When I owned a retail aquarium store, most of my customers weren't hobbyists, and one of the things I did to improve my customers' chances of success was to offer them free classes. One Tuesday evening each month, I'd give a presentation on some aspect of water chemistry, or a particular family of fishes, or the pros and cons of different types of filters. After these sessions, we poured free coffee and talked about fish. People often told me they appreciated the information, but could I please just tell them what fish they should keep? It took quite a while for me to realize that the majority of casual aquarists were not really interested in becoming what I thought of as a hobbyist. They were not "fish nuts" like me; they saw an aquarium not as a preoccupation for their weekends, but rather more as art, something to enhance the look and feel of their personal space. And they wanted it "plug-and-play." Never mind all the water chemistry, just tell me what to do and how often to do it. As I helped more and more people design aquariums that looked good and were easy to maintain, I learned what works and what doesn't. Much of that experience has been incorporated here.
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 for saltwater aquariums of all sizes; chapter 10, "Small Tanks," is devoted to model designs for smaller aquariums. Each model design focuses on a simple theme. Those in chapter 7, "Basic Setup Procedures," emphasize form and color, while the other model designs are based on particular biotopes (see the section, "How Saltwater Differs from Freshwater," for more on biotopes).
As you will see from reading later chapters, saltwater fish and invertebrates exhibit a far wider range of feeding strategies, social needs, and adaptability to aquarium life than freshwater species do. I have attempted to catalog this information for the most popular and widely available species in order to help you choose tank mates appropriate to each other. Is your heart set on a particular fish? You should be able to select compatible species by using the cross references I provide in the back of the book. Do you intend to set up a spectacular tank with living corals? You will need to provide abundant light, as shown in the table on page 57.
Seaweeds, which are algae, take the place of plants in the saltwater tank. Like freshwater plants, seaweeds have specific needs if they are to thrive in the aquarium. I have included a section on the diverse and beautiful seaweeds aquarists might want to grow.
While I direct most of my advice and suggestions to the casual aquarium owner, seasoned hobbyists will find, I hope, ideas for new horizons to explore. No doubt, you will improve upon my model designs with insights of your own.
The Allure of Saltwater Aquariums 3
The Allure of Saltwater Aquariums 3
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