Tag Archives: invertebrates

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Stenopus hispidus: A Look at a Popular Boxer Shrimp

coral banded1 Stenopus hispidus: A Look at a Popular Boxer ShrimpAmong 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. More: Stenopus hispidus: A Look at a Popular Boxer ShrimpMore:

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Picasso Triggerfish: A Marine Aquarium Masterpiece

picasso1 Picasso Triggerfish: A Marine Aquarium MasterpieceCertain 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 More: Picasso Triggerfish: A Marine Aquarium MasterpieceMore:

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Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 3

ozone3 1 Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 3In 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. More: Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 3More:

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The Pros and Cons of a Bare-Bottomed Marine Tank

bare bottom tank1 The Pros and Cons of a Bare Bottomed Marine TankIf 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 More: The Pros and Cons of a Bare-Bottomed Marine TankMore:

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5 Ways Hobbyists Misuse Grazing Marine Snails

astrea snail 300x169 5 Ways Hobbyists Misuse Grazing Marine SnailsOf all the fascinating invertebrates available to marine aquarists, grazing snails are perhaps the most misused. Too often we treat them like expendable little lawnmowers, plopping them in our tanks with the express purpose of preventing or eradicating algae and then replenishing them as their populations inevitably wane. But if treated properly, snails can be long-lived tank denizens that not only perform a useful purpose but also provide interest in their own right. So what do I mean by “misusing marine snails”? Here are some of the more common improper practices when stocking grazing gastropods: 1) Stocking in excessive numbers I implore you to ignore any advice along the lines of “To control algae X, add Y number of snails per every Z gallons of aquarium volume.” There is no correlation between the volume of water an aquarium can hold and the number of grazing snails the system can support long term. It all comes down to food supply. Simply put, the system must contain adequate, ongoing growths of the appropriate algae to sustain the type/number of snails you introduce. Otherwise, your grazing gastropods will quickly eat themselves out of house and home and begin starve to death. It’s always best to start with just a few specimens, observe how they perform when it comes to keeping algae in check, and then add more only if necessary. 2) Stocking cold-water species in tropical tanks Some marine snails sold to unwitting hobbyists for the purpose of algae control—often as part of a “cleanup crew”—are actually from temperate waters and won’t survive long in tropical aquariums More: 5 Ways Hobbyists Misuse Grazing Marine SnailsMore:

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Yellowline Arrow-Crab, Stenorhynchus seticornis

faf3Arrow Crab 457x305 Yellowline Arrow Crab, Stenorhynchus seticornisGood morning from windy, dry Curacao!! As some of you know the World Cup of Soccer is underway which translates to non-stop craziness around here!!! There are soccer parties everyday on the beach and at every snack in town, people driving around with different country flags on their cars and going crazy if their teams win and everyone is wearing soccer clothing. My colleagues are shocked that I know nothing about the sport and that I am not watching every second of every game, sorry! MOREMore:

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Neutral Theory of Biodiversity Challenged Through Reefs

Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook university have challenged a long standing theory of biodiversity through their latest Caribbean reef study. “The aim of neutral theory is to explain diversity and the relative abundances of species within ecosystems. So the theory implies that, if you lose a really abundant species, then another can simply increase in abundance to take its place. However, the theory has an important flaw: it fails to capture how important the highly abundant species that dominate marine communities are” explains professor Sean Connolly of JCU. The theory, which has been relied upon for conservation research, is challenged at its core through a mathematical approach looking at 14 marine ecosystems sampled at 1185 locations all across the globe. fish coral 1024x767 Neutral Theory of Biodiversity Challenged Through ReefsRanging from deep-sea to shallow waters, from polar to tropical ranges, the datasets were compiled of numbers from invertebrates, to fish, from plankton, to coral. To arrive at their conflicting conclusion scientists used a new mathematical approach that allowed them to identify predictions that would come from using the Neutral Theory, and then tested them against their datasets. With the assumptions of Neutral Theory this study showed that the chance occurrences that are a part of Neutral Theory do not account for the importance of those abundance species and their implications in the “common” vs “rare” debates. Read more here!… More:

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Amazing Sea Hares from Anilao Pier

Carissa1 Amazing Sea Hares from Anilao PierAnilao Pier, home to the notorious bobbit worm, is my favorite site in the Philippines for night diving. I first dove here in 2012, during my graduate studies at San Francisco State University and the California Academy of Sciences. The diversity of marine invertebrates here is astounding, especially with respect to sea slugs, snails, and anemones. I’m particularly interested in sea hares, a group of sea slugs in the order Anapsidea. They’re called sea hares thanks to the horn-like structures on their head, known as rhinophores, which allow them to sense their environment—and which happen to resemble rabbit ears. Like the nudibranchs they’re related to (same phylum, different order), sea slugs have evolved potent chemical defenses to deter predation, since they’re soft-bodied and possess either a reduced shell or no shell at all. On one of my night dives MORE: Amazing Sea Hares from Anilao PierMore:

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