By , KQED Science (some footage by Rich Ross)

Alternate copy of video: https://vimeo.com/124145465

Over the summer, biologists from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco returned from an expedition to the Philippines with some very rare and diminutive guests, a mating pair of pygmy seahorses. The two tiny fish, each shorter than an inch and bright orange, were collected as part of a larger study of the stunning biodiversity found in the “Twilight Zone” of the ocean. It’s a relatively unexplored environment located at depths where the bright tropical sunlight barely penetrates.

Pygmy seahorses live their entire adult lives attached to a type of coral called a Gorgonian sea fan. The seahorses use their long tails to grab on to the delicately branched sea fans. But what’s really amazing is their ability to match the coral’s bright color and knobby texture. They blend in so perfectly that they are barely visible, even to a trained eye.

More people have walked on the moon than have seen a juvenile land on a sea fan.

Pygmy seahorses are nearly impossible to raise in captivity. More people have walked on the moon than have seen a juvenile land on a sea fan. Until recently, there was no record of the seahorses ever living long enough to breed in an aquarium. As a result, very little is known about them, making them extremely attractive to researchers eager to learn about the mysterious species.

One of the biggest hurdles is keeping the host sea fans alive, since the pygmy sea horses cannot live without them. Biologists Matt Wandell and Rich Ross knew this would be tough, but they had been preparing since 2011 when Bart Shepherd, Director of the Steinhart Aquarium, issued them a challenge. They were tasked with keeping the sea fans alive for three years before they could even attempt bring back the seahorses.  More »

Originally from Science Today at the California Academy of Sciences

Academy researchers are among the first to study tiny, fascinating pygmy seahorses that live exclusively on coral in the Philippines.

 

From Reefs.com

Acropora cervicornis sperm/egg bundles about 40 minutes after emergence.

Biologists from The Florida Aquarium, Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences,  Moody Gardens, Disney’s The Seas, and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have gathered at the Coral Restoration Foundation’s facility in the Florida Keys to continue to expand our understanding of the sexual reproduction of the areas endangered Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata corals. More »

From Reefs.com

In anticipation of the MBI workshop coming up on July 28th in Bloomfield Hills, MI, I have been breeding everything I can get my hands on – including the dwarf seahorse Hippocampus zosterae pictured above. These little seahorses max out at about an inch, and both parents and fry can be raised and maintained with easy to hatch, enriched Artemia. If you have a fuge or a spare 5 gallon tank, why aren’t you breeding these guys? Or some clownfish? Or some Banggai cardinals? Seriously, find someone who is breeding any of these easy fish (buy captive bred animals as it is possible wild populations of some of these fish may be in trouble), get some yourself and do it. Little to no impact on wild populations, super fun, super educational, very easy, and there is nothing like the cuteness of little animals you can raise yourself…why isn’t everyone doing it? No reason I can think of, so get to it.

From TONMO

Is been 10 days since the O. vulgaris eggs have hatched. The paralarvae were divided into three tanks, 2 pseudo kreisels (one with a light barrier, one without) and into the octopus display tank with just air bubbles for water motion. The female is still alive and tending several stalks of eggs that failed to hatch. Interestingly, the best paralarve surrival has been in the display tank – the complete opposite of what I expected. It could be that since this tank was long established that the paralarvae had better food choices, or it could be that the flow in the pseudo kreisel made the paralarvae work very hard, or it could be something else entirely. The hatchlings in the pseudo kriesel that were exposed to 24 hours of light are doing much better over all than the ones kept in the dark.

Hatchling S. latimanus - check out it unhatched sibling in the egg

On the cuttle front, Sepia latimanus are keeping most of my attention. These are a large cuttlefish (reported to get to 50cm and 10kg!) and working with them is a huge perk that comes with working at a public aquarium. I have seen these cuttles in Indo, Oz and PNG and they are amazing, generally interactive and interested in your hand if you point your fingers down making your hand resemble the head of a cuttlefish. Whey they are small, it appears they mimic mangrove leaves to avoid predation. They are often referred to as the ‘broadclub cuttlefish’ because of an interesting behavior. I have my own video of it buried somewhere, but here is a great clip from NOVA’s ‘Kings of Camouflage’

What I didn’t know was that they did the same behavior, minus the lightshow, right out of the egg. Here is the video from a previous blog showing what I mean.

The 20 eggs we have have almost all hatched and I have started to see the color changing abilities start to ramp up. I hope to have more video next week as the little cuttles get bigger and I am less scared of losing them.

From TONMO and Advanced Aquarist Online blog and a bunch of other outlets

About a month ago, we got a Caribbean Octopus ‘vulgaris’ in at work, and put it right on show on the public floor. It quickly took up residence inside a glass bottle, which is exactly what I wanted it to do so it would always be visible to the public. Just as quickly, it moved back under some rock and started denning, and my heart sank because I knew it was a she, and the she had laid eggs. While eggs being laid in captivity is generally an exciting event, this particular species, like many but not all octopus, stops eating after it lays eggs and dies soon after they hatch which tends to put a damper on joyous hooplah. Even worse, this species is ‘small egged’ meaning it produces large numbers of very small planktonic ‘paralarvae’ which are notoriously difficult to feed and raise. So, I tilted the rock where the eggs were laid to make them visible to the public (but in a high flow area so they would continue to develop), and the adult octopus moved back into the bottle making for an all round cool and educational display of something most people don’t get to see. The unexpected icing on the cake was catching the hatching of the eggs from start to finish, and also being able to get much of it on video. Sure these tiny hatchlings probably won’t survive long, but we are trying, and the image of a waterfall of tiny octopus paralarve flowing up from the egg mass to the surface of the water is something I don’t think I will ever forget.http://vimeo.com/20288962Nuts and bolts

  • Caribbean Octopus ‘vulgaris’ (there are several Octopus that use the species name vulgaris which is why its in quotes)
  • Roughly 3 weeks between eggs being laid and eggs hatching.
  • Hatching occurred at 9 am.
  • When I turned off the flow to better witness the hatching, the female octopus quickly left her bottle den, agitated the eggs presumably to help the hatch, and is now sadly protecting the space where the eggs were.
  • The female many hatchlings will be on display at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences until they can no longer be displayed.
  • The hatchlings are 1-2 mm in length.
  • There are 1000’s of them.
  • The hatchings are in a Kreisel tank and being offered 24 hour Artemia, which the literature suggests is the correct size to be eaten by the little octos, along with rotifers which are smaller to cover all the bases we can reasonably cover.
  • A previous batch of hatchlings from my home had individual paralarvae survive until day 9
  • The Caribbean Octopus ‘vulgaris’ seems to be a smaller species than its larger Mediterranean Octopus vulgaris cousins

Some pics –

A very posed photo in a drop of water

The lines in the upper corner are millimeters.

The female in her bottle. Note she has plugged the opening with rubble. After I disturbed her den and eggs, she moved into the bottle and laid 4 or 5 additional strands of eggs in the bottle.


From Reefbuilders

I have been fortunate to attend several frag events around the country this year, but none gets me as excited as the Bay Area Reefers (BAR) regional fragswap. Last weekend there were no guest speakers, no vendor booths, and best of all, no money changing hands for corals. There is a small entry fee to help pay for the infrastructure, and each participant is required to bring at least 3 frags of different  strains. The format is an actual ‘swap’ where people bring corals in deli containers (they don’t leak, you can see through them, and they are reusable), check in, and the frags are then grouped by type on tables in picking area. There are 10 picking groups of about 10 people each, numbered, a-j, to which participants are randomly assigned. When the picking begins, groups are allowed into the picking area for 2 minutes and are allowed to pick one frag from the tables. After about 3 or 4 times through all the picking groups, the number of frags goes up to speed things along.
There is also a raffle to help pay for the event and to promote local LFS sponsors (and many of those sponsors actually participated in the  swap), and the numbers are called during the swap so everyone gets there corals home in a timely manner. The club has put together basic care sheets, and sells essential fragging equipment for just above cost, including glue, salinity standards and povidone frag dip. The focus of the event is not on getting, but on giving, and it is not uncommon for people to bring 10, 20, 30 0r 40 frags to the event and competition to bring the most of the ‘best’ frags is friendly but fierce. And we aren’t talking schwag corals. Lots of the LE de jour
and other cool stuff available through the first couple times through all the picking groups. There is even a list of corals that don’t go into the event proper, but onto a free table, because they are too common. Sponsors donate frags and the club even has a prop program to help fill out the tables. All in all, there were about 100 people at the event and over 600 frags. Super awesome, and I cant wait until the next swap in February.