The Nitrogen Cycle: Part Three (Denitrifiers)

Perhaps it is a poor choice of words to say that ones tank “is cycled” in the past tense–as if the keeper no longer needs to monitor and control dissolved inorganic nitrogen in the system water. Indeed, establishing a biofilter (establishing populations of nitrifying bacteria) can be a lot easier than controlling the accumulation of …

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Deep Sand Bed or Bare Bottom?

Aquarists–especially reef aquarists–tend to hold to extremes. We can be quite passionate when it comes to our preferences for husbandry techniques, types of lighting, even brands of salt. And no subject has spawned as much debate over the last quarter century than substrate (or lack thereof).  In one corner, we have the pro-substrate old-schoolers Dr. …

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Reconsidering Soft Corals

The domination of the reef aquarium hobby by stony, and especially SPS, corals is pretty obvious. An overall increase of our understanding of growth factors such as lighting technology and alkalinity management have boosted success with such “reef building” coral species across the trade. That notwithstanding, scores upon scores of attractive soft coral species are …

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Using the Ultimate Aquarium Cycle Kit

One thing aquarists learn from the start–and should never forget–is that the health and survival of all higher lifeforms (fish, corals, etc.) depend upon certain critical microbiological processes. Just like its chemical fingerprint, an aquarium’s microbiological fingerprint (i.e microbiome) has a profound impact on everything from coral disease resistance to nuisance algae growth. Just compare …

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The Nitrogen Cycle: Part Two (Nitrite Oxidizers)

So, you’ve squirted some stuff in your home aquarium, waited a few weeks, watched the ammonia rise and fall, and now you know everything there is to know about the nitrogen cycle in an aquarium system. Right?  Maybe not. Sure, under normal conditions, and when we have all the time in the world, cycling may …

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The Nitrogen Cycle: Part One (Ammonia Oxidizers)

The nitrogen cycle is as important to our aquaria as it is in global biogeochemical processes. Since it truly is a cycle, there is no actual “starting point” or “ending point.” However, in terms of understanding and indeed promoting nitrogen cycling in our captive systems, It is best thought of “beginning” with the most toxic …

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Goldline Rabbitfish: Most Underrated Reef Fish Ever?

Oddly, rabbitfishes (Family Siganidae) have never really been hugely popular in the marine aquarium hobby–not with reef aquarists nor with fish enthusiasts. For sure, there has never really been a “holy grail” siganid. This could definitely strike some longtime fishkeepers as downright surprising, as rabbitfish are hardy, reasonably social, active and attractive. For sure, the …

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Using the Aquarium Cycle Kit

One of the more fundamental tasks one must undertake when maintaining a saltwater aquarium is controlling the nitrogenous waste cycle. Most critical is the elimination of ammonia and nitrite, which are both highly toxic and can “crash” a tank in very short time. Fortunately, this job is naturally (and quite effectively) handled by various microbes. …

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Tuxedo Urchins for Hair Algae Control

Hair algae is not just one of the common forms of nuisance algae, it is also among the most difficult to eradicate. Indeed, despite the numerous options for biological algae control (i.e. herbivores), few “go after” hair algae. Thankfully, the select group of reliable hair algae eaters includes the beautiful and fascinating tuxedo urchins. The …

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Mesozooplankton and Multivorous Food Webs

Mesozooplankton (e.g. copepods) are characterized as planktonic animals in the size range of 0.2-20 mm. They may be divided into distinct functional groups by their feeding strategies (grazers, predators or detritivores/suspension feeders). Mesozooplankton are an important food source for reef fish and benthic planktivores (including corals). Research suggests that bacteria and detritus–rather than phytoplankton–are the …

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Keeping the Pinnatus Batfish

The pinnatus, or pinnate, batfish (Platax pinnatus) is instantly recognizable (at least as a juvenile), not just for its attractive appearance but also for its graceful form and movement. The species is coveted for its distinctive coloration as a juvenile; however, it is nevertheless widely avoided due to a couple of decidedly undesirable traits. These …

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Do I Need a Protein Skimmer?

There are a lot of tough calls in reef aquarium keeping. While the focus of attention should be on creating the healthiest and most natural environment possible for your animals, some thought will (understandably) go into the tank budget. For this reason, hobbyists often question whether or not a particular piece of expensive equipment is …

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Feeding Your NPS Aquarium

Photosynthetic corals dominate natural, shallow tropical coral reefs. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they are so prevalent in the reef aquarium hobby. But as some aquarists master the husbandry of more delicate/demanding stony corals types, and successfully keep them for long periods of time, they start to look to other …

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5 Tips for Increasing Aquarium Fish Compatibility

You purchased only the very best aquarium filtration equipment. You tested the water every other day. You feed top-shelf foods. You did everything right… only to experience livestock loss because your fishes have killed each other! Fish compatibility can be pretty frustrating, right? Just understand that this isn’t happening because your fish are “mean.” In …

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There are all kinds of incredible brackish fish!

3 Brackish Fish for the Marine Aquarium

Sandwiched between the freshwater and marine realms, and often capable of venturing into both, brackish water fishes are extraordinarily interesting from both a behavioral and ecological perspective. While a relative few brackish species are available in the aquarium fish trade, even fewer are commonly kept. This may be because relatively few aquarists maintain dedicated brackish …

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Sea Lettuce grows in ribbons

Using Ulva to Remove Excess Nutrients

Sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca) is an extremely versatile refugium macroalgae. It’s big, verdant fronds can add a little “greenery” to a reefscape. Highly palatable and nutritious, it serves as an excellent live food for larger herbivorous fish and invertebrates. Its broad “leaves” can grow in dense clumps, providing an enormous amount of microhabitat for small, …

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A green spot Mandarin

Quarantining Your Mandarin Fish

If you have even worked at the retail or wholesale end of the aquarium fish industry–even for just a week–you are probably keenly aware of the threats posed by viral, bacterial, and especially parasitic diseases. Between fish collectors, breeders, distributors, stores, etc., your new fish may have crossed paths with hundreds or even thousands of …

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A Look at the CADE Frag Series Tanks

There are more than a few All-In-One aquarium manufacturers out there. Some of them make pretty decent tanks. A much smaller handful of companies make decent large tanks. Of these, none truly measure up to CADE. Particularly when you look closely at their design, the top-quality materials with which they are fabricated and their reasonable …

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