Aquarist Advice
A is For Aquarium
Written by Digital Cuttlefish

We've got some great marine poetry in our midst, from one talented femme who combines aquaria and verse on her blog, The Digital Cuttlefish.  This one's specially made for The Reef Tank, but make sure to check out the rest of her page.

A is for Aquarium, a home for wayward fish;

(A more pleasant alternative than ending up a dish)

Some personal, some public, some immense, some small

So many variations I could never list them all.


Goldfish Diaries
Written by Ava

Can you imagine raising goldfish for more than two decades AFTER your father won you your first goldfish in a carnival.  Peter sure can! Not only has he been raising goldfish for over 40 years, but he's also really making something out of his passion for the hobby.

Peter Ponzio is the President of the American Goldfish Association and the publisher of its current newsletter.  He's a certified judge of goldfish and koi judge for both the American Goldfish Association and the Associated Koi Clubs of America, both which have strict guidelines to follow in order to become one.  He helps to maintain the AGA Goldfish Pages, which has combined the resources of the American Goldfish Association with goldfishpages to provide you with all you need to know this lovely little fish.

He also owns and maintains many large aquariums, offers some of the best tips and suggestions on how to keep up an aquarium hobby, and considers himself a devout marine conservationist!

Comparison Shopping Series: Invertebrates
Written by Ava

This week, we continue studying the ultra-successful Comparison Shopping tool and move along in our equally as successful (I hope!) Comparison Shopping series. The series began as a way to make our TRT community further aware of the importance of research before buying anything for your aquarium.  We've already covered Protein Skimmers, Water Pumps, Heaters, Corals, and this week, we move to Invertebrates.  

If you notice, we've conveniently skipped the Reef Fish category as we move down our list.  This is because it's one of the most important categories to research and includes lots and lots of choices (the second highest of our entire group.) Therefore, I'd like to focus on it in two weeks after we've covered the rest of the first column and before we move on to the second column.  We continue with Fish Food next week and move to Reef Fish from there.

Secrets Don't Make Friends (Or Do They?)
Written by Ret Talbot

It is not uncommon to come across a retailer, wholesaler or transhipper in the marine aquarium industry that boasts a “secret supplier” of livestock. Consider this e-mail from Extreme Corals, an online retailer of corals and other invertebrates, on Wednesday of this week:

SECRET SUPPLIER CORALS JUST POSTED!!!! I have been waiting for these corals to arrive for over 45 days. This is more corals from my SECRET SUPPLIER, these are by far the best corals I get in. Check out these beauties, some of the nicest corals you will ever see! Really take your time and look at them these are INCREDIBLE!!!!

The myth of secret suppliers aside, ostensibly, the fact that the retailer from whom you buy livestock has a “secret supplier” is value-added to you as the customer. Presumably, the “secret supplier” is not serving a multitude of wholesalers, retailers and transhippers, and they therefore send all the choicest specimens to your supplier, which, in turn, provides you, the customer, more premium animals from which to choose. Perhaps it even means you have access to animals that cannot be purchased anywhere else.

Comparison Shopping Series: Corals
Written by Ava
It’s been a few weeks since our successful Comparison Shopping tool first hit The Reef Tank and about three weeks since I started a column in hindsight, to make our TRT community aware of the importance of research before buying anything you’re your tank.  Protein Skimmers, Water Pumps, and Heaters have already been compared in the series. 

This week’s commentary focuses on Corals—our first “dip” (excuse the pun) into the foray of marine life and livestock as part of the series.  With only 21 corals to compare and only two sets of corals: Mushrooms & Polyps and Soft Corals, this may be our smallest section of the tool to date but we’re hoping to expand quite frequently as more and more online stores become a part of the Comparison Shopping tool.  
Comparison Shopping Series: Heaters
Written by Ava

Two weeks ago,  I started a weekly column, taking advantage of the new Comparison Shopping tool at The Reef Tank.

The goal of this column was to make The Reef Tank community aware of the importance of researching before buying anything for your tank. I've already compared and contrasted Protein Skimmers and Water Pumps.

This week, I am focusing on Heaters. Perhaps we underestimate the importance of heaters, especially to a saltwater tank.'s Saltwater Aquariums section says that "Most experienced saltwater aquarists know that using an inexpensive, poorly constructed tank heater can quickly lead to a disaster by either allowing the tank to chill, or worse yet over heat." And it's so true. That's why research is key.

Marine Aquarium Industry: A Strange Business?
Written by Ret Talbot

The marine aquarium industry is a strange industry. That is not a bad thing, of course, just an observation.

We are an industry, after all, caught somewhere between being ecologically sensitive and environmentally indifferent. We rely on customers—hobbyists—some of whom, undoubtedly, are rich and even famous, and yet we so often struggle to make ends meet. We are a bunch of good guys (and gals) and yet we are, too often, suspicious and distrustful of one another. Yes, we are a strange bunch indeed, which of course is not necessarily a strike against us.

I am a writer—that is my position in the aquarindustry caste system. I write about the marine aquarium industry as I experience it—as a hobbyist, consultant, freelance writer and, at times, pen for hire for some of the bigger guns in the business. I do it mostly out of love, but it is also how I pay the bills. You may have come across my work in Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine or in Suite101’s Saltwater Aquarium pages, where I posture as the feature writer. You may have stumbled upon one of my blogs, like the one over at Microcosm Aquarium Explorer or at SaltwaterSense. Chances are, I’ve written more than a few of the descriptions at your favorite online retailer (not the ones with typos or grammatical errors, mind you).

Comparison Shopping Series: Pumps
Written by Ava

Last week, I started a weekly column, taking advantage of the new Comparison Shopping tool at The Reef Tank.

As I mentioned last week, my goal with this column will be to emphasize the importance of researching before buying anything for your tank. I was in for a few surprises when I focused on Protein Skimmers.

This week, I am focusing on Water Pumps. I checked more than half of the 136 products in stock in this category. 

But with even more products in stock, I figured there would be even more drastic price differences.  Nevertheless, many of the differences again ranged from 10 to 20 % for most products.  

But there were quite a few big surprises.  I did find many brands where the price differences were as high as 40 and 50% for the same product between stores. Some were even higher.

Take a look at the big differences in the Little Giant products (particularly the Little Giant 3-MDQ-SC Pump and the Little Giant 3-MDQX-SC Pump),  Reeflo pumps (check out the huge range in the Reeflo Dart)and pumps from Iwaki (i.e. the Iwaki MD20RLT Water Pump w/ a Japanese motor.) 

Upon noticing these price differences though, I realized that a lot of the reason for the really really inexpensive price was that a lot of the pumps could be found on EBay and Amazon. Again, that goes to show you that like the protein skimmers last week, it might just be worth it to buy used stuff, especially when you don't want to pay a hefty sum.  




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