Many people consider marines to be the ultimate
in the aquatic hobby.
In general marine fish are less tolerant of fluctuations in their
water chemistry than freshwater fish are. This is because the
oceans of the world are much more stable in terms of water chemistry
and temperature than freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes
or streams. It therefore follows that to successfully maintain
a marine tank more care needs to be taken over water chemistry.
In practice this means :-
Although we have an excellent selection of
marine invertebrates, at present our selection of marine fish is
rather limited. Later this year we are hoping to install a brand
new marine system, which will enable us to greatly expand our selection.
- Having bigger, more powerful filtration than
is necessary for a freshwater aquarium.
- Using a device called a protein skimmer to
remove as much waste as possible before it gets filtered.
- Using more accurate and sensitive test kits
than are usually necessary for most freshwater fish.
- Being more patient especially in the early
In general marine tanks fall into one of two categories, fish
only aquarium or reef tank.
Many, particularly larger, fish are incompatible with corals
and other invertebrates. In most cases this is because they
are prone to eating the delicate corals, although sometimes
it is simply behavior that prevents their inclusion in a reef
tank. The most important factor in the running of a successful
fish only tank is adequate filtration. In particular do use
a good protein skimmer and powerful filter to ensure the water
remains in tip top condition.
Although good filtration is important in a reef tank, it is
not necessary to have quite as large or powerful filter as would
be needed for a fish only tank of similar size. In our experience
the single most important factor in the successful long term
maintenance of a reef tank is lighting. Get the lighting right
and most other things, including water quality, will follow.
Corals contain photosynthetic algae which use light to convert
carbon dioxide and water into sugars. In return for the security
of a safe and stable environment the algae share these nutrients
with their coral hosts. Although some people have had success
with various combinations of "traditional" t8 fluorescent
lights, if you are serious about running a successful reef tank
we very strongly recommend the use of more powerful lighting.
T5 fluorescents give approximately 50% more light for the same
wattage, compared to t8 bulbs. More efficient still are metal
halide lights. These powerful lamps are available in a number
of "colour temperatures". We suggest you choose a
bulb giving between 6,500K & 10,000K . 6,500K is close to
natural daylight, whilst 10,000K has a higher proportion of
blue light, and is similar to the light that corals will experience
at a moderate depth in sea water. Remember the colour temperature
does not relate to the actual amount of light but to the mix
of different spectra within it. The big drawback with both fluorescent
bulbs and metal halides is their wattage. Not only because high
wattages can add significantly to electricity bills, but also
because of the heat energy they add to the system. For that
reason increasingly large numbers of marine
keepers are turning to LED technology. LED lights are very energy
efficient, giving excellent light levels with low running costs.
We have been particularly impressed by the Kessel range of LED's
and have recently fitted them to our 6' reef display, with impressive
Obviously there is much more to know about maintaining a marine
aquarium than is covered by these brief comments. Our enthusiastic
staff are always willing to help and guide both the novice and
experienced aquarist a like.