Halichoeres chrysus: A Hardy Little “Banana with Fins” That’s Just Right for Beginners

Known by a variety of common names—banana wrasse, canary wrasse, golden wrasse, yellow coris, et al—Halichoeres chrysus is hardy, readily available, reasonably affordable, well suited to modest-sized systems, and among the better choices for beginners. Of course, owing to all…

Paul B’s Unique Perspective on Keeping Mandarins

Hobby pioneer Paul “Paul B” Baldassano is not your grandfather’s reefkeeper (though he is old enough to be your grandfather!). In fact, Paul B’s perspective on just about any aspect of the marine aquarium hobby is quite distinct from anyone…

Salty Q&A: Is a Sump the Same as a Refugium?

Question What exactly is the difference between a “sump” and a “refugium” (assuming there is a difference)? These are terms I didn’t hear in my 30-plus years as a freshwater aquarist, but I’ve heard them numerous times since starting my…

What Gives with that Marine Fish that Never Eats?

I’ve had this fish in my aquarium for months now and it’s as fat and happy as can be, yet I’ve never actually seen it consume any of the food’s I’ve offered. How on earth is it getting enough to…

The Many Possible Purposes of the Saltwater Refugium

“Refugium” is a hobby term that resists easy definition. This is probably so because, unlike most aquarium accoutrements—heaters, powerheads, protein skimmers, lights, etc.—there’s no single, readily identifiable purpose for a refugium. Ask 10 different hobbyists what a refugium is for,…

Harmless or Helpful Live Rock Hitchhikers: “Pods”

Regular Saltwater Smarts readers often see references to them in Paul B’s posts. They arrive in our aquaria unbidden aboard chunks of live rock, in live sand, or on coral specimens attached to rocks. At a glance, they look like…

Good Reasons to Use a Refugium in Your Reef System

A refugium is a safe haven for algae and invertebrates in a separate tank from the main display aquarium. These organisms provide some distinct advantages to the overall health of a reef aquarium. First off, the critters breeding in the…

Green Mandarinfish: Gorgeous, Good-Natured, and a Very Finicky Feeder

Many coral reef fishes are renowned for their spectacular coloration and patterning, but there’s one particular species, commonly available in the marine aquarium hobby, that arguably surpasses them all in this regard. I’m talking about the green mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus).…

Giant amphipods discovered near New Zealand at a depth of 7 km

A giant amphipod measuring nearly a foot long is making the news circuit after being discovered near New Zealand at a depth of 7 kilometers. This was not an isolated occurrence as scientists were able to capture seven of these giants that…

Slowing down for success, the patient reefer’s way to “pre-stock” a tank

Having set up more than a few reef systems in my time, I never seem to be surprised at my true hobbyist impatience! Let’s face it—once we get the plumbing done, the lighting tweaked, leaks sealed, and aquascaping set, we’re…