Aquarium Types & Sizes
Glass versus Acrylic
Simply put, you can buy an aquarium of almost any size and shape, acrylic or glass, expensive or inexpensive. A good rule of thumb might be to buy an aquarium as large as you have both room for and can afford.
Water chemistry is by far the most important aspect of maintaining a marine aquarium. The more water you have in your tank the slower the chemistry will change, therefore the easier it is to maintain. It’s like insurance, the larger the volume of water, the more insurance you have.
Shorter and wider tanks are much easier to maintain then tall, thinner tanks. This is due to the fact that the more surface area that you have in relationship to the total volume of water dictates better oxygenation, gas and heat diffusion. Good rule of thumb, the more surface area….the better it is for your aquarium!
You must also consider both the stand and the location. Water is heavy, almost 7.5 lbs per gallon. A 75 gallon tank with a 3 or 4 inch sand bed plus live rock can easily top out over 650lbs. Make sure that whatever stand or piece of furniture that you plan to use can safely support this load.
Place the tank where it makes best sense for your viewing pleasure but keep in mind that you should keep the tank out of direct sunlight and areas of the home the have large temperature shifts throughout the day.
It’s also advised to keep the tank in an area of low to medium traffic. Placing the tank in a hallway where the boys (or girls) run through on their way to the TV or computer is not a wise idea.
Glass versus acrylic, both materials make for excellent aquariums. Which should you use?
|Price||Much less expensive||More costly due to manufacturing methods|
Most often in built in squares and rectangles
|Can be molded into almost any shape. Curved or bowed fronts are quite common|
|Age||Glass ages well||Some acrylics begin to yellow with age|
|Stability / Cracking||Glass cracks or breaks easier than acrylic when struck by something||Acrylic takes much more punishment before breaking BUT will scratch much easier|
|Scratchability||Difficult to scratch. Simple razor blades may be used to scrape off algae||Easily scratched. Special tools must be used to clean and scrape acrylic|
Much heavier than acrylic
So, which one is right for you? Many beginners start off with glass as it’s less expensive and easier maintained. While many more experienced reef keepers eventually move up to acrylic as they want the more customized sizes and shape. Both are great choices.
You have two overriding decisions to make; how big will your tank be and what will it be made of. For most beginners it’s recommended that you start off with at least a 30 gallon tank, probably glass to keep your initial costs down. If you choose to upgrade to a larger, more fashionable tank you can then use your 30 gallon as a hospital / quarantine tank.
So, you’re considering entering the world of marine aquariums.
Congratulations! Let us start off by saying we wish you all the luck in the world. Many people will say you will need it to succeed. Experienced reef keepers will disagree.
Reef keeping is relatively easy once you understand the dynamics of marine chemistry, reef make up and proper stocking levels. In this section, we will go over the basics such as aquarium size, water quality, filtration and stocking.
Many of these topics will be discussed in more depth in other sections of this site. Needless to say, your success at reef keeping is directly related to your knowledge level.
Experience is always a plus, but years of experience failing or minimally succeeding at something does not outweigh good, solid research. Building a strong knowledge base before starting your tank is critical.
Again, let us state that reef keeping can be as easy………. or as hard as you make it.
We strongly recommend that you do as much reading as possible on this topic while at the same time spending as much time as you can here at our store. You might also want to join a local marine reef club. These clubs or associations are always looking for new members.
Existing members are an excellent source of knowledge and many of them will gladly show off their aquariums to members of their clubs. As you’re visiting our store or club members homes begin to try to decide what type of tank you would like to build.
What types and sizes of fish and corals make sense to you. What amount of room do you have to dedicate to this hobby and how much money do you want to invest, both start up costs and on going costs. It’s up to you to set your goals realistically based on desires, available space and financial investment.
PH And Alkalinity
Natural seawater in shallow reef zones has an average pH of 8.4. With this in mind, the normal recommended pH for a reef tank is 7.9 – 8.4. Keeping a balanced pH can be difficult. It is imperative that the marine aquarist understand the roles Carbonate Hardness / Alkalinity, oxygen / CO2 levels and water quality play in helping to maintain a specific pH.
Simply put, pH is the measurement of a liquids acidity level. The pH scale runs from 0 to to 14 where a pH of 7.0 is considered neutral meaning its neither acidic or basic. A pH level greater than 7.0 is considered basic while less than 7.0 is considered acidic.
Lower pH substances would include battery acid while higher pH substances include items such as bleach and drain cleaner. The pH scale is logarithmic based, meaning that each whole number increase or decrease is a tenfold difference.
A liquid that changes pH from 8.2 to 7.2 became ten times more acidic. Keep this scale in mind when trying to modify the pH of your aquarium, pH adjustments should be done gradually over time.
Alkalinity is the measurement of a substance resistance to change in pH. The higher the resistance the higher the alkalinity. Substances that help to minimize change in pH by raising the alkalinity level are normally called buffers. Some of the most widely used buffers in the marine hobby include carbonate and bicarbonate. By properly maintaining your alkalinity level you go a long ways towards maintaining a stable pH level.
Alkalinity can be measured in a number of ways. One of the easiest and least expensive methods is by measuring the carbonate hardness of your tank water. The measurement is in degrees of carbonate hardness or dKH. It is recommended that you maintain carbonate hardness between 8 and 10 dKH.
Note: The pH of your tanks changes slightly throughout the day and night. As a aquarist it is our desire to minimize these swings in pH. To that end it must be noted that the oxygen / CO2 levels in your water will certainly affect your pH level.
During the day algae undertake a process called photosynthesis whereby they convert light energy and CO2 to oxygen. This reduction of CO2 will keep the pH higher during daylight hours. You lose this natural process when the lights are off.
Therefore the more algae you have in your tank the larger a swing you will have between lights on and lights off pH. For this reason many hobbyists keep a refugium stocked with macroalgae and run the refugiums light schedule opposite of the main tank thereby keeping the photosynthesis process going 24 hours a day.
Getting back to water quality, decaying food, nitric acids and phosphate all tend to push your pH level down. As these items build up you will most certainly see a slow drop in your pH. This process can be slowed and or halted by consistent water changes and properly maintaining the buffering capacity of your water. High particulate matter, older water and low alkalinity could be a recipe for disaster.
Test your pH on a normal schedule. Monitor your pH levels, work diligently to maintain a proper alkalinity level and strive to keep your water quality as high as possible . Do all this and you are well on your way to succeeding as a marine aquarist!
Red Slime Algae Removal
The basic instructions to rid your tank of Red Slime Algae are as follows:
- Clean off as much red slime as you easily can before treatment.
- Remove activated carbon, phosphate remover or other chemical media from filters and turn off protein skimmer (if you have one).
- Put 1 tablet Erythromycian (200mg) per 30 gallons in the tank.
- Wait 2 to 3 days and repeat the dosage. Wait another 3 days and repeat dosage again. Within three days of this last dose the Red Slime should be gone.
- Four days after the last dose you may replace your activated carbon and restart your filters.
- Turn your Protein Skimmer back on and set it at a very low setting. Note: If you turn your Protein Skimmer on too high it will quickly fill with foam. Gradually increase the setting back to a normal range over a number of days.
- To prevent the return of Red Slime Algae we highly recommend that you run Chemi-Pure in the filter system.