Monday, June 30, 2014

Cobalt Aquatics E-X-T 800 is the perfect pump for reactors, small UV sterilizers, chillers and heaters

The new Cobalt E-X-T 800 Pump may be precisely what many hobbyists have been searching for.

Finally, a perfect little external pump for media reactors, small UV sterilizers, small chillers, inline heaters and more!

At 210 GPH, this pump has the perfect flow rate for a small chiller for your BioCube or Nano Cube. Now you can finally move that eye-sore of a pump out of the aquarium!

Although the E-X-T 800 pump is designed to accept 5/8" tubing, it is fairly easy to get ½" ID tubing to fit on the inlet/outlet barbs—just be sure to use a hose clamp or zip-tie to secure the tubing for external applications.

Unique water channel that diverts water to the outlet of the pump.

This pump is also great for hobbyists short on sump space. Now, all that is required to plumb your carbon or GFO reactor, UV sterilizer or small chiller is a small tube for inlet and another for outlet.

Strainer is included for submersible applications.

Like other Cobalt Aquatics aquarium pumps, the E-X-T 800 is extremely quiet and should provide years of trouble-free service. This pump can be on the inlet side of the filter or the outlet side. Keep in mind that it is not self-priming, so you have to make sure the lines are filled with water (primed) before turning it on.

Connected to my new GFO reactor and ready to go!

For a DIY’er like myself, I can already imagine tons of uses for this nifty pump: calcium reactors, denitrators, kalkwasser reactors, canister filters and more.. the possibilities are just about endless!

Radion XR15w Pro: A new, smaller Radion light from EcoTech Marine for small to medium-sized aquariums

The Radion family of LED aquarium lights is growing!

You read that right: the Radion XR30 will soon be getting a little brother. EcoTech Marine has been working tirelessly to create a new, smaller Radion LED to compliment the highly successful XR30w.

Compact and powerful, the Radion XR15w Pro is specifically designed to meet the lighting requirements of the most popular marine tank sizes.

The XR15w Pro is also fully programmable with seamless EcoSmart Live integration.

The XR15w Pro features the same great spectrum, same features and same warranty as the XR30w Pro (one year for the fixture; two years for the LEDs).

With one cluster, half the wattage, a 24" coverage area and a lower price point, the XR15w Pro is the perfect solution for small to medium-sized aquariums where the full output of the XR30w platform is not necessary.

Sleek and powerful, everything that makes the Radion the best aquarium lighting solution for large tanks is now an option for smaller tanks. The XR15w Pro incorporates the same high output LEDs from Cree, SemiLED and OSRAM as the XR30w Pro, just fewer of them.

The EcoTech Marine Radion XR15w Pro is now available for at Marine Depot for $449, which includes free shipping. That is a full $200 less than the Generation 3 XR30w and $300 less than the Gen 3 XR30w Pro.

With 21 high-quality energy efficient LEDs covering the full light spectrum, the XR15w Pro is perfect if you are setting up a small cube style or shallow all-in-one tank.

The spread of the new XR15w Pro is 2' x 2'. The XR15w Pro comes with Wide Angle TIR Optics installed standard so the spread from one cluster is not much less than the spread from two clusters located inches apart on an XR30.

What is different however is the PAR at the same % output. You will achieve less PAR with an XR15w Pro versus an an XR30 model. The XR15w Pro is ideal for shallow tanks where PAR at depth is not necessary.

The maximum power of the new Radion XR15w Pro is 85 watts with a maximum PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) of 825. The chart below shows distribution 12" below the light fixture.

The fixture itself is squared-shaped, as you can see see in the images EcoTech Marine provided for this blog post. The Radion XR15w Pro is 7" x 7" with a height of only 1.5" (which is the same height of both the XR30w and XR30w Pro).

Here are some product highlights from the datasheet EcoTech Marine sent us about the Radion XR15w Pro:

  • Full spectrum + UV
  • Output optimized for coral growth
  • Preconfigured outputs matching popular Kelvin ratings
  • Perfect for recreating natural lighting conditions
  • 24 hour customizable program schedule
  • Independent day and night periods with lunar calendar
  • Acclimation mode for ease of integration with your tank
  • Weather condition simulation
  • Seamlessly compatible with EcoSmart Live
  • ReefLink and VorTech integration
  • Includes RF Module
  • Compatible with all “W” enabled EcoTech Marine products
  • Integrate lighting and flow using ReefLink and ESL
  • iOS and Android device control with ReefLink
The Radion XR15w Pro is an aquarium light a lot of hobbyists, including myself, have been hoping EcoTech Marine would develop since the original Radion debuted. Seeking wifey approval isn't necessary on every aquarium purchase, although at this price point it should be easy to get her blessing.

I can already envision her in EcoSmart Live on the iPad playing with the light settings. I was planning to upgrade my light anyway, so I'm stoked to try a Radion over my 19" x 19" nano. I have a VorTech MP10wES and battery backup that would love a new friend to play with!

One last noteworthy piece of news before you go back to salivating over the XR15w Pro photos. EcoTech Marine will begin shipping Radion Mounting System (RMS) brackets to retailers like Marine Depot in the next few months so that you can mount your Radion right on your tank rather than using an aquarium stand fixture hanger or suspend it from the ceiling.

Reefbuilders posted photos of the RMS bracket in EcoTech's booth at InterZoo 2014 and reported the price will be $99. EcoTech has indicated that more comprehensive information about the RMS will be available in July.

If you are an early adopter and want to be one of the first to get your hands on the new Radion XR15w Pro, head over to our site now to place your order! We can't wait to hear what you think about it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My First Saltwater Aquarium (at home): Part 3—Going on Vacation

Innovative Marine Nano 24 with the Skkye Light Dual LED Fixture

Spring time. My daughter’s 6th birthday is coming up and we've been contemplating if we’ll throw a party or not. I've always thought that we should only throw parties on milestone years but that’s just me. For the first time, my wife didn't argue against it. It’s too good to be true, it can’t be. She was secretly planning the annual family getaway instead. Why am I not surprised that she already figured out where and what to do. Family vacation it is…

For a lot of hobbyists, going on a vacation causes some sort of anxiety especially for a newbie with a new tank like me. Tank crashes can happen quickly and at any time, how much more am I at risk if I am not around to monitor things?  I need a plan. I’ll be gone for 5 days so my main concerns are feeding and water top off. Thank goodness for auto feeders and auto-top-offs (ATOs).

For the auto-feeder, I picked Current USA’s AquaChef Feeder since I've had experience with this before in my old freshwater tank. For me it’s reasonably priced and it works for pellet food. One thing I've learned about auto-feeders is not all feeders work well for certain types of food. You should pick the one that performs well with the type of food you use. Setup was a breeze as long as you follow the instructions. Sorry who-needs-a-manual dudes, it’s not as intuitive up-front. I set it to feed once a day to make sure I don’t come home to a tank covered with gunk.

As for the ATO, I used the Innovative Marine HydroFill. I've heard mixed reviews about it but I was offered a pretty good deal so I decided to take my chances. As a backup, I asked my brother-in-law to check the tank on day 3 anyway. This is probably the best option you can have while going on vacation. I used a 2.5 gallon jug which should be more than enough to top of the tank for 5 days. I hung the pump over the sump on the back only to find out (after about 30 minutes of continuous pumping) that it’s having a hard time pulling the water from the jug (on the floor) into the tank above. As a fix, I moved it directly on top of the jug and it started moving water right away. As for the sensors, I didn't want the pump to work that hard during refill so I placed the low level sensor just about half an inch from the ideal water level. I tested it a few times and it really filled-up quickly.

Innovative Marine Hydrofill ATO Pump setup

I also planned to do a water change on the day before I left. That’s it; I think I should be all set.

When I first started my tank, one of my officemates, Richard, mentioned that he’d give me some starter frags. About a week prior to my vacation, he said that he’s just letting the corals heal before he gives them to me. 2 days before my departure, he brought me a bunch of corals: Favia; Pink Yuma Ricordeas; Mushroom Leather, Frogspawn and a Purple sponge. At the same time, I’m also finally upgrading to the Innovative Marine Skkye Light Dual LED Fixture. Sweeeet! Feels like Christmas morning! On the other hand, I started to worry about being on vacation right after I add new livestock in the tank.

Unboxing of the Innovative Marine Skkye Light Dual LED Fixture

On the way home, I picked up my daughter from school and shared the good news that we have new corals for the tank. Since her favorite color is purple, I emphasized on the purple sponge. At that point though, I wasn't sure what to do with the sponge since it was so big and I haven’t had a chance to research about it yet.

This time, I used the AuqaGadget AccuDrip to acclimate the corals. I've never used it before and I find it to be very intuitive and I like how you can easily control the flow with the rolling clamp. I didn't even read the manual this time (who needs manuals??). While waiting, I had time to look into the flow and lighting needs to my new specimens. I still don’t know where to set the sponge so I decided to just put it at the back of the rocks in the meantime. As an option, I might end up just cutting a small piece of it for my tank.

Coral package: Favia; Pink Yuma Ricordeas; Mushroom Leather, Frogspawn and a Purple sponge

On the next day, I checked on the new corals and they seem to be doing pretty well. The last thing I would need on the day before I take my vacation is to have unhappy corals. They also look happy with the new LED fixture that’s more suited to reef tanks. I like how I’m able to adjust the intensity of the both Daylight and Actinic channels to my preference and the coral’s. I also appreciate how the moonlight LEDs has its own power cord so I can both day and night mode using timers. My old Current USA Satellite was only driven by one power cord so I had to manually switch it to night mode.

I did my water change and now I’m confident that my tank will survive and I’m ready to focus on my vacation.

Innovative Marine Skkye Light Dual LED in moonlight mode

Just like any other vacation, it is over before you know it. As expected, the first thing I checked when I got home was the tank. I noticed that the goby and pistol shrimp made more burrows under the rocks which I thought was pretty cool. I pictured them having a party while I was away. Then, to my dismay, I saw the bird’s nest and pocillopora bleaching out. The rest of the corals were also closed up and unhappy. The rocks were also covered with red slime and algae (Oh no!). Upon further investigation, I found out that the sponge died and probably contaminated the whole tank. Without unpacking, I sprang into action… I removed all remnants of the sponge, did a water change (good thing I always keep a jug of saltwater ready), and replaced the carbon and phosphate media. At this point, I can only cross my fingers and hope that the rest of the livestock survives.

Looking back, my mentor, Robert, warned me not to expose the sponge to air. Unfortunately, the warning came after the day I added the sponge in the tank. I was even amazed on its rubbery texture and had my daughter feel it. I even remember her saying it was like gummy. I’ll blame this mishap on ignorance and consider it as a learning experience. After a few days, the other corals seem to be getting back in shape.

I’m happy though that the water level was fine when I got back. Looks like the ATO worked. On the contrary, after I spoke with my brother-in-law, he said the water was low when he paid a visit. I suspected the tubing because its material can easily get crimped. Ever since, I've been careful on the tubing and I haven’t had any issues with it.

This is not the first time I left a tank at home while on vacation but for some reason this was more stressful than leaving a freshwater tank. Perhaps it’s just new or maybe saltwater tanks just need more attention.

MISS PART 1 and 2?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Will it Fit? Video Series: Innovative Marine NUVO 24

This is the third installment of "Will it Fit?", a new Marine Depot video series!

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from hobbyists is "Will this skimmer/reactor/etc. fit in my aquarium?"

We felt this presented us with an opportunity to make a fun new video series to demonstrate whether some of our newest and most popular aquarium equipment will fit in a particular tank.

In this episode we take a look at the sleek, contemporary Innovative Marine NUVO 24 Aquarium.


You may discover that some of the equipment featured in this installment and future episodes could fit if modded or changed in some form or another. Our intention with this video series is to highlight equipment we know will fit without having to make any significant changes to the item itself or your aquarium, which may potentially void a product warranty.

If you discover another piece of equipment that will fit in the back chambers of a Innovative Marine NUVO 24 Aquarium, please let us (and other hobbyists) know in the comments.

Here's a link to the products shown in this video.

Thanks for watching! Don't forget to subscribe to be notified when we post new videos.

How Super-Busy Aquarium Owners Keep a Healthy Reef Tank

Remember your first reef aquarium build?

Everything about it was so exciting! Learning what each piece of equipment does, the roles different livestock play in the ecosystem and just trying to wrap your head around the science of proper water chemistry was exhilarating.

It is easy to forget in this frenzy of shopping and research that it is going to require a lot of time, patience and hard work for your new reef tank to be successful.

From daily feedings and supplement dosing to weekly water changes and testing, the amount of time it takes to properly maintain a reef aquarium is often more than many of us bargained for when we originally had the bright idea to start a tank.

The good news is there are secrets super-busy (and successful) aquarium owners have learned over the years to maintain healthy, vibrant reef tanks and live an active lifestyle … and we are going to share them with you!

Get a Controller

An aquarium controller will seriously change your life when it comes to maintaining a reef tank. First off, all of your equipment is easily accessed from a single control interface. You can then automate just about every task that your tank requires via the use of the controller.

You can shut down your skimmer, reduce the flow on your powerheads and feed your tank with the push of a single button. You can automatically dose supplements into your aquarium on a set schedule, eliminating the need for daily attention to water chemistry. You can program custom light schedules, set up a cool wavemaker and even mimic natural weather events like storms, sunrises/sunsets and moon cycles. Integrate your ATO, control a calcium reactor and/or set up a water alarm in case your tank floods or overflows. You can even create an automatic water change system! The capabilities of an aquarium controller are virtually endless; the only limitation is your imagination.

An aquarium controller also monitors and logs data for certain parameters such as pH, temperature and ORP which will help you to understand more about your aquarium without the need for frequent water testing.

With recent advancements in aquarium controller technology, you can now access your aquarium from remote locations via the web, providing added security and the ability to watch over your tank from anywhere in the world at any time. You can even slap a webcam over your tank for real-time viewing when you are far from home!

Use a Dosing Pump

Dosing pumps are one of the most underrated pieces of aquarium equipment. Many hobbyists move past the beginner stages into more advanced reef keeping without even considering the use of a dosing pump. They do not realize how much a dosing pump can relieve you of performing some of the more tedious duties of keeping a healthy reef.

A dosing pump automatically doses liquid supplements and foods into your aquarium for you. Many of them have built-in digital controllers that allow you to program a custom schedule based on your aquarium's needs. If you use a two-part solution, mix your own supplements or simply feed corals in your tank, a dosing pump can save you some time.

Another great benefit of a dosing pump is that it will create a much more stable environment in your tank. It allows you to slowly and precisely add supplements to your aquarium on a schedule without drastically changing your water chemistry and shocking the animals in your tank.

Install an ATO

This is kind of a no-brainer. Any reef keeper, new or old, should have an automatic top-off system (ATO). An ATO system will help keep your salinity level correct and provide a more stable environment for the animals in your tank. An ATO also keeps your water level constant, which helps your skimmer perform more consistently and your tank run quietly. A steady water level also reduces the risk of pumps running dry and avoids the dreaded micro-bubble storm in your display.

Without the need for daily top-offs with fresh water, you can spend more time planning that dive trip to the Caribbean and less time worrying about your tank!

Exploit Friends and Family

One of my favorite things to do as the owner of a living reef is educate friends and family about marine life and aquarium keeping. My daughter immediately springs to mind because she loves asking me questions about fish and corals. She even enjoys getting her hands dirty and cleaning my protein skimmer cup for some odd reason. Hand-feeding the Tangs with seaweed is something she now looks forward to each day.

This is wonderful quality time I enjoy spending with my daughter. But all the while she is learning about the fragility and beauty of life and how to maintain a successful reef tank. Find a way to get your husband or wife on board. If they share a bit of your passion, they are less likely to blow a gasket when your bank statement arrives after your next equipment or livestock purchase.

Having someone in your home or within a short drive that is interested and invested in the success of your reef can be a real asset. They can share the responsibility of tank ownership with you or perform some of the routine daily tasks if you get busy or go on vacation.

Join a Reef Club

Joining a reef club might seem counter-intuitive for a hobbyist that can barely find the time to feed his/her tank. While it is true that attending meetings and participating in your local reef club will demand more of your time, you are gaining an invaluable asset: a community of hobbyists just like you that will support you and help you succeed.

Having trouble identifying that weird hitchhiker that found its way into your reef? Maybe you just need an experienced hobbyist to come over and check out your system and offer some pointers. Someone in your local reef club will gladly offer to help—in exchange for a beer or coral frag!

I have been a hobbyist forever and have worked professionally in the aquarium industry for 10+ years. I still learn something new every day. In this hobby, the learning never stops. If you truly have a passion for aquariums and are eager to learn and grow, I highly recommend joining your local reef aquarium club.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Brad's Simply Sophisticated 110-Gallon Reef Aquarium

We have the very special privilege of sharing a very special aquarium with you today.

We like to call it Simply Sophisticated. The owner, Brad, simply refers to it as his tank. Brad has been maintaining reef tanks for the past six years and has been shopping with Marine Depot for the past four (thanks, Brad!).

He first got started in the hobby like many of us do: with a nano reef! Brad kept a 28-gallon Nano Cube for just under 3 years before upgrading to a 110-gallon aquarium with a 40-gallon sump concealed inside his aquarium stand.

Speaking of stands, Brad has one of the cleanest, most organized aquarium stands we've ever seen! I mean seriously, this thing is immaculate! The excitement I felt viewing the stand with the doors open must be similar to what gearheads feel when someone pops open the hood of a tricked-out automobile.

The cabinet doors are equipped with racks to hang towels and a paper towel dispenser to make maintenance clean-up quick and easy. The shelves underneath have a lip on the front to prevent food and supplements from sliding off when the doors are opened. In front of the spotless sump sits a water test and cleaning station that would make even the most compulsive organizer proud.

You would think with a reef tank as big and beautiful as Brad's that he wouldn't have time for much else. Yet, thanks to quality aquarium equipment and a Neptune Systems Apex AquaController, Brad still has time to bring home the bacon by working for a large technology company plus he coaches his son's travel baseball team.

Brad's 110-gallon reef has been up and running for about three years now. Brad told us that he enjoys all aspects of reefing including the maintenance and "work" that goes into keeping a successful reef.

Below you'll find a quick rundown of Brad's aquarium equipment along with more photos of his tank for inspiration. Be sure to let Brad know what you think about his reef tank in the comments below! You can view larger versions of each photo by clicking on them.

General Reef Aquarium Tank Details
  • Tank Volume: 110 gallons
  • Tank Dimensions: 48” x 30” x 18”
  • Glass or Acrylic: Glass
  • Sump Volume: 40 gallons
  • Stand Type or Material: Wood
Reef Aquarium Circulation
Reef Aquarium Controller
Reef Aquarium Filtration
Reef Aquarium Lighting

Do you have a beautiful aquarium you'd like to share with the world?

Send us an email
 with a short bio along with a photo of your tank and you could be the next featured aquarium on our blog!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

EcoSmart Live Comprehensive Update (BETA) Announcement

EcoSmart Live is a forward thinking, easy to use, and powerful command center to control and interface with your EcoTech Marine products. Reef aquarium technology has been accelerating at a blinding rate over the last few years. ESL ensures that your EcoTech Marine products, no matter when you purchased them, are capable of keeping up with the pack.

Welcome to the new EcoSmart Live

EcoSmart Live VorTech Live Demo

EcoSmart Live VorTech Wave Generator

EcoSmart Live VorTech Settings

EcoSmart Live VorTech Schedule
The VorTech aquarium pump was introduced to the world as the most cutting-edge aquarium pump ever designed. With paradigm shifting magnetically coupled torque transfer technology, EcoTech Marine revolutionized the industry by literally thinking outside of the box.

Whether you bought your VorTech the first year it came out, or just last week, EcoTech Marine has always been committed to the premise of backward compatibility for all of their products. In line with this long term commitment to their customers, the latest update to ESL gives new life to the pump we all know and love.

EcoSmart Live Device Manager

EcoSmart Live Manage Account
Welcome to the future of ESL in the form of this comprehensive update. Included in this release are new features that you will appreciate. Features that you will use. And features that will position your EcoTech Marine aquarium products with capabilities beyond anything else available.
  • All new web design provides quick and convenient access to your Radions, VorTechs, and device
  • settings.
  • VorTech control! Import pumps, upgrade them, schedule modes, adjust settings, and demo your
  • VorTech pumps to dial in and wow friends, family and house guests from the website.
  • Creating gyres has never been easier by pairing master and slave pumps visually in ESL.
  • Create, preview, and save waves for your VorTechs.
  • Call various saved waves with the click of a button.
  • Initiate VorTech Feed Mode with one click.
  • Fine tuning control of VorTech feed mode, night mode, and battery backup mode speeds and
  • durations.
  • Manage your Radions and VorTechs in your various aquariums using the redesigned, simpler and
  • more elegant Device Manager.
  • Create aquariums and apply realistic positions for your VorTechs and Radions to define a
  • representation of your actual reef tank.
But there is even more. Import a Dropcam® streaming webcam into your ESL profile and now you can view your aquarium from anywhere in the world at any time. Want to show your friends your Yellow Tang surfing the waves provided by your VorTech? Just take out your iPhone, open our ESL App, demo a VorTech wave and watch the fun from your seat at dinner.

This major ESL update will be released today as a beta with limited slots available. If you don’t get in to the beta program initially, don’t worry. The slots available will be increasing regularly so keep checking and rest assured that once it is ready for prime time we will open it to everyone.

To get started using the most comprehensive release of ESL to date, simply log into EcoSmart Live and check the “Participate in Beta Releases” checkbox from Settings > Manage Account. That’s it!

EcoSmart Live Radion Schedule

EcoSmart Live Aquarium Layout
There’s never a bad time to start using EcoTech Marine products: as they’ve proven over the last ten years, their commitment to backward compatibility means that they reward their customers for their commitment to their brand. But this is all still just the beginning. In the future, EcoTech Marine will be introducing even more capacity and accessories for this absolutely limitless web-based aquarium platform.

Welcome to the future of Reefkeeping. Welcome to ESL.