Solutions

Radion schedule described in detail

Radion Gen2 Xr30 hangs over a 60g rimless cube.

Explaining the Radion schedule isn't that simple, unless there's some trick I'm not aware of. I've had quite a few people ask me for the schedule I use over the 60g Anemone Cube. For the past 25 months (as of December 2015), I've had a Radion Xr30 Gen2 over that tank. If you want to download that file, here it is: 

MelevsSavedRadionSchedule2015-12-08.etg  (right click, save as to your harddrive)

My light is set 8" from the surface of the water, hanging from ceiling with the adjustable hanging kit.

You can start with a brand new schedule. In EcoSmart Live, find your Radion fixture.  Then on the right side of the screen, click on Schedule Options, and then "Load from template".  I like Radiant Color - my favorite. Set the starting time, ending time and intensity, and click Set.

Don't chase the pH

A question that has been popping up a lot recently has been in regards to pH levels.  Articles, books and even additives list recommended pH levels so it is only natural to be concerned if our tank isn't sitting at that particular number.  pH rises in oxygen rich environments, and where O2 is lacking or excessive CO2 builds up, pH will drop.  In addition, pH rises daily during the lighting period, and drops during the night.  Here's a graph from the past week's data stored in my Apex controller. Note how it rises and falls consistently day after day.

An inexpensive Refugium Bulb

For over a year, I'd been using a small spiral compact fluorescent bulb that only cost $7, with an output that was 75w of 6500K lighting. Under this 'daylight' color, my macro algae grew steadily. While shopping at Home Depot, I came across a new sealed-floodlight bulb that caught my interest. This new bulb costs $10, and also uses 19w. The one thing the package didn't mention was what Kelvin (color temperature) the bulb was. Please read this entire article, as a better bulb became apparent during 2005.

How to mix & change saltwater correctly

Water changes are a task we rarely relish. Some swear by them, and others do them sporadically throughout the year. While water changing philosophies vary from hobbyist to hobbyist, the bottom line is that water changes can benefit your livestock. They are the easiest way to improve water quality and also are one of the most inexpensive solutions when trying to solve a chemistry problem in the system. Before I continue, I do have to admit that, years ago, I was one of those guys who swore that water changes were unnecessary because water parameters were testing perfectly on a weekly basis. What changed my opinion were two things: 1) there are things you can't test for, and 2) the livestock's positive response to an influx of fresh saltwater.

Cooling with fans

I'm based in Texas and have been in the hobby since 1998.  In all that time, I've never used a chiller for my tanks.  I prefer to keep the room temperature comfortable for me around the clock, and thus my aquariums have never gotten overheated.  However, in the summer months it always helps to use cooling fans.  They are economical, relatively silent and take up little space.

Montipora-eating Nudibranchs

Back in 2005, I received a bucket full of Montipora coral, but soon after adding all of those to a temporary frag tank, I discovered the coral infested with tiny pests. I decided I needed to try to pluck off a few and quickly realized how hard they were to remove with forceps. Maybe some very sharp tweezers would do the trick. I saw eggs too. UGH!

Anyway, you know I love to take a picture of this stuff, so here are 17 images for your edification. The nudibranchs were put into a tiny sampler jelly jar, which was then placed on top of a regular jelly jar (Bon Maman is the brand if that helps give you a sense of scale) and put one of the 5100K refugium bulbs next to the jars for some lighting. Now that you see the size of the 'studio', I do hope this helps you realize how small these are.

How to set up a Calcium Reactor

A calcium reactor is a piece of equipment that helps maintain alkalinity and calcium in a reef tank. For years, I didn't buy one mainly because they are expensive, and dosed my tank with B-Ionic daily. That worked fine for a 29 gallon and a 55 gallon reef, but if your tank is larger than those, you may decide that a calcium reactor is the better choice long term.

Biopellets in use

AquaMaxx reactors on display at RAP 2011

For nitrate and phoshpate control, I'm using a NextReef reactor.  Model SMR1 XL, this reactor holds 2 liters of Vertex NP biopellets.  Plumbed to the manifold, a ball valve is used to control the flow rate through the pellets.  I've been running biopellets since February 6, 2011, and it appears to be working well: water-testing

Never Plumb a RO Unit to Your Sump

Hooking up an RO or RO/DI system directly to your sump is a recipe for disaster. Avoid this costly mistake.

When it comes to reefkeeping, there are numerous basic tasks we'd like to automate. One of the most desired features is a way to top-off the tank automatically in order to replace water that has evaporated from the system, and many beginning hobbyists may not consider how important this is. As water evaporates, salinity rises in the display tank because salt does not evaporate. The water simply becomes more and more saline the longer the hobbyist waits to add freshwater.

Melev's Mandarin Diner

For a long time my blue mandarin was a very happy fish in my 29g, and would eat prepared foods much to my delight. Since that was the case, I never worried about it. However, in the 280g reef, it was actually being starved to death due to stress by the other mandarins harassing it as well as the voracious Tangs that would circle around it and get every morsel of food off the sand.

That is when I remembered it was able to eat on its own in the past, but this necessitated some alone time. So about 2.5 months ago, I started putting food in a spaghetti sauce jar, and lowered that into the tank. The mandarin could go in and get some Formula One or Formula Two small pellet food, when it was interested. Here is the story of how it all started...back in November 2004:

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