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Sunday, 30 September 2012

September Update

Ran my monthly tests today.

GH - 7deg
KH - 4deg
Nitrate - 10ppm

The GH still seems higher than i was aiming for, but everything growing in the aquarium seems in excellent health, so i don't feel i need to put any attention into trying to lower it at all. My original aim was to be in the range of 3-6deg.

2012-09-30 18.51.47

On another note my Purigen sponge bag experimental thing turned out to be a total failure. I lifted it back out to see if the floss had collected any debris, but found quite a lot of the granules had got free.

2012-09-30 18.17.48

I was also a little clumsy returning it to the filter box and a few granules made their way into the main water body. This concerned me as the fish seemed to think it was free floating food and made and attempt to snap it up! They did appear to spit it back out upon realisation but i am slightly concerned for their well being at the moment. Ill overfeed a little this week to ensure they have plenty going through their system and purge anything out that shouldn't be in there.

The hunt is on now to find a better alternative.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Seachem Trials Update

Today marks the date of just over 4 weeks for the  use of the Seachem products i decided to run in my topical aquarium. These were…

  • Matrix Carbon
  • Matrix
  • Puirgen

As far as the Matrix goes i don't think there is much to be said. The bio filter seems as strong as ever and there is never a trace of anything nasty in the system, and the Nitrates remain within comfortable limits.

I originally planned a 4 week change or check over for the Matrix Carbon as this was in line with my original method when using the Juwel sponges. Carbon media usage does seem to follow a general “rule of thumb” of once per month, I've found it to be the generic reply in most cases.

Seachems own recommendation for its use is as follows…

250 mL will easily treat 400 L (100 gallons*) for several months. MatrixCarbon™ is very clean and nearly dust free. For best results, MatrixCarbon™ should be placed so as to maximize the flow of water through it. It may be used in a canister filter, chemical filtration module, box filter, or any high flow area of a trickle filter.


Being a bit anal with these things, what is “several months”, normal approximate scales would suggest that to be around 6-7months to me, which seems way longer than any of us would want to keep the same carbon media in the system. But if this is the case then it will far outweigh the premium price paid for Matrix Carbon compared to the cheaper alternatives.

Another potential issue with running carbon media for so long, is mulm can build up on the carbon surfaces.

What is mulm? Basically its the blown slimy layer that can build up on surfaces in our aquariums, in effect it is organic marine material decomposing.

Mulm can build up and coat the carbon granules being as they are confined in the same area that all the biological filtration takes place, and when it does become coated, it looses its effectiveness, regardless of what condition it is in. Essentially it clogs up the pores in the carbon granules.

So back to my aquarium…

One of the nice things I've noted is the water seems to be crystal clear at the moment, a sure fire way of knowing their isn't too much in the way of dissolved organics or other stuff floating around in the water column, which alternatively gives the water that yellow tint.

I took a glass full and placed it next to a glass full of RODI water and against natural light…

2012-09-21 18.24.15

And against a white background…

2012-09-21 18.25.43

The sample on the left is tank water, in both pictures…

I for my life could not see any obvious differences, which is good!

Very happy with this result i gave the current bag of carbon a good rinse to hopefully release any mulm and i intend to allow it to run for another 2 weeks. I will continue to do so until i see an accountable difference in the water quality and determine just how long the Matrix Carbon will last.

For reference i am using 80ml for the 120l capacity of the aquarium. This is on ratio with Seachems recommendations.

While i was routing around in the filter i decided to take a look at the Purigens progress. If you didnt know, Purigen changes colour as it collects and traps various chemicals from the passing water.

It was good to see the Purigen then has taken on a light brown colour from the original yellowish colour that it starts out as.

2012-09-21 18.32.35

Which would suggest to me, it’s doing its job fine!

Minor problem though, i did discover that the Aqua One media bag mesh is not really fine enough to contain the Purigen, as i found out when i lifted the bag from the filter, some escaped…

2012-09-21 18.27.39

Pretty rough and blurry image i admit, but you can see the granules floating about. I quickly siphoned these back out as mush as i could.

So i need a different media bag. Seachem themselves do The Bag, unfortunately it is 5” by 10” in size, so far too big for what i need. Shame they don't make various sizes. But they do say its 180micron mesh, so ill look at getting or making something similar.

For now i had to improvise.

I've recently taken it upon myself to buy big sheets of filter floss and cut squares off to match the size of the Juwel filter.

2012-09-21 18.33.19

Works out a great deal cheaper, at about £8 for a 25” by 18” piece! And its about 5-6times thicker, so it could be split down into even more, but honestly at this thickness it still sits nicely in the top section.

I cut a square slightly smaller than the original and made a hollow in the middle…

2012-09-21 18.37.15 
I then packed in 32ml of Purigen into the hollow…

2012-09-21 18.41.42

I washed any excess bits off an kneaded the Purigen around inside its new pad, then replaced it back in the media bag.

Hopefully it will keep the Purigen locked away and still allow enough flow through it without becoming too clogged up with debris as it is very low down in the filter box.

I admit its not ideal, but should so until i get hold of something more appropriate.

On a high note I'm happy and impressed with the Seachem medias and will report back in future with the developments of the tests.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Radion Pro Updates

A recent post on EcoTechs web page and through Facebook has told that the new XR30w Pro fixture will be shown off at MACNA in the near future and that EcoTech will continue to support and sell the Radion in both it's vanilla and Pro flavours, with upgrade paths for the people who want to convert their existing fixtures.

Great news if you want Radions but don't need the differences in the Pro version. Yet you have the ability to upgrade should your needs change in future.

This is excellent as far as I'm concerned as EcoTech are holding up their end of the bargain from when these fixtures were first announced, in the fact that they will be upgradable.

I have so far seen some odd comparisons to Apple on some of the forums slating this announcement in the respect that it's trying to get more from the consumers for an already expensive product for not much in return?

This is ridiculous as the upgrades I feel are substantial and remain part and parcel of the original promise. The opinion seems to be more from the folks who want everything for nothing. Not something that comes often if at all in this hobby!

I also like Apple products ;)

Here's the link to the EcoTech announcement...


Snail Diarys

I had not seen either of the purple snails I has found since I last posted about them a few weeks ago.

However on a quick check of the filter floss and finding it a little grubby prior to water change day, I lifted out the filter basket only for him to appear out the side as the whole thing slid out.

He had got down the side of the floss and onto the sponges below. Obviously the dining options must be better under there.

I thought I had damaged his shell at first, but under closer inspection it seemed fine.

He has almost doubled in size though!

I'll give him a little longer in the filter to get larger before adding him back to the main water body. I'm still finding loads of empty small shells!

I am mostly convinced they are Trapdoor snails too as I'm sure I can now see the small hatch as he recoils into the shell.


Saturday, 15 September 2012


It will soon be a little easier to find this blog.

Save it in your bookmarks! Open-mouthed smile

Radion XR30w Pro on the way

I appreciate I'm only regurgitating information I've read elsewhere on the internet with this post but definitely worthy of a mention i feel.

EcoTech have announced the new Pro version of their Radion XR30w LED lighting fixture that sports the new TIR lenses and new LED pucks.

One good reason why i opted for the Radion’s was the promise from EcoTech that they would be modular and expandable in the future. And this is the result.

Happy to see they have followed through with their comments and i will certainly look at upgrading my existing fixtures to the new bits! Even though I've not really ran my current units in anger yet!

Please see the following link on Reefbuilders to credit them for the original info Smile

The Radion XR30w PRO is Ecotech Marine’s next-generation version of the wirelessly controlled Radion XR30w LED light fixture. The Radion XR30w PRO will come standard with the Total Internal Reflection (TIR) Lens and will also be populated with more and differently coloured LEDs. As we speculated by the extra wells in the TIR lens, the Radion XR30w PRO is now equipped with 42 top-binned LEDs in eight different colours. In addition to new LED models, the Ecotech Radion XR30w PRO will include six channels of control, and more diodes in the blue end of the spectrum.

The TIR lens forebode that more LEDs would be included in the Radion XR30w PRO

Deep blue and near-UV LEDs with spectral peaks around 405 and 415 nm will bring out more fluorescent colour's than ever before. If the previous Radion XR30w was binned with XPG LEDs we suspect that this the new Radion XR30w PRO will be rocking Cree XTE for most of its diodes, save for the Osram reds that Ecotech uses as PAR-boosters. With Cree’s blue XTE now rated for up to 5 watts of power each, we suspect that the Radion XR30w PRO will also be receiving a similar boost in overall power and light output but we are very curious to see how the overall ratio of LED colour's are distributed in the new LED cluster.

The new Radion XR30w PRO will be shown off first at MACNA in Dallas in two weeks and it will cost $949, a couple hundred bucks more than the original Radion. Current Radion XR30w owners fear not, your light is not going away or being replaced as an upgrade path including new TIR Lenses and LED clusters will be announced in the future. The Radion XR30w PRO LED will be available in early 2013 and it goes up for pre-order November 1, 2012.


EcoTech Marine is pleased to announce the latest addition to the Radion line of aquarium LED lighting systems: the XR30w Pro.

Expanding on the technology found in the standard Radion XR30w model, the Radion XR30w Pro represents the cutting edge in LED technology, power, spectrum and spread. Utilizing EcoTech’s TIR lenses and outfitted with 42 top-bin LEDs representing eight different colours and running off of six channels, the XR30w Pro delivers unsurpassed full spectral output from 405nm (Ultra Violet) to 660nm (Hyper Red). The XR30w Pro’s premium LED’s provide efficient and precise light output, while six channels of control allow users to adjust each colour group individually.

The Radion XR30w Pro:

  • Is ideal for users who want to achieve the highest PAR ratings, have a deep aquarium or want wide light spread with broad spectral coverage.
  • Integrates seamlessly with the existing EcoSmart Live web-based controller platform.
  • Features the same unprecedented modularity found in the base Radion XR30w, allowing for future upgrades and backward compatibility within the entire Radion line.

The Radion XR30w Pro will be formally unveiled at MACNA, Sept. 28-30 in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Priced at $949, the Radion XR30w Pro begins shipping in early 2013. Pre-orders will be accepted beginning Nov. 1. Details of an upgrade path for existing Radion XR30w owners to upgrade their lighting systems with Pro components will be announced in the near future.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Snail Shenanigans

Since adding the second trap door snail, i originally had a quick influx of half a dozen baby snails which i mentioned in an earlier post.

However i now seem to have a persistent snail shell grave yard…

(Also check out yet another runner from the plants! Need to start propagating soon!)

2012-09-06 12.10.04

In a small area that is at best a dead spot there is always a small pile of empty shells, irrespective of me siphoning them out during water changes.

I can only assume the one remaining large snail is still releasing them and must have a stored amount of genetic material?

Anyway where do they go? Well i hope, the Dwarf Puffers are making a tasty snack from them as i was aware that they like to prey and dine on live snails but never had the guts to throw some ramshorn snails or similar in, in fear of the eating all the live plants. One thing trap doors seem to leave well alone, unless its already a dead and decaying leaf.

If the Puffers are eating them, them great, a superb form of live food for them and helps to simulate their habitat.

On a side note, some snails do make it to sanctuary in the filter tower, and i occasionally find them swirling round in the torrent of the down draft, or casually helping themselves to the collected crud on the filter floss, which again, is no bad thing.

Normally they are very small and i tend to add them back into the main water body, but recently came across this slightly larger one (on the right)… about half the size of a garden pea… and with quite a pretty purple colour to its shell. There was also one of the normal tiny ones, also sporting the same colour shell…

2012-09-06 12.09.51

I cleaned the pad then added these two  guys back to the filter chamber to see if i can grow them a bit and make them a little harder for the puffers to chow down on and see If i can get a sustainable source of snail live food for the future.

The larger one must have spent time hiding in the filter to get as bit as it has, as it is way to large to fit through the filter grilles… either that or they can climb up and over the edge out of the water for a period of time.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Water Park Fun Slide!

I've always had fish get a little curious about the hose when performing a water change, and every time in the past they have backed away when they seem to feel the current draw.

Not so much this time! One curious Dwarf Puffer got a little too interested and before I knew there was a "schlump" noise and the Puffer had vanished!

Only for me to then look down and find it happily swimming about in the collection bucket! No harm done I netted him back into the aquarium!

Water tests also today...

  • GH 7dkh - Gone up by two degrees from the last time I tested, will try and bottom out why.
  • KH 4dkh - No change
  • Nitrate 10ppm - Nothing out the ordinary.