Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Sale!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

MD <3 RC

Reef Central members have requested product specials from us in the past and we've always been happy to comply, when possible. Today we're stoked 'cuz we've got another lined up: $20 off the new Vertex IN100 Protein Skimmer (plus FREE shipping)! Click here for the coupon code.

Stay on the lookout for more great deals in the Marine Depot forum on Reef Central.

Local Nature Center in danger of being shut down

As everyone should know by now, the US has had a fiscal hiccup.

This has caused many of us to take a closer look at our financial situation. Local and state governments have not been immune to this economic adjustment, which can lead to budget cuts. One organization possibly affected by this is the
Chula Vista Nature Center outside San Diego, CA.

The Chula Vista Nature Center is located just 10 miles from downtown San Diego. They house an array of wildlife from bald eagles to marine and freshwater fish. Each year the center invites elementary schools from around San Diego county to educate the students on the importance of the environment and conservation.

I don't want to start getting political, I just thought this should be brought to every ones attention. I am sure this isn't the only wildlife center in the country that is facing budget cuts and possible closer.

Visit for the full story.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008's 2008 Holiday Gift Guide

Here we are again on the cusp of another holiday season.

It's amazing to me how fast times flies as you get older. And, at the ripe old age of 28, you might be asking yourself: what does Jeff want this year?

I appreciate your interest so much, I'm going to tell you. :-)

First, I'd like my girlfriend to stop nagging me for an engagement ring. Second, I'd like an MP20 VorTech Pump. And third ... well, Santa, I know I haven't been the nicest boy this year but, golly, the new Red Sea Max 130D would really give me some incentive to be better next year. ;-)

If you don't end up blowing all your money on me, there are plenty of great gift ideas in our 12 Days of Christmas Gift List.

Oh, and you needn't worry about buying/spending a MD Gift Certificate
—assuming you've seen that email being forwarded about all these big-name stores closing—cuz we're not going anywhere! Moo-hoo-hoo-ha-ha-ha!

Actually, make that ho, ho, ho.

Giant Sea Volcano Gets Marine Protected Status

A federal plan filed Thursday increases the size of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

With the addition of a 585-square mile area above and around the Davidson Seamount, about 80 miles west of Cambria, the sanctuary now encompasses 6,094 square miles of ocean.

The seamount is one of the world’s largest undersea mountains. Sanctuary protections include prohibitions on harmful discharges by cruise ships; protection of white sharks; protection from non-native and invasive species; and restrictions on disturbing marine mammals.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released the final management plan for the sanctuary, which stretches along 276 miles of coastline from just north of San Francisco to Cambria.

Plans for Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones sanctuaries northwest of San Francisco were also released. The three plans were prepared concurrently during the past seven years of planning, public meetings and revisions.

In addition to the added area, sanctuary regulations will also be tightened in its existing area, including discharges by desalination plants and restricting personal watercraft to four areas near Monterey Bay harbors.

Regulations in the plans will become effective in mid-March.

Sanctuaries are supposed to update their management plans every five years to keep up with changing conditions, technologies and knowledge of undersea areas.

SOURCE: (by way of the Surfrider Foundation's "Soup" e-newsletter)

Monday, November 24, 2008

New this Week, 11/24

JBJ Mini-Artica Chiller w/ Digital Controller 1/15HP
JBJ introduces the revolutionary MINI Arctica Chiller with NEW Digital Controller! Finally, there is a REAL long-term solution for heat concerns in Nano environments with amazing cooling capabilities beyond thermal-electric and fans, that produce less than minimal results. The Mini-Arctica Chiller handles up to 40gal aquariums. Don't be fooled by the smaller size. These are driven by energy efficient 1/15 Hp compressors that can drop temperatures beyond anything comparable in the market!

Emperor Aquatics Super Filter Felt Cut-to-Fit 18 inch x 30 inch - 50 Micron (Fine)
Our Filter Felt is extremely effective at trapping and holding waterborne solid waste. Filter Felt is available in 100 and 200 microns, in 18"" x 30"" and 30"" x 36"" sheets. Arrange Filter Felt inside the filter so that the water to be filtered is forced through the felt and is unable to bypass it. Filter Felt is very effective and might require frequent cleanings depending on the volume of waterborne solid waste. Filter Felt is extremely durable and can be cleaned and reused several times.

1/2 HP Current USA Prime Commercial Chiller with Single Stage Thermostat (Integrated)
Cool down with Prime, a stylish chiller with indu
strial features. Each element inside a Prime Commercial Chiller has been carefully chosen to integrate efficiency and reliability into a compact package. The helical design of the titanium evaporator provides a large surface area that efficiently transfers heat from your water and chills it down cold. The evaporator is housed in a molded PVC body that is completely insulated - no wasted energy. The energy efficient high BTU compressor has a large cooling capacity and provides power only where needed.

Imagine Gold Replacement Filter Cartridges
Replacement filter cartridge for BIO3 Bio System 78015 – 12 Pack

Replacement filter cartridge for BIO3 Bio System 78025
/35/55/75 – 4 or 12 Pack

Deal of the Week


Thursday, November 20, 2008 the Socialite

We've taken the plunge and joined the social networking revolution by signing up for Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Yahoo! Answers.

We are obviously not pioneers in this department.

But with the success of this blog, our Forum
and Knowledge Base, we thought we'd take our knack for socializing and answering questions about the aquarium hobby beyond the comfort zone of our own web domain.

We realize there are a whole heckuva lot
of aquarists out there talking about our beloved hobby and we want to be involved and meet with you where you hang out rather than force you to hang out where we do.

We would, of course, love for you to join our message board ... but if you're already a member of Yahoo! Answers and enjoy the communal advice or prefer getting your
news updates in 140 characters or less from Twitter ... well, we actually do, too. ;-)

This is a new foray for us so if you've got any ideas or advice to help make the community experience better, don't hesitate to let us know.

Check out our new website,

For the pets in your household that don’t live underwater—and even for those who do—there’s

All of the great aquarium and pond products at are now available at, along with thousands more for dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and small animals. You can even sign into the new website using your existing login information.

Shop today and enjoy free shipping on orders over $75!

Monday, November 17, 2008

New this Week, 11/17/08

Mag-Flip 100 Aquarium Cleaner
Aquarium algae that’s tough to remove? Not for the Mag-Flip! It’s strong - Powerful neodymium magnets provide high tract force. It’s efficient and safe - Specially designed plastic scraper does the job and presents no risks for your aquarium. It’s unique - Ultra thin inner part goes through tight spots. Use the pad side of the Mag-Flip to clean your aquarium on a regular basis; to remove the more stubborn algae, simply flip the Mag-Flip and use the scraper. Your fast, reliable and scratch-free cleaning job is just a flip away!
(for glass aquariums only)

Captive Purity Hi-Silicate Removal TFC Replacement Membrane
The key component for any reverse osmosis unit is its membrane. The membrane will determine the type of contaminants removed and how much water the unit will produce. TFC (Thin Film Composi
te) membranes will remove 95% of nitrates, up to 95% of silicates and is excellent for TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) removal. Hi-F (High Flow) membranes have the same characteristics as the TFC membrane but provide higher GPD (Gallon Per Day) water production. Hi-S (High Silicate) membranes are the gold standard and will remove 96% of nitrates and up to up to 99.5% of silicate. Chlorine will ruin TFC, Hi-F, and Hi-S membranes so prior carbon filtration is required.

Tunze Aquawind Aquarium Fan
TUNZE® Aquawind is an especially low-noise aquarium ventilator provided with a 5 V low-voltage power supply unit. Moreover, it comes with an att
achment means, which can be used for every aquarium edge up to 25 mm (.98 in.). It produces a laminar air movement over the surface of the water, accelerating the evaporation process and thus achieving a cooling of the water. In standard aquariums, the cooling may amount to 1° to 2° Celsius (1.8° to 3.6° F) on 500 litres (132 US gal.).

AquaticLife™ Ammonite Hydrometer
The Ammonite shaped hydrometer from AquaticLife™ integrates a scale for accurate measurement of
salinity in a reef or marine aquarium. The yellow needle above the blue background provides easy observation for the beginner or advanced marine hobbyist. It uses a patented water-fill design which allows the water to enter from the bottom of the unit, thus reducing the amount of bubbles that can stick to the measuring needle. This design produces an accurate salinity reading in a very functional and aesthetic package. Hydrometer Ranges: 16 to 43 ppt, 1.012 to 1.032 specific gravity.

AquaticLife Reverse Osmosis Professional Water Purification System
AquaticLife Reverse Osmosis Professional Water Purification Systems are designed for ease-of-use and years of life. Available in Deluxe and Power models, these RO units remove harmful substances
such as heavy metal ions and total dissolved solids from tap water. The patented top-loading canister design makes it easy to check and replace cartridges. Each unit ships in a specially constructed two-tone box to ensure the product arrives in perfect condition. A product comparison table is printed on each box, allowing your customers to easily compare models and tempting them to upgrade to the computer controlled Power unit. Who wouldn't want a computer running their RO filter? Dimensions: 19.5" x 18.5" x 13"

R2 Moonlight Controller
The R2 Moonlight controller allows the user to set their R2 Moonlight to automatically change brightness according to the phases of the moon! Manual mode and fixed brightness mode are also possible. With the use of the R2 Moonlight Controller and any of the R2 Moonlights, you will have the best
and most complete moonlighting solution on the market today! Works with all the R2 Moonlights (R2 Signature Series - 24",36",48", Extreme and Dual Extreme Lights). Features include intelligent CPU based design, 8-foot pass through cable, three great modes and uses the power source from your R2 Moonlight.

Ocean Nutrition Formula One RDF 3.5oz
A natural, gourmet diet rich in fresh seafood and algae, excellent for all marine tropicals. Small gel bound bite-sized pieces (typical 0.5 to 2 mm) for rapid delivery and uniform sizing while maximizing fish nutrition. Improves coloration and vitality in fish. Developed by aquaculture biologists to replace a natural coral reef diet. Ideal for most carnivorous or omnivorous fish including Anthias, Basslets, Ble
nnies, Butterflyfish, Cardinals, Chromis, Gobies, Hawkfish, Jawfish, Pufferfish, Pseudochromis, Wrasses, etc. as well as many invertebrates including crabs, shrimps, sea anemones etc.

Ocean Nutrition Formula Two RDF 3.5oz
A natural, gourmet diet rich in fresh seafood and with and extra blend of natural algae, excellent for all marine tropicals. Small gel bound bite-sized pieces (typical 0.5 to 2 mm) for rapid delivery and uniform s
izing while maximizing food nutrition. Improves coloration and vitality in fish. Developed by aquaculture biologists to replace a natural coral reef diet. Ideal for most herbivorous or omnivorous fish including Angelfish, Batfish, Clownfish, Damsels, Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, Rabbitfish, Tangs, Unicornfish, etc. Feeding instructions: Fish should be fed two to three times a day. Only feed the amount that your fish will consume in a few minutes.

Deal of the Week

50% Off
Eheim Liberty Power Filters

Reg. $24.99-$34.99

Now $12.49-$17.49

Learn More...

Update 11/24: Offer extended for 2 more weeks ... enjoy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reef Related Music

So how into fragging are you? One of our local club members is not only an expert aquarist, but a musician as well. Justin has talked at many events over the years, teaches marine related subjects at a local high school, is one of the few people who can successfully keep goniopora long term, etc. The list goes on for his credentials in this hobby. But some don't know about his musical side as well. His fragilicious video is very original and his song "Goniopora" helps teach us of these unique corals. I hope you enjoy the video as much as we have in our local club.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Refugiums: Overview and FAQ

A refugium, as defined in the aquarium hobby, is as an area or refuge where micro-organisms can live and breed without the worry of predation from fish or other organisms. Macro-algaes are also kept in refugiums to aid in waste (nitrate and phosphate) removal from the aquarium’s water. Many people setup refugiums as part of the filtration system for their saltwater aquarium, especially with reef tanks, where nutrient control is a huge concern.

Besides the roll of a micro-organism farm to help feed corals, fish and other invertebrates in your tank and a nutrient control filter, refugiums also help to stabilize the pH of your tank. During the daytime, while the lights are on over your reef tank, the different algae will photosynthesize. The algae will take in CO2 and release 02 while producing sugars to feed themselves. But during the nighttime, they will respire, meaning they take in O2 and release CO2. The CO2 produces carbonic acid which will lower the pH. By running the refugiums light on a reverse daylight period (opposite of the main tank’s light) the algae in the refugium will help balance out the CO2 and O2 production and maintain a more stable pH level.

So what size refugium should you put on your tank?

While there are many different opinions on this, I feel most people will agree a refugium should be at least 10 to 15% of the tank’s volume. So for a 55 gallon tank, for example, a refugium should be at least 5.5 to 8 gallons for it to function properly for that size tank.

But what if you don’t have the space available for something that size? Will a smaller refugium work? “Kind of” is the best answer I can respond with for that question. In my humble opinion, something is better than nothing, but you certainly can’t expect a smaller refugium to perform as well as a larger one.

What can be used for a refugium?

There are several companies who manufacturer
pre-made refugiums, such as Precision Marine and CPR. Some are meant to hang on the back of your tank, while others are meant to sit beneath (or above, if possible) your main tank. For most hobbyists, these are fairly easy to setup and use with their tanks.

If you are a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) person, you can try making your own out of acrylic or modify a glass or acrylic tank for use as a refugium. They don’t have to be anything fancy, especially if it is just going to be hidden under the tank or in a different room.

What to use to light a refugium?

You will need to provide adequate lighting in the proper spectrum to keep macro-algae alive. You can use fluorescent lighting, such as normal output bulbs,
power compact, T5 and VHO bulbs or plant grow spot light bulbs. If you really want to light things up, you can even use metal halide lighting. But remember: you don’t need to make the tank look pretty, so stay away from higher Kelvin-rated bulbs. Normally bulbs under 6700K work best to achieve good growth from your algae.

Does flow rate matter through a refugium?

This again is a topic that has a lot of differences in opinions. I personally have setup refugiums with high flow rates and ones with minimal flow rates and, in my opinion, they both work … provided you don’t have a movement so slow things become stagnant in the refugium or movement so fast it literally blows the algae or sand out of the water. Generally speaking, a nice, moderate flow through the refugium will work just fine.

What should you put into your refugium?

Macro-algae should be at the top of your list. There are many different types of algae available that will work well, but most people are leaning toward using Chaetomorpha (or spaghetti algae) over Caulerpa species. The reason for this is two-fold. First, Chaeto (as it is oft-times shortened to) is fairly hardy and grows fast. It grows into a fairly dense formation that is a perfect refuge for micro-organisms like copepods, amphipods and such. The second reason is Chaeto tends to be a “non-invasive” species and can easily be removed for pruning. Caulerpa attaches itself to anything porous and, once established, can be very difficult to remove from the refugium. Also, while I have never actually witnessed this, people claim Caulerpa can go “sexual.” Basically the Caulerpa releases all of its chlorophyll and causes your water to turn green.

Sand is another possible addition to your refugium. Some people like to have a deep sand bed (DSB) located outside of their main display tank. If your refugium is large enough, the use of a DSB within the refugium can also help with nitrate reduction in your water. If you have a small refugium, you can still add an inch or two of sand in there that will give sand dwelling organisms a place to live. There are many different types of worms and other very interesting organisms that will dig through the sand bed searching for food.

Liverock can also be placed in your refugium. The liverock will not only help seed the refugium with micro and macro organisms, it will also give them places to hide as well. A few smaller pieces of what many times is referred to as “liverock rubble” can help kick start a refugium.

Snails, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers and other “non aggressive” invertebrates can also be introduced into a refugium. They can help feed off of some of the nuisance algae or diatoms that may grow as well as any uneaten food that may make its way in there. Hermit crabs are opportunistic scavengers, so you may want to be careful with them. I personally have found the scarlet hermit crabs to be one of the safer hermits out there.

Mangroves are another neat item that can be used in a refugium provided you allow space for its upward growth. Most of the mangrove will actually be out of the water with only its root system fully submerged. While they are not the best at taking up nutrients from the water, they are very neat to watch grow.

What shouldn’t go in your refugium?

Fish is at the top of that list. If you put a fish into your refugium it can, in a matter of days, wipe out the copepods and amphipods you are trying to grow. Do not put fish in there. Certain crabs, such as Arrow Crabs, are well-known for their ability to feed upon bristleworms, so many crabs should be excluded from being allowed in. Sand sifting starfish are another one to mention since these guys can decimate the life of a sand bed very quickly.

Are there alternatives to a refugium?

This depends on what function you are looking to get out of your refugium. If you are simply looking for a refuge for copepods, amphipods and other such organisms to help feed your main tank, unfortunately there really isn’t with the exception of purchasing the packaged bottle or bag of copepods some places offer. But that can get fairly expensive to keep adding bottles of them to your tank a few times per month (or more).

If you are looking for a natural way to help reduce nitrates and phosphates, you could try using something called an Algae Turf Scrubber (ATS). Basically an ATS uses a medium to grow algae on while water is sprayed, dumped or trickled over it above the water surface. The algae growing on the medium is then harvested a few times a month (or as often as necessary) to help with nutrient export, similar to the way you will need to harvest the algae out of the refugium to allow room for the algae to keep growing.

Can you make a display refugium, or does it have to be hidden?

You certainly can make your refugium on display for everyone to see, but if you are like me, you will want it to look as good as your main tank. This will create more work for you, but as long as you don’t mind that it can certainly add another topic of conversation when people are viewing your tank.

Overall there are really are no drawbacks to adding a refugium to your tank, whether it is a fish-only (FO) or a reef system, except for maybe the time and cost of setting one up (if you consider that a drawback). They can be very beneficial to the overall health of your tank by not only adding a food source for your fish and corals, but also by providing a very natural filtration to your tank. I have listed a few links with discussions along with a few recommended books if you want to find out more about refugiums and the benefits they can provide for your aquarium.

Macro-algae and Refugium discussions


DIY Algae Turf Scrubber discussion

Monday, November 10, 2008

New this Week, 11/10/08

Current USA 32W Actinic 460nm Square PowerCompact Bulb - Square Pin
SunPaq lamps provide professionals serious output for serious growth. Current USA has created a line of high lumen output lamps with quality beyond expectations. SunPaq lamps feature the highest lumen per watt output of any compact fluorescent lamp—that means higher growth with less power. But they didn't stop there. By incorporating the industry's first dual-phosphor technology, Current USA was able to combine color combinations in a single lamp that have changed the underwater world forever.

Current USA 27W Dual Actinic 420/460nm PowerCompact Bulb - Square Pin
Handmade for quality assurance, every SunPaq lamp i
s handcrafted with durable 2 mm glass tubes, hand-blown and pressurized with pure argon to create the perfect environment for energizing the lamp phosphors. High quality Philips lamp filament provides the right amount of kick to fire the lamp and maintain high lumen output. 18-Karat gold plated pins ensure excellent conductivity and reduce failure due to corrosion.

Current USA 27W Dual Daylight 6700K/10000K PowerCompact Bulb - Square Pin
Dual phosphor technology makes SunPaq lamps a brilliant choice when it comes to compact lighting. Utiliz
ing a proprietary blend of phosphors from Nichia, the world's leading phosphor manufacturer, SunPaq lamps produce eye-popping colors and superior lumen maintenance. Rigorous testing, which includes a 10-hour burn in process for each lamp, ensures quality and performance all the way to your aquarium. SunPaq lamps are the leading choice of compact fluorescent lamps used by public aquariums, aquaculture labs and hobbyists worldwide.

Deal of the Week


Friday, November 07, 2008 2009 Catalog Shipping Soon

If you're not subscribed to the Newsletter, you may not have heard the news ... the 2009 catalog will be shipping within the next couple of weeks. Keep your eyes peeled (I know, strange expression) because our latest edition includes many new products, larger photos and fresh content. If you have ideas for how we can improve future catalogs, please leave us a comment. We have a lot of ideas we're trying to work into future volumes, but what would really be great is to hear what YOU want to see/read. Looking forward to your suggestions/recommendations...

Monday, November 03, 2008

New this Week, 11/3/08

Current USA SunDial HQI Pendant 1x150W 10K HQI / 2x32W Dual SunPaq Actinics
The PowerPaq 10,000K HQI metal halide will make your corals thrive with stunning intensity and awesome color rendition. Packed with lumens, the 10,000K provides the natural shimmering effect found on coral reefs. Coupled with a highly efficient electronic driving system and SunPaq Dual Actinic lamps, the SunDial HQI produces more lumens per watt than any comparable lamp or fixture.

Current USA 36 Inch 39W T5HO 460nm Actinic SlimPaq Bulb
SlimPaq T5HO lamps feature remarkable color consistency and rendition. This consistency is essential for simulating the wavelengths of natural light found on living reefs. Our proprietary blend of Nichia Phosphors creates colors that replicate those found in the natural aquatic environments. Available in Daylight 10,000k & 6,7000k and Actinic Blue 460nm & 420nm wavelengths.

Aqua Medic Ocean Light 1 X 250 Watt 10000K HQI Lighting System
When you need the ultimate in flexibility for lighting very small or very large systems, Oceanlight Pendants offer amazing results in a powerful, compact package. Each pendant system is driven by external magnetic ballasts, housed in a quiet aluminum chassis that boasts silent convective heat dissipation. Joined to the fixture by a generous 114" cord, this external ballast format integrates nicely into almost every installation. By removing the ballasts from the light housing Oceanlight Pendants achieved a substantial hanging weight reduction and eliminated a large source of internal heat which translates to longer bulb life and simplified lifetime service. Oceanlight Pendants include an Oceanlight Pendant Hood, external Oceanballast M magnectic ballast, and bulb.

Current USA BettaCube w/ Black Frame Kit 1.25 Gallons
Simplistic in d
esign, these handcrafted glass aquariums are as stylish as they are practical. Keep your favorite Betta fish, bamboo plants or terrascape a miniature garden in these compact cubes. The open top design of the BettaCube allows for unique aquascaping with both aqautic and terrestrial plants. Available in two finishes, each BettaCube is accented with real wood trim - making them a perfect addition to your home or office. A lovely aquarium that makes a great gift too!

JBJ Digital Controller Upgrades (Chillers Sold Separately)
Digital Controller Upgrades For JBJ Nano-Arctica Chiller DBI-038 and DBI-050. Remove that old Analog Controller and swap it out with the new JBJ Digital Controlle
r! Easy to install, Easy to calibrate.

Deal of the Week