Friday, March 27, 2015

The Aqua Illumination Prime LED is a pint-sized powerhouse packed with easy-to-use features

The AI Prime was just released and is already generating a lot of buzz in the aquarium community. Since we've been receiving a ton of questions from interested hobbyists, we thought we'd test AI's latest creation ourselves and share some of the cool features with you in this video.

One of the most impressive features of the new AI Prime is that it has built-in Wi-Fi. That means you won't have to buy a separate controller to adjust your light settings wirelessly. The Aqua Illumination Prime LED easily pairs with your Apple iPhone or Android mobile device. You can also connect the light to your home wireless network if you prefer to control the light from a desktop or notebook computer.

Similar to other AI aquarium lights, the Prime is a full spectrum LED light. It features 13 LED chips in 7 different colors including Cool White, Blue, Deep Blue, 415nm Violet, Green, Deep Red and 405nm UV. This combination allows you to get the best color out of your corals. The AI Prime is 45 watts, has a spread of 18" x 18" and has peak PAR of 500┬ÁMol at a depth of 12" (see updated information at end of this article).

We demoed the light over a 20" x 20" x 20" Current USA Solana aquarium using the new AI Prime Tank Mount and felt it illuminated the whole tank quite well! The tank mount is cool because it allows you to swivel the light side-to-side or up and down so you can position it to your liking. Aqua Illumination also offers a sold separately hanging kit if you prefer to suspend the fixture. You can still tilt and swivel the Prime should you opt for the hanging kit.

There are several different ways you can program the AI Prime using the myAI app (available free in Google Play or the Apple App Store). In Manual Mode, you can adjust the intensity of each channel from 0% to 100% to dial in the exact coloration you're looking for.

Most hobbyists will probably use Auto Mode. Here you can select each color channel and program the intensities and time points for each color. The Prime then travels through each of the time points you've set throughout the day to create an impressive sunrise/sunset effect.

To make things as easy as possible, AI also includes an Easy Setup mode. Just click on the Easy Setup icon and enter your sunrise time, sunset time as well as the ramp time. From there, you can adjust the minimum and maximum intensities of each color and AI's intelligent software will take care of the rest.

AI has done a terrific job with their new Prime LED. With all the control features plus built-in Wi-Fi, it's an amazing value at only $199.

If you are interested in the Aqua Illumination Prime and would like to learn more, visit our website or contact our experts and we'll help you determine if the Prime is right for you.

Thanks for reading and until next time, take care and happy reefkeeping.

UPDATE 5/6/15: AI has provided us with new information indicating that the spread of the AI Prime is actually 30" x 30" with a peak PAR of 260┬ÁMol at a depth of 12". The Prime draws a maximum of 50 watts from the wall and follows in the energy-efficient footsteps of other Aqua Illumination LED aquarium lights.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Matt's Fully Loaded 300 Gallon Mixed Reef Aquarium

Our Featured Tank series has been a big hit so today we have another awesome aquarium to share with you!

In this episode, we take a close look at a 300 gallon mixed reef aquarium with one of the most impressive and diverse population of fish we have ever seen in a home aquarium.

The owner is a self-proclaimed fish collector named Matt from Manhattan Beach, CA. We were lucky enough to visit Matt's home and film his vast collection of fish and see how he keeps the tank's bioload in check and still manages to keep a variety of healthy corals.

Matt's 300 gallon display houses over 40 different species with a total of about 48 individual fish.

The tank also houses a variety of corals and invertebrates including anemones, an urchin, various snails and crabs as well as variety of different coral species.

The metal framed stand is skinned with an aluminum shell that is held in place with magnets for easy access to his quarantine and frag system which reside below the main display.

The main 300 gallon display is plumbed through the wall of his home into an 80 gallon sump that sits outside.

The sump holds a variety of equipment and employs pretty much all of the major nutrient export methods. Three Algae Turf Scrubbers, a Hydra Aquatics BioPellet Reactor, a Korallin Sulfur BioDenitrator, a refugium with chaetomorpha and a DIY biological filter chamber with Seachem Matrix all help to keep nitrates at bay. Being equipment gurus, it was very cool to see all of these different nitrate reduction methods in action on a single aquarium.

Matt performs a five gallon automated water change on a daily basis using the SpectraPure LiterMeter III which pulls clean water into his main display and recycles the exhausted water into his smaller frag tank and quarantine system. This helps keep the main display in pristine shape and makes it easier to maintain stable water parameters in the smaller tanks.

The homemade light rack has 3 x Radion XR30W Pro Light Fixtures and 8 x Kessil A350 and A360 lights which are attached to a pneumatic lift that allows Matt to raise and lower the entire assembly for maintenance.

For internal water flow and wavemaking Matt uses 4 x EcoTech Marine VorTech MP40 pumps, 3 x VorTech MP10 pumps and a Maxspect Gyre XF150.

The tall, intricate rock work was assembled using a combination of acrylic rods, CeramEco rock structures and 150 lbs of live rock. His aquascape sits on a substrate bed of CaribSea Oolite Sand that is 2-3" deep.

You would think a 300 gallon heavily loaded mixed reef would be enough aquarium for one person, but not for Matt! He recently built a uniquely shaped all-in-one Seahorse aquarium to keep the more delicate fish in his collection.

You can check out all of the equipment, get a full list of animals and see how Matt has such great success by visiting his Featured Tank profile of our website. If you would like to have your aquarium featured on our website and in a future Marine Depot video, please contact us! We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for tuning in and until next time, take care and happy reefkeeping.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

BioCube Hacks: 6 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Nano

All-in-one aquariums like the Coralife BioCube are very popular because they are affordable and easy to set up. These tanks can support fish and coral without the need for much additional equipment, which makes them very appealing to first-time reef tank owners.

AIO style aquariums are so popular now that many ingenious members of the aquarium community have come up with a variety of creative ways to modify the tanks to make them even better and more functional.

Today we'll show you some of our favorite modifications and upgrades that can make your life easier plus ramp up the performance of your all-in-one aquarium.

Removing the plastic hood that houses the stock lighting will make the biggest impact on your all-in-one tank. This is such an impactful change because it will allow you to not only upgrade your lighting, but you'll also gain access to the filtration compartments so you can add upgrades that might not otherwise fit.

There are a number of great LED lights that will work on these types of aquariums once the hood is removed. The Kessil A160WE, Maxspect Nano Razor, EcoTech Marine Radion XR15w Pro and the new Aqua Illumination Prime are among our favorites.

If you prefer to keep the hood on your aquarium, you can still upgrade the stock lighting with any one of a number of LED retrofit kits available. The Current USA TrueLumen Strips are perfect for this application and will fit nicely into the existing hood.

Adding a protein skimmer is much easier once the hood is removed because you'll have so much more room available. The AquaMaxx HOB-1 or AquaC Nano Remora are a couple of your best hang-on back options. You can also install an internal skimmer, such as the CPR SR3, which was made specifically to fit inside the Coralife BioCube. The SR3 fits so perfectly you can even leave the hood on the tank.

A media reactor is a great way to improve the water quality in your BioCube. The Two Little Fishies Phosban 150 is a great choice because it includes a hang-on bracket that easily attaches to the back of your tank. Innovative Marine MiniMax reactors are another popular option because their slim profile allows you to place the entire reactor inside a rear filter chamber of your tank.

One of the more creative modifications we have seen is turning one of the back chambers into a natural refugium. Peeling the back cover off the tank and using a magnetic refugium light like the JBJ Nano-Glo or Innovative Marine MagnaFuge is super easy and surprisingly effective for nutrient control. Just be sure to keep the area clean and harvest the algae as needed.

An auto top-off system is a necessary piece of equipment for small tanks because evaporation causes salinity levels to drop much quicker compared to larger tanks. An ATO also saves you time because they eliminate the need for daily top-off—plus a consistent water level will keep your skimmer performing optimally. When mounting the ATO sensor or float switch, you will need to place it in the chamber that actually changes levels as water evaporates—which is typically the chamber where the pump is located.

Because small all-in-one type tanks have become so popular over the years, many of the leading pump manufacturers now offer nano-sized pumps specifically designed to produce wave motion and sporadic flow in these tiny environments.

You could add a simple powerhead, like the Koralia Nano or Cobalt MJ pump, to keep the water moving. But why not step it up a notch? The EcoTech Marine MP10, Maxspect Gyre XF130 or AquaMedic EcoDrift 4.0 are all suitable options for the 29-gallon BioCube and allow you to adjust the flow to produce some serious wave action in your tank.

The aquarium documented in this video is the 29 Gallon Coralife BioCube. But many, if not all, of these modifications and upgrades can be applied to a wide variety of all-in-one nano tanks. If you would like upgrade your nano but have some questions, our aquarium experts are happy to help you out!

Thanks for reading and until next time, take care and happy reefkeeping!

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Photo Caption Contest: Enter for your chance to win an Aqua Medic EcoDrift Controllable Pump

For this month's contest, we are looking for the BEST caption to accompany this amazing Pearly Jawfish photograph:

We think this image tells a story—but we want YOU to tell it!

Just submit your funniest, cutest or most clever caption and you'll automatically be entered to win Aqua Medic's awesome new EcoDrift 15.0 controllable pump. It's a great way to make waves in your aquarium—check out this video to see it in action:

Our staff of reefers will select the Grand Prize winner; the caption that receives the most "likes" will be awarded a $25 Marine Depot Gift Certificate.

If you would to simulate waves in your tank using one of the hobby's hottest new pumps, ENTER NOW!

Friday, March 13, 2015

All About That Sump - No Clutter

Learn about all of the great benefits a sump system has to offer and get some helpful insight that will make shopping for and installing a sump on your home aquarium much easier.

Proper filtration in an aquarium is absolutely the most important factor for success. When keeping a reef aquarium, filtration is all that more critical because of the sensitive nature of the animals inside and using a sump system can make it much easier to achieve perfect parameters in your reef tank.

A sump is basically a container of water below your aquarium used to house filtration equipment. It will create a larger total water volume in your system which helps dilute waste and makes it easier to maintain healthy water parameters. You can also incorporate more advanced filtration equipment and techniques beyond what other conventional filtration equipment offers; things such as protein skimmers, media reactors, refugiums and algae scrubbers.

By housing all of your equipment in your sump you end up with far less clutter in your display aquarium making for a more natural looking aquascape.

In order to install a sump on your aquarium you will first need to create a drain and this is achieved one of two ways; using a hang-on overflow box or drilling a hole in your aquarium.

A hang-on overflow box siphons water over the edge of your tank and then drains it into the sump.
Having a hole in your tank allows you to use a bulkhead and create a direct gravity drain from the tank into your sump without using a siphon. This is the preferred method as it eliminates the risk of a siphon break.

So once you have sorted out the drain, it is time to choose a sump and get all of the appropriate plumbing. Be sure to check the dimensions under your tank to ensure the chosen sump will fit inside your stand. Nothing is worse than realizing your sump or skimmer for that matter is ½” too big!

You will need a return pump and all of the fittings, tubing, and pipes that will allow you to get water in and out of the sump. The exact plumbing parts needed vary from tank to tank and this is where our Customer Service Team shines; we stock all of the specialized plumbing parts you will need and you can give us a call and one of our aquarium experts can walk you through choosing the correct plumbing parts and ensure you have everything you need for installation.

For larger tanks, the Berlin Sumps are one of our favorite and most popular options. These sumps are economical and available in two sizes for tanks up to 250 gallons. Both sizes include a drain tube, a filter sock to polish the water and a coarse filter sponge to help reduce micro-bubbles and filter out larger debris. The main baffle is removable which allows you to adjust the water height and utilize the large space for a refugium or for a protein skimmer and other equipment.

The new EShopps CUBE Nano Refugium is a unique sump perfectly suited for tanks ranging from 10 – 35 gallons. The Eshopps channel design is this really cool baffling system they created that diverts water into two separate chambers; one which can be used as a refugium and the other for a protein skimmer and return pump. It also incorporates a filter sock and a couple of course sponges to help reduce micro-bubbles. It measures only 14” x 14” and is 16” tall making it easy to fit inside small spaces and gives you all the benefits of larger multi-chambered sump system.

Installing a sump can be a little intimidating and will require some work but the benefits of using one are definitely worth it.  If you are looking to install a sump or are building your dream tank, has what you need to make your aquarium dreams come true.

4Is it time to graduate to a sump? Find out in this article.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rival the Brilliance of Metal Halide with AquaticLife's New HALO LED Light

The AquaticLife HALO is a new LED Light fixture from AquaticLife that was engineered and designed to include all of the features that modern day hobbyists demand. It houses a clustered LED chip with 8 different colors and a total of 25 individual diodes. It will effectively cover a 24” x 24” area and produces a brilliant natural shimmer within your aquarium. It produces full spectrum light and includes 5 different blue LED chips and 2 different UV chips which will really bring out the color of your corals. It is actively cooled with a quiet fan that pulls air in from the top and exhausts out of the sides.

The fixture comes in two styles, the Deluxe and basic. The Deluxe version includes a built in digital timer and includes manual control knobs for both intensity and color. The basic model lacks the control features but can be governed by one of the deluxe models or any of the third party controllers with the 0-10v control capability. Both models can be daisy chained together in order for you to run multiple fixtures and control from a single source.

The built in digital timer is fairly simple and really easy to understand. All you need to do is set the clock then enter the on/off times for both color channels and the ramp time. The maximum intensity and overall spectrum are set using the control knobs on top. AquaticLife has a great video you can view on our YouTube Channel or in the product description that gives you a step by step run through the digital timer.

You can easily suspend it via the two connections on top or they also offer a mounting arm that screws into the threaded hole on top. We were impressed with the mounting arm because of the strong bracket that will fit onto tanks up to 1 3/8" wide and it is hollow which allows you to feed the cord through the mount making for a clean installation. The mounts also come in two sizes, one for 18” wide aquariums and one for 24” wide aquariums.

This is one of the first serious competitors to the very popular Kessil A360 LED lights and we are all excited to see how they measure up. The AquaticLife does have some advantages with a lower price point, built in timer and two different lens options.

If you are looking for an new LED light to rival the brilliance of Metal Halide or simply have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us because our customer service team is always eager to help.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Making the Case for Using LED Aquarium Lights

Today we are going to show you some of the most popular LED lights we  offer and explain why more and more hobbyists are using LED lighting over traditional T5 fluorescent and metal halide fixtures.

LED aquarium lights are extremely energy efficient, using half the power of comparable T5 or metal halide lighting, which translates into lower electricity costs.

In addition, T5 and metal halide lights radiate heat downward into the water and can raise your aquarium water temperature. Most LED systems are designed so that heat radiates upward to dissipate into the surrounding area so your aquarium water temperature is not affected.

LED aquarium lights often have adjustable spectrums, which means you are able to change the color of the light to more white or more blue, depending on your preference. With T5 or metal halide lights, you are stuck with the color of the bulbs you purchased.

Many LED lights are dimmable so you can make the light as bright or dim as you like. You can even tune some down to 1% to use them as a moonlight. You do not need to change bulbs every 8-12 months like you would with fluorescent or metal halide lights. Most LED diodes will last from 3-5 years or even longer depending on usage.

LED lights also cast a beautiful shimmer into your aquarium, similar to metal halide lighting, which makes your tank look more natural.

We carry dozens of LED lighting systems and have something to fit just about any budget. Here are a few of our most popular options:

EcoTech Marine Radion LED Lights

Starting off, we have the EcoTech Marine Radion family of LED lights. The current wave of Radions on the market are third generation models and considered by many to be the best LED system money can buy. They have been improved through the years with better LED chips, better fans and a better programming interface. Radions come with a USB cable that you can connect to your computer to do all the programming or you can control it wirelessly with a Reeflink or Neptune Systems Apex AquaController.

Kessil A360 and A160 LED Lights

Next up, we have the controllable LED lights from Kessil which are very popular with hobbyists, fish stores and even aquaculture facilities. Kessil fixtures produce a very natural-looking light. It is a point-source light so you get almost zero disco effect and it creates a natural shimmer effect that is similar to what metal halides produce. The lights are super easy to use with the two knobs on top; one for color and the other for intensity. Kessil also recently released the Spectral Controller which allows you to program time schedules and adjust color and intensity. Kessil A360 and A160 lights can also be controlled using an Apex aquarium controller.

AI Hydra TwentySix and FiftyTwo Lights

The Aqua Illumination Hydra TwentySix dropped in price from $399 to just $299 last week, making it very enticing and more economical for a lot of hobbyists. It is the smaller version of the Hydra FiftyTwo, although both are full spectrum light fixtures. The TwentySix uses 7 different colored LED diodes and covers a 24" x 24" area. It can be controlled wirelessly with the AI Controller (the controller itself must be plugged into a wall socket or surge bar) or you can use the AI Director which will allow you to control the light from your computer, laptop or mobile device.

Refugium Lighting

In addition to using LEDs as the primary light source for display tanks, many hobbyists are opting to upgrade their refugium lights to LED lights as well. Traditional fluorescent refugium lights are not very resistant to moisture and the output tends to drop quickly over time. Two of our most popular LED refugium lights are the WavePoint Micro Sun and the JBJ Nano-Glo.  Both have full spectrum LEDs and are moisture-resistant.

WavePoint Micro Sun LED Clamp Light

The Micro Sun has an adjustable mount so can easily adapt it to your refugium. It has a very secure clamp so the fixture will not go anywhere. The light is equipped with 8 x 1-watt daylight LEDs that are perfect for your 'fuge. This light could also be used as the primary light source over a freshwater planted tank.

JBJ Nano-Glo Refugium Light

The JBJ Nano Glo has a magnet mount so you can easily mount it to your refugium. These lights are popular for smaller refugiums or all-in-one style aquariums. You can easily clamp it with the magnet to the back of your AIO tank or refugium so it says securely in place. Since the LED diodes are in close proximity to your tank, you do not need as much power since the light is directed exactly where it needs to be.


It is easier and more affordable than ever to make your aquarium lighting more controllable, energy efficient and run cooler. If you have any questions about the products discussed in this post or any other aquarium gear, please don't hesitate to contact us. Until next time... take care and happy reefkeeping!

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Hamilton Aruba Sun T5/LED Lights: A Quick & Easy Way to Upgrade to Higher Output Reef Tank Lighting

T5 lighting is a proven way to illuminate a reef aquarium. You get great coral growth, minimal heat transfer and none of the shadowing problems of LEDs. Plus, the up front cost for T5 lights is very economical.

Hamilton Aruba Sun T5/LED lighting systems are an affordable way to upgrade for many reefkeepers. These systems are easy to use and come to you fully wired with no assembly required. Just insert the bulbs into their sockets, clip on the reflectors and plug in!

Each Aruba Sun includes two Hamilton T5 High Output lamps: Actinic Royal Blue 460nm and 10,000K Super Daylight White. Also included are Moonlight Blue LED lights. The lunar LEDs create an attractive nighttime effect for nocturnal viewing of your aquarium inhabitants.

Five bend, mirror finish reflectors made with 95% German anodized aluminum wrap-around the T5 lights to boost light output. These reflectors can also be rotated to position the light best into your aquarium. Moisture-proof T5 end caps protect the lamps from splashing water and a built-in electronic ballast is used to save space and reduce electricity costs. Each system has two 10' power cords that can plug directly into your wall outlets. One power cord operates the two T5 lamps for daytime lighting and the other operates the LED lights for nighttime.

There are two versions of the Aruba Sun designed to meet your needs. First is the Aruba Sun Low Profile. This version mounts the T5 sockets on the side and measures only 3” tall by 7” wide. It works best for hobbyists with height constraints since the low-profile design fits most canopies.

Second is the Aruba Sun V Series. The V Series is more narrow in width, measuring 5” wide x 5” tall. Hamilton's V Series is ideal for hobbyists with width constraints or aquarists interested in adding T5 lights to an existing lighting system. They also work great for aquarium owners who want to mount several units together.

Hamilton Aruba Sun lighting kits start at a mere $129.99 and are a quick and an easy way to upgrade to higher output reef tank lighting.

About our Guest Blogger

Dave Esposito has been working with Hamilton Technology for over 15 years. He loves the ocean and is a reef aquarium hobbyist. He has an interest mainly in T5 HO and Metal Halide lighting. He had used LEDs but switched back two years ago. Currently he is maintaining a 80 gallon mixed reef aquarium.