Tips, Tricks and Techniques — the “gotchas”, the regrets, should’ve/could’ve, myths and misconceptions, …
The Big Picture: Usually a “balancing act”. Pros and cons. Very few perfect solutions. Wide variations appear to “work”, and meticulous approaches and practices are known to fail (loss of livestock, tank “crashes”).Murphys Law can and will strike at anytime. Look at any all areas where you are exposed.
If it can, water WILL leak or spill. The skimmer WILL overflow.
Are you going on vacation for any extended time? Say, more than 2 or 3 days? Think again.
Redundancy, fail-safe, fault tolerance, etc. is usually good. But, some will install two heaters thinking that’s cheap insurance. You just DOUBLED your points of failure. A heater stuck on can fry everything quickly.
Go one level bigger. Maybe a 36″ tall stand vs. 30″ to fit everything in sump area. See Murphy’s Law above. And, if you do go bigger with your 2nd system (there WILL be a 2nd system), your equipment from system one might scale and be usable in system two.
A bigger system means more water volume and more stability. Temperature for example is not as likely to swing as rapidly in a larger body of water.
But bigger is not always better — for you. For example, at a certain glass tank size, it will take two people to even move an empty tank. Next sizes up might take 4 or even 6 people. Question: Can you reach the bottom of a 30″+ tall tank sitting on a 36″ tall stand? Doubtful. Will your lighting penetrate the water to a depth of >24″? Maybe not.
Know Which Corals Can Be Exposed to Air
Sponges, clams, yellow leathers and gorgonians should NEVER be exposed to air. After acclimation, don’t take these animals out of the shipping bag, rather submerge the bag into your aquarium, and remove the animal from the bag. It’s okay if a little of the bag water gets into the tank. While still holding the bag underwater, twist the top of the bag to seal it, and remove it from the aquarium. Discard both the bag and the water.
Get a refractometer to measure specific gravity (salinity). <$50.
Have a Basic Understanding of Aquarium Lighting
Blue and royal blue LEDs are significantly different from the each other.
Some Corals Contain Harmful to Human Toxins
Some Zoanthids contain the highly toxic, palytoxin so handle with care.
More Live Rock is Not Necessarily Better
Too much live rock, or rock that is stacked so areas of one rock cover another can cause dead spots and problems due to lack of circulation.
Live Rock is Heavy and Can Fall
When aquascaping with live rock, be careful to arrange and support to avoid a crash. A cave-in could damage corals and scratch acrylic or glass, and possibly even crack glass.
Consider seating the base of your live rock on the tank floor, egg crate, or PVC supports. If placed on the sand, and the sand was removed from underneath (by flow, or digging animals), your rock work could give way and cave-in.