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Cyanide Fish Collection

ReefIf you’ve ever had to catch a fish out of your aquarium (or watched the employees at your fish stores catch the fish for you to take home), you can probably appreciate how difficult it can be. These are in relatively small glass or acrylic boxes however; catching a fish from its own home turf is exponentially more difficult! Back when the marine aquarium trade was first gaining popularity in the mid-20th century, collection was usually laid at the feet of local islanders and fishermen, especially in the small Indo-Pacific island communities that may have had little other source of income. They naturally tried to optimize their collection and profits, but unfortunately this often came at the cost of the animals they were retrieving. Techniques like blast fishing (discussed in a May 2010 blog) and the use of cyanide became common. While not as physically destructive as blast fishing and bombs, cyanide collection was just as deadly. It is now illegal and banned in many areas, but enforcement can be spotty in these isolated areas and some of these irresponsible practices still occur. Read More »

Recent Aquatic News – Three-eyed Fish Found and Other Stories

BelugaOver the past few weeks, there have been lots of great news stories about aquariums, fish and the ocean – too many to each get their own blog! Some are funny, some amazing, some sad. Here is a run-down of some of my favorites from the aquatic sphere.

Beluga to Reunite with Mariachi Band

This is one of the older stories, from the ancient history of August, but I am in love with the video that sparked it. A mariachi band was playing for a wedding at the Mystic Aquarium back in July and had a jam session with the aquarium’s resident Beluga, Juno. The aquarium reunited the band with its new fan at a cocktail party. The party is long gone, but that adorable video is still around! Read More »

LED Aquarium Lighting – Energy Efficient and Cost Effective

Ecoxotic Cannon LEDWhile LED lighting is still relatively new to aquariums, practical applications of new LED fixtures have shown the effectiveness of this technology for growing plants and corals. But what about cost? It’s common knowledge that LED’s use much less energy than metal halides or compact fluorescents, but did you ever consider their overall longevity and cost advantages they also offer? Well, let’s take a look at the numbers to see how popular lighting types stack up.

Consider this: Read More »

The Importance of Water Changes In Aquarium Maintenance

BucketRoutine water changes are the most basic, most necessary, and most overlooked acts of tank maintenance. Most aquarists know they should do water changes, but not everyone does or even knows how to do it the right way. How much and how often are highly debated topics among aquarists no matter what kind of tanks they keep.

Why should we do water changes?

Removing water from the aquarium and replacing it with new, “clean” water removes waste and organics that are dissolved in the water. It also helps to remove any chemical treatments or medications when the treatment is complete. Dissolved organics contribute to Nitrate and Phosphate build-up that aquarists try so hard to control. These compounds can affect the health of your livestock directly and can promote algae and cyanobacteria growth, making your tank unsightly. Changing the water also helps to replenish minerals and other trace elements. This can be especially important in tanks with corals and crustaceans (crabs and shrimp, both freshwater and saltwater) that use these minerals to form their skeleton or exoskeleton. Corals and other saltwater invertebrates can use up minerals fairly quickly in a closed environment, and replacing old, depleted water with fresh saltwater adds these minerals back into the tank. Read More »

Understanding the Role of Magnesium in a Reef Aquarium

MagnesionOften overlooked, Magnesium plays a critical role in the chemical and biological processes in the Marine aquarium. Magnesium is a major element (as opposed to a trace element) and is the third most common element in seawater behind only Sodium and Chloride. Magnesium is an essential element to all organisms for biological functions, and is especially important to organisms that are skeleton building, as Magnesium is a key component of aragonite. Far too often, we find aquarists who are struggling to figure out what is causing issues in their reef aquarium, and Magnesium deficiencies end up being at fault. It is impossible to maintain ideal Calcium and Carbonate levels in salt water without maintaining Magnesium levels as well.  Many folks struggle with keeping their Alkalinity and Calcium to appropriate levels in their marine aquariums, yet never test their Magnesium levels. At levels below natural sea water concentrations of Magnesium (1280-1350 ppm), Calcium and Carbonates will precipitate out with each other in inorganic forms, and dosing either will not achieve the proper results in a low Magnesium environment. Read More »