Marine Introduction

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 :-

  • 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 stages.

    In general marine tanks fall into one of two categories, fish only aquarium or reef tank.

    Fish only tanks
    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.

    Reef Tanks
    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 results.
    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.
 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.
 

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