Indo Pacific Upper Fore Reef

Ultimate Secrets To Saltwater Fish

Idiot Guide To The Marine Aquarium

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This is the model design that many reef tank enthusiasts aspire to. The corals found in this high-energy environment demand plenty of light and water movement but will reward you with a stunning exhibit.

Aquarium Capacity 120 to 180 gallons

Life Support live rock, live sand, standard reef filtration

Lighting two to three 150-watt metal halide lamps, depending upon tank size

Background pale blue

Decoration none

Special Requirements calcium above 400 ppm, alkalinity at about 4 Meq/L, very low levels of nitrate, phosphate undetectable, correct water movement (see text)


Pseudanthias bicolor 7

Or Pseudanthias pleurotaenia 5

Sphaeramia nematoptera 5

Gobiodon, any species 5


Algae snails 10

Brittle stars 5

Lysmata amboiensis 1 to 3

Or Lysmata debelius 1 or a mated pair

Corals (see text) Acropora sp. Pocillopora sp. Montipora sp. Seriatopora sp. Porites sp.

Biotope Tanks 147

Biotope Tanks 147

Due to the aggressiveness of some corals toward others, it is important to gather all the information you can about a particular specimen before adding it to this aquarium. If you choose only captive-propagated coral specimens, rather than those collected from the wild, you are more likely to find details of the coral's growth requirements. Captive-propagated corals have adapted to aquarium conditions, and should fare better than their wild counterparts. For these and other reasons, always choose captive-propagated corals if possible. Acropora and Pocillopora species generally rank as more demanding in comparison to Montipora, Seriatopora, and Porites.

The corals suggested for this model design will not thrive with lax water movement. You can add several pow-erheads controlled by a wavemaker (see page 100) to create turbulence. If you have a built-in tank, you have the option of creating much better water movement with a surge device. You can find a design for one in Borneman's Aquarium Corals. A surge device more closely approximates the bulk movement of water over the fore reef than does the directional flow from a powerhead.

Although they obtain nutrition from photosynthesis by their zooxanthellae, corals need to be fed. Normal healthy corals expand their polyps and can be observed feeding when an appropriate food, such as live brine shrimp nauplii, is added. Microplankton substitutes, such as rotifer cultures and various concoctions of finely divided particulate foods should be added to the tank several times a week.

Successful care of the branching corals of the fore reef is as much art as science. In this realm perhaps more than any other, the advice and examples of successful aquarists is invaluable. Fortunately, the Internet makes such information readily available at the click of a mouse. Assimilate all you can, then apply what works for others to your own situation. As you gain experience and your corals thrive and grow, you will be in a position to add your knowledge to the ever-accumulating pool of coral husbandry techniques.

Coral Taxonomy and Growth Patterns

As a rule of thumb, you should ignore any species designations given to the corals offered by aquarium dealers. The color and colony form of individual corals develop as a result of the specific conditions of light and current under which the coral grows, rather than as a result of strict genetics as are the shapes and colors of many familiar animals. Without knowing from where and under what circumstances a given coral originated, assigning a species name is effectively impossible. This need not be a drawback, however, as we are less concerned with the coral's name than with its growth requirements. In the case of corals cultivated from fragments, requirements can usually be obtained from the supplier of the specimens. For wild-collected corals, much can be inferred from the form and color of the colony. Typically, branched forms and bright colors are associated with shallow water and vigorous currents, while platelike forms and subdued colors develop in deeper waters. The supreme test, though, is how well the coral fares under conditions you provide. Always observe a new coral specimen carefully for the first few weeks to determine if it is "happy" where you've placed it. Don't hesitate to relocate corals that are doing poorly, as often different lighting or current pattern will turn things around. Remember, however, that lighting shifts must be done gradually, or the coral will be stressed, defeating your purpose in relocating it. It may, for example, be necessary to shade the coral for a week or two in its new location, then expose it gradually to longer and longer periods of bright lighting. Finally, the shade can be removed altogether. \___/

148 Saltwater Aquarium Models

148 Saltwater Aquarium Models


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