The Smithsonian Style Aquarium

To MAINTAIN AQUARIUM water that is low in nutrient compounds, Dr. Walter Adey of the Smithsonian Institution places heavy emphasis on the role of specially cultivated "turfs" composed of various species of algae (Adey and Loveland, 1991). This is commonly known as the Algal Turf-Scrubber approach, and it is currently more common in institutional aquarium installations than in the hobbyist world. Periodic harvesting of a portion of the algae growth serves to export accumulated wastes. In other words, such systems rely heavily upon encouraging the assimilation process.

Reef Aquarium Jaubert

This approach has been closely investigated by Dr. Jean Jaubert at the national aquarium of Monaco, world-renowned for its displays of captive corals and its coral biology research. Its immediate appeal is the prevention of an accumulation of nitrate in A stunning live rock and live sand reef system created by Karl Coyne exhibits the system by enhancing natural denitrifi-a minimal fish load and dense stocking of many types of soft and stony corals. cation. (Various "denitrifying filters' have been developed and marketed over the years Adey s systems also use natural live rock, natural seawater, but have failed to gain wide acceptance because they typi-

and natural plankton cally require careful monitoring and supplemental feeding

A very interesting point is Adey s contention that cen- for the anaerobic bacteria. A recent version employs elec-

trifugal pumps, almost universally used by hobbyists, are tronic-control technology to monitor and adjust critical very destructive to microorganisms in the aquarium. The parameters. Hobbyists report that these units, though ex-

destruction of larvae by these pumps, he suggests, is one rea- pensive, do lower nitrate concentration to near zero.)

son why instances of reproduction by aquarium inverte-

The Jaubert, or ]\ onaco, method of using live sand does brates are seldom reported. The Smithsonian system the same thing but with a minimum of expense and virtually employs modified pumps that work like bellows or syringes, no maintenance. As described by Dr. Jaubert, a thick layer of drawing up water by suction and then expelling it in the aragonite (a more soluble form of CaCO- than calcite) sand desired direction of flow. These pumps, along with the nat- is seeded with a layer of live sand from the ocean floor and ural seawater and wild-caught plankton Adey uses, are out- supported above the aquarium bottom on a plastic grid. A

side the easy reach of the average hobbyist. (Simple plenum of anoxic water develops underneath the sand, suggestions for encouraging the survival of invertebrate lar- Small organisms present in the live sand help to keep the vae are discussed in Chapter Thirteen.)

substrate healthy, while denitrifying bacteria thrive in the

Algal turf scrubbers for home systems are now becom- low-to-zero oxygen conditions at the bottom.

ing available, and they have enthusiastic advocates as well as equally vocal detractors. The latter argue that the large population of algae present in these systems leach significant amounts of terpenoids and other compounds, causing yellowing of the water and — it has been argued — poor survival of stony corals.

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