• Installation and decoration

    When setting up you will need to leave sufficient space, as the corals will need room to grow, fish will need plenty of room to swim in, and as much light as possible must reach the corals.

For decoration you will basically need dry rock, living rock and substrate.

Dry rock
As a basis for the establishment of animals, bacteria and other organisms you will need dry rock, which must be porous and “full of holes”. Dead reef rock or artificial ceramic reefs, among other things, will also be suitable.

The amount depends on the size of the aquarium but you should allow for the fact you will be adding at least 40 – 50 % of living rock. It is also not advisable to use excessively large chunks to facilitate flexible decoration and make it easier to replace individual parts if required.

Note: you must never use calcium rock containing metallic elements or lava rock (of the kind which is frequently to be found in freshwater aquariums) because many substances dissolve in basic marine water. Materials such as wood, roots and quartz sand (silica) likewise have no place in a marinewater aquarium.

Live rock
Live rocks are pieces of reef rock in which the original organisms are living. They are used to speed up the biology. The living rock is imported or “cultivated” and, when buying, it is essential that you look for reliable quality because once the pieces have been stored in dry or unsuitable water they are unusable.

Live rocks will – as stated – make up at least 40 - 50 % of your decoration; they will attach themselves (once there is water in the aquarium) to the dry rock. Some experts recommend as much as 60 - 70 % of living rock.

Use up to 3 - 4 centimetres of coral or sand with a grain size of 1 – 2 millimetres.

The substrate you use, however, will depend on the animals you want to keep. Wrasse and goby, for example, need a sandy area because at night they dig and filter their food from the seabed. In this case the substrate must be finer and deeper, although it unfortunately has a tendency to decay.

The (thoroughly cleaned!) substrate is always laid last, once the decoration and water are in the aquarium. This prevents any decaying beneath the rocks, and digging animals cannot knock the structure over.

Base plate
Before you start to set up your aquarium you should lay a sheet of plexiglas or PVC on the bottom of the aquarium to prevent the heavy, and sometimes sharp, stones from damaging the glass.

It is important that the materials are resistant to saltwater and do not transmit any substances to the aquarium. Any sheet of plexiglas available from a builder’s merchant that is more than 3 millimetres thick, will be suitable.

Adhesive or cement
When they are being set up, the rocks must sit on each other in such a way that they do not fall over, even if the weight (for example: coral cover) increases. You should therefore make any unstable rocks safe with an underwater adhesive or suitable silicon but it is important that no harmful substances are transferred into the water.