Friday, October 26, 2007

Go Joe!

Joe and I have a long history together.

From G.I. Joe and Sloppy Joe till I met Joe Black and ate at Joe's Crab Shack, my perpetually positive experiences with the Joes I’ve encountered in my 27 years as an earth dweller continue, most recently with Joes Juice.

Before you saddle up to the bar at your local watering hole and order a round of Joes, I feel I should warn you: this concoction probably isn’t something you’ll want to down like a J├Ągerbomb.

As the box for Joes warns, this product is “for aquarium use only.”

It also says “keep away from children,” meaning I should probably rethink that bright idea I had to pass Joes Juice out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

Anyhoo, three months into my adventures in reefkeeping, I began noticing strange, transparent anemones sprouting up all over the tank. I should also mention that I had been hand feeding another anemone, presumably a live rock hitchhiker, with my squirt tube until it split into two smaller anemones, each about the size of a nickel.

It would have behooved me to know that these critters I had been oh-so-carefully nurturing all this time were actually pests; Aiptasia and Majano anemones, respectively.

It wasn’t until our photographer, Royce, shot new photos of Joes Juice for the website that we discovered our “Gardens of Eden” were actually unwanted animal infestations.

Royce copped us a box of Joes Juice for only $7.99 so we could A) thwart the ever-growing anemone populations in our tanks and B) so we’d have something to blog about.

Dispensing the death juice is easy. Just fill the supplied syringe with Joes Juice and gently place a small amount of mixture on the Aiptasia’s mouth or on the center of the Majano and … that’s it.

Seriously.

You just squirt—not inject—this stuff in/on the anemones and they quickly retract, turn white and start disintegrating.

I’ve used Joes Juice now several times in my reef tank, home to a handful of fish, 15+ corals, crabs and the like and am pleased to report zero adverse effects.

And if there were side effects, believe me, I’d know: the first time I used the stuff I accidentally shot it, like, everywhere … and everything is still fine.

Truth be told, I still have another dozen Aiptasia I need to zap with Joes Juice because they multiply quickly. I’ve been Majano free for months though.

On a related subject, if you’re not signed up for the Marine Depot newsletter, you should do so … TODAY! That way you’ll subscribe in time to receive our “Ridding your tank of pests issue,” which goes out later this afternoon.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Gift from Rod



During the 1930s, the name Roderick (of Old German origin, meaning “famous power”) was at its peak.

The end of the baby boom in the mid-60s were noteworthy not only for all the political and social upheaval, but also because they mark the decline of Roderick’s popularity as a birth name.

We don’t know too many Rods nowadays, save for a few famous exceptions: Rodney Dangerfield, A-Rod,“Rowdy” Roddy Piper and dear, sweet Rod Flanders.

For the few Rods’ out there, that didn’t stop the creator of the newest sensation Rod’s Reef, to add his name into his product.

Packed with: Shrimp, Scallop, Oyster, Clam, Squid, Octopus, Brine, Krill, Mysis, Grouper (or perch), Red Nori, green Nori, Broccoli, carrot, Frozen red plankton, Golden pearl, DTs Oyster eggs, Selco, Fresh hatched brine, Freshly harvested rotifers

Now I have no idea what rotifers are, so lets Wikipedia it shall we?

Hmmm, interesting, it seems that they are multi celled animals, and because that they are so small most people have never heard of their existence. To quote Huell Howser “Wow, I never knew that even existed!”

As I opened up the bright orange packaging. I can smell the freshly harvested rotifers and added a chunk to my feeding cup. I mixed it with some hot water and Voila! A red pinkish marinara that matches the color of “Rod” Stewart’s shirt.

A portion went to our newest employee and long time aquarist, Scott, and this is what he had to say:

“The large variety provided by Rod's food makes it the only food necessary to feed my entire system. I have LPS, SPS, soft corals, anemones, crabs, serphant stars, and of course many variety of fish. Rod's is the only food I need to keep my reef inhabitants happy and healthy.”

I added my mixture to my tank and immediately all clams, crabs, shrimp and of course, Malcom, my Maroon clown, were all over this tasty concoction. To be honest with all the different ingredients floating around, I didn’t see any broccoli. Maybe Malcom ate it first, since I taught him to eat his vegetables.

Over all I give this food a 4 out of 5 stars. Thanks Rod for making feeding that much easier for me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Scientists discover rare marine species

I found this article on Yahoo! by way of the Associated Press.

The story recounts the exploration of the "coral triangle"—a biologically diverse region in the Celebes Sea, south of the Philippines—and chronicles scientists' discoveries of previously undiscovered marine life, including a 10-tentacled orange worm and a black jellyfish found near the sea floor.

For more on the story, visit Yahoo! News and check out the slideshow while you're there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Coral Propagation 101

Materials Needed:
Marine Depot is not responsible, for any misuse of products, additives and medications!

My search for more corroborating information on coral propagation led me to Anthony Calfo and Steve Tyree, on proper propagation and filtration. From the articles and setups that I have done in the past and have dreamt about, I wanted to come up with a system that allows the user to be productive and simple at the same time.

The first stage to setting up a successful Coral propagation operation is to plan in advanced, and to have available all the necessary equipment needed for propagation. What I am illustrating to you is one proper method to build, propagate, and effectively conserve and share your corals with others in an all in one package, which will allow you to be successful and productive at the same time be within a reasonable budget.

In addition I cannot stress the magnitude of my concern with cross contamination of pasties and pathogens. I will go into depth on the importance of treatment and quarantine methods to protect yourself and your fellow hobbyist before you introduce any incoming corals to your new system.

One big factor that comes into play is weather or not your are seeking to be esthetically pleasing while your are propagating or you if you are just looking to have more of a commercial warehouse style operation, in my case I choose to have a setup that is not only appealing but is very effective also.I chose to go with a 48”X 24”X 8” all glass tank, that will allow me to have the most amount of space for my current living situation, yet still be a harmonious attribute to my furnishings. Using a “Euro-Braced”, black silicone tank, I choose to go with a stain that would match my current interior furnishings as well.

After applying several coats of stain, I went ahead and let the stand dry thoroughly, and then followed up with a coat of semi gloss all weather protective coat.

This will provide my stand with optimal protection against any wear and tear, which I plan to encounter during my coral propagation operation.

Drilling my tank custom to my needs, using a Diamond Drill Bit, I slowly began to drill my tank at specific locations. I chose to go with a 1 ½” bulk head for my over flow on the bottom right hand corner, and a ½ bulk head for my return on the back pane in the middle. This will allow me to be able to pump sufficient water from my sump to the prop tank, with out any worries of return/overflow ratios and dead spots.

On the return I went ahead and used “Lock Line” return split with a Y connector, so that equal water flow could be dispersed evenly in my tank. While on the over flow, I went ahead and used 1 ½ hard line PVC. After dropping in my Berlin Sump, I placed the tank back on the stand, I spent about 20 minutes cutting and dry fitting every part to make sure that everything would be perfectly situated, then the gluing began.

You will want to make sure that when using the PVC glue you are using it in a well ventilated area, the toxins and chemicals that you can breathe will make you feel as if you just got back from an all-nighter at a Jimmy Hendrix concert.

That wasn’t a recommendation.

If you were to ask an experienced hobbyist how to add substrate to your tank, they would probably know or at least offer some good tips to minimize the actual cycling time and prevent the classic cloud storm which fresh new sand creates.

You want to first start off by having available a couple of 5 gallon buckets to rigorously wash your sand. Live sand is always best, but if not using dried Agronite, will be sufficient once it is washed and seeded with live rock, and a couple of cups of sand from an established tank. The more the better, when it comes to seeding your sand.

Let the washing begin! With your sand ready to be washed, three or four buckets on hand with clean pre-mixed salt water filled about 1/2 of the way up is going to be the best way to wash your sand. You will need at least 30 gallons of water that you are going to use to wash your sand.

You want to use your hand to stir the sand rigorously; you will notice that the water will be filthy with white sediment, and dust. Dump this dirty salt water into your toilet, then fill again, and repeat. I would do this until when you stir the salt water, the salt water is sediment free. The salt water should be very clean; at this point you know your sand is clean and ready to add to the propagation tank.

With your new propagation setup in place, you can begin to add your freshly washed sand. You should add the sand with minimal water as possible; make sure to dump out all of the water from your washing buckets, before you add the sand.

Once you have all your sand in place, you can then use a couple of trash bags, to lie over the sand, to create a barrier from the sand and water. In doing this, when you fill your aquarium with salt water, this will limit the amount of “Cloudiness”, and your turn around time will be much faster before your up and running.

With the tank is full along with the sump, you can then remove the trash bags, if they haven’t already floated up. You will see that your water has great visibility and clarity. Now that your tank is full, you can begin to add your fresh live rock.

If you decided to go with uncured rock, then you will have to cure your rock, along with your new setup. I personally recommend fresh “Uncured Live Rock”, this rock will have many hitch hikers, and beneficial bacteria, that will offer you the best biological filtration.

Keep in mind you will have to wash your rock in the same manner as stated above. You should now have about 3-5 inches of clean sand; along with a couple of larger pieces of rock in your main tank, and the majority of your rubble rock in your sump, I would pack as much live rock as possible. The more the better! Now that everything is in place it is time to turn the pumps on and let the cycle begin.

“You now can start feeding your tank. In doing this every other day, this helps the cycle and bacteria build larger and heavier strains of bacteria, because your are feeding it, and not starving your tank for the cycle period. Which if neglected, may cause many beneficial bacteria’s and pathogens to starve out.”

You can add some additives to aid in this process along with adding some Chromis( atripectoralis) which will help the bacteria cycle progress and establish a solid foundation. Before you add your fish, you will need to wait about 2 weeks, and do a sufficient 25% water change and make sure you Ammonia and Nitrite are within range.

You will not want to add any species until your Ammonia and Nitrite are reading 0. During the gestation period and infancy of newly established tanks, a good idea is to hold off on skimming to allow everything to replenish before stripping your water with over skimming.

I recommend up to three months during this period, before adding any SPS corals. In this case two weeks will be sufficient; if you were to use “Cured Live Rock”, and sand.

At this point you can go ahead and turn your skimmer on. During this period of break in, bringing your nutrient levels down at this point is necessary to sustain healthy vibrant SPS corals. I would also go ahead and add various types of snails and invertebrates, to scavenge and clean you rocks and sand.

Also you may want to begin dosing your bacterial filtration, such as Prodibio, Zeovit, or Ultralith (Fauna Marine). I will be demonstrating the Prodibio system, on my particular system, with before and after documentation as well.

Stay tuned as I will be preparing my tank further for propagation, and setting up my calcium reactor step by step.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

120 gallons - New Product - FragPod

120 gallons posted some info yesterday on a new product, FragPods.

I forwarded the link to our purchasing department to evaluate, although nothing beats a testimonial.

Does anyone have any experience with this product? Let us know.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The New Hydor Koralia Nano is here! Your Nano tank just got bigger

Over the vast land of the internet I have been reading rumors and speculation about Hydor making a nano version of their Koralia series. For weeks, office talk suggested that what I have been reading and hoping for has come true. Today, MarineDepot.com proudly carries the Hydor Koralia Nano.

That’s right, folks. For a mere 30 USD this baby will flow 240 gallons per hour, at a low 3.5 watts. Aimed for the 10-15 gallon tank keepers, you are sure to get that water moving to keep those fish and corals happy.

Not wanting to leave our European friends out, here is the European pitch:

That’s right, folks. For approximately € 21.15 EUR this baby will flow 900 litres per hour, at a low 4.5 watts. Aimed for the 35 thru 50 litre tank keepers, you are sure to get that water moving to keep those fish and corals happy.

Upon receiving my Hydor, I opened the box and examined the design. It’s similar to the other Koralia counterparts except in size; it’s about the size of an egg.

The installation was very simple: take it out of the box, place it against your glass inside your tank and then apply the magnet to the other side of the glass, plug in and you’re done! It started up a bit noisy at first, but as soon as that puppy got a minute to get adjusted, my water was propelling.

Now my Maroon Clown, Malcolm, is in heaven. I often find him swimming against the current with a slight smile on his face.

With Hydor’s patented magnet support for rotational positioning I can move the flow anywhere I want and, for 29.99 (or 21.15 euros); it’s great for the budget.

Well that is it for my review, until next time, readers.

Blow, baby, blow!

International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest


Growing up, my parents were surprisingly accepting of me and my sister's innate desire to keep and care for animals.

Dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, lizards, turtles ... heck, even sea monkeys. We tried—and often failed—being responsible pet owners. Of course, 6-year-olds are not generally recognized as models of responsibility.

In fact, quite the opposite.

I remember back in first grade I brought Godzilla, my lizard (he was a golden skink, if memory serves), to school for show-and-tell. My classmates were most impressed by his bug-eating abilities, as I demonstrated feeding by putting a couple of live crickets in his habitat (formally my hamster's terrarium).

My peers convinced me (although I'm sure it wasn't too hard) to stick some other bugs in his home that we found at recess, including 3 ants and a centipede.

The next morning I woke up to find Godzilla dead, stiff from rigor mortis. The worst part: his eyes were missing.

After that, I set my eyes on a different type of pet: fish. We had a 40-gallon freshwater tank already
—the family tank, as it were—that teemed with life. Boring life, as far as I was concerned.

So I convinced my parents to buy me my own 10-gallon tank. Maintenance, in retrospect, was easy ... and I kept an interesting array of fish, crabs, frogs and newts.

When I joined Marine Depot earlier this year and got into the saltwater hobby, I all but abandoned the idea of having a freshwater tank. Saltwater seemed superior to me in terms of sheer beauty. That is, until I started reading about planted tanks on sites like aquatic-eden.com (also in our blog roll).

The author of the site recently posted a blurb about the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest, and included a small photo of a stunning tank that lured me into learning more.

I don't know what the ratio of saltwater to freshwater aquariums is in our hobby, but I can tell you this: after viewing these photos, I'm now considering a freshwater tank for the house, leaving the saltwater aquarium for the office.

That way, I have the best of both worlds.

Practical Fishkeeping has posted pics of the the world's top 27 nature aquariums, so I encourage you to check them out because they are truly spectacular. If you like what you see, there are larger photos of the winners available at PlantedTank.net.

Oh, and just because the name of our company is "Marine" Depot, that doesn't mean we don't know a thing or two (or three) about freshwater tanks and ponds.

Our "pond guy," Matt, from customer service just started a freshwater tank here in the office a few weeks ago and it's already got me "green" with envy (check out the photo up and to your left ... the cool rock-like wall was created using Rockin Waterfall Foam).

Sigh.

I'm going to have to start working overtime to support this aquarium addiction.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reef Central

One of the sites recommended to me when I joined Marine Depot back in April was Reef Central.

Being new to the industry—and the hobby, as it were—I had a lot to learn. I'd been perfecting my craft, working in e-commerce since 2002. However, nothing really prepared me for what I'd have to learn ... until I got an aquarium.

If you're new to the hobby, looking to connect with other reefers or simply looking for info, give Reef Central a try.

The October issue of Reefkeeper Magazine is now available online so heed my advice (actually my boss's ... no wait, actually, like, our entire customer service department's advice) and check it out.

They have a great Top 10 this month and the Newbie Corner offers helpful info on water for n00bs like me.

If you have any sites to recommend, feel free to leave us a comment with the URL so we can share them with other readers. Thanks!

Monday, October 08, 2007

International Cephalopod Awareness Day


I begrudgingly arrived at work this morning, greeted by an email from our
customer service department stating that today, October 8, was "International Cephalopod Awareness Day."

After wiping the sleep out of my eyes and re-reading the email, I knew what I had to do: first, find out what the heck cephalopod means. Then, I'd have to explore the origins of this newfound holiday.

Dictionary.com informed me that a cephalopod is "any of various marine mollusks of the class Cephalopoda, such as the octopus, squid, cuttlefish, or nautilus, having a large head, large eyes, prehensile tentacles, and, in most species, an ink sac containing a dark fluid used for protection or defense."

Ah-ha! As the weekend fog in my mind lifted, so became clearer the intent of International Cephalopod Awareness Day: to celebrate and show appreciation for some of nature's most curious and captivating creatures!

Oh, did I mention it is also Columbus Day? Yup.


Of course, if you don't work for the government, school system or at a bank, then you probably don't care much since you didn't get the day off.

Well, I'm with ya. So lets stand united and commemorate a holiday that we can all enjoy!

I've included some information below on Octopus bimaculatus (or just plain 'ol Octopus, if you prefer) from our sister site, MarineDepotLive.com, if you're considering caring for one of these undersea wonders yourself.

Diet: Carnivore.

Behavior: The Octopus bimaculatus is generally aggressive toward other tankmates.

Water Parameters: Keep water quality high (SG 1.023 - 1.025, pH 8.1 - 8.4, Temp. 72 - 78 F).

Care: Many consider the Octopus bimaculatus a high-maintenance specimen. Not venomous.

Origin: The Octopus is commonly collected from East Pacific.

Color: The Octopus has a brown color.

Notes: Nocturnal feeder. Curious, and will move rocks around. Will squirt ink, if scared. Should be kept in a system as the only specimen. An escape artist by nature, be sure to have a secure fitting top on the tank with no openings.
To learn more about our 8 (or 10!) legged friends, visit Cephalopodcast.com for a list of blogs on the subject and pick up an ICAD badge for your website while you're at it.

Happy International Cephalopod Awareness Day!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Extreme Makeover

Welcome to Extreme Makeover: Website Edition!

I’m your host, Jeff Johnston (who were you expecting, Ty Pennington?).

If you’re a regular visitor to MarineDepot.com, you’ve undoubtedly noticed some significant changes to the look & feel of the website during the past couple of weeks.

Of course, if you don’t frequent our online store and just enjoy reading our blog, I hereby cordially invite you to drop by and check it out.

Hey, don’t worry about me; I’ll be here when you get back. Go ahead (gently pushing) …

So … what’d ya think?

We’ve been working hard to improve all aspects of MarineDepot.com. Here’s a preview of some of the stuff we’ve been working on:

  • Email to a Friend: You can use Email to a Friend to ask your brother if he thinks Dad might like a book about exotic marine fish for his birthday. You can also help a beginning aquarist get started in the hobby on the right foot by emailing him a shopping cart full of aquarium essentials.
  • Catalog Quick Order: To make shopping from our print catalog even easier, we’ve added a Catalog Quick Order form on our website. With one click of the mouse, you can add up to 10 products to your shopping cart.
  • Product Pages: Our product pages are now packed with information. Large product photos, detailed specifications, links to related articles and downloadable instruction manuals help shoppers make educated buying decisions.

We know we still have our work cut out for us. I'm itching to share more of the innovations we have in the pipeline ... only I'd probably get fired for revealing company secrets if I did!

So, here’s what I’m hoping: I’m hoping you’ll tell us what you would like to see on Marine Depot. Are their features we need to improve? Are there areas we’ve overlooked?

We’ve setup an online survey to collect your comments so we can carefully evaluate customer feedback. We hope to incorporate the best of your ideas and recommendations and improve upon any (constructive) criticism you may have going forward.

So don’t be shy. Let us know what you think!