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Fused Montastrea in Belize

14 300x200 Fused Montastrea in Belize

Close up of shared polyp between two colonies.

 I was recently going through pictures from my exploratory trip to Belize earlier this year. I was especially interested in coral that were growing in close contact with one another, and I took many pictures and videos of coral interactions. A relationship that struck me as particularly interesting was one between two colonies of Montastrea growing side by side. There was a streak of color in one colony leading from one coral to the other across the area where the two colonies met. I zoomed up with my camera and discovered that one of the polyps was shared by both colonies. I have seen this happen with many of my Acanthastrea echinata grafts (another coral species with high Thrausto counts), where only one area or polyp will fuse while the rest of the graft remains separated. I speculate that there is a regulation between the two corals’ immune systems, only at that location, aided by the presence of similar populations of Thraustochytridsymbionts. The white paper “Identification of a protist-coral association and its possible ecological role” by a team of scientists in Israel, (http://www.int-res.com/articles/meps2006/317/m317p067.pdf ) expounds on this idea. The article has several pictures that show the colored striations of Thrausto populations in several coral species. Enjoy this video of photos I took in Belize of the coral, starting close and zooming out from the shared polyp between the two colonies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dt3DCCCWUUMore:
Posted in Conservation, Corals, Eye Candy, ReefGen, Science | Leave a comment

GHL Mitras Lightbar Announced in Smaller Sizes and More Colors

GHL is updating their Mitras Lightbar for 2014 by offering them up in one brand new color configuration and two new sizes. Where the first generation of the Lightbar saw its smallest fixture tipping the scales at roughly 60 cm in length, or just under two feet, the new nano models will be suited for 40 or 50 cm aquariums. This is a good move to hit those smaller desktop nano aquariums that are all the rage these days, and nano owners could certainly appreciate the access to this high end LED striplight.As for the new color, the Mitras LED striplight will now be available in a deep actinic. Prior to this release, the Lightbar was only available in a daylight (freshwater), actinic (saltwater), and an ocean blue (mix of fresh and salt) configuration. This new color offers up the deep blue that has become synonymous with reef aquaria and it gives users more options for color blending and bolstering coral coloration.The Mitras Lightbar fixtures for 40 and 50 cm nano tanks are currently available in the GHL webshop, and the deep actinic models will become available in mid-October.Features common to all models:Selected high-power-LEDs of Cree, Osram and SemiLEDs Lifetime of at least 60,000 hours High quality LEDs with at least 122 lumen/watt (white LEDs) 13 different lightbar lengths 120° reflectors Can be operated standalone or with a ProfiLux controller Controllability of 5 to 7 LED channels (depending on lamp model) Individually set up the light output and color according to personal desires Storm, rainy day, cloud, tropical, and twilight simulations via the ProfiLux controller This entry was posted in Aquarium Equipment and tagged Aquarium Equipment, aquarium lighting, GHL, GHL LED, LED lighting, Mitras, Mitras Light Bar by Brandon Klaus. Bookmark the permalink.
Posted in Conservation, Corals, DIY, Equipment, Events, Fish, Industry, MACNA, Photography, Science, Tanks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pacific Sun’s Cube Bridges the Gap Between Bluetooth and WiFi

For the longest time, Bluetooth technology was one of those highly touted bullet point features of multiple aquarium products offered from lots of different brands. It was supposed to revolutionize how hobbyists communicated with their aquarium equipment. The devices could be controlled wirelessly by all sorts of Bluetooth enabled devices, but due to its severely limited range, it was quickly overtaken by WiFi, which offered worldwide functionality via the internet. Thankfully, those Bluetooth products aren’t in any way obsolete thanks to a new device from Pacific Sun. Called the Cube, this simple little device acts as a bridge between Bluetooth and WiFi signals, allowing formerly Bluetooth only devices to connect to a wireless network and receive work direction from any place in the world.The Pacific Sun Cube will be available in 4Q 2014, which is less than a month away, and it will be compatible with all of their existing products like the LED/Hybrid fixture, T5HO fixtures, dosers, etc. A mobil and computer based app will accompany the release of the Cube, and all of the data will live in the cloud, another ever growing feature of the aquarium industry.Pricing will be announced upon the Cube’s release. In the meantime, check out these screen captures of the software. This entry was posted in Aquarium Equipment and tagged Aquarium Equipment, pacific sun, Pacific Sun Cube by Brandon Klaus. Bookmark the permalink.
Posted in Conservation, DIY, Equipment, Events, Fish, Industry, MACNA, Photography, Science, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hot Summer, Cool Seahorses: Cooling The Seahorse Aquarium

Summers can be deadly to seahorses. Are you prepared to cool them down? Summer’s here, and seahorse aquarists are starting to see tank temperatures rise. Seahorses, are particularly vulnerable to warmer temperatures , so for many seahorse aquarists, even moderate heat can lead to a mad dash to lower the water temperature. The consequences of warm water can be deadly for seahorses. Bacteria spread at a faster rate in warmer water, so the warmer it gets, the more likely you are to see illness pop up in your aquarium. Another often overlooked problem is that warmer water holds less oxygen, stressing out the inhabitants of your aquarium. This tends to be worse for seahorses than other fish due to their lobed gill structure. Fans, your first line of defense Often, open tops with fans blowing across the water is enough to drop temp a few degrees. This works by evaporative cooling. Removing tops, and placing a fan so it blows across the water will make the water evaporate much faster, cooling the tank. You can easily drop a tank below the ambient temperature if you have enough evaporative cooling. Theoretically, you can drop as much as 18F degrees below ambient temperatures. Realistically, you are going to see a drop of between 3 and 5 degrees in a home aquarium. (More about evaporative cooling here.) Ways to improve evaporative cooling is to have the fan blowing across the longest part of the tank. Aiding evaporation can be done by increasing surface movement. Position power heads and add air pumps to create more movement. If you have a sump, you can help things out by placing a fan across the sump as well. Keeping the stand doors open will help heat from equipment dissipate. Be sure if you have fish that could be jumpers that the tank has some form of mesh over the top to keep them from making their final leap. You can use egg crate to fashion a top, or pond mesh and aluminum window frames. Do remember that with evaporative cooling, you will lose significantly more water through evaporation than normal. Keeping an eye on the tank, or even adding an auto top-off unit to replenish the tank will be necessary. Evaporative cooling works best in dry climates. Someone in Arizona will have better results than someone in Florida. However, if air conditioning is being used, you have a dehumidifier build in, and can get to lower humidity levels to keep the tank cool. Air Conditioning Often when people think cooling a tank, they think they need to resort to a chiller. That’s not always the case! Often times it’s cheaper to get a room air conditioner and run it rather than buying a whole chiller. And for bonus points, you get a cool room. Of course, it depends where you live, where your tank is set up, and what your electricity prices are like. But it’s always a good idea to at least consider air conditioning. Small units can be had for under $100. If you have odd shaped windows you can get a portable air conditioner. Portable air conditioners carry warm air out via a hose that you connect to a window. They do take up floor space, and some people think they’re loud; but they provide an option for those of us with weird windows. Check Your Equipment There are many ways you can change your equipment setup to help remove heat. Reducing equipment, externalizing equipment, and even cleaning equipment can all help. Reduce Equipment If you’re running several powerheads to keep water moving, a pump from the sump to the tank, and a pump for the skimmer, you could easily be dumping a large amount of heat into your aquarium. Reducing those items while keeping the water moving is a great way to lower the temperature of the tank. Multiple powerheads can be replaced with a single, well designed closed loop. Upgrade Equipment Older equipment is likely to draw more power mom less umph. The additional power translates to additional heat in the tank. Newer, low watt pumps can lower the overall energy consumption along with the heat output. Don’t forget the lowly air pump! Most are low watt and can move around a substantial amount of water, even if it’s not in the way we’re used to in an aquarium. But they can work to keep the surface agitated with very little cost or heat addition. Externalize Equipment Every piece of equipment in the tank adds to the heat overload. If you can externalize the pumps that are in your aquarium, you’re reducing a lot of the equipment heat. External sump pumps can be plumbed alongside your sump. Internal powerheads can be upgraded to those with external motors, such as a VorTech (just be sure to use the foam covering to keep seahorse tails out). Clean Equipment Because our tanks are alkaline with a lot of minerals, calcium deposits occur inside our pump housing. This creates friction, and friction is heat. It may sound like a simple step, but cleaning your pumps every couple of months can help keep the temperature in check. A good vinegar soak followed by a thorough rinsing will remove calcium deposits with ease. Chiller A chiller is often the nuclear option in high temperature situations. They are expensive and take up space. And you need to be sure you’ve chosen one that can cool your aquarium to the right temperature. There are many low cost models out there that don’t cool as much as they purport to cool, so checking reviews is essential. Pet Education has a great article on choosing the right chiller Chiller Sizing Calculator DIY Chiller One way to go about a chiller on a budget is to make your own. While they are rarely pretty, they are an option for those on a budget or just like the challenge of building something themselves.Most rely on a dorm fridge which can often be had for next to nothing, and a big coil of aquarium tubing where water passing through, is cooled, and passed back into the aquarium. DIY Chiller ideas: DIY Evaporative ChillerRefrigerator ChillerDIY chillerAnother DIY ChillerDIY ChillingDIY Do It Yourself Aquarium Chiller Basement If you’re in a warm climate and air conditioning or a chiller isn’t an option, but have access to a basement, sometimes the reality is that it might be the best place for your aquarium. Placing in the basement is not something you can do quickly during a heatwave, but if you’re deciding where to set up your aquarium, be sure to think of what the conditions are going to be like throughout the year. Sometimes placement in the basement is just a fact of life. If you have a concrete floor, you can even take advantage of natural cooling by placing the aquarium sump directly on the concrete rather than raising it up to sit on wood inside the stand. It may take some clever modifications, or a custom built stand, but can be well worth the cooling effect of the concrete. Ice in Emergencies Keeping a couple bottles of ice in the freezer can be a lifesaver. They don’t take up much space, but in an emergency such as a/c or power outage in a heat wave, they could make all the difference in the world. The downside is that you don’t have much control over the cooling. But they could end up saving your seahorses. If you don’t have bottles of ice, and need something FAST, regular ice can be used, but place it in a ziplock bag so it doesn’t melt into the tank. You don’t want it diluting the tank, only cooling. Ice Chiller In a prolonged emergency or unexpected heat wave, you can make a temporary chiller out of a cooler, ice, a coil of aquarium tubing (at least 75’) and a pump to push the water through the tubing coiled up in the cooler. A more detailed explanation. Following the above advice should let you cool your seahorse aquarium to safe temperatures with ease, leaving you, and your seahorses to sleep better at night. DIY Ice Air Conditioner You can even make an air conditioner using a number of inexpensive parts if you’re really in a bind. The idea is to have a fan pushing cold air out of a container. The essentials are a small fan, ice, and a container for the ice. Youtube has a couple examples, one using a 5 gallon bucket, and another using a cooler. I suspect neither would last long term, but they might be a good short term solution for cooling a room with aquariums rather than trying to cool each room. And they’re dirt cheap to build. Do you have any tips and tricks for aquarium cooling? Leave them in the comments below! This entry was posted on Saturday, July 26th, 2014 at 11:53 am and is filed under Aquarium Care. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
Posted in DIY, Equipment, Fish, Science, Seahorses, Tanks | Leave a comment

Do You Need a Chiller for Your Marine Aquarium?

When temperatures rise, you should keep an eye on your aquarium.In a previous post titled “Turning Up the Heat on Tropical Saltwater Aquariums,” I explained that it’s important to maintain a stable water temperature somewhere in the range of 76° and 80°F in marine tanks, and that using a quality submersible heater will help prevent the temperature from dropping below that range. But what about the opposite extreme? What about preventing the water temperature from climbing too high and stressing the inhabitants in a tropical marine tank? Do you need to buy an aquarium chiller for that purpose? Well, the answer to that question is “possibly.” Here are some factors to consider in determining whether a chiller might be a sound investment for you and your saltwater critters: Summer highs in your area Summers here in Toledo, Ohio can be stiflingly hot, and it’s not unusual for the temperature to fluctuate by many degrees in a relatively short period—75°F one day, 95° the next, and 103° the following Sunday. If you live in an area that’s subject to similar scorching temps in summer or all year round, your marine livestock can really take a beating depending on how your home is cooled—which brings us to… Whether your home has AC Having central air conditioning in your home, or even a window air conditioner to cool the room that houses the aquarium, can eliminate the need to invest in a chiller.
Posted in Equipment, Fish, Invertebrates, Science, Tanks | Leave a comment

“Like Something Out of a Nightmare”

There are two Academy groups currently in the Philippines for the 2014 Biodiversity Expedition: one from Research, and the other from the Aquarium. Though we’re staying at different locations, we collaborate when we can, like tonight. It all started with a 90-minute night dive at Anilao Pier to try to collect a Bobbitt worm—a creature that lives in the sand, has jaws like a bear trap, and might be several meters long. It shoots up with lightning speed to catch fish and other animals, yanking them down into the muck like something out of a nightmare. In the 1990s, Academy Senior Curator Terry Gosliner named the Bobbitt worm after Lorena Bobbitt (and her legendary attack on her husband), and Academy crews have been trying to collect this animal both for display and for our preserved collection ever since. One look at the photo shows you why catching this animal isn’t easy, but take a look at this video for an even better demonstration. Tonight’s effort was unsuccessful, though I did get my hand on one of the worms—yes, my hand. My wife is less than thrilled about these attempts, but she understands that we have to do what we have to do for science. More efforts are planned, and hopefully there will be success. Hopefully. After the worm hunt, there was a party—a party that started without us. Apparently it began with a whole roast pig (enjoyed by both Research and Aquarium Staff), but by the time the worm hunters arrived, things had changed drastically. Let’s just say that while there was still much fun to be had, there wasn’t much pig. Expeditions like this are an amazing amount of work, similar to running a triathlon. Instead of the events being swimming, running, and biking, the events are collection, processing, and animal care. The endurance needed to put out so much energy every single day is huge, but it’s also incredibly fulfilling when everything’s going well. Tonight’s party was a short break from the draining but rewarding work of the expedition … and the only picture I can find of the event is this one of me gnawing on a pig’s head. Ah, science—we love you. —Rich Ross, Aquatic Biologist
Posted in Events, Fish, Science | Leave a comment

Reef Threads Podcast #181

A little full-tank-shot eye candy.We’re back once again. This week we talk about reef chemistry, sand-sifting animals, restoring a neglected tank, and external stressors. We hope you enjoy the show and will share it with others. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Christine and Gary Stressing from the outside
Posted in Corals, Equipment, Events, Eye Candy, Fish, Opinion, Photography, Podcast, Science, Tanks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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