First Fort Myers ‘Mini Reef’ fish habitat, water cleaning system to be installed
One local couple is doing their part to make Lee County’s water a whole lot cleaner. On Thursday, June 14, Ocean Habitat Inc. installed its first Mini Reef system in Fort Myers at the home of James and Pam Nolte in the Whiskey Creek neighborhood off McGregor Boulevard. This system will clean more than 30,000 gallons of water in the Caloosahatchee River every day and provide a safe habitat for over 300 fish and 200 crabs to mature each year. “It’s an easy decision for me to do something so simple that makes a big impact on the health and well-being of our community. More things like this need to be taking place in Fort Myers,” said James Nolte, a longtime Fort Myers resident and founder of Nolte Wealth Management Group. “I want my grandchildren and their children to be able to enjoy the natural beauty of Southwest Florida for many, many years.”
The Mini Reef was invented by Ocean Habitat Inc. founder and former North Fort Myers resident David Wolff during his time as a University of South Florida student. After more than 100 prototypes, the Mini Reef system was finalized and placed in Marco Island waters. The city hired Ocean Habitat to install 25 reef systems in a canal to re-establish dwindling fish nurseries. They quickly became popular with island residents, who purchased more than 175 additional systems to use on their property.
The original intent was to place these systems under docks in canals to provide habitats for fish in otherwise barren underwater landscapes, such as Marco Island and Cape Coral. New opportunities for the system have developed and large aquaculture reefs have been installed in the Florida Keys to aid in the growth and replenishment of common restaurant seafood.
“You can’t walk out and pick seafood right off the reef, but what these aquacultures do is provide a safe environment for juvenile seafood to mature before they migrate out to flat bottom where they can be harvested by commercial fisherman,” Wolff explained. “In the canals, residents are seeing all of those quality species that they have never seen before or haven’t seen in a long time. We see everything from stone crab, grouper and snapper to snook and tarpon.”
Mini Reef systems are available for $250, or $450 for the Mini Reef Plus, the larger version of the system. If you would like to bring your dock to life, contact Ocean Habitats through its website oceanhabitatsinc.com, or call David Wolff at 218-841-5932 to schedule your installation.