to the Sea
Little can compare to the majesty of a well planned and designed reef aquarium. It will quickly become the focal point of your home. Nothing captures the imagination like the ever-changing colors and diversity as the aquarium grows and evolves. Reef tanks can be created in just about any size or shape aquarium with todays all in one nano kits making getting started particularly easy and relatively inexpensive. Often this start quickly leads to an obsession with larger and more elaborate systems soon to follow. One of the easiest ways to start this journey is with the BIO Cube tanks from Coralife. These come in two sizes, a 16 and a 32 gallon replete with options to make care easier and more fascinating. All the necessary equipment comes standard in the box including an efficient filtration system that is built right into the back of the tank and high output LED lighting. A UV sterilizer and protein skimmer are available options that will pop right into the system. Set up is a breeze, just add sand, live rock and salt water and plug it in. The 16 is small enough for a counter top or the matching stand is sturdy and completes the picture nicely for either size. If you are ready to dive right into a more elaborate system we have all you need to get rolling. Since tanks come in virtually any shape, size, or price my advice is to pick the location for the tank and then choose a tank that fits the spot. In most cases a drilled or "reef ready" tank is your best option as it allows all the equipment to be placed under the tank and all connections attach to ports on the bottom of the tank itself. This allows for a cleaner look, no need to leave space behind the tank since there is nothing hanging on it, and is typically quieter and easier to service. I most cases you will use a "sump" type filter which looks like a smaller aquarium and goes under the main tank. There are several types and designs and we can help you choose the right one for you. A protein skimmer is a very beneficial add on accessory that "lives" inside the sump and is highly recommended. A UV sterilizer is also of great benefit. These use ultraviolet light to help keep parasites at bay and help reduce algae. While not a must its quite helpful. Lighting will be the most critical and likely the most expensive part of your set up. Almost all corals are photosynthetic and need light to survive. While there are corals that don't need AS intense of a light source the brighter your light is the more flexibility you will have in choice of species and how quickly they grow as well as how colorful they get. Color in corals is a response to light sort of like our bodies respond to bright light by tanning, though it is possible to burn corals with too much light too quickly. Spectrum of that light is also very important as only certain portions of the light spectrum are usable by the corals. The correct spectrum of light can also make the colors coral appear much more vibrant and enhance what nature has given them. Typically higher end units will not only be brighter but have much more flexibility in the quality of light they produce as well as the quantity. That said, even the more "entry level" Models have come a long way and can be quite effective. Obviously the water is the life blood of the reef aquarium. Natural reefs are nutrient deserts and in a closed environment like our tanks excess nutrients can build up rapidly. Start with good quality RO filtered water. Tap water typically has way too many unwanted nutrients like phosphates and nitrates. Then you will want to use one of the reef salt blends rather than a cheaper salt like Instant Ocean. IO is fine for fish but the better salts have more complete and complex formulations that will perform better over time. There will be several supplements that will need to be added regularly such as calcium and iodine. We can assist you in determining what and when to add those. There are aquarists out there that say water changes are unnecessary or only do limited changes infrequently. While sometimes that works, its not optimal. Nothing does more good for an aquarium than regular partial water changes. Over time needed elements and nutrients are used up by the animals in the tank and waste products will build up. The filter does a lot but it can't do it all. Typically a minimum of 25% monthly will help keep things in balance. Live rock is another critical element of a reef tank. Not only does it provide structure but it also acts as a natural bio filter and helps to introduce and maintain a host of beneficial organisms. It is best to put all your rock in initially before any other stock is added to the tank. Rock is always going to go through a "curing" process where any life on it that did not survive the shipping process essentially rots off. This can take from a few days to several weeks depending on the quality and "freshness" of the rock. Use great caution any time you add new rock to an existing set up. While there is so much more to know and learn, this primer is just the beginning of the journey for your new reef tank. Other topics such as circulation, feeding, and stocking choices abound. Let us help you take the next steps and complete the experience.