The reef in the marine aquarium

The alpha and omega of life in a saltwater aquarium is the reef. But what is a reef in a saltwater aquarium, why is it so important and how do I create an ideal reef in my aquarium?

What is a reef and how does it form?

A reef is an elevation that rises from the bottom to the surface of the water. In nature, a distinction is made between:
rocky reef: consists of rocks of different origin
sand reef: consists of washed sand
Limestone Skeleton Reef: consists of coral skeletons
There are also four different types of reefs fringing reefTHE barrier ReefTHE platform reef and the atolls.

What are the reef zones?

In the different reef areas there are different conditions and therefore different animals live there.


Is drained by low tide, so only crabs, snails, hermit crabs, mussels and seaweed live here.

top of the reef

From the coastal fringing reef, sea urchins, starfish, gobies, blennies and soft corals are common. In the middle zone, it is very rich in species, many species of corals and large colonies of hard corals live there. Outside, towards the sea, soft and hard corals dominate, which prefer more water movement. Fish such as damselfish, surgeonfish, wrasse and many others also live here.

outer edge of the reef

Not only hard corals and anemones live in the strong current, but also many species of fish, as well as schools of fish. The edge of the reef, which is equipped with caves, offers the best conditions for tubastraeas and soldier fish.

front reef

Is the transition from the slope to the open sea. Different types of coral live here, which become less and less numerous with increasing depth. Moray eels, predatory fish and angelfish have their territory here.

deep water reef

Are at a depth of up to 600 meters and are only populated by a few corals, such as Lophelia.

Which rock for a reef structure?

But now for the saltwater aquarium, there are different ways to build your reef.

living rock

Is a natural habitat native rock. As these are always in the water, bring one variety of microorganisms with. It also contains algae, sponges, mussels, starfish, bacteria, crustaceans and more. Thus, it is perfect for the biological development and ecosystem of the aquarium. But Hazardthey can also introduce parasites.

reef pottery

Is the alternative to taking from nature and can be ideally designed thanks to the individual shapes. reef pottery is very difficult and thus provides a perfect basis for the establishment of animals. Since there is no life, an activation with bacteria is necessary.

Real reef rocks

Is a rock that comes from a naturally drained reef. Skeletons and shells can be seen in the stones. Since there is no life, an activation with bacteria is necessary.

Of course you can also make your reef to mix together and use various rocks, living and artificial.

How is a reef designed in a saltwater aquarium?

Once you have chosen a rock or mix, you need to plan your reef. How long, how wide and how high should it be? Here you can let off steam creatively.
But here are some tips:

  • Keep sufficient distance from the windows, otherwise cleaning will be very difficult.
  • If you want to use fish, you must leave enough free swimming space.
  • Create different levels so you can give each coral the perfect location.
  • Airy construction, i.e. with many holes. This is important for good drainage, coral placement and fish hiding.
  • If you have a large area, you should build two or more reefs, so that the fish can find different territories and you have a peaceful aquarium.
  • Don’t build too high, 2/3 of the height of the aquarium will do and leave plenty of room at the top for your corals to grow.
  • Pay attention to the placement of your flow pumps and do not accumulate them.
  • Leave enough surface area for corals and other bottom dwellers.
  • Avoid dead corners, as rotten spots can occur here.
  • Everything should be easily accessible.

Now the question is how much rock do i need for my structure? Many crudely claim 1 kg for 10 liters of water. This of course entirely depends on the type of reef you want to build. Let yourself go when buying advise and prepare your pool size and a sample picture or sketch of your desired layout.

How to build a reef in the saltwater aquarium?

You’ve decided on a body, so you can start shopping. Then you can start building. If you buy live rock, you need to make sure that it don’t dry out. With the other rocks you can work in peace and you don’t have to stress yourself out because you activate them with bacteria.
The first stones on the ground must not necessarily glued. If you want it to be non-slip, there are special mats to put under it. The rest of the structure should now stabilized so that nothing collapses or a stone slips. There are different possibilities for this. But most of the time reef grout or different types of aquarium glue resort to. It is best to get advice on what is best for your stone when you buy it.

Advice: We do the construction ourselves just tested and then Glued stone by stone. At the end we have all the mortar connections again brand.

If you have a ceramic reef, you can put it as a whole without fixing. But if it’s a pillar, I’d stick it to the ground.
If you used dead rock, you now need to activate it with bacteria. Now let’s water. The substrate will only after the construction of the reef deployed.

The construction of the reef is a challengewhere you can let off steam creatively. In the end, looking into the aquarium every day and enjoying it is a dream.

Shaka Animal StudioShaka Animal Studio, Jacky and Tobi. Jacky had been fascinated by reptiles for a long time. She has been raising reptiles of all kinds for more than 15 years, she is an animal caretaker and zootherapist by training. She has experience working in zoos and veterinarians. Tobi is a photographer and passionate about the animal world since his childhood. The underwater worlds are his heart, which he has ruled for many years. Over time, a private zoo has developed at home, which they lovingly care for every day and visit regularly. introduce youtube channel

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