Salty Q&A: To Rinse or not to Rinse Frozen Foods?

QuestionThis is probably a silly question, but should I rinse frozen food before feeding it to my fish? I usually just thaw the food in a cup full of aquarium water and pour it right in.” – Submitted by GMan Answer Here at Saltwater Smarts, the only silly question is the one left unasked (well, that and “What can I take to cure my kleptomania?”). Besides, I’m sure plenty of other folks out there are wondering the same thing. As is so often the case with questions pertaining to this hobby of ours, my answer is, “It depends.” Many frozen foods contain a lot of packing juice (you’ll see a cloud of the stuff in the water right after feeding) that will serve only to introduce dissolved nutrients, degrade water quality, and fuel algal blooms. So I will usually strain and rinse them in a fine-mesh net before feeding. Typically I do this over the sink under a stream of RO/DI water, but you can also put the portion in a cup with a little water, wait a few minutes for it to thaw, and then, with the net held over the sink, pour the contents of the cup through the mesh. After rinsing/straining and while the food is still in the net over the sink, I also like to apply a little gentle pressure (not squashing it) to the portion with the back of a spoon in order to squeeze out as much extra fluid as possible.

What Hobbyists Can Learn when They Visit a Public Aquarium

Public aquariums can provide hobbyists with numerous insights that can apply to their home systemsHere in the US, the summer travel season is well underway, and popular attractions all across the nation are swarming with tourists. For those of us enamored with marine life, vacation travel often involves a visit to major public aquariums, where we can spend several quality hours figuratively immersed in the underwater realm. (Turns out most facilities get pretty upset if you try to do this literally!) As a reefkeeper, what I find particularly interesting about visiting public aquariums is not just the enthralling experience they provide while I’m there, but also the information I glean from the exhibits that can be applied to my own systems back home.Here are just a few examples: Aquascaping inspiration The smaller display tanks that are often peripheral to the gazillion-gallon crowd-pleaser tanks in public aquariums can provide excellent insights on how to configure rockwork and other aquascaping features in your home aquarium for optimum aesthetic appeal. Sure, artificial elements (e.g., faux coral inserts, etc.) often stand in for the real thing in these tanks, but it’s easy enough to extrapolate from the design concepts on exhibit. Which fish species might coexist Seeing different fish species or conspecific groups “playing nice” in a public aquarium display tank can be helpful in determining whether they’re likely to get along in a home aquarium. However, you do have to take the size of the exhibit into account because both heterospecific and conspecific aggression tends to become more intensified as tank size diminishes.

Reefkeeping Happiness Is…

It’s certainly cause for celebration when a reluctant feeder starts eating in your aquariumIn discussing the myriad rewards of reefkeeping, we marine aquarium hobbyists tend, at least in my humble opinion, to exaggerate the “soothing and relaxing” nature of our systems. If I’m being perfectly honest, on balance I probably derive more tension than tranquility from this hobby—or at least both elements in equal measure. In part, this can be attributed to my characteristic pessimism. As my wife of nearly 25 years can attest, I’m rather a “glass-is-half-empty” sort of guy. When problems arise in any area of my life, it’s in my nature to fret about the outcome. Still there’s no denying that reefkeeping can be something of a “white-knuckle ride” for even the most upbeat hobbyist.My anxieties notwithstanding, there are certain simple joys I derive from marine aquarium keeping in addition to the obvious beauty the hobby brings to my life. Some of these might seem a little odd in the grand scheme of things, but they give me a sense of satisfaction and keep me coming back for more. Here are just a few examples: A completed cycle As I’ve written here many times, cycling an aquarium demands the patience of Job.

Salty Q&A: Calcium and Alkalinity Out of Whack

Maintaining stable parameters in the accepted range is much better than chasing “ideal” numbersQuestionI’m having an issue with the calcium and alkalinity levels in my reef tank. Right now, the calcium is at 380ppm, which is at the low end of the acceptable range, and the alkalinity is at 10dKH, closer to the high end of the acceptable range. I’d like to get the calcium up over 400ppm so I have a greater margin for error. But whenever I add more calcium supplement than usual, I notice that the alkalinity level drops afterward. Any idea why this is happening? Is it coincidence or cause-and-effect?” – Submitted by Ross C. Answer Thanks for your question, Ross

Salty Q&A: How Long Before My Tank Is Cycled?

Cycling a new saltwater aquarium isn’t simply a matter of waiting a certain amount of timeQuestionThe fish store dealer who’s helping me through the setup of my first saltwater aquarium told me I need to give the tank time to cycle before I put any fish or corals in it. As of right now, the tank has been operating for about a month. Is that long enough for it to get cycled completely? Is it safe to add live rock yet? My kids are anxious to see some critters in there! – Submitted by Josh P.
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