Marine life on a reef is very colorful and diverse. Building an artificial reef in your aquarium will take some time. An artificial reef is more than just a collection of colorful marine life. Conditions have to mimic a natural reef in order for your artificial reef to thrive.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Sea salt crystals
- Water conditioner
- Chlorine remover
- Digital aquarium heater
- Live rock
- Artificial corals
- Live sand
- Filter system
- Live corals
- Invertebrate chemicals
- Aquarium cover
- Aquarium lighting system
Put your aquarium in a place away from direct sunlight and drafts. Your artificial reef needs specialized lighting and a constant temperature.
Add water to your aquarium until it is 3/4 of the way full. This leaves room for the water to rise when you add your reef base, sand and salt.
Mix premium artificial sea salt crystals into the water. Follow the manufacturer's directions when adding the salt. The water may be cloudy after you add the salt.
Use water conditioner and chlorine remover to make the water safe for your marine life.
Test the specific gravity of the water using a hydrometer. Artificial reefs need very precise specific gravity levels to thrive. Find out the proper level required for the inhabitants of your aquarium.
Place an aquarium heater into the water. Allowing it to stay in the water while the power is off allows it to calibrate properly. A digital heater is the best choice for an artificial reef aquarium because you can set a specific temperature range for the water.
Prepare the Aquarium
Arrange live rock and artificial corals in your aquarium. These will serve as an anchor point for live corals, anemones and other live marine life.
Add live sand around the live rock and artificial corals. Make sure that the sand is at least one inch thick. This will give rooting marine life ample depth to root.
Install your filter system. This should include a chiller, sump pump and protein skimmer.
Place live corals into the aquarium. Arrange these according to light requirements. Place corals that need a lot of light higher in the aquarium than corals that need little light.
Fill the aquarium the rest of the way with water.
Test the specific gravity of the water and add more salt if necessary.
Arrange the Reef Base
Introduce invertebrates into the tank. This includes shrimp, snails, clams, anemones, sea cucumbers and sponges.
Float fish in the tank and allow them to adjust to the specific gravity in your aquarium for at least ten minutes. Cut a small hole in the bag and allow the water from your aquarium to slowly mix with the water in the bag.
Release the fish into the aquarium. Watch the fish for signs of stress. If the fish seem stressed, make the tank as dark as possible for an hour then check on the fish again.
Add any chemicals necessary for the invertebrates in your tank. This may include iron and liquid calcium. Ask a sales representative at your local pet stores to help you decide what your invertebrates need.
Cover your aquarium. This keeps dirt and other contaminants out of the tank while keeping your fish in the aquarium.
Install your lighting system. Keep in mind the requirements of your corals and anemones when placing your lights on the tank. Your lighting systems should include a metal halide light, full-spectrum lighting and compact florescent lighting.
Stock the Aquarium
Tips and warnings
- Always check marine life compatibility before introducing marine life into your aquarium. Some fish may nip at invertebrates, and anemones may sting fish and each other.
- Don't plug any electrical accessories into an outlet until your aquarium is fully set up.