A brown Macroalgae

Mixed Macros in the Planted Refugium

There are plenty of reasons to install a planted refugium into your reef aquarium system. You might culture macroalgae for numerous purposes including removing excess nutrients, growing a live food for herbivores, creating pod microhabitat, or just for simple enjoyment. Some macros are better suited for some of these purposes than for others. Therefore, if …

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A Refugium without substrate.

Getting to the Bottom of Refugium Substrates

These days, it seems as though a pretty solid majority of reef aquarium systems include a refugium. The growing popularity of refugia has been more a glorious resurgence than a successively rising trend. Indeed, they were quite commonly used in the hobby in the early 1990s. Unlike the refugia we’ve been seeing today, however, the …

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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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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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Marinepure Ceramic Biomedia

Using MarinePure in the Aquarium, Sump and Refugium

Managing dissolved nutrients–especially ammonia, nitrite and nitrate–is among the major tasks of reef aquarium husbandry. Accomplishing this can be easy or difficult, cheap or expensive, depending upon how you go about it. And there are lots of ways an aquarist can go about this job. This ranges from operating planted refugia to performing massive regular …

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Coralline Algae Encrusted Rcok

What are Coralline Algae?

There are all sorts of bad algae–hair, slime, turf–and they are widely recognized by aquarists as a manifest sign of poor water quality. On the other hand, a healthy growth of calcareous algae is regarded as desirable. Calcareous forms are slow-growing yet they compete for space with (and thereby suppress) all the ugly bad forms. …

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Limpets are incredible aquarium cleaners

Eliminating Algae with Siphonaria Limpets

In case you haven’t noticed, marine aquarium hobbyists have really upped their standards lately with respect to algal fouling. These much cleaner, healthier, natural-looking tanks surely are the fruit of numerous advancements in water filtration/treatment techniques. But we’ve slipped a few other cards under our sleeves, too; we’ve added an important new component to the …

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No, not this kind of cryptic zone!

Cryptic Zones in the Refugium

What are Cryptic Zones, Anyway? The planted refugium and its associated cryptic zones have gained a lot of traction among reef aquarists in recent years. This has largely been the result of a growing awareness of the need to control excess dissolved nutrients (e.g. nitrate and phosphate). As hobbyists experiment with specifics like macroalgae species …

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Red Gracilaria loves good refugium lighting!

A Look at the Pom Pom Macroalgae

Of all the genera of macroalgae regularly used in planted refugia, Gracilaria quite arguably has the most representatives. While there are a few very soft and feathery varieties (most of which belong to the “ogos”), there are some Gracilaria spp. that are rather stiff and leafy. Perhaps the most popular of these fat-fronded varieties is …

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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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Close Up of Copepods

4 Tips for Seeding Live Copepods

We get it… Copepods aren’t always cheap. Especially if you use a clean, high-quality, high-density, expertly packaged product with as many as four copepod species at various life stages (e.g. EcoPods!). But, using top-shelf products, you do get what you pay for. That’s why making a little extra effort to get the most out of …

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The Marine Planted Tank: Creating Your Ocean Garden

You’ve successfully kept saltwater fish. Then you moved on to corals. Then, maybe you took on the slightly greater challenge of tridacnid clams or some other delicate or specialized species—with yet more success! What’s next? There are hundreds of thousands of animal species that inhabit our planet’s tropical coral reefs. Even the most advanced reef …

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Creating a Suitable Growing Space for Your Mangrove

As of late, a few varieties of mangrove have become more available to saltwater aquarium hobbyists. With this, it will likely be a bit more common to see one of these beautiful plants poking somewhere out of one’s aquarium system. However, as keeping mangroves becomes more common, there may develop a tendency for aquarists (especially …

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Culturing Vital Bacteria for Marine Aquariums

Purple Non-Sulfur Bacteria and Natural Aquarium Filtration

Bacteria are, to say the least, ubiquitous. They are in our guts. They are in just about every breath of air we take. They most certainly should (at least some types) be in our aquarium filtration systems. Yet, many aquarists remain a wee bit oblivious to the critical roles that bacteria and archaea play in …

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Eliminating Detritus in the Refugium

Ever feel like no matter how much time you spend cleaning your tank, it can never really ever get clean? Detritus build-ups can be especially frustrating as they seem to come from nowhere and seriously compromise the healthy and natural appearance of an otherwise beautiful exhibit. One solution is to construct the system in such …

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Large Fish are major Waste Creators

Manipulating Nutrient Levels to Control Algal Growth

Ahhhh… A freshly set up and (just now) fully cycled marine aquarium.  Nutrient Free, No algae. No slime. Clean, shiny, beautiful. Two weeks later? Maybe three? Algae. Slime. All over. You want your “old” tank back. Particularly in newer set ups, these issues are pretty typical. Some aquarists believe something is wrong if they don’t …

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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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How to Set Up an Aquarium for a Green Mandarin Dragonet

I should have done this! I should have done that! Throughout your experience in the saltwater aquarium and reef hobby, you will be finding yourself commonly saying these things. Maybe you did not dip your corals, or you bought the wrong additives, or maybe you added a fish without properly preparing your tank. This fish …

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Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca): The Most Underappreciated Macroalgae?

The use of macroalgae in marine aquaria has steadily increased over the years. Ever since they have become more widespread in the aquarium hobby, they are increasingly being cultivated for specialized purposes. This specialization has generated the demand for a more diverse selection of “macros” with each species being preferred for a particular application. Some …

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