A Garden Under The Sea

Quick post!

Now that the 65g has been up for over a month, it’s time to start thinking about coral.  The tank has been FOWLR (fish only with live rock) and it’s attractive enough, but a reef tank can be absolutely stunning with the right selection of invetrbrates.

Trinacna Crocea clams.  Yes, clams.  No, seriously, clams!

Trinacna Crocea clams. Yes, clams. No, seriously, these are clams!

I’ve said this before but it needs to be repeated – When planning a tank, it’s helpful to imagine what the tank will look like in a year’s time and work backwards.  This goes for everything from choosing the tank’s equipment to selecting livestock, as everything that lives in a reef has specific needs and you have to be sure you can meet these needs if you want to have a successful tank. The 65g was planned to support SPS coral and clams, which are very demanding in terms of water quality and lighting.  The downside to a SPS tank is that it is more expensive and requires more maintenance; the upside is that if you have a tank that supports SPS coral and clams, it’s pretty much guarenteed to support almost everything else.

With the exception of zoanthids, I am done with soft sea matt corals.  The 30g is being rapidly consumed by star polyps and xenia and a blue snowflake anthelia, but I’m actually okay with this as these are the only corals that can outgrow the peyssonnelia algae.  They are very attractive, don’t get me wrong, but despite my best efforts they are growing out of control.  At some point I’m going to have to break down that tank and start from scratch, since I’ve lost both those fights.

Zoanthids, though, are one of my favorite corals.  I love how they cluster together in bright, cheery bursts of color throughout a tank.   Zoanthids seem to be almost unlimited in variety and new ones are being discovered all the time.  I am very partial to blues and purples in a tank, and it’s hard to find better colors than those in a healthy colony of zoos.

Examples of zoanthid colonies, from CoralPedia.com

Examples of zoanthid colonies, from CoralPedia.com.

Zoanthids are also a comparatively low-maintenance coral, which makes them a great choice for beginners.  Zoos seem to do best with medium-to-high light and medium current, but they can survive in almost any aquarium.   I’ve had zoos since I got my first tank and have manhandled the things in almost every way possible to see how they change over time…their colors can shift depending on where they are placed in the tank, and they tend to spread more quickly in the weeks immediately after they are introduced to the water and after 6 or more months in the tank (there seems to be a cooling-off period between these two growth spurts, but I have no idea why it happens).

Unfortunately, the best-looking zoanthids can be damned expensive and hard to acquire.  Some of these corals can go for $300 and up… Blane Perun offers a very specific, very famous variety of zoanthid for sale once a year and donates the money to charity.  I happen to like the expensive ones because I am very, very stupid, and these are the coral that I want to start stocking in the 65g when I get back from Boston next week.

Some of the best and healthiest corals are aquacultured and traded among hobbyists, so I’m watching the forums for offers.  I’ve also been hunting ebay for good deals.  Both of these, however, will require shipping, which gets damned pricy and I always have to pretend that I don’t know what is in the packages when the angry mailman tells me it leaked salt water all over the truck. There’s only so many times he’ll believe me when I feign ignorance, pretend to be horrified, and promise to track down the person who sent something so… filthy in the mail!

~ by KBSpangler on May 19, 2009.

2 Responses to “A Garden Under The Sea”

  1. I’m a beekeeper. Try having a package (about 3000 worker bees, 100 or so drones {males} and one queen) sent through the US Mail! Ah, good times, good times.


    • …while that is awesome, I still feel there must be a law against it. Then again, “servers’ minimum wage” ruined my optimism for US law.

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