am still looking for ways to safely broaden the feeding spectrum. Now there are many other products that are coming onto the market. I am just now starting to experiment with some of them in my newest tank, like Reef Enhance and Live Rock Enhance that are also sold by Reefbrite™. I like them because they are also live food.

I can’t report on the newer products yet. I simply know that some success is possible! Unfortunately, a lot of experimentation will have to be done to find consistently successful paths but that is part of the fun.

Over the years, Dr. Charles Matthews, Chuck Stottlemire and many others have found success using other means of nutrient export, purchased products and methods that promoted the growth of bacteria, diatoms and a wide swath of other foods.

Now there are both live phyto and zooplankton in addition to bacteria in bottled form along with dead foods in bottled, powdered and frozen form that make feeding easer. Another category contains powdered spores that reanimate when water is added. Some foods are a mix of secret formulas. Some work and others don’t.

I have to balance between living and dead foods. One doesn’t add a burden for my waste removal system and the other is less expensive and more diverse.

I hope we will find the keys to allowing more species to be imported and propagated for sale, with the expectation that they will survive and thrive in our captive reefs.

I also hope that these keys will allow the stimulation of a wide variety of spontaneous growth to create a much more rich and varied, natural look that will be even more interesting to look at in our home reef aquariums.

I look forward to reading about more progress being made by this community to better chart those predictable paths to even more diverse beauty in the captive reef.

In addition to getting rid of excess nutrients, most types of tanks also need high water displacement in the tank. In addition to reducing the settling of food on the bottom of the tank, strong water displacement delivers oxygen to and carries away waste products from tank inhabitants.


A certain percentage of plankton that goes through many old style pumps with small propeller blades may kill plankton as it passes through powerheads. The non-traumatic pumps that are advocated in Dynamic Aquaria are not available to the public even now.

These days, we are starting to use larger propeller blades in pumps that may slightly lower plankton damage. I use a Neptune COR that uses radial-style blades which may be a little better. Additionally, I use a Gyre that also may be less traumatic to plankton while displacing lots of water.

With some programming help, I was able to link the COR and the Gyre’s flow ramping with the scrubber’s dump cycle which is nice to watch. There are a few different ways to get most of the water volume in the tank to move in a more laminar flow nowadays and this can also be helpful.

As a side note I should report that my Pacific Blue Tang developed ich two days after I bought it. After I added Coral Vital the ich seemed to have gone into remission. After that, the fish remained healthy.

The Coral Vital is reportedly a catalyst for the growth of useful bacteria and at high dosages small white strands of this bacterium could be seen growing near all of my pumps. Since I had heard that bacteria and other very small particles were being used as food sources for sponges in commercial environments this seemed like a viable way of boosting my bacteria populations.
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This is the end of Part 2.


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Author Profile: @herring_fish

Asa Herring has been a marine aquarist for many years. He has written many articles for glossy aquatic magazines, and he is kindly allowing Reef2Reef to publish some of his articles again here.