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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
"What are you tired about Spanko" you ask?
Well even if you didn't here is what makes me tired. And this just came about recently. My biocube 29 gallon is now about 9 months old. It is doing great. The requisite fishes and corals all of which are a hodgepodge of different things that I have come to like.
Rockwork is a wall of sorts.
I am tired of it. I am tired of islands of rock. I am tired of valleys of rock.
:rolleyes: :mad:
(couldn't find a whiney butt smilie or would have used it too)

"So what Spanko, who gives a rats patoot" you say?

Well to get down to it finally I like the look of reef shelves. Those areas of the reef where the bottom is completely covered with a layer of rock on which is attached monti cap, acro, and varied encrustiing SPS.
Like this:

And this:


And the first but mostly the second picture in post #15 in this thread. The second one is what got me to thinking.
http://www.nano-reef.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=130545&hl=Today's+Experiment

So my question to you all, what would you think would happen if I took all of the nice but mismatched (as far as where they are normally located in the wild) corals in my tank out, took all of the sand out, save the rock but spread it out across the entire bottom of the tank leaving spaces in between for flow and whatever small fish reside on a reef shelf like this to swim through, covering about 1\4 to 1\3 of the way up the entire bottom. Maybe even far enough up to cover the bottom sump inlet. Then start to add Monti caps and Acros and encrusting type corals that research would tell me (after I did the research of course) live in this environment. Now knowing already that this type of reef shelf has the most turbulent varied flow on it I could make this will a couple of Koralia's and not worry about blowing sand all over.

Anyone think this is doable and have some critique and suggestions about it?
 

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I have no idea about doable, but I think it would look better in a shallow/frag tank. Unless you plan to keep bigger fish to fill in the "upper space". ???
 

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The only part that would look funny or not right IMO is the very front where the rock meets the glass. It would get all gunky and look bad. If that does not bother you then go for it. The worse case is another redo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Marinemommy, I am thinking a school of damsels to fill the upper space. some of the research I have done already says that damsels are one of the fish that school in this type of reef.
Ereefer, I did not plan on upgrading the light anymore than I already have. I have the nanotuners 144 watt 4.36 upgrade with one 50/50, one actinic, and two 10k's. If anything I may take out the actinic and run with three 10k's and the 50/50. The monti cap I have now is growing quite well.
Slapshot and zoomzoomguy, the idea of keeping the front low and raising towards the back is a goo idea. How about if I had the rockwork low in one front corner and rising towards the opposite back corner and left space around the glass for one of those nimble nano magnet cleaners to get around with. Remember I am thinking on a layer or rockwork on the bare bottom with some maze like openings for the fish to cruise around under the shelf if they want to.

Keep throwing things at me because I still don't know that I will do this yet. Just investigating the possibility of something different.
 

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Spanko said:
Marinemommy, I am thinking a school of damsels to fill the upper space. some of the research I have done already says that damsels are one of the fish that school in this type of reef.
Ereefer, I did not plan on upgrading the light anymore than I already have. I have the nanotuners 144 watt 4.36 upgrade with one 50/50, one actinic, and two 10k's. If anything I may take out the actinic and run with three 10k's and the 50/50. The monti cap I have now is growing quite well.
Slapshot and zoomzoomguy, the idea of keeping the front low and raising towards the back is a goo idea. How about if I had the rockwork low in one front corner and rising towards the opposite back corner and left space around the glass for one of those nimble nano magnet cleaners to get around with. Remember I am thinking on a layer or rockwork on the bare bottom with some maze like openings for the fish to cruise around under the shelf if they want to.

Keep throwing things at me because I still don't know that I will do this yet. Just investigating the possibility of something different.
I think it is a great idea, I think it could look real cool... are you gonna go for a bonsai look, or just a few different varieties of coral?
 

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This is typically how I have been setting up my tanks. I use very little rockwork compared to a lot of people. This allows better water circulation, space for corals to grow, and more room for the fish to swim. I have seen lots of tanks with algae problems where I suspect the rockwork is an issue. Obviously this style tank looks best with corals that grow upward. I wouldn't set-up an "encrusting coral only" tank like this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Here is one of the pages I am using for research.
http://www.aims.gov.au/pages/research/reef-monitoring/ltm/mon-statrep3/sr3pc.pdf

In it, it talks about Acro, Monti, Pocilopora, and Poritie. I am thinking mostly monticaps, encrusting monti, trying to find a tabling acro, and a tubular poritie. Then either the a school of 4 or 5 small damsels, anthias, or chromis. The other thing I am checking on is whether hawkfish are inhabitants of this area of the reef. If they are and can stand the kind of disturbed flow I am going for I may put in (instead of the others) a longnose or a flame or both or a couple of one or the other.

I get excited thinking about it, just don't know if it will work. I have an e-mail into Bob Fenner at wetwebmedia outlining what I am thinking about. Have to see what his thoughts are.

Keep prodding me though, this is a good excercise for me.
 

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This is the plan for my new tank cube setup aswell/. Just trying to figure out the low flow solution for some lps mostlikely will tyr to set them deeper on the edges. I can;t wait to duplicate low tide and see em all sticking out of the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
hey speedstar, check out the link I posted above, at the bottom there is a list of the fish and coral that inhabit this type of shelf, If you are looking at LPS you may want to look at a different reef habitat. The shelf is where the majority of coral are hard stoney coral. This is an area of intense turbulent water with waves crashing through. It also has intense lighting. I am not sure with my current lighting I can achieve this but the end of the experiment before changing lights for me will be to emplo 4 10k's and no actinic if necessary. Your Idea with having the LPS, if you really want to emulate a specific habitat, would probably be the fore reef where the rock walls exist.
I am going to try to be a purist in this approach, if I get to doing it, because as I said in the beginning I am tired of the typical reef tank with it's abundance of a hodgepodge of coral and fish that do not live together in the wild.
Am I being a bit anal on my thought process at this point? Yes and I will keep that way until I find out that I either go for it or scrap this idea.

Keep posting folks and I will let you know when I hear from Fenner on the idea.
 

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I wrote an article in Reefkeeping a couple of years back that argues that names like "sps" and "lps" really are about as useful as bottomless bucket ;) If we assume that species that we give these IDs to are all the same we end up mixing a lot of species that, in nature, live in very different habitats and then, often times, end up with a mess on our hands. The most reasonable way to set up a reef tank (or anything else for that matter) is with the needs of the organisms in mind at the get-go. Organisms compatible with the habitat I'm trying to simulate are in, and those that would not naturally be found in such habitat are out because I know that either 1. they are going to do poorly, or 2. I'm going to have to work my butt off trying to keep them happy when everything about the tank is working against me. Kirby and I also gave a presentation on setting up "biome tanks." It's very common among freshwater hobbyists, but pretty much unheard of among we salties. We could learn something from all those cichlid/rainbowfish people :p

The two photos you posted are of two different habitats on a reef. Though they may look outwardly similar to you, trust me, those are very, very different habitats. The first is a mid-depth to deeper forereef. Lighting here is moderate, water flow is moderate, and coral growth is pretty strong (though you may be flirting with light limitation). This is also the most diverse section of a coral reef in terms of coral species. Other than strict shallow-water specialists or strict deep-water specialists, you can find just about any corals here.

The second photo is of a reef flat. The light here is ridiculously strong, and the water motion, while variable, is usually very strong. A lot of corals grow very fast here, but it can be a stressful place (rain can drop salinity, evaporation can raise salinity, storms can wash mud and crap out on the reef, the sun is absolutely brutal, etc.). While some of the species of coral you find here will also be found in the previous habitat, you'll either see different growth forms (adapted to differences in the habitats) or different species.

The most common genera of corals in the indo-pacific are Acropora, Porites, Stylophora, Poccillopora, and Montipora. Most of the corals on most reefs are going to be from one of those 5 genera. Everything else is less abundanct anywhere you go. Thus, if you are in a lagoon, or a reef flat, or reef crest, or shallow forereef, or reef edge those five are going to predominate (though each genus contains many species, and you'll find somewhat different species in different places). I'd suggest that while looking at photos of reefs, etc. you keep in mind that no matter the habitat, those corals are going to be the most abundant ones. It's actually what is going on in the minority of the community that is perhaps most informative.

Flame hawkfish would naturally be found in the sorts of habitats you're talking about. Longnose hawkfish would not (they live much deeper).

cj
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
MCsaxmaster, thank you so much. very informative and makes me strive to do even more research before attempting this.
I have rec'd and answer from wetwebmedia.com. Though not Mr. Fenner, one of the other experts donating their time to help to keep us informed. His name is Scott Fellman and he is currently writing a book on Biotope Modeling. here is my questions and his answers. His answers are contained in the < >.
Again thank you MCsaxmaster.

A Biotope Is Born (Planning a Biotopic Display)
Hello WetWebMedia crew.
<Scott F. here today!>
I have had the pleasure of your help before in setting up my tank. I am going to ask for it once again.
<Sorry...only one answer per person...Nah- just joking! Ask away!>
My Oceanic Bio-cube 29 gallon is now about 9 months old. It is doing great.
<Good tohear>
The requisite fishes and corals are a hodgepodge of different things that I have come to like and feel that it may be a problem in the future with chemical warfare as they start to grow out.
<It will be in the long run...>
Rockwork is a wall of sorts.
<ARRGGHHHH!!! Something I'm rather opinionated on!TEAR DOWN THE WALL!>
I am tired of it.
<GOOD!>
I am tired of islands of rock. I am tired of valleys of rock.
<Hmmm...that takes care of the other 1/3 of standard rockscape configurations used in the hobby...LOL>
I like the look of reef shelves. Those areas of the reef where the bottom has a layer of rock on which is attached Monti cap, Acro, varied encrusting SPS and a column of water over it where schools of fish swim.
<Very cool...I've seen what you are referring to!>
So my question to you all, what would you think would happen if I took all of the nice but mismatched (as far as where they are normally located in the wild) corals in my tank out.
<Ohh,if you do that, darn-they might start thriving...LOL>
I would then take all of the sand and fish and
motile inverts out. I would save the rock but spread it out across the bottom of the tank leaving spaces in between, bare bottom, no sand.
<Well, you had me until the "no sand" part...I understand the desire to keep BB aquariums for some people, but IMO, sand just completes the aquascape.>
These spaces would be for flow and whatever small fish that I would get in the future, and that reside on a reef shelf like this, to swim through.
<Nice idea. I've seen Japanese aquariums set up in a similar manner to a very nice effect.>
Those fish I am finding could be Neopomacentrus, Pomacentrus , Chrysiptera, and perhaps Neocirrhites and Oxycirrhites.
<Interesting, colorful mix of small fishes. Stock 'em carefully in this 29 gallon system. Look for a "Geometric Pygmy Hawkfish (scientific name escapes me right now) for this system. A great small fish.>
I would be placing the base rock
about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up the entire bottom to create a mounting platform for coral. Maybe even far enough up to cover the bottom sump inlet so that it pulls water from "underneath" the shelf. Then start to add Monti
caps and Acros and encrusting type corals that research would tell me (after I did the research of course) live in this environment.
<I'm loving the fact that you did your homework on this...If I saw you in person I'd give you a big hug....A fellow Biotope geek! This is my current obsession, too. For those who aren't familiar with the term "biotope aquarium", this is nothing more than an aquarium designed to replicate representation of a specific environmental niche found in nature. The fishes and invertebrates in the aquarium would be representative of the species found in nature in the same niche.>
Now knowing already that this type of reef shelf has the most turbulent varied flow on it I could make this happen with a couple of Koralia's up top pointing at each
other. Then perhaps one of the very small Tunze power heads right at the bottom glass to push flow through the base as I would not have to worry about blowing sand all over.
<OK- you're giving me one of the only reasons why you should consider barebottom...lots of flow ina small aquarium...I'll cut you some slack :0 >
I already have lighting that consists of 2- 10k daylight, 1- actinic, and 1- 50-50 PC light for a total of 144 watts in a
tank that is 19" deep and where the light is in a hood that sits tight on the tank. I currently have some Monti Cap and encrusting Monti that are growing well is this light. The bottom "floor" would probably be about 4 or
5 inches deep so the coral would start off being mounted there and growing upwards. It would transition from lower in one of the front corners to a
little higher in the opposite back corner just to give it some visual affect. I would like to add a tabling Acro, and maybe a Porites Rus that pillars as the center piece coral.
<Neat. I like the variation in height. If done right, it adds visual interest and depth.>
So my question(s) are:
1. Is this doable in the configuration I am trying to relate to you?
<Certainly. I'm thrilled that you're trying it. I do wish that you were doing it in a larger aquarium, of course, but it can certainly be accomplished in this system.>
2. Would the Hawkfish be able to survive in the amount of turbulent flow I am looking to create and are they truly an inhabitant of these reef shelves?
<I've kept Hawkfish just fin in situations with lots more flow than what you're proposing without any problems whatsoever. Rest easy.>
I hope I have made this explanation of my thoughts clear enough for you to understand and that you can give me your opinion(s) and suggestions.
<Sounds wonderful, really. I am a huge fan of biotopic modeling (in fact, I'm writing a book on it and speaking on the topic at clubs!), so you "go me at hello"! Seriously, this will make a very unique setup. I love the fact that you are limiting your fish and coral selections to just a few species. A system like this, if properly maintained and not overcrowded, can be a real source of pride and an inspiration to fellow hobbyists! Go for it!>
Thank you for always being there.
<A pleasure! Do take pics and send them to me when you get this system up and running. I'm always looking for pics of unique biotopes for my presentations, and this one may be quite different!>
Best regards,
Henry G. Mello
<A pleasure! Regards, Scott F.>
 

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My reef is about 98% all acro or monti at this point already. Just picked up a couple brain, acan corals cause i liked the color. thanks alot for the info. I'll have my return pump on an OM 4-way, one CL using a baracuda and 4way and another using an iwaki with eductors on a super squirt using only 2 ports. Hopefully this will keep up the turbulence in the water. Lighting is 1000w Ushio MH in lumenarc or new coralvue depending on how the plots look.

Enough for me can;t wait to see what you end up with. Great idea!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yours sound great speedstar. Thank you for your encouragment. And everyone else too. -yes -yes
 

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If I were to attempt something like this I woud:

add a 3 inch lip to the front of the tank so you wouldn't see where the rock and the glass came together...

Go with a deep tank to keep large fish in case you get bored with it...

try to make something to mimic a tide, raise and lower the tank level, maybe another tank nearby that you can drain/fill...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I got another answer from Scott at wetwebmedia on my lighting.
Here is is.

A Biotope is Born (Cont'd.)
Thank you Scott, very informative and it sounds like I got a biotope geek for may answer.
<Or just a geek, as the case may be...>
On the subject lighting for this project. I have an Oceanic 29 gallon bio-cube. I have the lighting upgraded to the following: 2 10 k's 36 watts each. 1 50/50 36 watts. 1 actinic 36 watts. Total 144 watts.
This lighting scheme is currently growing out some Monti Cap, and some encrusting Monti very well. Would this suffice for what I am planning? I would not be opposed to running all four lights as 10K's if that would help. <I'd be inclined to run all of the lights.> I really like the closed top and don't want to do an upgrade to MH for fear of boiling the water. (oh yeah and the expense) However I will if I need to.
What do you think?
<Agreed...I really don't think that you do. In a relatively shallow aquairum, with good feeding and a healthy fish population,I think that you should be fine with the lighting regimen that you are proposing.> Thank you again for the great answer the first time and I promise to send you pictures of this if\when it comes to being, but only if you promise to notify me when your book is done so I can obtain a copy. Best regards, Henry <Thanks for the kind words, and I'll certainly let everyone know when this project is finally completed! Do send those pics! Regards, Scott F.>

Looks like this is a go.
Here is a recent pic of the tank.
 
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