To anyone who’s built their own reef tank before, it’s no secret that water flow and current are necessary components of a successful aquarium. In fact, whether you’re using high-flow SPS corals or low- to mid-flow chalice corals in your tank, this feature is key to their very survival. However, despite how automatic incorporating current has become, it’s crucial that every builder knows why this element is so important. In fact, this information gives you a better understanding of how it directly affects your corals and what you can adjust to keep them healthy. This is the importance of water flow in your reef aquarium and how it affects your specimens.
One of the primary processes water flow promotes in a reef tank is the gas exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide. As the living organisms in the aquarium use oxygen for their daily functioning, they produce carbon dioxide Since carbon dioxide isn’t as beneficial for many tank organisms, it can become harmful if left in abundance. Water circulation helps speed up the filtration of carbon dioxide back into oxygen and maintains a healthy balance for your marine life.
The importance of water flow in your reef aquarium also has to do with how well your corals can absorb nutrients from the water around them. When the water remains stagnant, your corals have limited access to essential molecules and bacteria that feed them. This can prevent them from getting the sustenance they need to survive. As such, circulating the water around them provides your corals with a replenishing supply of minerals to absorb into their tissues.
Just as water flow helps corals take in materials, it also helps them expel the substances and toxins they don’t need. If left to hold onto these things for too long, corals can become sick and fail to provide the proper bacteria levels for the other organisms in the tank. The pressure of the surrounding water against them helps circulate materials within the coral and drives biological functioning that removes unneeded waste products.
You can also prevent the eventual color bleaching of your corals by regulating water flow within your aquarium. As water sits in your tank under the constant beams from your lighting system, the oxygen particles in that water eventually decompose into free radicals. These atoms can harm your coral’s external tissues and bleach it white. Since proper water flow can help corals remove toxins, it can also push out these free radicals—preserving their beautiful colors for much longer.