New Species of Tridacna Giant Clam

A new species of Tridacna clam has been discovered in the Info-pacific region. The clam has yet to be scientifically described and does not yet have a valid name.

The new clam was discovered when Jude Keyse, a postgraduate student at the University of Queensland, Australia and the other co-authors of ”A Novel Widespread Cryptic Species and Phylogeographic Patterns within Several Giant Clam Species (Cardiidae: Tridacna) from the Indo-Pacific Ocean” started to DNA test clams near the Solomon Islands and at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. The results shows evidence of a new clam that has been hiding in plain sight. The new species is believed to be very closely related to Tridacna maxima.

Another co-author, Shane Penny, a postgraduate student at Charles Darwin University., had the following to say about the discovery “To correctly describe the new species now becomes critical as the effects of getting it wrong can be profound for fisheries, ecology and conservation,”

Bibliographic information: Huelsken T et al. 2013. A Novel Widespread Cryptic Species and Phylogeographic Patterns within Several Giant Clam Species (Cardiidae: Tridacna) from the Indo-Pacific Ocean. PLoS ONE 8 (11): e80858; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080858

Image credit: E. A. Treml.

New species of saw shark – Pristiophorus lanae – Lana’s Sawshark

This isnt really aquarium related but if you are anything like me than you will get excited whenever you see a new sawfish or shark. With this is mind this is perfect. A new Species of sawshark have been discovered and scientifically described. The new species will be known as Pristiophorus lanae and can be found in the western North Pacific. Continue reading

Tip of the Week # 9, Display Tank Black-outs

A while back I had started reading about fellow hobbyists completing a 3 day black out on their reef tanks every 3 months as a part of their routine maintenance.  Starting about 6 months ago, I started blacking out my reef tank for 3 days every two months.  There was no harmful effects to my SPS corals or my carpet anemone.

Some of the Identified Benefits Include:

-Slowing down algae growth
-Very effective to help get rid of cyano when used with other traditional control methods
-When done right, it can add a part of a natural cycle as seen in nature as it can simulate a bid storm without some of the negative effects
-In certain set-ups, it will help to slowly reduce the nitrates and phosphates as the inhabitants would experiences a slowed down metabolism allowing the nutrient removal processes in the aquarium to have a greater impact.

Some Tips for Best Results:

-Only turn off the tank lighting.  Allow the ambient room light to hit the tank so you can feed your fish
-Keep all other equipment running on the set-up.
-Feed you fish about ¼ to 1/3 of the normal amount during the black-out period.
-On smaller tanks, carefully watch your pH levels as the level could drop very low in smaller set-up
-The approach works very well on set-up with refugium or algae scrubbers if you leave the lighting schedule the same for the refugium and algae scrubber
-Complete a larger than normal water change after the blackout due to any algae die-off can release extra nutrients into the water.
-Return to your normal lighting level slowly as to not shock any of your corals and/or anemones
-BTAs can start to move during a black-out period
-This will only temporarily solve algae problems.  Without removing the cause(s) of the algae, it will come back in time.

Some other references for routine aquarium maintenance:

https://www.reefaquarium.com/2012/marine-aquarium-maintenance/

http://www.tfhmagazine.com/aquarium-basics/columns/a-marine-aquarium-maintenance-checklist-the-salt-creep.htm

 

 

 

Tip of the Week # 8, Stocking Tangs

The one aspect about stocking marine aquariums that I have found the most conflicting information on is what is a proper stocking plan when keeping tangs. A part of the problem is the amount of variation between maximum sizes, growth rates, and the temperament / personality of the fish. I have personally seen yellow tangs reaching a maximum size 10 inches and other reaching a maximum size of about 14 inches, both being kept in set-up that would allow for more growth.

So what is the right answer ?

  • Do your homework, get as much first hand information from trustworthy people as possible.
  • If you are new to marine aquariums, error on the side of caution and get a aquarium that is a little larger than what you could stock your tang in.
  • Use extreme caution when keeping multiple tangs in one aquarium in numbers less than 5.
  • Always watch carefully for signs that your current stocking is not working out in the best interests of the fish.

The below links will provide you with some further information to help you understand this better

https://www.reefaquarium.com/2013/responsible-fish-keeping/

http://coralmagazine-us.com/content/arrested-tang-police-i-refuse-confess

http://microcosmaqx.typepad.com/jay_hemdal/2009/01/beware-the-tang-police.html

http://www.tfhmagazine.com/saltwater-reef/feature-articles/putting-fish-back-into-the-reef-tank.htm

Tip of the Week # 7 – Skimmer Capasity

Manufacture ratings should always be considered as guidelines and never hard fast rules.  In my opinion, almost all of these capacities are over rated.  The reason for my opinion is that manufactures typically complete their product testing with the gate valve and air valve(s) wide open to calculate the maximum flow rate and maximum air intake using these measurements to calculate the maximum rated capacity for the skimmer.  As we all know, the gate valve and air valve(s) will need to be adjusted in order for the skimmer to work properly which will also lower both the flow rate and air intake of the skimmer from the manufacture’s measurements.  This is why many hobbyist prefer to use skimmers that have a much higher rated maximum capacity than their aquarium.
The below link can help you determine how to pick out a skimmer for your set-up

https://www.reefaquarium.com/2013/selecting-a-new-skimmer/

And the below will offer you some other ways to evaluate potential skimmers

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2010/1/aafeature

 

And some interesting skimmer information

http://reefbuilders.com/2012/12/20/protein-skimmers-function/

http://reefbuilders.com/?s=skimmers

 

 

Tip of the Week # 6 – Carbon Dosing

If you are planning to use carbon dosing to reduce high levels of nitrates and/or phosphates, please keep in mind you need to start off slowly and at a very low level.  Making quick and drastic changes to your nitrate levels through all/any forms of carbon dosing will cause your water parameters to become at least somewhat unstable.  Take it very slow to begin with allowing your system to slowly adjust over time.   You have to always keep in mind, only bad things will happen fast in this hobby.

More information about carbon dosing can be found in the below article:

https://www.reefaquarium.com/2012/carbon-dosing-in-laymans-terms/

And a few other articles about carbon dosing

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2008-08/nftt/

Watch video of new Caledonia Sunrise Anthias

The New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias is a stunning new species that we recently wrote about here.   The species is allready being collected and can be purchased in the United states through Quality Marine. Quality Marine is bringing in a decent number of these stunning fish and you should be able to pick up a group  of them at a decent price.

The clip below will tell you more about this species, how it was discovered and will let you see it in both the wild and in an aquarium environment:

Tip of the Week # 5 – Fish Compatibility

Sometimes you can thoroughly complete your research to ensure the best possibly compatibility between all of your fish, but you sometimes will just end up with all kinds of problems.  The reason for this is that fish can also have their very own unique and individual personalities.  And just like people, you can find miserable , grumpy, and mean fish that are completely different the average fish of the exact same species.  Although I would think this is a very small percentage, it is still a risk.
This is why I always recommend that you keep a very close eye on your aquarium every time you add a new fish to the set-up.  Even when you quarantine a new fish for 4 or 5 weeks, you may still not know with 100% certainty how well this will work out until you add them.

The below link and also offer a few guidelines to help you think through determining appropriate stocking for your aquarium
https://www.reefaquarium.com/2013/responsible-fish-keeping/

 

The below link can also offer you some good ideas about stocking butterflys in reef set-ups

http://reefbuilders.com/2013/10/29/keeping-butterflyfish-reefs-avoid/

New venomous remipede species discovered, Speleonectes tulumensis

A new venomous species of remipede, Speleonectes tulumensis, has been found and described by science. The new species is the first venomous crustacean and have a venom similar to that found in rattlesnakes.

The new species of remipede seems to have a wide distribution and has been observed in underwater caves located in the Caribbean sea, around the Canary Islands, and off Western Australia. Further research might reveal that this is actually several very similar species.

The species is blind and found in dark caves.

The remipede use its venom to hunt and kill its prey. They mainly feed on other crustaceans. The venom kills the prey and liquifies the soft tissue allowing the remipede to consume it by sucking it out of its prey much like a spider do on land.

Dr Ronald Jenner, a zoologist at London’s Natural History Museum and a co author of the research paper introducing the remipede comments on the discovery by saying:

The unique insights from this study really help improve our understanding of the evolution of animal venoms.

The spider-like feeding technique of the remipede is unique among crustaceans. This venom is clearly a great adaptation for these blind cave-dwellers that live in nutrient-poor underwater caves.” ..

The discovery was made of a team of scientists consisting of

  • Björn M. von Reumont
  • Alexander Blanke,
  • Sandy Richter,
  • Fernando Alvarez,
  • Christoph Bleidorn,
  • Ronald A. Jenner

and was presented in the research article:

The first venomous crustacean revealed by transcriptomics and functional morphology: remipede venom glands express a unique toxin cocktail dominated by enzymes and a neurotoxin
Mol Biol Evol (2013) doi: 10.1093/molbev/mst199

If you want to know more you can find the research paper in the Oxford journal  of Molecular Biology and Evolution.

3D printing set to revolutionize artificial reefs

Making reef structures from cement has long been used as a technique to try to restore or create new reefs. The cement reefs do work but are associated with several different problems. One of them is that cement isn’t pH neutral and that coral larvae therefore do not settle on them in the amounts that is desired. Another method used to create fake reef is to use metal structures with a low electric current running through them. This quickly calcifies the tubes and promote coral growth. This method can however be expensive and requires access to electricity. This can be hard to provide in areas where solar cells are likely to be stolen by local fishermen..

SOI, 3D program specialist James Gardiner and Reef Arabia is now pioneering a new method of creating artificial reefs that might turn out to be a better alternative. Using a 3D printer to print reefs. They have developed a 3d printer than can print out reefs in a sand stone material. They have allready made and  submersed two reefs. There are many benefits with this process.

  • The sand stone is pH neutral.
  • It is possible to print any form with ease. This allows for more vertical surfaces where coral larvae like to attach themselves.
  • A lot more complex designs are possible. 3D printing can easily create caves, crevices and other complex forms that would not be possible to do in cement.
  • It is easy to use different designs which allows to create a lot more complex reefs (using different designed pieces). A more complex reef will offer suitable living space for more species.
  • Sand stone has a smaller eco footprint than concrete as a lot less co2 is released in process.
  • 3D printing can allow for more rapid production of artificial reef. At this point it takes 1 day to print one 5m reef unit and 4 of those can be printed simultaneous. A complex reef structure take about 1 week to design in the computer

It is still not certain that this technique will prove to be quicker and more cost efficient than currently used methods of creating reefs but Reef Arabia remain optimistic and it seems likely that prices will keep going down as 3D printing evolves. Even if ends up being a slightly more expensive method it might still be worth using since it allows for more complex and more natural artificial reefs.