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A short note on Mediterranean Aquariums

by Demetris Demetriades

My short experience in keeping fishes from our sea, which means the Mediterranean Sea and the Saronic gulf in particular taught me a few things which I would like to share with the visitors of MCH.

To start with, the fact is that fishes living in the Mediterranean sea are really tough guys and can withstand a variety of conditions, even when some parameters are on the borderline.

This is the conclusion I have reached after keeping some of them for more than 5 months in a small, 50 liter tank which was supported by a biological filter and no other gadget from the ones which are available today. I had to return the fishes in their natural habitat in summer because I was afraid of the very high temperatures which are very common in Greece. The fishes had responded very well to captivity mainly due to regular water changes, using natural sea water. The issue which needs to be answered is how hard those fishes are. The answer is "very hard". At the beginning they refused to eat any of the foods commercially available so I had to feed them live worms, the ones which are used as bate. I got them from one of the many shops specializing in fishing equipment (there are too many of them in our city). Since I am also an amateur fisherman I knew exactly what to look for. I have to make this note since some kinds of live worms may pollute the water which should be avoided. After 15 days, the fish in the small marine aquarium looked less stress and a bit more tamed. They even started to accept commercial fish food. They proved to have a voracious appetite which led to a significant growth during their short stay in captivity in my tank. This raises the second question : Would the same fish show the same growth if they were left in their natural habitat ? The answer is not an easy one since we have to take many things into account including predation. I think predation would be the main problem since the fish were very young and small and they had a large number of natural predators in the sea.

Now comes the time for the really important question.. is there a chance that all those chemicals and electronic gadgets that we use in our tanks are just an overkill ?

The answer, in my humble opinion is "yes, it is definitely an overkill".

If I were to give you a proof of that, I would refer to the survival and growth of the marine fishes and the well being of my African cichlids which inhabit my large tank. As long as there is a biological filtration in prime shape everything will be in order, be it fresh or marine water. In contrast, the addition of other filtration equipment and methodology is largely due to our need to see "sparkling" water in our tanks and has very little to do with what the fishes in there actually need. A good example is activated charcoal which although very commonly used (especially in marine systems) is practically useless if large and regular water changes are performed. Tradition has it that you shouldn't perform large water changes in marine systems. Well, in my case I performed a 40% water change every 3 days and I never had any kind of problem or sign of stress even though the difference in water temperature before and after the water change was not insignificant. On the contrary, the fishes seemed to enjoy those water changes and looked better after them.

Those were the key observations I made during my short stay with my marine friends and I hope that sharing them will help some hobbyists.

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