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Review: Cubic Orbit 20 Jellyfish Aquarium

Frequently on show in specialist exhibits like public aquaria, it seems a common perception that keeping jellyfish is beyond the average individual, perhaps even if they are already marine hobbyists maintaining complex reef aquaria. Maybe it’s due to the delicate appearance of the organisms themselves, or maybe it’s the almost clinical appearance of their holding systems that makes people often think it just isn’t possible in a home setting. Over the last few years though, technology and understanding has improved and now it is entirely feasible to maintain these fascinating and mesmerising creatures in your own home as easily as any small aquarium. In this review we take a look at one such system, the Cubic Orbit 20 which is distributed in the UK by London-based specialist Glass Ocean. Having already seen positive reviews on this product we were keen to try it for ourselves and, after we contacted Glass Ocean, a few days later our system was delivered. We must commend Glass Ocean here for some superb service…. both the delivery of the systems and the packaging were top notch. The manufacturers, Cubic, are a UK-based company founded in 2010 and their personnel includes those from a public aquarium background as well as a marine biologist. The Cubic Orbit 20 itself is the smallest offering in their line-up, being  23litre system based on the Kriesel design. It is made from acrylic and measures 15” in diameter, and 8” front to back. Quality seems excellent and all parts were present and fitted well. The LED light and Pump seem of good quality but only long term use would prove this. We are certain that replacement parts won’t be hard to find and overall the unit comes with a 12 month guarantee. Out of the box, instructions are clear and this system is very simple to put together. In terms of operation, the system hinges on the circular flow pattern which keeps the jellyfish in suspension. There is an inner chamber which is used for the display, while the outer chamber serves for filtration. Supplied with some media and a filter sponge it is recommended that the media is seeded with live rock (we’d suggest that any local fish store worth their salt should be able to give you enough live rock rubble for a few pounds). Sitting in the outer chamber, the tiny pump pulls in water and then vents it through a spray bar in the display chamber. This outflow blows out across a network of holes where water leaves the display compartment. As well as generating the circular flow, this prevents jellyfish from becoming stuck to the outlet. The lighting system is also simple, consisting of 1 colour changing LED light. Supplied with an IR remote control, this offers plenty of different colours, 3 different brightness levels, and a number of modes, such as flashing or fading, the speed of which can also be adjusted. Initially we thought we’d only use the deep blue colour but we really love the slow fading mode also. All in all the unit consumes just a few watts so is very cheap to run (15 watts claimed). No heater is required as the jellyfish species suitable are not too finicky. If the tank gets hot in the summer though, this may cause issues. Generally, the tank should be put in a cool, shaded location ideally to keep temperature under control and prevent excessive algae growth. We’d suggest that it should be sited so it can’t be knocked also. All-in-all the package is well put together. In our system the hose did come off the pump or spray bar attachment a few times meaning that the flow ceased. Tightening it with a small cable-tie on each end did the trick. Other than that we’ve no comments on the design… it is certainly very clever and looks modern and attractive. The colour changing light adds a little interest and proved a big hit with the kids. The slow fade mode doesn’t look too gimmicky and of course you could always just have it on white, or the nice deep blue. The magnetic fascia ‘disks’ can also be changed to different colours to fit in with your room décor. After a test fill and quick run through to make sure it didn’t leak and that we understood the exact operation of the system, we placed it in its final location and filled it with water from our test tank. If you don’t already have a reef system this isn’t a problem… most good marine stores sell ready-made full strength sea water (just make sure it is made with good quality RO water and has a Salinity of 35ppt). The hydrometer supplied should be fine (and did give a fairly accurate reading) but we chose to use our seawater refractometer. At this stage we also added our live rock rubble and a few amphipods into the outer chamber. We did manage to get some detritus in the display compartment and had to use a rigid length of airline connected to some flexible airline to siphon this out. It would be useful for this to be included in the package actually as it would be highly useful for regular maintenance and water changes. Anyway, once the water is in, just plug in the unit (single plug) and this will start the pump running. The system is silent in operation and generates virtually no heat. Initially, it may seem that the flow is quite weak but it turned out to be fine once we added livestock. Talking of which, we received our 4 moon jellies around a week after we had set-up the system, giving it time to mature a little and for us to get used to its operation. Again well-packaged, our jellies were in fine-fettle when we unpacked them, despite their journey (they are quite resilient in terms of shipment surprisingly). Take note here that these jellyfish are cultured rather than being wild caught so they have a low environmental impact. A few different species are available but it isn’t really recommended to mix species for various reasons. Anyway, in our shipment we had 2 ‘medium’ sized jellies which were about 2” in diameter, and 2 smaller ones about half that size. After floating them for around 20 minutes as directed we released them into their new home. This was a little fiddly given the small access point of the cubic  and we did have to remove a couple of litres of water to allow for displacement. Also we had to take great care not to crush the jellies, or slice them as we finally decided to snip the corners off the two bags to allow the jellies to gently exit their bags under water. Despite this, the jellies entered their new home and we immediately noticed how, even with the pump at reduced flow, the circulation was plenty to keep them gently moving around their new home. It was fascinating to see them actively swimming around with a pulsating motion. After several hours we added a small amount of the dried food that was also supplied and again found ourselves mesmerised by the way the jellies gathered the particles and transported it to their stomachs. It’s nice to see that both glass ocean and cubic offer detailed online resources by the way. After running for around a week now, our system appears to have settled well and continues to operate without issue. Our jellies seem fine and we are feeding a couple of times a day. We will perform a small water change quite soon and we are looking forward to raising some baby brine shrimp to feed them as a special treat, and experiment with other foods. While initially we thought the system may be a little gimmicky, its proving to be much more than just ‘living décor’… infact given the interest it has generated from visitors and other family members, it has even eclipsed the reef system at least for the time being. The Cubic Orbit retails for around £249.99 and is available from Glass Ocean. For more information click the banner below.
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A Brief History of EcoTech Marine Video

 MORE: A Brief History of EcoTech Marine VideoMore:

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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.
Posted in Conservation, Corals, DIY, Equipment, Events, Fish, Industry, MACNA, Photography, Science, Tanks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Super Rare Ballina Angelfish Shows Up Near Lord Howe Island Video

For some reason, we’ve been sitting on this story for a couple of weeks and just never got around to actually publishing it. We will let MACNA take the blame for that. Regardless, here is an interesting find out of the waters of Southeast Australia. The crew at Pro Dive were spending a little time getting to know the inhabitants of Lord Howe Island when one of the rarest angelfish in the world just so happened to cross their path. The Ballina Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus ballinae), referred to as “one of those unicorns of the sea”, can be seen casually strolling about in its somewhat abnormally shallow habitat nibbling on stuff as it nervously keeps a safe distance from the diver in pursuit.These fish are incredibly rare. The first described specimen was hauled up in 1959, after which only a handful (or less) have even been seen. The species normally inhabits deepwater reef habitats in excess of 100 meters below the surface, but apparently at Balls Pyramid (just south of Lord Howe Island) they have been spotted in shallower waters.Due to its natural rarity and that its already limited range occurs within marine sanctuaries, the fish is non-existent in the aquarium trade and will continue to be for probably as long as we’re around. Still, it is a beautiful fish that is worthy of its moment in the limelight, and we’d love to see more dive footage of it. Or, we could take Pro Dive up on their offer (in the video clip) to come and dive Balls Pyramid to see them in person.
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Review: Bio Aquatek Bio-Phos 80 Phosphate Media and Reactor

Anyone using chemical media on their reef system will almost certainly have delved into the wonderful world of fluidising reactors at some point. There’s something mesmerising about seeing your chosen media churning and swirling, happily doing its job. More importantly of course, fluidisation is also a great way to avoid ‘caking’ and to make sure you get the best efficiency out of your media (as opposed to ‘passive’ use, in a mesh bag for example). It’s more than likely that this research hasn’t left you with a clear ‘winner’ though, indeed uncertainties about reactor sizing, pumps, volume, construction, plumbing options and the like often result in something of a ‘hopeful’ purchase. In this review we aim to take some of the guess work out of this buying process by bringing you one of our ‘hands on’ reviews. On this occasion we have a neat little reactor that we’ve been after since seeing a demo model at Aqua2013. Having used Bio Phos 80 Phosphate removal resin before (in third party reactors and media bags), the idea of a reactor tailored for its use was immediately appealing. Just before we go on to our thoughts on the reactor though, we’d like to say how much we like Bio Phos 80 media itself. Having used a range of different Phosphate removal resins over the years, Bio Phos 80 really impresses us with its low dust content (which means it requires comparatively little rinsing). This anhydrous GFO is also slightly different to other media in that it is said to be coated with a special polymer that improves both resilience and porosity (and thus adsorbative ability). As such, this media can be fluidised relatively aggressively without significant abrasion or migration of particles into the display system. Furthermore, every 100g of Bio Phos 80 is rated to remove up to 4ppm of PO4 from 1000Ltrs of salt water or 4ppm PO4 from 2000Ltrs of fresh water which makes this a high capacity, long-life media in most circumstances. Of course, GFO is already a proven method of Phosphate and Silicate removal. Just be aware that this is a powerful media though. Actually, like other GFOs, Bio Phos 80 has the ability to rapidly reduce PO4 and SiO2 levels to zero and, particularly for PO4, this may adversely affect corals if they have adapted to higher levels. Bio Phos 80 may also affect pH and Alkalinity, trace elements and heavy metals. In short, it should be used with care, particularly if being deployed on a system for the first time (even if other resins have already been in use). Thankfully Bio Aquatek do make this clear on the media labelling. Moving on to the reactor itself, the first thing that really appeals to us is the ‘plug and play’ nature of this unit. Fitted with a dinky Sicce Syncra Silent 1.0 which consumes just 16 watts and pumps just under 1000lph, literally all you need to do is add media, put the lid back on and plug it in. In operation this unit is extremely quiet indeed it doesn’t even register on the noise app we generally use in our reviews. The Sicce also has a useful (if basic) flow adjustment and we’d recommend that when you add media and turn it on, you have it set in the lowest flow setting to ensure that no small particles are ejected from the reactor. The flow can then be turned up although you will probably have to lift the reactor out of the water to achieve this (as the adjuster is a little stiff in our experience). The reactor chamber has a capacity of just under 1 litre and will handle up to 500g of Bio Phos making it useful for a wide range of system volumes despite its compact size. Designed to be freestanding in a sump, the reactor certainly looks and feels well-made and we note it is constructed from class A acrylic & ABS. The key lock head, which fits neatly onto the matching base plate, is also a really nice feature and assists in the assembly of the unit and in understanding how it actually works. The fluidising plate in this reactor is also novel and as a design feature evidently disperses flow evenly through the media. Although this generally works well and prevents channelling, you may find that the sponges clog (especially the bottom one) if you stir up any detritus in the system. Although these sponges allow for fine media to be used we didn’t find that cleaning them was very easy without losing media or making a mess. A lot depends on how often you find the sponges clog and we suggest you tailor the amount of media used to match the frequency of sponge cleaning (essentially renewing media during this operation). So that concludes our ‘hands-on’ with this unit. Retailing (at date of writing) for £149 this is a great value, cleverly-designed and well-constructed reactor that comes with everything you need to get running. We say again, this includes a really nice feed pump and some very effective media. Take note that the unit is also versatile in that other media can be used if so desired (providing they aren’t smaller in grain size than Bio Phos 80). All-in-all we think this makes it an excellent tool to assist in controlling Phosphate levels, just be aware that you may lose media when the sponges are cleaned and plan accordingly. § Chamber Diameter: 7cm § Footprint: 13cm x 14cm § Capacity: 0.9 L § Height: 28cm
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Red Sea to Host Product Workshop at FJW Aquarium in Houston

We love aquarium related workshops, whether they be some sort of husbandry demo, a product showcase, or anything that spreads the good word of the hobby. We especially love them when the events are local. Such is the case for a Red Sea workshop that will be hosted at one of our favorite Houston area fish stores, FJW Aquarium. The event is still a little ways away, being hosted on September 20th from noon to 4pm. Like many events, this workshop will also feature awesome deals on livestock and equipment, as well as raffle prizes and other attractions that will bring in local hobbyists in droves. As we said, the workshop will take place at FJW Aquarium, located at 3839 Mangum Road in Houston, Texas. More details about the event will unfold on the FJW Facebook announcement, linked to above. A representative, or representatives, from Red Sea will be in-house doling out the goods on all of their latest gear, presenting a great opportunity for users to become more familiar with their dosing systems and other popular products.
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Marine Aquarium Contingencies I Never Anticipated

Green water of a harmful algal bloom (HAB) washes up on an Ohio beach in Lake Erie’s western basinIf you’ve been watching the news lately, you may have heard about the massive Microcystis algae outbreak that is currently affecting the western basin of Lake Erie and, from this past Friday until around 9:30 this morning, rendered the tap water in Toledo, Ohio and many surrounding communities unsafe to drink. Toledo just happens to be home to yours truly, and “Caribbean Chris” just happens to live in one of those surrounding communities. My wife and I first learned of this most unusual water emergency at the tail end of our vacation in Florida. Our teenage son and daughter, who are now way too old and cool to travel with Mom and Dad, broke the news via text message. My first thought was, “Thank heaven we’ve stockpiled plenty of clean drinking water that the kids can use (I guess you could say we’re preppers of a sort—though not the wild-eyed, catapult-building, planning-for-Armageddon type). My second thought was, “Hmm, I wonder what this means for my aquariums.” The same question occurred to Chris. So many questions, so few answers Is microcystin (the toxin produced by Microcystis) harmful to marine fish and/or invertebrates?
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Reef-A-Palooza Heading to New York in 2015

Reef-A-Palooza, one of the most attended aquarium trade show in the US, is looking to conquer another state. The show originated in California, headed east to sunny Florida, and now makes the trek north to New York. There is absolutely zero info about the show at this point, besides a date and an address, but we are sure that this event will be just as massive and successful as the other two Reef-A-Palooza events. If the other shows are any indication of how the New York version will be, then we can expect the same $15 admission fee (kids 12 and under are free), tons of aquarium equipment and livestock vendors, a boatload of family friendly activities, and a bevy of industry hardened guest speakers. Again, none of this has been released, and what little info we could find came from the show’s Facebook page. We will keep updating the blog, however, as those finer details emerge. Update: We did find a location for RAP New York. It will be held at the Meadowlands Exposition Center located at 355 Plaza Dr in Secaucus, New Jersey
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