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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 012 | Diatoms and New Tank Syndrome: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 012

My 30 gallon saltwater tank is almost done with the initial nitrogen cycle, but a brown film has started to coat my live sand and live rock. This is a diatom bloom and what many aquarium hobbyists call New Tank Syndrome. In this Aquarium Tip Tank podcast I share some aquarium tips for dealing with a diatom bloom. I also share some information about what diatoms are, where they come from, and why they decide to coat a tropical fish tank.

I wanted to be able to show you some of these diatoms that are growing in my fish tank. I’ve included a few pictures below.

Light Brown Diatoms on Live Rock and on Live Sand

At this point I also have a few small spots on the live rock with some green algae and some light purple coraline algae. Hopefully, you can see both of those in the picture below.

Spots of Green and Purple Coraline Algae growing on Live Rock

I also mentioned in the podcast that I would include the picture that Ryan Howells shared with me. He has a fairly new nano aquarium with a mated pair of clownfish that have laid some eggs! Here is the picture that he sent me of his tank!

Ryan Howells’ Nano Aquarium with a Mated Pair of Clownfish

Ryan’s tank looks like it is working out to be a nice little marine aquarium! He recently contacted me and told me that he was just finishing up the cycling process of his tank. It looks like he’s got a little more than that! There’s a nice colony of coraline algae, and of course, his mated pair of clownfish!

I had stated on many previous podcasts that I would give listeners a shout out if they decided to get in touch with me, let me know about an aquarium breakthrough, and send me a picture of their tank. I’m a man of my word! Keep sending your fish tank breakthroughs and updates.

Have a diatom bloom in your fish tank? Leave comments below!


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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Use a Drip Loop for the Cables of your Aquarium

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will help you keep from frying your lights, heaters, and other electric aquarium devices. No matter how much you try to prevent water splashes and overflows, you’re never going to completely prevent them in the years that you have your aquarium. The problem is that water can help conduct electricity and there are several pieces of aquarium equipment plugged in somewhere near the tank. It is possible for that splashed, overflowed, or leaked water to travel down the cord to the plug and create a short, a surge, a fire, and possibly electrocute somebody. In order to prevent this, make sure that all of your power cords have a drip loop. We’ve included a picture of a drip loop below. This way, any water traveling down the cord sits at the bottom of the loop until it either evaporates or drips to a spot under and away from the plug and outlet.

Use a Drip Loop on all electrical cords for your Aquarium

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 008 | Aquarium Filtration, Part 2

Aquarium Tip  Tank Podcast 008

In this episode of the Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast I discuss the mechanisms used to perform mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration in a home aquarium system. The devices I talk about include Hang-on-Tank filtration systems, Canister Filters, Under-gravel filters, and Wet/Dry filtration systems. I also discuss my choice of aquarium filtration for the 30 gallon saltwater aquarium that I’m in the process of setting up.

I chose to go with a Canister Filtration system and I chose the API Nexx aquarium filter. However, let me do a little clarification here. Make sure you do your research and choose the filtration system that you think will work best for your situation. I have to admit, if I had a larger tank, and more room in the tank stand under my tank, I probably would’ve tried to set up a wet/dry filtration system with a separate reservoir under my main tank. I would’ve sectioned off that reservoir and created different areas for my mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. I would’ve tried to get a little refugium going, and maximized the potential for biological filtration.

I just don’t have that kind of room under my small, 30 gallon tank. The API Nexx filtration system should work great for what I’m looking to do with my home aquarium! I do think the API Nexx Filter is a great canister filtration system that is also expandable. If you’d like to use the API Nexx Filter, I’ve posted a link to Amazon for one below. If not, and you’re going to use a different type of filtration system for your aquarium that’s awesome! Go ahead and leave a comment below and tell us how you are filtering your aquarium water, or how you plan to!

Update: We do not currently recommend the API Nexx Canister Aquarium Filter. It leaked when I first set it up for my aquarium system check. Somehow, I got it to work for 4 days without any leaks during the system check. Then, I drained the aquarium, put live sand into the tank, put live rock into the tank, filled the tank up with saltwater and re-started the API Nexx Canister Filter. A few hours later I went to check on the tank only to find a puddle under the tank stand. The API Nexx Canister Filter was leaking from the base. I have removed the filtration system from the tank while it is cycling. I am in contact with representatives from RENA and will post updates with the outcome.

Grab your Canister Filtration System now:

Other posts mentioned in this Podcast:

We love our listeners and respect your opinion! Please search for “Aquarium Tip Tank” in iTunes to find all of our podcast episodes and leave a review. We’d love to know what we can do better and we’d love to keep improving! Also, please feel free to contact us with any aquarium questions, stories, and we really love breakthroughs – tell us about the fish you just added to your tank!


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SCUBA Diving Dry Rocks Coral Reef and Christ of the Abyss

Every once in a while we here at Aquarium Tip Tank get the chance to take some vacation, get out into nature, and do the things that got us interested and excited about nature and the underwater world. I had aquariums before I started SCUBA diving, but really got interested in keeping an underwater ecosystem in my home when I strapped on a tank and dove for the first time in St. John, USVI. We had a little bit of a long weekend for Memorial Day this past weekend and were able to jump on a buddy’s sailboat out of South Florida for 4 days. Dry Rocks Coral Reef and the Christ of the Abyss in John Pennekamp State Park off the East coast of Key Largo is one of the places that we had the opportunity to SCUBA dive.

It was our second day of sailing and we were on our way to Key Largo Sound in John Pennekamp State Park to grab a mooring ball for the night. On our way we decided that we may as well stop at Dry Rocks coral reef. When we arrived it was late afternoon and there were several boats with snorkelers that had already grabbed the mooring balls closest to the statue. We grabbed the mooring ball on what I believe was the South West side of Dry Rocks coral reef. Of course, this was the one farthest from the buoy marking the Christ of the Abyss statue. No worries though. We had the gear to allow everybody to swim on over and plenty of air for those that were certified and wanted to strap on a tank.

We got all geared up, I grabbed some coordinates to swim to on my compass that I was diving with, we performed all of  our checks, jumped in, and started swimming to the Christ of the Abyss statue!

Divers Swimming to Dry Rocks Reef and Christ of the Abyss

This reef is quite spectacular! Honestly, I was delightfully surprised by the health and beauty of this coral reef! I’ve been on a few dive trips with SCUBA dive charters in the Key Largo, FL area before and I seem to remember them saying something like, “Well, its nothing special.” or, “It’s only in 20 feet of water, so its better for snorkelers.” I disagree.

First, the reef is something special. There was an abundance of thriving coral and fish swimming happily through the reef. Some of the brain corals were gigantic! I saw schools of blue tang, grunts, a spotted box-fish, golden trevally, lobster, conch, and many more! What I didn’t see was any lionfish, and that is also a delightful surprise.

Large Brain Coral at Dry Rocks Coral Reef off Key Largo, FL

Second, so what if it is a shallow site? Okay, I’ll agree that when you’re paying for a dive operator to supply you with tanks, take you out to nice coral reefs, and you’re paying to rent SCUBA gear that maybe you want to go someplace deeper than 20 ft. so that you can feel as if it was necessary to pay all of that money. I’ll also admit that we have all of our own tanks and gear so we weren’t paying for any of that anyway. However, I’ll let you SCUBA divers in on a little secret, corals like sunlight, and a lot of the beautiful reefs with lots of colorful corals and fish are going to be found in shallow waters where they get maximum mid-day tropical sun. I was also bringing my underwater camera with me. I knew that I was going to want to be at the bottom of the Christ of the Abyss statue at 20 feet deep taking pictures of people with the statue. I wanted to hand my camera to somebody so that they could take a picture of me. This is a lot easier to do if you don’t have to hold your breath.

Christ of the Abyss Statue in John Pennekamp State Park

In the end, it ended up being a fantastic dive for the people with tanks on their backs and the people without! Then, I was able to use the pictures that I had taken to educate some of the less informed on the boat about what they saw, how the organisms live, and the beauty of the underwater ecosystem!

Christmas Tree Worms on Coral at Dry Rocks Reef John Pennekamp State Park

Have any fun SCUBA or snorkel stories? Leave a comment below!



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Beluga Calf at Georgia Aquarium!

Yes, Maris has given birth to the first Beluga whale calf to be born to parents who were both born in captivity. The calf was born in the Georgia Aquarium on Friday May 18, 2012 shortly after 10:30pm. We knew about it a little bit earlier, but at the Georgia Aquarium we like to allow our benefactor, Bernie Marcus, to make the important announcements to the media when the time is appropriate. It has been released, and we can discuss! Below is what I know, and a link to the official press release .

Currently, the calf is actually in critical condition receiving first class care around the clock by the best veterinary staff and aquarium experts. First-time pregnancies are very often unsuccessful with beluga whales no matter if the first-born calf is born in the wild or in a zoological setting.

When the calf was born it took its first breath, but needed the assistance of divers that were immediately on hand and in the water to help. The calf then tried to swim with her mother, Maris, and it was immediately apparent that the calf was just too weak to navigate the waters. The Aquarium staff took over and placed the calf in critical care and performed a physical exam. It was then that they found the flukes had not hardened on the calf and that it weighed only 82 pounds, much less than an average beluga calf.

The mother, Maris, is doing well, and the calf is getting the best 24-hour care that it can possibly receive. You can read the official press release and get updates via Georgia Aquarium’s blog. Until further notice,  the beluga exhibit will be temporarily closed to the public to allow for the veterinary and animal care staff at the Georgia Aquarium to completely focus on the comfort of Maris and her new beluga calf.


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Coral Time-Lapse Video

I recently got a new toy. My new Canon 60D takes amazing pictures (actually I guess I’m the one taking the pictures, but I use the 60D to do it), and one of the first things I did was make a time lapse of my green star polyps. Head on over to my new Google+ page and check it out! While you’re there, go ahead and give me a +1!

This is actually a very rough video. I figured out how to set up the camera, put it on a tripod, read a little bit of the manual about taking some macro pictures and started taking some pictures of my small reef tank! I made sure the aperture, shutter speed, and focus were all set up the way I wanted, turned on the small metal halide lamp that lights this nano tank and set the timer to take a picture every 5 seconds for an hour and 15 minutes!

I ended up with 900 photos. I did absolutely nothing to them as far as post-processing goes. Each picture is a frame and the movie was set to 24 frames per second. Export as an avi file to keep the size down a little bit, and this is what I ended up with for my first time-lapse. Enjoy!

Take some cool pictures and videos of your home aquarium? Share and comment below!


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Free Tank Selection Worksheet!

One of our Aquarium Tips of the Day here at Aquarium Tip Tank is to use checklists and worksheets to keep your aquarium adventure simple! Its much easier to remember the maintenance tasks that you have to perform if you have them written down in front of you and can just check them off as you go. It is also much quicker and easier to go through a worksheet to pick out the new equipment that you want, or to see if the new fish that you want to add to your tank is compatible with the rest of your livestock.

Personally, I’ve read all of the books and tried to absorb all of the information in them, but I hate having to climb up my bookcase, pull all the aquarium books out, and scan through them until I find the information that I’m looking for. These days I’ve gotten a little more efficient by just making up checklists, worksheets, and charts that I use for everything from buying equipment like tanks or lights and selecting livestock to performing water changes and testing water quality.

I’ve decided to give my Tank Selection worksheet away for free! Just sign up for the Aquarium Tip Tank e-updates and news up there in the upper right hand corner and we will send you the link to get your free worksheet! Then, feel free to change it and update the checklist as you wish.

Have you made up any checklists of your own? Leave comments below.


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Aquarium Tips of the Day | The Fish Growth Factor

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will keep you from doing extra work several months down the road. Some fish grow so fast that they may outgrow your tank in a matter of weeks. Personally, I would hate to have to find a new home for my fish so quickly. One of the best things to do when aquiring new fish or livestock is to make sure that you know and take into account the growth factor of the livestock that you plan to add to your aquarium.

You have to understand that if you buy a young, healthy, juvenile fish that it probably still has some growing to do. You also have to take into account that your live plants and corals will also continue to grow. It is very easy to find the maximum length of your species of fish, and use that as a guide, but also consider that the fish may grow wide as well! Just make sure that you know the size and the limits of your tank, what you plan to keep in it, and the size and speed at which that livestock tends to grow!

Ever relocate due to something outgrowing your tank? Leave a comment below.


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Weekly Tip | Relax and Enjoy Your Aquarium

Notice that I didn’t call this one a tip of any one day or any one week, but that this aquarium tip should be recurring. You should do this as often as you can. Just sit back, relax, and take some time to put your feet up and enjoy your aquarium. Some times the hustle of life only allows us time to look at our aquariums while we’re taking care of the quick daily tasks to make sure their maintained and doing well. Take some time to pull a chair over, put all of your aquarium tools away, sit down and enjoy the interactions of the fish and the colors of the corals and invertebrates that you keep.

I know I get caught up in the busyness that life can present. I’ve been traveling for the last 5 weekends. I’ve been working during the week while finding time to unpack, pack again, dive at the aquarium, maintain my home aquarium, and make sure that I sit down to feed myself, and my fish. Sometimes I just have to tell myself, “Put everything down, sit back, put your feet up and just watch what’s going on in your aquarium for a little while.” When I’m done I’m more calm, relaxed, and I’m ready to move on with the rest of my day or night with a sense of ease.

Comments? Leave them below!


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General Site Update

I just have to apologize for the fact that sometimes things may seem a little slow around here. I’ve been out of town for several long weekends for various adventure, entertainment, fun, happy, sad, and personal reasons in the last few weeks. During the week, I go to work almost every day. I had high ambitions of getting a Tip of the Day out every day. It looks as if we will still call it a tip of the day, but it might be on a schedule of 2 or 3 times a week instead of 7. Currently, I am also the only contributor to the website. I’ll do my best to get a few posts out a week, keep the social network feeds flowing, create some podcasts on a somewhat regular schedule, and get my own marine aquarium up and running.

In the meantime, if you have any aquarium questions, or comments go ahead and leave them below!


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