Today, Methea asked me if I would help her check out the marine invertebrate aquarium which Methea uses to teach the kids about marine invertebrates and coral reefs. Methea told me it had been several months since she had done a water change on the aquarium which holds 180 gallon (681 litres) saltwater. The tank is home for various invertebrates ranging from tube worms to hermit crabs, and includes corals and sea anemones.
Methea's favourite hermit crab
We showed kids how plant plankton is important to all marine animals even big creatures such as sharks, as it is at the bottom of most marine food chains. Some sharks, such as basking sharks and whale sharks actually eat plankton too!
Here are some of the animals that feed on the phytoplankton, including the tube worms, and corals
Feather duster tube worm
Phew! That was hard work, but great fun and I learned a lot about the oceans, just as Methea said I would. It’s amazing to think how much work you have to do to keep just a small piece of ocean in an aquarium healthy. All this work the ocean does naturally everyday with the help of ocean currents. In a real coral reef the cycling of the tides and water movement, would keep water quality just right and provide the coral reef animals with a balanced diet of food. In the wild there is a delicate balance between the plankton feeders and the hunters. They all have special ways of catching food and ways to avoid being eaten. So the animals and the water chemistry are kept in a natural balance without any need for interference from humans.
Even with all this careful monitoring Methea said we still cannot keep all the corals healthy all the time. Methea said one of her favorite corals recently died off for unknown reasons.
So Methea’s marine aquarium shows just how complicated the oceans are as they need no help controlling water temperature, pH, salinity (saltiness), keeping the water rich with oxygen, filtering out animal waste and natural chemicals and turning them into harmless substances and much more. All done naturally.
However, this also illustrates that this complicated habitat can be easily damaged by humans. Dumping chemicals in the ocean that should not be there and removing things that should, can only cause harm to the oceans health.
Bye for now, from a very tired little bear.