water movement

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water movement

Post by philo25uk on Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:23 am

Water movement is important in the reef aquarium with different types of coral requiring different flow rates. At present, many hobbyists advocate a water turnover rate of 10x: 10 x aquarium capacity in gallons = required flow in gallons per hour. This is a general rule with many exceptions. For instance, Mushroom Coral requires little flow and is commonly found in crevices near the base of the reef. Species such as Acropora and Montipora thrive under much more turbulent conditions in the range of 30 to 40 times more flow, which imitates breaking waves in shallow water near the tip of the reef. The directions which water pumps are pointed within an aquarium will have a large effect on flow speeds. Many corals will gradually move themselves to a different area of the tank if the water movement in its current area is not satisfactory.

Reef ready tanks obtain at least a portion of the required water motion from the pump that returns water from the sump. This flow usually is augmented by other strategies. A popular strategy is placement within the display tank of multiple powerheads. Powerheads are simply small submersible water pumps that produce a laminar or narrow, unidirectional water stream. If the presence of the powerhead in the tank does not fit with the aesthetics of the display, small holes may be drilled in an overflow of a tank and the bulk of the powerhead can be hidden, leaving only the small funnel spout visible in the tank. The pumps may be alternately switched on and off using a wave timer and aimed at one another or at the aquarium glass to create turbulent flow in the tank. Drawbacks to the use of these powerheads include their capacity to clutter the display tank, propensity for excess heat production, and the laminar quality of water flow often produced. Another method is the closed loop in which water is pulled from the main tank into a pump which returns the water back into the aquarium via one or more returns to create water turbulence. Newer submersible propeller pumps are gaining popularity and are able to generate large volumes of turbulent water flow without the intensely directed laminar force of a power head. Propeller pumps are more energy-efficient than powerheads, but require a higher initial investment.

Another recent method is the gyre tank. A gyre tank encourages a maximum amount of water momentum through a divider in the center of the aquarium. The divider leaves an open, unobstructed space which provides a region with little friction against water movement. Building water momentum using a gyre is an efficient method to increase flow, thus benefiting coral respiration and photosynthesis.

Water flow is important to bring food to corals, since no coral fully relies on photosynthesis for food. Gas exchange occurs as water flows over a coral, bringing oxygen and removing gases and shedding material. Water flow assists in reducing the risk of thermal shock and damage by reducing the coral's surface temperature. The surface temperature of a coral living near the water's surface can be significantly higher than the surrounding water due to infrared radiation.
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