We have received a tentative schedule for the new ponds that we will be studying succession on.
Right now they (the people who set up and monitor the tanks) are rinsing the containers with freshwater as well as rinsing the sand with freshwater. The sand is going into the containers as they are getting rinsed. We will take a few samples here before anything else gets added.
Then they will fill the containers with new saltwater and run pumps for a few days with just the new seawater and sand. (too make sure everything is working well) This should be done by mid December. We will also take a few samples here.
Still in mid December (hopefully) they will add old sand, rocks and animals from old reef tank. This is where we will start extensively taking samples because we really want to see how the microbial communities become established. We will sample lots for the first couple days and slowly decrease the amount of sampling for the following few weeks. This is because we know most of the changes will happen within the first couple of days.
Then they are going to add live rock that have been curing. Curing basically gets rid of the dead stuff so the live and healthy organisms can thrive! We will again sample more extensively immediately after the rocks are added to catch the rapid changes happening to the microbial communities. We also might sample the rocks before they are put into the ponds.
After a short adjustment period due to all the new organisms, they will begin to populate the ponds with corals and other inverts. Once again we plan to sample a lot for the first few days but continue to sample, but less often after the first few days.
The next change that we predict will occur when students begin to reach into the ponds in the Spring. We will sample during this time too, to see how human interaction affects the microbial communities.
That’s the plan for now! 🙂