Tag Archives: invertebrates

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You Can Help Discourage the Sale of Hard-to-Keep Marine Species

The Moorish Idol (Zanclus cornutus) is notoriously hard to feed and has a high mortality rate in home aquariaRegular Saltwater Smarts readers might wonder why we often post profiles of fish or invertebrates that are very difficult if not impossible to keep in home aquariums. After all, if we want to discourage you from buying these animals, why on earth do we go to all the trouble of describing them? Well, the answer is simple: because you’re going to encounter them for sale on the marine aquarium market anyway. One of our biggest frustrations as long-time hobbyists is the fact that, for whatever reason, many dealers out there continue to trade in species that have no business in hobbyists’ tanks. It’s wise to be armed with information about these animals so you’re in a better position to make responsible purchases. If you want to help discourage the sale of off-limits livestock, here are some simple steps you can take: Educate yourself In order to recognize animals that don’t belong in the aquarium trade, it helps to do some research on the various species you’re apt to come across when shopping at your LFS or online. That way, you’ll know what to buy and what to avoid so you don’t unwittingly support unsustainable practices with your dollars. The various species profiles posted here at Saltwater Smarts (which are increasing all the time) are a good research starting point.
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3 Misconceptions About Small Marine Fish

A juvenile three-spot domino damselfish (Dascyllus trimaculatus)As human beings, it’s in our nature to assign certain traits to small animals—cute, dependent, harmless, defenseless, etc. Perhaps we think this way because when it comes to animals, people included, smallness is usually correlated with infancy. However, if applied to marine fish, this type of anthropomorphic thinking can lead to some rather significant compatibility issues in our aquariums. So let’s dispel a few of the misconceptions we may have with respect to smaller marine fish species: Small fish are peaceful While many smaller fish species seem to know they’re vulnerable to predation and bullying by larger fish and so have learned that their best defense is beating a hasty retreat whenever danger threatens, some species apparently never got the memo. For example, as mentioned in my previous post on humbug damsels, certain damselfish species, including many representatives of the genera Dascyllus and Stegastes, can be explosively belligerent despite their small size, making it very difficult to house them with other fishes (though “Caribbean Chris” claims he can calm dusky damsels into a tonic state and lead them away from the reef like an aquatic Pied Piper by playing soothing tones on a conch shell). Many of the dottyback species also pack a fairly powerful territorial punch for their size, e.g. the irresistibly colorful royal dottyback (Pictichromis paccagnellae) and the gorgeous magenta dottyback (Pictichromis porphyrea), both of which reach only 2 to 3 inches in length.
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LED lights that make corals pop with color

I wanted to talk about LEDs for a few minutes. I've had the Radion Gen 2 over my anemone cube (60-gallon aquarium 24" x 24" x 24") for the past 12 months. As a light, it functions perfectly. Is it the best fixture ever? My feelings are a tad mixed, and I'll discuss why. The light itself provides sufficient lighting for anemones, SPS, LPS, gorgonians, zoanthids and even a T.
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Humbug Damsel: Prepping for the Hunt

Humbug Damselfish (Dascyllus aruanus)There’s a reason I chose to spotlight Dascyllus aruanus, the humbug or three-striped damselfish, in this profile. “Caribbean” Chris and I will soon be matching wits with four representatives of this species that have laid claim to a large marine aquarium situated in one of our local coffee shops. Steve, the shop’s owner, is at wits’ end with these four humbugs, which won’t abide most new tankmates, and would like to see them captured and relocated by any means necessary, short of (or possibly including) dynamiting the tank. Chris and I figure that between the two of us, we should have the mental prowess to outsmart these little devils, so we’re currently brainstorming the capture techniques we’d like to experiment with over the next week or so (suggestions from fellow salties are most welcome). We plan to document the process on video, so stay tuned for updates. For the time being, though, let’s take a closer look at our future quarry: Physical traits D.
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Stenopus hispidus: A Look at a Popular Boxer Shrimp

Banded Coral Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus)Among the various ornamental crustaceans available in the marine aquarium trade, one of the most popular and easiest to obtain is Stenopus hispidus, the banded coral shrimp, also known by the common names coral banded shrimp, banded boxer shrimp, barber pole shrimp, and others. This shrimp’s widespread availability and usually very affordable price tag can be attributed to its extensive natural distribution, which includes all tropical seas. Physical traits S. hispidus is white with distinct red bands on its body and third pair of legs, and it sports long, flowing, white antennae. The third pair of legs is also significantly oversized compared to the others (hence the “boxer” appellation) and equipped with somewhat formidable pincers. Maximum length for the species is around 4 inches (not counting the antennae), though most specimens won’t reach that appreciable size in the aquarium.
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Picasso Triggerfish: A Marine Aquarium Masterpiece

Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus)Certain fishes available in the marine aquarium trade are truly bizarre in their coloration and patterning. Ranked high among them when it comes to both exotic appearance and aquarium adaptability is Rhinecanthus aculeatus, better known as the Picasso triggerfish or the Humuhumu triggerfish. This latter appellation (which is also applied to the closely related and similar looking R. rectangulus) is derived from the Hawaiian name for the species: Humuhumu nukunuku apua’a, which, if memory serves, translates loosely into “Man, how many Mai Tais did I pack away last night!?” I could be wrong on that. Physical traits R. aculeatus exhibits “typical” triggerfish morphology, with a highly laterally compressed body; high-set, independently moving eyes positioned far back on the head; a deceptively small, forward-set mouth; and a stout first dorsal spine that can be “locked” in an upright position to secure the trigger in a reef crevice when the fish is threatened. The maximum recorded length for this species is around 10 inches. I could try to describe the color and patterning of R. aculeatus, but it wouldn’t do this fish justice
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Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 3

412 gallon reef display in Dave Bowers' marine lab classroomIn the first two parts of this series, we talked about how ozone can function as a powerful tool in keeping your reef aquarium water very clear, how it can boost your skimmer’s ability to remove waste from the water column by breaking down the larger molecules, and how using ozone can be as simple as blowing the gas into your skimmer or injecting it into a dedicated reactor and carbon media reactor. This final installment will focus on how to keep yourself and your aquarium inhabitants safe while using ozone. Regardless of how you choose to administer your ozone, safety has to be your number one concern. Too much ozone in the tank will harm—or even kill—your invertebrates and fish. Too much ozone released into the room air can irritate a healthy adult’s lungs and is even more dangerous to anyone with lung-health issues. Keeping your livestock safe To keep their aquarium inhabitants safe, most keepers use an Oxidation/Reduction Potential (ORP) meter coupled with a controller that will switch the generator off when the ORP reaches a certain level. 300 mV is commonly considered to be a safe yet effective ORP level for the home aquarium. A controller uses the meter reading to shut the generator off when the water reaches the 300mV level or whatever level you may opt to use. Experts warn against ORP levels beyond 450 mV, as that level has been shown to cause major damage to aquarium systems.
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The Pros and Cons of a Bare-Bottomed Marine Tank

If you’re in the process of planning and setting up a new saltwater aquarium, you’ll need to give some thought to the type of substrate you’d like to use. It may seem counterintuitive, but one of your options in this area is to dispense with any sort of substrate altogether and go bare-bottomed (BB). To help you decide whether the BB approach might be right for you, here are some of the pros and cons to consider: Pros: Very easy to vacuum up uneaten food, fish waste, and other detritus that has settled to the bottom without siphoning up sand in the process. Allows you to aim the effluents of powerheads and other sources of water movement in any direction desired to maximize water flow throughout the system and behind rockwork without creating an underwater “sand storm.” Detritus more readily remains suspended in the water column so it can be filtered/skimmed out efficiently. Cost savings from going sans substrate can be significant depending on the size of your system. Cons: Arguably less natural looking, though this is a matter of taste. (Plus, coralline algae and, potentially, various encrusting invertebrates will eventually conceal the bottom, giving the system a more natural look.) Can’t keep burrowing fishes as easily. Some BB aficionados get around this by placing a substrate-filled container somewhere in the system. Having no sand-dwelling microfauna can mean lower biodiversity
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