Reef Aquarium Flow: Benefits And Equipment

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Reef Aquarium Flow: Benefits And Equipment
Reef Aquarium Flow: Benefits And Equipment

Video: Reef Aquarium Flow: Benefits And Equipment

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Video: Reef Tank Basics Episode 3: Flow In a Saltwater Aquarium 2023, February

As we began to understand the processes taking place in our aquariums more clearly, the equipment becomes more advanced and imitates natural conditions. Unfortunately, one of the most important aspects of the reef environment is often overlooked. This aspect is the flow in the aquarium, and it is the least expensive and most important to adjust the flow when installing a reef system.

The significance of the flow. Organisms living on reefs are used to strong currents. Anyone who has ever dived on a reef understands how difficult it is at times to stay in one place and fight the current around. The constant and strong current of water on the reefs caused physiological changes in its inhabitants, the ability to use the current to their advantage. This is especially true for attached invertebrates such as corals and oysters, which we keep in our aquariums. These organisms have adapted in such a way that the current brings them food, oxygen and nutrients, and carries away their waste products.

Most corals do not have the ability to remove waste from their surface. This is especially true for small polyped corals (SPS species - small polyped stony), which, due to their small size, do not spend energy on removing waste products and are more dependent on the flow of water around them. If you study the physiology of these corals more closely, you will understand that they are adapted to capture nutrients, but not to remove their waste products.

School pennant butterfly (Heniochus diphreutes), photo photography underwater world
School pennant butterfly (Heniochus diphreutes), photo photography underwater world

School pennant butterfly (Heniochus diphreutes)

In addition to providing nutrients and waste disposal, water flow also affects:

- Coral growth, - Formation of new coral colonies, - Algae growth, - Fish health.

Differences in size. Some authors have noticed that the growth of new Acroporidae colonies is much slower than the growth of an old colony when placed in a place with a strong current. However, if the flow is increased, corals can return to their normal growth rate, and it can also increase if all the attendant factors and conditions remain the same.

Increased flow can not only promote thickening of new corals, but also affect older corals. The growth and condition of corals improves significantly as the currents around them increase.

Changes in the shape of growth. The flow of water can change the shape of some corals. For example, Acropora palifera, which is usually thin and has no branches, as it lives in areas of the reef with maximum wave activity. However, when placed in a normal low-flow aquarium, they acquire branches, just like the common Acropora species.

Some coral species only show normal shape and size when there is sufficient current. For example Sarcophyton elegans release their polyps only when the current is strong. If flowed incorrectly, they become too slimy, trying to remove contamination from their surface, or become covered with brown spots in places of contamination. Sinularia try to position themselves in such a way as to get under the current as much as possible. With the proper flow force, they become fluffy, with insufficient flow, they look skinny, practically devoid of polyps.

Royal angel (lat.Pygoplites diacanthus), photo photography underwater world
Royal angel (lat.Pygoplites diacanthus), photo photography underwater world

Royal Angel (lat.Pygoplites diacanthus)

Form of new colonies. Xenia colonies grow much faster when stimulated with water flow, but shape changes will also be due to strong currents. If the current is very weak, the corals will not grow much, the short polyps will be close to the stem. However, if you increase the force of the flow, the polyps will grow out of the center and will be about 4 times longer.

Colonies with short polyps reproduce much more slowly than colonies with long polyps located in areas with strong currents. The only thing that can be said is that too long polyps move away from the leg and can break off. These polyps then create a new colony. Short polyps do not have the ability to break away from the maternal leg, and therefore a new colony is not formed in this way. These corals create new colonies by splitting the stem in half.

Algae problems. Most of the problems with algae are mainly due to the excess presence of nutrients in the water. In reef aquariums, algae lanes are usually located where there is little water flow. As a result, they settle in such places. Therefore, if the algae are ripped from their places, then you will see a growing cloud of organic waste. To get rid of such oases, you need to provide running water in these places. Therefore, one of the advantages of flow is to keep the waste suspended in the water, in which case it will be removed by the filtration system or it will fall into a sump where there is little light and it is easy to remove.

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A study in the Red Sea found that soft coral colonies form in areas devoid of sediment due to strong currents, and grow 3 times faster than colonies that have sediment. This sediment response can be applied in various ways in reef systems. If deposits are present on stony corals, the result will be coral efflorescence in areas with deposits. Such discolored spots become a place of accumulation of waste and algae soon appear. Therefore, a strong current is necessary not only for coral growth, but also for algae control. In soft corals, waste deposited on the colony forms black rotting spots, usually leading to the death of the coral.

Fish health. Another, often overlooked, aspect is the effect of current on fish health. If you look closely at the composition of fish feed, you will find that the main components are fats. In living nature, this is a very important component, since fats are quickly and easily converted into energy. For fish living in the wild, this is quite suitable, since they are very mobile and spend a lot of energy Placed in an environment in which you do not need to constantly struggle with the flow from the abundance of food, fat deposits are deposited in the fish, subsequently leading to a decrease in life.

There are three main types of flow, each with its own characteristics

Laminar flow: Laminar flow is direct, unidirectional, similar to that produced by a pump, or late stage waves moving in the same direction along the reef.

Pulsed: Pulsed flow is similar only on a large scale. For the observer, the impulse will look like this: the fry, which are in the water package, following the impulse, will quickly move 1.5-2 m forward and quickly backward, still remaining in one water package.

Antias dispar (Pseudanthias dispar), photo photography underwater world
Antias dispar (Pseudanthias dispar), photo photography underwater world

Antias dispar (Pseudanthias dispar)

Vortex Flow: This is the random movement of water in multiple directions. Of all three types, vortex flow is the most desirable and the most difficult to establish.

The current plays a really important role for corals. The final factor in coral placement is the flow of water in the aquarium. Most corals are unable to cleanse themselves, so they rely on the strong current that surrounds them. This is why Power Head filters are most suitable for reef aquariums. Otherwise, organic waste will accumulate on the corals and decompose, provoking an explosive growth of algae, which can lead to the death of the coral. However, not all corals are suitable for such conditions.

Corals that prefer strong currents. Corals that prefer strong currents most likely came from areas with large waves. These corals are usually large in size and have small polyps. These corals include Porites, Turbinaria, Symphyllia, Acropora paucifera. These corals can handle a fairly strong current.

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Corals that prefer a moderate flow. The next group of corals requires moderate currents, as they come mainly from lagoons and places with low currents. If the current is too weak or too strong, the corals will not be able to develop normally. Most of these corals are large in size with large polyps. This group includes species such as: Clavularia, Goniopora, Sarcophyton and Lobophyton, Fungia. The next group requires an even weaker current and includes such species as Sinularia, Nepthea, Cladiella, Zoanthid, Euphyllia.

Corals preferring a low current. This group requires a very weak current. By comparison, it may seem like a pitiful trickle, relative to the flow required by the previous groups. This group includes species such as Actinodiscus and Rhodactis anemones and Plerogyra corals.

In addition to the above, there are many other aspects that are necessary for the normal functioning of a coral. However, it is worth pointing out some facts that you cannot do without: 1. Corals do not like moving very much and acclimatize for a long time. 2. If the coral has not taken root in one place within two weeks, then it is possible that it will die if it is not moved to another place.

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