Category Archives: Invertebrates

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Toledo Zoo Aquarium Renovation – Update 15: Grand Opening Today!

Mosaic walkway in the renovated Aquarium (Credit: Toledo Zoo/Andi Norman)Virtually since we launched Saltwater Smarts back in April of 2013, we’ve been bringing you regular updates on the progress of the $25.5 million renovation of the Toledo Zoo Aquarium. Today, we’re thrilled to announce that this ambitious project has finally come to fruition with the grand opening of the new Aquarium taking place. Congratulations to all who were involved in this ponderous undertaking—and special salty kudos to our friend and regular contributor Jay Hemdal, Curator of Fishes and Invertebrates for the Toledo Zoo and author of The Salt Smart Guide to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Diseases of Marine Fishes.I’ve always had a special affinity for the Toledo Zoo. Not only was my first home as a child situated literally a stone’s throw from the Zoo (escaped peacocks, a common occurrence back in those days, would often land atop neighborhood houses, ours included), but I’m also proud to say that from May of 2002 to December of 2005, I had the privilege of working in the Zoo’s marketing department as Writer/Publication’s Coordinator. Panoramic shot of the new entrance (Credit: Toledo Zoo/Bruce Burkhart) The Toledo Zoo boasts many world-class exhibits, but, perhaps not surprisingly, the Aquarium has always been my favorite. If ever my workload got the better of me, I could step away from my computer, walk the short distance from my office in the Museum of Science to the Aquarium, immerse myself (figuratively) in the captivating exhibits, and let the stress just drain away. I’ll take a moon jelly tank over meditation any day

How to Acclimate Marine Animals in 8 Easy Steps—Plus 5 Cases When You Can’t

In his book The Salt Smart Guide to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Diseases of Marine Fish, Jay Hemdal provides a surprisingly simple method for acclimating marine animals—just one of many useful tips readers will discover in this authoritative tome. Here, excerpted from the book (Chapter 1: Selecting Healthy Specimens), is Jay’s straightforward, step-by-step acclimation technique, followed by five special cases that warrant a modified approach:A simple acclimation process The following process is one that should be employed for all normal acclimation of animals from one system to another. STEP 1 If possible, determine the water quality values for the aquarium that the fish will be coming from and adjust the receiving aquarium’s values to a similar range. As mentioned, if the values can be made nearly identical, no acclimation process is even required. STEP 2 The fish must be transported from one aquarium to another in a manner that minimizes additional stress. The fish should be kept in the dark, and supplemental aeration or oxygen must be used for any transport lasting longer than about 30 minutes.

Naso lituratus: a Sleek, Striking, Outstanding Fish for Spacious Marine Aquariums

Naso Tang, a.k.a Orangespine Unicornfish (Naso lituratus)Certain marine fish really make me wish I could afford to set up and maintain a much larger aquarium. Among these is Naso lituratus, the lipstick tang, aka the naso tang, tricolor tang, or orangespine unicornfish. Alas, this hardy, attractive Pacific species (according to Fishbase, the very similar Indian Ocean and Red Sea populations once regarded as N. lituratus are now classified as Naso elegans) gets much too big and is far too energetic for my 125-gallon FOWLR tank. Physical traitsN. lituratus is characteristically tang-shaped with a laterally compressed, oval-shaped body and elongated snout. On each side of the caudal peduncle, it sports two razor-sharp, permanently erected spines that warrant very careful handling (they can get entangled in nets easily) as well as vigilance against accidental contact whenever working in the specimen’s tank. The caudal fin is lyre-shaped, with males developing long, trailing filaments that extend from the tip of each lobe

Bubble-Tip Anemone Safety Tips

Nippy tankmates are one reason a bubble-tip anemone may start to roamThe bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor), or BTA, is justifiably popular in the marine aquarium hobby, being relatively hardy and easy to keep as anemones go as well as being a suitable host anemone for many clownfish species. But to horribly misquote legendary singer Dion DiMucci, “it’s the type of nem that likes to roam around”—particularly when it’s getting settled into a new system or decides it’s unhappy with its placement in an established one. The problem with an anemone going parading around its aquarium is that anytime it does so, it has the potential of blundering into equipment or other sessile invertebrates with potentially injurious (or even fatal) consequences. Thus, any system housing a BTA must be designed or modified to reduce the risk of accidental injury or harmful interspecific encounters.Here are several important factors to consider when BTA-proofing your tank: Crowded reef tanks aren’t ideal for BTAs People do keep BTAs in reef systems among various corals and other sessile invertebrates. However, as alluded above, this can prove problematic if the anemone goes roaming, as it may sting or be stung by any inverts it encounters in its travels (though not all corals are equally sensitive to the sting of a BTA and vice versa). Not to mention, problems with allelopathy (chemical warfare) among inverts tend to be much greater in mixed reefs. The best housing for a BTA is a good-sized system dedicated specifically to its needs. (If you’ve had long-term success keeping a BTA in a mixed reef, we’d love to hear how you managed it in the comment section below.) Pumps and powerheads are problematic Submersible pumps and powerheads are among the biggest offenders when it comes to injuring/killing wandering nems, so the intakes of these devices must be screened off with sponge, foam, or a similar material

How Not to Cut Costs When Starting a Reef System

In some aspects of reef aquariums, saving money on the cheaper options can be detrimental to your successRecognizing that the question of affordability is top of mind for many aspiring marine aquarium hobbyists, one of our earliest posts here at Saltwater Smarts dealt with ways to reduce the expenses associated with aquarium setup and ongoing operation. Notwithstanding those recommendations, it’s important to note that in some cases, taking the seemingly cheaper route in the reefkeeping hobby can be highly counterproductive. For example, purchasing the following essential equipment based on price alone—or avoiding the purchase altogether just to save money—could not only end up costing you much more in the long run but may also greatly limit your long-term reefkeeping success:Reef lighting I’m leading with this one because proper lighting is commonly the largest single expense hobbyists encounter when setting up a reef system. To those on a limited budget—and/or those who equate “aquarium lighting” with the inexpensive fluorescent hoods so popular on the freshwater side of the hobby—the price of a good reef lighting system can produce some serious “sticker shock.” But I strongly urge you to resist the allure of cheapo lighting systems that claim they will support photosynthetic invertebrates for a fraction of the cost. Not only do such systems typically fall far short of expectation with respect to the inverts they can sustain, but as you might expect, they also tend to be built with low-quality components and, thus, have a notoriously limited functional lifespan. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t look for the best possible deal on a quality lighting fixture or that you shouldn’t explore the more budget-friendly option of buying a gently used fixture from a reputable source. Just keep in mind that if reef lighting sounds too good—and costs too little—to be true, there’s a good chance it is. Protein skimmer While proper lighting serves as the essential energy source for a reef system, a good protein skimmer plays an indispensable role in maintaining the best possible water quality

New Temperate Marine Species Set to Enter Trade This Year

Photo by Ed Bierman. CC by 2.5.

Photo by Ed Bierman. CC by 2.5.

 Temperate marine aquarists can expect significant increases in livestock selection through 2015. While most of the wholesalers have been bringing in a little bit more of the temperate stuff these days, the lion’s share of new species will be available through Coldwater Marine Aquatics. We have reported on some of their past shipments. Next week, the Oregon-based company will be receiving a shipment of European animals that will include, according to co-owner Stu Wobbe, “beadlet anemones (all colors), fragacea anemones, snakelock anemones, Corynactis viridis (12 colonies, 6 colors), lesser spotted catshark eggs, Sepia officinalis eggs and several large gorgonians (four take up a box by themselves.)” … More:

Beware Marine Aquarium Complacency!

A funny thing sometimes happens to marine aquarium hobbyists who have a few years’ experience under their briny belts—they have a tendency to become complacent in their methods and attitudes. Once they’ve mastered the basics of aquarium keeping, it can become all too tempting for some to kick back, switch to “autopilot,” and say, “Hey, I got this!”But this mentality can be detrimental on the road to long-term aquarium success. At the very least, it can lead to some unnecessary—and very avoidable—bumps in that road. Here are a few common symptoms of marine aquarium complacency to watch for: Signs of benign neglect Complacent hobbyists aren’t typically guilty of gross negligence when it comes to their tanks, but they often lapse into a somewhat lackadaisical approach that could best be described as “benign neglect.” That is, they get so comfortable and absentminded in their methods that problems sometimes arise very slowly and almost imperceptibly. For instance, they may perform water changes of the same frequency and volume for many years without accounting for the increasing bioload in the tank as fish and invertebrates grow. As a result, nitrate and phosphate levels can gradually rise, leading to “unexplained” algae outbreaks and other issues related to declining water quality.

Panther Grouper: The Tankbuster “Poster Fish”

Panther grouper (Cromileptes altivelis)Every time I need to make a point about marine fish that are sold as small, cute juveniles but grow into real behemoths, the panther grouper (Cromileptes altivelis according to Fishbase/Chromileptes altivelis according to ITIS) is one of several species that come to mind immediately. But despite its indisputable tankbusting tendencies, C. altivelis is very hardy, interesting, and well worth its sea salt if you have the space to spare. Physical traitsLet’s get right to the panther grouper’s tankbusting size—which isn’t exaggerated, by the way. This Indo-Pacific species can grow to exceed 27 inches in total length. Even specimens that fall well short of that maximum are still fish to be reckoned with. White to light brown in base coloration with black polka dots all over its body and fins, C.

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