Thursday, February 02, 2012


I haven't done much with this blog in quite some time. Personal social networking with some business posts included has been all the business promotion I have been doing the last year or so.....Maybe it's time to readdress.

Please "like" my Facebook business page and I will hopefully start using that avenue soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Podcast: MARS 05/2011: Dr. Timothy Hovanec: Pellets - Removing Nitrates and Phosphates

Dr. Timothy Hovanec of Dr. Tim's Aquatics gave a very informative talk to the Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento (MARS) about polymer denitrifying and phosphate removal through biodegradable pellets for the groups monthly May meeting.

From Dr. Tim's Aquatics website, The President of DrTim's Aquatics is Dr. Timothy A. Hovanec who, for 17 years, was the Chief Science Officer of Aquaria Inc., the parent company of Marineland Aquarium Products, Aquarium Systems (Instant Ocean) and Perfecto Manufacturing.

Dr. Hovanec's groundbreaking research on nitrifying bacteria led to him discovering and developing BioSpira®.

Dr. Hovanec regularly speaks to pet store owners, distributors, and hobbyists on a diverse range of topics all with the goal of increasing knowledge exchange which can benefit everyone in the hobby.

After studying limnology at Uppsala University in Sweden, Dr. Hovanec graduated from San Diego State University with a B.S. in Biology and a M.S. in Biology.

Dr. Hovanec earned his Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he investigated the phylogenetics of nitrifying bacteria in aquaria and Mono Lake, California. Dr. Hovanec was the first to demonstrate that bacteria of the phylum Nitrospira were the active nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in aquatic systems such as aquaria. His work on nitrifying bacteria has lead to the discovery of many new species of nitrifying bacteria in freshwater and saltwater systems and the granting of several U.S. and foreign patents, with additional patents pending. He has also conducted much research on topics such as ammonia excretion and toxicity in aquatic organisms, bio-filtration systems design, and fish feed formulations. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Tim's Aquatics)

At Marineland, Dr. Hovanec was in charge of the biology, chemistry and microbial ecology laboratories that comprise Marineland Labs. He was also responsible for overseeing the quality control of such products as Instant Ocean® sea salt and BioSpira® nitrifying bacteria.

Dr. Hovanec has authored numerous scientific papers in aquatic microbial ecology, and in public aquaria and aquaculture fields, and he writes popular articles on tropical fish for several magazines. He has been an invited speaker and contributing author at several domestic and international conferences. He was the editor of SeaScope® magazine and is a member of many scientific organizations. His past positions include a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, university research assistant, biologist and manager at an intensive striped bass aqu facility and consultant on various aquaculture projects.

Dr. Hovanec was the President of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a Washington, D.C. based industry lobbying group, for 5 years and has been a member of the Board since 1992. Dr. Hovanec has also served at the Co-chair and Program Chair for Marine Ornamentals a combined government-private industry scientific conference that occurs every 2 years.

A BIG thank you to Dr, Tim for allowing me to post this recording for our
members that were unable to attend the meeting to hear his talk.

Here is the link to the Podcast. To download, use the VBR ZIP link on the left of the page, to listen simply push the play button below.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

BAYMAC 2011: May 14th, 2011 - Mark Your Calendars!

The Bay Area Marine Aquarium Conference (BAYMAC) is just less than 10 days away and things are looking like it will be another great Northern California conference.

The BAYMAC mission: Bring together Californian reef clubs and hobbyists, expose new people to reef keeping, expand reef keeping knowledge and promote the captive breeding of marine ornamentals.

The fourth annual conference will be held at Chabot College in Hayward, Calif. on Saturday, May 14, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There will be over 30 exhibitors and vendors and three great speakers talking aquariums from 11:30-4:00. An awesome raffle and door prizes and best of all it's FREE!

Big thanks to the sponsors and their contributing efforts; Reef Nutrition, Kessil, Reef Hobbyist Magazine, ESV and Aquatic Collection.

The BAYMAC is hosted by local marine club Bay Area Reefers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MARS: 03/2011: Mr. Ken S. Feldman: "Waste Not Want Not"

Mr. Feldman is a professor of chemistry at Pennsylvania State University. His research interests in the area of organic synthesis focus on two diverse areas: the synthesis of natural product molecules, such as the secondary plant metabolites known as ellagitannins and gallotannins, and the de novo assembly of organic zeolites with long-range periodic three-dimensional order. Mr. Feldman arrived at Harvey Mudd as a graduate of Miami Beach Senior High School in Florida and earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1984 from Stanford University.

Mr. Feldman spoke to the Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento (MARS) on March 18th, 2011 meeting about organic waste in our reef aquarium systems.

A BIG thank you to Ken for allowing me to post this recording for our members that were unable to attend the meeting to hear his talk.

Here is the link to the Podcast. To download, use the VBR ZIP link on the left of the page, to listen simply push the play button below.

Print reference materials for this talk can be found on the Advanced Aquarist archive.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Atlantis Casino's French Angel (iPhone 4 Photo)

In the aquarium for a little over two weeks now, the Atlantis' French Angelfish, Pomacanthus paru, (Belize), is doing great, eating everything offered and is being a model community fish in the 1300 gallon circular aquarium.

The French Angelfish is one of three very popular "large angels" among marine aquarium hobbyists. The other two being the Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus Imperator) and the Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus Ciliaris). These marine angelfish are widespread throughout the Caribbean and are commonly sighted by divers in that area. This is an expensive fish, small specimens usually retail for $80-$90 USD with large adults (Show quality) costing $200 and upwards. It is also sold fresh as human consumable food, particularly in Singapore and Thailand. Reports of ciguatera poisoning exist.

Here is a photo that I took of the French Angelfish in the wild at Bonaire's "Angel City" dive site....rightly named as seeing these beauties in the wild was an ease. Angel City has a maximum diving depth of around 80 ft and is suitable for all divers. The average visibility is 30-60 feet and access to the dive site is by shore. Also seen at this dive site was the difficult to find Longsnout Seahorse, plus many Blue Tangs, assorted Eels, Tarpon, Queen Angels, Rock Beauty's, Trumpet Fish, numerous Wrasses, Yellowtail Snappers, Porcupine Fish, Cowfish, Trunkfish, Spotted Drums, Filefish and the Flamingo Tongue Cowries. (Nothing like taking good notes after a dive!) Definitely one of my favorite dives ever! And one of my favorite aquarium fish I have ever placed.

If you are ever in the Reno/Tahoe area, go into the Atlantis Steakhouse and have a meal or a cocktail and check out this beautiful animal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reef-a-palooza 2010

Last minute decision to attend this years Reefapalooza, Orange County Fairgrounds, October 23 & 24. Looking forward to hearing some great speakers and seeing many of my suppliers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

PODCAST: MARS 5/2010: Mr. Tony Vargas - Philippine Reefs & Captive Coral Care

The Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento was fortunate to have Mr. Tony Vargas come in town and give a great talk about his experiences diving the Philippine Islands and keeping corals in captivity for their month of May general meeting. Mr. Vargas has been an avid aquarist since the age of seven. He started with freshwater fish and invertebrates. His introduction to saltwater began with under gravel filters in the 70's and became a coral-a-holic in the early 80's. Tony is among one of the first in this country to successfully keep and maintain Acropora alive in captivity long term, in the mid to late 80's.

Tony started to write articles on the husbandry of many different types of coral and reef fish. His articles have been published by several national publications, first here in the US, with a monthly column called "Feature Coral", than published overseas. He has been acknowledge in Carden Wallace textbook on Acropora (Staghorn Corals of the World), and many others.

Mr. Vargas is a successful SCUBA diver who spends his free time diving around the world observing many of these creatures in their natural environment. And, with his writing he has effectively communicate his experiences and observations. An accomplished photographer, with many dives in the Indo-Pacific and the Caribbean. Many magazines and catalogs seek after his photos across North America. A consultant and frequent lecturer he has traveled the States and Europe to express effectively his findings on corals and reef fish husbandry.

Mr. Vargas presentation will focus on the reefs of the Philippines and their amazing recovery. It will also emphasize the differences, on how some corals survive in their natural environment and how they should be kept in captivity.

A BIG thank you to Tony for allowing me to post this recording for our
members that were unable to attend the meeting to hear his talk.

Here is the link to the Podcast. To download, use the VBR ZIP link on the left of the page, to listen simply push the play button below.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

New Account: The Atlantis Steakhouse, Atlantis Casino; Reno, NV - 1100 Gallon Fish Only Aquarium

Big thanks to my clients Tim & Tracy for their notice to me of the issues that were taking place with the Atlantis' recently renovated 1100 gallon aquarium. And an additional thanks to clients Chuck & Cindy for recommending Sierra Saltwater Systems to the owner of the casino.The aquarium has been in place for over twenty years, but the interior reef structure was recently replaced by Poseidon Construction out of Corona, CA. during a major restaurant renovation.

Unfortunately the aquarium currently is unable to house live animals due to improper return flow and low pH. Chris Wirth of Blue Planet Waterworks will be employed to rescue the situation by replacing the current 1.5" plumbing with three inch, adding an overflow skimmer box to remove surface detritus and improving with additional filtration needs.

Look for future posts on the improvements of this aquarium and the stocking in the weeks to come.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

BAYMAC 2010: This Saturday, May 8th !

The Bay Area Marine Aquarium Conference (BAYMAC) is all set to go off big time next Saturday, May 8th at Chabot College in Hayward, CA. The conference runs from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The event is going to include guest speakers, manufacturers, coral vendors and local aquarium clubs.

I go down to Los Angeles a couple times a year for these types of conferences, and to have this available at a relatively close destination for Northern California residents, is an incredible gift. And to make a great thing better, this conference is FREE! If you are serious about learning more about your aquarium, the latest new products or just to kick back and hear some experts talk knowledge, I'd recommend attending. Vendors setting up to share the latest in the aquarium hobby include; Reef Nutrition, IceCap, Inc., Warner Marine Research, Frag-a-Rack, Reef Builders, Reef Hobbyist Magazine, Marco Rocks, Reef Brite, Boston Aqua Farms, Neptune Systems, Lumenarc Lighting, Illuminarium, Inc., CPR Aquatic, Ecoxotic, Nano Customs, Karen Talbot Art, Sun Bright Lighting, Sustainable Aquatics and Acan Lighting.

Speakers include Richard Ross, Aquatic Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium, topic title: "Are you sure that thing is true or did someone tell it to you?" - Skeptical Reefing - why it matters, why will it help you and why it's good for your animals! From 11:30 - 12:30. Second speaker will be Christine Williams, she is the head of the Industrial Marine Microbiology team for her division of a “very large international chemical company,” topic title is: "When Aquariums Attack! Bites, Stings, Cuts, and other unfortunate events...and what to do". From 12:40 - 1:40. The third speaker of the day will be Sanjay Joshi, in real life is a Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State University. His topic tile is: "LED Basics and Comparison to Other Lighting Technologies", from 1:50 - 2:50. The fourth and final speaker of the day is Joe Yaiullo. Joe is a marine scientist and built and runs the Atlantis Marine World Aquarium in Riverhead, NY. His topic is: "20,000 Gallons of Reef and its not just about the corals anymore" and runs from 3:00 - 4:00.

Now for what I think is the coolest part of this conference, the "Aquascape Contest"! Matt Wandell of the Steinhart Aquarium takes on Bay Area Reefers VP Jeremy Foster in an auquascaping showdown. With just one hour of time, the two will battle to see who can create the best live rock design based on water flow and aesthetics with pockets for Long Polyp Stony corals. The simplest tools will be given to the artists to complete their design in a Solana 34 gallon, they will include a hammer and a screwdriver or chisel, that's it. The winning grand prize will include bragging rights and a cookie.

To close the event there will be a fantastic raffle, with possibly a few cookies too! Prizes were donated from; Reef Nutrition, Neptune Systems, Instant Ocean, NextReef, Brightwell Aquatics, Marco Rocks, Mobile Aquatic, CPR Aquatic, Neptune Aquatics, Rod's Food, New Salmon Queen Sportfishing, Coral Magazine, Marineland, Hydor, Ecoxotic, Acan Lighting, Sunlight Supply and Reef Brite.

Go there!

Click on photos to see larger.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Marine Aquarium Expo; April 10 & 11th, OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa

I am looking forward to getting down to Los Angeles next weekend for the Marine Aquarium Expo and seeing some old friends/contacts and meeting some new. The Marine Aquarium Expo (MAX) is the largest consumer event for the marine aquarium hobby in North America. There will be over 100 booths in the 30,000 square foot showroom. And by looking at the list of exhibitors, it looks like there will be quite a few new companies displaying their goods. But also, there seems to be quite a few from the years past missing from the list.....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

MARS 2/10: Rob Toonen - What Deep Reefs Tell Us About Keeping Corals

Ex MARS member and University of California, Davis PhD Graduate Rob Toonen gave an in depth talk about coral reef research at the University of Hawaii Manoa with relations to reefkeeping to the Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento, February 19, 2010.

Rob is a Biologist/Assistant Researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Kane'ohe, HI where his current research focuses on the processes that influence dispersal and recruitment in coastal marine invertebrates, with a particular interest in the evolutionary consequences of larval developmental modes among marine invertebrates.
Rob is well known to the marine aquarium world via his numerous published articles in Aquarium Frontiers On-line and Advanced Aquarist magazine. He is also a frequent speaker at marine aquarium conferences and events.

Photographed with Mr. Toonen is MARS President Brian Prestwood (right).

Here is the link to the Podcast. To download, use the VBR ZIP link on the left of the page, to listen simply push the play button below.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Final Post For 2009: Jennifer's Reef Tank

As far as size is concerned, Jennifer's aquarium in Glenbrook, NV is one of the smaller systems I maintain. But for the 70 gallons, it packs a ton of life. The combination of good flow, daily dosing of B-Ionic's Calcium and Alkalinity buffers and the feeding of Reef Nutrition's Arctic Pods, Phyto Feast, Roti Feast and Fuzzy Phytes creates a thriving environment.

The Physogyra Bubble Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral and is also referred to as a Grape Coral, Small Bubble Coral, or Octobubble. Its genus name, Physogyra, comes from the Latin words physa (air bubble) and gyros (wide circle), which describes its retractable, circular, bubble-shaped polyps. Its polyps are white to tan or green and look like a cluster of grapes or balloons with pointed tips when open during the day.

Its behavior is aggressive and will use its long sweeper tentacles to sting corals that are placed in close proximity to it. It can also sting the reef aquarist who tries to handle it while its sweeper tentacles are out, so precautions should be taken when doing maintenance in the tank. The Physogyra Bubble Coral requires moderate lighting combined with low water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.

One of the hardiest corals obtainable, the Green Open Brain Coral can thrive in a wide range of conditions. "Green Metallic" simply refers to brighter colored specimens, not a different species. Acclimates best in mild water flow and low to medium lighting, but can adapt to a wide variety of conditions. These corals can expand tremendously larger than their skeleton once well acclimated. An excellent coral for beginners, and admired by experts. I gave Jennifer this coral as a birthday gift over a year and a half ago and it has probably doubled in size. A pair of Ocellaris Clownfish have taken to it as a host.

Though these corals are mostly photosynthetic, they benefit from the occasional bit of raw table shrimp, frozen mysis shrimp or silversides once a week. The tentacles of the open brain coral are retracted during the day and during this time the mantle will go outside of the skeleton and looks much different than it does at night.

The second type of brain coral that is in Jennifer's aquarium is the Lobophyllia Brain Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral often referred to as a Lobed, Colored, Carpet, Flat, or Open Brain Coral, Meat Coral, Modern Coral, or Large Flower Coral. It has fleshy polyps that hide its calcareous skeleton. It is found in a variety of textures and color forms. Some are smooth, while others are pimply, and look like carpet. Colors vary from bright red, green, orange, gray, tan, or brown.

Green Star Polyps are a favorite coral for beginners and advanced hobbyists alike. The waving polyps flowing in the current add movement and color to the aquarium.

Green Star Polyps are often noted to be good indicators of water quality, and flow. They react quite quickly to changes in water parameters by not opening. It is very important to make sure your pH and Alkalinity are balanced to encourage growth and color of this flashy, easy to keep coral.

The Fungia Plate Coral lives a solitary life atop the sand bed. It requires low to moderate water currents and moderate reef lighting for proper health. It is important that proper calcium and alkalinity levels are maintained. Place the Fungia Plate Coral on the sand bed along the bottom of the aquarium. Be careful when handling it to avoid damaging the delicate tissue on the underside. It does have short tentacles that can sting nearby corals so leave several inches between it and its neighbors. Be aware that it can move across the sand bed slowly.

The Hammer Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral and often referred to as Euphyllia Hammer Coral or Anchor Coral. Its common names are derived from the appearance of its hammer-, or anchor-shaped tentacles. Its polyps are visible throughout the day and night and hide its skeletal base. It may be green, tan, or brown in color, with lime green or yellow tips on the ends of its tentacles that glow under actinic lighting.

Like the GSP's, Jennifer's Xenia Coral has grown rapidly since its introduction, to the point that they need to be manually removed on a monthly basis. Pulsating Xenia has sturdy stalks up to 3" long which are tan in color. The end of the stalk is covered with a crown of feathery polyps, each carried on a stem approximately 1"-2" long. The polyps open and close in an attractive pulsing or pumping motion. Groups of these stalks form colonies that can spread into large mats. Xenia is one of the few corals that actually smells bad when removed from the water.

Jennifer's Yellow Leather Coral has grown quite a bit since its placement at the highest point of the aquariums water level. Leather corals tend to be very hardy corals. They will sometimes withdraw their tentacles and get a waxy look to their surface for periods of time of up to a week or more. This is normal as the animal sloughs off a layer of skin. Very extended periods of withdrawal can indicate that the coral is not happy with its environment. The Skunk Cleaner Shrimps (along with a pair of Peppermint Shrimp) have taken home to the coral and live there full time. Cleaner shrimp are a great natural tool for Ich and other parasites on your fish. These shrimp will actually eat the parasites right off your fish, if the fish is willing to let the shrimp. Most medium to large size fish will allow this to take place and often seek out the shrimp for a little touch up

Zoanthids are an ultra-colorful, vibrant coral species that adds life and vigor to any reef aquarium. Jennifer has at least three different colors of the Zoanthid coral and are multiplying and thriving in her aquarium Zoanthid corals colonize, meaning they reproduce and stick together to form a "colony" of zoanthids. The best thing about them is they are easy to care for, are not very demanding, and are a fun and simple way to spice up a reef aquarium.

All reef aquariums need some Finger Leathers! The term "Finger Leather" encompasses a wide variety of branching and lobed type Sinnularia and Lobphytum leather corals. Colors range from light tan to off white with a variety of "branching" shapes. The real appeal of these corals is their hardiness, fast growth and interesting shapes. Jennifer's coral spent close to a year after its arrival on a side of the aquarium which was receiving the most flow and was not opening its polyps. After the move to the opposite side, the coral has thrived and at least doubled in size. There are also more colorful types of finger leathers available. Most types do best in medium to bright lighting, and strong water movement., but can adapt to a wide variety of conditions. The basic "Finger Leather much more forgiving in terms of water quality, light and water flow than other similar more colorful varieties. They can do thrive in any well maintained reef aquarium

And finally Jennifer's Rose Bubble Tip Anemone. The Rose Anemone is a highly prized, pinkish-reddish color form of the Bubble Anemone Entacmaea quadricolor. This is one the hardiest species of anemones in the aquarium, and generally thrives in any well-maintained reef aquarium. Jennifer's anemone came from a clone that I have had for many years which I received in a trade from a Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento club member. It is photosynthetic and requires good lighting and medium to strong water movement, but usually adapts to a wide variety of situations. Does not require supplemental feeding. Will attach to most any substrate or rocks. Regular (and less expensive) Bubble Anemones are also available. One of most forgiving anemones available.

Jennifer's aquarium also contains three or four different colors of Ricordia Mushrooms from Idaho Aquaculture, Inc, a very nice Bali Green Slimer which has started to see some tremendous growth from the original one inch frag size. Also, a wonderful Hydnophora piece that also has grown well over the years.

And.....I haven't even mentioned her wide variety (and cleverly named) fish!

Remember, click on any photo to see in its full original size.