The first coral pond has been running for 49 days now. We have followed them through their initial construction, the inoculation from an established coral tank and now the addition of live rock so that more corals can be added. Our collection of over 400 samples is continuing to grow and we are seeing nice trends in our water chemistry parameters. We are excited to start looking at the DNA and have been extracting a number of samples.
Here is a quick look at coral pond one. I believe David has already shown some of this data. The red dot is the time point when we inoculated the coral ponds with microbes from an established coral reef tank.
The last two days have been busy for our coral ponds and the microbial communities adapting to the new habitats.
Yesterday we put the sand and seawater into the second coral pond. We collected samples from the sand and water before and after mixing. The freshly set up pond was and remained relatively turbid overnight as a result of fine particles from the sand.
We also noted that the first coral pond had a protein skimmer installed to help keep the water clean. David noticed that with the addition of the protein skimmer there was a rise in the pH. You can check it out yourself using the tweetameter. This morning we did a full chemical analysis and microbial sampling on coral pond one to catch any changes that might be happening in the microbial community as a result of additional filtering.
Today was the big inoculation day as one of the established coral tanks was torn down and placed into the two new coral ponds. This included the rocks, numerous soft corals some snails and hermit crabs along with all the sediment from the bottom of the tank. Unfortunately adding the old sand (while important to establishing a healthy microbial community into a new aquarium system) had a terrible impact on the clarity of the water. Due to the probable negative impact the high sediment load would have on our water chemistry kits, sampling was put off until an afternoon sampling.
Dismantling the Coral Tank
Hopefully the water has cleared and good luck to those of you doing the afternoon sampling. I will be checking in on the ponds again in the morning.
I have been looking forward to adding some blog posts on this great student outreach project but keep holding back because I wanted to include some pictures. I have recently joined Eisen’s lab and will be at Davis for the year before returning to San Diego State University to continue working on my Phd looking at microbial communities across Southern California kelp forests. I was excited about the opportunity to join in on this project and am impressed by the level of student participation.
This week has been busy with everyone getting acquainted with all the new water chemistry kits David has ordered for us. With Russell’s new tweeting pH meter, I was afraid the machines were taking over but it turns out undergrads and grads are still needed for bench work.
Today we got to see the newest coral pond setup and everyone in action as we collect our baseline data. Despite the rain we had a lot of participation and everything went smoothly.