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Thread: Excerpts from Ron Shimek

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    Excerpts from Ron Shimek

    Excerpt from "Waste Extraction, the Invertibrate Way" by Ron Shimek
    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-08/rs/index.php

    "The animal poops it out, and from then on the scavengers/detritivores get rid of it." This is, of course, a very concise way of thinking about the elimination of uneaten food from the digestive tract. Unfortunately, it has nothing at all to do with what biologists consider to be waste. Not to put too fine a point on it, but fecal matter is nothing more than uneaten, partially digested and processed food.

    "Actual waste materials are something else altogether. Strictly speaking, to a biologist, only a couple types of materials are truly waste materials. These are the byproducts of cellular respiration and protein metabolism, which in most animals, are carbon dioxide and ammonia, respectively.

    [scrubbers remove ammonia and carbon dioxide; skimmers do not]

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    Re: Excerpts from Ron Shimek

    Excerpt from "Feeding The Reef Aquarium", by Ron Shimek
    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-02/r ... /index.php

    "It will become apparent that many of the problems we have with reef aquaria, such as excess nutrients, excessive growth of undesirable algae, and the inability to keep some animals alive and healthy is simply due to the feeding of inappropriate foods, compounded by feeding in the wrong manner.

    "Bacteria, in fact, are an important food for most benthic or bottom-dwelling marine animals. This is because bacteria have higher nitrogen to carbon ratios in their cells than do either typical animals, plants or algae. As a consequence, many marine animals are specialized to eat bacteria, either directly out of the water column or indirectly as a frosting on sediment or detritus particles.

    "One quite good study discussing zooplankton availability and concurrent feeding by planktivorous reef fishes has been published (Hamner, et al., 1988) [...] These researchers examined a reef [and found that] during a 12 hour period [in a section of reef only 3 feet wide, there were] 1,098,000 potential food items, about 70 percent of which are copepods and larvacean tunicates.

    "A large amount of the zooplankton food that would have impinged upon the reef does make it to the reef, albeit modified into the form of fish feces. This [waste] is rapidly ingested by corals and other benthic animals.

    "Also, what is apparent is that the fish eat ALL the plankton approaching the reef. NONE of it will reach the reef during the day when the fish are feeding.

    "All of these fishes[listed in this article] eat large amounts of crustacean prey, particularly copepods.

    "From this study, it is apparent that these fish are feeding continuously throughout the daylight hours. They are eating small items, but on the average they eat an item of food every three minutes, all day, during a twelve hour day. During that period they eat an average of two grams of food per day. [...] On the average, if you wish your fish to have the same mass of food that they are likely to eat in nature, presuming the data of Hamner et al., 1988, is applicable to other fishes, you should feed each fish in your aquarium that is the average size of a damsel fish, the equivalent of about 70% of a cube of this food per day. Large fishes would get proportionally more.

    "During the day on a natural reef, it appears that virtually no moderately large zooplankter would reach the coral on the reef's face [because they are eaten by the fish]. Nonetheless, this area would be bathed in a diffuse rain of particulate organic material derived from fish feces [waste], dissolved material and microzooplankton.

    "All aquarists may significantly control the amount of particulate food in their aquarium. This food will mimic either the zooplankton or the particulate organic material components of coral reef feeding dynamics. For the animals in a system to be healthy, those animals must be fed foods that more-or-less duplicate the qualities of their natural foods, and they must be fed in a more-or-less normal matter. Reef aquarium foods and feeding regimes tend to fail rather spectacularly on both accounts.

    "The standard reef aquarium is probably fed once about once a day (Shimek, 2002), and the average daily feeding ration weighs 15.39 15.90 grams, or roughly a half of an ounce, wet weight, of food. On a natural reef, this would be enough to provide roughly eight damsel fish with their normal daily allotment of food. Unfortunately, this amount of food all occurs effectively at once (or over a very short period) in an aquarium, whereas on a natural reef it would occur over a 12 hour period. Additionally, aquarium food is a relatively high-protein material. When most reef fish\es encounter planktonic patches of food, they eat voraciously, and material gets passed through their guts in a rapid manner resulting in incomplete digestion. This is precisely what happens to many fish in an aquarium when it is fed. If you watch some of your plankton feeding fishes, such as clown fish or damsels, you will see that shortly after the initiation of feeding they start defecating food at an increased rate. In effect, they are pumping food through their guts. The faster the passage of the food through the gut, the less the fish get from it. Perhaps in nature this doesn't matter, as the food is always coming at them. In the aquarium, this effect could be quite deleterious.

    "In aquaria, fish that naturally feed consistently on small particulate material throughout the day are being forced to exist on bulk feedings once a day or with less frequency. Under such conditions, the animal is going through continuous cycles of near starvation followed by satiation followed by near starvation. This cyclic feeding simply must have a deleterious effect on the fish. Under such situations one could expect lower than normal growth rates, higher stress, increased susceptibility to disease and possibly problems with nitrogen metabolism.

    "The amount of food impacting on the [natural] reef over the course of a day is substantial. Over a section of a natural reef about three feet on side, flows a continuous flood of water carrying with it about 2,000,000 food items with an aggregate weight of about two pounds in a 24 hour period. These tiny food items would be like a rain of diffuse nutrition on the reef and reef animals, particularly the fish.

    "It is apparent that coral reef planktivorous fishes, and this is most of those kept in aquaria, would benefit from changes to the normal aquarium feeding regimen. They should be fed by some sort of continuous feeding apparatus. The food dispensed by such an apparatus should be particulate in nature, and very small. The largest sizes should probably be on the size of a brine shrimp or smaller. Such food need not be specifically formulated to be highly nutritious: Rather it should be of low to moderate nutritional value. If aquarium fish are able to eat more continuously and slowly, they will get much more nutrition out of each food item than they do now. Feeding a low quality food should result in significantly less nutrient accumulation than is now commonly seen in tanks.

    "In effect, we need to turn our feeding regime on its head. Rather than feeding a small amount of highly nutritious food once a day, we should be feeding a large amount of low nutrient value food frequently. Such a feeding regime as this should reduce significantly the amount of pollution effects in reef aquaria. Additionally, there would not be a daily pulse of nutrients to temporarily overwhelm the biological filter. In turn, there would less potential growth of problem algae and the development of a more balanced and easily controlled assemblage of animals within the tank.

    [Skimmers remove plankton, particulates, and copepods]

    [Scrubbers add copepods, and don't remove plankton or particulates]

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    Re: Excerpts from Ron Shimek

    Taken from "It's In The Water", by Ron Shimek
    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-02/r ... /index.php

    [Aquarists have] the feeling that organisms somehow "use up," "change," or "consume" many of these [trace] chemicals, and in doing so, forever remove the chemicals from the reef aquarium system. This assumption is not completely false, some chemicals are "used up" and removed from the system, but most are not. Organisms are dynamic entities, and while some chemicals are temporarily sequestered away, such chemicals generally remain available in the system due to metabolic turnover. The only real exceptions to this as far as organisms are concerned are those chemicals, such as calcium, which get incorporated into an insoluble matrix.

    Several trace elements are found in elevated concentrations in aquarium water [Table 2; Figure 2]. Some of these metals have extremely high concentrations relative to NSW; tin has already been mentioned as having concentrations over 200,000 times above normal, but Thallium, Titanium, Aluminum, Zinc, Cobalt, Antimony, and Copper all have concentrations of over 95 times normal.

    Several of the trace metals varied in concert, particularly Cobalt, Tin, Zinc, Titanium, Copper and Vanadium, and lower but still positive correlations with Nickel and Aluminum are found. All of these metals are found at concentrations far above those of natural sea water. Some of these concentrations are almost unbelievably high. Tin has an average concentration in our systems of over 200,000 times greater than in natural sea water.

    Increases in many of these same metals are correlated with the age of the tank. One explanation for that pattern would be that they may build up with the passage of time.

    The older tanks also have more ammonia, nitrate/nitrite, phosphorus, iodine and copper than younger tanks.

    Many of the trace element concentrations are lower than they are in freshly made up artificial sea water. Whether this indicates organism use, or abiotic chemical reactions, is unclear. Even though these levels are lower than in "fresh" artificial sea water, they are still very much higher than in natural sea water, and may still indicate a cause for concern.

    [scrubbers remove metals; skimmers do not]

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    Re: Excerpts from Ron Shimek

    Excerpts from "Our Coral Reef Aquaria - Our Own Personal Experiments in the effects of Trace Element Toxicity" by Ron Shimek
    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-08/r ... /index.php

    "Trace elements in heightened concentrations are considered to be poisons, nothing more, nothing less, by every researcher examining them."

    "With regard to arsenic (when found), copper, nickel, tin, and zinc, the average tank water must be considered as being polluted with heavy metals."

    "The water from the average reef tank is clearly dangerous to the organisms put into it [because of too many trace elements]."

    "What causes these excessively high trace metal concentrations? Initially, the problem occurs with artificial seawater mixes that have abnormally high concentrations of these materials [...] Also, there is inadequate export of the materials due to any number of causes, but including such factors as poor skimming, inadequate water changes, and inadequate biomass export. Finally, in some cases well-meaning, but ill-advised aquarists often add supplements containing unknown quantities of some trace elements."

    "There are NO data that any trace element additions are beneficial, and for any trace element for which there are data, excess amounts are detrimental. No adequate test kits exist for the vast majority of these materials, and few supplements list their ingredients in a trustworthy manner. Consequently, it is prudent not to add any at all to a system."

    [Scrubbers remove metals]

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