Full Disclosure Alert: I am an avid reef aquarium hobbyist!
So now you may not be surprised to find out that I recommend everyone to own and take care of a reef aquarium at home. It’s one of the greatest lessons I learnt about the Ocean.
When you look at a reef aquarium in a store or at your pubic aquarium the first thing you notice are the fish so brilliantly coloured swimming in all sorts of directions, in and out of rock crevices or just pecking at rocks in search for food. When I look at a reef aquarium, I notice the type of fish placed in the aquarium and why they are placed there. The experienced marine aquarists know to populate their tank with fish and critters (invertebrates like crabs, shrimp, and snails) so each individual can perform its task.
Every individual species in the wild Ocean performs a task that not only benefits themselves, but the habitat in which they live. Here are some examples:
1) Cleaner shrimp and wrasses will swim into the mouths of larger fish, even sharks, to eat parasites in and out of their mouths. The act provides nutrition for the “cleaner” and rids parasites off of the larger fish…and no one gets hurt!
2) Sand sifter gobies will eat sand and/or gravel off the bottom of the reef, sift it in his mouth and through his gills, and eat the algae off the sand/gravel. The goby is well nourished with algae while the reef habitat is clean of algae preventing over growth on the sand, rocks, and corals and maintaining the “pristine-ness” of the reef!
3) The ever so popular relationship of the pistol shrimp and goby. These two species will combine efforts to survive in an aquarium or on a reef. The pistol shrimp – a tiny shrimp that makes a loud sound with one of its claws to stun its prey – builds a nest out of the sand/gravel and protects the home while the goby goes out in search for food. The goby is better suited to search for food because of their fast swimming capability while the shrimp is better suited for protecting the home with its large pistol sounding claw.
These are just a few of the characteristics you can see in a reef aquarium. Check out the Reef Central Online Community for more information about reef aquariums.