Reef tank aquarium setup is generally more delicate than their freshwater counterparts. What distinguishes a ‘reef aquarium’ from a typical saltwater fish aquarium is that a reef aquarium contains coral and other sensitive invertebrate species.
With this in mind, you must realize that water quality, water movement, and lighting are of utmost importance in reef systems. These features are often absent from fish-only saltwater tanks. Coral, unlike their more hardy fishy friends, are very susceptible to stagnant and deficient quality water. Besides, most corals are photosynthetic creatures, so adequate lighting is paramount.
Instructions For Reef Tank Aquarium Setup
Rock – it is important for introducing microflora and microfauna into your aquarium system. These little critters are responsible for creating stable water chemistry and removing the buildup of harmful organic compounds.
Protein skimmers – Protein skimmers mimic the foaming of seawater that you will often see on the shore caused by crashing waves. Through agitation of saltwater, protein skimmers can extract, or skim, organic compounds that would otherwise pollute your tank.
Sump (with refugium) – a sump is a tank that is typically separate from the ‘display tank’ (where all your critters live). One is that it will effectively increase the total water volume of your system because sumps are plumbed into the main display tank.
More water volume is always better for water quality. Second, sumps often house a refugium. Refugiums are used to house macroflora and macrofauna. They filter the water naturally. Chaeto and mangroves are common macro plants that are popular for water filtration.
Water Movement: Powerheads and other pumps – water movement is significant in reef tanks. Currents are always carrying nutrients to these corals and waste away from them. Also, many non-photosynthetic invertebrates rely on filter-feeding and will not be able to thrive if the water is stagnant.
Lastly, water movement also aids in the agitation of the water’s surface. Doing this is particularly important because gas exchange occurs at the interface of the water to the atmosphere. And this facilitates by breaking the surface tension.
Lighting For Reef Tank Aquarium Setup
Power Compacts – you can use these fluorescent lights for corals that do not have intense lighting requirements. With PC lights you can house most leather and LPS (large polyp stony) corals in addition to polyps like mushrooms and zoanthids. However, to accommodate clams and SPS (small polyp stony) coral, you will need metal halide lighting.
Metal Halides – Metal halide lighting for reef tank aquarium setup utilizes an arc to emit intense light similar to that of the sun. MH lighting is typically much more expensive than PC lighting, but it is NECESSARY for coral and animals with high light requirements.
These include SPS corals and clams. Most often, you will find that you can use both MH and PC lighting in a single fixture. It is done to simulate day and night conditions. Moreover, you can also use Bluer ‘actinic’ lighting to enhance coral vibrancy, while you can use yellow ‘hotter’ lighting to promote growth.