Author Archives: mrsaltwatertank

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Write-Up Wednesday: Top-Down Viewers

I’ve got a strong hunch that you setup a saltwater tank to stock it with beautiful inhabitants for your viewing pleasure. I’m also got a strong hunch that 99% of the time, you view those inhabitants from the side -i.e. through your tank’s side panels. I’ll make one more hypothesis – as your corals start growing, you really, really would like to take some great photos of them.

Here’s some insider information for you – corals always look much better when viewed from the top down. Therefore, if you want some great photos of your corals, try taking them from above. But how do you do that without getting your camera wet?

The answer: the top-down viewer for cameras

Avast Marine Work’s Top-Down Porthole

Top-down viewers that are built for cameras give you an easy and safe way to keep your camera dry, while giving you access to stunning top-down shots. The way they work is simple. A water proof sleeve goes around your camera’s lens. The top-down viewer is secured to the camera’s lens through set screws and the viewer is rotated to zoom in or out to get closer to the subject matter. Note that the focus ring isn’t accessible when the viewer is attached to the camera so auto focus has to be enabled.

While most top-down viewers are meant for cameras with detachable lenses, there are versions available for smart phones like Avast Marine Work’s Smartphone Top-Down Porthole

If you’re using a DSLR/SLR camera or a smart phone, a top-down viewer gives you stunning photos of a completely new way to view your livestock. Corals display different colors and clams especially can look dramatically different when viewed from the top down.

Compare these photos of an acan colony.  The side photo shows mostly red and a hint of orange/yellow:

Here’s the same colony viewed from the top. Notice how the orange/yellow band jumps out in this photo. Plus the coral now looks more orange vs. deep red:

Checkout this photo of a clam taken from the side:

Here’s a top down photo of the same clam:

It looks like a completely different clam, yet it is the same specimen.

Top-down viewing of your tank opens up a whole new world that makes for some great eye candy. And for your FOWLR types, don’t worry, even your fish look different when viewed from the top-down.

(Special thanks to Josh at Murfreesboro Aquatics for the photos)

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House Hunting Tips For Reef Junkies

Real Estate will likely be a big part of your investment portfolio. Therefore financial professionals recommend you carefully consider your real estate purchases. The other big part of your investment portfolio is your saltwater fish tank and here’s tips on how to make sure your real estate is good for your fish tank.

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Write-Up Wednesday: The Recirculating Protein Skimmer

A protein skimmer provides mechanical filtration by removing organic molecules from your saltwater aquarium’s water. And a  recirculating protein skimmer differs from other protein skimmers in 2 main areas:

– the water depth required for the skimmer to operate

– the number of pumps that run the skimmer

Water Depth

Non-recirculating protein skimmers have to be run inside of your sump or tank and they all require a specific water depth to operate. (The exception is hang-on back protein skimmers which hang on the back of your tank or sump). Usually there is an acceptable range between 7-9″ (18-22 cm). Recirculating protein skimmers, however, do not require a certain water depth to operate and can be run external to the sump if need be.

Operating Pumps

A Hydor 2005 protein skimmer

On a recirculating skimmer, one or more pumps recirculate water inside the protein skimmer body while mixing the recirculated water with air. A separate pump feeds the protein skimmer body water. Contrast this with a non-recirculating protein skimmer where one pump feeds the skimmer water, mixes the air with the water and pushes water throughout the protein skimmer body.

Since the recirculating pumps only jobs are to recirculate water throughout the skimmer body as well as mix air into this water, the idea is that a recirculating protein skimmer is better at removing waste. Having owned both recirculating and non-recirculating skimmer, my experience is that the difference is negligible. Both my recirculating and non-recirculating skimmer performed well and the performance differences between them would be hard to attribute to the fact that one was or wasn’t a recirculating skimmer.

If you go the recirculating protein skimmer route, a quality recirculating skimmer will work well for your tank.

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Write-Up Wednesday: Coralline algae

Coralline algae is a red algae and the pink or purple form is more common in saltwater aquariums. In the ocean coralline algae is found on nearly every reef and in the wild several unique forms exist such as types that grow in a scroll pattern, a branching pattern and a lobed pattern. In saltwater aquariums nearly all coralline algae is of the encrusting type.

Coralline algae on a rock

Coralline algae uptakes calcium during growth and for this reason you may need to increase calcium doses if you have an abundance of coralline algae in your tank. Magnesium is also though to boost it’s growth. Products that claim to encourage coralline algae growth are usually nothing more than concentrated doses calcium and magnesium so simply raising your tank’s calcium and magnesium levels will likely get you the same result assuming there is some amount of coralline algae in your tank. If you don’t see any coralline algae in your tank, acquiring scrapings or a frag with some coralline algae on the plug will introduce the algae into your system.

I was once asked to overnight coralline algae scrapings to Hong Kong so if you are looking to start a side business, coralline algae scrapings may be your calling!

As I wrote in yesterday’s Terrible Advice Tuesday’s post, the abundance or lack of coralline algae is not an indicator of your tank’s health. If you don’t see it in your tank, there are plenty of hobbyists who would love to have your problem as they hate coralline algae.

Finally, worrying that coralline algae will render your live rock useless due to the clogging of pores is a waste of your time. There will be plenty of areas on your rock where coralline algae won’t grow.

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Write-Up Wednesday: Halloween Leptoseris

Combining a striking orange body and yellow-green eyes, the Halloween Lepto delights anyone who looks upon this SPS coral. Besides the unique color combination, the halloween Lepto also grows in an ridged encrusting pattern that makes it even more of an eye-catcher.

My frag of Halloween Lepto

Unlike other high-end SPS that are known to be delicate, the Halloween Lepto is an easy keeper requiring only moderate light and moderate to low flow. My frag of Halloween Lepto shown in the photo thrived under only four T5 bulbs at the bottom of a 21” deep tank. I’ve also found the coral to be very forgiving as it spent three days upside down after it got knocked off a rock. The coral has also recovered from multiple chemical attacks from neighboring corals.

Rounding out the reasons why the Halloween Lepto is a must-have coral is the fact that specimens are nearly all aquacultured. Extensive aqua culturing have driven down the price of the coral from over $100 USD a frag to under $50 USD. I love my Halloween Lepto and haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love their specimens as well.

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Write-up Wednesday: Goldflake Angelfish (Apolemichthys xanthopunctatus)

The Goldflake Angel is one of the most striking angelfish available for a saltwater tank. Their bodies are a combination of bright and muted yellow areas with brighter spots of yellow which give the fish its name. As a juvenile, the fins are almost completely yellow with a black spot on the rear of the dorsal fin. When the fish matures into an adult the fins become black which make the fish even more striking. Add on a mouth that is purple-blue and you’ve got on eye-catching fish.

A juvenile Goldflake that is in the process of becoming an adult

While these fish are available in smaller sizes, they can grow up to 10” (25 cm) as an adult which means they’ll need a lot of swimming space. Goldflakes will do best in tanks sized 150 gallons (567 L)or better. Please do not be fooled into thinking that a small specimen is a dwarf angel and will do well in a small tank.

Like most angelfish, Goldflakes are definitely “fish in the fringe” as they can develop tastes for corals. Adding to the risk is the fact that you won’t know if the fish nips or eats corals until you place the fish in your tank. My Goldflake Angel is a model citizen and ignores all coral. I’m fully aware the fish’s taste could change and I’m ok with that fact. If you love your coral more than your fish, or you don’t want to risk having to remove the fish from your tank, the Goldflake Angel is not for you.

Mr. Saltwater Tank’s 206 Gallon V.I.P. Build

Building a saltwater tank is one of my favorite things todo. I enjoy the client interactions, the planning, the challenges and I REALLY enjoy seeing the finished product. It never hurts when the tank is thriving as well.

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Mr. Saltwater Tank Friday AM Quick Tip: Easy Frozen Food Thawing Without The Stink

I love frozen fish food yet I hate it at the same time. I recently stumbled upon a great way to thaw your food without the stink and spilled water.

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