A huge neglected frontier in reefkeeping

Peter Houde

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It's important to understand viruses or phages as they are commonly reffered to by researchers now, are omnipresent in coral microbiomes. As posts here demonstrate, the common perception is phages are bad. In reality phages are essential components of an organisms immune processes. There are good and bad phages. There are also phages that may be living in coral microbiomes without causing problems (lysogenic) and stress can switch them to a disease causing reproductive mode (lytic) causing cell death.

As coral microbiomes, which includes phages, are species specific it seems reasonable to expect species specific responses to stress events. Besides stress events like excessive changes in temperature, excessive changes in lighting, insufficient or excessive nutrients (particulate, organic and inorganic C, N & P) the microbial processes in a system in general (aurabiome if you will) are also factors.


The take away as I see it is reef ecosystems are an incredibly complex with layers upon layers upon layers and species specific variables at every level. Quoting Martin Moe "It's not rocket science, it's a lot more complicated." Since there is a great deal still to be learned and we know the microbial processes in a reef system are critical for sustaining corals AND corals are actively trying to promote processes benefical for themselves, to maintain corals sustainably for the decades or centuries they can live it seems we should not be promoting practices we know skew microbial processes especially as we can't easily quantify or identify which species is proliferating.
"Phage" is a colloquialism for bacteriophage. Bacteriophages are just one class of viruses. Bacteriophages only and exclusively infect bacteria, not corals or anything else.
 

djf91

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It’s pretty hard to tell anything useful about nutri seawater from the completely mixed up advertising, except if you actually believe it, organisms wouldn’t survive.


CriticalElement​

Concentration(Micrograms/Liter)

CriticalElement​

Concentration(Micrograms/Liter)
Aluminum
43.65
Manganese
1.650
Antimony
0.20325
Molybdenum
13.690
Bromide
97,500
Nickel
4.695
Cadmium
0.129
Potassium
664,500
Calcium
7.088
Selenium
1.147
Chloride
29,055,000
Silver
0.032
Chromium
1.514
Sodium
16,155,000
Cobalt
0.070
Strontium
15,000
Iodine
21.600
Thallium
0.0093
Iron
14.985
Tin
0.04125
Lithium
278.250
Vanadium
2.423
Magnesium
2,085,000
Zinc
24.525

The hobby has gotten so ridiculous in recent years with all of these BS products. They’re not even trying to hide the BS anymore.

How about bottled bacteria products. Do we know what species of bacteria are actually in these? Are they even marine specific? Reef specific? No wonder reef tanks did better when we were adding live rock from the ocean with bacteria from tropical ocean reefs instead of some misc. bacteria grown who knows where.

 

Reefjnky

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Each liter of natural seawater contains a billion bacteria.

Reef keepers prattle on endlessly about good and bad bacteria.

Each liter of natural seawater contains ten times that many viruses.

When was the last time a reef keeper asked whether any of those trillions of viruses in their aquarium might be contributing to the problems they are experiencing?

There's no easy answer to this issue. We can barely get a handle on a handful of human pathogenic viruses. Perhaps that's why it's not discussed much, but that doesn't mean it isn't playing a large role in reef aquaria.

How would we even know?

There is a constant stream of folks with problems that might be viruses. But there are no tests and no solutions.

Is ignorance bliss? Not to the guy who loses his prized organism for unknown reasons.
Do people that dose antibiotics see any difference? Would antibiotics be effective If they were truely bacteriophage viruses? How would viral issues look differently? Or are we treating viral issues as bacterial in out tanks?
 

CoastalTownLayabout

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I wonder if people see different cycles when using their own mixed water vs seawater. I know I had a horrible first experience with my first tank. I used nutri seawater and had horrible algae issues. I mix my own water for the tanks after and its way more manageable. Someone told me they get that water from an intercoastal area by ft lauderdale buy i'm not sure.

Well, I’ve done both many times over many years. My anecdotal consensus is that the NSW systems rolled through a more diverse range of the typical start up ‘problem’ issues more quickly without any particular issue dominating for any length of time.
 

CoastalTownLayabout

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Well, I’ve done both many times over many years. My anecdotal consensus is that the NSW systems rolled through a more diverse range of the typical start up ‘problem’ issues more quickly without any particular issue dominating for any length of time.

The caveats to this are that I do not blast my new systems with the power of a thousand Saxbys and almost always start with hardy lower light corals and no fish.
 

theMeat

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My take on this is since we don’t know what, or how many water viruses we have, or how they work, that nature knows better. On a new tank would start clean then let diversity take its course. My experience in this hobby has shown me my Grandmother was right. “You have to eat 2lbs of dirt by the time your 3 or you won’t be healthy”.
 

King Reef

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Heres a great video little off topic but shows you how there are layers upon layers things going on inside our bodies and corals.

 

Reefjnky

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Well, I’ve done both many times over many years. My anecdotal consensus is that the NSW systems rolled through a more diverse range of the typical start up ‘problem’ issues more quickly without any particular issue dominating for any length of time.
True but the OP was talking about viruses. NSW would have an unknown amount of viruses from the wild...are these better for our reefs than using rodi water and mixing our own? This would limit viruses and any large scale exposure. Or does the natural effect of using NSW actually benefit our little ecosystems..my limited experience is that the lack of natural viruses or bacteria has given me less issues over the years over introducing whatever is in the ocean..it could also be based on premixed hand and what time of year they collected ir
 

CoastalTownLayabout

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True but the OP was talking about viruses. NSW would have an unknown amount of viruses from the wild...are these better for our reefs than using rodi water and mixing our own? This would limit viruses and any large scale exposure. Or does the natural effect of using NSW actually benefit our little ecosystems..my limited experience is that the lack of natural viruses or bacteria has given me less issues over the years over introducing whatever is in the ocean..it could also be based on premixed hand and what time of year they collected ir

I was really just responding to your question about any observed differences between mixed salt / NSW start ups and your experience with Nutri Seawater. I don’t think Nutri Seawater is available in my part of the world and from my limited knowledge of the product I’m not sure I’d even class it as NSW.

I have no definitive answer to OP’s premise but my inclination leans towards viruses in NSW not being highly problematic in most reefing scenarios. Exceptions might be specific systems growing out or holding a monoculture of a particular coral, fish or invert species but again, speculation only.
 

Tripod1404

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One thing that keeps me wake at night there there must be a virus that specifically targets Cryptocaryon irritans. If someone can isolate this virus, we will have a truly reef safe icy treatment.

Perhaps people who don’t quarantine but have no issues with ich have this virus in their tanks, which keeps ich numbers under control. This might also possibly explain why once ich lands to a tank with quarantined fish, it wrecks havoc but people who do not quarantine rarely lose fish to ich. Basically when we eliminate ich from a system, we also eliminate its nemesis. So if ich ever returns back, it can spread unchecked.
 

Subsea

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One thing that keeps me wake at night there there must be a virus that specifically targets Cryptocaryon irritans. If someone can isolate this virus, we will have a truly reef safe icy treatment.

Perhaps people who don’t quarantine but have no issues with ich have this virus in their tanks, which keeps ich numbers under control. This might also possibly explain why once ich lands to a tank with quarantined fish, it wrecks havoc but people who do not quarantine rarely lose fish to ich. Basically when we eliminate ich from a system, we also eliminate its nemesis. So if ich ever returns back, it can spread unchecked.
Touché. You have found Truth.

After 52 years of Reefing, I don’t quarantine and I don’t get sick fish. Tanks are stocked with sponges to balance out microbes.
 

JMann

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I’ve been brainstorming the pros and cons of using natural sea water from Palm Beach near where I live for my new tank(mixed reef)setup. I would predominantly go out in a boat and collect from where the gulfstream current is running on real high visibility days specifically.

We did this with our fish and invert tanks I had growing up. We collected everything ourselves and had zero fish disease or parasite deaths. They were so robust and vibrant compared to many fish obtained from the trade.

Possible issues with coral from this water may be a different story but, I’m not so inclined to think it’s as scary and dangerous as people express. The truth lies in the details so each case is different due to different variables.
 

Set it and forget it: Do you change your aquascape as your corals grow?

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