Overview of a Reef Aquarium
Saltwater aquarium hit it big around the 1950s due to advances in filtration systems over anything else. That and the commercial success of air transportation to help move saltwater fish from the wild to your local fish store. But actually focusing on the reef as opposed to the reef fish is a much newer explosion in the fish hobby world. The advent of the Internet over the past 10 years has really helped disseminate information to reef hobbyists around the globe.
FO, FOWLR, and Reef
Reef Aquariums are saltwater aquariums where the focus is on invertebrates that you'd find on a reef. The focus isn't on the fish the way they are in a FO or FOWLR tank. FO what?!?! Here we go:
- FO stands for "Fish Only." It refers to a saltwater tank where you only have fish. No live rock and no invertebrates.
- FOWLR stands for "Fish Only WITH Live Rock." The "Fish Only" refers to the part that there won't be any invertebrates in the tank, just fish. The Live Rock refers to bringing in rocks from the ocean that have living micro (and some macro) organisms on them that help with biological filtration.
Most Popular components to a Reef Aquarium
Besides your live rock and some fish for show, most everything you're going to find in a reef aquarium is an invertebrate. Invertebrates are basically animals without backbones. But here are some of the most popular invertebrates you're likely to find in a reef tank:
- soft coral
- hard coral
- sea urchins
- crustaceans (crabs and shrimp)
- tube worms
- mollusks (clams, snails, and octopuses).
Why keep a reef tank? Anybody who's ever stood in front of one will tell you. They are mesmerizing. You can't take your eyes off a reef tank. It's like having a little bit of the ocean, right there in front of you. Pros to keeping reef tanks include:
- Reef tanks provide a welcome challenge
- The beauty and uniqueness found in a reef tank is unparalleled
- Keeping reef tanks helps raise interest in protecting wild coral
Some people just like a challenge. You tell them "it can't be done" or "it's really hard to do," and what do they do? Turn away? No way, they're drawn towards the reef tank and make it their life's dream to successfully keep a reef tank in their home. With a reef tank, you're replicating even more of an ecosystem than a FO or FOWLR tank. You need to account for not just how fish interact with each other, but how fish, corals and invertebrates interact with each other to help support each other in a more sustainable environment. You'll learn more about the biology of organisms and how ecosystems manage themselves than you would with other set-ups.
- The challenge above and beyond keeping saltwater tank
- Tank considerations
- Must keep the water circulating
- Costs more
- More filtering required
- Fish selection limited
Keeping invertebrates happy in a tank sounds hard, doesn't it? Corals and anemones are extremely sensitive to their environment. Many people won't even consider just jumping into keeping a reef tank once they learn of all the intricacies. They prefer instead to start with a freshwater tank, then maybe a saltwater tank, and then begin tinkering with keeping a reef tank.
- Damselfish - these will be the last fish you'll want to introduce to your tank or you'll have a very hard time getting other fish into the tank once these guys set up shop.
- Clownfish - keep just a pair per species for the best harmony in your tank.
- Blennies - work well in a reef tank and you don't have to worry about them eating other fish as much as you would with some of the other reef fish
Online Sites related to Reefs
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