[Coral-List] An Observation

Jon Skrapits jon at treasurecoastcorals.com
Fri Feb 1 09:44:35 EST 2013

Hey Dennis,

Agreed that diving isn't a boondoggle. I was merely implying that it takes
many dives to learn about eutrophication and the impact of nutrients on a
reef vs setting up an aquarium and seeing the effects in short
order(weeks). Granted, the learning curve of aquaria hasn't been that great
either. Many corals and fish have perished from a lack of understanding how
to care for them. However, now I farm 600 species of hard and soft coral
while other commercial operations farm clownfish and many other species in
favor over wild harvest. Money is made but lessons are learned fast because
of that. When variables are in question for studying animals in their
natural or non-natural enviornment it is surely difficult to be 100%
accurate but..... If I release fido to the wild he is more likely to perish
because of domestication while fish may have this issue corals most likely
do not. Aquaculture should be supported more and considered to be a more
viable source for scientific information because you must create a
"perfect" enviornment for the corals to thrive. Corals can be placed back
into the wild and be minimally stressed if the ocean they are idigenous to
is accepting.

Also, you are right. I am aware that the two algae are different and I have
seen where coralline is a requirement of a healthy ecosystem. It is useful
or even required for micro algae to flourish on top of the coralline which
promotes grazing by the herbivores. Surgeonfish will pick at the coralline
all day when there is nothiung to be seen by human eyes yet they are very
healthy and almost obese. This seems to be very true in the genus
Ctenocheatus I have never seen a healthy aquarium that had macro algae
growing amongst the corals/rocks. In fact, when I see clumps of bryopsis
and other macro algae, the herbivores are very thin in most cases and
sometimes suffer from HLLE(head and lateral line erosion) or other symptoms
of malnutrition. The fix in aquaria is to cut back on nutrient introduction
even though it would seem the answer is to feed the fish more. That is
actually the cause of the ecosystem collapsing. Cutting back nutrient
introduction while balancing chemistry(specifically Ca and Mg of course the
ocean does not have this issue) allows coralline to grow and allows the
fish to naturally graze. This also keeps the water column clean unless
there is an excess of nutrients. This is why I suggest non-harvest as a
dangerous path. It takes weeks/months to fix this in aquaria but how long
is the healing process in the wild? Decades? Longer?

I always ask this question: Are the Elkhorn and Staghorn Acropora
rebounding since they were listed? Mariculture efforts are being done but
if the ocean isn't accepting, why are we trying to force it? If
preservation is the key, we need to study them as fast as possible and come
up with solutions to change our habits. I am sure we agree on that but the
disagreement comes when aquaculture/aquaria is discarded as a hobby and not
looked at as a possible way to learn about these animals fast. Why not make
grad students keep an Acropora alive in a small aquarium? Better yet, get
it to grow over a semester. That will teach them much because they will
soon find that the ecosystem needs to be a bit more complete in order for
the Acropora to grow.

On Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 9:01 AM, Dennis Hubbard
<dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu>wrote:

> Hi John:
> While agree with your point about the error in assuming that banning
> corals in tanks will not save them, I'm not sure that allowing them in
> tanks will have any greater measure of positive impact. Also, I'm not sure
> I'd characterize an afternoon dive to take measurements or conduct
> experiments as a boondoggle (even though that's not what I do for a
> living). There has always been tension between the fact that you just can't
> do controlled experiments in the wild versus significant scaling issues in
> microcosms. Both have serious flaws, but as long as we acknowledge them, I
> think we're on sound footing.
> Walter Adey showed the pattern described in your citation 30 years ago
> and, unfortunately, I have not seen it prominently acknowledged among all
> the back-and-fort over the years about the role of nutrients (although I'm
> sure many on the list can point me to such references within their
> specialty journals). One small point (and probably just an unintended
> juxtaposition in your post) - coralline algae (second para) and turf algae
> (cited in first para) are not the same organisms. I mention this only
> because I see the two conflated in the literature and am aggravated by the
> fact that so many "experts" get this wrong.
> Dennis
> On Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 10:22 PM, Jon Skrapits <
> jon at treasurecoastcorals.com> wrote:
>> Listers,
>> >From the link:
>> "An overall negative relationship between fleshy macroalgae and
>> slow-growing reef-building organisms (i.e. scleractinians and crustose
>> calcareous algae) was recorded, suggesting competition between these
>> organisms. The opposite trend (i.e. positive relationships) was recorded
>> for turf algae and the two reef-building organisms, suggesting beneficial
>> interactions and/or co-occurrence mediated by unexplored factors. Turf
>> algae cover increased across the region between 2006 and 2008, while
>> scleractinian cover showed no change. The need of a continued and
>> standardized monitoring program, aimed at understanding drivers of change
>> in community patterns, as well as to subsidize sound adaptive conservation
>> and management measures, is highlighted."
>> I see this everyday in my aquaculture facility. Eutrophication plays a
>> much
>> bigger role than some things discussed in the die off of reefs. The amount
>> of excess nutrients needed for macro algae to become dominant over micro
>> or
>> calcareous algae is very small. A line crossed easily in aquaria. It is
>> not
>> apparent in the wild to the human eye when looking at turbidity. If you
>> can
>> see the turbidity it is already way past the point of a healthy balance.
>> It
>> takes skill to see elevated nutrients it in an aquarium where there is
>> little debris in the water. If coralline algae is to grow, it needs little
>> competition from macro algae because they can out compete coralline. The
>> reef (ecosystem)needs micro algae to filter the water daily with the light
>> and nutrients available, leaving the water clear for better photo periods.
>> Then die at night and relase waste into the water for polyps and
>> zooplankton to feed. At least this is what I suspect from my farming
>> operations obeservations.
>> Banning corals from the aquarium trade will not save them. We can learn
>> much more from these animals and how they live from laboratories. An
>> afternoon dive seems to be a bit of a boondoggle in comparison but is
>> needed.
>> http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0054260
>> --
>> Thanks,
>> Jon Skrapits
>> Treasure Coast Corals, Inc.
>> Grow em instead of leaving em.
>> _______________________________________________
>> Coral-List mailing list
>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> --
> Dennis Hubbard
> Dept of Geology-Oberlin College Oberlin OH 44074
> (440) 775-8346
> * "When you get on the wrong train.... every stop is the wrong stop"*
>  Benjamin Stein: "*Ludes, A Ballad of the Drug and the Dream*"



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