As one of those rare fish you don’t often have the opportunity to see in captivity, when the opportunity comes along to get a B. pylei and you have the means to care for it, you jump on the opportunity. According to Ross, the fish is eating like a pig and in its own display tank in his “Secret Laboratory”. We’d tell you where this is, but we are afraid trained and deadly assassins will be unleashed upon us.
All we know is the fish originated from the Marshall Islands along with a pair of Johnson’s wrasse (Cirrhilabrusjohnsoni) and a Rhomboid wrasse (Cirrhilabrus rhomboidalis). We’re wondering if Mr. Ross can feel our jealousy all the way in his secret lair.
We are hoping to get over to see these creatures in person and hopefully secure some video as well
Rich Ross discusses his work at the Academy with cephalopods– octopus, squid and cuttlefish.
Rich discusses his ‘home-lab” and his exploration with the little-known Larger Pacific Striped Octopus – now in our Animal Attraction exhibit. Check out this video for a close up lookhttp://youtu.be/_6cSBzHl3a4.
Making a 213,000 gallon reef tank look great requires a lot of t.l.c., but also a lot of equipment. In part 2 of my Steinhart Aquarium tour, Richard Ross shows me the equipment needed to make the Philippine reef tank at the California Academy of Sciences look great. And there’s of course lots more shots of the tank. – by Mark Callahan
On Feb 18, 2013, I was on Penn’s Sunday School talking to Penn Jillette, Michael Goudeau an the gang about the my work with Larger Pacific Striped Octopus, flying squid, giant squid, TONMO.com, and why the picture of me wearing a martial arts uniform while holding my daughter upside down is only number 22 on the list of 27 events that can ruin your childhood.
Tank dabbler, reef enthusiast or reef junkie…they all love the same thing: really big saltwater aquariums. I’m a die-hard reef junkie and I’ve seen some big reef tanks in my live, but nothing compares to the Philippine reef tank at the California Academy of Sciences. And who better to give me a tour, but Richard Ross, a.k.a “Mr. Cuttlefish” himself. – by Mark Callahan
On Jan 20, 2013, I was on Penn’s Sunday School talking to Penn Jillette, Michael Goudeau an the gang about the upcoming Discovery Channel Giant Squid footage and apparently agreeing to do something kind of dumb but possibly oddly cool.
I’ve long considered myself a “fish guy,” but after a month working with Sepia bandensis, the Dwarf Cuttlefish, I must admit I’ve never seen, let alone kept, a more amazing marine animal than this remarkable mollusk. Despite its name, this little critter is not a fish at all but a cephalopod, closely related to octopus and squid. They’ve been described by cuttle pioneer Richard Ross of the Steinhart Aquarium as looking like little UFO’s zipping around the tank. And of all the animals that may be kept in tropical saltwater aquaria, Sepia bandensis is a most fascinating and rewarding species in so many different ways. They are visually stunning animals with the ability to change color, pattern and texture in the blink of an eye. They are perfect predators, like tiny raptors of the sea as they swoop down and snag their prey with their lightening-fast feeding tentacles. They are intelligent, interacting with their keeper and each other in subtle and dramatic ways. And at only 3-4″ long when mature, they’re small enough to make housing them a real possibility for expert hobbyists as well as public aquariums. (more…)
PS – Regarding the split spawn and the close full moons, according to the Pittsburg Zoo, “ It is believed that this year there will be a split-spawn. This means that the coral spawning will be potentially divided into two spawns due to the fact that there are two full moons in August because of a blue moon. The blue moon is an extra full moon that occurs every few years due to the additional 11 days in the annual lunar cycle.”
On June 17, 2012, Rich Ross was on Penn’s Sunday School talking to Penn Jillette and Michael Goudeau about how a 63 year old Korean lady got squid spermataphores embedded in her cheek, gums and tongue and the peer reviewed paper on the subject. Super fun.
MASNA Live Feb 2012 – LSMAC, New BOD, “Tank Bred” panel, & Ret Talbot
Tue, 28 Feb 2012 22:00:00 -0500
February 2012 MASNA Live Show Notes: | Four short interviews with Lake Superior Marine Aquarium Club members Jay Hanson, Mike Doty, Frank Wotruba, and Jim Grassinger. Map of Esko, MN http://goo.gl/6N1u6 | Pictures of LSMAC tanks: http://goo.gl/lzFJF | Introduction of two new MASNA Board of Directors members Amanda Cox and Carl Nelson. 2012 MBI Marine Breeders Workshop: http://goo.gl/b8yfX | Panel discussion on “What does tank raised mean?” with Jim Adelberg, Tal Sweet, Adam Youngblood, Andy Rhyne, Dale Pritchard, Dan Navin, Matt Carberry, Chris Turnier, Rich Ross, and Ret Talbot. MBI Thread on “What does tank raised mean?”: http://goo.gl/J1M0N | Toward a Working Definition of Tank-Raised by Ret Talbot: http://goo.gl/bHUJg | The Tank-Raised Cuttlefish at Blue Zoo Aquatics: http://goo.gl/jlfHl | EcoAquariums PNG: http://goo.gl/976ez | EcoReef UK: http://goo.gl/xh8f6 | An update on the house and senate bills in Hawai’i and an introduction of MASNA’s new website, HawaiiBanFactCheck.org from Ret Talbot |
Marine biologist, Richard Ross, was the first speaker to be announced for the 2012 Marine Breeder’s Workshop that will be held on July 28th at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, MI.
Richard Ross currently works as an Aquatic Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences, maintaining many exhibits including the 212,000 gallon Philippine Coral Reef. He has kept saltwater animals for over 25 years, and has worked in aquarium maintenance, retail, wholesale and has consulted for a coral farm/fish collecting station in the South Pacific. Richard enjoys all aspects of the aquarium hobby and is a regular author for trade publications, a frequent speaker at aquarium conferences and was a founder of one of the largest and most progressive reef clubs in Northern California, Bay Area Reefers.
His talk will cover the nuts and bolts of established and cutting edge Cephalopod breeding and rearing techniques, as well as discuss the successful spawning and larval rearing attempts of other marine animals at the Steinhart Aquarium. Stay tuned for more speakers and ticket details.
For those of you who want another aquarium podcast, don’t miss out on the monthly MASNA Live podcast that’s put together by At-Large Director Kevin Erickson. This month’s release talks about my local club (with our surprise guest Marc Levenson), and the MASNA Speaks program that brought him to Duluth, MN. The podcast continues with extensive coverage on Dr. Gail’s “Tang Release” and Hawaii’s ongoing debate over whether we’ll see a change to access to wild caught fish from Hawaii’s reefs. This discussion includes a large panel discussion from many diverse viewpoints within the aquarium hobby and industry, including Dr. Andy Rhyne, Eric Cohen, Rich Ross, Tal Sweet, Jim Adelberg, Brandon Klaus and myself. Kevin then kicks in with more from Ret Talbot. It’s a shame that Hawaii is taking so much of our attention, but at the moment it seems that Hawaii is going to represent the most important “battle” of the marine aquarium industry and hobby this year. You owe it to yourself to be educated and involved. Go get the latest podcast (as well as earlier releases) at http://www.masna.org/PublicArea/MASNALive.aspx
Children watch as aquarium biologist Rich Ross, dressed as Scuba Santa Claus, swims away after hand feeding fish mysis shrimp and fish food at the 212,000 gallon Philippine coral reef at the California Academy of Sciences’ Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco.
It’s a rare event when something discovered by a recreational diver winds up validated in the scentific community. But that’s precisely what’s happened with a story that first caught attention in July, 2011. Godehard Kopp, a recreational diver, recorded a video in Lembeh Strait of a Mimic Octopus being followed around by an unidentified fish. Had Kopp not thought to post this video online, the story may have ended there. But he did note there was something worthwhile, and uploaded it. Still, it may have gone no further where it not for aquarist Peter Schmiedel noticing it and bringing it to the attention of his fellow hobbyists, including cephalopod junkie Richard Ross.
The video then made its way around the scientific community, and ironically, while the behavior of a small fish following an octopus around was certainly unusual, it’s fair to say that simply finding an identification for this fish may have actually caused more interest. The power of collective knowledge and open collaboration,working to solve a problem, quickly paid off, with the fish being indentified as a Jawfish, possibly down to the species level as Stalix histrio as documented by Rich over onPackedHead. And once again, the story may have ended with a unique fish and a novel behavior that briefly caught the attention of the aquarium hobby world. But it didn’t.
Dr. Luiz Rocha, who was exposed to this story first by Mr. Ross and Mr. Schmiedel, thinks this jawfish may in fact be a new species, and once again has elevated the story to the next level. An article titled “Opportunistic Mimicry by a Jawfish” was published in the journal Coral Reefs on December 10th, 2011, in collaboration wtih Ross and Kopp. While currently labeling the jawfish as Stalix cf. histrio, it leaves the door open for yet more research and more discovery. The publication is one of the very rare examples in which the academic and scientific community grabs onto and recognizes the discovery of divers and aquarists.
It’s impressive that Coral Reef saw the value of sharing a story that had already made its way through the public literature – it’s my personal understanding that often times, any prior disclosures of information can outright preclude publication in a scientific journal. We applaud the recognition and sharing of credit, and hope this serves as an example for future collaboration between the professional and amateur communities. We also applaud the fact that a full text preview of the article as well as a PDF version is available online!
I have known Rich Ross for a long time, let me start by clearing the air with that disclaimer. You also may read this post and feel like it is a bunch of ass-kissing. If that was your conclusion, then apply for a MacArthur Grant, because that’s exactly what it is. Rich is a philosopher who should have been a scientist.
I say that not to belittle his life choices, but to compliment him on the fact that he is independently one of the best and most creative skeptical and scientific minds I have met. He will openly tell you that he killed something or did something wrong, and, more importantly, tell you why it happened, and therefore how you can avoid having the same problem. How scientific, right? Not to mention, uh, productive and helpful. This mindset and attitude has taken him from philosophy major to peer reviewed, published scientist, WITHOUT re-attending undergraduate with a science major, or attending graduate school. How many can claim that?
Despite this introduction, the focus of this post is actually Rich’s home tank. Every year I make a trek to the Bay Area for the largest annual scientific conference in the world, and every year the hospitality of Rich and his family is a highlight of my trip, allowing me to see the progression of an amazing example of home reefkeeping. Rich managed to go from a respectable stay at home dad to rogue professional aquarist, responsible for hundreds of thousands of gallons worth of living coral habitat on display in the largest closed system living reef aquarium in the world. Somehow, he still has not lost the passion for his tank at home. Unfortunately for the eyeballs of reefkeeping community, he is WAY too humble about it. So I’m calling him out.
The tank Rich set up and maintains is what folks these days would call a “fruit stand”. In fact, it goes beyond that. It pretty much could be the reefkeeping definition of a stand of fruit. I’ve come to understand there is a negative connotation in the community to the use of such a term, but I am at a complete loss to understand why. Perhaps it’s a lack of patience in allowing such systems to mature?
Rich’s tank is coral after coral, anemone, clam, etc. set in a highly custom, faux built-in system. The display is a tightly focused 150 gallons, with an additional 250 gallons to provide stability and dilution. The set up is designed to be redundant without being overly technical. The lights, heaters, water motion and returns from the sump are distributed across different electrical circuits. The Vortech has a battery back up, a modified Maxi-Jet is on a UPS and there are multiple battery-operated Penn Plax air pumps. There is a calcium reactor driven by a peristaltic pump and a fail-safe automated top off through a kalkwasser reactor. Lighting consists of 4 x 250watt metal halides bulbs (2 x 14k and 2 x 20 k, with all of them being on at the same time for about 3 hours a day), blue LED supplementation with all lights controlled by different timers. Rich is adamant about this. A true skeptic at heart, he avoids a single point of failure, such as a controller.
Water motion is a fundamental pillar in Rich’s philosophy of the fruit stand. There are two Vortech MP40’s, a 10 port Loc-Line manifold driven by a Sequence 5800, again, on its own timer, a modified Maxi-Jet, a Hagen 801 which pumps water out of an overflow back into a tank, also on its own timer (are you sensing a theme yet?). There is a Poseidon Titanium pump that drives two eductors, both of which reside in the back bottom corners to keep any detritus from settling, and finally, an Ampmaster 3k serves as the sump return.
It’s a mature tank as well, despite a major crash only two years ago (http://www.reefsmagazine.com/forum/reefs-magazine/66910-epic-fail-anatomy-disaster.html), which gets to the crux of my awe for it. Nothing looks muddled with. Corals have been allowed to grow into each other, undergo warfare, and grow over each other. There is depth. Instead of everything being at the forefront where it is easily accessible to the viewer, every available square inch is utilized. You have to crane your neck, peer around corners and squint. You can stare at the tank for hours and still not see everything. The closest thing I can liken it to is diving on a real reef. Photos do it hardly any justice because of its depth and complexity. You could see it today and never know that it had undergone multiple, accidental disasters.
To conclude, when it comes to reef aquariums, ultimately, I haven’t experienced anything close to the “holy expletive” factor of working on reefs of every variety in the Solomon Islands or Vanuatu, especially not with the recently hyped low-ecology systems, but to each their own. That being said, I also haven’t seen anything near the “holy expletive” factor of Rich’s matured “fruit stand”. Why? Well because it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to the real deal. Period. And I say this as a reef scientist who REALLY likes looking at real reefs, and not as a modern art aesthetist. I encourage more reef aquarists to exercise the patience it takes to get there. Do it. And f you make a terrible mistake, learn from it, tell people about it, and do it again.
In this week’s podcast we welcome special guests Rich Ross and Matt Wandell of the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco. Listen to this special podcast to learn about this excellent aquarium and the roles Matt and Rich play in caring for and displaying a vast array of unusual marine life. If you are able to travel to San Francisco in the future, be sure to put the aquarium at the top of your list of places to visit. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads. If you like the podcast, please tell others.—Gary and Christine
The California Academy of Sciences which Reef Builders’ own Richard Ross works for has been getting busy in the maternity ward. A local TV station (ABC7) interviewed the different programs that have had success, those of Asian horned frogs and cuttlefish (cuttlefish starts at around 1:48). In regards to the cuttlefish breeding project Rich said “Oh, they are just the coolest animals in the world, aren’t they? They are like little humming birds in the sea who look at you.” Yes Rich, we agree. It is interesting to point out that the work Rich is doing is the only cuttlefish breeding program in the United States, “about 350 cuttlefish have hatched so far. Both this and the frog breeding program have been so successful and the academy is now shipping babies to other aquariums and researchers around the country.” Way to go Rich!
Aquatic biologist Richard Ross spent years learning to breed unusual sea creatures called dwarf cuttlefish for fun in his Alameda home. Now Bay Area — and the rest of the country — is benefiting from his expertise.
The 2- to 4-inch dwarf cuttlefish, native to the Philippines and the Indo-Pacific region, are biologically related to octopuses, squid, and even snails. Dwarf cuttlefish are “masters of camouflage,” said Ross. “They can change the color and texture of their skin at will,” even creating moving patterns on their skin. They are also excellent hunters, with eight arms, two feeding tentacles, a beak to eat and “a tongue like a cheese grater” that helps them break up food, Ross said. (more…)
ScienceDaily (Nov. 12, 2009) — Anchored to an algae-covered rock in a 120-gallon tank at the California Academy of Sciences’ Steinhart Aquarium, a cluster of inky-colored cuttlefish eggs is beginning to swell — evidence of success for the Academy’s new captive breeding program for dwarf cuttlefish, Sepia bandensis. The program, pioneered by Academy biologist Richard Ross, is the first of its kind in a U.S. aquarium, and offers the Academy and other institutions the opportunity to study and display a species that is both captivating and — at 2-4 inches in length — less resource-intensive to keep than its larger relatives.
“By establishing a stable breeding population,” Ross explains, “our hope is to make it easier for aquariums to showcase cuttlefish and their remarkable characteristics without impacting wild populations.”
They may look like a cluster of purple grapes, but these inky balls are actually eggs from a dwarf cuttlefish, Sepia bandensis. As the eggs continue to develop, they become translucent, at which point the babies can be seen swimming inside their egg casings. To date, more than 350 dwarf cuttlefish have hatched at the California Academy of Sciences, most of which have been sent to other aquariums and research institutions. The academy is the first institution in the country to successfully breed these animals. (Credit: Richard Ross, California Academy of Sciences)
While called “cuttlefish,” these animals are actually not fish at all — they are members of the class Cephalopoda, which also includes octopus, squid, and the chambered nautilus. Perhaps best known for their highly developed brains, nervous systems, and eyes, cephalopods are a fascinating group of animals to both researchers and aquarium visitors. For scientists, cephalopods’ advanced capabilities pose a host of unanswered questions about the nature of intelligence in invertebrates and vertebrates. For everyday observers, the dwarf cuttlefish is a captivating ambassador to its Cephalopoda class, and its native Indo-Pacific region. Able to rapidly change its skin color, Sepia bandensis frequently flashes moving patterns across its skin, and can quickly blend into its surroundings — phenomena that can be seen regularly in the Steinhart Aquarium display. Beneath that ever-changing skin, the dwarf cuttlefish’s physiology is equally remarkable, with three hearts, and an esophagus that passes through its brain.
Behind the scenes at the Academy, hundreds of tiny hatchlings — exact replicas of their adult counterparts — are being hand-fed at least twice a day. In developing the breeding program, one of the most significant challenges Ross faced was identifying a successful feeding strategy for young hatchlings in the absence of existing literature. The key, he has discovered, is that young cuttlefish require live meals beginning with mysis shrimp, and increasing in size with age. Hunting with a pair of feeding tentacles, dwarf cuttlefish can devour prey the length of their own bodies.
As the eggs on display at the Academy continue to expand, they transition from an inky purple to translucent, at which point the babies can be seen swimming inside their egg casings. To date, more than 350 dwarf cuttlefish have hatched at the Academy, most of which have been sent to other aquariums and research institutions. Since North American waters do not house any native cuttlefish, only a handful of species are currently seen in zoos and aquariums in the United States. Now that these small animals are available from a sustainable captive source, Academy biologists hope that other zoos and aquariums will take advantage of the opportunity to share these intriguing animals with their visitors as well. This new captive breeding program joins several others that the Academy participates in, including those for African penguins, and golden mantella frogs, all of which are aimed at protecting populations in the wild.