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Planting Mangroves in Reef Tanks




The planting of mangroves in a reef tank is not a new idea but lately gained a lot of interest by many aquarists. It was first tried by Julian Sprung who later got it published in a German aquarium magazine from where it became practiced by many aquarists. He planted small mangroves in his own 15 gallon tank where it grew well and still continues to flourish. Since then many aquarists have adapted the trend of growing mangroves in their saltwater tank.

Mangroves are not proper marine plants and are in fact found in brackish-water marshes or other areas where fresh and saltwater meet. They have been used to help stabilize the banks of brackish-water aquaculture services, medicine, chemistry study, building, agriculture, and even as a potential food source for human and livestock consumption. Other than that growing mangrove on a tank adds to the decoration of the aquarium making it look like a natural island surrounded by trees.

If you are about to start with mangroves in your reef tank, then the corals you are keeping in should also be compatible to the submerged roots of the plant. You can do well with Catalaphyllia, Goniopora, Pachyseris, Leptoseris, Herpolitha, Euphyllia, and many others.

What most aquarist believe is keeping mangrove in reef tank is for filtration purpose. Since the plant will need nutrients for its growth, there are chances that it will draw the phosphates and the nitrates too from the tank. According to other aquarists this is a misconception. They are of the view that mangroves do remove nutrients, they do not compare to macro-algae in this regard and are very limited. This is practically due to their extremely slow growth rate.

Growing mangroves in tank is more for aesthetic value than filtration though limited filtration possibilities do exist. However, the grouping of macro-algae and sea grasses along with the addition of several mangroves is an alternative. Since Mangroves are true plants, supporting broad root enlargement is significant and directly related to their prospective as nutrient exporters.

To begin with planting mangroves, go for propagules instead of seeds. Their rate of survival is comparatively higher and regarding species among black, white and red mangroves, it is better if you go for red mangroves. Red mangroves are the hardiest species accessible, as well as the fastest growing. Check that the roots should be in good condition with no signs of corrosion. Tips of roots should be pink in color which indicates recent growth and a hale and hearty plant. Stalk should be uniformly colored with no signs of odd aridity or fragility. It is best if the roots have grown into rock wool, covered by a pot.

For placement of mangroves in a tank there are many methods and precautions to be taken. Some people snuggle them unsteadily in overflows or plant them in small refugiums. Others make a rigorous endeavor to build an inline vessel or display around the young trees for a dramatic aesthetic impact and unique biotope display in its own right. To support complex, aerial root systems, begin seedlings tied gently to a post (PVC pipe, rigid airline tubing, etc.) with flexible gardener’s tape that are obtainable at a landscape or garden center. Be sure to use flexible tape, as rigid ties will cut into the plant as it grows.

It will take several months before the propagule’s body can be lifted completely out of the water with an arched and anchored root system, but the sight is awesome indeed. If, as an alternative, you choose to simply stick a propagule into a bed of sand like a dart, substrata root growth will occur quickly and abundantly, but aerial prop roots are doubtful, if possible at all, without a duplication of tides and the contact of some roots to air over time.

Lighting the tank appropriately is also very important. Make sure you hang the light above the mangroves ensuring it is neither too far or too near as to overheat the plant. A fine way is to ensure that ambient temperature around plant extending from water does not exceed 85 degrees. If you can feel heat from your lamp near your mangroves, it is probably too hot. Mangroves do not need strong current and are in fact adversely affected by it in some cases. Mild to medium current will more than adequate.

The mangrove-craze like many others will more than likely soon pass. However, those who continue to maintain them will benefit from their natural beauty which will more than likely remain uncommon at best. I hope that my short article has shed a little light on the subject, even as basic as it is. Mangroves, like any other subject related to marine aquariums are a very in-depth subject and one that can be explored in-depth. I encourage those interested and those not satisfied by this basic information here to research maintaining mangroves in captivity further. The internet is a wonderful resource and information on virtually every subject is but a keystroke away!