Wednesday, December 31, 2014

5 Aquarium Products You'll Want to Use in 2015

What better way to bring in the New Year than to highlight some of the most exciting new aquarium products available now at Marine Depot!

Kessil A160WE LED Lights
These little lights are the newest addition to the popular line of Kessil LED lights and are available in two colors, one for freshwater planted aquariums and one for marine reef aquariums. They are controllable via the manual knobs located on top of the light and can also be linked together for applications where multiple lights are required. On top of the manual control, the lights can also be governed with many of the popular aquarium controllers as well as the easy-to-use Kessil Spectral controller! The A160WE provides more output per watt when compared to the A150 LED lights and will provide up to a 24” spread of light. They are perfect for smaller aquariums such as the Current USA Solana, JBJ Rimless, Innovative Marine Fusion or Nuvo, and Mr. Aqua aquariums.

Maxspect Gyre Generator Flow Pumps
The just released Maxspect Gyre was one of the most anticipated products of 2014. This unique powerhead produces a revolutionary “Gyre” flow pattern in your aquarium that will move a large volume of water and eliminate the need for multiple powerheads. It comes complete with a controller to dial in the flow perfectly to suit the needs of your corals and fish. The XF150 model is available now and perfect for aquariums up to 6' long and the smaller XF130 model available soon will work for aquariums up to 4' long.

Tunze 6040 Controllable Pump
The Tunze 6040 Controllable pump is yet another excellent product from Tunze that was just released. This tiny powerhead packs a big punch and is capable of producing flow rates up to 1190 gallons per hour. The small profile and unique design allow you to discreetly conceal the pump behind rockwork while still providing substantial flow. It comes complete with a controller allowing you the dial in the flow perfectly to your liking and uses a vibration reducing magnetic mount which results in ultra-quiet operation.

Red Sea Seawater Refractometer
The Red Sea Refractometer is quickly becoming the preferred refractometer of aquarium hobbiysts because it is specifically designed to measure the absolute salinity of natural seawater at 77° F which eliminates the small inaccuracies that are commonly experienced with many of the other refractometers available in our industry. It is easy to read with a large, high-resolution scale focused to the range needed for reef aquariums. It automatically compensates for temperature, providing quick and accurate salinity readings each and every time you use it.

AquaFX RO/DI Products
Last but not least are the new reverse osmosis and RO/DI products from Aqua FX. RO/DI systems deliver clean water free of unwanted pathogens and contaminants that can harm your aquarium. Aqua FX offers a variety of RO/DI systems to suit your budget and needs. We also have a full line of Aqua FX replacement filters as well as a chloramine blaster upgrade kit to help combat chloramines and extend the life of your DI. All Aqua FX products are made right in the USA with high quality components. And don't forget: when you buy your RO or RO/DI system from, you’ll receive 15% off all your replacement sediment filters, carbon filters, DI cartridges and membranes FOR LIFE!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Kessil A160WE: A worthy successor to the A150W

Kessil's hotly anticipated successor to the A150W is the all-new A160WE LED Pendant, now available at Marine Depot for $249 in both freshwater (Tuna Sun) and saltwater (Tuna Blue) variations.

Kessil packed more power into the A160WE and has described the light as the "inevitable update" to the A150W. It is now on a 40 watt platform (versus 32 watts with the A150W) and features more output. You can manually control it just like the Kessil A360 using two knobs located on top of the light. One knob allows you to dial in the spectrum and color and the other adjusts the light intensity.

Another similarity to the A360 is that the A160WE is Apex Ready+ and can be controlled by an external aquarium controller, like Neptune Systems Apex AquaController or Kessil’s own Spectral Control (winner of Best New Product in the Marine Depot Best of 2014 Awards).

In short, you might consider the A160WE a miniaturized A360.

Kessil told us at the 2014 Reef-A-Palooza show in Costa Mesa, CA that one of the challenges in creating the A160WE was fitting all the components into such a small form factor. They explained that the circuitry for the A160WE is the same as the A360, so it took time to figure out how to shrink it all down to fit into a light the size of a soda can.

Kessil had hoped to release the A160WE in the earlier part of 2014, but had to wait until they had enough E-Series chips—which they state are 15% brighter—to build the lights and meet the inevitable demand from aquarium hobbyists.

Kessil lights also, if you are unfamiliar, use a patented technology called “Dense Matrix” which concentrates multiple LED chips into an array, creating a powerful light source with better and deeper penetration without sacrificing coverage.

The beautiful shimmer Kessil lights yield is also noteworthy. They offer a true-to-life shimmer effect that only metal halides (and the sun itself) seem capable of producing. I won’t name names, but some of the premier LED lights in our industry today—while awesome in just about every other respect—still produce a bit of that "disco effect" some hobbyists complain looks unnatural.  Like other Kessil LEDs, the A160WE gives your aquarium an unrivaled shimmer that looks like natural sunlight shining down on the ocean floor.

Another cool feature about the A160WE is that you can daisy chain multiple A160WE lights together using some inexpensive sold separately cables. When you daisy chain A160WE lights together without an external controller, the first A160WE acts as the “master” unit which propagates its settings to all the other lights in the chain.

We asked Kessil how many A160WE lights you can daisy chain together so we could create the most expensive set of Christmas lights ever. They told us "there is no limit." However, they explained that there is a small drop in voltage with each link cable—so they usually recommend about 10 lights since you may start to see a difference at one end of the chain after that.

A160WE lights provide up to a 24” spread of light and should be placed 1 to 2 feet above your aquarium. This light would be a terrific choice to illuminate small aquariums like the Current USA SolanaJBJ Rimless tanksInnovative Marine Nuvo and Fusion tanks as well as Mr. Aqua aquariums.

You have a couple of different mounting options. You can hang the lights using the included metal brackets (check the manual for details) or mount the light to your tank using the popular Kessil Gooseneck. We recommend spending the extra dough to get the 90° Adapter if you are planning to use the Gooseneck. It adds a level of fit and finish and helps keep the light sitting properly over your tank.

We don't want to leave you hanging, so here are the standout features of the all-new Kessil A160WE along with the specifications for those of you who like to obsess over the numbers.

    Beautiful, unrivaled shimmer gives the look of natural sunlight on the ocean floor.
    Kessil is the only company to manufacture all LED arrays in-house with custom spectral blends specifically tailored to meet aquarist needs.
  • UV
    A proprietary blend of UV light enhances coral growth and color.
    Patented Dense Matrix LED™ tehcnology concentrates multiple LED chips into an array, creating a powerful light source with better and deeper penetration, without sacrificing coverage. E-Series LEDs are 15% brighter.
    High performance and low maintenance. Simple and compact units feature quiet operation, innovative heat management and efficient, long-lasting LED construction.
    Tune the spectrum and intensity for a personalized look. Kessil Logic™ maintains consistent output across the spectrum. 10,000K to Actinic.
    Compatible with 0~10V external controllers. Daisy-chain multiple lights for seamless control from a single source.


Kessil A160WE Tuna Blue
  • Color Spectrum: 10,000K – Actinic
  • Fixture Dimensions: 4" x 2.48" (Length x Diameter)
  • Coverage Area (fish-only and soft corals): Up to 24" surface diameter
  • Coverage Area (mixed reef with LPS or SPS corals): Up to 18" surface diameter
  • Power Supply: 100-240 VAC (Input), 19-24V DC (Output)
  • Power Usage: 40W
Kessil A160WE Tuna Sun
  • Color Spectrum: 6,000 - 9,000K
  • Fixture Dimensions: 4" x 2.48" (Length x Diameter)
  • Coverage Area: Up to 24" surface diameter
  • Power Supply: 100-240 VAC (Input), 19-24V DC (Output)
  • Power Usage: 40W

Friday, December 19, 2014

7 ways to be prepared for an aquarium emergency

Almost everyday somebody calls us with an aquarium emergency. Though occasionally we are surprised by an odd fish tank fiasco, we have heard (and helped) callers in myriad situations. A hurricane is about to make landfall. A tree has knocked out a power line. A child just peed in the aquarium. Your prized fish just broke out in spots. The tank has sprung a leak. The dog chewed the pump cord. And so on.

We are here to help, and happy to do so, but in the midst of an aquarium catastrophe there is only so much we can do to help when things have already gone south. This is why we highly recommend that you prepare in advance for something to go wrong. You have invested a lot of time, effort and money into your aquariums. So, why not be prepared?

You don’t have to build a bomb shelter for the apocalypse in order to be prepared for an aquarium disaster. With only a little preparation and a few items you can set yourself up to withstand most problems that will come your way. Here is our list of seven great ideas which will set you up for success when things go south.


Water has rightly been called the elixir of life. The single most vital aspect of an aquarium is water. So, wise aquarists keep water ready at all times, and the more the better. Freshwater systems should have de-chlorinated, oxygenated, and heated replacement water on hand. Saltwater aquariums should also have backup water ready to go in the midst of an emergency. Having extra salt mix on hand is also important. Once I did something epically klutzy during routine maintenance and broke the glass on a full reef aquarium. As water pored through the crack I had made, panic began to set in. The only thing that saved the inhabitants was a reservoir full of heated saltwater and a Rubbermaid bin ready to house everything. Ready water is the single most important thing you can do to be prepared.


Next to water, there are two basic things your aquarium needs to keep the inhabitants alive: oxygen and heat. Nature can be unpredictable. If you want to be prepared for an extended power outage (you do want to be prepared, right?) then you need a way to take care of both of these.

Once the pumps turn off and water stops circulating, oxygen levels will fall quickly. On the high end, some powerheads, like the EcoTech Marine VorTech and Tunze Stream, have optional battery backups. With a battery backup, should the power fail the backup immediately kicks in so the pump keeps running. These can keep water moving for days. On the more economic side, a battery powered air pump can mean the difference between life and death for your aquarium. A battery powered air pump will both oxygenate and circulate water. For larger aquariums, multiple battery powered air pumps are necessary. Be sure to have batteries on hand should the power stay off for long.

Heat is the other aspect you must be prepared for. During warmer months the temperature can quickly rise to dangerous levels during a power outage or chiller failure, sapping oxygen and endangering the fish. Opening up the windows for a breeze may help a bit, but often is not enough. I recommend keeping a few plastic soda bottles filled with water in the freezer. Drop one into the sump (or main tank) to help bring the temperature down. But, be sure to monitor the aquarium. Cycle the bottles out as the ice inside melts.

In colder months, the problem will be keeping the temperature up. The first thing you should do is to wrap the aquarium. Newspaper or blankets wrapped around the aquarium and secured with tape work great to insulate the aquarium and prevent heat loss. Then you can warm up water and put it in those bottles you had in the freezer. Be careful not to make the water so hot that the plastic melts. Then, as the bottles cool off you can heat more water and repeat the process.


There are a few items in your aquarium that are absolutely necessary to keep the inhabitants alive. You can go days without lights, a protein skimmer, or a calcium reactor. But, you should own a backup for each critical item. The backup parts don’t need to be the highest quality. They just need to be serviceable. A heater is necessary to keep the water warm. A powerhead is necessary to keep the water flowing.  For a system with a sump or refugium, a backup pump is a great idea. I also prefer to have backup impellers on hand, since impellers are more likely to break than the pumps. Look over your system, think of anything that would create a serious problem should it stop working, and have a backup. Usually these items won’t be sitting in storage because they can be used for your...


Often, the best way to prepare for an emergency is to prevent an emergency from arising. Nothing should enter your aquarium before being quarantined for weeks. During quarantine, observe your fish for disease and parasites. Check your coral for pests like aiptasia. Should one of your fish or coral need to be isolated, your quarantine tank can be put into use as a hospital tank. A basic quarantine system will include a simple filter (like a sponge filter), a heater, and a light (if you have coral). In addition, your quarantine tank can serve as part of your emergency water supply. Just know that a tank which has been treated with copper should never house invertebrates like coral, nor should the water be used in any tank with invertebrates.


Your house probably has a few basic medicines that you keep on hand. Your fish tank should be no different. Having a few basics in your kit can go a long way in treating diseases and parasites. Often, the difference between life and death is speedy treatment. Seachem Cupramine is great to have in your kit for the treatment of external parasites like Ich and Marine Velvet. You will also need a copper test kit in order to dose properly. API Pimafix is a good medication to have on hand for the treatment of various fungal and bacterial infections. A medicated food, like New Life Spectrum Thera-A, can also assist with internal parasites. Keep in mind that some medications have expiration dates. Follow all instructions carefully and research well before using any medication. At times, the medicine can be more dangerous than the disease, especially in inexperienced hands.


UV sterilizers are a preventative measure that can help you avoid problems in your tank, in particular with parasites. A UV sterilizer is a water filter that blasts the water with ultraviolet rays. Parasites, algae, and bacteria that pass through the filter will either be killed or sterilized so that they cannot reproduce. As a bonus, sterilizers make the water clearer. While a sterilizer will not kill any parasites on your fish, it will reduce the amount of parasites and bacteria in your aquarium water, reducing the chance for an outbreak in your aquarium. Sterilizers are a staple of professional aquariums.


There are a few basics that I keep in my aquarium emergency kit. Silicone glue can be used to patch up small leaks. Teflon tape will solve some plumbing leaks. There are certain plumbing parts that are worth having extras of. Hose clamps wear out. Check valves get stuck from time to time. Ball valves can stop working properly. Bulkhead seals can deteriorate. An aquarium part cleaner, like Magi-Klean, can get a seized pump working again.


There you have it. For everything you have invested in this hobby, these few steps are a small price to pay for a large measure of security. We love to help, but we would much rather you did not have to call because you were not prepared for an emergency. If you have any questions about preparing for aquarium emergencies, please contact us for support.

RELATED READING: Redundancies and Backups: 8 Ways to Prevent your Reef Tank from Crashing