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2012 Project #7: Yaten 13

Discussion in 'MASC Science Fair Competition' started by hurrafreak, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. hurrafreak

    hurrafreak Orca M.A.S.C Club Member

    Yaten 13, please post:

    What your project will be
    How/where you will research this

    Any other relevant information or questions you feel the judges will need to know or answer. Any posts that don't come from judges or entrants will be deleted. ​
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2012
  2. Yaten13

    Yaten13 Amphipod

    Question: What affects the rate of pulsing of Silver Xenia (Xenia elongata)?

    Introduction: There are many theories about what makes different species pulse or not pulse, and a certain amount of annecdotal evidence. I would like to test some of these and quantify their effect on one species of pulsing xenia. These experiments will answer a few basic questions such as - How does each factor affect pulsing alone? What are the ideal conditions for maximum pulsing? Is pulsing an all or nothing phenomenon or does it happen faster or slower under different conditions?

    Variables to test: Time of day, photoperiod, feeding, lighting, pH/alkalinity. Since this is a lot to test, I intend to use the same animals (corals) for multiple trials with (eg) 5 days (M-F) for acclimation to a new regimen, then take observations on the weekends. If there is no obvious damage to the corals, then trials could be run back to back, or if there is damage, then recovery times could be added, but the least destructive experiments will be carried out early and (possibly) more destructive experiments later. Water quality parameters will be monitored as well (hopefully one of the high feeding groups will cause high nitrates so this can be tested as well). In addition, if any animals look unwell or if pulsing stops altogether, a trial will be stopped early to preserve the health of the corals. I have proposed 8 weeks of trials which should give plenty of time for some recovery weeks and some opportunities for the frags to heal longer than a week (depending on how they look).

    Response variable: Pulsing rate (eg pulses per minute), averaged for eg 3 polyps per organism, and 3 organisms per test group.


    Setup: Mason Jar with 1" of new (washed) aragonite sand. 1 tbsp of "live" sand from my display tank. Glue 1 stalk of xenia onto 1 large seashell on sand. Airstones will be used for circulation. Water changes will be eg. 10% daily. There will be three test groups each containing 3 jars (total of 9 individuals). Each set of 3 jars will be in a secondary container with fresh water with an aquarium heater and circulation (for temperature stability). Topoffs with RO/DI water will be done in the morning and evening. 1 ammonia badge will be used per group and nitrates will be tested weekly. A very small cycle may occur in the initial weeks, but it will be monitored carefuly and I expect it to have minimal effects due to the tiny (or even negative) bioload present.

    Discussion point - I was going to do this in bare glass since xenia love smooth surfaces, but I decided to add a small amount of coarse sand to provide at least a minimal ability to process wastes into nitrates. This would require something to put the xenia on, so I have decided on seashells, which I have a few around that should do nicely.

    All groups will start out with baseline conditions using a single flood lamp suspended over the three jars. Each week a condition will change with group 1 being lower than normal, group 3 being higher than normal and group 2 remaining the same as a control (At the end of the week that condition will go back to normal and a different condition will be changed).

    Base (control) Conditions: 12h light, 6.5k lightbulb (CFL for minimal energy use / heat production), 12" from top of jars, low (eg 1 drop/day) phyto/zoo mix, 75F, no pH / alk additives. Using instant ocean reef crystals at 1.026 SG (with mixing and heating for 24 h). The food can slowly be adjusted to determine how much can be added without seeing detectable nitrates.

    Week 1: Frag / heal. Take baseline readings. Take time of day readings (eg 1 hour before lights on, 1 hour after lights on, mid day, 1 hour before lights off, 1 hour after lights off, mid night).

    Week 2: Photoperiod. No light, 12 hours, 24 hours.

    Week 3: Photointensity. 6", 12", 24" from the tops of jars.

    Week 4: Photocolor. 3.5k, 6.5k, white (self ballasted 10k?) or led?.

    Week 5 (might need 2 weeks to reach appropriate nitrate levels and a week after to return to normal): Food / nitrate. no food, low food (x ml), high food (x ml). This will have to be tested and adjusted accordingly.

    Week 6: Temperature. 68, 75, 82F. (I was going to do 70, 75, 80 degrees, but since I could only do 3 groups, I wanted to use a condition that would be a little uncomfortable, but not lethal. Temperature changes would occur over several days).

    Week 7: pH / Alkalinity. Add (x drops) of nothing (group 2), pH/alk up (limewater) (group 3), or pH down (vinegar) (group 1) and measure pH/alk levels and pulsing daily. The idea is to slowly get slightly out of comfortable range, but not to kill them. In general the plan is to take measurements, then treat, then wait 24 hours for equilibration before measuring again.

    Week 8: How fast will they go? Puting them under "ideal" conditions as determined by the previous tests and measure rate.

    May have to stop water changes during weeks 5 and 7 to get water quality changes.

    12 Mason Jars
    nitrate test kit
    3 secondary containers
    3 heaters
    3 temperature stickers
    3 reflectors
    3 6.5k bulbs
    1 low color bulb
    1 high color bulb
    Standardized food preparation
    pH up - eg Limewater
    pH down - eg Vinegar
    test kits - pH, Alk, nitrates

    Data analysis: Using basic tools in Excel I will look for both dose response (linear regression) and differences between groups (ANOVA).
  3. hurrafreak

    hurrafreak Orca M.A.S.C Club Member

    I've had multiple people ask me about timelines for their projects. Here is the timeline copied from the original science fair thread. All project need to be finished by the meeting that takes place in June. This gives the judges a few weeks to collaborate on who they think will be the winner, plus gives the sponsors time to book everything for the winner. I will copy this in all of the science fair project threads.

    1. There would be a 2 month period for people to submit to the judges what their experiment will be about. This will also include a detailed report about how they plan on researching and doing the experiment. This should end at the end of January.

    ------------------The judges would then give them ideas/comments on what they are presented with, at the end of the period. Basically, to guide/coach them to do things that will make their projects successfull. This is probably the biggest and best change. Last year, the special judges were not there to help coach you along the process, and thus were not able to give a concise opinion about what they were looking for. This process would immediately began after #1 and would take about 1 month. This should take us to the end of February

    2. There would then be another 4 month period for you to actually get the experiment done. This would also give you the opportunity to create your formal project, as well as your formal project packet, including pictures, reports, etc. This should take us to the end of June.

    ------------------The judges would then judge all of the final projects and pick the winner. The winner will NOT be announced until all of the RHM and MACNA details are worked out.
  4. Thales

    Thales Copepod

    Very nicely conceived. If possible I would love to see pulsing in relation to flow tested.
  5. mpedersen

    mpedersen Copepod

    Indeed it's a great question to ask as MANY people want to know and yet there is no hard evidence that I'm aware of.

    I wonder, based on how you're doing this, if you've accounted for "restoration" time. I.e. when you do things like food, or Alkalinity, how are you going to "reset" things. I also wonder how you'll ELIMINATE water quality variations during the other tests.

    I wonder if you were asked to narrow this and refine it, how could you really test singular variables, and what is the actual hypothesis you are testing? What do you think is most likely to be the cause of the pulsing vs. non pulsing.

    I also wonder..you're limiting yourself to one type of xenia....might this be better handled with two types (and multiple frags per each)? I know, I just threw another variable into the mix vs. taking one away...
  6. Yaten13

    Yaten13 Amphipod

    My hypothesis is that pulsing happens when the coral is happy and healthy and stops when it is not, but there may be additional factors (such as very bright light and higher nitrates) that might get it to pulse more. I think that the corals will be happy and healthy at the baseline conditions I outlined and that deviations should in general reduce pulsing, with the exceptions noted.

    I think the design does let me test single variables (one variable at a time). Ideally I would set up one coral for each trial and not reuse them, but time, coral availability, etc prevents this. There is a little bit of an assumption that the coral is back to normal after a week-long recovery, but I think there are monitors in place that will allow me to check this assumption and I think it is reasonable given the time and budget constraints.

    As far as restoration of water quality goes - I will be testing pretty consistently to monitor water quality, but after something like nitrates or alk changes, I will probably need to add an extra week of restoration time before the next trial begins. That will just have to be monitored closely. I haven't set the water-change schedule yet, but since the volumes are low, during those times I could do as much as 20% water change daily until the water is nearly identical. If there is measured residual difference, then a 100% water change would also be possible.

    Regarding Thales' comment, I have observed in general that they cease to pulse under higher flow, but it is a little hard to test under this setup (since I would need 9 tiny powerheads with some sort of variable setting). I could also pool them into a larger container, but then replicates would not be 100% independent. I will certainly keep it in mind though and see if there would be a way to include it in the experiments.

    Finally, I am using one type of xenia since it is currently available to me in the quantities needed for this project. If someone wanted to donate some others to test, I wouldn't say no, but since I can't spend a bunch of money on this, I am using what I have at hand. Maybe for next year's project I could ask for donations of a single bit of xenia of whatever people have and grow them out by then.
  7. hurrafreak

    hurrafreak Orca M.A.S.C Club Member

    The end of February signifies the end of the judges "coaching" process. Please do not wait until then to get your experiments going. SO, what this means is if you have any question, or comments about your project that you would like to get an opinion on from the judges, it needs to be soon! The judges have asked a lot of questions, hopefully you all are answering them, and taking their opinions/comments into consideration as they ultimately will be sending you to MACNA 2012 with $500 CASH in your hand!!

    I also have had a few requests from the judges so I'm her to oblige.

    Please come up with an "elevator pitch" for your project. Basically what that means is that they would like to see 1-3 sentences on what your project is, and why (nice idea Rich :) ). Short and sweet.

    Also let's try and see if you can get started on your official format.


    I understand that some of those things won't be able to be filled out until the conclusion of the project, but it may be nice to fill it out with what you do have at the moment. (thanks Christine :) )
  8. melev

    melev Copepod

    I hope you have a lot of xenia on hand for this test because as some melt away, they rarely come back. Other than that, I think this is a good topic of consideration.

    Perhaps the best way to keep them equally heated would be a water bath for the mason jars to set in. However, when you do your different temperature tests, you'll indeed need three heaters. Do you have the right size to fit those jars?
  9. Yaten13

    Yaten13 Amphipod

    Actually yes and yes. I was planning on putting all 3 jars in a single (freshwater) water bath to keep temperature consistent the three groups are each in their own water bath and heaters. That way they can be set to the same temperature normally but shifted for that trial. Also, I have a small forest growing in my sump that I was going to use for this purpose, so I should be set if there are a few disasters. It's all from the same clone, so that is good for consistency, but bad for testing variation within and between species.
  10. hurrafreak

    hurrafreak Orca M.A.S.C Club Member

    Everyone remember to be taking LOTS of pictures and to document EVERYTHING!!! We will need all of this information later!!
  11. spracklcat

    spracklcat Copepod

    This is excellent so far. Following along--
  12. mpedersen

    mpedersen Copepod

    Something to think about...how are you going to actually measure your results. It occurred to me that you might need to record pulsing and then measure a "pulse per minute" rate on each sample.
  13. Thales

    Thales Copepod

    How do you tell they aren't pulsing in hight flow? I think they are, its just hard to see. I base to off turning off flow and the Xenia are pulsing like mad.
    Maybe not relavent to your project. :D
  14. hurrafreak

    hurrafreak Orca M.A.S.C Club Member

    Sorry for my non existance lately, it's been nuts on my end!! We are in the last phases of ths process!! You all should be in the middle of your projects! The end meeting in June/the end of June all of the projects need to be finished!
  15. hurrafreak

    hurrafreak Orca M.A.S.C Club Member

    Alright everyone, I have some great news!! First of all, you should all have a PM AND an email in your inbox's, please respond to that PM and/or email and we can move forward with what is needed.

    Second of all, because of the news from RHM that is contained in that PM and email, we are able to give you a couple more months to work on your projects :). This is great news as it gives all of you the chance to be in RHM AND a couple more months to make sure the projects are finished. So now, the projects will be due at the August meeting. We are working on an exact date/place for the August meeting and will get that to all of you as soon as we come to a conclusion with the host. Thanks, and again, please respond to the PM and/or the email :)
  16. Yaten13

    Yaten13 Amphipod

    Sorry, but I have to drop out of the science fair. The whole thing crashed several times (it takes forever to cycle such a small volume [about 3g] with limited substrate) to the point where xenia wont melt in a few days. Second, work has been killing me nights and weekends and I haven't had any time to work on it. Third, my wife has had a few surgeries (and another coming up around the time of the next meeting) which have kept me occupied and finally, we have moved to a much smaller apartment in broomfield where I can't have random trays of water out everywhere. Basically I desperately need to simplify my life and my setup. I've combined my 2 saltwater tanks into one, and will be selling a bunch of stuff very shortly. Once again, sorry and good luck to the remaining people.
  17. hurrafreak

    hurrafreak Orca M.A.S.C Club Member

    Very unfortunate :(

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