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Sea Apples: Hazardous Holothurians Best Left to Advanced Hobbyists

Sea apples are definitely colorful and exotic-lookingIn several posts here at Saltwater Smarts, I’ve mentioned that certain marine organisms routinely offered in the aquarium trade should come with a warning label—especially for novice hobbyists. In these cases, I’m usually referring to animals that are really gorgeous or exotic-looking (hence hard to resist) but either difficult to keep alive or dangerous to tankmates for one reason or another. In the case of the sea cucumbers known as sea apples (Pseudocolochirus spp.), you get a bit of both worlds in one enticingly beautiful package. What they look likeSea apples have round to ovate bodies that are brightly colored in shades of red, blue, purple, and yellow (or combinations thereof). The oral cavity is fringed with brightly colored, feathery feeding tentacles, and colorful tube feet appear in rows along the body. These holothurians can reach a maximum size of around five to six inches, but they are capable of dramatically deflating if stressed or, if dissatisfied with their placement, inflating in an effort to drift to a more suitable spot. Two different species of sea apples Okay, sea apples sound like really beautiful, fascinating animals, right? MORE

Help Support The Texas State Aquarium ‘Recovery Fund’

TSARecoveryFundLogoThe Texas Aquarium has launched a Recovery Fund, to help replenish the fish which were lost through the recent chemical mislabeling disaster.  As most of you are aware, since I have followed this sad story since it occurred, a mislabeling error of a chemical, which was thought to be a commonly used drug for the treatment of a pesky parasite, led to the massive fish deaths. As of April 14, the count for the total fish lost at the aquarium was 389. This was a devastating loss, which included male tiger sharks and multiple species of fish. The recovery fund was created due to the outcry of supporters trying to help the Aquarium. Now you too can help support the Texas Aquarium by clicking here.MORE

The end of the Thomas Brown mercury disclosure

article-2279059-17997DA7000005DC-879_634x639It would seem as the great Thomas Brown mercury disclosure chapter, sub-chapter, anecdotal quote, foot-note, has come to a close. Larry DuPont, owner of Reef Frenzy foods submitted several different frozen foods, including his own, to an accredited lab for testing. For those out there that believe science doesn’t provide accurate predictions, this is one case where they would be mystified. Richard Ross, biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium along with many others, were very skeptical of the results Thomas Brown reported, which were 22,000 times in excess of the FDA’s safe mercury consumption limit. It was journalist Ret Talbot that took severe suspicion, especially after being forwarded Brown’s report. Before Larry DuPont’s test results came back, Ret had essentially debunked the claim.  MORE

Tattoo Tuesday

justin tattooToday is our first “Tattoo Tuesday” on I’ll kick it off with my latest piece, which I just had finished by my good friend George Wilkinson at Spirit Gallery Tattoo Shop in New London, CT. It is definitely a shop worthy of its 5 star rating on Yelp. The design of the tattoo reflects my fascination with charge and opposing forces, the mathematics of the physical universe, facets of my wedding band tattoo, elements of my Ram/Taurus Zodiac signs, and, most relevant to my fellow reefers, cnidarian and cephlo-inspired design themes. Send a picture of your tattoo and its story to to be featured on a future Tattoo Tuesday post!

Well Hello, Luzonichthys seaver! New Anthias species emerges from the depths of Pohnpei, Micronesia


Holotype of Luzonichthys seaver, Pohnpei, Micronesia. Photo: Brian D. Greene

 Allow us to bombard you with some rather exciting fish news this morning! Take a few moments to ogle over this gorgeous, rosy-bodied blonde holotype of the seventh member of the Luzonichthys genus, Luzonichthys seaverCollected by means of hand and net at depths of 90-100m in Pohnpei, Micronesia, the svelte Anthiinae seems to most closely bear semblance to Earle’s Splitfin Anthias (L. earlei), yet flaunts a striking, cheerier coloration. Unfortunately, no captures of an animate specimen have been made, but we imagine them to be all the more splendid with some life behind the eyes. As goes with most remote rarities, it’s unlikely L. seaver will be within any aquarist’s reach anytime soon, but let’s not allow that to detract from the sheer thrill that comes with a discovery from the interminable depths of our seas. We shall admire you from afar. Congratulations to all involved in this exquisite find! Source: Copus J, Ka’apu-Lyons C, Pyle R (2015) Luzonichthys seaver, a new species of Anthiinae (Perciformes, Serranidae) from Pohnpei, Micronesia. Biodiversity Data Journal 3: e4902. doi: 10.3897/BDJ.3.e4902  

Don’t Be Bothered by Bristleworms!

Bristleworm that was found in an aquariumIn my early days of writing for the marine aquarium hobby, I frequently cautioned fellow hobbyists to be on the lookout for “unwelcome” live rock stowaways, and high on my list of undesirables were the bristleworms. As I saw it then, every prickly polychaete that poked its head out of the rockwork was a potential troublemaker with a vicious sting and an insatiable appetite for coral polyps. Sure, some were supposedly worse than others, but why take the chance? Get them before they get you and your corals, I used to think. Now, having acquired a few more decades’ worth of aquarium-keeping wisdom, I’ve come to appreciate that most of these worms are beneficial scavengers and consumers of detritus and, thus, actually welcome aquarium inhabitants despite their creepy appearance. They’re also useful in that they help keep the substrate stirred somewhat.But what about those poky bristles? It’s true enough that bristleworms can poke you with their calcareous bristles (called chetae), potentially causing localized pain, itching, and/or swelling to varying degrees MORE

OdySea Aquarium Coming to Arizona

 Scottsdale, Arizona will be getting a fantastic new aquarium. OdySea Aquarium is in the works to open in July of 2016. Upon completion, the 14 acre Aquarium will be the largest aquarium in the Southwest. It will be over 200,00 square feet and hold up to 2 million gallons of water. MORE

Fincasters Episode 70 Hairfin Eel Blenny

The Hairfin Eel Blenny, Xiphasia setifer, is a rare and unique fish that is easy to keep in your aquarium if you can find one. In this Fincast, John talks with Barry Wisebram of Sunpet which had a pair of the fish on display at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando. 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.