The Coral Reef – Part 1
Where should I begin? How can I best start you on a wondrous path that will lead you to love the beauty of a coral reef? How can I get you hooked? So hooked, that you might be fascinated enough to want to build your own reef, a mini reef, right in your own home? I’m excited about this blog as you can probably tell. I’m ready to dive right in and give you the tools needed to create a spectacular reef aquarium. But, first we must start with answering a few basic questions, what is a reef? What is a reef made of? Where are reefs located? and What is coral? The preceding questions will all be answered in today’s blog, which is titled, “The Coral Reef-Part 1. In the next blog, The Coral Reef – Part II we will answer the following questions, What do corals eat? How do corals procreate? and Why are coral reefs so important?
In order to have a successful coral reef aquarium you must have some knowledge of the properties of a reef. A reef will only thrive under the right conditions. As you will learn in subsequent blogs, the reef is a delicate ecosystem that relies on the right water chemistry, the right lighting and the right substrate. If something is out of balance the reef will suffer, deteriorate and possibly die. A reef is alive and supports thousands of organisms and every organism has its place but the foundation of a reef is its base, the rock.
What is a reef?
If you conducted a “define reef” google search you will be provided with many definitions, here are a few:
http://www.google.com defines “reef” as “a metalliferous mineral deposit, especially one that is bedded and contains gold.”
http://www.urbandictionary.com defines “reef” as in “To reef” as, “a sailing term which means to lower or bunch the sails up in anticipation of a strong and dangerous wind.”
https://www.merriam-webster.com defines “reef” as a) a chain of rocks or coral or a ridge of sand at or near the surface of water or b) a hazardous obstruction.
The Merriam-Webster’s definition is closer to what I’m seeking. However, the free dictionary at http://www.thefreedictionary.com/reef, provides the best definition as it relates to geological science; a) a ridge of rock, sand, coral, etc, the top of which lies close to the surface of the sea” and b) “a ridge – or mound like structure built by sedentary calcareous organisms (esp corals) and consisting mainly of their remains.” –the key term here is “Sedentary Calcareous Organisms”.
Merriam-Webster’s definition actually answers four of the questions poised at the beginning of this blog; What is a reef? A ridge of rock, sand, coral, etc, the top of which lies close to the surface of the sea. What are reefs made of? sedentary calcareous organisms and their remains. What are corals made of? mostly calcium (in the form of Calcium carbonate) and where are reefs located? in the sea. What we’ve learned is that you can’t have a reef without calcium as this is what a large group of corals consist of; Scientist call this group stony corals or Scleractinians. The Scleractinians lay the foundation of the reef via their bony structures and the coral polyps on the outside form a living, colorful, dynamic mat that we call the coral reef.
To learn more about coral reefs and where they are located please watch the YouTube video, “Where are Coral Reefs Found”, by Khaled Bin Sultan of the Living Oceans Foundation.