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IntoTheMystic

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About IntoTheMystic

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    Toad Fish
  • Birthday 07/14/1974

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    Oregon Coast

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  1. MACNA 2017 Recap

    Hey folks! MACNA 2017 was a lot of fun and, as always, very interesting. In addition to the usual frag vendors, acrylic tank crafters, abjectly awful and horrifically expensive brisket sandwich slingers, and a whole slew of professionals and hobbyists, there were some new and interesting trends that I thought I'd share with you guys. Lots of phytoplankton start-ups. In addition to the established players that have been around for a while like Reed Mariculture and AlgaGen, there were several new vendors showcasing common phyto strains, such as nannocloropsis, isocrysis, tetraselmis, etc., along with diatoms, flagellates and other critters for 'pod cultures, larval fishes and coral feeding. It's a cool trend if their QC is good enough to keep undesirables out of their clients' systems. It's also a positive trend if there are enough hobbyists that need fresh phyto to feed their corals, larval animals and gutload their 'pods and naups. Grab 'n' Go systems for retailers. These are very simple closed systems with modules that hobbyists can grab and take with them without making a mess in the car or in the store. They're buying the container along with the livestock, ostensibly saving the retailer time chasing that one particular ocellaris in a tank full of 350 Nemos. It's also an innovative marketing display. Long-term, the system is not built for healthy water and healthy animals, as the bio- and mechanical filtration is a mesh in the outflow trough in the back of each tier and, by design, the turnover in each cell and the system as a whole is pretty poor. However, I thought it was an interesting design. They might be good for bettas but not much else longer than hours of operation. It was also a reminder that this conference is for retailers, too! Next up, quite possibly the coolest algae scrubber I've ever seen. I spoke with the designer and builder, who blanched a bit when I referred to it as a scrubber but the concept is the same. It's kinda tough to see but the core of the unit is encrusted with 2-3 different types of high-output LEDs encased in a polymer tube designed to resist crazing from the heat. Inside the LEDs is a sealed tube of water. The water heats up, rises to the top of the sealed tube and heat leaves the system via the heat sink you can see there at the top of the unit. The algae grow on the coiled strands you can see that run the length of the unit. Lots of fancy plastic fabrication and beveling on this thing. Light passes through the logo next to the name for a bit of extra coolness. As you might guess, these things aren't cheap but they appear to be well made. I believe he told me this unit, the biggest one I saw in the booth which stands 30-32 inches high, retailed for around $1,800.00. If I took a chunk like that out of my budget at work, I'd probably lose my job after they re-assembled my employer's head but such is the stuff from which daydreams and deliciously low NO3 and PO4 params are woven. Nice unit. I'd love to build a teaching system around this thing. PImpyoursump.com. I have to admit, this Bashsea gear is pretty and definitely caught my eye but I was not overimpressed with the gauge of the acrylic. Plus, unless the buyer wants to spend as much time cleaning their sump as they do their display, it won't stay very pretty for very long. Then there's the attendant gurgling, pump noise and salt spray. They're cool, no doubt, but unless you want to showcase it in your living room (and good luck selling that to your SO,) you're better off spending half as much and having a more robustly built custom sump built by a crafty acrylic fabricator you know. Then there's this, also at the Bashsea booth. Skimmer or pinball machine? This unit stands around 48" high. The guy evaded three different attempts to get a price. If you have to ask..... I guess. But even still, let's say you have unlimited resources and want to connect this ringtailed screamer to your 1,500-gallon reef system. Sure looks like it could handle that volume. If I bought something that pretty, I'd want to keep it pretty but there isn't enough single malt in the world to get me to disassemble and clean the auger-looking thing in the tube on the left on a regular basis. Interesting hybrid system. When people find out what I do for a living, they often ask if I have any tanks at home. I don't but this got me thinking about it. It's made by a Canadian outfit called Brio and retails for (yikes!) $500.00. 9.5-gallon FW tank on the left, sump under and growing tray on the right for nutrient export. Small recirculating pump in the sump and LED readouts and controls on a panel in the back to tweak lighting duration and intensity. I had visions of fresh basil, chives and cilantro dancing in my head while I loitered in front of this thing, along with rummies, cardinals and a coupla Otocinclus. I've no intention of spending that kind of money on this system but it got me thinking about building something on a larger scale in my lab further on down the road. Saw lots of new rolling mechanical filtration systems with paper media, do-it-yourself automated home WQ testing units, 4-5 new rivals to Neptune Apex controllers/monitors and beautifully designed skimmers that also looked impossible for an adult to clean properly . Another trend was Chinese manufacturers, who I assume have been building pumps, skimmers and other LSS components for name brands for years, who are now trying to build their own brand awareness. Some of the gear looked pretty good, some of it looked pretty cheesy but it probably won't be long before we're debating the merits of an Aquarium Jalale pump versus one made by JIAYU. Overall, this was another great experience and in a very cool city. If you've never made it to a MACNA, they're pretty much fish- and invert-geek nirvana and well worth checking out to talk to vendors, get lots of free swag, see the newest/latest in gear, food, tank, LSS design and other stuff and generally have a great time. The raffles have uncommonly nice items and are held each of the three afternoons and if you scout stuff you need on Friday or Saturday and linger on Sunday afternoon, you can score some new gear on the cheap, as the vendors usually don't want to pack it back up and take it with them. Also, most of the speakers are very good, as are the workshops, both of which go on all day for each of the three days. The next MACNA is in Las Vegas in early September 2018. I've never had any desire to visit Vegas but I'm already registered and am looking forward to it. Hope to see you guys there!
  2. MACNA In New Orleans!

    Anyone heading to New Orleans in a couple weeks? I skipped last year but am very much looking forward to this one. Should be sweet, with the Audubon Aquarium right next to the sponsoring Hilton. Top shelf jazz, legendary food, legions of besotted professional and hobbyist fish- and coralheads wandering around, the newest/latest in gear and soulcrushing heat and humidity. What's not to like? Any of youse heading down there for this one? Holly, you up for this?
  3. HMSC Fish Health Workshop July 2017 Pics

    Now that there is a serious grilling throwdown. Looks like Local Ocean met with your approval. You just can't go wrong in that joint. Folks, It was a real pleasure for us to host you guys and work up a few animals. That's right in the wheelhouse of the Aquatic Animal Health Program, as we are all about sharing what we know and the best ways to care for and proactively maintain the health of our aquatic critters. We had a lot of fun and you guys asked some very intuitive questions. I'm already planning next year's meeting. Not sure whether or not I'll have a Wolf Eel about that needs to be fed but it's very likely I'll have something new to add to the mix. I always have at least a half-dozen or more cases working in Hospital/Quarantine. Was great to reconnect with some familiar faces and meet some new ones, including a coupla larval members. It's not easy for me to get over to the valley or up to PDX on Saturday afternoons but I'm going to make a real effort to get to more monthly meetings in the future. Y'all are just too cool and it's waaaay too much fun talking fish and inverts with you. Thanks again for coming! Sid
  4. Hatfield Marine Science Center meeting July 2017

    Hey folks! I am going through storage at HMSC and found a few tanks that are looking for new homes. These have been in storage for years so I cannot vouch for how well they hold water but I thought they might be useful to someone for sumps, quarantine tanks, refugia, etc. These are totally up for grabs and will go on a first reserved/first served basis (notify me by PM, please). The only caveat is that they need to go this Saturday (by decree of my supervisor) so if you can use these, please plan on picking them up at the meeting this Saturday or make arrangements for someone to pick them up for you. I am heading out the door for a few hours shortly but will check back later this evening and send PMs to those that reserve tanks. When you do, please make sure that you note the approximate size of the tank(s) you want. After all the tanks are claimed, I will either reply to this post if I have a lot of PMs to answer or reply to each interested party individually if the PMs are a small and manageable number. Thanks for your help and your interest and I look forward to seeing youse guys on Saturday! Cheers, Sid
  5. Hatfield Marine Science Center meeting July 2017

    Hey folks! Thanks for the kind words, Robert, but I must clarify one thing: I'm not the director of the facility but I am the director of the Aquatic Animal Teaching Lab, which we call the West Wing. I am planning on sedating at least two animals and performing a basic health work-up for you guys to observe and maybe participate in, if you like. Along with a colleague, we will show everybody how to perform a few health mgmt./diagnostic techniques, along with the resources we use to develop a health mgmt. plan for different conditions. Have not yet heard whether or not Dr. Tim will be able to join us but his default setting for such things is that he wants to come and participate whenever his schedule allows. I am looking forward to reconnecting with some familiar faces and, as always, meeting some new ones, as this is an uncommonly cool group of fish- and coralheads. I have requested and confirmed the use of the courtyard on campus for the BBQ portion of this month's meeting, which will make everything easier for the generous souls who go above and beyond to organize and prepare food for us. Looking very much forward to seeing you folks again and see you soon!
  6. T5 light end of bulb burnt need help

    If you could post an image of what the bulb looks like, you're probably going to get more replies. Right off the bat, I suspect a flaky or failing ballast. Is the burned-looking ring on the inside of the bulb? Like the kind of gas ring these bulbs display when they're old and on the way out? If the burned ring is on the exterior, unplug that ballast as soon as possible and replace it.
  7. April 2017 Pink Limo Tour Pictures

    Although I cannot attend nearly as many meetings as I'd like, I really appreciate the time that Robert puts into documenting these events (the play-by-play commentary is often hilarious) and the time and energy that the leaders in this organization put into making these monthly meetings happen. Much respect and appreciation to all! Very well done.
  8. Interested in this Community's Ideas

    In time, access to recorded workshops could be part of the program but the focus would be getting interested people together with professional aquarists for lectures and hands-on labs. And, of course, a beverage or two and perhaps a bite later at the Rogue for thirsty, hardworking students and instructors. I could see that kind of after-workshop event happening fairly often, as this fish and coral stuff is thirsty work!
  9. Interested in this Community's Ideas

    Thus far, I'm getting some really good ideas that have sparked other ideas to involve other aspects of the industry, including manufacturers, researchers and professionals from public aquaria across the country. Thanks for the input and keep the ideas coming!
  10. Tiger Cucumber

    It's also possible this this could be a really cool development. These critters can produce asexually via binary fission. I used to have one in my reef exhibit. The other morning before the lights came on, I saw four. They clone themselves and work the night shift. Pretty sure this is going to have a happy ending. The posture of the feeding tentacles as the animal pulls itself apart is a good sign.
  11. Hey folks, I've been chewing on an idea for a while and am interested in your thoughts. I"m considering starting a series of workshops here on the coast to benefit a wide range of people from beginners to advanced hobbyists to professionals and all stages in-between. These would be one-day workshops conducted by professionals with a mixture of lectures and hands-on labs but may also include two-day workshops and guest speakers. Examples of these workshops might include: Fundamentals of Fish Health Basic Principles of Life Support Design Aquascaping to Create Stunning Displays Common Fish Diseases and Parasites Proactive Life Support Maintenance to Prevent Failures These might not be the snappiest titles but you get the idea. My questions for you guys are: What workshops would you like to see on this list? What workshops would help you be better hobbyists with healthier systems and animals? If you're a fish and coral retailer, what workshops would benefit your employees and your operation? If you're a professional aquarium maintenance technician, would you be interested in a professional certification program? You input is welcome and encouraged, as experienced, informed and engaged hobbyists would def be one of the target audiences for these workshops. There would be a charge for each workshop to cover costs and benefit our programs but I would make sure the perceived value was very satisfactory every time. Thanks for your ideas and opinions!
  12. Great thread. You guys have covered most of what I would add to this discussion but having run my own business for five years (in another industry,) I would like to add to and reiterate what some of the others have said. 1. It's not enough to be a knowledgeable fish and invert person, you also have to have the discipline and business acumen to get the business built and open, resist the urge to keep flaky hours when you feel like taking a day off or sleeping in, plan a budget and stick with it, hire and manage knowledgeable employees who are also disciplined and honest, promote and advertise (although with social media this is much easier and less costly than it used to be,) and find reputable vendors who send you livestock that is healthy, well-cared-for and helps protect your bottom line. Running a business is not for the faint of heart but you sure do find out a lot about yourself in the process. 2. Deep enough pockets to open the store and keep the doors open. In addition to the significant expenses of finding a site, painting and building infrastructure, paying first and last (at least,) buying merch, livestock, tanks, pumps, lights etc., you also have many other expenses, such as an accountant, an attorney (at least in the beginning,) monthly and quarterly taxes (the quarterly payroll taxes are murder,) licensing, state permits, etc. You also need to have enough working capital to keep the joint open while you're building your business. Also, if you're not there, you have to pay someone to be there for you ,when you're open. 3.) No matter how well you run your business and how lucky you get with good staff to help you run it, you're never really off the clock. You're always thinking about how to build and promote your shop, sweating having enough cash to cover expenses and make loan payments, wondering why sales were down 18% last quarter and so on. All that said, you also have to have time away from the operation occasionally to maintain perspective and quality of life. The worst part of being burned out is everyone around you knows it long before you do. 4. You're the last one who gets paid. Everyone else has to get paid before you do. You can get by working seven days and making little or nothing for a while but you have to make enough to live eventually. 5. You must be lucky enough to have an engaged local community of hobbyists who like and believe in your business and will go a bit (or a lot) out of their way to buy locally and spent a bit more to make sure their local resources are there for them when they need it. PetCo, PetSmart, and others don't give a [language filter] about their regulars but I promise you that the vast majority of LFS owners do. The good ones have a vested interest in making sure that you're successful and make client education part of their business plan. So many factors come into play. You have to be very good and more than a little lucky to make it and it's a tricky confluence of factors to manage even if you are good and lucky. 'Nuff said.
  13. Hey folks! Last time I hosted a meeting and gave a back-of-the-house tour at Hatfield Marine Science Center, I remember a few of you expressing disappointment that most of the labs were off limits. Can't say I blame you, as there is undoubtedly plenty of interesting stuff going on but most of those labs are off limits all the time, except for one day a year. That day is coming up pretty soon and if you're ready to take a breather to the coast, consider heading out on Saturday, April 8. That's Marine Science Day at Hatfield and it's a good time, as well as the one day that you can wander around nearly all of the facility. Most scientists will be hanging around talking about their research, there are lots of activities for kids to enjoy and learn from, you can check out the different state and federal agencies on campus and learn how they collaborate on projects and there is fresh Rogue beer on draft less than a half-mile away. The husbandry team, including Dr. Tim, will be hanging out talking to folks in the West Wing all day, along with at least one AQS instructor and several current students. Please swing by if you end up heading out to the coast that weekend. Just follow the hermit crab conga line. We look forward to seeing you!
  14. MACNA Speakers

    Great link with great links! Thanks, John.
  15. What is this thing!!?

    If that is a byssus, and I'm pretty sure it is, the animal that released it will appear to be unaffected for a few days, maybe a couple weeks but each side of the shell will probably move further and further apart while the tissue inside the animal decomposes. I sincerely hope I'm wrong about this, Z. Was anything harassing one or both of the clams?
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