Why water flow is important to a marine or reef aquarium
Adequate water flow is one of the most important factors for having a successful and beautiful marine or reef aquarium. The health of fish, corals, and invertebrates as well as the balance of the overall aquarium community is strongly affected by proper movement of aquarium water. Good water flow helps aquarium animals to better breathe and eat resulting in more vibrant and faster growing fish and corals. Proper circulation within an aquarium also helps to promote stable aquarium chemistry and efficient biological filtration. The most efficient way to produce water flow throughout an aquarium is by moving all of the aquarium water. Water flow works to improve the aquarium environment by optimizing nearly all requirements for keeping fish, corals and invertebrates.
All of the plants, animals and micro-organisms of an aquarium need a minimum concentration of oxygen in order to survive. Moving water within an aquarium helps to meet oxygen demand by transporting water which has been depleted of oxygen to the aquarium water surface and the filters where oxygen is replenished. Furthermore, most simple life like micro-organisms and many invertebrates have passive means of breathing which depend on strong water flow to deliver oxygen and to get rid of carbon dioxide. When corals and anemones have good gas exchange they acclimate better to captivity and they grow and look their best. When bacteria have good gas exchange they process nutrients more quickly and more thoroughly. Proper water flow helps to maintain a good exchange of gases so that all of the animals in an aquarium can breathe as they should.
Some fish and most invertebrates rely on water flow to bring them food in sufficient quantity to meet their energy requirements. Many gobies, jawfish, blennies and newly added fish are reluctant to venture from their burrows or hiding places but water currents can bring food close enough for these animals to eat. Corals, anemones, sponges and feather duster worms are all mostly fixed to the reef and they are entirely dependent on moving water to bring them food. These same immobile invertebrates also produce mucus which must be removed and flushed away by strong moving water. Most marine animals are better able to eat food and get rid of waste when they are in an aquarium with proper water movement.
While modern aquarium filters are very effective at processing the waste produced by aquarium life, they can only work their best when the wastes are in suspension. Uneaten food, fish wastes and coral wastes are heavier than water. Without water flow to keep these wastes in suspension, they fall to the bottom of the tank where they break down and releases nutrients. As the waste accumulates it also blocks the proper flow of water through aquarium sand and rocks which is essential to biological activities that process and break down waste. The wastes are broken down by aerobic bacteria that produce pH reducing carbon dioxide. The nutrients and carbon dioxide caused by unprocessed waste fuel unsightly algae blooms which may cloud aquarium water, grow on the aquarium glass and carpet the rocks and sand. By keeping wastes in suspension for removal by aquarium filters, water flow can prevent the cycle of nutrients that are detrimental to aquatic life and it also reduces unsightly algae growth that is degrading to the appearance of the aquarium. Adequate water motion within an aquarium is one of the best ways to promote a stable aquarium environment.
The most efficient way to produce good water flow in an aquarium is to move a large volume of water throughout the entire aquarium. Misconception about the meaning of “turbulent” flow has led aquarists to try to produce random flow which may increase turbulence in a small area but, overall the flow will be reduced throughout the entire aquarium. Many water flow devices for the reef aquarium are only able to move a small volume of water over a small concentrated area but The Vortech pump is specifically designed to move a large volume of water throughout the entire aquarium. By moving all of the water throughout an aquarium, the moving fluid can gain momentum and the flow will be greatly increased. The increased flow produces more turbulence throughout the entire aquarium leading to healthier corals and a more stable aquarium.
The direct and indirect benefits of an aquarium with proper circulation result in faster growing fish and corals, a cleaner aquarium requiring less maintenance and a more visually appealing, thriving environment which is more enjoyable and rewarding for the aquarist overall.