Steve Tyree has done an excellent job of extending the ways in which currently available audio-visual media can enhance the education of the modern aquarist. As a media columnist for aquarist’s publications I have reviewed books, articles and videotapes – but this is the first time I have reviewed a compact disk full of information. Steve talks fast to get all of his information across in 60 minutes and for some of the slides he essentially reads the text presented on the screen, but all in all the CD is successful at transmitting loads of information as well as provocative hypotheses about the light requirements of corals and their observed pigmentation under differing light regimes. Much of this material was presented at the recent MACNA XVI conference in Boston, but due to the crowded presentation schedule, many of us, including myself, missed this information.
Video CD: Biological Light Requirements of Photosynthetic
By Steve Tyree
Available in Video CD format and PC CDROM executable format.
This video CD contains 79 slide images and 60 minutes of highly
The presentation starts by examining the curves representing
the light collecting capabilities of the symbiotic Symbiodinium
algae that live within photosynthetic coral cells. He then
compares these curves with the spectral output of a number of
metal halide bulbs commonly used to illuminate aquarium
In this opening section he concentrates on an examination of
the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) output of 6,500K,
10,000K and 20,000K halide bulbs and compares their respective
strengths and weaknesses with respect to coral pigmentation. He
also presents interesting notes on the effects of shading on
The main section of this presentation however is centered on
the topic of colorful coral pigmentation. Tyree discusses the
three main types of coral pigments and recent scientific research
about these pigments. In what was to me the most exciting section
of his presentation, he outlines a technique he refers to as
“Light Bracketing” which can be used by aquarists to
learn what type of pigments they have in their specific corals.
He includes discussion of the effects of “Black Light”
and UV radiation on observed coloration and fluorescence. He also
presents information on specific spectra, especially blue and
green light effects. I’m off to pick up a Black Light
tomorrow to play with, and I may get a green mini-spotlight too.
If you watch his material you may be tempted to experiment
Tyree concludes his presentation with what he believes is an
example of what he calls “pigment grafting” based on an
aquarium reef observation in which it seemed that the pigments of
one coral were “grafted” onto an adjacent colony from a
different family which it touched. If this can be replicated it
is an interesting discovery indeed with implications for
“tailored” coral colors.
The CD is available in two formats. Tyree’s advice on
playback is as follows: The Video CD format will run on any DVD
player like any DVD movie. It is best viewed on a 20-inch or
larger TV. The Video CD can also be viewed on a computer with a
DVD and DVD player software. This resolution is recommended that
for those who do not have a Windows PC or who want the comfort of
viewing this presentation on a DVD and TV set.
The presentation is also available in PC CDROM executable
format, which will auto run the presentation on a PC with Windows
XP, Windows ME, Windows 2000 or Windows 1998. Minimum system
requirements are a CDROM drive, at least 64 Megs of RAM and a 600
MHz processor. He recommends the PC CDROM format for Windows
PC’s because this format is displayed in a high resolution
format (1024 x 768) that shows greater detail.
My copy is apparently in the Video CD format. I was surprised
that slides were clearer on my TV set than on my 17″ LCD
monitor, but the clarity was not optimal in either case. The PC
CDROM version may be superior in that way.
The New Marine Aquarium: Step-By-Step Setup & Stocking
By Michael S. Paletta
This 8 1/2″ x11″ volume contains 114 pages that are
illustrated with many color photographs and informative line
drawings. An appendix containing a list of resources, a
bibliography and an index is included.
Although this book has been in my library for a few years, I
have not reviewed it for Advanced Aquarist because it is clearly
written for novices. Two recent requests for advice on setting up
new tanks, an experience I’m sure many of you have also had,
reminded me of how useful Mike Paletta’s well illustrated
handbook for planning and setting up a marine aquarium is. His
advice on starting “fish only” marine aquariums was
especially helpful for me here in Hawaii, where strict
regulations on collecting or importing corals are in effect.
Thus, while this book is not directed at advanced aquarists per
se, it is a very worthwhile item to have on your list of
recommendations for newcomers to the field and a good source of
information on the basics you may have come to take for
Mike, well known to marine aquarists, emphasizes a simplified
approach. He starts with “Getting Started” by
emphasizing good pIanning and includes a detailed checklist and
advice on aquarium budgeting. He has clear and concise
descriptions of appropriate equipment for filtration, lighting
and water movement with pros and cons for each type along with
sensible discussions of differences in cost. His material on
lighting however stops with standard output fluorescent bulbs and
does not include higher intensity – and more expensive –
lighting. The second chapter, “Saltwater Primer,”
presents the basics of the nitrogen cycle and nutrient cycling as
well as water chemistry including pH, alkalinity and salinity.
Chapter 3 covers the use of live-rock biofiltration and has a
very worthwhile discussion of aquascaping basics. Chapter 4,
“Establishing A New Aquarium,” is organized with the
“Step-By-Step” system mentioned in the book’s
title. He offers another detailed checklist and a list of common
mistakes to be avoided. This is a thorough presentation that if
followed could save new aquarists considerable grief. He
concludes the chapter with a section on what he calls “The
Barebones Desktop Tank, or Young Aquarist’s Starter
System” for a 15-20 gallon tank with fishes, ornamental
shrimp and fan worms in addition to the snail and hermit crab
clean up crew, again with a detailed checklist.
The next section is a fish-selection guide. He suggests 5
basic stocking strategies: a 40 gallon “Peaceful
Community” tank, two versions of a “Mixed
Community” tank – one for 50 gallons, the other for 75
gallons, a 90 gallon “Caribbean Community” tank and a
120 gallon “Predator/Aggressive” tank. Any of these
would make fine fish-only displays, especially with the addition
of “hardy invertebrates.” Corals are omitted from these
setups because of the use of low cost – low intensity lighting.
The book concludes with a chapter on feeding and maintenance
schedules and a final chapter on diseases and treatment.
This book can be of great help to starting marine aquarists,
and the checklist may even be of help for more advanced aquarists
advising others or setting up their own new systems. Its greatest
limitation is what can be considered overly budget-conscious
recommendations on lighting, neglecting to discuss even VHO or
compact fluorescent fixtures that would considerably extend the
range of potential inhabitants.