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Includes articles on new aquarium product spotlights, guides, or detailed reports on product effectiveness in aquariums.

Product Spotlight: AquaEl Unimax Canister Filter

One of the newer additions to our canister filter line, is the UniMax Plus canister filter from AquaEl. AquaEl is still a relatively new name to the US marker, with a long history of quality products sold in Europe.
The UniMax Plus is one of the best canister filters to hit the US market in recent years, with several features that make it both unique, and high performance.
The feature that really stands out with the UniMax plus, is its internal UV sterilizer, providing unrivaled water quality, with a single piece of equipment. Mechanical, Biological, Chemical, and Sterilization all in one.

Another cool feature of the UniMax, are the multiple intakes and outlets on the two larger models. This gives you much improved water flow in larger tanks, versus models with only a single inlet and outlet.

The impeller design is also unique in the unimax, the impeller housing sits below the water level inside the canister, unlike most other units that have the impeller housing above the water level of the canister. This allows for easy priming of the filter, and extra quiet opperation. The Unimax models with multiple intakes and outlets, also use a multiple impeller design, which gives you a built in back up should one impeller be damaged, or stop functioning.

If you are considering a canister filter, give the UniMax a good look, I think that you will be impressed with the features it has when you compare it to some of the other filters on the market.
Until next time,
Dave

 

Canister Filters for Saltwater

A customer recently asked me a question about using a canister filter on their saltwater aquarium. The customer had read on Reef Central that you should not use a canister filter on a saltwater aquarium, especially on a reef aquarium. That they do not work well, and will cause high nitrates.

This is a topic that you will see differing opinions on. The problem with canister filters is not that they don’t work on saltwater or reef aquariums, they work very well. Any biological filter is going to produce nitrate on a closed aquarium system, it is the natural end product of the nitrogen cycle.

This is why many reef tank owners will remove the bio balls from their wet dry filters, or run their systems on a sump only set up, in an effort to reduce nitrate production. This is why some people are of the opinion that canister filters should not be used on a reef tank. You can get away with this approach if you have a sufficient amount of live rock and substrate in your aquarium to act as your biological filter. In fact, live rock is an excellent source of nitrifying bacteria, and will function as a very efficient biological filter in an aquarium with enough rock. Most reef set ups will work well without a dedicated biological filter, so long as the biological load is not too high, and you are using a good protein skimmer. This method is often referred to as a “Berlin” style aquarium (lots of live rock, good water movement, heavy protein skimming, and no biological filter). Canister filters can still be used on reef tanks, they can be used as additional biological filters in heavily stocked tanks, and can easily be used for whatever chemical filtration media you may want to use.

Saltwater fish only tanks are a different story; in most cases you will need a biological filter to handle the fish waste and biological load, even if your tank has live rock in it. You will also want to have a mechanical filter on a saltwater fish tank, especially if you have large fish in your tank. Most canister filters give you the ability to operate them in different ways. You can use them for biological, mechanical or chemical filtration as needed.

Nitrate is going to be produced in any set up, some more than others. My best advice is to use as much filtration as your aquarium demands. Ammonia and Nitrite should be near zero in an established aquarium, if you are detecting either, chances are your aquariums biological filter is insufficient. Nitrate levels will creep up slowly over time in any system, so whatever filtration method you employ, you still need to monitor your water chemistry. Water changes will remove nitrate from your aquarium, so as long as you are testing your water, and performing regular water changes, nitrates should not be a problem.

Speaking canister filters, here’s a video my staff created to help aquarists set up a canister filter on their aquarium. Canister Filter Video

Thanks,
Dave

Lighting Question: What is Kelvin Rating

So your thinking about upgrading from your fish bowl, and are looking at your options for your next aquarium. You start looking at the live plant aquariums or the saltwater reef aquariums and what the requirements are. Quickly you realize that there is a wide range of specialty lighting available, and you have no idea what you are looking at. This is a common problem faced by many aquarium hobbyist.

One of the questions about specialty lighting that I am most often asked from customers in our store is what spectrum, or type, of light do I need for my aquarium. To really understand the answer to this question, you need to understand the universal rating system that is used to describe the spectral out of aquarium light bulbs; The Kelvin Scale.

For those of you who paid attention in science class, you know that Kelvin is a temperature scale in which zero occurs at absolute zero and each degree equals one kelvin. Water freezes at 273.15 K and boils at 373.15 K. Just thought I would throw that in there to confuse you, obviously that does not help describe the spectrum of a light bulb.

Kelvin Rating, or simply K. Without getting too technical, is a numeric scale that describes the color of an object at a given temperature. For aquarium lighting purposes Kelvin rating describes the color, or spectrum, of sunlight in a given environment. Most aquarium light bulbs will have a Kelvin rating between 5000K-20,000K. For example, the approximate Rating of natural sunlight at sea level is 5500K, this is a very warm white light that includes all the colors of visible light(red,orange,yellow,green,indigo,violet) This is the ideal spectrum of light for shallow water aquarium plants and fish. The deeper you go into the water column the higher the Kelvin Rating becomes. 20,000K light bulbs are designed to mimic deep water environments. Red, yellow, and orange light are short wavelengths and get filtered out of the water column very quickly. Blue and green light can pentrate much deeper. The result is that the deeper you get in the ocean the more blue the environment becomes. Animals that live in these deeper water environments have adapted to the light spectrum at these depths.

Now all you have to decide on is what you want to put in your aquarium, sorry I can not help you with that one. Here is a general guide for deciding what Kelvin rating bulb you should choose for your aquarium.

Daylight spectrum (5000K-10000k) bulbs are ideal for freshwater aquariums with live plants and Saltwater fish aquariums, higher Kelvin bulbs (6700K-20000K) are ideal for saltwater reef aquariums.

Hopefully that has shed some light(pun intended)on the different aquarium light bulbs available.

Until next blog,

Dave

Pharmaceutical use in the Marine Aquarium

This blog entry was inspired by another one of the interesting seminars that I attended during this years MACNA conference, a seminar by Author and Hobbyist Mike Paletta “Pharmaceuticals & Marine Aquaria”. Mike’s presentation was based upon medications and treatments that have origins in other disciplines that have found their way into use for the marine aquarium.

Some of the medications and treatments that Mike spoke about have been used in the aquarium trade for many years, such as Metronidazole and Erythromycin.
Metronidazole was developed for use in human and veterinary medicine, and is used to treat a wide range of bacterial and parasitical diseases. Metronidazole is available in the aquarium hobby from a number of manufacturers, as either a lone agent (like Thomas Lab’s Fish-Zole, Aquarium System’s Hex-Out, or Seachem’s Metronidazole), or as an ingredient in more broad spectrum medications (like API’s General Cure, Jungle Lab’s Hole-N-Head Guard and Parasite Clear) Paletta focused upon the use of Metronidazole as a method for removing intestinal parasites in newly acquired fish. Intestinal parasites are a common problem in wild caught fish. Fish are not usually fed very much as they are moved from collector, to holding station, to export, to your local store, in order to reduce waste and maintain water quality. During this time fish will start to eat feces of other fish that they are being held with, so if any of the wild fish have internal parasites, then they spread rapidly.
Feeding new fish with Metronidazole soaked foods during quarantine is the best way to rid your new fish of internal pests, and to prevent infecting the fish in your display. Jungle Labs Anti-Parasite Medicated Food and Blue Lagoon Anti-Parasite Marine Gel Food are commercially available food that is pre-treated with Metronidazole and well work well with fish that will eat these forms of food. For finicky eaters, soak the food of choice with medication prior to feeding. This works well with most food types, including fresh, frozen and prepared foods. Internal parasites may have no outward symptoms. Long term problems such a reduced growth and inability to gain weight with heavy feeding may be the only signs of infestation.
Erythromycin is an antibiotic that has been used for many years in many medical disciplines for the treatment of bacterial infections. Erythromycin has been used successfully for the treatment of bacterial infections in the aquarium trade as well, and is available from several sources ( like Mardel’s Maracyn and API’s E.M. Erythromycin)
Paletta talked about a less common use for Erythromycin (EM) is to aid in the combat of Slime algae in the marine aquarium, one which I have used successfully many times. Slime algae is a rapid growing, and potentially dangerous problem in the aquarium. Severe outbreaks can grow quickly and smother everything in your aquarium. Slime Algae is a simple life form, a bacterial algae complex, which thrives in high nutrient conditions like overfed, overstocked, or dirty aquariums. Small outbreaks should be taken care of by improving water quality, increasing water flow, and physical removal by siphoning. In severe cases the use of EM can be really helpful. EM will rapidly kill slime algae in the aquarium, and help get your aquarium free from the problem. EM is not a miracle cure for slime algae, if measures are not taken to improve water quality, then the slime will return. EM should only be used in conjunction with improved husbandry habits.

The portion of Mike’s presentation that I found most interesting was the somewhat experimental use of some Veterinary drugs to combat pests in the reef aquarium. With the proliferation of the reef aquarium hobby, and the abundance coral propagating hobbyists over the last several years, a number of previously obscure pests are becoming more and more common within the trade.

Red Bugs (Tegastes acroporanus) have become alarmingly common in the propagated coral industry. These barely visible little crustaceans can rapidly reproduce, and decimate many species of Acropora corals very quickly. Treatments have been developed using Interceptor (Milbemycin oxime), a prescription de-worming medication for dogs and cats, which you have to get from your veterinarian. Several different protocols have been developed for treatment with interceptor, if you do a web search on the topic you can find a treatment plan that best suits your situation. Before consulting with your veterinarian about obtaining Interceptor, it may be a good idea to print out some articles about this new alternative use of the drug. This is not a well known alternative use for the drug, and you may get some resistance if your Vet has not come accross other requests for this use in the past.

Another reef pest that is becoming more prevalent in the hobby is the Acropora Eating Flat Worm (AEFW). These nearly invisible, translucent, flatworms attack only Acropora species corals, and are very difficult to detect (other than dead acropora). A good method that Mike uses for detection is to use a turkey baster to shoot a jet of water in and around colonies that are suspected to have AEFW, if they are present, you will dislodge some of them and see tiny translucent discs fly off the coral. There are several commercially available flat worm treatments available to the hobby, such as Salifert’s Flat Worm Exit, and Tropic Marin’s Pro-Coral Cure.
Mike Paletta spoke about a relatively new treatment for AEFW that has been developed using Levamisol, a drug commonly used as a pig de-wormer that is available through farm supply stores, or your veterinarian. Again, several protocols have been developed for the use of Levamisol against AEFW, so do some research and choose a method that best suits your situation.

An interesting side story of Mike’s presentation was one of his natural approaches to limiting parasites in his display aquariums. He actually trains fish to eat parasites from coral. He accomplishes this while he is quarantining his fish for introduction into his aquarium. The fish he chooses are natural predators of the parasites, in this case I believe they were 6-line wrasses, which he trains to select for the parasites and actively hunt them. While in quarantine he introduces corals that he knows have flatworms, and frees the worms from the coral using a turkey baster, at the same time he limits the fishes other options for food, so that they are forced to eat the flatworms. After “training” the wrasses this way for several weeks the fish start to aggressively hunt out the flatworms for a meal. Once the fish have finished quarantine, they are introduced into the display aquarium and continue to actively hunt for parasites. Pretty neat trick!

Hope that you found this as interesting as I did, until next time

Dave

TFP Fish Room Facts

The Fish Room in our Lancaster, PA retail store is one of the many attractions to visit here at That Fish Place. At over 12,000 square feet, with more than 700 holding tanks and 35,000 gallons of system water, our fish room is one of the biggest retail systems in the world. In fact, our retail system is larger than many of the wholesale systems in operation in the United States.

The saltwater holding systems in our fish room are comprised of 8 separate systems ranging in size from 120-3000 gallons totaling over 13,000 gallons. The salt water sections of the fish room include dedicated systems for Community Fish; Aggressive Fish; Coral; Reef Fish and Invertebrates; and Live Rock. The centerpiece of our saltwater holding systems is our one of a kind “look down” coral tray. The coral tray is made of 2 ½” thick acrylic and is a massive 20’ long x 4’ wide x 1’ deep. The entire tray is lighted by Sunlight Supply LumenMax 3 fixtures on moving light rails, for all you gadget geeks out there this is a really cool set up. All the main saltwater systems are filtered with RK2 commercial protein skimmer with computer controlled ozone and high output Ultraviolet Sterilizers. The skimmers are self cleaning, with timer operated internal wash down jets. The RK2 skimmers on the three main systems are a huge 24” in diameter and over 7’ tall.

Our freshwater holding systems are divided into 12 separate main systems that range in size from 200-3000 gallons each and total over 22,000 gallons. The freshwater section of the fish room includes dedicated systems for Community fish; Semi-Aggressive fish; South & Central American Cichlids and Predators; African Cichlids; Fancy Goldfish; Koi and Pond fish; Pond Plants; and Aquarium Plants. There are also several smaller stand alone systems for various uses.
To give you some sort of idea for the volume of our operation, we use approximately 1750 gallons of saltwater per week that works out to about 91,000 gallons of saltwater per year.

We also have a number of displays throughout our store, which total over 12,000 gallons. The biggest of which is our 2500 gallon saltwater touch tank. Shaped like a fish, this display allows you to touch stingrays, and other marine life. Bring your kids; they will be thrilled by the experience of touching a stingray if they have never had the opportunity.

Check us out, That Fish Place is much more that just a store, it is an entertainment destination for fish and animal lovers.

Until next time,

Dave