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

New Product: Reefer’s Digi-Microscope

New to our product lineup is the Reefer’s Digi-Microscope, an affordable and versatile entry level digital microscope. Capable of viewing both hard objects and prepared slides, this microscope will allow you to view a wide range of objects. Used with the included digital camera eyepiece, you can view and capture images to your PC, and share images of what you have found.

One of the most troublesome aspects of fish and reef keeping is properly identifying the the cause of disease, and then choosing the correct medications to use. Public aquariums, veterinarians, aquaculture facilities, all use microscopes to identify parasites and choose treatment options. With the use of the Reefer’s Digi-Microscope the average hobbyist can now use this powerful tool. View large, easy to see images right on your computer. Identify the parasites on your koi, coral, goldfish and more. Choose the best medication based upon real information, no more guessing what you can not see!

This new product is as fun as it is educational. I have found this product to be an excellent teaching tool, allowing easy viewing of microscopic parasites with the camera feature.

Happy fishkeeping,


Calcium Dosing: Choosing Your Reactor

Maintaining calcium levels in your reef aquarium is critical for the health and growth of your corals. Calcium is constantly being being depleted from your aquarium water because of the demand for calcium from new coral growth and coraline algae growth. Calcium must be replenished and maintained on an ongoing basis for your reef to thrive. There are many sources of calcium available on the market; liquid calcium, powder calcium, salt mixes with extra calcium. All of these products require frequent, if not daily, dosage to maintain calcium levels.

There is a better way; use a reactor. Using a Reactor is the best method to maintain calcium levels in your aquarium with a minimum of maintenance, and maximum results. There are two basic types of reactors to choose from, a CO2 powered Calcium reactor or line fed Kalkwasser Reactor. These two reactors accomplish the same goal in very different ways.

Calcium reactors supply a constant supply of calcium by introducing CO2 into a reaction chamber, which forms carbonic acid that dissolves a natural calcium carbonate media. Water is fed into the Calcium Reactor from your tank or sump, then the calcium rich effluent from the reactor is dripped back into the tank or sump at a controlled rate. The effluent from the reactor is not only calcium rich, but also has a high alkalinity to enhance your aquariums pH buffering ability. Basic units such as the Coralife Calcium Reactor are on the entry level, and units like the Precision Marine Professional reactor are available for serious reef hobbyists.

The effluent pH from a calcium reactor can be very low due to the carbonic acid formed when CO2 is introduced. Effluent pH should be checked regularly, the use of a quality pH monitor, such as the Pinpoint pH Meter by American Marine, is highly recommended. Using a pH controller, like the Milwaukee SMS122, to control the output of CO2 into your reactor will further safeguard your system from low pH conditions caused by overdosing of CO2.

Calcium hydroxide, or Kalkwasser as it has become commonly known,has long been considered and ideal source of calcium for reef aquariums, but ease of use and consistency of performance have turned aquarists away from the product. One of the biggest problems with using calcium hydroxide solution, is that it reacts with atmospheric CO2 and forms a calcium carbonate precipitate. As this precipitate forms it reduces the calcium level in the solution, and causes clogging of drip lines, and can irritate corals if introduced into the aquarium. Kalwasser Reactors, like the Professional Kalkreactor by Precision Marine, solve this problem and make the use of kalkwasser easier than ever. Kalkreactors are sealed units that prevent interaction with atmospheric CO2, so no precipitates are formed, and provide your aquarium with a constant supply of saturated kalkwasser solution. These units are best used in conjunction with an auto top off system, or a remote gravity fed reservoir and float valve. This way you can dose calcium while you are compensating for evaporation, allowing for slow addition of the saturated kalkwasser solution. Kalkwasser solutions have an extremely high pH and must be added very slowly to prevent rapid pH increases. Combining Kalkwasser addition and evaporation replenishment with use of a Kalkreactor makes what was previously a difficult product to use easy.

Choose your reactor, and spend more time enjoying your reef!


It’s A Small World After All

One of the areas of the aquarium hobby that has boomed in recent years is the phenomenon of the mini, or nano, aquarium. Many models of small complete systems have hit the market, and it is now easier than ever to succesfully keep these pint sized wonders.

There are a few important things to consider when planning your nano-tank set up. Small tanks are notorious for having unstable water quality. Water quality and temperature changes occur much easier, and faster, in a small tank than in a larger system simply because there is less water to buffer and absorb changes. Even a five gallon water change can take out a lot of good bacteria and may be causing the same “new tank syndrome” that many aquarists experience when setting up their aquarium. Cloudy water and a brown algae bloom typically mark the end of the cycling process as bacteria neutralize nitrites and create nitrates that feed algae. These blooms usually die off on their own within a few days, but try keeping your water changes small to avoid this “re-cycling”. For example, instead of changing 25 percent of your water a couple times a month, try changing 5 to 10 percent every week or two. If you have to do a larger water change, keep a product with a live bacteria culture like Biozyme or Hagen’s Cycle on hand to replace the bacteria you remove. Increasing the amount of water in your system can also help to keep the water quality more stable. A small pump, some tubing and an extra tank can make a simple refugium to increase the volume of your system, allowing for a more stable display tank . With the addition of a light source, this extra tank can also be used to grow macroalgae to eat up extra nutrients, as a nursery for copepods and other live foods, or even as a safe haven for harassed fish and invertebrates. An extra 5 or 10 gallons will help to stabilize your water quality and prevent algae and bacteria blooms. Between water changes, avoid overfeeding your fish and invertebrates by using a feeding station to contain floating foods and a feeding syringe to target-feed directly to your animals. Make sure that you are choosing size appropriate species of fish and other animal, while this is important in any size aquarium, it is crucial in small aquarium. Try to stick to community fish, and be conservative with the number of fish that you are keeping. Heavy fish loads require heavy feeding, and can quickly overtax small filtration systems. Small systems take a little extra TLC than large tanks but can be well worth it in the end.