The tank that started the bare bottom craze

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Lazy's Coral House

Ike

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I remember this tank and the Acropora cervicornis, and unfortunately also the unfortunate acrimonious comments thrown back-and-forth on RC...

As to why it worked well, well we now know that there are many ways to skin a cat and this was one of them. Lower fish bioload, mature ocean live rock with associated bacteria/archaea/periphyton, UV to minimize water column micro-algae and bacteria and skimming to remove particulates.

I was keeping saltwater when the Berlin system became known internationally in the late 70's/early 80's. Rubble, not fine sand, was the typical substrate used (because of the strong flow) and gravel vacuuming was employed and/or a Convict Blenny was recommended to keep the detritus stirred up for the skimmer to collect.

From 'The Reef Aquarium Vol 3 (Delbeek/Sprung), pg 368:

"When the Berlin method was introduced to the USA, it was popular practice to manage reef aquariums with bare bottoms, so that it was at one time erroneously believed in the USA that a bare bottom was one of the features of the Berlin method."

The system quickly morphed as people began experimenting, so it's no wonder that some of the original methodology has been obscured.

That quote is funny since Sprung played a prominent role in the dislike for sand beds and misinterpreting the the Berlin Method in the US years before that book was published.

Berlin method here was kind of like Pizza here, it resembled the original, but some things got lost in translation and we had our own version...
 

MnFish1

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I don't know if this qualifies as a 'Berlin system' - but - I have a 140 tank (with sump), live rock a very very thin sand bed - <1/4 inch, a sump and a skimmer. I run 1 bag of chemiclean blue. And try to have lots of flow with a very open rocks cape. I have clear water. 3 tangs (fairly good sized - a tusk, copper band and a couple smaller fish). I do 40 gallon water changes every 2 weeks. Don't have a refugium, reactors, etc. Oh - and I dose 2 part per the BRS method. Like some others here - I was not really aware that the Berlin method was 'sand-less' - or bare bottom. I have nothing against bare bottom from a management perspective - I just don't like the look. I use no 'trace elements' or additives (besides fish food and the 2 part). I have a long photoperiod - starting slowly in the AM - up to 100 percent mid day and slowly down until evening. I do not concentrate on 'blues'. Oh - and heresy alert - My 'ATO' consists of adding RODI water when I start seeing bubbles coming from the return pump - about 5 gallons at a time. It all goes to show - there are lots of ways to do things. I am posting new pictures (update) today - which is why all the detail. Note - the occasional aphasia - which occurred suddenly - with no real new additions. But some Berghia is getting ti under control (the filefish, copper band and peppermint shrimp do not seem to touch it).

Here is picture from today - RedSea Reefer XXL 750 - with the above method (note what I presume is a version of Allelopathy - between the green coral and orange Setosa on the far right. For scale - tank is 5 feet

IMG_3366 copy.jpeg
 

Jon Warner

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To add more history---

Barebottom tanks set up like this were called Berlin Systems which came from European reefers. They were popular a good 15-20 years before that system you pictured was around.

I was running barebottom tanks when I started in 1989 and still do now. Berlin systems are simple and have decades of success.

I would say he did popularize starboard bottoms, "cooking" live rock, and UV use back then, so that part of his approach was unique. At that time there were dozens of threads Barebottom vs DSB(very heated topic) , so he didn't really create any BB craze.

His system didn't have many fish. so the bioload was low with no nutrients hence the reason he ran his lighting the way he did. He would have killed everything if he ran his lights on higher par or longer periods of time with the MH.

The UV kept algae down, not sure about helping skim production as it's never has been verified or proven it does that.

Bomber was a great asset and I really enjoyed his contributions back then as he shared a ton of info on numerous topics. It's a shame he went underground.

The "Berlin System" was never specified as a BB system. Sprung and Delbeek described it in the 90's but the origin goes back to the 70's/80's and Peter Wilkens.

It was never/has never been a BB system.
 
Maxout

Jon Warner

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The "Berlin System" was never specified as a BB system. Sprung and Delbeek described it in the 90's but the origin goes back to the 70's/80's and Peter Wilkens.

It was never/has never been a BB system.

IIRC... and it's been a LOOONG time, I think Steve Tyree was one of the the first running a BB SPS tank in... maybe 95 or 96? (Yes, he borrowed upon Stuber)

I still have his printed presentation from MACNA (95 or 96?) somewhere in my office... with color pics and everything. It's like a piece of history, lol.
 
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Jon Warner

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I think there is a misconception, I have not read that the Berlin Method necessarily require a sand bed, although there are many example of it that include it. The Deep sand bed (DSB) or even plenum is not the Berlin method.

That would be the Jaubert (Monaco) Method from the mid-late 90's
 
U

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I think there is a misconception, I have not read that the Berlin Method necessarily require a sand bed, although there are many example of it that include it. The Deep sand bed (DSB) or even plenum is not the Berlin method.

Example:

There is no misconception. Berlin, plenum, bare bottom, and others are well documented in books dating well before the tank noted here. There are variations of them as well that say they are x, y, and z. Read Moe or Fenner's books for example. I entered the hobby in 1999 it was already a thing.

Edit: I will say that us American's across the pond do take things and change them a bit. Heck, we even do it with overflow systems (take the Bean Animal design for example).
 

C. Eymann

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Like mentioned above, Peter Wilkens, who was a part of the Berlin Marine Aquarist association was the one who has been labeled responsible for the " Berlin method" spreading in popularity across the hobby in the 80s/90s, mostly meant strong water movement, using live rock for main filtration and using kalkwasser for all top off water.

To my knowledge,
Dietrich stuber, also a member of the Berlin Marine aquarist association, who was supposedly the first successful aquarist to grow acropora in a closed system, was also the first who advocated use of the "Berlin method" with no substrate.
 

Nano sapiens

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I miss the days when opinions differed so greatly in many ways. Now things have become so standardized and most discussion seems to revolve around new toys it seems. The old days made for more exciting reading that is for sure.

I think we just had so many questions and so much to yet discover that it kept things lively :)
 
Lazy's Coral House

Nano sapiens

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To my knowledge,
Dietrich stuber, also a member of the Berlin Marine aquarist association, who was supposedly the first successful aquarist to grow acropora in a closed system, was also the first who advocated use of the "Berlin method" with no substrate.

I was aware of Stuber's Acropora accomplishment (for those new and wondering, that's where the captive bred 'Stuber's Acropora' that's sometimes for sale comes from...and it's been distributed around for so long and morphed to the point that now no one can definitively say what species it is/was).

I had not heard that he used a BB system, but could be the case.
 

Lowell Lemon

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Ah just a dip in history! I remember getting many "advancements" in reef keeping from a long term member of the Berlin Aquarium Society who could translate from German to English and would share some copies from books on various subjects. He is a chemical engineer by education and owned a small aquarium store in Albany, CA. Albany Aquarium is still around as far as I know. Mr. Oui is one of the nicest gentleman I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He often took his valuable employees to Interzoo and gave them exposure to some of the best information on both salt and freshwater aquariums. He also shared his wisdom and access to products from his friends in Germany with me over the years. Much of what we are discussing here was printed in Germany in the 70's and 80's before being translated to English later.

Many of these methods work well but the unicorn is the no water change long term successful aquarium. I have maintained saltwater aquariums for as long as 5 years without water change except top off water for evaporation control. In my experience the system slowly looses much of its diversity as prevalent species take over. Turf algae take over other species and crowd out other prefered species. In that one example I fed very sparingly and often just let the few fish fend for themselves. Had a fat and happy Mandarin Goby that did very well for all that time. Only had some LPS and anemones in the tank with some Calurpa that I trimmed from time to time.

I am very aware of the many great tanks that follow very different methods on this site and each has enough control to show success! So is there one method? A resounding no on that one! Each disipline provides some answers but no one has created the ocean in a box we all strive for. Makes for good discussion though.
 

Hot2na

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From 'The Reef Aquarium Vol 3 (Delbeek/Sprung), pg 368:

"When the Berlin method was introduced to the USA, it was popular practice to manage reef aquariums with bare bottoms, so that it was at one time erroneously believed in the USA that a bare bottom was one of the features of the Berlin method."
So..There ya have it - EAZY - E , ..
 
OP
Cory

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After researching his actual size its about 450 gallons. He mentions 450 a lot.

He has like 15 fish he listed. Around 200 turbo snails. 100 cerith snails.
 
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AS

TerraFerma

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To the OP and the question at hand... "Tell me why do you think this worked so well?"

Regarding the water clarity with no mechanical filtration or sand... my guess - not many fish!

I am looking at the water clarity and comparing it to the BB system that I am running as a BB newbie (4 months), and my water is not that clear - despite running BB, mechanical filtration, and UV.

In addition to being new... I have lots of fish and relatively few corals at this point. I am hoping that as the tank matures, and the biomass of corals goes up... my water clarity will improve.

So I add the question... who has a Berlin style tank with LOTS of fish and clear water?


Not sure if this was the case of the tank in question - but once your liverock fills up with sponges wherever they feel like growing - water pretty much stays crystal clear without carbon.
 

Ike

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So..There ya have it - EAZY - E , ..


Was just about to respond to someone with that info.

Also, Sprung was a major bare bottom proponent and at times as his writer was against substrates for at least a time in the late 80's and 90's. That time and the years that followed was the bare bottom craze, not anything that has happened since, and certyainly not because of the tank in this thread and it was followed by a battle of bare bottom vs. plenums and deep sand beds. For a decent stretch of time this was the most hotly debated topic in the hobby, and I don't recall a close second.

In fact I'd go so far as to say that Bomber and some others that were proponents of UV and bare bottom did little other than bring did little for this hobby other than help bring back some minor popularity with bare bottom tanks and UV, two things that had been popular in the hobby decades prior.
 

Ike

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Not sure if this was the case of the tank in question - but once your liverock fills up with sponges wherever they feel like growing - water pretty much stays crystal clear without carbon.


That's not true, I have crazy amounts sponges and VERY mature live rock, it does not prevent gelbstoff.
 
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