a move for the dying coris, the healthy fish
used its body to shield its mate from the
attacks. (I have video of the encounter on
my Instagram page @reefcubed set to the
soundtrack from The Bodyguard; it will tug
at your heart strings!) Encounters like these
can only occur when your fish are provided
a proper, “natural” environment.
I also always kept a school of either chromis
or redspot cardinals, both considered “dither
fish” because they swim near the top level
where all other fish in the tank can see them.
If they are out and about swimming around,
all is well. But if they dart downward to
shelter, other fish in the tank will do the
same. So their relaxed presence in the tank
encouraged the other fish to come out.
For lighting my community, I love and
use T5s. I used a dimmable bulb, which is
fantastic, as you can set it to gradually dim
over a period of hours to replicate the setting
and rising sun. Replicating natural light
cycles is another way to encourage natural
behaviors in your fish. As lights dimmed for
the evening, I witnessed little explosions of
sand as the wrasses dove under it to sleep.
I could see the entire school of chromis
congregate and slowly back into a large
Acropora colony, where they slept among the
branches for protection, quickly swishing
their tails back and forth in running battles
with their schoolmates for the best spots.
When the lights dimmed and eventually
went off, a new cast of characters appeared,
operating under the cover of darkness
for their protection. Every moment and
interaction was a joy to watch.
Recreating the Natural
Trying to recreate a coral reef, the most
complex ecosystem on earth, makes for
quite a complex and involved hobby. Take
things slowly. Don’t rush in. You will make
mistakes. But take pride in your work and
don’t take your fish and corals for granted,
because we are losing them in the wild
at an alarming rate. With patience and
research, reefkeeping can be one of the
most rewarding hobbies you can pursue.
And in doing so, you can create something
truly beautiful. D
If you have any questions or would like
to see additional pictures of my tank and
its progress, feel free to reach out to me on
Instagram or Facebook, both under the name
@reefcubed. I’ll be happy to answer if I can!
The tank is lit with T5 bulbs, set to gradually dim on and off to replicate the setting
and rising sun.
The author’s “reef cube,” with its wide variety of fishes and invertebrates
living in a complex and harmonious mini-ecosystem, embodies the art
and science of the aquarium hobby.