Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marine Depot Featured Tank: CAD Lights Artisan 70 Gallon Reef Tank

About 8 months ago, the awesome folks over at CAD Lights donated a 70 gallon Artisan aquarium for our customer support team to set up and maintain here at our corporate headquarters in Garden Grove, CA.

Since then our support team has put together and grown a beautiful reef aquarium. Today we will show you some of the awesome features of these very contemporary CAD Lights Artisan tanks and take you on a personalized tour of the Marine Depot 70 Gallon Artisan Tank.

We got off the hook in terms of installation because the CAD Lights crew was nice enough to install the tank for us. Out of the box, the tanks require minimal assembly with just a few plumbing parts to install and a couple of really easy tubing connections.

The entire installation was complete within about 30 minutes, which is one of the huge benefits of purchasing a CAD Lights all-in-one aquarium. Everything you need to get the tank operating and moving water is included!

CAD Lights really put some attention into the details of these tanks—hence the name "Artisan."  Low iron glass, a piano-finish painted stand, quiet overflow system and a glass tank cover make these aquariums really stand out. We also really like the dimensions of the tank. The 70 gallon version measures 36" x 24" x 18", which gives you plenty of room to create a variety of different natural looking aquascapes. Perfect for a reef tank!

We mixed our first batch of saltwater using BrightWell Aquatics NeoMarine Salt Mix. We used dry CaribSea Special GradeReef Sand and CaribSea Life Rock to scape the tank.

We originally intended to test various aquarium light fixtures over the tank in order to get some first-hand experience with all the latest light fixtures on the market. We started with a single EcoTech Marine Radion XR15w Pro LED Light just to see how well it could cover a tank of this size. We were impressed with the amount of light coming from such a small fixture, but after adding coral we could see we definitely needed more light so we added a Radion XR30w Gen3 LED Light as well.

A single VorTech MP40 Propeller Pump is used to create flow in the tank and is doing a great job of keeping things moving in the entire aquarium.

We swapped out the original CAD Lights protein skimmer with a VertexOmega 150 which has been performing flawlessly for about 4 months now. Not only does it skim really well, it also operates very quietly.

We have a dual media reactor running both carbon and GFO along with a mechanical filter sponge that is cleaned weekly alongside a 5-10 gallon water change.  The AutoAqua Smart ATO keeps the water level on point and so far has worked great without a single hiccup.

We are dosing the tank manually with ESV B-Ionic 2-Part Calcium & Alkalinity Solution at the rate of about 50mL per day.

All of the livestock was donated by staff members or friends of Marine Depot. The aquarium houses a number of coral frags that our staff members are constantly trading and showing off. We have a Rose Bubble Tip anemone that hosts three Clownfish. The large Red Montipora and Acan colonies were rescued from a local hobbyist's tank and are each over 5 years old. One of our favorite fish in the tank is the Longnose Hawkfish.

We created a full tank profile with a list of equipment and livestock in the Featured Tank section of our website if you want to dig deeper and find out what's been working for us.

The CAD Lights Artisan 70 gallon tank has really become hit in the office and we have a lot of fun experimenting and growing corals to share. If you are thinking about starting up a new tank or have questions about any of the products discussed in this blog post and accompanying video, feel free to contact our support team today for honest advice from real hobbyists.

If you found this tank profile interesting, please like, share and subscribe to show your support!

Until next time... take care and happy reef keeping.

4View the full Featured Tank profile of this tank for more insights.

4View all CAD Lights aquariums we sell for specs and pricing.

4Watch our Tank Profiles playist for an inside look at more cool tanks.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Marine/Reef Aquarium Sand: Deep Sand Bed or Shallow? Coarse or Fine Grain Sand? Find Out!

Today we are going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about choosing sand for a saltwater aquarium. Read on to discover what kind of sand is best for your tank plus get the truth about how deep your sand bed should really be.

We offer a wide variety of sands and each type has its advantages and disadvantage. Similarly, a shallow sand bed also has advantages and disadvantages over deep sand beds. To help decide what you need, you first need to decide what you want to achieve!

A shallow sand bed measuring 1.5" to 2" deep with a fine grade sand is great for those of you who like a natural looking, brilliant sand bed. The CaribSea Fiji Pink and Aragamax are the two most popular fine grade sands. The fine particle size is great for filtration because there is tons of surface area for bacteria to grow on. Furthermore a shallow bed is easy to keep clean and will not clog up with detritus. The drawback is that because the sand is fine and lightweight, it gets blown around easily in reef aquariums with high water movement and you can end up with bare spots on the bottom of the tank.

Using a deep sand bed with fine grain sand is great because of the increased biological filtration. It will promote both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria helping to break down waste and remove nitrates. A deep sand bed is typically 6" to 8" deep. Within the first 2" to 3", aerobic bacteria will thrive and help breakdown waste and produce nitrates. As you go deeper into the sand bad, the water will be less oxygenated and therefore anaerobic bacteria will thrive. This type of bacteria is very efficient at denitrification which will turn nitrate into nitrogen gas.

The drawback to a DSB is that you need much more sand and it takes up a significant portion of your aquarium. Additionally, there is also the potential for pockets of poisonous hydrogen sulfide to develop if there is not enough organisms to keep the sand bed stirred and clean. Allowing a deep sand bed to become stagnant and full of detritus will eventually cause a big problem in your tank so be sure to maintain a solid clean-up crew with animals such as nassarius snails, sand sifting gobies and starfish, sea cucumbers, conchs and even hermit crabs.

A shallow sand bed with coarse sand is what many of us here at MD prefer to use. CaribSea Special-Grade sand is perfect for this type of sand bed and is one of our most economical and best-selling substrates. With coarser sand, you will have less surface area for bacteria to grow on and a higher chance of detritus getting trapped in the sand. However, the advantages are that because it is heavier, it does not get blown around easily and you are less likely to have bare spots at the bottom of your aquarium. Coarser grain sand can also be cleaned with a gravel vacuum during water changes so it is easy to keep clean and free of detritus.

We advise against using a deep sand bed with coarse sand. A coarse grain sand bed that is more than 2" to 3" inches deep is a dangerous combination because it will quickly become clogged with detritus and increase the nitrate in your tank. You will also have a much greater chance of getting toxic pockets of harmful gas and it is difficult to keep clean, even with a hefty clean-up crew.

Once you have decided on the type of sand bed you want, you will have some options when it comes the appearance and color of the sand. CaribSea Aragamax and Oolite sand have sort of become the standard for fine grade sand. Both are fine, beige-colored sands that are uniform in color and size.

The CaribSea Fiji Pink and Bimini are also beige colored, fine grade sand with small bits of pink mixed in which gives it a very unique and natural look.

If you want to step outside the box a bit and are looking for something different, the CaribSea Tahitian Moon or Indo Pacific Black sand are formed from volcanic ash in Hawaii. The black sand gives an amazing contrast to your fish and corals, but can be tough to keep clean.

For coarse grade sand, the CaribSea Special-Grade sand is the one to look for and is available both live and dry.

How many pounds of sand you need will vary based on the particular sand you choose. We have a handy Sand Bed Calculator on our website that allows you to enter your tank size along with the grain size of the sand to estimate of how much sand you will need.

With so many choices and the dramatic way sand can transform the appearance of an aquarium, you now see how this is really a worthwhile topic to consider while planning your aquarium build.

If you need help choosing the right sand or would like to place an order, please contact our aquarium experts for fast and friendly service. If you found this blog post and the accompanying video helpful, please like, share and subscribe to show your support and help out other hobbyists!

Until next time... take care and happy reef keeping.

4View all dry sand and live sand at Marine Depot

4Read more about Marine and Reef Aquarium Substrate

4Read An Introduction to the 'Great Substrate Debate'

Specials thanks to sierrasaltwatersystems, aquarist.me, Sean McGrath, Bill & Mark Bell and Eddie Zia for some of the wonderful photos that appear in today's video.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Marine Aquarium Rock: Which Rock is Right for You?

The marine aquarium hobby has come a long way.

Back in the day, the only option for rock for a saltwater fish or reef aquarium was to use rock taken straight from the ocean, which people called live rock.

Fast-forward to today and now many different types of aquarium rock are available to saltwater hobbyists, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Some of the more popular options include Dry Live Rock, man-made rock like CaribSea Life Rock and even dry rock quarried on land, like AquaMaxx's Eco-Rock.

Let's take a closer look at each type of rock, what makes them unique and what the pros & cons are to help make it a bit easier when it comes time to choose rock for your next build.

Fiji's Best Live Rock

This "old school" live rock is collected from Indo-Pacific oceans, shipped via expedited service to a U.S. distributor and then delivered to your doorstep.

Much of the beneficial bacteria is preserved to help cycle your new aquarium. Some die-off is going to occur during transit, so this rock should be cured for a month before placing it into an established aquarium. Live rock is great because it is so natural-looking and porous.

In addition to the beneficial bacteria, it is not uncommon for hitchhikers to catch a ride on your new rock and make themselves at home in your aquarium. The drawback is that you may get both good and bad hitchhikers. In addition, paying the extra cost for expedited shipping drives up the price a bit.

AquaMaxx Dry Live Rock

AquaMaxx dry live rock is also collected from the ocean, but it is fully dried before it is shipped to the states.

Dry live rock has become one of the most popular rock options in recent years. One of the chief advantages is that you don't have to pay extra for expedited shipping to get it to you. There is no longer life on the rock due to the drying process. However, dry live rock should still be cured before placing it into your marine/reef aquarium.

Dry live rock usually costs 30-40% less than comparable live rock. These savings can be substantial depending on the size of the aquarium you are aquascaping. Another reason hobbyists choose dry live rock is because they don't have to worry about unwanted hitchhikers entering their tank, like undesirable corals, algae or anemones.

There are several types of dry live rock available, which makes it easy to mix-and-match and create elaborate pillars, sturdy shelves, interesting overhangs and cool caves.

CarbiSea Life Rock

We admit it. We were skeptical of how well this man-made, "painted" rock would look in a reef aquarium. For some of the longtime hobbyists on our staff, the idea of an artificial rock that has been colored to look as if it's covered in coralline algae just seemed strange.

Even after taking it out of the box for the first time, we weren't convinced. The purple coloring looked a bit... unnatural.

However, after aquascaping the 80 gallon aquarium in our lunch room with Life Rock, we were finally convinced. Here we are, several months later... and we're still surprised by how fantastic it looks! It's so nice not having to wait the usual 8-12 months for purple coralline algae to start growing. Our lunch room reef tank has looked mature and established since day one!

Once we began adorning our Life Rock aquascape with corals frags and colonies, it looked just as beautiful and natural as live rock from the ocean. Another cool benefit of CaribSea Life Rock is that it is infused with bacterial spores, which helps speed up the cycling process. You also don't have to worry about pesky hitchhikers, like aiptasia, or any environmental impact since the rock is not take from our oceans.

AquaMaxx Eco-Rock

Another great option to consider if you like the idea of using an eco-friendly, pest-free rock in your saltwater aquarium is AquaMaxx Eco-Rock.

This aragonite-based rock is quarried on land where a coral reef used to exist about a hundred thousand years ago. Rock from this fossilized coral reef are great for aquarium use because they are very porous, which is ideal for biological filtration.

Since this is a dry rock, it will not come with any life on it so it will take a while for coralline algae to begin growing. The flip side is that you don't have to worry about hitchhikers from accidentally entering your tank.

Since it is both economical and eco-friendly, AquaMaxx Eco-Rock has remained a best-seller and customer favorite since it was first introduced two years ago.

Which Rock is Right for You?

With so many cool options available to marine and reef hobbyists nowadays, finding the right aquarium rock has never been easier.

If you're looking for a deal, AquaMaxx Eco-Rock is a great choice. If you want to replicate the look of a real ocean reef, Fiji's Best Live Rock is probably more up your alley. For an eco-friendly solution that has the desirable purple look hobbyists crave, CaribSea Life Rock is the way to go. Or, if you want a hitchhiker-free rock with unusual shapes and textures to build the perfect undersea playground for your pets, dry live rock may be the building blocks you need. Be sure to check out our branch and shelf pieces plus customer favorite, Pukani!

If you have any questions about aquarium rock, please contact us for honest advice from real hobbyists. Until next time ... take care and happy reef keeping.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Create ultra-clean water for your aquarium with Marine Depot KleanWater RO and RO/DI Systems

We are extremely excited to introduce you to the all-new Marine Depot KleanWater RO and RO/DI filter systems exclusively available now at MarineDepot.com.

With several different systems available from 4 to 6 stages, you are sure to find the perfect filter to fit any budget and performance level.

Marine Depot's KleanWater Series are proudly built right here in the U.S.A. and are designed specifically with aquarium use in mind. The best thing about these systems are that they are ultra-affordable—in fact, they are the most economical line of reverse osmosis water filter systems currently available on our website.

Yet even with the super-low pricing, there have been zero compromises made in the quality and performance of these units. We are using U.S. made TFC membranes that feature ultra-high rejection rates to create the purest water possible. Our  high-capacity carbon block filter cartridge lasts 4 times longer than standard carbon block filters and is also capable of removing chloramine. The DI cartridges in our KleanWater systems have "Nuclear Grade" DI resin to help remove every last bit of nitrate and phosphate from your tap water.

All KleanWater reverse osmosis systems use standard-size cartridges so you can easily find replacement filters. Quick-disconnect fittings are used throughout the entire system, which makes installation and maintenance fast and easy. Plus, when you purchase a RO or RO/DI system at Marine Depot, you will automatically receive 15% off all your replacement sediment filters, carbon filters, DI cartridges and membranes FOR LIFE (learn more).

Whether you are interested in mixing your own saltwater at home or would like to upgrade your reverse osmosis system without breaking the bank, our new KleanWater RO and RO/DI filter systems are sure to impress. We've been developing these systems for quite some time and are super excited to get them into the homes of hobbyists around the world. We are confident they will exceed your expectations and perform well even in the most demanding situations.

If you want clean water in your aquarium, Marine Depot KleanWater reverse osmosis systems are a great place to start. Contact our aquarium experts today and we'll be happy to help you choose a system that fits your budget and goals.

We appreciate your time today and if you found this blog and the accompanying video helpful, please like, share and subscribe to show your support!

Until next time... take care and happy reef keeping.

4View all Marine Depot KleanWater RO and RO/DI systems

4Find out How to Replace Your RO/DI Filter Cartridges

4Learn to Remove Chloramines with your RO/DI Filter System

4Find out What Booster Pumps Do and Why You (May) Need One

Monday, June 15, 2015

Product Review: AquaMaxx WS-1 Protein Skimmer

Intro and Background

Earlier this year, I started the search for the best skimmer for my all-in-one mixed reef tank.  I researched every possible skimmer that would fit in my footprint. I had a max footprint of 8" x 4" available to me.

I originally wanted to order a JNS WS-1, but soon found out that it was no longer being shipped to the US. After speaking with a couple different suppliers and JNS themselves, I found out that AquaMaxx (JNS' US distributor) was planning on re-branding it to the AquaMaxx WS-1 for sale in the US. I promptly decided that it was the skimmer for me, but had to wait about 2 months for it to be released.

Fast forward to today, it has been running in my rear chamber for about 1 month now.

I am using this skimmer on my 34 gallon CAD Lights Mini-II. My current bioload consists of an O. Clownfish pair, spotted mandarin, yellowtail tamarin wrasse, and various clean up crew members.  I am planning on adding at least 2 more fish in the near future and plan to update this review sometime after to describe any changes I see from an increase in bioload.

Unboxing/Initial Impressions

Right out of the box, I could tell that this skimmer was of very high quality. It is made out of cell cast acrylic, with beautiful laser cuts. Holding it in your hand, you can just tell that it is put together well. Personally, I also feel that it is pleasing to the eye, but that is a matter of personal taste. The packaging was sufficient and there was absolutely no damage from shipping whatsoever.

Out of the box from Marine Depot

I decided to run the skimmer in a 50/50 vinegar/RODI bath for 24 hours prior to installing the skimmer to cut down on the break-in period. This is something that I usually do with any new equipment so that you can remove any residual oils from manufacturing, which is especially important in the case of a skimmer, as those oils can cause your skimmer to take much longer to break in.

24 hour vinegar bath

Initial Installation

After the 24 hour vinegar bath and a quick rinse in RODI, I installed the skimmer in my rear chamber. It fit like a glove!

AquaMaxx WS-1 in the rear chamber
of the CAD Lights Mini-II aquarium.

Initial tuning was a breeze. As the instructions call out, I simply powered on the unit and adjusted the cup so that the bottom of the cup sat about ½" to 1" below the water line inside of the skimmer body. Within 48 hours, I was collecting skimmate, although it was quite wet. I did not experience any microbubbles whatsoever, which is great for a nano skimmer.

The AquaMaxx WS-1 produces a nice thick foam head. The skimmer does produce a bit of noise, but it is not much more than a steady low hum from the pump. With the cup on, I cannot hear the fizzing sound inherent of a skimmer. My tank is located in my bedroom and I am a light sleeper. I can safely say that it is not enough to keep me awake at night.

Wet skimmate collected during the first week after getting the skimmer up and running.

Here is a picture of how far the cup sticks out of my rear chamber.
For reference, my tank is 16" tall.

Thoughts and Impressions

The WS-1 skimmer has now been running for a little over 1 month. At this point, I feel like I can consider it to be fully broken in and operational. I am experiencing a much darker, nasty skimmate now and feel that the skimmer is performing very well. In addition to dark liquid, it pulls out all kinds of pieces of leftover food and other decaying matter and the smell the skimmate produces is horrid. This all means to me that it is working very well, much better than the previous nano skimmer that I was using.

What my skimmate generally looks like after 3-4 days. 

Tuning the skimmer is a breeze. You simply move the square gasket around the cup up/down to the desired position. I recommend making very small changes and giving the skimmer a day or 2 to see how it responds. This goes for pretty much any skimmer, but I felt that it was very easily done on the WS-1. I feel this to be quite important, as one common flaw/issue with nano skimmers is tuning and adjust-ability.

Maintaining the skimmer will also be a breeze as AquaMaxx makes it very easy to disassemble and clean. The pump/bubble plate are attached to the main baffle in the skimmer body, which slides up and out when it is time to clean the inside of the skimmer.  This will allow you to very easily get inside of the skimmer to clean every inch if you so desire.

Pros, Cons and Conclusion
  • Pros of the AquaMaxx WS-1
  • Powerful and effective skimmer in a very compact footprint
  • Fairly quiet operation
  • Easy to assemble/clean/maintain
  • Quite reasonable price for what you get
  • Easy to tune/adjust
  • Aesthetically pleasing

Cons of the AquaMaxx WS-1

So far I have not found one. The only thing that I should warn you about is I have had a number of cerith snails get into the intake of the skimmer. This causes the skimmer to lose its foam head, not perform correctly, and produce microbubbles. This really is not the fault of the skimmer, but was something that I felt should be stated.

Final Thoughts

I feel that the AquaMaxx WS-1 is one of the best (if not the best) nano skimmers on the market. Granted, I have not tried all of what is available, but compared to the one I was using prior to this, I am a very happy customer. I would highly recommend this skimmer to anyone that is looking for a powerful skimmer, but only has a small footprint available to them.

Related Reading

About our Guest Author

I have been in the reefing hobby for about 2 years now and it has become quite a passion for me. Coming from a technical background as an engineer, I really enjoy the technological aspect of the hobby, as well as the technicality that it requires to keep such a fragile ecosystem thriving. I also enjoy involving both of my son's in the hobby. While my youngest at 6 months may be a little too young to understand everything, he very much loves gazing into the tank while sitting on my lap. My 5 year old, however, has become quite the fish and coral enthusiast! I look forward to many, many more enjoyable years in the hobby, with both my tanks and my kids.

Friday, June 12, 2015

SPS Coral Care: Tips, Tricks & Techniques to Help You Succeed

Today we are going to discuss caring for SPS corals in a reef aquarium and provide you with some useful advice that will help you tackle what most hobbyists consider the pinnacle of reef keeping.

Keeping small polyp stony corals is a polarizing topic among reef hobbyists. Reefers find keeping them to be very rewarding or very frustrating. This is because keeping healthy and beautifully colored SPS corals requires careful attention to every aspect of coral husband. Once you have experienced the satisfaction of turning an average looking fuzzy stick into a beautiful flourishing colony, the SPS bug bites and is likely to never go away.

Among all the different types of SPS corals, there are a few species that are easier to keep and recommended for those of you attempting to keep SPS for the first time. Seriotopora, Montipora, Stylophora and Pocillopora corals are all excellent for beginners. The harder to keep and more sensitive SPS corals, such as Acropora, should be reserved for SPS gurus who can meet the needs of these persnickety corals.

What makes SPS corals so hard to keep? Why do hobbyists put them on a pedestal above all other types of coral?

In reality, the basic needs of SPS corals are not really all that different from other corals—they are simply more sensitive and will quickly deteriorate if any one aspect is overlooked.

Providing a stable environment is crucial to keeping healthy SPS corals. This is often the difference between success and failure. Automation equipment, like dosers and auto top-off (ATO) systems, along with aquarium controllers can make it much easier to maintain and monitor a stable aquatic environment that supports the growth of SPS corals.

Water quality is key. Many SPS keepers find that clean water with low nitrate and phosphate levels in conjunction with consistent calcium, alkalinity and magnesium will keep your stony corals happy and healthy.

Proper filtration, including a quality protein skimmer and keeping a regular maintenance schedule, is imperative for keeping water clean. Calcium reactors are the favored method of keeping the major elements in line. But supplements like 2-part solution or kalkwasser are perfectly suitable if administered properly. Using a high quality aquarium salt mix that has consistent levels of calcium, alkalinity and magnesium are well worth it when keeping SPS corals because it will help you avoid large swings in water chemistry during water changes.

Water flow is extremely important to coral health. It helps with photosynthesis, respiration, gas exchange, allows corals to catch food, expel waste and also spreads offspring to other areas of the reef. When keeping SPS, strong, random water flow inside your tank is crucial. Wavemakers and controllable pumps like the VorTech or Gyre can help you create natural water movement just like Mother Nature herself.

Poor water movement can lead to slow tissue necrosis (STN) which means the flesh of the coral will slowly die off. This is the opposite of RTN or rapid tissue necrosis which means the flesh of the coral rapidly dies, often times within a matter of hours.

It is widely accepted that strong aquarium lighting is important to growing small polyp stony corals. It is equally important to properly acclimate corals to the level of light in your tank. Many fish stores do not keep corals under the same lighting  intensity commonly used over a reef aquarium. A common practice with new SPS corals is to place the coral on the sand bed or on a frag rack for the first few weeks and then move the coral to an area with more intense lighting as time progresses. Just be sure the coral receives ample water movement and if you notice any signs of distress, such as loss of color or minimal polyp extension, try moving the coral to another area of the tank.

Feeding corals is becoming more and more popular because it accelerates growth, improves coloration and raises a coral's ability to tolerate stress. Just like LPS and many soft corals, SPS corals exert a significant amount of energy collecting food. They simply require a smaller food particle since they have smaller mouths. We have an excellent video all about feeding corals you can watch if you'd like to learn more.

Once you get down the basics of SPS care, you can start experimenting to take your SPS keeping to the next level using supplements and other methods that allow hobbyists to grow stunning SPS colonies.

Amino acid supplements, such as the Two Little Fishies AcroPower, are among the most popular additives for SPS keepers and offer proven results. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and dosing them into your aquarium helps SPS corals build flesh and display vibrant color.

Certain minor and trace elements are known to promote different colors within SPS corals. Potassium is known to help bring out blue colors; Boron is used for red and Iron for green. By tinkering and experimenting with different ratios, you will find that corals can change color and display a variety of different hues that truly make them POP!

The ZEOvit system is another way to alter the colors of your corals. This system involves keeping a very low-nutrient level in your aquarium using a ZEOvit reactor and dosing several specific supplements each day. This approach is challenging but can produce some of the most amazing SPS coloration observed in captivity.

If you are ready to take on the challenge of SPS corals, the Marine Depot team is here to help! We can provide everything you'll need to grow a jaw-dropping utopia of corals.

If you found this blog and the accompanying video helpful, please like and share it to help us spread the word. Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on all the latest MD videos and until next time... take care and happy reef keeping.

4Learn more by reading SPS for Beginners Part 1 and Part 2.

4Check out calcium reactors and dosing pumps at Marine Depot.

4Shop reef tank supplements to optimize your coral growth.

Friday, June 05, 2015

How to Prevent and Remove Red Slime Algae (cyanobacteria) from your Reef Aquarium

Today we are going to show you how to avoid and eliminate one of the most common reef tank pests: Cyanobacteria, more commonly referred to as Red Slime Algae.

Red Slime is one of the most common problems aquarium hobbyists come across. We get hundreds of calls and questions each month from customers asking how to get rid of it and why it is growing in their tank.

Red Slime Algae is actually a bacteria. Cyanobacteria, to be specific. Elevated waste levels including both phosphate and nitrate are the leading reason this slimy red film grows in your tank. Lack of proper water circulation and old light bulbs also cause excessive growth of Cyanobacteria.

Simply knowing what causes this slime to grow makes it easier to avoid an outbreak and remove in the event an outbreak does occur.

First, test your phosphate level—which should be maintained at 0.05 ppm or below. We have a great article and video that talks all about phosphate control if you want to check them out. One thing to keep in mind is that phosphate can become "locked" in Red Slime, so it is not abnormal to experience excessive Red Slime growth yet still have your phosphate level test within acceptable ranges. The best method of prevention is to simply keep your phosphate level under control at all times.

Your nitrate level should also be kept under control and should test below 10 ppm. Frequent small water changes, proper filter maintenance and responsible feeding techniques will help you lower keep your nitrate level within acceptable ranges.

If you notice that Cyanobacteria is only growing in certain areas of your aquarium, it is likely that a lack of water circulation is causing your problem. Detritus tends to build up in these low flow areas (or "dead spots") and since the water is not well-aerated it allows Cyanobacteria to proliferate. The solution here is to eliminate the dead spots by redirecting or adding powerheads or rearranging rocks in your aquascape to allow better water circulation.

Another cause of Red Slime and many other types of algae are old light bulbs. The spectrum of light emitted by a bulb will shift as it ages. Even though a light bulb will still illuminate for months after its recommended life span, the spectrum change can cause undesirable bacteria and algae to grow inside your aquarium. Replacing your T5 bulbs and/or metal halide light bulbs regularly will help you avoid this issue.

If Red Slime has become out of control in your aquarium, you need to remove it. This is best done one of two ways: physical removal via siphon and water change or using one of the many chemical treatments that kill Cyanobactera. Boyd Chemiclean, Ultralife Red Slime Remover and Blue Life Red Cyano Rx are all excellent, reef safe solutions. Just be sure to follow the instructions carefully and take care of the previously discussed underlying causes that created the Red Slime problem in the first place.

Once your tank is clean and free of Red Slime, be sure to keep up with a regular water change schedule, keep your phosphate and nitrate under control, change out your light bulbs on time and ensure you have good water circulation throughout your tank. If all of these factors are kept in line, Red Slime will no longer plague your tank.

If you need help choosing the right products to rid your tank of Red Slime, our trained team of aquarium experts is happy to help you out. If you found this information helpful, please like and share this blog or accompanying video to help other hobbyists avoid this aquarium scourge.

Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on all the latest aquarium gear and receive honest advice from real hobbyists.

Thanks again for tuning in and until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.

4See all the red slime removers available at Marine Depot.

4See all the phosphate removers available at Marine Depot.

4Watch and learn how to control phosphate in a reef tank.

4Read another in-depth article from Marine Depot on Cyanobacteria.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

AquaMaxx ConeS Q-Series Protein Skimmers: Sleek, Compact and Powerful

Today we are excited to show you the latest innovations from AquaMaxx which boast all the great features and quality construction you have come to expect from AquaMaxx protein skimmers, as well as some awesome upgrades that make these among their best skimmers yet!

The all-new AquaMaxx ConeS Q-Series combines the space-saving benefits of the AquaMaxx EcoMaxx line with the advanced bubble diffusers and handsome design of the original ConeS Series.

Q-Series skimmers rock a slim profile and are outfitted with reliable and whisper quiet Sicce needlewheel pumps which are placed inside the skimmer body to save you space inside your sump.

The popular bubble plate design introduced in the original ConeS Series has been incorporated into the Q-Series as well to eliminate turbulence and deliver a stable laminar flow that is unlike any other skimmer brand.

AquaMaxx has completely redesigned the outlet pipe, which reduced the footprint and lowered the overall height of the skimmer yet still allows for easy adjustments and minimal microbubbles. The revamped outlet pipe is one of our favorite features of the new Q-Series because it gives you precise control and is super easy to adjust.

Also new to the Q-Series is an updated collection cup design. The cone-shaped neck allows bubbles inside the skimmer to rise smoothly into the cup and there’s even a nifty handle to make removal easier than ever.

AquaMaxx's attention to detail has always impressed us and the new Q-Series is no different. If you are shopping for in-sump skimmer or looking to upgrade, the AquaMaxx ConeS Q-Series are definitely worthy of your consideration.

If you need help choosing a protein skimmer for your tank, our team of aquarium experts is happy to help! Give us a call, shoot us an email or simply leave us a comment with this post and we'll reply in no time.

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