For reef keeping enthusiasts to be successful in maintaining a mini reef tank, you should have a basic understanding about the animals you are planning on keeping as well as the environment they are to live in. By taking this basic step you are significantly increasing your success and the survivability of your inhabitants. This becomes even more important if you desire to keep a particular type of fish or invertebrates. Do your animals need higher salinity? Are they susceptible to sub-optimal water conditions? How will they interact with each other? Clearly the more you know the better.

What is a Coral Reef?

So what exactly is a mini coral reef and how do the animals that live inside your oasis thrive? To better understand the answer to this question, let’s take a look at a typical reef. Each coral reef has its own environment, however, there are similarities among all coral reefs. A reef can be described as a shallow water region in the ocean. Essentially a reef is built by living organisms by corals and invertebrates. Most reefs look like “steps” that extend from the sea floor to the surface. Coral reefs are structurally stable and strong enabling them to absorb the incredible power from the impact of water current.

Life on a thriving reef is abundant as there are countless types of species of coral, with incredible color combinations, shapes, sizes, and “personalities.” It’s important to note that corals feed in a couple ways. Corals either catch small fish by utilizing their stingers or by feeding on algae. The algae actually lives inside the coral’s polyps, which in-turn they photosynthesize to create necessary energy to live. Luckily most mini reef safe invertebrates will do well with sufficient lighting and don’t need to be fed. If you are keeping a specific invert that requires feeding (e.g. phytoplankton) make sure to be on top of your water changes.

Aquarium Stability

Similar to the ocean, our mini reef tanks must be built in a way to remain stable over time. More times than not reef keepers will find themselves accidentally bumping into the live rock causing a frustrating collapse of their beautiful structure. Live rock epoxy can be a life saver when initially designing your live rock structure.

As aquarists, we must keep in mind that when choosing tank inhabitants for our reef tanks, we should familiarize ourselves with optimal water temperature, lighting requirements, salinity levels, and basic water testing methods (just to name a few).

An easy way to help ensure your tank is operating at optimal efficiency is to perform regular weekly water changes. You will be surprised, how keeping on a regular schedule can save you a lot of “headache” down the road.

Hopefully, you live near a saltwater fish store, as you can learn a lot from asking simple questions. I am fortunate enough to live near a pet store that specializes in saltwater fish. These guys are smart and always give great advice on specific problems or concerns I may have. After all, its in their best interest that you are successful!

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