This article was written by myself and Cliff. The first part was written by me (Dave66), and Cliff gives an overview of LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting.
Perhaps the most important and vital piece of equipment one can buy for their reef aquarium is lighting.
Fully 95 percent of corals available in shops and online are photosynthetic. That is, they have photosynthetic bacteria in their tissues (zooxanthellae). The bacteria ‘feed’ on the light, and the sugars they produce as waste feeds the coral.
On the tropical reef it’s the sun that powers the photosynthesis of zooxanthellae. In the aquarium, it is the responsibility of the keeper to simulate the sun in their aquariums. Lighting is one of the major costs in starting a reef tank. Continue reading
In marine aquariums, available are several types of reactors. Reactors are simply acrylic cylinders that contain some type of media. Internal construction varies, depending on the brand and type of reactor.
What follows are reactor types and their purpose.
Perhaps the most valuable of the reactors in a reef aquarium is a Calcium Reactor.
Maintaining natural sea water levels of minerals and trace elements, and alkalinity of a sufficient level to buffer them, is a challenge for many new and not so new reef aquarium keepers.
A Calcium Reactor can negate that challenge. The reactor is loaded with an aragonite media or similar, which as it dissolves, continually maintains natural sea water levels of minerals and trace elements, and the optimal level of alkalinity. Having a Calcium Reactor is cost effective in the long run, since it will keep you from having to buy products for the marine minerals and trace elements, plus alkalinity, regularly.
Though in smaller reef aquariums, the organisms in live rock and sand process Nitrate, reducing it naturally to zero. In larger reefs, that is over 90 gallons in size, with more life in, filters can help in keeping it at zero
However, there are several types of filtration that can help keeping your water quality high.
One of the most desirable and in many cases indispensable pieces of marine equipment are Protein Skimmers.
Called foam fractioners among the science folk, skimmers have been available since the early days of the serious marine aquarium hobby.
Benefits of Protein Skimmers are many. First, their purpose is to remove dissolve organics from your tank water before they decay and cause your water quality to decline. Skimmers work by mixing air with the marine water, generating bubbles. The dissolved organics stick to the interface between the bubbles and the water. The bubbles burst at the top of the unit, and the organics fall into a collection cup there.
The skimmer cup fills with what is called the skimmate. The smell of the skimmate will bring great peace of mind that is out of your tank water. Many have to empty the skimmer cup daily, some more lightly stocked reefs every other day.
Emptying involves rinsing the cup out under a running tap, then replacing it on the unit. Also, one should clean the biofilm that forms inside the skimmer every few months, gaging the time based on the amount of biofilm, since it can hamper the skimmer’s filtering capabilities.