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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.

Without Fish, Sponges Smother Caribbean Corals

Credit: Joseph Pawlik, UNCWAs if corals didn’t have enough to contend with in nuisance seaweeds, another aggressive neighbour is moving in. Like seaweeds, sponges use an arsenal of toxins, mucus, shading, and smothering to kill nearby coral colonies and then, to add insult to injury, go ahead and grow on their skeletons. Furthermore, a recent survey of coral reefs across the Caribbean has shown that overfishing removes the predators of sponges, greatly increasing the threat to an already weakened population of corals. Headed by Dr. Joseph Pawlik at UNC Wilmington, the research team surveyed reefs from 12 countries across the Caribbean, where the combined effects of warming seawater temperatures, storms, and diseases have already decimated coral populations

Review: Elos OsmoController Digital

Dealing with evaporation from a reef tank can be a real chore if you haven’t got a robust system in place and there’s also a pretty high element of risk involved if your chosen system isn’t up to scratch. For a start, it could fail to keep-up with demand (in which case a low water level could expose equipment and lead to a system failure), or at the other end of the scale, overfilling could make your tank literally ‘runneth-over’ (causing untold damage and recrimination). In either case your Salinity is also going to be ‘all over the place’ too, stressing livestock, possibly to death…. in short this is one area where cutting-costs can come back and ‘bite you on the bum’! Having started-off with the ‘religiously-trickling-in-a-jug-of-RO-every-day’ method back in the day, we’ve since been through a few different systems, each progressing in complexity. Our second system was a simple peri-pump on a timer which delivered Kalkwasser during the night (and which worked fine but couldn’t cope with seasonal fluctuations very well) and next we experimented with float switches… briefly

Colour Changing Dottyback Is ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’

Published today in the journal Current Biology, a new study has shown that the Dusky Dottyback Pseudochromis fuscus can change colour to imitate other reef fish species both allowing it to prey on their young, and to hide from predators by blending in to its habitat. The research reveals a surprising and sophisticated new example of ‘mimicry’. While using mimicry to hunt or hide from other species is common in nature, scientists note that if the deception is encountered too frequently, prey species become vigilant to the threat and develop tactics to counter the mimics. The dottyback, however, is able to colour-morph depending on the particular colour of the surrounding species it is currently hunting (often damselfishes). Scientists say that this flexibility of physical mimicry makes it much harder for the dottyback’s prey to develop detection strategies and avoid getting eaten

Review: TMC V²Pure Advanced RO System

Arguably one of the most critical components of any reef system, the humble RO Unit sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Sometimes a hobbyist may end up selecting a unit that ‘seems’ up to the task without really researching it. Once in place RO Units can also be ‘taken for granted’ and, as a result, actual performance under ‘typical’ home operating conditions (membrane efficiency, actual GPD, ease of assembly etc) is sometimes overlooked. In this review we’ll take a closer look at TMCs V²Pure RO system and see how it stacks-up against other units we’ve used.

Digital-Reefs Update – The Difference is Black and White

As usual it’s pretty difficult to find time to produce general updates on our test system as more often than not, on top of our ‘proper job’ and family commitments, we are frequently busy collecting, unboxing and reviewing new kit, rooting out interesting stories for the blog, or producing material for ourselves or our clients. To be honest a lot of our blog work hinges on regularly chasing companies for the latest info and let’s say some are more responsive than others! Sometimes it can get a little frustrating but we certainly appreciate having the fantastic spread of sponsors that we do… you can tell these companies are the best in the business by their willingness to ‘show off’ their products at a hobbyist level rather than adopting a secretive, isolated approach. Anyway, before we digress, let’s get back to the task in hand and take a look at the Black Tank which is our 100 UK gallon test bed system, now just over 2 years old. Well, overall the system is progressing nicely and many of our colonies are continuing to grow steadily and fill out the tank. Aesthetically we are pretty happy with the system as it is, but it’s certainly not a finished product by any means.

Red Seadragon Is Spectacular New Species

A paper in the Royal Society Open Science has announced the discovery of a new species of seadragon. The Ruby Seadragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) is named for its incredible bright-red coloring and was first noticed after a male was caught during a biodiversity trawling survey in 2007. At first, scientists thought it was a weedy seadragon, but DNA analysis revealed it to be a completely new species. In addition to DNA research, the team also took a CT scan of one of the specimens. “[The] scan gave us 5,000 X-ray slices that we were able to assemble into a rotating 3-D model of the new seadragon,” said lead author Josefin Stiller. “We could then see several features of the skeleton that were distinct from the other two species, corroborating the genetic evidence.” The scientists believe the new seadragon has gone un-noticed for so long because it is found in deeper waters off the coast. The deeper water habitat may also explain its darker, red color

EcoTech VorTech ‘QuietDrive’ Pumps Announced

Rumour and speculation have been rife over the last couple of weeks but now the embargo has finally been lifted, we can stop ‘keeping it quiet’ as it were, and bring you official details on the latest product development from our sponsor Ecotech Marine! We’ve studied the offical 16 page release at length so here are the key points. Building on the already award-winning VorTech pump line, the new MP10wQD, MP40wQD and MP60wQD offer claimed improvements in noise reduction, efficiency, flow and durability. Specifically, this next evolution of the VorTech range offers up to 90% noise reduction and up to 40% more output* while the line retains connectivity and offers a new gyre flow mode.

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