Although a miniature reef does not have a lot of room, you can still add a sufficient number of living creatures that will put the finishing touches in this underwater habitat. In setting up a saltwater reef tank it was important to buy the proper equipment and stabilize the salinity level before adding live rock and sand.
Crabs are good for eating algae and for aerating the bottom sand by sifting through it. They should have an adequate supply of live rock for grazing. It is also recommended to wait a little while before adding crabs to a tank in order to allow a bit of algae to build up. If there is no algae present in the tank, they must be feed dried seaweed. Due to the limited tank size, keep with the dwarf varieties. Most of them do not grow bigger than one inch. Some crabs have specific needs, such as the hermit variety that live in empty snail shells. The general rule is one crab per 5 gallons of water.
Shrimp also help keep the rock and sand bed clean. There is a â€œcleanerâ€ variety of shrimp that are able to pick off dead tissue and parasites from some species of fish. It is best to research each species to see if they are compatible with certain fish or with other shrimp varieties, if you plan to mix them. Shrimp usually grow to 2 inches so the maximum allotment should be one shrimp per 10 gallons of water.
Most corals are absolutely stunning but they have stringent light requirements. Incandescent lighting wonâ€™t work. Certain low light corals can tolerate standard fluorescent light. There are some fluorescent brands such as T5- HO or VHO or Compact that can sustain most coral in shallow tanks. Halide is more expensive and is recommended for tanks that are more than 2 feet deep. In the coral family, there are hard corals, soft corals, fans, polyps and mushrooms. Many exotic corals can be very expensive.
Saltwater aquariums should not be overrun with fish. By the time you add live rock, there is not a lot of room. Before thinking about adding fish, you have to take into consideration the number of invertebrates and coral you have or plan to add. For a beginner, the best bet is damselfish or blenny. They are inexpensive, hardy and compatible. When choosing any fish, you have to find out how big it will grow.
Be careful not to overpopulate a tank. For example: a 5 gallon tank should have no more than three items. That could be 1 fish plus 1 small invertebrate and a small piece of coral. In a 20 gallon tank, it is fine to have 3 to 4 fish, 2 to 3 invertebrate and 3 to 4 varieties of coral. This is all in addition to live rock.
It takes research and planning in order to populate your reef tank. Prices of livestock are higher than freshwater and many saltwater creatures need special care or have compatibility problems. Proper orchestration will ensure the good health of your tank and reward you with non stop enjoyment.