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Coral Spotlight: Fascinating Fungiids

In celebration of our 500th blog post, in what we hope will become a bi-monthly feature, we bring you the first instalment in our ‘coral spotlight’ series which examines the natural habitat and captive care of selected groups of Anthozoans. Currently containing 13 distinct genera, the Fungiidae is a fascinating family of corals both in terms of appearance and behaviour. Commonly known as plate, disc or mushroom corals (not to be confused with Corallimorph ‘mushroom anemones’), species from the Fungia, Cycloseris, Heliofungia and Herpolithia genera are the most commonly encountered Fungiids in the trade, and they generally all share the same habits and ecology. Found over much of the West Indo-Pacific region, these Large-polyp Stony (LPS) corals naturally reside in shallow lagoon or reef environments where they occupy a benthic location usually on sand or gravel substrates, sometimes in turbid waters. Here they live out their lives fuelled by photosynthetic Zooxanthellae within their tissues, and by direct capture of zooplankton. These corals are both interesting and unusual in that they can move around slowly by inflating their tissues, and they can even excavate themselves if buried by substrate

New Twist For Seahorse Tail Research

(Image: Courtesy of Dominique Adriaens/Ghent University)In a discovery which could help could help in the development of tough, flexible armour or slender grasping robots, a team from Ghent University in Belgium have created a 3D computer model to reconstruct seahorse tail movement. The model allows them to analyse exactly how specific tissues and bones contribute to this grasping and varying degrees of bending. It is already well-known that, despite being covered in armour, the tip of a seahorse’s tail remains flexible enough to delicately unwind itself after grasping an object. With the aid of the new model though, it has been shown that each sheet of tissue stretches across many vertebrae in the tail, and it is this support of several vertebrae without fixing them firmly together that might both allow flexibility and encourage rigidity. Surprisingly, the team says, tails of different species of seahorse show greater variation in anatomy than expected, despite having the same bones and muscles. The work was presented today at the annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Boston, Massachusetts.

Colour Changing Dottyback Is ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’

Published today in the journal Current Biology, a new study has shown that the Dusky Dottyback Pseudochromis fuscus can change colour to imitate other reef fish species both allowing it to prey on their young, and to hide from predators by blending in to its habitat. The research reveals a surprising and sophisticated new example of ‘mimicry’. While using mimicry to hunt or hide from other species is common in nature, scientists note that if the deception is encountered too frequently, prey species become vigilant to the threat and develop tactics to counter the mimics. The dottyback, however, is able to colour-morph depending on the particular colour of the surrounding species it is currently hunting (often damselfishes). Scientists say that this flexibility of physical mimicry makes it much harder for the dottyback’s prey to develop detection strategies and avoid getting eaten

Review: TMC V²Pure Advanced RO System

Arguably one of the most critical components of any reef system, the humble RO Unit sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Sometimes a hobbyist may end up selecting a unit that ‘seems’ up to the task without really researching it. Once in place RO Units can also be ‘taken for granted’ and, as a result, actual performance under ‘typical’ home operating conditions (membrane efficiency, actual GPD, ease of assembly etc) is sometimes overlooked. In this review we’ll take a closer look at TMCs V²Pure RO system and see how it stacks-up against other units we’ve used.

New Species: True Bursa Trigger

Heads-up, we’ve just added yet another new species to our livestock database! Our latest addition, Sufflamen bursa takes our Triggerfish gallery tally to a total of 18 profiles in that section. Inhabiting a variety of shallow, clear reef habitats, the True Bursa, Scythe or Boomerang Trigger is a voracious species that feeds on a variety of organisms including hard shelled crustaceans and molluscs. Growing to a maximum size of 25cm, this species will only tolerate tough tankmates and should be housed in a well-planned aquarium. It should not be confused with Rhinecanthus verrucosus which is also commonly known as the Bursa Trigger. For a larger image, species profile and access to numerous other Triggerfish profiles, click HERE (you must be subscribed and logged-in to access this gallery).

Red Seadragon Is Spectacular New Species

A paper in the Royal Society Open Science has announced the discovery of a new species of seadragon. The Ruby Seadragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) is named for its incredible bright-red coloring and was first noticed after a male was caught during a biodiversity trawling survey in 2007. At first, scientists thought it was a weedy seadragon, but DNA analysis revealed it to be a completely new species. In addition to DNA research, the team also took a CT scan of one of the specimens. “[The] scan gave us 5,000 X-ray slices that we were able to assemble into a rotating 3-D model of the new seadragon,” said lead author Josefin Stiller. “We could then see several features of the skeleton that were distinct from the other two species, corroborating the genetic evidence.” The scientists believe the new seadragon has gone un-noticed for so long because it is found in deeper waters off the coast. The deeper water habitat may also explain its darker, red color

EcoTech VorTech ‘QuietDrive’ Pumps Announced

Rumour and speculation have been rife over the last couple of weeks but now the embargo has finally been lifted, we can stop ‘keeping it quiet’ as it were, and bring you official details on the latest product development from our sponsor Ecotech Marine! We’ve studied the offical 16 page release at length so here are the key points. Building on the already award-winning VorTech pump line, the new MP10wQD, MP40wQD and MP60wQD offer claimed improvements in noise reduction, efficiency, flow and durability. Specifically, this next evolution of the VorTech range offers up to 90% noise reduction and up to 40% more output* while the line retains connectivity and offers a new gyre flow mode.

Review: Nyos Quantum 220 Skimmer

If you caught our recent unboxing review you’ll know that we installed this interesting skimmer on the test tank back in Autumn 2014. This is certainly a great looking skimmer and now that it’s been running for a good while we are in a position to give you more detail on how it stacks-up operationally (for technical details on the design of the skimmer, please read the unboxing review). OK, so installing the Quantum was a piece-of-cake. With the pump held internally there’s no need to assemble it once it’s inside the sump and it’s easy to handle (although we did take the cup off until it was in place). In operation this unit is very quiet… it’s not silent but is barely audible, especially once cabinet doors are shut. The noise produced is more a product of the water movement inside the unit rather than the pump

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