Hot Tips: Tips From Our Readers

by | Apr 15, 2002 | Advanced Aquarist | 0 comments

A selection of useful tidbits of information for the aquarist. Readers are encouraged to send their tips to [email protected] for possible publication. For submissions that are published in Advanced Aquarist, the author will receive a $25.00 gift certificate toward a purchase from one of our advertisers chosen by the recipient.

Aquarists can use cleaning magnets for more than cleaning glass. As pointed out by Richard Harker in this month’s Product Review column it is possible to remove the suction cups that aquarists use to hold a powerhead in place – they usually fail in time – and to glue one side of the magnet to the powerhead and hold the whole thing in place with the other half of the magnet, and with little effort the powerhead can be moved to other locations.

Another use for cleaning magnets is to use it to hold a sheet of Nori or lettuce in place for the fish to feed on. This will not fall off the way plastic lettuce clips often do.

Still another use for these magnets is to use them to hold an epoxy shelf onto the glass while it hardens and attaches. This shelf then can be used to mount a new coral fragment, ultimately making a hanging coral garden — just when you thought you had no more room.

— Terry Siegel

Hi Terry,

I recently encountered a major plumbing problem in my tank that required urgent repair. In order to fix the problem, I needed to remove all piping from within my cabinet & repair it externally & then replace it. The problem however was stopping the water from draining out of my tank and sump inlets while I did the work. The solution was condoms over the end of the return pipes in the tank & sump. The water pressure created it own seal with the latex of the condom, and my floor & cabinet remained dry (except for the little water already in the pipes). This seal held for 48 hours while the work was carried out & the new piping was installed. You never know, it may even encourage my pair of clowns to spawn too!!

James Nilsson, Email [email protected]


When designing the plumbing for your reef tank it is very important to consider flow rates and the diameter of the pipe that will be involved. Even if you are using a pump with a 3/4″ outlet you can significantly reduce your head loss by upsizing the plumbing from the pump’s outlet to the tank to reduce friction loss. In a typical tank setup using a Mag12 or Mak4 for a return pump you could cut your head loss in half by increasing your plumbing from 3/4″ to 1 1/4″. This could make the difference between 900 gph of flow with 1 1/4″ plumbing to as little as 500 gph of flow with 3/4″ plumbing with several 90 degree elbows. It is a common misconception that using a 90 degree elbow adds as much head loss as 1 foot of elevation. In fact, depending on the flow rates and the diameter of the pipe, a 90 degree elbow will only have a minimal affect on the final flow rate. In most cases you would be better off increasing the diameter of the pipe even if you have to add some 90 degree elbows to make it work.

One other plumbing suggestion would be my latest rallying cry, “Maximize flow, Minimize velocity.” I would recommend limiting flow rates as follows to accomplish this: No more than 400 gph for a 3/4″ diameter outlet, 750 gph from 1″, 1,500 gph for 1.5″ and 3,000 gph for 2″ diameter pipe. By minimizing the velocity your corals will love you and you will have fewer problems dealing with your sand bed shifting from one spot to the next based on where your return is pointed. Thanks, Nathan


Mantis Shrimp or Pistol Shrimp?

Many hobbyists have heard the “dreaded clicking” in their aquarium and wondered if it is a mantis shrimp or a pistol shrimp. In college, my roommate was the lab technician for the worlds foremost authority on mantis shrimp, so I had ample opportunity to observe these little demons. I have found that when attacking prey, a mantis shrimp will repeatedly strike with a loud series of repeated clicks. On the other hand, pistol shrimp – a rather beneficial and attractive reef inhabitant – usually click just once or rarely twice. I don’t believe that pistols can “reload” as fast…:-) If you hear a clicking or popping coming from your aquarium, this tip might save you a lot of unnecessary anguish. The accompanying photo shows a red Caribbean pistol shrimp (lower left) cohabiting an anemone with a group of commensal cleaner shrimp.

Tip submitted by: James Wiseman


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