Friday, January 30, 2015

Remove Chloramines with your RO/DI Filter System

Chloramine is quickly becoming a concern for an increasing number of aquarium hobbyists because more and more municipalities are using chloramine to sanitize local water supplies.

According to the EPA, more than one in five Americans uses water treated with chloramine. If untreated, chloramine can get into your aquarium and have detrimental effects, ranging from excessive algae growth to the deterioration of fish and corals.

Because of this increasing concern among aquarists, we are going to give you guys the rundown on chloramine, teach you how to test for it and provide some helpful tips on how to remove it from your tap water.

Let's start by making it clear that chloramine and chlorine are not the same. While both chemicals are used to sanitize tap water, chloramine is much more stable and longer-lasting when compared to typical chlorine. This is the reason that more and more water treatment facilities are using chloramine instead of chlorine.

The problem for aquarists is that chloramine is not effectively removed by standard RO/DI systems and the presence of chloramine will quickly exhaust your DI cartridge.

In order to find out if your tap water contains chloramine, you can check with your local city hall or water treatment facility.

If you prefer to check yourself, you can test the waste water coming from your RO/DI system with a total chlorine test kit. Because standard carbon block filters remove all traces of chlorine, if your waste water still tests positive for total chlorine, it would mean that your tap water most likely contains chloramine.

As promised, we have some great solutions for getting rid of chloramine using your RO/DI system.

Since a typical carbon block cartridge will not remove chloramine effectively, a special chloramine removal carbon cartridge is needed.  We offer two different types on our website: the disposable chloramine removal cartridge and refillable Chloramine Blaster cartridge by AquaFX.  The refillable cartridge is especially economical because it can be refilled with the AquaFX Chloramine Blaster Catalytic Carbon Media.

Ideally, you will want to have two chloramine-removal carbon cartridges in-series after your sediment filter. Alternatively, you can use one chloramine-removal cartridge followed by one standard carbon block cartridge. By using two carbon block filters in series, you will ensure that no traces of chloramine enter the membrane or DI cartridge.

Since most RO/DI systems are not set up to accept dual carbon cartridges, it is likely you will need to modify your RO/DI system to install the appropriate carbon filters. We offer the Chloramine Blaster Upgrade Kit by AquaFX which includes all of the components needed to add the filters to your existing RO/DI system. You can also purchase the components separately on our website.

If you need help, please do not hesitate to contact our aquarium experts for assistance. We'd love to hear from you!

Until next time... take care and happy reefkeeping.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Q&A Series #9: What makes a "good" protein skimmer?

A protein skimmer is a key component to a marine aquarium's filtration system. Throughout my years of reef keeping, I have learned that using a good quality protein skimmer can greatly improve your odds of success.

That's why today we are going to answer one of the aquarium hobby's most frequently asked questions: "What makes a good protein skimmer?"

First, it is important to understand how protein skimmers work. The skimmer pump produces air bubbles that proteins and waste attach to inside the skimmer. The air bubbles, carrying waste, rise to the top of the skimmer then spill into a collection cup.

The pump is really the heart of the protein skimmer since it is what produces those waste-carrying air bubbles.

Good protein skimmers often include needlewheel impellers inside their skimmer pumps to "chop" incoming air into even smaller bubbles. As bubbles pass through the impeller, "needles" or "pins" on the impeller shred incoming bubbles into micro bubbles. A high-quality pump with a well-designed impeller will produce more bubbles that are smaller in size, which increases the surface area inside the skimmer to remove more waste. Plus, a high-quality pump will last longer, run quieter and transfer less heat into your aquarium.

Another important feature to consider is the size of the reaction chamber. The reaction chamber is the part of the skimmer body where all the action happens. A big reaction chamber allows a larger volume of bubbles to accumulate and attract proteins. It also provides more contact time for the proteins to attach to air bubbles.

The shape of the skimmer body should not be overlooked. A smooth transition from the skimmer body to the collection cup allows the bubbles to easily rise and fall into the cup for easy removal. Cone, hybrid cone and wineglass designs offer the smoothest path for air bubbles to rise into the collection cup with the least resistance.

An easy-to-use and responsive outlet adjustment is helpful because it allows you to adjust the water level inside your skimmer. You can easily fine-tune your skimmer for steady skimmate production and to avoid overflow. Many of the newest protein skimmers to hit the market also include bubble plates which reduce turbulence and further increase contact time.

An air silencer and a collection cup with a drain fitting are also useful. They may seem like minor details but can really help keep your skimmer quiet and reduce maintenance. Performance aside, you will want to look at the quality of the materials used to build the skimmer. Higher quality materials will be more durable and resistant to damages. Cast acrylic is generally considered the best material, followed by extruded acrylic, and then plastic.

The brand of the skimmer is also important. You may find yourself needing technical or warranty support during your ownership of your protein skimmer. A reputable company with a customer support team willing to help you during set up or if something goes awry is a true test of the value of their product. AquaMaxx, Reef Octopus, Vertex, and Tunze are currently among the best in our industry.

Here at Marine Depot, we carry a lot of great skimmers… many of which we use on our own aquariums. If you have questions about any of the protein skimmers on our website, feel free to contact us—we’d love to hear from you!

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Featured Tank: Bret's Mature 55 Gallon Mixed Reef

With all of the hard work that goes into keeping a reef tank, a certain level of appreciation is found in seeing an established aquarium filled with healthy corals and animals. All of us here at Marine Depot find great satisfaction in hearing and reading about the success of our customers so today we decided to spotlight one of our favorite tanks.

We recently visited one of our local customers, Bret, to film his mature 55 gallon reef tank that has been running for over 8 years.

One of the most impressive aspects of this aquarium were the large SPS coral colonies. The Green Millipora was one of our favorites. The color of the Strawberry Shortcake Acro was also stunning! All of the different mushroom corals in the tank are so prolific they get trimmed back almost monthly to keep them from pushing out other corals. Bret also has a pair of clownfish that were tending to a clutch of eggs which is a frequent occurrence in the aquarium.

With minimal fish and quality aquarium filtration, the system maintains a low waste level which really helps the corals to grow and thrive. Something we also noticed was how well the parameters are maintained using only supplements. The aquarium does not have a calcium reactor yet still achieves excellent growth among the stony corals.

This tank is only 55 gallons and successfully houses a variety of corals and animals which goes to show that bigger is not always better!

See for yourself exactly how Bret achieves such great success by visiting the Featured Tank section of our website for a complete breakdown of his equipment and livestock.

4If you are interested in becoming Marine Depot's next Featured Tank, click here.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Vertex Omega Protein Skimmers: Powerful Performers with Polished Features

Vertex is known for manufacturing high-quality marine aquarium equipment that is both stylish and functional. The Vertex Omega Series line of protein skimmers are a prime example of this and we are excited to show you just how awesome these new skimmers are today.

Omega Series skimmers are available in four sizes and are suitable for aquariums ranging from 50 to 200 gallons. All models feature modified, Italian-made Sicce pump motors that are customized specifically for Vertex skimmers to increase air draw. The extra wide volute, large diameter venturi and custom pinwheel create a dense foam inside the skimmer.

All Vertex Omega skimmers have a dedicated ozone injection port along with a responsive level adjustment. These protein skimmers are designed to be used inside a sump or cabinet filter. They are constructed of cast acrylic with hot welded seams and CVC machined PVC. The smooth wine glass shape of the skimmer body helps the bubbles to easily condense and move into the collection cup for easy removal.

Vertex really put some thought into the minor details of these protein skimmers. They have rust-proof titanium screws, vibration dampening rubber feet making for quiet operation and silicone airline tubing that is resistant to cracking and will stay limber. Vertex also created a swiveling drain fitting that makes removing the collection cup easy. Omega skimmers can be completely disassembled for access to the bubble plate and easy cleaning/maintenance.

The Marine Depot staff is very excited to be able to offer these powerful performing protein skimmers to our customers. If you are looking for an in-sump protein skimmer for your reef tank, the Vertex Omega Series should definitely be on your short list.

Until next time... take care and happy reefkeeping!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Q&A Series #8: How do I get rid of that awful smell coming from my protein skimmer?

Welcome to another installment of Marine Depot's Q&A video series!

We all love having a piece of the ocean in our homes. However, most of us are not too fond of having our homes smell like the ocean, or worse, like the local fish store.

This brings us to today's question: "How do I get rid of that awful smell coming from my protein skimmer?"

Most saltwater aquarium owners have run into the issue of having a stinky tank at some point or another. Running activated carbon filter media in your aquarium helps remove the phenols which cause that stinky fish smell.

Unfortunately, for those of us running a protein skimmer as a part of our reef aquarium filtration system, there may still be a ton of odor coming from the concentration of organic waste inside the skimmer's collection cup. Plus, with the amount of air being pumped through your protein skimmer, it tends to radiate that stinky skimmate smell into the surrounding areas of your home.

One easy way to stop the stench is by placing a carbon filter pad on top of your protein skimmer collection cup. Rio Carbon Filter Pads work great for this quick fix. Just cut the pad to size and place it on the lid of the collection cup. As air and odor exits the collection cup, the carbon in the filter pad will absorb the smell and drastically reduce foul odor.

Since the carbon pad on your protein skimmer lid is only being used to remove odor, it will last quite a long time. On my personal system, I usually only have to replace the carbon pad every 2-3 months. A small price to pay to keep my family from complaining about my stinky fish tank.

Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel using the link below so you never miss another fun and helpful installment of our Q&A video series.

Until next time... take care and happy reefkeeping!

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Booster Pumps: What they do and why you need one for your reverse osmosis filter system

A reverse osmosis/deionization (RO/DI) filter system is crucial to keeping a successful reef aquarium because it produces the pure water required to keep fish and corals healthy.

Adding a booster pump to your RO/DI system will help you achieve optimal production and less waste water!

Booster pumps are not only designed for areas with low water pressure, but are also great for aquarium hobbyists who simply want to get the most out of their RO/DI system. Today we are going to explain how booster pumps work and also highlight one of the newest and easiest to use models that just became available.

A booster pump, as the name implies, boosts the pressure going into your RO or RO/DI system which makes it operate more efficiently and decreases consumption of DI resin.

Booster pumps are installed inline to increase the water pressure going into the RO membrane. It will provide your RO membrane with the ideal water pressure which results in maximum water production, the highest quality filtered water and less waste water.

In fact, you can often achieve a 1:1 product-to-waste water ratio compared to the normal 4:1 ratio produced by units without a booster pump. Booster pumps can be powered manually or via switches that completely automate the use of the pump. We stock a variety of booster pumps from industry-leading RO/DI manufacturers like SpectraPure, AquaFX and AquaticLife.

One booster pump we would like to highlight is the new Smart Buddie from AquaticLife because it is one of the easiest pumps to install on an existing RO/DI system.

The Smart Buddie has clearly labeled ports that direct you where to connect existing RO lines making installation fast and simple. It features built-in high pressure and low pressure switches that turn the pump on and off automatically to ensure optimum pressure at all times, extending the life of the pump and allowing for safe operation with float valves. It also has a built-in automatic flush that automatically clears out your membrane each time the unit is activated which will drastically extend the life of your TFC membrane.

Booster pumps save you time by making water faster and will definitely save you money by reducing waste water. With the frequent flushing of your membrane, you will also save money on the cost of replacement filters.

If you are interested in getting a booster pump for your reverse osmosis filter, feel free to contact us for recommendations. Our aquarium experts are happy to suggest a booster pump that will work well for your system and fit your budget.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Do you love aquariums and making customers happy? We are hiring 2 new support team members!

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

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

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

Monday, January 05, 2015

Aquarium Dosing Systems: What's the Difference?

When keeping a reef aquarium the addition of liquid to our aquarium is required to perform a number of tasks.

Keeping water chemistry in line using liquid supplements, feeding corals to sustain healthy growth with plankton-based food or amino acids as well as keeping salinity constant with the addition of fresh water.

Often times, the need for adding liquid to your reef tank becomes a daily chore. Thanks to the problem-solving nature of our aquarium predecessors, there are some excellent automated solutions available to you.

An automated dosing system can be set up a number of different ways with the same basic goal: to add liquid to your aquarium in the correct amount at a safe rate.

This article will give you insight into some of the popular ways hobbyists are automatically dosing their aquariums and help you on the road to total aquarium automation—freedom from tedious and messy manual dosing or top-off!

Gravity-Fed Dosing Systems

This method may seem archaic to some, but it remains one of the easiest and least expensive ways to dose your aquarium and is very popular among the DIY crowd for automatic top-off and buffering.

All you need is a dosing container with a ¼" airline tubing connection on the bottom, some airline tubing and a valve to adjust the rate of flow.

The way this works is simple. The container is filled with the liquid of choice and placed above the water line. The airline is attached to the container on the bottom and led into the aquarium or sump. The adjustment valve is placed inline after the container. With the magic of gravity, the liquid will flow from the container into your tank continuously. Using the adjustment valve you can reduce the rate of flow to a slow drip, creating a constant and effective way to slowly add a liquid into your aquarium.

The downside of this method is that the flow of fluid will be continuous. You will need to test frequently in order to ensure you are dosing the correct amount of fluid. This method works best for automatic top-off, alkalinity buffering or adding kalkwasser but can be problematic when used for feeding or dosing other supplements, such as magnesium or trace elements.

Automatic Top-Off System

Most of us are pretty familiar with ATO systems as they are usually the first automated device a reef hobbyist will purchase. While many of us may not look at an automatic top-off off system as a "dosing" system, in reality, it is doing exactly the same thing as any other dosing system: adding a fluid to your aquarium in the correct amount at the correct rate—but it is automated based on water level.

While an ATO system is intended to keep your salinity and water level correct, many of us may not realize is the addition of certain additives to your top-off water can be an effective delivery method for supplements that will maintain alkalinity, calcium and even magnesium.

Many different ATO systems are available and we have a great article describing several popular units in detail. Because the addition of fluid is based on your water level, this does not give you much control. It is important to test and adjust the concentration of your additive of choice as needed based on your water parameters. It is best used as a supplemental way to keep your parameters in check if manual dosing is your main means of adding elements to your aquarium.

Air Pump Powered Dosing System

This method is perfect for those of us on a budget and great for the DIY hobbyists. This air pump powered dosing system works using an air pump, a standard timer or aquarium controller, and pressurized containers to hold and deliver the fluid of choice.

The air pump is used to pressurize the containers holding your fluid; the fluid is then forced out of the containers and into your aquarium when the air pump is powered on. The plumbing of the system must be specific using flow control valves and check valves in the proper location to ensure the fluid flows correctly and at the correct rate. You can find tutorials online and in forums. ESV has a kit for their popular B-Ionic Two-Part Calcium Buffer System that comes with all of the necessary components, although we no longer carry it.

The benefits of an air pump powered dosing system are that you can control the rate of flow with a flow control valve and the time at which the fluids are dosed using an aquarium timer or controller. The air pump can be powered on at the time of your choice and then simply adjust the rate of flow using the valve. Because of the precise control, this system can be used for a variety of additives from two-part solutions to phytoplankton feeding and can successfully be a comprehensive dosing system for all of your fluid delivery needs.

Peristaltic Dosing Pumps

The cream of the crop when it comes to fluid delivery devices. Peristaltic dosing pumps are electronic, self-priming pumps that will precisely deliver fluids into your aquarium. They can often be controlled directly on the pump itself or using a standard aquarium timer or controller. These pumps are widely becoming the method of choice for dosing your aquarium by hobbyists worldwide.

Peristaltic dosing pumps are the best choice because of the precise control. The pump can easily be discreetly mounted in your aquarium stand and operate very quietly. Most pumps in the US will utilize standard ¼" tubing. Many of the higher end pumps available today come with the capability to program the time and duration the pump operates and come with multiple pump heads in order to handle multiple fluids. Some of the lesser expensive pumps available are continuous duty and will run when power is applied so the use of an aquarium timer or controller will help operate these models. Both will give you the ability to precisely dose your aquarium.

When using a dosing pump it is crucial to monitor the amount of fluids being delivered. Once you set up a program, it is always a good idea to test the amount of fluid being dosed before allowing operation on your aquarium to ensure the correct amounts are being delivered. Because of the precise control you can utilize dosing pumps to not only dose supplements and foods, but you can top-off your aquarium and automate water changes as well.

With all of your options, automating the dosing of fluids into your aquarium is surely something most any hobbyists can accomplish. It will most definitely release some of the stress associated with daily attention to your tank and will also help you to maintain consistent parameters with less fluctuation in your aquarium. Many advanced hobbyists know that a reliable system of maintaining stable water parameters is one of the biggest keys to a successful, thriving reef.

RELATED READING: How to Set Up a Dosing Pump