Nov 1, 2021

Acanthophyllia - Donut, Meat, or Deshay's Coral

 November/December 2021 issue of CORAL magazine 

Acanthophyllia - Donut, Meat, or Deshay's Coral - by Felicia McCaulley, images by Michael Vargas

Sep 26, 2021

ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 2 - For Posterity

A post from the 2009 Reef Tools visit to LiveAquaria and Drs. Foster & Smith

"ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 2

 Posted on Friday, July 2nd, 2010 at 1:02 pm by 

A lot of you have asked for the second part in this series, so here it comes. If you have not had a chance yet, check out ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 1. We have visited LiveAquaria now for a second time this year, so we will incorporate photos from both visits into this article. If you haven’t had chance to read about LiveAquaria, you don’t know what you’re missing. Many of you have probably ordered both Dry Goods and Livestock from LiveAquaria and Diver’s Den, without knowing much about the company and their setup. Well, we’re here to give you a behind-the-scenes look.

We entered the facility and were immediately greeted by LiveAquaria’s director Kevin Kohen. The first thing we noticed when entering the “coral farm,” is just how clean and organized everything was. The coral farm is comprised of several raceways, where every inch is covered with healthy and colorful corals and clams. East bin in the raceway has a dedicated metal halide fixture on an automated track. The light is constantly moving back and forth to cover the entire tank. This allows the facility to provide the corals the light they need, while saving energy. There are 3 separate coral systems, each with their own controller, skimmer, calcium reactor, kalk reactor, etc. Immediately in front of you, is the quarantine and medication station for fish, where new arrivals are treated. The knowledgeable staff at LiveAquaria places a high priority to provide the livestock with excellent care.

To the right of the fish quarantine station, you will see LiveAquaria’s coral quarantine station, containing several large containers where each coral is placed after being dipped. This setup allows the staff to inspect each and every piece that comes in, and identify any pests that it might carry. The corals are left in the Quarantine station until they are ready to be introduced to one of the main systems. This prevents any pests from entering one of the large coral system. Pay attention here, EVERY CORAL IS DIPPED AND QUARANTINED!! If LiveAquaria puts forth the time, money and effort with 100,000’s of pieces of livestock each year, maybe you should do the same to any new piece you add to your system.

As you walk out of the coral Quarantine station, you come face to face with an incredible show tank. This 265 (84 x 24 x 30) gallon tank is stacked with the most incredible SPS you’ll ever see. Large Acropora colonies “plague” this beautiful tank, along with a wonderful selection of fish and invertebrates (love the Harlequins). From Australian Echinatas, to Acroporas from Fiji and Bali, this tank is enough to make any coral enthusiast drool. If you can pull yourself away from the show tank, you begin your tour of the coral raceways.

I can’t say enough about how nice and healthy the corals, clams, and other inverts were. These are the items you see in the Diver’s Den section of Each raceway provides a beautiful top-down view of the livestock, and you can see 360 degrees of pretty much every piece. The raceways seem to just go on and on, with every shade of color you could possibly add to your tank. Once you make your way through the raceways, you enter the Diver’s Den fish section. Most fish are kept in their own container, were they are continuously inspected throughout every day, until they are sold and shipped. Even with the massive quantity of fish, the staff knew exactly what was available, and where it was. We enjoyed seeing some rare species occupying many of these tanks. A huge advantage of this setup, is that it allows the staff to ensure that each fish is eating. LiveAquaria prides itself on selling healthy, almost all of which are used to eating frozen food. This greatly increases the likelihood that your new acquisition from LiveAquaria will do so in your system. This is very important, especially for finicky eaters, or difficult to keep fish.

We can’t say enough about the amount of care given to the livestock, as well as the extreme attention to details provided by the LiveAquaria staff. LiveAquaria offers a 100%, arrive alive, stay alive, risk-free 14 day guarantee on fish, coral, plant, or invertebrates. A 30 day guarantee is offered for each Drs. Fosters & Smith Certified Captive Grown coral.

Stay tuned to part 3 of this series. Please check out their site at"

ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 1 - For Posterity


ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 1

Posted on Sunday, March 21st, 2010 at 11:35 pm by 

I'm feeling nostalgic about Drs. Foster & Smith. Please enjoy this post from 2009 when my  friend from Reef Tools came to visit our warehouse. 

"We recently had a chance to visit Drs. Foster and Smith (DFS) and LiveAquaria in Rhinelander, WI, and decided to share what we saw and learned. We are confident that most of our readers are familiar with the Drs. Foster and SmithLiveAquaria, and the new Foster and Smith Aquatics websites, but though you would enjoy a behind the scenes look.

First off, we would like to thank Kevin Kohen, Director of LiveAquaria, for taking the time to show us around the DFS facilities, including the coral farm.

This part of the Drs. Foster and Smith visit series, will focus on the Dry Goods warehouse facility. The 300,000 square feet state-of-the-art warehouse, houses any imaginable pet supply items available (and some unimaginable ones too). The sheer number of products DFS stocks is truly staggering. We When an order comes through, a corresponding plastic bin is scanned and the process begins. The bin travels on the “green monster”, a computerized convoy system which travels throughout the massive warehouse.

Controlled by scanners and a set of automated arms, the bin gets redirected to the correct isles. Once the bin arrives at it’s first destination, it pauses, while a series of lights indicate which items should be added to this order. Once the items are added to the bin, it is placed back on the belt, and continues on it’s way to it’s next destination. Once the order is completed, the bin is redirected to the packaging center, where the items are matched against the order before everything is boxed.

With this kind of redundancy and automation, it’s not surprising that DFS is able to fulfill an almost absurd number of orders quickly and accurately. Each box is put together by a special machine, then an employee adds a catalog (of course 🙂 ) and fills the extra space with bio-degradable packing peanuts (which they house is huge holding rooms). This Green approach to packing, is just DFS doing their part in conserving the environment. Once the orders are ready to be shipped, DFS employees load up a slew of FedEx trailers which have their own parking lot at the facility. DFS ships so many orders, that they actually sort the packages for FedEx, based on their destination. Overall, the operation is top-notch, with every detail carefully planned and accounted for.

We hope you enjoyed this article and photos, please heck back soon for part 2 of this series, which will cover the LiveAquaria Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life Facility”.

Aug 5, 2021

Reefing in Heels

Since posting the Reefing in Heels blog on CORAL magazine, we've had a lot of people ask questions about #reefinginheels like, “why the focus on footwear?” Well, it’s not about the heels, exactly. Our friend @MetroKat noticed the guys ( @scoobytu ) posting pictures of their sneakers in front of their reefs, and she decided to join in and post pictures of her famous heels in front of her reef. The focus is less on the heels, and more on the fact that women in reefing exist! Let’s face it, women are still far less common in the saltwater aquarium hobby when you look at any statistic. But we are here, and we are passionate about what we do. Many of us have faced some stereotypes and negative experiences just for being women in a male dominated space. I would argue that the women hobbyists and women aquarium professionals I know have experience and talent equal to (or in some cases greater than) their male counterparts. 

Kat and I and many other ladies chose heels as our footwear in our #reefinginheels posts because that's what we like. To me, equality is not "being exactly like men." It's "being myself and still being treated equally." If I want to wear dresses and heels every day, that doesn't make me a less capable aquarist. I can do a water change, properly set up a quarantine tank, run a bandsaw, identify marine creatures by scientific name, raise seahorses, help you troubleshoot your protein skimmer, use scientific instruments to test water, write articles about complex reef chemistry and biology for CORAL magazine, and I can do it ALL IN HEELS.

Click here to see more women reefing in heels and read what these women have to say here:

Jun 30, 2021

How to Keep Your Aquarium Cool in the Heat of Summer

British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest are reporting record high temperatures this week. It's been in the 90s on the East coast of the US. Most reefers and aquarists aren't prepared for this relentless heat. Aside from buying an aquarium chiller, what can we do to help keep our aquariums cool?

1. Freeze as many water bottles as you can and float some in the tank or sump. Rotate thawed bottles with frozen bottles. Repeat.

2. Use a clip on or standing fan to blow across the top of the water in the tank or sump. You can get up to a 4 degree drop down with a fan. You'll need to top off frequently as water evaporates. 

3. Wrap the tank in insulation - layers are best. You can use blankets, cardboard, and/or Styrofoam. Secure the materials with packing tape.

4. Reverse your light cycle. Turn on the lights during the cooler night and turn them off during the heat of the day. You can throw a blanket or two over the top of the tank during the day to help insulate the tank. Monitor your pH and oxygen levels. Having a refugium with macroalgae and a small light can help increase oxygen when using a reverse light cycle. 

5. If you're in full emergency mode and just can't seem get your tank's temperature down, start unplugging the tank equipment that gives off the most heat - usually the highest wattage gadgets. Make sure to leave wavemakers or air pumps turned on in the tank and sump for proper circulation. Leave your protein skimmer on.

6. Remember your fish need MORE water circulation and oxygenation right now as the temps rise. You may want to turn off high wattage pumps, like pumps that need to battle head pressure in the sump. But should add some additional low wattage powerheads, WaveMakers, air pumps. Break the water surface with the flow. 

7. Dosing hydrogen peroxide in an aquarium can help raise oxygen levels, but can be risky if you aren't familiar with this method. Familiarize yourself with the proper dosage and warnings before using hydrogen peroxide in your aquarium. 

Can you think of any more ways to help keep your tank safe during a heat wave?