Archive for the Care Category

There’s No Water Movement In My Reef

I came home this evening from a hard day at work, ready for the weekend, spend some quality time with the family and do the weekly maintenance on the aquarium.

Everything was all ok until I parked the car on the drive, got out and came into the house……

As soon as I came into the house the first thing I could hear was a beeping sound. I knew right from the very start what it was. It was the control unit from my Tunze wavebox. Sometimes it gets a slight block, the pump turns itself off to prevent damage and the alarm sounds.

No problem I thought I’ll just give it a quick once over and it will be fine.

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This Means War Part 2

Running a marine aquarium means being on the lookout for trouble. That’s not to say that a marine aquarium is trouble, it simply means that, as with most things, trouble can arise despite the best efforts and diligence of the aquarist.

I’d already found an intruder in my aquarium. It was identified, considered and eventually action taken to control it. This invader was eventually overcome, controlled and nearly eliminated so that it was no longer a problem. Its name was bubble algae, or sailor’s eyeballs (Ventricaria ventricosa).

Peace reigned once again. The reef was splendid, routine maintenance was done, and much quiet observation and appreciation took place.

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This Means War!

The marine aquarium is kept for fish, or corals, or fish and corals. The setting up costs are substantial. At the end of all the research, designing and purchasing, and once the system has matured and settled down, the aquarium is a thing of absolute beauty.

Aquarists watch their fish swim around as though on a coral reef (well they are as far as they’re concerned) and feel peace watching the corals grow.

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Why Is There Scum On The Water Surface

A couple of days ago we received an email from a young man who has just started out in this hobby and has setup a small salt water aquarium.

He was very apologetic for contacting us but had noticed that there was a large build up of what appeared to be scum on the water surface and was hoping that we would be able to help him find out what it was, is it detrimental and how does he remove it.

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Aquarium Additives and Hard Corals

The reef aquarium with hard corals (SPS) is the desire of many an aquarist. The sight of pictures on the internet and in books only serves to increase that desire. With modern aquaria and equipment, plus the knowledge gained over recent years, this desire can be met, and more easily than some suspect.

It is taken as read that the need for high water quality is understood. High water quality means a proper and stable pH, between 8.0 and 8.4, nitrate less than 10 ppm (parts per million), phosphate preferably undetectable, but no more than 0.03 ppm, and ammonia and nitrite undetectable. Equipment should include a properly sized and efficient protein skimmer. Water movement, which I consider a part of water quality, should be vigorous and chaotic. There is also a need for strong lighting, the best of which is metal halide, supplemented by actinic T5 fluorescents. A greater number of T5 fluorescents can be used without a metal halide, as many as can be fitted into the aquarium including their reflectors. The T5’s should be an equal, or as near as possible equal, mix of marine white and actinic. However, at least in my opinion, the halide lighting is the best option.

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Aquarium Additives and Soft Corals

Keeping a seawater aquarium nowadays is a generally straightforward affair. Provided the design and setting up is satisfactory and the aquarist does the necessary periodic maintenance properly, the aquarium will give pleasure for a long period.

Commercial seawater mixes are good overall. The mix will provide adequate levels of elements in the seawater, but checks should still be made, particularly when the aquarium is matured and settling and onwards, to ensure that important parameters are as they should be.

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An Aquarium System In Trouble – A Slow Recovery

Peter (being Peter) a few months ago agreed to care for a [tag-tec]saltwater aquarium[/tag-tec], as the aquarist who owned it had to move house. The aquarium is of fairly sizeable proportions and has a sump.

The system arrived and was off-loaded. With quite a bit of staggering the aquarium was placed on a stand pre-prepared by Peter. The sump was placed underneath. The main aquarium had a DSB ([tag-tec]deep sand bed[/tag-tec]), I assume that was the intention, maybe it was just meant to be decorative. The sump also had a DSB. Some of the original water was placed back in. The live rock, which had travelled separately, also went in. The fish, seven in all, mainly small with one medium sized surgeon also went in. Additional water was made up, heaters turned on and also the skimmer started up. Everything went well, considering.

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How To Acclimitise New Corals And Fish Correctly

It always amazes me how many people I see or talk to who purchase a marine animal, take it home, open the bag and pour it into their aquarium. I can never understand why some people do not acclimitise their purchases properly, it could be laziness, lack of knowledge, impatience etc but one thing is for certain life is on the line here so it must be done correctly.

The purpose of acclimatisation is simple – the water that the animal is packaged in may have a different temperature, pH and salinity than that of your aquarium. Aquatic life (especially corals and invertebrates) are very sensitive to minor changes in water parameters therefore acclimatisation is a definate requirement for success.

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Feeding Marine Fish

Feeding the fish in the aquarium, and also shrimps if kept, is one of the most pleasurable parts of keeping a seawater aquarium. This is probably because of the direct interaction between the aquarist and fish. Some fish can become so tame that they will rise and take food from the fingers. This heart warming trick is often done by cleaner shrimps as well – in fact place a hand in the aquarium and they will often climb on the hand to see if they can find a morsel to eat. Movements outside the aquarium can cause the fish to respond and hang about the usual feeding area in the hope of food. This latter should be resisted, the fish are not starving, it is an automatic response after a while in the aquarium.

This brings me on to an important point. The action of feeding is, unfortunately, one that can bring trouble, particularly with newcomers to the hobby. Overfeeding! It is easily done, and must be avoided. Overfeeding can upset the water parameters. Nitrate (NO3) and phosphate (PO4) are mainly introduced through food. So pollution through overfeeding should be avoided. If the aquarium is fitted with a DSB (deep sand bed), or a denitrator, or has algae growing, the problem can be minimised. However, whatever the equipment, overfeeding is bad. It goes without saying that the fish also need enough food.

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Alkalinity – What Is It and How Is It Controlled?

This is not a complete scientific discussion or description of alkalinity. It is simply intended as a base, as there isn’t a requirement for an aquarist to be a scientist and understand all. A basic understanding allows the aquarist to ensure the seawater in his/her aquarium is at the parameter desired and why.

Right, that said, alkalinity then. Alkalinity of seawater is the ability of the seawater to resist certain change. Alkalinity can also be called Carbonate Hardness. Seawater is on the alkaline side of neutral. To quickly describe this, pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Above 7 is into the alkaline side, below 7 is into the acidic side. Aquarium seawater is, generally, maintained between 8.0 and 8.4. So, as can be seen aquarium seawater is on the alkaline side.

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