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]

Salty Confessions: Procrastination Never Pays in Reefkeeping!

Regular SWS readers know that CC and I always emphasize the importance of staying on top of routine maintenance chores so small problems don’t develop into big ones. Great advice for a hobby in which only bad things happen quickly, right? Unfortunately, my recent failure to follow my own “sage” advice nearly led to disaster. … [Read More]

Aquarium Technologies Borrowed from Other Industries

We marine aquarists use a variety of tools to help keep our tanks healthy by either changing or removing the waste products of the animals we keep. But did you know virtually all of the devices we use were originally designed for other industries? Ozone For instance, ozone is a naturally forming gas found in … [Read More]

What a Difference a (Good) Protein Skimmer Makes!

Here at Saltwater Smarts, we’re not, generally speaking, in the business of writing product reviews. But when we have positive personal experiences with products that we think can make your life easier—and are available at a reasonable cost—we want to pass that information along. Such has been my experience with the Coral Vue Octopus AC20287 … [Read More]

Marine Aquarium Terminology: “Nutrient Export” Defined

Among the myriad mysterious terms that might give neophyte marine aquarists a migraine (okay, I’ll stop with the gratuitous alliteration now) is “nutrient export.” What does this term mean? Is it just a fancy way of saying “filtration”? Well, not exactly, though certain forms of filtration do play a part. For our purposes, nutrient export … [Read More]

HLLE and the Activated Carbon Connection

Many different factors have been considered as possible causes of the disease known as Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE)—a condition that typically causes disfiguring tissue erosion on the head and along the sensory lateral line of certain marine fishes. Poor water quality, nutritional deficiencies, protozoa of the genus Hexamita, stray voltage, and activated carbon … [Read More]

Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 2

In the first installment of this series, we examined the confirmable uses of ozone gas in the home aquarium. We saw ozone having a positive effect on the nitrogen cycle and doing a great job creating ultra-clear water conditions by breaking up suspended particles. We also examined the biggest myth of using ozone—that it will … [Read More]

The Many Means of Nutrient Export in Marine Aquariums

Dissolved nutrients. Sounds like a good thing, right? After all, every organism needs nutrients in one form or another in order to grow and stay in good health. So why are marine aquarium hobbyists—particularly reefkeepers—seemingly so fixated on keeping the level of dissolved nutrients in their systems as low as possible? To understand this fixation, … [Read More]

Protein Skimming: Bubble Your Way to Better Water Quality

Saltwater aquarium hobbyists today have a dizzying array of devices, doodads, and doohickeys at their disposal for improving water quality and maintaining appropriate water parameters. Some of these items are essential for aquarium success, while others might be more appropriately placed under the heading of “bells and whistles.” High on the list of what we … [Read More]