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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.

Video: A Leisurely Look At One Of Our Fave Fishes

[embedded content] We’ve been pretty busy recently with a whole stack of product reviews but it was nice to grab a few minutes to process some of the HFR footage we’ve managed to capture in the odd spare minute. Filmed at 50fps, this particular clip is slowed down to 25fps and can be viewed at 1080p also. Resting in its favourite perch in a colony of Blue Montipora, our resident Flame Hawkfish is the perfect model for this kind of footage!

OATA Petition Needs Your Support!

Calling all UK hobbyists! OATA have recently launched a campaign to defend the UK ornamental trade and hobby from a host of overzealous campaign groups who are seeking to bring an end to the practice of keeping fish in captivity by introducing bans on the importation and sale of wild-caught and exotic species. Clearly the ramifications of such a ban would be huge – not just stopping us from enjoying the beauty of such life in our own homes, but also destroying a myriad of businesses across the country, and even beyond these shores. We strongly recommend you visit the site by clicking HERE and show your support as we have.

Problem Starfish ‘Smell The Fear’

Thought to be responsible for 40 per cent of coral cover loss in the past 30 years, the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish is without a doubt one of the main threats facing the Great Barrier Reef. But now scientists may have discovered a new way to repel them using the scent of their natural nemesis, the Triton Sea Snail. With one whiff enough to send the starfish running (or should that be crawling?) for its life, University of the Sunshine Coast senior lecturer Scott Cummins explains the Triton Snail is one of its most feared natural predators. “We put [the snail] next to the crown-of-thorns starfish and they reacted quite obviously,” he said. “They started to run away, which is quite an important finding because it tells us they do have very poor eyesight, they are sensing or smelling their main predator.” All that remains is for the team to successfully isolate and synthesise the molecule and then Cummins says this sort of repellent could be used to push the starfish off the reef and into areas where they could be destroyed. “We want to narrow it down to exactly what the molecule is then hopefully we can take that and put it into some slow release system on the reef.” More HERE

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