Nov 1, 2017

LFS Spotlight: Allquatics in Hamilton, NJ

The first time I visited Allquatics in Hamilton, NJ with my Friend Harvey Fell, I was surprised by the hidden treasures there. Allquatics is like an onion, you have to peel back the layers to get to the amazing species inside. Don't walk out without searching closely for that Zebra Pleco or talking to an employee to find out what rarities are in stock. The fish are well cared for, and they easily overlooked because they are kept in appropriate environments instead of showcasing them in small tanks with no cover. The owner, Dave Tilton, is known for his artistic eye and incredible pond and aquarium builds.

Oct 1, 2017

LFS Spotlight: House of Fins in Greenwich, CT

House of Fins in Greenwich, CT is one of the oldest and most highly reputable aquarium stores in the world. The rarest, most sought after fish on the planet have passed through their doors. Full article:

Sep 1, 2017

LFS Spotlight: Fintastic in Raleigh, NC

We took a trip to North Carolina over Memorial Day weekend to visit my sister who is also a reefer. Naturally, we had to stop at Fintastic, the local aquarium shop. This saltwater aquarium store opened just a little over a year ago, in March 2016, so this was my first time in Fintastic. The owner, David Jones, opened the store in his hometown of Cary, NC, to serve the Raleigh/Durham area and Wake Forest county. This moderately-sized store is clean and has a modern design. The aquariums are sectioned into separate systems so fish with parasites or diseases can be quarantined (but that doesn’t mean you can skip home quarantine!) They conveniently sell fresh, salt water, and live foods like phytoplankton and copepods. Their livestock is hand selected and shipped from a partner store in South Florida; Jones says this is the reason he can offer inexpensive, quality livestock.

full article:

my sister Christie and me

Jul 1, 2017

Murdering Bryopsis hair algae with drugs

When I set up my Unicorn Reef Bowl, I used some live rock from a tank that I fed heavily for a Clingfish pet, I experienced a heavy hair algae infestation. Instead of starting over with all new rock, I decided to use a drug called Fluconazole to take care of my problem. Here is my experience.

Jun 1, 2017

Unicorn Mini Reef Bowl

Pico reef vases and mini reef bowls are gaining popularity right now, for some great reasons. If you crave a reef aquarium, but lack the time and money for a full fledged, large reef, but you still want something unique and eye catching, opt for a tiny reef in a bowl or a vase. Read more on

my son Lachlan with our 8 gallon reef bowl

one year of growth on M. setosa

Feb 3, 2017

Train Live Food Eaters to Eat Frozen Food

Some of the most beautiful fish in the aquarium hobby have live food diets and refuse to eat frozen food right away. With all the distractions and stress of the display tank, live food eaters usually starve without food training.Quarantining new fish isn’t only for disease prevention. Finicky eaters should be conditioned and trained to eat frozen foods in a quarantine tank. A bare bottom tank is easier to keep clean, and makes it easier for the fish to find food. Fill an appropriately-sized tupperware container with sand for burrowers. Keep lighting low and use a PVC pipe to give your fish somewhere to hide. Take a few minutes to siphon the bottom of the tank before and after each feeding. Keep the quarantine tank free from feces, uneaten food, detritus, and ammonia.

Live food eaters simply don’t recognize frozen foods as possible food items; it’s up to you to teach them. Research the fish’s natural diet and provide similar live foods until the fish has gained weight. Buy live foods before your fish arrives. HUFA-enriched live adult or newly hatched Artemia are an easy, cheap alternative to natural foods for most finicky eaters and can be substituted for live shrimp or copepods, though some copepods are easy to culture at home. Obligate Corallivores may need live coral sacrifices. Try pasting frozen mysis onto a skeleton or live coral to entice them. Attach frozen food with a rubber band to a clam shell or live clams from the grocery store for angelfish. Larger ambush predators like lionfish and anglers prefer live ghost shrimp or small fish like damsels (never goldfish). Use water movement from a pipette or a feeding stick to make frozen food “look alive.”
Make sure frozen food is as fresh as possible! Live food eaters are more likely to refuse food with an “off” taste or smell, even when it looks fine to us. HUFA and omega 3s degrade quickly in frozen food. Never use food that has been thawed and refrozen. Discoloration or freezerburn is a sure sign of bad food, like brown mysis. Don’t rely on the expiration date when feeding finicky live food eaters, as the food’s flavor and HUFA profile will change well before the expiration date. Ideally, use food that has been in your home freezer for no more than a few months. Your LFS should use a commercial freezer which keeps the food at -30C or -22F.

Garlic in the diet of marine fish is controversial, but many aquarists report an increase in appetite with garlic use. It may also help condition fish to recognize new foods when they are trained to associate garlic smell with food. Soak the fish’s preferred live foods in garlic. Once they’re accustomed to that, freeze the garlic soaked live foods and introduce that along with live food. Mix in garlic soaked store bought foods until the fish eat frozen food well. Garlic can be slowly removed from the diet once training is complete.

Be persistent. It can take months for a stubborn fish to learn to eat frozen food. Keep in mind that some fish, like dwarf seahorses, will never eat frozen foods, and some species, like mandarins and sponge eaters, may not thrive on a strictly frozen food diet.

Full Article: