The Pros and Cons of Aquascaping Marine Aquariums with Dry Rock

When aquascaping their tanks, marine aquarium hobbyists have the option of using live rock or dry rock (or some combination thereof) to create the foundational reef structure. Each of these options is completely workable but, as with every aspect of this hobby, has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. So how to choose which … [Read More]

Ask Yourself These Questions Before Starting Your First Saltwater Aquarium

One of our primary goals here at Saltwater Smarts is to give budding marine aquarists all the insights and information they need to embark upon this challenging hobby with their eyes wide open. Encouraging prior research on techniques, equipment, and livestock is, of course, a major aspect of this, but even before the research stage, … [Read More]

The Use of Negative Space in the Reef Aquarium Aquascape

One of the more interesting developments in the reefkeeping hobby, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the latest, greatest gadget or advance in water-quality-management methodology. Rather, it’s an evolving aesthetic in aquascaping. Bored with the traditional monolithic stack of rocks propped up against the back pane and consuming much of the tank’s volume, … [Read More]

The Qualities of a Good Aquarium Cleaning Brush Kit

While there are certainly sexier marine aquarium topics I could be writing about, I’d like to dedicate today’s post to one of the more mundane, albeit essential, elements of our hobby—aquarium brushes. This subject came to mind recently after I threw my ten-thousandth brush kit into the trash because, once again, the brushes had begun … [Read More]

Our Tanks Are Lookin’ Good! But for Whom?

This is an easy question. Our tanks can be as good looking as we want. Of course, we can always throw more time and money into our tanks to make them look even better—but better looking to whom? And why? Do we want to have dynamite-looking tanks so we can win TOTM and tell everyone … [Read More]

Signs that Allelopathy Might Be Agitating Your Inverts

Since corals and other sessile invertebrates are more or less stuck in place and can’t chase away competitors or run from predators, many of them—particularly among the soft corals—have evolved the tactic of exuding toxins into the water to prevent other inverts from encroaching and to discourage predation. As you can imagine, this “chemical warfare,” … [Read More]

Gearing Up Was No Minor Challenge for our Marine Aquarium Forebears

Think you’ve got equipment woes? Imagine what it would have been like trying to equip a marine system back at the dawn of marine fishkeeping! Well, hobby pioneer Paul “Paul B” Baldassano doesn’t have to imagine that because he was there to witness it. (Actually, he may have been there when our first human ancestor … [Read More]

Don’t Overestimate Piscine Individualism!

LFS staffer to customer eyeing sohal tang as potential purchase: “Hmm, I don’t think that fish would be a good choice for your tank. It can get very aggressive, and most of the fish you have in there now are pretty shy and passive. Customer to staffer: “Yeah, I know sohals have a reputation for … [Read More]

The Green Brittle Star: Little Fishy, Beware!

“Voracious predator” is not a term one commonly associates with brittle stars—that is, of course, unless the brittle star in question happens to be Ophiarachna incrassata, or the green brittle star (aka “the green death”). This bold species has a well-earned reputation for not merely scavenging deceased small fish and motile invertebrates, as one might … [Read More]

The Harlequin Bass: An Exceptionally Hardy, Beginner-Friendly Marine Fish

Prized for its striking patterning, modest adult size, exceptional hardiness, and overall adaptability, the harlequin bass (Serranus tigrinus), denizen of the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean, makes an excellent choice for the novice marine aquarist and experienced hobbyist alike. (In fact, just try to stop Caribbean Chris from keeping one!) Physical traits This fascinating dwarf … [Read More]