Friday, December 18, 2015

All I want for Fishmas #6: ATI T5HO Fluorescent Bulbs + Euroquatics E5 Retrofit T5 LED Lamps

This is the sixth installment of our All I want for Fishmas video series and we have some exciting news for all of you using T5 fluorescent lighting over your reef.

The entire line of ATI T5HO bulbs are on sale until the New Year so we decided to give your guys an overview of these lamps and show you why they have become so popular. We also have been hearing quite a bit of buzz about the new Euroquatics E5 Retrofit LED Tubes we have up for preorder on the site and will take a closer look at these game-changing LED tubes.

ATI brand T5 lamps are the most popular T5 lamps we carry. Made in Germany and using the latest advances in phosphors they achieve brilliant output with 5 different color options perfectly tailored for any reef aquarium.

The AquaBlue Special is a full spectrum bulb. It has a cool-white appearance and is visually the brightest of the ATI bulbs.

The Coral Plus has a similar look to the AquaBlue Special but has a bluer appearance as well as a slight hint of red. For hobbyists that prefer a bluer look, the Coral Plus is an excellent alternative to the AquaBlue Special for the "white" bulb in the system.

The Purple Plus is a pink/purple-ish bulb that is used as a supplemental bulb used bring out pink, purple, and red coloration in corals.

The Blue Plus is the more popular of the two ATI ‘blue” bulbs. It combines 460nm blue with 420nm actinic spectrums and produces an intense blue color that will make your corals glow with color and mimic the natural light cycle corals receive in the ocean.

The True Actinic bulb is a supplemental bulb that makes your corals glow. It produces a violet-blue light that peaks at 420nm to maximize fluorescence. The True Actinic bulb is designed to be used as a supplement to metal halide or other T5 lamps. Do note that the True Actinic bulb visually looks a lot dimmer than the Blue Plus bulb.

For those that have been running T5 systems and are wanting to try something different, Euroquatics just released their line of E5 bulbs. These E5 bulbs hold several advantages over traditional T5's and are definitely worth a closer look.

Euroquatics E5 bulbs can be used as a direct replacement for high output T5 bulb. You do not need to upgrade your fixture or perform any modifications. You also are able to use E5's alongside T5's in the same fixture. There are 4 colors are currently available: Warm Daylight, Daylight, Cool Daylight and Blue Pop. Simply swap out the bulbs and you are done!

With the advanced LED technology, Euroquatics E5 bulbs use approximately 45% less power and run cooler while maintaining the same output.

While T5 bulb output drops quickly over time and typically has to be replaced every 7-9 months, E5 bulbs maintain their output extremely well and can be used for up to 8 years! Euroquatics is so confident in the quality of their E5 bulbs that they include a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty with every purchase.

Be sure to check the Marine Depot Holiday Gift Guide for those last-minute gift ideas and check those shipping deadlines to ensure you get your packages delivered before Christmas!

Don't forget to like, share and subscribe to our YouTube channel so we can continue to bring you great content just like this!

Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

> Shop all T5 Lighting solutions

> Shop the 2015 Marine Depot Holiday Gift Guide

> Shop 25 Marine Depot Stocking Stuffers

> Create a Fishmas wish list for your aquarium

Thursday, December 17, 2015

All I want for Fishmas #5: VorTech, Gyre and WAV Smart Pumps

Happy holidays from all of us at Marine Depot! Welcome to the fifth installment of our All I want for Fishmas video series.

Technology has come a long way in the world of reefkeeping and has led to some really revolutionary product developments. Some of the coolest advancements we have seen of late are controllable wavemakers that give you the ability to fine tune and manipulate water movement in your aquarium and make waves like never before. The EcoTech Marine VorTech, Neptune Systems WAV and Maxspect Gyre pumps are three of the smartest wavemakers ever made, so let’s dive in and learn a little more about these pumps to find out which would be right for your tank.

The famous  EcoTech Marine VorTech pumps received a complete overhaul this year with the new QuietDrive technology and have some great improvements over the original VorTech line. The main improvement being the increased efficiency of up to 40% more output with up to a 90% reduction in operating noise. The quieter operation and higher water flow are definitely changes appreciated by all hobbyists. On top of this, the ingenious control features and integration with EcoSmart Live via the wireless Reeflink gives you complete control over your pumps and Radion LED lights with an intuitive and easy-to-use web interface. VorTech pumps set the bar pretty high for advanced wavemaking capabilities. With three sizes available, it is easy to find one that is perfectly sized for your tank.

Neptune Systems has always lead the way in terms of aquarium control and monitoring. The new Neptune Systems WAV pump is a prime example of the innovation we have come to expect from their brand. The WAV Starter Kit is a fully controllable DC wavemaker kit that includes two WAV pumps and a 1Link module. A third WAV pump can be added for larger aquariums. The WAV integrates seamlessly with Neptune Systems’ Apex Control system.

Once installed, you can select from a variety of programmable modes. You can even monitor pump performance in real-time, including speed, temperature and status. The strong magnet and pivoting mount makes it easy to direct each WAV pump into the areas you need it most. One of the coolest features of these pumps is that a single power cord can operate up to 3 pumps, which helps minimize electrical cord clutter in your aquarium cabinet. The pumps also stop automatically when removed from water or jammed with an obstruction. The WAV is a great wave making option for hobbyists that already have Apex controllers or are thinking of adding a Neputne controller to their aquariums.

Last but certainly not least is the Maxspect Gyre. The Gyre is possibly the most unique powerhead of the bunch in terms of performance and design. Gyre pumps utilize a paddle type impeller to create a gyre pattern in your aquarium. The Gyre has the ability to not only create this very natural flow pattern, but will also move a very large volume of water with very little power. A gyre flow pattern can help hobbyists achieve great results. Due to the unique flow pattern, the Gyre can eliminate just about all dead spots in an aquarium and avoids the problem of “hot spots” with traditional submersible propeller-type pumps, where flow is strongest just in front of the pump but dies down quickly elsewhere in the tank.

There are two sizes available currently: the XF130 and XF150, with flow rates up to 5,000 gallons per hour! An optional controller interface module is available from IceCap that allows you to connect your Gyre to most aquarium controllers, but it also includes a basic controller right in the box that allows you to switch between various modes and set the speed of the pump. A battery back-up is also available from IceCap that keeps your Gyre running during a power outage.

These kinds of products and developments are part of the reason we get so immersed in the aquarium hobby. We can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring!

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on all the latest aquarium news. We certainly appreciate you watching!

Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

> Shop Pumps and Powerheads at Marine Depot

> Shop the 2015 Marine Depot Holiday Gift Guide

> Shop 25 Marine Depot Stocking Stuffers

> Create a Fishmas wish list for your aquarium

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

All I want for Fishmas #4: AquaMaxx HOB-1 Protein Skimmer w/ FREE Bubble Stopper through 12/31

Welcome to the 4th episode of Marine Depot’s All I want for Fishmas video series! Today we are looking at what many experienced hobbyists consider to be the best hang-on back skimmer money can buy.

The AquaMaxx HOB-1 has time and time again proven to be one of the most effective hang-on protein skimmers available. Keep watching to learn how this skimmer achieves such great results and why so many hobbyists rely on this skimmer to keep their reef tanks clean.

The HOB-1 is made of polished, cell-cast acrylic fashioned into a thin profile that makes the skimmer a perfect addition to your nano or small aquarium. Don’t let the small size fool you, though: this skimmer is realistically rated for aquariums up to 75 gallons and comes with an Italian-made Sicce pump featuring a custom made needle-wheel impeller. The Italian Sicce pumps are regarded as one of the best skimmer pumps available and, when paired with the brilliant design of the HOB-1, it maintains the perfect air-water ratio to create foam like no other skimmer in its class.

On top of the high-performance Sicce pump, the HOB-1 includes the popular conical style bubble plate diffusors that reduces turbulence and increases contact tine inside the skimmer body which helps remove the maximum amount of waste each and every time your water passes through the skimmer.

The large collection cup has a volute-shaped neck making for a smooth transition into the cup and allows for wet or dry skim adjustment by simply sliding the cup up or down. As with all of the AquaMaxx skimmers, the collection cup also includes a drain fitting making it easy to attach a waste collector and avoid collection cup overflows.

Personally, I really like the transparent, blue-colored acrylic which makes the skimmer easy on the eyes when hanging off the back of your tank. I was also impressed with how quiet the skimmer runs because of the integrated air silencer that drastically reduces the suction noise caused by air being drawn into the pump.

AquaMaxx recently released an optional bubble stopper for the HOB-1 which is a great add-on when being used on aquariums with a heavy bio-load or if the tank is unusually oily: often due to foods or additives added to the aquarium. The best part is you can purchase the AquaMaxx HOB-1 skimmer and get a FREE Bubble Stopper all month long, so be sure to visit our online store to check out these great skimmers before the holiday season passes.

As always, we sincerely appreciate all of you for watching and helping to support our efforts in creating these informative videos. Please don’t forget to like, share and subscribe to help us spread the word.

Until next time, take care and happy reefkeeping.

> Get your AquaMaxx HOB-1 w/ FREE Bubble Stopper

> Shop the 2015 Marine Depot Holiday Gift Guide

> Shop 25 Marine Depot Stocking Stuffers

> Create a Fishmas wish list for your aquarium

Friday, December 11, 2015

All I want for Fishmas #3: Robert's Top 5 Favorite Stocking Stuffers for Reef Aquarium Hobbyists

Today we are back with the third episode of our All I Want for Fishmas video series. For those of you who subscribe to our newsletter, you probably already know we just released our Stocking Stuffers where you can save up to 35% on 25 items that make great stocking stuffer gifts for the aquarium enthusiast in your family.

I chose my personal top 5 favorite items from our stocking stuffer list to highlight today so keep reading to learn more about some of the awesome little gifts that will make any aquarium hobbyist jump with holiday cheer.

First up, we have the Red Sea Refractometer which is 15% off until the new year. This is my favorite refractometer because it is calibrated to natural seawater which means it will give you accurate salinity readings for the water in your reef tank. It come with a nice plastic storage case and has a nice high resolution display which makes it easy to see your measurements.

A frozen fish food strainer is next on my list because these handy little device takes the mess and hassle out of feeding frozen food. Not only does it provide you with a handy container to defrost and mix your frozen foods but the strainer makes it really easy to rinse your food with RO/DI water as well. This will help keep unnecessary waste out of your aquarium and for just under $13 during our sale, this little container is great for any level and type of hobbyist.

Next up is the Aqua Medic Water Testing Kit that is starting to become very popular with our customers. This test kit gives hobbyists the ability to have their water tested by a laboratory at an affordable price. The kit includes a couple of sample bottles along with a prepaid mailing box. Just fill the sample bottles with your aquarium water, package them up and drop them at your local post office. Once Aqua Medic receives the samples, they will test for 13 important reef aquarium water parameters and provide your results online within a matter of hours. The accurate and detailed results include history, graphs, tables and recommendations to help get your parameters back to optimal levels.

I couldn’t pass up the next item because it is one of the most versatile tools a hobbyist can have for their tank. The Cobalt Aquatics MJ series pumps are 15% off all month long and have all kinds of great uses when it comes to aquariums. They are reliable and are ideal for wavemakers, protein skimmers, calcium reactors, and nano aquariums. We’ve even made a video dedicated to what you can do with these great little pumps: check out the video description below for a link.

Last on our list is a brand new product from ReefBrite which I am super excited to show you guys. The new ReefBrite UVA LED strip consists of 395 nm true UV spectrum LEDs which will literally make your corals glow with color and pop like never before. It is the first and only LED currently available that offers a true UV spectrum of light. They are intended to be used as moonlights or supplemental lights and you will surely be impressed to see how amazing your corals look under these LEDs. They come in two sizes, an 8 inch model and a smaller 3” model. You can pick them up for 10% off the MSRP all through the month of December.

Be sure to check the full list of 25 Stocking Stuffers on our website and while you’re at it, take a look at the Marine Depot Holiday gift guide to see all the amazing holiday deals and discounts. Please like, share, and subscribe to help us continue to bring you more videos just like this and until next time, take care and happy reefkeeping.

> Shop all 25 Marine Depot Stocking Stuffers

> Shop the 2015 Marine Depot Holiday Gift Guide

> Create a Fishmas wish list for your aquarium

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

All I want for Fishmas #2: Marine Depot KleanWater 4-Stage Economy RO/DI Tap Water Filter System

Welcome to Episode 2 of our “All I want for Fishmas” video series. Today we are talking about one of the smartest investments you can make for your reef tank. Best of all, it is $15 off off through the entire month of December!

Keeping reading to get the lowdown on our own KleanWater 4-Stage Economy Reverse Osmosis Deionization Filter System—a tap water filter that will help keep your tank water clean and your inhabitants healthy throughout the holidays and New Year.

We released our Marine Depot KleanWater RO and RO/DI systems earlier this year and could not be happier with their performance and the feedback we are receiving from hobbyists. They are affordable, effective, no-frills RO systems that filter your tap water to provide the purest water possible for your reef tank.

In fact, our 4-Stage Economy model is the most affordable full size RO/DI system we sell along with our best seller. It includes many of the high-end features you’ll find on higher priced RO/DI systems.

All of our KleanWater systems accept industry standard 10” filter cartridges. The 4-Stage Economy System includes a 1 micron sediment filter along with a high-capacity carbon block filter that will combat chloramines. It also includes a high silicate rejection TFC membrane that produces filtered water at the rate of 100 gallons per day when provided with optimal water pressure along with a nuclear-grade mix-bed DI resin cartridge that will eliminate any traces of harmful contaminates that may get through the membrane.

The heavy duty mounting bracket makes it easy to discreetly mount the RO/DI system and it includes a nice RO housing wrench to help make maintenance easy. Extra RO tubing and a garden hose adapter are also included so the unit ready to go with no additional equipment and minimal assembly.

We have a ton of cool accessories and upgrades available like flush valve kits, TDS monitors and booster pumps if you ever want to turbo charge your RO/DI system and maximize it efficiency. Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-566-FISH (3474) or leave us a comment if you need help shopping for an RO/DI system this holiday season.

The Marine Depot KleanWater 4-Stage Economy RO/DI System will provide better water for your aquarium and is available now in our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide. Be sure to get your order in quickly to take advantage of the $15 off savings before the New Year! This offer is valid only while supplies last.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest aquarium news and to stay up-to-date on all our Fishmas deals. We appreciate you watching and until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

> Compare all Marine Depot KleanWater Reverse Osmosis Systems

> Create a fishmas wish list for your aquarium

Friday, December 04, 2015

All I want for Fishmas #1: AquaStep UV Sterilizers

This is the first installment of our All I want for Fishmas video series where we are going to cover a new product in each video from the 2015 Marine Depot Holiday Gift Guide. Be sure to sign up for our email newsletter to see all of the great deals we’ll be releasing during the holiday season!

For some of you, I am sure all you want for Christmas is an aquarium free of nuisance algae and diseases. Well, you’re in luck because the first item on our list this year is the Lifegard Aquatics AquaStep UV Sterilizer. An UV Sterilizer is one of the best ways to reduce algae and prevent the spread of disease in your aquarium.

The AquaStep is an external inline UV sterilizer with several unique features. An adjustable bracket allows for easy installation, while dual top and bottom inlets and outlets allow for both hang-on or inline applications. The flow of water inside the sterilizer goes through a series of steps which increases contact time with the UV light. Increasing contact time allows the algae or parasite to be exposed to the UV light longer, increasing kill rate and the effectiveness of the sterilizer.

UV sterilizers require separate pumps or water feed to get water from your aquarium and through the sterilizer. The exact flow rate varies depending on the wattage and the level of sterilization you desire. For example, a higher flow rate is effective against algae and bacteria to help clear up your water. A slower flow is required to effectively kill off parasites and prevent disease. These can be very helpful for freshwater aquariums, fish-only saltwater aquariums and even reef aquariums with a lot of fish.

The Lifegard AquaStep UV Sterilizer is offered two sizes, the 15 watt and 25 watt. They are suitable for aquariums up to a maximum size of 150 gallons. Best of all, these AquaStep UV sterilizers are 15% off all month long along with all of the other Lifegard Aquatics brand products on our website using the coupon code LIFEGARD15. Just be sure to enter the coupon code when you place your order.

We appreciate all of you for watching and please be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to follow along with us through the holidays.

Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

> Read Ultraviolet Sterilization

> Read How to Install a UV Sterilizer

> Create a fishmas wish list for your aquarium

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Congrats to our Black Friday, Cyber Monday Winners

We would like to offer our sincere thanks to all of the aquarium enthusiasts around the world who placed an order with us during our Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions this year! We had bigger, better and just plain MORE discounts than ever before and are super stoked so many of you were able to take advantage of the MAP holiday and all the once-a-year discounts so many brands offer.

As part of our Black Friday sale, we promised to give one lucky hobbyist a FREE EcoTech Marine Radion XR15w Pro LED Light (a $399 value!). The XR15w Pro is one of our most popular reef aquarium lights thanks to its proven performance, slick form factor and rich feature-set.

We are pleased to announce that Zachary D. from Miami, FL is our winner. Your new light has already been shipped and we hope you enjoy it!

If you placed an order with us during our Cyber Monday sale, then you probably already know that we were going to give one lucky shopper that day a FREE EcoTech Marine VorTech MP40wQD Pump with the new Wireless QuietDrive Driver.

The VorTech has been one of our top-selling, if not the top-selling, propeller-style pump that we carry for a number of years for a variety of reasons: an attractive design, cool flow settings, quiet operation and its ability to be controlled (along with your Radion lights) from anywhere in the world using EcoSmart Live.

We are excited to announce that Jeff G. from Claremont, CA is our winner. Your MP40wQD has already been shipped and we hope that you—and your fish and corals—love your new powerhead.

Head over to today to enter our latest contest for three (2 x powerheads, 1 x DC return pump) controllable pumps from Aqua Medic. There is no purchase necessary to enter or win. Our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide will also be live this Friday, so be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter and YouTube channel to see which aquarium products are worthy of being on your holiday wish list this year.

Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

'Tis the Season for Reefing: Wavemakers on Every Reefer's Holiday Wish List

The holiday season is officially here and all of us at Marine Depot are excited to share some of our favorite gift ideas for the aquarium enthusiast in your family. From RO/DI systems to protein skimmers, MD has everything you need to keep your tank happy and healthy through the holidays.

At the top of many reef keepers wish lists this year will be one of the new wavemakers. There are several awesome wavemakers available that create water movement in your aquarium like never before. The Maxspect Gyre, EcoTech Marine VorTech with the new QuietDrive and the Neptune Systems WAV are all here waiting to be delivered to your door step.

AquaMaxx has a couple of new media reactors available and the ever popular HOB-1 protein skimmer is perfect for your all-in-one or nano reef.

Marine Depot carries the industry’s leading products from over 180 brands. Stop by our website today to start your holiday wish list to ensure you get everything you want for Christmas this year!

With our passionate team of reef hobbyists and our Low Price Guarantee, we can help you pick out exactly what you need for your aquarium at the best price.

Be sure to sign up for our email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest aquarium news, contests and promotions. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel for lots of great videos to make you a better reefer.

Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

> See all of the cool aquarium supplies featured in today's video

> Create your own holiday wish list for your aquarium

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Introducing AquaMaxx FR-Series Media Reactors

AquaMaxx FR-SE GFO Carbon and Biopellet Hang-On Filter Media Reactor

Unlike other media reactors in this class that are made of plastic, the AquaMaxx FR-SE is made of durable, high quality cast-acrylic.

The FR-SE Reactor is great for use with CarbonGFO and even Biopellets. It is compact enough to be used on nano reef aquariums, but its large reaction chamber makes it a great option for larger aquariums as well.

The up-flow design helps to keep media in suspension and maximizes contact time with your filter media of choice.

The unique hang-on bracket secures the reactor to the edge of your aquarium or sump and has two holes that keep the tubing neatly in place.

If you have been looking for a high-quality and efficient media reactor for a reasonable price, the FR-SE may be just what you have been looking for!

AquaMaxx FR-S Internal GFO Carbon and Biopellet Filter Media Reactor with Sicce Pump

The new, easy-to use, FR-S Media Reactor from AquaMaxx is an internal media reactor that can be used in the back chambers of many All-In-One style aquariums or it can be directly attached to your tank or sump wall with the convenient magnet mount.

This effective up-flow reactor can be use with Carbon, GFO and even Biopellets. Better yet, it includes a pump!

The Italian Sicce pump is adjustable so you can correctly match the flow rate to suit the type and quantity of filter media you choose.

Another great feature is the simple twist off lid which makes changing and rinsing your media easy and mess-free.

Whether you are are looking to lower nitrates, reduce phosphates or polish your water, the compact AquaMaxx FR-S reactor will get the job done.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

How To Mix Saltwater for Your Reef Aquarium

Through the evolution of keeping a reef tank, one thing that stays consistent is the need to perform water changes. Water changes remove waste and replenish the necessary elements your tanks inhabitants need to grow and thrive.

Many of us start by purchasing saltwater from a local fish store for water changes, which does have its benefits—but also leaves some mystery in terms of the quality of water and what is actually going into your tank.

If the store's filter system is not regularly maintained, there may be nitrates, phosphate or other impurities in the water. Some salt mixes work better for fish-only aquariums while others with higher levels of calcium, alkalinity and major/minor elements are better for reef aquariums. If a store changes salt mixes, it may also have unexpected effects in your aquarium.

Mixing your own saltwater at home is in fact a much better way to obtain saltwater because it allows you to choose the salt best suited for your aquarium and allows you to control many of the variables.

Thankfully mixing saltwater is fairly easy but must be done correctly and of course you will first need all of the necessary equipment.

You will need a large container that can hold 10% or more of your tanks water volume. Here at Marine Depot, we use the food-grade Brute trash cans with caster wheels which make it easy to move the water. Aquariums and various other plastic containers also work very well. Just be sure to get something that is food grade or suitable for potable water storage because Lower grade plastic containers may leach phosphates and other unwanted chemicals into the water.

To measure the salinity we recommend the use of a refractometer for accuracy. Hydrometers can also be used but should be calibrated regularly as they can become inaccurate over time. A powerhead is needed to mix the water as well as an aquarium heater to match the water temperature of your aquarium along with a thermometer to measure the temperature.

First, fill the mixing container with fresh RO/DI water. You will want to mix enough water to complete the desired water change and I always mix a few gallons extra just in case the unexpected should occur.

Next, drop in the powerhead to start aerating the RO/DI water.  This helps to remove excess CO2 and ensures a proper pH. You can also add the heater in order to get the water up to temperature.

Now look at the instructions for your salt mix and calculate the amount of salt needed to match the salinity in your aquarium. Each salt mix is different so be sure to read the manufacturer instructions carefully but basically the concept is the same, add enough salt to reach the desired salinity level. This should be maintained at 1.023-1.026 specific gravity for a reef tank.

We are using the Brightwell Aquatics NeoMarine salt mix which calls for ½ cup per gallon of freshwater for a salinity of 1.025 specific gravity. Since I have 20 gallons of water to mix, I will need 10 total cups of salt mix. One important note here, if you are storing your salt mix be sure to seal it well. Salt mix will draw moisture from the air and turn into a solid rock if left unsealed for any extended period of time.

Add the salt mix slowly into the RO/DI water inside your mixing container. It is normal for the water to cloud when you add the salt mix but it will clear up. After a few hours of mixing, measure the salinity using your refractometer or hydrometer and adjust the salinity as needed.

Once the desired salinity level is reached you should let the water continue to mix and aerate for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer.  Some salt mixes are best used within 3-4 hours of mixing while others should mix for 12-24 hours before use.

Photo courtesy of Eddie Zia

Mixing saltwater at home saves you the hassle of lugging around cumbersome containers of water to and from your local fish store. It will also ensure that all the water entering your aquarium has consistent parameters and is free of unwanted contaminates. If you are looking to start mixing saltwater at home or simply have some questions, contact our trained team of aquarium experts today for fast and friendly support.

If you found this article and the accompanying video helpful, please like, share and subscribe to help us bring you more informative content just like this.

Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

> Watch Salinity: How to Measure and Why It's Important

> Watch How to Build a Saltwater Mixing Station

> Read How to Measure Salinity in a Saltwater Aquarium

> Read 5 Ways to Change Your Aquarium Water Like a Pro

> Read How to Mix Saltwater and Perform a Water Change

Monday, November 02, 2015

Auto Top-Off Systems: Which ATO is right for you?

In a saltwater aquarium, maintaining a constant salinity level is extremely important to the health of your fish and corals.

Water constantly evaporates from the aquarium, while the salt in the aquarium does not. A replenishment system is required to replace the water that evaporates or else the salinity may quickly rise to unsafe levels.

One option is to manually add water to your aquarium each day. Unfortunately, this can be quite a strenuous task. In addition to lifting heavy buckets, adding a substantial amount of freshwater to your saltwater aquarium at once can be stressful for the tank inhabitants.

This is why so many hobbyists have found the use of an ATO or automatic top-off system to be extremely helpful. Today we will cover the various options available when it comes to choosing an ATO system and provide you with some insight that will help you select the right ATO for your tank.

Mechanical Float Valve

The most basic type of ATO systems are mechanical float valves that are used with a reservoir located above the float valve. Several companies offer these mechanical float valves, including AquaFX, Eshopps, Kent Marine and SpectraPure.

Using the force of gravity, water simply drains down from your reservoir into the float that is mounted in your sump or aquarium. Once the desired water level is reached, the float simply closes off the water line.

Eshopps Auto Top-Off Reservoir Tank

Mechanical float valves are very affordable. However, salt creep, calcium build-up and various other obstructions can cause float valves to fail. Additionally, it can be difficult to find a suitable place to mount the water reservoir above the float. For these reasons, it is best to use mechanical floats on a freshwater tank or in conjunction with your RO/DI system to keep your freshwater reservoir full at all times.

The second group of ATO systems are ones that utilize float switches. These moderately-priced systems have an electronic float switch(es) that are used to trigger a relay which then controls power to a water pump that is located in your ATO reservoir.

Marine Depot ATO System w/ Pump and Magnetic Sensors

Our Marine Depot ATO systems are one of the most affordable options and are available with a single float or dual floats. All the necessary parts are included so you are ready to go out of the box. One of the great features is the acrylic guard around the float switch. This guard helps reduce turbulence and helps prevent snails or other critters from obstructing the operation of the float switch.

JBJ ATO Water Level Controller

The JBJ ATO features dual float switches that can be set up in multiple configurations, including dry-run protection for the top-off reservoir. It has a standard outlet so you can plug in just about any type of powerhead or water pump to deliver water from your reservoir into your aquarium.

Tunze Osmolator Nano 3152

Next is the Tunze Osmolator Nano. The Osmolator Nano includes a single magnet mounted float switch with a low-voltage DC water pump. It is simple, effective and great for smaller aquariums

The last group are the more costly ATO systems that feature more advanced sensors. These ATOs use higher-end sensors or multiple types of sensors to make the system as fail proof as possible.

Tunze Osmolator Universal 3155

The Tunze Osmolator 3155 is our best-selling ATO system. It uses an accurate optical sensor with a mechanical float as a backup. The combination of the two sensors makes it extremely accurate and nearly fail proof. The included low-voltage pump is also replaceable and fits perfectly into 5 gallon water jugs.

AutoAqua Smart ATO System

Our next best seller is the AutoAqua Smart ATO. This ATO uses an advanced infrared optical sensor that measures the water level accurately. Additionally, the integrated Auto Feedback Security (AFS) algorithm programmed into the unit will learn and detect overfill as well as sensor failures. Its small size and the magnetic sensor mount makes installation a cinch. The kit also includes a small water pump that fits in just about any reservoir.

Hydor Smart Level Control ATO System

The Hydor Smart-Level ATO uses a temperature sensor so there are no moving parts. Having a temperature sensor also means that you don't have to worry about snails climbing on the sensor or algae and calcium build-up. A slight drawback is that it does not include a water pump and has a larger water level variance of ½" to ¾". Still, it is one of the more affordable advanced ATO units.

Innovative Marine HydroFill Ti ATO Controller

The Innovative Marine HydroFill ATO uses high-tech conductivity sensors. The electrodes in the sensors are inert, so there is no chance of rusting and are they are very durable in a saltwater environment. They can be used with just about any water pump—or you can purchase the awesome HydroFill pump which is a self-priming diaphragm pump (that means it can sit above the water reservoir and will draw water up into the pump and then into your aquarium).

An ATO system is one of the smartest investments you can make for a reef tank. Not only does it save you time, but it also helps ensure you maintain a stable aquatic environment. Plus, with so many options available, it is easier than ever to find a system that fits your budget and the needs of your aquarium.

Thank you for allowing us to share our experience with you. If you found this article and the accompanying video helpful, please like, share and subscribe to show your support!

Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

> Watch our Auto Top-Off System Video Playlist

> Read 10 Helpful Ways You Can Use MJ Pumps

> Read Aquarium Top-Off Systems: What is the Difference?

> Read Fed up with carrying buckets? Try an auto top-off system!

> Read Tunze Nano Osmolator 3152 Product Review

> Read Hydor Smart Level Control ATO System: Product Review

Friday, October 23, 2015

Emergency Prepardness: How to Keep Your Aquarium Inhabitants Alive During a Power Outage

Thorough planning and using quality equipment can prevent many hardships and avoid a lot of headaches when caring for a reef aquarium.

Regardless of how much you spend on your equipment or how much you plan ahead there is one thing that can crash an aquarium quicker than anything and that is losing electricity that powers your tank.

With winter fast approaching and severe weather on the horizon, power loss is bound to happen. Today we are going to show you how to keep your fish and coral alive during a power outage and provide you with some helpful tips to reduce the worry and stress caused by losing electricity to you aquarium.

Electricity powers all of the equipment that keeps your aquarium alive and well. Without electricity your water pumps stop pumping water deeming your filtration useless. More importantly is the lack of water flow also prevents proper gas exchange which results in insufficient dissolved oxygen levels for the animals in your aquarium. Therefore, keeping water moving inside your tank is the most important issue to address in the event of a power failure.

EcoTech Marine Battery Backup

The best way to get water moving is a high-quality powerhead like the EcoTech Marine VorTech, Tunze Stream Pumps or Maxspect Gyre. When connected to the appropriate battery back-up these pumps can run at a reduced speed for up to 48 hours or even longer, solely off the power supplied by the battery back-up.

The EcoTech Marine battery back-up is specifically designed for the VorTech and Vectra pumps.

IceCap Battery Backup

The IceCap battery back-up works perfectly with the Maxspect Gyre pumps and most other 12-24 volt DC water pump such as an AquaMedic EcoDrift or Tunze Controllable Stream Pumps. It includes multiple plug adapters to make connection with various other pumps easy.

Tunze Turbelle Safety Connector 6105.500

Tunze offers a unique solution. The Controllable Stream pumps or Waveboxes can be connected to any 12-24V battery though the use of the Tunze Safety Connector.

A large car battery used with a small Tunze pump can last several days during a power outage. Another advantage is that the battery can be easily swapped out. If your main battery back-up is exhausted, you are able to replace it with another battery. Disposable battery used for electric lanterns are good options.

One really cool feature of these battery back-ups is that they will automatically kick-on in the event power is lost so even if you are not home, your animals will be safe.

Azoo Battery Air Pump

Another more economical option for aeration during a power outage is a battery-powered air pump with an air stone. As the air bubbles rise they will move water and in turn help oxygenate the water. They are extremely inexpensive at less than $8 each and most of them run on regular C or D cell batteries.

The downside to battery-powered air pumps is that you will probably need a few of them to provide enough aeration; especially in large tanks and most do not have the capability to automatically switch when power is lost.

Photo Credit: Home Depot

Finally, you can consider investing in a generator. It is an expensive but foolproof option. Whether it is a portable unit or automatic, a generator can supply enough power to run all of the crucial equipment on your tank and will continue to produce power for long periods of time when refueled properly.

A few other things to keep in mind; do not feed your fish during a power loss to help reduce your fishes metabolism and avoid excess nutrients in the water that consume oxygen. Your fish can live for 4-5 days without food. Cover the tank with a blanket to keep out ambient lighting and reduce temperature changes in the aquarium. If checking on your fish, do not make fast movements or disrupt the tank in any way as you really want to keep stress levels to a minimum.

Photo courtesy of Eddie Zia

Preparing your aquarium for a power outage is a great idea, especially for those of you with mature reef tanks housing a variety of delicate fish and corals. If you need help prepping your tank for the impending apocalypse, give us a call at 1-800-566-FISH or send us a message anytime for excellent support from our trained team of aquarium experts.

If you found this article and the accompanying video helpful, please like, share and subscribe to show your support! Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

> Read 8 Ways to Prevent your Reef Tank from Crashing

> Read 7 Ways to be Prepared for an Aquarium Emergency

> Read Aquarium Emergency Preparedness

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Best Ways to Cycle Your Reef Aquarium

Most of us are guilty of rushing with an aquarium setup at some point. And, as Murphy's Law would have it, this almost always results in complications. Whether you add too many fish at once, fail to cure your live rock or simply do not wait long enough before adding animals to the tank—each of these seemingly minor transgressions can cause some serious problems.

Today we are going to show you how to properly cycle your reef aquarium and provide some insight into why this is so important for the success of your tank.

The "traditional" and most common way of cycling a reef tank is to use live rock. Just add live rock, sand (optional) and wait.

Live rock is transported from the ocean and is teeming with beneficial bacteria. En route to your home, the rock spends several days out of water. During this time, a significant portion of beneficial bacteria and other organisms will die. When added to your tank, the remaining living bacteria will seed the aquarium with a variety of different bacteria while the dead matter will break down and release harmful ammonia and nitrate into your aquarium water.

When using fresh live rock, it is wise to remove any sponges and other large and obviously dead organisms before you put the rock into your tank. Then give the rock a quick rinse in a bucket of saltwater to rid the rock of any additional decaying matter.

After cleaning the rock, simply place it in your aquarium and wait. The good nitrifying bacteria will take roughly 30-45 days to colonize and establish in your tank, all the while being continually fed by the leftover decaying matter on the live rock.

During this time, you should test the water two to three times per week. You will first notice a rise in the ammonia level, then a rise in the nitrite level. Once both the ammonia (NH3) and nitrite (NO2) have risen and then begin falling back down toward zero, the nitrate (NO3) level starts to accumulate and will register in your water tests. Usually after four to six weeks of cycling, the ammonia and nitrite levels will fall to zero and nitrate will be obviously present in the water. At this time, your tank has properly cycled and you can perform a 25 to 30 percent water change.

Bacterial supplements—our most popular are Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter7 and Seachem Stability—increase the amount of good bacteria in your aquarium and will help speed up the cycling process. It is a good idea to add on a weekly basis even after the cycling process concludes to help maintain a healthy and diverse population of bacteria in your tank.

Dry rock, like AquaMaxx EcoRock or CaribSea Life Rock, is becoming a very popular choice for saltwater aquariums. Using dry rock keeps unwanted hitchhikers out of your aquarium, plus it has little to no environmental impact and is generally far less expensive than live rock.

Because dry aquarium rock is generally free of bacteria and dead organic matter, a slightly different approach will be required to properly cycle your reef tank.

The best option is to use a supplement, like those previously discussed, to add the bacteria strains to your aquarium. You then need to provide the aquarium with some organic material to support the growing bacteria populations. This is accomplished by "phantom feeding," which basically means adding a small amount of fish food to the aquarium on a regular basis to support the bacteria. It is not uncommon for an aquarium with dry rock to take a little longer to cycle, although many hobbyists feel it is worth the wait for the aforementioned reasons.

As with the traditional method of cycling with live rock, you will still need to test the water regularly to monitor the cycling process. Once nitrate is present and ammonia and nitrite have dropped down to zero, it is safe to start adding animals into the aquarium.

The best advice we can give to a hobbyist starting their first saltwater aquarium is that patience is the key for success in this hobby. Allow nature to take its course and proceed slowly. All too often we hear from customers who have added fish too quickly or added too many at once, resulting in a total loss of life. A good general rule is to add one fish per week when stocking a new tank.

If you are just starting out in the hobby, remember that adding animals before an aquarium is fully cycled may result in easily avoidable deaths—which is unfair to the animals, not to mention a waste of your hard-earned dollars.

For all of you seasoned reef keepers, we know you have heard this advice time and time again, so we hope you will lead by example for the generations of hobbyists to come!

If you found this article and the accompanying video helpful, please like, share and subscribe to show your support. Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

> View our Reef Tank Parameters Chart

> Learn How to Cure Live Rock

> View our Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Diagram

> Read Mr. Saltwater Tank's Tips for Cycling a Reef Tank

> Read Aquarium Rock: Live, dry, cured or uncured?

> Read Top 7 Live Rock Hitchhikers