Monday, December 24, 2007

Reef Podcasts

So I really don't want to admit it, but I feel like I have been out of the loop with the what's available on the internet lately. I do spend a lot of time checking out the "local" websites, Reef Central's MARS & Reef Monkey's Sierra Reefer's forums. They provide me with a wealth of information as to what is going on with the local scene, but these three websites provide some great listening info while driving between service jobs.

These Podcasts, listed in no particular order are available to subscrbe to and download on iTunes (as well as other avenues).

The three Podcasts include great interviews with some of the top authors & conference speakers, along with product, animal and supplement reviews.

Also included are video Podcasts of DIY's (design it yourself) projects, fragging demos, tank tours and video documentation of conference speakers. The three of these Podcasts are great learning tools and another avenue towards aquatic perfection.

Take a look at their websites, they include a wealth of information. And they are FUN!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I spent a little time with my underwater camera to create this year's Holiday card for my clients and suppliers. The miniature "tree" ornaments came from The decorated coral is a Sierra Saltwater Systems propagated Montipora Digitata. I used Shutterfly to print the cards.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Montipora is a genus of coral in the phylum Cnidaria. Depending on the species and location, montipora may grow as plates or ridges, appearing to some as a bowl or flower. Undisturbed, the plates expand radially and may encrust over surrounding rocks, shells, or debris.

Like other corals, montipora corals are colonies of individuals, known as polyps, which are about 2 mm across and share tissue and a nerve net. The polyps can withdraw into the coral in response to movement or disturbance by possible predators, but slightly protrude when undisturbed. The polyps usually extend further at night to capture zooplankton from the water. These corals have zooxanthella, a symbiotic algae that lives in the corals' cells and produce energy for the animals through photosynthesis.

Montipora genus corals are most common in shallow reef environments with bright sunlight and moderate wave motion. Small reef fishes, such as the hawkfish live near montipora colonies and perch on the ridges of the coral. Environmental destruction has led to a dwindling of populations of montipora, along with other coral species. Unlike Acropora corals, montiporas are more stress resistant, and not especially susceptible to coral bleaching when stressed.

In aquaria
Most montipora corals are brown, pink, or green but variants with bright colors or having a ridge color with a high contrast to the core color are more prized by aquarists. Captive propagation of montipora corals is widespread in the reefkeeping community. Able to endure varied conditions, montipora corals can be grown by enthusiasts without the use of metal halide lighting. In a well lit reef aquarium, finger-sized fragments can grow into basketball-sized colonies in 2 to 3 years.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tim & Tracy's WYSISYG

Here are a few shots of some corals I recently added to Tim & Tracy's 650 gallon mixed reef tank.

These were just quick snapshots for my client to get an idea of what I have in stock, "What You See Is What You Get". I sent Tim thirteen photos of various soft corals that I had in stock and he purchased all of them.

The Clavularia Clove Polyps are also commonly referred to as Eight Tentacle Polyps, or Encrusting Polyps. They are brown, tan, pink, green, or white in color and their polyps have the distinctive eight-leaved tentacles associated with all the members of this family. They are colonial animals with several individual polyps attached to a single piece of live rock and are often stung and damaged by other aggressive corals. Therefore, they need adequate space between themselves and other corals.

They are not difficult to maintain and require moderate lighting combined with moderate water movement. They require the addition of iodine and other trace elements to the water. They will grow rapidly in the established reef aquarium by encrusting over adjacent rock work or even other corals.

NOTE: This specie was being harassed by Tim & Tracy's Emperor Angel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and was removed today. While it is possible to keep many "impossible" species with the large Pomacanthus Angelfish, the Emperor most likely got a bit hungry and picked around a lot over the extended holiday when Tim & Tracy were on vacation. A well fed angel is a happy angel.

Sun Polyp Coral: Orange, Tubastrea, Tubastrea faulkneri, Commonly called Sun Coral or "Sun Polyp", this is not a "polyp", as in a type of "Zooanthid" or "Polyp Rock", rather, it is a hard coral. It is non photosynthetic and should be fed for successful long-term maintenance. Offer frozen brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, finely chopped shrimp, seafoods, etc. Has been known to thrive for years in public aquariums, but requires dedicated care. Requires good water movement and dim or indirect lighting. Preferably, place in shaded areas of the aquarium. Pieces run small, larger pieces are seldom available.

Note: This coral is thriving in Tim & Tracy's aquarium.

Xenia sp.; Pom Pom, Very popular among xenia species, it's very attractive . It does not grow as fast as some other xenias, but it has a nice white/pink color, another one of the premium strains of xenia. They grow best in medium to high lighting, and feed on phytoplankton (marine plankton) and reef supplements, such as iodine, iron, strontium and trace elements. Photosynthetic, no direct food required, but Phytoplankton does accelerate growth and color.

NOTE: These guys were pulsing big time today, looking great! Tim has been feeding a smorgasbord of my fresh/frozen food mixture and the Reed Mariculture Roti Feast, Phyto Feast and Artic Pods.

If you're a client checking out my page, please let me know if you would like to receive a WYSIWYG email of what I have in stock.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Anybody know what my plate means? When I first got my new van not too many people could come up with the chemical formula breakdown, NaCl, sodium chloride (salt) and the molecular compound H20 (water).

My plate frame is from Tropical Penguin Scuba in Reno where I maintain their three aquariums. Their showpiece fish is the football size porcupine pufferfish "Hootie". If you're a diver in the area, Kevin's store is the best in Northern Nevada and you probably already knew that. Or if you are just planning a vacation to Hawaii or the tropics, stop in and pick up some snorkeling gear. Do you really want to breath through a rental snorkel?

Visit their website at:

I have taken a number of photos of "WYSIWYG" (what you see is what you get) corals for Tim & Tracy's aquarium this week and will try to post a few soon.

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Times

It has been a good while since I have updated my blog. Due in part of my work schedule, but more importantly because of my "dial-up only availability" in my part of Lake Tahoe.

Well, things have changed! After living with dial up for over ten years, AT&T has arrived to my neighborhood! So...hopefully I will update more often, even if it is only a quick photo and a few words.

Here is a photo of my new 2007 Chevrolet Express van I purchased from Dave Smith Motors in Kellogg, Idaho. If anyone is thinking of buying an American made vehicle, I would recommend looking into this dealership. They saved me over $4000 compared to what the dealer in Reno was offering.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tahoe Quarterly : Summer 2007

The new issue of the Tahoe Quarterly hit the stores today and can be found in retail shops around the North Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno and Northern California area.

I ran into author Robert Frohlich at Spindleshanks restaurant, Tahoe Vista, last year, who I teamed up with years ago when I was the photographer at The Tahoe World newspaper in Tahoe City, and we caught with each others lives. When his editor at the Tahoe Quarterly suggested a piece about residential water features he recalled my unique business and wanted to interview me and learn more about saltwater aquariums.

Here is the portion of the article that pertains to me and Sierra Saltwater Systems.

This is a photo (by Vance Fox, courtesy of Genesis Systems) of Tim & Tracy's 650 gallon artificial/live reef tank in Arrowcreek, Reno, Nevada. The system was designed and installed by Genesis Systems. Currently the aquariun houses an Emperor Angel, Mimic Tang, Naso Tang, Powder Blue Tang, four Black & White Heniochus Butterfly fish, five tank raised Bangaii Cardinalfish, tank raised Fridmani Pseudochromis, White Stripe Maroon Clownfish, Sailfin Algae Blenny, Flame Angelfish, Orange Diamond Goby, twelve Green Chromis, Niger Triggerfish, a Solarensis Wrasse and that's just the fish!

I understand that these photos are much too small to read, but if you click on them, you can read the complete article in a full page.

Monday, May 28, 2007

540G Cardboard Creation

It sure is nice when a customer can not only tell me what their vision of an aquarium in their home could be, but can show me. One of my current customers Kevin of Truckee recently purchased a new home in the Davis Lake area of Portola. To show me exactly what he was envisioning in his home he spent some time building this cardboard mock up. His new aquarium will contain 72L"x36W"x48T" of water volume, plus a ten inch overflow box, which will total 538 gallons.

Originally planned as an eight foot "island" aquarium, Kevin and his wife Linda opted for the six foot "peninsula" tank, which puts one side up against the wall and acts as a room divider. The filtration work will be completed by Chris Wirth of Blue Planet Waterworks of Vacaville, CA.

-System will have 2 main pumps.
-One pump will draw from the filtration sump and return through the rockwork in the tank at many angles to eliminate any dead spots in the live rock. With Chris' ingenuity and skills much of the flow will be returned to the aquarium through artificially made "live" rock.
-The second pump will draw from the tanks overflow box and return via an Oceansmotions 4Way valve and 4 Omni flex fully adjustable nozzles coming into the top of the tank. This will keep the tank thoroughly mixed, and avoid detritus settling on the bottom.

-Overflow weir screen will catch any large particles and keep any animals from getting into the pumps or filtration.
-Sump tank to accommodate filtration equipment and automation sensors
-Large protein skimmer with needle wheel air injection (extremely energy efficient), adjustable output, and automatic washdown system
-Refugium to hold live rock and macroalgae (Refugium lighting included) for nutrient scrubbing
-Deareation baffles and pump intake strainer to prevent microbubbles from being passed to the tank.
-Phosphate reactor for algae control
-Calcium reactor for trace element addition

All Blue Planet Waterworks equipment is built to last in the severe environments of a commercial setting. Plastic construction for corrosion proofing is used wherever possible without sacrificing strength. All electrical components utilize liquid-tight or drip proof connections if applicable. All piping shall be labeled and safely supported. All installations are performed with the aquarist and ease of service in mind. Chris builds all systems like he would build his own, and stands behind his work.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pomacanthus imperator

Tim & Tracy's Emperor Angelfish. In this magnificent fish there is an incredible color difference between the juvenile and adult specimens. Juveniles of this species have white concentric rings on a dark blue body. Adults have alternating blue and yellowish green lines on the body, a yellow tail a black eye mask and a black band around the pectoral fins. Transforming individuals (sometimes referred to as "teenagers", or "changing") are occasionally seen in the aquarium trade as well. Provide this species with plenty of unencumbered swimming rooms as well as several suitable places to take shelter when threatened. Do not keep juveniles together, or with any other juveniles of this genus that are similar in general color.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Purple Fungia

One of the easier to maintain hard corals, Purple Fungia is one of the harder to find color forms. Fungia can thrive in a wide range of conditions. Acclimates best in low water flow and indirect lighting, they can adapt to a wide variety of conditions. Best placed on sand bottoms, rather than on rocks, as the tissue is easily damaged by rubbing against rocks. Fungia is nearly identical to the plate coral, but without tentacles.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hippocampus kuda

Hippocampus Kuda is huge by the standard of the most commonly seen seahorses. This incredible animal is tank bred and raised, and will reach a maximum size of approximately 12 inches tall when full grown. It is very important to provide a tank that is not only tall enough but also wide enough to provide enough space for the seahorse to move around comfortably. A minimum tank size of 55 gallons is recommended for the Kuda seahorses, for up to two. Seahorses are slow moving and peaceful animals that should only be kept with others of their own kind or with other peaceful animals. Tank mates such as Pipefish are ideal, but faster moving fish such as tangs and angels should be avoided. Some type of branchy decoration should be provided in the tank for the seahorse to latch on to with its tail so that it can be comfortable. These tank raised Kuda seahorses are used to feeding on frozen Mysis shrimp as well as some brine shrimp. Brine shrimp should be considered a treat, whereas the Mysis shrimp should be considered the daily food.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Book of Coral Propagation, Vol II

The bible has images! Anthony Calfo's much referred to Book of Coral Propagation is in the process of being re-published and is now available for pre-order through his website .

Anthony is not shy about sharing his knowledge through his experience in the propagation business, which is invaluable. His writing style is easy to read and enjoyable.

I recommend this book to any of my clients who are not afraid to get their hands wet, use a dremel tool or Xacto knife, a little super glue or fishing line and passing on a bit of their reef.

I recently pre-ordered the book through his website (he makes a bit more money if ordered through his website, rather than Amazon or the larger online aquarium suppliers) and he sent me this nice reply.

"Cheers Robert,

Thank you for your book pre-order and your continued support, my friend. I remember back in 2001 that you were one of the first folks to pre-order the first edition of this book!

I look forward to sharing this new edition with you very soon :)

As always, I pray that you enjoy the read and find great merit in the work.

With kind regards,

Anthony Calfo"