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]

Salty Q&A: How Long Before My Tank Is Cycled?

Question The fish store dealer who’s helping me through the setup of my first saltwater aquarium told me I need to give the tank time to cycle before I put any fish or corals in it. As of right now, the tank has been operating for about a month. Is that long enough for it … [Read More]

Salty Q&A: Is RO/DI Water All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Question I’ve been keeping saltwater aquariums for five years, and in all that time I’ve never used RO/DI water for top offs or mixing up clean salt water. I just use tap water treated with a dechlorinator / dechloraminator, and I’ve never had any problems. Could it be that people are exaggerating the benefits of … [Read More]

Can Live Rock Be Added Directly to an Established Marine Aquarium?

“Caribbean Chris” and I are very frequently asked whether it’s okay to add new pieces of live rock directly to an established system. Ever erring on the side of caution, we generally discourage this practice. Instead, we recommend curing them in a separate saltwater-filled tank, vat, tub, bin, or other suitable vessel with heating and … [Read More]

Why We Favor Fishless Cycling with Cured Live Rock

In years past, the most common method for establishing biofiltration in marine aquariums was to introduce some hardy, rugged fish to the system as an ammonia source and wait for the cycle to get established before adding more livestock. The usual go-to fishes for this purpose were damsels. While this cycling method does work, here … [Read More]

Reef Aquarium Carbon Dosing Clarified

Carbon dosing is a relatively new phenomenon in the reef aquarium hobby. The first I heard about it was around two years ago, and I hadn’t given it a whole lot of thought until recently. The goal of carbon dosing is to improve water quality by lowering nitrates and phosphates. Nitrates and phosphates can lead … [Read More]

4 Marine Aquarium Problems That Sneak up on You

There’s an old saying that only bad things happen quickly in a marine aquarium. That’s certainly true enough, but it’s also important to keep in mind that some problems that can affect the health and wellbeing of livestock tend to develop very gradually and almost imperceptibly over time. Here’s a quick (but by no means … [Read More]

Salt Smart Tips for Soothing Those Hair Algae Headaches

Of all the irksome algae that can take hold in a saltwater aquarium, hair algae probably causes hobbyists more consternation than any other. So named for its hair-like, furry, or feathery appearance, this filamentous algae (for the sake of simplicity, I’ll use “algae” for both the singular and plural forms of the noun) is primarily … [Read More]

BGA Battle Plan: Controlling Cyanobacteria in Saltwater Aquariums

You’re relaxing in front of your saltwater aquarium, enjoying the beautiful undersea vista you’ve created when you notice a few red, algae-like patches on your live rock that weren’t there before. You reach into the tank and give one of these growths a few taps with your finger and notice that it feels rather slimy … [Read More]

Putting Aquarium Water Parameters to the Test

It’s crucial to keep tabs on several key aspects of water chemistry if you want to succeed with a saltwater aquarium. That means you’ll have to develop the habit of testing certain parameters on a routine basis. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a background in chemistry or a laboratory at your disposal—just … [Read More]