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Dave's attempt to increase BioDiversity - AquaBiomics

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All,

The second AquaBiomics test on my tank came back with the same basic theme - I'm low in BioDiversity.  (see chart below)  Let's discuss how I might increase diversity.

My Tank, 120g tank w/~30gal of extra sump/etc water capacity.  Running for >10years, and only new additions have been few corals and fish in past years.   Rock/sand/etc has been either dry or with me the whole time.

I don't know who has "more diversity," and more specifically - I don't know what magnitude of import is needed to increase diversity.    I'm thinking of the following three actions.

  1. Purchase sample live rock from multiple local fish stores, add to my tank.  
    • I already have more rock than I can use, But I'll by a new piece from a few stores.   Easy.
    • I'll have to ask each store where they source their already live rock from.  Looking for different sources.
  2. Seed new/fresh BioBricks into fellow-hobbyist sumps, then relocate into my tank.
  3. Perform a water change on my tank, using tank water from a fellow-hobbyists tank.
    • Easiest, fastest.  I'll need to find water transport containers, but doable.   
    • I'm thinking 10-20 gallons per person.

Now I need some volunteer fellow-hobbyists.  Anyone fit a whole or half brick in your sump for few months for me?  (I'll provide the bricks.)  If  do the same for you if you want.    Anyone willing to let me have 10-20gallons of your tank water?    I'll buy you replacement salt.

  • Any other ideas to increase biodiversity?  
  • I've considered the risk of importing some negative Bio into my tank.   

-David J. O'Brien

 

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I wonder if you can just buy all the different "bacterial in a bottle" product on the market, that would probably be a lot of diversity assuming they're all different

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I betcha you could swap both some water and a few small pieces of live rock from other people's tanks if you wanted some more diversity. I've got a relatively new tank compared to yours and I, most of the time, will add the water from other people's tanks into my tank. That can be risky so make sure you have a good idea about how there tank is doing first. But I haven't had issues yet and have a large diversity for a tank that's only two years old that I started with dry rock and sand.

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11 hours ago, obrien.david.j said:

Eli,

Do you think "bio in a bottle" will add to the bio-diversity, or is it focused on only a few that I don't need?

 

I've tested one of the products. I concluded that while it had the advertised effects of quickly metabolizing DON, it had basically no impact on the microbial community. I'll write up those results soon.

We need more tests, but tentatively, my working model is that these products have very short lived effects on the microbiome and that using them for making a persistent change to the community (an off-label application, for most or all) is unlikely to make any difference. But this is testable, and I'm considering experiments on this subject for the upcoming round.

For now, Live Rock is what I have found evidence for. Here is what good live rock vs bad live rock vs dry rock does in the first month of a tank's life. 

diversity-over-time.jpg

(Each symbol is the average of duplicate tanks. Dashed lines indicate 10th and 50th percentiles from my initial survey of 20 PNWMAS tanks). 

My home tanks also came up kind of low on diversity. One of them I'm running a nutrient experiment on, so I'm not gonna do anything else to it. But I'd be interested in adding some new live rock to the others. Maybe a group buy? 

I havent tested enough live rock to say this with confidence, but my gut feeling is that the good live rock in my study (above) was good because it was real coral rubble. The bad live rock was Walt Smith purple-dyed (i.e. concrete), that was covered in some of the most beautiful live rock life I've ever seen (which all promptly died). I still get grumpy when I think about how dense that stuff was when I broke it open. Fake live rock that looked so real.

Lets find some nice, imported coral rubble that has stayed wet since it was in the ocean. Thats what I've found to rapidly promote a healthy microbiome. Maybe one of our PNWMAS retailers could set up a group buy for some nice live rock? The good stuff above was from Quality Marine. I could look into setting up an order through them if we don't have other options. 

 

 

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Request out to Hobbyists (and local fish stores):   Goto your LFS, ask what kind of live rock they have, and where it was sourced from.   Is any of it True live rock, or man made live rock.     

Send me a PM with the store name, date, and the kinds of rock they carry.   I'll summarize in a week.

Is anyone up for the challenge?

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I'm going to assume that the bacterial strains in Microbacter7 are enough and just dose them on occasion.

What do you expect to get from having greater biodiversity?

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I have the same issue with lower bio diversity - nearing the yellow on the graphs. My tank has been up nearly four years and started with dry rock and live sand. Later I purchased some Pukani dry rock and added some other rock from an established tank. I have added multiple corals/frags over the years from many sources in addition to countless cleanup crews and multiple fish. It would seem that each of the items added to the tank would bring bio diversity.......
 

I am not sure how to increase the bio diversity without risking unwanted hitchhikers or bad pathogens.

Edited by Knuckledragger

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I have a 60 gallon cube that is rock and live sand collected from the Gulf of Mexico, i'm curious what things in that tank might be like.

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I want to clarify the meaning of the color codes to be sure the results aren't concerning anyone needlessly. I dont have, and I dont think anyone has, evidence for what is the threshold between a good and bad microbiome. I am purely comparing each of our tanks to the rest. 

  • Red = most tanks (75%-100%) are more diverse than yours
  • Yellow =  50%-75% of tanks are more diverse than yours
  • Green = your tank is more diverse than at least 50% of tanks

So yellow is the lower half of the typical range, not an extreme outlier. 50%, the line between yellow and green, would be the typical tank (the median diversity). 

2 of my 4 home tanks are in the yellow (151,156), my oldest (5 y) is in the green (201), and my newest is in the red (72). None of these were started with good live rock. If a group buy for some real live rock (coral rubble from the ocean) happens I am in! 

Here is my thinking about diversity -- diversity is just a proxy for having the right microbes. We don't know exactly what each bug does, but most of us agree there are many beneficial roles for microbes. So if most of the tanks are more diverse than mine and my tank has problems, its likely I need some of what they've got. If my tank's doing great, I've probably got the microbes that perform the important roles. 

--

I also like to emphasize that its not just about diversity. Look, if I come over and drop a tube of Aquarickettsia rohweri, Vibrio coralliilyticus, and Vibrio alginolyticus in your tank, BAM! I've just increased the diversity. But I don't think anyone imagines the tank would be healthier :)

I think as much about balance as diversity. My home tanks' balance scores range from 0.32-0.4, reasonable scores close to the median (0.3). But I see systematic excesses of Alteromonadaceae in 3 of them, deficits of Pelagibacteraceae in 3 of them, and deficits of Flavobacteraceae in all 4. So for most of my tanks, addressing the balance is a higher than the diversity per se. 

 

I'm still in if we can get our hands on some good live rock though! 

 

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On 11/29/2019 at 11:45 AM, Lexinverts said:

Checked out the site.   Looks like cultured Florida rock, and an offer for cultured Walt Smith Fiji rock.    If I'm buying rock, I'm looking for non-cultured.   

 

On 11/29/2019 at 7:20 PM, markvo said:

I'm going to assume that the bacterial strains in Microbacter7 are enough and just dose them on occasion.

What do you expect to get from having greater biodiversity?

To me, the starter bottles like Microbacter7 seem to be created for tank cycling.   I feel like for diversity I'm looking for something else.

And what do I expect...   Honestly, no immediately visible action.  But, I feel like my tank doesn't perform as well as others, and hoping this may be part of the overall improvement.

Plus, I'm a supporter of diversity and inclusion - in the tank or or in regular life.

 

20 hours ago, Knuckledragger said:

I have the same issue with lower bio diversity - nearing the yellow on the graphs. My tank has been up nearly four years and started with dry rock and live sand. Later I purchased some Pukani dry rock and added some other rock from an established tank. I have added multiple corals/frags over the years from many sources in addition to countless cleanup crews and multiple fish. It would seem that each of the items added to the tank would bring bio diversity.......
 

I am not sure how to increase the bio diversity without risking unwanted hitchhikers or bad pathogens.

Your "diversity" actions sound link mine.  Purchased or traded live stock additions.  Otherwise nothing else.  BTW, to date I've Not added the tank water from others when adding a coral or fish.   Maybe that has kept me more insulated.

How to increase diversity... without adding hitchhikers/badness.   Risk vs Reward, I'm just going to try it.   

 

20 hours ago, MrBret said:

I have a 60 gallon cube that is rock and live sand collected from the Gulf of Mexico, i'm curious what things in that tank might be like.

MrBret - I'll send you a PM.  I'd be interested in getting some of your water, and maybe seeding a biobrick piece - if you're willing.

 

14 hours ago, EMeyer said:

Here is my thinking about diversity -- diversity is just a proxy for having the right microbes. We don't know exactly what each bug does, but most of us agree there are many beneficial roles for microbes. So if most of the tanks are more diverse than mine and my tank has problems, its likely I need some of what they've got. If my tank's doing great, I've probably got the microbes that perform the important roles. 

--

I'm still in if we can get our hands on some good live rock though! 

Eli, I'll start the hunt for live rock this week & next weekend.   Tgiving weekend has kept me away from LFS access.

BUT, the link Lexinverts provided introduced a nice idea.   What I'm really looking for is Scraps.  The term used was "Refugium Live Rock."    It's not going in my display, so maybe Small/broken pieces can mean Cheaper.

 

* I'm still looking for people willing to give me 5-10 gallons of their tank water.   Anyone willing?

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As you discuss this with various LFS it'd be great to ask about wholesalers who can special order it, too. For example at QM the Tonga Nano Branch Rock is not in inventory right now but is still shown on the special order page, so it might be available as it was earlier this year. I don't know if other wholesalers could special order other live rock not currently in stock, and only those with accounts can easily see what various wholesalers have to offer. (I have a hard enough time getting wholesalers to even respond to emails.) 

What helped me in discussions with suppliers was emphasizing (as you pointed out) that what I was looking for was rubble from high quality natural live rock.. it didnt have to be big and pretty.

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First Diversity addition complete.  Visited LFS today, goal was to get leveled what's available for non-man made live rock these days.  (when I was actively buying years ago, you Only got raw ocean rock.)

Conclusions

  • Seems like export shut downs (like Indo) have also reduced live rock access
  • Florida is mining dry (but original ocean rock) and culturing it in the ocean. Should work.
  • Tonga Branch should be available, I'll find out in two weeks 
  • If I'm willing to use a bio brick from someones sump, why shouldn't I consider previously dry (but natural) rock, that's been in a store sump for months.

Thus, Diversity Addition #1 completed today.  

 

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I have a few pieces of the QM Tonga live branch, they are smallll pieces about the thickness of a marker........can also take any waters from here you might like

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55 minutes ago, MrBret said:

I have a few pieces of the QM Tonga live branch, they are smallll pieces about the thickness of a marker........can also take any waters from here you might like

I'll take you up on both offers.   Maybe we can connect one evening this week?    (PM'ing now)

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1 hour ago, MrBret said:

I have a few pieces of the QM Tonga live branch, they are smallll pieces about the thickness of a marker........can also take any waters from here you might like

The small pieces of Tonga live rock from QM are the ones that worked well for Eli and me. It was good stuff when he tested it.

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7 hours ago, obrien.david.j said:

Diversity Action #2 completed last night.   10 gallons of "used" tank water, plus transfer of a ~1yr seasoned 8x8x1" Marine Pure Plate.
https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/marinepure-ceramic-biomedia-plate.html

 

Both items were transferred within an hour of removal from the source tank.

Thanks SunCrestReef!

 

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Whoa, seasoned media and water from the famous SuncrestReef tank, awesome! Cant wait to see your next diversity score. 

If this follows similar dynamics as in my live rock study the community should be established within 2 weeks after putting the rock in the tank. You've got another sample kit in hand now, right? 

Thats an exciting experiment because it would be a nice answer for people who want live rock diversity but are concerned about hitchikers...

Edited by EMeyer
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My score for my 30 Gal AIO was 270 and 0.77, not too bad, but I too want to increase my numbers. 

I am about a month away from adding salt water to my new 120 gallon tank.   I have been curing and pulling out excess phosphate from 50 pounds of Reef Saver Dry Live Rock for over 9 months in preparation for doing my aquascape.  

Yes, I want to jump in with a live rock (good stuff) order for seeding the new tank.  And very happy to work with one of our great LFS people.  

Question:  Would it be smart to place all the new live rock into the sump in order to isolate and remove possible hitchhikers?

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Diversity Action #3 completed.   Added 9 new frags from Cuttlefish, But unusual for me - I added the bag water to my tank.   So, Diversity source #3.

Thanks for the awesome Mystery Box Jeff.

Eli - New testing kit received.   How long you want me to let all this settle in before testing again, Perhaps Xmas?

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FYI — I just dropped my latest sample in the mail today for Eli’s analysis.  Looking forward to the next round of testing.

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