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How Simple Can You Get with Your Marine Aquarium?

While the title of this post puts me in mind of a song performed by Nick Rivers in the 1984 comedy film Top Secret, it’s a question many a novice has posed before setting up his or her first marine aquarium. How basic can it be? Or, put another way, what equipment is absolutely essential and what isn’t?This is a perfectly logical question because ours can be a highly equipment-intensive hobby, and the choices of gear and gadgets designed to make our lives easier can be downright mind-blowing. Add in all the online forum chatter about—and volatile disputes over—the latest-and-greatest hobby technology and methodology, and it’s no surprise that many beginners have a heck of a time distinguishing between the bare essentials and the “bells and whistles.” Complicating matters, of course, is the fact that opinions on what constitutes “essential equipment” can vary widely from one hobbyist to the next. I would humbly submit that the following items are all you really need for a bare-bones saltwater setup: (Note that you’ll also need various and sundry small-ticket items used for regular operation and maintenance, such as aquarium brushes, an algae magnet, etc. Plus, if you plan to keep a reef system, you’ll need to add some means of calcium/alkalinity supplementation to the list.) Some folks might say this list is grossly incomplete while others might contend you could get by without some of the items on it.

Review: Vortech MP40w ES to Quiet Drive Upgrade

reefs.comEStoQDBack in February I shared a picture and video of the first MP40w Quiet Drive prototype. EcoTech claimed up to 40% more flow, with 90% less noise. The latter intrigued me most. I run one MP40w ES on our office reef in “reef crest” mode at ~95% power. The pulsing noise could be heard throughout our our 2,400 sq. ft. office, which drove me insane. This pump is regularly cleaned, and I wasn’t looking for any additional flow. Low and behold EcoTech released a stand-alone option to simply upgrade the driver which reduced noise for $75.… More:

SICCE Voyager Nano Unboxing 

Sicce Voyager Nano Sicce is making a “big splash in a small package” with their line of nano pumps and propeller powerheads. I’ve recently had the opportunity to test the tiny Syncra Nano return pump (you can read the review here), and today we’re going to visit another Sicce small-sized pump and the perfect match to Syncra Nano- the Voyager Nano.  … More:

The Use of Negative Space in the Reef Aquarium Aquascape

Marine aquarium aquascapes are evolving to favor more open, irregular aestheticsOne of the more interesting developments in the reefkeeping hobby, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the latest, greatest gadget or advance in water-quality-management methodology. Rather, it’s an evolving aesthetic in aquascaping. Bored with the traditional monolithic stack of rocks propped up against the back pane and consuming much of the tank’s volume, modern reef hobbyists are starting to appreciate and experiment with the use of negative space—the open areas around the rockwork—when planning their aquascapes.The towering, uniform “wall of rock” has given way to lower-profile aquascaping with irregular, broken topography, allowing open channels and swim-throughs, caves and overhangs, islands, etc. And this trend makes perfect sense. Artists have long known the value of striking the right balance between positive and negative space in their compositions. With our reef systems essentially being living works of art, it stands to reason that the aesthetic principles guiding the works of painters and sculptors can only make our aquascapes all the more visually appealing. This aquascape features a broken topography and plenty of open sand What’s different about exploiting negative space in reefkeeping versus artwork is that it has both practical and aesthetic value

Reef Threads Podcast #250

Should we take marine animals from the reefs for our viewing pleasure?

In our 250th podcast, a discussion about marine-fish captive breeding and Orca breeding leads to an exchange about keeping wild animals captive, the current state of our hobby, and how collecting and keeping marine animals fits in the larger animal-treatment arena. Basically, we address some difficult questions. After you’ve listened, share your thoughts here or on the Reef Threads Facebook page.

Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter @reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

Sponsor: Rod’s Food
Rod’s Food website

Breeding yellow tangs
Rising Tide Conservation Captive Bred Yellow Tangs

Breeding Orcas
Sea World To Challenge California Ban On Orca Breeding, Francis Yupangco, Reefs.com

CRAZY! Adventures of a Marine Biologist

Crazy-MD-bookcoverI don’t normally read autobiographies, but I’ve made two exceptions…the first was David Attenborough’s “Life on Air” which I found fascinating and the second was “CRAZY! Adventures of a Marine Biologist” by Pat Garratt, Director of the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. The title certainly grabs you, and anyone with an interest in the aquarium industry, marine biology, or fishing will love this book!  There’s a bit of something for all of us fishy people. Pat started as a researcher at the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban and a keen fisherman, and then moved on to become a curator; designing, building and stocking the Two Oceans Aquarium.  He moved up to become the Director for a number of years and is now facing retirement…but he has lots of great stories and memories to bid him farewell (although I don’t think he will be saying goodbye to the fish altogether!)  This is a man who has enjoyed life, at times risked that life, and will continue to love family, friends, and fish. What I love most about this book is that it is all about finding your passion and following your dream no matter what! This book is available online.… More:

The Value of a Fish

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Discordipinna griessingeri (Flaming Prawn Goby) acclimating at a retailer. Credit: Austin Lefevre

 It’s a fish eat fish world out there. Wild fishes face daunting lives in nature; everything in the ocean either wants to eat you or outcompete you for territory or mates. Collection for the aquarium is only the beginning of a hectic and stressful time in their lives. Once collected they’re held in a facility and purged (allowed time to expel waste) for a period of time prior to shipping. Then they’re bagged, boxed and shipped off to wholesaler’s around the world. Ripped from boxes and exposed to bright light after hours of travel in complete darkness, they’re acclimated to holding tanks at wholesalers. Fishes are then offered various foods and sold to retailers around the wholesalers’ country.… More:

Is the Internet a Viable Resource for Marine Aquarium Research?

Virtually since the advent of the internet, there’s been a tendency in our hobby to rate the reliability and trustworthiness of online content beneath that of print-format materials—books, magazines, and so forth. But is this assessment really fair?The general premises behind this viewpoint are: Anyone with a computer and internet connection can post anything they want online, whether or not he or she has the requisite expertise to expound on the subject. Online articles and posts are seldom given professional editorial treatment and/or subjected to peer review, so you can’t trust that they’ve been vetted properly for accuracy. There tends to be an “echo-chamber effect” online, so inaccurate or outright fallacious information appearing on one site can be picked up immediately by others and repeated ad nauseam, creating the false impression of consensus on the information/viewpoint. Now, there’s truth to each of these arguments, but as someone who’s made his living as a writer/editor for nearly 20 years (primarily in print format) and once served on an editorial committee that reviewed book submissions for a major retail pet chain, I can say with some confidence that print materials have their limitations as reference sources, too. Among them: Just as with online materials, print books and magazines are no more reliable or accurate than the writers and editors who produce them. You can’t assume that just because someone went to the effort to produce something in hardcopy, the information it contains was properly vetted.

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