By Jeremy Richards on Monday, January 4th, 2016 in Custom Builds
I was recently contacted by a client who had purchased a 150 gallon glass fish tank that she wanted to set up as a saltwater aquarium. However, she was conflicted about whether to make it a reef tank or a saltwater fish-only aquarium.
While many Mesa saltwater fish tank technicians may tell you to stick to a fish only tank, because of its simplicity, I want to advocate for a saltwater reef tank instead. I believe that if you are working with a fairly large tank (such as my client’s 150 gallon one), taking care of your reef is much easier than one might think.
If you are considering getting started with your very own saltwater reef aquarium, here are some helpful tips on why a saltwater reef aquarium is the way to go:
A healthy and well stocked saltwater reef aquarium is truly a mesmerizing sight. Watching strange fish and other outlandish appearing water creatures dart out between swaying corals and sparkling rocks is a display that is hard to beat. The beauty lies in everything working together in perfect harmony. However, many new aquarists jump into the adventure without properly educating themselves first and abandon it again only after having “wasted” hundreds and thousands of dollars on the project.
If your desire is to create a microcosmos consisting of a reef and saltwater fish, the benefits of doing it right can’t be beat. As with everything, it pays to learn as much as possible before embarking on any new venture, and this goes for your Mesa saltwater reef as well.
While maintaining a Mesa saltwater reef aquarium may seem intimidating at first, once everything has fallen into place, you will discover that routine maintenance of your tank takes up less time than it might with a fresh water tank.
As a rule of thumb, the larger your aquarium is, the more forgiving it will be in terms of water quality management. While this is not an invitation to slack and fall behind maintenance schedule, it can serve as reassurance, that a reef tanks is a doable endeavor.
Adding live rocks (which are not really alive, but instead contain the remains of calcium carbonate skeletons of corals that have died as well as numerous other organisms) will provide critical water filtration components to your reef aquarium, as the organisms that have settled on the rocks include bacteria that eat fish waste, for example, which keeps the water clean and safe for your saltwater fish.
Of course, live rock also breaks down ammonia and nitrates into compounds that are much safer for your tank inhabitants and additionally even provide nutrition for your fish.
Many marine tank enthusiasts use live rock in conjunction with a protein skimmer to keep their tank in top shape. A protein skimmer, which is also called a foam fractionator, is very important for the health of your reef tank. Simply put, a protein skimmer collects the foam and removes nitrogen containing organisms and protein and prevents them from being metabolized into ammonia and nitrate. Other substances that are removed by a quality skimmer include proteins, amino acids, copper and zinc among other metals, fats, phenols and much more.
Once you have your live rock and protein skimmer in place, you are pretty much set. All you need to add is a good lighting source for your corals. By observing a few guidelines such as not installing lights that will overheat your tank, emit a good amount of blue light without emitting too much yellow and red, you are already well on your way to enjoying your beautiful saltwater reef aquarium.
While regular maintenance may seem intimidating at first, once you have a hang of the routine it is really not bad at all. Most saltwater reef tanks work fine with a 10 percent weekly, 20 percent monthly water change. To mix the salt water a day ahead of time, with the same density as your tank’s water, is generally the best approach.
Some other routine maintenance tasks you should perform include weekly saline and pH checks, skimmer cleaning, check the pressure gauges and more. To assist you in keeping track of your maintenance schedule, we have included the following graphic for your convenience.
If your tank is experiencing problems at any point and you have questions, contact your local Mesa saltwater tank expert. We are always happy to assess the health of your reef tank and to make sure that your little underwater paradise performs as well as it should.
While all this may seem to be rather complicated and a lot of work, it is important to realize that once your tank is properly set up and adjusted, maintenance is just as easy (if not easier) than in a freshwater tank. In addition, the tank seems to be less demanding and water quality more stable than you would find in a freshwater environment.
And lastly, the beauty of it cannot be beat. Freshwater fish just aren’t as beautiful and colorful as their peers from the ocean. Saltwater fish are vibrant and exotic looking and have been cause for many to pick up aquaristic as a hobby or new passion.
I encourage you to not shy back from having your own saltwater reef tank. With some research and patience, you will have a tank that will bring you joy for a long time.
The Happy Fish in Chandler, Arizona has been providing quality Mesa custom fish tank builds and saltwater tank rehab services to the East Valley for years. Our passion to make each tank a masterpiece, shows in everything we do. Contact us today to learn more about our services.