Purigen by Seachem:
Purigen has been one of my favorite products for years and I am always singing it praise to fellow aquarium hobbyists. The is a manmade resin compound that will remove organic wastes from the aquarium water. It will not remove trace elements or some discolorations, but it does remove protein. What sets it apart from many other protein removing products is the way it binds the proteins to the resin. Purigen does not just trap proteins in microcrevasses or use weak ionic bonding to get the protein to stick to the resin. It chemically bends the protein out of shape (denatures it) and attaches with firm chemical bonds. This may not sound like much, but it has a profound effect on what happens after the protein is attached to the Purigen. I do not want to get too technical, but this is what makes this a great product. I think you realize that the bacteria that digest the excess proteins can be found everywhere in the aquarium, including on the Purigen resin beads. But, when they release enzymes to digest the proteins, because Purigen has denatured the shape of the protein, the enzymes cannot break down the protein! No protein breakdown, no additional nitrates and phosphate wastes. I have found in aquariums up to 55 gallons that the use of Purigen can be every bit as effective as a protein skimmer for a mini-reef tank, with a lot less hassle. I think they should market the Purigen as a “protein skimmer in a bag”. Another great aspect to Purigen is that it will tell you when it has been all used up and needs replaced or recharged. The resin beads will turn from an off-white color to a red/purple color as they become saturated with protein. One quick look and you know if it needs maintenance. About the only downside to Purigen is the size of the beads. They are so small that you have to use a mesh bag with a rating of 300 microns or less to hold them in your filtration system. Seachem of course makes “The Bag” specifically for the Purigen type resins, rated at 180 microns. The construction is a welded filter bag that can withstand bleach and caustic acids used during regeneration of the Purigen. That’s right, not only is it a great product to use, but it can be reused several times before you would ever have to replace it!
My Grade: A
Digital Thermometer by Coralife:
Perhaps one of the easiest to use pieces of aquarium equipment, the Digital Thermometer is still a very useful item to have on hand. It consists of a small oval display unit with a screen that displays the temperature in either Fahrenheit or Celsius,with the readout accurate to the tenth of a degree. It can accurately measure temperatures from -10F to 140F and can be used in terrariums in addition to aquariums. Attached to the readout display via a thin cord is the remote temperature probe that is placed in the aquarium water you wish to measure. Battery operated, my first Digital Thermometer last 1 1/2 years and my second is going on 3 years. (Maybe I have not dropped it as often as the first one?!) I like the portability of the thermometer that makes it handy for measure multiple aquariums or for testing the water in my mixing tub of RO/Salt mix to make sure it is the same temperature as my aquarium. One drawback is the difficulty to read the display under low light conditions, otherwise the Digital Thermometer comes packaged with the display, battery, cord and probe for operation at a reasonable cost and quality.
My Grade: A-
This popular tropical fish food has gone through several name changes over the years. It has been sold as Discus Bits (made it sound too restrictive), Color Bits (really kind of vague) and now as TetraColor Tropical Granules. Tetra still markets this item with an Angelfish and a Discus on the packaging, but I have found that nearly all fish love this stuff. The small granules are a slow sinking variety and if you have good water movement in your aquarium they will usually stay in the water column until they are all eaten by the fish. With my Clown Loaches, none of them ever hit the bottom! Being a granule makes this food less likely to be sucked up by filters and very easy to spot if you are overfeeding. The mostly meaty ingredients result in a protein content of 47.5% and fat content 6.5% and while it makes a pretty good balanced diet, you will want to supplement with veggie based foods and frozen foods as a treat.
My Grade: A
Cupramine by Seachem:
Every book, forum or advanced hobbyist will tell you of the importance of using a quarantine aquarium for all new fish. Use the quarantine to treat for problems before you introduce them to the display aquarium where it is usually much more difficult to treat. One product I have found that works well for quarantine to eliminate possible parasites is Cupramine. This product uses an organic complex to bind the copper and keep it in solution. It retains its ionic charge and is therefore still active in disrupting the life cycle of most parasites of freshwater and saltwater fish. Unlike pure ionic copper, Cupramine has a four-fold concentration gap between its therapeutic dose and a toxic overdose, making it much safer to use. You can test for the copper level with most copper test kits, or in quarantine tanks, you can pretty much just follow the dosing recommendations on the product to maintain a proper therapeutic level. Also, Cupramine can easily be removed from solution with activated carbon or specific resins like CupriSorb. If you have to use it in the display aquarium, you do not have to worry about it precipitating out on the substrate. As with nearly all copper treatments, you should dose the fish for 14 days or longer.
My Grade: A