Re:New tank prep

Pete Giwojna

Dear JetMech:

No, sir, I wouldn’t add any macroalgae or invertebrates to your aquarium at this time. It hasn’t cycled yet and the invertebrates would be unlikely to survive the ammonia and nitrite spikes that occur when a new aquarium is establishing the biological filtration. Sea lettuce and other macroalge utilize nitrogenous wastes for growth, and you don’t want to add anything to the aquarium that will remove the ammonia and nitrites that the nitrifying bacteria feed on. That can hinder the cycling process and limit the population of beneficial Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter the aquarium can support.

The live sand has seeded your Aquapod with beneficial bacteria and you do need to add a source of ammonia to feed that bacteria and help the aquarium to cycle, but I would not use invertebrates for that purpose. You could use hardy, expendable fish, such as damsels or mollies to feed the bacteria with their waste products, but I would recommend the fishless cycling method instead, which involves adding a piece or two of uncooked cocktail shrimp or similar biomass to the aquarium, which will produce abundant ammonia as it decomposes.

There is a detailed discussion of this method for cycling a new aquarium in the discussion thread on this page titled "New Tank — Please Help," and if you read through that material, it will explain how to cycle your tank step-by-step using this technique. You can look up the discussion online at the following URL:,com_joomlaboard/Itemid,218/func,view/id,4939/catid,2/

The 12-and 24-gallon Aquapod Nano Reef tanks are very beautiful, well-designed aquariums with an efficient filtration system. They have a number of features that are not included in the nanocube tanks, and of the two systems, I much prefer the Aquapods.

For example, the Aquapods include dual-stage biological filtration, whereas the nanocubes typically lack a biofilter. The Aquapods are also equipped with LED moonlights to simulate moon shine after dark and a lunar cycle. The surface extraction provided by the overflow box in the Aquapods is another nice feature. It will effectively prevent an oily film from building up at the water surface, which facilitates better gas exchange at the air/water interface.

So the Aquapods are very nice systems overall, JetMech. However, they may not be the best setups for seahorses. As you know, they are designed as nano reef systems for keeping live corals, which require strong lighting, strong water movement, and excellent circulation in order to grow and thrive. By contrast, seahorses require less vigorous circulation with relatively moderate flow and prefer low-to-moderate light levels rather than excessively bright light. I am concerned that the Aquapod Nano Reef aquarium may generate too much turbulence and produce currents that are too strong for seahorses, sir.

As an example, the 24-gallon Aquapod is equipped with a 290-gallon per hour submersible pump, which will turn over the entire guy above the aquarium more than 12 times every hour. Again, that’s going to be too much water flow and turbulence for seahorses in a small aquarium of that size, unless you can attenuate the output from the filter using a spray bar or some such modification.

In addition, some of the 24-gallon Aquapod’s are equipped with metal halide lighting that can also be problematic for seahorses. In addition to providing high-intensity lighting, the metal halides also tend to generate a lot of heat, and as you know, heat stress can be very detrimental to seahorses. In addition, seahorses don’t like excessively bright light and they may go into hiding, seeking shaded areas amidst the rockwork, if the lighting is too intense for their comfort level. And the seahorses won’t look their best and brightest under metal halides because they will produce excess melanin (black pigment) in order to protect themselves against the harmful ultraviolet radiation they associate with intense light, and darken as a result. For instance, Jorge Gomezjurado reports "…I have exposed yellow seahorses to strong metal halide and they have turned black in few hours." So it would be a shame to display brightly colored seahorses under metal halide lighting in a small, close system aquarium, sir.

The 24-gallon Aquapod equipped with the 64 W Power Compact fluorescent lighting system would be a better choice in that regard than the same tank with the 150 W metal halide lighting.

For these reasons, the Aquapods are great little systems for nano reef tanks, but perhaps not the best setups for seahorses. Given a choice, however, I would definitely prefer an Aquapod over a nanocube, considering the superior features of the Aquapods. Just be aware that you are going to need to tone down the water output from the filter so that it’s not too overpowering for seahorses.

Best of luck with your new Aquapod, sir!

Pete Giwojna

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