WAVEMAKERS FOR SALTWATER TANKS

Written by Katherine Barrington Published May 14, 2013
If you want to keep your saltwater tank healthy, you need to consider the ideal level of water flow. Installing a wavemaker in your tank will help you strike the right balance.
When you imagine the ocean, what do you picture? You probably envision a sandy beach littered with shells and the loud crash of waves as they hit the shore. Water motion and waves play a significant role in an ocean environment so it makes sense that the same would be true of a saltwater tank, particularly a reef tank. Not only is water movement important for making your reef tank look authentic, it also plays a role in keeping your corals and other reef inhabitants healthy. If you are looking for a way to increase the water flow in your saltwater tank, you may want to consider investing in a wavemaker. Wavemakers come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate virtually any saltwater tank. Read more to learn the basics about these devices.
 
Importance of Water Movement
 
Water movement is important in the saltwater tank for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that many saltwater tank inhabitants including corals are used to rapid water movements. In fact, these animals require fast water movement in order to thrive. Water movement is also important in moving food, oxygen and nutrients around the tank so corals and other tank inhabitants may benefit from them. It also helps to remove waste products and sediment from corals that could affect their growth. In regard to aquarium fish, strong water movement requires the fish to keep moving which means they burn off more fat, thus keeping them healthy.
 
When it comes to water movement in the aquarium, there are three different kinds. The first kind is laminar flow which is a steady, one-directional flow. This is the type of flow produced by powerheads. The second type of water movement is surge – it is a stronger flow that lasts for a short period of time, followed by a weaker reverse flow. The third type of water movement is turbulence which is the random flow of tank water in multiple different directions – this is the most difficult type of water flow to achieve.
 
What Are Wavemakers?
 
Turbulence is one of the most difficult types of water flow to achieve in the home aquarium but it is incredibly important for reef tanks. One method of achieving this type of water flow is to install a wavemaker. Wavemakers are electronic devices that incorporate multiple powerheads, shutting them on and off in random fashion, to create waves. To use one of these devices, you will need to install the powerheads at different locations around the tank and program the wavemaker to turn them on and off at predetermined intervals. It is possible to program some wavemakers to induce slower currents at night or to create a steady water flow for corals.
 
Other Tips and Options
 
When incorporating a wavemaker into your saltwater tank, you may need to make a few other adjustments as well. For example, you might need to take precautions against salt spray which can be created by the rapid movement of water. If salt is allowed to accumulate on your tank equipment or lighting, it could cause problems. To prevent salt spray, you may need to adjust the positioning of the powerheads to prevent bubbling and surface agitation. Keep in mind that minimal salt spray will not likely damage your equipment, but it could result in a fine coating of salt which may affect the performance over time.
 
It is also important to note while installing a wavemaker that too much water flow may be harmful for your aquarium. You must strike a balance between too much and too little water flow in order to keep your saltwater tank healthy. If the water flow is too low, your corals may not receive the nutrients they need. If the water flow is too high, however, it may inhibit the growth of your corals. Keep an eye on the growth patterns of your corals as well as the behavior of your aquarium fish to determine whether the water flow in your tank is at the right level. If the water flow is too strong, you may notice your corals growing around a certain area of the tank. To remedy this, you may simply need to reposition your powerheads or adjust the flow.
 
Remember, maintaining a saltwater tank can be a challenge but the more effort you put into setting it up properly, the more likely you are to be successful. Water flow is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy saltwater tank, particularly a reef tank. By installing a wavemaker in your tank, you can easily adjust and control the water flow in your tank to achieve the level of flow that is optimal for your tank inhabitants. 
 
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