Man Made Live Rock
Welcome to the History Page
I had my first fish tank, well a bowl actually, in the late 1970's. This after having kept turtles successfully for a number of years. This bowl was a total disaster! What it did do for me though was get me interested, just about long enough to cause a mess. Good thing I didn't kill that many fish. Several swordtails and a huge apple snail if I recall correctly. I ended up taking that bowl to school for a terrarium project around mothers day. For some reason that turned out way better, that thing lasted several years if memory serves. Must have been that teachers gift of knowledge.
Fast forward to the early 1990's. Here is where once again I started getting the bug again. This time, still not having any clue at all, I opted for one of those fancy plastic hex tanks with the bulbous light in the bottom middle of the rather small tank. Result was about the same as the bowl save one thing, or two rather. The first is that out of seven fish, one is still alive today. She is a ten year old cory cat. I wouldn't trade her for a thousand dollars worth of corals. The second is that somewhere after this tanks decline, but before everything actually died, I picked up a book related to keeping fish. A book on cory cats I believe, as at that time she was the sole survivor.
Within a short time I had purchased her a 10 gallon aquarium with several pieces of hardware and proper decor. Adding a Marineland mini bio-wheel for filtration. Along with this setup came some success. About fifteen years late, but better late than never. She actually started looking happy, but lonely for some reason. Must have been those books that mentioned cory cats live in a group sneaking up into my subliminal mind. So with that I thought I would get her some tank mates. Now prior to this I would have just bought them and stuffed them in that same tank. But I had been that direction before and all the reading was starting to sink in. So I acquired a used Oceanic 55 gallon tank that came with twin Marineland 300's, Visi-therm heater, and "The Bucket".
You see this tank was actually used as a salt water fish only aquarium until the previous owner decided to upgrade. The old salt bucket actually contained a mixture of 60% special grade reef sand, or similar. Along with that came about 40% of this rather large coral fragment pieces. I have yet to find where these came from or where one could purchase more but if anyone reading this can find some let me know. Now I didn't take notice of the bucket for quite some time. I was just interested in making a better home for my cory cat. Which I actually accomplished!
I ended up with 4 angels, 8 corys, and 4 vail tail tetras. The angels I was practically given by a pet store owner. They were quite small and very sick. She sold all 4 of them to me for $1. I had the spare 10 gallon at this point so decided to quarantine them in there and see if I could get them to live. They did and they ended up paring off and breeding like rabbits. Each pair would take turns laying eggs, seemed like every other week they would switch. Out of all those eggs I kept 5 that grew. One of those seemed to have some genetic issue, so I culled that one, then one more developed a gill condition, culled it eventually as well. That left me with 3. The tetras didn't do well being harassed all the time by the breeding angels so with all their torn fins, I culled them also. Shame on me I know but getting any trade out of them in that condition was likely impossible.
Somewhere around this time "The Bucket" caught my interest.
Enter the first saltwater disaster. I stuffed about 2" of this into
the now empty 10 gallon tank, added several pieces of almost free live
rock, 3 damsels, 2 fan worms, and a couple each of snails and crabs.
Seed tank -- This eventually became the seed tank after I was finished convincing myself I could do saltwater.
Lighting was natural from the window. Yeah, I know not real smart for a beginner, but it served it's purpose. This being the mid 1990's the state of the art was the Berlin style, with no sand bed at all. I never was one to follow conventional thinking so adding sand seemed like a good idea. At that time compact fluorescents were just coming of age and metal halide were still being debated heavily. VHO lighting was still king. Now mind you, I am about as cheap as they come when it comes to spending money on something I know little about. So my top off was the same tap water as what I had always used for my fresh water tanks. Add a little Prime and get it to the correct temp, dump it in. Looking back about the only thing that allowed that tank to not crash sooner was the fact that I had a full coverage lid on it that was 1/4" tinted glass I picked up almost free and had cut to size, again almost free. I had followed my same filtration method. In fact the same mini bio-wheel was used although I added a small power head for added circulation.
During this time I had continued to read books, grabbing some old marine magazines from the discount book store. Spending way too long "looking" at the books at the LFS. Just couldn't seem to justify spending all that cash on new books. Then I stumbled across a copy of A.Thiel's old book, and things took off from there. Even though that book covers what most would call old technology, it was enough to turn on the light bulbs in my head. My favorite books are Marine Reef Aquarium Handbook by Dr. Robert J. Goldstein and Natural Reef Aquariums by John H. Tullock. I think there is enough information in those two books to keep most beginners going for several years. If added to what is available on the internet and I can't imagine needing any other books. Although I do have several others, those are the ones that I look at the most.
So, after several rounds with saltwater in the 10 gallon, fighting aiptasia, algae, polluted water, etc. I decide I'm going to go reef all the way. I start planning and designing, and just about went buggy with the whole thing. Sometimes I think those of us that really like aquariums have some sort of illness, or condition. Maybe a virus, I don't know but it's all but impossible to quit.
Now recall I am on the cheap side. Not because I do not have money, but for the principle of not spending it if I don't have to. Put that together with the fact that I had definitely learned my lesson of not sticking too much in to small a volume of water and the result is that the 55 gallon had to go. Here's how I did it. I sold the 2 mated pairs of angels for $32 each fish, as they were beautiful! Then I took the remaining 3 angel babies, and the 8 corys and purchased a 40 gallon breeder for them Had to go with that size as it was the largest that would fit where I had to put it. Then I sold the 55 for a bit less than I paid for it which offset the cost of the 40 gallon tank and stand. Currently all are doing well in their new home save the "odd" angel... Seems the other two have just recently started breeding like their parents did and the odd one is getting harassed. May have to do something about that soon.
Recently the odd angel had to be culled from the 40 gallon tank. So sad, but the result was that the other two were breeding within a month after that. The move to the new house and subsequent issues led to the demise of this remaining pair of angels. Only inhabitants now are the cory cats. With a new little baby of thier own!