Tag Archives: invertebrates

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Saltwater Smarts Turns Two: Another Gratifying Year in the Books!

Chris and Jeff discuss the website with Mark of Coral ReefIt’s hard to believe that we’re celebrating our second anniversary here at Saltwater Smarts. When Caribbean Chris and I launched this site back in April of 2013, we had no idea how it would be received—or whether we’d even last more than a few months in such a crowded online space. We just had the kernel of an idea that a certain subset of hobbyists out there might appreciate coming to a place where they can get reliable, authoritative information that promotes success yet still enjoy a few laughs along the way. Over the past two years, we’ve tried to take a more egalitarian approach to information sharing, in which different—even opposing—viewpoints are welcomed and respected. We know the methods that we share here will work for you, but we also want to know what you’re doing that might work even better. In other words, we stand to learn just as much from you as you do from us. And with more and more visitors from countries all around the world joining us every month and offering their input, we’re confident that this approach is resonating.New offerings Regular visitors have probably noticed that the last year has seen some exciting changes here at Saltwater Smarts. This January, we released our first ebook—The Salt Smart Guide to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Diseases of Marine Fishes by Jay Hemdal—which continues to build momentum in sales

The French Angelfish: Pretty, Curious, and Well Worth the Tank Space!

Adult french angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)One of my more enduring memories of diving in the Florida Keys was coming across a pair of French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) gliding in unison above the reef. Unlike so many other fishes that dashed into hiding as I approached, the angels actually swam right into touching distance and seemed to take an interest in my presence. Whether they were naturally curious, accustomed to being handfed, or just amused by the sight of such a big fellow squeezed into a wetsuit, I can’t say, but their beauty and boldness certainly impressed me. If you happen to have a system large enough to accommodate one of these angels, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed either. Let’s look at their characteristics:Physical traits Juvenile Pomacanthus paruFrench angels aren’t as spectacularly colored as some reef fishes are, yet they’re subtly beautiful nonetheless. Adults are bluish-black overall with golden-yellow scale margins. The face is slate blue, the mouth is white, and the eyes are rimmed with gold. As with many angelfish species, juvenile French angels differ considerably from the adults in coloration, being black overall with five vertical, curving yellow bars on their flanks

What Constitutes a Marine Biotope Aquarium?

A biotope can serve as inspiration for your aquarium, but what exactly is it?For today’s post, I’d like to take a slightly different tack than usual. By presenting my meandering thought process on the concept of marine biotope aquariums, I’m hoping to elicit some input from you, my fellow salties, on precisely how to define this term—or if we can even agree on a definition at all. The question, as I see it, is one of scope. If we assume a biotope tank is an attempt to replicate a specific natural marine habitat, then how narrowly should we define that? In other words, where does a generalized tank end and a biotope begin? Is it:A tank representing a particular ocean or sea? As regular salties know, all the livestock in “Caribbean Chris’s” tank is found only in the Caribbean Sea. In fact, Chris seems to regard the existence of other seas/oceans the same way one might the existence of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster—with skepticism

Toledo Zoo Aquarium Renovation – Update 15: Grand Opening Today!

Mosaic walkway in the renovated Aquarium (Credit: Toledo Zoo/Andi Norman)Virtually since we launched Saltwater Smarts back in April of 2013, we’ve been bringing you regular updates on the progress of the $25.5 million renovation of the Toledo Zoo Aquarium. Today, we’re thrilled to announce that this ambitious project has finally come to fruition with the grand opening of the new Aquarium taking place. Congratulations to all who were involved in this ponderous undertaking—and special salty kudos to our friend and regular contributor Jay Hemdal, Curator of Fishes and Invertebrates for the Toledo Zoo and author of The Salt Smart Guide to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Diseases of Marine Fishes.I’ve always had a special affinity for the Toledo Zoo. Not only was my first home as a child situated literally a stone’s throw from the Zoo (escaped peacocks, a common occurrence back in those days, would often land atop neighborhood houses, ours included), but I’m also proud to say that from May of 2002 to December of 2005, I had the privilege of working in the Zoo’s marketing department as Writer/Publication’s Coordinator. Panoramic shot of the new entrance (Credit: Toledo Zoo/Bruce Burkhart) The Toledo Zoo boasts many world-class exhibits, but, perhaps not surprisingly, the Aquarium has always been my favorite. If ever my workload got the better of me, I could step away from my computer, walk the short distance from my office in the Museum of Science to the Aquarium, immerse myself (figuratively) in the captivating exhibits, and let the stress just drain away. I’ll take a moon jelly tank over meditation any day

How Not to Cut Costs When Starting a Reef System

In some aspects of reef aquariums, saving money on the cheaper options can be detrimental to your successRecognizing that the question of affordability is top of mind for many aspiring marine aquarium hobbyists, one of our earliest posts here at Saltwater Smarts dealt with ways to reduce the expenses associated with aquarium setup and ongoing operation. Notwithstanding those recommendations, it’s important to note that in some cases, taking the seemingly cheaper route in the reefkeeping hobby can be highly counterproductive. For example, purchasing the following essential equipment based on price alone—or avoiding the purchase altogether just to save money—could not only end up costing you much more in the long run but may also greatly limit your long-term reefkeeping success:Reef lighting I’m leading with this one because proper lighting is commonly the largest single expense hobbyists encounter when setting up a reef system. To those on a limited budget—and/or those who equate “aquarium lighting” with the inexpensive fluorescent hoods so popular on the freshwater side of the hobby—the price of a good reef lighting system can produce some serious “sticker shock.” But I strongly urge you to resist the allure of cheapo lighting systems that claim they will support photosynthetic invertebrates for a fraction of the cost. Not only do such systems typically fall far short of expectation with respect to the inverts they can sustain, but as you might expect, they also tend to be built with low-quality components and, thus, have a notoriously limited functional lifespan. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t look for the best possible deal on a quality lighting fixture or that you shouldn’t explore the more budget-friendly option of buying a gently used fixture from a reputable source. Just keep in mind that if reef lighting sounds too good—and costs too little—to be true, there’s a good chance it is. Protein skimmer While proper lighting serves as the essential energy source for a reef system, a good protein skimmer plays an indispensable role in maintaining the best possible water quality

Beware Marine Aquarium Complacency!

A funny thing sometimes happens to marine aquarium hobbyists who have a few years’ experience under their briny belts—they have a tendency to become complacent in their methods and attitudes. Once they’ve mastered the basics of aquarium keeping, it can become all too tempting for some to kick back, switch to “autopilot,” and say, “Hey, I got this!”But this mentality can be detrimental on the road to long-term aquarium success. At the very least, it can lead to some unnecessary—and very avoidable—bumps in that road. Here are a few common symptoms of marine aquarium complacency to watch for: Signs of benign neglect Complacent hobbyists aren’t typically guilty of gross negligence when it comes to their tanks, but they often lapse into a somewhat lackadaisical approach that could best be described as “benign neglect.” That is, they get so comfortable and absentminded in their methods that problems sometimes arise very slowly and almost imperceptibly. For instance, they may perform water changes of the same frequency and volume for many years without accounting for the increasing bioload in the tank as fish and invertebrates grow. As a result, nitrate and phosphate levels can gradually rise, leading to “unexplained” algae outbreaks and other issues related to declining water quality.

What to Consider when Converting a Fish-only Tank to a Reef System

Evaluating your fish only aquarium and equipment is important before turning it into a reef“Caribbean Chris” and I are very frequently asked what it takes to convert a fish-only marine aquarium to a reef system containing corals and other sessile invertebrates. Can you just go ahead and add the invertebrates? Can you modify the existing system to suit the corals, or do you have to start the whole thing from scratch with a new tank and equipment? What has to change with respect to water conditions? Hopefully, the following points/suggestions will help address these and various other questions marine aquarium hobbyists often have when contemplating the transition from fish-only (or fish-only-with-live-rock) to reef:Pick a direction and do your homework Before making any new purchases or modifications to your existing aquarium, it’s important to pin down the type of reef system you want to keep. Are you primarily interested in soft corals?

CoralRX One Shots Are Back in Action After Re-release

After an apparent hiatus from the aquarium hobby (I say hiatus because of the “re-release” verbiage used in the promotional material), the One Shot single dose coral treatment from CoralRX is back and better than ever. These tiny little packets serve as a single dose coral dip that treats a wide variety of common issues (see the list below). And now they are in a much easier to use packet. Previously, the One Shots came in small glass vials, which weren’t always the easiest to open or the safest to handle

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