Tag Archives: science

Latest Posts

My Marine Fish Are Plotting Against Me!

Exhibit A: The judgmental glareA little-known fact about marine fish kept in aquariums is that they’re passive-aggressive and churlish and enjoy mocking their owners. Okay, I know we’re not supposed to anthropomorphize our livestock, but based on a recent disastrous attempt at an aquarium photo shoot, I’m convinced my fish have it in for me—or at least get a kick out of seeing me lose my cool. Come to think about it, I’ve made a similar observation on every occasion that I’ve tried to photograph fish over the years . . . so it’s like science or something. Anyhow, my friends at Tropical Fish Hobbyist recently requested that I snap a few photos of my tank to accompany an article I’d written for them on transitioning from freshwater to saltwater aquarium keeping. Right away, this filled me with trepidation for a couple reasons. One, the room housing the tank has windows on all four walls, leading to major issues with glare and oddball reflections.

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

Bottle-nose Dolphin Pod

Hi gang, well we made it through one very busy day yesterday with three sub dives and 12 collage kids from Bonaire, all doing some kind of studies in marine biology. Our ocean is currently super dirty meaning it’s like diving in pea-soup with different species of jellyfish everywhere! We also have had some raging currents flow through here this past week making diving very difficult and I am sure is responsible for much of this cloudy water. For me taking photos of our submersible in this pea-soup nasty water is about as difficult as underwater photography gets and not even Photoshop can this kind of photo look good again.  For my poor neglected dolphin fanatics out there, I have a few fun dolphin facts from our friends at www.sciencekids.com for you all today, read on….

Coral Letters

coral lettersTwo years ago, Barry and Aimee Brown began photographing “hidden” letters in the brain coral colonies around Curacao, the Caribbean island where they live. Their hunt, which sometimes took them as deep as 100 feet, gave them an even better understanding of the devastation shallow-growing brain coral have experienced from bleaching and recent strong storms. You can download the full set of letters for free here as a zip file. The photographers only ask that you give them credit and that you don’t use the work commercially.… More:

Mapping the Intrinsic Risk of Marine Species

The Journal of Science recently published a paper from the University of California at Berkeley where fossils were studied to help predict which marine species were now at the greatest risk for extinction.”Marine species are under threat from human impacts, but knowledge of their vulnerabilities is limited,” says study co-author, Professor John Pandolfi from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at the University of Queensland. Using fossils to better understand the inherent risk some species have to coastal threats such as human presence, the team was able to map the extinction patterns of marine species. 150430144955_1_540x360“We used these estimates to map natural extinction risk in modern oceans, and compare it with recent human pressures on the ocean such as fishing, and climate change to identify the areas most at risk,” says Professor Pandolfi. Protecting modern species from extinction is the number one goal yet some species have an intrinsic risk of extinction so the teams goal “was to diagnose which species are vulnerable in the modern world, using the past as a guide” says study lead author, Assistant Professor Seth Finnegan from the University of California Berkeley. “We believe the past can inform the way we plan our conservation efforts. However there is a lot more work that needs to be done to understand the causes underlying these patterns and their policy implications,” says Asst. Professor, Seth Finnegan Read more here!… More:

Making Your Own Ice Packs is Cool and Easy

Summer is here and if you ship out a bunch of corals every week like I do, you’re going to need to keep them cool. Ice packs from most shipping supply companies cost anywhere from $1.00 – .50 cents each, that means I used to spend a few hundred dollars per year just on ice packs and you generally only have two size options. I have made ice packs out of gelatin in the past, but I find it to be messy, time consuming, and not vegan friendly. It had been in the back of my mind for awhile to try using water polymer crystals to make ice packs after seeing them used in floral arrangements, so I recently started doing it. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Water Polymer Crystals after absorbing water

 Water polymer crystals… More:

Bringing the Lab to the Reef

Technology is ever-present in the lab as well as the hobby of reef keeping but scientists from Europe are now going to be taking their instruments directly into the field, or reef I should say. To better understand coral metabolism and respiration researchers from Denmark will be deploying remote operated vehicles (ROV) and high-resolution cameras to help them deploy lab equipment and take measurements. “Traditionally the metabolism of cold-water reefs are typically investigated by collecting animals and analyzing them in a laboratory. Preferably, however, researchers would like to do the opposite, and bring the laboratory to the seabed, where the reef can be studied in its own environment. Since cold water reefs grow incredibly slowly — about 5 mm per year — and are fragile habitats, we were looking at novel techniques that could be used on a reef to asses metabolism with little impact on the reef structures,” says Dr. Lorenzo Rovelli, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), visiting researcher at the Nordic Center for Earth Evolution (NordCEE), Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark.150506111513_1_900x600 Employing a method termed ‘Aquatic Eddy Covariance’ the team will be able to simultaneously measure oxygen content and flow. “We are particularly interested in finding out how much carbon is being turned over by a reef — and by that I mean the whole reef community. The community consists of the corals, which are the engineers behind the reef structure, as well as all the other organisms that inhabit the reef: from large crabs to microscopic organisms. Currently, we still do not know if and to what extent such reefs are contributing to the global carbon budget.” Read more here!… More:

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

Reefs.com is the world's leading destination for sustainable coral reef farming and the aquarium hobby. We offer a free open forum and reef related news and data to better educate aquarists and further our goals of sustainable reef management.