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What ocean area should i mimic in my new saltwater reef aquarium?

Q. I'm soon purchasing a 75 gal or a 125 gallon aquarium from my LFS. I want to mimic an area in the ocean like say the gulf of mexico or the great barrier reef. I wont be harvesting anything from the ocean, just going tank breed. But I want it to be as close to real as possible. I'm just not sure what area to do! Any suggestions on what to recreate with fairly easy to keep fish?

A. How much money do you want to invest?
Most corals are from the wild. There are more and more coral propagation companies (like ORA) that propagate many different corals but usually the corals are very small and very costly. It keeps getting better though! There are cheaper "Ocean Propagation" companies that have bins in the ocean where they propagate and later harvest the coral (I have a supplier out of Bali that does this). There are also many different harvesting techniques where the wild coral for sale is just a trimming of the main coral and the main coral is still left in the ocean (Duncans in Australia for example).

Shipping and cites costs will increase the price in certain areas. Australia and Hawaii have some of the more restrictive collection and export of corals and tend to be very costly. Even tank raised corals are expensive because the mother coral (original coral used for propagation) was very costly to begin with and most corals are relatively slow growing. Duncans are an example of Australian corals that are getting cheaper, though, as they have thrived in the aquaria and are easy to propagate and fast growing. Once they were $20.00 a head of coral, not in most places they are as low as $5.00 a head because more and more people have been able to raise them in captivity.

Vietnam and the Caribbean tend to be cheaper corals. Usually because availability and shipping.

Bali has some of the higher volume of propagated corals. If you want to do only propagated corals, Bali corals will give a wide selection.

Also, type of coral will come into play. Corals from the same region do not have the same needs! I know it sounds strange but it is true. Shallow water coral wants whiter light and more light, it also likes warmer water. Deeper water corals want slightly cooler water and bluer light. Some corals are in high water flow areas and want strong current, others are in relatively protected areas adn want low flow...

You need to pick a depth and location within the reef to make it all work as well.

There are many great books out there to help you select. I like the PocketExpert Guide to Reef Invertebrates as it covers many different corals and inverts and gives some basic care and location information. There are MANY more.

Since the availability of tank bred corals is limited, you should investigate what is available to you and plan from there. Here is the site for ORA so you can take a look at what they are growing. There are other companies, but ORA is a standard company and statistically most other companies are doing similar corals.

Liveaquaria always has some nice ones in their Diver's Den section if you are ordering online (http://www.liveaquaria.com/diversden/CatDisplay.cfm?c=2733+5).

If price makes no difference, Australia has some of the brighter corals. I have a Australian nano tank that is just stunning. I stuck with Australia LPS corals and one SPS (have Duncans, Frogspawn, Lord Howensis Acan, Scoly, Acro, sun coral, pagoda cup). You can often get Duncans, Blastomussa, Acanthastrea, etc, propagated Australian corals. They still are a bit pricey but getting cheaper! Some examples of Australia propagated corals:

So as far as availability of Aquacultur corals, go with Bali or Australia.

ORA does fish too. Anything tank raised is going to be fairly hardy.

Where can I get information on costs and how to start importing items from Bali to sell in Australia?
Q. I have no idea where to start...the company I work for currently buys products made in bali from an australian business, so i thought it might be cheaper if I went to Bali and brought/imported the stuff myself instead of buying it through someone here?! No idea who I would buy the stuff off or who to contact!

A. Know anybody in Bali to be your contact buyer?

Best places and ways to travel within Australia and New Zealand?
Q. Hello,
A friend and I are planning to travel to Australia, New Zealand and one other country for three weeks. The other country would be Bali, Thailand, Fiji or Tahiti. We will be there from mid-December to mid-January. We are there as a graduation gift to ourselves and would be there on a budget. We are wanting to do some surfing, scuba diving, snorkling, hiking and of course sightseeing. We would like to know what are the best places to do these things. We would like to stay away from tourist traps. We are also wanting to know what airports and cities would be best to fly in and out of. Any information or advice would be greatly appreciated.

A. Tahiti is expensive. it is French so prices are so so much higher than bali or Thailand. You would be in NZ and Australia during the peak season school holidays so accomodation prices will be expensive unless you plan in staying in Back packer hostels. It may pay to book ahead if you know where you will be. I would suggest you have a few days in Sydney on your way to New Zealand or the Gold Coast you can fly into Brisbane for the Gold Coast it's 1 hour by train. I dont know if you want to hire a car in NZ that is the best way and if you can fly into Auckland and out of Queenstown that would be very good. Look at www.airnewzealand.co or www.jetstar.com.au

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