Tag: Melev’s Reef blogs

Top down photos with a smartphone


I recently shipped out a Smartphone Floater to a customer that has a Samsung Note8 phone. His immediate concern was that he was going to flood the box and ruin his phone.  I’ve been making a type of floater box for iPhones for the past six years or more.  I’m sure in that time, someone has had an accident and got water inside the box because not everyone is perfect.  That being said, I’ve never had that problem. I put the phone in the box, place it on the surface of the water and hold it where I want to take a picture.

Today I made a quick video about it for youtube.

And here’s a video I shot back in 2011 over my 400g.

Then I thought, lemme take some quick pictures with my iPhone 7 Plus in that same floater box you saw in the first video.  These were resized to fit the website, and I did adjust the colors a bit in Lightroom so it would be a little less blue. This first picture is a close up of a Montipora sp, called Sunset Monti.

The Milka coral is purple, so under blue lights this is about as good as it gets with a cellphone camera and no filter.

Below is a Pavona. I’ve had pavona in my reefs for over 10 years. It’s also called a Cactus coral.

I wish this picture was better. The oranges were popping so hard, but I think the sand muted the shot. More of the sunset monti in the lower left corner.

The Sebae anemone with some of the Skunks.

A large colony of Sunset montipora.

My lobophyllia looks blue-grey from above.  It looks so different from the side, you’d never believe it can be this color.

Below is the Lime In The Sky acropora. Green with bright blue tips, hard to capture with a smartphone camera and no gel filter.

Some Darth Maul palys peek out from under a Hammer coral.

A bunch of tiny new branches of Melev’s Shadowcaster acro bursting out of a puddle of DNA. 🙂

Below, the pink and green coral is one of two Drew’s Acros in my reef. The bright green coral is a Porites.

This green Favia brain coral (below) is a very slow grower, I’ve had it for years. Got it from Duane when visiting him once.

These are pink and green Blastomussa coral polyps.

This is an Elkhorn montipora I got from Duane.

Some brown birdsnest with blue-ish polyps.

A red acropora from Duane is growing nicely.

Two more acropora, including the Blue Tort (left).

Milka colony from above.

The other Drew’s acro.

This tiny twig is green skinned like the Orion Slave girl from Star Trek.  We’re calling it the Joanie Brosas coral. lol

And a closeup of the branches of Melev’s Shadowcaster acro.

So that’s it. I took all these pictures in about 5 minutes in that floater box, and didn’t use any gels. Some light editing in Lightroom to prep them so I could share them with you. I’d be cautious when doing top down photography, but you could say that about any DSLR brand on the market as well. Be smart, be careful, and show us your pretty reefs.

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The Reef Trace App is here!


The iOS version of Reef Trace has been out for a few weeks. The Android version comes out next, work starts on it next month. Reef Trace has partnered with Melev’s Reef, and provides you with some really cool features. It’s $8.99 in the App store.

Track your water test results, and share them easily via social media right from the app. Water testing videos are being included within the app, which falls to me to complete. I’ve already done the ELOS test kit videos. The instructions and color cards are in the app, safely always accessible. Your data is stored in the cloud, and the app works on all iOS devices. You can track multiple tanks with the single app, which is great for those maintenance accounts. I need to add my water parms from tonight, so I can start to get some really nice graphing going.

Water testing videos and written instructions are included within the app. I’m filming these as I get more kit brands. I’ve already done the ELOS test kit videos. 

The LFS locator finds stores within 45 miles of your location, and you can move the target to other areas to see what stores are near that spot. 

Below, I moved it toward San Antonio to see what stores it would find. You can also let Reef Trace know what stores are out there, especially if you notice one is missing.

Critter ID is built into the app, so you can visually explore the things we find at the LFS or in our aquariums. 

Plaza is still evolving, showing livestock and drygoods available in your area.

TDS measurements allow us to aggregate what our water measures across the nation, seeing how our source water is doing. I’d like to see us add our measurements quarterly, if not monthly. Let’s watch the trends and see things develop.

Next for the app will be the ability to track PAR measurements. We want to learn what PAR numbers you are getting under the light fixtures you’ve purchased, and again we can see how things average across the nation. Let’s get some baselines figured out — measure right under the light at 0″ (surface of water), 6″, 12″, 18″ and 24″ , and what fixture you have. Then we can begin to share what corals are thriving at what PAR measurement. As 1000s add their data, we’ll be able to learn what coral does best at, and place our livestock in the prime locations for ideal results. I’m super excited about this, an idea I suggested four years ago during my MACNA talk. It’s finally something we can do, pooling our collective and sharing our results. I love this!

Grab your app, and get involved. Click the image below to go to the app store.

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This view never gets old


Each day when I roll out of bed, the first thing to greet me is my reef. The actinics are on, and I get a nice view to start my day. As I work in my office, this is my view. Of course, I refill my coffee cup repeatedly, so I also get to check on all the anemones and clowns. And Dory of course. She’s at the bottom in this picture, at 7 o’clock.

My schedule is different from most people because I’m naturally nocturnal. I tend to get up at the crack of noon, which is why you see me online late at night so often. I get a lot done when people are sleeping – that’s been true for decades. lol

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Doing All The Things


You know how you put off some tasks because they are going to take more time, or because they aren’t easily accessible?  I’m not immune either.  I knew that my calcium reactor was in dire need of refilling, the carbon was used up, and the biopellets were consumed.  The skimmer needed a good cleaning too.  So I did all that, plus wiped down the inside of the sump, cleaned off the ATO sensor, and cleaned some of the flexible tubing.  

This time I filled the Biospheres’ bag with saltwater to pre-soak them, and they sat waiting for about three days.  The benefit was zero floaters this time, and they immediately tumbled nicely in the reactor. Specifically, I used the packaging the biospheres come in, and filled it up with about 2 cups of tank water and put it somewhere safe where it wouldn’t be toppled over.

Tomorrow’s look of the reef should be pretty clean with all the tune ups and the fresh batch of GAC in the reactor pulling out discoloration from the water.

This time I filled up that calcium reactor with some of the dead skeletons we saved from the reef reset.  They were soaked in tap water for days, rinsed rinsed rinsed and left to dry out.  I smashed the bigger chunks with a 24oz framing hammer I had, making them about the right size to fit my reactor. In that first picture, did you spot the fungia plate?  Talk about recycling. lol

I mixed up another gallon of Magnesium (Magnesium Pronto) for the 400g. I dose 90ml per day until the gallon is gone, then after a few weeks I do it all over again. Mg is a little low currently, measuring 1200ppm.

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Macro growth looks good!


A few months ago, I got a Lumilite to try out over my smaller sump’s refugium. I wanted to see if it would do the job adequately for my customers that buy my sumps. I placed it over the zone, plugged it into the Apex so it would turn on and off daily.

I noticed the macro algae is growing well under this daylight spectrum LED fixture, and I really do like the low profile look of the light.

The legs are adjustable to keep it securely in place, but it’s loose enough for me to move it out of my way. I do have to wipe it down because this water level is pretty high, and salt spatter is unavoidable.

This is feather caulerpa, which I grow in both of my refugiums.

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