Friday, September 25, 2009

Aquaculture in Bali Part 7 - Acropora milleporas!

Hello everyone. For today I would like to talk about one of my favorite acropora species - the milleporas. The color and morph diversity of these gorgeous sps species is unbelievable in Indonesia. For sure the Indo millis are the best around. I know South Pacific counterparts from Fiji or Tonga cannot match up. Coincidentally the colors and morphs differ from different regions of Indonesia. The following collection is from Northern Bali, Serangan Island Bali, and the 1000 islands off of Java. These are the primary areas of Indonesia that have established aquaculture areas by the government. All the pictures are taken under t5's with no photoshopping. The corals themselves look much better under 20k halides though.

Before we get into the millis, let's talk about a strange and rare invert that was brought to my attention recently.

My supplier called me up and asked me if there was such a thing as a cocoworm that had no feathers, instead looking more like a snail. After I told him that there is no such thing as a "headless" cocoworm, my supplier jumped up and down telling me that it was a snail in a cocoworm's body. I asked how many pieces he had. He said that he only had 10 pieces but can get more. I told him to save all ten pieces and I would go take a look.

By gosh darn it! My supplier was right, it looked like a snail or a slug had made a home inside a cocoworm's empty shell. However upon close observation, it seemed that this snail or a slug or a nudibranch was meant to be housed in this calcareous circular shell. It never comes out to eat so how does it survive? All the snails and slugs that I know need to graze on something for nutrition.

After a night of observation, I was convinced that this strange animal never came out and nature intended it to be stationary. After doing some research I learned that this strange snail (it is a true snail) is called a worm shell. It secretes calcareous enzymes to make the shell and forms a web to catch plankton! Holy mackerel that is just too cool! Unlike most snails though, this cool little buddy lacks the operculum (the hard structure that snails use as a door to protect itself).
Wow, the mystery had been solved. But still what to call this new discovery? I have nick named it "spiderman worm", as it spins a web and lives in a tube like a worm.

Just tells you how diverse the reef life is in Indonesia. I must say that the worm shell is pretty rare as no one has seen it before in Indo. The fishermen who found it must have gotten lucky and found a small batch. I'm sure that we will see more of this very cool creature being available in the hobby soon!

One of the bread and butter acros in the hobby - the pink milli!

Insane blue and purple milli!

Yellow green with purple tips - nice!

Yellow green with bluish tips!

Pink purple raspberry milli - sweet!

Pink purple with blue tips - nice!

Dark purple with bluish tips - gorgeous!

Bright pink with yellow tips - 1000 island staple!

Green purple milli - way cool!

Purple raspberry milli - killer!

Branching purple blue milli - cool!

Cobalt blue milli - beautiful!

Strange corallites on this pink purple milli - stunning!

Pink purple milli - nice!

Purple blue branching milli - wow!

Yellow green blue with green polyps - sweet!

Purple blue milli - oh yah!

Pink branching milli - nice!

Blue milli - nice!

Purple blue milli - cool!

Green milli - typical and most abundant of all milleporas.

Green with orange corallites and green polyps - sizzling!

Super blue milli - killer!

From Northern Bali, blue green milli - nice!

Blue with cobalt blue tips - super!

Pink purple from Serangan - cute!

Cobalt purple and pink milli combo - sexy!

Pink and orange with green polyp - sweet!

Pink and purple mini colony milli - nice!

Strange blue milli stag - unusual growth pattern - tips are bright blue - sweet!

Purple blue milli - wow!

Raspberry purple milli - beautiful!

Red purple with blue tips milli - nice!

Blue/purple milli anyone? Nice!

Raspberry purple milli - sweet!

Sky cobalt blue milli - nice!

Raspberry purple milli - sweet!

Ultra super blue milli - gorgeous!

Purple blue milli - beautiful!

Raspberry blue tips milli - super!

Super blue milli - killer!

Raspberry blue tips milli - gorgeous!


Ok guys that is it for today and this post concludes the "Aquaculture in Bali" series. We will go back to some killer wild corals on the next post. I hope you have enjoyed my videos and pictures.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Aquaculture in Bali Part 6 - Video 2

Hi everyone. So it seems you fellow reefers are liking my videos. I'm glad to give you a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. Like I mentioned before, this is an area where not too much attention is given in public media like magazines, books, or even the internet. I used to search online endless nights, years ago, for information on such topics as these I'm covering now. When I do my posts, I put myself in your shoes - as a fellow reefer. If I like what I'm seeing and writing, then I can feel comfortable that reefers around the world will also be enjoying.

I tried to upload this video many times but had such problems with uploading with slow internet connection. But finally it is up. Enjoy!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Aquaculture in Bali Part 5

Hello everyone. So let's continue our journey to find the best aquaculture corals in Bali. Normally when I prepare a shipment, I first make the trip up to Northern Bali for the deeper water species. Then I look for the shallow water types at the famous island called Serangan, also known as Turtle Island. The island is linked to the mainland by a man made rode. Besides the farming of corals, this place is famous for surfing.

Here are links to a couple of videos - enjoy.
Bali aquaculture video 6
Bali aquaculture video 7

As we were heading for the beach to meet up with the aquaculture farmers, we stopped by a little store to buy some drinks. Nearby some locals were busy sorting out fish from the catch night before.

Lyre tail red groupers are on the top of menus when it comes to groupers. Steamed Hong Kong style, they are the best!

The fish are sorted and weighed. Each species goes for a different price.

The strawberry groupers tend to be a little smaller but is much more expensive than the drab colored ones.

As an avid fishermen, (my other passion) it really interests me to find what kinds of fish are being caught. One of my favorite outings is a visit to the local fish market. I did some posts about these cool places in the earlier days of posting. Here is the link to one of the posts, and another.

When I was just getting into keeping saltwater aquariums, the clown trigger fascinated me. People often ask me what would be my perfect aquarium. I always tell them that besides a full blown sps reef, a fish only tank with one fish - a show sized bull clown trigger. A 20 inch specimen is unbelievably beautiful, besides I like to catch crabs and watch it eat!

So my heart sank when I saw this gorgeous little dude or dudette sitting among the past night's catch. It had been speared at night while sleeping. Spear fishing by the way is just a great experience. Back in the Tonga days, I used to go out with my divers snorkeling at night in the shallow reefs. Back in those days, we mostly caught tangs and parrotfish, with an ocasional king kong sized porcupine puffer or an eel. This clown trigger was only about 10 inches but fat and beautiful. They call these triggers "chicken fish" here in Indo. They have this chicken like texture and flavor when cooked, and quite good! I have never eaten a clown trigger though, it would go against my religion!

Also sitting on ice were these 7 to 8 inch niger triggers. First time I've seen nigers with red vampire teeth in Indo. I used to see these coming out of Solomon Islands years ago.

A unicorn tang is typical in a night's catch.

To give you an idea of how big the unicorn tang is, check out the 10 inch clown trigger in front of it. The tangs are all meat and grilled is the favorite way to cook them in Indo! If you were in Hong Kong, you would steam this beast. If you were in Tonga, boiling them is the popular thing to do. Not much taste but the fish itself has good flavor.

By the time we got to the beach, the tide was going out - perfect for selecting aquaculture corals.

So somewhere out here, corals are being farmed.

A nice stag, can't really see the full colors as the sun was shining bright over. Green with purple tips - very nice!

Large F1 generation of Acropora milleporas. These are used as broodstock.

A deep purple acro that resembles the "purple bonzai". Strange as the similar looking coral Acropora plana or the desalwii can only grow in the deeper waters of Northern Bali. This coral develops into a super deep purple with fluorescent green along the sides under 20k's!

Acropora tenuis is one of my favorites. The different color morphs that I find are truly amazing! This one is yellow with blue - purple tips.

Another nice tenuis with green yellow with raspberry tips!

Seriotopora birdsnest are typical in pinks. There are two species here, the hystrix (pink) and the caliendrum (normally yellow to green). Sometimes you get lucky and find one that has funky colors like green yellow with purple polyps!

Ok so when I spotted this little guy, I was shocked out of my mind! It looks like a tenuis species but may not be. It is an amazing coral, with dark green and raspberry tips on the corallites, I couldn't wait to see it under some 20k's. For acros and montis, I'm a true believer in the halide 20k's. In the recent years, t5's have become popular and many reefers are keeping sps under these fluorescents. But I got to tell you, in my experience, there is no comparison how the coral looks - 20k's is the way to go.

This is what it looks like out of the water. From the looks of it, this guy has been growing for a while.

Not all corals are really nice. As a matter of fact, most of the corals grown are mostly green and yellow. Why? Because these are readily more available as brood stock and tends to be stronger. I saw many non green or yellow dead or dying corals on the racks.

Dull colored purple acros are common also. I am currently working with the fishermen to educate them on the more desired species. My goal is to slow down production on the not so popular ones and focus more on the favorable ones. Even after years of doing this, the local fishermen really don't know much, because they were never taught.

Some large tenuis brood stock ready for clipping.

Another cool little staghorn acro. The corallites resemble a hoeksemai.

Acropora secale is one of the popular species that is being farmed. The colors range though from dull purple to super duper! Must had pick these to get the better colors.

A view from below water. These large acros are f1 and even f2 broodstock.

A nice purple acropora. Really hard to tell because of the sun and the water being so shallow.

Have a look at this little cool dude! These humilis - gemnifera type of acros are not common on the aquaculture racks. Part of the reason is that they are bulky and grow slow.

A yellow purple tipped tenuis!

Check this out, these are two different millepora color morphs growing side by side.

Here is that purple bonzai looking cluster acropora again.

Sure looks like a tenuis species but I think it is not. Strong yellow green base with purple tips - nice!

The aquacultures are bagged individually to be taken to our holding facility.

Here is that strange beautiful tenuis looking acro. Even in the sun light, you can still make out the colors.

A basket of my hand picks! Note the little purple one, perhaps another purple monster in making:) Both Steve Tyree and my purple monster is the same species, most likely an Acropora lokani. The little purple one is definitely a lokani!

Another basket of my picks. It is hard to tell you how beautiful these pieces look as the sun goes down. It will be truly amazing under 20k's!

And here I am - hard work but someone's got to do it:)

By the time we got back to shore, the sun had already set. After hours of coral searching, a cup of noodles is sure hard to beat! I lived off of these "Pop Me" Indonesian noodles in Tonga. For a long time I couldn't get used to the local food in Tonga, so these kept me alive. When I first got to Indo, I saw these at the stores. I was like "hey I know those"!


Ok guys that is it for today. Yes I know it is hard work and boring, but heck someone has to do it if customers are to have good corals:). It is either this, or simply order 300 pieces from the fisherman. And for sure, you will end up with 75% plain colors that nobody wants.

People often ask me why my prices are higher than others when it comes to aquacultures. I simply tell them that you get what you pay for. And I have to tell you that not too many people are out there hustling and bustling and educating the fishermen, like I am. After a tiring day, I can sleep sound in knowing that I did make a difference in this hobby, as my hand picked corals will soon be in the tanks of fellow reefers!


Aquaculture Northern Bali

November Corals Collection Part. 1

November Corals Collection Part. 2

Aquaculture - November Shipment

Coral Showcase - September 2008 Inventory

Holding Facility's Corals Collection Showcase 2007