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giant-squid - reefs

In this photo released by Tsunemi Kubodera, a researcher with Japan’s National Science Museum, a giant squid attacking a bait squid is pulled up by his research team off the Ogasawara Islands, south of Tokyo, on December 4, 2006.

 The giant squid is an incredible creature. The largest one ever found measured 43 feet in length and weighed nearly a ton!  Scientists don’t know very much about these animals, because they live at great depths below the ocean’s surface.  Most of what we do know comes from studying carcasses that wash up on shore – and they have been found all over the world. Squid are related to snails, clams, and slugs; they are all mollusks, which are defined by their soft bodies. And squids belong to a group of mollusks called cephalopods, which have been around for 500 million years. I think the most interesting thing about squids is, that instead of having a proper tongue, they have an organ called a radula: 
radula - reefs

credit: ocean.si.edu

 The radula rests inside their beaks and is covered with seven rows of denticles – which are like tiny sharp teeth that point backwards towards the squid’s esophagus. The squid uses its radula to break up the deep-sea fishes and other squids that it likes to eat into tiny pieces. The pieces need to be very small, because the squid’s brain is shaped like a donut and its esophagus runs through the “donut hole” in the middle! Would you like to have your own squid? You can make one with supplies already in your house. MORE

My Kingdom for a Pair of Boots!

boots justin - reefs“My Kingdom for a Pair of Boots!” The refrain is the same from people throughout the aquatics industry; our saltwater work environment is hell on footwear. Over the years, I have  destroyed countless pairs of boots, and, while there are a few tricks to reducing the damage, it only serves to delay the inevitable. After seeing how saltwater and salt spray have dissolved concrete down to powder, it’s no wonder that my boots don’t fair much better.
I usually buy two pairs of boots, so I can rotate them every other day to let each pair dry out before wearing them again. I have tried out boots of every quality level, but it doesn’t matter –  if they are $30 or $200, they all meet the same fate. Over time, the corrosive, high saline solution eats away the leather, metal and rubber. The salt is an equal opportunity destroyer. Oftentimes, my laces fuse with the metal they feed through, leaving most of the lower laces locked in position, a shoelace rigor mortis if you will. I am currently in the danger zone. I waited too long to buy new boots because I hate the breaking-in process,and I am making do with these rather comfortable, but quickly disintegrating, foot covers. They mostly do the job that they were intended for, but I fear that their end is near.

What Makes Someone a Marine Aquarium Expert?

Being in a somewhat contemplative mood as I enjoy my third cup of coffee this Friday morning, I’ve posed to myself the philosophical question, what does it mean to be an “expert” marine aquarist? In other words, when I write something like, “That challenging species should be kept only by expert hobbyists,” who exactly am I referring to? As I mull it over, I’m coming to the realization that the answer to this question isn’t as obvious as it might seem.Years in the hobby? Is expertise a simple a matter of years in the hobby? If that were the case, someone who has been a hobbyist for 20 years but has never kept anything other than a single ocellaris clownfish would be considered an expert—when in reality, that individual is experienced only in keeping one specimen of a relatively bulletproof species. Further, there are plenty of long-time hobbyists out there who repeatedly exercise poor judgment, never learn from their mistakes, and make irresponsible stocking/husbandry decisions no matter how many years they keep at it. So time in the hobby can’t be the sole answer MORE

National Geographic’s Traveler Photo Contest 2015

While diving in the cool waters of the Puget Sound this gorgeous squid was excited by my bright dive lights. I quickly settled myself and moved in for an amazing encounter. This particular squid hovered for several minutes while I squeezed off several images. With the beautiful blue highlights, this one really stood out. Des Moines, Washington, United States J. Miller

credit: J. Miller

 The winners of National Geographic’s Traveler Photo Contest 2015 have been announced. Submissions came in from all over the world, and while many focus on the unique cultures, people, and architecture of far-off lands, there are some absolutely gorgeous shots of our ocean environment and its inhabitants. My favorite is the picture above, of a beautiful little squid in Puget Sound, Des Moines, Washington, captured by J. Miller. He writes: “While diving in the cool waters of the Puget Sound this gorgeous squid was excited by my bright dive lights. I quickly settled myself and moved in for an amazing encounter. This particular squid hovered for several minutes while I squeezed off several images. With the beautiful blue highlights, this one really stood out.” Below are some other fantastic shots, and you can see all the top entries on the National Geographic site, here. MORE

The Vertex Aquaristik Omega 180i Skimmer

2014_09_vertex_omega_180i_001 The Vertex Omega 180i is the latest skimmer from Vertex,  and was first presented at Nuremberg Interzoo. I tested this skimmer in a 400 liter SPS and LPS  tank, with nutrient levels kept as low as possible. The tank formerly was in bad shape, due to its well known dinoflagellate problems.  MORE

New England Aquarium Releases Four Sea Turtles Into The Wild

TurtleReleaseB080515-JPGEight Months after their stay at the New England Aquarium, four sea turtles have been released back into the ocean. The three Kemp’s Ridley and one Loggerhead turtle were found stranded on Cape Cod last Fall due to water temperature problems. The turtles were successfully transferred to the aquarium for rehabilitation at the New England Aquarium Animal Care Center. The Center was established in 1968, with its goal to rescue and rehabilitate injured and diseased marine animals in the New England Area. MORE

Takashi Amano Dies at the Age of 61

TakashiamanoprivatetankTakashi Amano, photographer, designer, aquarist, and founder of ADA, Aqua Design Amano, died on August 4th at the age of 61. The news is bouncing around every social network, twitter feed, facebook page, and forum dedicated to the hobby. Unfortunately, we can confirm the sad news of his death. It seems that the pneumonia was a complication stemming from his cancer.  MORE

Aquascaping Contest at the Aquatic Experience – Chicago

aquatic experience logo - reefsAquatic Experience – Chicago combines everything aquatic under one roof at the Schaumburg Convention Center. From saltwater to freshwater, to ponds and aquatic animals, they will have it all. Come out and  enjoy educational seminars by George Blasiola, Heiko Bleher, Charles Delbeek, Patrick Donston, Hans-Georg Evers, Sanjay Joshi, Oliver Knott, Paul Loiselle, Oliver Lucanus,Steve Lundblad, Joe Olenik, Julian Sprung, Tony Vargas and Greg Wittstock, as well as keynote speaker Frank Reece of Blue Zoo. There will be a huge show floor filled with hobbyists from entry-level to the most sophisticated aquarium keepers, as well as livestock and equipment experts and the industry’s best and trend-setting manufacturers. 

Whitby aquascape - reefs

credit: Paul Whitby

 The show will also be holding its second annual Aquatic Experience Aquascaping Competition.  Contestants are invited to compete in one of two categories (Small and Large Tank) for $3,900 dollars in prize money.  MORE


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