Underwater shot of some of our corals in the ReefNation Aquaculture facility

Keys to Successful Reefkeeping: The Eyes Have it

We have all seen amazing reef tanks with troves of schooling fish, crystal clear water, and not a piece of algae in sight. If we all had the means, we would snap our fingers and presto that aquarium would show up in our living room. Now, once you pinch yourself, pop that bubble over your head and take a good look at the aquarium that really sits in your living room, you may be a little bit disappointed. So how do you turn a so-so looking Anyreef USA into something that resembles the indo pacific? No magic additives, no secret regimen, and by all means, no Lucky Charms! No, in most cases a good dose of observation is the only additive needed to take your reef tank to the next level. Check this out.

Location Location Location!

The oceans are huge! No mystery there, but we have to remember that the organisms that we keep in our reef tanks come from many different areas of that environment. We can dream all we want about the perfect aquascape with the corals and fish that are atop our wishlists thriving in harmony altogether in the aquarium. The reality though is that these organisms in many cases come from very different niche environments that our aquariums are just to small to offer.

Let’s take 2 corals for instance, say a staghorn coral and a bubble coral. For the staghorn, let’s say the physical conditions in the tank would would most likely resemble moderate flow, high lighting, and low nutrient load. Now if you take a bubble coral and add it to that same environment, chances are you would burn, starve, and blow the tissue right off its skeleton. All too often simple observations like this get overlooked as we go to make a purchase and get blinded by all the hundreds of options at our local fish store.

When you setup a tank, it is important to not only have an idea ahead of time about what type of reef environments you would like to create, but also to revisit this once you have rock work, lighting, and flow established. Doing this will help you discover the micro environments within your system and ultimately help you in choosing what corals will do well in the various spots in your tank. If you can describe this to your local fish store when picking out corals and fish, it will help them make reccomendations for your tank.

Underwater shot from one of the Reefnation grow out tanks

Who’s in, Who’s out?

When choosing fish for your tank, it is important to use the same logic in order to maintain a natural balance both in a food chain as well as a competitive sense. The last thing that you want is to get all your aquascaping done, add your corals and fish, and then realize you have a problem fish in your tank. If it does happen however, getting that one fish out can prove to be very difficult and time consuming.

By doing research online or asking your local fish store, you should be able to figure out if the fish you plan to introduce will feed on other things like shrimp, corals, or sponges that may already be in your tank. It will also be important to learn if the fish you are adding will be compatible with your tank mates from a competitive sense. The last thing you want to do is acclimate a fish, introduce them, and then have to watch a fight to the finish unfold in front of your eyes with little you can do.

All said making sure you have compatible fish and coral species in your reef aquarium will assure that you will have a complete ecosystem in your living room rather than a tank full of incompatible organisms. A happy, well balanced ecosystem will reward you with years of viewing as well as a few mating and reproduction surprises along the way. Happy Reefkeeping!

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