Coastal Reef Frag Swap- June 29, 2013

You’re Invited to Coastal Reef’s Summer Frag Swap!

Saturday, June 29 from 12pm-6pm at Coastal Reef

How it works:We are hosting a true and FREE frag swap. Come with frags and leave with new ones! If you want to participate in the swap activity, bring 1-5 frags to put into a community tank. Please bring something nice to swap.  For each frag that you bring to trade you get a number. When your number is called, you get to choose a new frag to take from the display tank. Please do not come expecting to sell frags– this is a community event intended to bring reef hobbyists together to TRADE (not commercial vendors– we will kindly ask you to leave if found selling in the store, or trading information to sell.)

Registration is required (okay up to 12pm day of) but participation is FREE to those who have frags to swap. If you don’t have frags to swap, Coastal Reef will be offering great specials and sales on frags and corals! Register by commenting on this page, at Coastal Reef (910-792-6003), or send an email to with your name, phone number, hometown, and the number and type of frags you will bring. Check-in at noon for swapping to begin by 1 pm, Saturday June 29th.

Come enjoy a huge Coral sale and a friendly (and free) frag swap. See the Swap Schedule below!

12 pm– Check in/Registration

12:30– Food and drink, Swap Set-up (numbers will be given out and Frags will be collected)

1:15 pm– Frag Swap & Raffle

3 pm– Raffle drawing: PRIZES include– frag packs (soft and hard corals), Hydor Koralia Pump, and more.

Stay tuned as more details become available closer to Frag Swap) —-  $3 Raffle Tickets or 4 tickets for $10 (Tickets for sale in store starting June 1st)

Portion of Raffle Proceeds donated towards

Coral Restoration Foundation

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Fish, Coral, & Inverts: January 2013

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Christmas Holiday Hours

Coastal Reef will be closed Christmas Eve ( December 24),  (Closed Tuesdays), and December 26 in honor of the holidays.

We will be open again Thursday December 27 , from 11am-6 pm

Coastal Reef:

Phone: 910-792-6003    :    :     Find us on Facebook for Updates & Discounts

Coastal Reef provides a wide variety of high quality Marine fish and corals in Wilmington and Southeastern, NC. We take pride in offering a healthy selection of marine fish, corals and inverts for new or established saltwater aquariums.  Bring in a sample of water from your tank and we’ll gladly do a free water test to help you keep a safe environment for your fish and corals to thrive. Soon (by February 2012) we will also carry a full inventory of tanks, frozen foods, and other essential supplies. STAY UP TO DATE WITH WHAT WE CARRY, HOW WE’RE IMPROVING, AND COMMUNITY EVENTS BY BECOMING A FOLLOWER OF THIS SITE!

Tank Services and Maintenance

 Water Changes

Tank Cleaning

Tank Set-up

Regular Maintentance Plans

Tank Consignment

 R.O.D.I. water $1.00 a gallon 

Saltwater $1.25 a gallon.


As of January 2012 Skeet Polk became the new owner of Majestic Reef in Wilmington, North Carolina. Now called Coastal Reef, the store offers more than 2500 square feet complete with 40 tanks maintained with beautiful and healthy fish, a full inventory of ‘clean-up’ crew including all types of snails, crabs, shrimp, and lobster–and a wide selection of Corals in a 180 gallon and 75 gallon Coral tank (Corals for any budget, ranging from $5, $15,$35,$45, $55, $65, and $75+). We carry a complete buffet of frozen fish foods and essential supplies. Coastal Reef gladly offers free in store water tests and the highest quality and widest selection of marine products at great prices. We have everything you need to maintain a thriving saltwater aquarium, including new and used aquariums of all sizes, pumps, sumps, overflows, protein skimmers, and lighting.

Some of the brands we carry include:

 Brightwell, SeaChem, CaribSea, Koralia, Deep Blue (See our ‘Supplies’ tab above for more detailed information, or click here)

 There is new livestock in store each week and we have a new sale every weekend. Our staff is incredibly knowledgeable with Marine Fish and Coral Husbandry and happy to help you with any questions you may have about keeping a healthy saltwater aquarium.

 Quality, Variety, and Serviceare of the utmost importance to us. We choose only top quality wholesale providers to attain livestock– based on their treatment of livestock, collection methods, and practices towards sustainability.

 Our main wholesaler uses “the most state of the art marine fish holding facility in North America, [and] leads the industry in animal holding and filtration capacity, and system stability. Water in our centralized holding systems is treated by 12 kilowatts of quartz-shielded ultraviolet sterilizers, large protein skimmers with very high output ozonizers and specially designed, highly efficient mechanical and biological filtration equipment. Nearly all of the aquaria in our 40,000 square foot facility are individually equipped with independent fill and drain systems allowing thousands of individual fish to have their own sterilized water supply, minimizing the potential for the spread of parasites and other water-borne pathogens.

 As one of only a few MAC certified importers, we continue to exhibit our commitment to helping make this industry a better one, to help protect our resources for not only the longevity of our trade, but also for the preservation of the environment.”The fish are quarantined by the wholesaler, rested, fed, and individually screened numerous times before getting to our store. By the end of Spring 2012 we will also have our new fish quarentine system up and running to help guarantee the highest quality livestock.

 We offer a 200+ page catalogue with a large selection of Marine fish and corals. If we don’t have what you are looking for, we can get it for you within a week. We also carry a steady inventory of ORA fish and Corals, and support locally aquacultured frags.

 The store is conveniently located at College Rd. and Market St., in the same shopping center as Ten Pin Alley and the Government Center (with a blue roof).

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Starting a Saltwater Aquarium

 The first question that comes to mind when starting up a saltwater aquarium is how much maintenance is needed. The challenge to this question is that the maintenance required varies with every aquarium, depending on a number of different factors. When deciding to keep a marine aquarium, it’s important to do a lot of research (which this guide aims to assist you with). The more you know, the more you’ll save from doing it right the first time, and being able to keep your aquarium alive and healthy.

 Aquariums come in many different sizes and can be suited for many different purposes, each demanding a different level of care. There are most certainly Saltwater tank options that require infrequent water changes and low maintenance. No matter what type of tank you keep, there are certain responsibilities to maintain a saltwater tank.

 We offer free in-store water tests because you will need to maintain proper water parameters (including pH, salinity, nitrates, ammonia, and temperature). The frequency of water changes that will be needed depends on your filtration set-up. Adding filtration devices, such as a protein skimmer, refugium, and/or sump to your aquarium, will help keep your water quality stable. With the use of such filtration devices, I recommend a water change once every 2 to 4 weeks. It’s important to mention, however, that some tanks may be fine with no water change for months (so long as water supplements are added and fresh water top offs are given regularly). It is important to know that when evaporation occurs, the salt stays in the water; therefore, to top off you always use fresh R.O.D.I. water.

 The type (and size) of your Saltwater aquarium will help determine the amount of maintenance needed. Some people are surprised to learn that sometimes larger tanks require less maintenance because the protein skimmer helps filter and clean the water for you. If you are keeping a Fish Only tank (aka FOWLR) it requires less water changes than a tank with Coral.

 One of the most fascinating features of a saltwater aquarium is the productivity of each living thing in the dynamic ecosystem. Invertebrates—such as snails, crabs, and shrimp—each benefit the aquarium by eating the algae and other waste in the tank. Certain types of fish can also contribute to the overall well being of your reef community—for instance, some will eat Ich (a type of parasite that makes some fish sick). Planning your aquarium carefully will help guarantee that you set up a productive and peaceful reef community, with a level of maintenance that you desire.

 I. Types of Saltwater Aquariums:

Reef Tank- An aquatic community of reef safe tropical fish, corals, and invertebrates (i.e. crabs, snails, shrimp, starfish, anemones, etc.).

 A Saltwater reef aquarium is a mini-ecosystem gleaming with dynamic life and exquisite colors. Each organism in the reef community contributes productively to the overall well being of the reef. A myriad of different types of tropical fish, coral, and invertebrates (inverts) provide reefkeepers an opportunity for a unique and thriving ecosystem, as well as a living piece of art.

 The biggest difference between a Reef tank and any other saltwater tank is the lighting. Corals need light to photosynthesize and stay healthy. Reef tanks thrive with enhanced water filtration and water conditioning (ranging from every couple days to weekly). Adding a sump below your aquarium creates a more stable tank by increasing the water volume, and provides a nice way to also keep a protein skimmer or refugium hidden under or behind your tank-system. Reef tanks can range in size from a small desk tank to a massive aquarium, whichever you desire.


FOWLR- (Fish Only With Live Rock) Keeping a tank without Corals requires less responsibility, as Corals require cleaner water quality (better filtration) and stronger lighting. There are options available to use fake corals if you still want to add some color and texture to your tank.

 **Live Rock provides endless benefits to a Marine aquarium because it supplies the denitrifying bacteria that a closed system aquarium depends on to maintain life. Without live rock, when a fish poops it would poison itself.

Predator Tank- Because there’s an endless variety of tropical fish, it’s important to learn the characteristics of each before building your reef community. While many fish that can be kept in a FOWLR tank can coexist with Coral and other fish, there are others (such as many Angelfish) that will eat Coral or fight with other fish to death. A predator tank, when planned properly, can consist of larger fish that live with other large fish (such as Grouper, Lionfish, Eels, and most Triggerfish) that would otherwise eat smaller fish.

II. Types of Equipment

There are many types of equipment available to help make fishkeeping easier, some more essential than others. The essential equipment and materials to start a saltwater aquarium include:

  • Tank: A Biocube is a 29 gallon tank that comes with the whole package, including the tank, light, and filter. An advantage to getting a biocube is that the light it comes with is high quality enough to keep Corals.
  • Light
  • Filter
  • Heater
  • Thermometer
  • Hydrometer or refractometer: measures the salinity and specific gravity
  • Powerheads (which create movement and circulation that simulate the ocean currents and tides). You can use other types of equipment instead, but saltwater aquariums need some sort of flow and movement in the water.
  • Substrate (i.e. Sand or Gravel)
  • Live Rock
  • Water conditioners/supplements: talk to us in store about which types will work best for you.
  • Food (frozen and/or pellets, seaweed, etc): All fish appreciate varied diet (i.e. meat, herbivore)
  • Salt
  • 5 gallon Buckets for water changes
  • Algae scraper or magnet buddy help to  keep your aquarium clean

   i. Some of the most beneficial devices you can add to your tank include a:

                     ▪  Protein Skimmer    ▪  Refugium     ▪ Sump    

 What is a Protein Skimmer? When you’re walking along the ocean and foam washes ashore, this is the organic waste produced from marine organisms. In an aquarium, the protein skimmer produces thousands of macrobubbles that attach to this type of waste and proteins, which is then disposed into the skimmer. Protein skmmers cannot be kept on a freshwater aquarium, but this is the best piece of equipment for Marine tanks to alleviate water changes for the owner.

 What is a Refugium?  

An area separate from your tank that allows vulnerable species to thrive—such a copepods, amphipods, and various macro algae– which helps keep a clean water quality. Copepods and Amphipods are a great detrivore for your tank (they consume leftover food and waste, which creates undesired nitrates in the water if not removed). Tropical Fish also love eating Copepods and Amphipods. A Refugium can hang in the back of your aquarium, or even better in a sump underneath. 

Why use sump? 

A sump is a water system connected to your aquarium, either beneath or beside. It adds water volume to your overall system which creates a stable environment and optimal water quality. It also allows you to recreate the most ideal environment for your fish and corals. Sumps are aesthetically pleasing since all the external equipment (i.e. filtration devices, heater, etc) can be hidden in the sump. By adding a refugium to the sump you can mimic the nutrients and life available in a coastal lagoon. A sump is the most beneficial piece of equipment to add to your aquarium for the best water quality.

 Other types of equipment that will greatly enhance the quality of your tank, and make your job easier, include:

      ▪ Auto Top-off: Is essentially a float level, so when your tank water evaporates it automatically supplies a water topoff, which keeps a very stable salinity. It’s very easy to do your own water topoffs, however, it makes it more difficult to keep the ideal salinity level.

      ▪ Reactors (i.e. Calcium, Phosphate, Bio, Carbon): A piece of equipment that contains a specified media to maintain proper levels of nutrients in the water. For instance, a Phosphate reactor runs on G.F.O ( Grandular ferric oxide) that absorbs phosphates that can create algae and stress corals and fish.

III. Maintaining Water Parameters: Maintaining proper water parameters is a necessity for optimal health and longevity of the livestock in your tank. Water supplements and conditioners are available to ensure the proper and ideal water parameters. Depending on the intensity that you wish to dive into the hobby, you can build an aquarium that needs as little or much supplements necessary to thrive. While we offer free in-store water tests, there are also numerous types of test kit available so you can check your own water quality. Click here to see a detailed chart and description about keeping healthy water parameters.

                   TANK SET-UP

IV. Filling your Aquarium with Water    

1.       Lay your substrates: Substrates range from coarse to fine, and come in different colors. What you decide to use depends on what you and the type of fish you keep prefer.

2.       Fill with Salt Water and place live rock (it’s best to build caves with live rock)

*Live rock allows denitrifying bacteria to form (a natural biological filter) as the water settles.    

*Adding Microbacter (a water supplement) speeds up the denitrifying process, improves your biological filtration and rapidly improves your water quality and can help you decrease the time needed for this cycling period (which allows you to add fish sooner to the tank).

3.       Let sit for at least 3 days with filter and/or sump running

4.       Check ammonia, nitrates and salinity (or a full water test depending on the type of rock purchased). It’s possible that your tank will need to go through these phases for weeks before settling to accurate water parameters to sustain fish and coral.During this period the poisonous waste is being converted into a nontoxic substance that benefits your aquarium—you will know when you’re water gets to this ideal condition after numerous water changes and accurate water tests.  (purchasing live rock that’s already cured will speed up this process tremendously).

If you purchase your rock online, during shipping, there is a period of die off on the rock which is essentially poisonous to fish. It puts off tons of nitrates and ammonia, which is exactly what you do not want in your aquarium water.

All rock must be 100% cured before you can add fish. This is one huge benefit to purchasing live rock from your local fish store, which saves your 4-8 weeks of time curing your rock in a separate aquarium from your livestock.

This graphic shows the denitrifying process of harmful bacteria:

 Click here to see other explanations and graphics for the denitrifying process

Building Your Community

The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you want to keep corals. Corals add, among many other things, beautiful colors to your tank. They require proper lighting, filtration, and water flow, as well as specific water parameters. Coral Reef aquariums also thrive with a protein skimmer (which constantly cleans the water). While Corals bring exquisite life to your marine aquarium, there are many types of fish that are not reef safe because they eat corals or invertebrates. Tropical fish are classified as reef safe, caution (keeping with coral), or not reef safe. At the bottom of this chart you can see which fish are reef safe with Corals. 

When deciding the types of fish to keep in your marine aquarium, it is important to keep in mind the full-grown size of the fish, and how much space it needs and can share. A general rule of thumb: you need 2 gallons for every inch of full grown fish. The full growth size of a fish, its activity behaviors, and its feeding/waste production are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing the fish you keep. For instance, some fish are extremely finicky eaters, such as the Mandarin Dragonette which often only eats copepods (copepods are essentially like a bug that crawls around on the rock).

  It’s just as important to choose types of fish that are compatible with each other. Generally, unless you have a very large aquarium, its best to only have one Tang in your community. Damsels are another fish that don’t do well in an aquarium with their own kind. Most schooling fish, such as Chromis, prefer to be in odd numbers of 3 or more. It is beneficial to have some sort of bottom-dwellers in your aquarium (i.e. Goby or Jawfish) because they help stir up the sand, keeping the water clean of leftover food. Many types of fish don’t get along with one another, so it’s important to understand the needs of each type of fish in your tank (fish compatability chart). At Coastal Reef we aim to be an ongoing resource to our customers to help answer any questions or issues with sltwater aquariums, especially with regards to building a compatible and productive reef community. You can stop by our store in Wilmington, NC, call us at 910-792-6003, or email us at if you need help with any aspect of reefkeeping.

Other Resources about starting and keeping a saltwater aquarium:

www.carolinafishtalk is an online forum with hundreds of Saltwater enthusiasts who can help answer your questions and discuss the hobby.

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Weekly Update: May 23, 2012

Orange Spot Filefish

While once believed to be a very difficult fish to maintain in an aquarium because of a finicky eating habit, we carry preconditioned fish who already eat frozen foods. They are cautiously reef safe, and may nip at Corals. However, if kept well fed they can be a great addition to your reef.

Yellow Watchman Goby & Tiger Pistol Shrimp

We have several pistol shrimp/goby pairs right now, which is a fascinating symbiotic relationship that you can keep in your own aquarium. Almost all pistol shrimp are blind and intuitively rely on the goby for their sight. The shrimp will always keep an antenna touching the goby, while the goby protects and warns the shrimp with the flash of its tail when larger fish approach. They are great at sifting and stirring up sand (but beware that your rockbed is steady because they’re constantly foraging in the ground layer of your tank). The two live in harmony, digging and hollowing their own home together throughout the sand-bed.

Green Mandarin

A peaceful addition to your aquarium with some of the most unique coloring seen in tropical fish. Can be difficult to get them eating frozen foods so it’s important to keep in a very established system. Their main food source if Copepods, which thrive naturally in a well maintained aquarium. Baware, without a refugium the copepods currently in your system might rapidly deplete after adding a Mandarin Goby.  


Black Clowns

 There’s a large selection of healthy, aquacultured Black Oscellaris Clowns currently in store. They come from a strong lineage of True Black Clowns, and many of them are already completely black.

True Percula Clown

We’ve got healthy True Perculas with great color definition.

Clown Tang

A beautiful medium-large sized Tang whose diet consists of mostly greens. Clowns enjoy grazing on algae attached to the live rock. Can be aggressive, take caution with other Tang (Surgeon) fish. Needs a large sized aquarium.


Desjardini Sailfin Tang

One of the best algae grazers. Safe with corals. More vibrant than their close cousin the Sailfin Tang.


Copperband Butterflyfish

A gorgeous fish great for killing the common nuisance hitchhiker aiptasia. Cautiously reef safe, may nip at coral polyps. 


Humuhumu Rectangle Triggerfish

This Rectangle trigger has different color variations from its hawaiian relative the Piicasso trigger. Humuhumu triggerfish are known to be vocal, as Humuhumu is hawaiian for “fish that grunts like a pig.”

Hawaiian Black Triggerfish (aka Indian Triggerfish)

An exquisitely beautiful and rare fish with a dark black body that glimmers with shades of blue and green. We’re happy to have this fish as it can be very hard to find.

 Ultra Australian Maxima Clams

We’ve been getting in some large and colorful clams, and there’s some on display in our store tank. If you’re interested please let me know, they become more expensive for the larger sized clams, but make a dramatic and stunning centerpiece for your aquarium.  

Stars & Stripes Pufferfish

A very characterable fish with a lot of personality. Puffers quickly learn to recognize their ownera and aren’t shy to ‘beg’ for food. Pufferfish can blow up its body 2-3 times its regualr size when stressed or for portection. They’re even known to spit/blow water

They will eat smaller fish and are not good with delicate or slow moving species. Somewhat aggressive– do not keep more than one pufferfish. Needs larger tank, 100+gallons.

Passer Angel, Blue Hippo Tang, Paddlefin Wrasse (from left to right below)

Dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish


Red Striped Soldier Fish

A large, peaceful, bright colored fish that is tough enough to be kept with larger aggressive fish.



 Blue Angelfish

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April/May 2012

We ended April with a large selection of Corals and Frags. Frags range in price from $15-$35– shown in some of the pictures below. These photos only show some of the Corals we have, larger varietyavailable in store. 

Below: Aussie Acans and other $25 Frags.

Below: Australian Corals


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Frag Swap & Coral Sale! Saturday, April 28, 2012


Saturday, April 28 from 12pm-4pm at Coastal Reef!


How it works:We are hosting a true and FREE frag swap. Come with frags and leave with new ones! If you want to participate in the swap activity, bring 1-3 frags to put into the “pot” [display tank]. Please bring something nice to swap.  For each frag that you bring to trade you get a number. When your number is called, you get to choose a new frag to take from the display tank.

 Registration is required (okay up to 12pm day of) but participation is FREE to those who have frags to swap. If you don’t have frags to swap, Coastal Reef will be offering specials! Register at Coastal Reef (910-792-6003) or send an email to with your name, phone number, hometown, and the number and type of frags you will bring. Check-in at noon for swapping to begin by 1 pm, April 28th

Come enjoy a huge Coral sale and a friendly (and free) frag swap.

 Proceeds from the raffle and food go towards

Cape Fear Aquarium Society.


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