Friday, January 31, 2014

Aqua UV Advantage 2000 UV Sterilizer: Zap your way to a clearer, healthier tank!

The use of a UV sterilizer is a great way to help reduce algae in the water column and to reduce free-floating pathogens. The result is increased water clarity, less algae and a healthier aquarium.
UV sterilizers work by using special lamps that emit light in the UV-C spectrum (peaking at 254nm). As water passes through the UV sterilizer, algae and pathogen are ‘zapped’ by the UV light and are killed.

UV sterilizers only kill off bacteria, algae and protozoa that pass through it, so it will not cause harm to the beneficial bacteria growing on your biological filter or your live sand and live rock.

It is important to note UV sterilizers do not kill algae attached to rock, sand or parasites attached to your fish. Many parasites do have a free-swimming, water-borne stage in its life cycle. A UV sterilizer helps reduce the population of harmful parasites by killing them off in their free-swimming stage.
The Aqua UV Advantage 2000 HOB UV Sterilizer is a cost-effective and easy way to add a UV sterilizer to your aquarium. It is available in an 8 watt unit for saltwater aquariums up to 50 gallons and a 15 watt unit for tanks up to 75 gallons.

Installation is very simple. The sterilizer simply hangs on the back of your aquarium and water can be supplied with either a powerhead or a canister filter.
Crucial to the effectiveness of a UV sterilizer is the flow rate. If the flow rate is too fast, the water will not be exposed to the UV sterilizer long enough to kill off the algae/pathogen. If the flow rate is too slow, not enough water will be processed. Be sure you stay within the recommended flow rate range for your UV sterilizer.

Since the output of UV sterilizer bulbs decease over time, make sure to replace the bulbs annually and clean off the quartz sleeve a few times a year to help maximize light penetration.
Aqua UV Advantage 2000 Sterilizers are high-quality and easy-to-install. If you are looking to achieve better water clarity, reduce algae growth and have a tool to help combat parasites in a small to medium-sized aquarium, an Aqua UV Advantage 2000 Sterilizer would be a great addition to your aquarium. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tips to get clownfish to use a host anemone

There are many reasons people get into the reef aquarium hobby.

For some, it is the beauty and color of fish and corals. For others, it is the challenge of keeping a successful “piece of the reef” in their home.

What inspired me to change all my freshwater aquariums into reef tanks was a desire to keep a pair of True Percula Clownfish with an anemone host. This was my goal and I eventually achieved it, although it did take some time to get there.



If this is your goal as well, this article should help your dream become reality!

Today I will cover the symbiotic relationship between clownfish and anemones, address myths you often read on aquarium message boards plus provide tips and tricks myself and others have used to successfully coax clownfish into using a host anemone.

Before we dive any deeper (pun intended), let’s first discuss the symbiotic relationship of clownfish and sea anemones. It is pretty evident to most what clownfish get out of the relationship. First, they get a “home” within the stinging tentacles of the anemone that protect it from predators. Without this fortified home base, slow-moving clownfish are sitting ducks for larger predatory fish, like groupers and barracudas.

What do anemones get in return?

Anemones also receive protection from polyp-eating predators, such as butterflyfish and angelfish. If you keep a pair of clownfish in your aquarium, you may already be familiar with just how protective they can be. My clownfish often bite me during routine tank maintenance. When it comes unexpectedly, it can be quite a scare! In addition to protection, anemones also receive sustenance from clownfish in the form of food scraps and feces.

Now I’d like to bust a couple of myths that have been circulating for years to help thwart the spread of misinformation.

I’ve heard this first myth numerous times and it simply isn’t true: “Tank-bred clownfish will not use a host anemone.” I have only kept tank-bred and raised clownfish in my reef aquariums and they all eventually adopted a host. In fact, in aquariums where I had no anemone, my clownfish would find another host to suit their needs.

I have had clownfish host in open brain corals (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi), xenia, anthelia, Euphyllia (Frogspawn, Hammer), Heliofungia (which looks like an anemone anyway) and even a Derasa clam.

The second pervasive myth I often encounter is: “Clownfish need an anemone to survive.” Again, this simply isn’t true. Clownfish will survive just fine without an anemone to host them. As I mentioned earlier, clownfish often find a replacement host to snuggle up to or, in the case of a fish-only aquarium, stake out an area and establish it as their home turf.

With our myth-busting out of the way, it’s time to talk tips and tricks. Your objective is to ensure your clownfish and anemone are a match and that they “find” each other.

The best piece of advice I can offer is to get a clownfish and anemone that would naturally pair up together in the wild. A big mistake I have seen over the years is people purchasing Condylactis anemones (sometimes referred to as Atlantic or Pink-Tip Anemones) and hoping their clowns will use them as host. While there are exceptions to every rule (even I have seen this once), these anemones rarely host clowns.

I personally have found the best anemone for hobbyists to use is the Bubble-Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor). Not only are these anemones colorful, tank-propagated specimens are common (side note: purchase an anemone that is tank propagated, if at all possible). According to Anthony Calfo, 12+ clownfish species prefer BTAs.

The following table from Anthony Calfo shows popular anemone hosts with compatible clownfish.



What do you do if you have the right clownfish and anemone but your clown STILL won’t use the anemone as a host? This is where things get tricky.

We know clownfishes use anemones for protection. So if the environment you’ve created for them feels safe, they may not have any desire for protection. Perhaps the clownfish has been living in your aquarium for years without an anemone and already has a home territory. Maybe you have an anemone perched elsewhere in your tank your clown shows no interest in. Whatever the case may be, your goal is for them to form a symbiotic relationship. However, it may require some persuasion in order for them to form a bond.

The best way I have found to accomplish this is to make the clownfish in your aquarium feel less safe. You can achieve this by adding more fish (preferably larger fish if your tank can accommodate them) or rearranging the aquarium rock in your aquascape. Your newly evicted clownfish is then forced to find a new home.

Another trick is to attach a mirror or a photograph of a clownfish to the outside of your aquarium. The idea behind this ruse is to give the illusion another clownfish is invading your clown’s territory. The ideal outcome is your clownfish will feel threatened enough by the intruder to dive into the waiting tentacles of the anemone.

If your goal is to create a symbiotic relationship between a clownfish and anemone in your aquarium, hopefully the suggestions in this article help you get there. If your clown and anemone already get along swimmingly, we would love to hear in the comments how you made it happen to help other readers.

I thoroughly enjoy watching my clowns nuzzling, nibbling and spawning in the comfort of their anemone hosts and I know you will, too!

Friday, January 24, 2014

New Life Spectrum Nutri/Cel Micro-Feeder: A Delicious New Food for SPS Corals and Inverts

As an aquarium hobbyist, I am always looking for new food to feed my corals. I experiment to see what my corals respond best to, what makes them grow the fastest and what helps with the coloration of the corals.

There are already some very good coral foods available, like Coral Frenzy and Polyp Lab Reef-Roids.

What caught my eye about the New Life Spectrum Micro-Feeder are the smaller particle sizes (10-80 microns), the impressive ingredient list and the encapsulated formulation. On paper, it looks like a great food for SPS corals, clams and filter feeders, such as gorgonians and feather dusters.
I was greeted by a natural ocean/seafood scent upon opening the jar. The food is a rich golden color resulting from its 3 main ingredients: zooplankton, whole Antartic Krill and whole fish. Spirulina, phytoplankton, kelp, seaweed, omega-3 fatty acids and various vitamins are among the other ingredients that help make Micro-Feeder a complete spectrum nutrition food for all your corals and invertebrates.
One special feature of this food is the microparticles are encapsulated in a gel matrix made of agar (which is seaweed based). This encapsulation increases buoyancy and helps to keep the food particles in suspension longer to reduce pollution. Corals and inverts have a greater chance and more time to capture the food particles before they settle to the bottom of the tank.
Feeding instructions and a measuring spoon are included inside the jar of food. The food can be broadcast or target fed to your corals and refrigeration is not required.

Simply mix the NLS Micro-Feeder with some tank water and pour it into your aquarium for broadcast feeding or use a liquid feeding tool for target feeding. I typically turn off my return pump and protein skimmer for 2 hours while the tank is being fed.
The results I observed after feeding New Life Micro-Feeder to my aquarium were clearly favorable. Many of my corals quickly extended their feeding tentacles, eager to feed. The tiny powdery particles of food do appear to stay in the water column for quite a long time.
NLS Micro Feeder appears to be a very well-formulated food made with great ingredients. The unique encapsulation process helps more of the food make it to your corals, rather than settling to the bottom of your aquarium.

The small 10-80 micron particle size also makes it an excellent food for SPS corals and other invertebrates that prefer smaller-sized foods. New Life Spectrum Nutri/Cel Micro-Feeder would be a great addition to other coral foods you may currently be feeding.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Incredibly Small Footprint of CAD Lights' PLS-100 Protein Skimmer

With the ever-increasing volume of equipment we pack into our aquarium stands and sumps—media reactors, UV sterilizers, refugiums, calcium reactors and dosing pumps, to name a few—finding enough space for a quality protein skimmer is becoming tougher and tougher.

Most protein skimmers have fairly large footprints since space is required for the pump, the reaction chamber and the outlet pipe.

CAD Lights has discovered an ingenious way of minimizing the footprint by incorporating the pump into the base of the skimmer and doing away with the outlet pipe altogether. This latest version of the Gen3 PLS-100 skimmer can handle aquariums from 70 to 120 gallons and has an unbelievably small footprint of just 5” x 5”.
While other protein skimmers require bulky outlet pipes and valves to adjust the water level inside the skimmer, the CAD Lights Pipeless Protein Skimmer utilizes two sets of ports near the base of the skimmer for adjustment.

By aligning the two sets of ports, the water level drops. Offsetting the ports allows you to raise the water level inside the skimmer. The drawback of the design is that adjusting the skimmer requires getting your hands wet since you have to physically grab the base and body of the skimmer and rotate to adjust.

However, I feel the benefit of a compact footprint outweighs this minor drawback.
Several upgrades on the Gen3 PSL-100 skimmer makes it better-performing and more user-friendly than ever before.

The first notable upgrade is the new 2-point Tension Clamps that fasten the upper skimmer body to the base. This prevents the skimmer body from separating from the base in applications where the skimmer is set in a deep water level or when there is high buoyancy.

The second upgrade worth noting are the Tension Clamp Locks that allow you to adjust the tension of the adjustment mechanism to ‘lock’ the setting once the desired water level is set.

The third upgrade I'd like to highlight is the the larger reaction chamber. A bigger reaction chamber means more contact time for the air bubbles, which improves performance.
Additional features on the PLS-100 skimmer include a needlewheel impeller to create very small air bubbles, a bubble plate to minimize turbulence inside the reaction chamber, an air silencer to muffle intake noise, a 100% cell-cast acrylic form factor for maximum durability and an easy-to-remove collection cup for easy cleaning.

The skimmer is almost completely put together right out of the box. The only assembly required is attaching the air silencer, tubing and venturi volute.
The CAD Lights Pipeless PLS-100 has all the right features for a very good-performing skimmer.  In addition to the many great features, it also has a very reasonable price of $174.99. Those shopping for a compact skimmer that performs well have an attractive new option that may fit the bill perfectly!

Marine Depot Instagram Photo Contest


If the polar vortex and savagely cold winter weather is making it difficult to keep your tank temperature stable, we've got a solution.

Just submit your BEST Instagram aquarium photo using this entry form.

The photo with the most votes WINS a Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Aquarium Heater, named Best Heater of the Year in our 2013 "Best of Awards."

Remember to follow us on Instagram and tag your entry photo with the hashtag #MarineDepotGiveaway to enter!

Voting ends February 21, so remember to tell your friends and family to vote by clicking the Instagram Photo Contest tab on our Facebook page.

Good luck and Happy reefkeeping!

Friday, January 17, 2014

EcoTech Marine Radion Gen2 Product Review

I weighed a lot of factors when determining which aquarium light fixture would be best for my reef tank.

I was already planning to purchase the Innovative Marine 38-gallon Nuvo Aquarium, so the light had to be small enough to fit over its cube-shape. My new tank was going to be a mixed reef with SPS corals, so I knew I needed something powerful.

LEDs are known for their long life, excellent color, compact design, control and minimal heat output. With all of this in mind, I decided to go with the EcoTech Marine Radion XR30w G2 Light Fixture

The Radion XR30w G2 packaging was simple but professional. I was impressed with the design and quality of the fixture right out of the box. It was basically plug-and-play: I just plugged the ballast into the wall and the light into the ballast. The Radion immediately came on and I was amazed by the light intensity.

I bought the EcoTech Marine Hanging Kit to suspend the Radion over my aquarium. Installation was simple. The screws are very sturdy and attaching the Radion to the wires was a breeze. It only took about 30 minutes to get the Radion out of the box and hanging from my ceiling. The Radion G2 is really lightweight. Raising and lowering the light is very easy with the grip lock system—just press in a button and you can move the light up or down on the wire.

Every component of the light is sleek and minimalist. The light produces almost no heat and the fan is completely silent. There are 3 buttons on top of the light that control everything. They were a little confusing at first, but it was a breeze once I sat down and studied the button combinations inside the instruction manual.

There are a few different ways you can set up your daily light cycle. You can do it on the fixture itself, you can plug the light into your computer using an included wire or you can use the new EcoTech Reeflink to connect your Radion (and VorTech pumps) to your computer wirelessly.

You use a cloud-based software called EcoSmart Live to set up your light online. The program is great! You can set a personal light cycle down to the minute, edit the intensity of each color, control the total light intensity, produce random storm passovers and so much more.

The Radion Generation 2 is my first LED aquarium light, so I was not sure how much light or color to use throughout the day. This made custom programming the light difficult at first.

After doing some research and speaking with fellow hobbyists, I decided to use one of the pre-existing light cycles as a foundation. I then edited each time plot to fit my tank size and color preference. With the pre-existing color mode as my base, I added more red and green during the day and made the entire cycle more gradual by adding a lot of time points. It's been a lot of trial and error and I am still fine-tuning the light cycle to get it just right.

I have an EcoTech Marine VorTech MP10 powerhead wirelessly connected to my Radion which unlocks some cool features. For example, the VorTech pump will power down into night mode whenever the light turns off.

So far, I am absolutely loving my new light fixture... and my corals are, too. I would definitely recommend the Gen 2 Radion to my fellow reefers. Or, if you want to go a step above, you can opt for the just-announced Generation 3 Radions.

EcoTech Coral Glue: this is one SUPER glue!

Cyanoacrylate… that is a term I probably use a lot more often than the average person.

You may know it better as “super glue” or even "frag glue." After experimenting with many different brands of cyanoacrylate, I have discovered not all cyanoacrylate are created equal and some are clearly better than others.
At the top of my list is Coral Glue from EcoTech Marine. I have been using Coral Glue for a few months now and have been very happy with the results.  Not only is it extra thick, it also sets quickly and holds extremely well—all properties I look for in a great glue to attach my corals.
EcoTech Marine Elements Coral Glue works great for attaching SPS corals, LPS corals, zoanthids and many others. Thanks to the extra thickness of the glue and the quick set time it can also be used to glue rock structures together.
The trick for working underwater is to put an ample amount of glue on the coral or frag disc/plug, then rotate it from side-to-side it as you press it on to the live rock. After 10 seconds or so, the glue will begin to set. You may notice strings of glue and feel it start to "grab." Once it grabs, you can then press down and hold for a few seconds while it fully sets. A toothpick works well for cleaning up excess glue.
Unless you are planning to frag a ton of corals, I recommend the smaller 30mL bottle over the larger one as the glue does have a shelf life of 1-2 months after it has been opened. At $9.99 for a 30mL bottle of cyanoacrylate (which is equal to more than 7 small tubes), EcoTech Marine Elements Coral Glue is a great value.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Kessil A360WE: Say goodbye to your Metal Halides!

Kessil LED lights have been among the most popular reef aquarium lights since they first hit the scene in the summer of 2011.

If you have ever been to a high-end aquarium store or an aquarium show (such as Reef-A-Palooza, MACNA or MAX), you would have definitely noticed these sleek, soda can-sized LED fixtures hanging above many of the vendors’ display tanks. 

In addition to their sleek and compact design, their ease-of-use, great color blending, gorgeous light output and the impressive shimmering effect they produce makes it easy to see why they are such hot-selling LED lights.
Their latest release, the controllable Kessil A360WE, is essentially an upgraded A360W outfitted with new LED diodes that increase light output up to 15%.

I have been admiring these lights for quite some time and finally got a chance to take them for a quick test drive!

I was impressed with the build quality right out of the box. The components appear to be well-made and the feature-set seems to be well thought-out. 

Most LED fixtures require you to lower the output of certain channels to achieve your desired color. This means you can't utilize the full output of the fixture unless you conveniently happen to like the color with every channel set at 100%. 

The Kessil Logic feature on the A360WE allows you to maximize the output of the fixture at any chosen color. It allows you to first dial in your color preference, then dial in the intensity. At any chosen color, you can direct 100% output to the LED diodes!

For those that prefer automation, the A360WE has control ports built-in so you can use your Apex (VDM module required) or ReefKeeper (ALC module required) controllers to program these lights. Multiple Kessil A360WE lights can be easily linked and controlled together with an optional daisy chain cable.
There are also numerous options available for installation. Most of our customers opt for the gooseneck mount that which easily clamps the light to your aquarium. The flexible gooseneck allows you to adjust the height and aim of the light. A recently released 90° adapter gives the gooseneck a little extra reach and is great for larger aquariums. There are also removable brackets and a hanging bolt for those that wish to suspend their Kessil pendants.

After mounting the A360WE over my 34-gallon Solana, I noticed the coverage was very even throughout the entire aquarium. It is definitely more than enough light for my 20” x 20” cube. A single A360WE will cover an area up to 30” x 30” for a mixed-reef or 24” x 24” if high intensity is required.

The benefits that stood out most were how dramatically it made all my corals fluoresce, how easy it is to adjust the color/intensity and how natural and gorgeous the shimmering effect looks.

With Dense Matrix technology, many different LED diode colors are mounted on a small chip. The close proximity of the diodes allows the different color spectrums to blend together before leaving the light, which creates a very uniform color and eliminates the ‘disco effect’ that some LED fixtures suffer from.

This single point source light is also the reason for the great shimmering effect and what make it a great alternative to metal halide lighting. One caveat of having a single point-source light is that there will be more shadowing since all the light is coming from one single point. For the large majority of hobbyists, the shadowing is not an issue at all and actually looks more natural. Only very densely-packed aquariums will benefit from having multiple fixtures or supplemental lighting.

With this high-quality light, Kessil has another winner on their hands. Kessil goes one step further by offering a 2-year manufacturer warranty versus the standard 1-year most LED aquarium light manufacturers offer.

If you are tired of the heat generated from metal halide/T5 lighting, the high electricity costs and the annual bulb replacements, I recommend taking a look at the A360WE to find out for yourself why Kessil LED lights have been so popular!

EcoTech Marine Generation 3 Radion LED Aquarium Light Fixtures: Everything there is to know (so far)

The Radion Generation 3 is here!

The first thing you'll notice is the sleek updated design, including illuminated tactile buttons...

... but where you will really see a difference is in the output:
  • The G3 base model now includes indigo/UV LEDs, providing more output, and a wider spectrum than its predecessor the G2.
  • The G3 Pro model further raises the bar for max PAR and spectral output by taking advantage of top bin Cree XP-G2 and Osram Oslon Square LEDs.
In addition, reef enthusiasts can further customize their G3 and G3 Pro output at any time by purchasing EcoTech's new 120 degree wide-angle TIR lenses. Best of all, both the G3 and the G3 Pro fully integrate with the EcoSmart Live platform, enabling complete control over your Radion lighting—any time, anywhere.

OVERVIEW

For 2014, EcoTech is updating its award-winning LED light fixture models. Both the base and Pro models are being revised to incorporate updates in LED technology as well as minor design changes to improve aesthetics, simplify service, and modify the on-fixture user interface.

NEW LOOK

The exterior has evolved; hard edges and contrasting materials have been replaced with a one-piece lens frame that tapers to the lenses and improves the base form factor.

The sheet top also morphs slightly to accommodate backlit tactile buttons that replace the cap sense controls on the previous models. The new buttons make operation of the fixture simpler and reduce the risk of RF interference from other equipment.

SPECIFICATIONS

Now introducing the addition of UV and Indigo LEDs to the XR30wG3. Efficiency gained from new Cree and OSRAM LEDS allows for the addition of 6 more LEDs with only a 10W net increase in power consumption.

The XR30wG3 Pro gains output from new OslonBlues and Whites. This translates into more output while maintaining the same maximum wattage of its predecessor.

THE NEW CLUSTERS

2014 brings some new offerings from the top LED manufacturers—resulting in changes to the LEDs used in the XR30wG3 and XR30wG3 Pro.

XR30wG3 LED Cluster (2 used per fixture)
XR30wG3 Pro LED Cluster (2 used per fixture)

RETROFIT KITS

As with new product versions of the past—with the generation 3 EcoTech has done its best to maintain backwards compatibility by offering retrofit and upgrade options.

NEW PRICING
GENERAL FAQs

Will XR30wG2 and XR30wPRO fixtures still be available?

The Gen2 and original PRO fixtures will no longer be manufactured. There will be existing inventory available to purchase for a while, though.

Will XR30wG2 and XR30wPRO fixtures still be supported?
Yes. All previous Radion models will be supported with respect to service, upgradeability, EcoSmartLive, etc. for as long as the capability exists to support them.

Will Gen2 and Gen3 (and Pro versions) of the Radion fixtures be usable together?
Yes. All Radion versions will work together. The new models can be tuned to match the color output of the previous models. EcoSmartLive will support all versions of the Radion.

Will Gen1 to Gen2 and Gen1 to PRO upgrade kits still be offered?
No. The only retrofit path that will exist for previous model fixtures is the installation of Gen 3 and Gen3 PRO clusters.

Will Gen3 and Gen 3 Pro fixtures work with ESL (EcoSmartLive)?
Yes. EcoSmartLive is not tied to any product or generation of product—ESL supports all products including the Gen 3 and Gen 3 PRO.

Will Gen3 and Gen 3 Pro fixtures work with the original desktop configuration utility?
No. EcoTech discontinued development on the original desktop utility in 2012. EcoSmartLive provides more features, is easier to use and incorporates many new updates to improve performance and program reliability. The Gen3 and Gen3 PRO units should be used with EcoSmartLive.

What if there is no internet available to setup Gen3 and Gen3 PRO Radions using EcoSmartLive?
You can still run the Gen3 and Gen3 PRO like a traditional light fixture (consult manual). For programming without an internet connection, please contact EcoTech Marine customer service at 1-800-785-0338 ext 2.

When will cluster kit upgrades be available for Gen1, Gen2, and Pro fixtures to be retrofit?
Feburary 3rd for purchase.

Can any version of a Radion be upgraded to either version of the Gen3 Radion?
Yes. But only the clusters. The exterior appearance cannot be changed with the exception of the lens frame. This may be offered separately from the G3 and G3 PRO Cluster retrofit kits at a later date after initial demand for Gen 3 Radion fixtures is fulfilled.