Friday, December 23, 2011

Unboxing: NextReef MR1 Media Reactor

Media reactors are increasingly making their way onto the equipment roster of many aquariums and into many homes. Today, the NextReef MR1 Media Reactor made it into my home. I love getting to test equipment on my tank. It's a tough job, but someones got to do it... Now on to the unboxing!

Upon initial inspection of the reactor, I was first taken back by the physical dimensions of the reactor and its generous aquarium size rating! The MR1 is rated for use on saltwater aquariums up to 250 gallons saltwater, and up to 500 gallons for freshwater tanks!

Height: 16" Overall Height / 14" Reaction Chamber
Width: 6" Overall
Reaction Chamber: 14" x 4"
Total Capacity: 155 cubic inches / .68 gallons / 86 fluid ounces / 2.6 litre

Next, I noticed the quality of design and solid construction. These reactors are solid, designed to last, and hand constructed in the U.S.A. The pieces and joints are channel-cut for maximum strength and strong bonding. This allows the pieces to sit tightly together before they are bonded, preventing leaks from the body. Holding the reactor, you can tell it's made with heavy gauge domestic acrylic, built to last heavy use.

The lid features a thumbscrew design with six thumb screws. This design not only provides a tight, secure seal it also allows for easy access when it's time to change the media. The acrylic lid is tapped and threaded to connect to two 90 degree 1/2" elbows. These elbows thread in securely, and to prevent a leak, Teflon tape is included for the threads. Hose barbs are also included to attach your flexible vinyl tubing to the elbows securely, so you won't have to worry about leaks.

The NextReef MR1 can be placed in your sump or next to your aquarium or sump. You can also use the included removable MR1 Hang-On Adapter to hang the reactor from the back (or side) of your aquarium or sump.

The MR1 is easy to assemble.
  1. First, unpack all the pieces to ensure the package is complete. 
  2. Second fill the reactor with your media of choice. (You may need to rinse media first; follow the directions included with whatever media you choose to use.) Ensure that your media is "sandwiched" between the two sponges.
  3. Assemble the lid. Put a piece of the included Teflon tape on the threads of the 90 degree elbows and tighten. I would recommend installing the center elbow first as it's easier to spin it around to install it... to each their own.
  4. Attach the lid. If you hanging this from your aquarium or sump, you will want to attach the removable MR1 Hang-On Adapter at this time. Evenly hand tighten the thumbscrews. Ensure a tight seal.
  5. Connect your vinyl tubing to reactor and pump. Use the included plastic hose clamps to ensure a tight fit.

That's about it. The MR1 is easy to assemble and has a solid quality design. The NextReef MR1 Media Reactor is perfect perfect for phosphate control, de-nitrification or fluidized sand filtration and, as an added bonus, is ozone safe! You can view the MR1 Reactor and other NextReef Reactors at Marine Depot's NextReef Water Filters page.

Need more information on media reactors? Be sure to read How To Setup A Media Reactor by Keith MacNeil on the Marine Depot Knowledge Base or contact the Marine Depot Reef Squad at 800.566.FISH!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

AquaMaxx HOB-1 Protein Skimmer: How to Get Rid of Microbubbles

Microbubbles often go hand-in-hand with protein skimmers when they are first added to saltwater aquariums, especially hang on back style skimmers.

Microbubbles usually stop forming after running a new protein skimmer for 1-3 weeks. This is generally referred to as a protein skimmer’s “break-in” period where organic slime is built up inside the skimmer body. Normally the break-in period is 1-3 weeks, although in some instances it may take 4-8 weeks.

Before installing a new protein skimmer, rinse it thoroughly inside and out with lukewarm water to remove any dust or residue left from manufacturing. If you’re using a hang on or external skimmer, you only need to rinse the parts that will have water in them.

If you’ve had your new protein skimmer running for 1-3 weeks and it is still producing a lot of microbubbles, here are some tips that should help you eliminate them from forming:

  1. While tee fittings work well for many aquarium hobbyists, others have noted they sometimes increase the amount of bubbles being released into the tank. Tee fittings allow you to fully submerge the return line without worrying about a siphoning effect of the water inside the skimmer. For people with limited space in the back of their tank—like nano cubes with built-in filtration—this comes in quite handy. But if you aren't limited on space and can angle your return line, you might try replacing the tee fitting with an elbow fitting (this was actually the original design, the tee was added later on). For some hobbyists, using an elbow helps reduce microbubbles. A tee fitting will sometimes pull air in with the water exiting the skimmer causing extra bubbles to be mixed in. Try swapping out the tee fitting with an elbow fitting and angle the return so it is not submerged and that may do the trick.
  2. Some aquarium additives and supplements can create a “soapy” effect that causes protein skimmer bubbles not to pop as quickly as they should. Common two-part calcium/alkalinity supplements rarely have any effect, although other supplements can. If possible, limit dosing specific additives/supplements for a few days to see if that has any effect on the amount of bubbles being released into your aquarium.

    Water treatments and conditioners can also create the soapy bubble effect, as well as two-part epoxy, red slime (cyanobacteria) remover and some medication formulas. For best results, always use RO or RO/DI water to mix saltwater and top off your aquarium. If you’ve recently used two-part epoxy to attach coral to rock or treated your tank for red slime, we recommend performing several water changes to reduce the presence of these products in your tank water.
  3. As a last resort, try placing an air control valve on the air intake to reduce the amount of bubbles being pulled into your protein skimmer. While not an ideal solution, an air control valve will allow you to scale back the amount of bubbles that enter the skimmer. You may find this reduces the number of bubbles that flow back into your aquarium. You can usually find air control valves for sale at your local pet store for only a couple of dollars.
If you have an AquaMaxx HOB-1 Protein Skimmer and have followed these troubleshooting tips but are still experiencing microbubble issues, please contact us directly for additional support.

Friday, December 09, 2011

EcoTech Radion Software Update Available

An updated version of the EcoSmart Configuration Utility is now available on EcoTech Marine’s website.

Click here to download the latest round of feature enhancements

EcoTech is strongly recommending that all Radion owners update their software to gain access to improved functionality and performance.


  • Accelerated program review feature
    View the whole day’s program in 30 seconds, 1 minute or 2 minutes
  • Natural Mode is enabled
    Adjustable depth offset
    Adjustable storm and cloud probability
  • Live Demo is enabled
    Real-time palette and intensity adjustment
    Save custom color and intensity settings for use in Artificial Mode programs
    Toggle feature modes on and off
  • Artificial Mode has been improved
    Import and export Artificial Mode program graphs as a backup or to share with other Radion users
    Option to see separate color channel contribution independently throughout the duration of the program 


  • Radion naming and grouping has been simplified and made more intuitive 
  • Programming/updating of Radion fixtures can now be done individually or in groups
  • Light name and program will now be imported from the light following a new software installation

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Product Setup: Digital Aquatics Double Float Switch & Neptune Apex Breakout Box

I finally decided to hook up my Apex Breakout Box with some float switches to automate my auto top off with my Apex Aquacontroller system. I purchased the following items from Marine Depot:
The installation was simple and very straight forward. Connect the float switches to the mounts and wire them to the Breakout Box. For hobbyists using the Reefkeeper system, all you need to do is plug the molex included with the float switch kit into the SL1 module. 
Once everything was wired, the setup on the Apex controller was rather simple as the breakout box is not a Aquabus module, so there is no setup or configurations to worry about. All I needed to do was add a simple IF statement to the outlet programming to switch on the water pump when the float is triggered.
The main advantage of using float switches on your aquarium controllers versus standalone auto top off systems is the flexibility of setting up multiple backup float switches, email alerts, and alarms. I plan on buying a third float switch so it can send email alerts and shut off the water pump if the primary float gets stuck in the ON position.

Digital Aquatics Double Float Switch includes two acrylic adjustable mounts and two float switches.
The float switches are GE-DING brand. I've only used Madison M8000 float switches in the past which are bigger floats, but the overall quality of this brand looks and feels pretty solid.  
Magnetic sensor in the floats. I'm mounting one of the float switches upside down so I removed the plastic clip that secures the float and flipped it around. This allows me to trigger the same OPEN and CLOSE position.
What I really like about the Digital Aquatics acrylic mount is that there are two holes already drilled for the float switches. The float switch on the left will always be submerged underwater so it will act as a backup switch. My return pump will never run dry or shoot microbubbles into the display tank again should the primary switch ever get stuck (It's happened twice with my old ATO). The left switch will only be triggered if the primary switch on the right gets stuck in the OFF position.

The right float switch was flipped upside down and I reversed the float sensor. This will be my primary sensor for the water height in the sump.
I noticed that the acrylic mount slants if both thumb screws were installed in the frontal position of the mount. I moved the top thumb screw to the back of the acrylic mount to keep the float switches and mount sitting straight.

I'm using the Digital Aquatics Dual Float Switches on my Neptune Systems Apex controller. I cut the molex connectors off and wired them into the Breakout Box. Each float switch has two wires, so one wire connects to L1 and the other connects to Ground (GND). The second float switch connects to port L2 and the second wire also connects to Ground (GND). 
Basic IF statements for the switches. Defer merely waits 10 seconds before turning on the water pump. This helps when the water sloshes around preventing the water pump to turn on and off when the float switch bobbles.
Neptune Apex Graph for the ATO pump outlet. I was testing the float switches and this graph shows that they are working as they should.

Enter the Dolphin Tale Giveaway

In honor of the December 20, 2011 Blu-ray™, DVD and Download to Own release of Warner Home Entertainment Dolphin Tale, we’re giving away 7 awesome prizes!

There is no purchase necessary to enter for your chance to win. All you have to do is sign up for our email newsletter, chock-full of great deals, new products and helpful tips on aquariums and reefkeeping. If you're already a subscriber, just sign up again to enter the giveaway. We de-dupe our mailing list before each send, so you'll never receive duplicate newsletters!

So what can you win? We're glad you asked:

We're accepting entries now until December 23. Check out the official rules and leave us a comment if you have questions. Good luck!

About Dolphin Tale
In an inspirational story of the bond between animals and humans, a boy named Sawyer discovers an injured dolphin, who is brought to a marine hospital and named Winter. Unfortunately, her injuries cost Winter her tail, without which she may not survive. But with Sawyer's devotion, a marine biologist's (Harry Connick Jr.) expertise and the brilliance of a prosthetist (Morgan Freeman) charged with creating a new tail, Winter may receive a second chance at life.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Kessil 2011 Holiday Extravaganza Giveaway

The good folks at Kessil asked if we'd help spread the word about the Holiday Extravaganza Giveaway they're kicking off today at 11:00 AM.

Hmmm... free LED lights and no purchase necessary to enter? Of course we can help!

Since the giveaway is going to be conducted on Facebook, the first thing you'll want to do is "like" Kessil so you can participate.

During the giveaway, Kessil will host a variety of games on their Facebook page. From week to week, giveaway games may differ and be hosted on different dates and times. Rules for each game will be posted on Facebook before each game commences. The rules for the first game, Kessil Speed, have already been announced.

Prize(s) will be announced alongside the rules for each game. The prize(s) may vary from game to game, but the winner of each game will most definitely be awarded with a prize. Best of all, all prize winners will be entered into a "Winner's Circle" and be eligible to win Kessil's Holiday Grand Prize.

Check out the Official Rules on Kessil's Facebook page. Good luck and happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Innovative Marine Skkye Light LED Giveaway

We've teamed with Innovative Marine for a brand-new LED light giveaway! 3 lucky winners will start 2012 off right with a new Innovative Marine LED light to place over their aquarium.

There is no purchase necessary to enter. Just sign up for our email newsletter between now and December 31, 2011 (here is an example of a recent newsletter).

YOU CAN ENTER A SECOND TIME by liking Innovative Marine's Facebook page. Without further ado, here are the prizes:

Innovative Marine 92 Watt 10000K Skkye Light White Tablet LED Light
Meet the new Skkye Light Tablet that is flexible enough to be mounted inside a canopy or clamped on both rimless and framed aquariums with ease. This 92 watt tablet boasts powerful light output with three independent power cords for daylight, sunrise/sunset, and moonlighting. The tablet is actively cooled with a quiet frameless fan. The fixture is are no larger than a typical notebook computer or tablet.

Innovative Marine 8 Watt 14000K Skkye Light Black Clamp LED Light
The new stylishly slim aluminum arm is sure to turn heads with its low 3mm thickness and robust light output. The perfect choice for any rimless aquarium with a thickness of 9mm or less and offered with daylight and moonlighting LEDs in a space saving form factor for pure minimalism. This 8 watt clamp boasts powerful light output for pico and nano tanks with independent power cords for timer usage.

Innovative Marine 4 Watt 10000K Skkye Light White Clamp LED Light
The new stylishly slim aluminum arm is sure to turn heads with its low 3mm thickness and robust light output. The perfect choice for any rimless aquarium with a thickness of 9mm or less and offered with daylight and moonlight LEDs in a space saving form factor for pure minimalism. This 4 watt clamp boasts powerful light output for pico tanks with independent power cords for timer usage.

Fine Print:
The Skkye Light LED Giveaway ends December 31, 2011. The Giveaway is open only to individuals who are legal residents of the 50 United States (including the District of Columbia) and are 18 years of age or older. 3 potential winners will be chosen at random January 3, 2012 and contacted by email and/or through Facebook. Winners will then have 14 days to reply and claim their prize before alternate winners are selected. Read Giveaway Terms & Conditions

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Marine Depot Coupon Codes: December 2011

Enter Coupon Code ORPHEK40OFF during checkout to redeem
Offer ends 12/31/2011

Enter Coupon Code AQUAVISION20 during checkout to redeem
Offer ends 12/31/2011

Enter Coupon Code AQMAXXPADS during checkout to redeem
Offer ends 12/31/2011

Enter Coupon Code JBJATO20OFF during checkout to redeem
Offer ends 12/31/2011

Friday, December 02, 2011

ESHOPPS Coral View Product Demo


The Portal from Innovative Viewing Systems (IVS) was a hit with hobbyists at Reef-A-Palooza in 2010 and once again this year. The Portal, if you're unfamiliar, is an aquarium algae scrubber equipped with magnifying lenses that allow you to see coral and other livestock like never before.

That got us thinking about another coral viewer we've been carrying for quite a while: the Coral View from ESHOPPS. We decided to pull one from inventory to demonstrate how it works with our Innovative Marine office test tank. Check out the YouTube video we embedded to see how it works.

Surface agitation often makes it difficult to view some of our favorite reef aquarium inhabitants, like corals and clams. But having adequate water flow inside a reef aquarium is critical, so what is a hobbyist to do?

That's where ESHOPPS Coral View comes in. It's a simple black cylinder with a clear bottom that makes viewing livestock from the surface of your aquarium possible. The Coral View is a mere 3" tall and has a 6" diameter, so it will easily fit inside large tanks and the smallest of picos.

If you've been wanting to shoot photographs of your corals from the top-down, the ESHOPPS Coral View is for you! It will allow you to snap photos of your corals without the typical distortion created by pumps, powerheads and wavemakers.

To see more product demos and videos from, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Gift Certificate with Purchase of Select Items

We're throwing in free Gift Certificates with the purchase of the following 6 items. The more you buy, the more we'll give back! Just a little something to help make the season bright.

We will email your gift certificate(s) once your order ships to redeem toward a future purchase(s). For more information about Gift Certificates, click here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quick Tips: Clogging calcium reactor or inconsistent drip rate? Try two Flow Control Pinch Valves!

Is your calcium reactor, DIY dosing pump, or drip system clogging frequently or dripping at an inconsistent rate? I recommend upgrading with two Flow Control Pinch Valves (Item Code: FT0002).
One pinch valve is good, Two pinch valves are better! With micro-ball valves or just one pinch valve, you are choking the output line too much allowing sediment to build eventually clogging the effluent line. 
Two pinch valves solves this issue by reducing the flow rate at two points and allowing the effluent to flow freely through larger choke points.
Add one Flow Control Pinch Valve at the output of the reactor or pump. Dial this valve down to reduce the output tubing to a trickle flow.
Add a second Flow Control Pinch Valve at the end of the output tubing and adjust to the desired drip rate.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Marine Depot Cyber Monday 2011

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. But for online shoppers, Cyber Monday is often the day to find the biggest and best deals.

We've decided to release our Cyber Monday 2011 deals a little early to give our blog readers and email subscribers the first shot at all the great items we've discounted this year.

And don't worry: our Black Friday Sale is in effect until December 5, so feel free to take advantage off all the great deals going on now at

Here's a roundup of  this year's aquarium Cyber Monday offers:

We've also strengthened our Low Price Guarantee to include matching competitor coupons and sale prices. If you see a competitor coupon or sale discounting the price of a specific product or a general coupon discounting the total of your order, just let us know and we'll match it for you.

Lastly, we're shipping orders over $175 for free and, for orders over $250, we're offering free shipping plus including our new Pistol Shrimp T-shirts for free.

To stay updated on all of our promotions, sign up for our free email newsletter. You'll also be entered to win 1 of 3 LED aquarium lights from Innovative Marine.

Oh, and in case you missed them, here is a roundup of all our Black Friday deals. Thanks for shopping!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Marine Depot Black Friday 2011

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year and our annual Black Friday sales are among our very best. For Black Friday 2011, is pulling out all the stops and offering our lowest prices of the year! Shop our Black Friday aquarium specials to save big on saltwater aquarium supplies like fish tanks, aquarium lighting and much more.

Here's a roundup of this year's specials:

We've also strengthened our Low Price Guarantee to include matching competitor coupons and sale prices. If you see a competitor coupon or sale discounting the price of a specific product or a general coupon discounting the total of your order, just let us know and we'll match it for you.

Lastly, we're shipping orders over $175 for free and, for orders over $250, we're offering free shipping plus including our new Pistol Shrimp T-shirts for free.

To stay updated on all of our promotions, sign up for our free email newsletter. You'll also be entered to win 1 of 3 LED aquarium lights from Innovative Marine.

If you've read this far, he's a sneak-peek at our Cyber Monday specials.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. :-)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Product Review: Hydor Koralia Smartwave Pump Controller

In nature, water flow from river and ocean current is vital to the life cycle and health of aquatic creatures. These currents promote gas exchange and oxygenation and assist in the transporting of food, nutrients, and waste in the water column. Hydor's Smartwave helps recreate this natural flow and vital process in our aquariums, promoting health and assisting in maintaining uniform temperature.

The new Hydor Koralia Smartwave Pump Controller (item #HD00924) is the answer to hobbyists who use non-controllable Hydor Korallia pumps and have been wanting alternating flow (we'll call this "wave making"). Until recently, Koralia users have had to rely on third party wavemakers with the hopes that their pumps would be compatible. Hobbyists and websites gave mixed reviews as to what wavemaker supported these powerheads; some worked, some didn't. Fret not, the Smartwave is here!

  • 2 outlets, both for up to 100W; Unit is UL approved and water resistant.
  • 2 selection knobs, 1 for pump program (alternate-synchronous), 1 for time interval setting (second, minutes, hours)
  • Feeding program. Compact, Smartwave is easy to conceal by hanging it inside the aquarium cabinet. Designed for Koralia’s, Smartwave works with most movement pumps available on the market compatible with quick ON-OFF (5 seconds= 6.3 million on/off per year). 

The Smartwave is designed to run up to two Koralia pumps (both up to 100 watts), but will also work with most movement pumps available on the market compatible with quick ON-OFF. The plugs on the Smartwave are standard three-prong plugs. This allows for use with non-controllable Koralias and other powerheads.

The interface on the Smartwave is simple. No buttons or programming, just the turning of two dials will have you up and running. The first dial selects between Feeding Mode, Alternate mode, and Synchronous mode.The led lights on the interface will light up, showing the user if the wave device is on and what (or which) pump (pumps) are on.

Feeding mode: both pumps are OFF
Feeding Mode:
This is a manual feeding mode you switch to whenever you want to stop the pumps for feeding. This mode is indicating by the icon of a fish eating. The center LED will glow green, indicating the unit is on, and the two blue leds with the icons of pumps, will be off indicating the pumps are off.

Pump 1 is ON, Pump 2 is OFF
Alternate Mode:
This mode will switch between two pumps, and is indicated by the roman numeral "I" on the first dial. When two pumps are connected, it will operate one pump at a time at the set interval (set time using dial 2). The sequence would be as follows: Pump 1 - On, Pump 2 - Off. Pump 1 - Off, Pump 2 - On.

Both 1 and 2 both ON
Synchronous Mode:
This mode will turn both pumps (or just one pump) on for the set time interval, then off for the same interval. For example, if your time is set to 10 seconds, both pumps would be on for 10 seconds, then turn off for 10 seconds. This cycle would repeat.

Automatic Feeding Mode:
There is also an automatic feeding program option that you can set. You can have the pumps turn off for automatic or timed feedings either once or twice a day. Please refer to the User Guide for instructions as it involves a few specific steps, and I don't want to confuse anyone here.

I tested the Smartwave on a few pumps I had at home, and all passed with flying colors (Koralia Evolution, Koralia Nano, and Maxi-Jet 1200 Pro). Setting up the different modes was easy to do, and offered some nice options with feeding modes. The construction is solid, and there is even a plastic shield on the power ship to help prevent water from entering the unit. Overall, this is a great new product for Koralia owners and other wavemaker owners who are looking for a good quality wave controller at an affordable price.

For more information, be sure to check out the the Marine Depot Video, "Product Demo: Hydor Koralia Smart Wave Pump Controller".

The Hydor Koralia Smartwave is available for purchase in our online store, and if you have any questions about this product or your aquarium, feel free to call the Reef Squad at (800) 566-FISH, or shoot us an email at

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Marine Depot Coupon Codes: October 2011

$20 off Mr. Aqua 7.5 Gallon Frameless Low Iron Glass Aquariums
Enter Coupon Code MRAQUA20 during checkout to redeem
Valid October 1 to October 31, 2011
$25 off SpectraPure MaxPure 60 GPD RO Systems
Enter Coupon Code MAXPURE25 during checkout to redeem
Valid October 1 to October 31, 2011
30% off API RENA SmartHeaters
Enter Coupon Code SMARTHEATER30 during checkout to redeem
Valid October 1 to October 31, 2011
30% off Prodibio Reef Booster Nano
Enter Coupon Code PRODIBNANO30 during checkout to redeem
Valid October 1 to October 31, 2011