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Old 11/03/2015, 11:02 AM   #101
aznflyfisherman
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Innovation micro 30g cube?

Hi, i was wondering if anyone has this tank in white? If so how do you like and it and if you can post a picture with your setup. I was thinking about getting this with the ai prime. Thanks...


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Old 11/03/2015, 04:47 PM   #102
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Anyone snorkel at fort zachary taylor? I will be taking a cruise into key west this week and am thinking about trying some snorkeling there
Its more of a beach park. It does have some breakwaters right off beach that are swimmable, but expect to see mainly fish here, not coral or patch reef. Great spot to "learn" someone snorkeling in a comfortable environment.

Sincerely,

David


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Old 11/04/2015, 07:39 AM   #103
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Tuesday was breezy, but I was willing to take out the Zodiac... unfortunately my wife wasn't, so we went to the 'Horseshoe' again as it's always got some area with calm water. This time we headed out far to the northeast, away from the Horseshoe to see what we would find. As we got further and further away, about 200+ yards, the grasses thinned out and we started to see more signs of small stony corals, small sponges and a surprising number of Condy anemones (given they are now on the protected list). At 300-400 yards we were getting toward the northeast end of the island, Spanish Harbor Key. There is a sea wall at that end and we swam up to take a close look... not much there except for some 1' to 2' Gorgonians. We headed back out from the sea wall a good distance and then turned back toward the Horseshoe. I collected a small sample of encrusting gorgonian, a 14" sample of a thick stem gorgonian, a large brown & white brittle star and a small pale blue serpent star. There were emerald crabs all over the place and a surprising percentage of them were the ruby Red variety. I collected one good size Ruby Red crab. I also found one quite small, bright yellow sea cucumber for my shallow reef tank. I know sponges can be very difficult to keep in home aquariums, but I want to try. So I collected a small orange and a small purple, both only a bit bigger than a 25 cent piece. Small sponges like that were everywhere among the stony finger coral.

The water was fairly shallow, 2' to as much as 4' in some spots. We were a bit surprised to see a couple of black, long spine urchins. They seem to favor the ocean side of the islands we snorkel off of. However, we were closer to the end of the island where the current flow is stronger at tide change, so maybe more like the environment on the ocean side. We were there just as high tide was starting to flow, but the current was hardly noticeable. The water was clear, it was mostly sunny and we had a good time.

We'll see what Wednesday brings (more wind) and we'll get to photos (Elaine's specialty) when we get home.


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Old 11/05/2015, 06:04 AM   #104
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Wednesday was considerably more windy, so we didn't use the Zodiac, in fact, we didn't even go snorkeling. We did go to Spanish Harbor Key again. The intention was to look for an easy way into the water on the other side of the island from the Horseshoe (the south side at the northeast end of the island). Last time we went there the rocky entry to the water was totally covered in seaweed so it was hard to see where to walk. This time the rocks were totally clear and even finding a path of higher, dry rocks around the tidal pools was easy. BTW, the tide pools were full of thousands, maybe tens of thousands of tiny black shell cerith snails. But the ESE wind was really stirring things up, so there was little point to getting in the water.

The Florida Parks & REc people have been busy in the area as well. There is now an asphalt path (bike path?) that goes down to the northeast end of the island and wraps around under the US-1 bridge and back over to the Horseshoe parking area. There is a cool foot bridge that runs up high along the side of the road, above the mangroves on that side. I'll post some photos when we get home.

We also considered putting the boat in at Bahia Honda's boat ramp and going to the northwest side (leeward) of the island. The Google map looks promising. We stopped at the end of the bridge and looked out that way. It may have been OK, but we decided to not get wet. However, we did note that there were an extremely high number of crab pots in a relatively small area just off that side of the island. That really makes me think that it could be worth a look next time we come down.


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Old 11/05/2015, 06:37 PM   #105
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Beautiful pictures! How often do you go out?


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Old 11/06/2015, 07:15 AM   #106
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Beautiful pictures! How often do you go out?
Thanks for the kind words. My wife takes hundreds of pics every time we snorkel.

We try to get to the Keys 3 to 5 long weekends a year.

It's a 2 to 3 hour drive from home to Marathon in the Keys (depending on stops for various reasons). Typically, we drive down on Fri and do a short 'water temp test swim/snorkel' and then do a couple of snorkels on Sat and Sun if the weather is good (wind is the big issue as it makes waves which stirs up 'stuff' and reduces visiblity). Then we drive home on Mon.

Pics from this trip:

We saw quite a few larger stars and this harlequin brittle star really caught my attention.




Condy anemones are now protected from collection due to decreasing numbers. In the area NE from the Horseshoe we saw evidence that their numbers may be coming back. At one spot I could reach out and touch 6 of them. This was the most colorful one.




This is the view ENE from the Horseshoe. The area we spent most of our time at was out from the sea wall over toward the bridge. Google Earth can be helpful seeing the more interesting spots.




It seemed like every piece of rubble we picked up would have an Emerald or Rudy crab on it. Half the time they would run up my arm! This Ruby seemed particularly fond of my hand so he is now living in our 180g reef tank.




I've long been a fan of spaghetti worms, from the very small to the very big. Before I had a Wrasse I had some little ones in the 180g, but the Wrasse ate them. This one came out of it's 'parchment' tube (toward the lower left) and hung around for pics. Some day I'll give one of these a try in either our 65g shallow reef tank or our 65g hexagon Gorgonian tank.




I mentioned above some improvements Parks & Rec have made from the Horseshoe around the NE end of the island and over to the other side. This is a shot on the new foot bridge that stats at the parking lot and ends up at the sea wall we were snorkeling near.




This is the improvement around the other side, after walking along the sea wall under the US-1 and Flagler bridges.




If you walk along the asphalt path and then down to the water's edge, this is the view backe to the ENE. The rocky flats change with the tides and can become covered with sea weed. But this day it was totally clean. On calmer days the area out from shore here is interesting. Last time we snorkeled here (14 months ago) we saw lots of Gorgonians, but the walk over the rocky flats was a little more difficult as it was 3" to 6" deep in sea weed and we were unsure what was underneath.




The tidal pools were loaded with thousands of these tiny cerith snails. It was almost hard to avoid them when you walked.




Just a bit further SW and the rocky flats ends and a short course sand beach starts. But in just 50' the beach ends and a long sea wall starts.




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Old 11/06/2015, 08:36 AM   #107
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Very nice pics as always. The weather looks pretty decent.


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Old 11/07/2015, 06:12 AM   #108
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I'm down in marathon now until Tuesday, I was looking for a good spot to go right in from the shore. I'm going to visit a few places now.


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Old 11/09/2015, 06:36 AM   #109
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Very nice pics as always. The weather looks pretty decent.
Temps and sun were great, a bit warm for Nov but that's OK. But the wind from the east was stirring things up, so we decided to take it easy and hunt for new sites.

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I'm down in marathon now until Tuesday, I was looking for a good spot to go right in from the shore. I'm going to visit a few places now.
Please let us know how it goes. There are a number of really good sites you can hit right off the beach.


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Old 11/11/2015, 07:40 AM   #110
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Since we didn't snorkel on Wednesday, we went looking for some new places to snorkel. We found a couple that are not 'off the beach' easy, but still accessible and with some potential.

I spoke of this location in a previous post:
We also considered putting the boat in at Bahia Honda's boat ramp and going to the northwest side (leeward) of the island. The Google map looks promising. We stopped at the end of the bridge and looked out that way. It may have been OK, but we decided to not get wet. However, we did note that there were an extremely high number of crab pots in a relatively small area just off that side of the island. That really makes me think that it could be worth a look next time we come down.

It has occurred to me that anybody could rent a kayak at Bahia Honda State Park and it would be a short paddle around the southwest end of the island (I'd even say put the kayak in at the Florida Bay side beach). We will certainly check it out the next trip, but if anybody else gets a chance to go there before we do, lets us know what you find. And if you have a question about just where we are talking about, let me know and I'll do a map from Google Earth.

The other location we want to try is Pigeon Key. This is the island that is 2 miles out from the northeast end of the Seven Mile Bridge. You can walk out to Pigeon Key on the old Flagler Railroad Bridge and there is a Railroad Museum out there as well. Or you can take a ferry from the marina behind the old railroad car that is on the south side of US-1 just off the northeast end of the bridge. It's a gift shop and they sell tickets there. You can take the ferry out to Pigeon Key, snorkel there off the dock and take the ferry back when you are done. It runs on a regular schedule.

We have walked out to Pigeon Key on the Flagler Bridge and looked down on the area of reef flats that lie just off the edge (I wish I had photos). It looked pretty interesting from up on the bridge which is pretty high. We saw 2 big spotted rays digging conch out of the bottom and eating them. We also saw a huge barracuda (I consider them nearly harmless) and a medium size shark swim by as well. I couldn't tell what kind of shark it was from that height off the water, but it was about 6 feet long. It swam past the barracuda only a couple of feet apart and it was like they either didn't see each other, ignored each other, or didn't care about each other. Like two strangers passing each other on the sidewalk. Anyway, we have not snorkeled this location yet, but when we do, I'll let you know what we find. And if anybody has snorkeled the area, please tell us what you thought of it. I think the ferry and taking snorkelers out to the island has only been available for a year or two, since they had to shut down the 'shuttle' that could take people out to the island museum by way of the bridge.

A view of the Seven Mile Bridge from the northeast end looking southwest. That's the old Flagler Railroad bridge just off to the right.




Just for fun, a view out from under the bridge. If you look out to the horizon, that's Pigeon Key at the end of the Flagler bridge. You could probably hit it with a rock if you stopped along the side of the Seven Mile Bridge (which I would NOT recommend you do as traffic is pretty crazy on the bridge).




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Old 11/16/2015, 05:07 AM   #111
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I'm down in marathon now until Tuesday, I was looking for a good spot to go right in from the shore. I'm going to visit a few places now.
Any report about where you snorkeled, what you saw and how the conditions were? We all would like to hear from anybody who does any snorkeling in the Keys. Please don't be shy.


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Old 12/02/2015, 07:38 PM   #112
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Got to love the Keys! My wife and I recently bought a vacation home on Big Pine Key due to all of the water activities to enjoy. I'm an experienced freedive spearfisherman and between lobstering, stone crabbing, mahi and wahoo fishing/shooting... it's paradise. I do also keep my eyes open for marine life that is permitted to be collected. As mentioned above, rubies and emeralds are easily found under rocks in shallow areas. Rock flower anenomes can be found on the gulf side in 3-10' of water and in all kinds of colors. Ricordea can be found on the atlantic side on patch reefs in 25-40'. There are supposed to be scarlet hermits in the deeper areas of the reef (50' and deeper) but I have never spent much time looking for them.


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Old 12/03/2015, 07:52 AM   #113
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Hi Matt, thanks for adding your knowledge to the thread.

Since you are here at RC, I assume you have an aquarium somewhere? Like at home in west central Florida or at the vacation home in the Keys?

Don't be a stranger here. Then you get to do something interesting in the Keys, let us know. Even if it's a cool site to visit on land (like the Diving Museum) or even a good place to eat! We visit the Keys 4 to 6 times a year for 4 and 5 days at a time and we are always looking for new and interesting stuff to do. Of course, in the water stuff is always worth talking about!


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Old 12/06/2015, 07:09 PM   #114
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Hi Matt, thanks for adding your knowledge to the thread.

Since you are here at RC, I assume you have an aquarium somewhere? Like at home in west central Florida or at the vacation home in the Keys?

Don't be a stranger here. Then you get to do something interesting in the Keys, let us know. Even if it's a cool site to visit on land (like the Diving Museum) or even a good place to eat! We visit the Keys 4 to 6 times a year for 4 and 5 days at a time and we are always looking for new and interesting stuff to do. Of course, in the water stuff is always worth talking about!

Hi there. Yes, I have a 40g tank in the Tampa area. I had a 210g system for a few yrs packed with SPS, Ricordea, Clams but recently downsized due to an upcoming move closer to the Keys in 2016. Just had too much going on at once to keep maintaining a large system. One day I'll do another large tank again when I'm more settled in.
I had alot of flow in my large tank (great for the SPS) and that had a negative impact on my past collection of Ricordea. Sand would shift over the top of the Ric colonies and if left unchecked, would cause them to melt away! I still have about 30 Rics left and in my 40g now, but plan to pack that 40g over the next yr or two with more.
I'm sure you've heard of the Square Grouper restaurant near Cudjoe Key, but if not, get in there for a dinner!

Keep your eyes peeled for zoas on the Atlantic side in the rocky areas in 20-40'!


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Old 12/07/2015, 06:42 AM   #115
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Thanks for the restaurant tip. We don't get down that way very often (more in the Middle Keys), and I hadn't heard of it before. I think we'll give that a try next trip. What kind of place is it? A neighborhood hangout, good food at good prices, great food at slightly higher prices, casual as in shorts and T-shirt or casual as in pants and a nice shirt?

I hope some of the divers here can make use of your zoas at 20-40'. Personally, I can't get down more than about 10-15' free diving. But I am looking for new spots to see zoas since my old spot, Little Money Key, was over run with slimy algae last spring. We haven't been back there since. Hopefully it will recover like Little Bahia Honda Key did about 4 or 5 years ago.

I want to get out to Pigeon Key for some snorkeling on our next trip. I've never heard from anybody who has snorkeled there, but I've seen some of it from above when we walked out the old Flagler RR bridge. It looks pretty cool and fairly untouched.


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Old 12/07/2015, 07:35 PM   #116
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Thanks for the restaurant tip. We don't get down that way very often (more in the Middle Keys), and I hadn't heard of it before. I think we'll give that a try next trip. What kind of place is it? A neighborhood hangout, good food at good prices, great food at slightly higher prices, casual as in shorts and T-shirt or casual as in pants and a nice shirt?

I hope some of the divers here can make use of your zoas at 20-40'. Personally, I can't get down more than about 10-15' free diving. But I am looking for new spots to see zoas since my old spot, Little Money Key, was over run with slimy algae last spring. We haven't been back there since. Hopefully it will recover like Little Bahia Honda Key did about 4 or 5 years ago.

I want to get out to Pigeon Key for some snorkeling on our next trip. I've never heard from anybody who has snorkeled there, but I've seen some of it from above when we walked out the old Flagler RR bridge. It looks pretty cool and fairly untouched.
I would rate Square Grouper as great food at higher prices. You can get away with tshirt and shorts, but I'd suggest maybe a shirt with a collar or nice hawaiian shirt, etc. Don't overdue it with a tux or anything like that.
For those that are monitoring this thread, please be sure to know your regulations before doing any collecting. There are no take zones all over the Keys and a limit on the number of "polyps" you can take per day. The last time I dove it was 8 polyps per person, so don't get caught with a huge colony! Alot of the FWC officers don't necessarily know the collection laws as they pertain to soft coral, so get educated first!


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Old 12/08/2015, 08:17 AM   #117
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I would rate Square Grouper as great food at higher prices. You can get away with tshirt and shorts, but I'd suggest maybe a shirt with a collar or nice hawaiian shirt, etc. Don't overdue it with a tux or anything like that.
For those that are monitoring this thread, please be sure to know your regulations before doing any collecting. There are no take zones all over the Keys and a limit on the number of "polyps" you can take per day. The last time I dove it was 8 polyps per person, so don't get caught with a huge colony! Alot of the FWC officers don't necessarily know the collection laws as they pertain to soft coral, so get educated first!
I can do a Hawaiian shirt! My wife loves to sew and makes most of her own blouses. She describes herself as a "fabraholic". So I have a few very cool shirts that are all fish and reef related!

I agree that knowing the Florida regs is worth stating over and over. If you get caught collecting in a protected area, or collecting things that are illegal, or too many of something that is legal, you will be looking at serious consequences! Here is a link to the 2015 Florida regs:
http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/r...arium-species/

Here is just one very important rule:
Bag Limit: 20 organisms per person per day; only 5 of any one species allowed within the 20-organism bag limit unless otherwise noted.

And the FWC has a lot of agents working in the Keys. We have been inspected a few times. The last time I was asked what we had collected and I told him everything that was in our bucket. And when I said we had "10 zoa polyps, 5 are mine and 5 are my wife's", he realized I knew the regs and he didn't even look in the bucket. They are there to protect the life in the water, not to harass the tourists. If you play by the rules they can be very helpful people.


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Old 12/08/2015, 10:19 AM   #118
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And the FWC has a lot of agents working in the Keys. We have been inspected a few times. The last time I was asked what we had collected and I told him everything that was in our bucket. And when I said we had "10 zoa polyps, 5 are mine and 5 are my wife's", he realized I knew the regs and he didn't even look in the bucket. They are there to protect the life in the water, not to harass the tourists. If you play by the rules they can be very helpful people.
I want to emphasize on what ron said here. Become an educated boater and fisherman and you'll never run into problems.
But do something stupid and you'll be on the black list...


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Old 12/16/2015, 05:13 PM   #119
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Looe Key Reef is my personal favorite place to dive in the Florida keys....and it is so close to Key West too.. (about 23 miles North if I recall).


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Old 12/17/2015, 04:39 AM   #120
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Looe Key Reef is my personal favorite place to dive in the Florida keys....and it is so close to Key West too.. (about 23 miles North if I recall).
That's where the snorkel boat from Bahia Honda State Park goes. It's just a short trip from the park to Looe Key. We snorkel out there every 2 or 3 years just to see the big reef and how it's doing.

So you can rent snorkel gear at Bahia Honda State Park, play with it and make sure it works for you in the water just off the beach which is a great place to snorkel! The fun part about off the beach at the park is that the water is really shallow and you are allowed to touch stuff, even pick stuff up if you want. Then take the big pontoon boat out to Looe Key for a 90 minute snorkel over some really big corals. The fun part about off the beach at the park is that the water is really shallow and you are allowed to touch stuff, even pick stuff up if you want.


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Old 12/17/2015, 07:50 AM   #121
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If you couldn't tell, Ron gets really excited about picking things up and looking at them


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Old 12/18/2015, 05:48 AM   #122
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If you couldn't tell, Ron gets really excited about picking things up and looking at them
Mostly rocks in the shallow ocean, it's kind of like the box of Chocolates that Forest Gump's mom told him about, because you never know what you are going to find.


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Old 12/18/2015, 08:17 AM   #123
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BTW, I'm not sure if I've ever told you this Ron, but our favorite place to eat when we are in Marathon is at Burdines Waterfront. Its a small place above a fuel dock, just down the road from the Blackfin. Great food, a relaxed atmosphere and a nice sunset view from the deck, just bring some bug spray for the no-see-ums.


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Old 12/18/2015, 05:21 PM   #124
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You mentioned it when the club was looking for a place to eat when they did the field trip in June. Elaine and I when there on our last trip and enjoyed it a lot. Cool location, lots of nice outdoor seating (as long as it isn't raining) good service and good food. We were there late enough in the season that there weren't any bugs.

Have you ever been to 'The Wreck' on Grassy Key? It's next to the Dolphin Research Center. Good food and a good selection, very comfortable atmosphere, part bar and pat restaurant. Oh, and they sell a cool T-shirt as well. haha.


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Old 12/21/2015, 08:16 AM   #125
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Ft. Myers, FL
Posts: 743
I'll have to give that one a try next time. Might be headed down in Jan for some B-day spearfishing and lobstering, along with probably some collecting for the new 80g to add to the cleanup crew.


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