Monday, April 27, 2015

Marine Depot Staff Picks: 7 of our Favorite Products



With all of the options and choices when choosing aquarium supplies, we here at Marine Depot understand that choosing the right product can sometimes be a bit confusing. We work hard to provide you with the best selection of quality products and empower you with the knowledge you need to build a successful tank.

We asked our team of aquarium experts to pick out some of their favorite everyday aquarium items to share with you. Read on to see our "Staff Picks" and to learn about some great products that can help make your reefkeeping experience a success!



A single comprehensive supplement that contains pretty much all of the necessary building blocks corals need to grow and thrive. It will maintain both calcium and alkalinity along with trace elements and amino acids. It works best with mixed reef aquariums that do not have a high demand for calcium and alkalinity and is great for small aquariums where you want to avoid unsightly equipment like dosing pumps and calcium reactors.




One of the newest skimmers from AquaMaxx that is basically the in-tank version of the best-selling AquaMaxx HOB-1. It has a slim profile and small footprint of 5.9" x 3.2" which makes it easy to fit in tight spaces. It is rated for aquariums up to 65 gallons and comes with a modified Sicce pump which makes for quiet operation and great performance.




A two-part additive that helps increase coloration, growth and polyp extension among your corals. The A portion is a concentrated energy source for the corals to absorb directly from your water column and will not introduce any unnecessary waste into your tank like you might experience with many popular liquid coral foods. Reef Energy B contains vitamins and amino acids which are the basic building blocks corals need to synthesize and produce protein. Many hobbyists, including our staff members, have noticed almost immediate improvements when dosed together. These products have also received a 4.5 out of 5 star rating from customers on our website.




A great little internal skimmer that boasts some awesome features from a very reputable manufacturer. The surface intake pulls the protein rich water from the surface of your aquarium allowing the skimmer to remove high levels of organic waste with each pass through the skimmer body. Strong magnet mounts and air flow regulation with silencer make for quiet operation and easy adjustments. It is manufactured in Germany and is backed by a generous 2 year warranty.




This media has quickly become the all-in-one media of choice by reef hobbyists everywhere because of its effectiveness and longevity. It contains a mixture of high grade activated carbon along with a mixture of ion-exchange resins that will not only keep your water clear but also reduce organic waste. It helps keep your pH stable and removes harmful heavy metals as well as odors. When used correctly, a single dose can last for up to 6 months!




A bacterial additive that helps break down organic waste and loosen detritus in your aquarium. It makes keeping your tank clean and free of debris much easier by loosening unwanted buildup from your tank walls, rock and sand for removal via filtration or water change. The unique formulation can be used weekly to maintain a pristine aquarium  or dosed daily to help repair and clean up a tank that has fallen victim to poor maintenance.




Although there are a variety of two-part solutions available, ESV B-Ionic has time and time again been rated as one of the best because, in addition to maintaining calcium and alkalinity, it also contains major, minor and trace elements your corals need to grow and thrive—oftentimes eliminating the need for additional supplementation. It is nitrate and phosphate-free, proven effective and has earned a 5 out of 5 rating from customers on our website.

We pride ourselves on providing the best aquarium support our industry has to offer and really strive to share our love of reefkeeping with you! To see more of our staff's favorite products, please request a copy of our paper catalog or contact our customer service team for free and friendly support.

Until next time... take care and happy reefkeeping.



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Friday, April 24, 2015

How to Frag Corals and Build a Frag Tank




So you've mastered the art of growing coral to such a degree that your tank is becoming cluttered and colonies have reached the water surface. What next?

Building a frag tank is a fun and rewarding way to keep evolving in the hobby. Collecting and growing frags to sell or share with other hobbyists is a great way to spread your love of reefing. Plus, seeing your corals grow inside other hobbyists' tanks is very satisfying.

At Marine Depot, we carry everything you need to frag corals or build an awesome frag tank! Stay tuned to get the lowdown on how to put a frag tank together plus we’ll share some of our favorite tools to make fragging corals fun and easy.


THE FRAG TANK

When shopping for a frag tank, ideally you’ll want something shallow, like the JBJ 20 Gallon Shallow Reef Aquarium. Shallow tanks are easier to clean and offer better light penetration to grow coral. Plus, a shallow tank is more accessible so you can add or remove frags, place frags racks and perform tank maintenance.



FRAG TANK FLOW

Just like in a regular reef aquarium, proper water flow is required for a successful frag system. You don't need anything too fancy. Standard powerheads like the Hydor Koralia produce a broad, natural flow for an affordable price.



HEATING YOUR FRAG TANK

The same aquarium heater rule of thumb we all follow applies to heating a frag tank: typically 3-5 watts of power per gallon of water. One of our favorite heaters for frag systems is the Cobalt Neo-Therm because the slim design allows you to place it in tight spaces.



LIGHTING YOUR FRAG TANK

Most frag systems are less than 16" deep and are only used as a temporary holding tank, so you really don't need a high-powered light to successfully grow coral. A simple T5 light fixture like the AquaticLife Marquis or a LED strip light like the Current USA Orbit Marine will do the job. Kessil A160 and A360 lights are another popular option. They are compact, linkable (should you decide to expand your operation) and do a great job growing coral.



FRAG TANK AQUASCAPE AND MAINTENANCE

Live rock and sand are not usually used inside a frag tank which helps keep the system clean. Since your hands are going in and out of the water fairly often, more frequent water changes are recommended, especially since many of your corals will be recovering from fragmentation. Performing 15-25% weekly water changes and running fresh activated carbon will help your corals thrive. Without fish, your frag system will likely have low organic waste levels, so a protein skimmer is optional. Adding a skimmer will make the water cleaner, but running one is not required.



FRAG TANK EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

Once you've leak tested your tank and acquired all the basic components, it's time to fill it with saltwater and start the cycle. Since you're not quite ready to start chopping corals yet, you still have time to pick up the remaining items you’ll need to be a successful coral farmer.

We carry some really nice frag kits that include many of the tools you'll need to safely propagate your coral plus a variety of plugs to mount them to. To make things easy, we've compiled a list of some of the not-so-obvious items you may still need to pick up (also available as a downloadable PDF):


HOW TO FRAG CORALS

Cutting coral is done a few different ways depending which type you are fragging. SPS corals are cut using sharp shears, similar to what you might use in a garden. The Dissekt-Rite Cutting Shears and Taam Coral Clippers are both great for chopping hard SPS at home. Cutting coral at a "Y" or at the base of new growth is the best way to get a clean cut and nice fragment.

The technique used to frag LPS corals will vary depending on how the particular species grows. Branching LPS can be fragged the same way as SPS: using shears to cut away a branch or new growth. Colonial-type LPS, like Acans and Favias, can be fragged using a small bandsaw, like the Gryphon AquaSaw, or even a dremel. Cut around the mouth—not directly down the center—like you would for an anemone.

Soft corals and anemones are a little trickier to deal with. Since they lack a rigid skeleton it makes handling them more challenging. You can usually accomplish a clean cut using a scalpel, razor blade or sharp pair of scissors. Exactly where to cut depends on how a particular coral grows. A little research on your favorite aquarium message board or a quick call to our support team is a surefire way to get advice from more experienced reefers.



HOW TO MOUNT CORAL FRAGS

Mounting your new coral frags can be accomplished a number of different ways. Hobbyists get pretty creative when it comes time to make their new frags stick to a plug or rock, especially in cases where glue cannot be used, like with mushrooms and anemones. This is when rubber bands, thread and toothpicks can come in handy.

The main thing to remember when fragging and mounting corals is to have a plan. Ensure all your fragging and mounting tools are within arm’s reach before you begin cutting. Keep coral handling and out-of-water time to a minimum.

Dipping or dosing iodine and target feeding amino acids are a couple of helpful ways to help your new frags recover. Just like a regular aquarium, it is important to keep your parameters stable. Be sure to test your water regularly to ensure it mimics the natural living conditions of the corals you’re growing.



CONCLUSION

Collecting and trading coral frags is one of the most fun aspects of the reef aquarium hobby. For many of us, discovering a rare coral or stumbling across a hard-to-find frag adds a whole other level of excitement to reefing.

If you have questions about building a frag tank or need some help fragging coral, please contact our experts and we would be happy to help you out.

Thanks for reading and until next time, take care and happy reefkeeping.



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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Feed Frozen Fish Food to Increase Color and Vitality




For many aquarium keepers, fish become members of the family—just like cats and dogs!

When you spend as much time around fish tanks as we do, it becomes obvious that fish have their own little personalities. Interacting with fish during feeding time is often an aquarium hobbyist's favorite part of the day.


Just like the other pets we keep, providing balanced nutrition is important. This brings us to our topic for today which is frozen fish foods. We are going to highlight some of our favorite frozen fish foods, share some of the useful feeding tools we use plus offer tips to help you keep your fish healthy and happy.

Frozen foods offer the highest nutritional value over dry, freeze dried and even liquid foods. Freezing preserves more of the "goodness" in food which helps ensure your fish are getting the best possible nutrition with each and every bite. Frozen foods are much more palatable than dry foods and trigger a stronger feeding response when added to your tank. This excited response is very helpful when caring for finicky or fragile fish. Many of the more delicate aquarium fish—like Anthias, Butterflies and some Angelfish—actually require a regular diet of frozen foods to survive in captivity. Of course, even the hardiest of aquarium fish will benefit from receiving frozen foods in their diet.

Healthy fish with balanced diets will be more colorful, more active and more resistant to disease. They will live longer than malnourished fish that only receive the same old flake food every day throughout their lifetime. We recommend feeding a variety of foods to marine aquarium fish, with frozen foods being offered at least 3 times per week, if not daily.



A couple of the more popular frozen fish food brands we carry are H2O Life and Rod's Food.

H2O Life offers a variety of frozen fish foods including all of the hobby staples like Mysis Shrimp, Brine Shrimp, Krill and Bloodworms. They also have Silversides for large carnivores and Clams on the Half Shell for the specialized eaters in your tank. Other popular foods in their expansive lineup include Rotifers, Cyclops, Reef Caviar and the new EZ-Pods. They are awesome choices for smaller reef fish—plus your corals will love them, too!

Rod's Food takes a different approach to frozen fish food. Rather than force you to figure out what an appropriate feeding regimen might be and have you buy multiple foods for a balanced diet, hobbyists need only to select the Rod's Food blend that best matches your aquarium type so a single food can feed your entire aquarium. They accomplish this feat by including a variety of appropriate foods in a single frozen flat pack. The food is then cut into various sizes to help ensure each and every one of your tank inhabitants gets the food and nutrition and they need.

Rod's Food Original Blend is perfect for typical mixed reef tanks with a variety of fish and corals. Predator Blend is great if you are keeping big, hungry, predatory-type fish. Several other blends are also available, including Herbivore Blend, Fish Only Blend, Breeders Blend and Coral Blend.



While it is tempting to just toss a chunk of frozen food in your aquarium to feed your fish, it is not ideal. You risk fouling your water quality and triggering algae problems due to the leftover food and nutrient-dense liquid that the food was frozen in.

A better approach is to thaw your food first, discard of the "juices" and feed the strained food to your aquarium inhabitants. By thawing food first, it gives you an opportunity to enrich the nutritional value even further by adding food soaks like Selcon, Brightwell Vitamarin-M or a garlic supplement. Some hobbyists take this a step further and pre-rinse foods in RO/DI water before feeding. Some manufacturers have already caught onto this and are now pre-washing their foods prior to processing to reduce extra waste in your aquarium. The NextReef Frozen Fish Food Strainer makes the task of rinsing food easy and helps ensure mess-free feeding. A handheld strainer—like what you might find in your kitchen, for example—also works great for this task.



We put a lot of energy and effort into keeping delicate fish and corals in our homes. By maintaining good water parameters and providing them with the right nutrition, we can help ensure our wet pets live long, healthy lives.

If you are looking to stock up on frozen fish food or have questions about choosing the right food for your tank, our team of aquarium experts is eager to lend a hand. Feel free to contact us with any and all questions or leave us a comment below and we'll be sure to respond.

Thanks for reading and until next time... take care and happy reefkeeping.



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Friday, April 17, 2015

Coral Food: Make Your Corals Fat and Healthy



While every single one of us feed our fish, not everyone is aware of the importance of feeding the corals in our aquariums. Corals are animals and while most of them obtain a majority of their energy from photosynthesis, it is also very important to feed them to ensure they have the necessary building blocks to grow and thrive.



All corals have mouths and there is a good reason for it. Many corals exert a lot of energy and have developed a significant portion of their biology to capture food, even SPS corals that are highly-dependent on light for survival can benefit greatly from feeding.

Hobbyists are often  pleasantly surprised to see how well their corals respond to feeding. The coloration becomes much more vibrant, the corals grow quicker and their flesh becomes meatier and healthier.



Different types of corals have different sized mouths and benefit from getting the appropriate sized foods. LPS corals along with colonial polyps typically have larger mouths so they can easily consume pellet or frozen foods such as brine and mysis shrimp. Many soft corals and SPS corals have much smaller mouths and will require liquid or powder foods with smaller particles.

Here are some of the Marine Depot staff's favorite coral foods:
  • Polyp Lab Reef Roids is an extremely economical powder food: a small 4oz jar will feed a 100 gallon tank for 3 up to months! Simply mix with tank water and feed to your corals.

  • Coral Frenzy Reef Pellets are great for feeding LPS corals because they have a hefty amount of nutrition packed into a tiny pellet that corals seem to love. They use very high quality ingredients so you are getting the maximum amount of nutrition and fish also really crave these pellets too!

  • DT's Phytoplankton is live phytoplankton and although it can be costly, it is a live product so nutritional value is maximized and there is very little risk of over-feeding. It is great for clams and SPS corals. It will also help increase biodiversity in your tank because it will feed many of the microorganisms in your aquarium and refugium.

  • Rod's Food is one of the best frozen foods available and is awesome because you can feed your fish and corals at the same time. The regular blend includes food particles ranging from 5 microns up to 3/8". The high-quality ingredients include scallops, oysters, seaweeds, cyclops, fish eggs, rotifers and more which are frozen to preserve nutritional value better than powder or liquid foods.

  • The Brightwell Aquatics line of liquid foods are a great choice for those of us who like options or may not have the time to spot feed. They offer a wide variety of different sized liquid foods to suit any type of coral. These products are easy to store and easy to feed which makes them perfect for hobbyists on the go or for those of you using a dosing pump to feed the aquarium.


Spot feeding with a bulb syringe or feeding device is the best method to deliver food to your corals. This helps reduce leftover food in your aquarium which is pretty much inevitable when feeding your corals so be sure to keep an eye on your waste parameters. More frequent water exchanges and regular maintenance of your mechanical filtration will be important when you start feeding your corals regularly.

We generally recommend feeding coral 1-2 times per week when keeping photosynthetic corals in the evening after your aquarium lights have turned off. If you are keeping Gorgonians, Sea Fans or non-photosynthetic corals, you will need to feed much more frequently as these types of corals rely heavily on food to produce most of their energy.



Coral feeding is yet another great way to interact with your aquarium and the results can be amazing. If you are looking to stock up on coral food or have questions about feeding your tank, our team of aquarium experts are available to answer your questions via phone or email.

Until next time, take care and happy reef keeping.



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Thursday, April 16, 2015

We want YOU to join the Marine Depot team!


If you love aquariums, making customers happy and live in the LA/OC area, we'd like to speak with you! We are currently looking for customer service representatives to bolster our support staff. Read on if you think you might be a good fit for this opportunity.

CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE JOB DESCRIPTION

We are looking for customer service representatives to join our support team in MarineDepot.com's Garden Grove, CA headquarters. You will be the front-line 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. MarineDepot.com offers paid training, flexible scheduling (great for college students!) and an excellent healthcare package.

YOUR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES WILL INCLUDE:
  • 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
QUALIFIED CANDIDATES SHOULD POSSESS:
  • 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 hr-csr@marinedepot.com for consideration.

ABOUT MARINEDEPOT.COM

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!