Martin Moe
Bio Topic - Saturday September 4 @ 1 pm Topic - Friday September 3 @ 3 pm

You know, when you're young, the years pass soooo slowly, a school year is an eternity. But then, as you age, time speeds up, and soon, just like a DVR on fast forward, time is a blur with the years ticking off so fast you can't keep track of them.

I've been involved with the sea and the life it holds ever since my dad took me fishing off the pier in St. Petersburg, FL, in the late 1940s, and I've worked with marine aquaria since the early 1960s. A lot of salt water has passed through my tanks over these years, many projects many books and articles, but that all seems like ancient history now.

Barb and I moved to the Florida Keys in 1999. My intent was to build a bigger and better marine experimental hatchery lab and work on fish culture. Well, you know about how "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry", and so it was. I soon became deeply involved with coral reef restoration and began working on a project aimed at aiding the recovery of the keystone herbivore, Diadema antillarum, the long-spined sea urchin of our Atlantic coral reefs. And my fish culture intentions gave way to the most interesting and difficult, and complex, culture project of my career. I discovered why, despite considerable effort over the last 30 years, this species had never been reared in mass culture. It took three years of great effort working by myself to finally develop the culture vessels and techniques that will allow for the mass culture of this species. It's an interesting story and the spin offs from this culture technology may have applications in the culture of many ornamental marine invertebrates.

Culturing Diadema sea urchins, an interesting project

This title is, of course, a paraphrase of the ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times.", but more on that in the presentation. The burning question is, "Why would you spend five of the 'golden years' of you life pursuing such a difficult project?" Well, the ecology of our topical western Atlantic reefs is broken, and broken very badly. One of major reasons for the decline of the reefs is the loss of the basic ecological function of herbivory, a function that used to be provided by the keystone herbivore of these reefs, the long-spined, tropical sea urchin, Diadema antillarum. The loss of billions of these urchins to a yet unidentified pathogen in 1983 is not the only factor driving the decline of our reefs, but it is one of the most significant. Without herbivory, algae overgrows corals, prevents coral settlement, and the reefs become smothered with algae growth. Restoring herbivory to the reefs depends solely on the return of Diadema in ecologically functional populations. And this depends (for many reasons) on developing the technology for mass culture of reef competent, juvenile Diadema urchins. My presentation is a history of my five year quest to develop this technology in a small, home based marine culture laboratory. I have many failures to report, and significant success as well.

How to build a marine aquarium system that "models" 9 tropical marine environments

It was April 10, 1998. We were on a flight from Portland, Oregon back home to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida after giving a talk at the Western Marine Conference in Seattle. You have to have something constructive to do on these long flights, so I bent my mind to the question, how many different marine environments could be modeled, or at least suggested, in a small aquarium system? There are 9 and they are:

1. The upper reef surge zone
2. The middle reef stony/soft coral zone
3. The benthic reef and deep sand zone
4. A reef cave
5. A reef rubble zone
6. The open water lagoon zone
7. An inter-tidal rock zone
8. Tidal pools
9. A shallow sand bottom surge zone

It was an interesting exercise and I came up with ideas that not only kept me busy during the flight, but also occupied a great deal of my time over the next six months. Considerations of both expense and space determined that the initial experimental prototype should be a small system, and a 30 gallon main tank seemed about right. It was not an easy task; there were many hidden enigmas and problems that had to be solved to make it work successfully and reliably. But in the end, the system I designed and built operated perfectly for over a year before I had to dismantle it for the move to the Keys. In this presentation I will describe the construction and operation of the system. No doubt you will be able to improve upon it if you decide to build one.