A lot of people who become interested in reef keeping have little or no background knowledge about the marine environment. Often times, beginning hobbyists are those individuals who feel ready to make the transition from freshwater to saltwater aquariums. Although some of the basic principles which apply to a freshwater system remain. Reef microcosms are often more complex due to the fact that they are really miniature replicas of the actual ocean environment. As everybody known that saltwater was identically with coral. So let’s see what the best coral for saltwater tank by learn more about coral reef.
So what is a reef, anyway??
Biologists define a traditional coral reef as a large, stable framework which is biogenic in origin. Limited to the photic zone, and resistant to wave and storm action. Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the single largest organic construction on the planet? These tiny animals are really quite amazing. Because coral polyps are so small and slow-growing, it takes thousands, if not millions of years to build a large reef. Over time, the calcareous remains of coral skeletons, molluscs, bryazoans, and other marine critters are slowly cemented together by coralline algae and geological processes.
Coral reefs are limited to the photic zone (the warm, sunlit bathed belt around the Earth’s equator) since hermatypic invertebrates rely on U.V. light to synthesize food. One of the hallmarks of a pristine reef is the crystal-clear, nutrient-poor water which surrounds it. Just like the expensive condominiums in Hawaii, real estate in tropical oceans is hard to come by and extremely valuable.
Some coral reef facts
The only way slow growing corals can compete with the faster colonizing species of algae and sponge is by living in an environment which is inhospitable to nutrient-loving organisms. Most algae require lots of nutrients like nitrates and phosphates in order to thrive. Also these delicacies are often in short supply off the shores of a tropical island. Corals, on the other hand, subsist quite well on the simple sugars their symbiotic zooxanthellae provide via photosynthesis. Not only are tropical waters nutrient-poor, but they also tend to be clear of sediment, terrestrial run-off, and phytoplankton blooms. Sunlight already has a tough enough time penetrating water – in fact as much as 75% of useful U.V. light is absorbed in the first few feet of the ocean’s surface. Unclear water only makes it harder for corals to harness the sunlight they so desperately need.
The take-home message here is really quite simple. A successful coral for saltwater tank absolutely requires clear, clean, nutrient-poor water in order to thrive. The principles which apply in the ocean are just as applicable to the tank in your living room. If your aquarium’s water is laden with excess nutrients, unwanted algae may begin to take over your tank and eventually crowd out your expensive coral specimens. Of course, there are some species of algae which are slow growing and actually very attractive, and thus suitable for the home aquarium. Most of these species belong to a group of marine plants called coralline algae. Coralline algae incorporate calcium in their tissue layers as a means of defense against herbivorous fish. Since they rely so heavily on calcium. These types of algae are often slow growing and do not pose a significant threat to captive coral specimens.
Watch every single detail, it all affects
Other types of algae, however, like the dreaded “hair algae” or “bubble algae” can become the bane of even the most experienced aquarist. Nutrient-rich water not only affects algae growth. But there is quite a bit of evidence that suggests it also inhibits coral health. Also can even lead to premature death. Small polyped stony corals such as members of the large Acropora genus are notoriously delicate and require near-perfect water conditions in order to thrive. Through proper techniques and husbandry, an oligotrophic (nutrient-poor) environment can be maintained.
Those are topics for future articles, however… Look forward to next part, which will be part two of this three part series on the coral for saltwater tank.
By Jason Kim
Jason is the founder of AquaC. Inc.