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Reef Aquarium Hitchhikers: The Gall of These Parasitic Crabs!

Gall crab outside its burrow in Cyphastrea serailia (Photo credit: Van der Meij)We have all heard the oft-repeated warning to “dip before you trip.” We are told by many sources online to dip any corals we receive in order to eliminate pests. Most of the time, pests come in the form of hitchhiking nudibranchs that can mow down zoas and other soft coral colonies. Then you have the flatworm family, which is so broad that it’s hard to single out a species unless you have a microscope. There are also larger hitchhiking pests we can see without the use of a scientific lab. For example, there are the beautiful Aiptasia and majano anemones that will sting your newfound friends to no end. But I’d like to talk about an interesting group of hitchhikers in the crab family, and one nasty one in particular: the gall crab.Gall crabs are largely unknown to many an untrained eye and reefer, as they are not as abundant in reef systems as other hitchhiking crabs, such as gorillas, emeralds, or decorator crabs. The problem with these crabs is they are parasitic to corals, especially hard corals like Trachyphyllia (brain coral) and members of the Faviidae family, such as Platygyra daedalea MORE

Taking a look in the mirror…

Obama family arrives at US Capitol prior to inauguration swear-in“If you’re looking for someone to blame, you need only look in the mirror.” It’s a common slogan, used to illustrate the reality that we all take part in many of the problems that exist in the world today. Our gluttonous consumption of fossil fuels, seemingly insatiable appetite for seafood and use of petrol products such as plastic, have pushed the environment into a state of fast decline. Here in Maryland many home owners stand in stark opposition to hydraulic fracking, but like an addict seeking a fix, we continue to fill massive tanks full of liquid propane, natural gas and oil – so that our homes can remain a comfortable 70 degrees during winter, without the extended effort of maintaining a fire (which would also release hydrocarbons into the atmosphere). Some become offended at the thought that they play a role in environmental decline, others accept this reality and hope that small changes may contribute to a sea change of thought and practice. In many ways, simply being a human being in the modern world, guarantees that a footprint of some form will be left upon the Earth. Many of us try to balance that scale by contributing more good to the world around us, than bad. As we face ESA regulations, a reality that has sent the marine aquarium industry into an uproar, how does the statement above factor into the events that have led here. There are many factors leading up to possible no-take, no-keep regulations. One being that the endangered species act is being used as a tool to combat climate change. Without adequate measures to curb and control climate change, organizations like the Center for Biodiversity are pointing at individual species to be preserved, when a changing climate is the primary stressor placed upon them. Are individual aquarists in some way responsible for our current predicament?  MORE

New Temperate Marine Species Set to Enter Trade This Year

Photo by Ed Bierman. CC by 2.5.

Photo by Ed Bierman. CC by 2.5.

 Temperate marine aquarists can expect significant increases in livestock selection through 2015. While most of the wholesalers have been bringing in a little bit more of the temperate stuff these days, the lion’s share of new species will be available through Coldwater Marine Aquatics. We have reported on some of their past shipments. Next week, the Oregon-based company will be receiving a shipment of European animals that will include, according to co-owner Stu Wobbe, “beadlet anemones (all colors), fragacea anemones, snakelock anemones, Corynactis viridis (12 colonies, 6 colors), lesser spotted catshark eggs, Sepia officinalis eggs and several large gorgonians (four take up a box by themselves.)”  MORE

A Hawkfish Even “Caribbean Chris” Could Love

Caribbean redspotted hawkfish (Amblycirrhitus pinos)Regular Saltwater Smarts visitors know that “Caribbean Chris” has an irrational (bordering on pathological) hatred of all marine life not connected in some way to the Caribbean Sea or tropical western Atlantic. By logical extension, most of the hawkfishes, being predominantly Indo-Pacific or Pacific species, are unwelcome in his aquarium. (He may even have a sign posted next to his tank that reads “Hawkfishes need not apply,” or some such. I could be wrong.) This manifestation of CC’s shameless “saltwater segregation” is unfortunate because many of the hawkfishes make outstanding aquarium candidates, being very hardy, interesting, easy to feed, and, with some exceptions, well suited to modest-sized systems.However, notwithstanding CC’s unabashed regional biases, there is at least one hawkfish species that even he can’t deny fits right in with his Caribbean-centric theme—the redspotted, aka Caribbean, hawkfish (Amblycirrhitus pinos). Physical traits A. pinos perching next to some spongesA. pinos has a squat, vaguely (American) football-shaped body; high-set eyes that closely follow activity inside and outside the tank; oversized pectoral fins on which it props itself; and short, hair-like cirri forming a tassel that resembles a coral polyp atop each dorsal spine. Maximum length for this species is between 3 and 4 inches. MORE

Teen Catches 1000 Pound Blue Marlin!

safe_imageKia Rizzuto, a 16 year old native of New York, reeled in a 1058 pound Blue Marlin off the Kona Coast of Hawaii. The fish was estimated an an impressive 14 feet long and was just 300 pounds short of breaking the International Game Fish Associations record for biggest Blue Marlin Caught, which was back in 1982. MORE

A School for Aquarists

aqsMaybe you’ve worked in a key position in a groundbreaking aquaculture facility. Maybe you’ve traveled the world extensively on killer dive trips. Maybe you have an advanced degree in the marine sciences and have already led some fine research teams. Maybe you’ve authored a well-received book in some area of interest. Hell, maybe you’ve done all of those things. But, you do not know everything. Far from it. Aquarium science is the consummate multidisciplinary field, and however deeply involved you get in it, there will always be new things to learn. Formal academic instruction is available for those who work in (or desire to work in) the huge, diverse and ever-changing aquarium industry. The small handful of institutions that offer these programs is scattered across the country. These different programs are about as varied as the industry they train for. However, the biggest and broadest among them may be the MORE

Reef Threads Podcast #218


Cirrhilabrus laboutei


It’s podcastin’ time once again. This week we talk about our most-recent Reef Threads Plus podcast, replacing lamps and heaters, the impact of LEDs, hobby accessibility, and the Triton system and tank data. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

Sponsor: Rod’s FoodRod’s Food websiteBeing skepticalSkeptical Reefkeeping XII: Triton Lab ICP-OES Testing of a Certified Artificial Saltwater Standard,Rich Ross and Dr. Chris Maupin

Mocha Frostbite + RARE Clownfish – Clownfish Depot

 In this CoralFish12g video I feature Clownfish Depot’s rare clownfish. They have mocha frostbites, picasso breeding pairs, helmet head picassos, and other rare clownfish! MORE: Mocha Frostbite + RARE Clownfish- Clownfish Depot 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.