With the advent of new technology aquariums for saltwater reef creation is now a reality for the home enthusiast and no longer a province solely of government.
Protein Skimmers for saltwater aquariums
There are a number of products that are required to bring nature indoors. Perhaps one of the two most important is the Protein Skimmer. This is a critical piece of gear that you would see much discussion about. Its purpose is to remove particulate matter from the water before it becomes a harmful or poisonous substance.
A protein skimmer removes particulate matter before it starts to decay becoming ammonia (CH4). One of the challenges in re-creating a mini ocean is the level of ammonia that can occur in the infinitely smaller environment of say 100 liters, as compared to the ocean.
Without the protein skimmer sea creatures that are so sensitive to toxins at best would have an unhealthy life, possibly a fatal occurrence.
Because of this you want to be sure Dissolved Organic Carbons (DOCs) are removed before you experienced on unhappy and expensive incident.
Due to its critical nature one should consider installing a protein skimmer that is larger than its rated capacity. While it is not always true that more is better, a protein skimmer that is rated for a capacity larger than your tank is a safe bet.
Aquarium Wave Makers
The purpose of this piece of gear is to create the simulation of wave motion for your saltwater livestock so they believe they are in a natural environment. It also helps prevent dead pockets around coral and live rock so you don’t get into the above-mentioned DOCs issue.Unto itself wave makers do not remove DOCs, they merely would just move it around. In essence you would have the underwater equivalent of feces hitting the the fan, instead of just lying in one pile.
Another advantage is that for the human viewer. Softer coral species and/or seaweed (depending upon your tank environment) creates a rhythmic swaying that can be hypnotic to the human observer.
A number of seed plants such as coral depend on this wave action to bring them food nutrients.
In some climates and depending on the livestock of your tank a chiller may be needed. They do have the additional benefit of assisting in creating dissolved oxygen in the water while cooling it down.
If you are purchasing a tank for the first time you may wish to consider if you are going to need an aquarium chiller as part of your equation.
You can reduce your chiller requirements (all other factors being equal) by using the most effective (energy efficient) lighting available to you.
There are two considerations beyond that of energy efficiency. They would be brightness and color. Until recently fluorescence were the standard and varied only in the light output. Certainly most of us are used to for essence known as Normal Output (NO). There was a time period of more brightness per given to size known as High Output (HO). This intermediary standard is now considered obsolete and difficult to find lamps. The last in the florescent series is called Very High Output (VHO).
Some aquarium enthusiasts moved over to the halogen or metal halide also known as High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting. While producing a great deal of lumens, they also produce a great deal of heat.
This can require a larger chiller, consuming more energy on both sides of the equation.
The leading-edge technology today in lighting for your aquarium is the LED.
This is the state of the art solution, both in terms of energy costs and its ability to produce light in the higher Kelvin temperature range (as would be naturally found some meters under the water, as infrared light is filtered out by the water).
LEDs make lighting possible and with the re-creation of environments otherwise not possible. The possibilities that were previously impossible are so dramatic it is worthy of its own discussion.