New Sponsor: Hydor

Quality, innovation, user-friendliness, safety and reliability are the elements that have always distinguished Hydor’s production for aquariums. For over 25 years, the Hydor labs have studied and developed the most exclusive and unique technologies, meeting the needs of consumers worldwide. Hydor responds to the modern needs of the evolving market through a consumer-oriented strategy, starting with focalizing and analyzing trends to broaden and improve the wide range of products. Research and innovation continue to drive Hydor’s growth… every new product is an event that attracts new customers and gains a precise spot in the global market.

We’d like to welcome Hydor to Digital-Reefs…. look out for reviews coming soon and take the time to visit their website by clicking the banner below!

Quick Update: D-R Developments For Spring 2012

Well, it’s been nearly a year since Digital-Reefs launched in its new blog format – and what a year it’s been so far!

We’ve seen and reported on all kinds of interesting discoveries, and enjoyed news, both good and bad, from around the globe. Consistently attracting over 100k hits a month, it’s been great to see plenty of sponsor organisations come onboard recently with many going a step further and allowing us to give our own useful ‘hobbyists eye-view’ on their latest products and services.

In coming months we are stepping-up a gear and we’ve already got some great features lined-up. As well as all the latest choice reef news, videos, wallpapers etc etc we’ll also be bringing you plenty of reviews including one on the Arcadia OT2 LED hybrid system (as we replace our aging halides with this new technology). We are also currently trialing several of Red Seas products from their Marine and Reef Care Ranges, and Hydor have also sent us some kit to put to use. We’ve got a review of their Korallia pumps due very soon and hope to test their smartwave controller in our mixed reef too.

If you’ve been enjoying our shop review pieces, you’ll be interested to know that we visited The Aquarium at Cockfields recently and took a raft of images and video during our visit. Keep an eye open for this piece soon, you won’t be disappointed! Also, we’ve just received a shipment from BCUK Aquatics Ltd and we’ll be taking a close look at how our stock takes to their FirstBite range of foods in the next few weeks.

In terms of new features, we’ve got plenty planned. For a start, we’ll be visiting a fellow hobbyists to review a really stunning private reef tank, so stand by for top quality imagery for you viewing pleasure! We’ve also got a site revamp planned…. and lots more besides.

Keep your eyes on the site 🙂

UK Primed For Orphek Nilus Import

Following on from the launch of this unit as reported on various US blogs in recent weeks, we thought we’d make contact with Orphek directly to ascertain potential UK availability of this interesting and attractive looking new unit. Responding very promptly, Orphek tell us that they “are able to provide for customers and can ship direct to the UK”. Furthermore, with a suggested RRP of around just $1000 including shipping (around £630 as of original post date), this unit certainly seems set to stir-up the market place when it lands on these shores.

In terms of specifications, the Nilus is similar to the exisiting PR156W unit, being a 120 watt output unit. However, with 30 White LEDs, 22 Blue LEDs, and now 4 Red LEDs and 4 UV/true violet LEDs, this model certainly offers interesting new coral colour enhancement possibilites. Total output is stated as over 9000 Lumens (equal to a 250-400w Halide) and with honeycomb 120 degrees lenses now fitted as standard, a wide spread of light is possible even when the unit is mounted relatively close to the water. Measuring in at just 24″ x 6.1″ x 2.0″ and finished in black (EDIT: Orphek tell us that this unit is now available in white also, and possibly other colours), the Nilus also boasts upgraded fans and perhaps most usefully, a driver that will selectively dim the LEDs without altering their overall spectral output. To accommodate this improved control, the separate timer box now features an enlarged screen.

We wonder, who will be the first to light their reef with this unit in the UK? For more detail visit the Orphek website.

REVIEW: Taunton Aquarium Centre, UK – Mail Order

Continuing with our series of reviews which take an indepth look into the mail-order service offered by some of the UKs top livestock retailers, we turn our attention to an organisation which has recently come on board as a Digital-Reefs sponsor – Taunton Aquarium Centre.

Although renowned already, TAC really caught our attention with this amazing selection of Ultra Grade Tridacnid Clams recently. Suckers for a nice clam, we just couldn’t resist ordering one… but how would such a delicate organism fare given the long distance shipment in winter weather?

Well, after ordering we received our delivery the very next day. Packaging immediately impressed us, consisting of a large, sturdy cardboard box which contained a heavy duty, lidded-polystryreme container. Inside, we found heat pack that was still fairly warm. The clam itself was contained with plenty of water in a large bag, and this was rebagged several times for strength and insulation. Around the bag polystyrene chips ensured it stayed in position and added to the insulation provided. After opening the final bag we checked the shipping water temperature and noted this had not dropped below 70f which was fine. The Clam itself looked great – stunning actually – and was a good size for the price (we’ve seen some outlets selling tiny 1″ clams for more than we paid). All in all very impressive.

After taking our time to acclimatise this delicate organism, we are happy to say that around 5 weeks later it appears to be getting along very nicely in our test tank. Thanks to a great service from TAC, we hope to enjoy this fantastic specimen in our tank for many years to come and we therefore endorse their livestock mailorder service wholeheartedly. Click the banner below to visit their website, or check their thread on ultimatereef for the latest updates!


Rare Mudskipper Returns… Against The Odds.

Despite an apparent lack of any concerted effort to stimulate the recovery of Periophthalmus waltoni in the UAE, a colony was recently discovered by two Dubai-based naturalists, Binish Roobas and Gary Feulner.

The Walton’s Mudskipper, which lives on mudflats in the intertidal zone of coastal lagoons, hadn’t been seen since disappearing from the region over 35 years ago. Spending most of its time out of the water, or hiding in burrows, and growing to about 15 centimetres, it is thought to be extremely unlikely that a population could have been overlooked for so long.

“It is difficult to imagine that the presence of such a creature could be missed by the legions of professional consultants and amateur naturalists who have scoured the UAE’s coastlines since the 1970s,” said Mr Feulner. “But it is even more surprising if it has re-appeared recently, because its habitat, the intertidal periphery of coastal lagoons, has been a prime target for dredging or ‘reclamation’ by development projects.

Although the species’ mysterious reappearance is cause for good news, it does go to show how the ecological importance of this kind of environment has been ignored in the past… and that the future of this species in this area is far from secure.


Reef Scenes Captured With Lytro Light Field Camera

We noticed that the chaps over at reefbuilders have got their hands on a Lytro Light Field camera… take a look at the thread to see some interesting sample images.

Although in it’s infancy we have to admit that this technology does seem to offer some interesting creative possibilities. While it does seem a little ‘gimmicky’, it’s always interesting to see a new approach and if the added interactivity provided by these images encourages an interest in, and appreciation of, captive marine life, it’s got to be a good thing in our book!

We do however wonder if the current price versus quality/versatility is still at a level that will keep this unit at the periphery of use. Although we haven’t used one, the unit isn’t reputed to perform well in low light situations and the resulting images are intended for web use only… and are very heavy in terms of file size.

If you’ve used one of these for shots of your reef feel free to send us a link so we can see your work!

New Sponsor: Arcadia Products PLC, UK

As Digital-Reefs continues to grow in popularity, we are delighted to announce that Arcadia have joined as our latest sponsor.

With a name that is already synonymous with a reputation for innovative design, high performance and unparalleled quality, Arcadia hardly need an introduction! Their ever expanding range of products is now sold in over 55 countries worldwide and they have been at the forefront of the field since the 1960s. With new products (such as the Eco Aqua LED spotlight) recently taking the market by storm, it is clear that the technical expertise offered by this UK company is set to keep them at the cutting-edge of aquarium lighting technology for many years to come. We’d just like to add that it impresses us immensely that such an operation still has the desire to engage at ‘grass-roots’ level with hobbyists (through their support of this site, and others). If only all companies were so keen to get involved!

Anyway, keep your eyes on Digital-Reefs in the coming weeks as we’ll be bringing you the latest product news and updates from this company. Also, look out for our hands-on test as we install their current ‘flagship’ reef lighting system, the OT2 HYBRID T5/LED system, onto the Digital-Reefs test tank!



Life Gets Harder For Cardinalfish Dads

As paternal mouthbrooders, male Cardinalfishes have a pretty tough time when raising their offspring. With hundreds of eggs crammed in their mouths, they find it hard enough to breath let alone feed. Actually, during this period, these simple zooplankton feeders survive purely on stored energy and stay close to branching stony corals which offer a refuge from hungry predators.

Now research by Andrew S. Hoey, David R. Bellwood and Adam Barnet from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University suggests that life is set to get even harder for these fish, on two fronts.

Firstly, sea temperature rises caused by climate change may well increase the oxygen and energy demands of these fishes, raising their metabolisms. Clearly this may prove a challenge to fasting males already pushed to the limit. Secondly, the branching corals in which they shelter are also under threat. Remove these and Cardinalfish populations are literally ‘sitting ducks’ for predatory species.

Read the full paper HERE

REVIEW: Red Sea Coral Colours Pro Test Kit

A critical part of Red Seas Coral Colouration Programme (itself the pinnacle of their Reef Care Programme), the Coral Colours Pro Test Kit will appeal to hobbyists running mature tanks with low nutrient levels and balanced foundation elements who are looking to maximise SPS and/or LPS coral growth/colouration in an educated and controlled manner. To this end, this package consists of tests for determining levels of Iron, Iodine and Potassium and teams up perfectly with the range of Coral Colour Supplements also available from Red Sea.

Continue reading REVIEW: Red Sea Coral Colours Pro Test Kit

Juvenile Reef Fishes Sniff Out Safety

An interesting new study has recently demonstrated that certain species of reef fishes use a hierarchy of sensory cues as they return from hatching in the open ocean.

Using auditory choice chambers, researchers from the Radboud University Nijmegen and the University of Bristol firstly discovered that tiny young French Grunts Haemulon flavolineatum were initially attracted to the unmistakable and far-reaching underwater cacophony generated by coral reef communities.

However, as they drew closer, tests using olfactory mazes showed that smell then took over as the baby fishes neared shore, allowing them to navigate away from the myriad hazards of the reef itself, and to the relative safety of seagrass meadows and mangrove swamp nurseries. Finally, as they approached their destination, vision became the key sense allowing the fish to identify members of their own species and to form shoals for protection.