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The Reef Table: Trouble in Paradise? Making Heads or Tails of Hawaiian Legislation

 There’s been a good deal of rumbling going on in the Aquarium community the past few weeks erupting out of beautiful Hawaii, with a slew of ban bills threatening Hawaiian fisheries.  As with anything, especially such an emotionally fueled event, there’s a great deal of conflicting information. MORE

Do protein skimmers remove nitrate?

p-36007-fish-supplyNitrates can be the bane of existence for many reef aquarists. They aren’t nearly as toxic as nitrite or ammonia and unless they exist in very high amounts (excess of 50-100 ppm) they don’t have a tremendous effect on fish. The problem is that nitrate is a growth fuel for algae, including zooanthellae within coral tissue. I often tell aquarists to think of zooanthellae like a case of ring worm in human beings. When kept in check, this particular ring worm provides you with energy and nourishment. Under proper conditions, your body simply ignores its presence, enjoying all the extra energy. If some environmental or biological condition causes it to grow too much, your immune system kicks in, fighting off the ring worm and robbing you of all that excess sustenance. This is how zooanthellae exists within coral tissue. Under proper conditions it provides nourishment, allowing the natural colors of a coral to shine through. When nitrate is present, the zooanthellae takes off and the coral’s biological processes perceive it as a threat. The coral expels the zooanthellae and usually perishes shortly after from starvation. If we seek to keep corals of any species with dramatic coloration, it’s best to have no nitrate within the water, or barely measurable amounts. There are a lot of ways to remove nitrate, and nitrate filtration is something within the hobby that has become very popular these days. Everything from refugiums to bio-pellets is aimed at removing nitrate. Often, I hear reef keepers comment that their protein skimmer aids in nitrate removal. In reviews of popular skimmers online, aquarists comment that adding the skimmer resulted in a dramatic reduction of nitrates. Do protein skimmers really remove nitrate? It would seem like they could, considering all the thick, green, smelly waste that accumulates within a collection cup. Let’s take a look at protein skimmers and their ability to remove nitrates within a marine aquarium.  MORE

Panther Grouper: The Tankbuster “Poster Fish”

Panther grouper (Cromileptes altivelis)Every time I need to make a point about marine fish that are sold as small, cute juveniles but grow into real behemoths, the panther grouper (Cromileptes altivelis according to Fishbase/Chromileptes altivelis according to ITIS) is one of several species that come to mind immediately. But despite its indisputable tankbusting tendencies, C. altivelis is very hardy, interesting, and well worth its sea salt if you have the space to spare. Physical traitsLet’s get right to the panther grouper’s tankbusting size—which isn’t exaggerated, by the way. This Indo-Pacific species can grow to exceed 27 inches in total length. Even specimens that fall well short of that maximum are still fish to be reckoned with. White to light brown in base coloration with black polka dots all over its body and fins, C. MORE

Pacific Island Ecosystem To Be Captured In Online Model

rsz_mooreaMo’orea, a volcanic island in French Polynesia, will soon be captured in a computer model that will allow its users to track climate change and the effect of human habits on the island. The Mo’orea Island Digital Ecosystem Avator (Mo’orea IDEA) will take into account corals, animals, plants and human population on the island. The project cost is estimated at $5 million dollars and expected to take about 5 to 10 years to complete the work. MORE

Tank Profile: Joe Garza’s SPS-dominate Reef Savvy Rimless Aquarium

Looking down the length of Joe Garza’s 120 gallon reefThe blue thumb behind this beautiful reef, Joe Garza, is a U.S. Navy veteran who spent years traveling the oceans, exploring the globe, and admiring the beauty of the aquatic world. He kept aquariums filled with all sorts of colorful fish for 17 years before deciding it was time for another challenge, which just so happened to be reefkeeping. Perusing forums, books, and videos left him completely confused, so he turned to his good friend Cliff Roberts for some guidance to get started. As goes the story of many an aquarist, he’s had ups and downs, but now successfully maintains this 120 gallon reef, as well as a 240 gallon reef. And though life is often hectic, he still makes sure to sit back and enjoy the reefs with his wife and 3 children. The Reef and Supporting EquipmentThis 120 gallon custom, rimless Reef Savvy aquarium has been up and running since June of 2014. MORE

The Most Tragically Unlucky Sex Lives of the Deep

mainBeing that it’s the eve of the oh-so-wonderful holiday filled with gushy romance and flowers and chocolate that is Valentine’s Day, and this eve falling on the most unluckiest of days (according to western superstition) that is Friday the 13th, why not relish in the sublime crossing of dates and go over some of the rather unfortunate, bizarre, violent and kinktastic mating habits of the deep? Feeling bummed about not having someone to spend this sappy Saturday with? Read through a few of these and I guarantee you’ll feel a little bit better about your love life (or lack there of) because after all, never will you be a hermaphroditic seaslug forced to fence with your penis to see whom gets to stab and inseminate whom.  MORE

New, Weird, Cool Japanese Zoanthids Described

Photo by Robert Howie. CC by 2.0

Photo by Robert Howie. CC by 2.0

 Zoantharia is an order of anthozoans that, for the most part, look very similar to one another. Taxonomists are still trying to sort them all out. Many members of the suborder Brachycnemina could be missed due to their cryptic nature or simply because some are so scarce. We last reported on the discovery of a new brachycnemic zoantharian about a year and a half ago. Now, two more species have recently been described by researchers from the University of the Ryukyus, the Japan Agency for Marine Science and Technology and Tropical Biosphere Research Center. Brachycnemic zoantharians occur in shallow waters in tropical and subtropical regions. Mainly zooxanthellate, they are common on coral reefs. At present, the suborder includes the three families Zoanthidae, Neozoanthidae and Sphenopidae. Only one genus of the family Sphenopidae, Palythoa, can be found in the Ryukyu Archipelago of southwestern Japan. Sphenopus and Palythoa are the two genera of the family. Sphenopus is azooxanthellate and is solitary. It occupies soft-sediment substrates, typically without firmly attaching to a hard surface. Palythoa is typically colonial and zooxanthellate (like most other brachycnemic zoantharians). It lives firmly attached to hard reef surfaces. Recently, new members of the genus Palythoa have been discovered in the Ryukuyus. They are a bit unusual.  MORE

Exclusive Sneak Peek! New Addition to the Orphek Lineup

ORPHEK1One of these things is not like the other! If you’re familiar with Orphek’s pendant lighting, you’ll possibly recognize three of these shiny LED aquarium lights. From right to left, you see the NR12 and PR72, both of which have been in the game for quite some time, followed by the Atlantik Pendant, which made its debut this past August at MACNA 2014 in Denver. But what’s that handsome beast on the far left?!  MORE


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