Tidal Gardens’ visit to Cherry Corals!

What’s up guys, a little while back I visited
my college friends in Grand Rapids, Michigan and on the way back made it a little bit of
a work trip by visiting Cherry Corals in Livonia which is located just outside of Detroit. Cherry Corals is one of the best online coral
sellers as well as an active participant in the frag swap circuit so if you have attended
a local trade show in the past several years, you may have seen their booth. I’ve known the guys at Cherry for well over
ten years but this is my first ever visit to their coral farm. Let’s take a look! Cherry corals is situated in a warehouse complex
with no sign which is something I can totally get behind :). If you pull up to Tidal Gardens
you would never know there was a coral farm back here. All it looks like from the street is a tiny
farm house. It is really easy to drive right past it. On this trip I actually drove past Cherry’s
warehouse because they had their door open and their building number was printed on the
door so I rolled right on past. Before we get into the details of their tanks,
I have to first say that it is nice to visit other coral retailers, especially ones that
have been active coral farming for a long time. It is nice to talk shop because everyone does
system design differently. There are a lot of similarities in husbandry
but it is those subtle differences that are really interesting. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from
looking at other people’s systems so without further ado, let’s see what Cherry Corals
has going on. First and foremost let’s talk about the
ridiculous quality and selection of their corals. I almost always jump right into the equipment
and system design, but it would be a disservice to the beautiful selection of corals here. A lot of the larger places I visit are trying
to cater to the broader market of coral buyers so they will have a mix of both what I would
call bread and butter staples as well as a few high end pieces. The coral selection at Cherry Corals is skewed
heavily toward the very high end pieces. It is more of a well-curated art collection
more than an all-purpose shop. This is the kind of place that I like. It is like a rare art collection where it’s
clear that they have gone out of their way to track down the most amazing pieces and
completely ignored everything else. On first glance the facility is laid out in
rows of fiberglass tanks each with a footprint of 8’ x 4’. They have a good sized water makeup station
as well as work areas for propagation and quarantine. Since my last video was on the subject of
quarantine and observation and the topic is fresh in my mind, I want to talk about this
first. They have a few small tanks set up here to
quarantine new arrivals. Guys, this is SO uncommon in this industry. If I had to guess I would say less than 5%
of the stores at any level whether it be collection, wholesale or retail do this. I don’t know if this comes as a surprise
to you, but that number is an UPWARD trend. A few years ago I would have guessed less
than 1% did. I know a thing or two about pest and disease
prevention at scale and it is no joke. It takes a lot of perseverance and before
these bans took place, almost none of the places at the 5k + gallon scale would even
dip their new arrivals. They would just sell it before any pest issue
ever mattered and it was just an understood part of the industry. Some of the larger wholesalers would literally
not even open the boxes and introduce them into their systems. A box would arrive and they would ship it
right back out. After that the contents of that box would
go straight into the retailer’s tank. If there is a positive aspect of Coral bans
it is that companies have to take a hard look at aquaculture and the ones that decide to
take that step are faced with the real problem pests represent. Here is an example. Congratulations, you made 1000 frags of zoos. Now watch them get eaten over the course of
a week by nudibranchs and sea spiders. Before, a lot of these places never had to
worry about pests because the corals would come in and ship out quickly, but if you are
talking long-term farming… pests and disease can cause crushing losses. Now companies higher and higher in the chain
are taking steps to clean up their stock, even at the collector level. This was unheard of just a couple years ago. In that sense, this recent trend is great
for consumers because there are several stages where pest management is happening. It’s still nowhere close to where it should
be but at least there is some effort. The fact that Cherry takes the time and effort
to do this is excellent and their efforts are reflected in the health of the corals. There is a really big difference between corals
straight from the ocean and ones that have been cultured in captivity for a long time. The second part of pest management is the
selection of fish and inverts to help keep down anything that makes it through. They in each tank I see a herbivore like a
tang or rabbitfish, a team of damsels, a sixline wrasse, scooter blennies, and in some tanks
there are shrimp, either a cleaner shrimp or a harlequin shrimp. Finally let’s go over the coral system design. Each one is a U-shape of tanks consisting
of two coral holding tanks, two settling sumps, and a sump for the equipment. Their coral holding tanks are fed water from
the sump from the far end and drain back first into an empty settling tank before draining
back into the equipment sump. I like the idea of a settling chamber in the
system. First off, it adds additional volume which
provides temperature and chemical stability. The other thing it allows for is easy detritus
removal. The flow in the coral tanks can be kicked
into high gear to prevent detritus from settling but rather go down the overflows. The coral tanks will still have to be cleaned
from time to time but the design of the system helps mitigate the effects of detritus landing
on the corals or building up. Once the detritus piles up in the settling
tank it can then be siphoned out. The equipment they are using right now for
filtration is a protein skimmer and a dosing system for 2-part. They really pay a lot of close attention to
their water chemistry. I think Todd said they test some parameters
daily. As for lighting they use a mix of T5 and LED. For the majority of the systems they used
retrofit T5 lights and reef brite LED strips. Those were mainly for the LPS and Zoa systems. For their one Acropora system, they went with
Ecotech Radions and they seem to be very happy with the results. I’ve been a T5 guy for a very long time,
and I was a little worried about going so heavy into LED for my next system, but the
results Cherry is getting with their Acropora is very encouraging. That pretty much does it from here, thanks
for watching. I picked up a couple choice pieces from this
trip and headed back home. I definitely plan on making another trip in
the future. I hope you guys enjoyed this quick trip to
see another coral farming operation. Don’t forget to leave a like, and if you
like this sort of video I invite you to join the community by subscribing and hitting the
notification bell to stay up on all of our recent uploads. Until next time, happy reefing!


  1. I’ve known the guys at Cherry for well over ten years but this is my first ever visit to their coral farm. What do you guys think of their operation?

  2. Very nice. I have seen a lot of hybrid lighting setups now and will definitely be going with a led t5 hybrid setup on my next build. I also liked the extra chamber for easy detritus removal. Another nice video Than.

  3. Than, I so need help. I've had a torch for over a year. I added an icecap gyre and noticed it started receding. I moved it and it's lost two heads. I've fed it coral frenzy pellets 1x per week until now. I can barely see its mouth. cal-660 dkh-9 Phos-2 and nitrates 10ppm. I use IO reef crystals and dose Red Sea part A&B reef nutrition. Is there anything else I can do? Thank you for any thoughts you can provide to.help save this last head.

  4. Definitely Todd has some awesome stuff. I usually see him at the Rochester and Buffalo Frag swaps or get stuff via a LFS my buddy owns.

  5. Great video. I really like Cherry Corals. They come to our local frag swaps all the time and I get something from them all the time since I know the corals are healthy. They really care about the hobby and their customers. I actually bought a hallucination paly at a swap for $200 from them and every time I see those guys they ask me how it is and offer to buy some back from me. I have 12 polyps now so maybe.

  6. Ok ok don’t twist my arm I gotta buy something from them now. I can’t forget my loyalty for TG though so I gotta buy something from you too. Ugh my wife is gonna make me test the couch overnight again.😂

  7. Todd is awesome. I was able to scoop up a bounce mushroom from his personal collection. Its a great piece and came well packaged without any pests what-so-ever.

  8. This is the closest salt water store to me. Todd knows his stuff and the selection they have is top notch! Great video Than!

  9. Wish my experience with Cherry had been good. Received a box full of water from leaking bags, nothing labeled, ulva on one of the frag plugs, and all of the acropora in the order RTN'd within 24 hours.

  10. This was great to see! Cherry Corals was where I purchased my very first pieces from. I blame Todd for the addiction…😂

  11. Newbie question, what is the difference between an anemone and say a torch coral? They seem the same. Cherry seems like they carry nice corals but are out of stock on a lot. That could be a good sign…..love the fact they quarantine.

  12. Hell yeah I love cherry corals, no offense Than but not only do they have beautiful healthy corals but I only pay $20 for shipping to Wisconsin!! 👍👍👍👍😎😎

  13. As i build my system and think about a dream tank, i have wondered why “settling tanks” aren’t used more often. Surely not everyone has enough space for one. They just seem to make sense.

  14. Todd is fantastic! He takes great pride in caring for and providing stellar corals. Service is also top notch. Been ordering from them since 2015. They are one of my most favorite vendors.

  15. I bought my Bowser zoas from them in one of the local swaps, I always look forward to them when I make it to a local swap. I am also from the GR area, nice seeing you visiting west Michigan.

  16. what are the make of the Fiberglass tanks? link?
    also I noted lots of corals that were no longer frags and seemed more like colonies , can you elaborate on what happens to the colonies? are the fragged? or sold as colonies ?
    thanks nice video

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