Everything we do here at BRStv is curated to help all of you, reef geeks and fish nerds, be more successful aquarium owners. No matter your tank size, skill level, or budget, BRStv wants to help you achieve your aquarium goals and this is exactly why we put so much effort into our BRStv Investigates series. Challenging the norms and diving deep into uncharted waters allows us to bring new ideas and techniques into the light that benefit all hobbyists around the globe. Now that we have come to the end of our first Biome Cycle Experiment, we plan to do just that.


Biome Cycle Series

Biome Cycle Video Series
Join us as we learn how to beat the ugly stage and develop effective techniques for producing a balanced microbiome in our aquariums.

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What We've Learned So Far

During our first wave of the Biome Experiments, we learned quite a bit about the common methods and substrates used to establish reef aquariums. Those lessons led to more questions that need answers in order for us to eliminate old, ineffective techniques and develop new methods that any hobbyist can replicate. 

Ultimately, we want to establish a clearly defined and repeatable approach for developing a balanced and diverse microbiome in new reef aquariums.

  • It's clear that the natural ocean-sourced substrates like Caribsea Ocean Direct and Aquaforest Life Source bring microbiome into the aquarium but can this natural source of biome be used to defend against bacterial issues such as cyanobacteria?
  • The tanks that were seeded with sources of microcrustaceans (pods, worms, limpets, etc.) avoided diatoms altogether. In other tanks, the diatoms were resolved after the addition of pods later in the experiment. Pods are effective but when is the most ideal time to introduce pods into a new aquarium?
  • Outside of green algae, gulf-sourced live rock provided the most consistent source of microbiome out of all the wet live rock options. What happens when we add herbivorous fish and clean up animals too?
  • Dark cured rubble rock placed into the sump produced some of the best results throughout the entire experiment. Can we come up with a replicable source of dark-cured rubble that is readily available and easy to use?
  • Adding live corals to a new aquarium can be an effective source of biome but they also come with the risk of introducing other pests like coral-eating flatworms and other coral parasites. Can coral dips be an effective means of eliminating this risk?

Biome Cycle Experiment V2

The next round of experiments takes the most important lessons we learned and tests those theories in a whole new set of test aquariums. There will be 6 groups of test tanks with two different versions of each test tank.

Version A will be started exactly as described below, without the introduction of clean-up crew invertebrates and herbivorous fish. Version B of the 6 tanks will use the same substrates as well as the added benefit of a clean-up crew and herbivorous fish so we can see side by side how effective these utilitarian animals can be in the fight against the ugly stage.

Utilitarian Fish

  • Foxface Rabbitfish and Bristletooth Tang to eat algae.
  • Melanarus Wrasse targets flatworms, nudibranchs, and bugs.
  • Filefish to target pest anemones.

Pseduo Sterile Experiment

Tank #1

  • Micro Biome: Ocean Direct Sand & Aquaforest Life Source Mud
  • Micro Crustaceans: AlgaeBarn EcoPods
  • Habitat: Dry Marco Rock

Tank #2

  • Micro Biome: Aquaforest Life Source Mud & Caribsea Special Grade Dry Reef Sand
  • Micro Crustaceans: AlgaeBarn EcoPods
  • Habitat: Aquaforest Rock

Cryptic Fuge Experiment

Tank #1

  • Micro Biome: Tampa Bay Saltwater Sand & Rubble Rock
  • Micro Crustaceans: Tampa Bay Saltwater Sand & Rubble Rock
  • Habitat: Dry Marco Rock & Dry Sand

Tank #2

  • Micro Biome: Aquabiomics Sand & Rubble Microbiome Seed Media
  • Micro Crustaceans: Reef Nutrition Pods
  • Habitat: Dry Marco Rock

Tank #3

  • Micro Biome: Aquaforest Life Source Mud & Biofill Media
  • Micro Crustaceans: AlgaeBarn EcoPods
  • Habitat: Dry Marco Rock

Wet Live Rock Experiment

Tank #1

  • Micro Biome: Tampa Bay Saltwater Live Base Rock & Gulf Sand
  • Micro Crustaceans: Tampa Bay Saltwater Live Base Rock & Gulf Sand
  • Habitat: Tampa Bay Saltwater Live Base Rock & Gulf Sand