Category Archives: Opinion

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Blackcap Basslet: A Comely Deepwater Cousin to the Royal Gramma

Blackcap basslet (Gramma melacara)Most marine aquarium hobbyists are well acquainted with the royal gramma (Gramma loreto), a worthy tank inhabitant by virtually any measure. But G. loreto isn’t the only member of the Gramma genus that is well worth its salt. Another is the blackcap basslet (Gramma melacara), a denizen of the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea that is most abundant in deeper waters. Physical traitsG. melacara is very similar in body plan to the royal gramma, one noteworthy difference being its more deeply bifurcated caudal fin. It is purple in overall coloration with, as its common name implies, a diagonal black “cap” extending from the mouth, over the top of the head, and along the margin of the dorsal fin. Several thin white lines radiate backward from the eye

Review: Coral Box Cloud 9 DC Skimmer

It’s been a little while since we featured a skimmer review on the site but when we spied details of this new offering from Chinese supplier Fish-Street, advertised on their website for a Summer 2015 release, we were immediately curious to see if such a competitively-priced skimmer could deliver performance to match some of the more expensive options out there. We were also curious to experience the ‘direct sale’ acquisition of a skimmer via the ‘factory to end user’ pathway used by this supplier. Arriving in what seemed like and impossibly short time all the way from China, the unit came to us extremely well-packaged. Assembling the unit was very easy but take note that it’s a good idea to assemble it without the cup in place to stop the lid from falling off. Similarly, be aware that the rubber feet come-off when the 4 screws connecting the base plate to the unit are removed… just something to be wary of… not really a problem. Once the screws are in place, the rubber feet just push onto the protruding ends. The screws themselves require around 20 turns to fasten them tightly and they are quite easy to handle, even without a screwdriver, which should really help when it comes time to dismantle the unit for periodic cleaning

How Can We Encourage Saltwater Gender Equality?

There’s a lot of conversation these days about gender equality with respect to income, career opportunities, education, and many other arenas of life. However, we tend to give it very little thought when it comes to participation in our hobby. Let’s face it, the perception—if not the reality—of the gender ratio in the marine aquarium hobby is that it’s largely tipped in favor of males.But if this is true, why is it so? After all, there’s nothing inherently masculine about keeping fish and corals in glass or acrylic boxes. What is it that seemingly discourages many women from getting involved or, if they are hobbyists, from getting their voices and opinions heard just as much—or as loudly—as their male counterparts do? As regular Saltwater Smarts visitor Louise Maggs helpfully points out, there are some persistent myths and misconceptions floating around out there that might be inhibiting women from participating fully in our salty pastime. That really got me thinking, so I’d like to dedicate today’s post to a discussion of those myths as I perceive them and invite all of you—whatever your gender—to weigh in with your thoughts.

Friends don’t let friends skip coral dip…

austin coral dip 1 - reefsHate is a strong word. A word that I rarely, if ever, use. But I hate coral predators! These pesky little bugs can ruin years of work, bring grown reefers to their knees in tears and cause thousands upon thousands of [polyp] lives and dollars lost. One way to help prevent coral pests is dipping, which can be done in so many ways it’s hard to wrap a new reefers mind around.… More:

The 2015 MBI Workshop Revisited

The Workshop took place at the Cranbrook Institute of ScienceLast weekend I traveled up to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan with SWS contributor Dave Bowers to attend the 6th Annual Marine Breeder’s Workshop. It’s the only marine aquarium conference dedicated solely to marine ornamental captive breeding. My last trek to the workshop was three or four years ago, so it was long overdue. Just as I remembered, the day was chock-full of practical and educational content for active breeders, aspiring aquaculturists, and folks simply involved in the saltwater aquarium hobby. In fact, next time I need to bring along an extra brain to store all the information that’s lobbed about, but this year my notebook had to suffice. So now, for your reading pleasure, here are just some of the insights I could readily decipher from my scribbles.Unknowingly rearing anthias The event kicked off with Noel Heinsohn hopping on stage to talk about taking on many gallons of broodstock and unknowingly rearing anthias. At the young age of 21 with just five years spent in aquaculture, Noel has already had quite a variety of experiences and successes.

Reef Threads Podcast #239


Is it smart to quarantine several fish together?

This week’s podcast chit-chat topics are the reef side of Gary’s bicycle trip, collecting wild food, quarantining multiple fish, DC pumps, pipe organ care, and what we’d pay for fish and corals. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

Sponsor: Rod’s Food
Rod’s Food website

Multi-fish quarantine
Is It Okay to Quarantine Multiple Marine Fish at Once?, Saltwater Smarts

Splash-free surge tanks
Finally, a surge tank without the noise, bubbles, space, or plumbing!, LobsterofJustice, Reef Central

Pipe organ coral
Pipe Organ care, GOSKN5, Reef Central

Paying the most
What’s your max fish price?, 3FordFamily, Reef2Reef

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The Pyramid Butterflyfish: A Hardy, Reef-Safe Chaetodontid

Pyramid Butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys polylepis)While many of the butterflyfishes are challenging—if not outright impossible—to maintain in captivity for one reason or another, there are various species that go against the grain and make excellent or reasonably solid aquarium candidates. Among the “reasonably solid” species is the pyramid butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys polylepis)—a generally hardy, adaptable, not-too-difficult-to-feed, and beautiful chaetodontid from the Indo-Pacific. I wouldn’t rate this species foolproof by any means, but it’s fairly durable as butterflyfishes go. Physical traitsH. polylepis is highly laterally compressed (flattened from side to side—typical of butterflies) with a relatively short snout and small, terminal mouth. Its head is brownish in color, and it has a broad, white pyramid-shaped pattern on its flanks, from which its common name is derived.

TripAdvisor announces Traveler’s Choice Zoo’s and Aquariums 2015

oceanario-de-lisboaIt’s that time of year again… TripAdvisor announces Traveler’s Choice Zoo’s and Aquariums. The number one aquarium in the United States this year is the Georgia Aquarium, while the number one aquarium in the World goes to Oceanario de Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal. … More:


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