You are at The Krib ->Marine/Reefs [E-mail]

./scrubberthread

Contents:

  1. [M] Adey vs. the Berliners (long)
    by dresler/cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) (Fri, 19 Mar 1993)
  2. [M] Adey vs. the Berliners (long)
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Sat, 20 Mar 1993)
  3. [M] Adey vs. the Berliners (long)
    by dresler/cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) (Sun, 21 Mar 1993)
  4. [M] Adey vs. the Berliners (long)
    by steve/rhythm.com (Steve Tyree) (Mon, 22 Mar 1993)
  5. Adley
    by obrien/bu-bio.bu.edu (Todd O'Brien) (3 Apr 93)
  6. Adley
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Sun, 4 Apr 1993)
  7. [M] a description of algae scrubbing
    by dresler/cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) (Sat, 3 Apr 1993)
  8. Adley (WAY to long: read at own risk!)
    by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence) (5 Apr 1993)
  9. Turff Scrubbing
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Mon, 5 Apr 1993)
  10. Adey & Charles Delbeek
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Mon, 5 Apr 1993)
  11. Adey & Charles Delbeek
    by srrapp/bb1t.monsanto.com (Tue, 6 Apr 1993)
  12. Adey & Charles Delbeek
    by steve/rhythm.com (Steve Tyree) (Thu, 8 Apr 1993)
  13. a letter from Dr. Adey
    by dresler/cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) (Thu, 8 Apr 1993)
  14. Adey & Carlson Part I
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Thu, 8 Apr 1993)
  15. a letter from Dr. Adey (extremely long)
    by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence) (9 Apr 1993)
  16. [M] Use of the term 'garden': Laurence vs. Adey
    by jason/lanai.cs.ucla.edu (Jason Rosenberg) (Fri, 9 Apr 93)
  17. [M] Use of the term 'garden': Laurence vs. Adey
    by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence) (9 Apr 1993)
  18. [M] Use of the term 'garden': Laurence vs. Adey
    by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence) (9 Apr 1993)
  19. Adey & Carlson Part II
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Thu, 8 Apr 1993)
  20. Turff Scrubbing
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Fri, 2 Apr 1993)
  21. Turff Scrubbing
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Sun, 4 Apr 1993)
  22. Adley
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Fri, 2 Apr 1993)
  23. Adey
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Sun, 4 Apr 1993)
  24. [M] Use of the term 'garden': Laurence vs. Adey
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Fri, 9 Apr 1993)
  25. Adey & Carlson Part II
    by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence) (10 Apr 1993)
  26. Adey & Carlson Part II
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Sat, 10 Apr 1993)
  27. Adey & Carlson Part II
    by steve/rhythm.com (Steve Tyree) (Mon, 12 Apr 1993)
  28. Adey & Carlson Part II
    by kncarp/nicsn1.monsanto.com (Kevin N. Carpenter) (Thu, 15 Apr 1993)
  29. Adey & Carlson Part II
    by steve/rhythm.com (Steve Tyree) (Thu, 15 Apr 1993)
  30. Adey & Carlson Part II (and macho virile posturing)
    by kncarp/nicsn1.monsanto.com (Kevin N. Carpenter) (Fri, 16 Apr 1993)

[M] Adey vs. the Berliners (long)

by dresler/cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler)
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria


Last week I made a brief post asking for comments on the current
Adey/Sprung Reef War (currently fomenting in FAMA); in my post I mentioned
that I might visit Adey's tanks to check things out for myself. Surprisingly
I received several messages asking me to post my observations. The following 
text is a result of those requests.

First, my disclaimers. I am not a reef or marine hobbyist or biologist - I
am a professor of Computer Science at Virginia Commonwealth University. I
have kept freshwater tanks on and off for the past 25 years; my current
interests are in freshwater plant tanks. I have always found reef tanks
interesting but have never seriously studied or read much about them beyond
articles in FAMA and other magazines. I also have never met Dr. Adey or any
of his staff nor have I ever, prior to this week, read any of his book(s) or
journal articles. In addition, I have never, prior to this week, met anyone
who maintained a `Berlin' reef tank nor have I ever had a chance to see one
in person.

In this article I am going to try very hard to make comments based *only*
on my observations; many things will be left unsaid simply because I learned
of them through conversations with others during my visit and I can not
substantiate what they said through personal observation or experience.

Last Wednesday I traveled to D.C. and spent about 2 hours observing Adey's
tanks and talking to museum staff. I then traveled to a northeast suburb to
visit Anthony Tse and observe his `Berlin' tank. First the Adey systems.

There are 3 systems set up in the Natural History museum (a 4th appears to
be primarily a cut-away demo tank to show the scrubber, bucket, and
other systems): a large `Maine Coast' temperate system, a large Caribbean reef
system, and a smaller (130 gal) reef tank. (I am not going to describe these
systems in detail, since Dr. Adey's approach to reef systems is well-published
elsewhere. If there's interest, however, I'll email or post a brief
overview.)

To my eyes, all of the systems looked healthy and well-maintained. The fish
and inverts were lively and aggressively seeking food. There were no obvious
signs of problems with the corals, and many had signs of new-growth. The
elkhorn coral that Dr. Adey alluded to in FAMA appeared to be healthy (I
identified it using a fact sheet available near the tanks) although I
thought they seemed rather small (I later learned that they had been placed in
the tank during a tear-down in 1990; how fast are they `suppose' to grow?).

The Maine tank was definitely yellow and murky as Dr. Adey said it is
suppose to be (a colleague of Dr. Adey's who has done diving off of Maine
confirmed that indeed the Maine waters are murky and yellow). The water in
the other tanks, however, showed no signs of the yellow tint that Mr.
Sprung mentioned in FAMA.

I did not think while observing any of the Smithsonian systems that they
had an unusually high amount of algal growth; however, there was a
*considerable* difference between these tanks and Anthony's reef tank.
Unfortunately I am unfamiliar with the various types of reef algae so I
cannot identify the prominent strains I observed.

Other comments related to the FAMA letter: the Maine Coast tank does
indeed have a substantial growth of (apparently) healthy kelp. The 130
gallon reef tank has at least one (maybe 2 - I didn't note it and I can't
remember seeing it!) football-sized Tridacna clams. A marine biologist who
used to help maintain Adey's tanks confirmed that these clams were
fist-sized when placed in the tank.

My thoughts on leaving the museum: the tanks were very interesting and they
appeared well-maintained. They were not, however, nearly as beautiful as
the reef tanks I have seen pictured in FAMA and other magazines.

I can not say the same, however, about Anthony Tse's reef system - it was
gorgeous! Anthony has a 70 gallon tank loaded with various soft & hard
corals, a few fish and inverts, and several clams (I'm forgetting something,
but unfortunately I didn't take notes while looking at his system). Anthony
very much believes in the `Berlin' method; the only filtration in his tank
other than the reef itself is a small skimmer located in a trickle filter
sump (the bio-ball/DLS chamber in his filter is empty, but he does appear
to use the pre-filter). In addition he uses 3 powerheads to produce strong
currents.

Hard corals seem to prosper in his tanks (he also had a 29 (?) gallon
coral tank). New growth was very evident. The fish were lively and
aggressive; they readily took the food that was offered them while I was
there. Algal growth did not seem to be a problem, although `green ball'
algae (Anthony's term) was evident and he said that he works at removing
it. Lighting was provided by fluorescents, though I can't remember the
number, wattage, or exact types (<sigh> I really *should* have taken 
notes!).

So, what are my conclusions?

First, throughout the time I was observing Anthony's system it really
didn't seem like I was comparing `apples with apples' - Adey's *primary*
objective is to build & maintain a *complete* ecosystem for the purpose of
scientific study. What I think is most important to him is that it is an
authentic, viable representation of a living reef; aesthetics are
secondary. And while Anthony is very concerned with also maintaining a
viable, living reef, I believe his primary reason for doing so is related
to aesthetics (Anthony - please correct me if I'm wrong). A well-designed, 
well-maintained and growing reef tank is one of the most beautiful things I 
could think of ever putting in a home or office.

Both systems appear (to me!) to work well (although I have no evidence that
the Berlin method scales up successfully, I have been assured that it does).
I saw nothing from either system that suggests one is THE best way to do
it; to me, a neophyte, it seems to matter more on what your objectives are.
Though Anthony denied that his tanks are "micro-managed", I suspect he spends 
more time observing and fiddling with the parameters on his tanks than 
the Smithsonian staff do with their reefs. On the other hand, Adey's method 
seems much more complex (translation: harder to get right the first time) and
expensive than the Berlin method.

I could be dead wrong here, but I have to go with what I saw.

Dr. Adey's Caribbean system has been in almost continuous operation for over 10
years. While this does not prove that his system is superior to any other 
system, it does at least demonstrate that the algal scrubbers *work*. But how 
well do they work? Was the *quality* of Anthony's reef higher than the 
Smithsonian reefs? Can more difficult corals be grown using the Berlin system?

Finally, what method would I choose if I were to set up a reef tank? No
contest on this one - it would be a Berlin tank!

-- 
Dan Resler                             
Dept. of Mathematical Sciences        email: dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia, USA 23284-2014


[M] Adey vs. the Berliners (long)

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <1993Mar19.214130.21274-at-cabell.vcu.edu> dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) writes:
    I went down to the Smithsonian today and took another look at those
tanks.  I also got a phone number of someone who work on those tanks.
Since I think us (reef keepers) and them (Abday) have totally different
objectives in what we are doing, thus totally different sets of
compromise and result, it's only fair to at least try to talk to
someone from their camp before I make further comments on their tanks.
It is also difficult to judge the health of a tank without knowing
things like how long have those inverts been in the tank, what shape
were they in went first placed in the tank, how much have they grow,
were the dead spots caused by dumb mistakes or because the system cannot
maintane them, etc.  In addition, us hobbists have no access to the
type of Caribbean stony corals they have short of breaking the law.
So I'll probably have some more to say about the Smithsonian tanks next week.

> The
>elkhorn coral that Dr. Adey alluded to in FAMA appeared to be healthy (I
>identified it using a fact sheet available near the tanks) although I
>thought they seemed rather small (I later learned that they had been placed in
>the tank during a tear-down in 1990; how fast are they `suppose' to grow?).

I see some branching corals that look like fat (1" diameter) staghorn,
is that it?  They are on the right hand side, white fuzzy polyps.  Very
tiny.

> The water in
>the other tanks, however, showed no signs of the yellow tint that Mr.
>Sprung mentioned in FAMA.

   Having run my 29g reef under 4200K flourescent lights, I'll go with
Abday's explanation of yellow MH caused the yellow look.  My 29g looked
very yellow under those 4200K light.  Same tank look white after I
switched to Ultralux MH.

>Other comments related to the FAMA letter: the Maine Coast tank does
>indeed have a substantial growth of (apparently) healthy kelp. The 130
>gallon reef tank has at least one (maybe 2 - I didn't note it and I can't
>remember seeing it!) football-sized Tridacna clams. A marine biologist who
>used to help maintain Adey's tanks confirmed that these clams were
>fist-sized when placed in the tank.

   They have a HUGE (> 1') T_ Gigas in the 130, and 2 normal size
(~ 4" & 6") T_ Maxima.  When I was there in Feb, the 130 was over-run
by caulurpa, they have pretty much rip them all out.  Now the tank is
over-run by rock anemone.  In memory serve, they have placed a few
pieces of hard (stony brain type) corals in the 130 since last year.

>I can not say the same, however, about Anthony Tse's reef system - it was
>gorgeous! Anthony has a 70 gallon tank loaded with various soft & hard
>corals, a few fish and inverts, and several clams (I'm forgetting something,
>but unfortunately I didn't take notes while looking at his system). Anthony
>very much believes in the `Berlin' method; the only filtration in his tank
>other than the reef itself is a small skimmer located in a trickle filter
>sump (the bio-ball/DLS chamber in his filter is empty, but he does appear
>to use the pre-filter). In addition he uses 3 powerheads to produce strong
>currents.

    I'll pull the pre-filter if I can help it.  The spray bar in the
empty TF will clog if I don't leave the pre-filter in.  I do clean the
pre-filter regularly (every other day, at least twice a week, and it
does make a difference).

>Hard corals seem to prosper in his tanks (he also had a 29 (?) gallon
>coral tank). New growth was very evident. The fish were lively and
>aggressive; they readily took the food that was offered them while I was
>there. Algal growth did not seem to be a problem, although `green ball'
>algae (Anthony's term) was evident and he said that he works at removing
>it. Lighting was provided by fluorescents, though I can't remember the
>number, wattage, or exact types (<sigh> I really *should* have taken 
>notes!).

    Bubble algae, pain in the behind.  Just as well you don't remeber
what kind of light I use.  I have done a lot of reading, a lot of
calling bulb makers, and tried quite a few different types of light,
they all work.  I have used full spectrum fl, tri-color fl, 5000K fl,
4200K fl, actinic03, Special Blue, black light (UVA) and very recently,
MH.  I have tried low light intensity (actinic only with soft and hard
coral in the tank), medium intensity (3 40W white, 3 40W 03 in the
75), medium high light intensity (4 40W white, 4 40W 03 in the 75), and
high intensity (80W 03 & 150W MH in the 29), I have not tried ultra
high intensity (250W or 400W MH over 20g?).  I would not recommand
using actinic only, and I don't know about ultra high intensity, but
other then that, they all work, all corals will live in medium intensity
to high intensity lighting and stay healthy.  I have kept acropora in
the medium high config for 4 months and not only do they live, they
grew.  With the exception of acropora, I don't think any corals or clams
will benifit to any significant degree by going from medium high to
high, nor do I think there will be any negative effect.  People are way
to quick to blame lighting when there is the slightest problem, take
my word for it, chances are, it's something else.  Oh, don't run out
and buy black light, I only tried it for 5 hours and I don't have any
opinion on it yet.

>So, what are my conclusions?
>
>First, throughout the time I was observing Anthony's system it really
>didn't seem like I was comparing `apples with apples' - Adey's *primary*
>objective is to build & maintain a *complete* ecosystem for the purpose of
>scientific study. What I think is most important to him is that it is an
>authentic, viable representation of a living reef; aesthetics are
>secondary. And while Anthony is very concerned with also maintaining a
>viable, living reef, I believe his primary reason for doing so is related
>to aesthetics (Anthony - please correct me if I'm wrong). A well-designed, 
>well-maintained and growing reef tank is one of the most beautiful things I 
>could think of ever putting in a home or office.

    I do have something to say about Abday's ecosystem, but again, I
am going to wait until I at least tried to talk to someone in his camp.
As to my goal, aesthetics is important for the 75g I have.  The 75 is a
community coral tank.  Packing the tank as tight as I do is very
difficult.  You have to know what corals can be near each other, and
what corals will kill each other given a chance.  In the 75, corals
and clams that shouldn't be kept close together are kept very close
together.  I need to look at the tank carefully everyday and make sure
that certain corals are not moved by snails or shifting of rocks, and
also make sure that corals have not grow to a point where they pose a
threat to their neighbor.  The goal for the 29g is totally different,
it's meant for growing and propagating acropora by cutting, thus the
29 does not contain a diverse group of corals.  It does contain too many
corals right now for what I want to do, particularly, the large colt
coral really don't belong, but I grew that coral from finger size to
1/3 of my 29g, and I am not giving that up w/o a fight.  The fact
that coral eggs are visible in the polyps help me make up my mind.  The
mushroom rock don't really belong either, I am going to run out of room
once the acroporas get going, and the mushroom is the first to go.  One
thing I want to point out is, a good looking reef automatically implies
a healthy reef, while the inverse is not necessary true.

>Both systems appear (to me!) to work well (although I have no evidence that
>the Berlin method scales up successfully, I have been assured that it does).
>I saw nothing from either system that suggests one is THE best way to do
>it; to me, a neophyte, it seems to matter more on what your objectives are.
>Though Anthony denied that his tanks are "micro-managed", I suspect he spends 
>more time observing and fiddling with the parameters on his tanks than 
>the Smithsonian staff do with their reefs. On the other hand, Adey's method 
>seems much more complex (translation: harder to get right the first time) and
>expensive than the Berlin method.

    The Berlin method does scale up nicely, Berlin reefs in Europe are
huge with multiple huge skimmers.
    The fiddling I do involve 10g water change weekly for the 75, and
monthly for the 29.  I also have to monitor calcium level and KH level.
Calcium level is checked weekly and KH level twice a week.  I add
calcium, strotium, iodine daily when I add water for evaporation, and
sodium bicarbonate weekly to twice weekly depend on the KH test result.
    If keeping coral healthy is your goal, then the Berlin method is
so easy, cheap, and sucessful that it doesn't make sense to use algae
scrubber.  The filtration system in my 29 consist of a single $10
skimmer plus air pump, how much would a algae scrubber cost?

>I could be dead wrong here, but I have to go with what I saw.
>
>Dr. Adey's Caribbean system has been in almost continuous operation for over 10
>years. While this does not prove that his system is superior to any other 
>system, it does at least demonstrate that the algal scrubbers *work*. But how 
>well do they work? Was the *quality* of Anthony's reef higher than the 
>Smithsonian reefs? Can more difficult corals be grown using the Berlin system?

    The one big question that I don't have a definite answer to is how
long have those corals been in the Smithsonian tank.  The second big
question is how difficult are those Caribbean corals to maintain.  I
sure would not mine finding out, if they would be so kind as to give
me a few pieces to try out.

>Finally, what method would I choose if I were to set up a reef tank? No
>contest on this one - it would be a Berlin tank!

    We've talked a little about how similar reef tanks and plant tanks
are.  Both types of tank have a common enemy, algae, both types of tanks
have to be neutrien poor.  Abday's theory certainly applies to fresh
water tanks also.  Would you consider running an algae scrubber in
the plant tank that you are working on?  Why and why not?

>
>-- 
>Dan Resler                             
>Dept. of Mathematical Sciences        email: dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu
>Virginia Commonwealth University
>Richmond, Virginia, USA 23284-2014

-Anthony


[M] Adey vs. the Berliners (long)

by dresler/cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler)
Date: Sun, 21 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

tse-at-ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) writes:

>In article <1993Mar19.214130.21274-at-cabell.vcu.edu> 
>dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) writes:
>    I went down to the Smithsonian today and took another look at those

Actually these are Anthony's words here ... no big deal.

>> The
>>elkhorn coral that Dr. Adey alluded to in FAMA appeared to be healthy (I
>>identified it using a fact sheet available near the tanks) although I
>>thought they seemed rather small (I later learned that they had been placed 
>>in the tank during a tear-down in 1990; how fast are they `suppose' to 
>> grow?).

>I see some branching corals that look like fat (1" diameter) staghorn,
>is that it?  They are on the right hand side, white fuzzy polyps.  Very
>tiny.

That's them. Very tiny? Remember, it's a big tank! Perspective is
difficult.

>    I do have something to say about Abday's ecosystem, but again, I
>am going to wait until I at least tried to talk to someone in his camp.

I'm not sure you're motivated enough to try, but I'd suggest talking
to Dr. Adey himself. A member of his staff encouraged me to do so;
she said he's very willing and enjoys these sorts of discussions.

>    The one big question that I don't have a definite answer to is how
>long have those corals been in the Smithsonian tank.  The second big

I asked this question, but I was told that without the records in
front of her (this was a phone conversation and she wasn't at the
marine lab) they couldn't give a good answer. She did say, however,
that there hasn't been a major restocking since the reef was
rearranged in 1990 (she also said that even in '90 alot of the
stock came from the previous tank).

>>Finally, what method would I choose if I were to set up a reef tank? No
>>contest on this one - it would be a Berlin tank!

>    We've talked a little about how similar reef tanks and plant tanks
>are.  Both types of tank have a common enemy, algae, both types of tanks
>have to be neutrien poor.  Abday's theory certainly applies to fresh
>water tanks also.  Would you consider running an algae scrubber in
>the plant tank that you are working on?  Why and why not?

No way. Why? Because at the moment I can barely afford one Optimum
Aquarium, and it had better have a very high `gee-whiz' factor. In
other words, aesthetics are very important - I cannot risk ending up
with a tank covered in algae. They look terrible. But could a tank
with loads of algae still be a healthy, viable ecosystem? Probably 
depends on what you mean by "loads of algae". But I would bet, all
other things being equal, I would resent the algae a *lot* more than
the fish, plants, and other life forms. I do not think you can say
that algae are "enemies" of both kinds of tanks - it depends on your
objectives.

If I had the money and time, I think a scrubber freshwater plant tank
would be interesting to set up. But it has to wait til after I set
up the 30 or 40 other tanks I'd like to have. <grin>
-- 
Dan Resler                             
Dept. of Mathematical Sciences        email: dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia, USA 23284-2014


[M] Adey vs. the Berliners (long)

by steve/rhythm.com (Steve Tyree)
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

 Review of Reef Scruber Eco-System verses Berliner Methodology deleted.
 Very well stated review by Dan Resler!
 What prompted my response was the FAMA letter to the editor from 
 Gregory B. Cunningham. He took a lot of cheap shots. These are my
 personal observations as I see them.

-> Dr. Adey's Caribbean system has been in almost continuous operation for 
-> over 10 years. While this does not prove that his system is superior to any
-> other system, it does at least demonstrate that the algal scrubbers *work*.
-> But how well do they work? Was the *quality* of Anthony's reef higher 
-> than the Smithsonian reefs? Can more difficult corals be grown using the
-> Berlin system?

My reef system is semi-berliner. The main source for reef structure consist
of heavily coralline encrusted live rock. Very little green micro or macro
algae grow. The growth rate continues to decline as the reef ages. My main
filtration is a 6 foot counter current columnar protein skimmer. A large 
trickle filter is used as a sump and still contains bio-material. I have been 
contemplating removing this bio-material soon. I also use 3 internal pumps
and pvc matrix elevation to keep detreitus constantly mobile until removal
into overflow sponge. This means my reef is very similar to Anthony's, but
contains bio-material and a huge amount of coralline encrusted rock. This
system is designed to remove as much organic debri as possible before
complete breakdown into nitrite/nitrate.
 I understand that Dr. Adey is attempting to duplicate a natural reef eco-
system in it's entirety. While I agree that this is a worthy goal, one has to
wonder just how accurate the duplication would be. Reef  population 
dynamics vary quite a bit as one travels around the globe. Reef zonation
occurs even in small regions.Forest of Gorgonian species, blankets of coral
anenomes and thickets of Acropora species occur in nature. Each reef 
might be a unique ecosystem.The Reef Scruber system allows a more
diverse captive reef to exist and this is great as long as the diversity is 
managed. It would be unwise to put crown of thorn starfish into a Great 
Barrier Reef captive system even if they do occur in nature. This can also
be applied to numerous species which prey on coral. Having living plankton
is beneficial as long as toxic or harmful plankton do not bloom. 

-> Finally, what method would I choose if I were to set up a reef tank? No
-> contest on this one - it would be a Berlin tank!

 The current methodology I use to judge a reef system, is to first examine
determine how well coralline algae is growing in the system. If you are try-
ing to establish a captive system which will propagate and grow Scleractinia
"stony corals" than  your first task should be to have a system which pro-
motes coralline algae growth. This growth is a great indicator of the poten-
tial calcification rate existing in your system. Coralline algae also cover ex-
posed areas where undesired green algae might grow. They also might
hamper a reef scruber as they compete in the reef scrubber tray for space.
I have coralline algae growing lightly inside my 6 foot clear acrylic protein 
skimmer. It is almost as if the corallines are in a growth war with the green
algae. The environment will determine the winner by establishing which
growth rate is the most prolific.
 You did ask how fast an "elkhorn" coral grows. This coral is the thicker
er branched Acropora palmata. Thicker branches do appear to grow slow-
er than thinner branched A. sp.. The weight increase or calcification gain
should be equivalent. I have a thinner branched cluster type A. sp. coral
which has undergone "accelerated" growth from 9/92 to 3/93. During this
growth, the coral has at least doubled in volume, width and depth. I have
some photos on a private site in gif format which demonstrate the growth.
Front and side pictures are included. The photos were converted from 24
bit color space to 8 bit space with an inferior algorithm and image quality
is a little degraded, but growth is easily determined.
 Note - I have no connections with any manufacturers or book authors.
 I could point you to the site via email, if you are interested.

 Steve Tyree - Reef Breeder


Adley

by obrien/bu-bio.bu.edu (Todd O'Brien)
Date: 3 Apr 93
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria,alt.aquaria


Whoa!  Allow me to be stupid and ask what exactly IS the "Berlin Method"?


Second, I have not read Dr. Adey's book on algal turf scrubbers, but I DID have
three summers of internship with his lab.  I know his systems very well, and I
have a lot of respect for them.

With the following equipment ...

	- 4 VHO fluorescent lights (for the tank)
	- 2 VHO fluorescent lights (for the scrubber)
	- a chiller
	- a water pump
	- pvc tubing
	- plexiglass (for a scrubber trough and a wave bucket)
	- a piece of screen	
	- AND a 55 gallon tank ... (and a stand ...)

I can create an Adey System that will match or beat ANY of your fancy
Wet/Dry, Skimming, Trickling, UV'ing ... systems ... at a fraction of the 
maintenance time and cost !!!

Equipment Costs:

	- Except for the plexiglass (unless you build your own Trickle ...)
		all of these pieces are standard for a reef set-up.

	* Note the absence of the expensive filtering equipment.

Maintainence Costs:

  Time - The only "maintainence" is scraping algae off a screen twice a month!
	No filter cleaning, limited (if ANY) chemical checks and balances.

  Money - Electricity!  (No air stones, filters, etc etc ...)

--------------------------------


The only problem with the system is the original construction.  But after all
these articles of "build your own ... [insert object]", I am really surprised
no one has tried to make a scrubber yet.  They are SO simple!  And they work!
The "capital" goes into building the system, after that there is very little
time or cost.  In fact, an experienced eye can get a COMPLETE summary of the
water quality just by looking at the algal speciation on the screens.  This
would eliminate the daily testing of nitrates, ammonia, etc etc ...


I don't know about you, but having a healthy reef system, with the maintainence
of a "gold fish bowl" sounds like the perfect method for me ...  I can see the
new FAQ's now ...

	FAQ Topics:
		1.  What is the easiest way to scrape algae?
		2.  What to do with waste algae.
		3.  What to do with your SPARE TIME ...
		...
		..
		.

Flame Away ... :)	


Todd O'Brien, PhD Candidate
Boston University Marine Program
Woods Hole, Massachusetts


P.S.  In case you forgot, WHAT IS THE "BERLIN METHOD"!?


Adley

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <113891-at-bu.edu> obrien-at-bu-bio.bu.edu (Todd O'Brien) writes:
>Whoa!  Allow me to be stupid and ask what exactly IS the "Berlin Method"?

    Berlin method: use of live rock and protein skimmer as the only
filtration system.  Very little water change, like 5% per year.  High
intensity metal halide lighting.  Addition of CaOH2, probably SrCl2,
iodine and/or KI, and buffer.  Very simple, very maintenance free,
far far easier and cheaper then what Adey use, and IMHO, much much
better.

>Second, I have not read Dr. Adey's book on algal turf scrubbers, but I DID have
>three summers of internship with his lab.  I know his systems very well, and I
>have a lot of respect for them.

    I respect his research on ecosystem.  I don't respect him telling
people his system can farm corals, fishs, and live rock.

>With the following equipment ...
>
>	- 4 VHO fluorescent lights (for the tank)
>	- 2 VHO fluorescent lights (for the scrubber)
>	- a chiller
>	- a water pump
>	- pvc tubing
>	- plexiglass (for a scrubber trough and a wave bucket)
>	- a piece of screen	
>	- AND a 55 gallon tank ... (and a stand ...)
>
>I can create an Adey System that will match or beat ANY of your fancy
>Wet/Dry, Skimming, Trickling, UV'ing ... systems ... at a fraction of the 
>maintenance time and cost !!!

    Ok, this challenge I'll take.  My 75g tank, 8 4' 40W fluorescent
lamps, 1 $200 protein skimmer, a sump, a sorry ass Ehiem pump for
return, and 3 301 powerheads, oh, and a 75g tank (and a stand).  I don't
think you can match, let alone beat, my not so fancy system that cost a
lot less then what you proposed.  Maintenance consists of adding CaCl2,
NaHCO3, and lugol, 10g water change every week.  I suggest you ftp to one
of the two archives (percula.acs.uci.edu, under reefkeepers/tse, or
daemon.ncsa.uiuc.edu under reef/tse), login as anonymous, and
binary get the files atrhs.gif and atlhs.gif.  Look at them with a
gif viewer and weep.

   Or if you prefer, my 29g tank, with a $10 skimmer, $30 air pump,
3 powerheads, 2 HO actinic03, 1 150W MH.  Maintenance consists of
adding CaCl2, NaHCO3, and lugol, 10g water change every month.
Pictures are placed in archive, should be moved from incoming to
reefkeepers in a couple of days.

   Since I actually do more then 5% water change per year, my method
is only semi-Berlin.

>Equipment Costs:
>
>	- Except for the plexiglass (unless you build your own Trickle ...)
>		all of these pieces are standard for a reef set-up.

   I don't consider a chiller standard reef set-up.

>	* Note the absence of the expensive filtering equipment.

   I think $10 + $30 for a skimmer is a little less expensive then
a turf scrubber (unless you are talking about my turf scrubber :)).

>Maintainence Costs:
>
>  Time - The only "maintainence" is scraping algae off a screen twice a month!
>	No filter cleaning, limited (if ANY) chemical checks and balances.

   Well, anyone can have a maintenace free tank of any kind if you don't
care what the tank look like.

   Speaking of maintenance, the Smithsonian tanks were built with
something like a couple hundred thousand bucks.  If you give me a few
of those couple hundred thousands, I can buy a few dosing pumps (
1 for CaCl2, SrCl2 and Iodine, 1 for NaHCO3, and 2 for automatic water
change) and I too, can have a maintenace free tank.

>  Money - Electricity!  (No air stones, filters, etc etc ...)

   I dunno, last I check, the cost of replacing dead inverts is
pretty high.

>The only problem with the system is the original construction.  But after all
>these articles of "build your own ... [insert object]", I am really surprised
>no one has tried to make a scrubber yet.  They are SO simple!  And they work!

   People have.  And they don't work.

>The "capital" goes into building the system, after that there is very little
>time or cost.  In fact, an experienced eye can get a COMPLETE summary of the
>water quality just by looking at the algal speciation on the screens.  This
>would eliminate the daily testing of nitrates, ammonia, etc etc ...

   Who does that?  Reading zero on all your tests every day can get
pretty boring after a while.

>I don't know about you, but having a healthy reef system, with the maintainence
>of a "gold fish bowl" sounds like the perfect method for me ...  I can see the
>new FAQ's now ...
>
>	FAQ Topics:
>		1.  What is the easiest way to scrape algae?

   With a toothbrush, or a floorbrush.  Oh, you mean on the Adey
scrubber.  And I though you mean the algae on your live rock :).

>		2.  What to do with waste algae.
>		3.  What to do with your SPARE TIME ...

   If you have a algae scrubber, probably scrubbing algae off your live
rock.

>Flame Away ... :)	

   See above :)

>Todd O'Brien, PhD Candidate
>Boston University Marine Program
>Woods Hole, Massachusetts

-Anthony


[M] a description of algae scrubbing

by dresler/cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler)
Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria


I've had many people write asking for more detail on algae scrubbers
and Adey's systems. Before proceeding I'd like to reiterate that I'm
not an expert on the subject - I do not own a reef tank and
everything I know about them I've learned through visiting Adey's
tanks, talking to his people, and reading a few of his publications.

Here's a brief description of algae scrubbing from the article "Reef
Alive" by Julie Ann Miller (Science News, Oct. 1980): 

---- begin quote ----

Reefs are easy marine systems to maintain, except when you turn off
the lights, Adey explains. During the day the plants and animals
provide a balance of gas and nutrient production and use. In the
dark, which is necessary for maintaining a living community, the
animals continue to breathe and excrete wastes, but the plants cease
photosynthesis. The result is that oxygen levels in the water fall,
carbon dioxide, ammonia and nutrient levels rise and the water
becomes more acid. In nature such problems don't arise because the
surrounding ocean acts as a buffer, providing an unending exchange
of water.

"Our first thought was to connect two reefs with alternating
light-dark cycles" Adey recounts. Then the investigators realized
they didn't need animals in the second reef; they didn't need
anything excpet filamentous algae, the most productive plants of the
reef.

Adey designed a scrubber, a shallowly submerged horizontal plastic
screen that is washed with waves of water in circulation with the
main coral reef tank. The scrubbers receive light during the night,
when the main tank is dark. Algal turfs quickly appear on the mesh
from spores in the circulating sea water, and filamentous tropical
algae weave horizontal runners through the mesh, extending upright
filaments into the shallow water. The algae take up carbon dioxide,
ammonia and nutrients and release oxygen. With these scrubbers in
place, the coral reef tank requires no traditional filters or
aeration devices. Researcher Susan Brawley says, "It's amazing what
a little algae will do."

Every few days the scientists scrape the screen of the scrubber to
prevent animal grazers from taking up residence and to keep the
algae in their "pioneer," and most productive, state. Because the
plant bases remain in the screen, the algae grow back rapidly. And
the scientists were surprised to find that they could harvest more
than 5 grams of algae (dry weight) per square meter of screen per
day. Now with increased light levels, that rate is more than
doubled. The reef algae appear to have evloved a special capacity
for rapid regrowth in response to constant grazing by fish and other
undersea animals.

--- end quote ---

Hope this helps.
-- 
Dan Resler                             
Dept. of Mathematical Sciences        email: dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia, USA 23284-2014


Adley (WAY to long: read at own risk!)

by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence)
Date: 5 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

obrien-at-bu-bio.bu.edu (Todd O'Brien) writes:

>Whoa!  Allow me to be stupid and ask what exactly IS the "Berlin Method"?

Probably the most successful method for keeping a reef tank.  Certainly
it is one of the simplest.

It consists of strong skimming and live rock.  Optional, depending
on your preferences, is an activated carbon filter.  Oh yeah, and
some or all of the fresh water to replace evaporation is a calcium
hydroxide solution.

Bloody complicated, isn't it?  :)

>Second, I have not read Dr. Adey's book on algal turf scrubbers,

Actually, I have, and given quite a bit of thought as to how I
would build an experimental algal scrubber sometime.  I have no
other experience, though.

>but I DID have
>three summers of internship with his lab.

I didn't do that.

>I know his systems very well, and I
>have a lot of respect for them.

I'm glad that you're on with us, then.  I really mean that; anything
I say in the following should not be construed as a flame (well,
no more than a gentle roasting in return for yours, anyway :)  ).  I
look forward to some informed pro-turf scrubber posts.  (No sarcasm,
I'm serious.)

[stuff needed for an Adey-style tank]

Everybody needs this stuff.  Unless you mean a non-centrifugal
pump, in which case its going to cost you a lot more in either
money or maintenance than my pump.  Not that I would blame you;
the non-centrifugal pump idea is actually a point where I think
that Dr. Adey is probably right.  Few of us hobbyists have a
choice in the matter, though, and the comparison is senseless
if you have access to stuff we can't get.

Oh, and I don't need as many lights as you do, since I don't
need a separate setup for the bucket during the tank's night.
Unless you were going to discard this feature that Adey seems
to think so highly of, then the extra lighting will easily
pay for my skimmer air pump.

>	- plexiglass (for a scrubber trough and a wave bucket)
>	- a piece of screen

And I'll buy plexiglass and fittings for my skimmer.  Are you
forgetting that expensive teflon for a teflon on teflon bearing
for the bucket?  Adey recommends one as the only really
reliable bearing for a bucket.  In any case, I have no moving
parts to gunk up.

>	- AND a 55 gallon tank ... (and a stand ...)

Everybody needs this stuff as well.  Over 90% of the effort and
money in building my system-in-progress is the (homemade) stand,
tank, and pump, plus stocking the tank.  What you are trying to
sell me is absolutely no less work (or more).  My stand is quite
complicated and non-typical, I admit, but this is mostly because
I intend to follow some of the advice in Adey's book which I
have confidence in--like refugia.  I think that this is a
genuinely good idea no matter what kind of tank you have, and I'll
have more than one on my final tank.

>I can create an Adey System that will match or beat ANY of your fancy
>Wet/Dry, Skimming, Trickling, UV'ing ... systems ... at a fraction of the 
>maintenance time and cost !!!

Since you know nothing of the method that most people on the net
believe in, or have been converted to, I don't think that you know
nearly enough to say that.  Nothing in your list will exist on my
final tank except the skimmer, and as someone who has built a skimmer
and made preliminary plans as to how to build a possible future
experimental turf scrubber, the maintenance is probably a lot less
for a skimmer than for a scrubber and the cost is not appreciably
different (as in, the cost difference is a fraction of the cost of
the rest of the stuff and the livestock).  And I only need one set
of lights, so the difference may even be in my favor.

It's not a great idea to make claims like this without first knowing
about the other method being compared.  What you have in mind about
a hobbyist's tank is closer to a Thiel-type tank.  You will find few
Thiel advocates on the net (and a lot that spit every time his name
is mentioned), though granted there are lots of them elsewhere.  Most
people who are Thiel-type reefkeepers seem to be either rich or to
have been rich before they bought their equipment.   1/2 :)

>Equipment Costs:

>	* Note the absence of the expensive filtering equipment.

Note the same on a Berlin tank.  I need to buy an air pump that you
don't have to buy, but I can get enough air to run my ridiculously
oversized 5'x 6"dia skimmer for something like $70.  A pump for a
more reasonable skimmer would set me back a big $35-$40.  That is
to say, no more than the cost of one invertebrate.  Big hairy deal.
The real question is which is better at keeping those expensive
animals healthy and happy, which will in the end be much cheaper
anyway.

>Maintainence Costs:

>  Time - The only "maintainence" is scraping algae off a screen twice a month!
>	No filter cleaning, limited (if ANY) chemical checks and balances.

We've already gone through this one.  I rarely do any sort of test
unless I'm experimenting, and I think that you'll find that this is
common with experience.  You learn something from doing tests when
you start out, though.

>  Money - Electricity!  (No air stones, filters, etc etc ...)

Same difference, barring air stones, and I can buy them dirt cheap
or make them in a few minutes for nothing.  You have more lights to
purchase and replace.  I have to buy calcium hydroxide, but it's
cheap.  I've spent something like $10 on Ca(OH)2 in the last year.

>--------------------------------

>The only problem with the system is the original construction.  But after all
>these articles of "build your own ... [insert object]", I am really surprised
>no one has tried to make a scrubber yet.  They are SO simple!  And they work!

If you knew anything about some of our stuff, you'd know that they
are not simpler than a skimmer.  And as I said, I don't believe
that the case for their effectiveness is made.

In spite of the fervent proselyzing (sp?) by Adey's faithful, I do
not believe that the case for their effectiveness is proven.  For
example, one notices that Dr. Adey will go on and tell you of the
corals that thrive in his tanks, but if you ask him about one if
the species commonly available to those of us who can't get special
permission to collect in Florida, he only seems to be able to say
that you can't expect any tank to keep all corals, that you have to
let the tank select what habitat patch it wishes to be.

Now, this is undoubtedly true as far as it goes, but he seems to
completely miss the point that few of us have access to more than a
handful of coral species.  He has never shown the slightest bit of
willingness to discuss whether you can keep the kinds of corals that
we can actually purchase.  Now, Dr. Adey certainly does not have to
concern himself with a hobbyist's special problems, but when he
begins to preach the One True Way to us misguided hobbyists he ought
to give some thought as to which problems your audience actually has.

A variant on this scheme is the idea that "it's not any one species
that counts, it's the community."  While I have no problem with this
as stated, it appears to me (as an outsider) that this has been used
as an excuse for the process of dumping in everything, examining
which organisms survive, and saying that a community has been
established.

I'm not criticizing the ecology, by the way, but rather the idea
that one should not ever have a specific organism that one wants to
survive as part of whatever community eventually emerges. Most of us
want to keep certain corals, and while we want as much of the
community as possible we do in fact specifically want the corals.  It
is not clear to me whether Dr. Adey's methods can support a community
that specifically includes a few chosen organisms, or whether one is
simply at the mercy of whatever survives.  A careful reading of
Dynamic Aquaria and other of Dr. Adey's remarks suggests that the
latter is the case, but perhaps you experience indicates otherwise.
If so, I at least would like to know.

This is related to another problem, which is that none of Adey's
advocates seem to have any idea what levels of success are achieved
in the hobby, and thus have no idea of the comparative worth of his
schemes.  Granted that most hobbyists don't know much of his methods
either, but then most of us didn't write a book containing hyperbolic
_sounding_ claims about which was the best way to run a tank.

Another problem, if it is a problem, is that Dr. Adey seems to think
that dissolved organics are not an obstacle to coral success, while
the universal experience in the hobby is that the opposite is the
case.  We all agree that inorganic nitrogen and phosporous are
undesirable--this is one of the strong points of Dr. Adey's claims,
since he seems to be able to keep inorganic nutrients a couple of
orders of magnitude below most of our setups.  But it has to be
convincingly demonstrated that we are wrong about the dissolved
organics as well.  This is a point where protein skimming shines,
and as far as I can tell turf scrubbing fails.

Most of the people from the hobby who know what is and what is not
success relative to other methods and who see his stuff come away
thinking that Adey's tanks are death traps.  We need to have some of
Adey's tanks which are successful by anyone's standards _using
livestock available to the hobbyist_ before the turf scrubber claims
look like more than the same hyperbole that is used to sell a lot
of other things in this hobby.

In fact, the claims about Adey's stuff looks most like the sort of
things that are used to advertise the expensive equipment that you
so scorn.  (Or, in the case of that guy who wrote in FAMA (I think)
who actually was selling scrubbers, much worse than even the usual
advertisers.)  Both are claims of revolutionary effectiveness that
seems to be difficult to verify _by the hobbyist_.  Having worked
there, you may have seen differently.  Or you may simply have seen
things that were not better than what we can achieve at home by
other methods that you have not seen.

>The "capital" goes into building the system, after that there is very little
>time or cost.  In fact, an experienced eye can get a COMPLETE summary of the
>water quality just by looking at the algal speciation on the screens.  This
>would eliminate the daily testing of nitrates, ammonia, etc etc ...

If you test anything daily, then I pity you.  I hope that this is
mere hyperbole, but if not you really ought to consider having some
knowledge about how things are kept in the hobby before you preach
about which is best.

>Flame Away ... :)

I don't know if you call that a flame, but if you do then I did.
It was not meant to shut you up, but rather to try to give you some
idea of why sceptics of Dr. Adey's methods abound.  I'd be more
than happy to hear more specifics.

The following would be a great way to put Dr. Adey's methods to
the test.  Set up a tank with Goniopora sp. corals, only one if
you suspect a problem with crowding.  Stock with whatever rock and
other things you think that you need.  Have someone who knows how
set up a Berlin tank, identical other than the filtration.

Goniopora sp. are perfect test candidates because they are known
to thrive in relatively polluted natural waters, but have never
done well in aquaria by traditional methods.  (By do well I mean
that survival over a year or two is rare.)  This is why they would
make natural candidates for a strong, unambiguous success for Dr.
Adey's methods.  Note that you do need a control tank (though
perhaps you would consider the scrubber tank the control tank!),
since there are a few indications that the difficulty with
Goniopora is their interaction with tankmates rather than an
inherent difficulty with the organism itself.

Actually, any verifiably successful scrubber-based tank set up
with organisms available to the hobbyist would be interesting.
As far as I can tell, no good examples of real comparisons have
been done.

I actually think that there is a possibility that a combination
of scrubbing and skimming may have advantages over either alone.
Someday I'll probably hook a scrubber homemade to Adey's
specifications up to my tank and see if I can detect any
improvements.  I don't know if I'll have the guts to risk
unhooking the skimmer, though.  Perhaps after the scrubber turf
is well established.  (It takes no time to start the skimmer
back up if things start to go wrong.)

Dr. Adey's book is an invaluable resource, and I've designed
several features of my system-in-progress based on its ideas.
but the turf scrubber idea requires a lot more evidence before
I can find it convincing.

>Todd O'Brien, PhD Candidate
>Boston University Marine Program
>Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Well, if we're slinging academic ties around:

Dustin Laurence, PhD Candidate
The California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California

Of course, since my degree is in general relativity I can't really
claim the same sense of relevance to this discussion...    :)

-- 
Dustin                         "I contradict myself?  Very well, I contradict
                           myself.  I am vast; I contain multitudes."

laurence-at-alice.caltech.edu


Turff Scrubbing

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <1993Apr4.161035.2182-at-cabell.vcu.edu> dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) writes:
>patti-at-hosehead.intel.com (Patti Beadles) writes:
>
>>In article <1993Apr3.142514.16860-at-cabell.vcu.edu> dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) writes:
>Do healthy ocean reefs have lots of hair algae? Of course. Does it
>dominate? No, because in an open ocean reef ecosystem there is a certain
>nutrient balance and algae grazers and God-only-knows-what-else to 
>keep it in check. Unchecked, dominant hair algae growth in a reef tank 
>is destructive and horrible, but hair algae on an ocean reef is no
>problem.

   Depends.  The video in the exhibit showed lots of hair algae in the
reef, but I am not at all sure that's what I call a healthy reef.  If
you look at the April issue of FAMA, on page 24 and 25 are pictures of
a real reef, with algae and all, but what you don't see in those
pictures are stony corals, not a single one.  If you look at some
pictures of the Great Barrier Reef (check out Coral Reefs by Roger
Steene in Crown Books) where there are big huge stretches of nothing
but staghorns, elkhorns, brain corals and plate corals, what you don't
see in those pictures are algae, not a single strand.   Now growing
soft coral is a piece of cake, a couple hundred dollars and you can
farm all the soft coral you want, you certainly don't need $180k (is
that the right number?) and a decade of research to do that.  So I think
we can agree on growing hard coral is the goal.  If algae is part of
the ecosystem for elkhorns, then how come there were't any elkhorns
in the pictures in FAMA, for that matter, I don't recall seeing any
hard corals in that algae soup they call a coral reef in the video
either.  Personally, if I were to spend the time and money to build a
model of a reef, I would much rather model a healthy reef then a dying reef.

>Hair algae in a tank is only bad if you have no way to keep it in check. 
>But I think (with a big IMHO) that `keeping it in check' in your tanks 
>means something different than `keeping it in check' on an ocean reef.

   Again, if someone can show me a picture of healthy stony coral
co-existing with hair algae, then I may change my mind.  By
co-exisiting, I mean within inches of each other, not 20 miles down
the road.

>He and his
>team are interested primarily in coming as close as they can to 
>duplicating an open ocean reef ecosystem.

   If you look at the volume of water in the open ocean and the amount
of life that volume of water is supporting, comparing to the 2000g
at the Smithsonian and the amount of life that 2000g is supporting
(which BTW, is not much compare to the bioload of my tanks),
the Adey system is anything but natural.

>When you walk into the reef display hall at the Smithsonian, one of
>the first things you see is a 130 gal (or is it a 70?) reef tank with a 
>large sign above it saying "This is not a fish tank!". The sign goes on to
>explain that they're trying to duplicate a reef ecosystem. In fact,
>everything in the whole hall is geared towards communicating info about reef 
>ecosystems. The fact that the Smithsonian tanks are involved in reef 
>*research* is made very clear. I believe one of the reasons they emphasize 
>this is so you realize you're not in a public aquarium - these tanks don't 
>look as good because they were not designed and set up with that 
>objective in mind.

    The objective is to keep stony corals alive.  According to
someone (who shell remain nameless) who had interviewed a
Smithsonian staff and wrote an article about them, that Smithsonian
staff had no problem admitting that they can't keep corals alive for
more then a year.

>Dan Resler                             

-Anthony


Adey & Charles Delbeek

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Subj:  Relpy to Algae Scrubbers		Section: Marine/Reef Aquaria
~From:  J. Charles Delbeek, 71501,2267	#177472
To:  ALL				Sunday, April 04, 1993 6:40:12 PM

I would just like to post the following letter-to-the-editor on CIS just in
case it does not make it into FAMA, as I feel that it is important that some
of these questions get some "air". Judging from some of the comments here,
there seems to be quite a bit of interest in algae scrubbers, so I think my
comments may be of interest to some of you.

I would appreciate it if those of you with connections on Internet and
Prodigy could reprint this letter there as well. Certain individuals on
these other systems have been making some rather questionable comments
about Mr. Sprung and I think they need to be set straight.


"Dear Mr. Dewey,

After reading the letters to the editor published by Dr. W. Adey and Mr. G.
Cunningham reprinted in the April 1993 edition of your magazine, I felt the
need to comment.

It seems that the algae scrubber "wars" have begun as evidenced by Mr.
Cunningham's referral to Mr. Sprung's column as an "attack". Far from being
an attack of any sort, I found Mr. Sprung's article to be well thought out,
dispassionate, written in a non-confrontational manner, and it posed a
number of interesting questions that Dr. Adey rather conveniently glossed
over. Mr. Cunningham's apparent zealous defense of his business was, of
course understandable, but I felt that some of his comments concerning Mr.
Sprung bordered on tastelessness. As a speaker at MACNA 4, I can assure your
readers that Mr. Sprung in no way prevented Dr. Adey from speaking at that
conference. In order to prevent a thing from happening, some attempt must be
made to make it occur in the first place. As far as I am aware, neither Dr.
Adey nor Mr. Cunningham made any attempt to contact the organizers of the
conference, despite almost 10 months of advertising the event in your
magazine, to inquire about speaking or to even have a display booth to
promote Mr. Cunningham's company. I am sure that anyone who knows Mr.
Sprung, was rather surprised at the comments attributed to him; not only
were they untrue, but they were completely out of character.

Both Dr. Adey's and Mr. Cunningham's letters were filled with both
contradictions and inconsistencies. For example, Dr. Adey states that
_Acropora palmata_, Elkhorn Coral, is a test species in his aquariums and
survives very well, yet in Dynamic Aquaria he writes that it only survived a
maximum of 3 years in one system, and even less in his smaller system. If
strontium levels are not a concern, then why did one of the Smithsonian
aquarists recently tell me that they add a supplement that contains
strontium? Dr. Adey's comments that the water in the Smithsonian display
tank is yellow only because of the lighting begs some questions. Why then
can one barely see through the water in that aquarium? Why does the Great
Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville, Australia, have the exact same
appearance even though it uses only natural sunlight? Why did Dr. Adey, in
the past, defend the yellow colouring of the Smithsonian reef exhibit,
stating that it was irrelevant because the aquarium was a research tool and
not a exhibit, if there was no yellow in the water to begin with? If the
spectrum of the lights were inadequate as Mr. Cunningham claims, why should
tax payers, through the National Science Foundation which funded Dr. Adey's
work, have spent 100's of thousands of dollars to setup a system with
improper lighting? If the average hobbyist can go to almost any pet shop and
buy a properly colour balanced metal halide lamp, surely Dr. Adey could find
one?

Both Dr. Adey and Mr. Cunningham missed Mr. Sprung's point about algae
leachates. It is not so much that they are being produced that is the
problem, it is that they are not being adequately REMOVED. The comments
about blue light are also misguided. Surely it is obvious that in shallow
water there is even MORE blue light present than at depth, irregardless of
the red and yellow? The lighting systems employed by Dr. Adey at the
Smthsonian are woefully inadequate in this end of the spectrum.

What I would like to know is, what has become of the hundreds, if not
thousands, of corals (and fish) collected in the last 5 or 8 years, by Dr.
Adey's people at the Smithsonian, for their one aquarium? Surely enough
corals have been collected to fill that one aquarium at least tenfold? As a
scientist, Dr. Adey must have records of the survivability, growth rates and
reproduction successes of the corals and fish collected for his systems?
Where are the scientific papers in which this data is published? I am tired
of reading how well algae grows, what about the corals? I would hope that
the institutions that have disconnected or modified their algae scrubber
systems would write-in to tell you why they did so, but I doubt very much
that this will happen.

Until someone sets-up two identical systems, one run on algae scrubbers and
one using the "Berlin method", put them side-by-side and watch them for 5
years, the two camps will achieve very little by debating each other.
However, as I think was evident in Dr. Adey's letter, there seems to be an
excuse for every criticism offered of his system, be they from Mr. Sprung,
professional aquarists or from coral biologists at other institutions.

                                               Yours truly,
                                               J. Charles Delbeek
                                               M.Sc., B.Ed."


Adey & Charles Delbeek

by srrapp/bb1t.monsanto.com
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <C50MFM.vH-at-ra.nrl.navy.mil>, tse-at-ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) writes:
> Subj:  Relpy to Algae Scrubbers		Section: Marine/Reef Aquaria
> From:  J. Charles Delbeek, 71501,2267	#177472
> To:  ALL				Sunday, April 04, 1993 6:40:12 PM

> 
> "Dear Mr. Dewey,
> 
> After reading the letters to the editor published by Dr. W. Adey and Mr. G.
> Cunningham reprinted in the April 1993 edition of your magazine, I felt the
> need to comment.
> 
> Both Dr. Adey's and Mr. Cunningham's letters were filled with both
> contradictions and inconsistencies. For example, Dr. Adey states that
> _Acropora palmata_, Elkhorn Coral, is a test species in his aquariums and
> survives very well, yet in Dynamic Aquaria he writes that it only survived a
> maximum of 3 years in one system, and even less in his smaller system. If
> strontium levels are not a concern, then why did one of the Smithsonian
> aquarists recently tell me that they add a supplement that contains
> strontium? Dr. Adey's comments that the water in the Smithsonian displ
> What I would like to know is, what has become of the hundreds, if not
> thousands, of corals (and fish) collected in the last 5 or 8 years, by Dr.
> Adey's people at the Smithsonian, for their one aquarium? Surely enough
> corals have been collected to fill that one aquarium at least tenfold? As a
> scientist, Dr. Adey must have records of the survivability, growth rates and
> reproduction successes of the corals and fish collected for his systems?
> Where are the scientific papers in which this data is published? I am tired
> of reading how well algae grows, what about the corals? I would hope that
> the institutions that have disconnected or modified their algae scrubber
> systems would write-in to tell you why they did so, but I doubt very much
> that this will happ
I worked at the St. Louis Zoo in the late seventies and early eighties in a
number of areas including the Aquatic House in which most of the fish
collection is held.  Around 1977 or 1978, I can't remember for sure because I
no longer worked at the Aquatic House, the zoo made a big deal about the
installation of a Smithsonian Reef system (complete with algae scrubbers).  To
make a long story short,this system never did function as intended and the only
way that animals were kept in it were frequent, hack and collect to obtain
corals in the Caribbean (on Smithsonian boats!)  These corals never did thrive
and in fact probably had the same survival curve as the inexprience hobbyist
would have.  Fish were procurred from local pet shops and added to the reef
tank.  Hair algae was always a problem. Again, to make a long story short, this
entire system was taken down and replaced by trickle towers, large protein
skimmers and restocked approximately 2 years ago (1990?)  Although it is still not a thriving, stable ree
not a stable reef tank (as compared to experienced hobbyist's tanks),the hair
algae is under control and the corals seem to be doing ok.
Steve Rapp

> Until someone sets-up two identical systems, one run on algae scrubbers and
> one using the "Berlin method", put them side-by-side and watch them for 5
> years, the two camps will achieve very little by debating each other.
> However, as I think was evident in Dr. Adey's letter, there seems to be an
> excuse for every criticism offered of his system, be they from Mr. Sprung,
> professional aquarists or from coral biologists at other institutions.
> 
>                                                Yours truly,
>                                                J. Charles Delbeek
>                                                M.Sc., B.Ed."


Adey & Charles Delbeek

by steve/rhythm.com (Steve Tyree)
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

 My internet connection is running very slow right now
but I decided to post while receiving the newsfeed in
a 4 day delay anyway.
----
 Reef Scrubber potential design flaws as I see them.

    Filtration reactionary time.
         When polutants suddenly increse in a captive system,
         this can be due to organism death, the foam fraction-
         ation process should be able to react to this increased
         load much quicker than the algae filtration system. The
         reef scrubber will need to proliferate faster until the
         consumption rate is equalized. Has anyone studied the
         reactionary time for sudden increased bioloads while
         running a algae filtration system? A protein skimmer
         will generate greater amounts of foam.

    Coralline Proliferation verses Micro and Macro Green Algae.
         If a captive reef supports a fast proliferation rate
         of coralline algae species, this growth will compete
         and interfere with the green micro and macro algae
         growth. In my reef, corallines overgrow many species of
         macro algae and prevent hair algae from growing. I even
         have a thin proliferation of corallines within my clear
         acrylic 6 foot protein skimmer. This means that if the
         reef scrubber works as stated, the algae tray will be in-
         vaded by the proliferating corallines. This will inter-
         fere with the filtration system.

    Algae overgrowth.
         Corals have no defense from macro or micro algae over
         growths. They do seem to be able to over grow coralline
         algae however. Any reef system which proliferates green
         macro or micro algae in close proximatey to small polyped
         and some large polped Scleractinian coral, will eventually
         kill the coral due to algae over growth.
----

 Steve Tyree - Reef Breeder


a letter from Dr. Adey

by dresler/cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler)
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria


The following is a letter I received (on April 8; the letter is dated April 2)
from Dr. Adey as a response from my posting "Adey vs. the Berliners" (I sent
one of his staff members a copy). He has requested that I post it and also
feed responses back to him (it appears he has no way of interacting directly).
I'm not sure how this is going to work, but I'll honor his request. What
follows is a verbatim quote of his letter; typos, punctuation mistakes and
other errors are presented as is without usage of `sic'. Underlined text in
the original will be denoted with _ delimiters.

In posting this I am not implying that I support Dr. Adey's methods or
those of the Berlin school; I am simply passing it on to the net as per his
request. I would also like to add that I have had no contact with Dr. Adey
beyond this letter.

---- begin quote ----

_Apples and Oranges - Reef and Reef Models_

Several discussions referring to algal turf scrubbing as it relates to the
management of model ecosystems and home aquaria have appeared in the last
several weeks. I would like to make comment on these particularly as they
relate to Video, Adey vs. Berliners (Dan Resler).

First, I thank Dan Resler for his objective comments; apples and oranges,
as I would put it, is the point, and we have several varieties here.

First what is the difference between a wild reef ecosystem, a model reef
ecosystem and a reef aquarium (ie. best quality, "Berliner" system? A
relatively undisturbed wild reef comes in many varieties, and I have no
intention of writing a reef discourse; there is plenty of literature.
However, the shallow reef systems in which corals grow rapidly are (1) full
of carbonate structure, mostly built by corals; (2) highly productive (ie.
photosynthetic) mostly due to algal turfs (macro algae are present but not
usually abundant unless there is a "problem") (3) with extremely low
nutrients, (4) highly diverse and (5) rich in zooplankton, especially
reproductive phases. A model reef ecosystem seeks to come as close as
possible to this model - chemically we can do quite well, and successful
reproductive stages (most of which are eaten) are abundant. Diversity is
also high (200 - 1000 species), but shifted to the lower side of food webs
and size of animals. In short, the system has to be managed to offset the
lack of some species, especially the higher predators that provide
"balance" in the wild. A high quality reef aquarium is a garden; it has
what are currently considered to be the aesthetically desirable species. It
relates to a wild ecosystem as a garden relates to a forest or meadow.
Pretty, interesting, fun, educational, but probably not an ecosystem;
species are maintained (or removed) for their aesthetic not their
functional value.

A few specific points. A museum or public aquarium cannot be compared to
home hobby system. I have a wonderful 130 gallon reef at home that has been
operating for seven years and in which stony and soft corals grow and some
complete their reproductive cycles. This tank also tends to be considerably
more "aesthetic" than the musuem systems. One of the biggest frustrations
of my life, is that I cannot match in the Smithsonian systems the quality
of what I have at home. This is not a size problem. It is due to a wide
variety of "institution factors" that are beyond my control.

Algal turfs (not macro algae) dominate most active, healthy shallow water
reefs. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria, "slime-algae") make up about 50% of
this turf and sometimes in late summer and early fall, blue green mats
cover large areas of healthy reef. Maybe blue greens are not aesthetically
desireable, but they are a critical part of a real, natural reef ecosystem.
Likewise _Valonia_ (bubble-algae) species are one of the commonest
macroalgae on shallow reefs. Particularly on heavily-grazed reefs (which
are the common, healthy reefs that are not over-fished), these species can
be particularly abundant. I like to keep parrot fish and tangs, (the most
abundant fish on most wild reefs), as well as urchins and grazing snails in
our systems. They heavily graze and limit the quantity and variety of
macros (some of which we grow in side tanks with limited grazers) -
however, this is the primary mode of wild reefs. That does not mean we
don't have macros like _Caulerpa_ and _Halimeda_; in addition we also have
other greens like _Udotea_, _Acetabularia_, _Dasycladus_ and _Anadyomene_;
reds like _Acanthophora_, _Laurencia_, _Spyridia_ and even browns like
_Dictyota_ and _Padina_ among many others.

I don't know where the idea came from that algal turf systems lack
coralline algae. This is particularly annoying since I spent about 15 years
of my career as a specialist of coralline algae, and have spent years
collecting and studying reef corallines. I can vouch that algal turf run
aquarium reefs (and the Maine tank for that matter) have a wider range of
coralline species than I have ever seen in any other kind of aquarium
system. For example, in our little 130 gallon reef we have the usual
_Neogoniolithon_ and _Porolithon_ as well as _Mesophyllum_, _Sporolithon_,
_Fosliella_, and the articulates _Amphiroa_ and _Jania_ as well as many of
the related _Peyssonelia_ species. Another point of concern - maintenance
time. About 15 minutes per week is spent maintaining the algal scrubber of
a 130 gallon tank. Ten times that may be spent keeping one organism from
over eating or overgrowing another, but that is the reality of small
ecosystem models.

In summary, some people like gardens and some people like the wild and that
is the way it should be. My only concern is that we cannot survive as a
species in a world of gardens. A large part of our public must begin to
understand how ecosystems work and the keeping of model ecosystems by
millions of hobbyists could be a major step in the right direction.
Competition is good for any field, but I would prefer to see the
competition in this case relate to the matching of water chemistry and
species diversity rather than flapping over whether a certain aesthetically
desireable or objectionable species is present or absent. There are many
high quality wild reefs that simply would not be acceptable if many of the
criteria I hear used for reef aquaria were to be applied to the wild.

Signed,

Dr. Walter Adey  4/2/93

---- end quote ----
-- 
Dan Resler                             
Dept. of Mathematical Sciences        email: dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia, USA 23284-2014


Adey & Carlson Part I

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Subj:  Algae Scrubber Challenge              Section: Marine/Reef Aquaria
~From:  J. Charles Delbeek, 71501,2267    #177832
  To:  ALL                                Wednesday, April 07, 1993 5:06:27 AM

Here is a letter sent to Don Dewey on behalf of Dr. Bruce Carlson, 
Director of the Waikiki Aquarium, commenting on the recent letters by
Dr. W. Adey and Mr. G. Cunningham concerning criticisms of their algae 
scrubber technology. Uploaded with permission of the author.

Dear Don,                                    April 5, 1993

 I expect that you will get a flood of mail on the controversy sparked by
Julian Sprung's comments in his January column on the algae scrubber
system. Dr. Walter Adey has already responded with a measured 
response in his letter published in the April issue of FAMA. However, 
Gregory Cunningham's response was needlessly harsh. My reason for
writing is to point out the need for controlled experiments, and the impor-
tance of data to resolve the controversy. I would like to propose a chall-
enge to those involved: if you are willing to test the growth of _Acropora_ 
in your aquariums, I will provide captive-raised fragments from colonies 
propagated at the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu.

 I reread Sprung's column in the January 1993 FAMA and I thought his
assessment was balanced and fair, and he spoke as someone who has
lived in Washington, D.C. and observed first-hand how the corals fared in 
the Smithsonian reef tank. He stated that his comments were his opinion,
and he tried to present both the good points of the algae-scrubber system,
as well as its apparent failures. Sprung concluded that while algae and 
soft corals survive well in an algae- scrubber system, stony corals do better
using the "Berlin method". The burden of proof is on Cunningham, to back
up his arguments with _data_ and demonstrate why Sprung was incorrect.
But I did not see any useful _data_ presented.

 In a scientific forum, this debate would be resolved by each party present-
ing their research methods and results so that everyone could compare 
data and come to their own conclusions. Cunningham is quite clearly not 
used to people questioning what he "knows" to be the "truth". Don't tell us
what you believe, show us the data!

 I have not re-read all of Dr. Adey's papers, but I have combed through his 
book "Dynamic Aquaria". I cannot find a _table_ or citation referring to sur-
vival and growth of _all_ the various corals placed in his microcosm system. 
I have read anecdotal reports of spawning (including the observations made
by Cunningham in his letter), but how long after the specimens were collect-
ed did they spawn -- hours, days, weeks, months, or years?

 What is the ratio of colonies that grew to those that did not survive? Exactly
what species or groups of corals survived and which did not? Which species
spawned and what became of the offspring?

 I have observed the Smithsonian, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis microcosm 
exhibits but I have not visited the new microcosm exhibit in Townsville, 
Australia. It would be instructive to get an update on the success of all of 
these different systems, and particularly the system in Townsville, Australia.
If Alf Nilsen can successfully transport _Acropora_ from Fiji, to Florida to 
Norway and keep it alive and growing for more than a year using artificial 
lighting and nothing more than protein skimming for filtration, then surely the 
giant aquarium on the Great Barrier Reef using natural sunlight and a huge 
algal-filtration system ought to be mass producing _Acropora_ and other 
corals. I have read newsletters from the Townsville Aquarium, that their 
_Acropora_ corals have spawned, but again there is no mention of when the
corals were collected or how long they survived after spawning. Perhaps all 
the data have been presented elsewhere, and I have just not found it; if so I 
will look forward to being informed.

 In "Dynamic Aquaria" on page 526, Adey states that "some species (of coral)
show little or no growth and eventually shrink marginally. The relatively high 
density of damselfish may place extra stress on the slower-growing species,
which are often overgrown by the filamentous algae growth propagated within 
the damsel territories .... Individual colonies of _Acropora palmata_ .... have 
been kept in the system for over 3 years at a time, growing at a rate of about 
0.7 cm/month in spite of occasional predation by the crab _Mithrax spino-
sissimus_ .... Eventually, portions of colonies die suddenly after months or 
years of apparent good health, exhibiting symptoms of what has been called 
"white-band" disease ... The nature of this rapid death, a feature often present 
on natural reefs, is not known. In this microcosm, the occurrence of this 
"disease" is particularly marked during periods of relatively high nutrient levels,
that is, greater than 1-2 uM nitrogen as NO2- and NO3- ...". This section goes
on to report hydrozoan corals and various octocorals "generally do well in the 
system and show moderate growth". These are all conclusions and general-
ities where are the _data_ to back up these statements?

 If the _A. palmata_ in Adey's system grew at a rate of 0.7 cm/month over a 
three-year period, it would have grown 25.2 cm or about 10". This would have 
been very spectacular to document especially for a coral which is known to be
very difficult to maintain in captivity! Given the detail with which algal growth in
the microcosm has been documented, I am surprised that similar photo doc-
umentation was not provided for the _A. palmata_ in Adey's tank. Perhaps 
such photos or other documentation do exist, and if so, it would be very helpful
to present them.

 Let me repeat: The presentation of a data table showing results of the past 
decade of studies on the growth of corals in the microcosm will resolve the 
issue. This should not be a simple list of corals placed in the system, but a 
_data table with numbers_ showing how many corals were collected, which 
species, when they were introduced into the system, some documentation on 
survival and growth while in the system, the weight of the corals when placed 
into the system, and their weight after they died. A record of the key water 
quality parameters during the same period would also be very informative.

 Cunningham believes that this issue is ultimately about conservation and an 
understanding of coral reef ecosystems. I agree that this is an important part 
of the issue. He also believes that the microcosm was developed not simply as
an aquaculture system for growing corals, but rather as a model of an entire 
reef ecosystem including plants, microorganisms, corals, fishes, and other 
biotic and abiotic components. If so, coral reef biologists usually consider 
corals as one of the best indicators of whether or not the coral reef ecosystem 
is "healthy". Therefore, shouldn't corals also be used as an indicator of the 
long-term successes of the microcosm system? If stony corals do not survive 
and grow in the microcosm, as Sprung observed first-hand while living in 
Washington, then the microcosm is probably not functioning as a model of the 
coral reef, even if algae and microorganisms thrive. Continually collecting new 
corals to replace dead or dying ones certainly does not serve the purpose of 
promoting conservation as Cunningham demands.

continued ....


a letter from Dr. Adey (extremely long)

by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence)
Date: 9 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) writes:

Thank you for forwarding this, Dan.  I'm glad to hear that Dr. Adey
has some interest in our little discussions --this ought to be an
informative thread if he can respond further.  Dr. Adey, If you
read this please consider that an invitation to respond as often as
you can to our posts.  (And if you are not familar with USENET, I
hope that the tradition of somewhat warm discussions does not
discourage you -- I think that all of us would be very happy to hear
from you, even if the tone at times sounds less courteous than it
might.  In the following response I have many concerns, but I hope
that you will take them in the spirit that they are intended.
Something about USENET makes diplomacy a lost art.  Oh, and my
software marks included lines from your letter with a ">"; I hope
that this is readable and clear, since I don't know if you will read
this on a computer screen.)

[Inclusions are from Dr. Adey's letter from here on]

Once again, Dr. Adey writes a reasonable, readable article that
nonetheless seems to miss many points on which there seems to be
disagreement.  I'm going to reply/make querys about this letter in
exaustive detail; hopefully, I can raise some points of interest to
others as well.  I intend to flog each subject to death in an attempt
to overcome any misunderstandings of mere terminology and try to
identify areas of possible disagreements of principle; I hope that no
one minds to much.  (If I quit answering my e-mail, you may assume
that the net.police have abducted me for gross wasteage of bandwidth.)

As a matter of habit my reply to Dr. Adey's letter will probably lapse
rapidly into the second person, but I really am aiming at a discussion
with the net at large as well.  I'm even going to air a couple of
private theories here which I'd like to hear net.opinions on.

Finally, I hope that what follows is somewhat coherent; I had to write
this in one sitting, and it's now after midnight.

>First what is the difference between a wild reef ecosystem, a model reef
>ecosystem and a reef aquarium (ie. best quality, "Berliner" system?

Here, perhaps, is a first area of some disagreement.  As I understand
the above sentence, Dr. Adey equates methods and goals.  A standard
amateur setup, or any non-algal scrubber based system, seems to be by
his definition an aquarium or garden, as opposed to a model ecosystem.
This seems somewhat pointless to me.  I should think that results must
determine whether a system is most like a model ecosystem or a garden.
The sentence above at the least seems to presuppose the correctness of
his argument; understandable, given his convictions, but hardly a usage
which he can expect all to agree on.

In what follows, my usage shall be that a 'model ecosystem', (or model,
or simply 'ecosystem' where the artifical nature is clear from context)
is a system which resembles the original ecosystem to a sufficient
degree.  I fear that 'resembles' is somewhat ill defined, and what
degree is sufficient may vary or be a matter of disagreement, but
perhaps this will be sufficient for an informal discussion.

I would expect that 'resembles' implies the presence of representatives
of as many of the original trophic niches as is reasonably possible,
and I think that Dr. Adey has something like this in mind as well.

One point that will be worth discussing later is the possible
requirement that certain particular species be present for a simulation
to be a good one (for example, one may argue that a model is not a good
one if other requirements are met but species X is not present).  This
could be referred to as the "preferred species" argument, and I think
that some disagreement and/or misunderstanding revolves around it.

A 'garden', by contrast, will be an aquarium with inhabitants which are
not representative of any particular ecosystem (and may not even come
from the same ecosystem -- in practice, the builder probably didn't know
exactly which ecosystem they came from).

Finally, since we need a generic term to encompass both of the above
anyway, "an aquarium will just be an aquarium."  (Apologies to Freud)

Likewise, a 'reef tank' will be an aquarium with live rock and other
reef fauna, to be judged on it's merits as a model or as a garden
regardless of the equipment attached.

>However, the shallow reef systems in which corals grow rapidly are (1) full
>of carbonate structure, mostly built by corals;

I believe that so far everyone is in agreement.

>(2) highly productive (ie.
>photosynthetic) mostly due to algal turfs (macro algae are present but not
>usually abundant unless there is a "problem")

Now, this seems to be a bone of some contention.  I believe that few
reefkeepers (read as: us amateurs) still think that abundant macroalgae
is a good thing in a reef.  However, the amateur experience is that
what I believe you refer to as algal turfs are undesirable, though I
believe that when a hobbyist refers to 'no algal growth' what is really
meant is 'growth that is kept closely cropped by herbivores'.  Few of
us are careful to make this kind of distinction, however useful.

Also, a matter of terminology; 'algae' by itself seems to mean
cyanobacteria or true microalgaes to the amateur; growth of the
calcareous algaes is considered highly desirable and an indicator of
a healthy system, and such algaes do not seem to be covered by the
somewhat pejorative term 'algae' by itself.  Here I am only considering
the former.

In any case, the experience has been that in an aquarium where these
algaes begin to grow into mats rather than forming a less obtrusive
part of the flora on the rocks, this algal growth quickly spreads to
the coral skeletons and begins to push the corals back, choking out the
individual polyps.  So I can't quite tell if you disagree with this
conventional viewpoint or not; the algaes must certainly be present,
but I don't quite get a sense of the densities you consider optimal.
This is also why 'algae' is often a pejorative term, perhaps
understandable even to a algae expert (phycologist?); when a reef
aquarium fails, it almost always is overrun by long growths of hair-
like green algae which chokes out the hard corals, and sometimes
everything else.

    (Warning; the following paragraph is a personal theory that is
    not necessarily representative of most amateur opinions.)

    Since productivity is apparently greatest where the grazing and
    other competition is heaviest, these views may in fact be
    compatible.  Reef tanks develop and improve considerably with age,
    and I suspect that part of this is the development of a healthy
    population of the small herbivorous animals (amphipods?) that can
    apparently be a plague in an untended algal scrubber, as well as
    the fact that the real rate of tissue production has slowed (due
    to decreasing dissolved nutrient levels).  The fact that us
    amateurs tend to say that there is no algal growth may simply
    reflect the fact that the growth is sufficiently well cropped that
    there is no _visible_ growth.

Pictures of healthy Indo-Pacific reefs seem to indicate no obvious
algal growths in the vicinity of the corals, which indicates to me
that in those regions algal growth is kept under close control.  It is
the pictures of dying or otherwise unhealthy reefs which show obvious
algal growth in great quantities, and the natural conclusion (whether
or not it is correct) is that the process on a polluted, nutrient rich
reef is the same as in many aquaria; the nutrient levels become high,
the algal growth is no longer under close control, and the corals suffer
from algal competition as well as directly from the increased nutrient
levels.

These are the assumptions which I think that most hobbyists operate
under.  I believe that in trying to control algal growth, most of us
are in fact _trying_ to imitate the natural ecosystem; or, if the
above picture is incorrect, what we imagine the natural ecosystem to
be.  Your otherwise excellent points about the distinctions between
gardens and ecosystems misses the fact that most serious reefkeepers
don't set out to make gardens; I think that most of us set out to
make a tiny ecosystem, usually with pitifully inadequate information.
(This is one reason why I heartily recommend reading _Dynamic
Aquaria_, even though as you can see I was unpersuaded by the algal
scrubber idea.  I'd like to thank you for your very good chapters on
the dynamics of ecosystems.)  If as you argue they are in fact sub-
optimal models, that is one thing.  But it does no good at all to
dismiss them as gardens out of hand based on the attached gadgets;
it needs to be argued from the results.

If you could comment on what you consider to be an optimal _ visual_
algal growth (distinguishing turfs and calcareous algaes) on a healthy
reef (to the untrained eye; I have no doubt that many growths which
are obvious to you are rather inobvious to me) it would be extremely
helpful.

>(3) with extremely low
>nutrients,

This is something on which there seems to be partial agreement and
partial disagreement, or at least partial confusion.  I think that we
both agree that minimizing inorganic nutrients (nitrogen and
phosphorous are the ones which hobbyists can readily test for and are
most concerned about) is important.  I also think that an algal
scrubber may well reduce these concentrations below those of well run
amateur reef tanks.  A well run aged reef tank will run nitrogen
levels that are undetectable with hobby equipment, and Berlin aquaria
seem to do so not only most often but without any external bacterial
filtration.  But, as the levels reported in _Dynamic Aquaria_ are a
couple of orders of magnitude lower than the threshold of our tests I
can easily believe that algal scrubbers outperform standard amateur
methods in this respect -- I suppose we'll never know until some well-
run amateur tanks are tested with tests having the sensitivity of the
ones you used.

    I should point out, though, that if my previous theory about
    microscopic grazing is correct, a good bit of the nutrient
    reduction in a standard (to me) reef aquarium may actually be
    algal in nature, unbeknownst to the aquarist.  The accepted
    theory is that the nitrogen is consumed by chemotrophic bacteria
    deep in the anarobic portions of the porous rock, but I know of
    no proof of this --we're just used to bacteria rather than algae
    consuming inorganic nitrogen.  Algal consumption on the surface
    would also be consistent with the facts known to me, though it
    contradicts accepted theory in the hobby.

    I have personally witnessed a drastic reduction of nitrate levels
    and an accompanying increase of algal growth in a dimly lit 55 gal
    reef tank that was suddenly equipped with 500W of metal halide
    lighting; the inorganic nutrient levels have continued to become
    more and more self-regulating, even though the visible algal
    growth is now far below what it was before the halides were hooked
    up.  Hobby wisdom is that the nitrogen levels are now too low to
    support vigorous algal growth, but I see no reason why it may not
    be true that that algal growth is simply kept in constant check by
    a now increased microscopic herbivore population.

    This speculation suggests that in fact hooking two Berlin reef
    aquaria up back to back with their lighting out of phase may
    accomplish much the same thing that you accomplish with an algal
    scrubber which is lit during the aquarium's night, and that in
    fact a Berlin system might run even better with an algal scrubber
    as well!  (Anthony, you and I have disagreed over my speculation
    that a scrubber and an otherwise traditional tank are not
    necessarily incompatible; would you care to comment now that I've
    gone to much greater lengths on the subject?)

The point where we seem to disagree is on the importance of dissolved
organic nutrients.  I was dissapointed to find little mention of the
subject in _Dynamic Aquaria_.  The amateur experience is that these
nutrients must be kept very low in order for corals to do well, and
this is a major reason for the emphasis on protein skimming.  My
conclusion was that though you never discuss the subject, a careful
reading of the book suggests that in fact algal scrubbing does not
remove these nutrients well.  I remember specifically (I'm doing this
from memory after having read the book almost a year ago, but I think
I have this correctly) that you mention a yellowing of the water in
the Townsend aquarium in Australia.  (I think that it was finally
removed with activated carbon?)  Other people who have seen tanks with
algal scrubbers have commented on the yellow tinge and poor water
clarity.

This kind of yellowing is thought by us amateurs to be a sign of
very poor water quality.  Even when the inorganic nutrients are
undetectable by our tests, the evidence is that such an aquarium is
quite prone to disease and parasitic infestations in the fish, and
will be slowly lethal to delicate invertebrates.  (I did say slowly;
I believe that slow decline and death over the course of several
months or a year is the usual result.)  Also, it is usually thought
that abundant organic nutrients allow sufficient algal growth to
slowly overrun coral skeletons even when inorganic nutrients are
undetectable (again by tests available to us).

by your silence on the subject in the book, I concluded that you do
not consider dissolved organics to be a matter of concern.  From some
of your later comments in FAMA and other places, I wonder if instead
you believe that high levels of some organic nutrients can be benign
or beneficial, and that an algal scrubber will remove those organics
which may be harmful.  Could you please clarify your opinion on
dissolved organic nutrients, and on whether they are removed by a
turf scrubber (whether or not you personally feel that they are a
problem)?

Likewise, it is the hobbyist's belief that not only inorganic but
organic nutrients are very scarce in the water over a coral reef, and
that by minimizing these compounds we actually are imitating nature
in principle, if not in method.  Could you please discuss the levels
of dissolved organic nutrients over healthy Indio-Pacific reefs?  If
they are as low as I suspect, then that seems to be to be as
important a factor in reef simulation as the inorganic nutrient
nutrient levels you emphasize.

>(4) highly diverse and

I think that all reefkeepers prefer as much diversity as possible.
I may try to get a few pieces of rock which has been taken better
care of than the usual live rock available in the hobby, because
I wonder what dies during transit while the rock is merely damp
and covered with damp newspaper.  I am guessing that even a piece
or two of rock that was shipped submerged could greatly increase
the diversity of microscopic and near-microscopic animals in my
reef.

>(5) rich in zooplankton, especially
>reproductive phases.

I understand your argument in this matter, and since I have noticed
that a skimmer can sometimes remove free-floating green algae
(perhaps cyanobacteria?) I concede that you may well be correct in
regards to other plankton.  In any case, the hobbyist at present must
use centrifugal pumps, so if you are also correct about their
lethality it is still not clear to me that the zooplankton population
of a reasonable amateur system would be improved by the removal of
the protein skimmers.  A good zooplankton population does seem very
desirable in a reef tank (but see below), and I can see that it is
possible that a tank equipped with both scrubbers and some sort of
low-velocity pump is superior to more traditional systems in this
regard.

First, I should say that it may not be completely clear that this
point is as important as you emphasize and I would guess, given the
success of open system public aquaria fed by salt wells.

Second, there are other ways of using the traditional methods which
may be relevant to this point; the one that I will use on the system
I am building is explicitly recommended in your book.  I have taken
your discussion of refugia to heart, and plan to have two or three
small refugia kept under different conditions (lighted, unlighted,
etc.) fed from the (centrifugal) system pump and draining by gravity
into the main tank (more or less representing the brightly lit reef
crest and perhaps a bit of the lagoon, with strong oscillating wave
motion), which itself will drain by gravity into a smaller, calm
deepwater tank, lit with dim, blue lighting.  I have some hopes that
this method can alleviate a few of the problems that traditional
aquaria may have with regard to plankton.

Finally, I don't think that such a system, traditionally filtered or
not, can be called a garden.  I think that it will be beautiful, but
not because it will have just the right inhabitants to satisfy some
asthetic scheme.  You may consider such a system to be a poor_ model_
for the reasons that you have outlined elsewhere, but I don't think
that you can call it a garden without losing the meaning that you
wish to ascribe to that term.

I know that I am far from unique in the goals that I have for my
reef --please don't think that I consider myself to be a particularly
good example.  A better example: a popular topic right here on the
aquaria groups has been simulating monthly and yearly cycles of
temperature, daylight cycle, moonlight cycle, and probably several
other things I've forgotten, particularly with respect to spawning.
I have stored away somewhere a computer program someone posted to
generate weekly schedules to keep track of the variables one might
wish to model.  Is there any asthetic value in such simulation?  Only
in the sense than any ecosystem model is beautiful.

I think that this difference between a possibly poor model and a
garden is quite vast, and not only in the mind of the builder.  I
think that some (though not all, as this letter makes clear) of the
skepticism that you encounter in the reef hobby stems from the fact
that you seem unwilling to concede that someone may have a model
ecosystem in mind and yet use another method.  The important debate
is not about semantics, but courtesy and understanding are usually
considered good ingredients for an informative exchange.  It is
difficult to convince someone if you begin by prejudging his motives
too severely.

On another topic entirely, I am a bit surprised that you did not add
a sixth point about wave action, since I gathered from your book that
you consider it to be quite important in the reef environment
(confirming and shaping many opinions that I was forming on the topic
before I read your book, and that have been incorporated into my own
plans), and it seems to be an all-to-often neglected topic by
hobbyists.  I mention it because again to produce water motion for
currents, dump buckets, and the like we have little choice beyond
centrifugal pumps.  I agree that a reduced plankton population
weakens the simulation; by the same token, I would argue that a lack
of strong, periodic currents similarly weakens the simulation
(assuming the usual concept of a shallow-water simulation).  This
sort of trade-off is only made more severe by the constraints on the
amateur.  Nonetheless, it seems clear to me that a tank with careful
simulation of wave and water action is quite as valid a simulation
as one which does not contain them in order to make possible the use
of less lethal a pumping mechanism.  Both seem very worthwhile to
me.

[Success in modeling ecosystems with Dr. Adey's methods]

It is not clear to me, either because of simple ignorance or
otherwise, that your methods are as completely successful as you
say.  There is the fact that many people seem to have come away
from such tanks with rather poor opinions of their success.  There
is the fact that there are many reports of most coral species
surviving no more than a year in such tanks.  I haven't been
keeping score, but I must tell you that I hear many more reports of
trouble than success.  The same seems to be true of most of the
hobbyist that I have contact with.  That may well be an artifact of
the people and articles that I have access to, but given that we
can only evaluate information that we have I don't think that it is
at all surprising that there is a lot of skepticism toward algal
scrubbers in general.

This is perhaps also a good place to address the "prefered species"
question.  I think that I quite understand your argments about
gardens vs. ecosystems.  One of the examples that you seem to use
is the fact that most reefkeepers are most concerned about keeping
corals specifically, and this you imply shows that their interest
lies in gardening.  This is problematic for two reasons interrelated
reasons.

The first is that you _seem_ to imply that an aquarium with a wide,
representative sample of reef inhabitants which does _not_ include
hard corals is still a valid simulation, while one which does
contain these corals but has a more limited selection of reef
inhabitants must necessarily be a bad simulation.  Yet it is
precisely the population of hard corals which defines and makes
possible that community.  A reef community without skeleton-building
corals strikes me as much like a forest community without trees.
_Dynamic Aquaria_ persuasively argues for the all-importance of
substrate in defining and shaping a community.  While much of the
substrate on a real reef must be dead skeletons and broken coral,
analogous to the live rock with which we fill our tanks, I don't
really see the point of excluding or de-emphasizing the types of
animals which built that live rock.

I could set up a small scale simulation of a Pacific coast
rainforest community based on a piece of rotting log that would be
in many ways similar to a small reef aquarium without hard corals,
and it would have many virtues as a model.  I'm sure that you know
better than I the importance of fallen timber as a tiny habitat of
it's own. However, that model would be a much better one, and more
interesting, if it included living examples of the kinds of
creatures which made that log.  And since I couldn't keep an adult
tree, I would have to settle for a small shoot growing from the log
-- and this would be, in it's own way, as good as including an adult
and far more interesting and educational.

Likewise, I see no basis for not considering hard corals to be an
eminently desirable part of a captive reef.  As a representative of
the corals which are the source of even the live rock, I see no
reason not to consider the small ahermatypic hard corals available
to the amateur to be the single most desirable animals to include in
a model reef community.

The second point is that to my knowledge, the corals themselves are
considered to be indicator species for the reef community as a whole.
Being delicate as they are, my understanding is that stressed corals
are the first indication of trouble for the entire ecosystem.  If
their success in nature is considered an important indication of the
health of the community, then it seems to me that in fact their
success in a model would be an important indication of the success of
the model.  We know that corals are in fact one of the most difficult
animals to maintain over several years in an aquarium, which I would
think would reinforce the conclusion that they are a good indicators
of the health of the captive reef.  Few other animals seem to present
the same problems.

In summary, I simply cannot see how both simple common sense and the
very principles that you so convincingly espouse in _Dynamic Aquaria_
do not in fact argue that the hobbyist should be very concerned with
the presence and success of hard corals in a reef tank.

A related question is that I have come to the conclusion from
reading your book and recent articles that you don't expect for any
particular species to necessarily survive as a model chooses the
ecosystem patch that it wishes to represent.  But then I want to
know of this means that I can't, say, choose successfully to model
an ecosystem which includes some particular animal?

If this is the case, then it doesn't sound like your method is
particularly general at all.  There are some ecosystems that I can
model, but the odds are not good that any particular ecosystem is
one of them.  This sounds like it means that your methods can not
model the majority of ecosystems.

If what I said above is not the case, then why is it a problem
to say that I want to model an ecosystem which includes (for example)
Goniopora sp. corals?  Does your method do well in a case like this,
where one species is chosen as a preferred species from the outset?
(I need not be choosing the preferred species on asthetic grounds; I
could as easily be studying ecosystems containing that species in
order to understand why it is undergoing mass die-offs in nature,
for example.)

>....A high quality reef aquarium is a garden; it has
>what are currently considered to be the aesthetically desirable species.

Actually, I don't think that this is the case for all or even the
vast majority of serious reef aquarists.  It is surely asthetics
which lead many people to their interest in reefs, but to summarily
claim that this is therefore the case in all cases reduces to a
definition equating all all reef aquaria with gardens, which I think
bleeds your arguments of all meaning.  There is no point in
discussing definitions, since no definition can be disproved.  If
instead you would care to discuss substantive issues of the quality
of the simulation produced by this or that method, I think that we
can go a good bit farther.

As it happens, I don't really have asthetics in mind as I plan the
inhabitants of my reef, even if it apparently is by definition a
garden because it will use traditional methods.  The single most
enjoyable thing nabout our final, planned setup is probably being
able to plan a system which will incorporate separate deepwater and
shallow water tanks.  I was mumbling about a soft-bottomed lagoon
tank for some time before practicality forbade it.  I have chosen
to use traditional filtration methods because I am not convinced
of the superiority of algal scrubbing for maintaining the most
delicate members of the community.  I'd be just as happy to use
them, otherwise.  (Actually, the plan includes room for an optional
experimental algal scrubber, to be attached later when the tank is
established and stable, simply because it's a rather neat idea and
I want to see it work and compare for myself.)  As you can see,
I find it all to easy to ramble about the ways in which I have
tried to solve the problems of simulation on a small scale.  You
might also notice that I have said little about the particular
corals I intend to include; this is mostly because I have not given
it so much thought.  I'd rather track down the details of how I'm
going to simulate waves in my tank, or how the refugia should be
set up.

>A few specific points. A museum or public aquarium cannot be compared to
>home hobby system. I have a wonderful 130 gallon reef at home that has been
>operating for seven years and in which stony and soft corals grow and some
>complete their reproductive cycles. This tank also tends to be considerably
>more "aesthetic" than the musuem systems. One of the biggest frustrations
>of my life, is that I cannot match in the Smithsonian systems the quality
>of what I have at home. This is not a size problem. It is due to a wide
>variety of "institution factors" that are beyond my control.

Nonetheless, you cannot reasonably expect arguments based on aquaria
that we cannot see to be persuasive.  In fact, this is a point which
I have noticed repeatedly in every discussion about scrubber methods
vs. other methods; the proof of the effectiveness of algal scrubbing
always seems to end up resting on systems which no one else has seen.
Every person I have heard of not persuaded of the value of algal
scrubbing who has examined tanks set up with algal scrubbers has come
away still more skeptical than before, based on the appearance of
those tanks.  While it may be true that every one of those persons
has simply been exposed to the wrong tanks, I simply find these
reports to be so far incompatible with the glowing descriptions I
hear from the supporters of algal scrubbing.  It is as if the method
only worked as long as the skeptics are kept away.

If possible, please state some tank somewhere that a hobbyist is
reasonably likely to be able to inspect and photograph that you
consider to be a good example of a reef model using your methods.

>Algal turfs (not macro algae) dominate most active, healthy shallow water
>reefs. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria, "slime-algae") make up about 50% of
>this turf and sometimes in late summer and early fall, blue green mats
>cover large areas of healthy reef. Maybe blue greens are not aesthetically
>desireable, but they are a critical part of a real, natural reef ecosystem.

The dislike of cyanobacteria is not really based on asthetics.  It
is the conviction of most hobbyists that most of the corals will
be harmed by it's presence in quantity.  I'd be happy to not worry
about it, if you can prove that sensitive invertebrates are not
harmed by competition with what we usually call "hair algae" and
that large growths of it right next to corals is the norm on
healthy reefs.  Otherwise, I see little real choice in the matter.

>I don't know where the idea came from that algal turf systems lack
>coralline algae.

As far as I know, it came from amateur's visits to systems with
algal scrubbers.  Again, if there are no good examples that people
can see, and I have seen no glowing reviews of home systems being
written in the hobby magazines, I don't think that you can fault
people for being skeptics.  But I'm pretty sure that a good full-
color of heavily encrusted rocks in FAMA would go far toward
dispelling these rumors.

>This is particularly annoying since I spent about 15 years
>of my career as a specialist of coralline algae, and have spent years
>collecting and studying reef corallines. I can vouch that algal turf run
>aquarium reefs (and the Maine tank for that matter) have a wider range of
>coralline species than I have ever seen in any other kind of aquarium
>system. For example, in our little 130 gallon reef we have the usual
>_Neogoniolithon_ and _Porolithon_ as well as _Mesophyllum_, _Sporolithon_,
>_Fosliella_, and the articulates _Amphiroa_ and _Jania_ as well as many of
>the related _Peyssonelia_ species.

Which publicly accessible tanks demonstrate this?  I believe that one
or two of the net readers have seen the Smithsonian tanks, including
the Maine tank; can some net.reader with some knowledge of reasonably
well run traditional tanks comment more on the coralline algae growth
you saw there?

>Another point of concern - maintenance
>time. About 15 minutes per week is spent maintaining the algal scrubber of
>a 130 gallon tank. Ten times that may be spent keeping one organism from
>over eating or overgrowing another, but that is the reality of small
>ecosystem models.

It is not clear to me that the maintenance time is greatly better
than on a well-run Berlin tank, though the difference is obvious with
respect to those tanks with loads of gadgets.  In any case, the
concern is mostly with the quality of the results, not the maintenance
time.  Though I agree that all other things being equal, less work is
very nice.

>In summary, some people like gardens and some people like the wild and that
>is the way it should be. My only concern is that we cannot survive as a
>species in a world of gardens. A large part of our public must begin to
>understand how ecosystems work and the keeping of model ecosystems by
>millions of hobbyists could be a major step in the right direction.

I think that you will find that more reefkeepers and would-be
reefkeepers are interested in ecosystems than you seem to think, and
I agree entirely with you on the desirability of this interest.  I
remember well the facination that even beginners seem to have with
the little communities which come with live rock.  I think that I
heard the word ecosystem used more in that regard than with respect
to anything else, and though the word may have been mostly misapplied
in the technical sense, there doesn't seem to be any doubt but that
an entire aquarium of small animals living with some semblance of a
community is simply facinating to people.

The biggest problem is that there is almost no easily accessible
information.  Your book is a fine start, but I fear that most people
will find it to be too forbidding.  More's the pity, but perhaps less
detailed information will become available.

>Competition is good for any field, but I would prefer to see the
>competition in this case relate to the matching of water chemistry and
>species diversity rather than flapping over whether a certain aesthetically
>desireable or objectionable species is present or absent.

As far as I can tell, in this case the controversy is over which
method will best maintain the most fragile members of the coral
reef community, and therefore in all likelihood most of the rest
of the community as well.  That seems like a pretty valid and
important question to me.

If only it really were a _competition_, for then we would have
people setting up similar tanks of both kinds and we would be
able to draw better conclusions.  Though there was a note on
the net earlier about an offer from someone at the Waikiki (sp?)
aquarium that could really be a competition.  If only we were
so lucky as to be able to make even that kind of comparison.

>There are many
>high quality wild reefs that simply would not be acceptable if many of the
>criteria I hear used for reef aquaria were to be applied to the wild.

I think that the simplest and most effective thing that you could
do to promote your methods, if they work as well as you have
consistently indicated, is to simply make a single successful
example available to be seen by amateurs.  I think that an article
in FAMA on your home reef would be ideal, with at least a dozen
quality full-color pictures.  I'm sure that you haven't the time to
write such an article, but this topic generates such an enormous
amount of interest that I don't think that it would be hard to find
someone in the hobby who would be glad to do it.  Probably several
people.  Why not make it possible for us to judge for ourselves in
the same way that we do for other new methods?  I would certainly
be most interested in such an article.

In an ideal world we could see many good photographs, and several
pieces written by knowledgeable people with different viewpoints.
As long as I'm fantasizing, why not a piece by Julian Sprung, one
by Charles Delbeek, and one or two by yourself or another
knowledgeable proponent of algal scrubbing, all detailing your
130gal home tank.  I can think of no better way to examine the
merits of your methods in detail.  I'm sorry that it's an
impractical idea.

These are some of the questions that have bothered me ever since
I read _Dynamic Aquaria_ and began to think about these issues,
and the relative merits of turf scrubbers versus other filters.
I don't believe that I've asked a rhetorical question anywhere;
I sincerely would like to have your answers to every question
I've posed, and your comments on the remainder.  I would be very
grateful for whatever answers you care to give, and I think that
a lot of other people here on the net and elsewhere would be very
interested, as well.

Thank you,

Dustin Laurence



-- 
Dustin                         "I contradict myself?  Very well, I contradict
                           myself.  I am vast; I contain multitudes."

laurence-at-alice.caltech.edu


[M] Use of the term 'garden': Laurence vs. Adey

by jason/lanai.cs.ucla.edu (Jason Rosenberg)
Date: Fri, 9 Apr 93
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria


I would like to take some issue with some of Dustin's replies to Adey's letter.
Remember, I don't have any kind of a reef, so I hope I won't make too many
glaring mistakes.

I found Adey's comparison of the Berlin reef to a "garden" to be quite
valid.  That is not to say that you couldn't label a turf scrubber a "garden"
as well.  But I think there are important differences between the 2.

In a garden, you pull weeds, you add fertilizer, water during the
dry months, put out snail poison, etc., etc...  By doing this, you can
keep lots of pretty plants that wouldn't have a prayer of surviving in your
yard on their own, at an extremely high density.  It is a high maintenance
eco-system at best, and not remotely close to its natural resting point
in any real microcosm anywhere.

In a Berlin reef, you remove bristle worms, mantis shrimps, 
add ARTIFICIALLY HIGH quantities of calcium (400ppm), and you must be extremely
selective in the animals you put in there....As a result, you can have densely
populated tanks, which exhibit relatively rapid growth in calcareus algaes and 
corals.  Once again, this as at best an artificially offset eco-system, 
suspended by continual maintenance.

Now clearly, a turf scrubber also harbors much of the same criticism.  The
difference is that it seems to attempt to reproduce actual conditions
more closely.  First, it appears that nitrates are much more closely
controlled and care is taken to preserve pelagic plankton.  Calcium levels
are kept at the more realistic level of 250ppm (thus slower calcareous
growth).  I like the idea, although it clearly has problems.  I eagerly await
Adey's addressing the issue of dissolved solids, as raised by Dustin.  It
seems and issue of plankton+dissolved organics vs. no plankton+no organics.

Dustin's analogy about reproducing a forest microcosm, such as a dead log,
doesn't quite work for me.  He talked about keeping a dead log with all
its many forms of life, and called it an eco-system even though it wasn't
the model for the whole forest.  I agree.  But, a Berlin model doesn't come
close to producing any real microcosm, anywhere.  It is still a highly 
selective collection of species, even if from a single region.  It is
only ever a grab-bag of what's really there.  The lack of the true
picture is made up for by the "gardener's" care.

I would like to know more about the issue of Kalkwasser addition in Berlin
tanks.  Why so much calcium?  I remember hearing someone say that they
keeping their calcium levels high caused their shrimp to molt every few
days (instead of weeks) and grew to be overly huge in a short amount of time.
Now, is this natural, successful growth, or is it freakish?  I wonder if the
shrimp is really healthy in its inflated size.  Also, has anyone compared
their growth of hard corals with the growth of real corals in the wild.  I
think that is the important question.  Simply to say you have good coral
growth doesn't mean much unless you give it the perspective of the real
analog in the wild.  If you are going to claim success by force-feeding
calcium, let's make sure it is valid.


[I could be completely wrong on what follows here, but this is what I have]
[concluded given the info so far in this debate.]

Also, I question whether Dustin's tank-in-development can really be called
a Berlin system.  It seems quite well thought out, and seems in many ways
to be quite innovative.  However, it seems to me it will be quite expensive,
at least as much as a turf scrubber or any kind of Berlin tank.  Thus, his
point of arguing with Adey on behalf of Berliners is strange to me.  I don't
think anyone argues that with lots of money, just about any system will
have a great chance for success.  I think the attractiveness for the Berlin
approach is that is the only affordable, accessible way to do things.  I
don't think Dustin's approach is any more accessible to the generic hobbyist
than a turf-scrubber (minus non-centrifugal pumps, of course).
-- 
Jason Rosenberg                           Computer Science Department
jason-at-cs.ucla.edu                         University of California
{uunet,rutgers,ucbvax}!ucla-cs!jason      Los Angeles, CA  90024

-- 
Jason Rosenberg                           Computer Science Department
jason-at-cs.ucla.edu                         University of California
{uunet,rutgers,ucbvax}!ucla-cs!jason      Los Angeles, CA  90024


[M] Use of the term 'garden': Laurence vs. Adey

by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence)
Date: 9 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

jason-at-lanai.cs.ucla.edu (Jason Rosenberg) writes:


>I would like to take some issue with some of Dustin's replies to Adey's letter.

My God.  Someone read the bloated thing.  By the end I thought I was
probably just speaking to an empty room.  I'm glad someone found it
worth reading.

>Remember, I don't have any kind of a reef, so I hope I won't make too many
>glaring mistakes.

Remember, I don't have a algal scrubber, and have the same hopes.  If
I'm lucky, Dr. Adey will reply and enlighten me.

>I found Adey's comparison of the Berlin reef to a "garden" to be quite
>valid.  That is not to say that you couldn't label a turf scrubber a "garden"
>as well.  But I think there are important differences between the 2.

>In a garden, you pull weeds, you add fertilizer, water during the
>dry months, put out snail poison, etc., etc...  By doing this, you can
>keep lots of pretty plants that wouldn't have a prayer of surviving in your
>yard on their own, at an extremely high density.

Adey's tanks themselves are maintained at densities far, far over the
natural ones.  this is because the mean number of almost any
macroscopic organism per, say, 200 gallons of water on a real reef is
less than one.

>It is a high maintenance
>eco-system at best, and not remotely close to its natural resting point
>in any real microcosm anywhere.

What you are describing is often the way amateur tanks are maintained,
but this is a matter of stocking choice.  It has nothing whatsoever to
do with filtration methods.  This is a point that Dr. Adey doesn't
seem to see; that an intelligent choice of ecosystem inhabitants will
automatically produce a better simulation, regardless of the
filtration.  Dr. Adey could probably simulate a more natural ecosystem
with an undergravel filter than must of us can with any filtration!
This is a matter of the knowledge to select a representative community,
nothing more (or less).  It does not imply that the relatively lower
accuracy of my simulation has something to do with my choice of protein
skimmer per se.  I repeat a fundamental inequality:

knowledge =/= filtration !

Dr. Adey's book is an absolute gold-mine of information on what I
consider to be the important issues here; choice of inhabitants and
such.  It is this narrow and (so I claim) independent issue of how to
filter the resulting model that we are debating.

>In a Berlin reef, you remove bristle worms, mantis shrimps, 

Bristle worms are a problem in reefs which are not run properly; they
live on detritus.  In a properly run reef, this detritus is either
removed or sifted by detritivores.  Removal simulates nutrient storage
outside the scope of the simulation; you have essentially decided that
the lagoon area and other nutrient storate sites will not be included
in your model.  This is clearly a compromise, because the only way to
simulate later transport back into the model is by increased feeding.

Comsumption by detritivores is better for a model in theory, since you
have attempted to incorporate the detritus community in the tank.  The
difficulty is that naturally the major concentrations of the two
communities are separated by some distance, and the detritus community
is nutrient rich.  If you can work out a way to keep the simulated
detritus community from flooding the reef community with organic
particles and dissolved organic waste, then I think that this one is
better in practice, too.  It is certainly a practice that Dr. Adey
subscribes to.

It does not appear to be a trivial problem, though, and one important
point that I did not make in my ever-so-verbose post is that it may
well be the fault of the detritus community rather than the scrubbers
that Adey's tanks are high in dissolved organics and suspended
particles (if in fact they are, as the reports I hear indicate).  If
this is true, of course, one would expect that a reef tank maintained
by careful vacuuming would work as well with scrubbers as with
skimmers, so like much of this debate it's actually a testable
hypothesis.  However, as always no one is interested enough to do the
experiment.  Sigh.

Of these trade-offs, including more of the interdependent communities
in an ecosystem versus possibly better simulating fewer communities,
both seem to me to be a valid choice of the scope of the model.  While
Adey's preference is for the inclusion of more communities, until I
am convinced that he can do this and still not compromise or even
severely damage the integrity of his fore-reef coral community I am
not convinced that he can meaningfully call the latter a garden.  He
simply does not believe that there are any trade-offs in his method,
while I think that there probably are.  When we know the answer to
this question, then there will be a lot more agreement.

As for mantis shrimps, they are sometimes a problem for the same
reason that Dr. Adey doesn't attempt to maintain barracuda or sharks
in a home reef; the size of the of the model simply does not permit
the inclusion of certain predators.  Mantis shrimp often need too
large a ratio of prey to predator to allow their inclusion, just as
most any Octopus would, even though both are natural reef-dwellers.
Even the giant Townsend reef does not include sharks (at least large
sharks in the reef itself, because even one would simply over-hunt
the model.  This is a point that is made lucidly and at great length
in Dr. Adey's book, though it is no fault of yours if you haven't
read the book.

>add ARTIFICIALLY HIGH quantities of calcium (400ppm), and you must be extremely

In fact 400ppm is low for a natural reef.  Surface seawater runs at
about 420ppm, if I recall.  However, _Dynamic Aquaria_ points out
that the water over a reef is supersaturated with calcium.  I believe
that the usual range is 450-500ppm.  If you don't maintain this kind
of level, you can't claim that your model is accurate with respect
to this parameter.

>selective in the animals you put in there....As a result, you can have densely
>populated tanks, which exhibit relatively rapid growth in calcareus algaes and 
>corals.

In fact I don't think that the growth in the best run examples of
either traditional aquaria or Adey's aquaria match natural growth
rates, so I hardly call this driving the growth rates artificially
fast.

>Once again, this as at best an artificially offset eco-system, 
>suspended by continual maintenance.

Continual maintenance is a function of how you stock the thing, not
how you maintain it.

>....First, it appears that nitrates are much more closely
>controlled

I granted that this may be the case, though I know of no absolutely
convincing demonstration.  But certainly one desires accuracy in
this parameter as well.

>and care is taken to preserve pelagic plankton.

Again, if Adey is correct about the effect of centrifugal pumps on
plankton then this is probably out of reach of the amateur anyway.
(I had some very very foolish thoughts of homemade low-velocity
piston pumps.  I should be so lucky.)  In any case, to the degree
that this can be made to work, naturally inclusion of this community
implies a more accurate model.

>Calcium levels
>are kept at the more realistic level of 250ppm (thus slower calcareous
>growth).

Again, 250ppm is about half the natural levels, and would be a clear
flaw in a model.  Even my only so-so current experimental reef will
maintain these levels with absolutely no intervention, and did so for
the first year of it's existence.  You can be sure that I didn't do
any fiddling to achieve this, because I didn't even own a calcium
test kit at that time!  When I finally got one, the levels were about
250ppm.

I have been assuming that Adey's tanks run much higher than this; if
not, then this is another point where his system does not flawlessly
model nature.  OTOH, this is again filtration independent, given what
I said above, and that an Adey-style tank with calcium hydroxide
addition would be completely analogous to a Berlin tank, and a skimmed
tank without such additions would be completely analogous with respect
to this parameter to a regular Adey-style tank.

In any event, slower than natural growth rates are not a sign of
accurate simulation.

One frustrating thing about this debate is that no one seems to be
interested in varying a single parameter (calcium level, inhabitant
choice, scrubber vs skimmer, etc.) while holding others constant.
Nothing at all is likely to be learned from these comparisons until we
are clear on the necessity of varying one parameter at a time.  I
think that apples and oranges was a brilliant title for Dr. Adey's
letter, though not for the reasons that he intended.  His selections
will be better than mine, no question, and I will learn what I can on
the subject from him and others.  But filtration has nothing to do
with this.  Knowledge =/= filtration.

>I like the idea, although it clearly has problems.  I eagerly await
>Adey's addressing the issue of dissolved solids, as raised by Dustin.  It
>seems and issue of plankton+dissolved organics vs. no plankton+no organics.

I wish I'd said similar things about suspended organic particles, given
the reports of poor visibility in his tanks.  I believe that reefs are
very poor in this respect as well, and standard aquaria are somewhat
richer, and Dr. Adey's tanks are by far the richest of all.  This is
another parameter where his models _may_ fail to produce the best
results.  If this is not the case, I hope that he will set this point
straight.

Again, it is also possible (and testable!) that this is an artifact of
his inclusion of rich detritius communities, and not the presence of
a scrubber per se.  If only someone would vary but one parameter, we
might know.  Sigh again.

>Dustin's analogy about reproducing a forest microcosm, such as a dead log,
>doesn't quite work for me.  He talked about keeping a dead log with all
>its many forms of life, and called it an eco-system even though it wasn't
>the model for the whole forest.  I agree.

I think that I would have conformed to the standard usage better if I
had called it a community or micro-habitat.  An ecosystem model is IMHO
better (all other things equal) if it includes more of the communities
from the real ecosystem.  Those you can't include, you model in some
other less desirable way. Adey's scrubbers conceptually model the
open-water pelagic community, for example, because it is impossible to
actually include in any reasonably-sized model, even the Townsend reef.

>But, a Berlin model doesn't come
>close to producing any real microcosm, anywhere.  It is still a highly 
>selective collection of species, even if from a single region.  It is
>only ever a grab-bag of what's really there.  The lack of the true
>picture is made up for by the "gardener's" care.

Again, this has nothing to do with filtration.  It has to do with
animal choice.  (And realistically the lack of knowledge of the amateur,
and likewise his or her lack of access to enough representatives from
the real comunity.  Try buying any of the common detrivores from a
benthic community near a reef from a pet store, for example worms of
various kinds or mud-burrowing bivalves.  Hah.  The reasons that they
are unavailable, however, are exactly as Adey states.  In this respect
we agree; we differ mostly over a particular filtration method, and the
fact that he does not seem to recognize that it is a choice independent
of these other choices.)

And Adey has stated many, many times that _no_ model will survive
without action on the modeler's part to make up for the missing animals,
especially in regard to top predators.

>I would like to know more about the issue of Kalkwasser addition in Berlin
>tanks.  Why so much calcium?

It reflects nature.  See above.

>I remember hearing someone say that they
>keeping their calcium levels high caused their shrimp to molt every few
>days (instead of weeks) and grew to be overly huge in a short amount of time.
>Now, is this natural, successful growth, or is it freakish?  I wonder if the
>shrimp is really healthy in its inflated size.

I haven't heard of this, so I can't comment to much.  To my knowledge,
abnormal shrimp molting is caused by a lack of iodine, something that
many people add to their reefs.

If the shrimp molt too often, or grow too large, then yes I would
consider this to be a sign of inadequacies in the simulation.  Just as
I consider poor coral growth to be a similar sign.

>Also, has anyone compared
>their growth of hard corals with the growth of real corals in the wild.  I
>think that is the important question.  Simply to say you have good coral
>growth doesn't mean much unless you give it the perspective of the real
>analog in the wild.  If you are going to claim success by force-feeding
>calcium, let's make sure it is valid.

I agree, and again, force-feeding is not a valid description.  I
believe that comparison shows that growth is slowest in Adey's tanks
and fastest in nature.  If this is incorrect, I would very much
appreciate someone explaining it too me, since to me that is one
particularly valuable measure of the degree to which a model mirrors
nature.

>Also, I question whether Dustin's tank-in-development can really be called
>a Berlin system.

A matter of meaningless words.  It follows most of the principles of
Adey's own book, so far as I believe I can do so.  However, since it
incorporates a skimmer, Adey seems to define it to be a garden.  I
don't seem the value of such terminology.  As for what a "Berlin"
system is, in fact I would bet that there is no consensus in the US
on the exact meaning of the term (much less in Berlin, where I don't
believe that they call it the "Berlin" method!).  I call it a "Berlin"
tank if it relys on good lighting (if a shallow-water model), strong
protein skimming, and no external biological filter.  Anthony includes
minimal water changes and specific additives.  Wilken's books seem to
indicate that a cannister filter providing some external biological
filtration is optional or mandatory.  This is all so many words, and
I hope does not distract us from what I hope are the more interesting
issues at hand.

>However, it seems to me it will be quite expensive,
>at least as much as a turf scrubber or any kind of Berlin tank.

Any reef is expensive simply by virtue of the presence of live rock.
Neither a turf scrubber nor a skimmer is very expensive, particularly
by comparison.  What I am adding is wave-making, which is cheap since
I don't care for the dueling powerhead idea, and refugia, which are
small tanks separate from the main one.  Adey would argue that both
are required for a good simulation, so the cost is no different than
one of his tanks.  I could remove the skimmers, add an algal scrubber,
and have an Adey-style tank at no difference in cost (which would
seemingly be thereby changed from a garden to a model by definition).

>Thus, his
>point of arguing with Adey on behalf of Berliners is strange to me.

Actually, I agree with at least three-quarters of his book, and I
think that it's an absolutely necessary reference for a would-be
modeler, no matter what filtration is intended.  I am questioning his
opinion that a simple substition of a skimmer for a scrubber
disastrously compromises the integrity of a coral reef model.  Money
is not a question for this particular debate.  Much of what I am
arguing about modeling I learned or had confirmed and enhanced by his
book.  What we are arguing should be in my mind a peripheral point.
Why he seems to believe that it is so important I have not understood.

>I don't
>think anyone argues that with lots of money, just about any system will
>have a great chance for success.  I think the attractiveness for the Berlin
>approach is that is the only affordable, accessible way to do things.  I
>don't think Dustin's approach is any more accessible to the generic hobbyist
>than a turf-scrubber (minus non-centrifugal pumps, of course).

As I said, the difference in cost is negligible.  I am a somewhat poor
physics graduate student, and my wife is an equally poor physical
chemistry graduate student.  I can only do any reef at all because I
am building almost everything myself, and because I have learned to
wait months or even years if necessary to assemble the needed equipment.
Not everyone needs or wants the extra stuff I add, but everything that
I am adding is recommended in some form by Adey.  I could add non-
centrifugal pumps to a Berlin tank, though I admit that the skimmers
may make this less useful than in an algal scrubber.

In his defense, I should say again that a tank which does not have
the extra refugia and stuff is no more expensive than a Berlin tank.
I repeat that the simple substitution of a scrubber for a skimmer
does not increase the cost, and the debate is solely over
effectiveness for some particular simulation.

Thanks again for reading my interminable ramblings.  Perhaps you
care to comment further?  I promise I'll try to keep my posts under
better control.  :)

-- 
Dustin                         "I contradict myself?  Very well, I contradict
                           myself.  I am vast; I contain multitudes."

laurence-at-alice.caltech.edu


[M] Use of the term 'garden': Laurence vs. Adey

by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence)
Date: 9 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

tse-at-ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) writes:

>As to why
>you need so much calcium, clam shells are made of calcium, and clam
>grow fast.  So do calcareus algae.  In a healthy tank.  Like a Berlin
>tank.

Though I haven't had much success convincing hobbyists, on this point,
I think that it's more than just carbonate skeleton building.  Reef
levels are supersaturated, just as the levels at several hundred meters
are undersaturated  There is a point at which carbonate skeletons
dissolve as fast as they can be secreted, and this point is the maximum
depth at which carbonate-secreting organisms can survive.  I don't
remember what mechanism is responsible for this, but I think that it's
related to undersaturated carbon dioxide levels (reef water chemistry
is pretty far from equilibrium, varying on a regular diurnal cycle).
It doesn't work right in a traditional aquarium, and so you have to add
calcium to make up for precipitation as well as growth.

It may work better in an algal-scrubbed tank, because there you have a
shot at more non-equilibrium levels of oxygen and carbon-dioxide.  This
is one reason why I suspect that an algal scrubber may enhance a tank
with a skimmer.

>PS As to Dustin's question on scrubber w/ skimmer.  I never ran a
>scrubber.  I don't see the need for a scrubber.

See above with respect to calcium.  You may have a shot at the diurnal
cycle of supersaturated oxygen and undersaturated carbon dioxide
during the day and saturation of both at night.  Skimmers only raise
the oxygen levels when they are below saturation, because all that
they (or trickle filters) can really do is drive the system faster
toward equilibrium, effectively adding a "force" trying to restore the
system to chemical equilibrium.  If this effect is too great, of
course, it will in the same way hamper your efforts to achieve daytime
supersaturation.  But perfection is for taylors, as we well know.

Another reason is to attempt to have the best of both worlds with
respect to nutrient levels, and keep inorganic levels low primarily
with the algal scrubber, and the organic levels low primarily with
the skimmer.

Of course, hobby lore is that algae don't grow at low nutrient
levels; it is possible that Adey gets it to grow in the scrubber
only because it it feeding on the organics.  If so, then effective
skimming would destroy the action of the scrubber.  However, since
some algaes can actually fix nitrogen from N2, I personally will
bet against this possibility.  Also, _Dynamic Aquaria_ reports the
rate of algal colonization of test screens on a Caribbean reef, and
I think that they were not much longer than in his tanks (anyone
a better memory of this correct me).  If that reef was not eutrophic
then we see that an algal screen can have significant growth rates
on a real reef.

>But I am not
>saying it won't work.  I just want to know how you are going
>to keep the algae in the scrubber from attacking your corals
>in the main tank.

That's the big question.  See the theory in my earlier, massive
post.  If predation does account for a significant portion of the
lack of visible algal growth on the reef itself, then in the
protected environment of the scrubber the algae may grow well even
though it does not do so in the main tank.  You can't really get
rid of algae even if you think you have; you can merely control
their growth through nutrient starvation and predation.  We've
always assumed that the former was the dominant factor, but the
relative importance has not been demonstrated IMHO. Since one
function of the weekly or biweekly scrubber cleaning is to remove
the herbivorous amphipods in the scrubber which can otherwise halt
it's operation (as someone recently reminded me in a letter, to
which I'll be responding Real Soon Now, I promise), this idea does
not seem too unreasonable to me.

OTOH, it may be as you say, and the algal growth will be out of
control as long as you have a working scrubber, and the scrubber
will not work as long as the algal growth in the main tank is in
control.  I see lots of possibilities which are not excluded by our
present knowledge, and impatiently await the time when someone will
have the time and money to settle some of these issues.  I might
someday take a stab at it, by hooking up an algal scrubber to an
already established skimmed tank and watching the results.

BTW, I don't intend to dominate these "Adey systems" threads.  These
modeling issues are the issues which keep me hooked to this hobby, so
I tend to go to great lengths about them.  I hope that I'm not
accidentally suppressing anyone's contributions on the matter.

-- 
Dustin                         "I contradict myself?  Very well, I contradict
                           myself.  I am vast; I contain multitudes."

laurence-at-alice.caltech.edu


Adey & Carlson Part II

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Subj:  Algae Scrubber Challenge    Section: Marine/Reef Aquaria
~From:  J. Charles Delbeek, 71501,2267  #177833
  To:  ALL                      Wednesday, April 07, 1993 5:06:10 AM

continued...

 Practicing the scientific method of inquiry does not have to be
terribly complicated to yield useful data and knowledge. While we 
ask to see hard data on the microcosm reef system, hobbyists 
and those in the public aquarium field have a similar obligation to 
monitor and document what is occurring in their aquarium systems. 
Let's see some long-term documentation of coral growth in various 
systems -- those with trickle filters, those with protein skimmers 
only, those with algae scrubbers, and with a combination of the 
above. Better yet, someone ought to do controlled experiments 
setting up a series of replicate tanks (as exactly as possible) vary-
ing only in the type of filtration system employed. Until we obtain 
data, this controversy will continue to be argued on the basis of 
anecdotal observations and will remain unresolved.

 Let me conclude with this challenge: I have 14 species of 
_Acropora_ growing in various open-system aquariums at the 
Waikiki Aquarium which were collected in Palau, Fiji, and Guam. 
Our seawater comes from a well and is therefore devoid of plankton,
and is very low in dissolved organic carbon. Now get this: our 
incoming water has a total dissolved nitrogen concentration o 
9.75 uM/L; 2.98 NH4 uM-N/L; and 5.30 NO3+NO2 uM-N/L! How 
does this jive with Adey's observation that _Acropora palmata_ die 
at levels of 1-2 uM/L NO3+NO2? We are in the process of testing 
this apparent anomaly with researchers from the University of 
Hawaii's Institute of Marine Biology and I will report the results at
a future date.

 Our corals are in an outdoor system and receive natural sunlight.
Specimens sent to Alf Nilsen in Norway all survived the shipping and
are doing well in his closed-system aquarium over a year later using
protein skimmers and 1,000 W Osram lighting. I have sufficient
material from the same colony of _A. microphthalma_, and perhaps 
_A. subglabra_, to provide about three 4 cm samples to three or four
researchers: Adey, Cunningham, Sprung, and Nilsen, provided that 
they will document the survival and growth (including taking photo-
graphs!) of the samples in their respective systems over the next 
three years or more. Since the fragments will come from the same 
colony collected in Fiji, in 1990, genetic variability should not be a 
factor..

This is not as good as a strictly controlled experiment, but I'm sure
given the challenge, that everyone will do their best to keep the
corals alive and growing. At one year intervals we can publish the
results in FAMA. Too bad I can't offer a cash reward for the best
performance, however, if the microcosm system performs as well as
Cunningham believes, then his business ought to start booming! 
How about it, any takers?

Sincerely,
Bruce A. Carlson Ph.D.
Director, Waikiki Aquarium
School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
University of Hawaii






Turff Scrubbing

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Fri, 2 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <C4tBD1.C3J-at-dale.cts.com> jmorris-at-dale.cts.com  (John W. Morris) writes:
>
>I have been reading about a method of 'filtration' for marine tanks referred to as 'algae turff scrubbers'.
>I have a very hard time visualizing this.  Can any one enlighten me?
>

     After many months of development, I have finally find a cheap and
easy way to build an algae scrubber.

     To build a scrubber, you'll need a wood or plastic stick that's
approx 8" long, .5" wide, and .25" thick.  Start with drilling 1/32"
holes 1/8" apart both along the width of the stick and 2" along one end
of the stick.  Then collect hard plastic bristles and tie them into 1/32"
bundles.  Glue the bundles into the holes and you are done.  To use
the scrubber, apply the scrubber to any algae you see on your live rock
with vigrious up and down strokes, preferably in a bucket of salt
water instead of in your tank.  After years of research, the algae
scrubber has proven to be indespensable in keeping corals in
capactivity.  Many who participated in the beta test has reported
accelerated coraline growth, accelerated coral growth, and coral
spawning in capactivity.

     For those who are less mechanically inclined, you may purchase
a ready made scrubber at authorized dealers.  These scrubbers
are made of spaceage ozone safe plastic, will not leak phosphate
into your tank, and the bristles are made of high void space
high surface area bio-material.  In addition to being a great aid
in maintaining reef tanks, some have experimented with using the scrubber
as a mean of preventing tooth decay.  This amazing device can be
yours for $19.99.  Don't wait, get yours today.


    You ask, don't blame me.

-Anthony


Turff Scrubbing

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <1993Apr3.142514.16860-at-cabell.vcu.edu> dresler-at-cabell.vcu.edu (Dan Resler) writes:
>fxm3-at-po.CWRU.Edu (Frank Mularo) writes:
>
>
>>Seems to me that if hair algae is a detriment to a reef tank, 
>>encouraging it to grow in the filtration  system is just ask-
>>ing for trouble. How do you keep it out of the rest of the tank?
>
>You don't, as far as I can tell.
>
>Why is hair algae considered a detriment to a reef tank, other than
>the fact that in large quantities it looks terrible? (This is an
>honest question - I don't have a reef tank, so I've never had to
>deal with this stuff.)

   Well, I can cite you one example.  I bought a couple pieces of
acropora a few days before your visit.  On one of the piece, 80% of
the tips were either broken of damaged.  Within a few days, all the
tips recovered except 2 tips that had a couple strands of hair algae
on them.  One of the tip still has not recovered and the tip has
a few strand of hair algae on it.  I am going to take the piece
out and cut part of the tip off along with the couple of strands
of hair algae with it real soon now.  Hair algae is a detriment to
a reef the same reason why it is detriment to a planted fresh water
tank.  Given a chance, they will overgrow and out compete everything
else in the tank.

-Anthony


Adley

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Fri, 2 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria,alt.aquaria

In article <1993Apr2.172626.28224-at-vaxeline.ftp.com> colt-at-vaxeline.ftp.com (Colt Forsythe) writes:
>I believe Adley's ecosystems approach to keeping closed systems should be
>encouraged. Given the number of people who post weekly about their over
>crowded, mismatched species (goldfish, mollies), plastic plant, 
>algea ridden disasters there is an obvious problem. 
>
>The high-tech (anal) approach to this is to kill/eliminate everything
>but the target species with ozone, UV, X-nitrate, X-phosphate, skimmers,
>bio-balls, etc. The list continues to grow much to the satifaction of
>suppliers of this questionable stuff. This is a fine approach to
>waste water treatment but not very useful for closed systems.

    As far as I can see, the trend is reversing, my personal opinion
is that ozone, UV, X-nitrate, X-phosphate, bio-balls have questionable
value and more and more people are not using them.  I still use
skimmers, but my next tank may not.  I have no intension of ever
using a algae scrubber tough.

-Anthony



Adey

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <1993Apr3.052912.21074-at-magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu> cbingman-at-magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Craig A Bingman) writes:
>In article <113891-at-bu.edu> obrien-at-bu-bio.bu.edu (Todd O'Brien) writes:
>>I can create an Adey System that will match or beat ANY of your fancy
>>Wet/Dry, Skimming, Trickling, UV'ing ... systems ... at a fraction of the 
>>maintenance time and cost !!!
>
>And I'll bet Anthony could clean your scrubber with his scrubber with
>one arm tied behind his back.

  Now that's funny.

-Anthony


[M] Use of the term 'garden': Laurence vs. Adey

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Fri, 9 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <1993Apr9.125550.26342-at-cs.ucla.edu> jason-at-lanai.cs.ucla.edu (Jason Rosenberg) writes:
>I found Adey's comparison of the Berlin reef to a "garden" to be quite
>valid.  That is not to say that you couldn't label a turf scrubber a "garden"
>as well.  But I think there are important differences between the 2.

   It's a fairly valid statement for my 75g where making it pretty is
important.  My 29g is not a garden.  It's more like a farm, for
acropora.

>In a garden, you pull weeds, you add fertilizer, water during the
>dry months, put out snail poison, etc., etc...  By doing this, you can
>keep lots of pretty plants that wouldn't have a prayer of surviving in your
>yard on their own, at an extremely high density.  It is a high maintenance
>eco-system at best, and not remotely close to its natural resting point
>in any real microcosm anywhere.

   What you missed is, a Berlin tank isn't anymore maintenance then a
algae scrubber.  It really make me wonder just how much does the Adey
camp know about the rest of the reef keeping world.  They kept refering
to the Berlin method as high maintenance.  I don't use a straight
Berlin system, so my maintenance is a little higher, but not
much higher if you use Adey's definition of maintenance where
keeping one animal from overrunning another is not considered
to be maintenace.  Keeping one animal from from overruning another
is probably 49% of the maintenance, the other 49% is making DI water.
The actual time it take to empty a skimmer cup and water change
is about 30 minute a week.  In a straight Berlin tank, emptying
the skimmer cup takes 10 sec a week.

>In a Berlin reef, you remove bristle worms, mantis shrimps, 
>add ARTIFICIALLY HIGH quantities of calcium (400ppm), and you must be extremely
>selective in the animals you put in there....As a result, you can have densely
>populated tanks, which exhibit relatively rapid growth in calcareus algaes and 
>corals.  Once again, this as at best an artificially offset eco-system, 
>suspended by continual maintenance.

   It's nothing artificial about adding high quantities of calcium.
Florida water was tested by me to have 450ppm of calcium.  As to why
you need so much calcium, clam shells are made of calcium, and clam
grow fast.  So do calcareus algae.  In a healthy tank.  Like a Berlin
tank.

>Also, has anyone compared
>their growth of hard corals with the growth of real corals in the wild.  I
>think that is the important question.  Simply to say you have good coral
>growth doesn't mean much unless you give it the perspective of the real
>analog in the wild.  If you are going to claim success by force-feeding
>calcium, let's make sure it is valid.

   See above on calcium.  I don't think anyone has been able to
have captive corals grow faster then corals in the wild yet.  At
least not in an closed system.

-Anthony

PS As to Dustin's question on scrubber w/ skimmer.  I never ran a
scrubber.  I don't see the need for a scrubber.  But I am not
saying it won't work.  I just want to know how you are going
to keep the algae in the scrubber from attacking your corals
in the main tank.


Adey & Carlson Part II

by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence)
Date: 10 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

I'd worry about the risk of boring everyone to death with my opinions,
but I think I'm already way to late.  :)

Anyway, I wanted to point out the following bits from Dr. Carlson's
letter, kindly posted by Anthony.  I hope that Dr. Adey decides to
comment on Dr. Carlson's letter as well, and particularly these
parts, because they cut to the heart of the issues that I haven't
yet heard Dr. Adey address.

>Here is a letter sent to Don Dewey on behalf of Dr. Bruce Carlson,

[...]

>[Cunningham] also believes that the microcosm was developed not simply as
>an aquaculture system for growing corals, but rather as a model of an entire
>reef ecosystem including plants, microorganisms, corals, fishes, and other
>biotic and abiotic components. If so, coral reef biologists usually consider
                                ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>corals as one of the best indicators of whether or not the coral reef
 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>ecosystem
 ^^^^^^^^^
>is "healthy". Therefore, shouldn't corals also be used as an indicator of the
 ^^^^^^^^^^^^
>long-term successes of the microcosm system? If stony corals do not survive
>and grow in the microcosm, as Sprung observed first-hand while living in
>Washington, then the microcosm is probably not functioning as a model of the
>coral reef, even if algae and microorganisms thrive.

This is the argument that I was trying to make in my huge post, but
he makes it better, and has the data and credentials to be taken
seriously.

[...]

>I have 14 species of
>_Acropora_ growing in various open-system aquariums at the
>Waikiki Aquarium which were collected in Palau, Fiji, and Guam.
>Our seawater comes from a well and is therefore devoid of plankton,
                                ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>and is very low in dissolved organic carbon. Now get this: our
 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>incoming water has a total dissolved nitrogen concentration o
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>9.75 uM/L; 2.98 NH4 uM-N/L; and 5.30 NO3+NO2 uM-N/L! How
 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>does this jive with Adey's observation that _Acropora palmata_ die
>at levels of 1-2 uM/L NO3+NO2?

This water seems to resemble that in a well skimmed aquarium more
closely than a well scrubbed one, and brings up the DOC issue as well
as DIC.  Other than the fact that it's an open system, I wonder if
Dr. Adey considers the Waikiki aquarium to more closely resemble a
garden or a model?

-- 
Dustin                         "I contradict myself?  Very well, I contradict
                           myself.  I am vast; I contain multitudes."

laurence-at-alice.caltech.edu


Adey & Carlson Part II

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <1q5kvtINNees-at-gap.caltech.edu> laurence-at-cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence) writes:
>>I have 14 species of
>>_Acropora_ growing in various open-system aquariums at the
>>Waikiki Aquarium which were collected in Palau, Fiji, and Guam.
>>Our seawater comes from a well and is therefore devoid of plankton,
>                                ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>and is very low in dissolved organic carbon. Now get this: our
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>incoming water has a total dissolved nitrogen concentration o
>^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>9.75 uM/L; 2.98 NH4 uM-N/L; and 5.30 NO3+NO2 uM-N/L! How
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

   I don't know is this acropora test a good test.  The
4 different species of acropora I have are extremely easy to
keep.  Other people I talked to who keep acropora said the
same thing.  Elkhorn may be the exception, I don't know.

-Anthony


Adey & Carlson Part II

by steve/rhythm.com (Steve Tyree)
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

->(Dustin Lee Laurence)  writes

-> Anyway, I wanted to point out the following bits from 
-> Dr. Carlson's letter, kindly posted by Anthony.
----------
  From Dr. Carlson's letter.
-> I have 14 species of  _Acropora_ growing in various 
-> open-system aquariums at the Waikiki Aquarium which 
-> were collected in Palau, Fiji, and Guam. Our seawater 
-> comes from a well and is therefore devoid of plankton,
-> and is very low in dissolved organic carbon. Now get this:
-> our incoming water has a total dissolved nitrogen concen-
-> tration of 9.75 uM/L; 2.98 NH4 uM-N/L; and 5.30 NO3
-> +NO2 uM-N/L! How does this jive with Adey's observa-
-> tion that _Acropora palmata_ die at levels of 1-2 uM/L 
-> NO3+NO2?
----------
->(Dustin Lee Laurence)  writes

-> This water seems to resemble that in a well skimmed 
-> aquarium more closely than a well scrubbed one, and brings 
-> up the DOC issue as well as DIC.  Other than the fact that 
-> it's an open system, I wonder if Dr. Adey considers the 
-> Waikiki aquarium to more closely resemble a garden or a 
-> model?

 This might be a good time for me to post the preliminary test-
ing results from my 180 gallon reef. A Hach 0-1 mg/l nitrate 
test kit was purchased to take tests during the removal of a
trickle filter from this semi-berliner tank.This reef has a 6 foot
tall and 6 inch diameter skimming tube. The skimmer is counter
current columnar. The reef rock is 80 percent Marshall Islands 
(~125 lbs) with base floridian porous life rock. Entire reef is
elevated on a pvc circulation matrix which has holes strategically
positioned to keep detritus in the water column or settled in the
front. This facilitates removal via 5 % weekly water changes. To 
sum it up - It is a berliner which still has a trickle filter but lacks 
a substrate and almost all detritus is removed weekly from the 
system. The reagents I am using for the test are for freshwater 
but the factor of error is constant and might have been aproxia-
mated. The correct saltwater reagent was ordered and if expect-
ed results are off by more then predicted, a followup post will be
sent.
      Reef Tank Water - No detectable color at all.
                                  Indicates <= 0.02 mg/L nitrate nitrogen.
                                                <=  0.088 mg/L nitrate (NO3)
      Fresh Water Top Off - 0.25 mg/L nitrate nitrogen (N)
                                      1.056 mg/L nitrogen  (NO3)    
       Prepared Tropic Marin Salt Mix
                                       0.12 mg/L nitrate nitrogen (N)
                                       0.528 mg/L nitrate (NO3)
   notes - It appears that I am adding nitrate nitrogen to my 
              reef when water is changed weekly. A search for 
              better water purification is underway.
            - The reading for prepared Tropic Marin salt mix
               indicates that test is off by 50 % in salt water.
               (assuming that TM did not add nitrate nitrogen)
 Additional test performed
       Skimmer effluent (gold liquid)
                             2ml gold liquid + 4ml reef water
                               *   0.1 mg/L  nitrate nitrogen (N)
                               *   0.44 mg/L  nitrate (NO3)
                          * multiply by 2 for salt water error.

 I have been thinking about these test results over the week-
end (while stuck in sunday traffic) and would like to throw
out some conjectures. It appears that nitrate levels of the
main reef might be in Adey Reef Scrubber range, even with
the 1 ppm nitrate weekly water change additions. The test
performed on skimmer effluent appears to substantiate the
possibility that the skimmer is not only removing dissolved
organics, but also removing nitrates. This also shows that 
the trickle filter in my reef is probably not producing excess 
nitrates. I tested the water leaving the trickle filter and no
color was seen in the sample. This may be due to the com-
bination of protein skimming and detritus removal. The 
trickle filter is not producing excess nitrates because the
demands on the biological section are quite low per volume
of biological area. It also indicates that the filter might not
even be doing much. Now the relation to your post.

   The Reef Scrubber Filtration System incorporates various 
   species of algae to remove excess nutrients, dissolved
   organics and nitrates. These algae are then harvested on 
   a weekly basis.
    A protein skimmer based "berlin" system, lacking detritus
   removal, is able to remove most dissolved organics via
   foam fractionization. The systems might not be able to
   remove all the organics and therefore some nitrate is
   produced which will be removed via denitrification
   within the live rocks.
    My system which combines the "berlin" methodology
    with near total detritus removal, might remove enough
    dissolved organics to keep nitrification low per volume
    of water. The result seems to be very low nitrate levels.
    I am curently exploring ways to test for dissolved or-
    ganics.

 As you have pointed out, if adequate skimmers were con-
nected to a reef scrubber system, the algae growth might
be inhibited due to a lack of nutrients. This may mean that
(as others pointed out) Dr. Adey's fixation with nitrate and
nitrite levels, might be dealing with a symptom and not a
cause. The system may be so overloaded with organics, that
excess nitrification is allowed to occur. This nitrogen is then 
removed via algae growth and denitrification. Could not his 
potential scleractinian proliferation problem be related to the
speed of dissolved organic compound removal. The absorp-
tion of dissolved organics is so slow that excess nitrification
occurs and more algae must be used. This might explain why
rows and rows of algae trays (with 400-1000 watt metal halide
lights) are needed in Australia. The only problem with this 
scenario is that these undesired compounds must remain in 
the water to continually feed the algae. Unfortunately for them, 
so must the coral.
 Either you harvest algae or you harvest your skimmer cup
and harvest detritus. Which procedure supports better coral
growth rates ?
  ie - why spend thousands of dollars to grow algae?

 What has been occurring in my reef lately ? An _Acropora
sp._ undergoing near natural growth rates (accelerated growth
for the Adey crowd). When I now refer to an algae blooming 
in my reef, I mean a species of coralline algae. This tank is 
not without problems however. My addition of top off water
needs to be improved and water changes will probably have
to be cut back. Reef water might be cleaner.

 Steve Tyree - Reef Breeder 


Adey & Carlson Part II

by kncarp/nicsn1.monsanto.com (Kevin N. Carpenter)
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

: <Sob> Mine's not the _biggest_ anymore.  Beaten by a foot...
: oh, the shame.

Don't sob, neither is his...  Mine is 7' high with a 6' reaction chamber
and is 7" across (although it's octagonal, the 7" is the small diameter).
And thats filtering a 135g tank...

: Yes.  This is quite impressive.  If I've remembered the conversion
: factor right, .02 ppm corresponds to about 1.5 micromolar.  Even
: if you're actually running at 3uM, that's getting quite close.

Using the same Hach kit, but with saltwater reagents, I've had zero
readings on my water since January (ever since I removed my algae scrubber
(which I ran for 10 weeks and had nitrates go from 0.8ppm to <0.02ppm)).
I define zero as no color change visible under real sunlight against white
paper.  In any case, its well below 0.02ppm Nitrate Nitrogen (N).

: > As you have pointed out, if adequate skimmers were con-
: >nected to a reef scrubber system, the algae growth might
: >be inhibited due to a lack of nutrients.

: I would actually bet against this if I had to, since apparently some
: or most turf algaes will start fixing nitrogen if there aren't enough
: inorganic nutrients in the water, but it's no more than a guess.
: They may only be able to do this in the presence of plentiful organic
: nutrients, for example.  I'd treat it as a 60% chance that a scrubber
: will continue to work even in well skimmed water.

During my scubber days, I had a 4" x 48" counter current in operation on
the system.  The skimmer appeared to be working fine, the hair algae in
the scrubber (and the tank darn it!) grew in direct relation to the 
amount of Iron I added.  As stated above, there were some nitrates
available for it to munch on as well.  The scrubber was removed when it
became apparent that my tank was being overgrown with hair algae.  ie,
I couldn't devise a way to encourage growth in the scrubber and not in
the tank.  I'm still paying for that, although an aggressive, 3 times a
week, pulling program is starting to show results.

--
Kevin Carpenter               Internet:    kncarp-at-nicsn1.monsanto.com
Monsanto Company              Fidonet:     1:100/215.0 (home)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.   CompuServe:  71726,2111
Opinions expressed are those of the author, not the company he works for. 


Adey & Carlson Part II

by steve/rhythm.com (Steve Tyree)
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

-> laurence-at-cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence)

-> Steve, how are you purifying your water?  If you're using DI or RO,
-> it would be nice to know that all of the nitrates might not be
-> removed.

 Just received a spectrapure 50 gal/day RO unit along with the Mixed
Bed Deionizer. Should filter down to 20 ppb (sales rep). 18 Mega Ohms
0.06 micro seimens. ASTM Standard 1 level water purity except with
respect to bacterial requirements. My previous water purification
system was built on magnum canisters with appropiate filtering
media. Never thought the reef water could get cleaner then tap.

-> Yes.  This is quite impressive.  If I've remembered the conversion
-> factor right, .02 ppm corresponds to about 1.5 micromolar.  Even
-> if you're actually running at 3uM, that's getting quite close.

 The Hach nitrate test kit converts nitrate to nitrite and then 
measures total nitrite. So this is the same total figure used by
the "professionals". A low range Lamotte kit also verifies that 
the nitrate nitrogen levels are at least below 0.25 ppm. The Hach
kit gave me a factor of 10 better resolution.

-> Did you test material that had sat in the cup for a while?  If so,
-> I'd guess that more likely you are measuring the products of decay
-> that occured after the material was removed from the tank.

 Yes, it appears that nitrates were probably due to decompostion
of dissolved organics within the one gallon jug collection container. 

-> I agree that it appears likely that it is doing little.  This does
-> not support the usual contention that a trickle filter is _always_
-> a nitrate factory, but the situation is probably that they are
-> nitrate factories only to the degree that there is free ammonia in
-> the water to be oxidized.

 If you measure nitrates then you could probably assume that the trickle
filter is performing some of the nitrification. I will slowly remove
plastic media over a one-two month period. Testing every week or so.

 Steve Tyree - Reef Breeder


Adey & Carlson Part II (and macho virile posturing)

by kncarp/nicsn1.monsanto.com (Kevin N. Carpenter)
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Dustin Lee Laurence (laurence-at-cco.caltech.edu) wrote:

: So the scrubber seemed to bring your nitrates way down, but still caused
: lots of algal growth in the tank?  Did you get more growth after you
: hooked up the scrubber than before?  Did you see any difference in the
: amount of foam collection?  How exactly was your scrubber built?  Are you
: now or have you ever been a member of the Communist...sorry, I was getting
: a bit carried away.  (I have a list here of ten thousand US government
: employees who own algal scrubbers...)  (For those who don't recognize
: McCarthyite humor, :)  )

Yes. Yes. No. By Hand. No.  No problem comrade.

: Anyway, would you consider writing this up for us?  I'd like to hear about
: it, at least.

You mean the above inquistion didn't suffice?  Oh, OK...

Last fall (9/92-11/92) I was unsatisified with my Nitrate levels in my tank.
They seemed to fluctuate between 0.75ppm and 2.0ppm Nitrate Nitrogen (3.3 -
8.8ppm NO3-).  As one could image, this was stressing the few corals I
had, and the anemones.  At the time, my 135g tank was outfitted with a
4" x 48" CC skimmer and about 10 gallons of bio media.

So, on 11/12/92, after a few days of waterproofing test, I turned the lights
on an algae scrubber tray.  This tray was built from 3/4" plywood as a
5" deep box, 17" wide and 48" long.  It was waterproofed on the inside via
an 1/8" acrylic lining.  Something like 400g/h of water, pre-filtered by
floss, was passed though the box on its way to my sump.  Lighting consisted
on (4) 40W fluorescent bulbs ((2) Glo-lux, (2) Cool Whites).  The tank was
seeded with hair algae from the main tank.  The lights were on the scrubber
anytime the main 400W MH was off (say 14 hours a day).  Oh, I used pieces
of eggcrate as dividers in the tray to prevent all the hair algae from
rapidly existing into my wet/dry...  Water depth was held around 3 inches,
with the lights 4-5" from the water.

I feed the tank Iron suppliments, using a Hach Iron test kit to try and
keep the level at 0.1ppm.  I wasn't very good at it, and the levels
seemed to vary from around 0.04ppm to 0.2ppm.  One thing I learned was the
hair algae will EAT iron, twice a week additions is not sufficient if you
want to keep a constant level.  Hair algae growth definetly responded to
the iron additions...

On 11/24, the nitrate levels were 0.46ppm N (2ppm NO3-).  On 11/27 I did
my first harvest from the scrubber.  On 12/04, I did another similar size
harvest and decided to weigh the crop - I pulled 6oz (squeezed dry) of 
algae from the scrubber.  Nitrates on 12/04 were 0.16ppm N (0.7ppm NO3-),
maintaining iron levels was becomming obviously difficult.

Roughly weekly harvest continued, by 12/21, the nitrate levels were 0.04ppm
(0.18ppm NO3-).  It was also becomming apparent that my reef was becomming
a lawn.  Since Nitrates were down, I stopped adding iron in hopes of slowing
the algae growth.

On 12/28, I removed all the bio-material from my sump, since the scrubber
could obviously handle the bio-load.  By 1/2/93, I could no longer get a
reading on my Hach Nitrate test kit, indicating the Nitrate levels were
well below 0.02ppm N (0.088 NO3-).  Hair algae growth had slowed, as did
the harvest. 

Nitrate levels continued to be undetectable through the removal of the
scubber on 1/28.  I removed the beast both because I was tired of doing
the harvest, my Nitrates were at zero, and I was moving on towards testing
my monster skimmer.  It also finally dawned on me that I would have a
tough time encouraging algae growth in the scrubber, while discouraging
it in the tank - given that both used the same water...  Since my lawn,
ah tank, now had a nice growth of algae of its own, that became a priority.

To date, my nitates continue to remain undetectable.  As a few net friends
have pointed out, I've successfully integrated an algae scrubber INTO my
tank.  I am slowly pulling (litterally!) myself out of that situation.  Once
established, hair algae is a real pain to get rid off.

ps.  No, I don't have all those dates memorized, Yes, I do keep something
I think of as a journal...
--
Kevin Carpenter               Internet:    kncarp-at-nicsn1.monsanto.com
Monsanto Company              Fidonet:     1:100/215.0 (home)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.   CompuServe:  71726,2111
Opinions expressed are those of the author, not the company he works for. 


Up to Marine/Reefs <- The Krib
This page was last updated 29 October 1998