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  1. A factless FAQ for reef aquaria
    by reef180/ (REEF 180) (28 Oct 1995)
  2. *.aquaria.* groups
    by richard/ (Richard Sexton) (16 Jan 1996)
  3. A factless FAQ for reef aquaria
    by guthrie/ (Kevin Guthrie) (Tue, 24 Oct 1995)
  4. Rock Wool Questions
    by "Mark Stahlke" <mstahlke/> (Sun, 1 Apr 2001)
  5. Critique Jeff Kropp's Efforts
    by Jim Lockhart <jlockhar/> (Tue, 04 Dec 2001)
  6. Snake Oil
    by Charley Bay <Charleyb/> (Tue, 12 Jun 2001)

A factless FAQ for reef aquaria

by reef180/ (REEF 180)
Date: 28 Oct 1995
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Yes you can keep both fresh and salt in the same tank, as long as you use
a divider.

*.aquaria.* groups

by richard/ (Richard Sexton)
Date: 16 Jan 1996
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria,sci.aquaria

In article <4dgsck$>,
Kristi Bittner <> wrote:
>Pete ( wrote:
>: Why not create a group just for debating the rec.aquaria.marketplace
>: newsgroup. :)
>: I can get alt.aquaria.marketplace and I know some others can too. Is
>: there anybody that can't, if not why not use that??
>Well, I can't, and its known that many sites do NOT carry this.  That's
>part of why there's no traffic there.  Sorry if the discussions are

sci.aquaria.marketplace would probably fix the distribution

"A proven technique"

Richard Sexton / /

A factless FAQ for reef aquaria

by guthrie/ (Kevin Guthrie)
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 1995
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

After following the *.aquaria newsgroups for years, I've painstakingly
compiled the following FAQ (Foolishly Answered Questions) for reefkeeping.

How do I know if reef-keeping is for me?

  You know this hobby is for you if:
      * you're so broke you have to build your own tank.
      * you have never kept any type of aquarium before.
      * you flunked the only chemistry or biology class that you ever took.
      * you pay your own electric bills.

  How should I get started in setting up the aquarium?

    * By all means, don't read up on anything first.  Don't read the FAQ,
      don't read any FAMAs, and whatever you do don't waste $70 or $80 on
      that dumb Delbeek and Sprung book.  Thats a lot of money for a
      book...  you could get a 20-year old marine aquarium book plus a
      newer one by Albert Thiel for half that.  State of the art
      undergravel filters and automatic ozonizing systems here we come!
    * Be sure to start with the smallest aquarium you can imagine.  Pioneer
    * Get an acrylic tank so you can explore coralline algae growth from a
      new perspective.
    * If you are going to have any flourescent lighting in your tank, then
      whatever you do, don't buy a tank that is four feet long!  Get a
      3-footer, a 6-footer, anything but 4.  Those cheap, readily available
      in massive diversity 4-foot bulbs are gonna take over the world if
      people like you don't stand up for individuality and shell out twice
      as much each month for the only 3-footer to be found in the entire
      metro area.
    * Buy all of the newest, most expensive, most experimental equipment
      you can find ads for.  Don't bother with that boring old skimmer when
      you can spend five times as much on Bikini Atoll Live Sand and a
      fluidized bed filter based on the latest in powerplant technology.
      Remember, if you fall behind in the technology race now, you may
      never catch up!
    * Be sure to run out of money before you get the live rock; you can
      always add it later.  And be sure to do the plumbing when you will
      have to smoke test it with real salt water instead of that fresh
    * You can save lots of money by using table salt instead of the
      expensive kind that they sell in fish stores.

  What about lighting?

    * Lighting, shmighting, plenty of sunlight gets in the room.
    * By all means, get the brand new Terminator(tm) 50,000K ultraviolent
      metal halides, guaranteed to kill any germs, microbes, or other forms
      of life in your tank.
    * Get the SHO (Stupendously High Output) flourescents.  If they sell a
      couple more of these fixtures, the bulb manufacturer will be able to
      stay in business another year.
    * Do not get NO (No Output) flourescents.  All those rumors about being
      able to grow soft corals, tridacnas, halimeda, and some hard corals
      under these primitive conditions are untrue.  Besides, the profit
      margins on these are so low the manufacturers can't afford the really
      splashy (ouch) ads in FAMA.
    * Halogen lights are the same as metal halide lights, and they cost a
      lot less.  Same with mercury vapor lamps.

  What's this stuff about cycling my tank?

    * You don't have to do that for invertebrate tanks.
    * Seed your tank with plenty of damsels.  These fish are not agressive
      and territorial.  They will not hide in every nook and cranny in your
      live rock, killing your expensive fish and driving you crazy until
      you finally break down and spend an entire Saturday tearing your tank
      apart rock by rock until you nail every last one of the little...but
      I digress.
    * Be sure to buy one of those bottles of insta-bactizyme.  Each of
      these bottles has possibly as much viable bacteria left alive in it
      after sitting on the pet store shelf for 8 years as a whole atom of
      live rock.
    * If you have a hundred pounds of live rock in your tank, you have to
      wait a really long time when you cycle, possibly forever.  Remember,
      don't buy any livestock until after you see the ammonia spike!

  What should I stock my tank with?

    * Buy your first invertebrate before your aquarium is even set up so
      that you will have a reliable indicator of bad water quality.
    * Get a really big anemone and a clown fish to go with your corals.
    * Plan on lots of fish - make it a "hybrid" aquarium with both fish and
      invertebrates.  Then, be sure to feed your fish a lot; they're
      happiest when they eat.
    * Add some really good reef fish, like triggers or butterflies, to get
      rid of your aiptasias.
    * If you see an exciting invert that you have never seen before and
      know nothing about, buy it quick before someone else snaps it up.
    * Buy the unusually colored corals, like the bright orange or yellow
      ones.  These have especially hardworking zooanthellae.
    * You can grow acropora under NO flourscents if you perch it on a
      precarious pile of live rock so that its really close to the lights.
    * If you ever notice any critter in your aquarium that you can't
      identify, its important to kill it immediately.  Unidentified life
      forms cannot be tolerated in the controlled environment of your reef
      tank.  And if you see any of those little half inch long spiny pink
      worm things in your gravel, they could be fire worms that will kill
      and eat everything in your tank.  Tear your tank apart to find them
      all, or use chemicals (see below).

  Can I truly have "A Better Life Through Chemicals"?

      Yep, its true, and the more complex and organic those chemicals are
      the better!  Chemicals should be the first thing you think of when a
      fish gets sick.  If its a $20 fish, treat your tank with $60 worth of
      antibiotics.  The bacteria that cycled your tank and keep it alive
      won't be affected because they are not a disease.

      If you get red slime algae after you cycle your tank, treat it with
      chemicals!  When you kill the algae with chemicals, they release
      needed nutrients back into the water.

      To really enjoy the sense of adventure you get when you walk into a
      pet store, go find a bottle of Mystery Chemicals.  Check out a bottle
      with a bright, colorful label.  Does it have a clever name?  Does the
      label imply that its good for your reef, without making any specific,
      measurable claims?  Are the ingredients top secret?  Then buy it and
      add it to your tank today!

      If you cannot find a Mystery Chemical, look for something with no
      expiration date that says its full of complex organic compounds like
      vitamins or something.  These are Mystery Chemicals in hiding.

  What if something goes wrong?

      If something goes wrong, immediately implement a series of major
      sudden changes to your reef environment.  This is the only way to nip
      whatever it is in the bud.  Within the first hour, you need to
        * Add chemicals (see above)
        * Raise or lower the temperature several degrees
        * Do a massive water change.
        * Change your lighting regime.
      Remember, only by suddenly varying everything about your reef's
      environment at once can you figure out whats wrong.  And by shocking
      your system you harden the organisms living in it.

  How should I ask the net for help?

    * Don't be too specific with your questions; nobody likes to be bored
      with lots of details.  Here are some uncluttered posts that are sure
      to get lots of helpful responses:
      "Help!  Everything in my tank is dying!  Can someone tell me why?"
      "Can anyone tell me the exact chemical composition and valence shell
      structure of this rock in my tank?  Its light colored".
      "There is this small pink thing in my tank that suddenly appeared
      yesterday.  What is it?"
      All of the above got extra credit because they failed to mention
      anywhere in the post that the tank was marine.
    * Ensure that everyone knows what you are talking about by using common
      names for organisms, such as "clown", "tube coral", "star polyp", or
      my own personal fave, "spiny urchin".  You don't need to provide a
    * Ask questions that are answered directly in the FAQ.  If you don't
      have the time to look for it there first, someone else will be happy
      to do it for you.

Rock Wool Questions

by "Mark Stahlke" <mstahlke/>
Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2001

Greetings APDers,

I'm thinking about propagating some aquatic plants in an emersed state. I'm
planning to grow them potted in rock wool. As a dyed in the wool DIY'er,
I've decided to make my own rock wool. Since making this decision, I've come
up with a number of questions about rock wool. Perhaps some of the sages on
this list would be kind enough to point me in the right direction.

1. How do you shear the rocks?
Can I use commonly available single stage shears or should I spend the money
to get high quality dual stage shears designed specifically for the type of
rocks I'll be shearing? I've heard rumors that low quality single stage
shears might cut all the wool at once as I approach the end of the rock. Is
this true? Is there any way to prevent it?

2. What are the best kind of rocks?
The rocks in my area don't seem to have very much wool on them. Are they
just out of season? Should I use weathered iron rich tropical rocks instead?
Does anyone know where I can get those high-tech German rocks? I heard the
North American distributor stopped importing them. Maybe I should just use
kitty litter.

3. What is the best way to ship the rocks?
If I mail order my rocks I want them to arrive in good condition. Can I have
them shipped wrapped in wet newspapers? Should I have them individually
wrapped and sent in padded envelopes? Would it be worthwhile to insure the

4. If I use locally collected rocks, is it OK to call them "Colorado Rocks"
or should I stick with the more widely known name "American Rocks"?

5. What is the best way to euthanize the rocks after I shear them?
My landlord told me not to try the garbage disposal method again. He said it
was very painful. He wasn't too keen on the idea of flushing them either. I
tried putting them in the freezer but they seem to be impervious to the
cold. Drugs and Alka-Seltzer didn't work. In frustration, I tried beating
them against the wall but the neighbors complained. I don't want to simply
throw them out in the garden because I'm concerned about the enviromental
damage associated with introducing non-native rock species to the local
ecosystem. Any suggestions?

6. Finally, in order to insure that my rock wool is of the highest purity,
does anyone know what is the color of rock wool in a white bucket?

Thanks for your indulgence,
Mark Stahlke
Colorado's Premier Grower of Fine Algaes (and dry humor)

Critique Jeff Kropp's Efforts

by Jim Lockhart <jlockhar/>
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2001


My coaching is on the 3rd year of the tank.

this is a fairly good effort, but I have some problems with it.

Most of the plants are much too healthy looking, this leads to a poor 
contrast between healthy and unhealthy plants. This particular contrast is 
important because it accentuates the health of the good plants, making them 
stand out more.

The tank is optimally lit so everything can be seen. I have a problem with 
this, it has to do with maintainability of the tank, there are not enough 
dark corners for something to lay dying and rotting without being noticed.

Your plant selection is questionable, you have too many difficult and 
unusual plants in your tank. When you do this, a judge has to assume that 
this is the way that the plant should look, but does not really know for 
sure. I would recommend much more use of H. Polysperma and V. Spiralis, to 
make the Aquascape more judgeable.

Your tank is un-Amano, and all we experts know that cant be a good thing. 
You have given us a plantscape that appears to be your own creation, this 
is grossly unfair, when we have all just learned to identify what is 

Your juxtaposition of  plants of different color and leaf texture, leaves 
me confused. Either use red or/and green plants in your tanks, but dont 
confuse us with these hints of orange and pink, it is too much of a color 
palate, for me personally.

Your Fish selection, is too harmonious for a planted tank, without the 
challenge of some fish that will unpredictably eat leaves, how can your 
total plant keeping skill be judged.

The layout is overplanned, you have put too much thought into this layout, 
it smacks of perfectionism. You need to allow some elements to look out of 
control or unkempt.

Overall, I think you show some promise, but are taking this whole thing too 
seriously, back off a bit so other tanks can look better in comparison

My critique has nothing to do with your comments on my tank (I think it was 
something like "lets see it in about 5 years when you have a clue what your 
doing" ( I realize you were  being kind).


Snake Oil

by Charley Bay <Charleyb/>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001

I've been thinking about these various elixirs of life.

I've been doing "what if" scenarios in my head on 
how some of this stuff might plausibly work.  In this
pursuit it's important for you to realize that I'm after
how I could plausibly argue something could work,
and not whether or not it really works.  This is the
Devil's Advocate position... half truths sometimes 
sound so much better than a real truth.

Let's suppose we look back to the Krib on the various
substrates and their CEC (cation exchange capacity)
values, including Stephen Pushak's posting in Aug '95,
( )
where oxides have a cmol/kg CEC of 4, kaolinite
in your McDonalds milkshakes has one of 8, but
vermiculite has a CEC of 150.  That's big.

Now, let's suppose we powder a very high CEC material
like vermiculite.  It's pretty cheap, and we have rocks,
so it's not that difficult.  Or, just run over it with the car
a few times or vacuum up from the fine living room 
carpet what's not eaten after giving some to your three 
year old.

Now let's suppose the material isn't charged with 
anything.  No "chemicals" as they say.  That's not
too hard since that's how vermiculite comes from the
vendor (since they just baked it at 1100+F for a while.)

Now let's add it to the tank.  What should happen?

The water would turn cloudy for a little while, until it
started settling out.  Depending on the nutrients in the
water column, it's likely a high CEC material with many
available sites would start binding these nutrients, which 
would help precipitate the material out.  It would settle 
to the bottom of the tank, water column nutrients absorbed, 
and would eventually work its way into the substrate 
making these nutrients available to plant roots.  

If I were to advertise this product, what could I say?

* Made from (classes of) minerals!
* Contains 0% organic material!
* Bonds with nutrients unavailable in the water column
that would go to waste (or to algae), and gives them back
to plants as they need it!
* Your plant fertilizer is used more efficiently!
* Adds a wide range of essential minerals and trace
* Enhances the growth of plants!
* Increases microbial activity!  (More surface area in the
* Removes heavy metals!
* Removes chlorine and chlorimines, even ammonium!
* Makes water crystal clear!  (suspended particles and 
nutrients precipitate out)
* Eliminate bacterial infections!  (Bacteria typically 
hang on suspended particles, not drift in open water)
* Greatly reduces fish mortality during transport and 

* Fe isn't present so add your own.

I'll have to think some more about how to argue in favor of
improving slime coats, but I'm so full of cr*p that I bet I could
do it.  I'm not ready yet to wimp out on the "improved
water quality, better fish health" answer.  However, if I go
with the wimpy answer for now, then we have a host of 
things under the "my fish are happier" category:

* Wounds heal swiftly!
* Prevent and eliminate stress! 
* Fish show improved physical resistance and become less
prone to disease!
* Fish show improved appetite!
* Fish show their colors better!
* Protects the slime coat of fish!
* Fish become more active!
* Stimulates the breeding of (sensitive) fish!
* Young fry grow much faster!  (Ok, I'll think about this one 
some more)
* Accelerates the healing process of bacterially infected
* After medical treatments the fish recuperate much faster!

Hmmm.... might this really work?

In general, I think it's a worthwhile idea, and I wouldn't
be too surprised if there were some scientifically measurable
results in a controlled experiment.  Remember that rainstorms
kick up a lot of silt and clay in runoff, and this is a more-or-less 
natural part of most freshwater systems.  I've never tried it, though,
and I have no idea if this is the mechanism touted with 
one or more products I may or may not have seen referenced
on this list or elsewhere with or without positive or negative reviews 
in which I have taken no part. ;-))   However, my opinions *are* 
that of my company.  ;-)))

I'll now start thinking about a good name and marketing
approach, and most especially, find myself a bunch of
lawyers in case people don't like my product.  ;-))))))))))

For a limited time only, before I retain lawyers, you can get
your bottle for the low price of $20.  Quantities are limited, though,
because I have no idea how much will be left over in the living
room carpet after my infant gets full.

- --charley

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