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Reef-Log keeps track of all the corals, fish and critters in your Reef Aquarium in an easy and accessible way. The main display is a collapsible three level tree structure which shows aquariums, life form categories and life form names that you create. Reef-Log is a universal app, so it works on the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad.

The data you store in Reef-Log is presented in three ways:

Overview - The basic information on your reef life form such as dates acquired or released, where it came from and its diet.
Notes - This is where you keep a written and photographic log of your reef life forms. You can store as many photos of each life form as you wish.
Taxonomy - This is where you can record the scientific names of your reef inhabitants. This part can be a sub-activity in of itself!

Reef-Log Tree

When opening Reef-Log for the first time there will be no entries. On the iPhone/iPod Touch it will prompt you to create your first entry by pressing the plus (+) button. It is similar on the iPad except that the larger screen allows the viewing area to be split in two halves, but the plus button is also there within the Reef-Log Tree view on the left.

iPhone Tree Image iPhone Add Image

iPad Add Image

Pressing the plus (+) button will display the Add new life form view. It’s here where you enter the components that make up your Reef-Log Tree view.

Name: The Name of your reef life form can be in any form you wish. Some people prefer to use pet names while others like to use the common animal name. For example, I call my Banded Coral Shrimp “Rango” while my friend calls his “Banded Coral Shrimp.” It makes no difference to Reef-Log as to how you wish to represent the identity of a life form. The Name is the lowest level place holder on the Reef-Log tree for data entry and has an accesory indicator represented by the greater than sign (>).

Type: The Type entry is used for categorizing a life form and represents the middle tier of the Reef-Log Tree. It is meant to be a very simplistic grouping of animals such as Coral, Fish, Shrimp, Invertebrates, etc. You can create any kind of Type you wish even if it’s not life form sounding, for example, you could create a Type called “Sand” to indicate those life forms that live on and in the sand.

Aquarium: The Aquarium entry is used to indicate the container your life forms live in, for example, “40g Reef” represents a 40 gallon Reef Aquarium. Many reef keepers have multiple tanks and can keep track of which tank has what in it. Even though you don’t own it, you could also keep track of a public aquarium’s inhabitants and see how they change on subsequent visits.

Don’t worry about making a mistake during this part, you can always make changes to your Reef-Log Tree later. Changes to the Reef-Log Tree are made instantly and all data for your life form will always follow your tree changes.

After entering the Name, Type and Aquarium, press the Save button and your new entry will display on the main Reef-Log Tree view. Pressing an entry at the Aquarium or Type level will collapse or expand that level of the tree. Pressing a life form entry (>) will initially take you to the Overview page. On an iPad, the split views have the added benefit of toggling between life forms while on the Overview, Log entries or Taxonomy views, but first, lets talk about the Overview page.


The Overview page allows for entry of basic information about the chosen life form. It first displays the Name, Type and Aquarium for the life form. These are the primary entries that make up its tree view. Lets pretend you got a baby Powder Blue Tang fish and it was only 3 inches long when you got him and you put him in your “50g Reef.” One year later and he’s now 5 inches long and you decide to transfer him to your “120g Reef.” In Reef-Log all you need to do is change the “50g Reef” Aquarium entry to “120g Reef” and press the Save button. The Reef-Log Tree will automatically reorder your tree view with the updated entries. Now if only catching that Powder Blue tang in the “50g Reef” could be as easy!

iPhone Overview1 Image iPhone Overview2 Image

iPad Overview Image

Lets jump down to the Dates section where it allows you to enter the life form’s date of birth, date when it was obtained, date when it was released and date of death. Reef-Log caters to all types of reef collectors. Some people raise clownfish from eggs and will know their date of birth, where as some collectors live next to the shore and capture their own critters. A lot of us will purchase their critters from local fish stores or online, while some of us will release the critter back into the wild or transfer or sell a life form to another tank. No matter which way you get or release your life form, it’s helpful to know when these major events happen.

Entering an obtained date will automatically (after saving) show how long that life form has been in Captivity. Entering a birth date and pressing the Captivity button (after a Save) will toggle the title of the Captivity button to Age and then show the age of the life form. Entering a Released date or Death date will stop the clock on the Captivity and Age time displays.

Scrolling down on the Overview page reveals six more common data entries for a life form. At the very bottom is a Delete button that allows you to completely delete the currently displayed life form from Reef-Log. Please be aware that deleting a life form entry will also delete all its corresponding notes and photo references (the photos themselves will not be deleted) and also its corresponding Taxonomy. It is recommended that you backup your data in iTunes or with iCloud or by some other means like iExplorer before deleting a life form entry that took a long time to create.

Notes and Photos

On the Overview page there is a Notes and Photos section. The icon on the left shows the latest photo entry for the currently viewed life form. The camera icon on the right is a button that takes you to the Notes and Photos page.

iPhone Notes1 Image iPhone Notes2 Image

iPad Notes Image

The Notes and Photos page contains all your log entries and photos that you have entered for the currently selected life form. To add a new log entry or photo, press the add (+) button. In the Add entry view you can begin typing (or speaking if on an iPhone 4S or iPad 3rd generation or later) your notes. You can make a photo entry from either an existing photo from your photo library or take a new photo from your camera.

When finished with your notes and/or photo entry, press the Save button. Note entries are displayed chronologically with the newest entries appearing at the top.

If you have chosen to add a photo to a log entry, you can view the photo by single tapping the photo’s icon and its photo will display in full view. Double tapping a photo’s icon will sequentially display all photos for the currently viewed life form. The note text entries will appear on the photo view but can be hidden or revealed by a single tap. You can use the arrows to navigate between photos or swipe left or right.

The example sequence of photos below shows a partial progression of my Orange Bam Bam Zoanthids over a 6 month period. Being able to view a life form's photos in this manner can be very eye opening and educational.

BamBam Image


Taxonomy is the part of biological sciences which identifies, names and classifies living things according to apparent common characteristics.

It is far from a simple subject, particularly owing to many disputes over the rules for classifying plants and animals. In terms of real-life application, taxonomy, on the one hand, is related to the entire world of life on Earth, but on the other hand, taxonomy might seem an ivory-tower discipline that has nothing to do with the lives of ordinary people.

Nonetheless, to understand the very science of life, which is biology, it is essential to understand taxonomy. In the biological sciences, before one can begin to appreciate the many varieties of organisms on Earth, it is essential to comprehend the fundamental ideas about how those organisms are related, or in areas of dispute, may be related to one another. It is for these reasons that Taxonomy is included within the Reef-Log app ...and for the fun of it!

iPhone Taxon1 Image iPhone Taxon2 Image

iPad Taxon Image

From the Overview page there is a Taxonomy button that when pressed takes you to the Taxonomy page. The upper portion of this view shows the primary ranks and an entry for each individual taxon. You could enter these individually but there’s an easier way.

Scroll downward or if you’re on an iPad, look downward at the WoRMS Classification section. WoRMS stands for World Register of Marine Species and their website (http://www.marinespecies.org) contains the taxonomy of so many marines species it’ll make your head spin. Using WoRMS, here’s how you can auto populate the Taxonomy for your life form.

  1. Go into the Taxonomy page for your life form.
  2. Press the WoRMS button located on the upper left, just left of the word Taxonomy (the WoRMS icon looks like a crab). This will take you to Safari and open up the WoRMS home page.
  3. Here’s where it can get tricky. There are thousands of entries on WoRMS and finding the taxonomy for your one life form can be interesting to say the least. I find that using the “Common name” section with the pull-down list set to “contains” works best. Keeping it simple here is also key. If you’re looking for a shrimp put in “shrimp.” If it’s a starfish, put in “starfish.” This method works well for a lot of critters but other times you just need to know the genus or species up front. In that case use the “Scientific name” section and change the setting to “contains.” You can often find the species’ name of a life form by looking for its generic name in Google. Once you made your best guess search entry then hit the WoRMS Search button. Remember, it’s searching a large database to find the best matches for you inquiry, so be patient.
  4. WoRMS returns the “WoRMS Taxon list” which is a list of links that may or may not match your search criteria. Locate your entry and press its link.
  5. This will take you to the “WoRMS taxon details” page. Toward the top you’ll see the “Classification” section that lists out the taxonomy and ranks for the life form chosen.
  6. We need to copy that Classification section. Doing this on the iPhone or iPad is easy when you know how. First, zoom in a little so that it becomes easier to select the Classification section and not the entire page. Then choose by pressing and holding any black text (non-link) portion of the Classification section. You’ll see the iPhone or iPad select that area, then lift your finger and the option to copy that section appears, then select the copy button.
  7. Press the home key on your iPhone or iPad and go back into the Reef-Log app and it will come back to where you left off. Go to the “WoRMS Classification” section and press your finger on it or double tap until the Paste button appears. Select the Paste button and the WoRMS Classification text will appear.
  8. Just below the WoRMS Classification window is an Autofill button. Press it and your major ranks above will automatically populate.
  9. Now press the Format button and your WoRMS Classification text will be reformatted so that it also becomes easier to read.
  10. Press the Save button and you’re all done. You’ll still need to populate the species entry manually but Kingdom through Genus will be done.

The above may seem difficult at first but once you get the hang of it you can do this pretty quickly, except for the part of actually identifying your life form. If you have a newly discovered critter or deal a lot with Zoanthids, then that’s the part that gets deep and is shrouded in debate, but that’s half the fun!

If you’re on an iPad you get the added bonus of leaving the Taxonomy page up and switching between your life forms. Switching between life forms is an easy way to see where their taxonomy diverges and this gives you a lot of “ah HA!” and “oh, I see!” moments.

About Reef-Log's Photographs

It should be known that the Reef-Log app uses your own photo albums and events to track the photographs used on your “Notes and Photo” entries. If you happen to delete or move a photograph that Reef-Log was using and then try to display that photography later from Reef-Log, you’ll see the message “Photo Not Found” instead of the desired photograph. You can easily remedy this by editing the note and associating the photo from it’s new location.

I find the easiest way to maintain your photos for use with Reef-Log is to allow iTunes to take care of it by setting up a single photo album or photo event for all your reef life forms and letting iTunes synchronize that album or event. If you choose not to do it that way then Reef-Log will automatically create an album for you called “Reef Log.”

Please email us if you have any support questions: jim@jimvision.com

  • Reef-Log Version History
  • Version 1.2 - Released on October 29, 2012
    • Corrects keyboard issue with iPad note entry.
    • Minor performance enhancements.
  • Version 1.1 - Released on October 1, 2012
    • Updated for iOS 6.
    • Updated to utilize larger screen size on the iPhone 5.
    • Corrects Capacity date bug on Overview page.
  • Version 1.0 - Released on September 16, 2012
    • Initial release.

Here's a write-up about Reef-Log from Marine Engineers.