About Us

MAINTENANCE

  • From a one time plumbing installation to a 3 times a week maintenance schedule, our aquarium maintenance department does any and everything tank related. We clean, service, and provide husbandry for aquariums in homes and offices throughout Westchester< Rockland and the  Tri-State area.  from . Nowhere is too far for us to travel to give your tank the care it deserves. 

SCHEDULE

  • Our aquarium maintenance department is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM. We can be reached by calling  or can be contacted at any time by e-mailing us or  filling out the contact form below.

OUR TEAM

  • Our passionate service members are experienced jacks-of-all-trade, as general aquarium maintenance requires them to be part time plumbers, chemists, cleaners, and biologists. Each of our service professionals has years of experience maintaining aquariums of all types and sizes, excelling at providing superb, discrete care to your aquarium on your schedule.

Marine & Reef Aquariums


Saltwater aquarium fish are available in all kinds of shapes and a rainbow of colours, the marine system or saltwater can be subdivided into “fish only” or “living reef systems”, some people like fish only because of the broad variety and quantity of fish they can add to their aquariums including predacious and aggressive specimens.

Others prefer the unmatched beauty and immense variety of animals found in a living reef such as living corals, mushrooms, shrimps, crabs, starfish the list is endless, these natural ecosystems provide the healthiest environment possible for its inhabitants. These systems are more sophisticated and require greater care and time.

It is a good idea to decide early which system to choose before committing to build, since all of these systems have different needs and require different equipment, which system is right for you depends on which has the strongest appeal, as well as budget, whichever system you prefer Oasis Aquariums will create a beautiful system for your enjoyment that meets your exact requirements.

Our Goals

We Are her to help you realise your vision in creating a living piece of art that all will enjoy by exceeding your expectations through caring and state of the art management. 

We strongly believe in creating as natural an environment possible in order to keep your aquarium and animals healthy and happy.

Whether weekly, fortnightly or monthly, or even serviced as needed we can provide maintenance and information on all fish, corals, water, equipment and of course your tank.

We are based out of Westchester and provide services for the Tri-strate area.

We offer a  7 day a week, 365 days a year emergency cover. 

We provide our  client with a free quarterly review of their aquarium to discuss any concerns they have, and to chat about changes that can be made. We will also do a full system check on all filtration equipment,and check that all the livestock is healthy and is being properly serviced and maintained.

Our Maintenance schedule

  • Visual health and stock check 
  • Clean all interior and exterior surfaces and accessories (glass/acrylic, trim/woodwork, lids, feeders etc).
  • Check water quality.
  • 10% minimum water change, 30% average.
  • Check and clean additional equipment such as UV sterilisers, protein skimmers etc.Check/replace chemical filtration media.
  • Replace broken or worn parts.
  • Clean/exchange rocks, plants, coral etc as needed.

Aquarium Installation Services


  • We provide sales and installation of all sizes of aquatic systems from desktop/counter for the kitchen or office to custom built large scale aquariums, our friendly and knowledgeable staff have many years of experience installing aquariums locally, and will make any project run as smooth as possible.  
  • We have designed and installed many aquariums, we handle all the scheduling and problem solving so you don’t have to.

Step by step Aquarium installation

Decide in your home or office where you would like to have your aquarium. A custom aquariums  can be placed virtually anywhere that you could think of and can be utilised for various applications. For example a tank in the reception of any business or restaurant can create a serene lasting first impression or a tank in the living room of your home can also have an air of tranquillity but may double as a learning experience for the entire family.

Once you have decided on the location someone from our staff of professionals will come to you and find out all your expectations. We will take all necessary photographs and measurements of the space chosen, we will then design all stands, cabinetry, filtration and lighting and of course the aquarium itself with you in mind. We will then present you with a custom proposal to bring your aquarium dream to life, when you have accepted our proposal we begin to create your one of a kind system.

Some systems can be manufactured all at the same time and installed in one visit, the larger aquariums and surrounds may have to be built on site. No matter the request or situation we are capable of meeting and exceeding your expectations.

Once your system is fully operational, the next step is at your discretion. Aquarium Experts can tailor package a maintenance  schedule to suit your knowledge and requirements, our staff will do all the work for you including but not limited to cleaning the tanks inside and out (we have qualified divers for the very large tanks), water testing and replacing and introducing new fish and corals, our goal is to help educate, disign and manufacture  the best possible product for you to enjoy for years to come.

HOW TO TREAT SALTWATER AQUARIUM PARASITES WITH FRESHWATER

Grab interest

Parasites can quickly become a major problem in the saltwater aquarium if you do not address the issue immediately. One method of treating saltwater parasites you may not be familiar with is freshwater. When it comes to keeping your saltwater fish happy and healthy, there are a number of different diseases you must be on watch against. One of the most common, and most problematic, diseases affecting saltwater fish is parasites. There are a number of different parasites that might affect your saltwater fish, but a single treatment may be useful against a large number of them – freshwater. In this article you will learn the basics regarding common parasite infections to affect saltwater fish as well as tips for using freshwater as a treatment optionTypes of Saltwater Parasites


Tips for Preventing Parasites

While there are ways to treat parasite infections in saltwater fish, your best bet will always be to prevent them whenever possible. Parasites are opportunistic creatures so they are most likely to attack when your fish have already been weakened by injury, stress, or another disease. This being the case, the key to preventing parasites in saltwater fish is to keep your fish happy and your fish tank clean. Perform routine water changes on a weekly basis to keep water quality high and use a water test kit to monitor your parameters for changes which might cause your fish to become stressed. Offer your fish a healthy, varied diet of commercial, live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods to ensure that their dietary needs are met.
If you keep your saltwater aquarium clean, your fish are unlikely to be affected by parasites. You cannot possibly control every single factor, however, so it is possible that your fish might become sick no matter how careful you are. If your fish do succumb to a parasite infection, consider trying a freshwater bath before you resort to harsh medications or chemical treatments which have the potential to cause further stress and harm to your fish.  

Types of Saltwater Parasites

There are many different types of saltwater parasites with which your fish might come into contact, but some are more prevalent than others. The most common types of saltwater parasites include:


• Cryptocaryon irritans (Marine Ich)

• Amyloodinium (Velvet)

• Turbellarian (Black Ich)

• Brooklynella (Anemone Fish Disease)


Cryptocaryon irritans - Also known as Marine Ich, Cryptocaryon irritans is a fast-spreading parasite infection that results in myriad pinhead-sized gray nodules on the body, fins and gills of infected fish. This disease causes excessive skin irritation, respiratory distress, faded color and flashing.


Amyloodinium – Also known as Marine Velvet, Amyloodinium is one of the most deadly saltwater fish parasites. This disease can cause death in as little as 12 hours due to damage to the filaments of the gills. Early symptoms include increased respiration, sluggishness, gasping, and flashing.


Turbellarian – Also known as Black Ich, Turbellarian is caused by a flatworm. This disease causes dark spots on the skin which are actually a reaction to the parasite rather than a visible form of the parasite itself.


Brooklynella - Also known as Anemone Fish Disease, Brooklynella is a ciliated protozoa parasite that tends to infect the skin and gills of fish. This disease causes lethargy, respiratory distress, anorexia, discolored skin, and increased mucus production.

Using Freshwater Against Parasites

If you have ever owned a freshwater aquarium, the chances are good that you have used a saltwater bath to treat some type of freshwater fish disease. Just as you can use saltwater to treat freshwater diseases, you can also use freshwater to treat some saltwater diseases. The way this treatment method works is by exposing the parasites to a different salinity level than they are used to – this then causes a change in the osmotic gradient which draws water into the parasite’s body, causing expansion and bursting. It is important to note that freshwater is only effective against external parasites – it does not work for parasites that have burrowed into the skin or gills and for those that have entered the internal systems of the fish. Freshwater may not work as a treatment against all types of saltwater parasites, but it is certainly worth a try before you resort to harsh chemicals or medications.
Step-by-Step Guide

Your first step in treating a fish with a parasite infection is to quarantine the fish. If you catch the infection early enough, you may be able to prevent the spread – if, however, multiple fish show signs of infection then you may need to dose the entire tank. Follow the steps below to use a freshwater bath as treatment for saltwater parasites:

  1. Quarantine the infected fish from other non-infected fishes in a hospital tank.
  2. Prepare a 5-gallon bucket of freshwater – make sure to match the water temperature, pH, and water hardness as closely as possible to the parameters in your main tank.
  3. Treat the water with dechlorinating solution to remove chlorine and other toxic chemicals.
  4. Use a mesh net to transfer the sick fish into the bucket.
  5. Let the fish rest in the freshwater bath for between 2 and 8 minutes, depending on the fish’s reaction to the treatment.
  6. Watch the fish carefully – if it starts to show signs of stress, return him to the quarantine tank immediately.
  7. Use the mesh net to transfer the fish back to the quarantine tank.


COMMON SALTWATER AQUARIUM FISH DISEASES

COMMON SALTWATER AQUARIUM FISH DISEASES

No matter how hard you try, you cannot completely protect your fish from falling ill. You can, however, educate yourself on some of the most common saltwater fish diseases so you know how to deal with them. 

Perhaps the most frustrating experience you are likely to encounter as an aquarium hobbyist is having the fish in your tank suddenly fall ill. Saltwater aquarium fish diseases can strike quickly and, in some cases, they may even be fatal. No matter how hard you try, you cannot completely prevent your fish from becoming exposed to disease or from falling ill at some point during their lives. What you can do, however, is arm yourself with some basic knowledge about the most common saltwater aquarium fish diseases so you will be able to recognize them when they appear and deal with them appropriately. Swift action on your part as an aquarium hobbyist could mean the difference between life and death for the occupants of your tank.

Marine White Spot Disease

Also known as Marine Ich, Marine White Spot Disease is caused by the parasite Cryptocaryon irritans. This disease typically manifests in the form of small white spots covering the body, fins and gills of saltwater aquarium fish. Marine Ich is very similar to freshwater Ich but it is caused by a different parasite. Both diseases are very contagious and tend to have a greater impact on fish that are already stressed or injured. In addition to the presence of white spots, other symptoms of marine Ich may include ragged fins, pale gills, cloudy eyes, increased mucus production, lethargy and flashing. While freshwater Ich is often treated by increasing the tank temperature to speed up the life cycle of the parasite, this treatment may not be effective for marine Ich. Rather, copper treatment is recommended, often in a dosage of 0.15 to 0.24 mg/liter. Increasing the salinity of the tank may also help to kill the parasite.

Marine Velvet

Marine velvet, or simply velvet, is one of the most common saltwater aquarium fish diseases and it has the capacity to spread quickly if not promptly treated. This disease is caused by a dinoflagellate (a single-celled organism) called Amyloodinium ocellatum which is naturally present in many aquariums. This microscopic organism is incredibly hardy which is what makes it so difficult to control and it often acts as a parasite. Infected fish are likely to exhibit a variety of different symptoms including inflammation or bleeding of the gills, destruction of lung tissue, general signs of irritation or stress, difficulty breathing and lethargy. As the disease progresses, the gills and lung tissue will become more damaged and the fish may eventually lose the ability to transport oxygen across the gill membranes – in many cases, this results in the fish suffocating despite the presence of oxygen in the tank. This disease has a high mortality rate if not treated quickly so, upon the first sign of illness, it is important to begin a treatment regimen with copper. Because copper can be toxic for fish at high concentrations, it is extremely important that you follow the dosage instructions carefully.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is generally a bacterial infection brought about by poor water conditions or physical abuse by tank mates. In cases involving aggressive tank mates or fin-nipping behavior, fin rot is a fairly common secondary infection.  The most common symptoms of this disease include reddening or fraying of the fins – in extreme cases, the infection may lead to total destruction of the fin. The key to treating this disease is to halt its progression before the fins are totally destroyed. Remove any affected fish to a quarantine tank and begin treatment with an anti-bacterial medication. Performing frequent water changes to improve water quality in the tank is also an essential element in the treatment of this disease and, in some cases, a salt bath may also be effective.

Lateral Line Erosion

This disease is also known by the name Hole in the Head Disease because it typically presents in the formation of pits on the head of infected fish. The cause of this disease is largely debated but it has been linked to nutritional deficiency and poor water quality. Fish suffering from this disease often exhibit a deficiency in Vitamin C, Vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium – lack of water changes resulting in decreased water quality may also contribute to the development of this disease. If the disease is allowed to progress untreated, the damage is likely to spread from the head along the lateral line – hence the name Lateral Line Erosion. This disease is commonly treated with frequent water changes and dietary supplementation. Treating live and frozen foods with vitamin supplements, choosing enriched flake foods and offering fresh vegetables are several ways to supplement the diets of infected fish. Increasing the frequency of water changes is also incredibly important because it will improve the water quality in your tank and make it a healthy environment in which your fish can recover.

Lymphocystis

Lymphocystis is also known as “cauliflower disease” due to the formation of white, cauliflower-like bumps that appear on the bodies of infected fish. This disease is caused by a virus and it is especially common in tanks where fish are already stressed due to poor water quality. The disease typically manifests in the form of small white growths on the fins and skin which often results in a misdiagnosis because this symptom may also be associated with marine Ich. As the disease progresses, however, the growths may spread and join together to form larger, cauliflower-like growths that cover large areas on the skin, fins and sometimes the gills of infected fish. This disease can be very infectious and, unfortunately, there is no known cure. Removing the infected fish to a quarantine tank may help to prevent the spread of the disease but the infected fish may never recover. If the progression of the disease becomes severe, you may want to consider euthanizing the fish to spare it from further suffering.

Vibriosis

Vibriosis is a type of internal infection caused by a genus of gram-negative bacteria called Vibrio. This disease is commonly contracted through contact with open sores or dead fish and, once a fish is infected, the disease tends to progress quickly. Because it is largely an internal infection, many fish suffering from the disease do not show any external symptoms until the final stages of the disease. Some external symptoms associated with this disease include red streaks on the body (an indication of internal hemorrhaging), red spots, dark swollen lesions and cloudy eyes. Behavioral changes may also recur as a result of this disease – some of these changes might include lethargy, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing. The most effective treatment for this disease is oral antibiotics such as kanamycin – this type of treatment is best administered in a quarantine environment because anti-bacterial medications could damage the biological filter in your tank. Though instances are rare, you should also be aware that vibriosis can be transmitted to humans through the handling of infected fish. When handling and treating infected fish, avoid contact between contaminated tank water and any open cuts or sores.

Tuberculosis

Also called “wasting disease,” tuberculosis is more common in marine species than in freshwater tropical fish. This disease often manifest in the form of fin erosion, ulceration on the body, loss of appetite, reddening of the skin and lethargy. If diagnosed early, this disease can sometimes be treated with anti-bacterial medications but these treatments may not be effective in severe cases. For the best chances of success in treatment it is important to quaratine infected fish -- this may also help to prevent the disease from spreading to other tank inhabitants. Poor tank conditions such as overcrowding and poor water quality can greatly increase the risk for this disease. Like vibriosis, tuberculosis is another aquarium fish disease that can be passed to humans through contact with open wounds or sores. For this reason it is important that you exercise caution when handling and treating infected fish.

Tips for Prevention

The key to preventing saltwater aquarium fish disease is to keep your tank as clean as possible. The best way to do this is to keep up with your routine water changes and to replace your filter media on a regular basis. You should also be careful to avoid over-feeding your fish because any uneaten fish food will simply sink to the bottom of the tank and accumulate as organic debris which could have a negative effect on the water quality in your tank. As detritus like uneaten fish food and solid waste accumulates, the ammonia and nitrate levels in your tank are likely to rise which may also cause an increase in the stress levels of your fish. As you probably know, when your fish are stressed they are more susceptible to disease so keeping your fish happy is very important for keeping them healthy.

While you cannot completely protect your saltwater aquarium fish from coming into contact with disease or from falling ill at some point in their lives, you can do them the favor of equipping yourself with some basic knowledge. The more you know about common aquarium fish diseases, the more likely you are to recognized symptoms at the onset and to be able to start a treatment regimen in a timely manner. The sooner you begin treatment, the greater the chances are of your fish making a full recovery. Remember, the lives of your aquarium fish are in your hands and it is your responsibility to care for them to the best of your ability.

HOW TO CURE YOUR LIVE ROCK BEFORE PLACING IT IN YOUR AQUARIUM

Learn how to properly cure live rock before placing it in your tank. When you place a piece of uncured or even cured (sometimes cured live rock is not all that well cured) live rock in your aquarium for the first time, there will inevitably be some die-off. This die-off will cause organic materials to build up in your tank and can lead to an ammonia spike. The best way to avoid having this ammonia spike impact your tank is to cure your live rock before putting it into your aquarium. This article will walk you through a step-by-step guide to curing your live rock outside of your aquarium. Considerations There are several things to consider before you begin the process:

  • Curing live rock is pretty smelly. Therefore, I would recommend doing it somewhere where this will not be a problem. The garage might be a good place as long as it is not too cold.
  •  If you cannot cure your live rock outside of your aquarium then you can cure it in your aquarium before you start adding things. If you wait and let it cure and go through its ammonia spike before adding your cleaning crew, fish, or coral, your specimens have a much higher rate of survival.
  • There is no need to put lights over your live rock during the curing process. The light will do nothing, but promote algae blooms.

Directions 

  1. Fill a container big enough to hold your live rock with saltwater. For larger amounts of live rock, large plastic tubs work well. Be careful not to fill the container too full as the water level will rise when you add the live rock.
  2. Add a heater to get the water to the appropriate temperature (78 – 80o F) and a powerhead to circulate and oxygenate the water.
  3. Now you will need to pre-clean the rock. This will speed up the curing process. First get a spray bottle and fill it with saltwater. Then put some gloves on so you do not get hurt while handling the live rock (remember – you do not know what has hitchhiked on your rock). Setup a small bucket of saltwater near where you are going to work. Next place one piece of live rock on a piece of plastic or tarp. Now you are ready to pre-clean the rock. During the process of pre-cleaning the rock, use the spray bottle to keep the rock moist. First investigate each piece for any obvious organisms crawling around inside the pores. Remove anything you find that appears to be a pest (mantis shrimps, aiptasia anemones, bristle worms, crabs, etc.). Be careful when handling these pests as many of them can cause you harm. Once you find and remove the pests that are alive, it is time to remove everything that is dead from the rock. It should be fairly easy to spot dying organisms on the rock. Remove anything you find. Finally, dip the rock in your small bucket and swish it around to remove any final debris. Put the rock in the curing container and move on to your next piece.
  4. Once all of the rocks have been pre-cleaned and placed in our curing container, leave them alone and let them cure. There is nothing really to do except removing debris or dying material from time to time (you can scrub the rock with a toothbrush every couple of days to dislodge any dying material) and doing regular large (60% - 80%) water changes every 3 - 4 days. If you skip these water changes, the ammonia spike can get so high that it will kill your live rock. There is really no set length of time for the rock to cure as it will depend on the quality of the rock among other things (time can be anywhere from a few days to a month). You can usually tell when the curing process is done because the smell will disappear. A more scientific approach is to monitor the ammonia and nitrite spike with test kits. Once both of these compounds are at zero, your rock is cured and ready to be placed in your aquarium.

Conclusion You should never just add new live rock to your aquarium, especially in large amounts. There is sure to be some die-off and this can wreak havoc on your aquarium parameters. Curing your live rock outside of your aquarium mitigates this problem and ensures that your tank remains a healthy home for its inhabitants.

CREATING AN AQUASCAPE AND CHOOSING FISH

Creating an aquascape. Deciding on livestock for your tank. Dressing up your salt-water system can be a very pleasant experience. A little imagination and motivation can go a long way. Set aside some time just for this purpose. That way you won't feel rushed when you are designing your ideal aquascape. You want to create an environment that is both beneficial to the tank residents and that is aesthetically pleasing. Livestock that is on the larger size will require some rock or pieces of driftwood of equal dimension. Most community systems also house numerous species of marine plant life. Learning about your livestock's natural habitat can give you an idea of what style of elements is most desirable to you.
Make sure to create caves and/or specific hiding places for your fish with the use of wood, plants and corals. Also consider that you need to make sure that the equipment that you use is secured to the tank properly or in the case of corals, has a stable platform to sit on.

Deciding on Livestock for your Tank

Search for your fish with an idea of what kind of fish you want instead of blindly buying just anything. This is especially important if you are planning to keep several species. Plan for your fish to grow. If you buy a juvenile of a species and don't know how large it can get, it could outgrow your tank and then you'll have problems. When it comes to purchasing fish or other livestock for a saltwater aquarium, the first thing you need to understand about the animals is their compatibility. In other words, why they act as they do towards one another. Whether choosing a fish-only tank or a reef system, without knowing about a particular animal's ability to reside peacefully or not with other tank inhabitants can quickly lead to disaster.
It is important to know which fish are difficult to care for so that you can stay away from them. They include: Moorish idols, ribbon eels, polyp-eating butterflyfish, sponge-eating angelfish, parasite-eating cleaner wrasses and fish that have unique environmental needs or picky eating.
After you've decided on a general idea of what you want in your tank, there are a few other things to be aware of before you make the purchase. Selecting healthy fish requires that you ask the store personnel a few questions and make some observations on your own. Here are some things to observe while selecting fish.

  • " Don't buy fish that the store just got in. These fish are still going through the acclimation process. Moving them before they've settled in may be one trauma too many for them. Try to buy a fish that have been in the store for at least two weeks.
  • " Take your time looking at the fish to determine if they are swimming normally. If the fish seem to have difficulty swimming, it may be a sign of bigger problems.
  • " Look closely at the skin, eyes and fins. The eyes of a healthy fish should be clear, not cloudy. The skin should be free of lesions or discolored areas on the body (unless they are part of the coloration) and shouldn't have a "fuzzy" appearance.
  • " The fins should not appear frayed or torn. Although tears and frayed areas may be a result of a fight, they can also signify a looming bacterial infection.
  • " Look for any signs of disease. Never purchase a fish that has white spots on its skin or fins.
  • " Ask the store personnel what the fish that you are interested in eat and how often they are fed. Healthy fish that have been feeding well will have normal rounded or "full" bellies.
  • " Also ask about the water quality the fish has been living in. What temperature does the dealer have his aquarium set to? What is the salinity and pH.

Carrying Capacity

Saltwater aquariums cannot hold as many fish as freshwater systems of the same size. A general rule of thumb to determine how many fish should inhabit an aquarium is calculated by the number of inches of fish per gallon of water. The general recommendation is about two to three inches of fish for every 10 gallons of water. A 50-gallon tank for instance can accommodate 15 inches of fish while a 20-gallon tank can safely hold only about six inches of fish. However, remember that the bigger the volume of the tank and the more stable the water quality is, the larger the holding capacity will be. So a 50-gallon tank can actually handle about 18 to 20 inches of fish, plus a few invertebrates. In this is new to you, start with fewer fish than you think the tank can hold and then add them as the system stabilizes.
Remember that any time you add fish to an aquarium, their compatibility depends on a number of factors. Water quality, reproductive behavior, tank size and number of inhabitants will influence the behavior and health of any aquarium community.

Articles about Destressing fish, Lighting and UV Sterilizer

TIPS FOR SPOTTING SIGNS OF DISTRESS IN YOUR FISH BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

When you see signs of stress in your fish, you can then take steps to identify the source of that stress and then to resolve it before it becomes a major issue. Keep reading to learn about what causes distress in aquarium fish, the signs of stress, and the proper ways to deal with it.

In your day to day life, stress is something you are used to – something you may have even come to expect. Between responsibilities at work, chores at home, and everything in between, stress is a constant for many people.

While you might be used to operating at a high stress level, your fish are not. Aquarium fish can become stressed by any number of things ranging from poor water quality to disease to changes in tank parameters. In some cases, mild stress is something your aquarium fish can recover from but, in many cases, it is an early sign of something that can become a major problem.

To maintain the health of your aquarium fish, you need to learn how to identify the signs of distress. When you see signs of stress in your fish, you can then take steps to identify the source of that stress and then to resolve it before it becomes a major issue.

Keep reading to learn about what causes distress in aquarium fish, the signs of stress, and the proper ways to deal with it.

What is Stress, Anyway?

In your own life, you may be familiar with stress as your body’s “fight or flight” response. When you encounter a stressful or dangerous situation, your body’s survival mechanisms kick into higher gear. Your body begins to produce certain hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that boost essential functions (like heart rate and respiration) while sending unessential functions to the background. As your heart beats faster and your breathing rate increases, your body is primed to either fight back against the threat or to retreat from it.

Stress in aquarium fish is a little bit different, though it is still a physiological response. At the root of it, stress is any condition that causes mental or physical discomfort and which triggers a physiological response. When your fish become stressed, the short-term effects include increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Unfortunately, aquarium fish can only maintain this heightened state for so long before it starts to drain on them. Chronic stress can impact growth, digestion, and reproduction – it may also inhibit the fish’s immune response and its ability to fight infection.

What Causes Stress in Aquarium Fish?

Now that you have a better understanding of what stress really is, you may be wondering what might cause your fish to become stressed. There are many potential stressors but some of the most common include the following:

       ·         High ammonia levels

       ·         Elevated nitrate levels

       ·         Improper pH of tank water

       ·         Fluctuating tank temperature

       ·         Improper salinity level

       ·         Low oxygen level

       ·         Lack of hiding places in the tank

       ·         Harassment from other fish

       ·         In adequate tank size

       ·         Too many fish in the tank

       ·         Overuse of medications

       ·         Poor nutrition

       ·         Sudden changes in water chemistry

       ·         Improper use of water treatments  

Let’s take a closer look at some of these causes but, while we do, keep in mind that your aquarium fish may not always make it obvious when they are distressed. Most animals tend to hide their pain because it is a sign of weakness that could make them vulnerable to a predator. Because the signs of stress may not always be obvious, you need to spend enough time observing your fish that you develop an understanding of what kind of behavior is normal for them – if you notice a sudden change in that behavior, it is a good indication that something is wrong. Here are some signs of stress in fish:

       ·         Rapid swimming

       ·         Lethargic behavior

       ·         Decrease in appetite

       ·         Change in color

       ·         Loss of condition

       ·         Rapid gill movement

       ·         Hiding

       ·         Gasping at the surface

Now, let’s revisit the causes of stress to get a better understanding of how these things can affect your tank inhabitants and what specific symptoms they might cause.

Changes in Water Chemistry

Maintaining high water quality in an aquarium is of the utmost importance – if the water becomes too dirty or too loaded with toxins, it will have a negative effect on your fish. Some of the most important components of water chemistry in an aquarium are ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. As you may know, these chemicals are byproducts of the nitrogen cycle – when beneficial bacteria break down wastes in the tank, ammonia is a by-product. Then the bacteria convert the ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate which is less harmful than ammonia but still not good for your fish. If you fail to perform regular water changes to remove these chemicals, it could harm your fish.

Not only can it be stressful for your fish if the water chemistry in your tank becomes unbalanced, but any sudden or significant changes in water chemistry can be stressful. For example, if the pH in your tank remains consistently elevated (but only by a little bit), it will cause chronic stress. When these changes happen suddenly, it leads to acute stress. Some species of aquarium fish are hardy enough to adjust to such changes, but many are not. If the changes happen once, it may not be a big problem but, if the fluctuations occur on a daily basis you’re more likely to see changes in behavior.

Improper Tank Parameters

Aside from water chemistry, there are other tank parameters you need to keep an eye on as well. Tank temperature, for example, is very important. The ideal temperature for your tank will be determined by the type of fish you keep. It is very important that you do some research before stocking your tank to make sure that you can cater the tank environment to the needs of your fish. You also need to make sure that all of your tank inhabitants are compatible in terms of tank parameters. If you don’t have the right parameters for things like temperature, water hardness, pH, oxygen levels, and salinity, it can be very stressful (and dangerous) for your fish.

Though technically not a tank parameter, diet is another thing that can cause your fish to become stressed. Many novice aquarium hobbyists do not realize that different species of fish have differing nutritional needs – they often do not realize that some fish are herbivorous and others are carnivorous. It is important that you take the time to learn about the nutritional needs of your fish and then take steps to meet them. Don’t just feed them a generic flake food or pellet, either – aquarium fish require a varied diet in order to thrive. So, find out what kind of diet your fish need and then provide them with a variety of foods within that diet.

Changes in Environment

Not only can issues of water chemistry and other tank parameters cause your fish stress, but so can changes in the tank environment itself. One of the most common environmental causes of stress for fish is harassment from other tank mates. This is most likely to be a problem if you keep semi-aggressive or aggressive fish in a tank with peaceful species. It can also be an issue if you have more than one male of the same species or of a similar color/pattern.

Another problem with the tank environment that can be stressful for fish is a lack of hiding places or inadequate swimming space. Fish that are shy need hiding places in the tank in order to feel secure and more active species need plenty of room to swim. If these needs are not met, the fish may become stressed and that can lead to illness and other issues. You may also have problems if your tank is overcrowded with too many fish or with species that aren’t compatible.

In addition to these causes of stress, the entire process of being transferred from a breeding tank to your own aquarium can be very stressful. If you purchase your fish from a pet store, they have already been shipped and transferred once – when you take them home and put them in your tank, it is an added level of stress. Buying directly from a supplier is a good way to minimize stress because you will be cutting out the middle man and only transferring the fish once.

A Word About Stress vs. Disease

Before moving on to the ways you should handle stress in your aquarium fish, it is important to take some time to talk about the difference between stress and disease in aquarium fish. If you refer back to the list provided above of the signs of stress, you may find that some of the things on that list line up with the symptoms of common fish diseases. It is important to recognize that disease can cause your fish to become stressed, but if your fish are showing signs of stress it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have some kind of disease.

When your fish begin to act stressed, it’s a good idea to take a closer look to see if there are any physical signs of illness or injury. Take a closer look at the fish’s gills – are they moving too quickly, or do they appear inflamed? What about the fins – are they tattered and torn? Do you see any white spots or fuzzy growths on the fish’s body or fins? Has the fish lost weight or developed an unhealthy appearance? Asking yourself these questions can help you determine whether your fish are sick or if something in the tank is causing them stress. If you think that your fish are sick, you’ll need to do some digging to find out what they are sick with and how to treat it.

How to Handle Stress in Aquarium Fish

Unfortunately, it is unrealistic to think that you can eliminate all sources of stress from your aquarium. Each species of fish in your tank has slightly different needs, so it can be difficult to cultivate an environment that works perfectly for everything. This is why it is so important to do your research before you set up your tank – the more you understand the needs of your tank inhabitants, the better you can cater your tank environment to meet their needs. Once you have your tank set up, then, all you have to do is keep those parameters as stable as possible.

When it comes to dealing with stress in your aquarium fish, your first step is to identify the cause. If the stress is acute (sudden), it should be fairly easy to identify the cause – you may have added something to the tank or made some kind of change that precipitated the problem. If you are able to determine that the stress is chronic, identifying the problem could be a little trickier. The best place to start is by testing your tank water – you can purchase aquarium water test kits online or at your local pet store. All you need is a sample of your tank water and some paper test strips. Dip the strip in the water, then compare the color to the chart included with the kit. Then, take the results and compare them to the normal range for your tank.

If the results of your aquarium water test are normal, you may have to look elsewhere for signs of stress. Take a step back and look at your tank as a whole. Is all of your equipment working properly? Do the fish seem to have enough room to swim or is the tank overcrowded? Are there any outside factors that could be affecting your fish such as direct sunlight from a window or a draft from a nearby door. Take in all of the details of your tank and consider what kind of effect they might have on your fish. If you still can’t identify any potential problems, you may just want to wait a day or two to see if things improve on their own.

Another simple way to minimize stress in your tank is to keep your fish as healthy as possible. Aside from maintaining the right water chemistry and other tank parameters, the diet you feed your fish plays an important role in keeping your fish healthy. Again, you’ll need to know exactly what kind of diet your fish need and then make sure to provide for those needs. It is generally best to choose a high-quality staple diet such as a flake or pellet food catered to either herbivores or carnivores. From there you should add supplementary foods for variety – fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. Keep in mind that these foods can be very rich, so only use them occasionally to supplement the staple diet.

Tips for Maintaining Stability in Your Tank

The best way to minimize stress in your aquarium fish is to keep your tank as stable and consistent as possible. Again, setting up your tank properly in the first place is extremely important – if you are able to achieve the right tank parameters at the beginning, all you have to do is maintain them. One of the best things you can do to maintain stability in your tank is to perform weekly water changes and water tests.

When you perform your water change, make sure you use a gravel vacuum to remove accumulated debris from the substrate in your tank – if you don’t, it could end up affecting your water quality and water chemistry. Then, when you refill the tank, make sure that the water temperature matches the water in your tank and don’t forget to treat it to remove chlorine. If you want to remove any risk of shocking your fish with the sudden change of water, you can set up a drip system to refill the tank.

In addition to performing frequent water changes, weekly water tests are also recommended. When you perform the test each week, record the results in a notebook and keep it near your tank. Each week, compare your new test results to the results from the past few weeks to make sure there are no significant changes. After a month or two, you’ll have established a baseline for your tank. If your fish suddenly start showing signs of stress, you’ll be able to perform a water test and compare the results to that baseline – if you’re lucky, the problem will become obvious based on those results.

Another important point to mention when it comes to reducing stress and maintaining stability in your tank is the use of water treatment products. If your fish get sick, you may find medications that are designed specifically for the treatment of that disease. You must be very careful when using any products in your tank, however, because you don’t know what side effects they might cause. For example, if your fish get ich you’ll want to treat the whole tank but the medication you choose could alter certain aspects of your tank’s water chemistry. You’ll also need to remove the chemical filter media from your tank filter – this could impact your water quality. Always think carefully before using anything to treat your tank water.

Maintaining a healthy and thriving aquarium can be hard work at times but it is all worth it in the end. After all, nothing compares to the beauty of a well-stocked, properly maintained aquarium.

SALTWATER AQUARIUM LIGHTING AND HEATING

Kind of lights you need. Type of heating equipment to use. 

There are various kinds of tank lights available, but the type you need depends on what tank system you are running. For instance, fish only tanks can use a basic fluorescent light. When choosing a lamp make note of the "spectrum" of the lamp, which is the range of distribution of light. The rule of thumb for lighting is around 0.14W (1 Watt per gal) is a sufficient level to use.


Incandescent bulbs may provide many of the desired aspects of lighting needed by live plants. The least expensive fixtures are incandescent and take regular screw-in type light bulbs. The bulbs are also relatively inexpensive however, they need to be replaced much more often than other types of bulbs. Unfortunately, these bulbs put out a lot of heat, making it more difficult to regulate the temperature in your tank. Also these lights use more power for the light they give off than most other lighting, so you will have a higher power bill using this type of fixture.
While some types of metal halide bulbs produce desirable qualities of light at a low enough cost, they also drawbacks, namely that they are expensive to buy and generate too much ultraviolet radiation. If you do choose one of these units, make sure that it is designed for marine aquariums, and use an ultraviolet filter. Also be aware that these units get very hot and care needs to be taken to avoid getting burned.
Both metal halide and mercury vapor types of lighting share other drawbacks. They probably will require motorized fans, and need reflective mechanisms to direct and shield the light rays and are limited to high wattage's, most coming in a few to several hundred watt sizes, up.
Power Compact lighting is becoming very popular with live plant and reef enthusiasts. The power compact bulbs provide slightly more than three times the light of a N.O. bulb of similar length. Power compact fluorescent bulbs are available in two pin configurations, linear or square, so if you have purchased a power compact fixture, make sure that you purchase replacement bulbs with the same pin configuration. One advantage of power compact lights is that several varieties of bulbs are available as thread-in bulb, which fit most incandescent light fixtures. However, remember not to exceed the wattage recommendation for your light fixture, or you could risk starting a fire!
Full-Spectrum Fluorescent lighting has been and still is the best available lighting. It provides the best quality and quantity light at the lowest up front, operational and replacement costs. In addition, fixtures can be made or bought at reasonable cost. These lamps have functional life spans of about two years. The spectral shift and lumen depreciation is tractable and easy to adjust. V.H.O., or very high output fluorescent lighting, is a popular option for people keeping densely planted aquariums, very tall aquariums, or reef aquariums. These bulbs require special expensive ballasts to work properly. However, these lights provide nearly three times the light of a similar length N.O. bulb. Because of the extra expense of V.H.O. lighting, it is quickly giving way to power compact lighting, which can achieve similar results in less space and with less initial cost. For all fluorescent lighting, the amount of light put out is a function of the length of the bulb and the type of bulb, so if two bulbs are the same length and for the same fixture, they put out the same amount of light.

What Type of Heating Equipment Do I Use?

Heaters

Heating systems are a very important element in any tank system. Because they rely on external resources to help regulate their body temperature, ectothermic or cold-blooded animals, such as fish and invertebrates need an adequate source of heat to help maintain water temperature at sufficient levels. Even slight variations in temperature can adversely affect some of the more fragile tank inhabitants.
Typically, a heater and thermostat are used for fish tanks to ensure that the water temperature remains safe for the fish. The heater itself helps to maintain the fish's metabolism, keeping them healthy and happy.
The best rule of thumb when choosing a heater is this: you need about five watts of power per every gallon of water. For instance, if you have a 10-gallon tank, then you would need a 50-watt heater. Ideally it is best if you choose under the recommended wattage but never over or you will kill the fish. Keep in mind that different fish maintain different body temperatures so it wouldn't hurt to have someone at your local pet store help you determine the best heater to buy based on the fish you plan to keep.
Chillers

While not really a filtration system, saltwater aquarists occasionally have the need to lower the temperature of their aquarium water. The high light levels needed in reef systems cause a build up of excess heat. Use of a hood fan and removal of the ballast from the vicinity of the tank can help regulate water temperatures. However, additional cooling is often required, especially in warm climates. This can be achieved through the use of "freon" style cooler units (chillers) similar to home refrigerators. Maintaining an optimal tank temperature in the summer months can be a challenge. An aquarium chiller (also referred to as a cooler) is necessary for maintaining the temperature of the water in the tank. Although aquarium chillers can be quite expensive, they are quite economical for a couple of reasons:
1. Running an aquarium chiller can be cheaper than running your air conditioning in summer when you're not home or on vacation. This is especially true for situations where no one is home during the day and the air conditioning is being kept on to keep the house cool.
2. Aquarium chillers are low maintenance and high longevity products. The beauty of chillers is that they don't need to be cleaned and parts do not have to be replaced on a regular basis.
Thermometers

You can purchase an inexpensive thermostat from your local pet store. The easiest to use is one that attaches to the side of the fish tank with suction cups.A tank thermometer is something you will not want to be without. This is the only way you will know what temperature the water is. As stated before, some organisms are extremely sensitive to even slight variations in water temperature so being aware of water temperature is crucial. There are a number of models to choose from and they range from digital to floating thermometers. There are also multifunction remote digital sensor thermometers available that will allow you the ease of operation and convenience that other types of thermometers don't offer. For instance, with these types of thermometers the plastic probe is suspended in the water with the display located away from the water surface for easy reading.

Water Temperature

There are no set standards for tank temperature however, some aquarium owners say that a temperature range of 75-77 F works well whereas others feel that a range of 75-80F is better. Some even favor tank temperatures of around 80-85 F. Ideally, you need to know of what type of climate your tank inhabitants originated from because different types of fish enjoy different temperatures. For instance, sea temperature typically varies between 72-92 F. so that may be the range to set your sights on. But it is better to have a pet store employee help you determine the right temperature based on the type of fish who will inhabit your aquarium.

Alternately if you plan to have a reef system and add corals to it, they come from a variety of ocean environments where the temperature ranges from the low seventies to the low nineties. Since most reef aquariums have a variety of corals from different marine environments, sticking to the 75-82 degree range is a somewhat safe choice. In other words, knowing what kind of organisms you have and "where" they come from is an important factor when determining a tank temperature for your system. Rather than trying to run your temperatures high, you should reach a happy medium at about 79 degrees, because this temperature provides the largest margin of safety for the hobbyist, as corals have been shown to thrive in water several degrees on either side of this temperature.

UV STERILIZERS FOR REEF AQUARIUMS

A UV sterilizer is a valuable piece of equipment to add to your reef tank or fish-only saltwater aquarium. Read more to learn about their benefits. 

Even if you are new to the aquarium hobby you are probably aware that certain pieces of equipment are necessary in order to cultivate a healthy and thriving saltwater aquarium. What you may not know, however, is that there are options in addition to the standard filters, heaters and lighting systems that can help make your life easier as an aquarium hobbyist. An Ultraviolet sterilizer, for example, is a piece of equipment that can greatly enhance your reef tank environment with little to no extra effort required on your part.

If you are struggling to control algae in your reef tank, or if you are looking for a way to control bacteria and parasites, a UV sterilizer might be a good option for you. Before you decide whether or not to purchase one of these devices you should take the time to learn a little bit about it so you can select the right model for your tank. Below you will find some basic information about UV sterilizers as well as specific information regarding the pros and cons as well as how to use this type of equipment.

What is a UV Sterilizer?

No matter how often you perform water changes in your aquarium and regardless how meticulous you are about changing your filter media on a regular basis, your reef tank will still accumulate algae and bacteria. As long as you maintain high water quality in your tank, a little algae or bacteria is unlikely to cause any serious harm to your fish. If you do not properly maintain your tank, however, you could experience a problem with excessive algae growth. UV sterilizers are a simple way to help control algae, parasites and bacteria in the home aquarium.

Because algae, parasites, and bacteria are often difficult or impossible to view with the naked eye, it can be extremely difficult to control them. You cannot fight what you cannot see. Or can you? UV sterilizers target these microorganisms, altering their life cycles and limiting their reproductive capabilities in order to keep them under control. In simple terms, UV sterilizers work by passing tank water over an ultraviolet bulb – the UV light kills off the bacteria, algae and parasites in the water before returning it to the tank. In conjunction with a quality filtration system, UV sterilizers are an excellent way to help keep your reef tank clean.

Benefits and Drawbacks

The main benefit of a UV sterilizer is that it helps to keep nuisances like algae, parasites and bacteria under control in your tank. If you do not properly maintain your tank, even a few algae cells or parasites can quickly reproduce and cause a major problem. UV sterilizers serve to eradicate these microorganisms, thus preventing them from reproducing. Most UV sterilizers can be hooked directly in to your aquarium filter, though stand-alone options are available. These units come in a variety of different sizes to accommodate all types of tanks and they also feature different flow rates to target either parasites or bacteria and algae.

One drawback of UV sterilizers is that they only target free-floating organisms in the tank water – they will not have any effect on algae that has already adhered to tank surfaces or on bacteria and parasites that have already infected your fish. UV sterilizers can also interfere with chemicals and medications so, if you plan to use any of these products, you will need to turn the device off during the treatment period. Another drawback of UV sterilizers is that they can be a little expensive, especially if you have to buy one on top of all of the other necessary equipment for your tank. In the long run, however, the cost is usually worth it.

How to Use a UV Sterilizer

There are two different types of UV sterilizer – in-line and hang-on. Hang-on UV sterilizers are stand-alone devices that can be mounted to the back of the aquarium and they are generally fed by a submerged powerhead. These models are fairly easy to install and simple to maintain – they are particularly well-suited to small aquariums. In-line UV sterilizers are installed directly in the main filtration system as the last in-line device before the filtered water is returned to the tank. These models are generally recommended for larger aquariums and they often incorporate bulbs with higher wattages. In order to determine the right UV sterilizer for your tank the main thing you need to consider is your tank size – larger tank volumes will require a more powerful unit.

Additional Tips and Considerations

You should be aware that certain flow rates are optimal for targeting certain types of microorganisms – this information is important to know when selecting a UV sterilizer for your tank. If you simply want to control algae and problem bacteria you will need a minimum wattage of 4 for the UV bulb and a flow rate of at least 60 gph. UV sterilizers are generally ineffective against parasites at wattages less than 15 and the minimum flow rate to target these microorganisms is 75 gph. If you know what type of microorganisms you want to target in your reef tank you will be able to select a UV sterilizer of the appropriate size to provide the right wattage and flow rate. Many UV sterilizers offer adjustable flow rates, however, so you have a variety of options to choose from.

An example of a great UV sterilizer for small tanks is the Coralife BioCube Mini UV Sterilizer – this device has a 5w bulb and it can either be used with the BioCube pump or other small aquariums by using the included adapter. For larger tanks, the Green Killing Machine Internal UV Sterilizer with Power Head is a great option. This device includes a water pump and it is completely submersible – it is also uniquely designed to make water flow through it in a zig-zag pattern which maximizes its exposure to the UV bulb. If money is no option, the Lifegard Aquatics QL UV Water Sterilizer is a great option. This sterilizer is extremely effective and it comes in two versions – a 15-watt version that treats up to 240gph and a 25-watt version that treats up to 760gph.

In order to cultivate a healthy and thriving reef tank environment you need to do your best to keep your tank water clean and the water quality as high as possible. In addition to performing weekly water changes and replacing your filter media on a regular basis you may also want to consider installing a UV sterilizer to help control nuisances like algae, bacteria and parasites. A UV sterilizer can not only help to remove harmful microorganisms but it may also reduce the need for frequent water changes which will make your life easier.

articles about coral Rockwork and Aquarium sizes

THE TOP 5 MOST COLORFUL CORALS FOR A SALTWATER TANK

With more than 2,000 different species of coral out there, how do you choose the right option for your tank? Keep reading to learn about the most colorful species of coral for your reef tank. When you picture the Great Barrier Reef along the coast of Australia or the Rainbow Reef outside Fiji, what do you see? You probably imagine a great expanse of live rock and corals in every color of the rainbow, not to mention myriad species of colorful fish. If you admire the natural beauty of such ecosystems, you may be interested in cultivating your own miniature reef at home. To do so, however, you need to be intentional about how you set up your tank and you need to do your research before choosing your tank inhabitants to make sure everyone gets along. Keep reading to learn more about the most colorful corals you should consider adding to your tank. What are the Different Types of Corals?

There are more than 2,500 different species of coral in the world and they are broken up into two main categories – hard corals and soft corals. Hard corals can be further separated into two different sub-groups, zooxanthellate corals and azooxanthellate corals. The former include shallow-water corals that play a major role in reef-building – these are also corals that depend on zooxanthellae algae as their main source of nutrition. The latter type, azooxanthellate corals, are commonly found in deep water, non-reef environments and in other isolated or colonial forms. These corals filter plankton out of the seawater that passes around them for their main source of nutrition. Below you will find a list of some of the various types of hard corals:

  • Pillar Coral – This type of coral grows upward from the sea floor without any secondary branching. Pillar corals can grow up to 8 feet tall, growing on both flat and sloping sea floors.
  • Staghorn Coral – This is a branching type of coral that forms cylindrical branches that range from a few inches to over 6 ½ feet in length. These are one of the fastest growing corals and they are generally found in Caribbean waters.
  • Table Coral – These corals belong to the same branching type of coral as staghorn corals but they grow in large, flat plates. Table corals are usually dull green or brown in color and many reef fish take shelter under their plates.
  • Brain Coral – This type of coral is so named because it has a spherical shape with a grooved surface. These corals can live for 900 years or more and colonies can grow up to 6 feet high.

Hard corals are usually what composes the majority of coral reefs. Soft corals are much less rigid than hard corals, so they exhibit some degree of movement as their parts sway with the flow of the ocean around them. These corals are partially comprised of rigid calcium carbonate but it is blended with protein which gives them a softer appearance. Soft corals are usually rooted to a hard surface but they exhibit free movement because they have no exoskeleton. Here is a list of some types of soft coral:
Sea Fans – Also known as gorgonian corals, sea fans grow with individual tiny polyps forming colonies that are usually erect, branched, and flattened which gives them a fan-like appearance. Colonies are usually only a few inches thick but they can be several feet high and across.
Carnation Coral – These corals can be found growing in caves and beneath under-hangs, exhibiting a wide range of colors. Carnation corals are typically found in the Indo-Pacific region and they tend to be difficult to keep in the home aquarium due to their sensitivity.
Tree Coral – This type of coral grows in soft, flowery bouquet-like growths in many different colors. Tree coral grows by attaching the main trunk to a hard surface with smaller growths branching off from the main trunk.
Bubble Coral – This type of coral resembles grapes when the bubbles are fully inflated and they can be found throughout the Red Sea and Pacific Ocean. Bubble coral inflates during daylight hours then deflates at night, sending out finger-tentacles to find food.

Top 5 Colorful Coral Options for Your Tank

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of corals, you may be wondering which ones are the best to keep in your reef tank at home. When considering corals for your own reef tank you have to think practically, to some degree. Low-light corals and filter-feeding corals are generally the easiest to keep, though all corals will be sensitive to changes in water parameters. If you are an experienced reef hobbyist, you may simply be looking for the most unique and beautiful species of coral to add to your tank. Below you will find a review of some of the top most colorful coral species to consider for your reef tank:
Frogspawn Coral (Euphyllia divisa) – This is a genus of corals that includes hammer corals, torch corals, and some species that look more like anemones than corals. Frogspawn corals develop numerous branching heads, each outfitted with a vast array of brightly colored tentacles that move with the flow of the water around them. With moderate lighting and stable tank conditions, frogspawn corals are fairly easy to care for.
Spiny Pectinia Coral (Pectinia alcincornis) – This is one of the more strange-looking types of corals out there, having finger-like structures that grow upward from a central misshapen body. Pectinia corals have only recently become popular in the reef aquarium trade due to their unique appearance and bright colors – they often exhibit shades of neon green, bright yellow, or vibrant orange.
Rhodactis Mushroom Coral (Ricordea yuma) – A type of soft mushroom coral, these corals feature fuzz-like groupings of small appendages that come in a variety of colors and textures. Mushroom corals tend to grow quickly and they are relatively easy to care for in the home aquarium. Most species are moderately priced and easy to find while some of the more unique colorations cost a bit more.

Acan Coral (Acanthastrea lordhowensis) – This type of coral is extremely popular in the reef aquarium trade – so popular that they command a very high price in many cases. Acan corals exhibit some truly unique color patterns and textures which can transform the look of your reef tank. They only require moderate lighting and moderate flow as well which makes them fairly easy to cultivate.
Blueberry Sea Fan (Acalycigorgia sp.) – A type of sea fan named for its brilliant blue polyps, the blueberry sea fan is a great option for the experienced reef hobbyist. This coral features blue polyps growing outward from a red-orange base and it requires low lighting with strong water flow as well as supplemental feeding in order to thrive.
These are just a few of the thousands of coral species out there. When thinking about which corals to add to your reef tank at home, consider more than just the appearance – think about how much lighting and water flow the species needs as well as its dietary requirements. The more research you do, the better equipped you will be to care for your corals.  

REEF AQUARIUMS: IS BIGGER REALLY BETTER?

Cultivating a reef tank is an exciting but challenging task - learn more about choosing the right size for your reef tank. If you are new to the aquarium hobby you need to do a lot of research before you start your first tank. Not only do you need to think about what type of tank to create, but you also need to think about the equipment you plan to use, the size of your tank, and the tank inhabitants you plan to stock it with. All of these factors are important to think about. When considering a reef aquarium over a traditional saltwater or freshwater tank, there are some additional things to think about – one of the most important is tank size. If you browse online aquarium forums you will find that many experienced aquarium hobbyists recommend to beginners in the hobby that, when it comes to tank size, bigger is better. In this article you will learn whether this is true in regard to reef tanks and you will receive some tips for setting up your own reef tank.
Considerations Before Starting a Reef Tank

Before you decide that you want to start a reef tank, there are a few important things you need to consider – especially if you are new to the aquarium hobby. For one thing, cultivating and maintaining a healthy reef tank can be a time-consuming hobby. For freshwater tanks you can usually set up your tank with the right equipment and then maintenance requires little more than daily feeding and weekly water changes. For a traditional saltwater tank you might need to do a little more in the set-up phase, especially if you are using live rock, but maintenance requirements are similar – it will, however, take a little more work to prepare saltwater for water changes and to maintain proper water chemistry.
For a reef tank, you still need to think about installing the right equipment and mixing saltwater to fill your tank and to use for water changes, but there are some more things to consider as well. A reef tank is supposed to be filled with live corals and various marine invertebrates – it may or may not actually include any fish. Even without fish, however, reef tanks take a lot of work to maintain. Corals, anemones, and other reef invertebrates often have very specific tank requirements and even the slightest change in water chemistry could be deadly. Before you decide to start a reef tank, think about whether you can dedicate the time to maintaining the tank properly and that you have the money needed to properly outfit and stock the tank to start with.
Choosing the Right Size Aquarium

If you’ve decided that a reef tank is definitely the way you want to go, you then need to think about what size tank you want. Reef tanks range in size from nano reef tanks under 20 gallons in capacity to large reef tanks of 300 gallons or more. Many experienced aquarium hobbyists will agree that, when it comes to tank size, bigger is better. Especially for freshwater tanks, maintaining stable water conditions is easier in a larger tank because toxins and other harmful substances will be diluted – small problems are less likely to turn into big problems in a larger tank.
There is a point, however, at which a tank can become too big for beginner – especially for reef tanks which are often finicky and difficult to establish. If you speak to experienced reef tank owners, you will find that many of them recommend a 120-gallon or a 180-gallon tank for a beginner. This may seem extremely large to you – especially if you’ve also considered freshwater tanks – but it really is the best option. A tank this size will have the right proportions to give your corals and anemones room to spread and grow while also giving you enough water volume to make it easier to balance your water chemistry.
Tips for Setting Up a Reef Tank

After choosing the size for your reef tank you need to follow a few steps to actually set it up. Before you start the set-up, make sure to do some research to determine what kind of inhabitants you want to keep in your tank. Corals and anemones are great additions to the reef tank but some of them are very difficult to keep. Consider choosing a few of the varieties that are recommended for beginners and make sure that they have compatible tank requirements.

You also need to be mindful of the type of equipment you choose. A quality filtration system is the key to maintaining high water quality in your tank and a heating system is necessary to maintain stable reef temperatures. Depending on the tank inhabitants you choose, you may also need to purchase a high-quality lighting system. Additional equipment like UV sterilizers and protein skimmers may be beneficial but they are something you may be able to add after your tank becomes established.


Recommended Reef Tank Inhabitants

Reef tanks are a little bit different from traditional saltwater tanks because they bring together a variety of reef inhabitants like corals, anemones, fish, and reef invertebrates. It is important to realize that different reef inhabitants have different requirements in terms of water chemistry and other tank aspects, so you need to do your research to ensure that your reef tank caters to the needs of your inhabitants and that all of your inhabitants are compatible with each other and with your tank.

Below you will find some recommendations of reef tank inhabitants to consider:

  • Scavengers – The first inhabitants you should add to your reef tank are scavengers like hermit crabs and snails. These are some of the hardiest reef tank inhabitants and they will help to keep your substrate free from accumulated detritus.
  • Beginner Corals – Once your tank has cycled and your scavengers have settled in you can start adding your beginner corals. Some popular options for beginners include colony polyps, button polyps, and mushroom corals. Just make sure that your corals are compatible with each other and that your lighting and filtration system is adequate to meet their needs.
  • Aqua-cultured Corals – These are corals that have been grown in captivity which makes them easier to assimilate into a reef tank. Some good options to consider include Xenia, starburst polyps, tree coral, mushroom leather coral, finger leather coral, and colony polyps.
  • Fish and Invertebrates – After your reef has become established you can add a few fish and invertebrates. Some good fish to conisider for reef tanks include wrasses, basslets, blennies, clownfish, and cardinalfish. Recommended invertebrates include cleaner shrimp and sea urchins.

Setting up and maintaining a healthy reef tank can be quite a challenge but it is very exciting as well! Nothing is more satisfying than looking up your thriving reef tank full of corals, anemones, and colorful fish. Using the tips and helpful information in this article you can get started on your quest to become a reef tank hobbyist

TIPS FOR USING ROCKWORK IN SALTWATER AND REEF AQUARIUMS

Building a beautiful saltwater tank landscape out of rock is a challenge but with some helpful tips you can make it work. 

What makes a saltwater aquarium different from a freshwater aquarium? The short answer to this question is – just about everything. From the fish you stock to the water itself, there are some pretty stark differences between freshwater and saltwater tanks. But one of the biggest differences is in the way these two types of tanks are decorated. With a freshwater tank you can choose from a few different types of substrate and add some live plants for color, but with a saltwater tank most of your decorations are rocks. Keep reading to learn more about how to use rockwork to decorate your saltwater or reef aquarium.

What Kinds of Rock Can You Use in a Saltwater Tank?

When it comes to decorating your saltwater or reef tank, you have to be careful about the decorations you choose. A saltwater environment is a delicate one – not only do you need to be extremely careful about maintaining the right salinity and water chemistry levels, but you have to be mindful of all of the organisms living in your tank – even the ones too small to see. In a saltwater tank, rockwork serves multiple purposes, all of them important. For one thing, rockwork acts as your main decoration. It adds dimension and visual interest to your tank. On a more practical level, it provides your saltwater fish and invertebrates with places to hide. Finally, it provides a surface on which beneficial bacteria and other helpful microorganisms can grow and thrive.

To decorate your saltwater tank, you can’t just use any old rocks you find lying around. If you gather rocks from your backyard or from the local stream they could contain toxic metals and other harmful elements like copper, or arsenic. You can’t always tell just by looking at a rock what it’s made of, so you need to be extra careful. When it comes to rockwork for saltwater and reef tanks, your best bet is to only use rocks you purchase from a pet store or an online retailer – the rocs must be cured to make them safe for use in a fish tank, otherwise they could leech dangerous chemicals, pesticides, or other poisons into the water and kill your fish.

There are a few particular types of rock that can be used in a saltwater or reef tank – here is a brief overview of each type:

Live Rock – This type of rock consists of the dead skeletons of old coral that have been colonized by small invertebrates and other marine organisms like algae, sponges, and marine worms. More importantly, live rock contains beneficial bacteria that help to maintain the nitrogen cycle in your tank – the cycle through which wastes are broken down and converted into less harmful substances.

Base Rock – This type of rock is the same as live rock except, of course, that it is not alive. These rocks also consist of the dead skeletons of old coral, except that it is typically sold dry which means that nothing on it is living. This type of rock should be cured before use, but it is generally more affordable than live rock.

Fake Rock – This type of rock is usually made up of ceramic or a combination of cement and aragonite sand – you can even make it yourself. In many cases, fake rock looks almost identical to live rock or base rock. The benefit of this type of rock is that it can be made into unnatural shapes, either for visual interest or to cover things in the aquarium.

These are the only types of rock that are safe for use in your saltwater or reef tank. Before you use any of these types of rock, always make sure that they are clean – this is especially important for fake rock and base rock that has been sitting around for a while. Live rock has been kept in water in order to keep it alive, so it is less likely to have gathered dust or been contaminated. You can certainly make your own rockwork for a saltwater tank, but you will have to go through the process of curing it before you use it to make sure that it is safe. You can learn more about making your own live rock here.

Common Arrangements for Rockwork in Aquariums

Now that you understand the different types of rockwork you can use in your aquarium, you next need to think about how you are going to arrange your rocks. There are a few standard arrangements that work very well in saltwater and reef tanks, though you really have the freedom to do what you like. One of the most common arrangements is simply called a rock wall and it consists of stacking rocks on top of each other all the way from the front of the tank to the back, creating a sloping wall that is low in the front and high in the back. This is particularly useful for reef tanks because it gives you plenty of places to anchor corals. Depending on your tank size, however, it can take a lot of rock.

Another common arrangement for rockwork in saltwater and reef tanks is a modification of the wall – it slopes up from the front of the tank to the back, but also from the sides. This arrangement leaves more open space for swimming and it also allows for greater visibility. The only downside is that there is less space to anchor corals, but that is only a problem if you want to incorporate corals – you can have a perfectly lovely saltwater tank without them. You can also make separate stacks or piles of rock in the different corners of the tank or in one corner. Again, it is really up to you how you choose to arrange the rockwork in your tank.

Additional Tips and Tricks for Using Rockwork

In addition to thinking about what kind of rock you plan to use and how you plan to arrange it, you have to think about some of the more practical aspects of arranging rockwork in your tank. When stacking your rocks, try to leave some spaces between them. This means that there will be cracks and crevices where fish, invertebrates, and other tank inhabitants can hide. It is usually best to use the largest pieces on the bottom of the tank and to stack gradually smaller pieces on top, depending what kind of arrangement you are going for. Don’t be afraid to play around with different arrangements to find which piece fits best in each place. You also want to make sure that every rock you place is just as stable as the one underneath it – the last thing you want is a rock avalanche to come tumbling down on your fish.

When it comes to decorating your saltwater aquarium you have the freedom to do just about whatever you want. If you want to create a natural look in your tank, however, the chances are good that you’ll do it with rockwork. But putting to use some of the tips and tricks in this article you can make the most of your rockwork decorations to create a tank environment that looks great and meets the needs of your saltwater fish. 

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