coral close-up:

It is a Dying Coral

[with apologies to William Carlos Williams, his poem “It is a Living Coral”]

Living coral reefs cover 360,000 square miles and host 1 of every 4 ocean species known. Along with tropical rain forests, these submarine animal forests are the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.

Close to 1000 coral species exist, in distinctive shapes ranging from mushrooms to moose antlers, cabbages, tabletops, wire strands, fluted pillars, and wrinkled brains. These structures are colonies of individual polyps.

Creatures that feed within coral reefs ecosystems include fish and mollusks; reef fish make up 10% of the global fish catch. Coral reefs support the diets of 30-40 million people around the globe. (32)

For unknown causes (possibly involving global warming and pollution), coral reefs are now dying at an accelerating pace: what global effect will this have?

Cyanide fishing from the 1960s to the present: a primary way to stun vast numbers of tropical fish; it also kills coral. The fish are not “harvested” for food, however. The are captured to be sold live to the aquarium industry, which “annually sells 200 million dollars’ worth of live-caught fish stock worldwide.” (34)

---primary source: Douglas H. Chadwick, “Coral in Peril.” National Geographic 195.1 (Jan. 1999): 30-37. Photograph at left by David Doubilet [detail].

Superior Fiji and Tonga Live Rock

It's taken us over a year to find live fiji rock to meet our overly high standards. We've finally done it! This is the highest grade of fiji rock available for private and commercial aquariums.
Every piece of live rock is cured for over six weeks with salt spray, as opposed to submersed curing. This advanced method of curing eliminates destructive reef nasties such as mantis shrimp and bristle worms, while preserving and actually nurturing clams, sponges, starfish, snails and other reef critters. Cheaper fiji rock is usually dense in weight and contains very little coralline algae. It is usually colorless and very plain in appearance. And with traditional curing procedures, beneficial organisms are flushed while mantis shrimp continue to multiply. Through our experiences here at AquaLink, our staff has seen and used many different types of live rock from many different sources. Unfortunately, we've never seen what we consider to be "supreme" fiji rock. Although there are some very good grades of rock available, we were unable to find a grade that we felt comfortable enough to bring to our members.

Finally, we've found it. We only select the best pieces for sale. Pieces that are left over are sold to other distributors for a lower price, contributing to the difference in quality and price. Therefore, resellers of 'cheaper' rock are likely selling the same rock that we've turned down.

Most of our rock is about 80% or more encrusted with coralline algae. And, when placed in an aquarium with adequate lighting and aquatic conditions, the rock will quickly become 100% encrusted. Due to our curing process, it is unlikely that you will see any mantis shrimp or other harmful critters. However, you may see beneficial specimens such as clams, feather dusters, crabs and sponges.

This is the very best rock available -- the only grade to receive the necessary levels of quality to be marketed and distributed by AquaLink.

How Much do I need? Typically, most reef systems will have anywhere from 1.5 - 2.5lbs per gallon. We recommend starting out with a smaller rock for starters, just to get a feel for how quickly your tank will fill up. We have structured our rock prices so that there is no penalty for buying one box to start and another to follow.

What do I do when I get it? Our rock is fully cured when it leaves. However, it will be necessary to re-cure the rock a bit to counter any die-off that may have occurred during shipping. Snails, crabs, sponges and similar ride-along species may die in transit causing some excessive ammonia spikes initially. We recommend placing all of the rock into a storage container or plastic garbage can full of warm salt water, sufficient water movement and preferably a protein skimmer. As ammonia will quickly convert to nitrates, it is recommended that you leave all external lighting sources off to prevent the growth of unwanted algaes. Since the rock is fully cured when we ship it, this process generally only takes about a week or less. Once you've tested and have achieved zero ammonia, you can safely place the rock into the tank. During the re-cure or when the rock is placed initially into the tank, we recommend that you introduce some "reef janitors" such as blue-legged hermit crabs, urchins and perhaps various reef-safe starfish which will digest particulate matter as it is produced.

also, from a website, January 2000:

Without a doubt I'm addicted to reefkeeping.
Most everyone who has a reef aquarium
becomes obsessed with it. I can't tell whether
it's the hobby that makes you that way, or just that it
attracts that type of people. The truth is that it
almost takes an obsessive person to
maintain one. Daily maintenance gives the
best results.

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