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New Sponsor: mailordercorals

It’s that time again where we welcome a new sponsor to the site and this time we are particularly pleased to say ‘Halò’ to Scotland-based company mailordercorals! Running for around 10 years, mailordercorals is a classic example of a successful hobbyist operation that has gone on to become a healthy online business offering a secure website, live arrival guarantee, variety of shipping options, secure payment and the very best in customer care. Originally selling coral frags from their reef display, gradually more and more tanks were added for the sole purpose of propagating corals and soon these frags were being shipped all over the UK. Focussing on the provision of high quality stock at a realistic price point, they soon built-up an extensive and loyal customer-base and it wasn’t long before a purpose-built coral house was necessary. The opening of this facility also allowed customers to visit by appointment and hand-pick their stock. Jump forward to today, and with the coral house redeveloped to cope with ever increasing demand, mailordercorals remain one of the most successful operations of their kind in the UK. Offering everything you’d expect from a professional operation and more, one could easily become immersed in their ever-expanding website for several hours given the extensive range on display
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Red Sea unveils “REEFER™” range of rimless reef-ready systems

A press release from Red Sea has just come in – read on: REEFER™ systems enable hobbyists to create an affordable customized reef aquarium of their very own, by seamlessly integrating their preferred choice of equipment into the REEFER™’s advanced sump and water management system. The REEFER™ Series combines a contemporary, rimless, ultra-clear glass aquarium with a stylish cabinet and a comprehensive water management system, including a professional sump, integrated automatic top-up, and Red Sea’s unique silent down-flow system. Incorporating technologies originally developed for Red Sea’s all-in-one MAX® coral reef systems, the Reefer series is designed for ease of operation while enabling hobbyists to install an unlimited choice of lighting, filtration, circulation and controllers in order to create a uniquely customized system. Offered in 5 sizes from a 45cm (18”) Nano to a full size 150cm (5’) aquarium, Red Sea’s REEFER™ systems provide a stunning visual centerpiece in any home or office. Main features of the new Red Sea REEFER™ Series include: Rimless, super-clear, beveled edge glass aquarium Elegant Marine-Spec cabinet Professional sump with constant height skimmer chamber and micron filter bags Integrated automatic top-up with reservoir Silent, regulated down-flow system with emergency overflow Assembly-ready piping – no gluing required For additional information please visit www.redseafish.com
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Unboxed: Nyos Quantum 220 Protein Skimmer

Officially unveiled at Interzoo earlier this year, and available to European hobbyists for a few months now, we thought it would be great to take a closer look at this immediately eye-catching and attractive range of skimmers from Germany-based experts in ‘high level reefing’ Nyos® Aquatics. Actually, sales were so successful on the first production run, we’ve had to bide our time for a second run to take place before we could even get hold of our unit! So now it has finally arrived, let’s get it out of the box and see if it really is ‘Built to Perform’. Receiving the largest unit in the range, the Quantum 220, we are immediately struck by the cavernous volume of this futuristic-looking skimmer. Measuring approx.
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Unboxed: AquaIllumination (AI) Hydra 26

As one of the leading suppliers of LED lighting solutions for aquaria, AI have built a fantastic reputation for both quality and innovation and can call an army of reef-keepers committed ‘converts’ to their products. It is their proficiency in this innovation which particularly draws our attention to their latest offering, the Hydra 26, which packs one almighty LED punch into the smallest of packages. In this unboxing review we take a preliminary look at the unit before we install it on our test system in the near future for a full operational review. So, first things first, yes this is a small unit.
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Video: Gabon Creates Worlds Newest Marine Sanctuary

[embedded content] Encompassing some 18,000 square miles of ocean around the central African nation of Gabon, the world’s newest marine sanctuary was announced this week. Home to more than 20 species of sharks and rays, including threatened species like great hammerhead sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, and tiger sharks, protection of the area had been a major aim of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project, which conducted a marine survey of parts of the nation’s almost 500-mile (800-kilometer) coastline in 2012. Making the announcement on Wednesday at the opening of the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress, which has drawn several thousand delegates from 165 countries, the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, said: “Today I can announce our decision to create a network of marine parks covering about 23 percent of Gabon’s territorial waters and EEZ [exclusive economic zone], within which no commercial fishing will be allowed”. Via Newscientist
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Unboxed: MaxSpect XF150 Gyre Generator

It’s been the talk of the forums since the prototype was seen at Interzoo earlier this year, now finally we’ve received an early production model of Maxspects hotly-anticipated new product for testing. With potential to literally ‘stir-up the market’ in water flow devices, this product is certainly novel in appearance and the performance stats also look exciting. Before we install our unit on the test tank, lets unbox the product and give you some of our initial impressions. Shipped to us direct from UK distributor BCUK, the XF150s packaging is some of the best we’ve seen. Inside the attractive outer cardboard box, the contents are contained neatly within a metal case (OK, it looks a bit like a biscuit tin but hey, we like biscuits!)
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Review: AquaMedic EcoRunner 6000

The ‘beating heart’ of numerous designs, a return pump is without doubt a key component of many modern reef systems. It can be a fairly thankless task though and, due the fact that this kind of kit is often out of sight, it can be tempting to try to save money and skip the research when it comes to selection. However, when we expect such an item to perform flawlessly 24/7 with little intervention, it seems crazy to even consider cutting costs. Also, given the fact that a pump is a constant energy drain, it makes sense to look for an efficient unit that won’t make our energy metre spin like a fruit machine! For this review we take a look at AquaMedic’s EcoRunner 6000 which is part of a range that promises energy-saving, silent operation with high efficiency and long-term maintenance free design… just the ticket… or is it?! Launched back in 2012, and with 5 models spanning 2700 to 12000lph output, this range has a pump for most applications (actually certain models are fitted with needle-wheels and used in AquaMedic’s aCone skimmers). Taking the mid-range 6000 unit ‘for a spin’, the first thing that strikes us about the pump is its rugged design. Incorporating a small handle to facilitate retrieval during maintenance, this pump is very solid indeed. It took some effort to disassemble for our product shots actually, such was the tight fit of the components. This bodes well for durability but it’s worth maybe loosening it up a little before you install it on a system. Inspecting each component in turn reinforced our conclusion that this is a precision made pump and take note that it comes with pre-filter basket and hose connections included to allow it to be used in a variety of situations… internal/external, hard or soft plumbed. This pump doesn’t have any flow adjustment but frankly we aren’t worried as such devices typically exert back pressure on the pump. It would be nice to have a few other diameter connections included though. Peel back the outer shell and at the heart of this IPX8-rated pump is an electronically controlled synchronous motor which promises to deliver high flow while consuming little electricity. Actually, this pump is slated to draw just 70watts which is less on paper than our Eheim 5000 compact (which outputs 1000 litres less per hour). Checking the EcoRunner 6000 with our plug-in metre reveals an average wattage consumption of around 80 watts though, so perhaps the UK supply means our pump is drawing more power… if so take note that the output is likely increased a little also). With a polished ceramic shaft and bearing this is a very quiet pump also and barely registers on the noise app we’ve used on our previous pump and skimmer reviews. Heat output is minimal as one would expect. Although we haven’t measured the actual flow rate from this pump we can see it is noticeable more powerful than the Eheim so frankly that’s good enough for us. Obviously head pressure is going to reduce this output – take note the maximum is 3.5m. Available online from Swell UK at a price of £175.95 (at the time of writing), this pump, and others is the range, compare well against competitors with the combination of superb build quality and efficient, quiet operation most notable.
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The Digital Reefs Black Tank – Passing 18 Months

As an update to the feature on our test tank in issue 43 of UltraMarine magazine way back in December 2013, we thought it was high time we put together another of our ‘black tank updates’ as the system has also recently passed the minor milestone of 18 months old. Plenty has happened since we wrote that update for UltraMarine, let alone over the last 12 months since our last update on here, so let’s dive right in before anything else happens! OK, so in terms of equipment, without doubt the biggest change has been the installation of a new acrylic sump. We made this change because we wanted to try out a new skimmer and unfortunately the water level in the original sump was too high to allow for headroom of this new model, given the water depth required. So, after having used the Hydor Performer recirculating skimmer for a few months, we’ve now got a Vertex Omega 150 running on the system. Running smoothly for several months, this skimmer sits in a much shallower and larger first section of a custom-built acrylic sump (made by Neptune’s Acrylic Tank Manufacturers). Although a fair amount of work, swapping the sumps was a fairly straightforward operation but it did necessitate removing the central wooden brace from the front of the cabinet. Despite being pretty nerve-wracking, we had no issue with this switch and we also took the opportunity to replace the central wooden support with a custom-cut acrylic column (also from NATM). This new arrangement gives us an enhanced view of the sump area. A couple of useful tips here…. a coated metal frame would allow for much easier access to the sump, and we’d also leave space to allow for door hinges to be replaced as they corrode quickly. Other than the sump and skimmer change, equipment remains quite similar to that which we had installed at our 6 month update – that is, we’ve got the Hydor Calcium reactor running off a TMC Regulator Pro and V2 pH Monitor/Controller, also we are still using kalkwasser for top-up via the Tunze Osmolator 3155. All these bits of kit have run flawlessly since their addition and ‘touch-wood’ let’s hope it remains this way! Our return pump has been upgraded from the original Eheim compact 5000+ to a Vertex V6 return pump which we reviewed recently. For nutrient control, we are still using Chaetomorpha in the centre section of the sump, now lit by a TMC GroBeam 1500 Ultima ND tile, and a Biophos80 reactor is being used to fluidise BioPhos80 to good effect. All told this technology has kept minerals and nutrients at acceptable levels for several months. Lighting-wise, the Arcadia OT2 LED is still performing admirably and we’ve recently added some of Arcadia’s extended range of T5 tubes which we will be reviewing sperately in the near future. For flow, we are currently running 2x Hydor Mag 7s and a Tunze 6105 on pulse mode. We tried it with less flow but almost immediately experienced some basal STN on some of our colonies which is now recovering but only slowly. Heavy flow really is critical! Biologically, the system has continued to evolve and the tank is starting to look filled-out! We’ve now got plenty of SPS in the system and generally they seem to be growing gradually. Take a look at the gallery at the end of the article for some growth pics. We’ve even set-up a frag rack for some bits and pieces. As well as the additional SPS, we’ve also got a few LPS but we haven’t added much new there other than some tasy Acan frags from whitecorals and a stunning large Acanothophyllia from a local tank breakdown. We do have a total of 3 large clams in the system now though, 2 direct from Amblard, and these seem happy, although we do have to lay them on their sides occasionally to allow the wrasses to pick-off any rice snails (they love this ‘treat’ actually). Hopefully one day these snails will be totally erradicated. Talking about fish, we still have our sole ‘true’ Percula Clown and Yellow Tang (these were from the last tank and we’ve now had them for around 5 years), next, added about 15 months ago we still have our Scarlet Hawkfish. The Flame Angel we added around the same time has fairly recently been sold as it started on the clams after we had been away for a week (we think it must have got hungry and picked up a bad habit). Interestingly as soon as this fish was removed we noticed significant polyp extension and accelerated growth in our SPS stock too. Goes to show that even an apparently well-behaved individual of such species may be having an unseen effect on corals of this kind. Added at around the 6 month old mark (a year ago) we also have our greedy Hoeven’s Wrasse and 2 watchman gobies, one white and one yellow. These gobies originally fought and we had to sump the yellow one but now we’ve tried them again and they seem to be coexisiting… just! Next we have a juvenile Regal Tang which we bought off a fellow hobbyist about 6 months ago, and since then we’ve also added 1 midas blenny and 3 lovely juvenile Pomacentrus alleni Neon Damsels which look fantastic swimming together in the mid water. We’ve had these for a few months now and they are very well behaved… not the rarest or most expensive fish, but stunning! Finally, one of our most recent additions was a stunning Halichoeres biocellatus Redlined/Twinspot Wrasse (we got this at ReefFest 2014). Settling in immediately, this fish is now slightly more dominant but also shier than the ‘older’ Hoevens Wrasse but is very sociable. Both fish seem fine with a relatively shallow substrate of 1-2″. So that’s it for now… hopefully we’ll find the funds to add more stock in the near future, particularly corals, as we seek to develop the aquascape further. We’ll also continue to trial new equipment and methods on the system of course. Modernising lighting and flow, reducing running costs, and introducing some automation, is top of the agenda.
Posted in Corals, Equipment, Fish, Science, Tanks | Leave a comment

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