A bucket of sea salt and its consequences

My career as an aquariofile began when my brother gave me a bucket of sea salt for my twentieth birthday. I already had a freshwater aquarium at home and I had been thinking about getting a marine tank for a while, because I was fascinated by the amazing colours of marine fish. Anyway, I never had the courage to turn the idea into reality and set up a marine aquarium. I had a bucket of sea salt in front of me, but no idea of how to go on. In the end I did the right thing and I went to the closest marine aquariology store and bought some specialized tests, since as we all know, reading makes you knowledgeable. Once I had grasped the basics I quickly set out to start my new hobby. I quickly found someone interested in the inhabitants of my freshwater tank, an aquariofile friend who was glad to take the fish. Now I was free to begin the adventure of marine aquariology. I got myself a protein skimmer, about 10 Kg of living rock and also two 1,000 litre circulation pumps, and I was ready to start. At first I didn’t take lighting into account because I was mainly attracted by the colourful fish. Four weeks since starting, in fact, I was caught by impatience. I obtained three small yellowtail damselfish and introduced them into the aquarium. I still wasn’t satisfied, because somehow it didn’t look like a real reef aquarium. The solution: I had to put some corals in the tank!

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After all, a freshwater aquarium is meaningless without plants. So I did it! First I bought some sturdy soft corals and a sea anemone with two clownfish. Since up to that moment I had completely neglected lighting and I was still using the fluorescent tubes from when I had the freshwater aquarium, the corals gave signs of sickness. They weren’t growing and they didn’t look at all as magnificent as in other marine aquariums I had seen. I have to admit that things weren’t going as smoothly as I had envisioned. During a visit at a zoo, I had the chance to see a real reef aquarium with some extraordinary hard corals. “That’s how it should be, and nothing less than that!” I said to myself. Therefore I decided to start from scratch again, but this time doing it the right way. The first step was to get rid of the aquarium I had and to make a new tank that was right for our space limits as well as ready to become a reef biotope. I made the support furniture myself. I welded metal squares together (30×30 mm) and covered everything with wood. It was rather simple, but I wanted to keep expenses under control. I also installed a new protein skimmer and a Red-Dragon pump. I wasn’t sure what to do about the lighting: HQI or these new T5 tubes? At first I decided to use a second hand 400 watt HQI, but later I replaced it with three T5 lamps. After two months I had everything I needed and the set-up was complete. I had installed the PVC tubes and filled it with water. Now it was time for some more work. For the rock structure I ordered three boxes of living rock until I was satisfied with the tuff ones. When finally the time came to introduce the first animals in the tank, I had reached my budget. I had a beautiful aquarium, but I didn’t have anymore money for the corals. What could I do? I decided to populate the tank with coral fragments. “They’ll grow by themselves,” I thought.

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And they did. The corals constantly increased in volume and today from those fragments some wonderful colonies have developed, and I even have to trim them, obtaining new fragments for other aquariofiles. To those who are interested in a reef aquarium, but are not sure what to do and are undecided, I can say that I have never regretted it! On the contrary, every day I’m glad to be able to see what’s new while I observe my marine tank, fascinated by the coral reef in my living room.

Technical sheet

Size, volume, material

A rectangular tank with rounded off corners, 140 x 80 x 60 cm, white glass safety crystals, 672 l, filter tank 100 x 50 x 40 cm, about 160 l, age 2,5 years.

Sessile invertebrates

32 colonies of different species of Acropora, 7 colonies of Montipora, Pavona cactus, 4 colonies of Pocillopora, 2 colonies of Stylophora hystrix.

Non-sessile invertebrates

4 Lysmata debelius, 4 Lysmata amboinensis, 2 Lysmata wurdemanni, 1 Hymenocera elegans.

Fish

Acanthurus sohal, A. dussumieri, A. coeruleus, Zebrasoma gemmatum, Pygoplites diacanthus, Pomacanthus navarchus, 2 Calloplesiops altivelis, 3 Amblygobius phalaena, Gobiosoma evelynae, 2 Gobiodon histrio, 2 Synchiropus stellatus, 2 Amphiprion ocellaris (black), 12 Apogon leptacanthus.

Decoration

80 kg of Indonesian living rock.

Water circulation

Red Dragon submersible pump, 12,000 l/h, for the exchange of water between the main tank and the filter, and Tunze Stream 8,000 l as an extra circulation pump.

Water treatment

Internal protein skimmer H&S, 200-2xF2001 type, for tanks containing 1,500 l, rough zeolite and a medium filter sponge as filtering material, two days per month of activated carbon filtering, constant presence of RowaPhos against phosphates.

Partial change of water, top up water

More or less weekly. 30 litres, demineralised, Tropic Marin sea salt; the top up water is also completely demineralised.

Minerals added

Weekly addition of strontium, magnesium, iodine and “QFI-Element Mix,” ATI calcium reactor with about 10 kg of coral fragments.

Lighting

Three groups of T5 lamps, 3 x 54 watts (1 Actinic Blue Light and 8 Aquablue Light), for 12 hour a day.

Water values

Phosphates and nitrates not measurable, magnesium 1,250 mg/l, water hardness 9°dKH, calcium 480 mg/l.

Conductor

Markus Fuchs, Sailauf.