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Friday, 26 February 2016

Coral Lab White Paper from Ecotech Marine

Ive always been bit baffled with lighting programs for the Radion. While I've got a program running that looks quite pleasing and i am seeing some growth. Ive never been quite sure about the actual science behind it all and exactly how to dial them in correctly. Despite spending many hours reading and discussing with fellow reef keepers. What works for some people doesn't work for me, or makes the tank aesthetically ugly in my opinion.

However, today i received an email from Ecotechs Coral Lab with a link to a white paper based on some proper testing using the Radion G3 Pro.

Its a great easy and straight forward read and has answered quite a few questions in very simple terms for me. I am going to have a try with some of the schedules they recommend and will report back in future.

White paper can be downloaded with this link

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Shrimp and Goby - Episode 2

Shrimp and Goby continue construction work but are trolled by scumbag Sailfin

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Another reason to love the Neptune Systems Apex

An aquarium controller can be considered as an expensive luxury when it comes to the aquarium hobby.

But for someone who is a self confessed gadget lover and control freak, it ticks many boxes for me.

Yet sometimes, the simplest of things happen and it all suddenly pays dividends.

Take the past Friday as an example:

As per most people in the morning, the moment i wake up, the the first thing i go for is my phone. As per most people, i know and work with people all over the world and for a company that operates 24 hours a day. It’s not uncommon that i may have some messages or emails ready for me when i wake up. I tend to scan these messages before hopping out of bed and reading them properly over breakfast.

This particular morning i had an extra surprise in my inbox, several messages from my Neptune Systems Apex and from Apex Fusion. All of these messages directing me to a temperature issue with one of my aquariums.

Ok, sometimes i get a false alarm from perhaps the pH or Conductivity probes if they get soiled or a bubble has somehow become trapped in the tubes, but temperature is an unusual one to false alarm, so i duly investigated.

A check of the temperature output showed the temperature of the water was indeed below the threshold of what i call ideal in this particular aquarium, and checking the Fusion graphs i noted what looked like a very erratic temperature control and slowly declining, when i know my Apex keeps the water perfect to within 0.2 of a degree.

Apex Fusion Graph 1

First i went to check the temperature probe, but was shocked (literally) to find i felt the electrical tingle of a malfunctioning electrical item.

This could only point to one thing… the heater.

So i powered down and went to lift the heater out of the slot in the rear of the filter box (particular tank is a Juwel Lido 120) only to pull the plastic cap off the top off the glass tube...

Damaged Juwel Heater

Not good!

I can only assume the glue/sealer around the cap has perished/failed and the cap has come loose, allowing moisture ingress, causing the shorting and control problems.

Of course I’m now in a bit of a predicement at 6:30am in the morning, no shops are open and i don’t have a suitable backup heater, so i start by covering and insulting the tank as much as possible and set the house heating controls to try and maintain a safe ambient temperature.

I crossed my fingers and headed off to work for the day, now regularly checking Fusion to see if it’s getting well out of the comfort zone.

Apex Fusion Graph 2

Over the course of the day i lost around another 1.5degC of heat from the tank, not ideal for a prolonged period, but survivable short term.

Next stop on the way home was of course via the LFS for a new heater.

As this shop doesn’t keep Juwel items in stock i went with a Hydor item, that kicks out an additional 50watts (150w total) up 50% on the original Juwel item (100w), and its slightly shorter and still fits in the slot at the back of the Juwel filter box.

Hydor Heater New

Hydor Heater

Installed and powered up, the tanks back up to temperature and stable within a few hours.

Apex Fusion Graph 3

All tank inhabitants looked a bit grumpy at first as they had been getting cooled off, but by the time the temperature had stabilised everything looked as happy as ever, swimming and looking healthy.

A big relief!

So would i have noticed this issue had there been no Apex controller connected to the tank?

I would be inclined to say no… i don’t tend to look at my tanks first thing in a morning on a work day as i am generally getting ready to leave and the tanks are in darkness until 10am when the lights start to ramp up. However, i do always check my messages and emails so couldn’t fail to miss the warning messages the system had been sending to me.

If i hadn’t caught it so early, one can speculate on the possible outcomes...

Would the tank have suffered and the temperature dropped to dangerous levels?
Could the malfunctioning heater have shorted and tripped the circuit breaker, knocking off the whole system (including the filters) and taking downing other tanks at the same time?
Worse… could it have caused a short and a fire?

The last outcome is perhaps a little extreme but hindsight can be a wonderful thing.

Also, i expend a lot of investment, time and effort into my aquariums and I’m responsible for the lively hood of the aquatic animals i choose to keep in there, to come home and find it cooked, frozen or dead… wouldn’t be a good day!

Personally, i wouldn’t have a tank without a controller. Even if it were a 50l nano tank.

If you are on the fence on investing in a controller, take this as an example of covering some of those ‘what if’ scenarios!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

My java jungle from above!

Just a quick shot of my Java fern. The whole thing has spawned and sprouted from one small rhizome clipping I purchased around 18months ago. 

It's not the most exciting of aquarium plants, but it's healthy, hardy and creates an aqua scape that the fish seem to enjoy immensely. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Apex Fusion - Open BETA

Neptune Systems’ Apex Fusion has now entered Open BETA!

Neptune Systems Community Forum Announcement

What does this mean? It now means you don’t need an invite to the previously closed event, anyone can sign up and connect their Apex to the Fusion cloud control system, just be aware the system is still being developed and not everything is currently supported from the Fusion interface.

You can of course continue to use the Web login full full control over your system.

Ive been in the closed BETA from the early days and Fusion has been very impressive so far, and i do intend to make a quick review of the currently available system when i get a moment.

Up to now its unrivalled, and very exciting to see where it goes in future.

Check it out at > Apex Fusion

Friday, 7 March 2014

JBL Floaty Blade - A quick review

I’ve been in the market for a glass cleaner for my reef tank so recently got my hands on a JBL Floaty Blade. Now i have used many magnetic glass cleaners over the years, but not had a chance to have a look at JBL’s offering.

The JBL glass cleaners tend to come in two different flavours and various sizes, but only the Floaty Blade has the included algae scraper included.

So heres a few pictures and a first look review.

IMG 4248

IMG 4249

Of course one of the main points of the ‘Floaty Blade’ is the blade itself, which is angled in at around 45degrees, and thankfully has no sharp edged corners.

I for one am terrified of the prospect of a magnetic glass cleaner causing scratches on the glass, so I’m always a little cautious!

IMG 4250

The blade can be detached if you so wish by squeezing a pair of clips in on the sides...

IMG 4251

The internal glass side has this rough, almost velcro feel to it, like most other mag glass cleaners out there to provide a bit of scrubbing power against any tough stuff bonded to the glass...

IMG 4253

The outer part for the external glass surface has a soft felt like fabric attached to it, which will simultaneously buff the outer glass surface as you work against whatever is on the insides.

IMG 4254

A small white piece of plastic is provided should you need to clamp the two halves together when not in use. I accidentally allowed them to come together without this piece in place and they are VERY difficult to separate after! I don’t recommend doing that! With the little plastic piece they twist apart very easily.

IMG 4255

I was intrigued at first as to what this curved edge was for on one side of the internal half...

IMG 4256

So i gave it a test run on my Juwel Lido...

IMG 4258

On glass this thin, the magnets are far too powerful and the whole thing vibrates and judders as you pull the outer magnet along the surface.

However i did note the neat trick of the curved edge mentioned a couple of pictures back… its purpose seems to be to run up the edge of your silicone joints and keep the blade edge away from snagging the silicone itself… a nice touch!

IMG 4260

Next i put it onto the substantially thicker glass on my larger reef aquarium (15mm) and the increased distance on the magnets allowed it to move much more freely, in fact it glided along seamlessly. All the time i was apprehensive about that blade catching the glass, but the steep angle gives very little chance of it putting any gouges into the surface.

There wasn’t much to clear/scrape at the time, just some dust and weak filamentous algae until the bio side becomes established, but it cleared all that away with absolute ease! I will have to make a future review regarding its outright cleaning powers.

IMG 4262

Another neat thing i discovered is the extended edge on the ‘wet side’ of the glass cleaner, it seems a little odd at first until you discover its purpose...

IMG 4263

The extended edge, literally extends up beyond the boundary of any hood/pelmet that you may have installed your aquarium and essentially allows you to clean beyond that point and not leave an unsightly line of algae around the very limits. Or have to go in manually afterwards to finish off the job. A very neat design addition.

As you can image, the ‘float’ bit of the Floaty Blade’s name means exactly that, the wet side will float to the surface should it become completely detached, instead of sinking to the depths, a minor ask of the design of any magnetic glass cleaner i suppose, its also semi buoyant enough to do a quick exchange to another pane of glass if you are quick enough, i found parking it up against the silicone, then hold the dry side close to the corner and move it round, would bring the wet side along with it, so you can continue cleaning elsewhere without having to go in through the the top. If you have a high or deep tank, this small trick is generally very helpful!

The JBL Floaty Blade so far has proven to be a good little tool out of the box with some interesting extra design features, time will tell in the near future when i get to test it out on some more stubborn stains.