Hello everyone. Today is day nine, and we are packing!
After running around town doing errands, like getting money and paying cargo, I stopped at this cafe to get something to eat.
Pretty nice inside. Back five years ago me and my business partner used to have a breakfast meeting here every morning.
I ordered this pasta with clams and garlic bread. Simple egg breakfast was not going to keep me going all day at packing. So I filled up with lots of carbs!
I got a water to go. You probably recognize this brand from Starbucks and other high end cafes and grocery stores. It is bottled in Fiji and readily available in Tonga. The story goes that once Tom Cruise was seen on TV drinking this water. Afterwards, the demand for this water sky rocketed. Coca-cola soon bought out the Fiji company.
I got to the Fisheries facility and my guys were preparing for the pack. Here natural seawater is being filtered through a micron bag for packing water.
The night before, selected corals are floated. Leather corals, acros, and euphyllias are the ones that does best floated.
Assorted soft corals ready to be bagged. We like to collect these early in the week. Tongan softies are very sensitive when it comes to packing, so they must be well quarantined.
Out of 100 softies, only half may be good enough to send. Others will have slight damage or have melted. We like to put the damaged ones in the raceway gutters where there is fast flow from all the overflows from the tanks. Most recover in a week and good to go. Overall, the trick to get these sensitive softies to arrive alive is to quarantine them for a good period of time. The softy pictured is the famous Tongan yellow leather.
This Sinularia sp, locally called spaghetti leather, is the most sensitive among the leather family in Tonga (exception is the xenia). But if it arrives in good condition overseas, they do great in aquariums. Indo softies for the most part are very easy to ship compared to Tongan ones. For those of you that don't know, xenias are really hard to ship. Reefers sometimes refers to them as "weeds" because they grow so fast. But what they don't know is that wild xenias require huge amounts of water and oxygen to be shipped, even then the survival rate is very low. But once again, if they arrive in good condition, they are bulletproof!
The finger leather, this lobophyton is becoming very popular from Tonga. These come in yellow and green with green polyps. Sometimes a total brown with super metallic green polyps will be found. These are insane looking!
I ordered from locals some inverts. I asked for small turbo snails and these Tongan sized ones were brought to me. Too big for aquarium use and my divers ended up taking them home for dinner.
Plastic bags for packing. The big problem about Tonga is that everything has to be brought in from overseas. Everything from rubber bands to boxes, the costs are high. Not like here in Indo, where everything is readily available.
Corals to be shipped are placed into the packing tank. Here they sit while the water cools down. Good to have the corals get acclimated to the cooler water before packing.
Carbon is used to keep toxins at bay. Soft corals especially will benefit from the carbon. A little spoon full is used on the softs, while half the amount is used on hard corals.
After the coral is packed, it is placed in another bigger bag before being placed in the box. During flight the bag will expand and then deflate when the plane descends. It is at this point that the bags can collapse and end up laying on its side (or even burst), spilling the water out. So the extra outer bag helps to keep the water from spilling all over. Note the floating carbon pieces!
A scale to weigh the boxes. Our boxes weigh around 27-30 kilos each. In Indonesia, normal weight is 22-23 kilos, but again we use bigger boxes from Tonga.
After a hard day of packing it was time to get some grub. We hit a local fast food place and my guy ordered this barbecue combo - chicken and hot dog with coleslaw and rice.
Ok guys that is it for today. I am posting this from Bali.
People have often told me that I should not post certain trade secrets (like packing protocols), that my enemies will take advantage. But my feeling is that if it helps to get corals alive to overseas where the end user, the reefers (you guys) can enjoy a healthy coral, then it is all good. My goal for this blog is to educate and share information on what goes behind the scenes of the aquarium trade. Remember from my first post, I am here to try to make a difference in the industry.