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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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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A Refugium of sorts, this algae bed helps clean the oceans!

Building Your Refugium Clean-Up Crew

No one ever said that keeping reef aquaria is totally uncomplicated. Especially keeping them clean! Sure, some maintenance approaches are simpler than others; natural methods are, for example, fairly effortless means to control nuisance algae, detritus and pests. Natural methods certainly require some research, planning and occasional monitoring; but for the most part, they involve …

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Unique Algae Eaters for your Aquarium

Even though battling algae is best done by finding and solving the underlying nutrient or lighting issue, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a few algae eaters in your tank to help keep it in check. Home aquariums naturally have more nutrients than wild ecosystems, and the slightest change in maintenance can lead to short …

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A micro-brittle star in a refugium

Kickstarting Your New Refugium

Whether it’s just been installed as part of a bone-dry, newly set up aquarium system or as an add-on to a well-established, heavily stocked reef tank, you’ll probably want your new refugium to be operating at its peak performance from the onset. Seeding the right beneficial organisms in the right amount at the right time …

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A Copepod Cornucopia: How to Maintain a Continuous Live Food Source in Your Reef Aquarium

Some of us aquarists are satisfied just to find a pod or two in our systems—just to know that they’re still there! Then again, some of us are always reaching for that endless bumper crop. Those who push for ever higher copepod yields might indeed be on to something really big. Let Them Eat Pods …

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Amphipods and/or Copepods: Can They Peacefully Coexist?

Detritus and algal films compromise the aesthetic appearance and environmental quality of any saltwater aquarium. For sure, they present some of the most serious (and frustrating) issues for an aquarist to contend with. The easiest and least expensive way to deal with these issues is through biological control. This typically involves the use of a …

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Clean Sea Lettuce direct from our Algae Farm, perfect for your refugium!

Stocking a Refugium

Marine aquaria have a peculiar way of growing (in terms of both size and complexity) over time. These “add-ons,” be they filtration units, reactors, or whatever, grow from the so-called main tank in an almost organic manner. But, no matter how elaborate an aquarium set-up becomes, the sum of all the parts can always be …

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The amazing invertebrate, the sea urchin

Pincushion Urchins (Lytechinus variegatus): The Algae Destroyers

No matter who you are, how skilled you are as an aquarist, how diligent you are at cleaning your tank, how little you feed or how advanced your filter system is, one thing is all but certain: unwanted forms of algae will appear in your reef tank from time to time. Nuisance algae can be …

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From Detritus to Delicacy: Using Harpacticoid Copepods for Natural Nutrient Cycling

Pretty much nobody wants their marine aquarium to be covered with filth and green slime. Yet, mulm and benthic microalgae show up (at least in some amount) in just about every system. This is normal to some degree. However, anything more than a patch here or there can be seen as a symptom of problems …

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pods in your reef, here is a tigriopus copepod

Pods In Your Reef: Seeding a Marine Aquarium with Copepods

Benefits of Pods In Your Reef: Microcrustaceans (or “pods”) in general, and copepods in particular, are an integral component of aquatic food webs. This is so in virtually every marine environment including coral reef habitats. Therefore, pods in your reef are a healthful addition to any reef aquarium. Lucky, a handful of useful copepod species …

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The intricately patterned trochus snail

Utilizing the Trochus Snail (Trochus spp.)

Algae, of course, is not an inherently bad thing; without it, the natural world could not exist as we know it. However, there are many types of algae that readily grow in plague proportions under certain environmental conditions. Imbalances of nutrient levels (whether in nature or in the home aquarium) can quickly result in blooms …

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Aquarium Cleaning Machines: Cerith Snails in the Reef Tank

An aquarium substrate surface can be a dirty place. Detritus, feces, uneaten fish food, film algae and other unwanted materials might pile up there. Fortunately, there are many “clean-up crew” creatures that can be used to remove various types of nuisance algae and/or settled organic wastes. There are only a few cleaners, however, that will …

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An Overview of the Sand-Sifting Nassarius Snails

We all want our reef aquaria to have a clean appearance; after all, not only does good aquarium hygiene make for a more attractive display, but the coral reef environments that we are attempting to recreate are similarly nutrient and detritus-free. This is not always an easy task for the home aquarist to accomplish, however, …

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