|Many times the answer is YES. The types of corals you add will be determined by the species of fish you now keep. Remember that treating fish diseases is not often practical in a reef and fish aquarium. Starting with healthy fish and having a small treatment tank are both very important.
Before entering into this commitment it is necessary to ask yourself some important questions.
Although corals will survive in a new system, we here at GARF have found much higher survival rates in corals placed in established systems. In systems six months or older, there tends to be fewer algae blooms and more coralline algae growth, both of which are important signs the system is stable enough for coral survival. As soon as the fish are healthy you can add hardy corals such as many of the soft corals we sell in our starter packages.
When establishing a new reef system it is important to keep in mind that your aquarium will, without a doubt, undergo several algae blooms. This is not a major problem and is completly natural, but delicate corals should not be added during this cycling period. By adding the proper mixture of Reef Janitorstm you will help to keep this alage problem under control with minimum effort on your part.
Proper lighting and equipment are also very important when adding corals to your aquarium. For lighting a typical 55 gallon reef system we suggest using two URI Actinic Blue - 4 foot 40 watt bulbs and two URI 50/50 - 4 foot 40 watt bulbs. Later you can upgrade your lighting by adding Actinic Blue VHO, and 50/50 VHO bulbs. Metal halide bulbs will also work well, but we do not use them in many of our systems due to the amount of heat they produce. You can also continue to use the 40 watt URI bulbs by themselves without changing to VHO if you want to keep mushrooms and soft corals.
Current is another important key to the success of your corals. Using 3 Maxi Jet 1200's will ensure enough current for your corals. We often add a fourth powerhead as the reef matures. A skimmer is also recomended for proper filtration. Many of our reefs do not have skimmers.
Water quality is essential for coral survival and growth. Ammonia and nitrite levels must be at zero before adding corals. Nitrate levels can be at one or two, in fact some literature states that corals need low levels of nitrates in order to grow and develop. Water temperature should remain stable at 78-80 degrees with a consistant pH of 8.2. A salinity level of 1.023 is good for coral survival and growth.
Many organisms, such as shrimp, that can be purchased for the marine aquarium are reef safe. You may enjoy collecting and growing different types of algae, which is fine as long as they can be kept under control. Out of control algae is one of the leading causes of coral death. Because corals do have stinging cells (nematocysts) it is important that members of different colonies do not touch. Some species of butterfly fish do feed on corals so talk to your local fish dealer before making a butterfly purchase.
Finally, the most important questions you can ask yourself is "do I have the time and patience to dedicate to my reef system?" Anyone can grow a first class show reef, but its going to take some time. After spending a few months with your reef you will have the ability to determine the tanks condition just by observing your corals. Many corals are very sensitve and are great water quality indicators.
There is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done in this field. By spending time with your system each day you may be able to help answer some of the unanswered questions. People with home aquariums have done much of the modern research on coral culture. Any information gathered and shared will help this hobby reach its potential.
|Close up view of rare sponge and blue mushroom. It is exciting to find a species growing in our reefs that we can not identify. We have never seen anything like this orange and yellow "sponge?" please e-mail us if you know what it is.
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Boise Idaho 83705