Reef Tank Relocation Part 2
Some have asked about the process of relocating the DMES Pacific Reef Tank to the Panther Lobby from its previous home in Link. There were a lot of complicated logistics involved! Due to the tremendous weight of all the water, rocks, and organisms being relocated, the Biological Oceanography students had to divide them up amongst many buckets and containers. Also, as long as we were deconstructing the reef and putting individual rocks and corals in buckets, this was a good opportunity to do some deep-cleaning and weeding of the live rock in the reef tank. The students in the Biological Oceanography program were of course the ones that did all this work. There were about a dozen of them helping and it took all day. Frequently rocks stuck together because corals were growing over the gap between the rocks. If it was possible to take two conjoined rocks together in the same bucket, we did that. However, often times we had to cut the coral to allow the rocks to be transported separately to the new reef tank location. Cutting and other stresses on corals causes them to secrete mucus, which fouls the water. In some species of corals, the mucus they secrete under stress is toxic. As a result, the rock and corals end up being transported in fouled and possibly toxic seawater. This fouling of the water can cause it to go anoxic more quickly, so for the visibly cloudy water or very crowded containers we add air bubbles to keep things oxygenated – it may be a few hours before the newly set up reef tank is ready to receive the transplanted animals. We needed to have a couple hundred gallons of new filtered seawater on-hand to help with the transfer. The Biological Oceanography students did not want to add fouled water to the new setup, but it is also stressful for the animals to be dropped into new water. What they ended up doing was trying to acclimate the animals to new clean seawater. This takes a long time to do correctly – difference in temperature, salinity, and even pH can be difficult for the animals to quickly adjust to.