Reefer Madness

Sunday, November 10 2002

I’ve kept a saltwater mini-reef aquarium

for some time now. In the past year, I’ve moved it from Autobytel, to Aliso Viejo, to Oregon, and most recently, to a second location in Oregon. I’m probably going to move it within a week from the kitchen to the office at our Oregon apartment.

It goes without saying that this is a small tank, or else it wouldn’t be moving so often. 7.5 gallons to be exact. It’s needs aren’t that great – the most important things it needs are light and freshwater topoff. As water evaporates, the salt is left behind, which makes the salinity rise. Salinity needs to be maintained at a certain level for optimal “health”. It all sounds complicated, but it’s really pretty simple. Keep the water level correct, keep light on the tank, and do a water change every so often, and you’ve got a living reef, in nearly perfect balance.

Now, for some reason, the lights on the tank quit last week. They simply died, and it sent me into a panic. I really do love this tank, and enjoy the challenge it brings, as well as the serinity of watching it change slowly day by day. Giving up was not an option, so I launched into a stressful search for a replacement light.

I replaced the old lights with my dream light. A high end, German engineered 150 watt HQI Doubled Ended Metal Halide pendant. A bad ass light. Capable of pumping out over 12,000 lumens with the perfect spectrum for supreme coral growth. A bluish/white light brighter than anything I’ve ever seen. I’ve drooled over a setup like this for over seven years.

I don’t know if it was the sudden influx of jumping from 3 watts per gallon to 21 watts per gallon (which is an enourmous jump in reef terms, overkill in fact) or if it was because a route of escape was now possible, but today at lunch we found a hermit crab on our living room floor, exhausted from a pretty big journey.

In scale terms, it would be like jumping off of a twenty story building, and walking several thousand feet, all while holding your breath, and then, curling up in your shell with the last drops of air, waiting to die. Pretty crazy.

He’s back in the tank now, and hasn’t moved much, but he’s moved a little, so we’re hoping he’ll be fine. If not, the other hermits have him for dinner, which is just one of many savage things that happens in a reef aquarium.

And for those who are in the reef aquarium hobby, yes I’m going to be getting a bigger tank. A 20-30 gallon tank, to help get those watts per gallon down just a hair.