Mangrove Habitats are a beautiful and vital part of a natural coastal ecosystem. Submerged roots of mangrove trees provide safety and habitat for invertebrates and fish, which require shelter and protection from predators and strong current. It is here that the submerged portion of mangrove roots become a nursery for a variety of macro algae, soft corals, sponges, tunicates and barnacles.  Mangrove roots trap organic sediment from land during heavy rains, which keeps near shore waters, coral reefs and sea grass beds clean. They can help form islands and are known as land formers because the sand and soil they trap causes the shoreline to grow. 

Although the amount of marine life in this environment is limited, it can be an interesting and inspiring aquascape for various marine plants and some soft coral species. Several large commercial aquariums, as well as a few hobbyists, have set up exhibits with red mangrove trees to illustrate this unique habitat. Some of the species of marine plants that are native to this environment include: Caulerpa Mexicana, Caulerpa Setularoides, Ulva, Codium, Chaetomorpha, Enteromorpha as well as both black and white mangroves. 

Wade Shimoda

This brackish water biotope is the work of Lori Shimoda of Honolulu, Hi. It features variable sand depths and a colorful assortment of archer fish and scats.

Wade Shimoda

The aquarium measures 96" x 25" x 24", has (2) 150W metal halide 5000K fixtures, and a fluval 4 canister filter. This impressive, 286 gallon aquarium is filled with roughly 550 lbs of local sand. The aquarium also receives several hours of indirect sunlight every day.

In the tropical Caribbean, the abundance and diversity of marine life found in these mangrove forests is amazing. Even some deeper water species, including several stony corals, are able to survive in some more pristine habitats. Juvenile fish such as butterflies, tangs, angels and damsels are often found darting among mangrove roots and make an interesting addition to any aquarium.

A smaller scale display can feature a mixture of artificially constructed mangrove roots made of molded plastic replicas mixed with live red mangrove plants. There are a few manufacturers that offer these realistic looking prop roots for the aquarium industry, including Hagen (pictured). In time, coralline algae and various invertebrates will readily attach to the root structure. An artificial structure could also be formed from concrete, fiberglass or any similar aquarium safe product to create custom made mangrove roots. 

Copyright © 2010 GCE All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced in any form by any means without the expressed permission of the author. All images are the property of Gulf Coast Ecosystems unless otherwise noted and should not be reproduced or distributed without permission. Aquascaping

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