Life of Corals at Reefstock

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Posted Wed, Mar 1, 2017

Various corals in an array of sizes and colors. [Photo: Duane Hirschfeld]

Various corals in an array of sizes and colors. [Photo: Duane Hirschfeld]

AURORA, Colo. — Coral reefs, known as the rainforests of the sea, are diverse marine ecosystems essential not only to marine life but our entire ecosystem. It provides food and shelter for a quarter of marine life in our oceans. Billions of people around the world depend on fishing industries to feed and support their nations.

Coral life relies heavily on light, water flow and filtration, and they feed on zooplankton. The biodiversity of coral reefs ensures certain species will typically survive natural disasters. This diversity could potentially contain properties that could be used for future medicinal purposes.

On Feb. 25 & 26, spectators waded into the saltwater worlds of Reefstock event sponsored by Reef Builders, which was filled with coral markets, vendors selling state-of-the-art aquarium equipment, speakers educating people and mega starter package raffles at the Radisson hotel in Aurora. Blue aquarium lighting gave the auditorium a natural ocean-like ambience that led to tanks with multiple species of coral in an array of glowing colors. Most of the corals were cut into fragment pieces, some of which was worth hundreds of dollars.

Nicole Helgason, 31, demonstrates how to use Ecotech Marine's MP40 pump to create flow in an aquarium on Feb. 25. It's really important for corals to have light, flow and filtration. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Nicole Helgason, 31, demonstrates how to use Ecotech Marine’s MP40 pump to create flow in an aquarium on Feb. 25. It’s really important for corals to have light, flow and filtration. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

“Reef Builders is an online website,” explained Nicole Helgason, author at Reefbuilders.com, “We’ve been organizing the Reefstock event for ten years. Everyone inside is selling corals, fish and aquarium products. This show is primarily saltwater. We have about 60 vendors this year at the show. A lot of the people are selling corals for aquariums.”

Inside Reefstock, speaker Mike Paletta focused on “Current Controversies in the Hobby” and Jamie Craggs spoke about “Coral Spawning in Aquariums” on Saturday. Jake Adams discussed “Exploring for Corals in Sumbawa” and Joey Mullen held a workshop on “DIY Aquarium Accessories” on Sunday.

 Saltwater Aquariums

Fritz, one of the main sponsors of ReefStock, provided all the salt for the show. They are a chemical & engineering company out of Dallas, Texas which service agriculture, wastewater treatment, public aquariums and oil fields. The company makes a nitrifying bacteria called TurboStart, which keeps all the livestock alive.

“To make saltwater, we use RPM [reef pro mix] salt,” said Shawn Hale, representative for Fritz. “For public aquariums, it’s a lot easier because you can make 4000 – 8000 lbs at a time so it doesn’t have to be as precise. When people are making these little frag things with ten gallons of water in it and they’re just using a little bit of your salt, they want to make sure that everything is precisely as what it says on the package so we do small batches for them. We have high quality raw materials that we throw into some of the biggest public aquariums out there. We also sell thousands of gallons of TurboStart all over the world. We just did the Chinese aquarium sea life.”

Aquarium Lighting and Pumps

 Another sponsor, Ecotech Marine, makes a series of products for reef aquariums. They’re keeping the coral alive by mimicking the natural environment, using Radion Light and pumps.

 “Our Radion Light provides a full spectrum light for corals to grow and produce a very healthy animal,” described Patrick Clasen, representative for Ecotech Marine. “We also have pumps that are operated through the aquarium glass so you don’t have to have motor or electricity in the water. Those create currents in the aquariums.”

Using a remote control via app to change the color and intensity of aquarium lighting. [Photo: Duane Hirschfeld]

Using a remote control via app to change the color and intensity of aquarium lighting. [Photo: Duane Hirschfeld]

In nature, ocean currents circulate food to sea life but also take away waste. Ecotech Marine makes high-end pumps and lights, displaying one of their big pumps, the MP40, at Reefstock. It demonstrated the creation of flow in the aquarium, which is really important for corals.

“Put your hand on it [MP40]. It’s hot. You can feel it pulsing,” adds Helgason. “These are adjustable. You can change how fast the flow is going. With these, you can control everything with an app. You can program the light to start off really blue and ramp it up in the day to get a higher intensity of light. You can put a timer so everything starts automatically.”

Helgason goes on to say that in the morning, you can simulate sunrise or sunset, recreating a natural habitat. The color spectrum for freshwater is more red and warmer while people with saltwater aquariums usually want it blue.

Franco Chan explains to guests that Kessil makes a lot of lights. They also provided lights for the show, seen in tanks throughout ReefStock. [Photo: Duane Hirschfeld]

Franco Chan explains to guests that Kessil makes a lot of lights. They also provided lights for the show, seen in tanks throughout ReefStock. [Photo: Duane Hirschfeld]

Franco Chan, marketing associate for DiCon Lighting, clarified that Kessil lights are actually all done for people so they don’t have to worry about the spectrums. Color is just for visual so people don’t have to tune it to different type of colors. Blue and white basically have the same amount of spectrum.

Chan said, “We are a fiber optics company, and we use the technology transferred into everyday lighting. We start from plant light and agriculture light into aquarium light. You can see the shimmer you cannot see anywhere else because of our patented technology.”

 Aquarium Store

Jason Alahuzos, 36, explains, "We have one of the cleanest shops in town. The staff is not only knowledgeable but caring, and we love the animals. The animals come first." at ReefStock in Aurora on Feb. 25. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Jason Alahuzos, 36, explains, “We have one of the cleanest shops in town. The staff is not only knowledgeable but caring, and we love the animals. The animals come first.” at ReefStock in Aurora on Feb. 25. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Jason Alahuzos promoted “Aquatic Kingdom Aquariums,” a store in Aurora which has only been opened for a couple of months that sells tropical fish, coral, hardscapes made from stones to driftwoods and other supplies. He feels that although the big chains (such as PetSmart and Petco) have their place in the market, they’re simply unable to compete in terms of selection, quality and varieties of exotic fish and coral.

“We also are going to do tank setups at a couple of elementary schools here in town at Antelope Ridge and at Sunrise Elementary,” Alahuzos said. “We’re going to put tanks in the autism classrooms, free of charge, and we will maintain them. That way they can enjoy the fish and give them something to keep their mind off the monotony of school. We’ll be doing that in the next couple of months.”

Reefstock is more than a simple conference, it’s a tropical aquarium community. The sponsors are a tight-knit group where everyone knows each other. You get a sense that this isn’t simply their careers but a shared passion for marine biology.

For more information, visit: https://reefbuilders.com/

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Kavann Tok

About Kavann Tok

Kavann Tok is a freelance Denver-area journalist. Website: https://issuu.com/kavanntok

View all posts by Kavann Tok

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