Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dive into the Great Barrier Reef with the first underwater panoramas in Google Maps

From the Official Google Blog yesterday:

"Today we’re adding the very first underwater panoramic images to Google Maps, the next step in our quest to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world. With these vibrant and stunning photos you don’t have to be a scuba diver—or even know how to swim—to explore and experience six of the ocean’s most incredible living coral reefs. Now, anyone can become the next virtual Jacques Cousteau and dive with sea turtles, fish and manta rays in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Setting Up The Digital Aquatics Lifeguard

I just got a hold of the new Digital Aquatics Lifeguard Aquarium Monitoring System. I wanted to give folks a quick rundown in order to show how easy this unit is to use for those of us who are not so Johnny 5, if you will.

The unit comes complete with everything you need to install and set up. The quick start user guide will get you running in a matter of 5 minutes as long as you have an open Ethernet port on your home router. If you want to connect wirelessly, be sure to pick up a wireless gaming bridge before setting up the unit.

First you want to route and connect your wires, connect the probesand mount the display. It comes with some handy Velcro mounting tape which was pretty sturdy, so I just mounted it inside the tank stand door.

Immediately upon applying power, the unit connects to your router and blue indicator light will blink showing successful connection. Once connected, you can utilize the button on top of the Lifeguard display to scroll through the display options and view the Lifeguard IP address.

Take this IP address to your home computer and type into your browser. You will get access to the Lifeguard dashboard and simply follow the on screen instructions to configure your unit and create your account password.

Proceed to calibrate your pH and temperature probes which, again, will have on-screen instructions. After calibration, the unit is operational and will continue to automatically log and graph your pH and temperature. Be sure to leave the pH probe in calibration solution for 5 minutes before starting the calibration procedure as this will ensure accurate calibration.

In the event you would like to attach a float switch or water sensor to alarm you of floods, simply connect the switch/sensor to the Lifeguard display using the switch adaptor and configure in the Sensor settings menu.

At this point, the Lifeguard can only be accessed from your home network. To access from a smartphone or remote internet connection you will need to configure your router to allow access. Follow the port forwarding instructions for your router which can be found online or in the Lifeguard USER manual available via the HELP link on your Lifeguard Dashboard. You can find the necessary Lifeguard IP and Port in the Network settings menu.

You can also set-up the email notifications from the Lifeguard Dashboard via the Notification settings menu. Simply follow the instructions in the USER guide for this step.

All in all I have found the unit to be pretty useful. Even while at work or on vacation, I can be confident the tank is doing well. It also has helped me fine-tune my calcium and alkalinity dosing as I can see the pH trends via the pH graph accessible on the dashboard.

Thursday, September 20, 2012 Backs MASNA Position on Hawaii Aquarium Fishery has partnered with the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America to support the non-profit organization’s positions on sustaining marine environments, aquarium fisheries and the ethical growth of the marine aquarium hobby through captive breeding/propagation efforts.

“ and MASNA have long shared similar sets of values,” said Ben Ros, Director of Operations for “Partnering with this distinguished organization is a way to amplify our shared positions on responsible aquarium keeping and sustainable aquarium fishery.”

Anti-aquarium activists introduced 14 aquarium-related bills to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2012, including “ban bills” that would make aquarium livestock collection illegal. Although the resolutions failed, special interest groups continue to fight for their cause, resorting to scare tactics and the spread of misinformation.

MASNA launched in February to assess statements made in regard to legislation seeking to ban or regulate the marine aquarium trade in Hawaii. monitors the factual accuracy of information disseminated by individuals, anti-trade groups, politicians and others seeking to close or regulate Hawaii’s marine aquarium fishery, as well as information put forth by individuals supporting the trade. The goal is to assess the accuracy of the information and educate the public about the facts concerning Hawaii’s marine aquarium fisheries and trade.

A few key points has listed on their website:

  • Most of the measures seeking to close the marine aquarium fishery in Hawaii are based on claims that the fishery is “devastating” Hawaii’s reefs. The data does not support these claims.
  • Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) aquatic biologist Dr. William Walsh stated in testimony responding to allegations of devastation, “This is not devastation.” Walsh was speaking specifically to the marine aquarium fishery in West Hawaii, which is the largest aquarium fishery in the State. Walsh and his colleagues, as well as independent researchers, believe there is no credible scientific data showing a total ban on Hawaii’s marine aquarium fishery is warranted at this time.
  • There are no species of fishes currently collected for the marine aquarium trade in Hawaii that are designated as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Likewise, there are no species of fish currently collected for the marine aquarium trade in Hawaii that are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
  • While the marine aquarium fishery continues to be targeted for closure, other stressors—such as recreational fishing and commercial harvest—are receiving little, if any, attention despite their significant impact on the environment.
“One of MASNA's most important missions is the education of our membership on marine aquarium issues. With this new effort, we have expanded that mission to include educating the membership and the public at large, as to the misinformation and, unfortunately, outright falsehoods that are disseminated by the anti-pet groups,” said Steven Pro, President of MASNA. “MASNA believes that an open and fair process, based on a dialog involving all stakeholders, is the appropriate way to address concerns about fisheries management. Let's talk about the facts.”

To help support MASNA endeavors, recently became a Corporate Contributor to the organization, providing a substantial financial donation with additional services designed to help spread awareness about the group and their initiative. is presently promoting MASNA and in both online and offline channels, including email, social media, print catalogs and in-box flyers. In fact, the first 10,000 recipients to receive a MASNA flyer with their aquarium supply order from also get a $15 off coupon for the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA) in Dallas/Fort Worth September 28-30. This year MACNA, the largest and oldest marine aquarium conference in North America, will feature a keynote address from Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of world renowned conservationist, filmmaker, scientist, author and researcher Jaques Cousteau.

“Legislation that threatens to ban fish collection for the aquarium trade is an important issue to us and our customers,” notes Ros. “Everyone in the aquarium community is a stakeholder. It is critical we unite on issues that may threaten our livelihoods and the hobby we love so much.”

To learn more about Hawaii marine aquarium fishery and legislation, visit To learn more about MASNA’s mission or to join their ranks, visit To learn more about aquariums or to get started in the hobby, visit

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Robert's DIY LED Light Fixture, Part 1

DIY LED light fixture from a staffer
With all the recent excitement around LED lighting, I could not resist the temptation to make a change. I was previously running a 250 watt metal halide over my 24” cube reef aquarium. We've experienced some killer heat waves in California and the tank was running consistently above 80 degrees and definitely suffering. I was a bit hesitant to drop the ball and buy a Radion, but definitely wanted to see what LED was all about.

Ecoxotic Panorama Pro Module
Thanks to the great people at Ecoxotic, I had a couple of the Ecoxotic Panorama Pro LED Modules in the blue/magenta color. Along with two of the Current USA TrueLumen Pro LED Striplights in the 12K white, I figured this would be a pretty nice spectrum. Now I was fairly certain this would not equal the PAR values of my 250 watt MH, but I know it is best to slowly acclimate corals when switching to LED. Therefore, I figured I could always add more strips in the event I need more light.

I started by taking a part an old 24" Coralife Lunar Aqualight T5 Lamp High Output Fixture that was used on a previous tank. It was pretty simple to remove all of the existing T5 ballasts and sockets. I simply had to unscrew the end caps and remove the acrylic splash lens. All of the internal parts are mounted with Phillips screws on tracks and I only had to cut the power wires leading to the ballasts. Everything else came out by loosening the screws.

I noticed the fan and LED moonlights were powered by a separate DC power adaptor on a separate circuit. I carefully left these wires in place as I figured it would be great to still have the fan and moonlights operational. This proved to be a smart move as it worked out great in the end and is helping to keep the LED strips cool.

Next, I had to find a way to fit the strips into the housing. I found it would be best to mount three strips inside the fixture and one on the outside. The Ecoxotic strips are fairly resistant to moisture so I attached this one to the outside in between the moonlights.

The 24” Current USA True Lumen Pro Strips did not quite fit inside. I used a Dremmel tool to carefully cut out one of the plastic end panels and the strips fit perfect.

I proceeded to utilize the two mounting brackets that came with the Current USA strips to attach them to the existing tracks in the fixture on one end. The other end was held in place by the plastic end panel.

Then I used some black RTV silicone left over from an intake manifold job on my car to attach the Ecoxotic strips. I knew it would hold strong and be resistant to heat. My only concern was how it would affect the heat sink on the LED. I knew using too much silicone would hinder the heat from dissipating away from the LED strips. Therefore, I put a hefty amount on the end brackets and left the heat sink to rest directly against the aluminum fixture. A couple hours later, the strips were in place and seem to hold pretty nicely.

I fed the LED power supply and splitter wires through the existing power cable holes in the Coralife fixture. I set up the mounting legs and mounted over my tank that same night. For only about 4 hours of work and a bit of ingenuity, the tank is running cooler and I can’t wait for next month’s electricity bill!

The shot below was only 3 days after the switch and still is running great to this day. I have plans to add one more strip in hopes to get a bit more color out of the corals. As of now, I could not be happier with the tank. Check back for updates!

Robert's 24-gallon nano reef illuminated by DIY LED light fixture

Monday, September 17, 2012

EcoTech Marine Announces Radion XR30w Pro LED

The Radion family of aquarium LED lighting systems just got bigger. EcoTech Marine is pleased to announce the addition of the Radion XR30w Pro, offering professional-level lighting performance for the reef hobbyist.

With 42 top-bin LEDs, six control channels, improved PAR ratings and unsurpassed full spectral output, the XR30w Pro is the best Radion ever.

  • The Radion XR30w Pro features:
  • Seamless integration with the web-based EcoSmart Live controller platform. 
  • Wide light spread with broad spectral coverage, from 405nm (Ultra Violet) to 660nm (Hyper Red).
  • Efficient and precise light output. 
  • Backward compatibility within the entire Radion line.

“The Radion XR30w Pro is the biggest advance in LED lighting technology since the release of the original Radion,” EcoTech Marine sales director Jay Sperandio said. “From power, spectrum and spread to modularity to control, the Radion XR30w Pro is unsurpassed in the reef aquarium LED lighting marketplace. It's a professional-level lighting system made for home setups.”

Priced at $949, the Radion XR30w Pro will begin shipping in early 2013. Pre-orders will be accepted Nov. 1. EcoTech Marine will continue to sell and support the original Radion XR30w. Details of an upgrade path for existing Radion XR30w owners to upgrade their lighting systems with Pro components will be announced in the near future.

On a related note, one of our staffers just wrote a review and answered some frequently asked questions about the Radion XR30w. Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012 We are hiring!

Candidate will join the front line of our business and engage with customers on a daily basis. Primary duties involve problem-solving and providing accurate information to customers in a professional and friendly manner. Customer Service Representatives are responsible for providing accurate information about the specifications and proper use of the aquarium products available on the website as well as responding to customer email and phone inquiries regarding shipping, order tracking, returns, order status and site navigation.

Qualified Candidates Should Possess
  • Saltwater reef and fish experience
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • An outgoing, positive attitude about providing superior customer service
  • Computer literacy
  • Ability to share your knowledge
  • Multi-tasking capabilities
  • Experience working in a problem-solving capacity
Duties and Responsibilities
  • Assist customers with a positive shopping experience
  • Ensure the competence and development of your colleagues
  • Work with the Customer Satisfaction Index to benchmark and improve our service execution
  • Respond to and resolve customer issues with urgency
  • Ensure implementation and development of the Family Friendly Concept
  • Assume responsibility for projects and tasks as they occur
If you're interested in joining our team, please email your resume to for consideration.

ABOUT US is a fast growing online aquarium supply company located in Garden Grove, CA. We're looking for smart, creative people who will give 100 percent. Ideal candidates must be dedicated, detail-oriented team players that will thrive in a fast-paced, high-volume ecommerce work environment. The office atmosphere here is low-key, casual and collaborative. We have regular company BBQs, celebrate Take Your Dog To Work Day® and have a great benefits package. Although it is not a prerequisite to working with us, most of our employees are pet/aquarium owners. We love what we do!