As we look back on the past year and even the last decade, it’s clear that there’s a growing diversity of topics that resonate with you, the Reef Builders audience, and the wider reefing community. We write over 1000 posts, stories and articles every year and it’s always fascinating to see which ones will bubble up to the top, so without further ado, here are the top 10 reef aquarium stories of 2019.
The predictable winners include the baby Nautilus that was born at a public aquarium; live Nautilus are not exactly reef animals, and not suited for the typical home aquarium, so these shelled cephalopods make a great aquatic display, even more so when it’s tiny newborn!
The peppermint angelfish casts a very long shadow over the world of all saltwater aquariums and it’s a very rare occasion for this species to be available for sale. At $30,000 for the very few specimens that are collected for the hobbyist market, this fish is only for the most affluent, but thankfully this year we learned that several specimens were put on display at the famous Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco.
Since we’ve started reefing on a large scale at the Reef Builders Studio, several fun story ideas have manifested themselves into real great stories and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that these were among your favorites. Testing water can be a chore, especially when we have five different reef displays and systems to manage, but doing things repeatedly has led us to streamline our water testing protocols to accomplish reliable, repeatable results as efficiently as possible.
One of the water parameters that goes highly overlooked is pH which is a shame since this is one of the metrics that governs the growth potential of all calcifying sea life, especially corals. Raising and keeping the pH high is one of the easiest things you can do to grow corals faster, the only downside being that you’ll have to supplement calcium, magnesium and buffer at an even faster rate.
As our aquarium equipment has become more complex and sophisticated, the need to clean and maintain the components and moving parts has never been greater. Modern protein skimmers are more efficient and lower maintenance than they’ve ever been, but besides cleaning the skimmate from the cup, the pump, needle wheel and aspirator valve need to be cleaned on a semi-regular basis in order to keep function at peak condition.
The Prime and Hydra line of LED lights by AquaIllumination are some of the most popular and widely used across freshwater, saltwater and even terrarium setups. In 2018 AI focused on their first ever water pump with the Nero 5 but last year they really raised the bar by improving every aspect of their Hydra and Prime LED lights, and seems like you guys were all waiting for the news of this update.
Roughly one year ago we setup our first ‘concept’ aquarium, one dedicated to Xmas tree worm rocks and their corals, and it was very well received by both our readers on the blog and viewers on the YouTube channel. Several months later our update of this tank showed that when provided with some basic requirements, the Spirobranchus worms are actually not that hard to keep.
One of the best, new contributors to Reef Builders last year were the copious first hand reports by Vincent Chalias about special corals he observed on wild coral reefs. Chief among these was his description of wild colonies of the perennial SPS favorite, the strawberry shortcake, where they come from and what we need to strive for to keep them looking as good as when they are freshly collected.
Easily one of the biggest stories of both 2018 and 2019 is the ongoing suspension of live coral exports from Indonesia. Every couple of weeks rumors flare up of someone claiming to be preparing to receive a new shipment of Indo Corals but these merely rumors. We are doubly fortunate to have Vincent Chalias not only as a bonafide coral seeker, but as one of the founders of Indonesian Coral farming he is one of the few trusted sources for first hand information about what’s happening with the Indonesian coral ban.
Last but not least, the revelation that a clam farm in the Red Sea was beginning to offer some of these species to the aquarium hobby was one of our personal favorite news stories of last year. While young farmed clams from the Red Sea haven’t yet reached North American shores, we are still very much in love with these bivalves and can’t wait to see these in our own tanks someday.