The intricate beauty and diversity introduced into your home by
these fascinating marvels of science and nature is beyond compare.
The following pages contain many photos,
including accompanying descriptive text,
which showcase several of the mini-reef
tanks and specimens I have maintained,
plus several notorious public aquariums.
All filtration, circulation, cooling and
lighting equipment on these tanks is DIY.
Aquaria, and more specifically - Reef Aquaria, have been of interest to me since childhood.
Brought to the attention of an eight year old boy by a $3.00 mask and snorkel purchased at
a beach-side trinket shop in Treasure Island, Florida - the strange, multicolored, otherworld-like
creatures living on the piers and in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico were too much a temptation
for a young freshwater fishkeeper. I had bred the usual assortment of Mollies, Swordtails and
Platys, and even succeeded with Egyptian Mouthbreeders (Kribensis, I believe). But the odd,
intelligent, behaviors of these marine animals suddenly made the freshwater realm seem pretty
pedestrian. Instead of spending my allowance at the Arlans or K-mart for the 'same old thing',
I yearned to have these exotic creatures living in my 10-odd tanks. Very few marine fish and
even fewer invertebrates were available at this time in the hobbyist trade. Apparently, no one
quite knew how to keep them alive for more than a few weeks. The hardy fishes were the first to
appear. Then a few invertebrates. Unfortunately, most of these creatures were condemned to
a protracted, miserable death in the hands of retailers who didn't care and hobbyists who just
didn't know how to properly care for them. So for me to afford to have these creatures, it was
obvious that I would have to collect them for myself. But a similar fate also awaited most of the
specimens I collected for myself on summer vacations in Florida. Armed with battery operated
air pumps, and with each specimen packed into an individual bag and boxed, this flotilla of
condemned sea-life traveled the highways of the South, arriving in the suburbs of Metro Atlanta,
where there wasn't an ocean within 250 miles. No source of water, and only one brand of very
expensive sea salt on the market. Amazingly enough, very few were lost during the trips. It was
the lack of water quality and food which did most in eventually. But the hardier species, like the
rock blennies and sergeant majors, survived, and several lived for years. As adolescence and
such changed the way I lived, the tanks were abandoned, and my interest in them lie dormant
until the '80's. But by then, it was a whole new world. Minor successes in the hobby had built
upon others, until it had become possible to keep not only fish, but many invertebrates and
corals, for extended periods of time - sometimes exceeding their life-span in the wild!
Now this is what the hobby about! Much knowledge concerning the breeding and survival
requirements of various marine species has been contributed by dedicated hobbyists, who,
over the years, have uncovered the secrets of various fish, inverts, and corals. Some have
attempted to turn their hobby into a market share, and there are still plenty of disreputable
collectors and retailers around, but the state of the art has advanced to the point that you
may now propagate and maintain many species of fascinating marine plants and animals.
A greater understanding of marine reefs and their involvement in the foodchain is important
for the survival of the planet, as humanity continues to burn, strip, and plow under everything
that stands in the way of yet another damned strip-mall or gas station. We have impacted the
environment in ways which will not become fully evident for years, and determined research
into how to minimize damage and salvage what is remaining is definitely the order of the day.