Are You New To Saltwater Aquariums


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Are You New To Saltwater Aquariums

  1. 1. 67 guide Saltwater aquariums Successful setup Natural care
  2. 2. Contents The sea: An incredible living world ......... 3 Every animal has its own nutritional requirements .......................... 16 Which marine animals are suitable and which are not? .................................... 4 Healthy treats & specialties ...................... 17 Preparing your natural biotope .............. 7 Regular maintenance: Checking the water ................................... 18 Aquarium setup: The substrate .............................................. 8 The interaction of pH, CO2 and Biofilter components ................................ 9 carbonate hardness ................................... 22 Biofiltration ................................................. 10 From ammonium to nitrate: Technical equipment ................................. 11 The nitrogen cycle ..................................... 24 Saltwater ...................................................... 12 The calcium level ........................................ 26 The landscape ............................................. 13 Strontium and trace elements ................ 27 The new environment What to do if a marine needs time to grow ................................... 14 animal gets sick? ........................................ 28 Introducing and acclimatizing What you always wanted the marine animals .................................... 15 to know about saltwater .......................... 31 2
  3. 3. The sea: An incredible living world Almost two thirds of the earth’s surface is covered with water – the vast majority of it open ocean. Yet with all this area, the highest concentrations of fish species exist close to the coral reefs and atolls. Many of the species living in shallow regions can make a comfortable home in saltwater aquariums, as they prefer moderate or warm tropical water and little space. A reef aquarium itself is a small ecosystem influenced by many factors. Over the years, aquarists have had more and more success in keeping soft corals for long healthy lives and finding success at breeding marine fish, which had proven difficult for many years. Before setting up your own saltwater aquarium, take a few minutes to look through this guide. In it you’ll discover the first, but most important, steps to setting up a stunning, healthy saltwater aquarium. This guide is not meant to replace the necessary technical literature that explains and guides you through the exact care for specific organisms – but instead it will help you identify the basics, so that you can do further research on your own. Enjoy the experience! 3
  4. 4. Which marine animals are suitable and which are not? First, let’s look at the inhabitants of a saltwa- Seahorses, for example, must be fed fre- ter aquarium. If corals, shrimps, and other in- quently, which can lead to water pollution, vertebrates are to be kept in the same aquar- and they are notoriously slow eaters – so ium, your choice of compatible fish is their food is often eaten by other fish. An- reduced. Many fish are predators, and will thias species are very beautiful but also very eat smaller fish, shrimps, or coral tentacles. demanding fish. Even peaceful fish can cause problems: Easy-to-keep fish for first-time marine aquarists These fish can be kept in the same aquarium as invertebrates: Damselfish (Chromis, Dascyllus, Chrysiptera) Gobies (Cryptocentrus, Valencienna) Cardinal fish (Sphaeramia, former Apogon) Clownfish (Amphiprion) Wrasses (Macropharyngodon) Surgeonfish/Tangs (Acanthurus, Zebrasoma) 4
  5. 5. Which marine animals are suitable and which are not? Corals Some corals live in a symbiotic relationship Africana (soft corals), and Tubastrea sp. – at with unicellular algae called zooxanthellae. least during the early stages of your marine These organisms live in the coral’s tissue, aquarium experience. providing them with all nutrients they With well-maintained water, these inverte- require – without being fed by humans! brates make hardy aquarium inhabitants: Other coral species do not feed via zooxan- thellae, and must be fed, which leads to heavily polluted water conditions. sera rec- ommends avoiding these species – such as Pennatulacea sp. (sea feather), Lemnalia Leather corals (Sarcophyton, Lobophyton, Mushroom anemones (Discosoma) Sinularia) Anemones (e.g., symbiotic anemones for Colonial anemones (Protopalythoa, Zoan- clownfish) thus) With some experience also stony corals (Acropora, Porites, etc.) 5
  6. 6. Which marine animals are suitable and which are not? Shrimps While many shrimp species are easy to keep, one of the most colorful and fascinating shrimps is the Hippolysmata grabhami, known as the “White banded cleaner shrimp”. This shrimp not only cleans-up food leftovers but cleans the ectoparasites from your fish as well! Sea urchins Although most sea urchins live on a variety of sea grasses many feed on decaying organ- ic matter or algae – making them wonderful housekeepers for your marine aquarium. Sea cucumbers Known for their cucumber-shaped body, these animals eat plankton and decaying matter that is suspended in the water or buried in the sand. Consult your retailer before buying a sea cucumber, though, some species can release sticky or toxic sub- stances into the water. 6
  7. 7. Preparing your natural biotope Aquarium size Keep this rule in mind when choosing an For a double-hood aquarium using aquarium: The larger the aquarium, the eas- fluorescent tubes only, sera rec- ier it is to maintain. ommends combining light spec- trums for optimal conditions. Larger volumes of water are less easily dis- Consider the sera deep sea rupted by a small fluctuation to water special as a foreground tube; it parameters than smaller volumes because provides actinic blue marine light the change has more area in which to dissi- and, with a specific light spec- pate – the parameters remain fairly constant. trum of 380 – 450 nm, it ensures The same fluctuation to a smaller volume of tropical reef light conditions. water could provide a severe jolt to the Growth and coloration of inver- whole biological condition. tebrates are strongly enhanced by the blue light spectrum. We Aside from water parameter considerations recommend the sera blue sky when buying an aquarium, you also need to Royal for supplying the saltwa- consider the fish. Most marine fish require ter tank with tropical daylight. substantial territories to defend. For these reasons, sera recommends a 200-liter (53 gal.) Always combine a metal halide lamp with a tank, or a 100-liter (26 gal.) at the minimum. blue light tube – the sera deep sea special for example – in aquariums stocked with If a bio filter system, a trickle filter for exam- invertebrates that require plenty of light, or ple, is to be installed under the aquarium, if the aquarium is deeper than 50 cm (20 in.). ensure that a sufficiently large overflow hole This ensures the best possible display of is drilled as a water outlet. your corals’ magnificent color. Optimal lighting Support and location Fluorescent tubes, metal halide lamp (HQI) or Place the aquarium on a Styrofoam or foam their successors HCI or CDM, or a combina- pad (sera thermo-safe) to prevent the glass tion of both, are used for lighting saltwater from cracking. Install the aquarium away aquariums. from direct sunlight to reduce the risk of algae growth. If fluorescent tubes are used, the water depth must not exceed 50 cm (20 in.). You can use the sera Combi-Reflectors to increase light intensity by up to 100%. 7
  8. 8. Aquarium setup: The substrate The most important task of the substrate is to provide addi- tional settling space for bacteria with a high oxygen demand (aerobic) in the upper layers, and for bacteria that live with- out oxygen (anaerobic) in the lower layers. Coarse coral sand is the ideal choice for a saltwater aquarium. It is visually attractive, and because of its high lime content it helps stabilize the pH value. Some fish species, such as wrasses and gobies, need a sandy area to dig themselves into for the night. A separate area with coral or quartz sand should be provided for these animals. Consult your retailer for details on the proper depth for your specific fish species. The remaining surface should be covered with a coarse coral sand layer of about 3 cm (1 in.). sera recommends using a rock border between the different substrates to prevent them from mixing. 8
  9. 9. Aquarium setup: Biofilter components The saltwater is purified in several steps within the sera inter- nal biofilters B 200 and B 400. sera filter wool sera biofibres sera biopur sera super carbon sera biofibres e.g. sera siporax® 1. Prefiltration (Mechanical water purification) sera filter wool and sera biofibres catch the large, solid dirt particles – such as uneaten food or clumped dead algae – from entering your primary filter. This prefilter media must be cleaned regularly to maintain the maximum water flow rate, and to prevent additional pollution from the decaying particles. The prefilter’s primary focus is to give the biofilter the best chance at breeding bacterial colonies, undisturbed. 2. Main filtration (Biological water purification) Your biological filter is home to the useful bacteria that bio- logically break down the pollutants in your aquarium. sera biopur and sera siporax provide the ideal settling conditions for this bacterial colony. One liter (10 oz.) of sera siporax has the same biological breakdown capacity as 34 liters (approx. a 9 gal. pail) of ceramic material. To collect any stray large dirt particles, separate the sera biopur and sera siporax with an additional layer of sera biofibres. We also recommend adding a regular dose of sera ammovec, nitrifying bacteria for salt- water aquariums, to your biofilter. Clean this filter as seldom as possible to avoid destroying the bacterial colonies, which already struggle to multiply in salt- water conditions. 9
  10. 10. Aquarium setup: Biofiltration Biological breakdown of Millions of useful sera ammovec nitrifying bacteria settle within pollutants within the sera siporax to clean the aquari- filtering cycle um water. The large open-pored tunnel structure of sera siporax provides a natural living space for these microorganisms, which convert clumps of dead algae, uneaten food, and fish waste into ammonium. Each sera siporax ring is composed of a highly porous material that ensures that a thick layer of outer bacteria develops and is supplied with nutrients and water for growth. As the inner pores fill-in, a low-oxygen thriving bacteria inhabits the ring centers. These break-down nitrate and release beneficial nitrogen into the water. sera ammovec nitrifying filter bacteria convert clumps of dead algae, uneaten food, and fish waste into ammonium. Ammonia and ammonium are then con- verted to nitrite by a second type of filter bacteria. Yet a third form of bacteria converts the nitrite into nitrate. As nitrate promotes the growth of algae and is especially harmful for invertebrates, a slow flux filter with sera siporax provides a dedicated solution by biologically breaking-down the nitrate. Skimmers reduce pollution in saltwater caused by protein and other organic sub- stances. They must be cleaned regularly to prevent skimmed-off waste from re-enter- ing the aquarium. 10
  11. 11. Aquarium setup: Technical equipment Filter Thermostat control heaters The sera internal biofilter B was developed The sera aquarium heaters should be placed according to the requirements for optimal in the clear water chamber of the sera inter- filtration. It is easily nal biofilter B to prevent wandering inverte- accessible from the brates, such as anemones or snails, from top, so the prefilter being caught and injured. media can be changed without disturbing the biologically active pri- mary filter media. With its practical three chamber design (see pg. 9), this filter lets you exchange a variety of filter media, such as active carbon, as necessary, without disman- tling the entire filter. The integrated surface skimmer of the sera internal biofilter B reliably removes organic 300 watts 250 watts 200 watts 150 watts 100 watts 75 watts 50 watts 25 watts waste and unwanted surface protein film. 35 cm/ 35 cm/ 30 cm/ 30 cm/ 22 cm/ 22 cm/ 18.5 cm/ 18.5 cm/ 13.8 in. 13.8 in. 11.8 in. 11.8 in. 8.7 in. 8.7 in. 7.3 in. 7.3 in. You can achieve increased filtering perform- ance from internal filters that use a sponge cartridge by using sera siporax in the pri- mary filter chamber, and sera biofibres or sera biopur in the prefilter. Pumps The sera internal filters L 60, L 150, and L 300 Powerheads are the heart of a saltwater are ideal for quarantine, breeding, and live aquarium. They provide the animals with food aquariums up to 300 liters. In addition natural water movement and changing cur- to water filtration, they also oxygenate the rents such as high and low tide, which can water, and the fine-pored external sponge easily be imitated by timers. prevents small animals, Correct placement is critical to ensure there such as sea cucumbers, are no “dead spots” in which food and decay- from being trapped in ing matter can accumulate. the filter. To achieve the constant motion, use several sera submersible pumps to keep the water moving in front and behind the live rock. With sera submersible pumps, the water intake pipe can be protected by a sponge. Thus, small animals are prevented from being trapped inside the pump. 11
  12. 12. Aquarium setup: Saltwater Sea salt: The crucial starting Adjusting for exact salinity point As the use of natural saltwater is not practi- There are two methods: cal, aquarium saltwater must be prepared from purified (reverse osmosis) water and sea salt. Saltwater organisms in aquariums require stable, constant salt conditions. sera 1 When the free floating sera hydrometer is used for testing, it displays the densi- ty of the water on an integrated scale. For sea salt dissolves rapidly and homogenously example, in aquariums with inver- throughout your aquarium to form crystal tebrates, the density should be clear saltwater. The natural pH and KH bal- between 1.022 and 1.024 g/cm3 at a ance forms a buffer that maintains a precise water temperature of 25°C (77°F). If and correct pH range. sera sea salt is free the temperature of the aquarium from nitrate, silicate, and phosphate, and its water differs from this value, then prepared saltwater has the biologically cor- the estimated density would need rect calcium and magnesium levels. to be converted in accordance with an appropriate table, such as the one below. Density Salinity Salinity Salinity at 33 ‰ 34.5 ‰ 36 ‰ 16°C 1.025 g/cm3 1.026 g/cm3 1.0265 g/cm3 20°C 1.0235 g/cm3 1.025 g/cm3 1.0255 g/cm3 25°C 1.022 g/cm3 1.023 g/cm3 1.024 g/cm3 28°C 1.0215 g/cm3 1.0225 g/cm3 1.023 g/cm3 30°C 1.020 g/cm3 1.0215 g/cm3 1.0225 g/cm3 Preparing the aquarium water 2 The salt concentration of brackish water or saltwater as well as the total pollution degree of freshwater are determined via the Fill the empty aquarium with purified conductivity. The sera conductivity meter (reverse osmosis) water and add can be easily switched from the µS/cm the prescribed amount of sea (freshwater) to the mS/cm (saltwater) range salt. sera sea salt dissolves with and thus has a broad no residue. When the last salt application range. It is grains disappear, condition the ideal for owners with water with sera aqumarin. Use many aquariums, for powerheads, placed on the breeders, and for the spe- aquarium floor, to agitate the cialty trade. Further appli- water for 24 hours. Use a ther- cations are, for example, mostatically controlled heater quality control of R/O to warm the water to the (reverse osmosis) water, desired temperature. and monitoring the water for salt that might be released by the decorations or active carbon. Salt concentration too high: Dilute with puri- fied water. Salt concentration too low: Raise by carefully adding sea salt. 12
  13. 13. Aquarium setup: The landscape There are no limits to your underwater landscape design when you use your imagination. Ensuring the construction is stable, though, is important. Aquarists often use all-plastic cable fasteners and silicon to secure the decorations. Place an acrylic panel at the bottom of the aquarium to pro- tect the glass against damage from the constructions. The aquarium should preferably be decorated with “live rock.” Why it is called “live” will be obvious after several days. Along with the live rock, dolomite, sand stone, granite, lava rock, and tufa are other choices. Fish, crabs, and other animals in the saltwater aquarium need stones for hiding. Shelters, caves, and ledges are simple to build with reef rocks. 13
  14. 14. The new environment needs time to grow Development of Watch your aquarium come useful bacteria to life! After you have decorated your aquatic Many small animals and almost certainly a world, it needs some time to colonize sever- variety of beautiful algae species will have al strains of bacteria, which will break down entered the aquarium with the “live rock,” pollutants and inhibit the rise of and will become visible as days go by. dangerous ammonia and nitrite levels (see page 10). Bacteria If any of these animals, such as sponges, do multiply slowly in saltwater envi- not survive, they must be removed immedi- ronments, so we recommend ately to prevent pollution as a result of giving your aquarium a head decay. In any case, another dose of sera start by adding sera ammovec ammovec should be added. nitrifying bacteria. During this start-up phase, ammonium and Lighting nitrite levels should be monitored frequent- ly with the sera ammonium/ammonia-Test For the first week, refrain from turning on and sera nitrite-Test. When values are in a the aquarium lighting to prevent detrimen- safe zone, invertebrates and fish can be tal algae growth. introduced over the course of time. Check with your specialty retailer for advice. Begin lighting the second week, increasing the time by an hour or two a day. The live rock begins developing, and every day there are new organisms to discover. You will see anemones, ornamental algae, crustaceans, and other animals populate your miniature reef. 14
  15. 15. Introducing and acclimatizing the marine animals Some marine animals must never leave the When the new inhabitants are acclimatized water. During transport, even a few seconds to the aquarium water, carefully transfer of exposure to air can be lethal. Among them to the aquarium. A large glass contain- these air-sensitive animals are sea urchins, er is ideal for moving them. Remember that sea cucumbers, starfish, and pufferfish. they must never come in contact with air! sera aqumarin supports the fish’s healing processes of the mucous membrane if it has been damaged during transport. Always purchase bred animals when possible – and only those that are suitable for your aquar- ium! When purchasing these animals, ensure they are placed in the transport bag under water, and ask your retailer for specific instructions on introducing them into your aquarium. Generally, the transport bags with the newly purchased fish and invertebrates should be opened and securely placed side-by-side in a bucket, and for the following half-hour, drip aquarium water into the transport bags. An air hose fitted with a suction cup and clamp is ideal for this job. By doing this, the animals can adapt to the new water temperature as well as the new water parameters. Place the bucket in a darkened area to reduce stress and help calm the animals. 15
  16. 16. Every animal has its own nutritional requirements Staple diets Compared to freshwater fish, marine fish require much more iodine and other miner- als. More than fifty different ingredients in sera fish foods ensure a well balanced diet sera GVG-mix marin is a flake for the aquarium inhabitants. This helps sup- food with added tidbits for port the immune system and prevents defi- marine fish. This versatile ciencies. All sera foods are especially low in basic food contains iodine phosphate. and other minerals from marine algae, krill, plankton, and other valuable ingredients such as bloodworms, daphnia, and artemia shrimps. sera marinvit plus for ornamen- tal algae, stony corals and other invertebrates. This nutrient complex contains strontium and trace elements in biologically correct amounts. sera granumarin is an ideal food for fish that search for sera coraliquid, a plankton- their food between coral based, energy-rich liquid food, branches, in the middle of was specially developed for fil- the water, or near the bot- trating invertebrates. tom. It sinks slowly, softens quickly but nevertheless keeps its solid consistency. Therefore, water pollution is largely avoided. 16
  17. 17. Healthy treats & specialties sera flora provides herbi- sera FD Shrimp, made of vores (plant eaters) with tender brine shrimp is a essential vegetable pro- tasty treat for all saltwater teins, minerals and rough- fish. age. sera O-nip tablets consist of 50% freeze-dried food ani- mals and 50% high quality flake food, making it an ideal sera microgran for young fish diet for all animals. sera O-nip and small mouthed species is a tablets can be attached to nutritious blend of ingredients the aquarium glass, and will bring even shy plus added multi-vitamin com- animals into view. plex, making sera microgran a perfect staple diet for these fish. sera Spirulina Tabs can also be attached to the aquarium glass. This all-vegetable tablet con- tains an optimal 20% of spirulina sera micron is best suited for algae for proper nutrition. sera raising fish fry or shrimp lar- Spirulina Tabs are indispensable for algae- vae. Invertebrates and fish that eating animals such as surgeonfish/ tangs or need powdered food can also blennies. be fed sera micron. sera Plankton Tabs contain an especially high amount of freeze-dried plankton. Fish are fed by simply dropping the tablets into the aquarium. Invertebrates are fed individually, for exam- ple, with a pair of tweezers or a plastic tube. 17
  18. 18. Regular maintenance: Checking the water Parameter Ideal parameter Value too high – lower ⇓ When to check? Value too low – raise ⇑ pH 8.0 – 8.5 ⇓ • Partial water change with more aci- Weekly dic water • Add CO2 ⇑ • sera pH-plus KH Carbonate 8 – 12°dKH ⇓ • Partial water change hardness Weekly ⇑ • sera kH-plus Ca 400 – 450 mg/l (ppm) ⇓ • Partial water change Calcium Weekly ⇑ • Add sera calcium plus Conductivity 50 – 54 mS/cm ⇓ • Partial water change with water of a Weekly little less conductivity ⇑ • Add sera sea salt in small portions until the correct value is achieved Density 1.022 – 1.024 g/cm3 at 25°C (77°F) ⇓ • Partial water change Weekly ⇑ • Add sera sea salt in small portions until the correct value is achieved NH4/NH3 Ideal: 0.0 mg/l (ppm) ⇓ • Partial water change (check pH value) Ammonium/ • Avoid still water zones by providing Dangerous from 0.02 mg/l (ppm) Ammonia water currents (use a water pump) Weekly Depending on the pH value • Add sera ammovec • Check/clean the filter • Reduce number of fish • Feed sparingly NO2 Ideal: 0.0 mg/l (ppm) ⇓ • Add sera ammovec Nitrite • Check the filter 0.3 – 0.9 mg/l (ppm) NO2 (equals Weekly • Feed sparingly 0.1 – 0.3 mg/l [ppm] NO2-N): water pollution • Check whether a fish or another ani- mal is missing From 0.9 mg/l (ppm) NO2 (equals 0.3 mg/l [ppm] NO2-N): danger to fish • Partial water change • Remove cause 3.3 mg/l (ppm) NO2 (equals 1 mg/l ⇓ • Partial water change [ppm] NO2-N): acute danger to fish • Repeat partial water change after 12 – 24 hours 18
  19. 19. Regular maintenance: Checking the water Parameter Ideal parameter Value too high – lower ⇓ When to check? Value too low – raise ⇑ NO3 Ideal: maximum 20 mg/l (ppm) ⇓ • Install a slow flux filter and use sera Nitrate From 20 mg/l (ppm) siporax Weekly • Use 1 liter (10 oz.) sera siporax per each 100 liters (26 gal.) of water in the biofilter, and activate with sera ammovec • Carry out frequent partial water changes with water that is low in nitrate • Reduce number of fish if applicable • Feed sparingly • Use a protein skimmer Above 100 mg/l (ppm) • Partial water change Mg About 1300 mg/l (ppm) ⇓ • Partial water change Magnesium Weekly ⇑ • Add sera magnesium plus PO4 Max. 0.1 mg/l (ppm) ⇓ • Partial water change Phosphate Ideal: below 0.05 mg/l (ppm) • Add macro ornamental algae Weekly • Feed sparingly • Reduce number of fish Cu Ideal: 0.0 mg/l (ppm) (any detectable ⇓ • Add sera aqumarin Copper amount severely harms inver- • Generous partial water changes with Fresh water tebrates or can be fatal to them) copper-free water, prepare fresh Fish feeling unwell Above 1.0 mg/l (ppm): fatal for all water with a double dose sera aqu- living beings in saltwater aquariums marin O2 Above 6 mg/l (ppm): sufficient oxy- ⇑ • Rapid increase with sera oxypur Oxygen gen • Aerate water Every 2 weeks Cl Below 0.02 mg/l (ppm) • Find out and remove cause Chlorine ⇓ • sera aqumarin neutralizes the effects Water change of chlorine New setup • Add sera chlorvec • Add sera ammovec • Aerate water well 19
  20. 20. Regular maintenance As well as monitoring the water parameters and cleaning the filter, several further main- Water change tenance measures must be carried out on a regular basis. Removal of unwanted algae If large macro ornamental algae, such as Caulerpa, grow in your aquarium, you should carefully control their growth. The rapidly growing Caulerpa algae can actually over- grow the invertebrates. Select and remove the unwanted algae without taking too many at one time. Algae leaves are called “thalli.” They consist of a single cell that releases its nitrate-con- taining cell liquid into the aquarium if it is not removed properly. The safest way to cut- back your algae is to do this: Change 5 – 10% of the water monthly, prepar- ing the salt mixture in a bucket according to the directions on page 12. This is also an opportune time to use the sera gravel wash- er to clean the aquarium gravel of debris and detrimental micro-organisms – as we will see in the following sections. Waste removal To avoid polluting the water, remove any waste, such as dead algae parts, with the sera gravel cleaner or a tweezers, instantly, before it accumulates. Do not wait for sched- uled water changes. Look for the rhizome; this is the cord from which the single thalli grow. On it, you will see the fragile spots beside the thalli at which the algae can be broken apart. Snip- off the unwanted segment of the Caulerpa algae, and immediately remove it from the aquarium. Be careful not to damage the algae as this will lead to cell liquid running into the aquarium uncontrollably. 20
  21. 21. Regular maintenance R/O water for cleaning and While you are on addition a holiday In areas with high levels of nitrate and/or For short-term vacations phosphate in the tap water we strongly rec- (up to 10 days), the animals ommend purchasing an ion exchange or in your reef aquarium need reverse osmosis (R/O) unit. By purifying the not be fed. Live rock pro- water this way, approximately 95% of the vides the aquarium with dissolved pollutants are removed. plenty of micro-fauna to R/O water is much more suitable than tap serve as a food supply. water for water changes and for replacing evaporated water. During longer vacations, we Tap water must be conditioned by using sera recommend setting-up a aqumarin according to the instructions. maintenance plan to give to Open aquariums that are lighted with hang- the person caring for your ing metal halide lights can lose several liters aquarium while you’re away. of water through evaporation, every day. Along with feeding instruc- This water must be replaced regularly, daily if tions, this should include possible, with R/O water to prevent an information on topping-up increase in salinity. the tank with R/O water, and providing trace elements (sera marinvit plus) for the Lighting check invertebrates. Advise them Fluorescent light tubes lose about 50% of on the exact number of their light-emitting power after six months food tablets (sera O-nip, use, whereas metal halide (HQI) lights have a sera viformo, sera Spirulina maximum “lifespan” of two years. As the Tabs, sera Plankton Tabs), as human eye does not detect the gradual well as which days to do the reduction of light, use the exposure light- feeding. Tablets are the meter of a camera as an easy method of preferable choice to leave, monitoring this problem. Note: These tests as inexperienced aquarists must be carried out from the same distance usually drastically overfeed and angle each time. with flake and granulated foods, causing severe water pollution. Camera with exposure meter Fix dis- tance and angle exactly All settings and conditions must be the same for each test 21
  22. 22. The interaction of The ocean represents the most stable eco- Check the carbonate logical system on earth. Over millions of hardness of the water years the ocean’s inhabitants have adapted quickly and accurately to the water’s constant physical and chemi- with the sera kH-Test. cal changes, but as these parameters vary only slightly in nature, the animals are much less able to adapt than their freshwater counterparts. Because of this – marine aquariums must provide continuously stable conditions. The pH value describes whether the water is acidic (pH below 7), neutral (pH = 7) or alka- line (pH above 7). The pH value in natural salt- Increasing the KH level water is slightly alkaline (pH 8 to 8.5). is easy and safe with sera kH-plus. The pH value of the aquarium water should also be checked regu- larly with the sera pH- Test. In the aquarium the pH is lower in the morn- ing than in the evening. This is because algae consume carbon dioxide (CO2) during the day, resulting in a rise in pH. As a result of the consumption of carbonic acid, the pH value rises during the day. Consider using the sera pH me- ter for precise monitoring of the pH value. You can raise the pH value with sera pH-plus if necessary. The carbonate hardness (KH) in the water serves as a buffer. It is able to neutralize acids and therefore absorbs fluctuations of the pH value to a certain degree. To provide a buffering effect that is strong enough for a saltwater aquarium, the carbonate hardness must not fall below 8°dKH. 22
  23. 23. pH, carbon dioxide (CO2), and carbonate hardness (KH) When aquariums are over-planted with The seramic CO2 control system is ideal for macro ornamental algae (Caulerpa, Halimeda the automatic control and regulation of the etc.) pH values can rise over 8.5 because of pH value in your aquarium. Simply set the the high CO2 demand. desired pH value and let the seramic CO2 control system inject the precise amount of The easiest and most natural method of low- carbon dioxide for stable conditions. This ering and stabilizing the pH value is by sup- highly effective CO2 control unit system also plying carbon dioxide to the water. Add shuts-off automatically when the correct pH carbon dioxide according to the specific value has been reached. aquarium requirements, simply and confi- dently, with the sera CO2 fertilization system Saltwater aquariums demand a considerable and seramic CO2 control system. amount of the CO2, which should not be underestimated. Even if you do not continu- ously supply the aquarium with CO2, we strongly urge you to keep CO2 in stock. This way, you can react immediately if the pH value and the ammonia level become too high (see sections “The nitrogen cycle” and “Checking the wa- ter”). 23
  24. 24. From ammonium to nitrate: Let’s have a closer look at the nitrogen cycle: Check the total concen- tration of ammonium Organic waste products in the aquarium and ammonia with the result in nitrogen pollution of the water. sera ammonium/am- Among those waste products are excretions monia-Test. The chart of the fish, uneaten food, and rotting algae, included in the test kit as well as dead animals. makes it easy to deter- Nitrogen occurs in the aquarium in different mine the level of free forms. Nitrogen containing waste products ammonia by comparing in the aquarium are excess protein, ammoni- the measured value and um and ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. the pH value. If the con- centration of free am- monia is above 0.2 mg/l, a partial water change must be done immediately, and sera ammovec should be The useful bacteria in sera ammovec process dead plant parts, food left- added. overs, and fish waste from ammonia via nitrite into non-toxic nitrate The next step in the nitrogen cycle is the bio- logical conversion of ammonium into ammo- nia, and then into nitrite by Nitrosomonas bacteria. For this to happen the bacteria need oxygen. Therefore, this is called an aer- obic (with oxygen) process. Nitrite is highly toxic to fish and invertebrates. Increased ammonium, nitrite, or nitrate lev- Well balanced planting els result from mistakes or improper aquari- lowers nitrate levels um maintenance. Another cause could be an insufficient surface area for useful bacteria to colonize. Check the nitrite level of the aquarium water with the sera nitrite- Test. If the value ex- ceeds 0.3 mg/l (ppm), a partial water change is Nitrate-free water necessary. The waste products mentioned contain pro- teins, from which ammonium converted to ammonia is formed via biological decompo- sition. The ratio between relatively harmless ammonium and toxic ammonia is deter- mined by the pH value. The higher the pH value, the more ammonia is formed. Since the pH value in saltwater is always above 7, the ammonium level must be checked fre- quently. 24
  25. 25. The nitrogen cycle Lower the ammonium and Nitrate is considerably nitrite levels with sera less toxic than ammonia ammovec. sera ammovec is a and nitrite. Neverthe- biological product containing less it harms delicate nitrifying bacteria that breaks corals when in concen- down ammonium and nitrite. trations of 20 mg/l Simply add the liquid to the (ppm) or higher, and it aquarium water according to promotes the growth the product’s directions for of unwanted thread use. and slime algae. The biological decomposition Check the nitrate level of nitrite by Nitrobacter bacte- in the aquarium with ria leads to nitrate. Also, at this the sera nitrate-Test. stage the bacteria need oxygen to thrive. Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter bacteria live in Nitrate breakdown can take place only in all the oxygen-rich zones of the aquarium, oxygen-poor zones. There the bacteria take which include the upper gravel layers, the fil- oxygen from the nitrate. This is called an ter, and the live rock surfaces. From this we anaerobic (without oxygen) process. This see that oxygen-rich water is important not final step produces harmless nitrogen gas only for the fish and invertebrates, but at the that escapes into the atmosphere. The bio- bacterial level as well. logical breakdown of nitrate is achieved by a slow flux filter with sera siporax. 25
  26. 26. The calcium level Calcareous algae, fish, and invertebrates The calcium level in extract calcium from the saltwater to build- saltwater can easily and up their skeleton. Natural saltwater contains safely be determined about 400 – 450 mg/l (ppm) calcium. by using the sera calci- um-Test. If the level falls Saltwater that is prepared with sera sea salt below 400 mg/l (ppm), begins with the correct calcium concentra- the calcium concentra- tion, but is nevertheless constantly lowered tion can be increased by regular, necessary consumption. with sera calcium plus. Unlike kalkwasser, sera calcium plus affects neither the pH value nor the trace elements. 26
  27. 27. Strontium and trace elements The magnesium level in natural Saltwater that is freshly prepared with sera saltwater is about 1300 mg/l sea salt contains all the trace elements that (ppm). Replenish consumed are important for your marine life. Although magnesium according to a- the level of these trace elements are very quarium requirements with low (example: manganese 0.2 µg/l [ppm], easy-to-dose sera magnesium gold 0.004 µg/l [ppm]), they are essential for plus. fish and invertebrates. Protein skimmers, along with natural consumption, eventually reduce the level of trace elements. Stony corals and other invertebrates need strontium, besides calcium, to build-up their calcareous skeleton. Due to its comparative- ly high concentration in salt- water (8 mg/l [ppm]) strontium Use the sera magne- is not regarded as a trace ele- sium-Test to monitor ment. the exact magnesium level. Regular addition of sera marin- vit plus ensures the ideal sup- ply of strontium for corals and other invertebrates. It contains all the trace elements, in the biologically correct amounts, that are necessary for keeping and breeding ornamental marine algae and inverte- brates. 27
  28. 28. What to do if a marine animal gets sick? Invertebrates aquarium at night. Many planarians assem- ble in the light and they are much easier to With a good maintenance routine, inverte- remove. Watch invertebrates thoroughly brates are rarely affected by disease. before buying them! Small, brownish-red, Nevertheless, certain aspects should be oval spots are usually planarians. taken into account: Bristle worms (Polychaetes) are actually • If the water temperature exceeds 30°C carrion eaters, and will eventually nibble on (86°F), the skeleton formation of stony mushroom anemones and stony corals. corals is disturbed. Furthermore, the sym- Furthermore, they tear their prey away from biotic algae that live in the tissues of the them and, in doing so, often injure these coral (Zooxanthellae) die and as a result the sessile (immobile) animals with their sharp coral also dies. jaws. It is possible to attract Bristle worms with fish meat and then catch and remove • Crustaceans regularly shed their skin. The them. As they are mainly active at night, this water must contain 400 – 450 mg/l (ppm) procedure should be carried out in the dark. calcium for building up a new shell. The Be careful: Do not touch these worms. The carbonate hardness must be between bristles break off and may cause skin inflam- 8 – 10°dKH. mations! Small bristle worms hide in the gravel during • If an invertebrate’s growth becomes stunt- daytime and can be removed by siphoning ed, despite the best possible maintenance off a larger quantity of the gravel (approx. conditions, the animal should be examined 30 – 50%) and washing it with fresh water. for external parasites. These parasites Usually, this is sufficient to remove these could be miniscule and possibly come out Polychaetes from time to time. only at night. Planarians are flat white or red worms of approximately 5 mm (0.2 in.) in size. They can harm anemones, corals and other verte- brates with their excreted slime. These worms can be siphoned-out of the aquarium by means of a flexible tube. Sometimes it is useful to place a strong flashlight above the 28
  29. 29. What to do if a marine animal gets sick? Many snails nibble on sea anemones, corals, Fish and other invertebrates. In a reef aquarium every snail should be carefully removed with The best way to combat dis- a pair of tweezers. Some snails feed exclu- ease is by avoiding it, and the sively on sessile invertebrates. danger of a disease outbreak is greatly reduced by following regular maintenance routines, and by adding sera fishtamin and sera activant vitamins to your fish’s diet. If disease does occur, sera has a line of sup- port products that are safe and reliable to use. The most frequent and dis- turbing diseases that affect marine fish – and the recom- mended care for your fish while ill, are described below. Predatory shrimp species, for example mar- bled shrimps (different Saron species), can literally cut up anemones. These animals, which are active at night, should be siphoned off with a flexible tube or removed with a pair of tweezers. The parasitic Oodinium ocella- tum (Velvet, or Coral Fish dis- Parasitic diseases caused by micro-organ- ease), in saltwater, attacks the isms such as bacteria, or unicellular para- gills before migrating to the sites, can only occur after preliminary dam- skin – often leaving the fish age has been caused by a chemical, such as unable to pass sufficient oxy- ozone, hydrogen peroxide, or phosphate, gen to breath. Copper-based and they are almost never observed in well products, used carefully, such maintained aquariums. as sera oodinopur have been Combating these parasites with treatments effective – although copper is impossible, as treatments, of course, can- must never be used in aquari- not differentiate between “desirable” and ums with invertebrates. Apply “undesirable” invertebrates. only in a quarantine tank. 29
  30. 30. What to do if a marine animal gets sick? The ciliate Cryptocarion irritans As many invertebrates do resembles the freshwater par- not tolerate treatments, we asite Ichthyophthirius (white recommend caring for your spot) and is therefore also fish in a quarantine aquari- called “Saltwater Ich”. Use sera um. cyprinopur according to the instructions for symptoms of Illness can considerably white spots of up to 1 millime- weaken a fish. Once treat- ter in diameter and strong ments are complete, sera scraping movements of the fishtamin or sera activant fish. sera cyprinopur is harmful vitamins are ideal to help for some invertebrates (e.g., support the animal’s im- stony corals, snails, shrimp) mune system while healing. and for safety purposes should be applied only in a quarantine tank. Use of treatments in the aquarium cannot distin- guish between good and bad bacteria, and attacks them all. After every treat- ment, use sera ammovec, according to directions, to help regenerate the filter bacteria colonies. Use sera super carbon to remove the treat- ments residue from the water after treat- ments. Bacteria can cause many Cleaner wrasses and noticeable symptoms in your cleaner shrimps help fish – among them, are skin prevent the problem slime and fin rot. Use sera bak- by “preening” the topur and sera baktopur ectoparasite from direct, according to directions, your fish. Also some at the first sign of symptoms. nettling coral species (e.g., gorgonians) have positive effects on fish diseases. The best disease prevention measures are good, constant water conditions, varied nutrition, and an appropriate vitamin supply. 30
  31. 31. What you always wanted to know about saltwater What is “kalkwasser?” What does a calcium A saturated solution of calcium hydroxide in reactor do? water is called kalkwasser. This concentrated Many corals, mussels, and calcareous red alkaline solution raises the calcium level of algae require dissolved calcium for their the water without raising the carbonate growth. Using carbonic acid (dissolved CO2), hardness – it can, however, elevate the pH to lime material is dissolved to form soluble cal- uncontrollably high values. In the past, kalk- cium compounds within the calcium reactor. wasser was the most practicable method of As this process takes place below pH values providing calcium but this is now considered of 6.5 – 7 only, a portion of the added car- risky. sera calcium plus does not affect the bonic acid is required to lower the pH value pH value and is therefore safer to use, mak- within the reactor. The remaining portion is ing kalkwasser an unnecessary part of your then used to dissolve lime. The pH control maintenance routine. required for this is achieved by the seramic CO2 control system. What is a protein skimmer What is “live rock?” good for? Live rocks are reef rock pieces that are A skimmer helps to reduce the aquarium imported together with herbal and animal water pollution. Proteins attach to the air periphyton organisms. It must be transport- bubbles produced by the skimmer, forming ed moist and tempered. In pet stores they solid foam. This foam is pushed upwards are kept like corals in aquariums. They will within the foam tube, thus removing the bring many useful small organisms into your skimmed substances from the aquarium aquarium and therefore promote natural water circuit. conditions. Speak with your specialty retailer for more information on adding live rock to your aquarium. 31