Monday, June 30, 2008

Biologist: Post-'Nemo' Demand Threatens Clownfish

Five years after the hit film that endeared the clownfish to audiences the world over, Nemo is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

The lovable tropical species, immortalized in the smash Pixar movie "Finding Nemo," is facing extinction in many parts of the world because of soaring demand from the pet trade, according to one marine biologist.

Parents whose children who fell in love with Nemo at the cinema are seeking out the clownfish in ever greater numbers, leading to over-harvesting of wild specimens because captive breeding programs cannot cope with demand.

Dr. Billy Sinclair of the University of Cumbria in northern England, who has been studying clownfish populations for 5 years, says the species should now be listed as endangered.

Studies of clownfish on Australia's Great Barrier Reef have revealed a dramatic population decline since the release of the movie in 2003. Shoals that used to number dozens of clownfish have dwindled to just a few specimens, leaving them with difficulty breeding, Sinclair says.

"In one coral reef we looked at in Keppel Bay, clownfish populations have dropped from 25 to just six in two years," he says.

Fox News

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Crosshatch Triggerfish (Xanthichthys mento)

Progressive experimentation has been conducted by many hobbyists and professionals as to which fish can be compatible with one another in a “Reef Aquarium”.

One fish that continues to have the so called “
jaw dropping effects” on new and old hobbyist is the crosshatch triggerfish (Xanthichthys mento). Based upon the knowledge available, its natural habitat and feeding behavior, renders this particular suspect to be a well rounded tank mate in our home aquariums; potentially ignore most sessile invertebrates.

The main reason I haven’t tried one until recently is because unfortunately I have not been able to afford one let alone find one that was under 7-10 inches.

crosshatch triggers in the wild can reach 12-14 inches in length, and most of the crosshatch’s which I have seen for sale has been in the 7-11 inch size range. In my experience choosing an adequately sized specimen for any given aquaria is crucial for the health and prosperity of any specimen.

As hobbyist, we need make cautious decisions when choosing fish, always considering the longevity and health of any given specie along with their potential tank mates, when choosing our livestock.

The short term stress effects of
transportation and quarantining are no where near as stressful to livestock, when compared to placing them in an undersized aquarium.

The key is to recreate a habitat to suit the specific breed of species which you desire. Adult fish in general, more often than not, have a small window of feeding preferences, due to the adaptation and behavioral conditioning while thriving in the wild.

These influencial factors can cause many species to be more territorial and increasingly wary compared to juvenile fish, which makes it sometimes more difficult to introduce adult fish into an existing community.

The biggest variable of course is the size of the aquaria.

All trigger fish belong to the order Tetraodontiformes, which from my understanding includes the closely related file fish, puffer fish and boxfish.

Triggers are members of the family Balistidae. The common name “trigger” comes from a unique characteristic of the first dorsal spine.

It can be “
locked rapidly like the trigger of a gun” into an erect position and held in place by the second dorsal spine further providing stability and strength to prevent removal from within the reef or surrounding shelters. At the first sign of danger, trigger fish bolt for the nearest reef crevice and rock structures and “trigger” their built-in locking mechanism.

After engagement, they’re practically impossible to remove. Personally I have also seen trigger fish use this as an aggression tactic, to appear larger and more dominate than its rival. No other specie, has the “
fight or flight” syndrome been more pronounced, and this sight is truly a spectacular sight to see; excuse me if my Reef Geekness shows throughout this article.

Trigger fish are characterized by their rigid leathery skin and masculine jaws that contain razor-like teeth.
The jaw muscles which underline the mouth structure are well equipped to remove flesh if necessary, however when choosing you potential new Trigger tank mate, the location of the mouth is a good indication that evolution has geared this specific breed of beauties to feast on plankton.

In general they are considered forced inductive respirators; which means that they use the force of flow in the ocean in order to provide their gills with plenty of respiration. Keep in mind that if your tank is lacking in flow, this may also be a good idea to either upgrade your system flow or option for a specie which is suitable for your biotope.

During relaxation and “grazing” they use a waving effect with their soft dorsal and anal fins.

This swimming motion allows them to swim backwards as well as forward, which allows them to be very versatile and agile when swimming throughout the reefs.

These fish actually make great pets, are disease-resistant, friendly, resilient and easy to feed ... these are a few reasons why they are considered a great specimen for advanced hobbyist. Crosshatches are charismatic and curious, which even makes them more pleasurable to keep in large aquariums, these particular breed of species normally do better in tanks larger than 300 gallons.

The crosshatch trigger has the typical triangular shape of trigger fish when its fins are erect.

Similar to other members of the genus Xanthichthys, crosshatch triggers are sexually dichromatic. The male has a more intense yellow background color on the body and wears with pride a
red-trimmed tail “this is the more favored of the sexes", as opposed to the female, which has a yellow-fringed caudal fin.

They are easily distinguished. Both sexes have vibrant blue radiating lines on the face and black lines that criss-cross along the body, hence the name “cross-hatch.”

You will normally find most crosshatches being sold in pairs these days, as they normally have a higher rate of survival in pairs.

Crosshatch trigger fish can be found thriving throughout the tropical and sub-tropical Eastern and
Western Pacific Oceans but generally prefer smaller isolated oceanic islands such as Hawaii. They can be found in large schools in open water, usually at depths of 70 feet and greater. They feed exclusively on passing zooplankton.

These conditions can have a dramatic impact on the cost of this particular breed, due to the depths at which they are normally found.

The nature of their relative rarity and expensive cost in the aquarium trade is completely understandable, I’ve done free diving at roughly 25 feet and that was a task in itself, I cant even fathom what diving at 70-90 feet would be like to capture one or two of these gems.

I actually got the pleasure of meeting an experienced crosshatch diver, stories which one could only imagine, it really put in perspective why these illusive creatures have such a high price tag. Excuse me if I’m wrong but I really don’t find diving at 70-90 feet in depth in order to capture a few fish fun, no matter what fish is on the agenda.

Currents and temperatures at these depths can really be unpredictable especially on the western front of Hawaii. Crosshatches can be kept singly, in pairs, or in groups of one male and two or more females in the aquarium. Most hobbyist and professionals recommend that two males in anything but the largest of aquariums, is setting oneself up for disaster. Just like mid-water planktivores, crosshatch triggers are not picky eaters and will consume most aquarium fare.

The diet should consist of predominantly meaty seafood’s, such as
chopped krill, squid, plankton, silver sides, and mysis shrimp. Chopped krill is a particularly good food item because it provides beneficial carotenoids that help maintain the bright pigmentation in these fish. A good enrichment to a well rounded diet would be Selcon and Garlic, as it will provide your new tank mate with the essential highly unsaturated OMEGA 3 fatty acids, Marine Lipids, Stabilized Vitamin C and Vitamin B12 Cyanocobalamin.

Like other reef fish that feed from the water column and open ocean, crosshatch triggers should be fed a few times a day in order to stabilize body weight. If a fish develops a pinched abdomen “stomach”, it’s not getting enough food. If and when starvation reaches the dorsal musculature, it’s usually too late for the fish to recover.

The upper cut mouth, elongated jaw, and eyes pinched up at the forefront of its head; give a further clue as to the open-water feeding habits of the crosshatch trigger fish.

With profound anatomy which this fish possesses, makes feeding on
invertebrates and bottom dwelling species difficult for this particular fish to feed on. For these reasons many hobbyist believe that this fish is good tank mate and interesting addition to any large coral reef aquarium. So if you’re looking for a new mystical addition to your large reef tank, and your looking for a fish that not only has style but has a great amount of character, then a crosshatch trigger fish is perfect for you. I hope this information helps you in choosing your next trigger fish.

Until next time, happy reefing.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dead Fish Stink

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Deadly lionfish invade Florida waters?

Top scientists are warning about an impending invasion of a poisonous fish into Florida's waters.

The lionfish, a native of the Pacific Ocean, is both gorgeous and dangerous. Many people may have never seen a lionfish in the waters surrounding Florida, but that will soon change.

Scientists don't use the word "invasion" lightly, but that's exactly what they are predicting of the exotic-looking lionfish.

The poisonous tips on the lionfish's fins could present a danger to people who swim, dive or work in Florida waters.

Aquarium manager Anthony Bartolome said he has been stung five times by lionfish.

"It pretty much burns like fire," Bartolome said.

The pain from a lionfish sting lasts for about 15 to 20 minutes. The lionfish's sting is so serious it can send victims to the hospital and even kill them.

"There is no anti-venom for this," said Lad Akins, executive director of Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).

Experts are so concerned about the impending invasion of lionfish they are desperately trying to warn the public.

"They're also very bold fish, especially in this new Atlantic range where it appears that they have few, if any, predators," Akins stated.

Lionfish have no predators because they do not belong in the Atlantic Ocean. There is nothing here to eat them or stop them from eating Florida's reef fish.

When lionfish grow too big, aquarium owners begin dumping the fish right into the Atlantic Ocean.

Now they are breeding at a rapid pace, experts said.

Scientists and volunteers are feverishly trying to fight the invasion of lionfish.

To do this, they are studying - and killing - the lionfish, now found in deep and shallow water.

Experts believe lionfish in the Bahamas and in Cancun, Mexico, will, as larvae, make their way to Florida on the ocean currents.

Once established, they will start destroying reefs and throwing the ecosystem out of balance.

This change will threaten the lobster, grouper, snapper and many more animals that call these waters their home.

New studies headed by Mark Hixon of Oregon State University are about to be published in a peer-reviewed science journal found one lionfish can deplete 79 percent of a reef in just five weeks.

That means coral ecology dies and algae takes over.

"You know the potential is there for it to be devastating," said Tom Jackson with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Jackson's job is to track invasive species and creatures that can sometimes change and destroy a vital ecosystem.

His personal opinion is it would be best to ban the sale of lionfish completely.

"In 2003, nearly 8,000 were imported to Tampa alone, 8,000. You only need 15 or 20 in one area to create a population," Jackson said.

Volunteers are being recruited to help stop the invasion of this species into the South Florida waters.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Tonga Rock, Corals and Fiji Corals Available Once Again

The Secretariat of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) recently lifted restrictions that had banned exporting species from Tonga, Fiji and Australia. That means you can now purchase Tonga rock, corals and Fiji corals once again!

Check out for live rock, livestock and—sorry, ran out of rhymes—um, other good stuff.

Deal of the Week


Friday, June 20, 2008

Rare Sea Dragon Is Pregnant

A weedy sea dragon at the Georgia Aquarium has something to celebrate this Father's Day. One of the rare creatures is pregnant for only the third time ever at a U.S. aquarium, aquarium officials said. But don't look for the expectant mom -- dads carry the eggs in this family

The aquarium's sea dragon has about 70 fertilized eggs -- which look like small red grapes -- attached to his tail. He is expected to give birth in early to mid-July, said Kerry Gladish, a biologist at the aquarium.

Sea dragons, sea horses and pipe fish are the only species where the male carries the eggs, Gladish said. Sea dragon pregnancies are rare because researchers don't know what gets them in the mood to mate.

"We know there's something biologically or environmentally that triggers them to want to reproduce, but in the aquarium world, we're not sure what that is," Gladish said.

The aquarium recently changed the lighting and thinned out the plants in the sea dragons' tank to give them room to court each other.

The aquarium has seven of the 18-inch sea dragons, which resemble Dr. Seuss characters with long aardvark-like snouts, colorful sea horse bodies and multiple paddle-like fins.

During mating, the female lays dozens of eggs and then transfers them to the male's tail.

In the wild, the survival rate for sea dragon babies is low, but in captivity it's about 60 percent, Gladish said. The fish is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of threatened species, mostly because of pollution and population growth in its native Australia.

Only about 50 aquariums worldwide have sea dragons.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Deal of the Week


Monday, June 09, 2008

Deal of the Week


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Kids Today

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

ROWAphos enters the Olympics

The new 1,200 hectare Olympic Park, north of Peking and part of The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, can accommodate approximately 18,000 athletes and functionaries.

The Olympic Stadium and additional sports facilities are located within this impressive park, which has large landscaped areas of grass and water. Approximately 75 hectares of water surface area exists within the park and is laid out in the form of a kite.

Due to a water shortage in the 15 million population metropolis, the Olympic lake is fed predominantly by local waste water.

In order to avoid possible hygiene, algae and smell problems, the Chinese-German BMBF research project developed from 2004-2007 an energy-efficient solution for waste water recycling. Different phosphate removers were tested and ROWAphos was found to be the most effective material.

ROWAphos, used worldwide by aquarium hobbyists, is utilized as the last stage of the water treatment unit.

ROWAphos is operated in 2 parallel filter containers treating 2000 m3 of water per day.

After this treatment the water is used for toilet flushing, wells and as well as washing water within the Olympic park.

To learn more about ROWAphos, visit D-D The Aquarium Solution or To learn more about The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, visit the official website by clicking here.

Send a Father's Day eCard

The Ocean Conservancy allows you to send free marine-themed eCards to dads for Father's Day.

They have plenty of cool images to choose from, including Clownfish, Coral Reef, Crashing Waves, Flippers, Hudson Bay Canada, Sea Otters, Turtle Hatchlings or White Sails.

You can use or edit a pre-written note or even pen one of your own.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Deal of the Week