About Than Thein

Than Thein is the owner of Tidal Gardens and Advanced Reef Aquarium. Than's love for all things underwater began early on when dogs and cats were strictly off limits, but a fish tank? Sure! What started with a 10-gallon goldfish tank eventually turned into a 5,000-gallon greenhouse coral propagation system. In addition to coral aquaculture, Than's other hobbies include scuba diving and underwater photography and videography.

Diving into Underwater Cameras

This article is a bit of a departure from the typical reef aquarium topics I cover. Photography is a big part of Tidal Gardens, and sometimes we like to take the camera underwater. To do that, we need an underwater camera rig. A rig consists of the camera itself, an underwater housing, and accessories such … [Read More]

An Introduction to Protein Skimming

A protein skimmer is a device designed to clean the water in a reef aquarium by removing dissolved organic compounds. Put even more simply, it is a controlled overflow of dirty water. Imagine a chamber that vigorously mixes air and water to create a dense foam. The cleaning action is because of the tiny bubbles … [Read More]

Oddball Reef System Symbiosis

Symbiotic relationships are among the most interesting aspects of this hobby. A coral reef is a battlefield for real estate; however, there are still amazing examples of cooperation between completely different animals. Everyone is very familiar with clownfish and anemones, and for good reason! This combination is likely responsible for drawing more people into the … [Read More]

The Deep Dive on Reef Aquarium Lighting, Part 2: Lighting Technologies

I get asked fairly often what light is the best light. Unfortunately, there is no right answer. First off, there is the difference in aesthetics. That is a purely subjective decision that only hobbyists can make for themselves. Most of the time hobbyists gravitate towards the blue end of the spectrum because it is very … [Read More]

The Deep Dive on Reef Aquarium Lighting, Part 1: Zooxanthellae, Color Temperature, and Light Intensity

Lighting is important because it directly affects how we visually enjoy the hobby and, more importantly, the vast majority of the corals in our tanks are photosynthetic. In this two-part article, we will first cover some of the basics of the light itself and then discuss the various lighting technologies people use to light their … [Read More]

Reef Lighting and Coral Aesthetics

I always say that you only really need three things to be successful in this hobby: good water quality, good water flow, and good light. All of those things are pretty involved, but lighting in particular gets a lot of discussion because of the three, it is the most expensive and the thing that is … [Read More]

Stylophora: Achieve that SPS Aesthetic with Less-Demanding Corals

Stylophora are branching small-polyp stony corals from the Family Pocilloporidae. Stylophora shares that family with Pocillopora and Seriatopora, and the three together are the only genera in the family. As a result of their close relationship to one another, all three of these genera share quite a lot in common. What is immediately obvious is … [Read More]

Tidal Gardens Substrate Update

In 2016, the systems at Tidal Gardens are a mix of custom glass aquariums and Rubbermaid stock tanks. Originally back in 2002, all the tanks were some combination of 300-gallon and 150-gallon stock tanks because they were by far the most cost-effective containers that were truly rugged. After all, anything that was built to be … [Read More]

Under Water in Okinawa

Okinawa, Japan is known for its great diving and lush coral reefs. Going into it, I didn’t know what to expect with this dive. I’ve heard all sorts of cautionary tales about diving in Okinawa due to its strong currents, but I’ve also heard that the quality of the reefs is practically unmatched. The day … [Read More]

The Top 5 Tips for Beginner Reefkeepers

I started the hobby before the internet became widely used, and information was sourced mainly through local fish stores. I was lucky enough to have some decent ones, but it was limited, no doubt. Today, beginning hobbyists have to deal with a cacophony of perspectives online, and it is difficult to sift out good information … [Read More]