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In Praise of Pipe Organ

Two varieties of captive grown pipe organ coral

Two varieties of captive grown pipe organ coral

 When I was new to the reef hobby, I encountered a vendor with morals. I was fascinated with Pipe Organ coral (Tubipora musica) and wanted to purchase one. I was promptly educated that this coral, much like Goniopora at that time, was impossible to keep. I respected his honesty, candor, and willingness not to make a quick buck. He said they came in with his bulk shipments, but he would not sell them. These unique soft coral are also known as an Octocoral, due to their groups of eight tentacles. The only other Octocoral with hard skeletons are Heliopora and a newly discovered cousin. Pipe Organs can be mistaken for star polyps when all the polyps are open and the skeleton is covered, and in my systems growth can often be similar to star polyps, with plates of horizontal growth quickly attaching and encrusting onto nearby substrate. MORE

New Angler Fish Discovered In Gulf Of Mexico

Angler A new species of angler fish was discovered  in the Gulf of Mexico. Three female fish were just found in the Gulf of Mexico. The fish have been named ‘Lasiognathus dinem’. Tracey Sutton, a researcher from Nova Southeastern University and Theodore W. Pietsch, from the University of Washington discovered the new species.  “I recognized it as a new species fairly quickly because it was so distinctive,” said Sutton. Sutton and Peitsch’s findings were published in the Copeia Journal. The fish were found 3500-5000 feet below the surface. MORE

Venus Flytrap Anemone

credit: I. MacDonald

credit: I. MacDonald

 This beautiful creature is the Venus Flytrap Anemone, Actinoscyphia aurelia. This anemone can grow up to 12 inches (30.5cm) in length and girth, but the size that it grows to depends largely on the amount of food available. While its body are stick-like in shape, its mouth is rather large and wide, and resembles the plant that it is named after. And, while the flytrap anemone feeds with nematocysts on outstretched tentacles, it does perform the characteristic venus-flytrap-motion as a defensive tactic, further strengthening the resemblance to the plant look-alike. MORE

Protected Whale Shark Dismembered In China

whalesharkkill-150955_copy1 An video of two men cutting a whale shark into pieces, while allegedly still alive, is causing Chinese and International horror. Whale sharks are protected animals under Chinese and International Law. These gentile sharks are the biggest fish and shark in the World. Feeding off of Plankton, they are often captured in photographs roaming through the water with their mouths wide open.  In 2014, the National Geographic published this article about the large number of Whale Sharks, over 600 per year, that were being slaughtered and ‘processed’ by a factory in Southeastern China. MORE

Reef Kids

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


 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.

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 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.