For today's topic, I would like to talk about a dear friend who has shown more dedication than me in this hobby. Her name is ShuTin and she loves corals and anemones to the extreme!
I first met her back in my early Tropical Paradise days years ago. She was looking for a Cali tort colony to add to her collection of extreme sps's. Remeber back then that the tort was rare as a watermelon chalice now days. It just happened that one of my guys, Dave , had a large tort that he grew out over the years. It was actually being kept at my shop for display. Since we were going to get more large pieces from my customer that was breaking down his tank, we decided to depart with it and get something cool in trade. So we packed up the tort and made the long trek to Pacific Grove, right next to Monterey Bay California. ShuTin has a beautiful house right next to the beach. A gorgeous place to live!
As me and Dave walked into the house, we saw the bright lights from the halides shining from the kitchen area. Then right in the middle of her kitchen and living room area, was the most gorgeous sps tank that I had ever seen! Right off the bat, we noticed colonies of Acropora solitaryensises! Remember the solis were even more rare back then. She also had huge colonies of just amazing Acropora aculeus. Of course, she had the usual millis and tenuis of all colors. The tank looked to be a 300 gallon eight foot long tank, and it divided her kitchen from the living room. So the aquarium was a see through tank and can be viewed from two sides. There were acros and montis that I couldn't identify and never seen before! Me and Dave were shocked. ShuTin also had a very colorful assortment of zoos and palys, incredible reds and blues and all sorts of colors in between.
We traded her for a soli and other cool acros. I eventually ended up putting these pieces in my quad surge display tank.
Years later, ShuTin ended up upgrading her tank to a monster aquarium! Here are some quick specs of her tank:
Dimensions: 12 feet long x 8 feet wide x 6 feet tall.
Volume: 4308 gallons.
Material: 2 inch starfire glass, 4 pieces laminated together.
Lights: 8) 1000 watters and 1 400 watt.
Sump: 900 gallons.
The whole design of the aquarium was done by David Cripe of Monterey Bay Aquarium. The aquarium is actually situated in the backyard. A special roof was built to house the aquarium out of starfire glass! For more pictures and info, you can go check out her site. It has pictures of her tank being craned over her house to be positioned in! Way cool! You can also check out her photobucket site for more pictures too.
Here is my wife Anne with ShuTin standing next to the monster tank. David was smart to design the tank only to be about a foot off the ground. Even at this height, you literally have to go into the tank to service.
A huge water container sunken into the ground act as a geothermal device to help maintain water temperature.
A closer look at the "geothermal tank", wow 1200 gallons!
There are around 16 pumps running her system, couldn't count them all. Between her 8 1000 watt halides and other equipment, her electricity must be up the ying yang!!
A smart design of the overflow. It is outside the tank!
A glass roof top was built to house the aquarium. The glass is made from 1 inch thick starfire glass. ShuTin wanted to take advantage of the natural sunlight as much as possible. Pacific Grove is like SF, there are only few days of the week where the sun shines through. The rest of the days are blanketed by fog!
One of ShuTin's many useful equipments. This one is to clean tap water (R/O) for top off.
A couple of 20lbs CO2 tanks for calcium reactor. It looks like she has two reactors running at the same time.
This is the muscle that keeps the water clean. It is a huge Bubble King skimmer with 4 Red Dragon pumps! Like everything else about this system, ShuTin spared no expense and went for the best to keep her corals and anemones happy!
A peak under the skimmer cover reveals that this muscle machine is kicking butt! Although the fish load is not heavy, ShuTin feeds her fish heavy to keep them nice and happy. Between that and the number of anemones, the water quality can go down if it wasn't for this king sized Bubble King!
And here are some pictures of corals and anemones of her tank.
A nice echinophyllia chalice on the left and a small red oxypora on the right. The little green sps on the top left is a montipora capricornis. Also there is a small frag of a red montipora next to the oxypora.
Another nice chalice on the left and an encrusting orange montipora on the right (probably a nodosa species). Note the cool red centered, green rim cynarina desheysiana on the bottom. This solitary coral is often mistaken for a scolymia.
A very nice colony of a stylophora. It seemed to have yellow base with green polyps. A nice stony that doesn't get much respect in the sps world.
An assortment of acro stags. From the top, the large colony appears to be an acropora nobilis. The blue/purple one below of course is the old Blue Cali Tort. The stag that is branching out, below the tort, is from Fiji and looks to be Acropora austera. The cluster stag on the right is also an austera, just growing more natural upwards. I've seen this coral in the reefs in Tonga and most of them grow in this fashion. This is an extremely difficult coral to keep its color. The fact that they are looking so vibrant in this tank tells me that the water parameters must be in excellent shape! Also in the picture is a small colony of a deepwater tabling acro. These type of sps's grow extremely slow and I will monitor this one for its growth in the future.
A very cool piece of a diploastrea. Note the red carpet on the top left corner sitting in a bowl. A closer view of this anemone can be seen a little down the page.
Check out this huge green Merten's carpet! (Stychodactyla mertensii). It must be three feet wide when it fully opens! According to ShuTin, this is probably the best species of carpets suitable for the captive reef. I'm in the search for some nice specimens for her to propagate. Also pictured here are some of her numerous clownfish that host in the anemones. In the background are some of the propagated heteractis magnificas. I know of several reefers that have traded her for these hard to keep anemones and are doing well. For sure, propagated specimens are the way to go in these particularly hard to keep species.
A nice bright red/pink hadonni carpet. Most red carpets are giganteas and red hadonnis are particularly rare. Red carpets are notorious for not surviving in captivity, although hadonni species are much stronger than the gigantea species.
Here is even a rarer carpet, a blue metallic hadonni! This very unusual anemone came from me. In Makassar, Sulawessi, I sometimes run into this strange morph of a carpet. ShuTin actually thinks that this might be a hybrid species. The way you identify the carpet species is by the base color and structure. This one doesn't match any of the existing species. Not just that, the tentacles are exceptionally strange too. There is a purple morph that is like, one of a kind floating out there too. I've seen only two specimens in a whole year. ShuTin thinks that this species might also be a good candidate for propagation in the future.
Some awesome palys and zoos! ShuTin keeps these little gems in smaller tanks that surrounds the sump. These would easily get lost and fall between the huge rocks in the main system.
A huge colony of red palys! How many frags can you get out of this piece? While most reefers have little frags, she has huge colonies! Note the nice little purple deepwater acro colony on the upper right hand corner. I have a closer shot coming up below.
And of course, this is my true Montipora undata that Steve Tyree made famous. It came to be known as "Tyree limited edition true undata". I say true undata because at the time, there were a lot of undatas running around in the hobby. They weren't undata species but people were calling it that for marketing purposes. I remember when this coral was first acquired, it was browner than brown! As we say here in Indo, "chocolate"! But me and my guys knew exactly what it was! Sure enough a few months later, it was turning out just like the picture in Veron's coral book. I remember Steve Tyree talking to Tracy Gray from my shop telling him that it looked like the picture from the Veron's book. It was pretty exciting to see Steve excited.
Speaking of Steve, he has started a pretty cool phenomenon in the US. He has organized these farmer's market shows that are getting very popular. Just like a baseball card show, he has vendors that come from all over and showcase the goods. There are auctions and raffles to go along for the excitement. I was fortunate to go to one before I left the US. Of course I will do a write up in a few days.
Talking about montiporas, the monti behind my undata is another famous piece. Back in the early 2000, there were only a hand full of high end shops in the Bay area. One of these shops was called Lucky Goldfish. The owner's name was Hunter, a reclusive old Chinese guy. But man at the time, he had an awesome reef display tank with a surge. In the center of his tank, he had this killer montipora that was plating. Everyone knew the piece and wanted it, but Hunter would not let any piece go. It came to be known as "Hunter's piece". It wasn't until the local reef club that I was helping build called BARE (before becoming BAR) had a frag swap at my shop that I saw tiny frags of the coveted piece. It turned out that the president of BARE (his name was Matt) had managed to get a few pieces of the Montipora Spongodes that broke off accidently from Hunter's tank! Then Matt grew it out and brought tiny pieces to the frag swap. How cool was that! I ended up with a piece and grew it out and of course shared frags with my customers. For sure all the spongodes pieces out in the hobby came originally from Hunter. It is ironic that in the end, Hunter ended up loosing his piece during his shop move. I actually ended up giving him a piece of his coral from my tank. He came over and I gave him frags of many pieces from my display tank, including his old piece. He told me that I can have pieces back if I ever loose my pieces. One day, I will have to collect on that offer. I saw his tank a little over a year ago and my pieces have gotten huge! I've seen many pieces of "Hunter's piece" in many different aquariums, but never had the growth pattern like it did in Hunter's original tank. There were no nodules, but beautiful plates, totally amazing.
And here is the close up of the deep purple deepwater acropora. It is an acropora elegans, although it can pass for a plating lokani as well. Notice the fully encrusted frag of this coral on the right upper corner. ShuTin has many colonies like this and of course, she has a good sized piece of my Purple Monster.
Another elegans in the background. This one is very unique in that it is green and purple, very cool! Check out the small cluster acro in the front. The polyp extensions were insane and you can't even see the base color (metallice green). Almost looks like a "purple bansai".
A killer blue palythoa! ShuTin has many blue zoos and palys and of course she offered me frags of everything but I don't have a tank. Heck I live mostly in Indonesia for that matter. One day though, I will cash in on her offer!
Another South Pacific Acropora austera. This one looks like the ones from Tonga.
Some killer red yumas to add color and spice up the display tank!
Sorry for the blurred picture. This is one of Tyree limited montiporas. It is the sunset monti. I don't know how many times I get customers asking for this piece. People send me pictures of "limited edition pieces" all the time, thinking that somehow there are huge colonies available for picking here in Indonesia. ShuTin got this piece from Tyree a few years ago. She grew it out from a pinkie sized to this large piece.
Hidden under some macro algea, was this dendrophyllia. This species comes from the South China Sea, around Vietnam and China. A few pieces end up in the US and is very pricey. Another similar coral, the rhizotrochus is also getting popular, although the price needs to come down to make it more affordable.
A cool looking piece of a Japanese micromussa! These micros have disappeared from the hobby. In the beginning of the craze, these were being smuggled from Japan directly and some unscrupulous people made a killing. Now the authorities have caught up and all those people have disappeared. Now everyone is focusing on Australian acans. The market will come down in the future for sure on these as the supply is increasing.
One of ShuTin's propagated magnifica anemones. It is amazing how she has gotten these hard to keep anemones to propagate!
One of her original Solitaryensis pieces. ShuTin lost virtually all of her acros before from nudis to red bugs to rtns.
A huge colony of acropora formosa stag growing near the top of her tank.
And here is my wife, being dwarfed by the immense tank!
A large colony of a beautiful cyphastrea. I've seen only frags of this in recent times. The last time I saw colonies this size was back in the Tonga days.
Some more beautiful propagated ritteris. She used to have more but traded many off already to happy fellow hobbyists.
For sure, anemones dominate this beautiful aquarium, they are everywhere!
This is ShuTin's prized anemone. This red carpet is several years old and one of few that survived long term. She continues her research and experiments in these anemones to find out why they don't survive. Note she has the carpet in a bowl.
Please keep in mind that ShuTin is old enough to be a grandmother! But she is dedicated and still goes into the tank to take care of her precious animals. The long tongs comes in handy when picking up fallen corals or placing new corals! She is more dedicated than most reefers that I know. I know of times when she has cut her vacation overseas short just to come back to her corals and anemones, after hearing that one of them is not doing so well. She truly loves her animals and is very passionate.
Besides her main tank, she has these smaller tanks that surrounds the sump and she has very nice pieces everywhere. She uses these tanks to experiment or quarantine. In recent years, she has moved on from the sps's to focusing on anemones. Her true passion is to find out why certain anemones die so easily in our aquariums. ShuTin loves carpet anemones, especially of the gigantea species. But these have a horrible record of survivability in captive environments. She has done extensive research and is an expert on all anemones. One of her high achievements (in my opinion) is being able to propagate the ritteri anemones (Heteractis magnifica). These also have a hard time adjusting to artificial environments.
ShuTin and I have teamed up together. Our future goal will be to bring healthy propagated anemones to the hobby. From collection to shipping to acclimation into the captive reef, we can monitor and experiment to bring better and healthy anemones to our aquariums. She has joined me to make a difference in this hobby!