Friday, May 31, 2013

Talk the Talk: Aquarium Corals

The aquarium hobby is full of technical jargon, confusing acronyms and scientific mumbo jumbo. We decided to start the Talk the Talk video series to help you avoid stumbling over these not-so-common aquarium terms.

  • Polyp: Tube shaped part of a coral with a mouth that is surrounded by tentacles.  Most corals consist of many polyps living in a group.
  • Corallite: The part of a coral skeleton that is formed by an individual polyp in a colony. Typically cup shaped.
  • SPS Corals: Abbreviation for Small Polyp Stony coral.  They have multiple small polyps and a rigid skeleton.
  • LPS Corals: Abbreviation for Large Polyp Stony coral.  They have multiple large polyps and a rigid skeleton.
  • Calcareous: Mostly or partly composed of calcium carbonate.  Examples: Coralline Algae and Halimeda.
  • Soft Corals:  Corals that do not produce a rigid calcareous skeleton.  AKA "Softies"
  • Allelopathy: The inhibition of growth of aquatic animals by means of chemical warfare.
  • Corallimorphs: Coral-like animals from the order Zoantharia, commonly called Mushrooms, Anemones or False Corals.
  • Fragmentation: The process of artificial reproduction of corals by breaking, cutting or dividing pieces from the main colony and attaching them to a new base.  Also known as fragging.

Think Setting up a Nano Aquarium is Hard? Think again.

Setting up a nano reef is easy. It is no different from normal sized or larger tanks. We recommend using natural filtration methods for nano reefs, like high quality live rock and live sand. This is true for both large and small tanks.
An efficient, appropriately sized protein skimmer is also helpful for filtering a nano reefs. There are many hang-on or in-tank style skimmer options available like the CPR Bak Pak, Eshopps Nano and Innovative MarineAuqaGadget Nuvo SkimMate. The AquaMaxx HOB-1 is a popular choice as well, considered by many as the best HOB-1 skimmer around. It is affordable and works well with small tanks. Although it is taller than a standard 10-gallon tank, placing your tank on a stand will eliminate this problem. The AquaMaxx HOB-1 can be used on tanks from 10 to 75 gallons, so the skimmer will still be useful should you decide to upgrade to a larger tank in the future. Another great product to have is the JBJ NanoZapp. It is a UV sterilizer that helps rid your tank of free-floating algae and/or bacteria and parasites that could affect your fish.

This brings us to the point of size selection. We carry tanks as small as a half-gallon, although the more popular options start around 4 gallons and go up to about 40. Most hobbyists nowadays are using LEDs to illuminate their nano tanks because they are small and have low heat consumption. Another benefit is they last for years versus fluorescent and metal halide bulbs which need to be replaced every 9 -12 months. With the right type of LEDs, you will easily be able to produce enough light to grow corals plus you will experience their excellent shimmer effects.

As with all reef aquariums, water movement is important to keep your tank inhabitants happy and healthy. Small powerheads like the Hydor Koralia line, Tunze NanoStream and EcoTech MP10 work really well. Depending on the type of corals selected and the size of the pump chosen for the job, you may need one or two powerheads in the tank.

Selection of the livestock you place in your nano reef is vital to its success. Selecting appropriately sized fish such as a pair of Percula Clownfish or Gobies enables you to have movement in the tank while keeping the bio-load low. Coral selection is also important. Since you have limited space to work with, you will want to avoid highly aggressive corals such as Galaxea coral or some Euphylia corals. These corals have long sweeper tentacles that can harm nearby corals. Some excellent choices would be Leather corals, plate corals or xenia. You can see a wide selection or corals that MarineDepotLive carries.

As you can see, Nano reefing is not too different from larger setups. All that is needed is more attention to tank parameters since fluctuations are more evident due to the volume of water or lack thereof.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Surprise Sale: 10% off Site-Wide

Surprise! We're having a site-wide sale today. Enter coupon SURPRISE during checkout to save 10% off your order. Excludes EcoTech Marine, Neptune Systems, AquaIllumination and Maxspect LED products. Offer ends tonight at midnight!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Aqua Illumination AI Vega Color LED Light Fixture Product Demo

Aqua Illumination (AI) LEDs are among the best-selling LED lights in the industry today. In this video, we take a look at the Aqua Illumination VEGA Color LED light fixture and show you how to get it up and running in no time at all.

Aqua Illumination Vega Color LED Fixture - White

First, let's do a quick run down of the technical specifications. The fixture is only 12" long and just over 5" wide. It will cover a 24" x 24" area of tank space and you can connect multiple fixtures using the EXT rail system for larger aquariums. AI offers different mounting options including a tank mount and suspension kit as well. It consumes a maximum of 95 watts and uses 80 degree lenses.

Aqua Illumination EXT Rail for Sol/Vega LED Fixtures 
In order to program custom timing schedules and color control, you will need to also purchase one of the NEW AI controllers. The New controller pairs perfectly with the VEGA and you can wirelessly connect the controller with the light fixture.

Aqua Illumination New Controller for Nano/Sol/Vega LED Fixtures 
In order to connect the NEW controller, you first need to supply power to the fixture and controller. The indicator light on the back of the fixture should be red. Press the RED button for 7 seconds until the indicator light begins to flash from red to green. Next, pick up the controller and press the "Menu" button.  Scroll down to the "Setup Lights" option and press select. Then choose the appropriate fixture, in this case VEGA, and select "Wireless" as the connection type. Press OK and the controller will then search for the fixture and automatically and establish a connection.

Once connected, the controller has some really great features. You can create custom timing schedules and set different color temperatures. It also has lunar cycles and weather effect options as well. Another great feature I found very useful is the test run. It allows you to check your timing settings quickly as it runs through a single 24 hour timing cycle in only two minutes.

The VEGA color is newest light fixture from Aqua Illumination but keep in mind they do have some other great options. The AI Nano is perfect for small aquariums and the AI Sol is a little easier on your wallet. Feel free to contact us if you have trouble choosing a fixture as we are always happy to guide you in the right direction and help get you everything you need.

Aqua Illumination Nano Super Blue LED Fixture in White
To purchase an Aqua Illumination LED aquarium light and/or read product reviews, please visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-566-3474. Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on the latest hobby news.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Q&A Video Series #5: How Do I Dose Kalkwasser?

Seachem Reef Kalkwasser
In this video, we'll answer a question that came from Marcus on our Facebook page. Marcus asked, "How do I dose Kalkwasser in my reef aquarium?"

For those of you who don't know, Kalkwasser is simply Calcium Hydroxide powder and is intended to maintain calcium and alkalinity levels in reef aquariums.

Kalkwasser is great for hobbyists who do not have a calcium reactor and it is less expensive when compared to two part solutions. In fact, you can even pick this stuff up at your local grocery store and is often labeled "Pickeling Lime."

In order to dose Kalkwasser you will first need to mix the powder with freshwater and let it dissolve. You will end up with a clear solution and a white sediment on the bottom of your container. You will want to dose the clear solution into your aquarium and simply rinse out the sediment when you have finished dosing the solution.

The typical starting dosage is one teaspoon of kalkwasser per one gallon of freshwater. You can then adjust the concentration as needed based on your aquariums' demands for calcium and alkalinity. It will be important to test your pH, Calcium and Alkalinity levels frequently in order to adjust the dosage correctly.

Now, it is very crucial to understand that Kalkwasser must be added very slowly to your aquarium. If dosed too quickly, pH will rise and lead to a disaster in your tank. This is why most hobbyists will utilize an auto-top off, electronic doser, or gravity drip system in order to slowly add Kalkwasser solution and minimize effects on pH levels. The most common and easiest of these methods is to utilize your auto-top off system and just add the kalkwasser powder directly to your freshwater reservoir. If using an electronic dosing system, you might consider dosing only at night as you will run less risk of spiking pH to dangerous levels.

Two Little Fishies KW
Reactor 300 w/ Kalkwasser
When shopping for Kalkwasser you will notice a piece of equipment commonly called a Kalkwasser Reactor or "Kalk-Stirrer." A kalkwasser reactor is not absolutely necessary in order to dose Kalkwasser but does help increase concentration in your solution and get the most for your money. A Kalkwasser reactor is simply an inline chamber that stirs the Kalkwasser solution automatically ensuring maximum concentration. You can easily connect these reactors inline with your automatic top-off or electronic dosing system.

Click here to read reviews and shop Kalkwasser on our website. Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to stay up-to-date on the latest aquarium news and technology.

Friday, May 10, 2013

AquaMaxx EcoMaxx In-Sump Protein Skimmer Product Demo

EM200 (up to 240 gallons)

Thanks for tuning in and in this video we are going to look at the AquaMaxx EcoMaxx Protein Skimmers. The EcoMaxx skimmers have been on the market for just over a year now and have proven to be one of the best skimmers for a few different reasons. Today we are going to take a closer look and show you exactly why these skimmers are a notch above the rest.

First, you have the quality construction and components. These skimmers are computer engineered with cell-cast acrylic. The included Sicce brand needle-wheel pumps are among the most efficient and quiet running skimmer pumps available today.

EM300 (up to 340 gallons)
Next, you have the user friendly design and extreme versatility. Being that the pump is located inside the skimmer body this cuts down on the space required to install the skimmers. The unique detachable bottom plate, allows you to easily remove the pump, bubble plate, and venturi for easy cleaning. The included air silencer and rubber feet eliminate noise making the skimmer virtually silent. The four different models available will accommodate most any aquarium with a sump from 75-600 gallons.

Finally, you get top quality performance. The included Sicce needle-wheel pumps create optimum size bubbles for vigorous waste removal. The included bubble plate helps to create maximum contact time in the skimmer and the and the cone shaped neck allows the foam to easily move into the collection cup without resistance.

If you have any questions about AquaMaxx EcoMaxx Protein Skimmers, give us a call at 1-800-566-FISH (3474) or head over to our website to check out the specs, read reviews and purchase one of these powerhouses for your reef aquarium.

Q&A Video Series #4: What are the Benefits of a Refugium?

Welcome to the 4th edition of's Q&A video series. We have a great question today which actually came from a few different Facebook fans who are curious about the benefits of a refugium.

A refugium is basically a biological filtration method which will reduce nitrate and phosphate in your aquarium water as well as provide natural food sources for your aquarium inhabitants. The idea of a successful refugium is to provide an isolated chamber where marine macro-algae can grow and thrive and then absorb nitrate and phosphate from your aquarium water. You will also be able to provide a safe haven for micro-organisms, such as copepods, to reproduce which will then act as an excellent food source for your aquarium animals.

Refugiums can vary drastically as far as how they are plumbed into your aquarium. The easiest way is to purchase a sump system with a dedicated refugium area already baffled into the sump. You can also utilize a dedicated remote chamber that is separate from your sump, however, this will require additional plumbing and space.

If you do not have a sump system, you can consider a hang-on or in-tank refugium such as the CPR AquaFuge.

If you have a nano aquarium, many of the nano tanks on the market today will offer a space in the back filtration compartment that can be converted into a refugium fairly easily.

I recommend a fine sand bed of about 2" deep in the bottom of your refugium. You can also utilize refugium mud which will give you the added benefit of slowly releasing trace elements into your aquarium water. By providing a sand bed in your refugium, you will provide a safe haven for those micro-organisms to reproduce, as well, you will provide a suitable substrate for marine macro-algae.

Being that a lot of marine macro-algae do prefer to grow on rocks, you will want to provide small pieces of live rock or "rubble" rock for the macro-algae to grow on.

As you can see, refugiums are very beneficial to reef aquariums.  They ultimately reduce nitrate and phosphate in your aquarium and provide an excellent natural food source for just about any animal in your aquarium.

If you have any questions about refugiums, please give us a call at 1-800-566-FISH (3474) or click here to learn how to setup your own refugium.