Tag Archives: marine-aquarium
In some aspects of reef aquariums, saving money on the cheaper options can be detrimental to your successRecognizing that the question of affordability is top of mind for many aspiring marine aquarium hobbyists, one of our earliest posts here at Saltwater Smarts dealt with ways to reduce the expenses associated with aquarium setup and ongoing operation. Notwithstanding those recommendations, it’s important to note that in some cases, taking the seemingly cheaper route in the reefkeeping hobby can be highly counterproductive. For example, purchasing the following essential equipment based on price alone—or avoiding the purchase altogether just to save money—could not only end up costing you much more in the long run but may also greatly limit your long-term reefkeeping success:Reef lighting I’m leading with this one because proper lighting is commonly the largest single expense hobbyists encounter when setting up a reef system. To those on a limited budget—and/or those who equate “aquarium lighting” with the inexpensive fluorescent hoods so popular on the freshwater side of the hobby—the price of a good reef lighting system can produce some serious “sticker shock.” But I strongly urge you to resist the allure of cheapo lighting systems that claim they will support photosynthetic invertebrates for a fraction of the cost. Not only do such systems typically fall far short of expectation with respect to the inverts they can sustain, but as you might expect, they also tend to be built with low-quality components and, thus, have a notoriously limited functional lifespan. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t look for the best possible deal on a quality lighting fixture or that you shouldn’t explore the more budget-friendly option of buying a gently used fixture from a reputable source. Just keep in mind that if reef lighting sounds too good—and costs too little—to be true, there’s a good chance it is. Protein skimmer While proper lighting serves as the essential energy source for a reef system, a good protein skimmer plays an indispensable role in maintaining the best possible water quality
Spend any amount of time in this hobby of ours, and you’ll soon realize that the methods and technologies favored for maintaining marine organisms are continually in flux. What’s considered dogma today is heresy tomorrow—and maybe back to dogma again later in the week. (If you doubt me, just ask PaulB! He’s seen more than his share of methodology and technology come and go in his many decades of marine aquarium keeping.) Here today, gone tomorrow For the sake of illustration, think how many nitrate-reduction methods have been utilized at one time or another. Jaubert’s plenum method, deep sand beds (DSBs), coil denitration, nitrate-adsorbing filter media, and organic carbon sources coupled with protein skimming are just a sampling of the techniques that have either had their “day in the sun” or are currently in vogue today. Another example is the use of the wet/dry or trickle-down filter with bioballs for biofiltration. All the rage not that long ago, this technology is now largely considered obsolete (for reefkeeping purposes, anyway) because it tends to do its job too efficiently, earning it the nickname “nitrate factory.” On the one hand, all this change is exciting because it means we’re ever on the lookout for better, easier, more efficient ways of doing things rather than resting on our collective laurels.
A juvenile Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) hides amongst live rock in an aquariumWhen we consider the term “acclimation” as it relates to marine aquarium fish, we usually think of the relatively brief period during which—with the hobbyist’s help—they gradually adjust to the temperature, pH, and other water parameters in a new system. But in actuality, it takes several days to weeks after introduction for a fish to become fully acclimated to the conditions and other livestock in a new aquarium environment. It’s during this period that certain health and compatibility problems are most likely to arise, so hobbyists must be especially vigilant and take precautions to ensure their new aquatic charges adjust to their new digs successfully. Here are a few issues to watch for in those first crucial weeks: #1 The fatal leap Frightened fish have the potential to leap from an uncovered tank to their death at any time, but never are they more skittish and prone to jumping than during the first few days in a new tank—especially after lights out on that first night. Stands to reason, doesn’t it? After all, how would you feel if you were shoved unceremoniously into a room full of strangers, some of whom appear to resent your arrival, and before you could even get your bearings, someone suddenly shut off all the lights? You’d probably be pretty jumpy, too! Keeping the tank well covered is the most obvious solution to this problem, but it’s also helpful to arrange the rockwork so there are plenty of hiding places not already claimed by established residents, minimize human activity outside the tank, and provide a gradual change in the lighting scheme from daylight to dusk to dark.
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
Colorado Convention Center, home of MACNA 2014In 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
Don’t fall into the “close enough” mindset with your saltwater aquariumWhen 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
Dissolved 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.