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Creating A Biotope

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NaH2O

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There have been several threads leading to posts on biotopes, so I thought it would make a good discussion. Should we be trying to create biotopes, or should we focus more on only a portion of a particular biotope/microenvironment? Does it make a difference?

For those that are unfamiliar with what a biotope is, my dictionary defines it as "a portion of a habitat characterized by uniformity in climate and distribution of biotic and abiotic components"

Here is a link to Coral Reef Zonation.

Maybe setting up a biotype system would be better, yet (biotype = a group of organisms having the same genotype). So, instead keep corals of one genus (i.e. Acropora sp. tank).
 

MikeS

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Good topic Nikki....

Personally, after some thought on this, I'd have to say the only two real advantages I can see to this would be the ease of harboring species that have very similar light and water chemistry needs, and also maybe some species compatibility issues may be avoided. But I think the real problem is the fact that the environment we create in our tanks is so inherintly different from the one that exists in the natural reef that such niche aquariums would likely see no more overall success than a mixed reef tank....JMHO...

Mike
 

mojoreef

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Yea I would have to agree with Mike. To me biotope would be more like critters from the same area with the same enviromental requirements. You could go more focused but I dont know how exciting that might be,


Mike
 

MikeS

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There used to be an LFS in Denver, Co. that had a cold water niche reef....that was actually a very interesting tank....

Mike
 

Curtswearing

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MikeS said:
I'd have to say the only two real advantages I can see to this would be the ease of harboring species that have very similar light and water chemistry needs, and also maybe some species compatibility issues may be avoided.
I see all of the above a great plusses IMO. I wouldn't want to limit it to particular genus because many different corals can live in one area of a tank. There's also nutrient levels and flow issues that need to be considered. The flow issues could be handled by wise aquascaping (to create pockets of lower flow) but the nutrient levels would seem to be a pain in the neck to me.

Let's take the upper reef slope from your link. Common corals from that area in the reef would be....

Alcyonaceans: Lemnalia, Lobophytum, Nephthea, Sarcophyton, Sinularia, and Xenia.
Scleractinians: Acropora, Goniastrea, Favia, Favites, Leptoseria, Lobophyllia, Plerogyra, Pocillopora, Porites, Millepora, and Stylophora.
Zoanthidea: Palythoa.

That's quite a variety that can handle similar conditions. Softies and LPS can co-exist (at least on the Great Barrier Reef). I don't know that I would want to try to take care of the needs of a Goniopora (flowerpot) in that same tank.
 

NaH2O

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MikeS - what defines success, in regards to a reef tank?
Softies can co-exist in the GBR, but what about a closed system? I'm thinking that all the corals need to be looked at in that particular area, and decide whether or not they would compete/cause issues with others in a closed environment. Placement would need to be greatly considered, especially on a smaller tank. Also, I can't imagine someone putting a fish present in a particular ecosystem, and that fish happens to be predatory to one of the corals. Plus, don't some fish visit different biotopes during a day? What about the argument some hobbyists have about mixing the biotopes to create a reef, as a whole?

Maybe it comes down to personal taste. Certainly, the smaller the tank the more focused you could be without it being boring. I think with a tiny nano, focusing on one microenvironment would be more interesting than a giant system with one microenvironment.
 

Forestal

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I agree the biotope will never be a perfect repro, and you have to balance what can and should be put together, but my personal taste is it seems more natural...
i think there are any number of ways to make our tanks interesting/successful...
one advantage i see on doing my future tank as a biotope is i will be learning more about the specific endemic life before choosing which corals/fish/inverts to get... i see it as a learning experience and fun..

plus i don't have a huge tank, so doing this will make the smaller tank look more complete...
i also would love to do a temperate tank, some neat stuff there too.
 

MikeS

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NaH2O said:
MikeS - what defines success, in regards to a reef tank?

Hmmm....obviously there will be varying degrees of "success", as well as different defenitions...

For me, I'd have to say I'd define a "successful" reef tank as one that achieves a healthy environment for your selected inhabitants to thrive through a combination of the proper equipment, water chemistry, and a minimum of species conflict.

On the biotype...as I stated earlier, while selecting species from a particular niche may have the advantage of stocking your tank with organisims that all have very similar light/water condition needs, I feel that this is by no means the only way to achieve this. Obviously, there will be a multitude of critters from very different niches that may have very similar demands in the reef tank. As far as species conflict goes...even in the smallest niche on the reef there will undoubtedly be competition for space and resources.

I think what we need to realize here is that our tanks are so basically different from the dymanic ecosystem of the wild reef. Now I get to use my favorite analogy....comparing our tanks to the "natural" reef is kind of like sticking a frog in a jar with some mud and a few twigs and then comparing that to the ecosystem of the swamp he was plucked from... :) We try to simulate the wild reef in our tanks, but we can't duplicate it....

MikeS
 

NaH2O

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even in the smallest niche on the reef there will undoubtedly be competition for space and resources.
Even the same species will compete with each other, will they not?

Agreed, simulation is one thing....duplication is another. Even simulating, we are choosing and/or eliminating specimens to suit our likes and dislikes. If you think about live rock....sometimes undesirable hitchhikers make their way into the tank. Well....we do what we can to eliminate them/remove them from damaging other livestock. The stomatopod, or crab that had his home in the live rock is now removed.....we are altering the natural biotope.
 

algaeguy

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Great thread, everyone!

I'm curious if anyone has attempted a single species tank and "stuck to it", ie; resisted the temptation to add other species!

I have always thought that it would be cool to have a Pocillopora biotope, with maybe two or three species from the genus....But to be quite honest, I think it woudl be too hard to resist adding more (different) corals! Part of the human persona, I guess!

Anyways, we may not be able to truly replicate a biotope, but we can now provide near-optimum conditions for specific groups of animals...And I think that's quite an accomplishment!

Just my 2 cents worth!

Scott
 

FishyinKy

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algaeguy said:
Yep- right now, I'm running an amazing Dictoyta/Bubble Algae biotope...Where's Paletta, huh?

Scott
lmao, Scott you are a nut. Hey some pictures would be nice and Nikki AMAZING thread! Just a note here, Tullocks book has a wonderful section on biotypes. Something well worth reading I think.
 

algaeguy

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You think I'm funny, Fishy- Dave has a 360 gallon SPS reef to provide "nutrient import" to support his prized Chaeotomorpha colony! Such dedication! LOL

I'd like to see pics of some biotopes, too!

It would be cool to see if someone tries a sandbed/seagrass biotope, with Syringodium and a colony of Pipefish or Seahorses; maybe a blenny or two..

Scott
 

FishyinKy

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Some people have a dedication that I only hope to achieve. Did I mention I had to trim my hair algae only yesterday? Well except for the amazing fox face assistance.
Does anyone know of a site that just has pictures of biotypical areas? For instance, diving pictures of the hawaii, australia, etc. I'm redoing all my tanks, and I am looking for a new way to go. Thanks
Mac
 

algaeguy

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Mac, we definitely will talk more about this!

Ya know, Bob (Fenner) has a nice section on biotopes right on good 'ol Wetwebmedia that I stumbled on one day...Really good stuff with lots of pics- check it out!

Catch you soon!

Scott
 

FishyinKy

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Definitely would love to talk about it Scott. Always a pleasure. I'm still finding new things on that site. Hopefully I learn something new everyday. I certainly learn things here.
 

MikeS

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I have Tullocks's book....a lot of his "example" reefs in the beginning of the book could be considered biotope reefs to an extent....ie the LR and livestock all come from the same basic geographic location. I re-read this part of his book....and it leads me to this question to further this thread....if a biotope aquarium is your goal...how far should you take it? How much detail are we talking about here? I scuba dive, and the rest of you who dive can verify this....often, while diving, the reef just a couple hundred feet away from a certain area is totally different....different corals, different fish, ect....how exact does one need to be when trying to create a biotope? And how would one go about researching/simulating this?

MikeS
 
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