Most reefers have heard of Spectrum fish food, made by New Life International, Inc. Seasoned reefers may know that the founder and owner is Pablo Tepoot. Pablo has been keeping fishes since well before I was born, working with freshies and salties. Back in the ’90s I drooled over his Cichlid books. Fast forward a decade to me gawking over a video of a fish-only aquarium housing dozens of species ranging from tangs, large angels, moorish idols, parrotfish, butterflyfish… all thriving solely on Spectrum pellet fish food. Pablo’s feet are deeply entrenched in the industry these days; I relish the opportunity to speak with him at show’s we’re both attending. Recently the one and only Bob Fenner paid Pablo a visit and shared pictures of his reef. However it wasn’t the aquarium that caught my attention, it was the thriving outdoor mangrove refugium.
Mangroves have garnished their fair share of attention for being an option for natural nutrient export, generally housed within a refugium of sorts. What some reefers miss is that while they can be phenomenal exporters, the tiny twigs available to most hobbyists will do about as much nutrient export as sneezing into one’s tank. It has been shown that macro algaes are far superior to mangroves for nutrient reduction in most circumstances.
Mangroves are trees that get very big with an incredible root structure which creates habitats for a plethora of animals in nature. Sticking them in a little pile of mud in a small section of your sump is not an ideal situation for them. However Pablo’s approach widened my eyes and got the gears turning. As Bob explains, these red mangroves (Rhizopora sp.) are grown outdoors, hydroponically, in concrete vats. These vats are connected to his 1,800 gallon reef aquarium. Phosphate reading was ~0.03 ppm, Nitrate ~3 ppm. This is the sole source of phosphate removal, no lanthanum chloride or GFO is being used, which is unusual in system of this size.
Photo and info credit to Bob Fenner. Thanks for sharing Bob, keep up the great work Pablo!