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jason the filter freak

Reef tanks/Reef Clubs in Hawaii?

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Getting ready to PCS to Hawaii (Oahu) but info on reefing as a hobby there is scarce.

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The state is ground zero for the U.S. anti-aquarium movement (using ostensible environmental and somewhat better animal welfare arguments*).   Fishkeeping, especially saltwater, is under assault there - even Petco gets picketed by anti-aquarium folks there.   

 

Importing (somewhat logically) or collecting (illogically) stony corals is illegal.  Collecting live rock is also illegal.  I believe possession of black corals (NPS) except as small jewelry pieces is illegal (a few years ago some small boat captain was arrested for having too large of a non-locally harvested black coral ornament on his bridge).   Nowadays, there are lots of restrictions on commercial fish collecting, though I don't know if that applies to personal collecting.   Zoas are OK.  I *believe* NPS wire corals should be OK.  There is also a hard to find small NPS gorgonian, sponges and the like that are OK.  There's a small, not very colorful Sinularia species that lives in areas with loads of flow and surge that should be OK.  

 

I've thought about PCSing there. If it were me, I'd keep a deepish  (50m or so) water biotope tank; a lot of the local fishes (firefish, dwarf angels, tangs, etc.) live in that area, in beds of live rock or Porites compressa. You could get fake branching corals to mimic the Porites compressa.   I'd also either buy locally aquacultured live rock (see below) or apply for a personal aquaclture permit to keep some dry rock in a crab trap for a few months.    

 

I'd also become a member of/volunteer at the Waikiki aquarium (a center for the any pro-aquarium activity in Hawaii), volunteer for reef restoration/pro-aquarium groups, and become scuba certified (if you aren't already.  Best diving is out west I'm told.  The big tourist dive sites near Waikiki are boring IMO).   

 

Shops I've been to include:

Coral fish Hawaii, near JBPHH - decent shop; they have legal aquacultured live rock but you should order well in advance.  One of the staff that I talked to is a collector and aquarium enthusiast, I'm sure if I PCS'd there he'd hook me up with whatever I could legally own.

Pet Depot, out west - not as big, had a decent zoa and feather duster collection when I went

 

Assuming you PCS to JBPHH, I'd live in Kaneohe.  Relatively affordable, and decent commute.  Good coral growth in the bay and at Lanikai beach for easy kayaking and snorkeling.   Another option would be Milliani, though I don't know what the commute is like (it's not far though.  Note that if you work near Schofield, I'd probably live in Milliani like everyone else, as crowded and small as the place gets.  Or the north shore if you're rich. :D  ).   I know a dude who lives in Hawaii Kai and commutes to JBPHH; I think he said takes him about an hour each way (coming in at 10), though if there's no traffic it's like 30 min.(Hawaii Kai is my favorite part of Oahu.   It allegedly has the best public schools.  it also is near Hanauma bay; the actual fore reef is pretty awesome IMO.  That place also has a big 500 year old Porites).   I would avoid anything west; the traffic getting into even JBPHH is supposedly about as bad as Gainesville to Tyson's.   

 

Of course, if you're living a different island, none of the above applies.  I'd think you very much have to get in with local divers and collectors.  (plentiful on the Big Island, my favorite island by far)

 

https://www.coris.noaa.gov/monitoring/status_report/docs/Hawaii_status_report_forweb.pdf

https://www.coris.noaa.gov/monitoring/status_report/

Edited by KingOfAll_Tyrants

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Can’t beat all that info ^^^^^ !!!!!!


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Hah!  As you can see, I've thought about it a time or two.  


Brief addendum to the above: the link I posted is to the latest NOAA report on coral reefs in Hawaii.  It shows the multitude of things that are damaging coral cover in Hawaii.   

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23 hours ago, KingOfAll_Tyrants said:

Hah!  As you can see, I've thought about it a time or two.  


Brief addendum to the above: the link I posted is to the latest NOAA report on coral reefs in Hawaii.  It shows the multitude of things that are damaging coral cover in Hawaii.   

Wow thank you for the incredibly well thought out reply. I really appreciate the thought and info. 

 

I failed to do my research and had been excitedly buying gear, fragging my current corals to raise funds, and my brand new 80 gallon got delivered today 😓 im dreading the cost of shipping it back to SCA but unless i hear positive things when i reach out to the LFS on the island i think i should just shut my reefing aspirations off for a few years. 

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Don't give up.   Just don't keep hard corals.  Again, an 80 gallon would be an awesome place for a deep-ish biotope tank.   Dwarf angels, firefish, maybe a tang (depends how long the tank is).  Local live rock.  And locally collected sponges, etc (which I think is still legal, but check with the regs).  A seagrass seahorse + similar animals tank would also be really cool.   

 

You won't have to pay for expensive lighting for the deep water tank; a blue flourescent would be plenty.   :)  One of the things I think I've had to learn in my learner's reef tank (in a woefully neglected build thread) is the importance of nutrient management - not just keeping nitrates and phosphates undetectable, but actually feeding the things that need them and not causing the tank to go to heck - which is  necessary not only for my SPS, but also eventually for the nonphotosynthetic animals that came with my Florida Keys rock; I hope to keep more in the future.  (you could probably legally keep a number of nonphotosynthetic inverts,  though of course you should start simple and small).   

 

Do call the fish stores, but some of those people can be cagy unless you're actually on the ground.  It's better to get to know them once or twice (and recon them).  I'd recommend Coral Fish, but not without reservations.   Also, get involved with the Waikiki aquarium - historically, they've been at the forefront in public aquarium cooperation with public aquarists, and have lots of SOPs that they can teach, and almost certainly the best group of local aquarium enthusiasts.  They have a behind the scenes tour every Thursday IIRC.   (In Army infantry terms, this is a counterinsurgency not an air drop - don't go in expecting to seize everything at once.  Learn the human terrain, make inroads, and then launch your operations)

 

Anyway, if you want more thoughts on moving, feel free to PM.  I've never lived there but I've visited several times, staying in aggregate for several months.  

 

In the meantime, check out these youtube videos for some of my Hawaiian biotope tank inspiration (some of which are from Bruce Carlson, former director of the Waikiki aquarium, a leading marine biologist, and an important advocate of our hobby):

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus, posted this in error, for our freshwater loving friends:

 

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Wow thank you for the incredibly well thought out reply. I really appreciate the thought and info. 
 
I failed to do my research and had been excitedly buying gear, fragging my current corals to raise funds, and my brand new 80 gallon got delivered today im dreading the cost of shipping it back to SCA but unless i hear positive things when i reach out to the LFS on the island i think i should just shut my reefing aspirations off for a few years. 
I stashed my tank in storage while overseas (Guam then Hawaii) and to be honest. I missed it way less than I thought I would.

Another factor you may want to consider is the cost of electricity out there. Not sure about leases allowing an 80 gallon tank either. Just things to think about.

I lived in Waikiki and constantly found myself wandering around the city. I miss it for sure. I may have already said this but definitely hike kokohead and visit Kona brewing after.

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I'm actually in Hawaii at Hickam right now. The diving was fun (yay nudibranchs, Montipora peltiformis, moorish idols, and all the normal stuff.) I haven't scouted out keeping a tank here much, but I think I would just live in the water as much as possible rather than the hassle of a tank here. Immersion rather than staring at a box!

Good luck!

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