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Baby/Juvenile Caribbean Reef Squids, Curacao

Good morning one and all, how are you doing out there?? I trust all our mothers out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day?? I heard our friends in the Black Hills of South Dakota got hit with a major snow storm this weekend which is normal for April but in May??? Here in Curacao we have had record-breaking, non-stop hurricane force winds for the past three weeks making life very difficult! Because of these gale-force winds we had to more or less close Dolphin Academy to swimmers the whole week because of Hawaii sized waves rolling in and crashing over the walls and sinking one of our big floating platforms! On top of that, our island has had no rain for months now and everything is bone dry, boy do I miss our rainy season and would do anything to get it back

Sergeant Major Eggs, Abudefduf saxatillis

Good morning friends, the winds here in Curacao are pushing 38 knots this morning, that’s around 43 mph not including the 60 mph wind gusts, not a fun place to be right now! I have two different, very aggressive, male Sergeant Major’s for you all today that I photographed a few days ago guarding their eggs which you can see in the last photo. Sergeant Majors earn their name from their brightly striped sides, known as bars, which are reminiscent of the insignia of a military sergeant major. This is a very common reef fish growing to a maximum size of about 7 inches and found in the 1-40 foot zone. The female will lay her eggs in patches on a firm substrate and the male will guard them vigorously until they hatch.

Video: A Timelapse Encounter… With LPS Corals

[embedded content] OK, so it’s been a little quieter than usual on the blog over the last few weeks, and we can now reveal why. In short, we’ve been busy behind the scenes creating this short video which we hope will be the first in a series of similar productions. In this introductory piece, we get ‘up close and personal’ with a range of LPS corals currently residing in our Black Tank, employing some timelapse macro and pure fluorescence imagery to ‘shed light’ on some of their otherwise hidden habits. Don’t forget to select full 1080HD resolution to see the fine detail! As said, we hope to continue the series as time permits and expand to focus on different groups of invertebrates… and as ever, we’ll certainly be looking to keep pushing the envelope in reef imagery by investing in new equipment and software for future offerings.

Review: TMC V²Pure Advanced RO System

Arguably one of the most critical components of any reef system, the humble RO Unit sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Sometimes a hobbyist may end up selecting a unit that ‘seems’ up to the task without really researching it. Once in place RO Units can also be ‘taken for granted’ and, as a result, actual performance under ‘typical’ home operating conditions (membrane efficiency, actual GPD, ease of assembly etc) is sometimes overlooked. In this review we’ll take a closer look at TMCs V²Pure RO system and see how it stacks-up against other units we’ve used.

Unboxed: EcoTech Radion XR15w Pro

Widely regarded as market leaders in LED lighting technology for reef aquaria, EcoTech’s products are some of the most advanced and desirable available to today’s hobbyist. With a line-up that is constantly evolving to incorporate the very latest technology, we use this review to take a preliminary look at their latest and most compact LED light to date – the Radion XR15w Pro. So, getting hands-on with this unit, we are immediately impressed with the quality of presentation. The slick packaging presents the tile with beautiful simplicity and the supporting materials included reflect this. To be honest we feel like we are excitedly unpacking the latest tablet or computer peripheral rather than an aquarium item! Anyway, the light is literally ready-to-go as soon as it is lifted from its from its moulded receptacle and out of the box. Build quality appears to be excellent and we love the look of the honey-comb fan aperture. With the ducted cooling system of its larger brethren, the operating temperature of the LED array should be managed quietly and effectively. Refined in gloss black this unit looks every inch the ‘bleeding-edge’ option you craved. Measuring just 7”x7”x1.5″, the XR15 certainly is remarkably compact. Despite its diminutive size though, and thanks to the 120 degree TIR lenses fitted as standard, it is rated to illuminate a 24”x24” footprint from 8” or more above the water line. Clearly this makes it copesetic for a range of aquaria, from nano tanks up to fairly large systems (in the latter case, when used as part of an array of multiple units). Emitting a claimed maximum PAR of 825, and with a full spectrum (and UV) output optimised for coral growth full, it should be possible to maintain a range of species under this light, including light hungry species like SPS corals. Consuming just 75watts though, this is also one efficient light unit. In terms of bulbs, the XR15 is a single-cluster unit featuring 21 high-output, energy-efficient LEDs covering the full light spectrum. Specifically we have: 4 Cree XP-G2 (20W) Cool White, 4 Osram Oslon Square (20W) Deep Blue, 4 Cree XP-E (12W) Blue, 2 Cree XP-E (7W) Green,2 Osram Oslon SSL (6W) Hyper Red,1 Osram Oslon SSL (3W) Yellow, 2 SemiLEDs (5W) Indigo, 2 SemiLEDs (5W) UV. All-in-all, superb quality and more than enough colours to provide a spectrum for both coral health, good colour rendition and to replicate a diverse range of aquatic scenarios. The XR15 continues to impress when we look at its functionality, and with a variety of presets (including acclimatisation mode, weather simulation and lunar cycles) built-in, this is already one versatile unit. Take into consideration the fact the tile has a built-in RF Module that can communicate wirelessly with other Radion lights and VorTech pumps (through EcoSMART Live) and we enter a new dimension of control. Finally this unit is also ReefLink compatible and can therefore be controlled wirelessly using an ios or Android device. When you come to mount this light take note that it can easily be connected to EcoTech’s new modular RMS (Radion Mounting System – which we’ll be looking at shortly), hanging kit, or the multi-light mounting rail. Retailing here in the UK for around £360 (at time of this feature), the XR15w Pro comes backed-up with EcoTech’s 1yr warranty for the fixture/2yrs for the LEDs. To show exactly what the unit can do in the real world, we’ll be producing a full operational review of this unit when we’ve got it installed on the test tank in the near future. While you wait, take a look at EcoTech’s official run down on their website by clicking the banner below.

Specs Out For New Nano Koralia From Hydor

Hydor are a company who’s products we’ve used before and we have to say, we really like their approach. They are certainly always looking to bring new products to the aquarium market and strive to make reef-keeping easy. In terms of their flow pump range, although already offering some of the most compact and efficient models available, they continue to make their products smaller, reduce electricity consumption and increase water flow output. Just announced, their new Koralia Nano 2200 achieves all this and is the smallest flow pump in the market to boot. This pump really is something special at just 6cm length while pumping up to 2200lph and consuming just 4 watts! Click the graphics for more detail.

Prodibio Launches New Coral Vitamin Supplement

CORAL VITS is a hyper-concentrated solution containing all the vitamins needed for coral growth and for the well-being of fish in saltwater or reef aquarium. Available in Standard,(6,12 and 30 vials) and Pro ranges. 6 vials £14.29 RRP12 vials £22.49 RRP30 vials £35.79 RRPPro 10 vials £86.00 RRP As with all the Prodibio range dosage is simple and the product always remains fresh. CORAL VITS works in synergy with REEF BOOSTER.

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.

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