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The Best Holiday Gifts for Aquarium Owners, Tropical Fish Hobbyists & Fish Geeks

Today I’ll highlight some fish-keeping items that I’d be pleased to give or receive as holiday gifts. For the most part, I’ve focused on Reverse Osmosis Systems and Ultraviolet Sterilizers, both of which lessen our workload while enhancing fish and invertebrate survival.  I was first introduced to these tools while working in zoos and public aquariums, and am happy to see that reasonably-priced models are now available for home use.

tPG01062Reverse Osmosis Systems

I first began working with reverse osmosis (RO) systems about 15 years ago, while trying to correct water quality problems that plagued the amphibian collection at the Bronx Zoo.  Those I used were effective, but also huge, complicated, and difficult to maintain…I hated them!  Today’s home units are much more user-friendly; instruction manuals are posted online (please see links to individual products below), and customer support is readily available.
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Product Review – Bubble Magus Curve 7 Protein Skimmer

Bubble Magus 7Marilyn Monroe; Tyra Banks; Kate Upton; and now, Bubble Magus. What do they all have in common? CURVES! I’m talking, of course, about the seductive Curve series of skimmers from Bubble Magus. What makes these vixens of skim different, is a dramatically curvy body that builds on the already popular cone skimmer design. This allows the skimmer to perform even better, as the microbubbles take a turbulent-free ride up its serpentine sides. The SP2000 pump is conveniently placed inside of the body, keeping the Curve 7 protein skimmerfrom taking up too much real estate in your sump. The bottom of the skimmer also features a mysterious red plug, which I later found out was to be used if you decided to upgrade or replace the current pump with a different brand, like Sicce. The plug pulls out and allows for differently configured pumps to fit nicely into the body of the Curve. Then you just plug the hole left by the former pump, making the Curve very, very versatile. Read More »

LED Lighting for the Home Aquarium

Marineland LED Plant SystemOver the last few years the aquarium hobby has seen a major shift in aquarium lighting, LED lighting is in, and traditional lighting is being replaced. This change has been most noticed in high output lighting sources, like Metal Halide and High Output Fluorescent lighting, where the cost of operation, frequent bulb replacement and high heat emission made consumers eager for an alternative.  As a result, the hobby has been flooded with high output, feature rich, LED lighting fixtures for marine aquariums mostly focusing on the demands of reef aquariums and corals. These fixtures are much more affordable than the first generation.

Until recently, the freshwater side of the hobby has seen little attention from most lighting manufacturers, with what little was offered having few features and poor performance, but this is all starting to change. With advancements in LED technology and performance, some of the bigger aquarium lighting manufacturers are shifting their focus to LED over traditional lighting sources. Freshwater aquarium hobbyists are starting to see some cool new lights for their aquariums, with advanced features, high performance and affordability. Read More »

Which Filter Should I Choose for My Aquarium?

Emperor Power Filter Choosing the right filter for your aquarium can be an intimidating task. We’re asked this question every day, from people setting up their first aquarium and from those hobbyists who are upgrading to a larger or different type of aquarium. Most people are looking for a quick and easy answer, which they rarely get from me.  There is no one-size-fits-all in the world of aquarium filters, and anyone who is new to aquariums, and is trying to do some research, is probably overwhelmed with all the options.  We have assembled a lot of good basic information for all the major types of aquarium filters in the article archives on thatpetplace.com. These articles are meant to help and guide you through the process of choosing a filter for your set-up by breaking down how each type works and in which applications they really shine.

The follow up question that I am often asked, is what is my favorite filter?  Again, that is not an easy question to answer with so many options, but I thought I might highlight a some of those I would recommend  from a few different filter types.

If you are looking for the most bang for your buck, especially for freshwater aquariums, it is hard to beat the good old power filter.  Also known as hang-on-the-back filters, power filters are easy to use, provide proven performance, and most are inexpensive and energy efficient.  My favorite power filters are the Marineland Emperor line.  These filters have been around for many years, and have changed very little since introduction.  There are two models of Emperor Filters available for under $50, that can handle aquariums up to 80 gallons.  The Emperor filters, if properly maintained, will provide excellent mechanical, biological and chemical filtration.  The Biowheel feature of these filters is what sets them apart from simpler power filters, they maintain biological filtration at all times, something that is lost on power filters that depend on their filter cartridges, which will lose all their bacteria when filters are changed.  These filters are great for any freshwater aquarium set-up as a standalone filter, or as part of a filtration system for saltwater aquariums.

Filstar Canister FilterFor larger aquariums or aquariums that demand more powerful or customized filtration, the next step up are the canister filters.  My choice in this category is another filter that is time tested, and has been around for many years, the API Filstar XP line of filters (Formerly known under the Rena brand name) The Filstar canister filters are available in several sizes, up to the XP XL model that is rated for aquariums up to 265 gallons.  Modular filter baskets allow you to customize your filter media, so you can add extra biological media for heavily stocked tanks, chemical media for low nutrient levels, peat moss for amazon tanks, the possibilities are endless.  These filters are quiet, energy efficient, and easy to set up.

ProFlex Model 1For the more advanced aquarist, especially the reef enthusiasts, the filtration system of choice is the Wet/Dry or Sump type of filtration system.  Ultimate flexibility, and high performance, are the key features of the these filters, and they are probably the most diverse of the filtration types, in terms of form and function.  My choice here is the relatively new Aqueon ProFlex filter system, mostly because of its 3 in 1, modular design.  With the ability to be used as a traditional Wet/Dry or Refugium, or Berlin style Sump, the filter has the ability to perform many functions as your needs change. If you want to convert your freshwater system to saltwater, your fish tank to a reef tank, or anywhere in between.  The Aqueon ProFlex can be whatever you need!

I hope that this helps guide you towards the filter you are looking for,

Until next blog,


Introducing the Bubble Magus Protein Skimmers and Dosing Pump

Bubble Magus NAC3We are happy to announce the introduction of the Bubble Magus line to our extensive selection of reef-keeping supplies. Bubble Magus is a rapidly growing international business, and if you are not familiar with them, read on as I’ll be explaining more about the Bubble Magus products that are now available here at That Fish Place.

Before I get to the protein skimmer line, I’d like to touch on the Bubble Magus dosing pump. Not a week goes by when I’m not asked by customers if there’s an “easier” way to dose the supplements many corals need. Admittedly, doing capfuls of this and that, A and B, or 1 or 2 can become a tedious task that sometimes gets forgotten or overlooked in our busy everyday lives. That was even the case for our own Doug Fries, whose Red Sea Max 250 (65 gallon reef display tank) developed a very high alkalinity demand due to its abundance of stoney corals. If the tank was not dosed daily, the alkalinity would drop dramatically- a very stressful situation for these more-sensitive corals.

There were several solutions for Doug’s problem. First, he could have installed a install a calcium reactor, but, if you’ve ever seen Doug’s tank you know there is little room for such equipment.  Another option was to drip kalkwasser into the tank, but because the Red Sea Max tank does not use a sump filter under the tank, a drip would require us to have an unsightly medical IV-like rack next to the beautiful display. He decided to utilize the Bubble Magus multiple-channel titration pump which allows him to dose his normal additives multiple times through the day, everyday. The dosing pump is much smaller than a calcium reactor or drip apparatus, and less unsightly in our opinion. The Bubble Magus BMT01 titration pump allows you to dose three separate liquids, in our case Red Sea’s Reef Foundation A, B, and C, at any quantity between 1 and 1999ml, up to 24 times a day. This means you can achieve gradual daily dosing for more stable parameters and consumption of these elements. The digital interface is simple enough to figure out with some help from the instruction manual (again this is an international company, so one should expect some broken English in the directions), and the built-in computer allows for all sorts of customization.

Bubble Magus Dosing PumpSince the installation, the titration pump has been working accurately and consistently. The corals have responded wonderfully to the schedule we were able to program into the digital interface, and the tank’s parameters (specifically the “big three”: calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium) have all remained stable as they are slowly dosed throughout the day. Now Doug doesn’t have to worry about attending the tank several times each day. The corals are growing stronger and more colorful–exactly what we as hobbyists are looking for.

The name Bubble Magus is better associated with its line of protein skimmers, and this blogger for one is looking forward to becoming better acquainted with these products. Out of the many varieties of skimmers built by this company, we have chosen a select few of the Bubble Magus models for our shelves in hopes that they have the qualities that our reef enthusiasts are looking for:

  • Affordability without sacrificing quality
  • Small footprints to keep “sump-hogging” low, keeping more space free for other equipment
  • Up-to-date features expected from quality skimmer brands

The Bubble Magus skimmers have all of these attributes. Powered by Atman brand pumps (aside from the Hero model which uses a Sicce PSK pump), their skimmers feature a compact design, ease of use, bubble diffusion plates in most models, and solid acrylic bodies. The models customers can expect to find on our website or in our retail store include:


Model # Tank Size Item # Description
NAC 3.5 25-80 Gallons 259148 Cone skimmer body with tiny footprint of only 4.5″x 6.6″ and 17.1″ height
NAC3+ 25-80 Gallons 259147 Strong, affordable skimmer with pump housed under the skimmer, footprint: 6.8″x 4.3″ height: 17.5″
NAC 5.5 80-135 Gallons 259149 Cone skimmer with pump housed under skimmer, footprint: 8.66″x 5.7″ height: 20.2″
NAC5E 80-135 Gallons 259152 Hang-on-back skimmer with large 5” cylinder, footprint:11.8”x .3″ height: 20.5″
NAC 6 100-160 Gallons 259150 Big power in small footprint: 6.7″x 10.4″ height: 19.6″; pump inside skimmer
NAC7 130-185 Gallons 259151 Big cone with small footprint: 9.4″x7.8″ height 20″; pump inside skimmer
HERO 180-S 185-240 Gallons 259153 Strong, energy efficient Syncra Sicce Psk1000 pump housed in a cone skimmer. Footprint: 9.8″x7.2″ height: 20.6″


Bubble Magus NAC6We were given 2 Bubble Magus skimmers to try out in our tanks.  We installed the NAC 3 on a lightly stocked 25 gallon cube, and a larger NAC 6 went into one of our coral tray. They’ve been working for a few weeks now and they’re going strong. We’ve been very impressed by the dark skimmate they’ve been pulling out, especially the NAC 6 on the tray (which also has a Hydor Performance Skimmer 505 maintaining it).

We couldn’t be happier that Bubble Magus products are now being featured at That Fish Place, and we are more than sure that our customers will enjoy them as well. We can’t wait to hear your feedback!


Until next time, Happy Reefing

Jeff Berdel