Reef Threads Podcast #256

Visit the Coral Fever website at

This week’s topics are a most-unusual combination of reef aquariums and drag racing. Our guests this week are Seth and Angelle Drago, owners of Coral Fever, a reef store and maintenance business located in Mathews, LA, near New Orleans. Motorcycle drag-racing fans will know Angelle as Angelle Sampey, three-time NHRA pro stock motorcycle world champion and the winningest female in motorsports history. We hope you enjoy hearing from Seth and Angelle about their business and racing. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

Angelle Sampey at the track.

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Coral Fever website

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Angelle Sampey’s Facebook page

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How Simple Can You Get with Your Marine Aquarium?

While the title of this post puts me in mind of a song performed by Nick Rivers in the 1984 comedy film Top Secret, it’s a question many a novice has posed before setting up his or her first marine aquarium. How basic can it be? Or, put another way, what equipment is absolutely essential and what isn’t?This is a perfectly logical question because ours can be a highly equipment-intensive hobby, and the choices of gear and gadgets designed to make our lives easier can be downright mind-blowing. Add in all the online forum chatter about—and volatile disputes over—the latest-and-greatest hobby technology and methodology, and it’s no surprise that many beginners have a heck of a time distinguishing between the bare essentials and the “bells and whistles.” Complicating matters, of course, is the fact that opinions on what constitutes “essential equipment” can vary widely from one hobbyist to the next. I would humbly submit that the following items are all you really need for a bare-bones saltwater setup: (Note that you’ll also need various and sundry small-ticket items used for regular operation and maintenance, such as aquarium brushes, an algae magnet, etc. Plus, if you plan to keep a reef system, you’ll need to add some means of calcium/alkalinity supplementation to the list.) Some folks might say this list is grossly incomplete while others might contend you could get by without some of the items on it.

The Qualities of a Good Aquarium Cleaning Brush Kit

It’s easy to cheap out on aquarium cleaning brushes, but it makes sense to spend a bit more for qualityWhile there are certainly sexier marine aquarium topics I could be writing about, I’d like to dedicate today’s post to one of the more mundane, albeit essential, elements of our hobby—aquarium brushes. This subject came to mind recently after I threw my ten-thousandth brush kit into the trash because, once again, the brushes had begun to fall apart. Now, I’m a well-known cheapskate (or as Caribbean Chris is fond of pointing out, I’m “a whole rink full of cheapskates”), but even I understand—and often preach—that buying the least expensive aquarium equipment often ends up costing you more in the long run. Still, for some inexplicable reason, I continue to cheap out on everyday tools like aquarium brushes, scrapers, tongs, algae magnets, and the like. This has not served me well.A quick, completely informal audit of aquarium brushes sold online revealed prices ranging anywhere from well under $5.00 for three- to five-piece assortments from various manufacturers to over $16.00 for a five-piece Tunze kit. There might be higher-priced kits out there as well, but as I said, this was a quick audit. So, is it really worth paying the long dollar for something as commonplace as a set of aquarium brushes

Don’t Neglect These 5 Critical Marine Aquarium Maintenance Tasks!

Skimmer maintenance and light bulb or tube replacement are both important aspects of marine aquarium maintenanceKeeping a marine aquarium healthy and thriving requires a significant level of maintenance. For the most part, we hobbyists are pretty good at tackling chores in a timely manner, but in some cases we’re a little more prone to procrastination—usually in situations where “out of sight means out of mind.” Here are 5 critical marine aquarium maintenance chores that are all too easily overlooked but can have a dramatic impact on the health of your livestock, the functional life of your equipment, and/or the enjoyment you derive from your system:1. Cleaning the neck of your protein skimmer No one likes to touch that grimy, slimy, stinky coating that accumulates around the neck of a protein skimmer, but don’t postpone this important task! That nasty buildup of gunk is not only unsightly, but it also greatly impedes your skimmer’s foam production, which, in turn, greatly reduces the collection of skimmate. Simply wiping the neck clean as often as needed—at the very least, once a week—is the best thing you can do to keep your skimmer functioning at peak efficiency. 2. Cleaning pumps and powerheads Pumps and powerheads are essential elements of a marine aquarium’s “circulatory system” that quietly (or sometimes not so quietly) go about the business of creating currents and moving water wherever it’s needed. But over time, these pumps can become clogged with coralline algae, sponges, vermetid snails, etc