Sponges, Sponges, Everywhere!

Sponges are great filter feeders If you do any diving anywhere, you will see sponges everywhere. Some of them are more colorful than corals, and some of them you can sit in. All sponges are water pumps and filters, which makes them useful in the sea and in our reefs. Sponges don’t move, they sit there, eat, and get fat. (Reminds me of one of my old girlfriends. She had the same complexion and personality as a sponge.) A typical sponge can pump 20,000 times its own volume in water through its cells in one day. All that water is also filtered by the sponge using “choanocytes,” which are just tiny, cone-shaped towers with sticky cells on them to catch food. Each tower has one flagellum, or hair-like thing

10 Tips for Limiting Marine Livestock Losses

There are steps you can take as a marine aquarium hobbyist to help ensure the health of your tank’s inhabitantsDistilled down to its essence, success in the marine aquarium hobby is about keeping fish and invertebrates alive and thriving. And while it may sometimes seem as though fate plays a major role in how animals fare under our care, several decades of aquarium-keeping experience (and more than a few missteps) have taught me that it’s largely in hobbyists’ power to avoid livestock losses. I’ve found the following 10 tips to be exceedingly helpful in maximizing the survival rate and longevity of my fish and invertebrates. Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list (after all, virtually everything we hobbyists do related to our aquariums influences the survival of our livestock, whether directly or indirectly), but it’s a pretty good start.1. Ban the impulse buy! I can’t tell you how often CC and I get questions from anxious hobbyists who have made an impulse livestock purchase only to discover after the fact that they can’t get it to eat anything they offer, it appears to be wasting away, it’s getting bullied severely by tankmates (or vice versa), etc. Unfortunately, such ill-conceived purchases too often result in the death of the specimen or one or more of its tankmates

Marine Aquarium Acronyms: PE Defined

The marine aquarium hobby is second only to the US military when it comes to the number of acronyms its members throw around. (Quite fittingly, this past Monday was the 27th anniversary of my DOE. Shortly after that date, I entered BMT as an A1C and did lots of PC under the direction of a TI before going on to AIT where I got an LOR for violating the UCMJ in advance of my PCS.) For today’s post, I’d like to address a somewhat common hobby acronym mentioned in an email I received from one of our readers. He quite succinctly queried, “What the heck does ‘PE’ stand for? I see it used in online forums a lot.”The acronym “PE” has the distinction of representing two terms in our hobby. If you read it in the context of a discussion on foods and feeding, the acronym likely refers to Piscine Energetics, a company headquartered in British Columbia that supplies PE Mysis®, a popular brand of Mysis relicta, among other products. But in hobby parlance, “PE” can also stand for “polyp extension,” which is exactly what it sounds like—the degree to which a coral extends its polyps. Why does this matter

Does a Naturalistic Environment Reduce Stress in Aquarium Fish?

The blue-throat triggerfish (X. auromarginatus) in my aquarium exhibited repetitive behavior prior to transitioning the system to a reefFor today’s post, I’d like to elicit your thoughts on an interesting phenomenon I’ve observed in my aquarium, specifically involving an aggravating repetitive behavior exhibited until fairly recently by my pair of blue-throat triggerfish (Xanthichthys auromarginatus). Allow me to set the stage: I introduced the blue-throats to my 125-gallon about a year and a half ago when it was still a FOWLR system. Their tankmates at the time included a one-spot foxface (Siganus unimaculatus), yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), tomato clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus), and sixline wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia).The repetitive behavior I’m referring to—and both the male and female exhibited it—was repeatedly swimming around the base of a powerhead mounted at the far left end of the tank (as I usually face it—you can actually view the tank from either side and one end) about 5 inches below the surface. They would swim in a circle 10, 15, even 20 times or more, briefly break away and swim about half the length of the tank, and then come right back to the powerhead to swim another set of “laps.” Both triggers fed with gusto and would swim up to greet me whenever I approached the tank, no doubt assuming more food was forthcoming, and sometimes they would stop the lap swimming and explore more of the tank for brief periods. But they would always revert to that same maddening behavior. I tried moving the powerhead next to my overflow box and closer to the surface so it would be harder to swim in a loop around it, but the triggers just wiggled their way through the narrowed pathway anyway. Afraid they’d get injured or flip out of the tank, I moved the powerhead back to its original location.

Marine Aquarium Water Changes: Don’t Postpone the Personal Payoff!

Part of my clan rejoicing in their “dose” of clean waterYesterday, I finally got around to performing an overdue water change in my 125-gallon tank. Admiring the fruits of my labor afterward, I couldn’t help wondering, “Why on earth do I wait so long to do these when the result is always so rewarding?” Actually, I know exactly why I wait so long, and it’s probably the same reason many of you do as well—sometimes life just gets in the way. Writing and editing projects begin to pile up, deadlines loom one after another, and I just don’t have enough time or energy left by the end of the day to squeeze in yet another project. Weekends usually find me catching up on articles or SWS posts or at least trying to squeeze in a little relaxation, so I don’t exactly relish the thought of doing water changes then either.Still, whenever I discipline myself to push through and tackle this essential maintenance chore (which actually doesn’t have to be as challenging or time-consuming as I make it out to be in my head), not only do my fish and corals reap the benefits, but my enjoyment of the tank is significantly enhanced as well. How so? First off, the dilution of all the bad stuff in the water and replenishment of the good stuff—like a rush of fresh air into a stuffy room or that first warm spring day after a cold winter—seems to bring out the very best in my fish. Never are they friskier or more vibrantly colored than right after a water change.
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