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.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Finding Dory: How to Care for a Clownfish (“Nemo”) in a Saltwater Aquarium




With Finding Dory coming out, we wanted to give you guys some important tips for keeping clown fish happy and healthy in your aquarium.



The cartoon character Nemo was inspired by an Ocellaris Clown fish. Thanks to the Pixar movies, clown fish have become the most iconic marine aquarium fish. What some of you may not know is that there are actually two different species of clown fish that look very similar; the Ocellaris and Percula clown fish.  Behavior and care requirements for these fish are very similar. The common name “Clown fish” can actually be used to reference any one of the thirty different species in this family of fishes.

The cool thing about these classic orange, black and white colored fish is that they are a very sustainable aquarium animal. Many of the clown fish that you see in local fish stores are captive-bred; which significantly reduces the impact on the environment.

Another positive result of captive-breeding is the creation of designer clown fish. Many of these clown fish sport amazing patterns, coloration and other physical traits that make them even more desirable to hobbyists. Main Blizzard, Picasso, Mocha Ice and DaVinci are just some of the unique names given to these designer clown fish.



Clown fish are also called anemone fish because they form a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones that is mutually beneficial.  Clown fish have evolved to become resilient to the harsh stings of sea anemones and spend their lives living amongst the tentacles of the anemone.  The stinging tentacles of the anemone wards off clown fish predators; while the clown fish provide nutrients for the anemone and keep other pesky fish from harming the anemone.

The fascinating behavior of forming a relationship with an anemone can be achieved in an aquarium but it seems that clown fish are not all that picky in terms of what they host.  We have witnessed clown fish host in various types of corals including Frogspawn, Flowerpot corals, Large Mushrooms, Leathers, Xenia and even hair algae!  On the flip side, some clown fish refuse to host inside anything no matter what you have in the tank.




Clown fish grow to be a maximum size of about 4” long and can easily kept in an aquarium that is 20 gallons or larger.  They can be kept alone or in pairs. Keeping them in groups or harems is possible but can be very challenging because aggression will grow amongst the fish as they mature.

Clown fish are one of the best and most popular fish for first time saltwater aquarists.  They are very hardy and easily adapt to an aquarium environment.  They are quite territorial especially if they are breeding so if you plan to keep other fish in the tank, be sure the tank is plenty big enough to give the clown fish some breathing room.

Many hobbyists keep clown fish in mated pairs and it is not uncommon for clown fish to breed inside your tank. However, the babies that hatch will quickly be eaten by both their parents and other fish in the tank if the eggs are not removed to a separate breeding tank.  Raising clown fish fry can be a little tricky because the proper food for baby clown fish is difficult to provide in the appropriate amounts while keeping optimal water conditions.



Clownfish are naturally omnivorous and feed mostly on zooplankton and the occasional anemone tentacle.  Feeding a variety of frozen and prepared flake or pellets foods works great for clown fish. Once established into an aquarium they are vigorous eaters and are not picky.

The work of Disney Pixar has really inspired a whole new generation of aquarium hobbyists.  All of us here at MD do our very best to ensure long happy lives for the animals in our aquariums and strive to provide you with the best information to help make your aquarium experience a success.

- Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Neptune Systems Launches new Apex Aquarium Monitoring and Control System






In its 20th year delivering industry-leading technology for aquariums around the world, Neptune Systems launches the 2nd edition of its flagship Apex monitoring and control system. This new Apex brings important advances in many areas, as well as the first Internet of Things (IoT) platform for Aquariums.




“For over five years, the current Apex has helped tens of thousands of aquarists have more successful aquariums, prevented countless catastrophes, and provided a better environment for aquatic animals. This new Apex takes aquarium monitoring and control to the next level with exciting new technologies,”says Terence Fugazzi, Vice President, Sales and Marketing.

Building on the success of the current Apex System and its cloud-based Apex Fusion interface used by tens of thousands of aquarium enthusiasts worldwide, advancements in this new Apex fall into these main categories:




Ease of use

Now with integrated 802.11g/n wireless technology and a new mobile app, owners of this Apex will easily connect it to their home Wi-Fi, set it up quickly, and begin receiving the benefits of aquarium monitoring and control in less than 15 minutes. Also, when any new update to the Apex Operating System (AOS) is available, the user is notified, and can perform the update from their mobile device, even over Wi-Fi, in a matter of seconds.




New Energy Bar controls more devices

Included with this new Apex System is an entirely redesigned power distribution device called the Energy Bar 832. The Energy Bar 832 not only has eight 120V, 7A outlets to power and control equipment, but it has three 1LINK ports with a built-in 100W 24VDC power supply as well. The 1LINK ports can be used to connect Neptune Systems DŌS dosing system, WAV powerheads, and future products as well. The 1LINK interface provides both the power and communication for these devices. A power supply brick and power cord is unnecessary for any of these three 1LINK connected devices – reducing the usual wire clutter under an aquarium. In addition to the eight AC outlets and three 1LINK ports, there are also two switched 24VDC ports as well for use with fans, small pumps, solenoid valves, DIY, and future accessories from Neptune Systems.




Power monitoring

A large cost of owning an aquarium is the power it takes to run it. Ironically, inefficient use of power on an aquarium harms the environment and the oceans’ reef ecosystem as well. To answer both these concerns, each outlet on the Energy Bar 832 has its own power monitoring capability. Power monitoring, historical tracking and alerts on each outlet means that you can make more sound equipment choices or run equipment in a more energy-conscious manner. It can even send you a text alert when a device is using too much or too little power when compared to its normal operation. With this Apex, aquarists now have a tool to do their part to save energy to reduce not just their costs, but their carbon footprint as well.




3rd-party aquarium device interoperability and the creation of the IoTa™ (Internet of Things, aquariums) platform

Customers should have the freedom to choose which products they want to integrate into their aquariums – without giving up the ability to control them or requiring multiple apps to do so. Building on Neptune Systems’ successful Apex Ready program, and its commitment to supporting an open system that encourages integration of 3rd-party aquarium devices, this Apex provides a new integration platform called IoTa™ (Internet of Things, aquariums) that keeps the future in mind – specifically, control and integration of these 3rd party pumps, lights, and other devices that use a Wi-Fi interface. With IoTa™, customers can bring all their aquarium devices under the control of one interface, Apex Fusion, and integrate their operation. In the coming months, Neptune Systems will release an open-standard IoTa API whereby other manufacturers can make their products controllable by the Apex over Wi-Fi.




Additional monitoring and control capabilities

In addition to monitoring all the same water parameters as the current Apex, this new Apex System also includes the connections and probes to monitor ORP and Salinity as well. The included pH and ORP probes are also now double-junction so they have a longer life expectancy and require less frequent calibration.



AquaBus interconnect maintains backward compatibility

This Apex uses the same AquaBus interconnect system so current Apex owners can move to this new Apex without sacrificing the investment they have already made in modules and accessories.

“Since the beginning my goal was to help aquarists be more successful, prevent aquarium-ending catastrophes and allow people to spend more time enjoying the beauty of their aquariums for many years. I believe the enhancements in this new Apex give our customers exactly what they need to make that possible.” said Curt Pansegrau, President and company founder.

This next generation Apex System will have a retail price of $799.95 and will be in stock at Marine Depot soon. Pre-order today to reserve a unit from our first shipment!