Swedish fish - behind the scenes rebuilding a public aquarium

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Sallstrom

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Here's the orange spotted filefish and it's food. All corals places in this tank is for the filefish to eat from. Luckily our one does eat more species than Acropora, so there're a lot of Seriatopora and Stylopora in there as well. It's the top tank on the picture.
IMG_8376.JPG
IMG_8382.JPG

The damage on the Stylopora is not from the filefish.
 
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Dr. Dendrostein

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Here's the orange spotted filefish and it's food. All corals places in this tank is for the filefish to eat from. Luckily our one does eat more species than Acropora, so there're a lot of Seriatopora and Stylopora in there as well. It's the top tank on the picture.
IMG_8376.JPG
IMG_8382.JPG

The damage on the Stylopora is not from the filefish.
I had orange spotted file fish 1yr ago? With dendronephthya and scleronephthya colonies. No issues. How big?
 

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Here's the summer substitute trying to catch a clown fish :D
Did he succeed?

And I'm curious.. with tanks this size do you have a good idea how many fish you actually have in each system? How closely do you track that?
 
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I had orange spotted file fish 1yr ago? With dendronephthya and scleronephthya colonies. No issues. How big?
It's about 6-7 cm. Never learned to eat anything other than corals. Lived in the 10000L tank before.
 

Lasse

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Some day I will come see Sweden. It is a bucket list thing. And also to visit the aquarium to see the displays and meet you guys, of course.
Your welcome

Sincerely Lasse
 
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Did he succeed?

And I'm curious.. with tanks this size do you have a good idea how many fish you actually have in each system? How closely do you track that?
No, he didn't :) We will have to take out the rocks and lower the water level to say 30 cm before we can catch any fish, I think.
In the shark tank it's was pretty easy to keep track of the fish, because it's not that many and few species. But it's hard to tell if there're 8 or 10 tangs for example.
It was harder in the 10000L tank, more species and some that only showed once a month. And trying to count anthias is hard if they are more than 10 :)
But if you look at the tank almost every day, you often see if something changes, a fish is missing etc.
 

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Some day I will come see Sweden. It is a bucket list thing. And also to visit the aquarium to see the displays and meet you guys, of course.
My wife and I are still planning fall of 2021 as long as the new build doesn't get delayed... (hint hint... make plans!)
 
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My wife and I are still planning fall of 2021 as long as the new build doesn't get delayed... (hint hint... make plans!)
We are still keeping the schedule, at least what I know of. But I will keep you posted if something happens! Might be nicer tanks in 2022, when they had some time to settle ;Nailbiting
Is there a R2R coffee mug? If you bring one you might get to swim in the reef tank ;)
 

Brew12

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We are still keeping the schedule, at least what I know of. But I will keep you posted if something happens! Might be nicer tanks in 2022, when they had some time to settle ;Nailbiting
Is there a R2R coffee mug? If you bring one you might get to swim in the reef tank ;)
That is a good point. Maybe we should plan late spring on 2022 so we don't miss you while you are on your 3 month summer vacation. :p

Looks like I've got 2 years to convince Rev that he needs to sell R2R coffee mugs!
 
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Bleigh

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Yesterday and today we've been moving corals, from the shark tank to the temporary tanks. Now it's mostly smaller pieces of coral, fish and rocks left to move.

Here's the summer substitute trying to catch a clown fish :D It was his last day today, and he wanted to take a swim.
IMG_8374.JPG


The move have gone well. Not much room left now in the temporary tanks :)
Wow! I can't imagine how difficult it would be to catch one fish with all that rock work! Props to him for trying!
 

Dr. Dendrostein

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We are still keeping the schedule, at least what I know of. But I will keep you posted if something happens! Might be nicer tanks in 2022, when they had some time to settle ;Nailbiting
Is there a R2R coffee mug? If you bring one you might get to swim in the reef tank ;)
Let him swim with the sharks, little bit of chum wouldn't hurt. Sharks might say to each other. "Look the other white meat." Id go just to see that. Maybe do a funraiser, while he's there Sallstrom

He would be famous
They'd call him Man Shark
 
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Fudsey

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Wow! I can't imagine how difficult it would be to catch one fish with all that rock work! Props to him for trying!
I think he really just wanted to dive the tank ;) ;Hilarious ;Hilarious ;Hilarious
 
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Here's something I wrote this summer. Something that explains my thinking when it comes to all addetives and stuff like that. I was thinking of doing it for an article, but haven't had the time to rewrite it. Let me know what you think! :)
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Reefing without magic bottles

Like so many aquarists I’ve tested many different, so called, methods and their associated products. Some products seemed to work fine while others had little or no effect. Often it was very hard to tell or to meassure. Some products made strange things happen in the tank, others smelled like rotten eggs. What most of them had in common was the absence of a table of contents on the packaging. The bottles only said that my corals would get more colors or the nutrients would go up or go down. I had no idea what I was adding to my tank.

After some years trying different methods, with very varied results, I became more and more skeptical when I saw new products. Not only did these products lack information on their content, they were also expensive. Buying a product, with a fancy name, for raising the calcium level were much more expensive than buying a bucket of calcium chloride. Buying potassium nitrate for planted tanks were more affordable then buying an already mixed product for raising nitrate.

The prices are important, but what I found was even more important to me was that I knew what I was adding to my aquarium water. If I knew what substances I was adding, I could read up on them and find out what they could do. I could also calculate how much I needed to dose to get the result I wanted.

Some products come with a recommended doses for 100 litres aquarium water. If the content isn't known you put all your trust in the hands of the manufacturer and that the manufacturer knows the demand in your tank. That's a risk of overdosing I'm not willing to take.

I’ve also tried treatments against Cyanobacteria and Dinoflagellates. I have no idea what was in them. Maybe something harmless, or maybe some kind of medicine, I don’t know. In my case I didn’t even dare to use the recommended dosage due to my growing skepticism. Therefor I can’t give a review on their effectiveness. But it turned out adding KNO3 and to get the nitrate up a bit solve the Cyanobacteria problem for me most of the times. So the need for unknown substances for solving that problem at that time went away.

Colorless and sad looking corals is another thing I’ve tried to cure with unknown substances in colorful bottles. Some for lowering the nutrients in the tank and others that would ”boost” the corals.

I’m sure some of them did what they should, but not knowing what substances were in them made me try to other ways instead. Increasing the phosphate was one thing. The nitrate was already adjusted. The same supplier who sold KNO3 also sold KH2PO4 powder. With some help from a colleague to calculate the strength, we did a solution and added it to a tank. After a couple of days I could see some phosphate in my readings and slowly the corals came back to life again and got more colorful. This additive has also helped against Cyanobacteria in another tank. I don't know the reason behind it, but I guess the Cyanobacteria did like it when the phosphate was very low and not as much when it was increased a bit.

Products for nutrient control are also common. I remember the ones that smelled like vinegar. Maybe it was just that, but more expensive than the ordinary one. I first tried to dose Vodka instead. It worked fine for getting specially the nitrate value down. Working at a municipal museum and aquarium, ordering Vodka wasn’t an option though. But we do have a small DNA-lab and in the lab we use 96% ethanol. So nowadays I use a blend of 96% ethanol and RO water as a carbon source when needed.

Phosphate might need other methods to get under control. I had heard some public aquariums used lanthanum chloride, LaCl, to precipitate the phosphate. Some used products for swimming pools, but I managed to find lab grade LaCl from a company selling chemicals. I know other aquariums have had good success with the pool products, but again, I wanted to know all the ingredients and the concentration of the solution. The powder is expensive, but on the other hand it last very long. I could dissolve 4 to 8 grams in 10 liters of RO water and dose out with a dosing pump at the inlet to our filter in a 10000L tank, and get a visible effect on my tests afterwards. (Disclaimer - LaCl might harm your fish. We’ve only used it together with sand pressure filter. Read up on LaCl before using it)

And then there are the products that will erase green hair algae, bubble algae or other types of algae from your aquarium. These I haven’t tried. My common sense says it seems odd to be able to find a substance that will only harm one specific type of algae, without affecting anything else in the tank. On the other hand I don’t see those algae as a sign of problem or high nutrients. They do well in low nutrient water as well. In fact they seems to like the same conditions as the corals we’re trying to keep. So instead of adding unknown substances for getting rid of algae, I like to add animals that graze on them. Why change something if the corals are doing fine? Urchins do a great job, so do tangs and rabbitfish. The list of herbivores found on tropical coral reefs is long. I think it's just a question on getting the right grazers and then to have patience to let them do their job.

Choosing a product for getting rid of algae is in my opinion just a search for a short cut. You’ll risk getting the tank out of balance by adding it IMO. You might get rid of the green hair algae, but end up with Dinoflagellates instead, for example.

Running calcium reactors means you need a media to dissolve. There are a couple of products to choose from. Some are expensive and some are less expensive. We ended up using ordinary coral gravel. The same stuff used as a substrate on the bottom. We went with the largest grain size. So it’s mostly old coral skeleton. I know there's no table of contents for the coral gravel, but it felt logical to use coral gravel.

Sometimes the calcium and magnesium drop a bit and we need to get the numbers up. For these elements the ingredients for making your own Balling solutions have worked fine. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are both easy to find and are usually not that expensive. I prefer to get these chemicals from an aquarium store, just to be sure they have worked well for other aquarists before me. I know you can find many of these salts elsewhere, for a cheaper price, but I like to know they are intended to be used in aquariums.

Along came the possibility to do ICP tests. A dream came true for all of us liking water chemistry and liking to have control over our aquarium water. Now I could get some more answers. I could see if adding KNO3 long term would raise the potassium more than I wanted it to (it didn’t). Or if any of the additives I've used were impure enough to have a bad impact on the aquarium inhabitants. I could also get an idea of if the salt used were having good parameters. And finally see how well our calcium reactors worked for adding Ca, Mg, Sr, K etc. Luckily it turned out that our water were pretty good and the additives and reactor media we’ve used had been a good choice.

With the ICP tests came the possibility to adjust more parameters. Here I've used mostly ready to use products. One bottle for each parameter. I know I don't know for sure what else other than the wanted element that is in the solution. But the brand we use (Triton lab) have safety data sheets for their products, so it's possible to get some information that way.
Why I like to adjust many parameters, without being 100% sure all of the elements doing something for the corals or the other inhabitants, is that I like to mimic ocean water.

Coral foods are also a vast range of products. Many of them don’t say what is in them. Nowadays you also can get a hold of many types of plankton yourself, live, dried or in concentrate.
I wanted to do an experiment with non-photosynthetic corals and wanted to see if I could find one or more good food sources for them. In my case I didn’t want to get good results with product ”X”, and not knowing what ingredients were the ones good for the corals. But that’s just me, I like to know the details. I get why premixed products for coral food are convenient and I guess most of them are quite harmless when dosed after the instructions.

Then we have bacteria in bottles. Here we get into things that are harder to measure and compare. Or maybe you could measure and compare, but I haven’t. And I have no intension writing down any products with bacteria. I eat bacteria pills myself, for my stomach. But I haven’t used any bought bacteria the last years for starting up new tanks. Instead I like to use old and established live rock and water from an existing, and well working, reef tank. Sometimes 50% and sometimes 5%, depending on what volumes and facilities I’ve had available. This ”method” has worked well for us starting up many new tanks at my work. But if this way is better than any other, I can’t say. I can just say that we’ve managed to do without the bottled bacteria.

The reason I wrote this piece is that I see so many threads with aquarists using all sorts of products in their tanks without being sure of what the results will be or what the ingredients are. I know reefkeeping is a frustrating game and it's tempting to try shortcuts, but many times these shortcuts have side effects. Only using products you know what they contain and what they will do, lower the risk in my opinion. That is my point of view.
 

Lasse

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Instead I like to use old and established live rock and water from an existing, and well working, reef tank. Sometimes 50% and sometimes 5%, depending on what volumes and facilities I’ve had available. This ”method” has worked well for us starting up many new tanks at my work. But if this way is better than any other, I can’t say. I can just say that we’ve managed to do without the bottled bacteria.
In my thread The Adriane project - I use that "method" in a small tank (75 L -> 20 G).
I´ll try to report with a short video as often as possible. Everyone can see how it develop itself. It is on day 20 today. There is soft corals, CUC, anemones and fishes in it already - working well. It is not difficult to start a reef tank if you know how to do it the easy way. The secrete in a small tank is to limit the food during the first three weeks - just very, very small amounts the first weeks. In a large tank - it does not matter - but I want to show how it can been done in a small tank too.

Sincerely Lasse
 
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Sallstrom

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In my thread The Adriane project - I use that "method" in a small tank (75 L -> 20 G).
I´ll try to report with a short video as often as possible. Everyone can see how it develop itself. It is on day 20 today. There is soft corals, CUC, anemones and fishes in it already - working well. It is not difficult to start a reef tank if you know how to do it the easy way. The secrete in a small tank is to limit the food during the first three weeks - just very, very small amounts the first weeks. In a large tank - it does not matter - but I want to show how it can been done in a small tank too.

Sincerely Lasse
Maybe we shouldn't talk about this obscure method. We might upset people.. ;)
But jokes aside, there are many "rules" out there I don't agree on. I don't say they are bad, but you don't have to do it a certain way. Like curing LR, cycling a tank, etc. So I think your new thread is great. I can write the same thing but I think people listen more to you :D Seems like many think public aquariums has magic methods and equipment, when they in fact struggle with the exact same problems as all hobbyists ;)
 

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