Friday, February 26, 2010

Q&A with Keith, 2/26/10


I have an unusual amount of brown algae growing in my tank lately. Why?


Thank you for your question. Unfortunately you did
n't indicate whether it is leaf-like (brown macro algae) or slimy (coating the sand, glass and/or rock). But generally speaking, when there is an increase in algae growth in an aquarium it is usually a sign of an increase in organics, like phosphates and/or nitrates.

It may be a sign that the bulbs illuminating your tank are getting old and shifting in spectrum (learn more about how often to replace your bulbs). It can also be attributed to the water you are putting into your tank. Definitely check to see if your RO/DI system cartridges are due for replacement.

Now assuming nothing drastic has occurred in your aquarium tank lately (using a new brand of salt, adding several fish, a new or increased feeding regimen), I would begin by double-checking the water quality quality within the tank. Verify all pH, nitrate, phosphate, calcium, alkalinity (etc.) levels are right where they need to be.

If you aren't currently using a phosphate remover media (like RowaPhos or Phosban) , you might consider trying it for a few months to see if that makes any noticeable changes. Using a fluidized filter, like a Phosban reactor, is a great way to use these types of media in your tank.

If you've been a little lax with your wat
er change regimen—most of us are guilty of this from time to time—you may want to do a couple of extra water changes to get back on track.

If your
light bulbs are inching towards the end of their recommended lifecycle, consider slowly replacing them (the link above will more thoroughly explain what I mean by "slowly"). As bulbs age, they shift in spectrum and sometimes cause algae to grow faster.

If you make and mix your own water for top-off and water changes, try replacing your
reverse osmosis cartridges. Most hobbyists recommend replacing the sediment, carbon and DI cartridges every 6-12 months (depending on usage) and the RO membrane every 2-4 years (more info).

It's important to note that aquariums go through cycles of maturation, especially during the first 6-12 months. It's possible your tank is just going through one of these cycles if it's within that time range.

Additionally, I've spoken to many hobbyists who've experienced great success using supplements like Prodibio to help clear up algae outbreaks. Their aquariums not only have less nuisance algae growth but the corals have better coloration and growth.

Hopefully these tips will help you resolve your brown algae problem. If you've tried most of these solutions already and are still experiencing issues, please
contact us again so we can learn a little more about your system.

If you would like to ask Keith a question,
click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New this Week, 2/24/10

See all new product releases >>

Sicce Professional Protein Skimmer Pumps
SICCE is the epitome of high technology for pumps for aquariums, hydroponics, fountains and garden ponds. Since 1974 the company has made innovative research its philosophy for global market presence. A constant stimulus to develop and improve its products has permitted SICCE to confirm its extremely high quality standards all over the world, thanks to its ability and experience in designing and developing its own technology. Choose from 3 models ($89.99 to $99.99) ranging from 661 to 2500GPH.

Wave Point T5 HO Lighting Systems
Wave Point Technology is an advanced aquarium lighting system featuring 14X amplifying paradynamic reflectors, dual-sealed moisture-resistant componentry, premium UL listed GFCI plugs, easy on/off switches, ultra-silent operation and energy efficient operation. Each fixture features two (2) Sun Wave Lamps and two (2) Blue Wave Lamps. We have three new fixtures from the product line now in stock available for purchase.: a 24" 48-watt (2x24W), a 36" 78-watt (2x39W) and 48" (2x54W). Wave Point T5 HO Lighting Systems range from $154.99 to $349.99. All models $175 & up ship for free.

AquaticLife T5 HO Freshwater Light Fixtures w/ Lunar LEDs
AquaticLife's T5 HO light fixtures offer natural white 6000K and roseate lamps and lunar lights all in one streamlined unit. Roseate Lamps are ideal for live plants because the light closely matches the chlorophyll absorption peak in the red spectrum. This enhances plant growth, especially when used with 6,000K lamps. A built-in timer controls the T5 HO fluorescent lamps and lunar LEDs independently. Adjustable width aquarium frame mounts support the fixtures above your aquarium. The gloss finish front side compliments the matte finish on top and ends of the fixture. A German-made specially angled reflector maximizes light by directing right it into the aquarium. Suspension ports allow connection to optional cables for additional mounting configurations. Choose from three (3) fixtures: 24" 4x24W T5 HO fixture w/ 2 Lunar LEDs ($239.99), 36" 4x39W T5 HO fixture w/ 4 Lunar LEDs ($279.99) and a 48" 4x54W T5 HO fixture w/ 4 Lunar LEDs ($329.99). All models include free shipping.

150 GPD Flow Restrictor
Flow restrictor for 150 GPD (gallons per day) membranes—perfect for replacements or when upgrading to a higher GPD membrane.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Deal of the Week, 2/23/10

See all weekly specials >>

40% off ALL Sera 500ml Supplements

Regularly $14.99
Now Only $8.49

YOU SAVE $6/40%!

Learn More...

Runners Up
  • $150 off + free shipping on Giesemann's 48" Silver Reflexx 4x54W T5 Light Fixture - LINK
  • $150 off + free shipping on Eheim's Pro II Thermofilter 2126 Marine Aquarium Canister Filter - LINK

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reefer Gone Green!

“Who even likes fish?"

I asked myself this very question while cleaning aquariums back in May 2003 at my first job, a local pet store.

"I mean, they just float or swim side-to-side."

These feelings persisted during my first couple of months on the job. Then one day I observed a coworker feeding Oscars with some feeder fish. Whoa. Now this whole fish thing was getting interesting.

The following week my coworker took me to a true LFS where I got my first look at the cooler, more aggressive fish available. I also glimpsed a reef aquarium for the first time.

Suddenly, I was hooked.

Fast forward six years.

"Psh. Tetras? Lame!"

After years dabbling in saltwater aquaria, I had come to view freshwater tanks as somehow inferior. It wasn't until around this time last year that my mind was forever changed.

During my first week of employment at, a veteran employee showed me pictures of planted tanks that completely blew my notion of freshwater tanks being second-rate out of the water.

Not only did they look good, many were better than the best reef tanks I'd seen. Suddenly those docile tetras were a thing of beauty, weaving in and out of plants and schooling. The scenes were like works of art. I squandered my breaks and lunch hours ogling photos and watching videos online.

I felt inspired. I immediately began hashing plans for my own planted tank.

Fast forward again.

The tank's been up and running now for four months and, I must admit, it's coming along pretty good. See for yourself: I've included a picture of my 46-gallon bow front with
this post.

I'd expected the planted aquarium side of the hobby to be more challenging than it has been. But believe me, I'm not complaining! It's just after maintaining aquariums personally and professionally for so long I guess I'd prepped myself for the worst. I've learned one of the keys of keeping a planted tank healthy—similar to reef aquaria—is having the right equipment.

I consider myself a low maintenance hobbyist. I don't dissect every detail and analyze every aspect of my tank.

When it came time to choose a substrate I didn't reach out to the scientific community or research the chemical properties of substrate. Instead, I asked my peers. I looked online. The consensus was a substrate rich in Fe (iron) was the way to go, like
fluorite or Eco-Complete. I opted for three 20lb bags of the Eco-Complete. It's a "live" substrate enriched with the essential elements that a planted tank needs to be healthy. I also buried Seachem Flourish Tabs in the substrate to help the plants' roots.

Before my foray into freshwater, I hadn't calculated the watts per gallon of my tanks. Now I can proudly share I've got
3.39 watts per gallon via a 4 x 39 watt Aquatic Life T5HO fixture. Speaking of the light, I am impressed by it in every way. It has a built-in timer that controls bulbs 1 and 3 separately from 2 and 4 and there is only one cord for the whole fixture. You can also control the lunar LED lights. Nice.

Next week I'll post a follow-up with a breakdown of my equipment along with some of the rookie mistakes I've made (and corrected) so you can learn from them.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll turn some of you reefers over to the dark side. Or, at least, the green side.

Until next time, stay classy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fish in our Reef Tank, Part 2: Genicanthus Angels—The "Perfect" Reef Angel?

I have kept many types of dwarf angels (Centropyge sp.) in my reef tanks over the years. While I love their color and active behavior, they also have their drawbacks.

Most of them picked at coral or, despite their, size were relatively aggressive. In particular I had an issue with Flame Angels. They seemed to love destroying my red Trachyphyllia brains. Most other corals were simply nipped at causing less polyp extension.

For my 120-gallon aquarium, I wanted to find an angelfish that was going to be actually reef safe (i.e. less aggressive and wouldn't pick at corals).

I began researching and asking other hobbyists what their experiences have been and if they had any recommendations for a reef safe angelfish. I discovered most feel there is no such thing as a reef safe angel. The closest are Genicanthus angels. There are 4-5 different Genicanthus angels readily available to the trade, including the Lamarck's angel (my choice), Swallowtail angel, Wantanbei angel, Bellus angel and Zebra angel.

Besides the reef safe factor, there were two other characteristics that drew me to these angels. First is their color. All are predominately blue, which just so happens to be one of my favorites colors. The second is that you can keep a pair in your tank. The differences between males and females are easy to identify, some being very different.

To find out more, I posed a question to Dr. Frank Marini about the angels on the Marine Depot Forums. He let me know that "Many Pomacanthidae are sequential hermaphrodites, and Lamarck angels are similar. With the fish determining as a female first -> then transitioning to a male when needed (termed protogynous.)".

I presently have a single Lamarck angel in my tank—a model citizen so far—and will eventually add a second in hopes of pairing them.

If you are looking for a reef safe angel for your tank, don't overlook the Genicanthus angels!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New this Week, 2/16/10

See all new product releases >>

Oceanic BioCube Aquariums & Accessories
We now carry Oceanic BioCube aquariums in 8, 14 and 29 gallon sizes. BioCubes feature high-quality equipment that can be used for both saltwater and freshwater aquarium systems. Built-in filtration and refugium chamber, moon/lunar LEDs and panoramic viewing are just a sampling of the benefits of going with a BioCube. You can choose between power compact and metal halide lighting and also get a great looking stand to hold all your supplies. We even carry upgrades, like protein skimmers and UV sterilizers, as well as replacement parts.

JBJ 28 Gallon Nano Cube HQI Aquarium w/ FREE MTS-60 Stand
JBJ's 28-gallon Nano Cube HQI aquarium is an all-in-one system that boasts more powerful equipment than past models plus includes a free stand. You'll get a 150 watt double-ended HQI/14K for daytime photo periods and 4 Nite-Vu LEDs for nocturnal
photo periods, perfect for hobbyists who intend to keep hard corals, SPS and clams. Also included are 2 Accela powerheads, 1 Ocean Pulse Duo wavemaker, 1 protein skimmer, 4 cooling fans, built-in filtration and much more.

Digital Aquatics Temperature Probes
The Digital Aquatics temp probe is used with all Digital Aquatics controllers as well as modules. It currently comes in two styles, one with an RJ-11 connection and the other with a Molex connection. The different probe styles function with different system
components. Please check to make sure you're purchasing the correct probe when adding one to your system.

PRE-ORDER - Koralia Nano Circulation Pump/Powerhead
Designed especially to work in small reef aquariums, are part of Koralia the new innovative and unique range of circulation pumps for aquariums. The exclusive Hydor design and technology g
uarantee a continuous and powerful water flow which can be directed freely thanks to the special sphere shaped connection to the exclusive combination suction cup and magnet support. High performance , low energy consumption and quick and easy maintenance. 240GPH ($29.99) and 425GPH ($32.99) models available.

PRE-ORDER - Hydor Koralia Evolution Circulation Pump/Powerhead
Designed especially to work in small reef aquariums, are part of Koralia the new innovative and unique range of circulation pumps for aquariums. The exclusive Hydor design and technology guarantee a continuous and powerful water flow which can be directed freely thanks to the special sphere shaped connection t
o the exclusive combination suction cup and magnet support. High performance , low energy consumption and quick and easy maintenance. 750 GPH ($38.99), 1050GPH ($44.99) and 1400GPH ($57.99) models available.

Ecotech Marine Vortech Battery Backup
This product is for any serious aquarium hobbyist that owns or plans to own an EcoTech Marine VorTech pump. By adding a battery backup you are insulated from power interruptions for up to 30 hours. In 4 - 10 hours of no flow, an aquarium with all its fish and corals begins t
o die. Buy time, it`s rarely for sale.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Deal of the Week, 2/15/10

See all weekly specials >>

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2009 Aquascaping Contest

"A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that balances are correct."

So begins one of the most beloved science fiction novels of all time. This is usually true, and yet in our new aquariums we often rush past the design phase to get water and fish in as soon as possible. Almost always, a few months down the road we end up staring at a tank that just looks a little off. By then, the system has plants and animals all over and is difficult to redo.

In the hobby, we refer to the creative design process as aquascaping.... like landscaping underwater. Like landscaping, a little ground cover with a big tree in the middle and some shrubs is functional, nice, and like every other house for miles around. If you'd like to have something phenomenal, you're going to have to take some time planning and think outside the glass box.

Enter the masters of aquascaping, whose extraordinary creations you can see in the annual aquascaping contest here. Take time to notice how they use the balance of positive and negative space, the contrast of colors, the ratio of sizes between objects to give the illusion of depth and space. See how different creative ideas, from sweeping plains to tropical jungles are recreated beautifully. Think about how some of these ideas can improve your own setup. Many saltwater hobbyists would skip this over, but I truly feel that most reef keepers out there could learn a lot from freshwater aquascapes.

If you're looking for some supplies to help liven up your freshwater system, check out our new planted section. For saltwater tanks, check out the great selection of Marco rock we have.

Until next time, be like water...

Monday, February 08, 2010

New this Week, 2/8/10

View all new items >>

SpectraPure® 90 GPD ProPLUS RO/DI System
SpectraPure® PROPLUS MaxPure MPDI Systems incorporate high-flow high-rejection TFC membranes, a 1 micron sediment filter, a 10 micron c
arbon block filter, and a custom formulated 10” color-change DI cartridge. MPDI systems are available from 25 to 180 GPD (95 to 680 LPD) production rate, and come with a 3/4” garden hose adapter.

SpectraPure® 90 Gallons per Day Piggy-Back Kit w/ Standard Membrane
Piggy-back system to upgrade your 90 gpd RO/DI system to a 180 gpd.

Neptune Systems Energy Bar 8 Expansion Unit
The EnergyBar 8 module features 8 independently controllable outlets (120V outlets, 5 amp max). Features power failure detection, active electrical current monitoring/logging and additional fail-safe features. Plug-and-play unit soft starts to reduce pump wear. All outlets can be controlled independently. Built-in mounting holes,
circuit breaker all packaged in a handsome aluminum enclosure.

Neptune Systems Apex AquaController pH or ORP, Temperature, I/O Expansion Box
Combine the PM1 expansion module with an Apex AquaController to monitor/control pH, ORP and temperature. Includes an additional 6 digital inputs for float switches, water on floor sensors, pressure sensors and more. Plug-and-play uni
t will automatically be recognized when installed into the system. Galvanic isoluation, full datalogging support, LED status indicator, upgradable firmware and 3' AquaBus cable included.

Berlin Sump 7 Inch Acrylic Sock Holder Mount
Hang-on acrylic mount for Berlin Sump filtration system. Great add on for any sump. 1.5" drain will handle 800-1000 GPH. Filter sock no
t included.

Tunze Pressure Regulator 7077/3 for CO2
Tunze Dual-gauge CO2 regulator assembly (7077/3)

Deal of the Week, 2/8/10

Thursday, February 04, 2010

New this Week, 2/4/10

See all new product releases

Azoo Reef Trace Elements Supplement 250ml
Azoo Reef Trace Elements is a supplement developed for marine and reef saltwater aquariums. Azoo extracts Reef Trace Elements from "Natural Deep Seawater" to create the perfect supplement for marine creatures. Azoo's special formula contains super-concentrated trace elements like Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Colbolt (Co), Molybdenum (Mo), Fluorine (F), Selenium (Se) and Antimony (Sb) that are essential to fish and invertebrate health and well-being. This economical and essential nutrient may be dosed weekly in marine and reef saltwater aquariums and will help your tank inhabitants live a long stress-free life. See more from Azoo...

PRE-ORDER Neptune Systems AquaController Apex Lite System
Take your aquarium to the next level with the AquaController Apex Lite. Includes ethernet interface, embedded web server and email alarms. Monitor, control and configure your aquarium from any web browser. Connect your lights, pumps, temperature controls and probes to fully automate your aquarium. Simulate sunrises, sunsets, moon cycles, and seasonal tides. Large LCD display and battery backup.

Battery Operated Eheim Sludge Extractor
This handy tool functions like a conventional vacuum cleaner: the powerful pump sucks the dirty water from the bottom via the suction jet into the integrated filter element. Here the dirt particles are reliably caught and removed from the water. Battery operated vacuum lasts up to 4 hours. Easy to handle powerful suction pump includes extension element. Suitable for both marine and freshwater aquariums. Unit comes complete with b
atteries. Fully submersible unit includes a full 2-year factory warranty.

Eheim Feed Air Automatic Turtle Feeder
Every feature possible is contained in this attractive container. The electronically controlled programming allows up to 4 daily feeding cycles of flake food in either single or double serving sizes. The large, easily read LCD display/clock also shows the programmed feeding times. Food level monitoring is easy performed through the clear food container. The integrated ventilator prevent
s moisture from spoiling food or clogging the unit, so maintenance is almost non-existent. This unique feeder uses every last flake in the bin to prevent waste. Replace the battery every 6 months or so and this auto feeder will keep you and your tank critters happy for a long, long time.

Digital Aquatics HerpKeeper Environmental Control System
The HerpKeeper environmental control system is a powerful and cost effective device that can monitor and control almost any aspect of your habitat. It’s built on a completely flexible and configurable platform allowing you the ability to create the control syste
m that’s right for you. Whether you’re looking a variety of programmable outlets or need to monitor multiple parameters, the HerpKeeper can be built to your specifications.

SpectraPure SilicaBuster Mixed Bed Multi Layer DI Cartridge
SpectraPure SilicaBuster Mixed-Bed Multi-Layer Deionization Cartridges are fabricated with semiconductor grade resins for highest possi
ble purity water. They are capable of producing 18 meg ohm-cm resistivity water. They are the first deionization cartridges designed to reduce silica, nitrates and phosphate levels in the low ppb range. These newly formulated cartridges far exceed the performance of previous cartridges, offering enhanced contaminant removal, longer life and higher purity.

SpectraPure SilicaBuster Color Indicating Mixed Bed Multi Layer DI Cartridge
SpectraPure Color-Indicating Mixed-Bed Deionizing Cartridges are excellent for use after Reverse Osmosis Systems, and change color to show remaining capacity. Color changes to show rema
ining capacity. 17 meg ohm resistivity. Removes all ionized impurities. Aluminized packaging eliminates resin degradation.

SpectraPure Color Indicating Ammonia Removal DI Cartridge
SpectraPure Color-Indicating Ammonia Removal DI Cartridge is optimized for maximum ammonia removal in RO/DI systems. This deionizing cartridge also removes silica, heavy metals, nitrates and phosphates. For post Reverse Osmosis, pre-DI use, or after SilicaFree cartrid
ges. Use on water supplies treated with chloramines. Removes all ionized impurities. Aluminized packaging eliminates resin degradation. Designed to be used after a DI-SF-CI-10.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Fish in our Reef Tanks, Part 1

Being a "reef nerd," fish have always been a second thought for my tank.

While planning past and current tanks, I find myself thinking more about what corals I want to keep rather than what fish I will get.

Only recently have I become fascinated by the fish in my tank and their unique characteristics. Their interactions with each other and their surroundings as well as their usefulness within the tank have become more and more intriguing to me.

Some may recall my 54-gallon tank build from previous posts (type "54" in the search box in the right column if you're unfamiliar). Well, that tank is now history: I've since upgraded to a 120-gallon aquarium. After relocating my orchid dottyback and pair of black & whie Ocellaris clowns I decided that all fish hereafter would be carefully considered before being added to the tank. No more impulse purchases.

Despite my best efforts--water changes, nitrates/phosphates at zero, refugium with cheato growing--I was having a nuisance algae problem. The liverock had a coat of red turf/hair-like algae growing on it. I knew my first round draft fish was going to help me deal with this problem.

I began researching algae eaters so I could choose the right prospect for my lineup. After digging through books and clicking through countless web pages I thought I'd found the perfect candidate: the Orange Spotted Rabbitfish. I purchased one and, lo and behold, he's done a fantastic job cleaning up the tank. 99% of the red algae is gone!

Equally impressive is his personality. When the lights turn on he is the first fish to greet me. His face and body language seem to say, "Look at me! Feed me!" Whenever my hands are in the tank for maintenance, he's a cool cat and could care less that I'm poking around in his habitat. I think he'd even let me pet him. Of course, with his venomous spines, that is not a risk I'm willing to take.

In my new post, "part two," I will recount my search for the "perfect" angelfish.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Deal of the Week, 2/1/10

Vertex MOcean 2000 Wave Simulation Module

Now Only


Learn More...