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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.

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.

Tridacna derasa: A Good Excuse to Clam Up!

The smooth giant clam (Tridacna derasa)Of all the Tridacna spp. clams available to hobbyists, perhaps the hardiest and easiest to maintain of them all is Tridacna derasa, the so-called smooth giant clam. This species is so smooth, in fact, that amorous, gold-chain-wearing male specimens have been overhead in bars making comments like, “Say, did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” and “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put ‘U’ and ‘I’ together.” Okay, maybe T. derasa isn’t that kind of smooth, but its shell does lack pronounced ridges or scutes, making it relatively smooth to the touch. So, that’s probably where the name actually came from (though you have to admit my explanation is much more fun). It’s a fast-growing species when given proper conditions and a great choice for first-time clam keepers who have the tank space to spare.Physical traits T. derasa is the second largest of the Tridacna clams, potentially reaching 18 inches to upwards of 2 feet in length.

Jimmy Butler’s Boombox Tank

ButlerAnimalPlanet.vadapt.620.high.78The guys from Animal Planet’s Tanked are at it again building some incredible celebrity fish tanks. This time they designed a special music themed fish tank for 26 year old Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler. Butler loves all genres of music and commissioned a special music themed tank to go inside of his River North Mansion, perhaps to celebrate signing his recent new contract on a five year deal with the Chicago Bulls, which will bring him in more than 90 million dollars. The Tanked stars designed a 600 gallon, boom box shaped fish tank to fit the order. The 6000 pound, 9 feet tall, 10 feet long, boom box shaped tank even actually plays music, which filters through the tank.… More:

Some Subtle Signs that a Fish is Sick

I’ve kept multiple copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) in my reef over the yearsMost marine aquarium hobbyists learn quickly to identify common warning signs of ill health in fish—white spots, excessive mucus production, bulging eyes, frayed fins, etc. But sometimes ailing fish exhibit much more subtle symptoms that are evident only to someone with powers of observation honed by many decades of experience. In the following excerpt from his book The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist: A 60-Year History of Fishkeeping, hobby pioneer Paul “Paul B” Baldassano demonstrates how things with fish aren’t always what they seem:A copperband conundrum Recently, I was in a large LFS in New York. My mother-in-law is in a nursing home nearby, so I go there often. This store is very old, and I even helped start their saltwater tanks in the early 70s. They had a tank of about five copperband butterflies, and they were kind of cheap—like $20.00, which is a great price for copperbands.

Mall Of America Aquarium Fixes Turtle’s ‘Bubble Butt’

sea turtle bubble_1447189968654_465741_ver1.0_640_360‘Bubble butt’, although a phrase not ordinarily associated with marine life, is a syndrome that affects turtles. ‘Bubble butt’ occurs when turtles get an air pocket under their shell, causing too much buoyancy and an inability of the turtles to dive underwater. This condition can often be caused by turtles swallowing harmful debris and pollutants like plastic or being impacted by boats. The trapped gas from the decomposition of the debris in the turtles stomach leads to the air pocket, which causes them to float at the top of the surface. A sea turtle unable to dive would eventually starve to death and become an easy target for predators.… More:

Ocean Swipe 360 Kickstarter Campaign Launched

reefs.comOS360I have to say that your new product has me more excited than any product release in the 12 years I’ve been in the industry.” This was the opening sentence of the first email I sent to the Ocean Swipe team. And it’s true. I was refreshing their homepage all day between aquarium visits. At noon today their Kickstarter campaign launched.… More:

Dealing With Red Bugs and AEFW

When I first started keeping reef tanks a long time ago there seemed to be much less awareness of certain pests that can infiltrate and harm a reef tank. “Back in the day” wild colonies were all the rage and reef keepers were not as diligent about checking for pests. Dealing with Red Bugs and AEFW (Acro Eating Flatworms) wasn’t even on my radar when I had my first 90 gallon reef and it took a while before it crept into my conscience when I had my 120 gallon reef. The 120 gallon reef was my best tank to date and it was dominated with large and colorful SPS that grew from small frags and colonies My 120 Gallon Reef Tank However, over time, a few acros didn’t look as colorful as others so I tried certain remedies like changing my lighting setup or doing more water changes but nothing seemed to help.

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