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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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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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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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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You can create an intricate aquascape

7 Newbie Aquascaping Mistakes

Undoubtedly, aquascaping is an art form. Designing and building the rock structure in a reef tank can be as satisfying as keeping the reef creatures themselves. But we should always remember that aquascaping entails a whole hell of a lot more than mere “decorating.” The hardscape in a reef tank must be built not just …

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A Look at the Goatfishes

On account of their huge adult sizes, there are a few fish families that should be pretty much restricted to public aquaria (we’ll just kill the goatfish buzz right away). Some of these behemoths (to nearly two feet in length) are in fact better known as game fish. Yup, that would be the goatfish, typically …

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Upgrading to the ULTIMATE Ecopack

Pods. Phyto. At AlgaeBarn, these are the bread and butter of the reef aquarium diet. And for sure, these two items form the base of most freshwater and marine food chains. Just consider OceanMagik, which is a blend of four distinctly different species of phytoplankton. Or EcoPods, which is a mixed-species (four, to be exact) …

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An Overview of the Firefishes

Marine aquarists are blessed with a gigantic selection of beautiful fish species to keep. Among these, only some are peaceful, reef-safe and relatively easy for beginners to keep. Even fewer are small enough at full size to be suited for nano aquaria. The firefishes are exceptional in that they hit all of these marks. Still, …

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Utilizing the Peppermint Shrimp for General Tank Clean-Up

Maintaining a squeaky clean aquarium environment is no easy task. It requires frequent water changes, constantly rinsing mechanical filters, gravel vacuuming, algae wiping, and so on. It also requires a substantial amount of cash; top-quality filters and filter media are not cheap. If we are to be honest, few of us can say that we …

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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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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 Cade Refugium / Sump

A Sump AND a Refugium?

Our aquarium systems grow over time. It’s almost inevitable. It’s well-nigh organic. And we surely all hope that as they grow, they get better. One proven way to dramatically improve the functionality of an existing system is with the addition of a sump or refugium. The conventional overflow-with-sump/refugium plumbing design (we can call it a …

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