New Sponsor: iQuatics Limited

We are pleased to announce that we’ve recently secured more support from the UK aquatics industry with iQuatics coming onboard. Here’s what they have to say:

iQuatics Limited is the UK’s leading supplier of aquarium lighting products. Formed by industry veterans, everyone at iQuatics Online has many years of experience in the production, distribution and support of aquarium lighting products, including halide bulbs, T5 bulbs and aquarium lighting kits.

What separate’s iQuatics from all the others? Well that’s simple really; we design, manufacture and distribute all of our own products. This allows us total control right through the process. Our reputation in the aquarium lighting industry has grown significantly and our business has grown year on year as a result of our ethos of providing high quality aquarium lighting at affordable prices, as the MD says “We are not cheap, everyone else is expensive!”

Friendly advice is offered by our customer service team that is hand-picked to provide industry leading, experienced support. Our staff team is as passionate about our products as you are about using them, you will never speak to a faceless call centre when contacting iQuatics. We have one of the most highly regarded customer services department in the industry, a testament to which is the feedback we get daily from our satisfied customers.

Review: RO-Man DM-1 Inline TDS Meter

Reefkeepers who use tapwater for any part of their system are pretty hard to find these days. Read a tap water quality report from your provider and the reason for this will become pretty obvious.

While suitable for most purposes, the vast majority of tap water simply isn’t suitable for keeping delicate marine organisms due to organic and chemical pollutants. Using an RO (Reverse-Osmosis) Unit is a simple way around this and these days units are obtainable at a very reasonable price.

Continue reading Review: RO-Man DM-1 Inline TDS Meter

US Marine Fish Imports Scrutinised in New Report

After noticing its initial report via Advanced Aquarist, we were interested to read this report in full at PLoS one recently.

Conducted by researchers Andrew Rhyne, Michael Tlusty, Pamela Schofield, Les Kaufman, et al this project involved the  collection and analysis of a mass of complex, and sometimes incomplete, data. Indeed, due to limitations in the current recording system, the team had to rely on comparing shipment declarations with the attached commercial invoices as a means of attaining the most accurate data possible (manually, or using customised OCR software).

Through this the team identified that over 11 million fishes were imported in the year 2004 – 2005. Although this may sound a lot, the result came as a surprise to the team and was likely the result of certain shipment being labelled as Marine Fish when they in reality, they contained Freshwater Fishes. In terms of diversity, the figure was higher than expected with around 1800 species from 125 families accounting for imports. As shown in the pie-chart above (click to enlarge) only 20 species represented 52% of the total number of individuals imported. The top two species were Chromis viridis (8.8% of imports) and Chrysiptera cyanea (6.9% of imports). In terms of source, it was noted that although approximately 40 countries supply fish to the US marine aquarium trade U.S, the Philippines and Indonesia accounted for 86.6% of the imports.

Although the report doesn’t go into detail on the impact of imports on the reef themselves, it does show clearly that the current system of recording non-CITES imports is not yet accurate enough to inform relevant actions, if required. It does present an interesting overall picture though, and paves the way for a refined systems to be developed. We strongly suggest you read the full report!

Get Involved At ‘The Big UK Experiment’ Launch

Calling all UK reefers! The Coral Aquarist Research Network (CARN), the University of Essex and MarineMad Limited are holding a big reefkeepers event on the 26th May at The Zoological Society of London. With doors opening at 1000am the event runs from 1045am to approximately 3pm and is free to attend with lunch, coffee and refreshments provided.

The purpose of the event is to launch ‘The Big UK Experiment’ which will involve reefkeepers becoming part of the research team at the University of Essex by allowing data acquired from their own reef tanks to be used in the research projects run here at the university. Participants will be kept involved with the outcomes of the research and be named on any academic papers written based on these experiments and develop some key skills in research development, methodologies, reporting, and organisational and communication skills etc. As a bit of background, the Coral Aquarist Research Network (CARN) was launched in October 2009. The network was set-up to promote greater links, collaborations, communication and engagement between coral reef researchers and industry, with the primary focus being to involve the reefkeeping community in the research being undertaken within the UK. This workshop is being run with this in mind, to encourage reefkeepers to engage with and become involved in the first experiment of this kind.

This experiment is going live on the 26th May with academics, industry, Government, and of course a multitude of reefkeepers being present in the 150-capacity venue at the Zoological Society of London. The day will include presentations from some of the top academics in coral reef studies, conservation managers at ZSL and representatives from one of the largest Government Funded aquariums in the UK. The official launch of ‘The Big UK Experiment’ will then take place followed by refreshments, a tour of the zoo (by donation) and the close of the workshop.

If you can make it along to this event, we seriously recommend you attend as this looks like a great way to get to participate in a really positive initiative that has numerous potential benefits (please contact Philippa Mansell at: if you wish to attend).

Interzoo 2012: Hydor Unveils New Level Controller

Courtesy of Hydor we are just getting first images of their new ‘Smart Level Controller’ just launched at Interzoo.

The Smart Level is an automatic water level control system which comprises of a completely sealed sensing unit with no moving parts (so no more floats stuck and tank overflows!), plus 3 ‘fingers’ on the sensor acting as high, middle and low sensors. Utilising the smartwave package this looks like it will be easy to fix in any aquarium. The unit samples temperature through the sensors and turns on a pump (up to 50w) in your reservoir automatically.

With an alarm and shut-off system this unit also promises to be capable of running even with stream pumps or turbulent water and aims to be the class leading choice for any saltwater or discus keeper.

Available from July 2012 rrp £89.99

Review: EcoReef UK – Part 2

If you read Part 1 of this review, you’ll already know that Digital-Reefs was lucky enough to be invited along to visit EcoReef UK recently in the wake of a large shipment of stunning fish from the pristine waters of Papua New Guinea. What makes this shipment particularly special is not just the unusual and beautiful species involved, but also the ethical and sustainable way in which it was harvested (read part 1 for detail). Following on from our visit to the impressive holding facilities, we were also thrilled to be given exclusive access to shoot in EcoReefs breeding facility.

Continue reading Review: EcoReef UK – Part 2

Cortez Marine Collecting Threatened Angels… Again

We’ve just noticed on Advanced Aquarist that Cortez Marine, the operation behind the illegal import and ultimate death of dozens of rare angelfish back in 2009, has been hard at work again… this time bringing in some 130 rare and threatened Clarion Angelfishes supposedly for Asian collectors. The Clarion Angel is currently listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN being endemic to an area estimated to be less than 50 square km, which is, according to regional experts, subject to disruption by the increased duration and frequency of ENSO events.

If you’ve been following the blog you may remember the man behind Cortez Marine, Steve Robinson, was convicted of illegal smuggling fairly recently. It seems that the lure of high profit margins is more than enough to make some people forgo ethical practices…

Digital-Reefs feels strongly that, until the long term sustainability of such species can be categorically and scientifically proven, collections should be strictly limited to those intended purely for recognised captive-breeding programmes, NOT to satisfy the desires of private rare fish collectors (or to promote this part of the industry).

Review: EcoReef UK – Part 1

On the back of news about an impending import of stunning wrasses we were thrilled to be invited to shoot EcoReef UKs holding facility in Barrow-in-Furness, in the UK’s beautiful Southern Lake District. This operation has been attracting a fair amount of publicity recently, partly down to their first import which contained, amongst others, some stunning and rare misbar Maroon Clownfishes.

Continue reading Review: EcoReef UK – Part 1

Illegal Corals Seized At Manchester Airport

image: Manchester Evening News

According to today’s edition of the Manchester Evening News, a large shipment of rare corals and clams has just been seized at Manchester Airport after customs officials discovered it was illegally imported into the country.

Stated to have a market value of more than £56,000 the shipment had apparently arrived from Singapore, but had originated from Vietnam. It is believed to have contained numerous CITES protected species, none of which were declared or had correct documentation.

Although a 23 year old man from Greater Manchester was arrested and later released on bail, rumours are circulating as to the buyer. We believe the surviving stock has been transported to the Blue Planet Aquarium at Cheshire Oaks…. we’ll bring you more details as soon as we find out.

SAIA Highlights Complexity Of Marine Imports

Drawing on the expertise of both academic organisations and industry experts in several countries, a recent study has examined marine livestock imports and revealed the complex issues surrounding the collection of reliable information (seen to be critical for the creation and management of a sustainable aquatics industry).

With ornamental Polychaete worms as the subject of the study, a variety of techniques were used to create as accurate a picture as possible of the exact numbers and species entering the UK trade. Working closely with the primary importer (TMC), it was found that previous estimates are likely to have been far underestimated and as such, the study has interesting and potentially far reaching implications for the hobby.

The SAIA conclude that future management is likely to be more effective if it is community based and ‘site-specific’ with financial and educational support from NGOs, local governments and industry members.

Click HERE for the full report.