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Reef Threads MACNA Minicast, Day 3

reefthreads1 Reef Threads MACNA Minicast, Day 3

The Neptune folks discovered that a dosing pump was a very effective way to mix tequila shots.MACNA 2014 has come to an end. It was a great weekend immersed in marine aquarium information. Here’s our Day 3 report. Tune in next week for our MACNA recap show. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine More: Reef Threads MACNA Minicast, Day 3


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The Ascent to MACNA 2014 Is Near!

pre macna2 The Ascent to MACNA 2014 Is Near!In just about three weeks, we here at Saltwater Smarts (and thousands of other saltwater aquarists from around the US and world) will ascend to The Mile-High City for MACNA (Marine Aquarium Conference of North America) 2014! This first-ever MACNA to take place in beautiful downtown Denver is being held at the Colorado Convention Center from August 29 through 31. If you attended or heard anything about MACNA 2013 in South Florida, you know the show was a resounding success. This years migration to Denver puts the 2014 event in the very capable hands of CORAL (Colorado Organization for Reef & Aquatic Life) and promises to be one of the best events yet. So what is MACNA? The Marine Aquarium Conference of North America is the longest-running marine aquarium conference in North America. Each year, the event moves to a different host city and the organizational responsibilities are given to a local host club. The conference itself is part educational symposium, part trade show, and part social gathering. With such a dynamic event, you can expect the attendees to be just as dynamic. The attendance ranges from hobbyists to marine scientists and LFS owners to industry professionals More: The Ascent to MACNA 2014 Is Near!More:

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In the Marine Aquarium Hobby, “Close Enough” Just Won’t Cut It!

close not enough2 In the Marine Aquarium Hobby, “Close Enough” Just Won’t Cut It!When it comes to achieving success with a marine aquarium, there’s a certain “X Factor” that comes into play—the hobbyist’s attention to detail. Let’s face it, some of us are pretty focused on making sure every parameter, measurement, calculation, and setting is spot on, while others tend to be a bit more, well, lackadaisical in their approach. Admittedly, my natural tendency is toward the latter. I guess you could say I’m more “big picture” focused than detail-oriented. But I’ve found over the years that my usual “close enough” thinking is not a terrific asset in this hobby, so I have to work hard to be more diligent and precise. Here are just a few examples of when “close enough” thinking doesn’t pay in our hobby: Matching fish to tank size “Hmm, says here a clown triggerfish needs at least a 135-gallon tank. My 100-gallon should be close enough. After all, it’s only a difference of 35 gallons!” Sound familiar More: In the Marine Aquarium Hobby, “Close Enough” Just Won’t Cut It!More:

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Marine Aquarium Antacid: Understanding Alkalinity

alkalinity 300x169 Marine Aquarium Antacid: Understanding AlkalinityWhen I first made the switch from freshwater to marine fishkeeping, I was somewhat befuddled by the term “alkalinity” as it’s typically used on the saltwater side of the hobby. During all my years of keeping freshwater systems, I had always used the term “alkaline” interchangeably with “basic.” In other words, with respect to the pH scale, I would describe any value below zero (neutral on the scale) as being more acidic and any value above zero as being more alkaline. Related but different What I soon discovered is that alkalinity is indeed related to pH—just not in the sense that I originally thought. In fact, your aquarium water can actually have a relatively high pH yet still be low in alkalinity. In this scenario, the pH is unstable and can plummet rapidly if an acid is introduced. So, clearly, the terms “alkaline” and “basic” are not synonymous. Simply put, the alkalinity level (also called “buffering capacity”) of aquarium water refers to its ability to resist a downward shift in pH in the presence of an acid. I like to think of alkalinity as antacid for a marine aquarium (a visual that always resonates with me given my propensity for overindulgence at mealtimes) More: Marine Aquarium Antacid: Understanding AlkalinityMore:

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The Many Means of Nutrient Export in Marine Aquariums

aquarium nutrient export 300x169 The Many Means of Nutrient Export in Marine AquariumsDissolved nutrients. Sounds like a good thing, right? After all, every organism needs nutrients in one form or another in order to grow and stay in good health. So why are marine aquarium hobbyists—particularly reefkeepers—seemingly so fixated on keeping the level of dissolved nutrients in their systems as low as possible? To understand this fixation, you have to keep in mind that the waters surrounding coral reefs are naturally nutrient-poor environments. Unless a reef is subject to agricultural runoff, sewage discharge, etc., the levels of dissolved nutrients around it never approximate what can accumulate in the closed system of a marine aquarium. Elevated dissolved-nutrient levels lead to problems with nuisance algae and declining water quality, which is stressful or even deadly to marine livestock. That’s why hobbyists must implement different measures to export dissolved nutrients from their systems. Here’s a sampling of basic nutrient-export techniques: The routine water change I’ve listed the water change first because it’s the most straightforward technique and provides many additional benefits beyond exporting dissolved nutrients. You should be changing a minimum of 10 percent every week or 20 percent biweekly (more if testing shows that nitrate, and/or phosphate is exceeding the acceptable level), siphoning out as much accumulated particulate waste as possible in the process. More: The Many Means of Nutrient Export in Marine AquariumsMore:

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Reef Threads Podcast #181

reefthreads1 Reef Threads Podcast #181 We’re back once again. This week we talk about reef chemistry, sand-sifting animals, restoring a neglected tank, and external stressors. We hope you enjoy the show and will share it with others. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Christine and Gary More: Reef Threads Podcast #181More:

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Five External Stressors of Marine Aquarium Fish

water vibration ripple 300x169 Five External Stressors of Marine Aquarium FishMost marine aquarium hobbyists want to provide as naturalistic and stress-free an environment as possible for the fish and other livestock in their care, so they’re careful to maximize water quality, offer nutritious foods, promote compatibility among tankmates, aquascape appropriately, and so on. In other words, they put a lot of thought into what’s going on inside the aquarium. But what about what’s happening outside the tank? In some cases, very conscientiously maintained aquariums can still contain stressed-out fish because of various external influences that may not even occur to the hobbyist—especially if the tank houses species that are naturally skittish to begin with. Here are four of them off the top of my head: 1) Vibrations Try this little experiment: Stand on the opposite side of the room from your aquarium and shout, whistle, or clap your hands loudly while observing your fish. Next, stomp your foot on the floor, still keeping an eye on your piscine pets. Very likely, the shout, whistle, or clap had little to no effect on the behavior of your fish but the stomp sent them dashing for cover. The explanation for this is, higher-pitched sounds produced in the air don’t do a very good job of crossing the air/water interface and, therefore, will tend to go unnoticed by fish. On the other hand, low-frequency vibrations that travel along solid surfaces will definitely be transferred to the aquarium and felt by the fish. More: Five External Stressors of Marine Aquarium FishMore:

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How Much Time Will You Invest in a Saltwater Aquarium?

time spent 300x169 How Much Time Will You Invest in a Saltwater Aquarium?When a non-hobbyist visitor is observing one of my marine aquariums for the first time, among the questions he or she almost invariably asks—along with inquiring about the expense and the level of difficulty relative to a freshwater tank—is something along the lines of, “How much time does it take to maintain that?” My usual answer to that question is, “Not as much as you might think.” For some reason, there’s a pervasive misconception out there that in order to maintain a marine aquarium successfully, the hobbyist must spend every waking moment feeding, cleaning, adjusting, testing, tweaking, jiggering, and kneeling before a statue of Neptune. All hobbies are time-consuming Don’t get me wrong; a successful marine aquarium does demand a certain time commitment—but then so does any other hobby or avocation worth pursuing. Whether you’re into golf, bowling, scuba diving, model ship building, or stamp collecting, you’re going to spend just as much time, if not more, developing and honing the necessary skills or simply participating. Modest daily time commitment So what sort of time commitment are we talking here? An hour a day? Two hours? Once a marine aquarium is established, the actual day-to-day commitment can be fairly modest More: How Much Time Will You Invest in a Saltwater Aquarium?More:

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