Scientific explorers have just discovered a new cold water reef of the coast of South Carolina. It’s 85 miles long and about 2500 feet below the surface. Cold water reefs aren’t something most hobbyists think about and perhaps some weren’t even aware of their existence. We focus on tropical reefs in the hobby for good reason.
I’ve only known one hobbyist to attempt a real cold water tank. That this was here in the Arizona desert perhaps makes the attempt all the more admirable. Kataro‘s tank required 1 inch thick acrylic even though the tank was only 22″x15″x12″. That’s a pretty small tank for such thick walls. That should give you an idea of how difficult it is to maintain a cold temperature and keep condensation off the outside of the tank. Of course that small tank still had to have a chiller to keep the temperature down. Luckily LED lighting is low heat so a Kessil 150 was enough light for it. The tank was sold off about a year later.
I can certainly see why someone would attempt this. You can keep things no one else has. Things like cold water anemone, crabs and even an octopus if you want. Those of us who frequently visit California know that the water is cold there. The anemone, sea stars and fish that live there would do nicely in a cold water tank.
I can’t say that I recommend a cold water tank to anyone. I’ve never done one and doubt I will. I admire the effort and ingenuity Kataro showed. I got to see the tank in person and it was incredible. People like Kataro are needed in the hobby as they push the limits. He also grew some of the most wonderful and beautiful algae. I bought some from him which is what had me at his home able to see the cold water tank.
The new discovery of a cold water reef off America’s east coast reminded me of that tank and how seeing a difficult part of nature made me feel. A tropical tank is easy in terms of climate. Humans are pretty comfortable at the same temperatures as the warm water reef. In Arizona we keep our homes at pretty much the same using our AC running all summer long. Though I have heaters in my tanks the red light that shows they are warming seldom comes on. They just aren’t needed. If the power goes out, then I float bags of ice to keep the water cool. My AC recently went out and that’s what I had to do until it was repaired. Even so the tank pushed 85 degrees. That’s not outrageous for short periods, but it stresses me nonetheless.
For me the idea of knowing that if a chiller goes out my prized cold water octopus dies is enough to keep me from doing a cold water tank. But if you are crafty and ambitious – and successful – you win admiration from the rest of us.