Local copy of the video here:

There is a lot of BS in the world, and reef keeping is no exception. This talk will go over the different flavors of reef BS and how not to get it all over you.

Richard Ross is known for his “Skeptical Reefkeeping” article series, his groundbreaking work with cephalopod husbandry, coral spawning & restoration, entertaining and informative talks, his ultra high nutrient home reef, for managing the ambitious 212,000 gallon reef tank and the Coral Spawning Lab at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences. Richard was presented with the MASNA Aquarist of the Year award in 2015, and his work has been covered by Scientific American, National Geographic, Penn’s Sunday School, NPR’sScience Friday, Animal Planet, Discovery News and Fox News

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From Reefs Magazine

By Rich Ross

Honest conversation about contentious issues has always been a mainstay in my personal and professional life. I have prided myself on hitting those conversations head on…until about 2 years ago when some people involved in the marine aquarium world tried to hurt me professionally and personally over something that had nothing to do with aquarium keeping. As a result, I pulled back from head-on kinds of conversations. I am not going to go into the details here because they aren’t important – though I did, in the process, watch a few bridges burn, which is something I normally avoid, but which felt surprisingly good in this context.

The entire experience made me keenly aware of the fact that, though I pride myself on direct communication, I was vulnerable to the potential repercussions of honesty. So I pulled back a bit, all the while wondering, what I would say if I really wasn’t worried about repercussions? What would I say if I was truly free to say what I really wanted to say? What I would write to the reef keeping world if I were dying and had nothing to lose? More »

Rich talks to Gary and Christine about dealing with a reef tank when you travel a lot for work

Click this ReefThreads link to see the entire show

 

A Conversation Between Nathan Hill and Rich Ross 

From Reefs Magazine

For American readers unfamiliar with Nathan Hill, he might considered my analogue in the UK – he is a regular contributor to Practical Fishkeeping where he often tackles hobby issues from the stance of ethical, critical, and consistent thinking, while trying to get the hobby to look at itself in the mirror – he also has a degree in philosophy, which makes him super cool in my book. Nathan and I have been aware of each other for several years, briefly communicating from time to time with notes like, “Great piece, but I think I have a few disagreements – let’s talk,” but we have never found the time to be able to really dig in… until now. I have wanted to revisit morals in the Skeptical Reefkeeping series for some time now, and convinced Nathan to participate in a written discussion with me on a topic of his choosing, which turned out to be, “Is the hobby morally justifiable?” We wrote back and forth to each other in email, and then assembled the discussion below, doing some editing to make things more clear. It is important to point out that this is a conversation, not a debate. The point of a debate is to win, the point of a conversation is to hear each side and shift ones views based on good information presented from a perspective one may not have entertained previously. The point is for all of us to learn and grow together, not to try to ”win.” We hope you enjoy this philosophical conversation, and look forward to any feedback you might have (please post any feedback in this shiny new discussion forum:https://www.reefs.com/forum/skeptical-reefkeeping/ ) 

Most people think this fish is happy because it looks like it is smiling. However, this fish always looks like it is smiling, so how can we possibly tell when it is not happy? Photo by Google Search.
More »

From http://www.reefs.com/blog/2015/01/19/reef-table-ret-talbot-rich-ross-sustainability-conservation/

WAIT! Don’t tune out – this will be interesting. Is it a glamorous topic? Not at all. I sat down (giddily) with one Ret Talbot and one Richard Ross to talk about sustainability, conservation and what it means to the hobby. We talked about just how sexy it is (spoiler alert: it’s not even the tiniest bit sexy).

From Advanced Aquarist

The answer to the struggle of what to feed marine predators that require live foods is right under our noses. Fish might be friends, but in the real world the may also be food.
Richard Ross' pair of Dr. Seuss fish, Belonoperca pylei

Richard Ross’ pair of Dr. Seuss fish, Belonoperca pylei

Back in March, I wrote about Chad Vossen feeding a platinum clownfish that was to be culled to juvenile Dwarf Cuttlefish, Sepia bandnesis, and talked about how clownfish destined to be culled might be a great source of marine feeders for predatory marine animals. As a follow up I present to you the below video: Dr. Seuss eats Nemo. In the video I feed my pair of Dr. Seuss Fish, Belonoperca pylei, some captive bred designer clownfish that were raised in quarantine conditions, and were destined for the culling block. These clownfish were provided to me by Bay Area Reefers President, Steinhart Aquarium Volunteer (Thanks David!) and clownfish breeder extraordinaire, David Sheh.

https://vimeo.com/104619466

Feeding marine predatory animals can be difficult because finding appropriate live foods can come with all kinds of problems. Availability can be challenging, as finding the right size prey items, in the quantity you need them, when you need them can be problematic. Disease and parasites from wild caught prey items can infect your predatory fish, and quarantine of such animals is and added expense, as well as taking up time and resources.  Worse, the ethical issues surrounding wild caught feeder animals are significant; using animals flown halfway around the world as feeders seems exceedingly wasteful.  Furthermore, with some aquarium fish potentially to be listed as threatened or endangered in the endangered species act, the practice of feeding out wild caught animals can become even more inflammatory. Cultured freshwater prey items don’t offer a great alternative as they can have a different nutritional profile from saltwater prey items, and can present sub optimal results – for example, in my experience Dwarf Cuttles fed solely freshwater ghost shrimp tend to lay much fewer eggs, and fewer viable eggs than cuttles fed saltwater shrimp.

If only there were a whole bunch of captive bred, saltwater animals that nobody wanted, weren’t sellable, and were often culled as a matter of course. Oh wait. There are.

More »

By Rich Ross and Ret Talbot
From Reefs Magazine

Most marine aquarium hobbyists purchase animals for their tanks without much thought to those animals’ origins. This is understandable since most local fish stores and online retailers don’t make that kind of information easily available to customers. Point-of-origin does matter, however, because not all animals are collected sustainably and not all fishers are treated equitably.

Local divers in Solomon Islands harvest aquarium fishes and corals in what is generally considered a sustainable fishery. In part, sustainability is insured through limited cargo space for exports and long-standing traditions of resource ownership/rights. Photo by Ret Talbot.

The marine aquarium hobby and its practices are increasingly scrutinized by anti-aquarium trade activists and environmental advocacy groups, wildlife managers concerned about invasive species introductions and legislators interested in pleasing constituents. A sustainable and equitable trade is a defensible trade; the status quo is not. More important than defense, however, we argue that purchasers of wild animals have a responsibility to know where their animals originate, how they are collected and handled, and what the trade’s effects are on reefs and reef-side communities. It seems that aquarists have a responsibility to treat the animals collected from the wild as the precious commodities they are instead of curios traded for pennies on the dollar.

If you know where your animals originate, you often have a better idea of howthey were collected and treated through the chain of custody. This should be important to every aquarist because a poorly treated animal is less likely to live or thrive.  More »

From Reefs.com
Posted on August 28, 2014 by Caitlin Goldenberg

ulufeke 300x225 The Top Five Speakers I Cant Wait to See!: Grand FinaleHere we go, guys, the final round of my Top Five! This particular speaker sparked my interest not too long ago, based not only on the strides he’s made in the aquarium industry and his fascination with my absolute favorite thing ever- Cephalopods, but for how he came to be the Octo-Guru he is today. Richard Ross, Senior Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences, actually kicked off his career in a comedic fashion in the form of juggling and improv while pursuing a degree in Philosphy instead of the expected field of Biology. Eventually establishing himself as a full -time entertainer, he also began exploring the arts of glass blowing, founding his own glass blowing studio in Alameda, CA. After the birth of his daughter, Ross left his career as an entertainer and fulfilled the duties of a stay-at-home dad, where he was able to completely engulf himself in the beauty of the reef keeping hobby. He eventually made incredible breakthroughs in keeping Sepia bandensis, the Dwarf Cuttlefish, documenting the entire process. Rich began volunteering at the Steinhart Aquarium in 2003 after a divesting earthquake forced the animals to be moved to a holding facility. After years of volunteering and part-time employment, in 2008 he was offered an opportunity he could never turn down – the full-time position of managing their 212,000 gallon Philippine Coral Reef and associated exhibits. I haven’t had the pleasure of viewing this phenomenal system in person, but it’s on my list for this upcoming year. The reason this all fascinates me so much is I myself started of on a vastly different career path before I found myself here, writing this. While I’ve always had a passion for the ocean and it’s occupants, and my first job was scrubbing algae and doing water changes at the local fish store, I ended up following the culinary road, with a degree in Professional Cooking. Unhappy with the field I found myself itching to get back into Reefs, discovered my love for the Octopus, and quickly started following Ross’ career. Needless to say, I consider him a huge influence in my endeavors. This year, he’ll be speaking about Phosphate, what it means, and how it effects your reef systems and how it influences a thriving tank. It’s going to be riveting, I seriously am jumping up and down with glee for this one. For more about Rich and his career path, check his website here.

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 Reefs Magazine

by Rich Ross and Chris Jury

The Editors Note: In Skeptical Reefkeeping IX, Rich Ross is joined by our old friend Chris Jury as they try to come to terms with the “impossible” yet confirmed PO4 readings in Rich’s gorgeous reef. The analysis is thorough, thought- provoking, grounded in science and suggestive of a far more complex picture regarding PO4 and its role in our aquariums.

There are many standard parameters in the reefkeeping world that aquarists strive to match in their home reefs – water quality, light spectrum and intensity, and water flow, just to name a few. Rarely do we stop to think where these standard parameters come from, and even more rarely do we consider calling into question the utility of these parameters. This can lead to aquarists ‘chasing numbers’; tweaking water parameters to hit a standard goal. Often times, people think that hitting a magic number will inherently result in a better, healthier tank. In the past few years, dealing with phosphate in saltwater aquariums has become one of the most talked about ‘must control at all costs’ parameter, and in this installment of Skeptical Reefkeeping, we will look at some evidence which calls into question the reliability of testing, the generally accepted target phosphate concentration, and general control of phosphate in reef aquariums.


Rich’s 150 gallon display, on a 300 gallon system, is running a phosphate level of 1.24 ppm, a level at 24.8 times higher than the often recommended .05 ppm. Photo by Richard Ross.

More »

From Mr Saltwater Tank: “I’m kicking off my Reef Junkie Insider Interview Series by interviewing Richard Ross, Senior Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium. Richard is known for his work with octopus, cuttlefish and approaching the saltwater tank hobby with a skeptical view point. In this interview, I ask Richard, “Does the data really matter?””

https://vimeo.com/81274832

MASNALogo_Top_300withorgLive

MASNA Live Feb 2013 – New BOD, TCMAS, Rich Ross & Skeptical Reefkeeping

February 2013 MASNA Live Show Notes: | Roger Vitko, MASNA’s new Secretary. | Erik, Brit, Matt and Angie from the Twin Cities Marine Aquarium Society speaking about their club and two upcoming events. More info at www.TCMAS.org/events. | Rich Ross continuing his Skeptical Reefkeeping series with part 7, “A Look at Ethics”. http://www.reefsmagazine.com/forum/reefs-magazine/139295-skeptical-reefkeeping-vii-look-ethics.html .

You can listen to an episode by clicking on the list below or via iTunes:

For just Rich’s bit, click here.

From Reefs.com

The last year has seen a lot of heated discussion and possible legislation regarding the Marine Aquarium trade. In these discussions everyone seems to have data on the numbers of fishes that move through the trade, but the sources of that data often somehow seems ‘iffy’. Today a new paper was published in the open access journal  PLoS One (making scientific papers available to anyone for no cost!) that examines a years worth of US marine fish import paperwork to present a clear picture of how many fish of what kinds are actually being imported into the country. The 9 page paper  by Andrew Rhyne et al, available here, not only presents useful information, but also gives a great overview of the process of importing fish into the US as well as addressing some invasive species concerns. I expect in the coming weeks there will be a lot of themselves. Finally, actual data is available, and anyone that has ever entered into a discussion about the sustainability, ethics or responsibility of reefkeeping should take advantage of it.

 

This school of Jacks is beautiful, and would feed a lot of people.

After two weeks of slogging through the jungle, being forced to endure huge stick insects, wild pygmy elephants, several species of hornbills and a Tarsier, we are finally getting down to seeing some “good wild life.” (Ow. My wife just kicked me, but she knows I am kidding – the land portion of this trip has been astounding). So far we have dived house reefs of various resorts, all of which have artificial reef structures that are rather mature and teeming with life. Not only are they fantastic to explore, but it’s great to see local operations building habitat. Tomorrow we dive Sipadan Island, and I can hardly contain myself, but that has to be its own blog post.

I woke up this morning in my room on stilts built over the reef. From the font window I watched the sun peek up over the Celebes Sea and bathe my sleeping daughter in ‘sweet light’. I walked out the front door, and as I made way to the 5 star dive center, I watched the local village come to life. The juxtaposition between the luxury of the resort, and the stark substance lifestyle of the local community was sobering as I prepared for the first dive of the day.

Less than 30 minutes later, fishing village forgotten, we were diving paradise. My wife was swimming through a tornado of jacks when a tremendous KRACKKKKKKBOOMMMM shattered the idyllic experience. What the hell was that? The dive master and the 5 newbie divers with us didn’t react at all. To me, the sound was overpowering and terrifying. I hoped it was some kind of construction project, but the recent round of dynamite fishing and reef destruction in Komodo made me think it was not construction at all. Twice more on the dive, the calm was split by the jarring shock of explosions. The sound was unbelievable. It was awful to be surrounded by life and beauty but to know that animals and habitat were being destroyed nearby in the name of easy food. I was moved to tears both under water and now while I write this.

At the surface the local dive master confirmed that it was dynamite fishing but that it was ‘far away’ – sound travels far underwater. The aquarist in me was horrified, but I couldn’t help thinking as a father; my family has never gone hungry. It’s easy for me, with my first world values, to wish education and responsible practices would prevent this kind of destruction…but if my daughter needed a meal, I would do whatever I had to do to provide for her.  And, if I found a practice that worked, that ensured that my little girl would have a full belly at night, I am not sure what anyone could do to make me give it up.

It’s a heartbreaker. Lets keep that in mind as we are tempted to judge real world practices that we feel might impact our hobby of keeping reefs in our living rooms. We need solutions that fill bellies as well as fill glass boxes.

PS I was filming during the dive and I think I was shooting during the one or two of the explosions. When I get back to my computer, I’ll listen to the footage and if I have any of the explosions recorded, I will post a follow up. For now, I have to go prepare for another dive in some of the most beautiful reefscape I have even been on, and hope that I won’t hear any more destruction in the distance.

From MASNA Live

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 |

From Reefs.com by Matt Pedersen

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

https://vimeo.com/37528731

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.