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Reef Aquariums

Reef Aquariums

Reef Aquariums are Marine Aquariums housing Live Corals and other marine lives associated with Coral Reefs. Reef Aquariums form a breathtaking display, but at the same time, they are not easy to maintain. Keeping Reef Aquariums is akin to maintaining a mini and complicated Marine Ecosystem. The main attractions of Reef Aquariums are Corals and the other Invertebrates they house. Some basic requirements to be borne in mind while creating and maintaining Reef Aquariums, are elaborated upon in subsequent paragraphs.

Filtration: There are the varieties of filtration methods available for Reef Aquariums such as, Sump Tanks, Canister Filters, and Sponge Filters, to name some. The most suitable and popular filtration method for Reef Aquariums is based on ‘Live Rocks’ supplemented by Protein Skimmers. These eliminate Organic Compounds from the system, before they decay, thereby reducing the burden of Biological Filtration on the beneficial microorganisms.

Water Movement: Water movement or flow rates are important for Reef Aquariums. There is no thumb rule for deciding this factor though. Different types of Corals have different requirements of water flow and this aspect has to be accommodated on a case-to-case basis. Water flow is important to bring food to Corals, as they do not fully rely on Photosynthesis for nutrition. Gas diffusion occurs as water flows over a Coral, bringing fresh Oxygen to it, and removing toxic gasses & dead materials from it.

Lighting: Lighting plays a very important role in Reef Aquariums and special care has to be taken to maintain proper lighting conditions. Often many organisms need bright light for Photosynthesis (food generation), while the others have it as a part of their common habitat. It is important to choose the right spectrum or the color of the light, as well as to look at the Color Rendition Index (CRI) rating for the bulbs used. This is a good measure of overall bulb intensity. A CRI rating in 90s is advantageous for most Reef Aquariums.

Temperature: It is commonly believed that Reef Aquariums must be maintained within the temperature range of 25 and 27 °C (75-80 ºF).

pH levels: The pH level of Reef Aquariums needs to be maintained within the range of 8.0 to 8.3. The pH level of water in the tank drops over time and this fluctuation needs to be constantly monitored and corrected.

Nutrition: Nutrition requirements in a Reef Aquarium are diverse, owing to a wide spectrum of life forms inhabiting it. It is considered better to feed small amounts more often than vice versa. Corals, Invertebrates, and Fish need to be monitored separately for their nutritional needs. We shall concentrate on non-fish inhabitants of Reef Aquariums.

Corals: Different types of Corals derive nutrition from different modes such as, Photosynthesis and Filter Feeding to mention a couple. It is important to understand the Biology of particular specimens to decide how much, what type, and how often food should be administered. Many available Coral Foods are in liquid or powder form. Calcium is considered an important food source, as is lighting.

Invertebrates: Invertebrates such as Shrimp, Lobster, Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Sea Apples, Cucumbers, and the others are the usual choices for Reef Aquariums. These animals consume a variety of foods, decaying matter, etc. Live food is always a good option such as, Brine Shrimp, Daphnia, Krill, Rotifers, and Water Fleas. There are also good Freeze Dried and Sinking Pellets available for feeding Crabs, Shrimps, and Sea Anemones.

Regular maintenance: After the Reef Aquariums’ eco-system is set up, a great deal of work is associated with it for sustenance. A balanced maintenance package should include all of the following:
  • Weekly cleaning inside and out, especially Filters and Lighting.
  • Weekly testing for pH, Ammonia, and Nitrite levels. This is crucial for maintaining adequate living conditions for the inhabitants.
  • Weekly addition of water-soluble nutrients such as, Calcium, Strontium, Molybdenum, Iodine, Iron Supplements, as well as Proteins, for the Invertebrates.
  • Fortnightly partial water change, if needed. This is not necessary if it is not required.

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