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Archive for February, 2010

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

We just saw this video of a hobbyist holding a 12 inch Zebra Mantis Shrimp! First off DO NOT TRY THIS. The Lysiosquillina maculata (common names Zebra Mantis Shrimp, Striped Mantis Shrimp, Bumble Bee Mantis Shrmip) capture their prey using two spear-like appendages, and a pair of powerful claws. They are very intelligent and beautiful creatures, which prefer lower lighting, sufficient rocks, and a sand bed. Be sure to ground your aquascaping before adding sand, as the Zebra mantis Shrimp will certainly burrow under the rocks and may cause an avalanche. It is best to use epoxy to secure your aquascaping, and ensure no accidents happen.

The extremely powerful claws of the Mantis Shrimp have earned them the nickname “thumb splitters” by some modern divers. Please take great care not to become a victim! Mantis Shrimp attack with the speed of a .22 calibre bullet. The Mantis Shrimp strike is so fast, that cavitation bubbles are formed between the claw and the surface being struck. Essentially, the results are that the prey is impacted first by force of the claw and next by the cavitation bubbles collapsing. The collapsing cavitation bubbles generate such a force, that on their own, they are able to stun or even kill the prey. There are stories of very large Mantis Shrimp that have been able to break through aquarium glass with a single strike, although this is quite rare.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

A few months ago, we introduced the Hellolights 48″ 4 Lamp VHO T5 Retrofit Kit. Well, we have been using this kit for a while now, and wanted to report that we are impressed with what this affordable kit provides.  At only $199.95, individual reflectors, a VHO ballast which overdrives T5’s by 15%, moisture resistant German end-caps, stand-offs and a set of bulbs. It’s a hard value to beat. We have a little surprise coming in a few weeks, but we just wanted to release a couple of close-up photos of the pre-wired kit. Basically, anyone can set up this kit. Everything is already done for you. You just need to mount the end-caps and plug the one plug into the ballast and off you go.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

“Sichem osprey”, the Maltese chemical tanker ran aground Clipperton Island on it’s way from the Panama Canal to South Korea. The 170 meter-long (over 550 feet) ship contained Xylene, a clear, flammable mixture of three aromatic hydrocarbon isomers, commonly used as a solvent in rubber, leather and the printing industries. Most updates have reported the complete safety of the 19 crew members, and no leaks or any kind. Clipperton is the only a circular coral atoll in the East Pacific. The Island is completely uninhabited, with a lonely 19th century lighthouse as it’s only structure.

Although initial reports seem promising, we will keep an eye on this potential catastrophe over the next few days.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

A worldwide study by researchers from the University of Carolina in Chapel Hill, demonstrated that marine protected areas (MPAs), have helped in stopping coral reef loss, and even reversing the process. These areas where potentially harmful activities to reefs and fish have been regulated, have exhibited resilience and overall improved health over time.

Although MPA’s have been shown to effectively protect fish, this comprehensive global study was intended to assess the impact of MPA’s on the overall health and growth of corals. The theory fueling the study was that by protecting fish, and helping restore reef-based food webs, we may be able to create an improved ecosystem that will encourage coral regeneration. In addition to overfishing in these previously unprotected zones, damage from sediment and nutrient runoff, as well as anchor damage to the reefs were causes for the diminished health of the reefs.

A global database of 8,534 live coral cover surveys was conducted by marine scientists Elizabeth Selig, Ph.D., and John Bruno Ph.D. Coral cover, which refers to the percentage of the ocean floor covered by living corals, is a primary measure of coral reef ecosystem health. These surveys, ranging in date from 1969 to 2006, reviewed coral cover in 310 marine protected areas, and then analyzed them together with those of nearby unprotected zones.

The results showed that on average, coral cover in unprotected areas declined, while protected areas remained constant. Additionally, the MPAs protective effects increased as a function of time. Specifically, in the Indo-Pacific, coral cover continued to decline for a period of five years following the establishment of the MPAs. The cover then rebounded and after two decades, showed yearly growth rates of 2%.

The paper publishing this study, went on to note that these could be conservative estimates, mainly because MPA regulations have been inadequately enforced. Additionally, since the effects improve with time, the results may have been skewed based on the fact that almost 60% of the surveys were shorter than 15 years old.  It is important to note, added the researchers, that we understand that although these growth rates may seem small on a yearly basis, the long-term cumulative effect is quite substantial.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Reef Tools sponsor Aquarium Specialty has just reserved the rights to distribute aquarium products from Planctonite, a Spanish company. Planctonite offers many popular products, from Calcium Reactors, frag holders and underwater photo tubes, to name a few. Probably their most intriguing product to date are the skimmer Sweeper line.

The Sweeper, is a motorized device, which will clean the inside of your skimmer neck. Over time, build up of skimmate on the neck, can negatively effect skimmer performance. All Sweeper models use a rubber brush to clean the neck, however the V2.0 Plus model also comes equipped with submersible pump, that can rinse the collection cup with fresh water (which of course should only be used on skimmers with a drain tube). This feature can be switched on/off.

Another nice feature about the Sweeper, is that it can be attached to a controller (or a simple timer), and therefore be set to turn on for a few minutes every hour or so.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Several months ago there were rumors that Vertex was working on and LED light fixture. Soon after, several photos of the Lumina LED aquarium light showed up around the web. The low-profile aquarium lighting unit was reported to essentially be a big heatsink, with LEDs placed only along the center. Vertex was working on several prototypes and at that time, it was unclear which will be released for production. Each model consisted of 16 LEDs and consumed 40w of electricity. The stock LEDs color combo was 8 white bulbs, 4 blue bulbs, 4 royal blue bulbs.

If you’ve looked at any online reef forum, you are sure to have seen several LED DIY projects which all use optics to limit and direct the spread of each bulb. Vertex was report to design the Lumina without optics. Since the LEDs were all placed in the center of the fixture, this will give each bulb maximum spread. The is unit is told to have enough spread to cover 24″ front to back. It will be interesting to see what sort of PAR reading we get from this unit once it is out. Each unit also comes with an onboard controller which allows control of each color channel, lunar cycles, and cloud simluations.

As most people know, there have been legal issues with the Orbitec LED Patent (good times….), and it is unclear at this time, whether the March 2010 release of the Vertex Lumina LED unit will hit the US market. European and Canadian hobbyists….you win again.

Here is a video of the unit:

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Aqua Illumination has just announced the release of a beta firmware (3.0b) for their AI System Controller. This new version allows the user to independently control blue and white illumination channels, with up to 8 set points throughout the day. The previous firmware only allowed for sunset/sunrise controls.

Here is the official release from Aqua Illumination:

We are proud to announce the beta software release of the newest version of the AI System Controller, version 3.0b. Version 3.0b allows the user to independently control both blue and white illumination channels up to 8 set point times throughout day.

No longer are users limited to only sunset/sunrise controls but now they can illuminate their System on their own schedule. Users may now control their system to gradually ramp to different white and blue intensities throughout the day by controlling the time and duration of each set point. The Controller still maintains the manual mode which allows users to select both blue and white intensities in real time with a turn of the knob.

We are opening up this software as a beta release to get user feedback. While we have performed extensive testing in our labs, the true test is how the software works out in the field and we appreciate your help in this. While beta testing this new software, we ask that if you experience difficulties or notice irregularities that you please create a support ticket under Support and select the Beta Test Request Help Topic.

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Everyone remember the DSPS tank from Thailand II Video? Well, here it the latest update released Feb 14, 2010. As I’m sure you remember, this 1200+ gallon tank is just immaculately put together. This video will demonstrate the outstanding growth experienced in this tank. Many new additions have been made to this tank as well, check out all those clams and scolys!!

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Check out this after-school special by Coral RX about dipping corals. The video cleverly depicts a common situation in our hobby, where a new coral is being added to an established, “clean” system. It humorously conveys the importance and ease of dipping every coral before introducing it to your system. We’re happy to see that Coral RX has made this topic entertaining.

“come on, one flatworm is not gonna hurt…” 🙂

Coral RX is reported to remove:

  • Acropora Eating Flatworms “AEFW”
  • Red Flatworms
  • Montipora Eating Nudibranchs
  • Zoanthid Eating Nudibranchs
  • Bristleworms
  • Zoanthid Eating Box Snails “Sundial Snails”
  • Zoanthid Eating Spiders
Friday, February 19th, 2010

Elos USA has just launched a new website taglined The marriage of elegance and aquarium. The new website sports a clean and user-friendly design, which is a marked improvement over the old design. All of the buried pages, complex navigation, clutter and confusion have been replaced by a clean look which matches the Elos line of products. And as if that wasn’t enough, Elos USA has added an online store featuring their complete product catalog. So whether you’re looking for an Elos rimless aquarium, aqua test kits, lighting, or any other Elos accessory, you can find information and pricing directly on their website. This will be very helpful for those of us who don’t live close to an Elos dealer. Another feature that we are happy to see is that contact and support information is now presented prominently. Way to go Elos USA.

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