Reef Ready Aquariums – Great Time Savers
Reef ready aquariums come in all shapes and sizes, but that’s not their main attraction. Some aquariums are easy to set up and require only a minimum of maintenance. The simplest fresh water aquarium would house a gold fish in a large bowl, together with one or two decorations, or an aerating device such as a plastic deep sea diver. Larger aquariums house a number of different species and are therefore more complex to set up and maintain. Saltwater aquariums usually represent another incremental step in complexity. What may be the most challenging aquarium system of all to the hobbyist is the reef aquarium.
When one stops to consider what needs to go into a salt water reef aquarium, the popularity of reef ready aquariums soon becomes apparent. The difference between a reef aquarium and a standard salt water aquarium is profound. Maintaining a salt water aquarium, or a fresh water aquarium for that matter, usually centers around keeping the temperature and chemistry of the water reasonably constant, providing sufficient light, and keeping the aquarium clean. In reef aquariums, the objective is to simulate conditions that one would expect to find around an actual reef, and the fish and coral one would stock such an aquarium with would normally be reef inhabitants and naturally would expect similar conditions.
One Challenge – Water Motion – One characteristic of reef life is water motion. The motion is necessary to allow plankton and other nutrients to be made available not only to the fish life but to coral life as well. While one does not have to generate stormy conditions in a reef aquarium, the water still needs to be in a state of constant motion. That usually implies a closed system pump arrangement where the water is recirculated, usually at a turnover rate of around 10 times the volume of water in the aquarium every hour. The exact amount of flow will vary somewhat depending upon the inhabitants in the aquarium, with some species of coral needing a greater flow rate and others a lesser flow rate. In very large reef aquariums there may be a system of small pumps which cause the water to flow at different rates in different locations within the aquarium.
Another Challenge – Lighting – Getting the lighting right can also be a challenge. The lighting in a reef aquarium isn’t there just for the pleasure of the hobbyist or any onlooker. Different species of fish and coral require different lighting conditions, and if the aquarium houses several species of fish and several types of coral, the lighting system needed to satisfy the different species can rapidly become very complex. A state of the art aquarium may use LED lighting, which not only is longer lasting and less expensive to operate than incandescent lighting, but is also programmable, though a programmable lighting feature can be expected to add significantly to the cost.
Reef aquariums, like most other aquariums, must keep the water temperature within a rather narrow range, and it’s important that the water not be allowed to change in temperature too rapidly or radically. The other issues to be dealt with are maintaining proper water chemistry and filtering the water to keep it clear and clean.
More To It Than Just Plugging It In – Reef ready aquariums take these various requirements into account. One can easily see that designing and constructing such an aquarium from scratch involves a great deal of challenge, and a great deal of work, but many hobbyists thrive on just that. For most though, reef ready aquariums are the way to go. There will still be plenty of work to be done once the aquarium is installed, and it’s therefore very important that those who are considering having a reef aquarium know full well what they are in for and plan ahead.