Richard Ross: The Right Kind Of Lazy | MACNA 2017

Phosphate. Nitrate. Detritus. In an effort to create perfect boxes of coral, reef keepers worry an awful lot about these kinds of things – but do we really need to? According to prevailing wisdom, my 15 year old home tank should be a cess pool, but it isn’t, it is a thriving SPS dominated mixed reef.

Local copy here

reefthreads

We’re back for the 280th time. Our guests this week are Matt Wandell, Richard Ross and, for the first time, Nick Yim, from the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. Lots of subjects this week, but the big one is the new twilight-zone display at the aquarium and what it’s like to dive deep for new species. If you enjoy the show, please tell others. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

 

Click below for a local copy of the file.

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.

 

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Rich Ross talking to Frank Reece talk about field work, science and big tanks. Click here to listen.

From reef2rainforest.com
b
y Matt Pedersen

Adult Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibati,  on pink coral, Muricella- it was unknown if they would venture onto the pink coral. Image by Richard Ross

Adult Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibati, on pink coral, Muricella – it was unknown if they would venture onto the pink coral. Image by Richard Ross

Opinion by Matt Pedersen

We just shared the news of the first successful captive-breeding of Hippocampus bargibanti at the wet hands of Steinhart aquarists Matt Wandell and Richard Ross. Marine breeders, and more specifically seahorse propagators, are no doubt ecstatic (Dare I borrow a line from from Ross: “Their heads are falling off”).

Of course, why didn’t this happen until now, and why can’t we all rush out to buy a captive-bredBargibant’s Seahorse? More »

From reef2rainforest.com
by Matt Pedersen

An adult Bargibant's Pygmy Seahorse, behind the scenes at the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences - image courtesy Richard Ross.

An adult Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse, behind the scenes at the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences – Image courtesy Richard Ross.

Matt Wandell and Richard Ross are two professional aquarists who need no introduction to serious marine aquarium audiences. This dynamic duo of public aquarists has the kind of job most all of us would gladly commit manslaughter to have, working for the Stienhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. Wandell and Ross get to work on the type of aquarium systems most of us can only dream of and certainly will never afford.  As if that wasn’t enough, they get to galavant around the globe on expeditions looking for new and interesting animals and husbandry challenges that many of us will never have the opportunity to tackle – like keeping and breedingHippocampus bargibanti, Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse. Can you smell, can you taste, the envy? More »

From The Coral Triangle, The 2011 Hearst Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, A California Academy of Sciences Special Publication
Originally published in ReefsMagazine.com and on this site

From CalAcademy.org and AdvnacedAquarist.com

When I tell people that we’re in the field collecting saltwater animals for display and research at the aquarium, most of them imagine that the actual catching is the hard part. In reality, the hard work starts after we collect the animal.

Keeping animals healthy in the field—and then healthy while en route back to Manila for a 14-hour flight to their new home in Golden Gate Park—entails an entire slew of life-support equipment (LSS). We have that stuff at the Academy, obviously, but right now we’re out in the field. Where it’s too hot. Where there isn’t a store to buy what we need. Where we have to constantly battle a continually moving colony of fire ants that appeared right where we set up our equipment.

Fortunately, all the pre-planning we did to prepare for this is paying off. Want the laundry-list of what came with us on the plane? Two 200-gallon More »

From CalAcademy.org and AdvancedAquarist.com

There are two Academy groups currently in the Philippines for the 2014 Biodiversity Expedition: one from Research, and the other from the Aquarium. Though we’re staying at different locations, we collaborate when we can, like tonight.

It all started with a 90-minute night dive at Anilao Pier to try to collect a Bobbitt worm—a creature that lives in the sand, has jaws like a bear trap, and might be several meters long. It shoots up with lightning speed to catch fish and other animals, yanking them down into the muck like something out of a nightmare. In the 1990s, Academy Senior Curator Terry Gosliner named the Bobbitt worm after Lorena Bobbitt (and her legendary attack on her husband), and Academy crews have been trying to collect this animal both for display and for our preserved collection ever since. One look at the photo shows you why catching this animal isn’t easy, but take a look at this video for an even better demonstration.

Tonight’s effort was unsuccessful, though I did get my hand on one of the worms—yes, my hand. My wife is less than thrilled More »

From CalAcademy.org

RichRoss_final1

Checking in for a 14-hour flight is always a good time. Checking in for a 14-hour flight with 11 items (three suitcases, five Action Packers, two bags, and Steinhart Director Bart Shepherd’s guitar) between three people is an amazingly good time.

We started planning for this expedition in earnest five weeks ago, and considerable effort went into making sure our bags were under size and weight limits—a not insignificant task when equipment needed for the expedition includes Bobbit-worm catching devices, a series of newly designed hyperbaric chambers (for decompressing fish hand-collected below 300 feet), a ton of SCUBA and rebreather gear, and myriad other critical items needed to collect and ship live fish and corals from the Philippines back to Golden Gate Park.

As it turned out, our packing efforts were worth the time we put into them, as all of our luggage was deemed to be within weight limits. Sadly, though, there was one piece of luggage that stayed in San Francisco because it couldn’t be hand-carried onto the plane, More »

Ret Talbot and Richard Ross

From Reef Hobbyist Magaizine
From Ret Talbots blog – 
My latest article, co-authored with friend and colleague biologist Richard Ross of the Steinhart Aquarium, published yesterday in Reef Hobbyist Magazine. In some ways, it represents a departure from my regular beat, and I thank editor Jim Adelberg for the concept and invitation to write the piece.

 

From Reefbuilders

By  on Dec 05, 2013
dr-seuss-fish-belonoperca-pylei-5

Leave it to Rich Ross to get it in his ceph-head that it is possible to pair and breed the highly prized Dr. Seuss fish. Not only does it take an investment of time and space, but money because as you know Dr. Seuss Fish are not cheap, not even by the pair, and they eat a lot.

After nearly a decade of working with all manner of Cephalopods, octopus and cuttlefish, Rich is aiming for something totally new, and completely uncharted territory. No one has ever raised soapfish, let alone spawned them and the closest species on record as having been spawned is probably the distantly related Liopropoma basslets. More »

From Reefhobbyst Magazine

From Reefbuilders

This post would be in total fanboy territory were it not for the fact that the Diver’s Den has become a fixture of American reef aquarium culture. Like Reefer Madness before it, for many years LiveAquaria’s Diver’s Den has been the online reefing community’s daily fix for real and window shopping of exotic marine aquarium life. This may be an opinion but it is one that is widely shared.

Read more: http://reefbuilders.com/2011/11/09/heart-liveaquarias-divers-den/#ixzz1ziqUXUUS


Video of a Commersons Angler (Antennarius commerson) ordered from Diver’s Den being all around cool and eating within minutes of acclimation.

I love LiveAquaria’s Diver’s Den. Really. What’s not to love about a vendor that has good customer service where you can go to order reasonably priced, hard to find, healthy, eating, pre quarantined animals that are delivered to your door? This isn’t some fanboy fantasy, but is based on my experience with the company over the years. I have ordered many animals from Divers Den for my home aquariums, and all of them have arrived in excellent health, disease free and ready to eat.

If you don’t know, Diver’s Den is the What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) wing of LiveAquaria.com. All the animals in the Diver’s Den section are  are held, quarantined, treated (if necessary), and shipped from a state-of-the-art Aquaculture Coral & Marine Life Facility in Rhinelander, Wisconsin – and are not shipped unless they are healthy, eating and fully adjusted to a captive environment to make a smooth transition into your aquarium. I trust the care these animals have been getting so much that I feel comfortable skipping my own QT and putting Diver’s Den animals directly into my reef – though it is really important to note that that is absolutely a risk that I don’t normally take and that LiveAquaria.com recommends quarantining every aquatic animal prior to placing them into the display aquarium.

The Margined Butterfly (Chelmon marginalis), I ordered in 2009 from Diver’s Den arrived safe and sound in its perfect and impressive packaging. I acclimated it to my home system and, as expected, it promptly got its butt kicked by some long term residents a Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) and a male Blotchy Anthias (Odontanthias borbonius). Since the butterfly came from Diver’s Den, it was fat and sassy and not only able to take the repeated hazing, but it would even defend itself by aiming its dorsal spines at the bullies. By the second day, the C. marginalis was even pecking at the rock for food in between fights. Within a week, everything calmed down, the fighting stopped, the fish shows no signs or marks from the altercations and was eating like a champ. Other fish I have ordered from Divers Den including, a Juvenile Regal Angel (Pygoplites diacanthus), have had similar stories, and corals and inverts from the web site have been healthy and colorful.

I have always been a fan of Local Fish Stores and do everything I can to support them, but the economical issues of the last few years has had a interesting effect on the practices of local reef businesses. The most distressing of these is that there are fewer of LFS in the SF Bay Area; the nearest one that is good is at least 30 minutes away which means the days of getting in the car and hitting 5 stores or more in search of a special animal seem to be a thing of the past. Now, if I am looking for a ‘special’ animal, I do check with the local stores and if they have it I make the drive. If they don’t have what I am looking for, I go to the Diver’s Den easy to navigate and easy to use use website which has a large selection of ‘special’ animals (and information on those animals) that is updated and expanded daily.

Oh, one more thing. Almost all Diver’s Den animals come with a 14 day guarantee. If the animal “doesn’t arrive alive and stay alive for 14 days” they will credit your account of refund your money. I have never had to invoke that guarantee, and from what I have experienced with this company, I doubt I will ever have to.

From Reefbuilders

Last MACNA in New Jersey I picked up a pair of brand spanking’ new Wyoming White (Amphiprion ocellaris) clownfish just released to the market by C-Quest via Ocean Gallery II. I flew the expensive little freak beauties home and set them up in their own 25 gallon tall, plumbed into my home 250 gallon culture system. They have their very own Stichodactyla gigantea carpet anemone which they share with a pair of porcelain crabs (Neopetrolisthes ohshimai) for neighbors. Light is from one 150 watt DE 20,000K bulb and one 24 inch Reefbrite actinic LED light strip. The water motion is provided by a Vortech MP10ES set to 70% on the longest interval of Short Pulse mode. I dig the freaks.