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Reeftank Log 03/2000

March 6, 2000

Iīve been having a lot of fun lately putting together light hoods with the diy power compact light kits from AH Supply. Whatīs so nice about putting together your own hood is that you can modify it for special tank dimensions. On my 29-gallon tank, the width on top of the tank is limited because of the Sea-Swirl attachment I have on the back of tank. Because of the limited width, I could put only one SHO light. But with the AH Supply kit, I could easily fit two 55-watt power compact lights in a simple to make hood. I was also able to make the top of the hood high enough (4.5 inches from the top of the tank) in order to clear the whole Sea-Swirl attachment. The diy work involved very simple sawing, drilling and screwing. I used a mitre box for the first time and it was pretty fun. In addition to the hood I built for the 29-gallon tank, I also built a hood for the 20-gallon at work and an awesome 96-watt hood for the 50-gallon. Iīll put up some photos and instructions when I have some time. I was able to find all the materials I needed at Home Depot. One thing I really like about the AH Supply kits are the reflectors. They do a great job of optimizing the Power Compact technology.

I pulled the Sponge Crab out of the 50-gallon tank since I saw it picking at some button corals. It has some interesting modified legs that are now on its back. With these legs, it can grab items to put on its carapace.

Rearranged the 50-gallon quite a bit in order to remove the Caulerpa that was overgrowing the right side of the tank. At the present moment, I have too many SPS corals in the tank.

Bubble-tip anemone is doing great. Almost all its tentacles now have full color. Whatīs interesting is the tentacles closest to the light are the last ones to fully color up.

Green slimer frag has an amazing growth rate. Iīm glad itīs doing well. Pastel flower star polyps are spreading to adjacent rock. The pinnules of this coral are curling up and thinning a little bit. I hope nothing is wrong with them.

I feel bad that I havenīt been answering a lot of the questions that people have been sending to me. A lot has been going on at work and in my personal life. Nothing bad, just a lot of stuff. I hope directing questions to the reeftank.com Yahoo club will grow a community of people who wish to help other with setting up and maintaining a reeftank.

March 21, 2000

Bill Joyīs recent article in Wired, "Why the future doesnīt need us", makes me think of one of the main reasons why reef life so fascinates me. Joy talks about how genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robots (GNR) threaten to make humans an endangered species. A key benefit and danger of these technologies is replication. Replication controlled could lead to a wondrous age as detailed in the book Engines of Creation. But uncontrolled replication can lead to a variety of local and worldwide disasters.

Iīm enthralled at how fast some of the corals I have can spread. The Xenia elongata has spread from a
few small stalks to a waving field of polyps. The green star polyps in my 20-gallon tank are a vibrant mass of green. The SPS corals are expanding their calcium skeletons along their base and branching structures. The purple coralline algae provides a colorful patina to the sides of the tank and the live rock, communicating the positive conditions of the tank. Bacteria and fauna in the live sand and rock multiply to stabilize the reeftank environment.

But if the wrong items replicate, a reefkeeper can go crazy trying to control them. Algae can become a replication scourge that can lead an aquarist to abandon a tank and the hobby. Bacteria can strike expensive corals and turn them into good and lifeless skeletons overnight. Aiptasia and that anemone even worse than Aiptasia can spread and sting everything in sight. Even the organisms we originally loved for their hardiness and quick growth can become a nuisance.

Learning to control the replication in a tank is a challenge, but gaining the control is so very satisfying. When one can sit back, view the tank and see that the items you want to replicate are thriving and the items you donīt want to replicate are under control - that is reeftank happiness. The scary thing is when everything is going right and one longs for a problem to solve...

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