We have chosen to illustrate the progression of a balanced tank to a stable one. It will serve as a general outline which will be complemented with numerous important notions that are linked to it. Nothing is perfect nor is the SBM Methodology but I'm sure we all understand that many pittfalls await the Aquarist whatever approach he or she has chosen. We hope this - day to day - snapshot makes comprehension easy to everyone.
The AEGIS tank has been cycled for six months (see the Orion Briefing) and is now balanced: it contains bacteria - microalgae - zooplankton and a few specimens... It is thus ready for the introduction of Macro Algae and GHA recuperators. It will be a more delicate task since the main occupant is a Siganus which consumes any Algae except a few species of Halimeda. And AEGIS will need further assistance in controlling this prolific GHA. Of course Urchins come to mind but they (all species) will sooner or later devour the Soft Corals in the tank... and Mithraculus Sculptus (green emerald crabs) will devour any Halimeda and possibly rip feeding Rhodactis... This is a sampling of the challenges awaiting us !!
Until Real Green Algae (and Diatom or Brown Alga that feed the zooplankton) stabilize the tank: we will have to occasionally prune the excess GHA by hand and maybe relocate a few Soft Corals in doing so... Consider this a tutorial because normally we would only place Corals ONCE the tank is fully stabilized !!
note: I wouldn't recommend pruning GHA by hand; with a Siganus or a Volitan or any Dangerous species in the tank though...
The AEGIS tank has an internal single stage SBMarine Biological Filter covered with standard Crushed Coral. It is powered by a single low output Power head with an internal Venturi; as opposed to those having a Venturi located on the exhaust nozzle. These powerheads produce much finer air bubbles. An external 4 foot high Biological Filter with decantation basin complements the set up. It is not a refugium as such and is primed manually from the top of the tank. It is powered by a 3,5 watt standard Air Pump and 2 1/2 feet of filtering media (sponges) provide for Aerobic Filtration. This filter can also accomodate Macro Alga at the top. It is designed to offer additional performance to sustain delicate invertebrates such as Starfish. So we decided to start the presentation of the AEGIS tank: with a very delicate invertebrate... And find out as the months pass by if the results yielded allow for it's long term preservation !!
commonly known as Purple Linkia or Burgundy starfish
These are Médoc's two first days at SBMarine. What is striking is that the distributor from where it came from kept it with obvious care and attention !!! Four of her six arms had previously been seriously injured and showed nothing but normal regeneration. So it is a very healthy specimen to start with !! Tamaria are bacteria and detritus feeders and also include several invertebrates found in live rock as they grow... Most of which you can only find in a Marine Biological System.
So Médoc has all the basics here to develop and live a healthy life. For now, the Bio Film and Zooplankton on glass: the copepods everywhere and food detritus should sustain it easily. Think of 'Pods as reef snow drifting in the water but also agglutinated on GHA: what looks like fine dust on them are actually 'Live 'Pods !!!
Médoc went into a strange ritual... It moved from roaming the live rock in the evening to reclusion in one specific tank corner !! Immediately beneath the Auxiliary Bacterial Filter outflow where the water comes straight down in a mist of micro bubbles and filtered water... It spent all of it's days and nights there and only made escapades on the back panel on evenings to apparently feed on BioFilm (more abundant at the water surface)... The following notes should not be considered as scientific fact but only documented observations by an Aquarist. Until I placed a Starfish in a SBMarine System I had never noticed that some Starfish shed incredible amounts of mucus from their entire body (beneath and above). I found the same behaviour with Fromia Indica species a few years back...
What happens when Médoc positions herself beneath the outflow or in front of a powerhead is the same: Micro Bubbles attach themselves to the Starfish Mucous coating (but not it's body surface)... The water flow forces the micro bubbles away which pulls the mucous off at the same time. On day one and two: photographs show few tubular feet on Médoc for it's size... but somehow a month later they are plentifull !!! The surface of it's body now shows a less waxed appearance and a more granular look. It has also resumed it's evening promenades on the rock work and doesn't mind Aegis supervising her on her way !!!