Showing posts with label Corals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corals. Show all posts

2018-10-25

CORAL REEF Aquarium

our 440 l reef tank
440 l reef tank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When shopping for fish, it might be tempting to pick the rare and fancy fish full of colors, and exotic looking shrimp or crustaceans. An aquarium full of marine life complete with a coral reef and aquatic plants is very appealing. After all, who wouldn't want to have an underwater paradise in their living room?  It may, not, however, be the best choice for a beginning hobbyist.  

Coral reef aquariums require much more care than freshwater tanks or saltwater fish only tanks.  Freshwater fish are usually hardier than marine species and therefore a little more forgiving when it comes to water acclimation. It is recommended that only experienced fish keepers with a real commitment to the hobby attempt a coral reef aquarium.   A tank containing coral reef life may require several months of cycling before getting the water just right. The water in a coral reef tank must be regulated for lighting, temperature, and ph.  Start with tap water and then add a sea salt mix to the water.  This type of solution is available at most pet stores.

The salinity of the tank should be between 1.023 and 1.004.  The ideal temperature for a marine aquarium is between 75 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is also important to test the P.H. of the tank.  Ideal P.H. is somewhere between 8.3 and 8.4.  Test kits can be purchased online or at your local pet store.  The same store will also carry any solutions necessary to adjust the P. H. There is not much wiggle room when it comes to these specific starting points.  In order to avoid a costly mistake, it is important to be patient, watch the tank closely, and make sure that you don't introduce any marine life until the tank is absolutely ready.

Once the aquarium is ready, start with anemones and clownfish. They are the hardiest of reef species, and who wouldn't love to have Nemo swimming around in their living room?  Monitor the marine life closely.  Check the activity levels of the fish, and watch for stress.  Stress is the most common cause of sickness in fish.  Remember that these creatures may have come directly from the ocean, and it may take a while for them to get acclimated to their new home.  Another cause of stress in fish is overcrowding.  Make sure there allow about ten gallons of water per one inch of fish.  Account for the full-grown size of the fish, not the size of fish when it is purchased.


The incubation period for most sickness in fish is about thirty days.  So after about a month, if all is well with the tank and the fish seem to be adjusting well, then it is okay to introduce some new marine life. A mandarin fish or a dwarf angelfish might round out the collection nicely, and they are fairly compatible clownfish.  Whenever adding new fish, choose the species carefully for compatibility.  The fish should be compatible with water specifics, but also make sure that their food source is compatible.  Always remember to be patient when adding new fish.  

Give the existing tank members plenty of time to get adjusted before making additions to an aquarium. The best piece of advice is to do research.  Make sure that all new purchases will be suitable tank mates for the existing creatures.  With a little luck, and a lot of skill you will be on your way to having a reef aquarium that will impress any fishkeeper.



2018-10-07

Creating the Perfect Reef Aquarium

Reef Aquarium - Photo: Pixabay
Just as nature above the sea level is as variable as the sun, from the deserts of Arizona to the snow-topped caps of the Swiss Alps, so can the world under the sea be a constant study in contrasts, with no two reefs the same. This is good news for the underwater enthusiast who is attempting to establish the perfect reef aquarium in their home; there is no established "formula" for the perfect tank. There's plenty of room for creativity!

One thing that cannot be shirked upon is the size of a tank. It must be more than adequate to allow the species of fish that are chosen to inhabit it plenty of room to exercise and grow. Just as a person cannot thrive in an enclosed environment, neither can a fish. A 75 gallon tank is a generous size for the home marine biologist to establish their own eco-system and allows for space for several species of fish to spread out (provided they are compatible species, of course. Putting two species together who are unsuited to tank life together is a recipe for disaster, regardless of the size of the tank). 

Courtesy of advances in the convenience of establishing a home aquarium it is now possible to purchase an aquarium that has been pre-drilled in order to prevent overflow. This provides a cleaner look than the traditional "hang on the back" overflow system for the home professional who is attempting to create the picture perfect reef aquarium.

There are many options for decorating a reef aquarium, although it is generally much more aesthetically pleasing and healthy to the fish to keep all of the decorations one hundred percent organic. Live rock is a vital element to any eco-system, yet makes a lovely addition to a home saltwater aquarium. The microorganisms which grow on the rock (the rock is not really alive, obviously; it gets its name from the fact that it is a natural habitat for many species of bacteria) will help to filter out the harmful waste products produced by the fish that will accumulate in the water of a saltwater aquarium in spite of the filtering system-after all, how often does Mother Nature need to clean her saltwater aquarium? She has created the perfect filtering system as long as man does not add any elements to throw off the balance.



Live plants and coral are also essential elements to the perfect reef aquarium. There are many different types of plants which can be added to a reef aquarium, and it is best to choose based on the species of fish which will be inhabiting the tank. For successful transplantation of live aquarium plants, it is essential that the sand or silt on the bottom of the tank be deep enough to allow the roots of the plants to successfully take hold. These plants will also require additional light and carbon dioxide to allow for proper photosynthesis.

There are many options for creating the perfect saltwater aquarium, many of them very costly; however, with the proper mix of imagination and frugality, it is possible to create a reef aquarium that is aesthetical, ecologically and financially friendly. 



2018-09-24

How to Create and Care for a CORAL AQUARIUM

English: A mass of Plerogyra sp. coral in a tr...
A mass of Plerogyra sp. coral in a tropical reef tank at the Seattle Aquarium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many aquarium owners crave to someday own a saltwater tank displaying numerous kinds of coral. This may be achieved is fast easy steps if you use coral starter kits to grow your own coral. This is recommended over buying coral from a store. By growing your own, you ensure it is properly acclimated to your tank. Setting up and caring for the coral aquarium, or reef aquarium is a task that requires a bit of knowledge before starting. There are some steps to take when setting up a new coral aquarium. The process may seem to take a long time, and because of this, many people opt to use fake coral instead. However, the time spent waiting will be well worth it when you are later able to display your own coral aquarium. If you follow some simple steps and have the patience for about 12 weeks, you will be able to create and own your piece of underwater paradise.

To begin, the first thing to do is assemble your aquarium. Find a spot in the home that you wish to have it displayed. Follow through with the set up as you would a freshwater tank. When you are ready to add the water to the tank, follow these simple steps. First, pour the sand into the bottom of the tank. Add dechlorinated water to the tank. Next, add the salt and make sure it is mixed until the specific gravity measures 1.205. After the water and salt are added, arrange your live rock as desired and install the heater and the hood of the tank. After doing these things, you must then wait 4 weeks to move ahead.

After the four weeks has passed, you will then add your first living creatures to the tank. It is best to add fish later, and slowly as to make sure the salt balance in the tank is correct and remains that way. At this time, you can add a variety of snails or crabs if you wish to have them part of your tank. You will also need to install a protein skimmer. The tank should be functioning as if it were full of fish. Make sure the filters are working properly and the lighting is right. Remember not to leave the light on for more than 10 to 12 hours a day as it may promote algae growth. After adding some snails or crabs, wait another 2 weeks before proceeding.

Now at week 6, you will add your first pieces of coral. There are many types of coral used in saltwater coral aquariums. Some of the most common are Button Polyp, Yellow Polyp, Hairy Mushroom Coral and Bullseye Mushroom Coral. Make sure when adding your coral, it is attached to the live rock at the bottom of the tank. Wait another 2 weeks. Don't get frustrated... you're almost there! During the eighth week, you can add Aquacultured Coral such as Pumping Xenia, Starburst Polyps and Spaghetti Finger Leather Coral to name a few. Place these corals into the live rock as you did with the previous set of coral.


Now you have succeeded in creating your reef aquarium. During the course of the 10 to 12-week mark, you may begin adding your fish to your underwater world. It may seem a long drawn out process to get a coral aquarium up and running, but the time and hard work will pay off for years to come. Creating and caring for your coral aquarium will bring you much enjoyment and a wonderful sense of accomplishment for creating a spectacular coral aquarium.


2018-05-08

Saltwater Aquarium - 5 "Easy" CORALS

English: Soft corals from Komodo National Park
Soft corals from Komodo National Park - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Having your own coral reef is a dream shared by many aquarists. For a long time, it used to be very difficult to grow and maintain coral reefs in aquariums because of the lack of knowledge about them and their needs to survive in a saltwater aquarium.

A coral reef system is complex and requires the right components and proper maintenance. The good thing is that even though some corals are still very difficult to grow and maintain, a wide range of corals is now easy to grow even for beginners.

If you're a beginner or average aquarist, when picking corals for your saltwater aquarium, you might want to go with soft corals because they are easier to take care of.

Below are 5 different types of soft corals:

Cladiella Corals: Cauliflower, Finger Leather, and Colt Coral. They adapt very well and do best with moderate lightening and water movement.

Palythoa Corals: Button Polyps and Sea Mat. Can grow very fast under bright lightening (might overgrow your other corals). Prefer rapid water movement. Warning: Handle them with gloves to protect yourself from their toxin (the palytoxin).

Sarcophyton Corals:
Leather, Mushroom Leather, Toadstool, Toadstool Mushroom and Trough Coral. Adapt to all lightening levels. Moderate water movement is preferred to prevent parasites on their surface.

Discosoma Corals: Disc Anemones, Mushroom and Mushroom Corals. Low light is preferable. Active feeders (small fishes but also detritus and uneaten food).

Zoanthus Corals: Button Polyps, Zoanthid and Sea Mat. Bright light is preferred as they feed on zooxanthellae along with algae, D.O.C.'s and bacteria. Warning: Use gloves to handle them (because of the palytoxin).

As you see, many different corals can grow in your saltwater aquarium. This is just a short selection so what you have to do is research the specific needs of the different corals you're interested in and make sure they can grow in the same aquarium. With the right light, water movement and nutrients, you'll have a beautiful coral reef system!

Every hobbyist, either advanced or beginners want the best components in their aquarium to grow and maintain their corals in the best environment possible. That is why having a very high-quality saltwater aquarium can make a difference. But the hard part about purchasing an aquarium to grow corals is that many different components are needed and selecting and installing them can be a daunting task.



This is why we recommend Red Sea aquariums, and more specifically the Red Sea Max 250 because of its high quality and the fact that this system has all the components needed (+ a starter kit) which makes the installation effortless.




2018-04-11

Lighting your CORAL

English: An open brain coral under actinic lig...
An open brain coral under actinic lighting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are some species of coral that can survive with the normal amount of lighting, so for the beginner, you may want to stick to these species. Specifically, Mushroom Coral and Coral Polyps can survive with normal lighting techniques.

Conversely, species such as SPS (Small Polyp Stony Coral) that include Acropora, Montipora, Porites, Brain Coral, Bubble Coral, Elegance Coral, Cup Coral, Torch Coral, and Trumpet Coral require far greater intensity with lighting, making them a substantially greater challenge for the aquarium hobbyist, especially considering more light usually means more harmful algae will grow in the tank.

The best lighting technique to keep your coral safe is the light emitting diode (LED) technology, which has begun to make the former standards: gas and filament based lighting systems obsolete.  Though initially more expensive than gas and filament systems, over time they save money because they use less power and have a longer lifespan, meaning fewer replacement costs and hassle. 

It is important to note that the zooxanthellae’s photosynthesis process requires light of two different colors: red and blue, which is why aquarium lights often will exude a purple hue, as most of them provide both colors as an industry standard. 

While it is essential to have the minimum amount of light in order to meet the zooxanthellae's minimum requires for photosynthesis to work, it is also important to note that it has an upper limit tolerance as well. Your lights must, therefore, be in the middle or bad things will happen to both the zooxanthellae, and as a byproduct, the coral. 

While not an exact science as for how much or how little light depends on how many zooxanthellae reside in the coral, and that can be anywhere from thousands to millions, but a good place to start would be to ensure that your intensity minimum is 3000-lux and that you don’t go above 120,000-lux. While this may seem to be a quite wide and open range, you will have to make determinations base on the behavior of your coral.



Good quality types of lamps to use would include fluorescent, and you should use six lamps, or if your aquarium is not wide enough for that, then it is recommended that you instead utilize high output lamps, which are more expensive, but necessary. You should replace these bulbs every six months. Power compact fluorescent lamps, which are U-shaped, are an even better option, and you will only need four. 

Coral is an excellent addition to any aquarium, and there is much fish that enjoy coral as a food source. Regardless if you have added coral to your aquarium to survive or as sustenance for your fish, you have to have the right lighting or it won’t survive.



2018-02-08

12 Weeks to Your Own CORAL AQUARIUM

Monterey_Aquarium_57.jpg
Photo  by xbeta 
Saltwater tanks are sought after by many aquarium enthusiasts, however, they are more tedious to maintain so are not often undertaken. Keeping a saltwater aquarium requires patience, and having live coral in your saltwater tank requires patience and knowledge. Patience, we say because the healthiest and hardiest path to owning a home coral aquarium is to grow your coral.

While it takes more time, growing your own coral makes it much easier to maintain the health of your coral. You must become educated about the requirements for growing coral, and follow very specific procedures, but if you can be patient for approximately 12 weeks, you can grow your own coral for your home saltwater aquarium.

The basic set-up of a saltwater aquarium is the same as a freshwater tank. You purchase a tank and filter and then select the best location for your aquarium. Once the tank is ready for water, there are several steps to follow:

1. Fill the bottom of the tank with sand.
2. Now it is time to add the water. Your aquarium water must be de-chlorinated.
3. Next add the salt, making sure to mix it so the gravity measures exactly 1.205.
4. Arrange any live rocks and plants you would like to include in the tank.
5. Finally install the water heater and place the hood on top of the aquarium.
6. And now you wait. About 4 weeks to be exact before moving on.

Patience. Remember? The fours weeks will go by quickly, and in no time your saltwater aquarium will come to life before your eyes. The reason you don't add anything to your tank for a month is to allow plenty of time for the salt levels to balance out. At this stage, you have to install a protein skimmer, and then you can go ahead and add some snails to the tank, or perhaps even a crab or two. During the next couple of weeks, you want to make sure that the filters perform correctly. Also, use this time to adjust the lighting. It is recommended that you don't keep the light on for more than 12 hours per day because too much light can lead to algae problems.

When you reach the six-week mark, you can finally begin to add some coral. There is a wide variety of coral available for saltwater aquariums, and the most popular include Bull's-eye Mushroom Coral, Button Polyp Coral, Hairy Mushroom Coral and Yellow Mushroom Coral. When you place the coral into your tank, attach it to the live rock that you placed at the bottom when you initially set up your aquarium. And now we wait again; just two more weeks.


After eight weeks, you can add more coral, this time aquacultured coral like Leather Coral, Pumping Xenia Coral, Spaghetti Finger Coral, and Starburst Polyps. This coral should be placed into the live rock just as before.

After another two to four weeks, you can begin adding some fish to your home saltwater aquarium. In the realm of things, 12 weeks really isn't that long, and the end result will be more than worth the wait. Because a saltwater environment is so fragile, it is vital that you give this watery realm all of the time it needs to gain balance and begin living harmoniously. The healthy saltwater aquarium that results is a wonderful accomplishment after just 12 short weeks of patience and care.




2018-01-11

CORAL Propagation in the Aquarium Industry

Mushroom coral (Fungia scutaria) Image ID: ree...
Mushroom coral (Fungia scutaria)
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
Welcome to my Dream.

I have a dream that if every person that kept a reef aquarium propagated their corals, we could have an almost self-sufficient industry.

In my dream, you would buy a coral from an aquarium store, which someone else has propagated and propagate it yourself and sell multiples of that same piece back to that same store so they can sell it on to other people.

The stores that heavily participate in this program could then wholesale these corals to other stores. The amazing thing is that this dream is so simple and possible yet even now it is just a dream.

Some corals are very easy to propagate while others are harder. In my dream, every coral you bought would be bought with a view to propagate it.

If you can learn to keep coral, then you can learn to grow it, if you can grow it then you can learn to propagate it if you can propagate it then do it. Every person that propagates their coral is a credit to this wonderful industry.

The easiest corals to propagate are mushrooms, leathers, and fluffies. To propagate these corals it is as simple as cutting a piece off them and securing the pieces to a new piece of rock. The cutting is most commonly secured to a small piece of live rock using fishing line.

When propagating leather coral I have found it more effective to ensure that the cut surface is pointed to the direction of the water flow instead of trying to secure the cut surface to the rock. There seems to be less chance of developing an infection and the healthy uncut surface will be able to attach to the rock faster then the damaged side which will heal faster if allowed adequate water flow. This also applies to Acropora, even a stag will attach faster is the health side is the point of contact.

Whenever you are cutting a piece of coral ensure that there is ample room around the cut so it is not stung by surrounding specimens as the coral will be a week at this time. Also be wary of fish such as Angels that may pick on the damaged coral.

Don't be a wimp! Many people love the idea of propagating their coral but are too scared to cut them because they think they will hurt it. Corals don't feel pain as we do so be brave and remember that what you are doing it for the better of the species.

Remember that you can't win them all, but you will find that as you get better at it and with practice it will be rare for you to fail in your propagating attempts.

Big warning, never cut a mushroom, fluffy or anemone out of the water. It is better for you to cut them submerged in a shallow bowl of water from your tank. We learned this the hard way as one day my brother was cutting a mushroom coral out of the water when it sprayed him in the eye with poisonous neurotoxins. The pain was excruciating and we spend the whole night going from doctors to hospitals to eye specialists.

To propagate stony corals is it just a matter of cutting them with a hacksaw or better yet on a band saw. Once again allow room around the cut to it doesn't have to also deal with competing with its neighbors. After the stony coral has been cut you can towel dry the bottom of it and superglue it to a larger rock to safely secure it. Allow the glue to set before returning it to the water.

Don't be scared to handle the coral roughly because they are actually very tough, after all, they are built to ensure tonnes of water being dumped on top of them in the form of a wave. Most corals can safely be removed from the water for a period of time too, for example, low tide on a natural coral reef.

I do suggest having at least 14 times per hour water flow in any tank that you wish to propagate coral in and pay attention to iodine levels. Maintaining an iodine level of 0.06pp when propagating will decrease the instances of bacterial infection among the new corals.

Before you handle any coral it is important for you to know what it is in order to avoid handling a poisonous coral that may sting your hands such as fire coral Millepora. It is recommended to use gloves when handling live rock and coral. Corals are closely related to jellyfish and as with jellyfish, some are more poisonous than others.

If you ever been stung by a coral or fish the best thing to do is place it under hot running water, which will break down the neurotoxins.

Anemones can also be propagated like a mushroom, but I rarely recommend it. An anemone is a beautiful display when coupled with clownfish, but not always successful long term. I would suggest trying an anemone in the aim of seeing how long you can maintain it first if you find you are one of the few that can keep them long term, give propagating it a go of sure. If you do propagate it long term then I believe it is your responsibility to share your experience with as many people as you can. There must be something that you are doing that other people aren't. This is a subject I will really be experimenting on in the coming years. It is common for anemones to split by them self in peoples tank.

Currently, coral propagation is the most realistic approach to breeding corals. Corals can be bred in captivity as moonlight cycles and temperatures can be used as a trigger. The problem with breeding coral is that they mass spawn which will choke many systems. If you were to breed the coral it would be quite a long period of time until you have specimens ready to sell. When they are propagated they will often be ready in as little as 3 months.



It is not the intention of this article to teach you comprehensive techniques on how to propagate coral but rather to tell you that it is something that you should be considering doing, yes I do mean you! The internet is full of information and techniques which will set you on your way to being an enviro-hobbyist coral farmer. Read several articles and obtain a few ideas before you try your first. Remember that each person will tell you what works for them, this doesn't mean that there is a definitive right or wrong way to do it.

Please do not let possible failures stop you from succeeding in this. The only way you will fail is to not try. Even if the first few go wrong I encourage you to keep trying until you are doing it so confidently that you will wonder why everyone doesn't do it. I will tell you now that there are people that propagate coral and there are people that are scared to try. The service that you are doing for your hobby is too big to not do it.

Another simple way that you can help is to ask every time you are in an aquarium store if they stock any propagated coral. If they do I encourage you to consider buying it over any wild caught options. That fact that you are asking will reinforce to the retailer that propagated coral is something that people want. Imagine if every person asked at every shop they went into, retailers won't be doing anything to be able to supply such a requested product.

I have been educating people with a passion for many years on the benefits and realities of this dream. I would love to see more people just like you enroll in this dream. Not matter whether you have a tank or not it is never too late to start. You can make a difference! Please share this idea with as many people as you can until one day this dream is realized.

Good luck and enjoy Paul Talbot





2018-01-10

Successfully Raising CORAL in Saltwater Aquariums

Elegance Coral — Catalaphyllia Jardinei
Photo  by KAZVorpal 
When people start a saltwater aquarium they do so because they have a compulsion to create a miniature version of the ocean in their living room. They want the whole kit and caboodle; the brightly colored fish, the flowing plants, the half-rotted pirate's ship, and the coral reef. Growing a coral reef in your saltwater aquarium is the ultimate goal for many saltwater aquarium enthusiasts.

Beginners that are just starting a saltwater aquarium are not advised to attempt a reef aquarium. Start with a fish only aquarium and become familiar first, once you have mastered that you will be ready to add one of the hardier breeds of coral to your tank.

Before running out and purchasing coral reef, bear in mind that you are not adding an elaborate rock to your tank. Polyps are a tiny invertebrate. These polyps work together to form the limestone structures we know as coral reefs. Before you add the reef to your saltwater aquarium you must remember that the life of these polyps depends on your ability to provide them with the proper food, lighting, and water.

Having good water is especially important if you want your coral reef to survive. An abrupt change in your water can cause the polyps to go into a state of shock, this will cause your reef to become discolored.Your aquarium must be filled with clear water which will allow the coral reef to get the full benefit of your lighting. Coral requires a strong water current, outfit your tank with a filter that circulates the water throughout your entire tank. Avoid a linear current.

When you have decided on a variety of coral for your coral saltwater aquarium do some research on the lighting. Some corals have special lighting requirements.

Remember that coral, like all living organisms, requires you to feed them. For a long time, it was believed that coral reefs needed only minimal feeding. This belief was triggered by the belief that coral reefs were nutrient poor.  People assumed that the reefs used photosynthesis to feed. The reality is that most coral needs to be fed, at a minimum, weekly (every two to three days is recommended). Most coral needs to be fed food that has to be frozen or refrigerated. 



Throw away any food that has been open for over five months, it becomes stale. You may want to consider purchasing a liquid or bottled food for your corral. The size of the polyps in your coral reef will tell you a great deal about their food requirements. If you have large fleshy looking polyps you will be able to feed them large pieces of food, minced meat, and large zooplankton. If you have a coral reef that is made up of tiny polyps you have to remember that they can't digest the large pieces of food, these polyps will starve to death in an aquarium that is full of food that is too large for it to digest.

If you have done your homework and are patient and diligent you will be able to enjoy a very successful and beautiful coral saltwater aquarium.



2017-12-02

ZOANTHIDS For Everyone

Zoanthids - Photo: Wikimedia
Zoanthids are rightfully beloved by nearly all marine aquarists. They are often bright, uniquely colored and fast-growing. Because they are generally hardy, they make an excellent choice for the beginning aquarist; however, the rarer color patterns tempt even experienced reef aquarists. Despite their popularity, many aquarists are unclear of zoanthids relationship to other marine animals, especially those that we commonly call coral. On the one hand, zoanthids look like miniature sea anemones, yet they also seem to resemble soft corals such as the Glove Polyps pictured below (Clavularia species-pronounced "klav-yoo-lahr-ee-ah"). In truth, zoanthids are neither anemones nor soft corals-so what are they?

"Flower Animals"

Let's start with some basics. Zoanthids, like all of the animals we typically call "coral" in the marine aquarium hobby, are cnidarians (pronounced "nigh-dare-ee-yans"). More specifically, zoanthids are part of the class Anthozoa, which includes the soft and leather corals, sea anemones, mushroom corals and stony corals (and exclude other cnidarians such as fire corals, lace corals, jellyfishes, and sea wasps). Anthozoa, as a word, originates from Greek ("anthos" and "zoion") and translates roughly as "flower animal," which is an apt name for most zoanthids. Like sea anemones, mushroom corals and stony corals, zoanthids are called hexacorals because they have polyps with tentacles in multiples of six (octocorals, on the other hand, have eight tentacles). Zoanthids, unlike the "true" or stony corals (what hobbyists generally term SPS and LPS) lack skeletons, but they are also not soft corals (which are all octocorals). The polyps of zoanthids are either solitary or embedded in so-called mats. Solitary polyps are often connected to other polyps by runners (called stolons, pronounced "stoe-lahn"), while mat polyps embed themselves in a tissue matrix or mat (called a coenenchyme and pronounced "see-nehn-kyme").

045 - Stripe Disc Zoanthid
Stripe Disc Zoanthid - Photo  by   Neville Wootton Photography 

When the aquarist looks at a zoanthid polyp, they are generally focused on the oral disc. Each zoanthid polyp has a mouth (called a siphonoglyph and pronounced "sye-fah-no-glif"), which is part of the oral disc and generally surrounded by two rings of tentacles. Like all cnidarians, zoanthids possess nematocysts (pronounced "ne-mat-oh-sist") or stinging cells (the word cnidarian translates from the Greek as "stinging nettle"), which assist in food capture. When it comes to defense, however, it is a toxin called palytoxin, which keeps most predators (including the aquarist) at bay.

It is common to tout the fact that most zoanthids are easy to keep and require no supplemental feedings. While it is true that many of the commonly available zoanthids are zooxanthellate (zoo-zan-thuh-late) and host symbiotic zooxanthellae (zoh-zan-thel-ee) in their tissue, the reality is that nearly all zooanthids rely on particulate food and plankton capture to sustain their metabolism. As a result, nearly all should be target fed in captivity (in addition to providing appropriate lighting).

Identifying Zoanthids

It is very difficult to identify individual species when dealing with zoanthids. That is why you frequently see them sold by their genus name (e.g. Zoanthus spp.) and a creative description of their coloration (e.g. Halloween Zoanthids). Zoanthids are often (there is much debate that is well beyond the scope of this article) divided into several families. The most frequently seen zoanthids in the aquarium trade are from the families Parazoanthidae and Zoanthidae. Within the family Parazoanthidae, the genus Parazoanthus (pare-ah-zoe-an-thuss) is particularly popular (e.g. Yellow Polyps), while the Zoanthus (zoe-an-thuss) genus (e.g. Z. pacificus and Z. sociatus) and the Palythoa genus (which is now often seen as being congeneric and nearly conspecific with the genus Protopalythoa) are the most commonly represented genera from the family Zoanthidae. So-called Acrozoanthus (ak-roh-zoe-an-thuss) or Stick Polyps are also seen with some frequency in the hobby and are usually classified as belonging to the family Zoanthidae.

Family Parazoanthidae - Brief Description and Husbandry Tips

Species from the genus Parazoanthus are the most common in this family, and, as species identification is uncertain, most are sold as Parazoanthus spp. or simply Yellow Polyps. Although called Yellow Polyps, their coloration can vary from a cinnamon-brown to a bright yellow, with some species even taking on a red color (e.g. P. puertoricense). The polyps reproduce by budding at the base of the parent polyp, and they form colonies in this way that encrust rocks, shells or vacant worm tubes. Some Parazoanthus species live commensally with other organisms (e.g. sponges), but most of the specimens seen in the hobby contain symbiotic zooxanthellae within their tissue and, given sufficient light, will do quite well with only periodic target feedings. The fact that many Yellow Polyps are indiscriminate feeders means that they often survive in a mature aquarium without any target feedings. This fact, however, should not deter the aquarist from at least weekly target feedings of zooplankton-type foods. Moderate light, moderate to strong intermittent flow and supplemental feedings are the key to success with these attractive zoanthids.

Family Zoanthidae - Brief Description and Husbandry Tips

Recent research has found a remarkable similarity between the genus Palythoa and Protopalythoa, and so we will mostly deal with them together here. If there is a difference apparent in the aquarist, it is in the fact that Protopalythoa species' polyps (e.g. Button Polyps, Protopalythoa spp.) are often not embedded in the tissue matrix or mat, while Palythoa (pal'-ee'-thoe'-ah) species' polyps (e.g. Sea Mat or Encrusting Colony Polyp, Palythoa spp.) are. All have broad, flat oral discs surrounded by tentacles (perhaps more tentacles on Protopalythoa species). The discs may be brown, brownish yellow or even a cream color, and some have quite attractive fluorescent accents and striations. Sometimes the oral disc will be darker than the mat in which it is embedded, again, making for a nice display. All are fairly light tolerant and prefer moderate to high flow. As with all zoanthids, they will benefit from targeted feedings, and those with long tentacles and broader oral discs may require more direct feeding. One word of warning: be careful, as many of these zoanthids are competitive and will easily overgrow adjacent corals.


The Zoanthus genus is often the best-represented genus from the family Zoanthidae, and it is most frequently what people think of when they think of zoanthids. There are many species, and most are simply identified for the aquarist by their remarkable color schemes. The polyps are generally small with dramatic contrasting colors between their oral discs and tentacles. These animals rely heavily on zooxanthellae, so much so that some aquarists claim no food response occurs as a result of targeted feedings. In reality, this is probably because Zoanthus species are more selective in their feeding, but regardless, it is essential to place them in high light environments to sustain their zooxanthellae populations. Given the proper environment, these zoanthids are hardy, fast-growing animals that reproduce by budding and will rapidly spread across your live rock in a colorful display that will ad interest and beauty to your reef tank.

Something for Everyone

In conclusion, zoanthids are, generally speaking, highly interesting, attractive and hardy animals. They can add color to almost any reefscape, and they require little in the way of specific husbandry. Most grow quickly in captivity, and their collection from the wild generally has a little detrimental impact on natural ecosystems. Zoanthids are often the first cnidarians introduced to the beginning aquarist's tank, but the more uniquely colored and rarer species are equally coveted by advanced aquarists. In short, zoanthids offer something for everyone.

    Published 1 July 2008. © Blue Zoo Aquatics

    Blue Zoo Aquatics was formed in 2001 as a custom aquarium design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance company which provided its services in and around Los Angeles, California. The company founders and key personnel had either a background in marine biology or had spent their entire career in the saltwater aquarium industry.

    Customers who bought a custom aquarium were also frequently asking us to provide livestock and aquarium supplies, so we created bluezooaquatics.com to showcase our entire product offering and make it available to everyone.

    Today, Blue Zoo Aquatics has evolved into the complete source for all of your aquarium needs. Although we can still design and build you a beautiful custom aquarium, we are also proud to offer one of the largest selections of livestock on the web as well as a wide variety of quality aquarium supplies.

    Our business has expanded, but Blue Zoo is still owned and operated by the same team of expert aquarists that have dedicated their lives to helping people have fun and succeed with saltwater aquariums. - http://www.bluezooaquatics.com
     Article Directory: EzineArticles


2017-11-17

Five steps to success with Saltwater CORAL REEF Aquariums

English: Rumphella aggregrata soft coral in ho...
Rumphella aggregrata soft coral in home reef tank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you dream of watching the natural beauty of the undersea reef life while sitting in your living room?

Whether your goal is a nano reef tank or a 150-gallon aquarium with an ecosystem of coral and saltwater fish, the following five steps will lead you on your way to success.

1) Commit!  Decide you are going to spend the $$ it takes to make a proper go of it.  At a minimum, most tanks, (from 10 gals to 55 gals) take between $250 and $500 to get going.  Can you do it cheaper?  Yes, but usually not your first one.  You have to know what you are doing and understand how things can and will go wrong before you can choose less expensive husbandry options and/or equipment.  Save up if you have to, but count on that first tank being expensive.


Realize that this is not a short-term commitment. And as much fun as it is to collect the coolest coral fragments out there and show them off to your friends, there WILL come a time when you are hauling all of those same 'frags' out of the tank and into temporary storage when your six-year-old cracks the side of the display tank with a pool ball or some other calamity occurs.

2) Study!  Spend time on the internet, in books and watching nature shows on reefs BEFORE you get your animals.  Understand the animals that you are going to keep and how they interact with each other.  If you count on the LFS (Local Fish Store) or your buddy down the road to keep you out of trouble and don't do your homework. You will fail.  That is the one guarantee in this hobby.  DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

The only way around this is to be able to afford to pay someone else to set-up and maintain your tank.

3) Mingle! (see 2 above)  There are plenty of reef-keeping societies out there with lots of experience to help you along your way and teach you what you need to know.  As long as you are doing your own homework, they are usually happy to help!

4) Keep an open mind!  There is not just one way to keep a reef tank - no matter how loudly people on the various bulletin boards and forums out there might shout that there is.



5) Share!  It is amazing how much help people are willing to give when they realize that you are offering a particularly nice specimen that they have always wanted.  Equipment that they didn't even remember they had may magically appear or they might be willing to share a very nice piece of their own reef frag with you.

Trading frags not only is a great way to increase your variety, but it helps maintain genetic strains of corals (frags are also known as 'clones') that might otherwise die out in a single tank struck by the calamity mentioned in 1 above.




2017-08-09

Marine Aquarium Care - INVERTEBRATES Only

The care required for an invertebrate only tank is very similar to that of any other saltwater tank; however, the invertebrates are far less hardy than fish. It is recommended that you become skilled with a fish only tank before attempting an Invertebrate aquarium. Most Invertebrates require a specialized diet. Check with the supplier before purchasing and be sure that you are willing to make the commitment to have food delivered if necessary. There are two different types of invertebrates, tropical and cold water. Make sure that the type you are buying is compatible with its other tank mates.

DSC00294, Monterey Bay Aquarium, California
Reef Aquarium - Photo by jimg944 
A few examples of tropical invertebrates are tube worms, red hermit crabs, cleaner shrimp and the sea apple. All of this marine life is compatible in terms of water conditions. They require a water temperature between seventy-five and seventy-nine degrees Fahrenheit, a P.H. between 8.2 and 8.4 and a salinity content of 1.020-1.024. As you can see, there is very little wiggle room associated with these measurements. It is extremely important to check the levels daily, or the results could be costly. These invertebrates are not compatible, however, with their food source needs. Check with the supplier for compatibility before combining tropical invertebrates.

Unlike their tropical counter parts, cold water invertebrates are usually not sold in stores. They have to be collected from tide pools. It is important to make sure that these species are not on the endangered species list before removing them from their home. It is equally important to do research in order to verify that you are able to properly feed them and care for their very specific needs. Sea Anemones, prawns, shrimp, and starfishes are a few varieties that have been successfully maintained in an aquarium. They require a water temperature between fifty-four and fifty-nine degrees Fahrenheit, a P.H. between 8-8.4 and a salinity content of 1.024-1.025. Luckily they do eat the same food. They feed off of a diet of small pieces of raw fish, shrimp, squid, and mussels.

When keeping cold water invertebrates such as the species mention above, it is a good idea to keep a separate tank full of shrimp, mussels, and scallops to be used as a food source if you wish to use fresh rather than frozen foods.  Be careful when keeping shrimp, as all of the invertebrates listed above feed on shrimp, including shrimp themselves. It is unlikely, however, that a healthy live shrimp will be eaten whole by another shrimp or starfish. Invertebrates should be fed more frequently in smaller amounts than fish. Try to feed only an amount that can be consumed in the first thirty to sixty seconds.


When setting up an invertebrate tank remember to include live rock, because some invertebrates feed on the parasites that grow on the live rock. A substrate should also be included in this type of aquarium. It will provide a place for the crabs and shrimp to dig and bury themselves. A light should be included as well if you intend to keep anemones.



2017-05-22

CORALS and its habitat

Corals are a beautiful addition to any saltwater aquarium and they can also have beneficial effects on the miniature semi-ecosystem that exists in a well functioning aquarium.

English: Soft corals from Komodo National Park
Soft corals from Komodo National Park
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)

Corals are living animals that are commonly called sessile invertebrates. What this means is that they are animals that don't have a backbone (like vertebrates do) and that they are generally stuck in one spot and can't move around like most animals can. Corals are usually attached to a rock. Corals consist of many individual polyps. The polyps may have an internal or an external skeleton that is made of calcium carbonate. Each polyp has an oral opening that leads to a gastrovascular tube. There is a lot of variety in the types of food eaten by coral polyps. For example, some corals feed by using their stinging tentacles to catch small fish. Other corals eat microscopic organisms, where as some coral polyps don't feed at all, and obtain all their nutrition from zooxanthellae  (a single-celled algae that lives within the coral).

Corals are more complicated to keep than many saltwater fish species, and can for instance require more intricate currents, powerful lighting and supreme water quality. Keeping the water temperature in the ideal range is therefore imperative when you keep corals in you aquarium. Reef building corals prefer quite shallow depths where the light penetration is good and will therefore usually grow at depths of less than 46 metres / 150 feet. The reef building corals require plenty of strong light since they form symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae. Other coral species can however survive without direct sunlight and live much deeper down in the ocean.

Corals should be thoroughly researched beforehand because of their often hefty price tag and demanding water, lighting and feeding requirements. The great part about live rock, aside from the biological importance of using it, is that you can use aquarium silicon sealant to shape the rocks into any type of design you desire. We now have a new term - "rockscaping". You can also use a drill to create small holes in the rock and use pvc pipes to hold them together to make columns or archways. The rockscaping possibilities are endless. Another thing you'll probably need to do is place the rock directly on the tank bottom and not on top of the sand. Sand burrowing species could get injured or worse if you place the rock on top of the sand.

Corals are very popular with aquarium enthusiasts.  Some of the most common corals are now being successfully kept and grown in a rapidly growing number of home aquariums. There are hundreds of species including soft corals, corallimorpharians (mushroom corals), gorgonians, zoanthids, large-polyp stony corals, and small-polyp stony corals.


For the beginner reef aquarium, there are a number of soft corals, that require less light and less than perfect water quality standards, than their hard coral cousins. These soft corals are the better candidates for converting to a fish only, or fish only with live rock aquarium tank to a reef tank with corals.

You can have coral in any sort of aquarium/fish tank i.e. fish only tanks, fish only with live rock tanks to a full reef tank.

Moving smoothly from tank to tank isn't really all that difficult. You need to move coral because believe it or not there can be turf wars in coral reef tanks. Corals on the reef compete for space. So do the corals in your aquarium. Corals are still deemed difficult for the average reef tank hobbyist but in my experience I have not found this to be true.

Corals are found all over the world, even around the poles. Reef building corals are however only found in warm subtropical and tropical waters. Reef building corals are present in the Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Western Atlantic. Their habitat is generally limited to the region between 30 degrees N and 30 degrees S latitudes. In the Indo-Pacific Ocean you will find reef building corals from the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, and eastwards in the Indian and Pacific Oceans all the way over to Panama and a few places in the Gulf of California. 

In the Western Atlantic corals are living outside Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Belize and around the Caribbean Islands, Bermuda and Bahamas. Reef building corals will only live where the water temperature is warm enough; 20-28 degrees celsius / 68-82 degrees fahrenheit.