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General Product Education

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General Product Education

Orange County educational product materials

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Question: What is a Hydrometer and why do I need one? Hydrometers measure the salinity in an aquarium by measuring the specific gravity. Specific gravity is defined as the ration of the weight of one liter of seawater to that of one liter of pure water at a specified temperature. Most standard hydrometers will give a fairly accurate reading, with some having an inaccuracy ratio off by .01 or .02 of a degree.
Refractometers are longer lasting and a more wise choice for your investment, and offer a more accurate reading. Refractometers are an instrument that refracts light through the water to give you a measure of salinity. Either a Hydrometer or Refractometer is a necessary tool needed in conjunction with other water quality control devices to aid in keeping proper water parameters. We carry the Milwaukee Refractometers professional grade also the Red Sea Hydrometer-Thermometer, Deep Six Hydrometer, and the Sea-Test Hydrometer. Back to top


Question:What are Test Kits? Test Kits use various chemical solutions along with a sample of your aquarium water to determine the concentration of ions. This determines the parameters of your aquarium water.
We carry the Aquarium Systems Test Kits, Red Sea pHarm Test Kits and the Lifegard All Purpose 6-Way Test Strips.
The Red Sea test kit uses the colorimetric method. The colorimetric method involves mixing of the test kit chemicals with a sample of water from your aquarium in a test tube. After the specified period of time, the matching of the color in the test tube against the colors on the color strips provided with the test kit determines the concentration of the ion you are testing (i.e. nitrate, nitrite, ammonia).
The Aquarium Systems alkalinity test kit determines the concentration of an ion by counting the drops of a chemical added until a water sample turns a certain color. The Lifegard All Purpose 6-Way Test Strips are easy-to-use paper strips that test simultaneously for: alkalinity, pH, nitrite, nitrate, hardness and ammonia.
We also carry Electronic Digital Testers from American Marine Pinpoint Monitors they include: the Nitrate Monitor, ORP Monitor, Salinity Monitor, pH Monitor, Conductivity Monitor, and the Calcium Monitor. Back to top


Calcium Reactors: Coral's, invertebrates, and coralline algae consume calcium constantly depleting your aquarium of this element. Hard corals demand especially large amounts of calcium to build their skeletal structures.
Question: What are Calcium Reactors? Calcium Reactors are an apparatus used to automate the process of replenishing calcium along with other needed minerals and trace elements. These units require only minimal maintenance and are the best solution for maintaining calcium and alkalinity for the reef tank. Calcium reactors also promote coralline algae growth and help in stabilizing pH.

This apparatus is essentially chambers full of Aragonite (Crushed Coral) into which the aquarium water is pumped through along with pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 lowers the pH in the chamber to an acidic level, which dissolves the aragonite and distributes it to the aquarium water. In addition this process also affectively dissolves minerals and trace elements the coral needs to grow. This greatly helps out in adding Trace Elements to your reef aquarium, because it replenishes these minerals and elements in the near exact proportions that the corals need to thrive.

Question: Where do I place a Calcium Reactor Unit? Calcium reactors are typically placed in a sump also known as a Wet/Dry Filter. A complete calcium reactor system requires a CO2 Tank, a CO2 Regulator with a needle valve and media. We carry the Milwaukee CO2 Regulator. Check for further details regarding all other necessary equipment on the individual pages with the calcium reactors. For smaller aquariums we carry the Acro-Cal Calcium Reactor and for larger tanks we carry the Aqua-Medic Calcium Reactor 1000, Pacific Coast Imports Calcium Reactors and Coralife Calcium Reactors. We carry the Aqua Medic and Pacific Coast Imports Reactor Media.
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Question: Do You Need An Aquarium Chiller? Maintaining an optimal tank temperature in the summer months can be a challenge and is definitely needed especially to keep unwanted problems from occurring like nuisance algae outbursts, fish health problems and to maintain proper oxygen levels The standard ideal temperature range is between 75-82°. (See below for optimal temperatures).
An Aquarium Chiller (also referred to as an aquarium cooler, aquarium water chiller, and fish tank chiller) is one of a couple options for maintaining temperature.

Although aquarium chillers can be quite pricey, finds that aquarium chillers are quite economical for a couple of reasons: 1. An aquarium chiller will be less expensive than running your air conditioner when you're not home or on vacation. This is especially true for times when no one is home during the day and the air conditioner is being kept on just for the sake of the aquarium. 2. Aquarium chillers are low maintenance and are durable products and sustain high longevity for many years of uninterrupted use.

Question: What Is the Optimal Aquarium Chiller Size? We carry quality chillers from Pacific Coast Imports, Sea Line and Current USA, they each have a recommended tank size provided by the manufacturer and are easy to install. Some models have pre-installed probes making them the easiest to install, like the Drop In Probe Chillers from Current USA.

We highly recommend that you get an aquarium chiller that is more powerful than recommended. This is due to the fact that as you go from the less powerful to more powerful aquarium chillers the price does not increase drastically, while the capability increases greatly. The larger the chiller for any given system, the longer it will last because the less it will run.

Additionally, sizing an aquarium chiller is a tricky business. It is very common for customers to get a chiller that is smaller than needed. This could be due to a number of factors, including not knowing the maximum temperature of the tank in terms of the summer months, which could be much greater than expected. Due to these factors we highly recommend you purchase a chiller one size bigger.

Question: Chillers For Smaller Tanks? Nano reef tanks, such as the Aquapod from Current USA, are creating a new need for small aquarium chillers also known as Nano chillers and Micro chillers. We carry the CoolWorks Ice Probe Chiller, and Current USA 1/15 HP Chillers for the smaller tanks.
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Question: What is Kalkwasser? Kalkwasser is the German term for a saturated solution of Calcium Hydroxide in water. We carry Kent Marine Kalkwasser Mix and Kalk+2 Kalkwasser Supplement, which may be used with The Kalkwasser Stirrer 1000. The Kalkwasser Stirrer 1000 constantly stirs the Kalkwasser so that fresh Kalkwasser is always available. The calcium carbonate sediment settles to the bottom of the Stirrer while the clear solution of calcium hydroxide rises to the top and overflows into your sump when freshwater is pumped into the unit. This can be accomplished by using the Niveaumat Automatic Top Off Unit with peristaltic pump and float switch. Kalkwasser Stirrers: Another way to introduce calcium into your aquarium is to use Kalkwasser and a Kalkwasser Stirrer.

Just like a calcium reactor, Kalkwasser replenishes the calcium used during the growth of stony corals, coralline algae, clams, etc. Other attributes of Kalkwasser include the precipitation of phosphate, maintenance of pH and alkalinity, and enhanced protein skimming.
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Question: What Is the Optimal Temperature? Coral's come from a variety of ocean environments where the temperature ranges from the low seventies to the low nineties. For (species tanks) kept with Animals indigenous to one geographical area, it's best to set the temperature to suit their needs accordingly. However, since most reef aquariums have a variety of corals from different marine environments', sticking to the 75-82° range is a somewhat safe choice.

Thermometers: To help monitor your aquarium temperature accurately, we carry the following Thermometers: Big Temp-Alert Digital Thermometer, Lifegard Digital Clock/Thermometer that constantly reads out water and air temperature and the Coralife Digital Thermometer.

The Pinpoint Wireless Thermometer with remote sensors allow you to expand your monitoring capability to 4 different locations, allowing all 4 temperatures to be displayed on the same Pinpoint Temperature Display Monitor. You may purchase additional Add On Remote Sensors to keep the temperature of more than 4 Aquariums. Back to top


Question: Who needs a UV Sterilizer? UV Sterilizers are recommended for all Saltwater, Freshwater Aquariums and ponds. We carry the following brands: Emperor Aquatics, Pondmaster, Rainbow Lifegard, Current USA, Pentair Aquatics, and Coralife.

Question: What is Ultra Violet (UV) Sterilization? It's a simple process of eradicating aquarium and or pond water pathogens using ultra violet (UV) light for establishing a more sterile free aquarium. This is obtained through the UV Sterilizer Unit by controlling free floating bacteria, nuisance algae and parasitic micro-organisms during their new born free swimming life cycle stage, for example Ich. To immediately treat Ich you may want to use a product like Copper Power. To immediately help remedy and remove a large nuisance algae outbreak, you may want to use a product like Organic Algae Magic by Marc Weiss, along with an Algae Scraper.

Question: How does a UV Sterilizer function? The UV sterilizer light affectively kills the living cells of the unwanted parasites by altering the structure of the cell's nucleus resulting in the microbe's failure to reproduce. This is the most recommended and effective means of eradicating your aquarium or pond water of these unwanted organisms without using chemical means, which can be harmful to your fish if used improperly.

The functionality of UV sterilization is acquired by running water in and out of a chamber that contains a germicidal ultraviolet light bulb, contained in a waterproof glass (quartz) sleeve. A Replacement Quartz Sleeve will be needed periodically to keep the units UV light penetration at maximum levels.

Question: How are UV Sterilizers set up? The two main types of UV sterilizer set-ups include the in-line and the hang-on type. Some sterilizers units are versatile and can be hooked up both ways. The in-line installation usually has the sterilizer mounted under the tank or right beside a pond, in line with the pump and filter. Hang-on types have a mechanism for hanging the unit off the back of an aquarium. The Hang On Type is often easier to set-up, however hobbyists often prefer the in-line units, which eliminate the equipment from viewing areas. Depending on your aquarium configurations, one may even hang this type unit from a Sump. Most UV sterilizers will require a Pump, however now some UV models are including a pump with the unit. Back to top

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