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Category Archives: Corals

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Marine Aquarium Terminology: Activated Carbon vs. Carbon Dosing

Activated carbon and carbon dosing – similar sounding, but different techniques for improving water qualityAs if our hobby weren’t perplexing enough to the average beginner given all the oddball jargon we toss around, things can get doubly befuddling for novices when they come across two or more similar-sounding terms that actually apply to very different concepts. Such confusion could easily arise, for example, when newcomers are first confronted with the concepts of carbon use for chemical filtration and carbon dosing for nitrate/phosphate reduction. So, to help clarify these sound-alike terms, let’s define what they are and how each is used to maximize water quality in a marine aquarium:Chemical filtration with activated carbon Likely, activated carbon is what comes to mind for many new hobbyists when they first hear or read about carbon use in marine aquaria, especially if they have a background in freshwater fishkeeping where activated carbon use is a long-established practice. Activated carbon (aka activated charcoal) is a highly porous medium, typically sold in granular or pelletized form, that is used to remove dissolved organic compounds (DOCs) from aquarium water. It’s considered a chemical filtration medium because the DOC molecules it removes actually form a bond with the surface of the carbon—a process known as adsorption. DOCs are what cause the yellowing of aquarium water, so their removal with activated carbon helps keep the water crystal clear. Activated carbon can also be used to eliminate various toxins and contaminants from the water, for example the noxious chemicals many corals and other sessile organisms release to prevent neighbors from encroaching on their real estate, medications used to treat fish, residual ozone exiting an ozone reactor, etc. There are various ways to place the carbon granules or pellets in a system.

When is a Toadstool Coral not a Toadstool Coral?

"Sarcophyton" ehrenbergi, the False Toadstool Coral. Credit: Dr. Yehuda Benanyahu

“Sarcophyton” ehrenbergi, the False Toadstool Coral. Credit: Dr. Yehuda Benayahu

 Zoological taxonomy is not for the feint of heart. Take, for instance, the humble Toadstool Coral— a stalwart soft coral recommended to every rookie reef aquarist. Despite the ubiquity and importance of these corals in reef ecosystems, our understanding of their evolutionary relationships is in a nascent stage. There are no field guides enabling easy identification, and, in all likelihood, there never will be. Recent molecular study has shown that our current system for classifying the Toadstool Corals and their allies is inherently wrong in many different and important ways.… More:

How to Tell if a Marine Fish Is Dying of Old Age

Large coral colonies and adult surgeonfish in Key LargoWe aquarists try very hard to keep our animals alive as long as possible for a few reasons. The first is that we are caring people and don’t want to see them hurt. The second is that our specimens cost us a lot of money. Exactly how much money depends a little on the care we provide. For example, if we buy a purple tang for $100 and it lives for 10 days, then that fish cost us $10 a day to enjoy. I would say that is an expensive fish! But if that same fish lives ten years, then it costs us maybe around three cents a day (I didn’t do the math, but you get my point)

New Program Takes Non-Certified Divers Closer Than Ever To Sharks

Shark-Dive-PDZA Jumping in the water to get face to face with sharks is a great way to teach people that these creatures are ones to be admired rather than feared. Now with Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s unique new program, diving with sharks just became a lot more accessible to the general public and non-certified divers. ‘Beyond the Cage Dive’ begins on October 10, 2015 and will be open to children as young as 10 years old. The dive allows participants to get up close and personal with five different species of sharks, including sandbar, sand tiger, black tip reef, nurse and wobbegong sharks, in the open water of the South Pacific Aquarium.… More:

Beginners: Never Add Livestock to Your Marine Aquarium under These 5 Circumstances

If there has been a mysterious death in your aquarium, determine the cause before seeking a replacement.In a nutshell, the reason people are drawn to this hobby (not counting the genetic mutation unique to marine aquarists that I can only assume researchers are close to isolating) is to enjoy up-close-and-personal encounters with exotic marine life. In other words, the whole point of this crazy venture of ours is to acquire specimens for our tanks so we can spend as much of our free time as possible viewing and appreciating them—just as the point of taking up golf is to go golfing as often as possible. But one significant difference between aquarium keeping and many other pursuits is that there are certain times when it’s decidedly not in your best interest to engage in one of the core aspects of the hobby—the livestock-acquisition part, that is.Here are five circumstances in which adding another animal is precisely the wrong thing to do. You’ll notice I’ve targeted this post at beginners, but even experienced hobbyists sometimes forget these points or get impatient and add specimens when they really shouldn’t. 1. Before cycling is complete When cycling a new system, you should observe subsequent spikes and declines in ammonia and nitrite levels and then gradual accumulation of nitrate.

Reef Threads Podcast #246

A little purple nephthea.

We return once again. This week we talk about salt, Gary’s new Live Aquaria t-shirt, the Reef Savvy Dream Tank giveaway, the Internet as a research tool, placing corals, and Level 1 and Level 2 fun. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

Sponsor: Rod’s Food
Rod’s Food website

Internet research
Is the Internet a Viable Resource for Marine Aquarium Research?, Jeff Kurtz, Saltwater Smarts

Coral placement
Need help with coral location, gam3ovr, Reef Central


Aquarium Corals Poison People, Dogs And Cat in Alaska

Dragon's Eye CoralNow here is a story that I found it quite hard to believe until I checked the source and saw it was from the very credible Scientific American. There are few places that seem less  coral attack than Anchorage, Alaska. And yet the coral managed to poison around a dozen people and animals in their homes and places of work in Anchorage over the last few years. Most recently a man arrived at an Anchorage, Alaska hospital with some very peculiar symptoms on August 12, 2014. He complained of fever, cough, nausea, pain, and a bitter metallic taste in his mouth. He claimed it was due to a zoanthid coral in his 200 gallon home aquarium, which was located inside of his 1200 square foot mobile home. The man had not touched the coral, but it had been transferred into his aquarium that same day by a relative. While the coral was being transferred, some coral pieces feel onto his floor.  … More:

Wash Off: a New Coral Dip

wash off bottle - reefsMECoral a provider of high quality aquarium additives, is proud to introduce “WASH OFF”. The newly-developed formula for Wash Off includes lavender, lemon, and pine oil at a powerful concentration. The 100% pure plant extracts are highly effective at cleaning newly acquired corals with less stress or harm than harsher medicines, pesticides, or iodine based dips, and is very effective at promoting coral heath and rejuvenating damaged corals (Rtn, Stn, or Bacterial Infection). It is available at local fish stores and online at… More: is the world's leading destination for sustainable coral reef farming and the aquarium hobby. We offer a free open forum and reef related news and data to better educate aquarists and further our goals of sustainable reef management.