Aquarium Automation: The Theiling Rollermat and Other Web-Filtering Technologies

The problem For the longest time, I have been trying to lengthen the maintenance interval for the filter socks on my 450-gallon system, which currently clog every two days. I tried eliminating filter socks completely for a period of time, but the sump got extremely messy and turned into a nitrate bank. The next option … [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]

Understanding Old Tank Syndrome

Old Tank Syndrome, or OTS, is something we have been hearing about since the hobby started, and I am not quite sure exactly what it means. Is it due to parameters, loss of diversity, lack of interest, diseases, metal accumulation, global warming, locusts, or all of the above? I think it is much simpler than … [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]

Don’t Neglect These 5 Critical Marine Aquarium Maintenance Tasks!

Keeping a marine aquarium healthy and thriving requires a significant level of maintenance. For the most part, we hobbyists are pretty good at tackling chores in a timely manner, but in some cases we’re a little more prone to procrastination—usually in situations where “out of sight means out of mind.” Here are 5 critical marine … [Read More]

The Lawnmower Blenny: a Funny, Fascinating Fish of Unpredictable Utility

The lawnmower blenny, aka the jeweled blenny, jeweled rockskipper, or sailfin blenny (Salarias fasciatus), is commonly purchased not just for its comical behavior and only-a-mother-could-love looks, but also for the utilitarian purpose of controlling algae in marine tanks. While you can pretty much count on this droll little fish to provide interest and entertainment, its … [Read More]

Don’t Be Bothered by Bristleworms!

In my early days of writing for the marine aquarium hobby, I frequently cautioned fellow hobbyists to be on the lookout for “unwelcome” live rock stowaways, and high on my list of undesirables were the bristleworms. As I saw it then, every prickly polychaete that poked its head out of the rockwork was a potential … [Read More]

5 Signs of Inadequate Water Movement in Reef Aquariums

Proper water circulation is one of many elements that are key to maintaining a healthy reef system. While there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all water-flow scheme (you really have to tailor the flow to the unique needs of the invertebrates you keep), there are certain signs that will tip you off to inadequate circulation. … [Read More]

Sand-sifting Starfish: A Job (too) Well Done!

If you’ve ever shopped for a marine aquarium cleanup crew, you’ve probably noticed that these packages often include so-called sand-sifting starfish—rather bland-colored, burrowing stars of the genus Astropecten that can reach about a foot in diameter. As their common name implies, these stars are sold to hobbyists for the purpose of consuming detritus and uneaten … [Read More]

The Pros and Cons of a Bare-Bottomed Marine Tank

If you’re in the process of planning and setting up a new saltwater aquarium, you’ll need to give some thought to the type of substrate you’d like to use. It may seem counterintuitive, but one of your options in this area is to dispense with any sort of substrate altogether and go bare-bottomed (BB). To … [Read More]