Success in a Reef: A Guide to Selecting the Saltwater Ecosystem that is Right for You

Success in a Reef: A Guide to Selecting the Saltwater Ecosystem That is Right for You.

Are you thinking about setting up a saltwater aquarium? If so, then you are amazing. Saltwater aquariums are, quite simply, a piece of the ocean, in your home. While challenging to completely master, these days, having a thriving Saltwater or even Reef Aquarium does not require an expert and, in fact, is easier than ever. Take a few moments, close your eyes, and imagine… imagine your dream saltwater ecosystem.

Most popular species of fish can be kept in one of two types of saltwater ecosystems.

Before you begin, you’ll want to decide which of the two major saltwater ecosystem types you’d like to focus on. This will dictate your entire path moving forward, including equipment purchases, as not all species of fish, coral, or anemone will get along peacefully, and some will require tearing the whole tank apart just to catch. Rest assured, though, as the majority of your dream livestock is likely compatible, and Blue Fish Aquarium is here to help you every step of the way. You’ll also have plenty of time after setting up your aquarium to make this decision, so there is no pressure, and no rush. Each type of aquarium generally starts off the same way, so feel free to get your feet wet while researching. We recommend coming in and speaking with us about this process, as once you start your aquarium, it’s pretty “set and forget” until you and your new friends are ready.

The Early Weeks

You’ll spend the first few weeks of your aquarium establishing your routine, which will include your unique tank maintenance routine, home water tests, mixing saltwater, fish feeding schedule, and more. Now is the time for your choice: Did you imagine a vibrant coral reef, or did you dream of the hustle and bustle of an interactive fish only aquarium?

Coral Reef (Peaceful Environment)

By far, the most popular type of saltwater ecosystem chosen among aquarists is a reef aquarium. In this type of aquarium, you will most commonly see small to medium sized fish, vibrant species of coral and anemones, and even interesting and interactive invertebrates, such as sea stars, shrimps, and snails.

If this sounds like the aquarium for you, then you’ll want to inform our staff before every livestock purchase, as some species of fish and invertebrate will consume corals, and we’ll want to help you plan ahead, to prevent conflicts.

Keep in mind: Coral reef aquariums can be setup as small or as large as you’d like, but will require some additional equipment that its counterpart, a fish only tank does not, such as specialty lighting, and a more comprehensive maintenance routine, with additional home water tests. Worry not, however, as reef equipment these days is more reliable and easier to use, come with extended warranties, and work better than ever. As always, Blue Fish Aquarium is here for you, every step of the way.

Fish Only (With Live Rock) – F.O.W.L.R.

The second most popular type of saltwater ecosystem chosen among aquarists is a fish only (with live rock) aquarium. In this type of aquarium, you will most commonly see medium to large sized fish, exotic species of predatory fish such as groupers and eels, and interesting and exciting creatures, like sharks and stingrays.

Keep in mind: F.O.W.L.R. systems are most comfortably kept in medium to large tanks (75+ gallons), as nearly all aggressive or predatory fish grow very large, and require a generous portion of territory. This means that these systems also require superb filtration, because, as you can imagine, large fish are quite messy. The upside, however, is that you do not need specialty lighting or filtration, and only require a basic maintenance routine with very minimal water testing. Fish only aquariums also have the added benefit of being a lower cost option.

Size Does Matter (For Fish!)

Finally, ask yourselves the following questions to get an idea of where to begin:

  • What size aquarium are you interested in setting up?
    • Coral reefs are well suited for smaller aquariums (20+ gallons)
  • Are you interested in a peaceful aquarium with small to medium fish, or a predator style aquarium, with larger fish?
  • Are there any fish or corals that you absolutely must have?
    • You’ll want to make sure you’re selecting the proper environment!
  • Would you like to see a few fish swimming around, or many?
    • Large coral reef aquariums afford the ability to comfortably house many different species of fish, where as the same size fish only system may only have a few species.
  • Are you interested in a high-effort, high-reward system?
    • Coral reef aquariums have a higher learning curve, require some additional equipment, and demand more frequent testing of several additional parameters, but yield the incredible results that is a living, thriving, coral reef aquarium with fish, anemones, and more.
  • Or are you interested in a low effort system?
    • Fish only systems are often considered lower maintenance, as usually only basic testing and water changes, and fewer pieces of equipment is required to maintain a thriving fish only aquarium.

Dreams Do Come True

From colorful coral reefs, to busy fish only aquariums: all of these questions, and more, will help you figure out which saltwater aquarium ecosystem type is right for you. There is a lot to take in, and a lot to consider at every corner. That is why Blue Fish Aquarium is here for you, every step of the way to ensure your success and happiness. Come in, chat with us, and begin your adventure. This is your dream, and we look forward to helping you find you fulfil it.

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