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Video of my marine biology work

  1. Oct 28, 2009 #1
    I have wanted to review these ecosystems with other biologists for a while now, usually we just stay on aquarium web sites and just now I found yours. enjoyed reading through the threads and seeing the depth of the discussion, really great place.

    there is about 10 years dedication into microhabitat study behind these systems shown in the vid, hope you can see that detail if you got a spare 10 mins. With these microhabitats I collect data on:

    -plankton support and consistency in micro marine habitats
    -waste water measurements related to calcification rates of stony coral in micro marine habitats
    -nematocyst ejection triggers and their presence in the water column (very sparse btw considering)
    -allelopathic studies through direct observation...which coral melts which coral> data on sensitization of coral nettling among high coral densities/niche competition
    -temperature trends in relation to calcification rates of scleractinians
    -nitrogen processing abilities
    -benthic life population data
    -algal community sampling and population data

    if a shade tree biologist could proclaim a life's work, this would be mine:

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2009 #2
    a pic to set the scale of the model

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  4. Oct 29, 2009 #3


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    Wow, very cool stuff, brandon, really amazing! I know nothing about aquariums but I love observing marine life. My home computer can't stream the video very well :grumpy:, so I'll have to watch it tomorrow at work.

    Did you collect the specimens while diving?
  5. Oct 29, 2009 #4
    Amazing. No biology experience here, but that is great, committed work.
  6. Oct 31, 2009 #5
    thank you very much it does take a lot of planning to run them but the water changes are fast so its not too time consuming

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  7. Oct 31, 2009 #6


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    That's amazing, those tanks are beautiful. I've never seen microhabitats like this, like lisab I'm also curious where you get the specimens (somewhere you mentioned an unfortunate hitchhiker). Why do you have a CO2 tank hooked up to the system?
  8. Oct 31, 2009 #7
    thanky you both for stopping in!

    since the screen shots are just fades among different tanks I've had, it gets a little confusing. the co2 is just for the planted tank although it sat behind the reefs at one time in a different house.

    thank you for checking them out, what makes them different is that you won't find them in any biology display, at any school because they are one of a kind. I stumbled across the balance for the system a while ago and my friends on the web in forums like this have been helping me hone the micro-biology for these

    The specimens come from aquarium shops and are 90% aquacultured, meaning grown in other tanks, so I dont' have to feel bad about stripping the environment. the live rock however is wild, so that would be the 10% portion against the aquacultured...

    the main reason other systems like these don't exist is because people have noted that salinity shifts in ultra small marine habitats make keeping them a hassle, so all I did was seal it up and pump the oxygen from within...the refugium/plant growth area in the tiny square tank makes the oxygen for the whole setup, and scrubs the co2 produced during the night respiration cycle

    nice to meet you
  9. Nov 4, 2009 #8
    wanted to add these pics I took off a thread posted in like 2003

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  10. Nov 4, 2009 #9
    and these were the original drawings for design from y2k

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  11. Nov 25, 2009 #10
    a few more pics for scale and comparison:
    the globe terrarium is the size of an x-large beachball and has an 8 inch opening at the top. There is an internal waterfall for nutrient distribution and aesthetics

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  12. Nov 25, 2009 #11
    these reefs have been driven long distances to public shows and universities in the texas panhandle

    the full palmtop reef can be carried and ran in someone's car while they drive. the cables are simply plugged into a laptop charger AC converter you can get at best buy for 25 dollars.

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  13. Nov 25, 2009 #12
    these systems concentrate the allelopathic chemicals normally used for warefare and they mute them through some mechanism of sensitization I surmise.

    That's why these are a form of study on top of mad novelty, no other reef tanks this size are as stable because evaporation control measures aren't taken effectively and without great mechanical need. Once you keep micro systems, one can't help but make observations on things that normally test larger tanks such as oxygenation, carbon dioxide binding and export, nitrate binding (plant growth) or export in the form of nitrogen gas via anaerobic bacteria metabolism, allelopathy and asexual reproduction and adaptation strategies of corals in general. The microhabitat is a very practical way to expand coral studies to the masses not connected with the lab or exclusive marine hobby cost and technical knowledge structure. These phenomena are what we discuss in live shows regarding micro-biology

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  14. Nov 25, 2009 #13
    for example, in the pic above in the center the pico keeper is permitted to see actual budding formation of the tabular growth form (the common tabletop) of acropora, the most prolific hermatypic coral we have. The large reef tanks that produce this effect cost no less than $5,000 dollars, period. Same growth, albeit lesser color, in a $100 tank.

    The far right of the pic is a little upward column where you can see the denuded area at the water surface. Early phase tabular growth. The growth continues upward but boundaries at the water surface, like a limestone cave prominence that keeps thickening until it's a full table only at three inches wide. The internal current afforded by the powerhead placement shapes the growth of the tabletop as the acropora likes to grow directly into the current. By hitting the colony from the side, it grows sideways in the display rather than forward into the glass where I wouldn't be able to clean it of algae. this is the table top after two years in the system, the full, but miniature, natural growth form of one of the most important genera of corals we know
    lower down in the aquascape is a miniture scroll coral chip that is displaying a natural whorled morphology

    Proliferation of benthic life- myriad worms, snails, echinoderms, hydromedusae, sponges, bivalves and more is possible because of a very simple feeding method. You feed very expensive and concentrated frozen coral food heavily in the tank and let it swirl for three hours, then change the water 100% to export all unused proteinic material. this feeds every living organism in the tank. excluding microscopic life, living things are in the thousands numbers even in this small space due to the above mentioned animals along with various insects crawling the rocks who are detritivores and alter the reef matrix by tunneling and various forms of erosion and deposition. The rock structure is lined back to back with sabellid worms and filter feeding sponges. I have created a cryptic portion of the vase reef to propagate filter feeders by darkening out a hemisphere of the tank where there are no corals to prevent light passing, did it with black duct tape. This has tripled the loading of sabellid fanworms in the dark region, which now number around 500+ individuals if I had to guess.

    This is simply the most marine life you can legitimately produce in one gallon of water as a stand alone system. When you have access to micro equipment such as miniature thermoelectric heaters and tiny water pumps this small, technology no longer is a limiting factor in advancing new ways to observe captive coral growth.

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  15. Nov 26, 2009 #14
    nice work. i miss my old 75g reef (used to have one of those 5k deals you mentioned). very impressed that you're getting the acropora growth in there with all those softies. what are you doing for Ca++ replenishment? best investment i ever made was a CO2-powered reactor. does the thick sand substrate with the jaubert plenum suffice for your Ca++ needs?

    oh, and my condolences on the worm. had one of those myself, and it DID attack my critters, as did some crabs that ended up as fish food.
  16. Nov 29, 2009 #15
    you are right he was a terrible guy I was finally able to catch half of him in a brsitleworm trap, the other half was fished out and water changed clean...terrible work but had to be done, they would absolutely wreck the ecosystem in a pico. He could actually break off glued frags and transport them back in the rockwork, this worm cost me a lot of money really.

    if you have pictures of your system feel free to post they would be welcomed in a thread covering captive reef science.

    The measurement pic shows the lid/wire interface done correctly to seal the tank. You can see the heater and water pump lines have been cut, rang through grommets in the lid, then resoldered back on the other side. This type of pass-through is not found in any other reef aquarium design whatsoever so that is also a unique way of dealing with physical parameters at the palmtop level.

    Here's a measurement pic to show the sizing in a clear way, the tabletop growth is done in a two inch deep aquascape. The look, to resemble a 75 gallon full tank, is done by delicately shaving coral heads down to micro sizes. often this means separating tiny buds from larger colonies the selling back the larger colonies...I have taken time to hand glue every polyp in here with hemostats and forceps. Gel super glue is insoluble in the reeftank. Its like putting together a model car, with all the individual linkages, but it's a living unit. Reproduction of the yellow var. dendrophyllia, a non photosynthetic hermatypic, is featured from the vase reef

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  17. Nov 29, 2009 #16
    a few more laser-clear closeups of the palmtop environs

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  18. Nov 29, 2009 #17
    Very nice and impressive work !
  19. Nov 29, 2009 #18
    Brandon429, I loved the video and music. Thanks for sharing it with us. :smile: I noticed there were guitars within the video. Have you written any songs?
  20. Nov 29, 2009 #19
    yes I have but they are no good. lol

    what I do with regular frequency is drum karaoke however. On each side of the fireplace there are two fifteen inch club drivers from yamaha on a PA amp. You can blend in any instrument track from the guitars or the drums on top of an mp3, then you shape it and equalize the whole patch livetime as it comes out the speakers. This allows you to sonically insert your instrumet into the song as it's being played back, for ultimate timing practice and overall skill required to match tune with pre recorded work. I know some guitarists who can follow songs perfectly and Id like to aspire to that.
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  21. Nov 29, 2009 #20
    an intersting tie to marine biology as well, sonic sensitization. When new coral frags are added to the bowl, extremely loud live music makes them close up obviously in reaction to this new sonic situation. In about a month they do not ever close up unless you move the bowl, they are truly used to the shaking and sometimes I play for two hours continuously (with ear plugs of course for marathon jams) but the corals will be fully expanded this always amazed me in terms of physical adaptations.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2009
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