Category Archives: Invertebrates

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The Pros and Cons of Using a Marine Aquarium Cover Glass

To put a lid on it or not to put a lid on it, that is the question!Okay, with profuse apologies to the Melancholy Dane, the point I’d like to mull over in today’s post is whether it’s a good idea to use cover glasses on marine aquariums—you know, those oft-hinged glass or acrylic lids that are available in various dimensions to fit tightly atop aquariums of different sizes. As with so many aspects of the marine aquarium hobby, there’s no all-encompassing right or wrong answer to this question. Suffice it to say that cover glasses may be appropriate in some circumstances but totally inappropriate in others. To determine what’s best for your system, consider these cover glass pros and cons: Pros: Having a cover glass in place reduces evaporation, which in turn can reduce the size and frequency of freshwater top-offs and helps lower the humidity in the room housing the aquarium. Fish prone to jumping or slithering out of a tank are kept in the aquarium where they belong. Some fish, such as eels, and even certain invertebrates, such as octopuses, are such good escape artists that a tight-fitting lid is a must when keeping them. However, for many fish species, there are alternatives to glass/acrylic lids that may do the same job, e.g., covers made of some type of mesh or screening material or plastic egg crate. The light fixture is better protected from splashes and corrosive salt spray.

The Rockmover Wrasse: What a Difference Adulthood Can Make!

Adult rockmover wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus)In a previous post titled “Marine Fish Bait and Switch—5 Adorable Juveniles that Blossom into Brutes,” I listed the rockmover wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus), aka the reindeer wrasse or the dragon wrasse, among four other species that are typically sold in the marine aquarium trade as cute little youngsters but mature into very different adults. However, despite its surprising (for those who didn’t do their advance research) transformation, I think N. taeniourus remains a worthy aquarium species provided certain accommodations are made. That notorious physical transformationDepending on where they’re collected, the juveniles (the stage at which they’re typically sold), are either green or burgundy with dark brown and white mottling. Their color and patterning allow them to camouflage among growths of algae. They also possess two greatly elongated dorsal spines that vaguely resemble a deer’s antlers, giving rise to the “reindeer wrasse” moniker. Perhaps not surprisingly, owing to their cuteness, juveniles often tempt unwary hobbyists into an ill-considered purchase. Juvenile N.

Don’t Be Bothered by Bristleworms!

Bristleworm that was found in an aquariumIn my early days of writing for the marine aquarium hobby, I frequently cautioned fellow hobbyists to be on the lookout for “unwelcome” live rock stowaways, and high on my list of undesirables were the bristleworms. As I saw it then, every prickly polychaete that poked its head out of the rockwork was a potential troublemaker with a vicious sting and an insatiable appetite for coral polyps. Sure, some were supposedly worse than others, but why take the chance? Get them before they get you and your corals, I used to think. Now, having acquired a few more decades’ worth of aquarium-keeping wisdom, I’ve come to appreciate that most of these worms are beneficial scavengers and consumers of detritus and, thus, actually welcome aquarium inhabitants despite their creepy appearance. They’re also useful in that they help keep the substrate stirred somewhat.But what about those poky bristles? It’s true enough that bristleworms can poke you with their calcareous bristles (called chetae), potentially causing localized pain, itching, and/or swelling to varying degrees

Gymnomuraena zebra: Another Moray You Just Might Love!

Zebra moray (Gymnomuraenea zebra)On various occasions, I’ve written about my fondness for the snowflake moray eel (Echidna nebulosa), in one post even going so far as to claim there may be no better eel for the marine aquarium. My biases notwithstanding, I can’t deny that certain other morays make excellent aquarium candidates as well. Among them is the stunning zebra moray (Gymnomuraenea zebra), which has a pretty sterling reputation for being peaceful, hardy, adaptable, and generally safe around piscine tankmates. Physical traitsAs you might guess from its common name and specific epithet, G. zebra is brown overall with a series of vertical white to yellowish bands running the length of its body (or is it white to yellowish overall with vertical brown bands?). Typically eel-shaped, this species can reach a length of almost five feet—but that’s the record holder. Most specimens are unlikely to achieve that prodigious length

Video: A Timelapse Encounter… With LPS Corals

[embedded content] OK, so it’s been a little quieter than usual on the blog over the last few weeks, and we can now reveal why. In short, we’ve been busy behind the scenes creating this short video which we hope will be the first in a series of similar productions. In this introductory piece, we get ‘up close and personal’ with a range of LPS corals currently residing in our Black Tank, employing some timelapse macro and pure fluorescence imagery to ‘shed light’ on some of their otherwise hidden habits. Don’t forget to select full 1080HD resolution to see the fine detail! As said, we hope to continue the series as time permits and expand to focus on different groups of invertebrates… and as ever, we’ll certainly be looking to keep pushing the envelope in reef imagery by investing in new equipment and software for future offerings.

How to Prevent Fish from Stealing Coral Food

Brain coral with feeding tentacles out at nightWhen it comes to acquiring food, fish will take the path of least resistance. And one of the best ways for a fish to score an easy meal is to snatch morsels away from their glacially slow-moving invertebrate tankmates. Heck, it’s practically like taking candy from a baby, except babies usually cry a lot louder when they’re robbed of treats. For hobbyists who keep corals or other invertebrates with a high demand for regular targeted feeding—e.g., many LPS corals and anemones—such food thievery can be a genuinely aggravating issue. The good news is, using one or more of the following techniques, it’s often possible to eliminate, or at least reduce, this bad behavior:Distract the culprits You may be able to buy your coral a few precious moments at mealtimes by first delivering food to the fish in another part of the tank and then quickly target feeding the coral. Of course, this is only effective if the fish haven’t already learned to identify the coral in question as a source of easy victuals. In that case, they’ll likely just gobble up their own food and then proceed to shake down the coral anyway

Saltwater Smarts Turns Two: Another Gratifying Year in the Books!

Chris and Jeff discuss the website with Mark of Coral ReefIt’s hard to believe that we’re celebrating our second anniversary here at Saltwater Smarts. When Caribbean Chris and I launched this site back in April of 2013, we had no idea how it would be received—or whether we’d even last more than a few months in such a crowded online space. We just had the kernel of an idea that a certain subset of hobbyists out there might appreciate coming to a place where they can get reliable, authoritative information that promotes success yet still enjoy a few laughs along the way. Over the past two years, we’ve tried to take a more egalitarian approach to information sharing, in which different—even opposing—viewpoints are welcomed and respected. We know the methods that we share here will work for you, but we also want to know what you’re doing that might work even better. In other words, we stand to learn just as much from you as you do from us. And with more and more visitors from countries all around the world joining us every month and offering their input, we’re confident that this approach is resonating.New offerings Regular visitors have probably noticed that the last year has seen some exciting changes here at Saltwater Smarts. This January, we released our first ebook—The Salt Smart Guide to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Diseases of Marine Fishes by Jay Hemdal—which continues to build momentum in sales

Fish Are What Fish Eat!

Aquarists have a wide variety of fish foods at their disposalWith so many fish foods on the market these days, it is really difficult to know exactly what your fish are eating. They will chow down with gusto pretty much anything you put in the tank, but do we really know what is in their foods? When we go to the market, I am sure the majority of us read the labels to see what we are ingesting. But is it the same for fish food? Usually not. Fish food labels provide a breakdown in protein and amino acids, etc., but we don’t know the exact ingredients since the FDA does not regulate fish food. Take dogs and cats for example

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