Well‐maintained coral‐microcosm systems provide a good opportunity for performing global‐change simulations under controlled conditions and allow long‐term experiments while avoiding problems with natural fluctuations. However, despite rapid technical progress over the last few years in maintaining corals, microcosm experiments remain demanding and challenging. Therefore, this paper focuses on problems and opportunities associated with maintaining corals for global‐change experiments, and the pitfalls associated with simulating natural and anthropogenic disturbances. We start in Section 1 with a brief assessment of the global situation of coral reefs and discuss problems and challenges associated with microcosm experiments. Section 2 covers the technical setup of coral‐aquarium systems in respect to the necessary hardware and safety precautions. Section 3 provides information on coral‐species selection, coral‐propagation techniques, and the choice of associated fauna and flora. Problems with maintaining controlled conditions are deliberated in Section 4, including water chemistry as well as pest and disease control. The paper closes with conclusions for global‐change studies in coral‐microcosm systems (Section 5). As this review provides important insights into the rapidly developing field of coral‐microcosm experiments, it might be of particular interest for graduate and post‐graduate students in marine sciences, for global‐change researchers, as well as for administrators and technicians interested in maintaining corals under fully‐controlled conditions.
Part of the book: Corals in a Changing World