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Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus

Good morning friends, I have a Photoshopped “hide and seek” type of photo for you all today of a beautiful little one-inch-long Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus hiding in a big Giant Anemone. These little shrimps are a favorite subject for underwater photographers, as they are easy to find, easy to shoot, and are dressed in wild colors – what more could you want in a subject? I love the design on this little guy’s bck; it resembles a Hawaiian mask, can you see it??  Have a great day!   MORE

More Holiday Gift Ideas for the Reefkeeper in Your Life

Let’s face it, if we marine aquarists had our way, every gift we received during the holiday season would be hobby-related. Trouble is, ours is such a specialized pastime that few, if any, of our loved ones really understand it or have any idea what sort of item would be appropriate to buy—that is, of course, unless we sneakily supplant those visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads with some good gift ideas. Last year at this time, we posted a list of items that most marine aquarium hobbyists would be happy to discover under the tree come Christmas morning, including sea salt, aquarium tools, a refractometer, fish food, water parameter test kits, and reference books. This year we’d like to expand upon this list with a few more great ideas. Now, to help your non-hobbyist family members and friends “discover” this list, you might need to print it out and hang it on your refrigerator, tape it to your computer, tuck it into the pages of Look Magazine, or simply leave it lying out in the open somewhere. MORE

Plutonium-Powered Dive Suit

From Annual Report to Congress of the AEC for 1967.   US Government via Atomic Skies

From Annual Report to Congress of the AEC for 1967. US Government via Atomic Skies

 There was a time, in the U.S.’s not-too-distant past, that nuclear power wasn’t as contentious a subject as it is now, and our country’s top researchers and scientists were on the look out for new and interesting ways to use the radioactive isotopes discovered through nuclear research. The most fascinating invention? A nuclear-powered diving suit!  MORE

Racing Extinction: Film Review

The_filmThere’s something visceral and eerie about hearing the song of the last male Hawaiian o-o (pronounced oh-oh). The male’s mating call was recorded by scientists prior to the species’ extinction. As the call echoes around the tropical forest, suddenly we realize there will be no return call, this male is the last of his species. The o-o’s call, along with countless other animals sounds are filed away at Cornell Universities’ Bioacoustics research lab. This is the primary message of the new film Racing Extinction (RE). Since humans took over the planet as the dominant animal species, an epoch known as the Anthropocene, countless animal species have gone extinct. To make matters worse, the causes of those extinctions are directly related to the activities of human beings, primarily since the rise of the Industrial Age. As one scientist featured in the film comments, “It’s like the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, only this time humanity is the meteor.” So beings an hour and a half journey down the rabbit hole of mass extinction, what it means and how the human race could be living out its last 100 years on Earth, right now.  MORE

Sea Anemone Reproduction

Photo by

 Anemones can reproduce either asexually or sexually, and each method of reproduction has distinct advantages and disadvantages. With asexual reproduction, the offspring are genetically identical to the original parent. Asexual reproduction allows for larger numbers of individual offspring to be produced more quickly with less energy expenditure as compared to sexual reproduction; in stable marine environments this is a reliable, efficient and effective means of reproduction. However, this lack of genetic diversity in offspring could collapse an entire population of genetically identical animals if environmental pressures were to swing too far from tolerable conditions. On the other hand, rapid rates of asexual reproduction allows for faster responses to environmental pressures as they are occurring and could raise the rate of survival if individual offspring develop genetic mutations during mitosis. During sexual reproduction, sea anemones release genetic material (gametes) through the oral disk. With many species of sea anemones, genetic material from two or more distinct species are released into the water whereby sperm and egg will connect with the possibility of producing a genetically different and unique offspring from both parents. The genetic differences among multiple offspring increases the probability of survival. The method of reproduction typically observed by aquarium hobbyists in the tank is known as fission, a form of asexual reproduction. Fission (or binary fission) is when an organism splits into 2 separate individuals. It is believed that when an anemone reaches a certain size the likelihood of fission increases; it is also believed that environmental stressors may increase the chances for fission.

Rose Lace Coral, Stylaster roseus

I have a little, very delicate Rose Lace coral for you all today that I shot in the mouth of a little cave on our Substation house reef. This hydrocoral forms small colonies, up to 7 cm high by 11 cm wide. The branches have a serrated appearance, and the polyps resemble hair when extended. The cylindrical branches taper from base to tip. The surface of the outer branches is covered with rows of small glasses, formed by surrounding food and stinging polyps. Occasional cups are also visible in the thick base of the branches, which are burgundy, purple, or lavender, and fade to pink and white towards the tips. Occasionally, they are all white. MORE

Lionfish Cull in the Caribbean

A Lionfish hunts on a wreck in the Indo Pacific, where it ought to be.

A Lionfish hunts on a wreck in the Indo Pacific, where it belongs

 The population explosion of lionfish in the Caribbean and Mexican Gulf is reaching critical levels, and divers are taking measures to help cull the population. The origin of the original (invasive) fish is widely debated, and theories abound: they were deliberately released, they escaped from damaged aquariums during a hurricane or other disaster, or the invasion could have happened through several smaller events. Whatever the origin story may be, the lionfish are chomping through an awful lot of fish across the region, and are doing so freely; their numbers unchecked by predators such as sharks and groupers. MORE

The Best Beginner Small-Polyp Stony Corals

These SPS coral species are a beginner’s best bet

 Upon entering the world of small polyp stony corals (or SPS), many people ask the magic question, “Which types are best for beginners?” In my opinion, the most beginner-friendly choices are found in the genera Montipora, Pocillopora, Seriatopora, and Stylophora. Most of the corals I’ll discuss here are commonly available, so there should be a low cost of entry. They’ve also proven fairly hardy (in my experience) and can be kept in a wider range of parameters than most SPS corals. What’s more, they’re rarely susceptible to the dreaded rapid or slow tissue necrosis (RTN/STN) that you see in Acropora species. General requirements for these SPS corals Care level: moderate
Temperament: peaceful (will not try to attack neighboring corals but will most likely lose to aggressive species)
Lighting: moderate to high (of the correct full spectrum)
Flow: medium to high
Temperature: 72-78F
Alkalinity: 8-12 dKH
pH: 8.1-8.4
Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 Preparing for SPS  The ultimate practice for these corals is mastering water parameter stability. Don’t chase specific numbers, but if you can keep parameters in the required ranges and stable with very little variance and spikes, you can keep practically any coral. The only other specifics to each coral are placement, which impacts lighting; flow requirements; and whether they need to be fed. These are primarily photosynthetic corals, but additions of amino acids and other elements may help with coloration and growth 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.