Characteristic Article: Mangroves In Reef Aquaria

Several years in the past reef fanatics began to take a flowery to mangroves. To my data this was one thing “made within the USA,” as a result of Julian Sprung was the one who bought it began, which was not shocking for somebody who lives in Miami Seashore, Florida. He planted a mangrove in his 15 gallon reef tank, and to everybody’s shock – perhaps even to his personal shock – it began to develop splendidly and nonetheless does to this present day. This was copied by many reefkeepers, and after Julian had printed an article about mangroves in a German aquarium journal, even German reefkeepers bought eager to plant these little timber into their tank.

Rising mangroves allows one to brighten a tank to seem like a fringing reef that surrounds an island, as seen from the ocean. In truth, that is what I attempted to do with my 1500 gallon tank with the assistance of 40 mangroves. A viewer that sits in entrance of the tank faces the “wall” of a “fringing reef,” and if he seems to be over the water floor, he can see a “seaside space” behind it, planted with mangroves. When standing behind the tank, one appears like an enormous a bit mangrove forest over the seaside space into the coral reef. Typically you may even see corals and different sessile inverts rising on the submerged elements of the mangrove’s trunks. I keep in mind a Pavona venosa absolutely surrounding one among my mangroves, protecting the whole submerged trunk – a bit uncommon as a result of Pavona can’t be thought of a typical coral genus rising within the mangrove space. However, in actual fact, these mangroves rising close to the lagoonal space the place their roots are completely submerged even duringebb tide usually have numerous sponges, mussels and even corals rising on them. Pocillopora damicornis grows on this space, and sometimes we will additionally discover corals typical for a lagoon. If we plant mangroves in our aquaria and we wish to create a coral neighborhood that has some similarity to the low and submerged elements of a pure mangrove zone, we will use Catalaphyllia, Goniopora, Pachyseris, Leptoseris, Herpolitha, Euphyllia, and plenty of others. Even small polyped scleractinians like Porites, Montipora, Pavona, Pocillopora and even some Acropora species can sometimes be discovered there, apart from zoanthid polyps, disc anemones and comfortable corals like Sarcophyton or Sinularia.


What Is The Benefit Of Having Mangroves In A Reef Tank?

Mangroves take the vitamins obligatory for his or her development from the aquarium water. Which means we’ve got a way of exporting phosphates and nitrates. Macro algae do the identical, however they simply set these vitamins free when they’re eaten by fish or die and dissolve. With mangroves that is totally different, not less than if the aquarist succeeds in stopping the mangrove leaves from falling into the water and dissolving there. Whereas many mangrove species export extra salt by depositing it on the floor of their leaves for the rain to scrub away, some mangrove species deposit extra salt within their oldest leaves, which then will flip yellow and drop down. It is a pure course of, however within the reef tank we simply must make it possible for the leaves won’t dissolve within the aquarium water and launch vitamins again into the aquarium water.

However, however, relating to the nutrient export capability of some mangrove crops residing on the higher zone of our reef tank, we should always not anticipate miracles. They’re slow-growing crops, and their nutrient uptake is proscribed. To say it clearly: if we’ve got the issue of exporting phosphates and/or nitrates from our tank, resulting from over-feeding, inadequate foam fractionation, and so on, we will definitely not be capable of remedy it by planting mangroves. Having mangroves within the tank simply helps to make the man-made biotope a bit extra pure, in perform and look. If we attempt to create one thing we name a “mini reef,” we should always take each alternative to make use of pure mechanisms. Regardless that their useful contribution to the system is comparatively small, it makes our “mini reef” a bit extra pure.

For Which Sorts Of Reef Tanks Are Mangroves Appropriate?

In fact, a tank the place we wish to plant mangroves must be open on the highest, so the crops have house to develop. Theoretically, we will additionally reduce a gap into the sunshine hood of a closed tank, however from an aesthetically perspective this could hardly be satisfying, not less than if one tries to repeat a pure seaside space. Probably the most fascinating factor with mangroves in a reef tank is – not less than to my opinion – the view from the highest in entrance of the tank on the little “coral reef” that extends from the “deep ocean” to the “shallow lagoonal space,” ending within the mangrove-populated “coastal zone.” With a lightweight hood this doesn’t work.

One other sort of tank for mangroves is a particular mangrove-aquarium. This will even be achieved with a filter tank and could be very easy. Julian Sprung has a tank of this kind linked to his “well-known” little reef tank. All you need to do is to take a number of mangroves that root on some porous lime rocks, place it within the heart of this tank and encompass it with some corals typical of the lagoonal zone. A weak water present is ample for the mangroves (however clearly you must also ask the corals for his or her opinion). This mangrove tank will be linked to your major reef tank, for instance by putting it a bit larger and pumping a small quantity of water from the reef tank into the mangrove tank, so it’s going to movement again into the reef tank by way of gravity. With the assistance of a timer you may even add a second pump which can pump at sure intervals and transport extra water into the mangrove tank, leading to a better water degree. By doing so you’ll imitate the pure excessive and ebb tides. Should you createthe ornament of your mangrove tank in a method that lets some areas fall dry throughout ebb tide, you may even add animal life typical for this mangrove zone, an interesting factor.

Mangrove Propagules Or Mangrove Seeds?

Mangrove species have developed totally different methods for propagating. These species rising on the extra elevated areas close to the land which falls dry throughout ebb tide develop propagules as a substitute of seeds, e. g. Bruguiera- and Rhizophora-species (largely R. mangle ). A propagule is a sprouting younger plant that appears a bit like a candle. When it falls down from the mangrove tree at ebb tide, it might probably bore itself deeply into the muddy floor. This helps to stop it from being washed away when the ocean water returns throughout excessive tide. One should know that after these mangrove propagules have been washed away from the shore space reaching the open sea, the probabilities of their survival by discovering one other shoreline of an island could be very restricted and the long run survival of these propagules could be very questionable, although they will survive even three months floating round. Different mangrove species inhabiting different areas of the shoreline develop different methods ofpropagation and type seeds, largely within the measurement of a hazelnut.

The propagules in addition to the seeds can be utilized in a reef tank. The seeds develop right into a plant with a skinny stem that may completely modify its development type to the sunshine situations on prime of the aquarium, however they appear to be a bit extra delicate if the halide lamps emit an excessive amount of warmth. Propagules appear to be hardier, however they’re additionally bigger and in a really small reef tank they may look unsuitably massive, whereas a mangrove plant that has grown from a seed might have a extra pure tree-shape, giving the scene a extra pure look. A couple of years in the past I used to be in a position to get mangrove propagules and seeds from Florida and the Philippines. In my expertise it was rather more troublesome to maintain the seeds in place. Even when it was securely mounted between the rocks, some fish got here nibbling round on the seeds. In distinction to this, propagules can simply be put between some lime rocks. In my case, the propagules and seeds grew properly in the course of the first few weeks, however then about one half of the mangroves grownfrom seeds died. This may occasionally have been brought on by planting them too close to to the 1000 watt halide lamps, which emit loads of warmth. All in all, the survival price has been a lot better among the many mangroves grown from propagules, although at the moment I nonetheless have some mangroves grown from seeds.

Planting Mangroves In A Tank Is Easy

Below pure situations, mangroves don’t solely root in mud, but in addition in lime rock. Consequently, we will supply them some porous lime rocks positioned within the higher space of the tank. The best method is in the event you push the propagules between two or three porous rocks, permitting their roots to develop into the pores. If the propagule already has developed advantageous roots while you get it, you too can lay these roots round a porous lime rock and thoroughly repair it with a rubber band, ready for the roots to carry tightly to the rock This fashion it’s simple to vary the plant’s location at a later time, although this ought to be prevented so far as attainable as a result of the crops strongly modify to their setting, particularly to the illumination.


However a single mangrove has little similarity to a mangrove forest. If you wish to have a “actual mangrove forest,” it’s possible you’ll have to make use of a special method of fixing the plant within the water. For this goal, I’ve embedded the propagules into rock wool and positioned the entire thing in a small grid basket fashioned of plastic generally used for freshwater aquarium crops. The roots develop via the rock wool and the holes within the basket, holding the plant tight. This basket makes it simple to attach a number of mangroves to one another through the use of nylon cable ties. That method I’ve created teams of mangroves that stabilize one another of their place.

If you wish to create a “seaside zone” with advantageous white sand and mangroves on prime of your tank, you may go one step additional and join these plastic baskets to a perforated plastic sheet (PVC or acrylic). This sheet with mangroves then will get positioned within the higher space of your tank, the place you may cowl it with coral sand, coarse grain measurement on the underside of the sheet, and coated with advantageous white coral sand.

Illuminating Mangroves

The best illumination for the mangroves is the sunshine emitted along with a halide lamp. However it’s good to make it possible for the crops don’t develop straight below the lamps due to the robust warmth emitted there. Additionally, the crops would shade corals when rising straight below the lamps. The stronger your halide lamp, the higher the space it’s good to plant the mangrove from it. However, if obligatory, you may reduce the plant in form at a later time when it grows branches too close to to the lamp. Additionally the colour temperature of the lamps is of significance for the mangroves. The very best mild for mangroves is, after all, a daylight lamp at 6,000 Kelvin, since they’re land crops. With a lamp of 10,000 Kelvin it might even be attainable to develop mangroves, however a 20,000 Kelvin lamp will most likely make it more durable to fulfill the physiological wants of mangrove crops (although I’ve not tried it).

Mangroves And Daylight

If the aquarium is positioned below a window, we will additionally use the pure daylight to develop mangroves. On this case, we will even illuminate the tank with fluorescent tube lamps, even with a closed lamp hood having a gap for the mangrove. A substitute for the pure daylight or the halide lamp could be a particular plant lamp hanging on prime of the mangrove. That helps putting the lamp a higher distance from the mangrove, and likewise permits placing it proper on prime of the plant, leading to a extra pure wanting development type.

Sustaining Mangrove Vegetation

Mangrove crops don’t want a lot care. Probably the most steadily traded mangroves are Rhizophora mangle, which exports salt by producing a skinny layer of salt crystals on prime of their leaves. This ought to be washed away day by day – or not less than two to 3 instances per week – by spraying recent water on prime of the mangroves. We use distilled water for this goal. Be very cautious when spraying water on to the mangroves on prime of the aquarium if there are lamps and electrical shops! That’s about all you need to do aside from reducing some branches sometimes and even the expansion tip of the plant if it comes too close to to the lamp.

A view on the mangrove zone of the authors’ 1500 gallon reef tank with a “floating coral nursery”. Picture: Daniel Knop

Occasional cleansing of the mangroves from salt is useful. Picture: Daniel Knop

Typically mangroves in aquaria even develop the standard roots. Picture: Stefan Albat, Germany

The mangrove grown out of a seed (heart backside) develops a special and doubtless extra fascinating development type than the specimen grown out of propagules seen on the again. Picture: Daniel Knop

Nylon cable ties assist to attach mangroves which might be positioned individually in plastic grid baskets. Picture: Daniel Knop

When mangroves propagules are positioned in plastic grid baskets it’s simple to connect it to a perforated sheet with the assistance of nylon cable ties. Diagram: Daniel Knop

It’s best to purchase mangrove propagules after they have a safety for the roots and a few inexperienced, wholesome leafes. Picture: Daniel Knop

Zonation Of A Pure Mangrove Forest

The zonation of a pure mangrove forest begins with very salt-resistenrt species of the genus Sonneratia (1) on the ocean aspect which might be able to tolerating a everlasting submersion of their roots. Transferring extra close to to the shore on the higher finish of the intertidal zone we largely discover Rhizophora species (three), which is essentially the most generally provided mangrove species within the aquarium commerce. Right here they’re submersed just for a restricted time frame. Species of the genus Bruguiera (four) have extra delicate roots that aren’t able to residing unter the tough situations we discover within the intertidal zone. Due to this fact they largely develop over the intertidal zone within the mud gathering right here.

Tipps For Shopping for And Conserving Mangroves:

Want propagules as a substitute of seeds, if out there

Attempt to get the species Rhizophora mangle, as a result of it is vitally hardy and adjustable

Purchase a propagule with some roots and a few leafes

Make it possible for the roots are usually not damage. It’s best if the roots have grown into rock wool, coated by a pot.

Selected a propagule with wholesome inexperienced leafes. yellow or dried leafes will be one thing pure, however as properly it may be an indication of transport harm.

Some mangrove species – particularly Bruguiera sp., react very delicate to infections with molds fungi, which generally develop within the humid situations close to an open aquarium. Attempt to keep away from the event of molds on the partitions and ceiling if you wish to maintain mangroves.


Sprung, J. (1998): Herrliche mangroven. Aquaristik aktuell three/four 1988, Dähne Verlag, Ettlingen

Storch, V. & Welsch, U. (1997): Systematische Zoologie, 5. printing. Gustav Fischer-Verlag, Stuttgart

Knop, D. (2001): mangroven im natürlichen Lebensraum. KORALLE 9, June 2001

Knop, D. (2001): mangroven im Riffaquarium. KORALLE 10, August 2001

Internet Hyperlinks:

There are some wonderful hyperlinks to mangrove biology out there on the internet, the primary (particularly) and the third are wonderful assets. The fourth provides the three species of mangrove present in South Japanese US. Craig Bingman, Science editor.


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