Indo Pacific Deep Reefs Caves

Dimly Lit and Eerily Beautiful\ Here Are Habitats for the Adventuresome Aquarist

Representatives of every major group of marine life are included among the deep-water and cave fauna of the Indo-Pacific, and for the aquarist who wants to delve into the uncommon — while neatly sidestepping the expense of typical reef lighting systems — they present unique opportunities to create unusual biotopes. Caves, created with coralline-encrusted live rock, are as interesting to build as to observe, and they represent special habitats that mimic the cool, dark waters of the deep reef. Indeed, many organisms commonly found in deep water are also found in caves located in shallower depths, opening many possibilities to the creative aquarist.

Two important points should be borne in mind when designing an aquarium to duplicate the dimly lit deep-reef or cave habitat. First, keep the temperature at 70 to 75 degrees F or less, using simple fluorescent lighting that contributes only a negligible amount of heat to the system. (A single Actinic 03 bulb, throwing a pale bluish cast, makes for an inexpensive and appropriate light over a deep-water or cave tank. ) Second, remember that organisms that do not contain symbiotic algae, the ones we are concerned with

Diversity in the shadows: an Indo-Pacific deep fore reef displays a wealth of colorful fishes and soft-coral species.

here, depend upon plankton and detritus for food. Therefore, a deep-reef tank will require feeding. Use very finely chopped fresh or frozen seafoods, such as shrimp, scallops, or nonoily fish like sole, and supplement these with live baby brine shrimp. Frozen baby brine shrimp and frozen plankton are also satisfactory. For some species, cultured phyto-plankton (unicellular microalgae) may give good results. Feed regularly, but very sparingly, especially for the first month or two, and evaluate the health, growth, and general appearance of the specimens before increasing the amount of food.

Because water-quality management is a concern in any kind of aquarium that receives a large food input, monitor the water frequently and carry out regular small, partial water changes. Good current is also important for plankton-feeding organisms.

When choosing live rock for the deep-reef tank, remember that most live rock is collected in shallow water. However, coralline algae, one of the most important components of the live rock flora, prefers moderate to low light levels. Corallines are found at the greatest depths of any algae, making them more suitable to a deep-reef or cave tank.

Choose live rock, therefore, with good coralline algae growth, and arrange it to expose the most interesting or at-

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