Article by Jay Wilson
Saltwater reef aquariums are aquariums that contain live coral and other animals associated with coral reefs. Saltwater reef aquariums can vary from attempts to recreate specific environments and ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef, to the more typical and often more brightly colored mixed reef that combines hard and soft corals from around the world.Unlike the marine aquarium, which focuses on the various and diverse types of fish, the true stars of the reef tank are the coral and other interesting invertebrates.
Tanks for Saltwater Reef AquariumsSaltwater reef aquariums consist of a number of components, the most important of which is the tank. Regular glass or acrylic aquariums are used for reef aquariums; they typically include an internal overflow made of plastic or glass that encloses holes drilled into the bottom to accommodate a drain or standpipe and a return line. Water pours into and down the standpipe through piping, into a sump, that houses filtration and heating equipment, through a pump and finally back through the second hole into the aquarium. Alternatively, aquariums sometimes use an external overflow with a U-tube that feeds water to the sump that returns it using a water pump.
Filtration for Saltwater Reef AquariumsFiltration for reef aquariums usually comes from large amounts of live rock from various rubble zones around existing reefs, or aquacultured rock from Florida supplemented by protein skimmers. Additionally, a refugium which houses many species of macroalgae, including Caulerpa racemosa or chaetomorphae macroalgae can be used to remove excess nutrients from the water such as nitrate, phosphate, and iron. Some aquarium keepers also advocate the use of deep sand beds.
Typically, combined mechanical/biological filtration is avoided as these filters trap detritus and produce nitrates that may inhibit the growth of, or even kill many delicate corals. Chemical filtration is used sparingly to avoid discoloration of the water, to remove dissolved matter and to stabilize the reef ecosystem.
Water movementWater movement is important in saltwater reef aquariums, and different corals require different flow rates. Many hobbyists advocate a water turnover rate of ten times the aquarium capacity in gallons per hour. There are many exceptions. Mushroom Coral, for example, requires little flow and is commonly found in crevices near the base of the reef. Species such as Acropora and Montipora thrive under much more turbulent conditions in the range of 30 to 40 times more flow, as they are native to shallow water near the tip of the reef, where waves break. The directions which water pumps are pointed within an aquarium will have a large effect on flow speeds.
Water flow is important to bring food to corals. No coral completely relies on photosynthesis for food. Gas exchange occurs when water flows over coral, bringing oxygen and taking away gasses and shedding material. Water flow helps in reduce the risk of thermal shock by reducing coral’s surface temperature. The surface temperature of a coral that lives near the water’s surface can be significantly higher than the surrounding water due to the heat of the sun.
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Here is a video of my new led lights. I got the lights off amazon for 155 a piece they are 120w 3w led’s set at 2w for longer life span. There are half blue and half 15000k white led’s. I have had them for 2 weeks now so I will keep you posted on how my corals are doing. I lower the lights down 12 inches every week so I hope the corals will be adjusted to the new light within a month. any questions just leave me a comment.
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