2. Phosphates, the nutritient favoured by algae, can be introduced unknowingly in carbon filter media. Test for this by placing a little carbon in some known phosphate-free water and test in the usual way with a phosphate test kit.
3. Adjust the rate of the protein skimmer to produce the correct type of foam. Large amounts of 'wet' foam simply waste water; the aim should be to produce concentrated foam. The performance of the skimmer will vary with the bioload placed upon it through feeding, aquarium additives and extra lifestock.
4. If the skimmer suddenly bursts into extra vigorous production of foam this is a clear sign of an abnormal increase of waste organic matter in the tank, perhaps from overfeeding or from a decomposing fish or invertebrate. Always investigate!
5. Keep your protein skimmer clean. Any build-up of dirt/algae inside the chamber may adversely affect its efficiency.
6. More exotic corals require much higher lighting levels than others. Be aware, however, that some soft corals can be adversely affected by sudden exposure to more powerful lighting. To make the transition less stressful for them, fix a metal-halide pendant light higher over the tank than it should ideally be and gradually lower it to its final position over a period of several days. This will enable the tank inmates to get used to the increase in light levels.
7. The colour tone of any light source is classified in terms of colour temperature and expressed in degrees Kelvin (°K). A candle flame is a very 'warm' light source with a low colour temperature of about 1,800°K, whereas midday sunlight in the tropics is about 6,500°K. Lamps running at higher colour temperatures (for instance, 10,000°K, 14,000°K and even up to 20,000°K) give out a harsher, colder, bluer light as the colour temperature increases.
8. When stocking the aquarium, bear in mind the nature of the fish you introduce. Some damselfish, for example, become very territorial and, once installed, are likely to heartily resent any newcomers from that moment on. To avoid territorial squabbles when adding new fish, try a little psychology slightly rearrange some of the rockwork just beforehand; this forces the resident fish to stake out their territories again rather than deliberately pick on any newcomers.
9. To minimise stress when transferring fish from your quarantine tank into the display aquarium, make sure that the water conditions in the quarantine tank match those in the main aquarium. Ideally, transfer fish in subdued light.
10. Boxfish produce a toxin when stressed, so make sure their journey home is as uneventful as you can make it. Transport these fish separately (and singly) as any toxin they produce will kill everything else in the bag, too.
11. When adding corals or anemones to the aquarium, bear in mind that not all like to be in close proximity to others. A stinging battle between invertebrates is only likely to end up with one conclusion - less invertebrates!
12. As with introducing fish, invertebrates also require careful handling. Even if an invertebrate is said to prefer bright lighting, it may be prudent to start it off in a lower light situation to begin with, then move it upwards towards brighter light after it has settled in.
13. To reduce the amount of silt in the substrate, use a siphon 'gravel washer' when making a water change. The wide diameter of the collecting nozzle enables silt to be siphoned out but leaves the substrate particles behind. Gravel washers are made of transparent plastic and so it is easy to see what's going on. Adjust the flow rate to get the most efficient separation of silt from substrate.
14. To maximise swimming space in the display aquarium, consider housing all the 'hardware' (heaters, filtration equipment, etc.) in a sump beneath the main tank. The only items not likely to be housed in sumps are the small powerheads hidden in the rockwork to provide water flows.
15. When setting up a new aquarium, allow the filtration system to mature (ammonia and nitrate readings should be zero) before adding any fish. However, running the tank with the lights on will encourage some algae to grow. To keep this down, introduce a 'cleaner gang' of Hermit Crabs and Snails during the maturation period.
16. At the end of the maturation period it is likely that the pH will have dropped. Carry out a 25% water change to restore the pH to its normal value.
17. Traditional biological filtration systems (undergravel systems) take the processing of ammonia compounds to the nitrate stage. In the complete nitrogen cycle, nitrate is converted back to free nitrogen. This is carried out by anaerobic bacteria resident in living rock.
18. Replenish activated carbon filter medium regularly as. If unchanged for too long a period, it is likely to unload all the adsorbed materials back into the aquarium water.
19. Where there are several layers of foam filter medium in an external canister filter, do not change (or rinse out and re-use) all the medium at once. Changing a proportion at a time (using aquarium water to rinse it out) helps to retain the colony of beneficial nitrifying bacteria that will have become established in the medium.
20. Unlike freshwater aquarium water, which is great for houseplants, 'old' marine aquarium water is not. But donıt throw away water taken from the aquarium during water changes; use it to hatch Brine Shrimp!
21. The hatching yield of Brine Shrimp eggs depends on using the correct strength of salt water. To find out whatıs best, set up a few drinking glasses with differing strengths of salt water (each clearly marked with the specific gravity) and add a pinch of Brine Shrimp eggs to each one. Note the results and subsequently use the strength that gave the best hatch.
22. De-shelled Brine Shrimp eggs can be fed directly as food; there is no need to hatch them. Simply re-hydrate them for a few minutes in fresh water before adding to the tank.
23. You can turn off filtration systems for a short period while feeding invertebrates with liquid food; otherwise, the filter will 'eat them' before the invertebrates do.
24. Lettuce is a good substitute for algae as a herbivorous fish food. Blanch a leaf in boiling water for a few seconds to break down the cellulose content and fit it in a sucker-mounted clip or between the two halves of a small magnetic algae scraper. Keeping the food in one place serves two purposes; the fish know where to find it, and it wonıt drift around the aquarium to get sucked into the filter intake.
25. Is it possible to feed marine fish live food, as is done in freshwater aquariums? Most live foods, such as mosquito larvae, Daphnia and bloodworm, should live long enough in saltwater to attract the attention of marine fish. Of course, an easy, far more natural food to culture for them is Brine Shrimp.