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Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The Vancouver Sun reported that a fishing trawler has hit, and then knocked out a valuable section of the Neptune Canada Observatory (NCO). The pod was loaded up with pricey titanium instruments which monitor things like earthquakes and tsunamis. Director of Neptune Canada Chris Barnes estimates the cost of repairing the damage anywhere from $700,000 to $1.7 million.

The pod, which suffered a “major blow” (according to Barnes) was set up in 2009, and was intended to run for 25 years. Unfortunately, that span was cut short when the trawler dragged it’s giant net across the sea floor in an unsanctioned zone, and bumped into the pod. The delicate instruments, tracked the trawler as it approached the pod, and then immediately ceased reporting data after being hit. There is actual data and even acoustic images of the large net coming down from the surface. The net scooped out the instruments, which were later on dumped into the boat, and flushed out with the fish.

Unfortunately, since there are potential legal implications, the trawler has not been identified, and the NCO continues it’s internal investigation. It’s important to note that NCO designers consulted with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in order to avoid such an indecent. A significant amount of money was used by the observatory to protect against potential damage from fishing boats. NCO has cables stretching 800 kilometers across the B.C.’s sea floor, provided the fishing industry with detailed navigational information, and instructed vessels to stay clear of the equipment.

[via The Vancouver Sun]

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Many hobbyists have already enjoyed the EcoPico Desktop Aquarium for their nano tank setups. Designed primarily for freshwater setups, the original EcoPico did not offer enough light for some of the more demanding corals. The solution was to add EcoPico strips, to the LED arm.

Ecoxotic, known for “Endangering the Status Quo,” quickly responded to the growing demand in the hobby, and released their latest product, the EcoPico Reef. Based on the original design, the EcoPico Reef-Ready version, comes standard with upgraded lighting. Rather than the original one LED strip, this newer version features 3 12000K strips, providing ample lighting for this nano tank. The Strips are powered using a 3-way splitter, in order to maintain an extremely clean look.

So, whether you are a big tight on space, or you just want a little reef showpiece on your desk, check out the EcoPico Reef. The rimless tank uses 6mm glass, a small internal filter with a built-in pump and a beveled glass top with mounting clips. This tank is probably going to be the next addition to our system.

Check out the photo gallery below, and visit the Ecoxotic website for more info.

Friday, May 20th, 2011

As we get closer and closer to the MACNA 2011, we wanted to start looking back at last year’s event. Held in Orlando, the event featured some of the most prominent speakers in the industry. They covered topics such as holistic Reef Keeping, rotifers, coral propagation, green reef keeping, reef tank photography, redundancy, and much more. The 3 day event was a huge success, and we can’t wait for this year’s September 9-11th event, to be held in De Moines, IA.

Wed’ like to begin by checking out Ecoxotic‘s products, as they were displayed throughout MACNA 2010. This video showcases the 100W LED Cannon, 50W LED Cannon, PAR 38 LED bulbs, Panorama LED Fixtures and Stunner Strips. Along with their own display Ecoxotic was a focal point of the Oceans Reefs and Aquariums (ORA) display.

Check out this great video, and remember to visit

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

The Retina I LED Fixture from Hydra Aquatics is a perfect choice for frameless (rimless) aquariums, with up to 8mm glass. Used both in freshwater and saltwater setups, the 9500K spectrum is viewed as a very crisp and clean white. Over 50W are drawn by a combination of 12 white and 8 blue LEDs. The Retina I LED is currently available at Marine Depot and is selling for $99.99. The fixture can easily be removed when performing maintenance on the aquarium, so no more excuses!

We are happy to see more and more LED fixtures showing up on the market. This gives hobbyists more choices, and manufacturers a reason to improve their products.

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

This unbelievable reef tank belongs to Stuart Bertram, co-director of D-D, suppliers of specialist saltwater and freshwater aquarium equipment . Bertram’s tank is featured in the June 2011 edition of Practical Fishkeeping. There is not much info out there about this tank, but here is a direct quote from the article:

“To see the size of the small polyp stony corals within this tank, and to know that they all emerged from tiny shards, leaves any observer with a sense that something very special has been achieved here.”

Enjoy the video.

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Check out the Bursa protein skimmer from Trigger Systems. This sexy new skimmer feature a pump that is mounted directly below the reaction chamber which allows for better flow through the sump. Accented with red acrylic, the Bursa protein skimmers are rated for 300 gallon systems, use 23 watts and have a 1000 lph of air intake. With an integrated ozone input, the Bursa is ready to plug and play nicely with an ozonizer. If you do not run Ozone on your system, you can simply use the supplied cap to seal the intake. Also, the can Bursa re-circulated air from the skimmer cup, which is a really nice feature (can reduce that wonderful skimmer smell). Again, if you choose not to use this feature, you can easily cap that intake as well.

The Bursa protein skimmer from Trigger Systems has a very nice, and low-profile water level adjustment valve, as well as rubber feet, which reduce vibration and noise. Another nice feature that we are seeing more of, is a silencer on the air intake, which reduced hissing sound. Although it has been a hot topic lately, Trigger Systems chose to use a bubble plate in their design, which reduces turbulence in their cone hybrid design.

These are available from Reef Tools sponsor Premium Aquatics for $454.99.

Photo credit: Premium Aquatics

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Premium Aquatics: Blue Life, Flatworm Control regular price $19.99, now only $9.99!
Salty Critter: 50% off IceCap and Hamilton Metal Halide Bulbs (instock items only)
HelloLights: 20,000K Radium HQI Double Ended 150W. regular price $84.95, now only $77.95!
Marine Depot: 20% OFF AquaMaxx CR-1 Calcium Reactor. Regular price $219.99 now only $175.99.
That Pet Place: Fluval C4 Power Filter, regular price $69.49, now only $52.12!
Bulk Reef Supply: 10% off Hydor Koralia Controllable 12v
Foster and Smith Aquatics: 35% OFF Rena LG100 Digital Auto Feeder.
Reef Specialty: Direct Connect 4 Module. Regular price $99.99, now only $124.95!
SeaQuest Marine: Aqua Medic Ocean Light 1 X 250W 10k Metal Halide Fixture. Regular price $348.95, now only $297.88!
Aquarium Guys: Phos-Zorb. Regular price $5.39, now only $4.89!
Big Als Online:  17% OFF Filstar XP Canister Filters.

Please Share with your friends


Monday, May 16th, 2011

Lately a new trend has been slowly creeping up on the reefing world. Using dry rock to start up your new tank or to add interesting shapes to your current tank are both viable ways of utilizing dry rock.  What is so good about dry rock any way? Don’t I want all those little critters, sponges, and hitch hikers and nuisance algae? Let’s take a quick look at what is so rockin’ about dry rock and why people are deciding to use it more and more these days.
To start out, dry rock has many benefits, and a few draw backs. Something else to keep in mind is that there are different types of dry rock


  • No hitch hikers
  • Fully able to aqua scape out of water
  • No nuisance algae that comes on LR
  • Lower cost for the rock
  • Lower cost for shipping


  • Coraline growth takes a while
  • Curing the rock can be smelly (a pain, usually can take a while too)

Now to get the definition of dry rock. There are usually two different types readily available. The first being quarry rock. This is usually mined out of the ground from an extinct reef. This rock tends to have interesting shapes but also tends to be super dense. The other is mined from a real reef, then dried out. This rock is usually super porous but has a good chunk of die off on it (which is great for starting up a stinky cycle).

The first type of rock is supposedly reef safe, just a quick wash and it is ready to go into your tank. This rock looks fairly clean, has no die off, so I wouldn’t think it would hurt tank chemistry too much. The other rock has a ton of die off, it is suggested you wash it off, and cure it in a separate container before adding it to your DT (unless you are cycling a tank, more die off the better).

So here are my results. I decided to go with dry rock for my new tank. I personally liked the Pukani dry rock from BulkReefSupply. It was super porous and was fairly easy to aqua scape with rods along with being very organic/platform shaped. The BRS Eco Rocks, was too dense for my taste, very hard to drill, and I used them more for small sections or omitted them completely from my tank.

Here is what you all want to see:
40lbs of BRS Eco Rocks

40lbs of BRS Pukani Rock

Side by side (This pic is deceptive, there was a considerable size difference but the angle messes it up a bit)

An Idea of how the rock scaped and fit together (no rods in yet)

Scaped with a a good amount of the Eco Rocks out

All in all I am happy with my decision. Splitting up the order to 40lbs of each gave me options, and at a portion of the price of live rock, it did a great job. My suggestion is, if you don’t mind waiting a bit for your rock to cure, getting dry rock is a great option to avoid problems down the line.

Right now there are few major distributors of dry rock for the reefing world. Check back for part two of in this series.

Friday, May 13th, 2011

It seems as if there are trends in the hobby when it comes to aquascaping. Well, as skimmers get better, and hobbyists begin to use various chemical, and or biological, methods for improving water parameters, the requirement for a desired amount of live rock in a system is reduced. The result of this, we believe, has led to a new, minimalistic aquascaping style. Since the reef tank can maintain proper water parameters, without requiring so much live rock, hobbyists are moving aways from simply piling a stack of rocks, and towards a simple, open design, with plenty of negative space. And although this may not be appropriate for every system, let’s take a look at some nice examples.

First let’s look at MedRed’s 60 Gallon Solana XL. Using dry rock, MedRed created several spires, and achieved a really nice, simple result. Here is a photo of the tank when it was just set up, and then one of it as it has matured. Truly beautiful work MedRed!



The next tank is by Xtm, a 120 gallon SPS tank (48x24x24). xtm utilized a 2 island approach to his aquascaping, which created a very nice balance in this tank. As the corals grew in, the tank has a very mature feel to it, which still providing ample swimming room.

Here is another take on the island approach. Michael B chose to go ahead with 3 islands in his 150cm x 50cm x 50cm. This tank has a corner overflow, draining down to a sump that is roughly the same size as the tank. Michael B uses a Deltec skimmer, a couple of Sunsun’s for flow, and 4 T5’s for lighting over his beautiful “Piece of the Ocean”. Again, the simplicity is just inspiring.

This example is simply one of my favorites of all time. André Silvestre’s masterpiece is just so well done. A large island surrounded by a smaller “island-chain” gives this tank a very unique look. With many nooks for fish to swim through and hide in, this reef tank just puts a smile on my face. I love how the sand covers just enough of the rock to give it a very natural look. The tank is 100cm x 60cm x 50cm, and is illuminated by a 6 bulb T5 fixture. André uses 2 tunze 6055’s controlled by a 7095. A Deltec MCE600 takes care of filtration, while CA, Alk, and MAG are dosed with a Grotech NG III.

Please tell us in the comment section if you have other minimalistic tanks you think we should feature.

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Every once in a while we see a coral that just strikes us. The kind of coral that just makes you drool. Well, meet the ATL Frost Bite Aculeus. This stunning coral absolutely glows with aqua blue flesh, and royal blue coralites. This coral is currently available in the “New Arrivales” section of, and is selling for $60, for a 3/4″ frag. Naturally it requires strong flow and light. If anyone out there has already purchased a piece, we’d love to see a few hobbyist photos.

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