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Study Shows Corals Consume Microplastics

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Unfortunately, the solid plastic trash we often see in the ocean (bottles, bags, etc.) is only a portion of the plastic waste that has been deposited there. A considerable amount of waste may be present in the form of microplastic. Microplastics are basically miniscule bits of plastic that can be suspended in the water column. Though the environmental effects of microplastic pollution are not yet well understood, the consensus among marine biologists is that they pose a global threat to marine ecosystems. Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University set out to see if corals (which are non-selective filter feeders) ingested microplastics. Corals from a clean area were placed in a contaminated area. After two nights, they were analyzed for the concentrations of plastics. Results indicated that the corals consumed plastic at a rate only a little lower than that of their natural planktonic food. Plastic materials were found engulfed in digestive tissue, suggesting that it may hinder a coral’s ability to digest its food. The team is now investigating what… More:

Aging Bony Fish

Pair of otoliths.

Pair of otoliths.

When conducting studies, many ecologists are posed with the question: How old is this fish? Because size is rarely a fair indication of age, the use of a more precise method is often required. The most prevalent method of aging bony fish is known as Otolith Analysis. This procedure entails the extraction and microscope analysis of the fish’s otoliths – small calcium carbonate structures that are located slightly posterior to the fish’s eyes. 
An otolith with visible annuli.

An otolith with visible annuli.

 These structures, which are used as gravity, balance, and movement indicators, grow continuously throughout a fish’s life and exhibit a unique growth pattern. This growth pattern is thought to be a result of seasonal temperature changes – during the winter, the otoliths grow slowly, accreting lightly-colored calcium carbonate; during the summer, the otoliths grow quickly, accreting darker calcium carbonate. The contrast between lighter calcium carbonate and darker calcium carbonate forms rings known as annuli. Since each annuli represents one year, scientists may determine the age of the fish by counting them.… More:

Neptunes Cove Boasts Rainbow Carpet Nem

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Lately we have seen a surge in our hobby through avenues such as facebook and instagram. Communities within mediums like facebook are growing, and pages are created with their own regional attachments and colorful groups of people. Instagram is showcasing the latest and greatest coral imported through an instant feed, and the days of sifting through page after page to view comments or pictures are quickly disappearing. Everyday it seems the newest, biggest and baddest, coral hits the market and its no wonder why vendors are gravitating towards these mediums. With that said Im going to my best to bring you the latest and greatest in the “For Sale” worlds slowly being crafted here on the internet. For our first showcase were featuring a “Rainbow Carpet Anemone” from the retailer Neptune’s Cove. This thing is one of the most righteous nems ever imported and I can only imagine how it gleamed in person. Enjoy the eye candy because this beautiful specimen sold promptly for $1600 shipped.… More:

Spiral Grafting

photo (2)My most recent spiral graft is part art project, part science experiment, and involves a genus that I have had great success with in the past, Acanthastrea. I used two corals that originally came from the same mother colony; over the span of two years, one line of clones took on a remarkably different coloration. One set of clones was kept in the aquaculture system connected to Joe Yaiullo’s 20,000 gallon reef tank. The other set was kept in the ReefGen aquaculture on the other side of the aquarium. Both systems receive the same original make up water but have different coral and fish populations, as well as different lighting (T5 vs LED). I have made numerous grafts of various sorts of the years. Not all grafts take, but those that do produce stunning results. I knew that these two lines would indeed fuse since they are clones, but I was curious to see how they would influence each other’s color after such a long period of separation in different conditions.… More:

Barely There: Trace Elements in the Reef Aquarium

What are trace elements exactly and what role do they play in our reef aquariums? To put it simply, trace elements are elements that appear in very small quantities in salt water. They are vital to all sorts of biological processes and due to the limited size of our aquariums can be depleted rapidly. Trace elements can be replenished through regular water changes or with chemical additives, but before you run out and start dosing trace elements, it is important to realize just how scarce they are in our reef systems. To kick off this discussion, let’s take a look at the composition of salt water. Saltwater with a specific gravity of 1.025 is 96.5% water. “Sea salts” make up the remaining 3.5%. That 3.5% salt is made up of major elements and trace elements. The major elements are sodium, chloride, sulfate, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Those major elements comprise the vast majority of “sea salts.” If you were to remove those major elements from the mix, what is left is a whopping 0.7%.

Keeping the Magic Alive, Cyphastrea Combos

Long term stable combo of Seriatopora and Cyphastrea

Long term stable combo of Seriatopora and Cyphastrea

 I love Cyphastrea; it is a beautiful coral, and one that I have had great success with, but one day I realized that I had been growing it for so long that the excitement was gone.  I didn’t want to stop my work with one of my favorite corals, but I knew I had to make a change. There was only one solution for me – give it a hat of SPS! I am fascinated with coral interactions, from complete fusion of soft tissue to understanding long term competition and overgrowth. Sometimes, the success or failure of the experiment is size dependent, other times, food availability or water flow are the most important factors. Over the past few years, I have enjoyed replicating certain… More:

Coral Growth Plummets on GBR

A recent study has documented a historical decline in coral growth on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. A team led by Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira compared measurements of the rate of calcification on a segment of the GBR called Bird Island between 1975 and 1979 to those made at a neighboring Island in 2008 and 2009. The team found that the rates of calcification were 40 percent lower during the 2008-2009 period than in the 1975-1979 period. 140917121225-large“Coral reefs are getting hammered,” said Caldeira. “Ocean acidification, global warming, coastal pollution, and overfishing are all damaging coral reefs. Coral reefs have been around for millions of years, but are likely to become a thing of the past unless we start running our economy as if the sea and sky matters to us very soon.” Read more here.… More:

Specialist Species Targeted for Their Importance

Professor David Bellwood from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) in Australia has published an international study aimed at protecting the most important species within a reef ecosystem. “What we often assume is that if we lose one species on a reef, there are many others that can step in and take over their job,” explains Professor Bellwood. However, he and his colleagues believe a different theory that involves stressing the importance of “specialist” species that play very important and specific roles in maintaining the equilibrium of a reef. 140915153832-large“It’s not about numbers of species,” adds Professor David Mouillot from the University of Montpellier who led the team. “Biodiversity is important and desirable in an ecosystem, but it is not necessarily the key to being safe and secure.” Using a parrotfish for analogy Professor Bellwood adds: “The parrotfish is a particularly valuable species. To protect ecosystems, we need to ensure that specific jobs are maintained, and that means we must protect the fish that do them.” Read more here!  … More:

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