Miniature artificial reefs at home in Lemon Bay

ENGLEWOOD — Joan Mathews describes herself as environmentally conscious.

She composts. She recycles. She takes other steps to reduce her impact on the environment. And now, Mathews, a Grove City resident living on a finger canal, hopes to help clean the water of Lemon Bay with a new Mini Reef beneath her boat dock.

“It should reclaim nutrients in the water and make the water more amenable for the creatures living in it,” she said.

Mathews is not alone.

David and Alex Wolff of Oceans Habitats Inc. installed 22 similar Mini Reefs beneath the docks on Manasota Key.

The artificial reef itself is a tiered structure with 4-inch spacing between the tiers.

Invertebrates, like sea squirts, can attach themselves to the Mini Reefs. The reefs are made of a perforated propylene onto which marine life can attach themselves easily.

The added benefit is that the marine life can filter 30,000 gallons of water a day.

The Mini Reefs are tied under the docks but can rise up and down with the tides. Within a few months, life should start establishing itself onto the reef.

Oceans Habitats mini-reefs cost $297 and installation is $125; however, for $40 the reef can be shipped and homeowners can install the reefs themselves.

The South Manasota Sandpiper Key Association encouraged Mathews and its other members to install the mini-artificial reefs beneath their docks.

Association president Damian Ochab said, “I am proud of our members. This is stuff we should be doing. This makes sense.”

After toxic red tide blooms choked Southwest Florida in 2018, Manasota Key residents asked themselves what they could do to help remedy the situation, Ochab said.

“We’re really happy with the response,” he said. If 10 or 12 homeowners decided they give the mini-reefs a try, the association would view it as a success. Twice as many people not only responded, but donations from members paid for four of the Mini Reefs.

Oceans Habitats is a Florida company headquartered in Micanopy, near Gainesville. For more information, visit