Showing posts with label Planted Aquariums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Planted Aquariums. Show all posts

Monday, April 09, 2012

Kessil A150W Special Blend LED Aquarium Light Product Demo

Kessil is dramatically changing the way LED technology is being used in the aquarium industry. Using Dense Matrix LED technology, the intense point source focused lens of the Kessil A150W is designed to use light efficiently and effectively.

If you have a frameless/rimless aquarium and don't want to suspend the light with a hanging kit, you can opt for the Pendant Gooseneck Mount (sold separately). The Kessil A150W Special Blend is available in 4 variations: Sky Blue, Ocean Blue, Deep Ocean Blue and Amazon Sun. We have all of them in stock now for $264.99 each (free shipping is included with your purchase).

In the video embedded above, we'll demonstrate how each of these lights looks over a 38-gallon Innovative Marine aquarium. The Kessil A150W is a compact, versatile and radiant choice for marine aquarium lighting. They provide the beautiful shimmering effect of metal halide lighting without the excessive heat and power consumption.

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive about Kessil A150W LED Lights are from aquarium hobbyists who are curious what they will look like when the different color variations (Sky Blue, Ocean Blue and Deep Ocean Blue) are mixed together.

In the short video below, we'll show you how each of the Kessil LED lights look individually and then you'll see what they look like when two different colored pendants are used together over the same reef aquarium.

Another oft-asked question we receive about the Kessil A150W pendant is "How big is it?" or "Is it as small as it looks?" We decided to snap a few photos of the Kessil light next to some common (and some not-so-common) items around our office to give you an idea of the size. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New this Week, 9/29/11


The Radion XR30w is equipped with 34 energy-efficient LEDs in five controllable colors, hyper red, green, blue, royal blue and cool white. The Radion LED light is fully upgradeable -- specifically designed to be an evolving lighting solution. Radion is completely configurable via USB connectivity to set up advanced modes. Radion's wide light spread means more coverage and consistent color. Hanging kit sold separately. $749.00 with FREE shipping

We've got some new glass pico tanks in stock ranging in size from 0.5 to 2.75 gallons. There are 5 shapes to choose from: cube, square, sphere, cylinder and cylinder pond. These cool little tanks are great for desktop Wabi Kusa style aquascapes. The tanks are made of hand-blown glass so there are no hard sterile lines like typical silicone-glued flat glass aquariums. The molten glass has a liquid form and feel with supreme clarity and minimal optical distortion. From $24.99 

AlgaGen has simplified the process of feeding brine shrimp to your small fish by performing the decapsulation process for you. The decapsulation process involves removing the indigestible outer shell of the brine shrimp cysts so you can feed either the hatched artemia or the unhatched egg without worrying about the health of your fish. To hatch, simply rinse on a screen and add to your hatcher, aerate so the eggs are not settled on the bottom and target normal or slightly higher salinity. Hatching should occur within 24 hrs after which you can drain and rinse or enrich the newly hatched artemia. This product can also be used as a coral food when added directly to the tank and the eggs that are not captured by coral polyps will hatch out and become fish food. From $11.99 

A convenient pouch of natural and synthetic ion-exchange resins that selectively remove ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate from freshwater aquariums. Nitra-Zorb also helps during start up by reducing unhealthy ammonia surges while establishing the aquarium’s ecosystem. Nitra-Zorb™ is completely phosphate-free and can be reused after recharging. From $14.99 

Advanced filtration material for crystal clear water designed to fit the API nexx FILTER. Want crystal clear water? Then this media is for you! Bio-Chem Zorb removes organic aquarium pollutants, including colors, odors, heavy metals and toxic gases as well as other compounds that carbon alone cannot remove. Bio-Chem Zorb also removes light blocking impurities for improved growth of corals in saltwater and plants in freshwater aquariums. From $14.99

Controlling nutrients inside our aquariums is one of the keys to preventing nuisance algae growth. AquaMaxx BioMaxx BioPellet Reactors are finely-tuned fluidized filters designed to help hobbyists remove nitrates and phosphates from reef aquarium systems. AquaMaxx BioPellet Reactors utilize a fluidizing plate to keep biopellet media suspended and evenly dispersed. The upward flow design provides maximum contact time between your aquarium water and the biopellets inside the reactor. Aquamaxx BioMaxx BioPellet Reactors also includes a special plate on the lid to keep media within the reactor without the need for sponges. From $64.99 

Searches for planted tank accessories are on an upward trend, so we've been bring more gear into inventory for freshwater hobbyists. This week we've got some glass diffusers from UP Aqua that atomize CO2 gas a more efficient diffusion rate. They are easy to install and maintain and feature a high-quality ceramic diffusion plate. $6.99

It’s never been faster or easier to add light, accent and shimmer to your tank – without all that other stuff like heat and noisy fans. Put beautiful, shimmering light right where you want it with a simple, super-efficient, linkable LED fixture designed to easily retrofit into your existing set up. Pick your favorite color, or mix and match colors with a linkable design that allows you to run up to six Stunner Strips off of one 24V power supply (sold separately). $49.00
The 6095 is a wide flow, high flow volume compact pump. It shares the compact body size with the 6055, provides nearly the flow of 6105 but with a much wider flow pattern. Max flow is approximately 2900gph. For aquariums from 100 to 1000 litres (26 to 264 USgal.). Flow rate: 2,000 to about 9,500 l/h (528 to 2,510 USgal./h). Energy consumption: 5 - 21 W. Voltage / frequency: 100 - 240 V / 50 - 60 Hz. Cable length: 5 m (196.8 in.). Dimensions: diam. 70 mm (2.7 in.). Output: diam. 50/10 mm (1.96 / .39 in.). Magnet Holder with Silence clamp up to a glass thickness of 15 mm (.59 in.). $263.49 with FREE shipping

A revolutionary new tool for your aquarium. The Portal allows you to enjoy the details of your fish, corals, and invertebrates like never before. Magnetically attaches to your aquarium allowing you to move in any direction while staying securly in place. Specially developed prescription lenses magnify incredible details while the scrubbing pads on the interior clean your tank. Made in the USA The Portal is a unique attractive addition to any aquarium. Designed for aquariums with a thickness between 7/16" and 5/8". $79.99

Increase the water flow from your return nozzle up to 400% with high-quality flow accelerators from Hydra Aquatics. These flow accelerators are made of a high-quality, durable ABS plastic and are compact and light weight. The best part is they have a vortex nozzle to create random flow. A rotating water diverter increases oscillation so you can add more lifelike flow to your tank without using any additional electricity. Available in 3 sizes. $19.99

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New this Week, 7/26/11


The EcoPico aquarium system features 6mm rimless glass, a discreet internal filter with pump, a beveled glass top with mounting clips, a beautiful (and upgradeable!) LED lighting arm and step-by-step instructions to get you started. For a limited time, you can purchase an EcoPico and score a RENA 50-watt SmartHeater for 50% off. SmartHeaters and made with high quality, unbreakable plastic that meets UL standards. They are safe to touch even when heating and are energy-efficient. Get this combo for only $117.99.
Oceanic BioCubes can be setup as fresh or saltwater aquariums. The built-in filtration system has dual filter intakes to keep surface and mid-water clean. Replaceable 2-stage (mechanical and chemical) filter cartridges make filter maintenance a snap. A bio-ball wet/dry filter is used for biological filtration and helps to improve gas exchange. Includes pumps, Coralife compact fluorescent lighting, dual cooling fans built into the hood, blue lunar LEDs and much more. Individual power cords can be connected to a timer to automate your lighting schedule. For a limited-time, you can purchase a 14 gallon ($219.99) or 29 gallon ($319.99) BioCube and receive free shipping and a free full-color hardback copy of Anthony Calfo's Book Of Coral Propagation Vol. 1 Edition 2.
Hydra Aquatics glass aquarium thermometers are designed to hang on to the walls of rimless glass tanks between 3 and 8mm thick. These elegantly crafted glass thermometers are reliable, easy to read and measure temperatures ranging from 30 to 100 degress Fahrenheit. Hydra Aquatics thermometers hang securely and can be easily moved or placed discreetly in a corner. The minimal design allows aquarium keepers to place the thermometers inside their tanks without obstructing views. These affordable thermometers are ideal for hobbyists who prefer a natural, “less is more” approach. Suitable for fresh or saltwater aquarium systems. Both sizes (5mm max width glass and 8mm max width glass) are available now for $14.99 apiece.
Dissekt-Rite created one of our best-selling coral fragging kits for reefers and have now introduced an aquascaping tool kit designed for freshwater planted tank hobbyists. This handsome kit will arrive to you in a 12" zippered black case filled with everything you need for planted tank maintenance. Use the 1 x 11" Spatula for smoothing substrate, the 1 x 11" Curved Tweezers for planting, the 1 x 11" Straight Tweezers for grabbing plant-eating snails, and the 2 pairs of 1 x 11" scissors (one Straight, one curved) for pruning your underwater garden. Get the kit today for only $29.99.
The latest addition to the Frag-a-Saurus line of coral fragging products comes XL coral tee plugs. These tees have a hole in the center to easiliy mount your coral and have been designed to accomodate rubberbands as an alternative to glue (although glue works, too!). No curing is required as these UV-resistant polypropylene tees will not leach harmful chemicals into your reef. Despite the new XL size, the tees fit perfectly into egg crates or Frag-a-Saurus' own Frag Racks. Score a 12-pack of XL's for only $5.99.
The Lunar Simulator Module (LSM) allows the AquaController to control and vary the intensity to a 2 to 5 LED module for a realistic moon cycle simulation. The moonrise and set times follow the true lunar cycle. High intensity LEDs with a wide angle lense (100+ degrees) provide the best possible coverage. The AquaController dims the LEDs in phase with the true lunar cycle. Up to 240 AquaBus modules can be added to the Apex system. Plug and Play unit is automatically recognized when installed into the system. Two AquaBus connectors for flexible expansion via AquaBus. LED Status Indicator, upgradeable firmware and compatible with all Apex systems. Includes with 3' AquaBus cable. Avaiable with 2, 3, 4 or 5 LEDs for $79.95 to $109.95.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ecoxotic EcoPico: Shopping for Fish

Acclimating fish using the Float Method.
After fertilizing, planting and outfitting my Ecoxotic EcoPico with a teeny-tiny heater from Hydor, I decided to let the tank get established for another month before adding livestock.

What secrets lie behind the driftwood?
Experienced aquarists often emphasize the importance of patience in this hobby. I am by no means an expert—I leave that to our support staff—but it felt right to take things slow in the beginning. I'd never cared for aquatic plants before, so I wanted to keep a close eye on my underwater garden for a few weeks. If I couldn't keep the plants alive, I rationalized I had no business adding animals to the tank.

And, as mentioned in previous posts, it's been a couple of years since I've had a tank of my own. I wanted to get back into the habit of visually inspecting the tank each day, spending a few minutes making sure the plants looked healthy and that the equipment was functioning properly.

Soon Stella got her groove back, so I began visiting some local fish stores in Orange County, CA to scope out their freshwater fish selection. I walked the aisles of a handful of stores. It was Slim Pickens. Tank and shelf space were mostly dedicated to reefkeeping. The exceptions were Tong's Tropical Fish in Fountain Valley and Reef Tropical Fish in Anaheim; both had a nice balance of fresh and saltwater aquarium species.

I was hoping to find some small red fish, like Cherry Barbs (Puntius titteya) or Chili Rasboras (Boraras brigitta). A striking red would stand out amongst the greens and browns in my tank—plus I thought my wife would dig the color choice. I envisioned a school of synchronized swimmers in red uniforms paddling peacefully in an aquatic Eden.

I considered buying fish online after striking out at a few local fish stores, but I'm glad I resisted. Buying the fish locally probably saved me fifty percent. Not only that, I paid less for six freshwater fish than I would for one of their saltwater counterparts.

I'd planned to purchase one type of fish, but ended up with two. I brought home three Cherry Barbs (2 males, 1 female) and three Silvertip Tetras (1 male, 2 females) and acclimated them using the float method. The tetras white-tipped fins and sleek, shiny bodies had won me over.

Cherry Barbs (2 males, 1 female) and Silvertip Tetras (1 male, 2 females).
Twenty-four hours later, I felt the familiar twinge of buyer's remorse. After a long commute, I plopped down on the couch, kicked my feet up and gazed at the newly inhabited aquarium. I expected to be tucked beneath a blanket of sheer tranquility at any moment. Yep, any second now.

A frantic frenzy of fins fervently darted, chased and swam loop-the-loops while I sat back in horror. It was as if I'd dosed the tank with caffeine. I walked over to the tank and dropped in a mixture of food pellets. The tetras gobbled up every one before the barbs even noticed dinner was served. The tetras were hanging out near the surface, so I sprinkled in some sinking pellets for the barbs circling midway down the tank. That did the trick.

My feelings of buyer's remorse faded in the weeks that followed. The tetras were fast, playful and aggressive eaters. The barbs were timid, slow-moving scavengers. Their yin yang personalities reminded of Dave and Cody from Discovery Channel's Dual Survival. Initially the fish sided with their respective tribesmen. I think once they realized there would be no shortage of food in this underwater oasis, tribal tension eased and the tetras slowed down. The fish are so intermingled now I often wonder if they remember they're different species.

Tune in next time for a look at my CO2 system and how I monitor it with Red Sea's CO2 Indicator.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ecoxotic EcoPico: Plants & Parts

A week passed after filling my Ecoxotic EcoPico with reverse osmosis water and the tank was still cloudy. I was seriously regretting not rinsing the Seachem Flourite before putting the substrate inside my little tank.

My boss hooked me up with some plants and rocks he'd received from members of SCAPE (Southern California Aquatic Plant Enthusiasts), so I headed home for an exciting evening of aquascaping.

Unfortunately, I was met with immediate difficulty.

Using a long pair of tweezers with an angled tip, I meticulously inserted plant roots into the substrate with the dexterity of a surgeon. Yet, no matter how careful I was, I couldn't help disturbing the substrate. So much so that I could no longer see what I was doing. With plenty of RO water on standby, I decided to siphon out the the murky water so I could see what I was doing. I had no idea at the time if this was a wise maneuver, but I was determined to wake up tomorrow to a beautiful planted tank.

Now with the water essentially drained, I poked a few API Root Tabs into the Flourite. Although not initially a part of the plan—a colleague had given me them after I'd already filled the tank up—I seized the opportunity to fertilize the substrate. I pushed the tablets into the soil equal distance apart, basically everywhere but underneath the driftwood.

Here's what Root Tabs look like outside their blister pack.
Root Tabs are sold in blister packs, the pre-formed plastic packaging typically found in over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. The package stated the tabs contain essential nutrients for "vibrant growth," strong roots and hardy leaves and recommends adding new tablets each month for optimum growth. Sounded good to me, although I figured I'd see how the first month went before adding more.

Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Root Tabs Aquarium Fertilizer
With the substrate now supercharged, I pressed two medium size gray rocks into the dirt. The craters carved into their surfaces gave them both character. I carefully poured some smaller rocks into the shape of a trail using a paper plate folded in half. Since my fingers are fat and clumsy, I used long angled tweezers to plant my greenery. Planting without water in the tank was easy—I just stuck the greens into the substrate and gave them a little twist.

Front view looking down

Left side close-up
With the plants now planted, it was time to refill the tank. I set a bucket of RO water on top of my entertainment center and siphoned water down to a water bottle inside the aquarium. I really wanted to prevent another dust storm, so I'd poked a hole inside a water bottle so that the water would enter the tank very slowly. I also had a back-up plan if the water remained cloudy: Kent Marine ProClear Freshwater Clarifier.

My back up plan

I planned to add fish to the aquarium in a couple of weeks, so I began shopping around for a heater.

I'd been pining after the Hagen Fluval E-Series, a feature-rich line of heaters with all the bells and whistles. Of course, space inside the EcoPico is limited, not to mention the fact that the space age looking Fluval E-Series would stick out like a sore thumb in the natural aquascape I was trying to create. Small heaters, I discovered, are pretty hard to come by. I eventually settled on a 50-Watt Hydor Theo heater that ended up fitting perfectly in the tank.

The 50W 7" Theo is among the smallest heaters on the market
Tank filled, Theo heater in place, cloudy/dusty water in effect.
Whether your tank is fresh or saltwater, there is one item that is indispensable: an algae magnet. I wanted something small I could keep inside the aquarium at all times, like I did with my saltwater tank. Based on favorable word-of-mouth here in the office, I chose the Two Little Fishies NanoMag.

NanoMag: Good things come in small packages
When I first opened the NanoMag, I'll admit, I was disappointed. The wet side is essentially a piece of foam with Velcro attached. It's only with repeat use can you appreciate how truly awesome the NanoMag is. The magnets are powerful, it easily scrubs away hard-to-reach muck plus it doesn't obstruct the view inside the tank from my favorite spot on the couch. I definitely recommend the NanoMag for small tanks. I can wedge this thing into tight spots next to the driftwood I wouldn't otherwise be able to reach. I wished I had one of these back when I had my reef going.

In my next post, we'll check my plant growth and go shopping for fish.

Read more about my EcoPico:

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ecoxotic EcoPico: Driftwood and Cabinet

After a successful 48-hour leak test, I decided to shop for rock and driftwood. I was getting anxious. I wanted to get the new tank up and running!

I visited a local fish store in Fountain Valley, CA with my boss during our lunch hour. I picked through two or three dozen antler-shaped branches. Most of the really unique pieces—shaped by Mother Nature herself—were large. Too large for the 5-gallon freshwater aquascape I had in mind. I finally settled on a $25 piece with a natural hole in the center I'd later cut to fit inside the small tank. I bought a rock, too, but it didn't end up making the final cut into my display.

A tag attached to the driftwood suggested I soak it for a couple of weeks to prevent leeching. It pointed out boiling the wood would speed up this process. I wouldn't be able to cut the wood until the weekend—I'd need to visit my folks for a safe place to saw—so I decided I'd better get boiling.

Since my wife did not choose driftwood-friendly pottery in our wedding registry, I made due by rotating and boiling the wood several times. The first couple of driftwood boilings created a woody brown broth.

The intensity of the color lessened with each subsequent cooking. I stopped once it became a pale yellow.

Next, I boiled the rock I bought from the LFS along with some smaller pebbles my boss gave me. I planned to use the small rocks to create a pathway.

I chauffeured the driftwood that weekend to my parents' house and cut it with a miter saw so it would fit inside my EcoPico. I placed the larger scraps inside a Ziploc bag to save in case I wanted to use them as decor in a future aquascape.

When I arrived home, I promptly placed the newly cut driftwood into a bucket of RO water to soak. One week and three water changes later, the water was clear.

During the week of wood soaking, my wife and I purchased a cheap console table. We live in an apartment with limited space so we wanted a more functional piece of furniture than a simple aquarium stand. We opted for a table we found online for under $200 that included free shipping.

The assembled table looks sharp and fits the wall perfectly. We were a bit disappointed with the quality of the materials. It isn't built to last a lifetime, that's for sure. In hindsight, we should have ponied up for one of the nicer tables we saw at our local Pier 1 Imports or Cost Plus World Market stores. We figured we got what we paid for and decided to upgrade tables after we upgrade apartments in the not-too-distant future. This would suffice for now.

I bought a cheap, unassuming brown place mat from Bed Bath & Beyond and put it underneath the tank to protect the table during maintenance. My wife accessorized the table, combining river stones from Crate & Barrel with faux moss from Pottery Barn inside a glass vase holding a candle.

For substrate, I chose Seachem Flourite for its porous clay gravel and natural look.

Flourite arrives
pre-washed but may be rinsed again before putting it into your aquarium to remove residual dust. I recommend it: anxious to get the tank going, I skipped this crucial step. I placed a plate on top of the bed of Flourite and thought that by adding water slowly I would avoid disturbing the substrate.

Boy, was I wrong!

Seachem claims
initial cloudiness is normal and generally clears in 2-12 hours. They were (mostly) correct: a day later, my tank looked like this.

In my next post, I'll explain how I finally got the water clear and begin adding plants.

Read more about my EcoPico:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ecoxotic EcoPico: Unboxing + LED Upgrade

It's been about 2 years since I've had an aquarium of my own.

One of the perks of working at is that I see aquariums every day. Monday through Friday, at least. But still, it's not the same.

I've been plotting my return to the hobby since I got married last May. Since we're saving money to start our family, buy a family-friendly car—you know, things young couples do—the aquarium had to meet certain criteria.

Namely, it had to be small (I live in an apartment), easy-to-maintain (I'm lazy) and energy-efficient (my obsession with gadgetry is already running up my electric bill).

Then, I saw her: 5.1 gallons of all-in-one simplicity. Her minimalism and affordability ($109.99) made my heart skip a beat. Her name? EcoPico. I like to whisper it: EcoPico. Now you try.

Oh yeah.

I first bared witness to her elegance on the Ecoxotic website. I admit it was love at first sight. I immediately knew we were made for each other.

The only problem was the tank wasn't available yet. So I waited. I passed time by watching YouTube videos and fantasizing about my future aquascape.

Then, on a recent rainswept morning, she arrived... with her twin sister in tow. I've documented the unboxing for your viewing pleasure.

Many hobbyists set up their EcoPico tanks as saltwater systems. I've been thinking about starting up a freshwater planted tank for a few years now, so that's the direction I decided to go for this setup.

First things first: I needed to upgrade the standard light fixture.

To make that happen, you first have to buy a a 4-way splitter ($12.95) and some additional LED strips ($22.99 each). Although the splitter allows up to four strips, the alcove in the included light fixture fits three. You could probably fit another two strips on the light, though, if you want to go crazy.

The EcoPico already includes one 12K white/453nm blue strip, so I opted for two additional 12K white strips.

Here is a picture of the new tank with the upgraded light fixture.

Here she is posing with her twin sister (aka my boss's tank).

If you want to go super crazy with the LEDs, mount two fixtures!

My boss thinks he'll have a better aquascape inside his EcoPico. I'm up for the challenge!

I'll be documenting my tank setup for the next couple of months so stay tuned for future posts!

Read more about my EcoPico: