Idiot Guide To The Marine Aquarium

Ultimate Secrets To Saltwater Fish

The Ultimate Guide To Keeping Happy,healthy Marine Life (fish, Corals And Other Invertebrates) And How To Optimally Set Up A Saltwater Aquarium And Maintain A Pristine Environment For Your Pets. Create The Perfect Environment For Your Marine Life and Learn: How to easily and cheaply prepare excellent quality water for your tank with none of the hidden sources of pollutants. What to do to completely assess your aquariums water quality in 7 easy steps that take 5 minutes. This is one of the most frequently underestimated keys to success that so many people just dont understand, by the time they get their water test results back from the local fish shop it's often too late. The truth about microorganisms in your aquarium: what they are, which ones are bad and how to enrich for the beneficial ones that can save you a lot of grief. Beautifully and easily aquascape your marine aquarium in 5 steps that take 30 minutes. What never to do regarding your aquarium equipment: the livelihood of your marine life could rely on this little known marine biologist tip. Banish aquarium problems for good by learning how to prevent them before they happen. Science has demonstrated that prevention can end up to 90% of disease outbreaks! The truth about cheaply setting up your marine aquarium, learn the key elements you really need and to avoid the unnecessary gimmicks and expensive add-ons. Slash the time and effort you spend on maintaining your aquarium, learn the absolute necessities you need to do and when. Everything else is just a waste of your precious time and money. More here...

Ultimate Secrets To Saltwater Fish Summary


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Freshwater And Marine Aquarium

(ISSN 01 60-4317) is published monthly by BowTjeMagazirilM a division of BowTie, Inc., 3 Burroughs, Irvine, CA 92618-2804. Corporate headquarters is located at 2401 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90057-0900. Periodicals Postage Paid at Irvine, CA 92619-9998 nd at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER Please send address changes to FRESHWATER AND MARINE AQUARIUM, P.O. Box 37233, Boone, IA 50037-0233. 2007 BowTie, Inc. All rights reserved. R d ll of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. FRESHWATER AND MARINE AQUARIUM P.O. Box 37233 Boone, 1 0037-0233 (866) 201-3870 fax (515) 433-1013 Visit JStonline FWA

Bringing Out the Best in Saltwater Aquariums

Setting up a successful coral reef aquarium involves more than just placing a bunch of fish and invertebrates in a glass box. Although as we saw in the previous chapter 1, Caring for an Aquarium, the coral reef environment is physically and chemically similar across the planet, the lifestyles of the reef's inhabitants are extraordinarily varied. On the reef, competition for food, living space, mates, and even sunlight is fierce. Fishes, invertebrates, and even seaweeds have evolved a remarkable suite of strategies for winning the struggle for survival. They do not abandon these strategies when removed to a captive reef. It behooves the aquarist, therefore, to learn how to make wise selections that result in a compatible community.

Beginner Saltwater Fish

If you are setting up a tank for large aggressive fish, you can start with triggers and or lionfish, as they are hardy. However, mistakes with them can be very costly, so you may want to practice on less expensive and easier fish. Also, carnivorous fish such as triggers and lions should be fed plenty of shell fish and other marine life. Specifically, many people feed lions feeder goldfish. This is really a bad practice because goldfish are freshwater fish and do not provide the same nutrition that a saltwater fish would. Specifically, feeding saltwater fish freshwater food can cause premature liver failure and the early demise of your fish. Other saltwater fish which can be attempted once you get good at controlling the fish's environment are hawk fishes, grammas, dotty backs, basslets, and wrasses. Some are more difficult to keep than others, but not nearly as difficult as angles and butterflies.

Selecting a Saltwater Fish

Since saltwater fish are usually more expensive than freshwater fish, you have a great stake in getting them home alive and keeping them alive for the long term. You must realize that most fish you see in stores were swimming around the vast ocean a mere week ago. As such, the stress of capture and transportation can wreak havoc with the biological processes of the animal.

Catalog of Saltwater Fish

In the foregoing pages, I have covered over one hundred species of saltwater fish and their aquarium care. My list represents roughly one-fourth of the coral reef fish imported for the aquarium trade, but includes 90 percent of the species that are both commonly available and well suited to captive care by a home aquarist. The taxonomic outline should help you make sense of all this diversity. The cross-reference lists will assist you in choosing the perfect fish for any aquarium community you might be planning.

Spectacular Reef Aquariums from Around the World

In Volume One we featured some photographs of reef aquariums from around the world. This was a popular section of the book, so we decided to do it again in Volume Two. We were amused to discover that the appearance of reef tanks has markedly transformed in the few years since our first book was published. The trend lately is to have a reef aquarium full of small-polyped stony corals. Volume Two is about soft corals and anemones, so the aquarium photographs here tend to emphasize the wrong creatures for this book While the small-polyped stony corals are certainly challenging to grow and colourful, they lack the fluid motion provided by swaying soft corals or anemones, which can be more interesting to observe. We hope that the information provided in this book stimulates a renewed interest in the great variety of soft corals, anemones, and anemone-like creatures that really provide interesting movement and diversity of shape to a reef aquarium community. With this tour of beautiful reef...

Disease in the Reef Aquarium

Marine fish have amazingly tough constitutions. I have seen them survive wounds of the sort seen in B-grade horror movies an eye torn from the head, body parts shredded to ribbons, appendages mangled to mere stumps. Fish jump and crash into the glass canopy above them with surprising force. Imagine running at full speed into a plate-glass door. Tve found fish lying on the floor, covered in lint, nearly crisp from desiccation, only to have them recover completely after being returned to the aquarium. So why do marine fish have a reputation for extreme delicacy and susceptibility to disease Probably because too many aquarists fail to anticipate problems and are then unprepared when they arise. Despite the frustration that often results from attempts to cope with disease outbreaks in marine aquarium fish, more than 90 of the deaths could probably be avoided. 2. If disease becomes evident in an established reef aquarium, there is no known way to treat the problem successfully without...

Water Quality Parameters For Tropical Marine Aquariums

Water Quality Parameter

For some purposes, a highly accurate test is not necessary. For example, one needs to know only if ammonia is present at all, not the exact amount, since finding any amount of this toxic compound in aquarium water is cause for concern. On the other hand, when copper is used for the treatment of parasitic infestation in fishes, a difference of 0.1 ppm can spell the difference between a successful cure and loss of the specimen. In common parlance, a synonym for what chemists mean by accuracy is reliability how well one can rely on the test result's being true. PRECISION Precision refers to the amount of difference a test or instrument will permit the observer to distinguish between two similar tests. The smaller the increment, the greater the precision and, consequently, the higher the cost. For example, to measure the difference between 0.010 and 0.015 units maybe much more difficult (and expensive) than determining the difference between 10 and 15 units. Tests, therefore, for the...

Lighting the Reef Aquarium

Reef Aquarium

Sunlight is essential for life on the coral reef. Our aquariums rely on a suitable artificial light source. What type of lighting is best to use for reef aquariums There is no best type of lighting, but there are considerations that determine generally what lights are best for a particular aquarium. There are also some rules about the usage of different types of lights, and the proper orientation of marinelife in the aquarium. Klaus Jansen viewing the top of his impressive reef aquarium. With the pumps turned off, one can see reflected in the surface of the water the combination of metal halide and blue fluorescent bulbs he uses to illuminate this aquarium. The bulbs at the front (deep section) are 2000 watt metal halides, at the rear 1000 watts A.J. Nilsen. In chapter 1 we briefly described the importance of lighting to the distribution of coral reefs. Before we describe the lighting systems and parameters for reef aquariums, we want to provide a little background information about...

Classification of Saltwater Fish

Most of the saltwater fish covered in this book belong to the order Perciformes. Perciform fishes have enjoyed enormous evolutionary success, now numbering about 8000 species in both fresh and saltwater. With so many perciform species, it should come as no surprise that their lifestyles vary greatly. This has resulted in a profusion of fish families within the order, roughly 1 50 out of a total of 482 families. To clarify their relationships, biologists group families into suborders. The suborder designations are included here for the Perciformes, but not the other orders. 190 Saltwater Aquarium Models

Marine Invertebrates

Marine invertebrates are sometimes more difficult to keep in an aquarium on the one hand, they are very sensitive to the quality of the water, which must be as faultless as possible, and, on the other, feeding them is complicated, particularly in the case of sponges, Coelenterates, anemones, and corals. It is also important to consider the compatibility of invertebrates, not only with each other but also with fish as invertebrates are the favorite meal of some fish For all these reasons, the best option is a specialist tank, which will provide a spectacle just as fascinating as that of a fish aquarium, although those fish which can cohabit with invertebrates represent a logical complement to this type of aquarium. The invertebrates which are most robust and easiest to acclimatize can reproduce in captivity (especially some species of anemones), but success in this area requires a solid background in marine aquariums on the part of the hobbyist.

Preface to the Third Edition

As you know, there have been two earlier editions of Dr. Burgess's Alias of Marine Aquarium Fishes, each cast in the same basic mold as regards how the pages in both the original edition and the supplemental pages that were added to make the second edition are laid out. In this new edition, we've changed the way the supplemental pages are laid out. Instead of arranging them in the eight to-the page format that is now used through out almost the entire Atlas, we have paid attention to the requests of hobbyists who have told us that some of the marine species that arc now avail able are so beautifully colorful (or so odd looking) that it's a shame to restrict photos ot them to the relatively small space that the existing format permits. They've asked us why we don't use bigger photos on the pages added to each new edition, and to be entirely honest we didn't really have any answer other than to say that we've always done it that way.

What You Can Find in This Book

Chapter 1, Caring for an Aquarium, explains the basic skills for setting up and maintaining a home aquarium. I cover all the important bases without becoming bogged down in too much biology and chemistry. Chapter 2, Bringing out the Best in Saltwater Aquariums, explains the essential elements of good aquarium design, and chapter 3, Making Your Aquarium Look Real, presents practical techniques for creating a natural-appearing scene within the aquarium's limited space. Chapter 4, Understanding Invertebrates, acquaints you with the fundamentals of invertebrate biology. Invertebrates provide perhaps the most fascinating dimension to saltwater aquarium-keeping. Chapter 5, Nuts and Bolts, will interest anyone thinking of a built-in aquarium. Suggestions for designing for ease of maintenance will also interest those planning free-standing installations. And everyone should pay attention to the information about safety found in chapter 5, Nuts and Bolts. I devote two chapters to model designs...

How Saltwater Differs from Freshwater

Not only coral reefs, but all marine habitats occur in seawater of the same composition. Thus, saltwater aquariums all share the same set of water parameters. Again, this contrasts with the wide differences in freshwater chemistry from one habitat to another. For example, an acidic South American pond might have a pH of 5.0 and a hardness near zero, while Lake Tanganyika has a pH of about 9.0 and extremely high hardness. The fish from each of these habitats are unlikely to survive for long if kept, say, under the other habitat's conditions in the aquarium. In the case of marine habitats, the water surrounding the coral reefs of Australia has about the same pH and salinity as the water surrounding Key West, Florida. The saltwater aquarist has less to worry about than his or her freshwater counterpart, in terms of water chemistry. See chapter 1, Caring for an Aquarium, for more details on saltwater chemistry. 2. A saltwater novice must begin with fish only and graduate to an...

Caring for an Aquarium

Before you even decide for certain that you want a saltwater aquarium in your living room, you need a clear understanding of the time, effort, and expense involved in maintaining it properly. Although this book emphasizes design over technique, once the design is executed, maintenance becomes all-important. To provide the stability necessary for your organisms to thrive in your saltwater aquarium, you need to

The Chemistry You Need

I warned you already that you would have to understand some basic chemistry in order to understand your saltwater aquarium. If you desire more in-depth information, it is readily available in books or online. Most people realize the sea covers two-thirds of the planet, but few take the time to understand even a gallon of it, says Miles O'Malley, the protagonist of Jim Lynch's novel, The Highest Tide. We may know the sea is salty, but the basic composition of seawater remains a mystery to most people. When you take on the responsibility of a saltwater aquarium, the properties of seawater become highly relevant. The range of optimum water conditions for a saltwater aquarium is much narrower than for a freshwater tank. In order to keep conditions in the aquarium within that narrow range, the aquarist must engage in a regular process of what I like to call test and tweak. You periodically perform some key chemical tests. If water conditions are found to be out of line, you tweak them back...

Physical and Chemical Cycles

The most important physical and chemical cycles operating within the saltwater aquarium are biological filtration, gas exchange, and the day night cycle. Without biological filtration, an aquarium requires water changes so frequently as to be impractical. Life in an aquarium cannot exist without the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide at the surface. Photosynthetic organisms require both light and darkness for their survival, and the alternation of light and dark regulates the metabolism of both fish and invertebrates. Good aquarium design and regular maintenance take care of all these requirements. 22 Saltwater Aquarium Models 22 Saltwater Aquarium Models The chemistry of the surrounding seawater varies little from one coral reef to the next. Therefore, only one set of parameters is needed for all saltwater aquariums that display reef fishes and invertebrates. Some authors recommend maintaining the temperature at a slightly higher range than recommended here. Otherwise, broad...

Selecting Invertebrates and Fishes

The options may seem endless when it comes to all the saltwater fishes and invertebrates you have to choose from to stock your tank. However, by making the following considerations you can make selections that work well for your tank. The commercial trade in coral reef fish provides us with comparatively few large groups into which virtually all species can be sorted. Looking at potential aquarium inhabitants in terms of which group they belong to makes more sense than trying to treat each variety as unique. Thus, we can identify five basic types of marine aquarium fish Some fish are just naturally better aquarium fish than others. A good aquarium fish should remain relatively small at maturity. Space and money constraints limit aquarium size. The size of the tank defines the upper limit on fish size within it, obviously. Custom-built aquarium systems, of course, can be any size your budget permits, but most people reading this book will be considering systems holding 1 50 gallons or...

Making Your Aquarium Look Real

Freshwater aquariums vary quite a bit in terms of temperature, pH, water hardness, and so forth, while coral reef aquariums all require the same water chemistry and temperature. Except for its capacity, however, one freshwater filtration system is pretty much like another. This is hardly the case with saltwater systems, though all designs share the goal of creating a satisfactory substitute for the coral reef environment. Many modern saltwater aquariums are much more than mere displays of fishes. They are true miniature reefs, usually abbreviated minireef. To be sure, a minireef offers more challenges than an aquarium featuring only fishes. You have more kinds of critters and their respective needs to cope with. Water quality maintenance often involves more tests and more adjustments. On the other hand, some aspects of a minireef work in the aquarist's favor. The more diverse biological community that develops in the minireef actually helps to maintain stable water conditions by...

Systems The Choices the Basics

Planning and Equipping the Natural Marine Aquarium The fish business, if you will pardon the pun, is either sink or swim. If one enters this unique niche, one must use every resource to succeed, largely because the market is so specialized. My classifications of customers were rather arbitrary at first, but I came to realize that finding common traits allowed me to concentrate upon the needs and aspirations of each client. While each aquarium is as individual as its owner, I have found that there are three basic reasons people want to own aquariums. Understanding your own primary motivation for having a marine aquarium can make the process of planning and acquiring the system much less confusing or stressful.

The Aquarium As Decoration

The reef aquarium as architectural focal point oak cabinetry housing a 270-gallon glass system created by Exotic Aquaria. ural marine aquarium can enhance any home, if your main reliable system is needed. The natural approach described commitment that this represents and to plan for it. Unde- owned a guppy or goldfish, niably, a natural marine aquarium can be a spectacular fo- Diy, a natural marine aquarium can De a spectacular rc point for any room. The degree to which your efforts i caring for it are rewarded will be in large measure dictated

Understanding Invertebrates

Minireef aquariums owe much of their appeal to invertebrates. The fish may, in some designs, be secondary players. Even in a fish-only aquarium, a few carefully chosen invertebrates help solidify the illusion of a natural biotope. Invertebrates add color and interest, and in some cases reward the aquarist by reproducing themselves. Many sessile invertebrates grow and spread like garden plants. In time, the aquarium begins to take on a truly natural look that cannot be otherwise achieved.

Recognizing Relationships

More species of marine invertebrates live on coral reefs than anyplace else in the sea. Classification, or taxonomy, helps make sense of this diversity. Based on similarities in the basic body plan, biologists delineate the major groups, or phyla (singular, phylum). They base the taxonomy of subgroups within phyla on similarities in anatomical specifics, reproductive behavior, fossil evidence, and a host of other factors. Invertebrate taxonomy is not merely an academic exercise. All these groups and subgroups reflect genetic relationships. The smallest group is the species, a distinct population of animals that does not interbreed with similar populations. Progressively larger groupings become more inclusive, until one reaches the largest group, the kingdom, Animalia, which includes all animal life forms. The levels in between, from smallest to largest are genus, family, order, class, and phylum. (Subdivisions exist for each of these groups, the result of our ever-increasing...

From Ocean to Aquarium

Colette Wabnitz

This report would not have been possible without the participation of many colleagues from the Marine Aquarium Council, particularly Aquilino A. Alvarez, Paul Holthus and Peter Scott, and all trading companies who made data available to us for inclusion into GMAD. The kind assistance of Akbar, John Brandt, John Caldwell, Lucy Conway, Emily Corcoran, Keith Davenport, John Dawes, MM Faugere et Gavand, Cedric Genevois, Thomas Jung, Peter Karn, Firoze Nathani, Manfred Menzel, Davide di Mohtarami, Edward Molou, Wolfgang Mueller, James O'Carroll, Jan Olsen, Gayatri Reksodihardjo-Lilley, Martin Selch, Claude Schuhmacher, Craig Shuman, Derek Thomson, Caroline Raymakers, Paul West, and Miriam and Danny Winkels is also very much appreciated.

The Aquarium As Hobby

Pearance of their homes with natural objects and living or- the pursuit be marine aquarium keeping, tennis, or the po- to himself as an amateur chef or an amateur scientist the word amateur can be translated as one who loves. One reason for the current popularity of marine aquariums is the deep attraction many people feel for nature and natural Some families buy an aquarium as an educational history. This is a hobby that breeds passionate amateurs with tool for the benefit of their children. Not a parent myself, I a lifelong commitment to their salty pursuits. Creating a natural marine aquarium cannot be accom-

Flukes Worms and Crustacean Parasites

Saltwater fish get all sorts of flukes, worms, and crustacean parasites both internally and externally. A home aquarist usually lacks the ability to treat these foes effectively. Professional help is required to carry out an appropriate treatment. In some cases, the problem is untreatable. Fish debilitated by parasites should be euthanized. Such infestations rarely spread from one fish to the other in the same aquarium, since the parasite usually requires an intermediate host, a mollusk, for example. It is quite unlikely that the intermediate will also be present in your tank.

Pacific Reefs Diversitys Motlierlodc

Trade in marine invertebrates and fishes. Collection of spec- cation from which a specimen was taken, even experts are slope. Marine invertebrates are not strictly limited in their guidelines to be used as a starting point. These guidelines your creativity in designing a natural reef aquarium reflect-

Settling In with Your Habitat

104 Saltwater Aquarium Models Because of the inevitable algae blooms early in the life of any saltwater aquarium, it is a good idea to choose algae-eating snails as the tank's first tenants. Snails are widely available. Other possibilities include blue leg or scarlet hermit crabs. Add a few crabs or snails (don't use both) and assess the effect on the algae growth before you add more. Other utilitarian invertebrates can also be added early in the aquarium's development. These include brittle stars, small shrimps, and detritus-feeding species such as burrowing sea cucumbers. If you are working toward a fish-only display, make sure these invertebrate additions will not be eaten by the tank's eventual piscine inhabitants. If you want to dispense with invertebrates altogether, add herbivorous fish, tangs, or rabbitfishes, for example, at this point. With suitable lighting, you can add photosynthetic invertebrates. Hardy choices include green star polyps, leather mushroom soft corals, and...

Maintenance Considerations

No getting around it, a minireef aquarium requires more maintenance than a basic fish-only system. Nevertheless, many aquarists find the rewards worth the additional effort. Be realistic about your ability and willingness to perform critical maintenance functions. Strange as it may sound, more captive saltwater creatures starve to death than die of disease. Many a failed system could have been saved with better attention to nutrition. Suspension feeding invertebrates, in particular, may fail to receive adequate nourishment and perish within a year. Avoid needless waste by planning ahead for a continuous food supply before you commit to a tank of such species, or even a single specimen. I have provided tips on food cultivation in chapter 2, Bringing Out the Best in Saltwater Aquariums. Eric Borneman's Aquarium Corals and Ron Shimek's Marine Invertebrates provide detailed recipes for coral foods and information about feeding specifics in invertebrate groups, respectively.

The Order Perciformes

Groupers and sea basses (family Serranidae) inhabit mostly marine waters in tropical and temperate regions. They have three opercular spines, the dorsal fin is single (sometimes notched), and the caudal fin is normally rounded to lunate. They are hermaphroditic with the two sexes not functioning simultaneously except in the genus Sen-amis and its immediate relatives. The 350 to 400 species are commonly divided into several subfamilies. Most of the species in the marine aquarium trade are brightly colored members of the subfamily Anthii-nae. These are commonly sexually dimorphic, with the males usually more brightly colored and usually with one or more elongate anterior dorsal fin spines. Juvenile groupers of the genus Epinephelus are also kept as they are hardy and feed well. Unfortunately, these soon do so well they outgrow even the largest aquaria. Other colorful species kept belong to the

Amyloodinium and Cryptocaryon

Two microorganisms, one a free-swimming protozoan and the other a form of algae, are responsible for almost all of the disease problems with which saltwater aquarium enthusiasts must cope. Both of these parasites can be easily treated with copper medication, but a novice aquarist may fail to notice the telltale signs of disease until it is too late. Don't make this common mistake Any fish that exhibits rapid, shallow fanning of the gill covers or that stays in an area of high water movement near the surface or that has any other symptom that would suggest it is having trouble getting enough oxygen, should be treated at once. Hours are important.

Clownfish Host Anemones Difficult Choices

Another problem that may affect all stichodactylid anemones in the aquarium may be incompatibility with other species of cnidarians because of nettling. I have found, for example, that H. magnified will not survive long in a typical reef aquarium containing an assortment of other cnidarians, despite conditions otherwise appropriate for its survival. Other aquarists report similar experiences. It is 210 Natural Reef Aquariums

The Clownfisk Host Anemone lank

Given its powerful stinging tentacles and its demanding care requirements, the anemone is the Pivotal Species in the aquarium community. Three families of anemones are represented among the clownfish hosts. One,Thalassianthidae, is of minimal interest. Of the remaining two families, Actiniidae is relatively easy to manage in the reef aquarium, while Stichodactylidae is rather difficult. 206 Natural Reef Aquariums Family Stichodactylidae. This anemone family is the more difficult one to manage in the reef aquarium. Heteractis aurora, Beaded Sea Anemone, is perhaps the easiest of this group to identify, as the tentacles are ribbed with swellings that are often a contrasting color. It hosts seven 208 Natural Reef Aquariums

Soft corals and sea fans

Broccoli Coral

The International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) recently also developed a project with the major objective of ensuring the sustainability of the coral trade industry in Fiji. Should this be achieved, coastal communities (mainly around Viti Levu, where returns often do not reflect the market value of the product) will be able to share fairly the benefits of the marine aquarium trade industry without compromising the health of their reefs.

Ophioderma Rubicundum

A large Volitans Lionfish (Pterois volitans) hovers over a Pacific reef. Voracious predators like lionfishes are poor choices for reef aquariums with smaller fishes. A large Volitans Lionfish (Pterois volitans) hovers over a Pacific reef. Voracious predators like lionfishes are poor choices for reef aquariums with smaller fishes. warded me repeatedly with new insights about the marine environment. For one, it was apparent that even as small an outcrop as Pigeon Key was encircled by distinct ecological zones. Marine organisms from one area were seldom found in the other. I would go out into the ocean and collect specimens from a certain spot until I had filled two buckets, returning to the lab to empty the contents into their own aquarium or water table. I soon began attempting to arrange each aquarium to mimic what I had seen in the ocean just beyond the door. It wasn't long before it occurred to me to try to take home one of these collections and rework my marine aquarium to reflect...

Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse

290 Natural Reef Aquariums What does this have to do with reef aquariums Only that the species that usually do best in captivity are either r-selected species or those k-selected species whose habitat requirements are clearly understood. Aquarium hobbyists, particularly novices, should be aware that some species are on the market whose chances of survival in captivity are slim. Just because a specimen is swimming in a dealer's tank does not mean that it will continue to accommodate itself to an artificial habitat as readily as might another species swimming alongside it. Attempts to categorize marine aquarium fishes to identify those that typically have a high likelihood of survival and those that do not have been met with varying degrees of acceptance by hobbyists and those in the industry. While few disagree that life-history information should be made widely available, the idea of categorizing species into broad suitable or unsuitable lists is controversial. Oversimplification in...

Fluorescent Lighting Systems

Saltwater Aquarium Solar Tube

108 Natural Reef Aquariums The nature of the phosphor coating on the inside of the white tube is what gives fluorescent lamps their spectral-output characteristics. Photosynthetic organisms have pigments that absorb strongly in the red and blue regions of the spectrum, although accessory pigments allow energy to be These are modest lighting levels, with the minimal gathered from light of many wavelengths. It is wiser to pro-wattage appropriate for fishes and nonphotosynthetic in- vide a balanced white light for shallow-water species and vertebrates. The moderate level can be sufficient for the to emphasize the blue wavelengths in aquariums for species less demanding soft corals such as Lobophytum, Pachyclavu- that come from greater depths. Most of the brand-related I aria y Sarcophyton, and even such large-polyped stony corals claims for fluorescent aquarium lamps revolve around their as Fungia, Plerogyra (Bubble Coral), Trachyphyllia (Open special spectral qualities. Hobbyists should...

Common Features of Captive Ecosystems

Frakes (1994) compared each of the methods discussed above and concluded, Several methods have been shown to be successful with certain organisms when properly applied. M artin Moe1 has pointed out to me that this is simply attributable to each approach providing an adequate substitute for the natural environment of the organisms that have been successfully maintained. The fact that these approaches all have drawbacks simply serves to demonstrate that man cannot create a perfect copy of a true ecosystem. But all types of captive ecosystems share common features. This universality of underlying principles applies not only to marine aquariums, but to freshwater aquariums and Fifteen years ago, when the fish display with dead coral was the only type of marine aquarium most people had ever seen, I wrote about, and published photographs of, high-biodiversity marine aquariums featuring photosynthetic invertebrates, macroalgae, and live rock (e.g., Tullock, 1982). In particular, I emphasized...

The Dutch Style Aquarium

I call systems featuring a trickle or wet dry filter Dutch-style aquariums, and there is no doubt that these relatively complex setups ushered in a revolution in marine husbandry. The introduction by Dutch proponent George Smit of the wet dry filter, adapted from wastewater treatment technology, resulted in a new wave of interest in minireef aquarium keeping. This new filter system was much more efficient than the undergravel filter and bypassed many of the former system's drawbacks (Smit, 1986a, 1986b). The filter media, kept wet but elevated above the water level of a sump, could support large populations of Unfortunately, wet dry filter systems relied on exactly the same biological approach as the old undergravel models mineralization of nitrogenous wastes through bacterial activity. This eliminates problems with ammonia toxicity, but creates a new set of problems related to accumulation of nitrate and reduction of pH due to the generation of hydrogen ions. Fish are not...

Sources of Saltwater Specimens

Saltwater aquarium enthusiasts have a plethora of choices for purchasing both supplies and livestock, from local specialty dealers to big-box pet retail chains to mail-order suppliers. Finding the right combination of these for your aquarium needs will facilitate the creation of the tank you want at a cost you can afford. Look for a store with a large saltwater dry goods section and a varied inventory of healthy marine fishes and invertebrates living in well-maintained holding tanks. A dirty, unkempt, poorly lighted store should be an immediate signal to look elsewhere. if you live in or near a reasonably large city, look for a store that sells only saltwater aquariums. it is likely to have a better selection, more knowledgeable personnel, and better prices than a store where saltwater is a sideline. Bear in mind that most saltwater fish have been collected from wild populations. The time between being collected and arriving at your local shop typically ranges from two to three weeks....

Venomous Invertebrates

Many people not familiar with the saltwater aquarium trade will be shocked to know this, but sometimes invertebrates are imported that can cause human fatalities. While only the most irresponsible person would do so knowingly, aquarists have brought home colorful specimens without knowing what they are buying. Include yours truly in that group. I fortunately learned about the real dangers in time to avoid harm. 76 Saltwater Aquarium Models 76 Saltwater Aquarium Models Information about marine invertebrates changes often. New discoveries are made by scientists and aquarists alike. New species are collected and imported by dealers hoping to woo aquarium enthusiasts with novelty. If your aquarium features invertebrates, use aquarium magazines and the Internet to keep up-to-date. Always research any unfamiliar invertebrate before purchasing.

Clownfish and Damselfish

Damselfish are considered by many to be the hardiest of the marine aquarium species. Hence, they are often the first to be introduced into a new aquarium. These fish, however, can be territorial, aggressive, and intolerant of new tankmates when introduced too early to a new tank. Nonetheless, some of the Damsels are exciting additions to your aquarium, particularly when introduced in groups.

Sharks Rays and Chimaeras Plates 116

Of the many eel families, only a few contribute species to the marine aquarium on a regu lar basis. Others may be kept as curiosities as the occasion allows. Freshwater eels (which usually spend much of their life in fully marine waters) of the family Anguillidae are collected occasionally and may find their way to home aquaria of marine enthusiasts but are then usually released again when the novelty wears off. The freshwater eels generally spawn far out in the open ocean where as many as 20 million eggs are released by each female. After spawning the adults die. The leptocephali then travel back to the continental shores (this trip may be up to several thousand kilometers) where they ultimately metamorphose into young eels called elvers that move toward fresh water The snake eels (family Ophichthi-dae) are borrowers, the tails of some genera being modified into a hard, fleshy point without fins. Burrowing is done tail-first. Several species from this family, especially the colorful...

The Best and Worst Fish for Beginners

The vast majority of marine fish sold by aquarium dealers are native to warm, tropical coral reefs. Their brilliant colors, unique body shapes, and animated behavior make these fish preferred saltwater tank inhabitants. In this chapter, we'll look at the various families of fish that commonly inhabit coral reefs and whose members may be available for your tropical fish-only marine aquarium.

Aquascaping with Rock

Place a flat rock across two rocks of similar height and you've made the simplest kind of shelter for a saltwater fish. Reef fish are generally territorial, and their need for personal space becomes more pronounced in the confines of an aquarium. Therefore, you should provide a suitably large hiding place for each fish you plan to stock. 102 Saltwater Aquarium Models 102 Saltwater Aquarium Models

Indo Pacific Fish Community I

This model design is really more of a formula for creating a harmonious community of saltwater fish. I call it the Chinese menu approach, as in choose one from column A and one from column B. In the confines of the aquarium, reef fish will exhibit aggression toward each other unless chosen with care. Two basic rules apply here

The Natural Style 1 Euro American Hybrid

Combining the best of various reef aquarium techniques and approaches, a growing number of North American aquarists are reporting unprecedented success with reef organisms, including previously hard-to-keep corals. Typically, the new natural-style system incorporates live rock, a bed oflive aragonite sand with or without a plenum, strong, chaotic water movement, efficient protein skimming, and intense lighting.

Developing a Stocking Plan

50 Saltwater Aquarium Models 50 Saltwater Aquarium Models Creating a successful saltwater aquarium involves two major efforts WARNING Don't add new fish more frequently than every two weeks. Altogether, it takes about a year for a new saltwater aquarium to be stocked completely. Don't try to rush it, and observe the tank carefully for problems shortly after each new addition. Most problems occur within the first two weeks that a critter is in the tank. Bringing Out the Best in Saltwater Aquariums 51

Colorful Community Tank II Small

Something of a hybrid between a fish-only aquarium and a minireef, this model design features three of the all-around best saltwater fish. The live rock can be of any variety you find attractive. Determine, with the help of your dealer, the optimum conditions for the type of live rock you select, and equip the aquarium accordingly. At minimum, you will need 160 watts of fluorescent lighting and extra powerheads to increase water movement.


My personal interest in saltwater aquariums goes back about thirty years. I had been fascinated with saltwater invertebrates since childhood, thanks to family trips to the beach. By the time I reached graduate school, I was on track to become a freshwater biologist. Then in 1975 I took a field course in invertebrates, and for the first time I had the opportunity to observe a tropical coral reef. Needless to say, I was hooked on saltwater. Since then, I have returned many times to the site of that first experience, the now-defunct marine laboratory on Pigeon Key, Florida. As both hobbyist and dealer, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of tanks and thousands of fish, and to interact with dozens of wonderful people who have shared their enthusiasm and expertise. Despite all this, I have a lot more to learn, and each time I contemplate saltwater aquarium keeping, I recognize a different angle, a new possibility. I sincerely hope this book sparks your interest in saltwater...


One reassuring fact about a marine aquarium is that the constituents and characteristics of seawater that are of importance to invertebrates and fishes are, for the most part, constant throughout the ocean. Although physical parameters such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, and the degree of water movement may vary geographically, or even on opposite sides of a reef crest, the basic medium, seawater, is the same everywhere, or at least everywhere from which one might wish to procure specimens for display in a home aquarium. Marine aquarium keeping in the Victorian style minimal technology but notoriously poor survival rates for livestock. green filamentous algae grows so abundantly as to maintain itself despite continuous cropping by the fish. Otherwise, no plants can grow. Duplicating either of these environments requires recreating sharply contrasting sets of water chemistry. Duplicating any portion of the marine environment does not. Why, then, does the general impression linger...

Routine Maintenance

Change part of the water in your saltwater aquarium regularly. I recommend changing 10-15 percent per week, but you can do it biweekly or monthly, so long as you change roughly half the water every month. This simple procedure will do more to enhance the appearance of the tank and the health of the fish and invertebrates than anything else you do as an aquarist. 34 Saltwater Aquarium Models 34 Saltwater Aquarium Models One important aspect of maintaining your saltwater aquarium is keeping water conditions within rather narrow limits. It's easier to do than it sounds. Make regular tests, then make adjustments. For example, evaporation causes a gradual increase in salinity. This happens because only water leaves the tank, and the same quantity of salt thus becomes concentrated in a diminishing volume of water. Your job is to keep the change to a minimum, which you accomplish through maintenance. Checking the salinity weekly and adding fresh water to compensate for the loss is the...

Quarantine Tanks

By far the best way to ensure that your saltwater aquarium display remains as free of problems as possible is to quarantine all new fish in a separate tank for a week or two after you bring them home. Any problems that develop can thus be treated without affecting the main display tank. The quarantine tank need not be an elaborate system, and needs only to be large enough for the maximum size and number of fish that you anticipate purchasing at any one time. Thirty to fifty gallons is about right for most saltwater aquarists. You will need a separate tank with sufficient light if you plan to quarantine invertebrates as well as fish. Twenty gallons will probably be enough for the largest invertebrate specimen you might obtain. In both tanks, provide hiding places for new arrivals. You can use short sections of plastic drainpipe for this purpose. Maintain conditions in the quarantine tank to match those of the main tank to minimize stress when you transfer specimens. If you have a large...

Live Rock

An essential component of the minireef aquarium, live rock consists of dead coral skeletons or fossil coral limestone with encrusting live plants and animals attached. The nature of live rock can vary due to the kind of rock, the collecting locality, the depth from which the rock is taken, the numbers and kinds of organisms present at the time of collection, and the method of storage and transport between the collector and the aquarist. 64 Saltwater Aquarium Models 64 Saltwater Aquarium Models


Lymphocystis uncommonly appears in both fresh and saltwater fish. It is usually not debilitating except in extreme circumstances. White or grayish cauliflower-like lesions appear on the fish's body and fins. Often, an injury becomes the site for development of the lesions. Thought to be the result of a virus infection, lesions may grow in size and can impede normal behavior. For example, a large lesion on a pectoral fin can prevent the fish from swimming properly. On the lips, the lesions interfere with feeding. Surgery is an effective, but risky, therapy. This is another problem best avoided rather than solved. Angelfish and butterflyfish appear to be especially susceptible. Infected fish should be isolated and the tank they were in emptied and thoroughly disinfected with bleach solution. If you keep other fish in any tank exposed to the virus, you run the risk of infecting them, as well.

Bacterial Infections

Treating a bacterial disease in a saltwater fish requires identification of the causative bacteria, antibiotic sensitivity testing, and appropriate dosage with antibiotics in a timely manner. Because of these complicated procedures, attempts by amateurs to treat bacterial infections usually fail. If you suspect a bacterial infection has attacked your fish, consult a veterinarian for help.


Many invertebrates other than corals are popular in the aquarium trade. According to data held in GMAD, 516 species of invertebrates are being traded for the aquarium trade. However, this figure needs to be treated with some caution due to the lack of a standard taxonomy for marine invertebrates. Based on importers' data the main destination countries were the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and Canada, constituting close to 100 per cent of all marine invertebrates imported for the marine aquarium trade between 1988 and 2002. Looking at exporters' data for the years 1 998-2003 Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong also emerged as important importers. (See Table 10, p 27.)


The coral reef withholds the answers to many secrets. Suitable conditions for many species remain unknown. Fortunately, several mainstays of the saltwater aquarium trade have been around long enough to be well understood. By dint of their natural lifestyle, these creatures adapt quickly to the confinement and variable water quality characteristic of aquarium life. This chapter focuses on using some of these species in simple tanks for maximum decorative effect with minimal care. I have provided suggested model designs for a couple of small tanks, but the majority of ideas proposed will require a large, built-in aquarium for proper execution.

Brown Algae

Their brown coloration results from the dominance of the pigment xantho-phyll, which masks other pigments such as chlorophyll. Colors range from pale beige to yellow-brown to almost black. Some forms of brown algae come attached to live rock when you buy it. Like the red algae, brown algae are generally beneficial for the saltwater aquarium.

Reef Biotopes

I have endeavored, with the help of references, to apply a plausibly correct scientific name, in some cases to the species level, for invertebrates likely to be encountered in aquarium shops. I do so with the caveat that identification of many marine invertebrates, corals and their relatives especially, simply cannot be done merely by comparing the specimen in question to a picture in a book. Most of the time, positive identification requires microscopic examination. Even then, coming up with a name can be vexing, because so much of the taxonomy is in disarray. Material for doctoral theses for years to come lies waiting on every patch reef. That said, we cannot have a useful discussion about reef invertebrates without using some name for the different types. For this reason, most of my identifications are to genus only. I use species names only when there is widespread agreement that the scientific name for a certain trade species is correct. Further complicating matters, scientific...

Model Design

Undoubtedly the most popular aquarium specimens, anemonefishes have introduced many aquarists to saltwater. Hardy, relatively small, accepting a variety of aquarium foods, and exhibiting bright colors and interesting behavior, anemonefishes have the added advantage of wide availability of captive-propagated stock. Thanks to the efforts of pioneers such as Martin Moe, anemonefish became the first saltwater aquarium fish to be propagated in commercial quantities. Building on the techniques of early hatcheries, entrepreneurs now produce many other types of saltwater fish, as well.

Replace the Gravel

If you have a freshwater aquarium, you are encouraged to break it down completely every year, essentially starting from scratch. This is not the case with a marine aquarium. A well-established biological filter will be effective for years. However, if you use an undergravel filter it may become heavily clogged after a long period of time. The substrate itself may begin to break down as well.

Zoanthus Sociatus

Grammas have the amusing habit of hanging upside-down under rocky shelves. When visitors come to view the aquarium, you will be able to point out this interesting behavior, although the brilliant colors of the Royal Gramma could scarcely be more arresting. (Thirty years ago, this species was considered a rare jewel of the marine aquarium and carried an outrageous price tag. Today it is no less desirable, but is readily available at modest prices and is a reef fish suitable even for beginning aquarists. )


298 Natural Reef Aquariums 300 Natural Reef Aquariums This final category is the most controversial, because the species included are among the best aquarium animals. After many years of working with imported marine fish and talking to hundreds of people who have tried, with varying degrees of success, to maintain marine aquariums, I have


Transhippers Fish

Increasingly, particularly in Europe, transhippers are required to hold a licence in order to operate39. However, no skills with respect to fish handling are necessary to obtain such a licence. Transhippers do not need large facilities to acclimatize marine fish, and so they can afford to sell individuals at half the price that wholesalers would charge. Despite severe criticism about the quality of transhipped invertebrates and non-acclimatized fish these businesses are expanding in Europe, unlike in the United States where increased commercial use of the Internet has led to a decline in the number of transhippers11. In response to criticism, and to abide by the Marine Aquarium Council Standards and Certification , transhippers are transforming their businesses to be able to provide increased quality and services.

Starter Reef

Setting Up a First Marine Aquarium or Young Aquarist's After visiting the local aquarium shops and developing a plan and budget for your system, you will first acquire the necessary tank and equipment. Under no circumstances will you buy the gear (hardware) and livestock (software) on the same first trip. Unlike the typical setup for a child's goldfish bowl, you must have a marine aquarium up and running, with the water quality stabilized, before you bring home the first live organism. 66 Natural Reef Aquariums variations. For example, a hydrometer reading of 1.0240 at 24 degrees C calls for a correction factor of +0.0021. Thus the corrected density reading is 1.0261. The salinity, from the table on page 122, is 35 ppt, the same as full-strength Most salt mix formulas require a little more than 2 seawater. (Some hydrometers intended for marine aquarium cups of dry mix to produce 5 gallons of synthetic seawater. use have the scale already adjusted for a temperature of 75 Add the...

The Inshore Zone

Pearly Jawfish

158 Natural Reef Aquariums 160 Natural Reef Aquariums Commonplace in the inshore zone is the tiny Tricolor Hermit Crab, Clibanarius tricolor. All hermit crabs protect themselves by making use of the discarded shell of a dead snail, and this species is usually found in the small shell of a common species, Bat-telaria. Hermit crabs are found on all shores, and most species from the Tropics are colorful. The Tricolor Hermit s name derives from the red, yellow, and blue markings on its legs. It is seldom larger than an inch. Being very hardy, hermit crabs are often the first invertebrate to be kept by the beginning aquarist. A few hermit crabs can be included in any marine aquarium and make excellent scavengers. Make sure that the species is not one that grows large, however, since large hermits can be destructive. 162 Natural Reef Aquariums 164 Natural Reef Aquariums 166 Natural Reef Aquariums 168 Natural Reef Aquariums 170 Natural Reef Aquariums

Undergravel Filter

Crushed Coral

96 Natural Reef Aquariums The notion of having a plenum with a layer of dead water at the bottom of the aquarium strikes some hobbyists as either unnatural or too complicated. A number of Americans have modified the Jaubert method simply by adding a layer of live sand several inches deep to reef aquariums already containing significant amounts of live rock. Virtually all believe that the sand provides valuable denitrification and helps provide calcium and buffering capacity to their systems. 98 Natural Reef Aquariums

Exercise Caution

Therefore, although the following families are generally hardy in captivity, exercise caution in choosing specimens from them for your reef microhabitat Squirrelfishes and Soldierfishes (Holocentridae) Groupers and Basses (Serranidae)* Dottybacks (Pseudochromidae)* Hawkfishes (Cirrhitidae)* Cardinalfishes (Apogonidae)* (*Includes members that may grow too large or that may be too aggressive for a typical mixed-community reef aquarium.) Pennant Bannerfish (Heniochus diphreutes) an ideal schooling butterflyfish for reef aquariums, hardy and mild-mannered


The availability of species from some regions can make setting up accurate biotope tanks more of a challenge, but therein lies the great joy of moving beyond the typical marine aquarium that recklessly mixes species that would never, ever be found within the same sea or hemisphere.

Acropora Gemmifera

Acropora Gemmifera

216 Natural Reef Aquariums Many aquarists who set up giant-clam microhabitats in- organic nutrients from the water, probably for the primary elude a Hawaiian Neon or Four-Line Wrasse (Pseudocheil- benefit of the zooxanthellae. Such nutrients include both inus tetrataenia) or a Six-Line Wrasse (P. hexataenia) for ammonia and nitrate. Nitrate removal can be dramatic, if control of tiny molluscan parasites that frequently hitchhike large numbers of clams are introduced into the aquarium, into the aquarium along with the tridacnid. These para- Phosphates are also absorbed. Thus, Tridacna actually en-sites resemble small grains of rice and are most frequently joys levels of nitrate and phosphate that would be consid-observed on the bottom of the clam near the byssal opening. ered unsuitable for a coral reef aquarium in general.

Dorsal Fin Banggai

Hierarchy Juvenile Group Home

Several of the hawkfishes are suited for the reef aquarium, although they have a reputation for prey Among the most desirable is Sphaeramia nematoptera, usu- the ten most popular marine aquarium species and is a good ally called the Pajama Cardinal. It lives in shallow lagoons representative of the acanthurids, or tangs. This species is 240 Natural Reef Aquariums sult from improper conditions typically results in an outbreak of parasites. Apart from water conditions appropriate to any tropical marine aquarium, the Yellow Tang should be given plenty of swimming space, tankmates of its own species, and adequate nourishment. An aquarium smaller than 4 feet in length is probably too confining for any tang species. Keeping five specimens together in a 6-foot-long aquarium would be an appropriate display. Yellow Tangs can be aggressive toward one another if not kept in a group. A lone individual may harass other species housed in the same tank. Similarly, if a pair is housed...

Manicina Areolata

Tropical Reef Fishes Curacao

If the urge to create a deep fore-reef aquarium appeals 180 Natural Reef Aquariums Anyone who has traveled in this hemisphere knows that coral reefs in the tropical Atlantic are not restricted to Florida, and the dividing line between Atlantic and Caribbean waters is biologically rather arbitrary. (Visitors to various tiny Caribbean islands are often bemused to learn that the eastern side of the island is considered to be bathed by the Atlantic, while the west coast sits in the Caribbean.) The Bahamas, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, the Turks and Caicos, Bonaire, Cura ao, Venezuela, and the eastern coasts of Mexico and Central America are all home to stony corals, invertebrates, and fishes that range far and wide in and around the Caribbean and tropical western Atlantic. Ascension Island and Brazil, both sources of marine aquarium specimens, are rather remote from my

Early Aquariums

Live Holding System Fish

The Saltwater Aquarium in the Home was the title of a system, but for more demanding species, better methods are popular little book written in 1959 by the late Robert required. Fortunately, many advances in marine aquarium Straughan, and it marks for us the first attempt to offer filtration have come about in recent years as hobbyists have suggestions for maintaining a marine aquarium to hobbyists surged beyond fish-only systems into the challenging world in the United States. Home marine aquariums first became of reef aquarium keeping, a possibility for the aver age consumer when the utility of biological filtration, the conversion of ammonia to nitrate via beneficial bacteria, was recognized. Although biological filtration occurs in any aquarium as a result of microorgan- In the earliest days of marine aquariums in the isms growing on the glass, plants, substrate, and all other United States, the business was driven by fish. Not that surfaces that receive sufficient oxygen, the...

Chapter Ten m

From 45 to 200 feet, in the waters from the Florida Keys to Bonaire. It reaches only 2 inches in length. Both species are solitary and are simultaneous hermaphrodites, and although captive propagation has not been reported, the potential is high (Hunziker, 1995). The larger basses, including the groupers, may be trusted with sessile invertebrates, but because of their size, waste production, and appetite for smaller fishes and shrimps, they are generally not recommended for most typical reef aquariums. ANTHIAS. The Anthiidae, or anthias family, contains many beautiful species, and with special care, some of the more commonplace ones can be maintained in a coral reef aquarium. There are also, however, many anthias that are impossible to acclimate to captivity. The best course of action for the beginning aquarist is to avoid this group altogether. 238 Natural Reef Aquariums

Coralline Algae

Obbyists interested in reef tanks and live rock certainly hear a lot about coralline algae. Most are aware that this is something good to have in a marine aquarium, but not many know what coralline algae are and how to encourage them to grow. The other vital biochemical process that occurs in all ecosystems assimilation is carried out by pho-tosynthetic organisms. Photosynthesis is essential to many of the species that will be exhibited in a reef aquarium. Some photosynthetic organisms, however, can be a major problem for the aquarist. Photosynthetic organisms utilize light energy to power the reverse of the oxidation process reduction. During photosynthesis, carbon dioxide (one of the end products of mineralization or decomposition) is reduced to carbohydrate molecules in the presence of light. After nightfall, the energy stored in the carbohydrate molecules is liberated once again, using oxygen, in the same metabolic process used by nonphotosynthetic organisms to carry out...


Non Photosynthetic Reef Aquarium

While most cnidarians require very bright illumination, there are several types that prefer shade or darkness. ORDER CERIANTIPATHARIA (Tube Anemones and Black Corals). Tube-dwelling anemones (Family Cerianthidae) have no symbiotic algae and thus do very well in the deep-reef aquarium microhabitat. Cerianthids may be distinguished from true anemones in that the former have two sets of tentacles. The outer rows are quite long, and the inner ones, sur- clean reef aquariums.) A breakthrough in satisfying their feeding needs will be required before they can be recommended to anyone other than experienced reef aquarists. ORDER GORGONACEA (Gorgonians). Most of the gorgonian species of interest are in Family Ellisellidae, the deep-reef gorgonians, such as the typical genus Ellisella. These gorgonians are usually red with white polyps and are nonphotosynthetic. They are confined to deep (60 feet or more) water, and are sometimes available for the aquarium. 228 Natural Reef Aquariums added...

Red Sea Coral Reef

Xenia Reef Plant

276 Natural Reef Aquariums With media attention turning to the plight of coral reefs, the marine aquarium hobby and the industry supporting it have increasingly come under fire. We are often accused of contributing to reef destruction through our continued demand for specimens collected from reefs worldwide. Despite the fact that the hobby of reef aquarium keeping has probably contributed to people s awareness of been held up as typical of the hobby and industry. While these abuses need to be resolved (and I explain in Chapter Fourteen what you can do to help resolve them) there is also an urgent need to recognize the extent to which modern trends in the marine aquarium hobby hold out the potential for great strides in the conservation of reefs and their biota. The trend toward aquariums that faithfully recreate nature and the ongoing serious dialogue between hobbyists and the scientific community have made possible discoveries that could not be made through direct field observations....

The Designs

The range of creations in this chapter serves to demonstrate the breadth of possibilities for a home saltwater aquarium. Several designs even lend themselves to customization with alternative species, which I note in each model design. 110 Saltwater Aquarium Models 110 Saltwater Aquarium Models This aquarium is a cinch to maintain. It can serve as an introduction to saltwater aquarium keeping for an eager middle schooler. A white aquarium with black and white damselfish creates a study in contrast. Few saltwater fish surpass the humbug damselfishes in hardiness and spunk. Choose from the striped humbug, Dascyllus aruanus, black-tailed humbug, D. melanurus, or threespot humbug, D. trimaculatus. The latter grows too large for more than one to be accommodated in this aquarium. The other two species, reaching only about three inches, can be stocked with the idea of ending up with a pair. Place five juveniles in the tank, and a pair should form naturally after they have grown a bit. You...

Reef Tank Filtration

After you have created a Must Have list and a Goes With list, inspect the lists carefully, perhaps doing a bit of research and note-taking, to identify the one Pivotal Species in your scheme. The Pivotal Species is the one that will make the greatest demands upon the system for its long-term survival. (The Must Have and Pivotal Species are not always one and the same.) The system must be designed with the needs of the Pivotal Species clearly in mind. If attention is given to this aspect of marine aquarium keeping, success with the rest of the community of species within the aquarium is virtually assured. to the theory that a person who does not own a tank has little use for anything else in the store), the capacity of the tank will influence the cost of the complete system more significantly than any other factor. Achieving a natural marine aquarium within a given tank requires thinking about the space requirements of the proposed inhabitants. Thus, if a shark is something you are...

No Fear Taxonomy

Drop by a garden center and you will hear terms like Chrysanthemum, Rhododendron, and Philodendron used by all types of gardeners without hesitation. Visit a marine aquarium shop and you will quickly appreciate that many people seem to find scientific names for fishes and invertebrates daunting. Frankly, I find this a bit baffling. Why are the proper names for plants easy for the average person to use but not the scientific names for aquarium fishes and invertebrates

Executive summary

Species Surgeonfish Asia

In the main, this debate has taken place without access to impartial and quantitative data on the trade and, with so many different viewpoints, achieving consensus on its impacts, and hence the identification of suitable responses, has been difficult. In 2000, the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) and members of various aquarium trade associations began, in collaboration, to address this need for better information and created the Global Marine Aquarium Database (GMAD). Trade data have been obtained from wholesale exporters and importers of marine aquarium organisms, most often through copies of trade invoices, integrated and standardized into quantitative, species-specific information which has been placed in the public domain marine GMAD. Fifty-eight companies, approximately one-fifth of the wholesalers in business, and four government management authorities have provided data to...


Curing Dry Rock For Reef Tank

Top left the Nitrogen Cycle in a conventional marine aquarium nitrate accumulates as the end product of waste conversion. Bottom left a natural system with a Monaco-style plenum denitrification yields elemental nitrogen. 86 Natural Reef Aquariums 88 Natural Reef Aquariums One frequently seen type of live rock deserves special consideration. Rocks from the Gulf of Mexico, harboring colonies of the serpulid annelid Spirobranchus giganteus, the Christmas Tree Worm, are regularly seen in the aquarium trade because of their multicolored beauty. While these specimens are not appropriate subjects for the tropical reef aquarium, they do deserve the interest of aquarists who might create a tank focused upon their unique habitat (see Chapter Seven). The fact that highly successful reef systems can be created using live rock as the sole source of biological nitrification and denitrification Berlin-style reef aquariums is strong evidence for the important role of live rock mi-crofauna and flora....

Sea Mount

One of the most characteristic features ofthe biota of coral reefs is their remarkable specializations for survival. Because the varied topography offers a variety of possibilities for organisms to exploit, particular microhabi-tats come to be occupied by a particular suite of species. This aspect of reef ecology can be exploited to create a natural reef aquarium. Plan the aquarium to include species that live in the same area of the world and at roughly the same water depth. Choose organisms from a particular habitat zone. Combine species that form symbiotic relationships. Devote a tank to only one or a few species. By attempting to duplicate a specific microhabitat, rather than merely assembling a hodgepodge of unrelated organisms, one can achieve an aquarium that is not only beautiful but also relatively free of commonplace problems. Perhaps you will find

Drop Count

Aquarium Pea Gravel

The alkalinity of natural seawater is around 2.0 to 2.5 meq L. To convert to the German degrees of carbonate hardness (dKH), multiply this number by 2.8, to yield about 6 to 7 dKH. It is generally recommended that a marine aquarium be maintained at an alkalinity somewhat higher CALCIUM. Another dancer in the chemical ballet going on in the marine aquarium is calcium. Corals, crustaceans, mollusks, and calcareous algae all extract calcium from seawater, using it to construct their skeletons from calcium carbonate. Early efforts at maintaining the proper chemical environment for these organisms focused too narrowly on calcium alone, largely ignoring the role of alkalinity. This is unfortunate, because the availability of carbonate, the other essential component in skeletal structures, mostly depends upon the pH and alkalinity of the water. In fact, when the alkalinity is high, skeleton building can still occur, even when calcium is present at a level significantly below that of natural...

The Gulf of Mexico

Unappreciated by marine aquarium hobbyists in North America. For the aquarist with an eye for the unusual, however, it can be a source of unique and amazingly beautiful living organisms and materials for the captive reef. sold in aquarium shops and is commonly kept in tanks along with stony corals and other photosynthetic invertebrates. This is Paly thou gmndis. The large, dark green polyps are very attractive, and the species is hardy in captivity. Most other northern Gulf species are not well suited to a tropical reef aquarium, but are excellent subjects for an aquarium intended to reflect their special habitat. A good example of such a community is the central Gulf area near Tampa, where a unique assemblage of invertebrates can be found. A characteristic species from this region is the Christmas Tree Worm, Spirobranchus giganteus. While this species is found throughout the West Indies and the world, it occurs abundantly only in the Gulf.


A group of marine-aquarium retailers and suppliers founded by author John H. Tullock, dedicated to responsible marine aquarium keeping and to promoting education and sustainable use of reef resources. AMDA members avoid drug-damaged livestock and species that are impossible to maintain, while offering captive-propagated specimens whenever possible.


Reef Aquarium Plumbing Scheme

A photoperiod is the length of the daylight period to which organisms are exposed. Changes in photoperiod have important regulatory effects in the life cycles of marine invertebrates and fishes. Regardless of the type or arrangement of the lighting system, it is desirable to have automatic timers in place to switch the


The sump tank is placed underneath the display aquarium. Water from the standpipe drains into the sump. To minimize salt creep, the sump may have a lid through which the drain hose passes. ( Salt creep refers to the accumulation of salt crystals wherever droplets of seawater evaporate. Although it is difficult to avoid the problem completely, preventing the escape of seawater whenever possible is a good idea.) If the sump is part of a wet dry filter, a separate box of filter medium sits on top of the sump. Water from the drain line passes over the medium before it reaches the sump. A rotating spray bar or a perforated tray distributes water evenly over the filter medium. Talk to your dealer about the pros and cons of the designs he stocks. Minireef aquariums with live rock do not require this system component. A bulkhead fitting goes through the opposite end of the sump, near the bottom. The intake of the pump connects to this fitting. The pump discharge reenters the tank via a pipe...

Water Movement

Sessile invertebrates benefit from strong currents that wash away wastes and bring nutrients and oxygen to them. Fish get exercise by swimming against currents. Any saltwater aquarium benefits from all the water movement you can provide, as long as it is not so vigorous as to slosh water over the rim. The return pipe from the sump discharges water in one direction only, and in a continuous stream. Natural water movement on the reef is multidirectional and intermittent. You can simulate natural turbulence by installing powerheads in the display tank. Place at least one powerhead (see page 86) toward the back of the tank with the outflow directed so it intersects that from the return pipe. The perpendicular currents collide and create turbulence. Using two powerheads, controlled by a timer known as a wavemaker, is an even better idea, though certainly not essential. Wavemakers allow the powerheads to be switched on and off on a regular schedule, creating pulsed water movement....


Fishes of the family Pseudochromidae are very similar to the Fairy Basslets in size and appearance, yet they are distributed in the Indo-Pacific while the Basslets are confined to the Caribbean. This family contains the large genus Pseudochromis, comprising about forty species. Unfortunately, some of the Dottybacks can be highly territorial and care must be taken to choose the right species for a peaceful marine aquarium.

Anaerobic Conditions

There are basically three general ways to stock a marine aquarium a fish-only tank, a mixed fish and invertebrate tank (also called a semi-reef), and an invertebrate tank (known as a reef tank). With this in mind, you are faced with a wide selection of tank inhabitants, both vertebrate, like fish, or invertebrate, like shrimp. Marine invertebrates, such as crabs, snails, coral, anemones, and shrimp, are much more sensitive to water quality than are marine fish. They also tend to be more difficult to feed and to maintain in an aquarium. When mixed with the wrong fish, some invertebrates will become a meal. When housed with too many fish, ammonia levels will kill them. For these reasons, I recommend that beginners avoid a reef tank with lots of invertebrates until they have plenty of experience. An invertebrate or two is fine, like an anemone to accompany Clownfish.



A healthy aquarium depends greatly on the nitrogen cycle to convert toxic ammonia into less toxic nitrogen compounds. This cycle can only be properly established in a biological filter, which is a requirement for all marine aquariums. Even with a properly working biological filter, the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate should be monitored frequently. This can be done with commercial test kits that are available at your aquarium supply store. Most commercially manufactured aquarium filters provide all three kinds of filtration. However, you still must match the filter with the aquarium. How much you need to clean your water depends on the type of aquarium you plan to set up. Invertebrate and reef aquariums need to have the highest possible water quality for their inhabitants. Invertebrates such as corals, sponges, and anemones are very sensitive to even the smallest amounts of harmful substances like ammonia. A fish-only aquarium does not need to keep sensitive invertebrates...

Diet Related Problems

Another problem develops mostly in lionfish and similar large predators that are fed on a steady diet of goldfish. This mistake in husbandry creates a severe problem likely resulting from nutritional deficiency. The symptoms are an inability to swallow and in extreme cases, open the mouth at all. There is no cure. Prevention, by feeding goldfish only now and then and saltwater fish most of the time, is the only solution to this problem.

Water Changes

In the earliest marine aquariums, changing water was the only way to maintain water quality. Long ago, I read about a Victorian Englishwoman whose personal passion was sea anemones. (It was quite fashionable, in that era, for the upper classes to have an interest in natural history, and many a beau, apparently, was kept a-waiting by ladies too enamored of their microscopes.) She collected a specimen from a tidepool along the Cornwall coast and kept it in a bowl on a table in her sitting room. She aerated the water by stirring it with her hand after breakfast every morning. Every month, the anemone received a piece offish, shrimp, or cockle meat. Each week, she replenished the seawater in the bowl with water taken from the ocean. The anemone, according to the story, survived for so many years that the lady's friends marveled at its longevity. This lady had a lot going for her. The temperature in her home by modern standards would have been decidedly cool, providing the anemone an...

Biotope Tanks

Any display of reef fish impresses with bold colors and constant motion. For sheer fascination, however, minireef aquariums offer more than any fish-only tank can. Defining what, exactly, constitutes a minireef depends upon whom you ask, but a typical example features sessile invertebrates and live rock. Fishes, if included, are species that will leave the invertebrates alone. Beyond that basic pattern, aquarists have set up everything from minireefs devoted to different color forms of the same coral to aquariums seeking to duplicate the look of an actual reef biotope. The latter approach forms the basis for this chapter.

The SMART project

The South Pacific Forum Secretariat, together with the Marine Aquarium Council, has started a programme to implement marine ornamentals certification within the South Pacific Region. It will focus primarily on the islands of Fiji, the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands and will address the negative impacts the ornamentals industry presently has or may have. It will also introduce market-driven third-party certification for established operators to ensure sustainable development of the industry whilst maintaining reef ecosystem health. The programme is to be implemented using a two-step process whereby national consultations and workshops will be conducted first and profiles of local industry partners derived. Recent funding from the EU towards the Sustainable Management of Aquarium Reef Trade (SMART) Project will help build on these efforts and extend the number of countries targeted to also include Kiribati, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tonga...

Live Food Cultivation

Microalgae, believe it or not, are the aquarist s friend. Readers may take a moment to recover from the shock, since microalgae are widely regarded as the bane of the reef aquarium's existence. I earlier offered advice on the control of these organisms (in Chapter Five) and now I say that they are beneficial. Why

Foods and Feeding

Choosing foods appropriate for your aquarium should pose little difficulty if you keep a few basic points in mind. Saltwater fish tend to be specialists when it comes to food. Quite a few vegetarians exist, for example. Some of them feed on many types of algae, others need a specific kind. Carnivores can usually be satisfied with a varied diet, but some feed only on specific classes of food, such as crustaceans. Many predatory saltwater fish need the movement of living prey to stimulate their feeding response, and only learn to eat nonliving foods as a result of the aquarist's efforts. I have already mentioned that species with strongly specialized feeding requirements, such as coral-eating butterflyfishes, should be avoided altogether. I provide feeding recommendations at various points throughout the book, usually when a given type of fish is first discussed. 28 Saltwater Aquarium Models 28 Saltwater Aquarium Models 30 Saltwater Aquarium Models 30 Saltwater Aquarium Models Live...

User Conflict

One of the most vocal complaints against the aquarium trade has been that it reduces fish populations in areas where tourism is thriving and constitutes an important source of revenue. This has been an issue of particular concern in Australia and Hawaii30 and more recently in Fiji35. In popular Australian tourist areas such as Cairns, Moreton Bay and Whitsunday tourists and recreational divers often interact with fish and coral collectors41. After a study was carried out in Hawaii showing a significant reduction in several species of fish due to collection for the marine aquarium trade, fishing of marine ornamentals was banned along 30 per cent of the west coast of the island of Hawaii123.

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