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[salt tank information] [fishes] [building new tank] [disease recognition]

[invertebrates] [starfish, snails] [crabs] [anemone]

Well, when I decided to create my own homepage, I thought that it may be interesting to share with you my experience in fish keeping in
 salt water. In the beginning I visited many homepages and sites concerning fish keeping. I've found a lot of interesting stuff there, some of 
the material that I agree with and that I also include here. Many aquarists share their experience with us.......................
Let's start
Salt tank††† 
††1) Tank
2) Filter 
††3) Protein skimmer
4) Lights
5) 2 Power heads (to producewater motion)
6) 2 Air pumps
7) Heater 
††8) Net
9) Air rubber
 10) Thick rubber for water change
 11) Lime wood for protein skimmer
There are many types of aquarium you can find while searching, but not every one is suitable for reef aquaria. Mostly aquarists use two 
types. The first one made from simple glass and the second from acrylic. Personally I suggest acrylic. It is 17 times stronger than the glass, 
so you can be sure it wonít break from any accidentally hit. I must tell you that acrylic tank is more expensive that the glass one. But be 
sure! It worth itís money.
A salt tank must be at last 200lt+ (50gal and above) as the matter of fact as more water you'll have in your system, better and more stable 
would be the water chemistry of the tank and the happiest would be the fishes and invertebrates. It is not necessary to purchase a tank 
with filter inside. I wouldnít do that becauseÖ
               There is always a danger of electricity block out. The filter will relies all dirt inside of tank.
               It's ugly
                And it is not practical at all. I'll explain latter why..
Remember that tank weights many a lot kg so you have to put it in stable
stand whichcan easily hold so much ††weight.
Physical Filtration (general)
††††Sometimes we forget that fish kept in an aquarium are confined to a very small quantity of water as compared to their natural habitats
 in the wild. In the wild, fish wastes are instantly diluted. But in an aquarium, waste products can quickly build up to toxic levels. These
 waste products include ammonia released from your fishes' gills fish poop, and scraps of uneaten food. The food and the poop will also 
eventually decay, releasing ammonia. Even small amounts of ammonia will kill your fish. Obviously, the more sources of fish waste, the
 quicker and greater the ammonia problem. A small heavily-fed tank with lots of large fish will have much more ammonia than a large
 tank with one seldom-fed small fish. But for both these cases you need some form of aquarium filtration to control the toxic ammonia.
 Some aquarists try to control ammonia levels exclusively by changing the water. This is helpful, but impractical because of the frequency
 and size of the water changes required. Fortunately, there is an easier way! In fact, the world is full of bacteria that want nothing more
 than to consume the ammonia and convert it into less toxic substances. For many aquarists, this process occurs without their knowledge
 or help. 
††However, the smart aquarist will learn how to take advantage of these beneficial bacteria by maximizing its growth. When you start a
 new fish tank, colonies of beneficial bacteria have not yet had the chance to grow. For a period of several weeks this is hazardous to fish.
 You must gradually build up the source of ammonia to allow time for the beneficial bacteria to grow. Well you can go to the local pet 
store and buy many products, which are especially made for fast biological bacteria growing, and remember to buy only one small salt
 fish. Put the product in tank by using the instructions and put a fish in for at least two weeks. This is called "cycling" your tank. 
Remember that the bacteria break down the ammonia into substances (first nitrite, then eventually nitrate) that are merely less toxic, 
rather than non-toxic. Many fish can tolerate reasonably high levels of nitrates, but over time the nitrates will accumulate until them, too,
become toxic. Also, because nitrate is a fertilizer, high nitrate levels can lead to excess algae growth.Well we will discuss later how to 
"fight" with nitrate...
So, the question is how can I build the physical filter?
Biological filtration is the term for fostering ammonia-neutralizing bacteria growth. It is so important to the health of your aquarium 
that we should look more closely at how this process works. (There are other types of wastes that can cause problems, but the regular 
partial water changes needed to control nitrates are typically enough to control other forms of waste as well.) Mother Nature provides
several types of bacteria that break down ammonia into progressively less toxic compounds, nitrite and nitrate. These bacteria are not
harmful and are quite abundant in nature. They are so common that we do not need to add them to our aquariums; nature does it for us.
In the presence of ammonia and oxygen these bacteria will naturally multiply. The bacteria attach to the tank, rocks, gravel, and even
tank decorations. Note that we have not yet said anything about a physical filter. This is because bio-filtration bacteria require only
†††††† 1.†† A surface upon which to attach,
†††††† 2.†† Ammonia for food, and
†††††† 3.Oxygen-rich water.
This sounds so simple; why do we need a physical filter? Actually, if you limit the amount of fish to what the natural bio-filtration can
handle, you do not need a physical filter. Unfortunately, you cannot support very many fish with only the natural bio filtration. In the 
last few decades, the hobby has seen many new types of biological filters invented which can vastly increase the capacity of the bacteria
colony to provide biological filtration to your aquarium. In essence, all of these types of filters provide additional surface area for bacteria
 attachment and increase the available oxygen dissolved in the water.
Biological Filter types
Sponge filters
 Sponge filters provide an efficient and cheap form of biological
 filtration. Water is forced through porous foam, either by a
 power head, or air bubbling through an airlift tube. Water
 flowing throw the sponge allows the growth of a colony of
 beneficial bacteria which neutralizes toxic ammonia. One style
 of sponge filter uses two sponges attached to one lift tube. These
 have the advantage that the sponges can be cleaned one at
 a time, reducing bacterial loss.
 Also, one of the sponges can be removed and transferred to a new
 tank, bringing with it a colony of beneficial bacteria, and
 thereby "jump starting" the cycling of a new tank. Some
 enlightened fish stores sell these double sponge filters to beginner
 customers when they sell a tank kit. They take one of the new
 sponges out of the "box" and swap it for an old established
 sponge in one of their tanks in their store which is carried home
 in a plastic bag.
Mechanical filtration
Mechanical filtration
Remember that ammonia comes directly from the gills of your fish,
 but also from decaying fish poop and food scraps. If you can
 mechanically filter out the poop and the waste food before it gets
 a chance to decay, you can be a step ahead in the game. Not to
 mention that these wastes are ugly and can detract from the
 beauty and enjoyment of your aquarium. Simply stated,
 mechanical filtration is the straining of solid particles from the
 aquarium water. Mechanical filtration does no directly remove
 dissolved ammonia. Most common mechanical filter media do not
 remove microscopic bacteria and algae from the water. Neither
 will mechanical filtration remove and solids trapped by gravel,
 plants, or decorations. Some people install circulation pumps,
 known as wave makers, to improve the chance of catching solid
 wastes in the mechanical filter. The four most popular mechanical
 filtration media are sponges, paper cartridges, loose and bonded
 floss media which are reusable to different degrees. Clean paper
 cartridges have the smallest openings and clean bonded floss has
 the largest openings. Clean sponges and clean loose floss fall
 somewhere between. A filter media with small openings catches
 finer particles, but clogs faster. Also, as a rule, a physically large
 filter area will clog more slowly than a small filter. As the filter
 media gets dirty it will trap smaller and smaller particles. At
 some point the media is so clogged that it will not pass water.
SUMMARY: A good mechanical filter is one that traps enough
 solids to keep the water clear without plugging too often.
Chemical Filtration
Chemical Filtration
Chemical filtration, in short, is the removal of dissolved wastes from aquarium water. Dissolved wastes exist in the water at a
 molecular level, and fall into two general categories, polar and no polar. The most common chemical filtration method involves
 filtering the water through gas activated carbon which works best on the no polar wastes (but also removes polar wastes). 
Granular activated carbon is manufactured from carbon, typically coal, heated in the presence of steam at very high heat. This 
process causes the carbon to develop huge numbers of tiny pores, which trap no polar wastes at the molecular levels by means
 of adsorption and ion exchange, and removes heavy metals and organic molecules, which are the source of undesirable colours
 and odours, through a process known as molecular sieving. The best activated carbon for filtering water is made from coal 
and is macro porous (having larger pores). A good macro porous activated carbon feels light (not dense) and fizzes and floats
 when initially wetted. Activated carbon intended for removing wastes from air (such as odours) are commonly made from 
coconut shell and are micro porous. Carbons for filtering air feel denser. Some people with reef aquaria are concerned about
 phosphate leaching from activated carbons. As a rule, buy only carbons made by reputable aquarium supply companies which
 have been acid washed during manufacture to minimize ash content. Carbons low in ash also helps reduce the chance of
 undesirable pH shifts. Low ash carbons typically have lower phosphate leaching levels too. The phosphate in activated carbon 
stems from the fact that carbon is manufactured from coal, which was once living plant matter. All living matter is high
 in phosphates. The leaching of phosphate from activated carbon is known to be high initially and to decrease over time. This problem
 can be mitigated significantly by pre-soaking your activated carbon for a few weeks before use. Some people are concerned about
 activated carbon removing trace elements required by plants and invertebrates for healthy growth. Trace element depletion is a
 problem in planted aquaria and mini reefs, with or without activated carbon. The potential benefits of activated carbon are great
 enough that on whole you will be better off using it. If trace element depletion is a worry, use a trace element supplement in
 conjunction with the activated carbon.Activated carbon cannot be rejuvenated outside a laboratory, but fortunately, it is cheap
 enough to use liberally. Always wash your carbon before use to remove the dust that accumulates during shipment. Advice on how
 much to use vary, but smaller amounts changed more frequently seem to work best. You probably want to experiment, but 1/2 cup per
 20 gallons water, changed monthly is a good starting point. In summary, activated carbon is an excellent, cheap and effective
 filtration method which is highly recommended for all aquaria. A variety of special chemical filtration media have been developed to
remove specific chemicals.
              One of the most important parts in salt tank aquaria.
Protein skimmers
Protein skimmers are primarily used in saltwater aquaria, especially in reefs. They have the remarkable ability to remove dissolved
 organic wastes before they decompose. The process involves taking advantage of the polar nature of the organic molecules, which
 are attracted to the surface of air bubbles injected into a column of water. The resultant foam is skimmed off and discarded. 
Protein skimmers were initially developed for use in industrial sewage treatment plants where they are also known by the term
 foam Fractionators. Protein skimmers as we said have the unique ability to remove dissolved organic wastes BEFORE they 
decompose! This is a neat trick which is accomplished by taking advantage of the fact that those organic chemicals are attracted
 to the surfaces of bubbles which are passed in large numbers through a column of water. The foam is then "skimmed" off the water,
 while at the same time removing the organic wastes. The foaming process only works in water with high pH and salinity, and as a
 result skimmers are primarily for saltwater use.
As you realize in a healthy aquaria system you need all the above types of filtration.
The inner filters.
Typically, they are clear plastic boxes, placed within the tank. An 
air stone bubles air through an airlift tube, which forces water 
through a bed of filter floss or other media.Colonies of bacteria
 build up on the media, providing excellent biological filtration. (It
 is important to change only some of the media at any given time!
 This way the bacteria do not get wiped out.) Nowadays people
 don't use corner filters as much because they're ugly, take up space
 in the tank, and require a bit more frequent maintenance than other
 filters,but they are cheap. As far as I am concerned I believe that
 you shouldn't use this type of filter because of the danger of
 polluting your tank during a black out. When the water doesn't
 circulate, beneficial bacteria die. Then ammonia level is growing
 toxic. So in about two hours your tank will begin to die. The fact
 that is that the filter loses 50% of the beneficial bacteria within an
 hour. But I can tell you a more clever way of using corner filter. It
 will help you limit algae growth. In the section of algae you will
 find all the necessary information.
Under gravel filters
Fish stores commonly sell under gravel filters to beginners in
"aquarium kits" because they are cheap, and they work (for a
while). Under gravel filterís work by slowly passing water
through the bottom gravel, which sits on top of a perforated
plate. The water can be pumped with an airlift, with bubbles air
lifting the water in a vertical tube attached to the filter plate.
Also, some people prefer the increased water flow achieved with
submersible pumps, called power heads, attached to the same
lift tubes. Under gravel filters are good biological filters, because
the slow flow of water through the gravel fosters large colonies
of beneficial bacteria which neutralize toxic ammonia.
The hitch is that under gravel filters are awful mechanical
filters. Fish waste gets pulled out of sight into the gravel.
Before you know it, the gravel clogs up. You then have a big
mess and a health risk to your fish! A partial solution to this
dilemma is to run the power head in reverse, sending water up
through the gravel. This technique is known as reverse-flow
under gravel filtration; conversion kits or special power heads
can be purchased to accomplish this. The intake of the power
head is covered with a porous sponge which serves to "pre filter"
out some of the waste that can clog the gravel. In actually
practice, this helps, but is only a partial solution.
Power filters
Most people agree that power filters are much easier to maintain 
and can be as economical as under gravel filters. There are many
 styles of power filters, but the most common hangs on the back of
 the tank. A siphon tube pulls water from the tank into the filter box
 and passes the water though a mechanical filter (typically a porous
 foam sponge). The sponge doubles as a biological filter. An internal
 pump then returns the filtered water into the aquarium. These
power filters come in many sizes suited for small to large
aquariums. The foam sponge can be easily inspected for clogging or
 removed for cleaning.
You must clean the sponge regularly to remove the solid wastes
before they decompose and dissolve back into the water. It is quite
important that when you clean the porous foam that you do not
 kill the bacteria colony through the use of detergents, very hot or
 very cold water. A safe and easy way is to rinse the foam sponge in
 the bucket into which you have just drained some tank water
 during your regular water change routine. Power filters now come
 with all sorts of fancy "features". Most allow placement of a
 chemical filtering media, typically granular activated carbon, in
 the water path. Another development in the last few years is the
 "wet-dry wheel" (called a bio wheel by one manufacturer). The
 Beneficial bacterial colonies that neutralize toxic ammonia require
 an oxygen rich environment to grow. The "wet-dry wheel" passes
 water over a waterwheel device which sits outside (on the edge) of
 the aquarium. This rotating wheel maximizes available oxygen
 allowing a large bacteria colony to flourish. One drawback is that
 these wheels have been known to jam, so you need to check them
 frequently. Other than this minor point, the "wet-dry wheel" is an
 excellent method of providing vigorous biological filtration.
The Canister filter( my favorite)
Canister filters have some similarities with the "hang on tank"
style of power filters, but the essential difference is that canister
filters are designed to provide more powerful mechanical
filtration. Typically, the water is pumped, at moderate pressure
through a filter material, such as glass wool, or a micron filter
cartridge. Canister filters are especially useful in aquaria with
large or numerous messy eaters that generate a lot of waste. For
these filters to be effective they must be frequently cleaned, to
avoid the decomposition of waste in the water stream. These
filters usually sit on the floor below the tank, but also can hang
on the tank, and in some designs even sit inside the tank, in
which case they are called a "submersible filter". Some hobbyists
 attach a "wet-dry wheel" to the outflow of their canister to
 improve the biological filtration capacity of this type of filtration
Wet/Dry Filters
Also known as trickle filters; wet/dry filters work on the principle that the beneficial colonies of ammonia neutralizing bacteria grow best
 in the presence of well oxygenated water. By "trickling"water over unnumbered plastic gizmos or other media, wet/dry filters provide a
 very large air/water surface area. They come in many shapes And sizes. The boom in successful saltwater aquariums in the 1980's Can be
 attributed to the use of this filter type. Many things can used for the media, with the best providing great amounts of surface area, while
 at the same time having large openings to reduce the tendency to clog and ensure efficient gas exchange. The problem of clogging of the
 media can also be reduced by profiteering The water with an efficient mechanical filter, and (when used) with a protein skimmer.
Fluidized bed filters
Very recently, some hobbyists have reported success with a new type of filter which uses a fluidized bed of sand. This filter is roughly
similar in principle to the reverse flow under gravel filter, but with much higher water flow. The higher water flow keeps the sand clean of
debris, while at the same time allowing the development of large and efficient colonies of beneficial bacteria. Reported problems include
oxygen depletion and clogging.
Berlin method (my favorite)
The Berlin Method of reef aquariums involves the use of large quantities of live rock harvested from tropical reefs. Aquarists report good
 nitrate control in live rock systems, which, though not well understood. Probably involves the gentrification of the nitrates within the
 interior of the rocks. Another school of thought is that the heavy growths of calcareous algae on the live rocks in Berlin Method reef
 aquariums consume nitrate.
Algal Scrubbers
Algal scrubbers use live algae to do the "filtration". Water is run over a wire mesh in a trough under bright lights, where algae are
encouraged to grow. The growth of the algae removes some pollutants From the water. This is controversial form of filtration for reefs.
Some believe it is a complete filtration solution, others claim its use leads to poor water quality and algae growth in the tank as well. In
 freshwater planted aquariums vigorous plant growth has been Observed to beneficially consume excess dissolved nitrates
So you can use your corner filter here ... put some rocks with a littlegreen algae into the filter in and provide strong lighting . The water
will flow through the filter as slowly as possible and then nature will do everything for you. The algae will consume nitrate, light and
phosphate and grow larger. Also you can put a little live sand there. The live sand has microscopic animals which will help also in the
filtration process.
†† Water changes
Although there are many ways to remove excess nitrate, the most effective way is to regularly change part of the water. This is one of the
 most neglected and important parts of aquarium maintenance! How often and how much do you need to change, always depends a lot on
the waste load in your tank, and the sensitivity of your fish. You don't want to change all of the water at any point in time because the
 change in water chemistry will be stressful to your fish. The best way to decide how often and how much to change your water, is to
 monitor your water quality with water tests. As a minimum, if your tank is new, you should test for ammonia and perhaps nitrite. In
 established tanks you should monitor for nitrate accumulation. Water tests are the most reliable way to know how well your aquarium
filtration works. Many aquarists with average aquariums change a quarter of the water every two weeks. Your aquarium is probably not
average, and you really should measure nitrate levels to determine your water change schedule. Another effective method is protein
skimming, which removes polar wastes such as dissolved organics.
While not really a filtration, saltwater aquarists occasionally have the need to lower the temperature of their aquarium water. The high
 llight levels needed in reef aquaria involve a build up of excess heat. Use of a hood fan and removal of the ballast from the vicinity of the
 tank can also help. Submerged pumps are also a source of unwanted heat, and as a solution, reef aquarists favour the "non-submerged''
 pumps due to the decreased transfer of heat to the water. A little recognized source of heat control is through the natural Cooling effect
 of evaporation in wet dry filters, and through the flow of air over the surface of the aquarium. Nevertheless, additional Cooling is often
 required, especially in warm climates. This is achieve through the use of "Freon" style cooler units similar to home refrigerators. 
They either pass the water through a heat exchange unit, or pass coolant through a heat exchanger in the tank. Those chillers are expensive
 but not many people have had success in the "does it yourself" construction of chillers. (The "dorm" type of Refrigerator is not powerful
 enough to be of use, just in case you were thinking about this.)
 In especially sensitive aquaria, infections resulting from water born Parasites, fungi, bacterium and virus can cause serious problems.
 Water sterilization is most beneficial for breeders (as it can help Control infections of incubating eggs), for centralized multi-tank
 Filtration (to control the spread of disease between tanks), and for Delicate and/or costly setups such as large tanks and reef systems (as a
 safety measure). It is important to remember that a healthy aquarium depends on beneficial bacteria typically growing on media in your
 filter which neutralize ammonia. At most, your sterilizer can kill some water born pathogens, but total sterilization is not possible or
 desirable. Aquarists who practice prudent quarantine procedures for newly acquired fish generally do not need to sterilize. Two main
 types of sterilization are used, ozone injection and Ultraviolet irradiation.
Ozone gas is highly reactive and is a powerful oxidizer of organic Pollutants, including living pathogens. Another benefit of water
 Treatment with ozone gas is that it systematically reduces dissolved Organic compounds in the water stream which increases the reserve
 Capacity of the water to oxidize organic waste throughout the Aquarium. Ozone laden water also improves the ability of protein
 Skimmers to generate foam which increases their overall performance. Prior to the discovery of the live rock/protein skimmer "Berlin
 Method" style of reef keeping, ozone injection was considered part of a "state of the art" filtration system, especially among Europeans 
in The 1980's. The trend of late is towards the more simple and natural Berlin Method. Though ozone use remains beneficial, it is being
 used Less in recent years among reef keepers. Ozone gas is produced by devices which create a spark in dry air. As humidity drastically
 reduces the efficiency of ozone generators most aquarist choose to retreat the air for the ozonizer with a Dehumidifier. Ozone gas is highly
 corrosive, all elements (especially Rubber) which can come in contact with ozone must be made from ozone Safe materials (Commonly
 silicone). Residual ozone can be efficiently Stripped from air by passing the air through activated carbon. Ozone must not be allowed to
 enter your aquarium because it can kill your fish and invertebrates and/or damage the beneficial bacterial in your Biological filter. Also,
 ozone gas is unsafe to breath and can cause irritation even in small concentrations.
  Ultraviolet Sterilizers
 High intensity ultraviolet light destroys the DNA in living cells and Can be an effective means to control living pathogens. The most
 effective UV light is the high energy Ultraviolet Sterilizers light roughly at the Wavelength of 250 Angstroms. To be effective, Sterilization
 must expose the pathogens to high enough light intensity for a long enough period of time. Martin Moe cites 35,000 to 100,000 microwatts
 Per second per square centimetre as the norm, this works out to Roughly 10 to 25 galls per hour per watt (or less for units not Operating at
 peak efficiency).
 Common problems which can reduce efficiency and kill rate are: 
 1. Allowing the water to flow too fast past the UV light.
 2. Light blockage due to a build up of salt deposits or bacterial Slime on the bulb.
 3. Fading of the light due to age of the bulb (which typically has a six month life.)
 The same property of this light that kills germs can damage your eyes, And special care MUST BE TAKEN to avoid direct or indirect eye
 contact with this light. This is especially serious because the damage occurs inside your eyes before you feel any pain. Too many people
 have already damaged their eyes in this way! the ultraviolet sterilizes light does not penetrate water very well, so to be effective, UV
 Sterilizers commonly position the UV bulb close to the water which also can pose a risk of electrical shock should the bulb break, etc..
There are three types of UV Sterilizers:
 1. Tray type. (Typically homemade) with U.V bulbs suspended in a reflecting fixture over a shallow tray of slow flowing water.
 Benefits: easily cleaned, can be cheap, can be made large enough for commercial applications. 
Problems: safety risks to your eyes, too large and awkward for many home uses.
 2. Tube type, wet bulb. Tube types have the benefit of exposing all Sides of the UV tube to water with no reflector.] The water passes
 directly past the bulb which is mounted in a waterproof tube.
 Benefits: cheap, compact and effective. 
Problems: difficult to clean the slime accumulations from the bulb, safety risks due to electrical shock.
 3. Tube type, dry bulb. Similar to above, but the UV tube is surrounded by a quartz tube glass blocks UV sterilizes light insulating It from
 the water. These are more expensive and probably safer. Changing the light bulb is easier and dry bulb tube types can have An internal
 device to wipe slime from the quartz tube. Some of these types come with sensors to monitor the intensity of the Light to let you know
 when to replace/clean the bulb. Etc...
e-mail me

Hakob Arakelian
Copyright © 2007 [Hakob Arakelian]