After about 4 years of planning, yesterday was a big day in the life of the Center in the Square aquarium project. At just before 6 p.m. Jeff Turner of Reef Aquaria Design of Florida, completed placing thousands of pounds of live rock in the middle of the aquarium.
He had to work quickly because the rock can only be exposed to the air for a minimal amount of time before all the organisms and beneficial bacteria begin to die off. Jeff had taken great pains to keep the rock wet in the back of a huge trailer as he drove from the Florida Keys to Roanoke with the rock in tow. On the back of the trailer he created specially wired pumps to circulate water over the rock during travel.
Some of the pieces of live rock, encrusted with macro algae and with small critters such as pistol and mantis shrimp, and multiple varieties of crabs clinging to it, weighed in excess of 30 pounds. Workers from Jeff’s company (RAD) assisted by Carlin Aquarium Systems formed an assembly line to move the rock from its containers to a platform atop the tank and then down into the aquarium itself, where Jeff stacked it to form the basis of the reef.
Once the reef was in place, pumps in the basement of Center were activated and thousands of gallons of saltwater created by mixing synthetic sea salt donated by Instant Ocean with purified water, began flowing into the aquarium. It felt great to see it finally happening.
Last night we added an estimated 3-4 thousand gallons. Today, May 1, more water will be added and the reef aquarium will be full. Friday morning at 9 am school children from Roanoke’s Fishburne Park Elementary School will be on hand as the first fish will be released into the aquarium. But really that’ s just another beginning.