Iâ€™m deep into the planning on my first new aquarium in 2 years. Itâ€™s a great feeling, Iâ€™m now in that most exciting phase of the planning process (in my warped opinion, anyways): the â€œWhich idea do I try?â€ phase! On the surface, this seems like a really great place to be- and it is-but itâ€™s actually a very crucial (and sometimes soul-searching) process that can make the difference between a memorable, unique display and â€œjust another tank.â€ In 30-plus years in the hobby, Iâ€™ve tried a lot of stuff. And, letâ€™s face it- Iâ€™ve set the bar pretty high for myself! Â Big mouth that I am, Iâ€™ve spent that last two years jet-setting around the country talking up unique system design and aquascaping at clubs, conferences, and in various aquatic mediaâ€¦So-Itâ€™s practically expected of me that I do something a bit different. Man, itâ€™s time to put up or shut up! Â Who needs this pressure! This self-appointed â€œpurveyor of inspirationâ€ and ideas for the hobby should take some of his own advice. Maybe Iâ€™ll just have FUN! Iâ€™ll just do what pleases me. Yeah!
Rather than trying to create a system specifically designed to knock everyoneâ€™s socks off with some brilliantly radical concepts, Iâ€™m thinking I might actually come up with a semi-conventional concept done REALLY well. You know- just great quality animals displayed in an attractive manner. On the other hand, Iâ€™ve kicked around a few slightly different ideas for my 40â€x40â€x22â€ semi-cube, open-topped aquarium:
I have coveted creating an open top mangrove biotope, or a simulated Palau â€œcoral islandâ€. I could try to construct a Dictyota and macro-algae-encrusted rock structure with just a few coralsâ€¦No, wait- maybe another seagrass meadow, with a huge growth of Thalassia (Turtle Grass) and minimal rockwork, and a bunch of Fungia and Goniopora in the sand. Â I mean, IÂ DO have Justin Credabel on my speed dial! Or, perhaps THIS will be the display where I just build an aquascape consisting entirely of a pile of coral rubble with a smattering of ultra-neon-pink Pocillopora? No, wait– maybe Iâ€™ll do a group ofÂ small â€œbommiesâ€, with some open sand in between for my Fungia collection..but this time, Iâ€™ll use that dark substrate I flirted with in my last system. That will make the colors pop!
Of course, I can always do a monspecific aquarium, featuring a few of my beloved bright yellow Sarcophyton on several small rocky structures, and maybe a smattering of other corals just because Iâ€™m a reefer. Is THIS the aquarium that I revisit the idea of an entire â€œgardenâ€ of zoanthids and minimal rock? Hmmm. Wait a minuteâ€¦perhaps I will create a biotope for Jawfishâ€¦Some low-lying rock structures and a LOT of open sand (of course- the DARK sand that I was talking aboutâ€¦). Ya know what? I could try a version of Kyle Verryâ€™s â€œVolcanoâ€ tank, with rock projecting clean out of the water. Love that tank.Â On the other hand, I love rare Centropyge angelfish, and I could Â crank up the chiller and simulate a rocky Â Ester Island reef structure with lots of nooks and crannies for a group of C. hotumatua to forage among. Wow- Iâ€™ve had that bug up my *** about one day creating a biotope featuring the â€œMarine Bettaâ€ in a group, or perhaps a colony of Yellow Assessors, with a big, low-lying rocky cave. Boy, I do love the Royal Gramma, thoughâ€¦How cool would it be to dedicate a large tank to the fish of my childhood? Like 50 of em!
But wouldnâ€™t a system dedicated entirely to the needs of Garden Eels be sooo radical? Well, there is always the idea Iâ€™ve had of a tank devoted exclusively to Halichoeres wrassesâ€¦some mixed grain sand and lots of little caves and crevices for them to hide and hunt in. You knowâ€¦I COULD try to simulate just the top of the reef, with a low lying matrix of rock covering the entire bottom, with no substrate and my new Vortec MP 40â€™s cranked up full blast on a collection of Acropora gemmifora or A. milleporaâ€¦Hmmm. I saw a movie once about Fiji and itâ€™s ridiculously lush growth of soft coralsâ€¦Maybe a system with only super-choice Sinularia and a ton of current? Well, I have always wanted to do a monospecific anemone biotope with just one huge anemone on a large rock structureâ€¦but maybe Iâ€™m better off doing a shallow-water Condylactis anemone â€œfieldâ€ and some Caribbean fish. But a Fiji tidepool beckonsâ€¦
Maybe Iâ€™ll just build a rock wall! Â 😉 Â Just kidding!
No- maybe itâ€™s time for another tank.Â Or a few other tanks! Photo above by FlickR user Telephema
Till next timeâ€¦Stay wet