Copepods under high magnification

Gutloading Live Microcrustaceans

In the sense that very, very few animals specialize to eat only one thing, all animals are omnivores, and prefer live foods. For example, when herbivores graze on turf algae, they’re not just eating algae but rather the entire “epilithic algal matrix” which includes those bacteria, protists, etc. that live on the algae. Similarly, in …

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iodate atomic weight

Dosing Iodine in the Reef Aquarium

Reef aquarium hobbyists already have enough on their plates trying to keep levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium levels up while keeping levels of nutrients like nitrate and phosphate down. That, and obsessing over all those other parameters… And now, all the sudden, everyone is saying we should be “chasing numbers” for iodine …

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UV light Sterilization Icon

Should I Use a UV Sterilizer?

The two most hated things for a saltwater aquarium keeper are fish diseases and “bad” algae. Some hobbyists make an attempt to go all out against these threats by using an ultraviolet sterilizer. At least in some cases, a properly sized and properly installed sterilizer unit can indeed help to reduce the incidence of disease …

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Why EcoPods are the Best Live Copepod Product Ever

Earth is a planet of pods. Wherever there is water, there are amphipods, isopods, branchiopods, and so on. Pods are an integral part of pretty much every freshwater, brackish and marine ecosystem. But even among all these big players, the tiny copepod is a giant; in terms of both biomass and sheer number, copepods (subclass …

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Some snails are great detritus eaters!

A Look at the Detritus Cycle

One of the biggest challenges of keeping a successful reef aquarium, especially over the long term, is maintaining the purity of the main tank’s inner sanctum. We go through great lengths—expense, too—in order to achieve this. Think gravel vacuuming detritus, wringing filthy sponges over your kitchen sink, and so on… Is it necessary? The answer …

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Aquariums like this are very tuned for Coral Growth

Correcting Nutrient Instability

Oh, the paradox of algae. They have ruined many tanks–even caused some frustrated aquarists to leave the hobby forever. Yet, our tanks (especially reef tanks) cannot thrive without them–think zooxanthellae. Getting that perfect balance of nutrients, principally nitrate and phosphate, can be exceedingly difficult to ever attain, much less maintain. Part of this challenge lies …

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Someone Holding a Cerith Snail

The Cerith Snail: A “Must-Have” Cleaner

Most aquarists are already aware that snails eat algae. To be most correct, the majority of snail species are algivores. To be sure, some have extremely specialized diets that do not include algae; other snails are technically omnivores, eating all sorts of things including algae. Then, for marine aquarists in particular, there is the issue …

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Urchins are a wild animal to keep!

Sea Urchins in the Reef Aquarium

My first sight of a real, live sea urchin was in an aquarium (a friend’s) rather than in the sea. This was in my youth (i.e. quite a long time ago) in the upper Midwest–a time and place when/where marine aquarium livestock was quite difficult to get your hands on. Back then, and especially there, …

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Chaeto in the wild

Chaeto for Major Tank Cleaning

Whether from a lack of experience, or an abundance of neglect, some aquarists allow their reef tanks to reach a state of utter nastiness. Perhaps you’ve been there yourself… Where you once had a gorgeous, natural looking, sparkly clean system, there are now patches of filamentous and film algae, piles of detritus, clouds of suspended …

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Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle

We are finally starting to see a surge of interest in the nitrogen cycle &  the “aquarium microbiome.” That is a very, very good thing, not just because understanding the microbial workings of our captive ecosystems is critical to our success as aquarists, but also because we remain woefully uninformed about (even unaware of) the …

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The Whole Package: Integrating AlgaeBarn’s Kits & Combos

AlgaeBarn is hardly the only aquarium hobby-centered business to produce phytoplankton and macroalgae. But we like to think that we’re pretty darn good at it–if not the best! Consider our highly-acclaimed premium live phyto blend OceanMagik in various kits or our standard-setting CleanMacro series. If it needs to be stated, algae is kind of the …

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Keeping Zoanthids

Reef aquaria wouldn’t be reef aquaria without corals–plain and simple. But those extra little goodies (sea anemones, corallimorpharians, etc.) undoubtedly make reefkeeping a lot more interesting. This could certainly be said of the zoantharia. Indeed, as novel color morphs of popular species continue to be imported, aquacultured and distributed within the trade, zoanthids are increasingly …

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Keeping Mushroom Anemones

No one starts a saltwater aquarium because they hate challenges. Indeed, it is the difficulty (or at least perceived difficulty) of maintaining these systems that is so alluring to many first-time marine aquarists. That being said, it’s always good to take the stroll towards full-blown reefkeeping in baby steps. Veteran hobbyists have seen it so …

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hair algae can be real trouble for marine aquariums.

How to Control Hair Algae

Hair Algae Happens Algae Happens. Even the types that we don’t want in our aquaria–and actively try to eradicate (like hair algae)–can gain a pretty good foothold from time to time. This isn’t necessarily the worst thing that can happen… After all, every “bad” algae species occurs naturally in the wild and serves some important …

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Red Macroalgae for the Moderately Illuminated Refugium

While there are many species of green, brown and red macroalgae (i.e. multicellular algae) in nature, it is the greens and reds that are most commonly used in planted refugia. Each species is attractive for its own unique set of positive characteristics. Still, one could draw generalizations about each of these latter two big groups: …

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Ocean Rock is often Coral Skeletons

How to Fully Condition Your Dry Reef Rock

We’re all subject to impatience. Particularly when we’re anticipating a highly gratifying event, such as adding the first round of corals to a newly set up reef aquarium. Thankfully, using dry rock, it only takes a few extra days to help ensure a clean and pest-free system from the start. There’s even an added bonus: …

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Keeping the Striped Blenny (Meiacanthus grammistes)

There are a lot of blennioid fishes–something to the tune of like 900 species in 151 genera. Lots and lots of these are available for–and indeed quite appropriate for–the home aquarium. In general, blennies are hardy in captivity. They are small and so can live happily in smaller tanks. They are reef-safe and peaceful (though …

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Pod vs Sock: Do Mechanical Filters Kill Copepods?

Considering that aquarium keeping is a mere nerdy pastime, it can be surprising that there are so many contentious issues amongst hobbyists. One such big “controversy” centers around the impact of mechanical filtration (especially filter socks) on zooplankton (especially copepods). Naturally, as one of the world’s largest commercial producers of copepods, we have a couple …

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