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Old 01/01/2010, 08:25 PM   #1
clsanchez77
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A different kind of reef tank: A Sonnier Bank Biotope

Hey all, Its been too long since I have been around.

After Hurricane Gustav devastated my last tank, I had to leave the hobby and have converted my 90g to a brackish tank in the mean time. I want to thank everyone who helped save my corals. I lost track of who got them all so I hope they are doing well. If any of you come across this post, please give me an update.

Anyway, my wife and I hope to be building a house in a couple of years. We have picked two plans and I have to get to work on the wind analysis and pricing to if we are building the bigger one or the smaller one.

While out of the hobby (at least the reef part), I have been trying to keep up with thinks and came up with an idea. In the past couple of decades, I lot of research and discoveries have been made on Northwest Gulf of Mexico Bank Reefs. The banks spread from Galveston to just west of New Orleans. The Flower Garden banks are the most famous and our actual coral reefs. The other banks vary in coral development.

One of the banks closest to New Orleans that features corals is Sonnier Bank and I was thinking of setting my next tank up to model after this. I was able to pull some information regarding the site from the links below:


http://www.gulfbase.org/reef/index.php?map=inset-g
http://www.gulfbase.org/reef/view.php?rid=sonnier
http://www.reef.org/db/reports/geo/TWA/24
http://www8.nos.noaa.gov/onms/park/Parks/?pID=9

I will cover ideas for aquascaping, corals and fish as separate posts. More information will follow shortly...



Last edited by clsanchez77; 01/01/2010 at 08:42 PM. Reason: Adding a link to the Flower Garden Sanctuary
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Old 01/01/2010, 08:41 PM   #2
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Sonnier Bank Reef Setup

Quote:
Sonnier Banks are located at 28.3N latitude and 92.45W longitude on the Texas-Louisiana Shelf. It is a mid-shelf bank composed of tertiary limestones, sandstones, claystones and siltstones. It appears to tolerate conditions of low light intensity and moderate turbidity better than other types of reef building corals in the northwestern Gulf. Marine life incident at the banks include fishes, sponges, molluscs and other mobile invertebrates.
Quote:
Sonnier Banks are a surface expression of salt diapers and are outcrops of relatively bare, bedded tertiary limestones, sandstones, claystones and siltstones. Several peaks arranged in an arcuate pattern from a depth of about 60 m to crest at about 20 to 58 m. The peaks and surrounding areas are composed of steeply dipping bedded rocks. The individual peaks are apparent fault blocks that have been created by the collapse of the crest of the salt diaper. Two high peaks, the northern "twin" peaks, occur in the bank. They consist of steeply dipping tertiary sandstones, siltstones and claystones. The central area of Sonnier banks consists of steep dips. At approximately 52 m depth, the bank transitions to soft bottom and the outcrops become smaller and give way to a mud bottom with loose boulders and cobbles of sandstone and siltstone, all covered with veneers of sediment.
Quote:
Biotic communities on Sonnier are typically the same as at Stetson Bank, but Sonnier populations are somewhat more abundant. The crest of Sonnier is almost entirely encrusted with fire coral (Millepora alcicornis) and the sponges (Neofibularia nolitangere and Ircina sp). The fire coral population extends downward to 40 m depth but is severely diminished below the bank's crest. Dead branches and broken pieces of fire coral occur abundantly in the unconsolidated sediment at the bases of the shallower outcrops, along with siltstone chips and fine silt and clay-sized particles. A stony coral, the saucer-shaped agariciid, occurs at a depth of 52 m. Populations of fishes and conspicuous mobile invertebrates at Sonnier Banks are diverse and abundant. Among the more numerous reef fishes are several species of large angelfishes and butterfly fishes and others typical of submerged reefs and banks in the northwestern Gulf.



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Old 01/01/2010, 09:06 PM   #3
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Sonnier Bank Aquascaping

Based on the information above, what I have in mind is a mix of sandstone, limestone and reef rock.

I would combine the plans similar to what Anthony Calfo describes as "centered single seamont" on the bottom and "two seamonts, a large and a small" on top of the single seamont (page 15 Reef Invertebrates).

The single seamont would be made of the heavier sandstone rock and built up 6" to 9" high and would occupy the entire footprint of the tank except for a 4" to 6" clear perimeter around the tank. Do not have a source for clean sandstone rock that can be used in reef tanks and will require some research. However, there are plenty sources for Cichlid tanks.

On top of this, I would use limestone rock to create the two seamont feature. The total reef height would be about 18" high. The source for the rock would be any one of the Gulf of Mexico aquacultured rock sources, for example Tampa Bay Saltwater or Florida Live Rock. Both of these sources use limestone rock for the aquaculture process so perfect. As a bonus, I will get a good source for gulf coral, sponge and algae, especially coralline.

In the areas between the two seamonts, on top of the base rock, and around the perimeter i will use some dead coral live rock, such as this from etropicals, to build up a "drowned reef" structure.

The tank will incorporate a 4" DSB around and in between the base rock to hold everything in.


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Old 01/01/2010, 09:21 PM   #4
r-balljunkie
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sounds interesting, gulf based reef setup...i know there are some reefs off galveston, didnt know off cost of LA. sounds like an interesting build. good luck with it.


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Old 01/01/2010, 09:24 PM   #5
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Sonnier Bank Corals

Regarding corals, this is where the tank becomes a different kind of reef tank. The two predominant corals is branching fire coral and fragile saucer coral.

Now gulf corals are illegal to collect or otherwise hold in the hobby. The exception is what is included on the aqua-cultured rock. However it does not appear that either coral is common on the aqua-cultured rock. I will still have some homework to do here on what facsimiles I can use for these two corals.

One contender is Pavona sp Green Cactus Coral.

Finding a good source for a yellow branching fire coral might be harder than the other.

What is notably absent from this reef is any of the soft corals, such as polys and gorgonias.


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Old 01/01/2010, 09:25 PM   #6
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Interesting concept. Very few inverts from that area are available to the hobby- it would be cool to see someone take the time to track down the proper animals to do such a unique display. Look forward to seeing it develop.


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Old 01/01/2010, 09:46 PM   #7
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Sonnier Bank Fish

This was the easy part as there is a lot information on this. Generally, what I have in mind is a school of chromis, either the Purple Reeffish or the Yellowtail Reeffish. Neither is overly common in the hobby but are obtainable from local divers. My last tank included a school of Blue Chromis. The school lasted three years until my tank crashed during a week long power outage during a hurricane. Either the purple or yellowtail chromis is the dominant planktivore depending on the source you look at.

Another planktivore I would like to include is the Bluehead Wrasse. I am not sure if I can pull off two of these in a tank but I would like to. If this is not doable, I will only go with one.

Also in the tanks, I would like to include the Reef Butterflyfish (pair if possible, otherwise a single), the red-spotted hawkfish, flame fish and maybe a wrasse bass. A redlip blenny is also a possibility.

http://aquacomm.fcla.edu/2486/1/Weaver_2pp5.pdf
http://www.reef.org/db/reports/geo/twa/2403


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Old 01/01/2010, 09:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hormigaquatica View Post
Interesting concept. Very few inverts from that area are available to the hobby- it would be cool to see someone take the time to track down the proper animals to do such a unique display. Look forward to seeing it develop.
Thanks, just be patient. I do have to build a house first.


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Old 01/01/2010, 09:49 PM   #9
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Tank size is undecided. It will be the largest I can accommodate, space and money-wise. I still have my 90g and may start with that and upgrade later. Ultimately, I want something in the 300g range but will build the house to accommodate the largest tank I can reasonably have, even if that winds up just being my 90g.

I appreciate any input anyone wants to share.


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