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Captive Aquatics
On a reef!
Captive Aquatics, an Aquarium and Ecology Blog
Interests: "Captive Aquatics" consists of contributions from Merritt Adkins, Haille Carter and Mike Maddox
Recent Activity
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As many hobbyists have noticed, invertebrates are making a comeback in the hobby. Many hobbyists are keeping invertebrate tanks only due to their interesting characteristics and funny behavior. The popular invertebrate on the scene are the cherry shrimps, Neocaridina heteropoda. These fun little shrimps are creating a storm around the globe along with other color morphs. This is a simple guide to highlight the care and requirements of these intriguing shrimp and to give key points on how to breed them. (photo from: http://www.smartblue.net/akvateam/card_images) First, cherry shrimp are originally from Taiwan and have been selectively bred to obtain the red color we commonly see in stores. The adult size of a cherry shrimp is 1.6 in (4 cm) making it great for smaller aquariums. The cherry shrimp requires water with a pH of 6.5 - 8 and a large temperature range of 57–86°F (14–30°C). The other requirement is "clean water", in other words, do regular water changes, do not over feed and keep the filter media clean. The aquarium system for these little guys would be differen t depending on you final goal. If you want them to survive, but not breed, a system with a filter would be fine.... Continue reading
Here's a nano reef we have set up stocked with species found on the fringes of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Coral, tunicates, a peacock mantis and more can be seen! Being able to use natural seawater makes a huge difference in the survival and growth of all sorts of neat invertebrates covering the rock: Continue reading
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Being a researcher and living near the Great Barrier Reef has it's perks! We took a day trip to a small nearby island and snapped a few photos with a point-and-shoot (they're not as good as Haille's excellent photos from Florida, but oh well!). There was a surprising amount of life only a few dozen meters offshore (or even closer, the first picture shows zooanthids growing on a boulder adjacent to shore!), and we thought we'd share: Diving or even snorkeling on a reef can't be described, it must be experienced. If you've never done it, you need to - it never gets old! Related articles Video of an LED-lit Estuary Biotope Nano Aquarium Continue reading
Here's a video featuring a biotope we've set up featuring only species we collected by hand from a local estuary, some endemic to the area (click the video to view in HD). We've also seen juvenile reef species such as the achilles tang and racoon butterflyfish, protected by turbidity and mangrove roots. The biotope features a mud bottom with planted with a few mangroves of various species. The system receives weekly water changes with raw natural seawater, and is fed with the results of plankton tows. While not very large (35 liters, ~7 gallons), it sure is fascinating. The tunicate colonies are especially neat, and have many small tunicates, sponges, and tubeworms encrusting over a single large tunicate! Estuary environments are very important both as a 'nursery' for juvenile fish, but also as a natural 'filter' for runoff received from dry land. The importance of these ecosystems cannot be overstated! Species list: - 3x juvenile Tetractenos spp. (likely hamiltoni) pufferfish - 1x anglerfish of unknown species - various crabs, sponges, tunicates, tubeworms, and snails - various macro algae and mangrove species The system is lit with natural sunlight assisted by an LED fixture (the fixture is not currently available stateside... Continue reading
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This guest post by My Reef to Yours Coral Frags will teach you all about fragging branching SPS coral! Fragging live SPS is easy and is a great way to share coral frags with your friends. This article will cover most branching SPS such as Acroporas, Birdsnest, and others. If it has branches, we can frag it safely. Tools needed: Latex Gloves Wire Cutters or Bone Cutters Superglue Gel Frag Disks or Rubble Rock You want to wear gloves during this process to protect the coral and to protect you. Take a bowl a fill it with tank water. We can then place our mother colony in the bowl for safe keeping. Examine the colony and determine what branches you want to take your frags from. Simply take your cutters and cut the branches you want to frag at the base of your colony. You are fine to remove the mother colony from the water during this process, you just don’t want the coral to become dry. Once you have finished your trimming you can place your colony back into your tank and place the fragged pieces into your bowl with the tank water. Next we will want to attach... Continue reading
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Well, this is my first post as me, although you've probably seen my pictures posted here. My name is Hallie Carter and I'm an environmental ecologist, photographer and dive master currently living in FL! I hope to provide interesting pictures of marine life to compliment those posted by my friends who are living in the southern hemisphere! I had a a great bridge dive today off the coast of Singer Island, FL! The visibility wasn’t great at first, but once we hit slack tide it improved immensely. We checked out the new artificial reef which was very popular to a lot of schooling fish. We also found a juvenile jack-knife fish, batfish, and even an orange seahorse. Notice the difference in biodiversity compared to the previously posted great barrier reef photos where Mike and Merritt are. No two reefs are the same...anyway, on to the pictures! Continue reading
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Our friend Haille is a dive master and environmental ecologist currently working off the Florida coast. She also happens to snap spectacular photographs that we shamelessly share here! The hawksbill sea turtle is a beautiful and smaller species of sea turtle that's unfortunately been hunted for ornamental purposes in the past. Continue reading
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In between research we decided to take a vacation to Cairns and got a lot of photos. We stayed on a semi-private beach where a mangrove estuary met the ocean. Tidepools were everywhere with a variety of gastropod and barnacle species as well as trapped blennies, gobies, and damsels. Rock anemones and crabs were abundant as well! Cairns is very close to the great barrier reef (see photo taken from the air above) and close to some of the several island research stations I visit for collecting trips. More photos: In additon to it's abundance of aquatic life, Cairns is tropical and features hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest, much of it on the mountain ranges that are up to 3000m tall! Continue reading
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I'm working on a study that is attempting to locate apex predator breeding areas so that the areas can be marked for conservation. The process includes capturing, measuring, tagging, and releasing various shark species, but today it included the odd looking shovelnose ray! Remember, humans could not and would not exist without sharks - sharks are an integral part of the ocean's food web, and all life on land requires the ocean food web to function! Continue reading
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I'm performing research on various outposts scattered throught Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Here are some photos taken from the southernmost tip of the reef showing sea turtles and baby (12m long!) whale sharks. Some pictures feature the bleaching which is what we all hope to get to the bottom of. Many more pictures and many other locations will be added as time permits, as will the results of our findings, although that could be months or years ;). Enjoy! Continue reading
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Loggerhead hatchlings heading to the coast in the early morning hours (Thanks Haille!)! Enjoy :) Continue reading
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Pet owners love to talk about how their beloved animals have personalities. Cats are often “haughty” or “affectionate,” while dogs can so often be “calm” or “fun-loving.” These aren’t just variations in breeds, they also reflect difference in the personalities of individual species. Even the most avid fish lovers will have to admit that fish generally aren’t the brightest species on the planet, so many of us don’t expect our fish to have wildly varying personalities. [Editor's note: the following is a guest post by Dabney B. from Okeanos Group] Well, surprisingly, that misconception is completely false. Fish have been scientifically proven to have very distinct personalities. Researchers led by Lynne Sheldon at the University of Liverpool have observed fish and discovered unique differences among individual fish behavior and preferences. The researchers took bold and shy fish and paired them together in fights. They would occasionally stack the fights in one combatant’s favor by pairing a particularly large fish with a much smaller fish. It may not have been the most humane experiment ever conducted, but it produced some fairly interesting results. Fish that won their fights generally became bolder, while fish that lost fights typically became more cautious. One... Continue reading
Aqua Illumination's Vega + Powerpuck customization shows the most promise for LED fixtures that we've seen in, well, at least a year if not two, and possibly ever. The fact that they're offering multiple diodes, a drag-n-drop configuation (with a spectrograph!) makes this fixture possibly the only fixture we'd spend money on. Interchangeable, customizable LEDs? Yes please! Kudos to AI for what is sure to be a stellar LED light. We can't wait for the release! From AI's website: "Continuing the industry-shaping trend started five years ago with the release of our original AquaIllumination LED Module, we are pleased to announce the AI Vega- controlled by our adaptive AI Power Puck, the pinnacle of our engineering efforts. The AI Power Puck provides nearly limitless color combinations, allowing custom configuration of each individual Power Pucks as desired. As you customize and change the location of your Power Puck, its adaptive capabilities intelligently tells our proprietary control system the location and type of each LED. This allows each color to have independent control regardless of quantity or position within a module. The AI Vega will begin shipping this summer in our traditional silver/white as well as the popular black housing color combination.... Continue reading
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Our friend Haille Carter took this photograph while working for Purda Vida Divers & Surf. Too cool! Continue reading
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Near-shore mangrove habitats are being destroyed all over the world to the detriment of all, especially local fishermen Continue reading
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A new bill with all of the internet-breaking features of SOPA plus the complete removal of privacy from the internet. If you took steps to ensure privacy on the internet...you'd be breaking the law if CISPA passes. Spread the word and stop CISPA now! How bad is it? It's bad: "Under Rep. Mike Rogers’ Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA),and Sen. John McCain’s SECURE IT Act, there are almost no restrictions on what information can be spied upon and how it can be used. That means a company like Google, Facebook, Twitter, or AT&T could intercept your emails and text messages, send copies to one another and to the government, and modify those communications or prevent them from reaching their destination if it fits into their plan to stop “cybersecurity” threats." It's simple to send a letter to your representative using this site: Electronic Frontier Foundation Continue reading
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Geisemann Aquaristic is known internationally for their uncompromising and high quality products as per european consumer standards, dominating the 'best of the best' niche in lighting fixtures for decades. However, this dedication has met an impasse in reef aquarium LED lighting: american consumers don't want premium quality at a premium price, and american aquarists make up over 90% of the aquarium LED market currently. What's Geisemann's answer? Whilst other companies see no problem in providing american aquarists what they desire (terrible products at a low price point), Geisemann was quite obviously not happy with that option and provided an alternative that has recently been unveiled as the Teszla LED light. Obviously named honoring the great Nikola Tesla, the light is Geisemann's first serious foray into reef aquarium LED lighting; and one they were forced to compromise on. The Teszla LED light is available with an optional mounting arm ($49) To achieve the $499 pricetag required by the US market, Geisemann was forced to cut R&D costs, and thus the Teszla uses stock Cree emitters. Don't leave yet: if that were the end of the story I wouldn't be writing this, as 'just another cree led light' is hardly a reason... Continue reading
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I've penned a feature on lighting for the March-April issue of Marine Habitat Magazine. I've featured Marine Habitat before because I'm a big fan of the mag's dual purpose, covering both the hobby and ocean/reef ecology. If you're wanting to know more about lighting, photosynthesis, and what lighting methods are "best", pick up the issue - or better yet, subscribe! Continue reading
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While I'm usually quietly behind the scenes consulting for the next generation of aquarium LED lights, I had to share this breakthrough by Dr. Santhanam and his team that was recently published in Physical Review Letters: LEDs that actually cool their surroundings, turning heat energy into visible light energy! And just as incredibly, have an efficiency of over 200%. Pause for a moment to let that sink in. No heatsinks, no chillers, no heat degredation of the emitters or associated electronics, but a light source that actually cools its surroundings and emits more light energy than it consumes in electricity. Lighting's holy grail? While the cooling effect isn't "significant", at least as of yet, the sheer fact that heat isn't produced is astonishing, not to mention usefu and incredibly efficient. Instead of energy being wasted as heat, it's converted to light, further increasing the luminous efficacy. Hooked? Read more here! Continue reading
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Things have been hectic due to my relocation (to the coast and a large reef - can you guess which one?). Ever since the research I performed in the Belize Barrier Reef I've wanted to live on a reef again, so I've taken an opportunity that arose. As my activities shift away from the hobby and more towards actual hands on ecological participation, photography, and writing on an reef location, the blog will shift as well. Pics, video, and ecology info about actual reefs rather than glass boxes coming soon! Continue reading
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Here are some pics of X-Aqua's newest/upcoming reef aquarium LED lights, both behind the scenes and a finished product. Full review when I have the time, but they're looking good! Enjoy! Continue reading
Click here to prevent internet censorship Continue reading
Such as twitter, facebook, YouTube, and many other sites if the "Internet Blacklist Bill" (so politically correctly called the "Stop Online Piracy" Act) passes, websites like this, or any other site The Man doesn't like could be yanked. The bill's purpose is supposedly to stop sites like The Pirate Bay which have been a thorn in the RIAA's side for years. The solution? Pass a law saying any site with objectionable content or hosting objectionable content could be blocked. For those not aware, the US not only controls the internet (virtually all top level DNS servers are administrated in the USA) but is one of the few countries that doesn't actively block "objectionable" sites, such as sites hosting opinions that aren't the governments. That could change with the passing of this bill - from The Guardian: "In a blogpost, Google said: "We strongly support the goal of the bill – cracking down on offshore websites that profit from pirated and counterfeited goods – but we're concerned the way it's currently written would threaten innovation, jobs, and free expression." Art Bordsky, spokesman for Public Knowledge, a Washington-based public policy group, said Sopa was "the proverbial bull in the proverbial china shop"... Continue reading
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Photosynthesis is an incredibly complex process, but luckily for most aquarists only a basic understanding is required, but the time should be taken to understand that basic definition. Photosynthesis is the “synthesizing by organisms of organic chemical compounds (Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology [1997]), mainly carbohydrates, from carbon dioxide using energy obtained by light rather than the oxidation of chemical compounds”. Instead of consuming carbohydrates like we do for energy, photosynthesis can create carbohydrates for invertebrates and plants. More simply, this means that plant cells can use energy gathered from light to produce cellular chemical energy (ATP) and carbon products (carbohydrates) when combined with carbon dioxide. Photosynthetic efficiency peaks at around a wavelength of 430 nanometers and 680 nanometers. In order for the photosynthetic process to take place, the chloroplast (the organelle of the cell where the light energy to chemical energy conversion occurs) must receive sufficient PAR and/or PUR. If the saturation or compensation point of the chloroplast isn’t met, the organelle will not produce the optimum amount of carbon bi-products (carbohydrates), and this excess energy will not be transferred to the host invertebrate. Obviously, the compensation point is something every aquarist will want to meet at... Continue reading
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They say a picture is worth a thousand words: the above is a picture of X-Aqua's foray into LED reef aquarium lighting. Pictures, specs, and hands-on experience coming soon... Continue reading