Archive for the ‘Saltwater Aquarium Equipment’ Category

Moving Your Saltwater Aquarium Without The Headaches

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Hey saltwater aquarium fans,

The mammoth topic of todays blog is moving your saltwater aquarium, everyone will have to do this at some stage; best case scenario is a few metres worst case scenario is a few hundred miles!

Moving one of these can be a tricky experience!

So if you really have to do this and you arent just being finicky about the position of your tank relative to the TV lets begin!

Moving is very stressful for marine life most of all corals, but there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of fatalities.

The first step is some forward planning by you:

Choose the exact new location for the tank, set up what you can already.

Make sure you dont feed your marine life the day before or the day of the move as this will result in excess fouling of transport water.

Ensure the aquariums water is clean before the day of the move by doing a series of partial water changes on the days leading up to it.

Make sure you have the entire day of the move off  (start early!) and get your hands on some (clean, residue-free) containers to transport your marine life, rocks, sand, invertebrates, water. Plastic chillers or ice chests are great because they’re insulated so resist changes in temperature better which will make things more bearable for your stressed marine life. Buckets are great for live rock/sand and water. Every container needs to be light enough to move with one or two people.

If you are super organised a great idea is to set up bare-bones quarantine tanks before the day of the move with fish separated from corals, live rock, each other etc.

If you are moving a long way having extra water prepared for water changes and top offs enroute, these can be a lifesaver. You will also need pre-prepared water for water changes and acclimation once you get to your destination. Water for the tank at the new destination should be prepared beforehand and have parameters as close as possible to what was in the tank before (temp, pH, salinity).

Start by taking out fish and inverts seperating them and putting them in containers half full of water from the tank. Start as early in the day as possible and seperate the marine life from each other as much as you can (each coral should ALWAYS be by itself) putting compatible species together if you need to, use battery powered pumps if you can get them, especially for the bigger livestock containers. Next grab the Live Rock, Live rock needs to stay wet, you can even pack it in damp newspaper for short journeys.

Take out and save as much water as you can before it gets too cloudy by you disturbing the tank, use containers with lids!  Next scoop out the substrate and drain it put it into a plastic bag or container (live sand should stay moist). Get rid of all the rest of the mucky-by-now water.

Right now is a great time to say add some ammonia neutraliser to the water of each container, accumulated ammonia burns the skin of marine life and builds up in their systems which can be fatal even days later. This and temperature shock are the biggest moving day killers.

You will want to secure all the smaller containers in big ones if you can making sure your fish and inverts are experiencing as little movement as possible. Keeping them in the dark also reduces stress.

Next the tank itself will need to be carried to the vehicle (use friends), secured and the sides protected from any bangs (a broken tank during your move is really the last thing you need), all the gear can be carefully put into a bucket, take care to wrap the glass stuff. Filter media should stay wet to keep the bacteria alive.

Once you get to your new destination as smoothly and quickly as possible,  get the marine life inside ASAP and do a partial water change for each container (using old tank water you saved), then begin acclimating using the new tank water drip by drip.

Now get busy getting the live rock submerged in new water and set up the aquarium (if its not a new tank, in this case you would have done it before) rinse the equipment in the old tank water and put the remainder with the new water to be put in the tank.

Keep the lights of for the rest of the day and dont feed untill the next day.

Go and grab a beer because you sure have earned it!

For more useful info go to (or click on “Home” above) to see how we can enhance your saltwater aquarium experience.

Saltwater Aquarium Advice

Refugiums, Plenum & Berlin Systems: Filtration Options With Fancy Names Explained

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Hey fellow Saltwater Aquarium fans,

Basically as im sure you have realised you almost need a dictionary and a marine biology text book to cope with all the terms and jargon in this hobby! I actually find this pretty cool as I love to confuse my wife and friends ;)

Today im going to introduce to you a couple of unique aquarium filtration options you may or may not of heard of and explain what they are and what they do.

1. The Plenum: Sounds weird but can actually be amazingly helpful for an aquarium. A Plenum system is a type of Biological filter that uses a deep bed of live sand (micro and macro organism packed sand from the sea) suspended an inch or so off the aquarium bottom as the biological filter that contains both aerobic (removes ammonia and nitrite) and anaerobic (removes nitrates) areas in its depth which is traditionally about 5 inches.

The Plenum system (also known as a Deep Sand Bed or “DSB” filter) was developed by a very smart Dr Jaubert (and so is also known as the Jaubert system, argh so many names for this one thing!!!!) for keeping his reef aquarium heathy. The plenum itself is the oxygen free lower level of sand/gravel suspended by a plastic grid on supports above the aquarium base so that warm water (generated from the anaerobic conversion of nitrates into nitrogen gas) can drift up through the filter and removes any harmful hydrogen sulphide build up in the sand bed.

The surface of the plenum system will be packed with sand stirring filter feeders aerating and cleaning the top layers of Live Sand that contain the aerobic bacteria, sand sifting Gobies and Wrasses add to this effect.

When a Plenum filter is used in conjunction with a protein skimmer it is a very effective bio filter especially because of its nitrate reduction. It works best when the reef is suspended above the plenum using glue or epoxy resin for maximum water flow and so filtration. A possible downside is a buildup of harmful hydrogen sulphide if there isnt sufficient water movement upwards or sand sifting at the top.

2. The Refugium: A place to harbour refugees under your aquarium! No really it is; a ‘fuge is a tank  separate from the main aquarium with (usually) shared filtration and its own lighting either beside (hang on style) or beneath the display tank (like a sump) to put delicate, sensitive species so they can be free of predation at the hands (or fins) of fish, that would occur if they were in the display tank. In fact the refugium has many possible uses:

  1. A quarantine tank for new arrivals.
  2. A treatment tank for medications (treatment has to be safe for the main tank or have separate filtration though).
  3. A quiet place for the bullied or bullies (naughty corner!) to go.
  4. A system to raise shrimp (algae, amphipods, copepods) to feed the display tank or just as additional pets.
  5. A place to keep live sand, grow some plants to help with water quality.
  6. A place to add gear without messing with the display tank.

As well as having all these possible uses the refugium increases the total water volume which is good for making the water stable, increasing buffering capacity and dilution of nasties in the water, obviously the bigger volume of your refugium the better.

3. Berlin system: If you are thinking this has got something to do with German saltwater tanks you are right! Some clever Germans in Berlin came up with a new take on filtration also known as the “natural system” that is based around the use of large amounts of live rock as your biological filter. The Berlin system remains the filtration system of choice for reef aquarium purists as it is very natural, after all Live Rock is the biological filter of the worlds coral reefs.

The Berlin system uses Live Rock as the aquarium’s biological filter as it is packed with beneficial bacteria that will convert ammonia into nitrite, then nitrite into nitrate and even has oxygen free zones (anaerobic) within it containing  bacteria which convert nitrate into harmless nitrogen gas. This is the Berlin systems natural nitrate reduction (NNR) system.

Along with the Live Rock (housed in the aquarium itself or in the sump) there is a big ol protein skimmer which aids filtration by removing much of the marine life’s waste and uneaten food at the source before its converted into ammonia making the bacterias job easier. There is also no substrate, to help the protein skimmer suck out all the detritus unhindered.  And thats about it, very simple, natural and highly effective. I have run a system like this before and it ran like a dream!

The advantages of a system like this is the fact that it looks appealing and is letting nature do its job, its also relatively simple, cheap to set up and looks really good (I absolutely love Live Rock!). The only real downside is the bioload a system like this can sustain; you can only put so much livestock in for the amount of Live rock you have because there is only limited surface area for the bacteria to grow to deal with this waste.

I hope this article helped to shed some light on some different biological filtration options available to the saltwater hobbyist.

Your marine aquarium maestro.

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The Power of Protein Skimming

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Hi, marine aquarium maestro here!

I want to talk about how awesome a protein skimmer is for ANY aquarium….

The protein skimmer is a very important piece of equipment for your marine aquarium; next to biological filtration protein skimming is probably the most crucial process to ensure a happy, healthy saltwater aquarium. I consider them a must have for a reef aquarium and I would never do without one for any kind of set up. Once you see the amount of smelly brown liquid they pull from your water everyday you will never go back!

Not only this but the bubbles produced by your protein skimmer also help to oxygenate the water.

So what does a protein skimmer do? Basically, at any one time your aquarium water is full of dissolved organic matter (DOM) mostly in the form of protein, this comes from uneaten food and waste products from marine life. Unchecked this DOM puts stress on the biological system and will eventually cause a massive reduction in water quality potentially putting your marine life in danger.

So protein skimming is very important for maintaining high water quality, protein skimmers increase the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, improve water clarity (especially beneficial for coral growth), tend to keep the pH more stable and reduce the chances of algal blooms by removing potential food sources. Most importantly they reduce the need for water changes and keep marine life happier because of the high water quality they provide.  But this said they can be expensive and aren’t an absolute necessity if you conduct very regular partial water changes. But as far as I’m concerned they are very beneficial for any marine aquarium and provide huge benefits for water quality, after you have seen how much gunk is removed from your water by these things its not hard to get a measure on the benefit they provide your tank.

Protein skimmers work by taking in water and passing it through a stream of bubbles; the DOM in the water is attracted to the air/water interface and stick to the bubbles, the bubbles then carry it into a cup which is regularly emptied.

My advice would be to not skimp on a protein skimmer and buy a good quality product that is capable of handling around twice the volume of water you have in your aquarium. A lot of new aquarists try to save money and buy inferior products only to find that they are not doing the job correctly and have to be replaced costing more than if you had just brought a good one, in my experience this is the most common error made when purchasing equipment for your marine aquarium – consider yourself warned! Most well stocked systems will generate about a cup of DOM a day, do you really want this skimmate potentially screwing up your water quality Just to save a bit of money that you will only have to pay later? The piece of mind and awesome, stable water quality these things provide make them good investments especially for beginners, your marine life will thank you for it.

There are many different types of protein skimmers, and as I have said before they can be quite expensive. If you have an aquarium with a sump, you should go for a stand-alone device; if you have no sump the hang on type will be fine, but if you can hide a stand-alone one somewhere this will be most beneficial. All protein skimmers work the same way in that they draw in water through a “venturi” type device, pass it through a stream of tiny bubbles and are electric, But as I have said previously ensure you do your research and buy a good quality product that suits your aquarium size in terms of water turnover per hour, ensuring that the skimmer can keep up with the bioload. However you can never over-skim an aquarium so essentially the bigger, more efficient your protein skimmer the better, all this will do is improve your water quality overall.

I also recommend running them most of the day if not all day.  They require a bit of cleaning every so often and emptying the skimmer collection cup but other than this they are very simple to maintain and other than biological filtration the most important thing you can do towards excellent water quality in your saltwater aquarium.

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