Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vodka Dosing

Starting with my new setup my nitrates started creeping up. Even after adding a refugium and my macroalgae taking off my nitrates were climbing and I was worried about algae issues in the display. I had heard of a crazy method back in 2004 where addition of vodka to the tank would remove nitrates but this would only be a last resort and should only be done in a fish only setup. Looking at how these people were going about dosing, I decided it would be reef safe if I did it slowly instead of pooring insane amounts of vodka into the tank (insane maybe overstating a bit as insane would be 10mL per 100 gallons with 40% alcohol). After playing around with the concept of vodka dosing, I decided to give it a go. I had very little results on my old tank for about three months and then everything looked better and my macroalgae hit a point where it stopped growing.

That tank was torn down because I was moving. When I resetup my tank in June of 2007, I was determined to keep nitrates at a low level and wanted to get more into the obsession of sps corals. I began dripping 8mL of 20% vodka into my system in October 2008 on a daily basis. My nitrates were completely eliminated by November. Introduction of sps corals started that december and my growth and luck with them have been phenominal. I have kept everything I've introduced into the tank aside from an accident with an alk spike and a online coral order from fragfarmer. Though the tank is not completely sps, as you can see from the above image, I have slowly moved it more and more in that direciton.

Back to the vodka, not only is it great to drink but it has useful purposes! After reading many German threads and everything on Reefcentral on this subject I was asked to write a 'How To' article for The article sums up almost all questions asked about vodka dosing. One topic left out was water changes. Water changes are the staple of reefkeeping, they replenish and maintain trace elements while removing organic molecules that are not easily removed by skimming. The latter comes from dilution as a result of the water changes. The reason it is not addressed is because once nitrates are eliminated and people have calcium, magnesium, and alk under control it no longer becomes essential. In the past year I have done one 5% water change. The pictures in the article written also come from a tank where only 2 water changes occurred in the 16 months the tank was up and running. With that, it was hard to answer this question as in the hobby it has long been thought that water changes are needed and I wished not to go against unwritten doctrine. The 'How To' article can be found here:

Vodka Dosing...Distilled!

A Powerful Method for the Reduction of
Nitrates and Phosphates within the Reef Aquaria
by Nathaniel A. Walton (Genetics) and Matt Bjornson (Stony_Corals)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Photography and Photoshopping

Learning how to take pictures is incredibly important when it comes to reef photography. I've never had much ambition to learn but the growth, color, and potential pictures keep on compounding as the days go by. Thanks to the reefcentral photography forum I was able to go from this:

To the image at the very top. I believe the differences are noticeable.

First, the fish is now in focus, this problem was fixed by taking the image perpendicular to the glass with the camera instead of at an angle.

Second, the coral is shown in its entirety.

Third, the colors were adjusted to match the real environment. To do this I used RAW format capturing instead of the jpeg format as above. The RAW format allows lighting adjustment so I did not need to try to white balance on sand because the bulbs are 12,000 kelvin rated. This means the lighting is a bit bluer than normal house lighting.

Forth, the polyps are clear. This was due to turning off the pumps in the tank during photography and a timer to remove hand movements.

Last, the polyp detail was enhanced by adjusting a few settings on the camera ISO - 200, F/10, and shutter speed of 1/60s. Photoshop added detail by lightly overlaying the image with a high pass grey image of itself.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Beginning

Time to start a blog. Or so I believe its that time.

My obsession with this hobby started years ago with the purchase of a beta, a small freshwater fish. From there it was all downhill as I found that the better, prettier looking fish all are saltwater. A small jump from there into basic corals and the next thing I'm obsessing over SPS corals. These corals come in a wide variety of colors from green, blue, and purple to pink, red, and orange. The above picture is my yellow Clown Goby hanging out in a SPS waiting to be fed.

The tank is a monster at 180 gallons. After rock and water the aquarium ways close to, if not, a ton of weight. To keep the corals happy, there is a few pieces of equipment needed to keep everything in it happy. The breakdown:

Kalk Reactor
Calcium Reactor
Phosphate Reactor