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It's all @Paul B's fault... my journey to an immune reef (hopefully!)

Gweeds1980

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I posted back on the 19th May about my conundrum of whether I should manage ich or eradicate it... following some great replies from @Humblefish in particular I was all set to eradicate...

I was psyching myself up to try and move all my fish from my 1200l DT and let it run fallow. I was, in all honesty, putting it off though. I hadn't had an ich breakout since my tank was 3 months old (It's now 14). I then read @Paul B account of how he runs his immune tank. It worked for him... why not for me?

So it was a little under a month ago that I decided I would go down that route.

I am a biologist by education so decided to have a look at my entire set up to see how I could make it more natural.

For those not familiar with an immune tank, let me quickly run through how (in my opinion!) It works.

All the fish we keep live in or around tropical coral reefs. They have evolved to live in that environment, at that salinity, with that amount of nutrients, those predators and (and this is the important bit) with those pathogens and parasites. They feed off the reef or off things that feed off the reef. Bacteria is inside all of these things... as are the parasites and pathogens I referred to. So, over time, immunity against these nasties is built up and (again important bit) maintained.

If we can replicate as closely as possible, the exposure to these nasties in our own tanks and (again, important) provide the required bacteria and partially destroyed pathogens etc which are in the guts of their natural food, then we can maintain our fishes immunity against said nasties.

These are the steps I have taken so far:

1. Live blackworms... fed twice daily.
2. 2 Fresh (or frozen fresh) mussels (with guts intact) fed daily. I just smash the shell with a rolling pin and chuck them in.
3. Increase temperature to 81/82 F (to replicate the reef and speed up metabolism of both fish and nasties)
4. Increase flow.
5. Added a 3 stage fludised reactor with bio pellets, GFO and carbon, in order to get nutrients to as close to reef as possible (basically zero for the bad stuff and accepted norms for good stuff) and keep them stable.
6. NSW used in place of ASW for all WCs.

Results so far...
No ich whatsoever.
Better colouration exhibited in fish.
Clowns still breeding.
Humbug damsels becoming fruity.
Better PE in all corals.
Nitrate reduced to undetectable on salifert.
Phosphate reduced to undetectable on salifert.

It's still early days and I intend to also do the following (when funds allow in the case of lighting)
1. Upgrade lights and run as closely as possible to reef lighting conditions.
2. Make my own food to replace flake / pellets which I am also still feeding.
3. Replace dried nori sheets with fresh (or frozen fresh) seaweeds of different varieties.

I have already prepared a batch of food, which I'll go into detail about in a separate post on this thread.

My intention is to keep this thread updated with any further changes and observations.

I'd love to have your thoughts, suggestions, ideas and criticisms!

Cheers.
 
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Gweeds1980

Gweeds1980

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As promised... my frozen fish food recipe (no particular measurements, just chucked it all in a blender... my Mrs was not happy!!)

Ingredients (All ingredients went in fresh... that's important!):
Whole prawns, in shell.
1.Whole mussels, out of shell [emoji6]
2.Whole sardines (bones and all)
3.Just the guts of various sea fish (ask your fishmonger... and then watch the amusement come across his face!)
4. Live blackworms.
5. Seaweeds collected from local beach
6. Nori sheets.
7. Fillets of various sea fish, complete with skin on.
8. Garlic (Not a natural food granted, but I had some so what the heck)
9. Caulerpa from my refuge.
10. NSW to get it to a thick liquid state ( consistency of runny honey)

Once blended I poured it into freezer bags, tied them up and laid them flat in the freezer. I will use ice cube trays in the future so that I don't have to cut the sheet up each time.
 
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Gweeds1980

Gweeds1980

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As promised... my frozen fish food recipe (no particular measurements, just chucked it all in a blender... my Mrs was not happy!!)

Ingredients (All ingredients went in fresh... that's important!):
Whole prawns, in shell.
1.Whole mussels, out of shell [emoji6]
2.Whole sardines (bones and all)
3.Just the guts of various sea fish (ask your fishmonger... and then watch the amusement come across his face!)
4. Live blackworms.
5. Seaweeds collected from local beach
6. Nori sheets.
7. Fillets of various sea fish, complete with skin on.
8. Garlic (Not a natural food granted, but I had some so what the heck)
9. Caulerpa from my refuge.
10. NSW to get it to a thick liquid state ( consistency of runny honey)

Once blended I poured it into freezer bags, tied them up and laid them flat in the freezer. I will use ice cube trays in the future so that I don't have to cut the sheet up each time.
Oh, if anyone decides to adopt this recipe, I have some caveats:
1. If you break your blender - I'm not liable.
2. Do NOT smell it... It's really, REALLY bad... remember, you can never unsmell anything!
3. Do NOT ask your better half to smell it, although funny, it can lead to...
4. Divorce... it wasn't my fault you made him / her smell it.
5. Do it whilst your family are out and then claim you bought it from your LFS.
6. If anyone's does see you make this, make sure you put all utensils and equipment in the bin... they will never want to eat from them again.
7. It is NOT my fault.
8. Do NOT ever go back into the same fishmonger with your better half (this one is from personal experience).
9. Burn the clothing you wear when you make this. That smell doesn't wash out.
10. Do NOT feed the bits left in the blender at the end to your dog.
11. If your dog is sick, clear it up quickly. It smells worse than it did on the way in.
 
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock

ladynavyvet

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Gweeds 1980, buy your good wife a new blender, odds are she'll forgive you for ruining the prior one. Oh yea, keep a separate blender, and ice cube trays for making your homemade fish food. You know the saying "happy wife/girlfriend, happy life", and to my fellow ladies here, happy hubby/ boyfriend, happy life. If you can upgrade the new blender to say a Vitamix, extra brownie points for you. For you future fish food making, pop around to your local restaurant/bar supply store, and pick up a bar blender, the kind with a stainless steel pitcher. If they can crush ice for months and years, they can handle the recipe you've posted, and the pitcher will go right into your dishwasher. Jush give it a quick rinse, or put hot water, and a couple drops of dishsoap in it, and run on high for a few secrets, rinse with your hottest water, and dry, ready for your next batch.
 

ritter6788

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. Added a 3 stage fludised reactor with bio pellets, GFO and carbon, in order to get nutrients to as close to reef as possible (basically zero for the bad stuff and accepted norms for good stuff) and keep them stable.
This goes against the @Paul B method though right?
 

Paul B

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I don't have a blender. :rolleyes:

Your tank sounds fantastic and your fish should all be on social security in the future :D
But don't let it out or the companies that make quarantine tanks and medications will go the way of the Dodo
 

Tahoe61

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So "immune reef" is the new trend? A well balanced systems is not the same as immunity. My fish are not dying, I have healthy corals, no algae issues, so is my reef immune, no not in the sense as it relates to true immunity. Next thing you know hobbyist will be posting that clowns host anemones.


;Wacky
 

4FordFamily

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Immunity and resistance are also not the same thing and we mix these terms up frequently. Paul's fish nor yours are truly immune.

I hope it works out, I did it for ten years. Unfortunately it's a ticking time bomb and I lost more fish than I should have - I know that now that I properly quarantine and see how few fish I lose.

I do hope everything works out though, it's intriguing. I do just want the casual reader to understand that no fish is truly scientifically immune to any parasite.
 
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Gweeds1980

Gweeds1980

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Immunity and resistance are also not the same thing and we mix these terms up frequently. Paul's fish nor yours are truly immune.

I hope it works out, I did it for ten years. Unfortunately it's a ticking time bomb and I lost more fish than I should have - I know that now that I properly quarantine and see how few fish I lose.

I do hope everything works out though, it's intriguing. I do just want the casual reader to understand that no fish is truly scientifically immune to any parasite.
Thanks, yeah, I guess resistant is a more appropriate term when it comes to parasites. Viruses on the other hand...

I hear what your saying re quarantine... until recently I completely agreed. I ran FW tanks for years using strict quarantine protocols but every 5 years or so something would make it through and wipe loads of fish out. I started this tank the same way... I still have separate fish and invert QTs set up! But early doors ich made it in (own stupid fault... used a friend's net which was on hand to remove a boxfish... turned out it was his QT net... doh!). All my fish survived which got me to thinking why, when my FW always wiped out to some degree?

I put it down to resistance / immunity... which then made me research a little more.

I think these kinds of set ups can and do work just as well as truly quarantined set ups. I think the main problem is that many people see it as the 'easy option'. From my research, knowledge and a little common sense, it's no easier than running strict QT protocols. You need to ensure the parasites / pathogens are always in your system in the same painstaking manner that others ensure they are not.

IMHO there is no real difference between the two... you make your choices and you try to stick with it, usually for reasons personal to you or formed by your own experiences. Sure I can tell you how great running this type of system is gonna be... but I don't know that (yet). In 6 months time I may well be running back to the strict QT protocols begging for forgiveness!

I hope I'm not... I think this may just be the future (and the past).

That said, I will need to manage the pathogens and parasites I introduce of course... I suppose I can only really claim success once I manage to introduce velvet and everything survives. At the moment I'm happy with the ich situation and the fish seem to be too. I need to work on providing very low level / damaged / ingested versions of ailments such as velvet in order to bring up the level of resistance and I'm still working out how I could do that with a degree of safety.
 

Paul B

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So "immune reef" is the new trend?
No, it's just how I keep my fish and I am not a trend setter except in the way I comb my hair.

A well balanced systems is not the same as immunity.
No, it is not. Well balanced has to do with chemistry. Immunity means your fish will not and never have been sick even if exposed to pathogens.

I have healthy corals, no algae issues, so is my reef immune,
Maybe, maybe not. If you quarantined them for 72 days, they are not immune.

Next thing you know hobbyist will be posting that clowns host anemones
That could very well happen. :rolleyes:

Unfortunately it's a ticking time bomb and I lost more fish than I should have
Mine has been ticking for 46 years and I am tired of that noise, Tick, Tick, Tick. If it explodes now, it has had one heck of a run and I would call that a success, ticking or not. :D

I just came home with another one of these and he found his cousins in my tank and they are all playing and texting each other.

 
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Gweeds1980

Gweeds1980

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So "immune reef" is the new trend? A well balanced systems is not the same as immunity. My fish are not dying, I have healthy corals, no algae issues, so is my reef immune, no not in the sense as it relates to true immunity. Next thing you know hobbyist will be posting that clowns host anemones.


;Wacky
Lol... I never did figure out why people struggle with the hosting thing!

I guess it's no different to people saying that zooxanthellae have a commensal relationship with coral polyps not a symbiotic one :) plain wrong...

As I mentioned in my reply to 4fordfamily, the difference between a well balanced tank and an immune / resistant one is huge... It's as big a difference to quarantining is to not quarantining.

With an immune / resistant system you are encouraging the introduction of pathogens and parasites, but building up resistance through mainly diet, prior to it's introduction. I'm still working on other ways to build this resistance up... perhaps if I can find a way to create an unviable strain of velvet that would work... hmmmm. The microwave could be the next kitchen implement to go the way of the blender [emoji6]
 

Paul B

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Gweeds, the way you feed, "all" your paired fish should be spawning as I know they will. Spawning goes along with immunity and if your fish become truly immune, only being run over by a school bus, twice will kill them and disease will be a non issue like it has been for me for decades.
 

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