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Aquaria: Marine: 

How many of these staples of marine aquarium keeping past do you remember? How many still exist?

Gro-Lux fluorescents
Vita-Lite fluorescents
Vita-Lite PowerTwist fluorescents
Metal Halide
T-5 6500K and actinic fluorescents

Egg crate and screen undergravel
Nektonics undergravel
Lee's undergravel
Aqualogy undergravel and Power 200 and 400 power heads
Aqualogy Power 1, Power 300 and Power 600 power filters
Hagen 400 and 800 power heads
Vortex D1 Diatom Filter
Hawaiian Marine Angstrom UV Sterilizers
Sander ozonizer
Eheim cannister filters
Hagen Fluval cannister filters
Lifegard module filters
DynaFlo power filters
Hagen AquaClear power filters
Second Nature Whisper power filters

Sea Salt Mix:
Instant Ocean/Reef Crystals

Filter Media:
Kordon Bio-Mech

Air Pumps and Airstones:
Silent Giant
Metaframe Hush air pumps
Second Nature Whisper 100 - 1000
Tetra Luft air pump
Kordon Mist-Air airstones
RoToCo airstones
Lee's Discard-A-Stone

Rila pH Pebbles
Dolomite gravel
CaribSea crushed coral

All Glass
Atlas (Oceanic Systems)

Fish Foods:
Jungle Freeze-dried brine shrimp
Gamma frozen foods
San Francisco Bay Brand frozen brine shrimp
Kordon freeze-dried plankton and krill

Water Conditioners:
Jungle Start Right
Kordon Novaqua and Amquel

Filtration: General: 

Nitrification and denitrification are crucial processes in maintaining water quality within a marine aquarium. They are responsible for converting harmful nitrogenous waste compounds, such as ammonia and nitrite, into less toxic forms. Here's a detailed explanation of each process:


Nitrification is a two-step aerobic process that occurs in the aquarium's biological filter, primarily in the presence of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria convert toxic ammonia (NH3) and nitrite (NO2-) into relatively harmless nitrate (NO3-). The two steps involved in nitrification are:

a. Ammonia Oxidation: Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), such as Nitrosomonas, convert ammonia into nitrite. This process is known as ammonia oxidation or ammonification and is represented by the following equation: 2 NH3 + 3 O2 → 2 NO2- + 2 H+ + 2 H2O

b. Nitrite Oxidation: Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB), such as Nitrobacter, further oxidize nitrite into nitrate. This step is called nitrite oxidation and is represented by the following equation: 2 NO2- + O2 → 2 NO3-

The nitrification process is essential for maintaining low levels of ammonia and nitrite, which can be highly toxic to fish and other aquarium inhabitants.


Denitrification is a biological process that occurs under anaerobic conditions, primarily in the substrate or in areas with limited oxygen availability within the aquarium. Denitrification helps reduce nitrate levels by converting nitrate (NO3-) into nitrogen gas (N2), which is released into the atmosphere. Denitrification involves several steps carried out by different groups of bacteria:

a. Nitrate Reduction: Nitrate-reducing bacteria (NRB) convert nitrate into nitrite, nitric oxide, and eventually nitrogen gas. The process can be represented by the following equation: 2 NO3- → 2 NO2- + O2 (nitrate reduction)

b. Nitrite Reduction: Nitrite is further reduced to nitric oxide (NO), nitrous oxide (N2O), and eventually nitrogen gas (N2). The equation for nitrite reduction is: 2 NO2- → 2 NO + O2 (nitrite reduction)

c. Nitric Oxide Reduction: Nitric oxide is reduced to nitrous oxide by nitric oxide-reducing bacteria. The equation for this step is: 2 NO + 2 H+ → N2O + H2O (nitric oxide reduction)

d. Nitrous Oxide Reduction: Nitrous oxide is finally reduced to nitrogen gas by nitrous oxide-reducing bacteria, represented by the equation: 2 N2O → 2 N2 + O2 (nitrous oxide reduction)

It's worth noting that denitrification occurs in areas of low oxygen concentration, such as deep within the substrate, dead spots, or within specialized anaerobic filter media.

In a marine aquarium, it is crucial to maintain a balance between nitrification and denitrification processes. This can be achieved by providing adequate surface area for beneficial bacteria colonization, proper oxygenation, and ensuring areas with limited oxygen for denitrification to take place. Regular monitoring of water parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels is essential to ensure the overall health and well-being of the aquarium inhabitants.

Aquaria: Marine: 

Many things marine aquarists today take for granted were unthinkable in the nascent days of the hobby, just over half a century ago. In the early to mid-1970s, saltwater aquariums were only kept by the most intrepid and resourceful of individuals.

Very early on, synthetic sea salt mixes were non-existent. You "might" be able to concoct a formula by contacting a large public aquarium for information, then a chemical supply house for the requisite components. But, a hobbyist in New Orleans named Harry Freiberg was able to solve this by flying a helicopter carrying 55-gallon drums several miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and collecting natural seawater. The distance from shore, and away from the mouth of the Mississippi River, helped to insure full salinity, and reduced the chances of the water containing pollutants often found in the waters closer to the coastline.

This practice of using natural seawater was common among aquarists living in the tropical areas native to the types of ornamental marine fish sought by such hobbyists. But, using natural seawater meant first keeping it in opaque containers in total darkness for months in order to kill off any micro-organisms present in it.

One of the first widely available synthetic salt mixes, Instant Ocean, was produced by Aquarium Systems in Mentor, Ohio, and it was they who Mr. Freiberg would call upon to assist him in his endeavors, even going so far as to travel to his home in New Orleans to build undergravel filtration into the impressive in-wall display tanks in his den.

And an impressive display it was. Three large, acrylic aquariums side-by-side, each six feet long by three feet wide by four feet deep spanned the length of his den wall. Mounted with their bottoms at four feet above the floor, the installation dominated the vaulted-ceilinged room.

The filtration Aquarium Systems built for Freiberg would be of the type that would become ubiquitous in the early days of the saltwater hobby: plastic "eggcrate" lighting grid raised off the bottom of the tank, covered in fiberglass window screen, and powered by airlifts made of glass panels walling-off the rear corners of the tank. A dozen or more "Silent Giant" air pumps powered it all.

The massive tanks were actually housed in a structure built onto the side of the house by Freiberg specifically for the purpose. The tanks sat on a concrete slab raised up on cinder block walls. In an open area underneath sat a 125-gallon quarantine tank.

At the far end of the room was a 100-gallon Nalgene drum for mixing up the synthetic seawater. A pump and PVC piping led to an overhead nozzle which swiveled to reach each of the three aquariums. A library style ladder rolled the length of the room to allow Freiberg (or his employee) to access the tanks for feeding, etc. A drain in the floor simplified partial water changes by allowing siphoned water to be direct toward it.

On the aquarium room wall opposite the tanks sat a bench with water quality testing supplies (and even a microscope). Next to it were situated a 55-gallon aquarium housing feeder goldfish (to feed the trio of massive volitans lionfish) and a specially-made pallet, precisely sized to hold 6 cases of Instant Ocean salt mix safely off the often-wet floor.

The aquarium room had it own heating and air conditioning, so in-tank heaters were unnecessary. Lighting was suspended from the ceiling, so as to be able to freely access the tanks.

The aquarium inhabitants were typical of the era: mostly fish and a few invertebrates including banded coral shrimp, and anemones for the clownfish. The successful keeping of live corals was still years, if not decades, away. But all the fish were long-lived and had attained sizes rarely seen in typical home aquariums.

Freiberg passed away peacefully at age 97 in 2014 at the Uptown New Orleans condo in which he had lived for several years. Whether or not the tanks still existed at the time of sale, or if the buyers of his Bayou St. John home retained them if they did, is unknown.

Aquaria: Marine: 

Propagation of corals through fragmentation ("fragging") is a common and effective method used in marine aquariums to reproduce and grow new corals. This technique involves taking a piece of a mature coral colony and encouraging it to develop into a new independent coral.

Here is an overview of the process:

Coral Selection: Choose a suitable coral species that is known to be easily propagated through fragmentation. Some popular choices for beginners include Montipora, Acropora, and Pocillopora species.

Fragmentation: Carefully break off a small piece or branch from the mature coral colony. It is important to use sharp, sterile tools to minimize damage and prevent the spread of diseases.

Preparation: Before placing the fragment in the aquarium, it is essential to properly prepare it. Remove any excess tissue or algae from the base of the fragment to ensure a clean attachment. Allow the fragment to dry slightly in the air to encourage the formation of a protective layer of mucus.

Placement: Secure the coral fragment in a suitable location within the aquarium. It is common to use frag plugs, small pieces of rock, or specialized coral propagation racks for this purpose. Ensure that the fragment is stable and positioned in an area with appropriate light and water flow conditions for its species.

Water Quality and Lighting: Maintain optimal water quality parameters, including stable temperature, salinity, and nutrient levels. Provide adequate lighting based on the specific requirements of the coral species being propagated.

Feeding: Most corals derive a significant portion of their nutrition from photosynthesis, but they also benefit from supplemental feeding. Feed the propagated coral fragment with suitable coral foods, such as small particles of zooplankton or commercially available coral feeds.

Growth and Care: Over time, the coral fragment will begin to grow and develop into a new colony. Regularly monitor its progress and ensure that it is not being overshadowed or damaged by neighboring corals. Prune any unwanted or excessive growth to maintain the desired shape and appearance.

Fragments' Expansion: As the propagated coral fragment grows, it may produce new branches or develop additional fragments that can be further propagated. These new fragments can be detached and placed in separate locations to create more coral colonies or shared with other aquarium enthusiasts.

It is worth noting that coral propagation through fragmentation requires patience and careful attention to detail. It is essential to provide appropriate conditions, maintain stable water parameters, and practice good aquarium husbandry to ensure the success and health of the propagated corals. Additionally, always consider the ethical aspects of obtaining corals for propagation, such as avoiding the use of wild-caught specimens and supporting responsible coral aquaculture sources.

Aquaria: Marine: 

Specific gravity and salinity are both important parameters to monitor in a marine aquarium to maintain a healthy environment for marine organisms.

Specific gravity is a measurement of the density of the water compared to the density of pure water at a specific temperature. It is typically measured using a hydrometer or a refractometer and is expressed as a ratio or a unitless number. In a marine aquarium, the specific gravity of the water is affected by both the amount of dissolved salt in the water and the temperature of the water. The specific gravity of a salt solution will rise as the temperature declines.

Salinity, on the other hand, is a measurement of the concentration of dissolved salts in the water. It is usually expressed in parts per thousand (ppt) or as a percentage. In a marine aquarium, the salinity level can be maintained by adding salt mix to the water. The measurement of salinity is not affected by temperature.

Marine aquarists traditionally used specific gravity to measure the concentration of salt primarily because of the ease of use and cost-effectiveness of hydrometers.

Maintaining proper levels of specific gravity and salinity is essential for the health and well-being of marine organisms. A specific gravity range of 1.020 to 1.026 is considered suitable for most marine fish and invertebrates, while a salinity level of 35 ppt is typically recommended. However, it is important to check the specific requirements of the particular species of fish and invertebrates in the aquarium and adjust the specific gravity and salinity levels accordingly.

It is also important to note that changes in specific gravity and salinity can have a significant impact on the health of marine organisms, and sudden changes in these parameters should be avoided. Regular monitoring and gradual adjustments are key to maintaining a stable and healthy marine aquarium environment.

Aquaria: Marine: Videos: 

Performing partial water changes is an essential maintenance task for keeping a healthy marine aquarium. There are several reasons for doing partial water changes:

Remove Accumulated Waste: Over time, organic waste such as uneaten food, fish excrement, and decaying plant material accumulates in the aquarium. These waste materials break down and produce harmful chemicals like ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Partial water changes help to remove these waste materials and prevent the buildup of harmful chemicals.

Restore Water Quality: Partial water changes can help to restore the water quality by replenishing essential elements and trace minerals that are depleted over time. This is particularly important in a marine aquarium, where delicate coral and other invertebrates require specific water conditions to thrive.

Control Algae Growth: Partial water changes can help to control algae growth by removing excess nutrients that fuel algae growth. This is especially important in reef tanks, where algae can compete with and harm delicate coral.

Remove Dissolved Organics: Partial water changes can also help to remove dissolved organic compounds that can accumulate in the aquarium and negatively impact water quality.

In summary, partial water changes are an important part of maintaining a healthy and thriving marine aquarium by removing accumulated waste, restoring water quality, controlling algae growth, and removing dissolved organics.

Filtration: Marine: 

Reverse osmosis (RO) and deionization (DI) are two methods commonly used in the preparation of freshwater for use in a marine aquarium.

Reverse osmosis is a process that involves forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane, which allows water molecules to pass through while blocking impurities such as dissolved salts, minerals, and other contaminants. The result is purified water that is free of impurities, including harmful chemicals that could be detrimental to marine life.

Deionization is a process that uses ion exchange resins to remove dissolved minerals and other charged particles from water. This process involves passing water through a column filled with ion exchange resins, which attract and bind to positively or negatively charged ions in the water. The result is water that is highly purified and free of dissolved salts and other minerals.

When preparing water for a marine aquarium, both RO and DI are typically used together in a two-stage filtration process. The first stage involves the use of an RO unit to remove large impurities, while the second stage uses a DI unit to remove any remaining dissolved minerals and other contaminants. The resulting water is typically very pure and ideal for use in making artificial seawater for a marine aquarium.

Aquaria: Marine: 

Soft corals are a great addition to a marine aquarium as they add color, texture, and movement to the tank. Here are some guidelines to help you keep soft corals in a marine aquarium:

Lighting: Soft corals require moderate to high levels of lighting. They should be placed in an area of the aquarium where they can receive adequate light, but not direct light. You can use fluorescent or LED lighting for your soft corals.

Water flow: Soft corals require moderate water flow. The water should be circulating throughout the tank to ensure that the soft corals are receiving enough nutrients and oxygen.

Water parameters: Soft corals are relatively tolerant of water conditions, but you should ensure that the water parameters are within acceptable limits. The ideal temperature range for soft corals is 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 26°C). The pH should be between 8.1 and 8.4, and the salinity should be between 1.023 and 1.025.

Feeding: Soft corals are photosynthetic and can produce their food through photosynthesis. However, they also require additional nutrients to thrive. You can feed them small amounts of plankton or specialized coral food a few times a week.

Placement: Soft corals are not aggressive and can be placed near other corals. However, you should ensure that they have enough space to expand and grow without being overcrowded.

Maintenance: Regular maintenance is essential to keep soft corals healthy. You should perform weekly water changes to ensure that the water parameters remain stable. You should also clean the aquarium glass and equipment regularly to prevent the buildup of debris and algae.

Keeping soft corals in a marine aquarium requires attention to lighting, water flow, water parameters, feeding, placement, and maintenance. With proper care, your soft corals can thrive and add beauty to your aquarium.