Tag Archives: invertebrates

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How Much Live Rock Do You Really Need?

The amount of live rock needed in your aquarium is based on several factorsOnce hobby newcomers learn what live rock is and all the benefits it can provide in marine aquariums, the next big question they invariably ask is, “How much of it do I need for my tank?” More experienced fellow hobbyists, eager to be of help, typically respond with a pat answer along the lines of “somewhere between one and one-and-a-half pounds per gallon.” While this type of formula is certainly convenient and eliminates guesswork, it unfortunately fails to address several key factors that must be considered when determining how much rock is actually appropriate for a given system. Here are just a few of them:Differing density Pound for pound, not all live rock stacks up the same. The density of live rock can vary considerably from one type/collection locale to another—and a highly porous rock is going to be significantly lighter than a very dense rock of the same size. (Visualize holding a chunk of lava rock in one hand and an identically sized chunk of granite in the other, and you’ll have the idea.) So, you can expect 100 pounds of highly porous rock to take up a lot more space in your tank than 100 pounds of dense rock will. Livestock objectives How much rock you’ll want to place in your tank will also vary based on your objectives for the system. For example, a full-blown reef tank might require more rock than a fish-only system to ensure there’s an adequate foundation for the various invertebrates you plan to keep.

The Candy Basslet: A Sweet Deepwater Denizen on Many a Hobbyist’s Wish List

Candy Basslet (Liopropoma carmabi)Ask any group of marine fishkeepers to name their most sought-after species—the fishes they’d really love to own if money and availability were no object—and most of them will likely place the candy basslet (Liopropoma carmabi) somewhere close to the top of that list. Ah, but despite its stunning good looks and very manageable size, L. carmabi, a deepwater species hailing from the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean, is rarely available in the hobby and fetches a daunting price on the few occasions it is offered for sale. I’ve only ever seen this species in photos and videos (oddly enough, it seldom finds its way into Toledo-area fish stores), but if those depictions are anywhere near accurate, L. carmabi truly is a jewel of a fish. It’s probably all for the best that specimens never materialize locally, however, as I’d probably have to sell my firstborn to afford one.Physical traits Reaching only around 2½ inches, the candy basslet is a relatively diminutive species. But there’s nothing small about its eye-dazzling coloration

What Makes Someone a Marine Aquarium Expert?

Being in a somewhat contemplative mood as I enjoy my third cup of coffee this Friday morning, I’ve posed to myself the philosophical question, what does it mean to be an “expert” marine aquarist? In other words, when I write something like, “That challenging species should be kept only by expert hobbyists,” who exactly am I referring to? As I mull it over, I’m coming to the realization that the answer to this question isn’t as obvious as it might seem.Years in the hobby? Is expertise a simple a matter of years in the hobby? If that were the case, someone who has been a hobbyist for 20 years but has never kept anything other than a single ocellaris clownfish would be considered an expert—when in reality, that individual is experienced only in keeping one specimen of a relatively bulletproof species. Further, there are plenty of long-time hobbyists out there who repeatedly exercise poor judgment, never learn from their mistakes, and make irresponsible stocking/husbandry decisions no matter how many years they keep at it. So time in the hobby can’t be the sole answer

What’s Wrong with This (Reef Tank) Picture?

A more reasonably stocked reef aquarium, unlike those portrayed in some advertisements (we’ve all seen them…)Right now, I’m gazing at a magazine ad featuring the image of a reef tank, and the one word that comes to mind is “magnificent.” I’m sure you’ve seen one like it before, but allow me to describe it to you. In this one tank, I can see all manner of soft and stony corals; sea apples; Tridacna clams; mushroom and zoanthid polyps; non-photosynthetic and photosynthetic gorgonians; giant feather duster worms; sponges; and various macroalgae—all packed together in a glorious riot of color.And the fish! Captured in this image alone are schools (that’s right, schools!) of anthias, blue-green chromis, regal tangs, yellow tangs, and ocellaris clownfish. If you scan the image carefully enough, you might just spot royal and magenta dottybacks, a few royal grammas, various dwarf angelfishes, and maybe even Waldo peeking out from little niches. So, what could be wrong with such a magnificent image? Sounds like the sort of tank we’d all be proud to possess, right? Well, not so much. In addition to “magnificent,” this (clearly doctored) ad image, while definitely eye-catching, brings another word to mind: “misleading.” What’s more, I worry that these types of images might just inspire hobby newcomers to take the wrong approach right off the starting block

Gymnomuraena zebra: Another Moray You Just Might Love!

Zebra moray (Gymnomuraenea zebra)On various occasions, I’ve written about my fondness for the snowflake moray eel (Echidna nebulosa), in one post even going so far as to claim there may be no better eel for the marine aquarium. My biases notwithstanding, I can’t deny that certain other morays make excellent aquarium candidates as well. Among them is the stunning zebra moray (Gymnomuraenea zebra), which has a pretty sterling reputation for being peaceful, hardy, adaptable, and generally safe around piscine tankmates. Physical traitsAs you might guess from its common name and specific epithet, G. zebra is brown overall with a series of vertical white to yellowish bands running the length of its body (or is it white to yellowish overall with vertical brown bands?). Typically eel-shaped, this species can reach a length of almost five feet—but that’s the record holder. Most specimens are unlikely to achieve that prodigious length

Video: A Timelapse Encounter… With LPS Corals

[embedded content] OK, so it’s been a little quieter than usual on the blog over the last few weeks, and we can now reveal why. In short, we’ve been busy behind the scenes creating this short video which we hope will be the first in a series of similar productions. In this introductory piece, we get ‘up close and personal’ with a range of LPS corals currently residing in our Black Tank, employing some timelapse macro and pure fluorescence imagery to ‘shed light’ on some of their otherwise hidden habits. Don’t forget to select full 1080HD resolution to see the fine detail! As said, we hope to continue the series as time permits and expand to focus on different groups of invertebrates… and as ever, we’ll certainly be looking to keep pushing the envelope in reef imagery by investing in new equipment and software for future offerings.

How to Prevent Fish from Stealing Coral Food

Brain coral with feeding tentacles out at nightWhen it comes to acquiring food, fish will take the path of least resistance. And one of the best ways for a fish to score an easy meal is to snatch morsels away from their glacially slow-moving invertebrate tankmates. Heck, it’s practically like taking candy from a baby, except babies usually cry a lot louder when they’re robbed of treats. For hobbyists who keep corals or other invertebrates with a high demand for regular targeted feeding—e.g., many LPS corals and anemones—such food thievery can be a genuinely aggravating issue. The good news is, using one or more of the following techniques, it’s often possible to eliminate, or at least reduce, this bad behavior:Distract the culprits You may be able to buy your coral a few precious moments at mealtimes by first delivering food to the fish in another part of the tank and then quickly target feeding the coral. Of course, this is only effective if the fish haven’t already learned to identify the coral in question as a source of easy victuals. In that case, they’ll likely just gobble up their own food and then proceed to shake down the coral anyway

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

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