Tag Archives: Aquarium

Latest Posts

Toledo Zoo Aquarium Renovation—Update 14: Fish Start to Arrive, Grand Reopening Set for March 27

Salties who have been following our updates on the Toledo Zoo Aquarium renovation these last few years will be excited to hear that the ambitious, $25.5 million project will soon be coming to fruition. Read on for the very latest from our friends at the Toledo Zoo.An epaulette shark gets accustomed to its new digs in the touch tank The Zoo’s innovative new Aquarium experience is slated to open on March 27 with incredible aquatic experiences like nothing else in the region. The Aquarium closed in October, 2012, for major renovations. Now that renovation of this historic Works Progress Administration (WPA)-era structure is complete, animals are starting to arrive, with key arrivals in the touch tanks and the Pacific Coral Reef exhibit. Epaulette sharks and southern stingrays are adjusting to the new quarters of their spacious touch tank, a dynamic encounter that brings visitors close to these amazing animals. Nearby, the first tropical reef fish have been introduced to the Pacific Coral Reef exhibit, a huge 90,000-gallon exhibit that will feature sleek sharks and Zoo divers who interact directly with visitors. This is the largest exhibit in the new Aquarium. Other animals will continue to arrive at the Aquarium and “graduate” to new exhibits after completing their quarantine requirements.

Reef Threads Plus #1


We are very pleased to present our first podcast in a new monthly series we’re calling Reef Threads Plus. In these podcasts we’ll choose a single topic and discuss it in depth with experts/knowledgeable people. For our first Plus podcast, Ben Johnson, Ret Talbot, and Jim Walters discuss what the hobby will be like if we reach a point at which we are no longer able to collect/import reef animals. As always, you can download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter @reefthreads. We hope you enjoy our new series, find it thought provoking, and will share it with others.—Gary and Christine

Ben Johnson, Captive Aquatic Ecosystems
Ben Johnson’s Captive Aquatic Ecosystems website

Ret Talbot’s Good Catch Blog
Ret Talbot’s Good Catch Blog

Jim Walters’ Old Town Aquarium
Jim Walters’ Old Town Aquarium website

Aging Bony Fish

Pair of otoliths.

Pair of otoliths.

When conducting studies, many ecologists are posed with the question: How old is this fish? Because size is rarely a fair indication of age, the use of a more precise method is often required. The most prevalent method of aging bony fish is known as Otolith Analysis. This procedure entails the extraction and microscope analysis of the fish’s otoliths – small calcium carbonate structures that are located slightly posterior to the fish’s eyes. 
An otolith with visible annuli.

An otolith with visible annuli.

 These structures, which are used as gravity, balance, and movement indicators, grow continuously throughout a fish’s life and exhibit a unique growth pattern. This growth pattern is thought to be a result of seasonal temperature changes – during the winter, the otoliths grow slowly, accreting lightly-colored calcium carbonate; during the summer, the otoliths grow quickly, accreting darker calcium carbonate. The contrast between lighter calcium carbonate and darker calcium carbonate forms rings known as annuli. Since each annuli represents one year, scientists may determine the age of the fish by counting them.… More:

Saltwater Smarts in 2015: Looking Forward to an Exciting New Year

Since Chris and I launched Saltwater Smarts back in April of 2013, we’ve been immensely gratified to welcome a steadily increasing number of visitors to our site, to have the opportunity to share our personal insights on a wide variety of topics related to marine aquarium keeping, as well as to bring you authoritative perspectives from a variety of aquarium industry professionals and other seasoned hobbyists. Special thanks to all who helped make 2014 such a stellar year here at Saltwater Smarts: our regular contributors, Jay Hemdal, Than Thein, Paul Baldassano (PaulB), Paul Poeschl, and Dave Bowers; our site sponsors, Doctors Foster and Smith, Tidal Gardens, Advanced Reef Aquarium, GHL, Coral Reef LLC, Coralreefaquarist.com, and Majano Wand; and, of course, each and every salty out there who took the time to visit our site over the past year! Today, as we stand on the cusp of 2015, we’re bullish about our trajectory and looking forward to some exciting changes and new offerings ahead. Here’s a sampling of what you can expect from Saltwater Smarts over the coming year: New media You could say Chris and I both have perfect faces for radio, but I’m afraid you’ll be seeing more of our ugly mugs in 2015. We plan to step away from the keyboard from time to time and bring you more video offerings—for example a series of short how-to’s on basic marine aquarium techniques, one documenting our recent efforts to capture and remove several rogue damsels from the display tank in a local coffee shop, and much more. New resources We’re also thrilled to announce that day one of 2015 will see the release of Saltwater Smarts’ first eBook, The Salt Smart Guide to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Diseases of Marine Fishes, penned by Jay Hemdal, Curator of Fishes and Invertebrates at the Toledo Zoo. Be sure to tune in to Saltwater Smarts this coming Friday (January 2) for much more information on this exciting new resource. And Jay’s disease guide is just the beginning.

Fused Montastrea in Belize

Close up of shared polyp between two colonies.

Close up of shared polyp between two colonies.

 I was recently going through pictures from my exploratory trip to Belize earlier this year. I was especially interested in coral that were growing in close contact with one another, and I took many pictures and videos of coral interactions. A relationship that struck me as particularly interesting was one between two colonies of Montastrea growing side by side. There was a streak of color in one colony leading from one coral to the other across the area where the two colonies met. I zoomed up with my camera and discovered that one of the polyps was shared by both colonies. I have seen this happen with many of my Acanthastrea echinata grafts (another coral species with high Thrausto counts), where only one area or polyp will fuse while the rest of the graft remains separated. I speculate that there is a regulation between the two corals’ immune systems, only at that location, aided by the presence of similar populations of Thraustochytridsymbionts. The white paper “Identification of a protist-coral association and its possible ecological role” by a team of scientists in Israel, (http://www.int-res.com/articles/meps2006/317/m317p067.pdf ) expounds on this idea. The article has several pictures that show the colored striations of Thrausto populations in several coral species. Enjoy this video of photos I took in Belize of the coral, starting close and zooming out from the shared polyp between the two colonies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dt3DCCCWUUMore:

GHL Mitras Lightbar Announced in Smaller Sizes and More Colors

GHL is updating their Mitras Lightbar for 2014 by offering them up in one brand new color configuration and two new sizes. Where the first generation of the Lightbar saw its smallest fixture tipping the scales at roughly 60 cm in length, or just under two feet, the new nano models will be suited for 40 or 50 cm aquariums. This is a good move to hit those smaller desktop nano aquariums that are all the rage these days, and nano owners could certainly appreciate the access to this high end LED striplight.As for the new color, the Mitras LED striplight will now be available in a deep actinic. Prior to this release, the Lightbar was only available in a daylight (freshwater), actinic (saltwater), and an ocean blue (mix of fresh and salt) configuration. This new color offers up the deep blue that has become synonymous with reef aquaria and it gives users more options for color blending and bolstering coral coloration.The Mitras Lightbar fixtures for 40 and 50 cm nano tanks are currently available in the GHL webshop, and the deep actinic models will become available in mid-October.Features common to all models:Selected high-power-LEDs of Cree, Osram and SemiLEDs Lifetime of at least 60,000 hours High quality LEDs with at least 122 lumen/watt (white LEDs) 13 different lightbar lengths 120° reflectors Can be operated standalone or with a ProfiLux controller Controllability of 5 to 7 LED channels (depending on lamp model) Individually set up the light output and color according to personal desires Storm, rainy day, cloud, tropical, and twilight simulations via the ProfiLux controller This entry was posted in Aquarium Equipment and tagged Aquarium Equipment, aquarium lighting, GHL, GHL LED, LED lighting, Mitras, Mitras Light Bar by Brandon Klaus. Bookmark the permalink.

Pacific Sun’s Cube Bridges the Gap Between Bluetooth and WiFi

For the longest time, Bluetooth technology was one of those highly touted bullet point features of multiple aquarium products offered from lots of different brands. It was supposed to revolutionize how hobbyists communicated with their aquarium equipment. The devices could be controlled wirelessly by all sorts of Bluetooth enabled devices, but due to its severely limited range, it was quickly overtaken by WiFi, which offered worldwide functionality via the internet. Thankfully, those Bluetooth products aren’t in any way obsolete thanks to a new device from Pacific Sun. Called the Cube, this simple little device acts as a bridge between Bluetooth and WiFi signals, allowing formerly Bluetooth only devices to connect to a wireless network and receive work direction from any place in the world.The Pacific Sun Cube will be available in 4Q 2014, which is less than a month away, and it will be compatible with all of their existing products like the LED/Hybrid fixture, T5HO fixtures, dosers, etc. A mobil and computer based app will accompany the release of the Cube, and all of the data will live in the cloud, another ever growing feature of the aquarium industry.Pricing will be announced upon the Cube’s release. In the meantime, check out these screen captures of the software. This entry was posted in Aquarium Equipment and tagged Aquarium Equipment, pacific sun, Pacific Sun Cube by Brandon Klaus. Bookmark the permalink.

Hot Summer, Cool Seahorses: Cooling The Seahorse Aquarium

Summers can be deadly to seahorses. Are you prepared to cool them down? Summer’s here, and seahorse aquarists are starting to see tank temperatures rise. Seahorses, are particularly vulnerable to warmer temperatures , so for many seahorse aquarists, even moderate heat can lead to a mad dash to lower the water temperature. The consequences of warm water can be deadly for seahorses. Bacteria spread at a faster rate in warmer water, so the warmer it gets, the more likely you are to see illness pop up in your aquarium. Another often overlooked problem is that warmer water holds less oxygen, stressing out the inhabitants of your aquarium. This tends to be worse for seahorses than other fish due to their lobed gill structure. Fans, your first line of defense Often, open tops with fans blowing across the water is enough to drop temp a few degrees. This works by evaporative cooling. Removing tops, and placing a fan so it blows across the water will make the water evaporate much faster, cooling the tank. You can easily drop a tank below the ambient temperature if you have enough evaporative cooling. Theoretically, you can drop as much as 18F degrees below ambient temperatures. Realistically, you are going to see a drop of between 3 and 5 degrees in a home aquarium. (More about evaporative cooling here.) Ways to improve evaporative cooling is to have the fan blowing across the longest part of the tank. Aiding evaporation can be done by increasing surface movement. Position power heads and add air pumps to create more movement. If you have a sump, you can help things out by placing a fan across the sump as well. Keeping the stand doors open will help heat from equipment dissipate. Be sure if you have fish that could be jumpers that the tank has some form of mesh over the top to keep them from making their final leap. You can use egg crate to fashion a top, or pond mesh and aluminum window frames. Do remember that with evaporative cooling, you will lose significantly more water through evaporation than normal. Keeping an eye on the tank, or even adding an auto top-off unit to replenish the tank will be necessary. Evaporative cooling works best in dry climates. Someone in Arizona will have better results than someone in Florida. However, if air conditioning is being used, you have a dehumidifier build in, and can get to lower humidity levels to keep the tank cool. Air Conditioning Often when people think cooling a tank, they think they need to resort to a chiller. That’s not always the case! Often times it’s cheaper to get a room air conditioner and run it rather than buying a whole chiller. And for bonus points, you get a cool room. Of course, it depends where you live, where your tank is set up, and what your electricity prices are like. But it’s always a good idea to at least consider air conditioning. Small units can be had for under $100. If you have odd shaped windows you can get a portable air conditioner. Portable air conditioners carry warm air out via a hose that you connect to a window. They do take up floor space, and some people think they’re loud; but they provide an option for those of us with weird windows. Check Your Equipment There are many ways you can change your equipment setup to help remove heat. Reducing equipment, externalizing equipment, and even cleaning equipment can all help. Reduce Equipment If you’re running several powerheads to keep water moving, a pump from the sump to the tank, and a pump for the skimmer, you could easily be dumping a large amount of heat into your aquarium. Reducing those items while keeping the water moving is a great way to lower the temperature of the tank. Multiple powerheads can be replaced with a single, well designed closed loop. Upgrade Equipment Older equipment is likely to draw more power mom less umph. The additional power translates to additional heat in the tank. Newer, low watt pumps can lower the overall energy consumption along with the heat output. Don’t forget the lowly air pump! Most are low watt and can move around a substantial amount of water, even if it’s not in the way we’re used to in an aquarium. But they can work to keep the surface agitated with very little cost or heat addition. Externalize Equipment Every piece of equipment in the tank adds to the heat overload. If you can externalize the pumps that are in your aquarium, you’re reducing a lot of the equipment heat. External sump pumps can be plumbed alongside your sump. Internal powerheads can be upgraded to those with external motors, such as a VorTech (just be sure to use the foam covering to keep seahorse tails out). Clean Equipment Because our tanks are alkaline with a lot of minerals, calcium deposits occur inside our pump housing. This creates friction, and friction is heat. It may sound like a simple step, but cleaning your pumps every couple of months can help keep the temperature in check. A good vinegar soak followed by a thorough rinsing will remove calcium deposits with ease. Chiller A chiller is often the nuclear option in high temperature situations. They are expensive and take up space. And you need to be sure you’ve chosen one that can cool your aquarium to the right temperature. There are many low cost models out there that don’t cool as much as they purport to cool, so checking reviews is essential. Pet Education has a great article on choosing the right chiller Chiller Sizing Calculator DIY Chiller One way to go about a chiller on a budget is to make your own. While they are rarely pretty, they are an option for those on a budget or just like the challenge of building something themselves.Most rely on a dorm fridge which can often be had for next to nothing, and a big coil of aquarium tubing where water passing through, is cooled, and passed back into the aquarium. DIY Chiller ideas: DIY Evaporative ChillerRefrigerator ChillerDIY chillerAnother DIY ChillerDIY ChillingDIY Do It Yourself Aquarium Chiller Basement If you’re in a warm climate and air conditioning or a chiller isn’t an option, but have access to a basement, sometimes the reality is that it might be the best place for your aquarium. Placing in the basement is not something you can do quickly during a heatwave, but if you’re deciding where to set up your aquarium, be sure to think of what the conditions are going to be like throughout the year. Sometimes placement in the basement is just a fact of life. If you have a concrete floor, you can even take advantage of natural cooling by placing the aquarium sump directly on the concrete rather than raising it up to sit on wood inside the stand. It may take some clever modifications, or a custom built stand, but can be well worth the cooling effect of the concrete. Ice in Emergencies Keeping a couple bottles of ice in the freezer can be a lifesaver. They don’t take up much space, but in an emergency such as a/c or power outage in a heat wave, they could make all the difference in the world. The downside is that you don’t have much control over the cooling. But they could end up saving your seahorses. If you don’t have bottles of ice, and need something FAST, regular ice can be used, but place it in a ziplock bag so it doesn’t melt into the tank. You don’t want it diluting the tank, only cooling. Ice Chiller In a prolonged emergency or unexpected heat wave, you can make a temporary chiller out of a cooler, ice, a coil of aquarium tubing (at least 75’) and a pump to push the water through the tubing coiled up in the cooler. A more detailed explanation. Following the above advice should let you cool your seahorse aquarium to safe temperatures with ease, leaving you, and your seahorses to sleep better at night. DIY Ice Air Conditioner You can even make an air conditioner using a number of inexpensive parts if you’re really in a bind. The idea is to have a fan pushing cold air out of a container. The essentials are a small fan, ice, and a container for the ice. Youtube has a couple examples, one using a 5 gallon bucket, and another using a cooler. I suspect neither would last long term, but they might be a good short term solution for cooling a room with aquariums rather than trying to cool each room. And they’re dirt cheap to build. Do you have any tips and tricks for aquarium cooling? Leave them in the comments below! This entry was posted on Saturday, July 26th, 2014 at 11:53 am and is filed under Aquarium Care. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Reefs.com 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.