Thursday, September 01, 2016

Transform your reef aquarium into THE ULTIMATE TECH TANK

We started out with a fish only system, then converted the tank to a reef system.  In this video we are going to turn this tank into the Ultimate Tech Tank by installing a Neptune Systems Apex Wi-Fi controller along with a handful of Apex accessories.

Adding a controller to your tank is hands down the best investment you can make to your reef.  Controllers provide you with the ability to automate many of the laborious tasks involved with keeping a successful reef tank.  They also help to maintain more-stable water parameters and provide a variety of fail safe and monitoring options to protect your precious reef tank.

Starting with the heart of the control system. The New Apex now includes a MUCH-desired feature: Wi-Fi!!! You can now access and update your Apex though Wi-Fi and your home network. Gone are the days of needing to connect a long network cable from the Apex to the router for updates, or doing a work-around with wireless bridges that really are not all that reliable.

Another significant upgrade is the new Energy Bar 832. It now features individual power monitoring so you can monitor the performance of each device plugged into the energy bar: such as a light not turning on, a pump getting jammed and much, much more.

For advanced users, these readings can then be used to change the behavior of other devices: say your return pump gets jammed up and slows down, you can then automatically turn up the flow rate of the wavemaking pumps inside the aquarium. Or, if your protein skimmer pump gets dirty and the impeller is not spinning as fast, the Apex can send you an email or text message to alert you that it is time to clean the skimmer pump.

Mounting your Apex is an important thing to consider so be sure to think about this during your install.  Be sure the Apex display is mounted in an easy to access location and your energy bar should be within reaching distance of all the power cords you need to connect.

 Drip loops are absolutely crucial for safety.  We have seen some pretty elaborate installations and don’t be afraid to get creative.  Creating a mounting board and coming up with a system to keep the cords organized really goes a long way in terms of building a contemporary and clean looking reef tank.

We plugged in all of the filtration equipment to our Apex Energy Bar including the skimmer, media reactors, heater and return pump.  Each socket can then be programmed specifically for the device.  For example, the APEX will not allow power to the heater socket if the tank gets too hot and this is on the tip of the iceberg in terms of the control you can program into the Apex.

For internal flow, we are using two of the Neptune systems WAV pumps. These pumps are really powerful, pumping up to 4,000 GPH each and are completely controllable. They connect to the APEX using the 1link ports located right on the Energy Bar 832 and therefore will not take up any of the power sockets: which is a huge benefit especially in situations where multiple powerheads are required to keep water moving.  They are also quiet and very energy efficient; consuming only 35W at full power.

For dosing the tank, we have the DOS+DDR combo pack which will be filled with AquaMaxx Synergy Plus two-part solution to keep parameters on point.  This DOS dosing pump utilize heavy-duty stepped motors and include many features that ultimately result in precise dosing and long term operation.

The dual dos reservoir or DDR is awesome not only for its great looks abut because it includes a pair of optical sensors that allows your apex to monitor the liquid levels inside the reservoir and alert you when you are running low.

The Neptune Systems Break-Out-Box is used going to be used for auto top off.  It easily connects to a standard float switch which is securely mounted into the return pump reservoir.  Next, the NEW PMUP all-purpose utility pump will be dropped into our Trigger Systems Emerald ATO reservoir to deliver freshwater into the tank and will work in conjunction with the float switch to automatically top off the tank as needed.

The ALD or advanced Leak detection module allows you to connect water sensors that will alert you of a flood and automatically control whatever equipment caused the problem: such as turning of your return pump and skimmer pump when water is detected on the floor of your stand.

Now onto the monitoring probes.  We have the double junction pH and ORP probes along with the temperature probe; all of which are really easy to set-up and calibrate using the Neptune Calibration wizard and will install nicely into the sump using the Neptune System Magnetic Probe Rack. The new double-junction probes are especially nice as it improves accuracy and durability by placing an extra barrier between the electrolytes in the probe and your aquarium water.

We are also adding the Par Monitoring Kit to really see, and monitor, the light intensity levels inside the aquarium. The PMK is helpful because you can monitor the PAR levels inside your tank helping to ensure you are providing the correct light for your corals.

Our final addition is the Neptune Automatic Feeding station.  By pushing a single button on your Apex Fusion Dashboard, you can throw your tank into feed mode, reducing water flow and automatically feed your fish.

Now let’s look at the APEX Fusion Dashboard which is the very user friendly and feature rich webAp that allows you to access your Apex system and gain complete control over your aquarium.
An android tablet, smartphone or computer can be used to access the Apex Fusion Dashboard.  We have an Amazon fire tablet which is an inexpensive device that allows you to easily access the Apex Fusion and eliminates the need for the classic hard-wired APEX graphical display.  From here you can program your Apex, monitor your equipment and water parameters, store and reference all sorts of graphical data, and much more.  Check out this video which is displaying real-time footage of the tank with the use of a Wi-Fi camera.  We could really spend days going through all of the features and capability this powerful control system has to offer.

- Take Care and Hppy Reefkeeping.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to turn your FOWLR Aquarium into a (deluxe!) Reef Tank

We are often asked, “What would you do if it were your tank?”...... well today we are going to show you just that.  A few weeks back we showed you guys how to set up a simple fish only system.  If you missed that video, you can find a link on our video description below.  In this episode we will continue working on that 64 gallon tank and show you how to convert a fish only system into a full blown reef tank with all the bells and whistles.

The first thing we want to do is to drill the tank for an overflow box and add a sump. Canister filters are great for fish-only systems. However, they do take more effort to keep clean because you need to take apart the entire canister filter to access the filtration media.  If not maintained on a regular basis, canister filters trap debris and become nitrate factories which really work against you in terms of keeping optimal water quality for a reef tank.
A sump will not only hold and hide much of the filtration system, but will also increase water volume for added stability. We will be going with the top of the line Trigger Systems Emerald sump. They are gorgeously made right here in the USA and have a ton of awesome features: such as an interchangeable plate for running foam block or filter socks, adjustable skimmer chamber height, media tray with self-adjusting foam block platform, probe and dosing tube holders.

While the easier route is to add a hang-on overflow box, we had the tank drilled and used a CPR retrofit overflow box. Usually, we love to do things ourselves. However, we did not want to risk damaging our gorgeous low-iron tank, so the drilling was done for us, professionally, by a local glass shop.  Drilling your tanks makes for a much cleaner installation and reduces the risk of the flood associated with a hang on overflow box.
We installed a black background from Blue Life USA that will hide the electrical wires and all of the plumbing and give the tank a sleek and professional look.

When it comes to the plumbing we made a durso style drain pipe and used some 1” flexible PVC for both the drain and return water lines.  We are installing an AquaticLife Macro AquaFlow Swing Wavemaker directly onto the return bulkhead to help create some random water movement in the tank.
An AquaMaxx CO-1 skimmer is placed into the skimmer chamber of the sump.  We added a couple of AquaMaxx media reactors for chemical filtration and the trigger systems sumps include a filter sock to take care of mechanical filtration.

We are also going to install a matching Trigger Systems Emerald ATO Reservoir right next to the sump to hold our top-off water.

We choose the awesome Reef Octopus VarioS controllable DC water pump for the return.  These little pumps are very efficient, run quiet and offer a variety of handy failsafe and control options. It is also Apex-Ready which means the pump can be monitored and controlled with your Neptune Systems Apex Controller

As we were impressed by the upgrades and the output of the new of AI Prime HD LED Lights, we added two fixtures to provide high output lighting for the corals.  This is one of the main differences between a fish only aquarium and a reef tank.  Reef tanks require intense lighting to promote photosynthesis among the corals while fish only systems only need standard output lighting to provide a natural day and night cycle for the fish.

So that does it for this video but the fun does not stop here.  In our next video we are taking this tank to the next level because we teamed up with Neptune Systems and will be adding the new wiFi apex controller to show you guys just how far you can go in terms of automation and control for your reef.  We also have a big surprise in store so be sure to check back in with us. 

- Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Aqua UV Advantage Series UV Sterilizers: What YOU Need to Know

The AquaUV Advantage Series Hang-on-back UV Sterilizers are designed to be plumbed inline from your sump or canister filter and hang directly off the back of your tank. These versatile UV sterilizers are available in two sizes; an 8 watt and 15-watt version. Both models include a ½ inch hose-barb for quick connection to standard vinyl tubing and also have a clever 90-degree spout to quietly return water back into your tank.

The slender and compact form factor make it easy to fit the unit right on the back of our tank; the translucent glow cap lets you know the unit is operating and it includes one of the industries longest lasting UV lamps.

A UV sterilizer improves water clarity and eliminates free-floating pathogens in your aquarium water. If you are looking to clean things up your tank, the Advantage Series are among the easiest and most economical solutions available for complete UV sterilization.

- Take Care and Happy ReefKeeping!

Tunze Comline Filter 3162: What YOU Need to Know

The Tunze Comline Filter 3162 is an in tank filter that has a number of unique features that make it an excellent, no frills filtration solution for tanks up to 30 gallons. 

This all-in-one filter measures 4.3" x 3.5" x 10" and has a strong magnetic mount suitable for glass up to 3/8” thick; it can hold 47 cubic inches of filter media and includes both a surface skimmer intake and a controllable bottom intake to handle heavy sediments.  An energy efficient Comline water pump powers the filter and is controllable from 70-225 GPH with a maximum power consumption of only 4.5 watts. 

What makes this filter different is the retrofit capabilities. Tunze carefully designed the filter box to easily accept most any submersible aquarium heater with a maximum length of 8” and also connects perfectly to the Tunze Osmolator 3155 ATO system for precise water level control. This means all of the crucial components for your tank are discretely housed in a single filter box making the Tunze Comline Filter 3162 one of the most stream-line and comprehensive internal filters available. A matching Tunze 9004 protein skimmer can be added to create the perfect, and complete, reef filtration system.

-Take Care and Happy ReefKeeping!

Tunze Comline Filter 3162: What YOU Need to Know

The Tunze Comline Filter 3162 is an in tank filter that has a number of unique features that make it an excellent, no frills filtration solution for tanks up to 30 gallons. 

This all-in-one filter measures 4.3" x 3.5" x 10" and has a strong magnetic mount suitable for glass up to 3/8” thick; it can hold 47 cubic inches of filter media and includes both a surface skimmer intake and a controllable bottom intake to handle heavy sediments.  An energy efficient Comline water pump powers the filter and is controllable from 70-225 GPH with a maximum power consumption of only 4.5 watts. 

What makes this filter different is the retrofit capabilities. Tunze carefully designed the filter box to easily accept most any submersible aquarium heater with a maximum length of 8” and also connects perfectly to the Tunze Osmolator 3155 ATO system for precise water level control. This means all of the crucial components for your tank are discretely housed in a single filter box making the Tunze Comline Filter 3162 one of the most stream-line and comprehensive internal filters available. A matching Tunze 9004 protein skimmer can be added to create the perfect, and complete, reef filtration system.

-Take Care and Happy ReefKeeping!

Eheim Classic Canister Filters: What YOU Need to Know

The Eheim Classic Canister Filters have long been known as one of the sturdiest and best performing canister filters for any type of aquarium. We stock 5 different models suitable for tank sizes ranging from 20 gallons all the way up to 200 gallons.

The round canister body can hold just about any type of filter media you desire and all models feature the Eheim double tap quick disconnect fittings to easily remove the canister for maintenance without having to disconnect the plumbing.  They feature high quality Eheim pump heads for quiet, long-lasting performance.

Eheim is one of the aquarium industries oldest and most reputable companies and the Eheim Classic Canister filters is one of the products that put this company on the map so if you are in the market for a high-quality canister filter, look no further than the Eheim Classic series.

- Take Care and Happy ReefKeeping!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cooling Your Nano: Nano Chillers and Fans for Small Aquariums

Cooling your tank in the dead of summer can be a challenge.  Drastic temperature changes can be detrimental to corals, fish and other animals when it comes to any size aquarium.

When keeping a nano tank, temperature fluctuations are even more problematic due to the small volumes of water.  Changes happens much quicker when compared to larger aquariums.  This is  similar to boiling water, it takes much longer to boil a couple gallons of water compared to a quart of water.

In this video, we cover a few of the most effective pieces of cooling equipment perfectly suited for nano aquariums. We will also provide some creative tips to keep your tank cool through the long hot days of summer.

One of the most economical yet effective options for cooling a nano tank is a simple cooling fan.  When using a fan, you want to direct the air movement over the entire surface of your aquarium which increases the rate of evaporation and cools off your tank.

We have a couple of different cooling fans available; The Tunze AquaWind is a high powered fan that attaches directly to the side of your tank and is positioned in such a way to maximize air flow over the surface of your tank. The Ice Cap variable speed fan which has a really cool feature that basically increases the speed of the fan as air temperature rises.

Personally, I have used fans on numerous tanks both large and small without a hitches.   The downside is that you experience a much higher rate of evaporation so you will need to top-off your tank more frequently to keep salinity levels stable.  Using an ATO system is highly recommended for assuring that water level is always stable.

A chiller is classically the best way to efficiently cool your tank.  Many of the chillers available are quite large in size and made for larger aquariums.  Hooking up one of these standard size chillers to your nano tank is cumbersome at best.  Here at MD we have a couple of awesome alternatives.

The Chill Solutions Thermoelectric aquarium chiller is the smallest in-line water chiller I have seen measuring at only 4" Wide x 5.25" long and 4" Tall. These little chillers are powerful enough to lower temperature by 2-4 degrees in a 30 gallon aquarium.  They accept ½” tubing with a recommended flow rate between 40 and 250 GPH. A small powerhead like the Cobalt MJ will easily provide enough flow.

For applications where a hang-on device is a better fit, the CoolWorks micro-chiller is a perfect solution.  This little chiller combines the CoolWorks IceProbe mounted directly on top of a AquaClear hang-on power filter.  These little thermoelectric chillers work great and easily hang off the back of your tank so no additional plumbing is required.  They are suitable for tanks up to 10 gallons to achieve a maximum drop in temperature of 6 degrees.

One thing to keep in mind is that thermoelectric chillers are basically heat exchangers that takes the heat from the water and dissipates it in to the surroundings. If the room is hot, the thermoelectric chiller will not be very effective.

In cases where fans and thermoelectric chillers are not able to cool the aquarium sufficiently, your best option is still a traditional refrigerant-based chiller. JBJ offers a great little 1/15HP chiller that works well for aquariums up to 40 gallons, just be sure to install the chiller in a well ventilated area.  

- Take care and happy reef keeping!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Radion G4: More Color, More Coverage, More Control

It has been about 2 years since the EcoTech Marine released the third generation of the Radion LED light. Improved with each generation, the Radion has always been the gold standard for reef LED lighting when we heard about the release of this 4th generation Radion, we were definitely very excited to see what upgrades were in store.

At first glance, the G3 and G4 fixtures look very similar. However, as you inspect the fixture more closely, you begin to see the differences and start to appreciate the upgrades.

The most exciting upgrade is the new HEI Optics which stands for Hemispherical Edge Illumination which dramatically improves light distribution and coverage.  The unique lens blends the light in such a way that eliminates the hot spot directly beneath the LED cluster.  Instead, the light is evenly distributed over a larger area which results in better color blending and wider coverage.

The GEN4 Radion fixtures will continue to be compatible with the Apex WXM module so you can continue to control your Radions through your Apex Controller system as well as the robust EcoSmart live platform.

As expected, the LED chips have also been updated. On the PRO models, Yellow has been replaced with higher-output warm-white diodes, Hyper Red has been replaced with a more natural Photo Red and the “near-UV” Indigo chip has been replaced with actual UV diodes. Using top-bin diodes from CREE, OSRAM and Semi-led, the Gen 4 Radion provides more output and a wider spectrum of color than ever before.

Another welcome upgrade is the new heatsink design.  The surface area of the heatsink has been maximized to cool the LED diodes more efficiently.  This means the integrated cooling fan does not have to work as hard to keep the LEDs within an acceptable temperate rand and ultimately quieter operation.

Both Pro models have been boosted with extra power as well.  The XR15w Pro now operates at a maximum of 95 watts and the XR30w Pro went from 170 watts to an impressive 190 watts.

With all these improvements, you can expect more even lighting over your aquarium, better coloration and a wider spectrum for your corals.  Not to mention a quieter operating fixture that makes for less distraction and more room to enjoy your tank. After seeing the new GEN4 Radions we are sure these fixtures will stay at the front of the pack and will continue to be the go to light fixture for hobbyists looking for the best in LED lighting.

-Take Care and Happy Reef Keeping!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

AquaMaxx HOB-1 Protein Skimmer: What YOU Need to Know

AquaMaxx HOB-1

The AquaMaxx HOB-1 is our best-selling and one of the industry’s most favored hang-on protein skimmers and for good reasons.  The solid acrylic construction matched with a high quality, modified, Sicce pump provides unmatched performance and quiet operation.

The unique bubble plate helps reduce turbulence inside the skimmer reaction chamber and increase dwell time which ultimately means the skimmer will remove more waste. This is especially effective for small hang-on skimmers where reaction chambers are small and dwell time is limited. The HOB-1 fits onto aquariums up to ¾” thick and rated for tanks up to 75 gallons!

The responsive collection cup is easy to remove and clean and also has a convenient skimmate drain line.   The optional bubble stopper easily attaches to the outlet of the skimmer and will catch escaping micro-bubbles.  AquaMaxx really hit the nail on the head with this skimmer and be sure to check out the HOB-1 if you are looking for an effective, high quality hang-on protein skimmer.

-Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping!

Monday, August 08, 2016

Tips & Tricks for Creating an Amazing Aquascape in your Aquarium

Aquascaping is the art of creating a layout inside your aquarium that is attractive and functional. When looking at some of the most impressive reef tanks around the world the most obvious common factor is the use of a successful aquascape to display the corals in such a way that keeps viewers interested.

In this video, we are going to provide you with a handful of tips and tricks to help you guys understand how to achieve an attractive and functional aquascape inside your aquarium.

When looking at your new tank, you want to think of it like a blank canvas.  Of course not all of us are Picasso but it is important to think about your aquascape in this way.  Create something that gives depth with a back, middle, and foreground and keep in mind coral placement.  Corals grow and work really well to create a balance.  Growing corals can fill in space that may look void when first placing the structures in your tank.

The Rule of Thirds used by artists, photographers and designers is great for creating a great reef scape. Visually draw two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. This will create four intersections when looking at the front of your tank:

By placing interesting and differing elements at those intersections, the layout will be more balanced and will look more natural.  Be adhering to this method you will avoid creating an ugly heaping pile of rock or get stuck with the infamous rock wall.

When choosing your rock, stay away from using one or two large rocks without any interesting shapes.   Instead, use a variety of smaller rocks placed together in such a way that will create a cave, pillar, arch, over hang, drop off, or whatever shape or structure you think is interesting.

Don’t over-due it either, even though a new tank may look empty at first, in time corals grow and will need space, with too much rock you can run out of real estate really quick and end up having to move everything around.   Open spaces will also contribute to the overall balance of your aquascape.

When planning it out, I typically cut a piece of cardboard to the exact dimension of the tank.  Then draw a safe zone about 2” in from the edges and keep the rocks inside this zone.  This way you can ensure the structures are not too close to the walls of your tank and make it easy to keep them clean with an algae magnet or scraper.

 Don’t forget to account for your overflow box, pumps, pipes or anything else you might have inside the tank as well as the water level inside the aquarium.

Typically, I will build and construct multiple aquascapes outside the tank and take a picture of each one so I can remember what it looks like and go back to it.

Using dry rock makes this process much easier because you do not have to worry about die off; if you are using live rock it is best to create the structure inside your tank or do it quickly outside of the tank and transfer it.

Once you find something you like, stick it together.  While it may seem easy to just pile the rocks together without any sort of adhesive, this can be problematic inside the tank.  Rocks falling out of place or tumbling over is a real pain when you have fresh frags in the tank and will ultimately ruin whatever vision you had for the structure inside your tank.

Epoxy is the most commonly used adhesives for sticking rocks together.  We sell a variety of different epoxies that works great.  Just kneed the components together until a solid color forms and apply plenty of epoxy to hold the rocks together and let them dry.  Cyanoacrylate coral glue work very well for smaller and more-intricate designs.

Another great option for adhering rocks and building structures is the Nyos Reef Cement which comes as a dry powder.  To make the cement, mix a 3:1 powder to freshwater ratio inside a separate container until a dough like consistency is reached.  This stuff sets up pretty quick so I recommend mixing small batches.  After that, treat it just like epoxy by filling spaces to firmly secure the rocks together and let it set.

When creating over hanging and tall structures, use a stilt, zip ties or frame to hold the rocks together while the adhesive dries.  PVC pipe, dowels, and popsicle sticks work great for this.

Be careful when placing larger structures into the tank, they are heavy so don’t just drop them in.  Before adding water, take a final glance.  At this point I usually finish off the scape with some small rocks to really give the tank the full depth of field I am looking for.

Here at MD we stock a wide variety of both dry and live rock.  The AquaMaxx Dry rock varieties are really great because they offer everything from plate rock to tonga branch to help create a myriad of different structures.

-Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

How to Choose a Properly Sized Return Pump for Your Saltwater Aquarium

With such a vast number of brands and sizes available, it can be difficult to choose the right pump.

For saltwater aquariums, the general rule is 5 times to 10 times turnover for the aquarium. So if you have a 50 gallon aquarium, you will want a return pump that is capable of delivering 250 GPH to 500 GPH back to your aquarium.

One important consideration to keep in mind is that these flow rates are the amount of flow you need going back to the tank. A return pump will typically need to pump water through 4-6 feet of plumbing and an elbow or two. This plumbing applies pressure to the pump and reduces the amount of water being delivered. This means that a pump rated for 1000 GPH will probably only deliver about 500 GPH back to your aquarium once it is installed.

This is why it is so important to calculate the head pressure of your plumbing and compare it to the flow chart of the pump you are considering.

To calculate head pressure, each vertical foot equal 1’ of head pressure.  Each elbow equals 1’ of head pressure and finally every 10’ of horizontal pipe is equal to 1’ of head pressure. As an example, if you need to pump water 4’ vertically, through 2 elbows and a 10’ horizontal run, your pump will be under about 7’ of head pressure. (a diagram would be helpful).

Tubing diameter can also have a significant impact on flow rate. It is best to keep the return plumbing the same size as the outlet size of your pump. If you change the diameter of your plumbing, flow rates can be drastically affected. Now let’s look at a flow chart. Let’s say the aquarium is 100 gallons and you have calculated your head pressure to be 7’. Looking at the flow chart you will see that the Sicce Syncra 3.5, 4.0 and 5.0 all fall within the 500-1000GPH range that you need.

If you want to be conservative with your budget and have just enough flow, you can go with the 3.5 which gives 581 GPH at 7’ of head pressure which means you will turn-over the entire water volume of 100 gallons about 5 x times per hour. If you want a bit of extra capacity, you can go with the 4.0 or 5.0 which is probably the wiser option. The flexibility of using a bigger pump can come in quite handy if you ever decide to change your plumbing, add a media reactor, UV sterilizer or even a chiller.

One thing I have always told other hobbyists in regards to return pumps is that you can always slow down the flow of your pump with a valve but you can never make it push more water. Now that you know how to choose the proper size of pump, let’s move on to the type and brand of pumps.

For larger aquariums that 200 gallons or more, the Reeflo pumps are extremely popular.  They move a TON of water and are efficient when you consider how much water they move.

If you are pumping water up from a basement or far away from a remote sump, the Iwaki or Pan World pumps are great options because they handle head pressure extremely well. These industrial-grade pumps also require very little maintenance and are extremely durable.

We have spoken to several customers that have been using these pumps for over 10 years. The downside is that these pressure rated pumps run a little louder and a little hotter compared to flow-biased pumps like the Reeflo.

For small to moderately sized aquariums with minimal head pressure, smaller pumps like the Sicce Syncra, Fluval Sea and Mag Drive are your best option. Installation is extremely flexible as most of these pumps can be used both externally or submerged and easily adapt to PVC or flexible tubing. When plumbing any type of pump externally, remember that these pumps are NOT designed to ‘suck’ or “draw” water.

Pumps need to have flooded suction so a bulkhead must be installed in your sump to allow water to flow into the pump freely. Attempting to use a U-tube to have the pump siphon water from your sump or installing the pump above your sump water level is a very bad idea. In recent years, DC or direct current pumps have become very popular. In addition to being more energy efficient and cooler running, DC pumps operate using safe, low-voltage electricity and offer a variety of advanced control features.

EcoTech’s Vectra DC pumps include flow control and feed mode capabilities which are available on most other DC pumps.  What makes these pumps special is the variety of additional smart features: such as active feedback, back-up battery compatibility, wave modes for closed-loops applications, as well as performance and status alerts when used with the Reeflink.

The Reef Octopus Varios DC pump is another exceptional DC water pump. These pumps are Apex Ready so you can connect the pump directly to your Apex for all the advanced Apex control/alert features. It also includes a float switch that be used control the pump based on water level and protect you against dry run.

- Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SpectraPure MaxCap RO/DI System: What YOU Need to Know

The SpectraPure MaxCap is one of our best-selling RO/DI systems. It features a tested TFC membrane with 99% rejection rate. This means you will get 2-3 times more life out of your DI cartridges when compared to most other regular TFC membranes that have a lower rejection rate. 

The MaxCap systems also include a High Capacity Silica-Buster DI as well as the High Capacity MaxCap DI cartridge which gives you 4 times more capacity compared to competing DI cartridges as well as helps target silica and phosphate removal. It includes two, double probe TDS meters to let you monitor the performance of the system as well helps you know when the cartridges need to be changed out.  

These systems also have a manual flush valve to help extend the life of the TFC membrane as well as a float valve and ASO valve for automated operation.  If you want ultra-pure RO/DI water for your reef tank, the SpectraPure MaxCap RO/DI is one of your best options.  

-Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping!

AutoAqua Smart ATO Micro: What YOU Need to Know

Smart ATO Micro

The Smart ATO Micro is amazingly compact and incredibly easy to use.  Because of the tiny size and magnet mount, you can install this ATO onto just about any tank.  It utilizes and optical sensor to detect water level which means it has no moving parts that can fail or get jammed by snails or calcium build up. 

The optical sensor is extremely accurate and will work in complete darkness so it is suitable for mounting inside your tank stand.  The included pump is capable of pushing water up to 6 ½ feet and includes all of the tubing and mounting accessories you need. It features Smart ATO’s Quick Security Technology to ensure years of worry-free service.

-Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping!

Marine Depot RO/DI Replacement Filter Kit: What YOU Need to Know

RO/DI Filter Kit

Our RO/DI replacement filter kit includes standard-sized sediment, carbon, and DI filter cartridges that fit most RO/DI systems such as MarineDepot Kleanwater, SpectraPure, AquaFX, SeaChem, 
Kent Marine and many more. In most situations, RO/DI cartridges need to be changed out every 6 months or so to ensure the water produced does not have impurities that may harm aquarium inhabitants.  

The dual density sediment filter provides consistent performance while the ½ micron carbon block filter will help extend the life of your TFC membrane.  The Mixed Bed DI filter used non-recycled nuclear-grade resin that maximizes performance and last longer. 
Replace your cartridges with the affordable Marine Depot RO/DI Replacement Filter Kit to ensure the highest quality of water produced by your RO/Di System.

-Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping!

Friday, July 22, 2016

How to build a FOWLR Aquarium (fish only with live rock)

Although it is tempting to start with a small aquarium because of the lower start-up cost, you often pay for it in the long run. With small tanks, it is much more difficult to maintain stable water parameters and for this reason fish loss and a frustration are all too common with new hobbyists.

We generally recommend starting with an aquarium that is 30 gallons or larger which goes a long way in terms of having a good first impression with the aquarium hobby.

Aquamaxx recently released an entire series of rimless low-iron aquariums and what you see here is the Premium 64-gallon tank. This glass aquarium features 12mm low-iron glass that is ultra-thick and crystal clear. The smooth beveled edges and the 3D laser-engraved logo make these aquariums look just as good empty as they are when full.

When looking at filtration, it can certainly be over whelming for a new hobbyist. An effective filtration system is crucial for success because filtration is what keeps your water clean and ensures a happy and healthy environment for your fish.

One of our favorite filter options for fish only systems is the Eheim Classic canister filters which have long been known as one of the best, no frills canister filters available.

The 2217 model is a perfect fit for this 64-gallon tank as it has plenty of space to hold all the biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. The lid pops off easily allowing for easy access to the media trays. The filter comes with all the necessary media you need to get started but we definitely recommend a little upgrade by adding a bag of premium carbon or all-in-one chemical filter media, such as the AquaMaxx All-In-One. This will help ensure optimum water quality and clarity through the various stages of learning associated with keeping your first aquarium.

Hang-on power-filters are also a pretty common choice for new hobbyists but they tend to have significantly less space for filtration media and are better reserved for freshwater aquariums and quarantine tanks.

Staying with the same brand of high-quality products, we chose to add a 250 Watt Eheim Jager Heater to maintain stable water temperatures and remember the general rule for choosing a heater is 3-5 Watts per gallon.

Having some extra safeguard equipment will really help you avoid some frustrating ailments when building your first tank. Adding a UV sterilizer is perfect for fish only systems because not only does it kill off algae spores to reduce algae problems, it helps to reduce water-borne pathogens and parasites to help keep your fish healthy. The Aqua UV Advantage 2000 15W simply hangs on the side of your aquarium and can be connected right to the outlet of the canister filter.

 A couple of Hydor Koralia Evolution powerheads will also come in handy to help with water movement, gas exchange and help keep detritus suspended for easy removal via the canister filter.

Another piece of equipment we strongly recommend is a protein skimmer. Although not absolutely required, protein skimmers are highly effective pieces of filtration equipment because they pull waste out of the water before it breaks down. Therefore, your water is kept cleaner, your fish healthier and less frequent water changes will be required. The AquaMaxx HOB-1 is hand-down our bestselling protein skimmer and it just so happens it is perfectly sized for this tank and hangs nicely off the back.

For the aquascape, we have selected a good variety of dry rock. A mixture of the AquaMaxx EcoRock, Tonga branch and shelf rock was used. When putting this together we used minimal amounts of rock with the intent of leaving plenty of swim room for fish inside the tank.

The tank is now ready for sand and finally water. When filling your tank for the first time, the aquarium water will be cloudy for a few days. This is completely normal and water clarity will continue to improve as you move through the cycling process.

As with any aquarium, it is important to allow your new aquarium plenty of time to cycle and establish a stable population of beneficial bacteria. 4-6 weeks is usually more than enough time and you can learn all about the cycling process by checking out the video link in the description below. 

Remember, patience is the key to success when keeping an aquarium. Do not rush anything, especially during the cycle stage. In our next video installment, we will revisit this tank, go over the process of stocking your new aquarium with fish and talk about some lighting choices so be sure to check back in with us.

- Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

AquaIllumination Prime HD LED Light - Better Color, Faster Growth, Greater Value

It has been a little over a year since we reviewed the AquaIllumination Prime and it has since become one of our bestselling lights.

Hobbyists really love the small and sleek form factor, the easy yet extensive programming options through myAI and, of course, it’s affordable price.

Not resting on their laurels, Aqua Illumination made this popular light even better with the new and improved AI Prime HD LED light!

AquaIllumination has taken the same upgrades made to the Hydra 26 and 52 fixtures and applied them to the Prime. The result is a new fixture that is more powerful and offers a better spectrum.

By upping the power from 50W to 55W, the Prime is now brighter than ever before. However, the even cooler part is that the Prime HD now features the same HD feature found on the Hydras.

No longer are you limited to using a fixed amount of power for each channel. Now you can shift the power from the unused channels to boost the power to the channels you to be brighter.

Most hobbyists tend to have their blue channels at near 100% and their white/red/green channels at a lower output. Now, you are able to take that unused power and use it to boost the output of the blue channels past 100% to get the most out of the light.

With these upgrades, the previous maximum coverage 20” by 20” has been increase to 24” by 24”.

Additionally, the LED diodes have been updated to the lasted and most efficient diodes from CREE SimiLED and Osram. The mix of LED diodes have also been updated to provide a wider spectrum for your corals.

Mounting the Prime HD is quite simple as well. You can select from a hanging kit, a rigid tank mount or the new gooseneck mount.

With the continual improvement in power, spectrum and control, AquaIllumination has made the great Prime LED fixture even better. Your corals will get better color, better growth and you will get more bang for your buck!

-  Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Nano Tank Build: NUVO Concept Abyss Peninsula Drop Off Aquarium

As reef hobbyists, we have long been trying to find creative ways to replicate what Mother Nature has done so well. Innovative Marine has just released 3 very unique aquariums that allow hobbyists to take their imaginations even further and create an aquarium that is truly stunning.

The Nuvo Concept line includes the Abyss Drop-Off Peninsula, Abyss Drop-Off Panorama and the Cylindar Atoll aquarium. In this video, we are going to go through a complete set-up of the Peninsula Drop-Off tank at our headquarters here in Sunny Southern California.

The Drop-Off Peninsula aquarium has total water volume of 20 gallons and is quite gorgeous even when empty. The thick, ultra-clear, 8mm acrylic along with the black filter chamber and the pearl-white pedestal really show the high quality of construction.

The Innovative Marine Desktop Ghost Protein Skimmer helps keep the sleep look to the aquarium. This protein skimmer hides nicely in the back filtration chamber.  This skimmers work great for small tanks and will keep organic waste levels low.

The filtration can be enhanced by replacing the stock filter sock with the CustomCaddy20. Running filter floss for mechanical filtration and AquaMaxx All-In-One Media for chemical filtration. The All-In-One media is really cool because it several types of media including activated carbon, a phosphate-removal resin and an organic-removal resin.  This will not only keep our water crystal clear but also help reduce organic waste and prevent the growth of nuisance algae.

A 100W Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater is being used to keep water temperatures stable and a tiny Hydor Koralia Nano will be used to provide additional water circulation and can be easily hidden within the rock work.

Last but not least, a MaxSpect Celestial will provide lighting for the fish and corals. With its built-in controller, versatile mounting arm, and great price the Celestial is a great fit for this tank.

Now that the equipment is out of the way, we are ready to add some CaribSea sand and rock to the aquarium.  The dual-tier design allows you to simulate a natural reef drop-off zone. This tank is definitely quite a departure from the traditional aquarium but it looks great from all angles and allows you to get really creative with the aquascape.

Because these concept tanks are small, fish that do not grow large and do not require a ton of swimming space are ideal choices. We have decided on a couple of chalk basses, a yasha hashi goby with a pistol shrimp and a pygmy hawk fish.  Our clean-up crew consists of a few Nassarius and Astrea snails.

Working in an office full of reef nerds made filling the aquarium with corals a piece of cake. We are always growing and trading corals amongst each other here in the office and our generous staff provided all of the coral you see in this tank.

With a little effort, and a lot of fun, we were able to create something very unique with the Abyss Drop-Off tank. Now we can just sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

In addition to the Drop-off Peninsula, the Drop-Off Panorama and Atoll tanks are also great options.  We can see doing a similar Aqua scape in the Panorama tank because the shape of the tank is the same as the Peninsula but the filtration compartment is shifted over to the long side of the tank.  The cylinder Atoll is perfect for a center island aquascape and makes for an amazing top-down view.

- Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping.