The magic of biodiversity and where it comes from.

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AFHokie

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My reef has recently passed the 6 month mark and there’s been a marked increase in visible biodiversity.

Little copepods show up pretty early in just about all tanks but the things that come after are not always so standard. As I sit in amazement and watch various copepods, amphipods, ostracods, a zillion baby stomatellas, etc. I start wondering where these all come from.

Nowadays there is a very large share of reefers who use dry rock, myself included, yet the biodiversity still increases and our tanks still go through magically unseen changes that improve stability and the ability to support more delicate life. Sure, it’s slower than live rock but it still happens.

So, aside from coral frags where does this life come from? I ask that because there can be a major time lapse between the last frag that went in and new life forms appearing. Is it simply a matter of long incubation times of hitchhiked eggs? Is it the lag in growth until a population is large enough to visibly see? If we are religious about dipping frags would we never see new unexpected life?

Just some things I’ve been thinking about to share, stimulate conversation, and enjoy this hobby we all love (on most days :D)
 
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Susan Edwards

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did yo start with dry rock or live. Otherwise, it would be frags I'd guess. If you added snails, or hermits, maybe hitchikers on shells? I would think dipping corals would kill most of the hitchhikers.
 

Nano sapiens

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Is it the lag in growth until a population is large enough to visibly see?

Yes.

If we are religious about dipping frags would we never see new unexpected life?

Maybe, but most likely not. Much depends on type of dip(s) and how long the frag is dipped. Most people dip once and call if good, but many eggs are much hardier than the animal itself and some (at least) are impervious to our typical dips.
 
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AFHokie

AFHokie

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did yo start with dry rock or live. Otherwise, it would be frags I'd guess. If you added snails, or hermits, maybe hitchikers on shells? I would think dipping corals would kill most of the hitchhikers.
I did start with dry rock.

I have only recently started dipping frags so earlier ones are likely hitchhiker sources. What spiked my curiosity though was the time lapse. I have recently begun to see lots of new life but it’s been at least a couple months since my last frag addition.
 

ISpeakForTheSeas

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Agreed with Nano sapiens comment - sometimes it takes until a population booms, and sometimes the hitchhikers that haven’t been reproducing have simply been out of sight the whole time (there are tons of threads on here about fish disappearing even in small tanks for weeks on end only to reappear unexpectedly at a later date - if a fish can hide that effectively, I’d imagine smaller or more secretive creatures could potentially go unnoticed for months or even years).

Also, as mentioned, dips do not remove all hitchhikers.

Aside from frags and assuming the use of both dry rock and dry sand, new life could potentially come in on macroalgae, contaminated phyto or pod cultures, inverts of all kinds, contaminated water from livestock shipments, even on fish (though this one may be pretty unlikely for most, non-parasitic hitchhikers).

Basically, if you want to prevent all hitchhikers (or at least as many as it is actually possible for you prevent, since we can’t really stop bacteria and viruses and other tiny organisms from entering our tanks), you would need to quarantine everything and fastidiously remove any hitchhikers you find/discard anything you find coming in with hitchhikers that you may not be able to remove.
 
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