I now have just the one reef aquarium, I’ve had others but the day arrived when my wife and I moved home. The original aquariums were closed down. Eventually a new one was opened, which was initially mature on 21st October 2002 (I know this as I have an aquarium notebook).
The photo above shows ‘dusk’ (it could just as well be ‘dawn’). The blue damsel can be seen lower right at the front. The white lights have turned off. The fish react to this by cruising about slowly then disappearing into the rocks, as they would on the wild reef. Or coming out of the rocks cautiously if it’s dawn.
There are three fish, I purposefully keep the aquarium understocked. The boss of the aquarium is a Flame Angel (Centropyge loriculus) which cruises about appearing quite imperial. The Flame went into the aquarium on 1st April 2003. There’s an Electric Blue Damsel (Chrysiptera cyanea) which went in on 2nd April 2014 (I had one earlier but it died, I have no idea why). The damsel darts about and completely out swims the Flame, it certainly gets it’s share of food. The third fish is a Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto) which went in on 2nd April 2014 with the damsel. The Gramma replaced a Flameback (Pseudochromis diadema) which also died, again why I don’t know. There wasn’t any sign of disease or illness or any problems. The Gramma avoids as far as it can the Flame but there is very little trouble between them.
Over the years the aquarium has really developed, I tend to follow the idea that ‘simplicity means success’. This isn’t always correct of course but does apply in my case (no comments please!). Seawater quality is very high with regular partial changes. Lighting is fluorescent and the tubes are changed every 6 to 9 months. Sand is not kept on the bottom but over time growth has covered the glass which showed making it look very natural. Natural growth of large ‘leafed’ algae is beautiful, and surface growth on the rocks has made those look very natural too. The rocks are live and do the biological filtration (the original filtration was two power filters but these were removed one by one over a lengthy period with regular seawater tests for problems. One of the filters is now used for surface agitation and helps with oxygenation).
The stage was reached when some corals were becoming too large and bothering others. So, nervously they were cut as needed, a very clean cut was ensured by a very sharp pair of scissors. The photo below shows a cut toadstool, it’s recovering, the new head can be seen.
The photo above shows a toadstool (near the top). This specimen appeared from nowhere – well, that can’t be true. It’s just that I didn’t place it, it appeared very small and has grown to the current size. The photo below shows a freshly cut and transplanted cutting from a coral (‘frag’), it’s hard to see as it is coloured very similar to the rock, but is just below the whitish coloured rocks near the bottom. These whitish rocks were placed by me to hopefully keep the coral in place until it manages to attach itself.
It’s always a little worrying cutting a coral. The coral shrinks and I always hope it will re-expand before too long – and they do. No doubt designed this way in case of damage on the reef. The photo below shows a few matured rocks. All the rocks in the aquarium look natural with varying colours. They really do add to the naturalness of the aquarium scene. The fish swim in, out and among them and of course it gives them security.
At night snails appear, quite a lot of them. They’re small, approximately 3mm or so in diameter. They are clearly algae eaters so there is enough to feed them going by the numbers. They do not overcrowd the scene by any means and they only appear at night. They do not cause any kind of problem. There is another area where little creatures live – during construction of the tank I created a small triangular area by placing a piece of glass across the back left-hand corner. In this area I constructed a deep sand bed (DSB). Over time little creatures have appeared. The fish cannot get at them as there isn’t any access from the main aquarium. Also, I have difficulty viewing the DSB as most activity is at night so I need a light and this frightens them away. Perhaps a red-light torch would be better.
The photo below shows the Flame Angel making an appearance to see what the strange human is up to. Nosey but ever ready to disappear again. All three fish usually appear if I go to the aquarium, I get the definite impression that I am required to put some food in but – sorry, you’ll have to wait!
Toadstools have been mentioned, the next photo below shows six baby ones growing like the one previously described. In this case I think they have come from the stalk left behind when the toadstool re-attached itself to another rock. When they get big enough I’ll have to reluctantly remove most I suppose, and perhaps transplant one somewhere else if I can find the space.
The last photo above is a general view down the back of the aquarium, at the front bottom and in the distance at the top can be seen the ‘large-leafed’ algae mentioned earlier and various corals.
Keeping a marine aquarium provides good decoration for the home, in my opinion anyway. Fortunately my wife agrees so clearly it’s in the correct place, in our case the hall. There is a lot more to a marine aquarium though besides being decorative furniture. It is a demonstration of the beauty and adaptability of Mother Nature’s creations, also an education for the aquarist into what happens where and why. In depth knowledge is not required as long as the, shall we say ‘basic rules’ are understood. It certainly isn’t difficult. The life in the aquarium is in the aquarist’s care and that is a responsibility. It’s great fun and it’s very rewarding.
(Photos: John Cunningham)