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Mystery Circles on Seahorse Solved? Watch out for the Asterina Stars

Asterina seastar on glass. Photo by Vishal BhaveCC BY-NC-SA When are spots on a seahorse not spots? When they’re starfish bites. Recently, a fellow seahorse keeper Adrienne Smith asked about some unusual markings on her seahorses.

Larval Rearing of the Purple Mask Angelfish

3 day old P. venusta larvae.  Photo credit: Karen Brittian. Larval rearing trials began with the spawning of a Paracentropyge venusta pair in the summer of 2013. The first successful larval rearing trial started with a small spawn on November 13, 2013.  This was the fifth larval run with this species and the focus was on food density and consumption at different developmental phases.  The diet consisted of both cultured copepods and wild collected plankton with all food items being less than 100 microns in size.  To assess consumption rates, five random samples were taken for initial food counts at the start of each test period. All food items added to the larval tank during the test period were counted while maintaining a density of 1 to 2 food items per ml in the water column. At the end of the time period counts were again done to determine larval consumption. At this point a 75% water change was carried out. I was surprised at the amount of food these little larvae could put away and as an example, at day 28 post hatch the larvae consumed approximately 2,150 food items each over a 12 hour period, (5:00am to 5:00pm). 32 day old P. venusta larvae.  Photo credit: Leighton Lum.   At one month of age the larvae started targeting larger prey items and ignored the food items less than 100 microns in size. At this point newly hatched and enriched Artemia were added to the diet along with adult cultured copepods.  The larvae also began to display benthic behavior by associating with the corners of the tank, the air stone and airline tubing.  A piece of dried coral rubble was added where the larvae took shelter.   The larvae continued to grow and develop; they were moved into a growout tank at 57 days old.  At this point we had 17 larvae remaining which equates to 6% survival from hatch. The development of juvenile colors came slowly. On day 95 they had black pigment on parts of their fins and tail.  A month later at 130 days old they were the beautiful blue and yellow of the adults. 115 day old P. venusta juvenile.  Photo credit: Leighton Lum.  Larval rearing of this species proved relatively “easy” in their first few weeks of the larval stage after which point larval development and growth seemed to slow. This could be attributed to the type and amount of wild plankton collected and fed out at that time. I feel that the larval phase could be shortened and improved upon in the area of diet. After metamorphosis the larvae were again slow to develop with a reluctance to accept non-living food items and this is also another area for improvement. The Reef Frenzy and Herbivore Frenzy frozen foods were the first choice of the juveniles when they began to accept non-living food. Currently these juveniles are fairly bold and are consuming frozen and dry foods with gusto.

The Open Brain Coral (Lobophyllia)

The Open Brain Coral (Lobophyllia) Do you feel like your reef could use a higher I.Q. Score? The number one cause of a stupid aquarium is a lack of brains! Okay, maybe the brain coral does not help much in the intelligence factor but they do add a massive increase of awesomeness. Open Brain corals add a certain fluff of color that is not available in other types of coral. The Lobophyllia can eat very large morsels of food, so they are fun to watch. They have many names: Large Flower Coral, Modern Coral, Meat Coral, Flat Brain, Carpet Brain, Colored Brain, and Lobed Brain. They come in any variation of color from bright red to gunship gray and everything in between. The Lobophyllia is a very varied species. They are semi-aggressive and have sweeper tentacles. During the night they stretch them out during feeding to capture food and keep their area free of trespassing corals. They must have adequate space around them. They are not hard to keep by any means. They simply require high lighting and moderate current, preferably a wave motion. They will spread onto surrounding rock and also create their own skeleton as they grow and colonize the area. As they grow you will need to move any corals further away to prevent a stinging war. lobo feeder tentacles image via AquaSD Keeping your water clean and stable is very important like with other corals. Testing and maintaining calcium, alkalinity, and pH will ensure supreme growth and longevity. A calcium reactor or kalkwasser may be something to invest in if you have a large stony coral population or a small tank. The coral grows polyps like an Acan or a favite coral, so you do not have to feed each polyp if you do not want to. lobo feeder tentacles image via AquaSD To feed a Lobo you should wait until night time when it has its feeder tentacles out. You will notice them sticking out around the mouth. Turn off the pumps and let the water calm. You can feed them anything from tiny plankton to large pieces of krill. They will grab onto it and pull it into their mouths, usually spitting out the waste later on. This will cause large inflation in sizes which may last for quite a while. Like anything on this planet, the food intake dictates its growth speed. Inland bandsaw These corals are very easy to frag in comparison to the Wellso Folded Brain, which grows as a single polyp. Simply use a tile saw and slice the heads apart and glue them to a plug to heal and become full again. Keep the water stable to reduce the chance of infection during the healing process. If the coral starts to look bleached or is not responding to food you may need to reduce the lighting and flow while it recovers. The Lobo is known to have spontaneous problems with feeding and receding. In a perfect reef it still has a random chance of coming down with the “Lobo Flu.” This is when you need to treat the colony like a frag and place it in less light and flow. Try inducing its feeding mechanism with Shrimp Eggs until it finally puts its tentacles out regularly again. Once the Lobo is back to good health you can start to move it back to its original spot. image via Sexy Corals Lobos are a great addition to any tank no matter the skill level. As long as you keep the parameters reasonably stable, the only problem you should encounter is wanting more of them. The Lobophyllia is one of the coolest corals on the market. They are usually the among the first corals to be sold so make sure you know what days your LFS gets their shipments in! Online vendors are a great choice when trying to locate those Rare Color morphs. They look amazing under actinic lighting and if you are up when they are you can spot some very cool feeding behavior. This is one coral everyone should have in their reef. Check out the LPS forum for all types of first hand encounters with this awesome species. Reef2Reef LPS Forum: Start a new topic or browse the threads!

A New Era in Aquarium Feeds

Living Color Enterprises Inc is the sole distributor of New Era diets in the USA. For the past 2 years  public aquariums were the distributors main focus. In that time the company’s professional feeds have rounded out the diets of over 40 public aquariums including the Georgia Aquarium, all 3 Sea Worlds and the California Academy of Sciences. This year Living Color has launched New Era into the retail market. 17 diets are available to hobbyists. Whether you are breeding fancy Goldfish, into tropicals and Cichlids, or a are a casual marine aquarium hobbyist, there is a New Era diet designed specifically for the fish you love to keep. Living Color will be showcasing all of their professional, innovative diets at MACNA 2012 in DFW, I was fortunate enough to get a look at the complete marine diet today. Read on to see what I found out. … More:

Polyp Lab Trials: Reef-Roids

 Recently I was asked to use and review a couple of products that are manufactured by Polyp Lab, a marine aquarium supplement manufacturer that is located to the north, in Canada and according to their “About Us” page found on the web site, create products for the advanced aquarist and are ” (a team which is) perpetually working on new products. (Being hobbyists ourselves) with backgrounds in marine biology and aquaculture, we have the means to bring cutting edge innovations to your reef.”  Personally I had not heard of Polyp Lab before I was asked to try out the products, or if I had I hadn’t paid attention to them. So when the two bottles of  product arrived I was a bit skeptical.  Considering I had no idea what was coming I thought it a good idea to do some background checking. When I read the claims of the excellence of Reef-Roids I could not wait to get some in the tank.… More:

Think like a Fish

Think like a fish. The best way to keep an animal like a fish healthy is to think like one. We are after all very distant relatives of fish (if you believe Darwin) so we should have some sort of understanding of the way they feel.  Unfortunately, we don’t. We don’t see the way fish see, we don’t feel the way fish feel, and we also don’t eat the way fish eat.  Humans, as air breathing animals living on a flat surface, only have to be concerned about going forward, backward and from side to side.  Fish on the other hand add up and down.  That “up and down” movement not only comes into play while swimming around aimlessly but also hunting and being hunted.  At a moment’s notice a fish must determine which way to go to evade a predator.  It has many choices and its tiny brain determines this effortlessly. Fish also can “feel” things from a distance.  Some call this “remote feel” or “remote senses”.  All real fish have a thin line starting from their head and running down their sides to their taisl.  This “lateral line” is directly connected to a fish’s brain and allows the fish to “feel” objects all around and even behind it.  That’s why it is difficult to catch a fish with a net, even with the lights out.  Most fish can feel the “echo” of water pressure bouncing off an object similar to how sonar works and many fish can sense the electric field created by the muscles of other animals.  Sharks are experts at this and hammer head shark, with the large sensory organ across their wide head are the masters. Many of the fish we commonly keep can dive into a coral head without getting a scratch and some fish can hunt in complete darkness.  If a fish loses an eye, it barely notices this would-be disability and gets on with its life like nothing happened. Fish also do not bang into the glass of our tanks even though from their perspective they cannot see it, as they are looking straight through it as we are from the outside.  Even in pitch darkness they will not hit the glass.  This sense in fish is much more important than sight. Food for our fish is a major concern for us as aquarists and we strive to give our animals the best diet humanly possible, but fish are not human. … 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.