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Beginners: Never Add Livestock to Your Marine Aquarium under These 5 Circumstances

If there has been a mysterious death in your aquarium, determine the cause before seeking a replacement.In a nutshell, the reason people are drawn to this hobby (not counting the genetic mutation unique to marine aquarists that I can only assume researchers are close to isolating) is to enjoy up-close-and-personal encounters with exotic marine life. In other words, the whole point of this crazy venture of ours is to acquire specimens for our tanks so we can spend as much of our free time as possible viewing and appreciating them—just as the point of taking up golf is to go golfing as often as possible. But one significant difference between aquarium keeping and many other pursuits is that there are certain times when it’s decidedly not in your best interest to engage in one of the core aspects of the hobby—the livestock-acquisition part, that is.Here are five circumstances in which adding another animal is precisely the wrong thing to do. You’ll notice I’ve targeted this post at beginners, but even experienced hobbyists sometimes forget these points or get impatient and add specimens when they really shouldn’t. 1. Before cycling is complete When cycling a new system, you should observe subsequent spikes and declines in ammonia and nitrite levels and then gradual accumulation of nitrate.

The Hammer Coral: A Sizeable Stinger with Showpiece Potential

Hammer coral (Euphyllia ancora) can be quite variable in colorSeveral of the so-called large-polyp stony (LPS) corals offer the advantages of being very hardy, adaptable, and beautiful and, thus, make excellent reef aquarium candidates, even for relatively new reefkeepers. The hammer coral (Euphyllia ancora), however, I would characterize slightly differently. There’s no question this coral is gorgeous, but I would rate it as rather less forgiving than, say, Trachyphyllia geoffroyi. Still, if its care requirements and aggressive nature are given proper attention, this coral can be a showpiece reef aquarium resident. Physical traitsE. ancora has long, tubular tentacles with tips that resemble, as you might guess, the head of a hammer or an anchor. Most specimens I’ve come across have had brownish to grayish tentacles with the tips being some shade of green, gold, or cream, but the color can be quite variable. Colonies of this coral can get quite large—upwards of 3 feet across—which must be taken into consideration when determining tank size, placement, etc

Is the Internet a Viable Resource for Marine Aquarium Research?

Virtually since the advent of the internet, there’s been a tendency in our hobby to rate the reliability and trustworthiness of online content beneath that of print-format materials—books, magazines, and so forth. But is this assessment really fair?The general premises behind this viewpoint are: Anyone with a computer and internet connection can post anything they want online, whether or not he or she has the requisite expertise to expound on the subject. Online articles and posts are seldom given professional editorial treatment and/or subjected to peer review, so you can’t trust that they’ve been vetted properly for accuracy. There tends to be an “echo-chamber effect” online, so inaccurate or outright fallacious information appearing on one site can be picked up immediately by others and repeated ad nauseam, creating the false impression of consensus on the information/viewpoint. Now, there’s truth to each of these arguments, but as someone who’s made his living as a writer/editor for nearly 20 years (primarily in print format) and once served on an editorial committee that reviewed book submissions for a major retail pet chain, I can say with some confidence that print materials have their limitations as reference sources, too. Among them: Just as with online materials, print books and magazines are no more reliable or accurate than the writers and editors who produce them. You can’t assume that just because someone went to the effort to produce something in hardcopy, the information it contains was properly vetted.

A Remarkable Community of Fishes Found in Xenia

Radial Filefish (Acreichthys radiatus) hanging out in some Xenia. Credit: Doug Anderson

Radial Filefish (Acreichthys radiatus) hanging out in some Xenia. Credit: Doug Anderson

 Coral reefs are rife with camouflaged fishes. Some hide by mimicking the surrounding rocks and sponges and algae, while others are well-known for passing themselves off as more-noxious species of fish. And, fewer still, are those fishes which actively mimic corals.… More:


Palythoa grandisMany of us are inspired to keep marine life for its exotic beauty or interesting behavior. But if we’re being perfectly honest, we have to admit there’s also something intriguing about keeping—and displaying to our friends and family—marine organisms that have dangerous or potentially deadly defense mechanisms, such as venomous spines, potent toxins, or razor-sharp teeth. For those hobbyists who like to flirt with danger, the marine aquarium trade certainly offers its share of prickly and poisonous characters—from venomous fishes to deadly cephalopods to noxious sessile invertebrates. There are even organisms we can buy that offer stunning beauty and potency in equal measure.Among these best-of-both-worlds critters are many of the zoanthids we’re so fond of keeping in our reef systems. These polyps (most of the ones we keep being from the Zoanthus and Palythoa genera) have much to recommend them, being very hardy and often stunningly beautiful. But some of them also contain a potent neurotoxin, called palytoxin, in their tissues and mucus that can make people very sick or even cause death if they’re not handled properly. Of course, blithely mentioning that certain popular zoanthids have the potential to sicken or kill people raises a whole host of questions that demand prompt, thorough answers. Among them: What is the nature of palytoxin

Up-Close with Bali Maricultured Acropora

reefs.comMariAcro2Last week we took a look at some wonderful maricultured mini-colonies of various Euphyllia species. Today we get a sneak peak into the most popular maricultured genus, Acropora. To produce the most colorful specimens of maricultured Acropora divers take fragments of wild colonies, place them in various farms, and see which one’s do best at particular depths and currents. Similar to aquaculture in captivity, once a coral has proven to color up well and grow at an acceptable pace the coral is fragmented again and eventually sold.… More:

The Striated Frogfish: a Great Choice for the Oddball Fish Aficionado

Striated, or hairy, frogfish (Antennarius striatus)Marine aquarists who are drawn to cryptic species with unusual morphology rather than bright colors might want to give the striated frogfish (Antennarius striatus) a second look. Actually, depending on the system it’s kept in, it may be necessary to give it a second (or third or fourth) look, as this angler is truly a master of camouflage. Physical traitsLike most antennariids, A. striatus is somewhat monstrous—albeit fascinating—in appearance, having a globular body that is cleverly obscured with myriad protrusions and frilly appendages. Its modified pectoral fins look almost like little legs, which is pretty cool (but also kind of creepy). Striated frogfish commonly exhibit brown and tan tiger striping, but they can modify their coloration to blend in with different surroundings. The maximum recorded size for this species is between 8 and 9 inches, though most specimens aren’t apt to get quite that large

MACNA 2015 – Washington D.C.

reefs.comMACNA20158The Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA) is the largest marine aquarium conference in the world. The gathering brings livestock vendors, equipment manufacturers and everything in between together for a three day extravaganza of reef geek utopia from around the world. Forget holidays, for me this is the most sought after weekend of the year. This year the Washington D.C. Area Marine Aquarist Society (WAMAS) hosted the conference at the Wardman Marriott in Washington D.C., and what a MACNA it was!… More: is the world's leading destination for sustainable coral reef farming and the aquarium hobby. We offer a free open forum and reef related news and data to better educate aquarists and further our goals of sustainable reef management.