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Saltwater & Marine Reef Fish Care & Breeding Part 2

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Seahorses & Pipefish
seahorse, saltwater aquarium fish
Common Seahorse
Hippocampus
kuda
seahorse, saltwater aquarium fish
Dwarf Seahorse
Hippocampus zostera
Seahorse, saltwater aquarium fish
Northern Seahorse
Hippocampus erectus
seahorse, breeding, saltwater aquarium fish
Breeding Seahorses

dragonface, saltwater aquarium fish
Dragonface
Pipefish


ghost pipefish, Solenostomidae, false, tubemouth fish, Solenostomus paradoxus, Solenostomus cyanopterus, ornate, harlequin , robust, saltwater aquarium fish
Ghost Pipefish

Other Popular Saltwater & Marine Reef Aquarium Fish
anthais, serranidae, saltwater aquarium fish
Anthias
bicolor, blenny, blennies, Ecsenius bicolor, goby, saltwater aquarium fish
Bicolor Blenny
bicolor, dottyback, dottybacks, royal, pseudo, pseudochromis, Pseudochromis paccagnellae, saltwater aquarium fish
Bicolor Dottyback
stingrays, Blue, dot, stingray, ray, rays, Taeniura lymma, spotted, bluespotted, ribbontail, saltwater aquarium fish
Blue Dot Stingray
blue-lined, blue-sripped, snapper, lined, srtipeed, Lutjanus kasmira, perch, saltwater aquarium fish
Blue-Lined Snapper
California, spotted, stingray, stingrays, ray, rays, round, Urolophus halleri, saltwater aquarium fish
California Spotted
Stingray
cardinalfish, cardinalfishes, Banggai, terapogon, Pterapogon kauderni, saltwater aquarium fish
Banggai
Cardinalfish
Pomacentridae, clowfish, clownfishes, clown, anemonefish, saltwater aquarium fish
Clownfish
Balistoides conspicillum, clown, triggerfish, triggerfishes, trigger, saltwater aquarium fish
Clown Triggerfish
cowfish, cowfishes, longhorn, scrawled, Acanthostracion quadricornis, Acanthostracion quadricornis, saltwater aquarium fish
Cowfish
fairy basslet, Gramma loreto, royal, bicolor, saltwater aquarium fish
Fairy Basslet
Pseudanthias dispar, Dispar anthias, saltwater aquarium fish
Dispar Anthias
flame hawkfish, Neocirrhites armatus, saltwater aquarium fish
Flame Hawkfish
Jackknife fish, Equetus lanceolatus, highhat, saltwater aquarium fish
Jackknife Fish
volitans, Pterois, Dendrochris, lionfish, lion, fish, saltwater aquarium fish
Lionfish
Antennarius multiocellatus, Antennariidae, longlure, anglerfish, frogfish, saltwater aquarium fish
Longlure
Anglerfish
Synchiropus splendidus, striped mandarinfish, mandarin, dragnet, striped dragonet, green dragonet, mandarin goby, green mandarin, psychedelic, saltwater aquarium fish
Mandarin Fish
midas, persian, Ecsenius midas, blenny, saltwater aquarium fish
Midas Blenny
moorish, idol, highhat, butterflyfish, Zanclus cornutus, saltwater aquarium fish
Mono Fingerfish
mono, saltwater aquarium fish
Moorish Idol
moray eel, Muraenidae, Gymnothorax margaritophorus, Enchelycore carychoa, Gymnothorax richardsonii, saltwater aquarium fish
Moray Eel
niger, red-toothed, Odonus, triggerfish, saltwater aquarium fish
Niger Triggerfish
Puffer fish, Tetraodontidae, saltwater aquarium fish
Puffer Fish
Nemateleotris decora, purple, firefish, firefishes, dartfish, dartfishes, saltwater aquarium fish
Purple Firefish

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Marine Coral Reefs 101  

The degrees of complexity involving aquarium set up and maintenance are as follows; Freshwater FO (Fish Only) aquarium, Heavily planted freshwater tank, Saltwater FO aquarium, Fowler (Fish Only With Live Rock) tank,  followed by what is inarguably the most expensive and time consuming but may very well be the most rewarding of all, the Marine Coral Reef. When you rise to the level of a coral reef tank, you are no longer a “fish keeper.” You have created and are responsible for maintain a living, breathing facsimile of nature itself.

In recent years nano-reef tanks have become increasingly popular with entry level and intermediate saltwater aquarists who want to take the next step in aquatic ecosystems. There are many manufactures who offer prefab coral reef kits designed specifically to fill this expanding market. JBJ tanks, Oceanic Bio Cubes, Current USA, and Red Max are among the leading competitors in this nano-niche. These are extremely well thought out, all inclusive units, designed to meet the needs of aquarists looking for their first venture out into the world of complex ecosystems. There is a realistic possibility that these product lines will be added to our website in the not too distant future.

There are, of course, pros and cons to trying to maintain a micro-ecosystem. They are extremely cost effective. But any knowledgeable aquarium owner will point to water volume and fluctuating environmental parameters as their possible downfall. The larger the volume of water, the more stable water parameters remain. The identical factors that cause a minute fluctuation in a large aquarium’s water parameters could prove detrimental, even potentially devastating, in a nano-sphere. This observation is blatantly obvious in the aquarium world and is in no way meant to deter the reader from investing in an entry level marine reef set up.

Two factors of utmost importance in the transition from a FO saltwater aquarium to a marine reef set up are salinity levels and lighting. Many saltwater fish will thrive in a specific gravity of 1.020-1.023. Most of the non-fish inhabitants of a marine reef aquarium flourish best in slightly higher salinity levels. A specific gravity of 1.025 is considered ideal for most marine reef creatures. This slightly elevated salinity level will in no way prove harmful to your fish.

Marine Reef Lighting

The second consideration is lighting. With a FO aquarium you can get away with pretty much any standard florescent tube assembly that comes stock on most aquarium hoods.  Whereas lighting in a marine reef tank is paramount. Not only do coral reef specimens require more light than saltwater fish, that light must simulate the light spectrum found in nature. A typical fluorescent hood light provides lighting only. It does not replicate the sunlight necessary to create and maintain a flourishing coral reef.  

Metal Halide Lamps

Halide lighting is, at the moment, the best solution available in marine lighting. Halide lighting is perfect for larger aquarium set ups. They do however generate a significant amount of heat. Many high-end coral reef systems have chiiling units incorporated into them to compensate for heat emission. Chilling units are rather costly. Halide lighting is not recommended for smaller reef systems unless that system was specifically designed to dissapate the heat from halide lighting.

Fluorescent Lighting

High intensity fluorescents are the preferred choice to provide adequate lighting in nano-reef tanks. Fluorescent lighting can be purchased in the same color spectrums as halide lighting systems. Fluorescents offer a cost effective lighting solution without the heat emission associated with their more expensive counterparts. Two popular choices in florescent lighting are T5 and T5HO. The main thing to look for when choosing a fluorescent lighting system is the incorporation of parabolic reflectors. Florescent tubes generate a fair amount of light on their own. But the addition of a good reflector system will increase the amount of light bouncing around in your aquarium exponentially.

Actinic Lighting

The color light spectrum is measured in degrees of color temperature or Kelvins. Kelvin ratings between 10,000-20,000 are the most poplar in coral reef lighting. The higher the Kelvin rating, the bluer the color spectrum. Many home aquarists prefer the bluer end of the color spectrum. The “cooler” lighting spectrum accentuates the vivid color combinations found in a reef aquarium. Aquarists commonly use a combination of T5 and actinic lighting. Some use it in conjunction with each other to produce a fuller lighting spectrum while still having a blue ting to their aquarium interior. Others use T5 lighting during daylight hours and actinic lighting as a transition between dusk in the real world and lights off in their aquarium. 

Triton and Blue Moon Lighting

A new comer in the field of aquarium lighting is Triton and Blue Moon Fluorescents. Unlike T5 and actinic lighting, these fluorescents where designed specifically for aquarium use by Thorn EMI and GE-Thorn in England. The manufacturers of Triton lights claim that these tubes supply the highest output of any fluorescent in use for aquarium lighting. These fluorescents have an estimated burn time of over 7,500 hours with minimum light fall-off during the life expectancy of the tube. The manufacturer further states that Tritions are “watt for watt” brighter than halide bulbs and  generate twice the light supplied by T5 fluorescents.

Blue Moon Lights are purported to provide superior lighting and have double the estimated burn time of standard actinic fluorescents. They simulate the dramatic “Dusk to Dawn” look in an aquarium previously only available in actinic lighting.

Future Lighting

LED aquarium lighting is out of the price range of many lower end marine reef enthusiasts. LEDs have only recently crossed over into the field of aquarium lighting. Their price is still reflective of a new technology. Bear in mind: Not too long ago a 40 inch plasma TV set commanded a $20,000 price tag. Now you can purchase a brand new 55 inch Sony LED flat screen for under $1,200 dollars if you shop around.  Within this decade, LED lighting will probably become the most cost effective and longest performing lighting system available for home aquarium use.

Tank-Breeding Saltwater Species

In recent decades tank-bred species have become more and more commonplace. This is especially true in regards to breeding saltwater fish and marine reef specimens. This is a good thing. Until tank breeding started becoming prevalent, all saltwater fish were taken from the wild to support the hobby fish trade. The fatality rate of saltwater fish is much higher than that of freshwater species. Many of these species succumb to malnutrition when introduced to a home aquarium simply because they do not recognize food offerings as a source of nutrition. Some species are notorious for starving to death rather than adapting to their new surroundings. Among these is the Moorish Idol. Then there is the ecological impact of harvesting fish from the wild for human consumption, whether that consumption is as a food product or for the saltwater aquarium industry. Seahorses are a prime example of the devastating ecological ramifications resulting from human consumption.

Seahorses have been procured by Chinese herbologists for their purported healing qualities for centuries. Native populations throughout Indonesia and the Central Philippines also use seahorses as a component in herbalistic medicines.  It is estimated that up to 20 million seahorses a year are harvested to support this thriving industry. Over fishing has driven seahorse populations to the verge of becoming endangered species. The common seahorse is currently listed as a vulnerable species by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention). CITES has regulated the import and export of seahorses in this region of the world since 2004. Unfortunately Indonesia, Japan and South Korea do not recognize the trade rules put in place by the Washington Convention. 

Seahorses are notorious for refusing to accept nonliving food offerings.  Some saltwater aquarium owners are never able to wean their seahorses off of live food. Many tank-bread seahorses are raised on nonliving food items. This makes the success rate of keeping them alive and healthy in a home aquarium much higher than those caught in the wild. Most websites will tell you if their seahorses were raised on standard marine aquarium fare.  The same applies to virtually any saltwater species that has been successfully tank-bred. A fish that is born into an aquarium environment is not subjected to the trauma of being yanked out of its natural habitat. It is always preferable to buy a tank-bread species over one that has been caught in the wild.

It should be noted that tank-breeding saltwater fish and marine reef specimens is a relatively new practice within the aquarium industry. It has only been in the past few decades that tank breeding has been seriously looked at as a means to supply the fish hobby trade. A few saltwater fish take readily to spawning in home aquariums. Both gobies and seahorses do not appear to let life in an aquarium interfere with the breeding process. Unfortunately, this is not the case with most saltwater species. Even in the spacious surroundings of public aquariums, the breeding of some saltwater species is unheard of. Perhaps it is that despite our best efforts to mimic their natural environment, certain fish instinctively realize that they are no longer in their native breeding grounds. The confines of an aquarium have proven even more counterproductive to successful breeding programs. Attempts to inducing spawning in many species have failed miserably. This is why mated, breeding pairs command such a hefty price tag among high-end saltwater aficionados. Depending on the species in question, a breeding couple can be worth almost their weight in gold. Their tank born offspring also fetch a pretty price because tank bred species have a much lower mortality rate and are far more likely to breed as adults.

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