The place I decided to do my paper on is located in the living room of my family’s house. It is a one hundred gallon aquarium. The reason I chose this as the topic of my paper is that all kingdoms are present except for Plantae in it and it is its own ecosystem.
Before I go in detail about the organisms in the aquarium, I would like to mention the accessories that make this aquarium a stable environment and allow the organisms to grow happily. The temperature needs to mimic natural reefs that are often found in tropical regions. The tank needs to be 78 degrees F. In the summer water is pumped through a chiller that lowers the temperture to exactly what it needs to be and there is also a conventional aquarium heater to raise tempature during colder times. Natural reefs also need lots of sunlight. This is mimicked by two large 250 watt metal halide and 4 (3 foot) vho lights. These high intensity lights produce tremendous increases in the temperture of the tank which is countered by the chiller. Natural seawater has constant currents which are mimicked by three submersible power heads that keep everything moving.
Next, is the water. This needs to be ultra pure, free from dissolved solvents. Due to the high temperatures evaporation can cause as much as 2 gallons a day to be replaced. A reverse osmosis water purifier is used to create this ultra pure water. Now that I have explained how the water starts of pure the salinity needs to be constant. 33 parts per thousand is recommended for reef aquariums. Calcium, amino acids, phytoplankton, and iodine are also added to the aquarium on a daily basis. The water is tested on a monthly basis for ph, alkalinity, and about a dozen different chemicals to be sure the water chemistry is correct.
Now we will discuss the first part of the reef aquarium, which is the sand and live rock. The sand needs to be live sand, meaning it contains all the necessary bacteria that will be needed in this artificial environment. The same is true for the live rock, which needs different bacteria and is the resting place for all of the corals. These organisms belong to the kingdom Monera Protista and are the first organism to be added to the tank.
This aquarium also contains organisms of the kingdom Protista. These are present in the green algae that are seen on the glass of aquariums. Also red algae are seen when observing a marine aquarium. These algae bloom when there is excess nitrogen in the water. The red algae are a sign of a tank that is in bad shape. There are also specimens of brown algae in the tank. These free floating algae are a main source of food for certain fish and crustaceans.
The majority of the visible organisms in the tank are in the phylum Cnidaria. These include the many types of mushrooms, polyps, anemones, soft and hard corals. These are what make the reef aquarium look like a reef. These organisms multiply in the tank and need to be fed by the sunlight and also phytoplankton. It is cool to touch these organisms with the net. They all shrivel up and get defensive when disturbed.
There are also about 20 snails in the tank belonging to the class Gastropoda. These shells are taken over by hermit crabs which belong to the class Crustacea. Other members of this class include a banded reef shrimp and several emerald crabs. There is a huge clam belonging to the class Bivalvia which has pretty turquoise lips. There is even a feather duster worm that just showed up one day.
The higher interverts in the tank include two starfish and also a brittle star. The starfish spend most of their time beneath the sand while the brittle star is very active and visible and will pounce on food shortly after it hits the bottom. Next to the corals the next visible class in the tank would include the class of Osteichthyes. These include tangs, gobies, dottybacks, a pair of clown fish, and several types of damsels.
It is amazing to watch all these organisms grow and interact with one another while realizing how exact the conditions need to be to allow them to even survive.
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