by Saltwater Smarts | Jun 16, 2016 | Corals, Equipment, Fish, Invertebrates, Reef, Science, TanksOne of the Rubbermaid stock tanks with calcium carbonate substrate at Tidal GardensIn 2016, the systems at Tidal Gardens are a mix of custom glass aquariums and Rubbermaid stock tanks. Originally back in 2002, all the tanks were some combination of 300-gallon and 150-gallon stock tanks because they were by far the most cost-effective containers that were truly rugged. After all, anything that was built to be strong enough to get kicked by a horse or cow should hold up to the sort of beating we dish out here. Just starting out, hundreds of gallons worth of custom glass was not in the budget, so it was important to find containers that were both rugged and economical. For that purpose, Rubbermaid stock tanks were wonderful because they were robust and cost less than $1 per gallon. Over time, though, we incorporated more glass aquariums because we found that neglect is the number-one killer of corals, and just being able to see the corals made a huge difference in their health.
by Saltwater Smarts | Oct 26, 2015 | Corals, Equipment, Fish, Opinion, Reef, ScienceMarine aquarium aquascapes are evolving to favor more open, irregular aestheticsOne of the more interesting developments in the reefkeeping hobby, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the latest, greatest gadget or advance in water-quality-management methodology. Rather, it’s an evolving aesthetic in aquascaping. Bored with the traditional monolithic stack of rocks propped up against the back pane and consuming much of the tank’s volume, modern reef hobbyists are starting to appreciate and experiment with the use of negative space—the open areas around the rockwork—when planning their aquascapes.The towering, uniform “wall of rock” has given way to lower-profile aquascaping with irregular, broken topography, allowing open channels and swim-throughs, caves and overhangs, islands, etc. And this trend makes perfect sense. Artists have long known the value of striking the right balance between positive and negative space in their compositions. With our reef systems essentially being living works of art, it stands to reason that the aesthetic principles guiding the works of painters and sculptors can only make our aquascapes all the more visually appealing. This aquascape features a broken topography and plenty of open sand What’s different about exploiting negative space in reefkeeping versus artwork is that it has both practical and aesthetic value