Monday, July 06, 2015

Zoanthid and Palythoa: Coral Care Tips, Paly Toxin and Fragging

Goblin Fire, Pink Hippos, Candy Apple Reds, Utter Chaos, Rainbow Infusion, Sunny D's.

These are just a few of the common names for some of the most brilliant and eye catching organisms you can keep in a reef tank. Have you ever walked into a fish store and asked for a Blue Rhino? How about a Latin Lover?

It is definitely an interesting way to start to a conversation!

If you haven't guessed already, today we are going to talk about keeping Zoanthids and Palythoas in your aquarium and provide you with some helpful tips to create a beautiful zoa garden in your tank.

Zoanthid and Palythoas polyps are extremely popular for beginner, intermediate and advanced hobbyists alike. Beginners love the fact that there is a large variety of different types that are fairly inexpensive and easy to keep. Intermediate and advanced hobbyists love them for the array of brilliant colors that can really add to an aquascape and create that iconic tropical reef look in your aquarium.

As with most cnidarians, the trick to keeping zoas and palys happy in a reef tank is stability. Stable water parameters will help ensure these colonial polyps grove and thrive. They are sensitive to sudden changes in light intensity; we find it is best to place newly acquired specimens in a corner of the aquarium that is dimmer and allow the polyps to acclimate to your aquarium slowly.

They will appreciate regular feeding of small-size coral foods, such as Reef-Roids, Coral Frenzy or one of the many liquid foods. Based on my experience, the best flow rate can vary depending on the size of the polyp. Smaller polyps do well in medium to lower flow areas while larger polyps tend to better with stronger flow patterns. You can tell that they are happy because they will stay open, reproduce quickly and maintain brilliant color. Too much flow will cause them to close up and not enough flow will typically cause them to slowly decline or even die out over a long period of time.

Once acclimated, your zoa and paly polyps will begin to grow and reproduce rapidly. With a mature garden of zoas and palys, you can easily frag them and trade with other hobbyists to broaden your collection. Zoas and palys are one of the most popular organisms to collect and many hobbyists take pride in how many different types and colors they have their tank.

To frag a zoa or paly, our 'weapon' of choice is a stony coral cutter that allows you to cut in to the rock a remove the polyp along with a small piece of the rock. Once the polyp is cut away and out of your tank, you can easily use coral glue to attach it to a frag plug or disc.

One important thing to remember is that zoas and palys can contain a deadly toxin call paly toxin which can be very dangerous if it enters your blood stream. Be sure to wear eye protection and gloves when handling these corals both in and out of water.

With such a large variety available, easy care requirements and brilliant colors, zoas and palys are a great addition to just about any reef tank!

If you found this video helpful, please please like, share and subscribe to show your support!

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

4Shop for Zoanthids and Palythoas at Marine Depot Live.

4Read customer reviews about coral foods and supplements.

4Watch more Livestock Tip Videos on our YouTube channel.

*Special thanks to Cody from SCMAS for allowing us to film/photograph his tank!

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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Marine Depot is Hiring: Join our fintastic Customer Support Team and help other hobbyists succeed!


We are looking for customer service representatives to join our support team in’s Garden Grove, CA headquarters. You will be the frontline of our company and engage with customers on a daily basis via phone, email and live chat. Your job is to make customers happy by resolving problems and providing accurate information in a professional and timely manner. You will provide shoppers with accurate information about our products and how to properly use them. You will also answer questions about order status, order tracking, returns and site navigation in a prompt and courteous manner. offers paid training, flexible scheduling (great for college students!) and an excellent healthcare package.

  • Responding to and resolving customer issues with urgency
  • Assuming responsibility for projects and tasks as they occur
  • Assisting customers to ensure they have a positive shopping experience
  • Ensuring the implementation and development of the Family Friendly Concept
  • Working with the Customer Satisfaction Index to benchmark and improve our service execution

  • Computer literacy (Windows PC, web browsers)
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • The ability to multi-task in a high call/email volume environment
  • Proven problem solving skills with attention to detail and follow-up
  • An outgoing, positive attitude about providing superior customer service
  • The desire to share your knowledge and experience to help others succeed
  • Saltwater/reef aquarium and fishkeeping experience and/or the willingness to learn more about the hobby

If you're interested in joining our team, please email your resume to for consideration.

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

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.