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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

Sunscreen and Its Effects Upon Coral Reefs

A team of international researchers including professor and diver John Fauth from the University of Southern Florida have battled the sun in a study where they measured the devestating effects of a compound found in commercial Sunscreen, upon coral reefs. “The use of oxybenzone-containing products  needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue,” Downs said. “We have lost at least 80 percent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers. Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment.”  john-fauth2-548x365Laboratory experiments that exposed coral larvae and cells to increased saturated levels of oxybenzone and conclude both genetic and physical damage was done to both. Larvae exposed to levels similar to those detected in samples collected around reefs were were trapped in their own skeletons, unable to disperse into the water column. The DNA of coral cells was also inhibited or completely destroyed by Oxybenzone causing an an increase in bleaching frequency in seven different types of coral. The team concluded that: “Oxybenzone poses a hazard to coral reef conservation, and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change.” And that instead of lathering up the lotion we should “Wear rash guards or scuba wetsuits and skip all the hygienic products when you go diving,” added Fauth. “If we could do it for a week at a time, people can certainly forgo it for a few hours to help protect these reefs for our children and their children to see.” Read the abstract and purchase the paper here!

Rare Azooxanthellate Stony Corals in Japan: Part 1

The selection of non-photosynthetic stony corals at your average fish store is not typically a very diverse lot. You may find a species or two of
Tubastraea; if you’re lucky, you may spy a Dendrophyllia or Rhizopsammia. And if that shop really brings in the rare stuff, you may catch a glimpse of a Rhizotrochus typus or Petrophyllia rediviva. But beyond that, there is not much else. MORE

Stove-Pipe Sponge Re-Growth

Good morning from Curacao… Here you see a fallen section of a Stove-Pipe sponge (Aplysina archeri) in purple, with new growth climbing up a Row Pore Rope sponge. The rope sponge acts like a sort of trellis, and supports the weight of the new stove-pipe by allowing it to not only cover it in sections, but to actually fuse with the rope sponge – that’s just way cool!! I’m guessing that once the stove-pipe grows large enough to get a good hold on the reef, it will be completely fused with the rope sponge, the two will become one cool looking sponge. It’s hard to see in the photo, but these sponges are home to little gobies, crabs, shrimps, and brittle stars, in fact the harder you look the more things you will see. MORE

Finding Dory Release Announced—Is a P. hepatus Craze in Our Future?

Paracanthurus hepatus, Pacific blue tang, widely known as DoryWell, the word is out that Finding Dory, the long-anticipated sequel to Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, is finally slated for release in June of 2016. If the impact of the sequel is anything like that of the original—a lot of youngsters clamoring to keep the film’s “star” as a pet—then I suspect that beginning next summer, the Pacific blue tang (Paracanthurus hepatus), the species that Dory represents, will be very popular indeed. I have to admit I’m conflicted about the pending release of this film. On the one hand, if Finding Dory holds up to the quality of the original in terms of animation and entertainment value, it will be well worth viewing. Jaded as I am by decades in the hobby and having spent plenty of time on real coral reefs thanks to the miracle of scuba, I still find the visually lavish representation of the ocean realm in Finding Nemo quite compelling. Plus, anything that sparks kids’ interest in marine life has to be a good thing, right?On the other hand, a burgeoning interest among youngsters in keeping P. hepatus in a home aquarium probably doesn’t bode well for the species MORE

Dr. Mac’s Black Friday Live Sale

Dr.-Mac's-Black-FridayBlack Friday is fondly known as the day when people lose their minds and beat each other senseless for a $10 discount on a TV.  Not feeling up for the USA’s version of the Running of the Bulls?  Thanks to the cool technology known as the internets, you can sit at home, sipping your hot cocoa, and score some of the best deals on livestock you have ever seen.  Saturday night, the festivities will be on full display as Dr. Mac and the fine folks at Pacific East Aquaculture unveil over 1000 corals, fish, clams and inverts to help you stuff the stockings of your reefing loved ones. Aww, who are we kidding, this is as good a time as any to treat YOURSELF to some one of a kind items that you can have in your tank before the holiday shopping season has gotten underway.  Please join us on Saturday at 6PM EST when the live sale kicks off, right here on

The Rossmont Waver

rossmont-waver-1024x504Rossmont has just announced a new product: Waver, a frequency modulator that adjusts an aquarium pump’s flow rate! In an earlier review, we lamented the fixed rate feature of the Rossmont Mover M5800, but today that gap has finally been filled in an elegant and practical way: the new Waver is just what we need to adjust the flow rate of our pumps. We can still use the same pumps, but now they will behave exactly how we want them to – with an adjustable flow! 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.