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Why Isn’t Cryptocaryon irritans a Major Problem for Wild Marine Fish?

Whitecheek Tang (Acanthurus nigricans) afflicted with Cryptocaryon irritansDuring yesterday’s Thanksgiving get-together, which my wife and I host for my side of the family every year, a teenaged nephew asked me about marine ich (Cryptocaryon irritans)—the one fish disease he’s heard something about from a friend who keeps saltwater tanks. As I explained the parasite and its lifecycle and why I think it’s so important to quarantine new specimens, he asked, “If ich spreads so easily, why aren’t all the fish in the ocean infected?” Thrilled that, for once at least, I could offer my curious young nephew something akin to wisdom, I explained that the following factors help keep ich infections at a manageable level in wild fish populations:The vastness of the ocean Even though coral reefs appear to be bristling with fish, the density of the fish population relative to the volume of the ocean is, if you’ll excuse the pun, a mere drop in the bucket. Remember, during the tomite, or theront, stage of the Cryptocaryon lifecycle, the free-swimming parasites must find a host fish to attach to and feed upon within a relatively short period or they die. In the vast ocean, with its limitless water volume and powerful, dynamic currents, only a very small number of tomites ever succeed in locating a host. On the other hand, in a closed aquarium system, even if the actual number of fish specimens is fairly small, the population density is still extremely high relative to the volume of water. Of course, the density of host-seeking parasites relative to the water volume is also very high.

Superheated water changes

1681409-poster-1280-water-vapor-bodyMost serious marine aquarists have a water mixing station. Even though we live in an age of nearly endless aquarium filtration options, water changes still rank as one of the best aquarium maintenance practices. They remove compounds like nitrate and phosphate, dilute waste and replenish trace elements absorbed by corals. Water changes are a key strategy for keeping a healthy marine aquarium. Water mixing stations make performing water changes easier and more convenient, while giving the aquarist the opportunity to have fresh saltwater on hand at all times. While water mixing stations are a necessity when keeping a marine aquarium, they can also become a hotbed for disease. Often the same utility pumps are used to move water from mixing stations into the tank, and the tools we use to help mix water (pitchers, powerheads, etc) have been exposed to both fresh saltwater and our aquarium’s water. Unless an aquarist is uber-vigilant in making sure pumps, water vats and other maintenance necessities never mix, than it’s quite possible that a water mixing station can also become a parasite and bacterial farm. Is there a simple additional step that can be taken when preparing saltwater that greatly reduces that chance that fresh saltwater may carry some very unwanted hitchhikers from a previous parasitic outbreak? … More:

Christmas Tree Worm

Hi all, sorry so late, we had two submersible dives today which as you can imagine keeps yours truly very busy!! While out on my second dive and while waiting for the sub I snapped a shot of a beautiful burgundy colored Christmas Tree worm for you all. The top photo shows our beautiful little creature open and the bottom photo shows him safe and sound inside his tube deep inside the reef. These gentle little two inch creatures are what we call “the icing on the cake” meaning they put the final touch on the reef and are found in a cornucopia of colors and can be found attached to just about everything you see underwater. If disturbed they will disappear, an action which happens so fast it’s mind boggling and if left alone they will pop back up within minutes and sometimes seconds, such cool little animals.

Coney, Cephalopholis fulva

Hello from overcast Curacao. I went with Aimee and the three dogs before work this morning and we again planted baby yucca’s, and we are finally almost done!! When our giant century plant we had in our front yard died it left behind close to 500 babies which we have been taking out to the desert every single day and planting them in hopes of keeping the circle of life alive. I have a super curious, completely unafraid brown Coney for you all today that I again shot while on my last trip to our small remote island of Klein Curacao. These are considered sea bass with their heavy bodies and large lips and are very common in many areas around Curacao

How Simple Can You Get with Your Marine Aquarium?

While the title of this post puts me in mind of a song performed by Nick Rivers in the 1984 comedy film Top Secret, it’s a question many a novice has posed before setting up his or her first marine aquarium. How basic can it be? Or, put another way, what equipment is absolutely essential and what isn’t?This is a perfectly logical question because ours can be a highly equipment-intensive hobby, and the choices of gear and gadgets designed to make our lives easier can be downright mind-blowing. Add in all the online forum chatter about—and volatile disputes over—the latest-and-greatest hobby technology and methodology, and it’s no surprise that many beginners have a heck of a time distinguishing between the bare essentials and the “bells and whistles.” Complicating matters, of course, is the fact that opinions on what constitutes “essential equipment” can vary widely from one hobbyist to the next. I would humbly submit that the following items are all you really need for a bare-bones saltwater setup: (Note that you’ll also need various and sundry small-ticket items used for regular operation and maintenance, such as aquarium brushes, an algae magnet, etc. Plus, if you plan to keep a reef system, you’ll need to add some means of calcium/alkalinity supplementation to the list.) Some folks might say this list is grossly incomplete while others might contend you could get by without some of the items on it.

Reef Threads Podcast #254

Ret Talbot is our guest this week.

It’s time for a new Reef Threads podcast. This week we’re joined by Ret Talbot to talk about the tremendous and exciting progress that is being made with the Philippines fisheries. Collecting in the Philippines has long been a sore spot for this hobby. But it’s all changing for the better through the efforts of a new under secretary. 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

Good Catch Blog
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Master of mimesis: Manonichthys paranox, The Midnight Dottyback

Manonichthys paranox, the Midnight Dottyback. Photo credit: Lemon TYK.

Manonichthys paranox, the Midnight Dottyback. Photo credit: Lemon TYK.

 Mimicry is an ancient art practiced and mastered across the board in the animal kingdom. The paradigm of mimesis is a multifaceted prism, each with unique modifications to the standard model. In a precarious world where “eat or be eaten” is the central dogma, organisms must evolve certain tricks to enable survival and proliferation. No one said that these have to be boring though, and as evolution would show, nature is a magician with a bottomless pit for its hat of tricks.… More:

Simplified Frogfish Husbandry


Antennarius on display at the Long Island Aquarium. Photo credit: Alex Pilnick

 One of my favorite exhibits to take care of at the Long Island Aquarium is our frogfish exhibit. It’s a small focus display of around 36 gallons and is home to four personable frogfish: one Antennarius maculatus, one Antennarius pictus and two Antennarius commerson. 
Sargassum fish, hiding in sargassum. Weird right?

Sargassum fish, hiding in sargassum. Weird right? Credit: Todd Gardner

 The genus Antennarius contains 13 different species of frogfish. These frogfish can be found in both tropical and subtropical water; they spend most of their time in the benthos zone or floating around in Sargassum.
Besides their unusual appearance, frogfish also have another unique adaptation. Since they aren’t quick swimmers, these fish need to be able to capture prey (their diet is mainly fish and crustaceans)  in a different way. They are able to do this by using a rod (called an esca) that has a lure (called an illicium) on the end. These lures can come in all shapes and sizes, but they all function the same way – the lure resembles the food their prey eats – animals like worms, small shrimps or small fish. They can consume a prey that is up to twice their size.… 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.