I guess I've always had an affinity
for one sort of animal or the other. Be it growing up with
my three-legged, one-eyed, home-fixed hound dog, Lucky,
to my last job glazing puffer fish for gift shops and lighting
boutiques, its seems like not a day goes by that I'm not
fortunate enough to share it with some of God's most beautiful
creatures, alive or dead. Anyway, the fish thing started
about five years ago when I went into this LFS mainly to
kill some time before The Spy Shoppe next door opened up.
Now, I admit back then I didn't know the first thing about
fish, corals, or inverts. But once inside I was captivated,
stunned at the beauty of the moving, undulating life before
me. I'd never seen anything like this. I mean, that stock
girl had the absolute cutest little heinie I'd ever seen.
Right then, I knew I had to get a job here. So picking up
what turned out to be a Mark Weiss pamphlet, I stood nonchalantly
in a corner and crammed for all I was worth. By the time
the manager came up to ask what I was doing, I casually
mentioned that I was lamenting the fact that oxygen depletion
in the some the tanks' water molecules was actually causing
an opacity that would soon result in all sorts of algal
disturbances. Naturally, I was hired on the spot.
I know most of you have similar stories.
But I would, however, be remiss if I led you to believe
that I didn't learn a thing or two during my tenure there.
For instance, I learned that being a black belt in karate
could sometimes give women cute little heinies. More importantly,
I learned there was more to keeping fish and coral alive
than just pouring in some water. And I have no doubt I would've
discovered what some of those things were if I hadn't gotten
fired. The reasons for the dismissal are unimportant. Just
suffice it to say that I was, and am still, determined to
show everyone that reefkeeping may be accomplished through
simple common sense and without all the namby pamby high
tech, no-cigar-smoking-in-the-pump-room, anal retentiveness
so prevalent in the hobby today. This honor, being chosen
Reef Central's April Reeftank of the Month is a giant first
step in realizing that goal. So without further ado, I'd
like to introduce you to, not only my tank, but to how it
got that way through my personal reefkeeping method: SITSLEEP
(Sealife Is Tough So Let 'Em Exist Parentlessly)... copyright
gallon plastic aquarium -- 8" x 5" x
|no refugium (who
with equipment to the side of the tank
key to my success is that I only use state-of-the-art
equipment. In this photo you can see my Skilter, which
is responsible for removing about one thumbnail of
skimmate per month! This sucker can't be beat!
My aquarium is a 20 gallon all glass
tank manufactured by one of the companies that made all
glass 20 gallon aquariums. I say 'made' because the tank
itself is very old. In fact, we used to keep it in the back
of the shop to store various screws, nuts and plumbing parts.
Now before any of you sissy-marys start cranking up your
"Heavy Metal" Gregorian Chants, might I again
remind you of the SITSLEEP method. Never forget how tough
these creatures are. To wit, when a metal ship or plane
goes down do we see a vast, sterile, no life zone around
it? Do we see anemones with their tentacles over their heads,
screaming and running for cover like a Frenchman at a Fourth
of July Celebration? No, they colonize and colonize proudly.
Heck, we INTENTIONALLY sink metal ships to create artificial
reefs! So the next time someone tells you that metal and
reeftanks don't mix, you tell them the Reef Central's Tank
Of The Month for April guy used good old hex bolts to hold
his rockwork together, and aside from a couple minor peculiarities
(I never knew some corals were jumpers), there have been
absolutely no problems. My substrate, by the way, is a dab
(deep algae bed). I like it
looks like my lawn
my lawn were crawling up the sides of my house
Anyway, when you're running the SITSLEEP
method, it's important to keep equipment to a minimum. Not
only does this help to reduce all those bothersome noises
that I'm sure annoy the animals as much as they annoy you
(except they can't take two week vacations at a time like
we can), but it also prevents evaporation which, in the
long run, can save you mucho dinero. I do however use some
equipment. For instance, I use a Skilter. Actually a slightly
okay, a totally DIY Skilter made from
my nieces' old terrarium. Pump? Rio. And, again, before
anyone starts howling, I've discovered a little secret of
making them last longer. In two words: A timer. Look, the
tides don't run 24/7; neither should a Rio or a Skilter.
Heat is provided by my nieces' old terrarium hot rock coated
with aragacrete and cooling is provided by how rapidly the
fish can flap their gills.
When it comes to lighting, I like the
look of 400 watt aquaspace lights, augmented with VHO actinics.
When it comes to cars, I like the look of a silver Bentley
augmented with the chassis of Selma Hyack too. But since
I can afford neither, I go with Old Faithful. I use the
sun. Yeah, it sometimes gets to be a bother having to move
everything from room to room; especially before the idea
of putting rollers on the stand hit me. But, heck, as a
responsible aquarist, is it asking too much to pay some
neighborhood kid a pittance to do a little manual labor
a few times a day? You can tell the ones that won't be going
to college. Start them 'totin' early, I say. You'll be doing
them, your tank, AND your back a favor. 'Nuff said.
Now, contrary to what some of you might
believe, I occasionally do test my water. But as I am not
made of money like many of your previous TOtM recipients,
and I don't feel the need for accuracy within a billionth
of a point, I've gone with a less expensive set of test
kits: Uzbekistani Labs Saltvatertestinappuratusk. Hey, snicker
all you like. But once you get past the directions (and
the little radioactivity problem), I'll match these guys
up against anyone. In fact, I actually prefer their more
'relaxed' parameters. Shows the confidence they have in
the animals' ability to survive without being overly pampered.
Sound familiar? You bet it does. Anyway, my water tested
| Ammonia: Nien
|Nitrates: Da (I think my algae might
have gone sexual, as it has covered the front
glass so thickly, it must need it's privacy or
|Specific Gravity: Da
Now I ask you, what the heck else do
you REALLY need to know?
I suppose the proof is in the pudding,
and to show you how well the SITSLEEP method works for me,
here is my fish list as of just last month:
1. (1) Powder Blue tang
2. (1) Yellow tang
3. (1) Sohol tang
4. (2) Mandarins
5. (1) Fu Manchu lionfish
6. (1) Bumblebee grouper ("This guy is the cutest thing")
7. (9) Green Chromis
8. (1) Bicolor goatfish
9. (1) Royal Gramma
10. (1) Stonefish (I actually wanted a frogfish but the
kid at the new LFS I go to said these were better. And I
know he knows his stuff because the only woman that works
at this shop is a millionairess and has a face like a bucket
Of course, I'd like to give you a more
recent update as to my fish count but to tell you the truth,
there appears to be such turbulence in the tank, it's hard
to see anything (man, those Rios kick a$$). LOL! But then
too, I guess it takes awhile for that many fish to acclimate.
Especially when you put them all in at the same time.
Corals and Inverts:
I currently only have a few "SPS"
corals because quite frankly, I wasn't sure how'd they'd
do under my system. But I have to say, now that I've had
them awhile, I am simply blown away. I admit I was nervous
at first when they seemed to lose their 'zoo' and bleach
white. But as Eric B. himself said, if given the proper
conditions, they can sometimes come back. And I'll be darned
if all mine didn't. Of course, I would've preferred that
they not all color up the same shade of green like they
did. But I must say, the length of some of these polyps
is NOT to be believed. Even the hermits are impressed. They're
all over 'em. LOL!
And don't think I've neglected the "LPS"
corals either. I currently have a Frogspawn, two Cynaria,
several Fungia of different sizes and a little Torch
and even a really large Elegance I've managed to keep since
I first set the tank up. Some day I look forward to maintaining
these species alive and INSIDE my tank as well. I guess
the real trick is finding healthy specimens to begin with.
Believe me, if you can actually hear a coral scream when
you lower it into your tank, that coral ain't healthy!
Once again I'd like to thank the staff
at RC for the opportunity to share my tank and methods of
reefkeeping with you. While they may appear radical to some
(like the PETA members who have chained themselves to my
garage), they are simply my way of trusting these creatures
to do what's best for them. I don't think it's laziness
at all. Or shiftlessness, or cruelty to animals or anything
else the neighbors tell the cops. I also don't think it
smells really badly in here either. Anyhow, I guess you've
got to have a pretty thick skin if you want to be a trailblazer
in this hobby. I mean, now I know how Dr. Ron must feel
Feel free to comment
or ask questions about my tank in the forum
for the online magazine.