Coral reefs, known as the rainforests of the sea, are diverse marine ecosystems essential not only to marine life but to the entire world. They provide food and shelter for a quarter of marine life in our oceans. Billions of people around the world depend on fishing industries to feed and support their nations.
Coral life relies heavily on light, water flow and filtration, and they feed on zooplankton. The biodiversity of coral reefs ensures certain species will typically survive natural disasters. It has also been speculated that this diversity could potentially contain properties useful for future medicinal purposes.
On Feb. 25 and 26, spectators waded into the saltwater worlds of Reefstock event sponsored by Reefbuilders, which was filled with coral markets, vendors selling state-of-the-art aquarium equipment, speakers educating people and mega starter package raffles at the Radisson hotel in Aurora. Blue aquarium lighting gave the auditorium a natural ocean-like ambience that led to tanks with multiple species of coral in an array of glowing colors. Most of the corals were cut into fragment pieces, some of which are worth hundreds of dollars.
“Reefbuilders is an online website,” explained Nicole Helgason, author at Reefbuilders, “We’ve been organizing the Reefstock event for ten years. Everyone inside is selling corals, fish and aquarium products. This show is primarily saltwater. We have about 60 vendors this year at the show. A lot of the people are selling corals for aquariums.”
Inside Reefstock, speaker Mike Paletta focused on “Current Controversies in the Hobby” and Jamie Craggs spoke about “Coral Spawning in Aquariums” on Feb. 25. Jake Adams discussed “Exploring for Corals in Sumbawa” and Joey Mullen held a workshop on “DIY Aquarium Accessories” on Feb. 26.
Ecotech Marine, a sponsor of Reefstock, makes a series of products for reef aquariums. They’re keeping the coral alive by mimicking the natural environment using Radion Light and pump systems.
“Our Radion Light provides a full spectrum light for corals to grow and produce a very healthy animal,” Rep. Patrick Clasen said. “We also have pumps that are operated through the aquarium glass so you don’t have to have motor or electricity in the water. Those create currents in the aquariums.”
In nature, ocean currents circulate food to sea life and also filter waste. Ecotech Marine displayed their MP40 pump, which demonstrated the creation of flow in the aquarium which is essential for coral life.
“Put your hand on it [MP40]. It’s hot. You can feel it pulsing,” Helgason said. “These are adjustable. You can change how fast the flow is going. With these, you can control everything with an app. You can program the light to start off really blue and ramp it up in the day to get a higher intensity of light. You can put a timer so everything starts automatically.”
Helgason went to say that in the morning, you can simulate sunrise or sunset, recreating a natural habitat. The color spectrum for freshwater is more red and warmer while people with saltwater aquariums usually want it blue.
Franco Chan, marketing associate for DiCon Lighting, said that Kessil lights are actually all done for people so they don’t have to worry about the spectrums. Color is just for visual aesthetic so people don’t have to tune it to different type of colors. Blue and white light basically have the same amount of spectrum.
Reefstock is more than a simple conference, it’s a tropical aquarium community. The sponsors are a tight-knit group where everyone knows each other. You get a sense that this isn’t simply their careers, but a shared passion for marine biology.