From Reefbuilders, by Jake Adams
Local copy of video here: https://vimeo.com/124146969

“Phosphate does not mean what you think it means” is probably one of the most profound things any speaker has said about this much maligned nutrient in our reef tanks. While PO4 gets a bad rap in our tanks, nothing, not the fish, the corals, the invertebrates, or the microbiology could even begin to happen without some amount of this very essential element for all biological systems.

We know that phosphate can inhibit certain parts of the calcification process in stony corals, recent research has shown that some species of coral can actually grow faster in the presence of higher phosphate concentration. The gist of this talk is that what we know about phosphate theoretically, doesn’t necessarily line up with our experiences and with our practical observations.

Many reefers like to brag about their super low phosphate levels, and a simple search of “phosphate” on this website will reveal a whole cottage industry to dealing, removing, and testing for phosphate. It is true that phosphate can be the root of many problems in home aquariums, and in natural environments, plenty of successful reef aquariums run a much higher than prescribed level of phosphate in their water.

From Reefbuilders
by Matthew Pedersen 
baby-giant-clams

It’s the 4th annual installment of the Marine Breeder’s Year in Review (see past installments at 20102011a2011b, and 2012) and frankly, it’s been an interesting if not arguably “slow” year for a change, and yet I’ll probably write more than ever!

Breeders are pursuing all sorts of projects, but ‘success’ in terms of new species reared or otherwise projects meeting their goals often proved to be elusive. Perhaps the fact that this year’s biggest breakthrough was only written about once, and happened to be an “achievement by accident”, underscores the way captive breeding went in 2013. More »

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 Reefbuilders.com

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Shortly after posting the Belonoperca pylei on video in Japan, we were able to chat with our friend Rich Ross who is also a marine biologist at the California Academy of Sciences. It seems that he is the proud owner of a Belonoperca pylei, also known as the Dr. Seuss Soapfish. So yes you doubters, it is now on Reef Builders so you know its legitimate.

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 (Cirrhilabrus johnsoni) 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

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

For the last week or so, the popular science press has been gushing over the announcement that a giant Triassic Kraken not only killed and ate giant ichthyosaurs, not only arranged their bones, but even arranged their bones in what may be the very first ‘self portrait’. How exciting! A huge, intelligent, self aware cephalopod lived in the Triassic and actively hunted and ate 45 foot long ichthyosaurs – its a ceph lovers fantasy come true! There is of course, one small catch – there is no evidence that this Triassic Kraken actually existed.

The story in a nutshell: at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada the remains of nine 45-foot ichthyosaurs, Shonisaurus popularis have been confusing researchers since at least the 1950’s, partially due to the close proximity of the nine ichtyosaurs to each other and the odd arrangement of their fossilized vertebrae. Recently, Mark McMenamin spent some time at the site and came up with the idea that press has been running with this week – a giant, ichthyosaur eating cephalopod that arranges bones of its meals in self portraits. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to back up this idea. More »

From Reefbuilders

This is a video of a big aquarium – doesn’t a little information about how its run and how the animals are cared for make it more exciting?

Like many of us, I have been thinking about the new television show TANKED. The great discussion so far about the show has been really illuminating and taken the reefkeeping community beyond issues like ‘This coral is cool’ or ‘what’s the newest product’ or ‘where do I get the cheapest…’. I think this kind of big picture discussion has been relegated to dusty, quasi philosophical forums with low readership and I think getting some of this discussion out in the open can do nothing but  befefit the hobby in the long run by forcing more of us to think about issues on the broader stage. The critical thinker in me (ah the Philosophy degree is worth something – see mom and dad!) is also thrilled that hardly any of the discussion I have seen has not degenerated into ad hominem attacks, and that people have been genuinely  playing with the ideas rather than trying to score points. In these respects, I think TANKED has been great for the hobby.

In other respects, I am on the fence about the show. More »

From TONMO and Reefbuilders

The Sepia latimanus, the broad club cuttlefish, at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences are  six months old and are really starting to show the behaviors of adults. Sometimes known as the Giant Cuttlefish, S. latimanus is reported to reach 50cm in length and weigh up to 10kg (though I have never seen one in the wild that size). With a lifespan of 1-2 years and such large size, it makes sense that a hatchling about 1 cm long in February could be almost 18cm long in July. Like all cephalopods, these guys are eating machines, able to completely eat a silverside in under 2 minutes – with no leftovers at all. They are being fed at least 3 times a day with different feeds including live crabs, live bait shrimp, thawed prawns and thawed silversides. With the fast growth, some issues have started to appear including minor ‘butt burn’, damage to the tip of the mantle caused by the animal jetting into the sides quickly (a big animal is a strong animal!) and inking events due to adolescent competition blackening the tank water. To help alleviate these issues, the population has been split into two groups, 2 animals on display and 4 animals in holding. The other adult behaviors are way more exciting.

In the video above (oh, blue lights and video – why do you hate each other) you can see a lot of color pulsing on the skin of the cuttles as they hunt for food. It is thought that this striking pattern and color show somehow helps in hunting, perhaps confusing prey into motionlessness. However, unlike wild adults, the color patterns have not yet reached down the two wide arms that are often stretched out horizontally during hunting – which incidentally help give this cuttle their ‘broadclub’ common name. The patterns also seem to originate at the back of the mantle, while wild adults seem to pulse more on the head and arms (as shown in the video from NOVA’s ‘Kings of Camouflage’ linked below). The other interesting behavior in the video above is the ‘banding-of-the-eyes-darkening-of-two-arm-tips-while-gesticulating-madly’ behavior (rolls off the tongue eh?), which only seems to occur when the animals are hunting silversides, perhaps this is another distraction technique.

As you can tell, I am over the moon with excitement over these behaviors, and even more excited that they are happening with the animals on display. If you are any kind of ceph-head and are in the SF area, I urge you to get down to the academy and take a look as these amazing animals while they are on display.

by Jake Adams, video by Richard Ross

From Reefbuilders

There’s truly no better way to start the week than by transporting yourself to an imaginary place by watching an awesome reef video. Last week we had the Cozumel Dive video on an actual Caribbean reef and this week we have another great clip, this time by Richard Ross of the Steinhart Aquarium. Having seen and visited this exhibit many times, this video taken from the other side of the glass is by far the clearest view of the awesome fish population of this large reef exhibit. It’s particularly fascinating to see how the whole population of reef fish schooling together, regardless of species. Rich’s choice of music helps to set the tone for this super chill look at Steinhart’s awesome collection of reef fish, we’re really loving that one male Lamarck’s angelfish which appears multiple times in plain view.

From Reefbuilders

 

Reefbuilderss has asked contributors to recount their MACNA 2010 experience – its my turn, so here goes! My MACNA 2010 really started when I arrived at the hotel at 11:55 pm on Thursday night. I expected to go to the room, go over my talk and get some much needed sleep (the day had started out at 5 am and involved sitting on an alligator, but that is a different story). When I got to the hotel, I was pulled over to a large group of reefers before I even got to check in. Then I got pulled to the hotel bar where there was an even larger group of reefers. When I finally got to my room at 3:30 am, I knew this MACNA was going to be great and as I drifted off to sleep I dreamed of friends, the Saturday night Manhattan Reefs’ party, and the fabulous reef related info that was going to be coming my way over the next few days. There was a lot to get to, and I didn’t have time to get to everything or everyone I wanted to, but here is a smattering of my highlights of the show.

Probably the biggest excitement for me was the in-person updates on the PNG SEASMART program. I have been lucky enough to dive in the area where the program is taking place, and was excited when I first heard about it because the area is really chock full of diversity. At the same time I was worried because the program was using some of the same sounding green/local/sustainable rhetoric that seems to come with start-up collecting stations but that rarely pans out.

But it seems like PNG SEASMART is really making a go of being successful by sticking to its initial promises. Educate and train the locals in sustainable Total Allowable Catch limits and non destructive collection methods. Less volume, more value (to quote a recent meme). Local ownership and management. Involving PNG government in every aspect of the project so it can be built intelligently for the long term. Provide transparency and information to the hobbyist so everyone can see the reality of the project. The local PNG-ers at the show were fun, approachable and enthusiastic. David Vossler was eager to engage in conversation about how to do things better. They even invited anyone who wants to get over to PNG to come see what they are doing. The program isn’t perfect yet, but from what I have seen so far, PNG SEASMART has a real shot at getting it right.

The standout talk for me was FIJI: TEN YEARS AFTER THE CORAL APOCALYPSE, by Dr. Bruce Carlson. This talk chronicled several areas of reef in Fiji that were hit hard by the 1998 bleaching event. Video of 30 meter line transects year after year showing the damage to reefs by bleaching events and their astounding ability to recover in 10 years or so was really informative and inspiring. Not only video, but data! I love data! Data about how many coral species and what area they cover and how those ratios change over time after bleaching was some amazing work and great documentation (early in recovery there are more coral species with less overall coverage, later in the recovery there are fewer coral species with great overall coverage).  Most interesting was seeing the damage that storms can do to these reefs. Seeing a thriving area of reef one year, and a desolate plain the next after a storm really drove home for me how dynamic natural reef systems are. The upshot of the talk is that reefs can recover from storms and bleaching events, but if these kinds of events occur too often, there could be real problems.

The Marine Breeders Initiative (MBI) held the first ever roundtable discussion about captive breeding and getting animals to market. The event was well attended, interesting and informative. While it wasn’t long enough to really get into the meat of the discussion, it was a wonderful was to set the stage for this kind of important, ongoing in person discussion – which is very different from the equally important continuing online discussion.

A highlight for me on a purely personal note was both the attendance and reaction to my talk on Cephalopods. It was well attended (something I was trepidatious about given the talks that were going on at the same time) which is very exciting to me – a hard core ceph fanatic. What got me through, was getting a completely unexpected round of applause for showing captive mating and a captive Flamboyant hatchling. I was honored to be speaking at MACNA in the first place, and even more humbled that people were excited about my recent work.

If you are luckily like me, you live in an area with a thriving reefing community. Local clubs bring people together, share ideas and get everyone involved going in a good direction. However, after a time, that direction can get a little unidirectional and we can forget that other approaches are really important, that perspectives different from our own, or our locality, have merit. Attending a MACNA with attendees from across the country and around can really give you a reality check and open your eyes to possibilities. MACNA 2010 had everything I could have wanted. Did I get to see everything and talk to everyone? No, but there’s always Des Moines next year.

Thanks to everyone involved in making the show happen, vendors, speakers, attendees, photo bombers, party hosts – especially the hosting club ORCA. I hope you are all lying around recovering bathed in the glow of a job well done and in the appreciation of the greater reef keeping community.

From Reefbuilders

Those corals are at the northern point of Lambumbu Harbor on the Northwest (leeward) coast of Malakula in Vanuatu. This photo was taken by Chris Maupin during daytime spring low tide which occurs during Austral winter.

In an effort to make Jake’s head explode, I like to write about all the mistakes I make with my home reef system. Even though they may seem embarrassing, everyone makes bone head mistakes, and I think we all learn by hearing about others mistakes. Pretending they didn’t happen helps gives us a false sense of security, so here is how my day started at 5:15 am.

After dreaming about Chris Maupin’s photo above of corals exposed at low tide, I woke up to get ready for work, went downstairs and something sounded wrong in the area of the tank. With a sinking feeling I took a look and the water level in the tank was about a third lower than it should be – meaning the top 6 inches of my reef, a whole lot of coral, was exposed to air just like in the photo above. Ran under the house to check the sump and it was half empty. Ran back upstairs and looked behind the tank, stepped in water, and started flipping switches so the pumps that were running dry could have a break. Turns out I had left the valve that fills my experimental auto feeder open and the tank drained overnight. What a nice thing to wake up to three days before a two week vacation. At least it happened at night when the lights were off and the fans weren’t running.

I have written a lot about being prepared for disaster, and luckily I take my own advice to heart.  I went back under the house, flipped a switch and delicious, mixed, heated and aerated salt water from the 200 gallon reservoir I always keep filled started filling up the system. Within ten minutes I had circulation restored and began cleaning up. I didn’t have much water to clean up because, as planned,  it all went down the piping hole in the floor into the crawlspace under the house. I turned on all my circulation to blow the mucus off the corals that had been exposed. Most of the corals looked no worse for the wear, but we’ll see about the Seriatopora and Archohelia when I get home tonight (I expect them to be beaten but will recover). I even made it to work almost on time.

Moral of the story, corals are amazing and can do well for a while even when exposed to air, planning for the worst makes your life easier, add an emergency overflow drain into your autofeeder (if it fills with via a pump),  and know that mistakes will always happen (mine seem to happen about every two years).

From Reefbuilders

Metasepia pfefferi is an amazing species of flamboyant cuttlefish and I have recently had the opportunity to obtain multiple specimens of this species for the first time in 8 years. These flamboyant cuttlefish wasted little time getting on with mating, and with a little luck we’ll get to observe egg laying – and with a lot of luck egg hatching. I am incredibly excited about this video – you can see the males hectocotylus near the end of the vid! Currently, the Steinhart Aquarium has one Flamboyant on display and several more ‘off show’ for a breeding attempt. Before people rush out and try to obtain these guys, please remember that like all adult cuttles, they ship poorly. What does that actually mean? 80-100% DOA or DAA for animals that retail in the 300 to 600 dollar range. Furthermore, since they have a short lifespan (12 months or so) getting adults means that your time with them is going to be to short.

Metasepia are astonishing little animals found primarily in muck habitats. These vast, rolling underwater plains of settled silt and mud appear desolate at first glance, but are in fact populated by an unexpectedly large number of strange animals including frogfish, ghost pipefish and a stunning array of nudibranchs. Fitting right in with these odd neighbors, the Flamboyant Cuttle  is normally a master of camouflage blending in completely while walking along the grey substrate. When startled, however, those previously subdued colors change to bright purples, reds, yellows and whites. The colors shine out in coruscating patterns along the animal’s body probably to indicate the animals toxicity. The idea of keeping the more exotic cephs has generated much discussion in cephalopod circles, mostly because the size and health of their wild populations is unknown (and, at least in areas collected the populations seem to suffer). Even the sharing of information, photos or video of these animals in captivity can be controversial as some fear that detailed information and attractive photos and video may encourage inexperienced saltwater aquarists to obtain specimens and encourage over-collection, perhaps impacting the ability of wild populations to recover.

Personally, I believe that the admiration of a species can be of benefit to its preservation in the wild rather than its detriment.  My hope is that the open sharing of information empowers aquarists to make sound, rational decisions regarding the advisability of keeping and not keeping these animals. In other words, keeping Metasepia is not something that should be entered into on a whim and even experienced cephalopod keepers with mature tanks should think long and hard before trying to obtain this species. Their needs are resource intensive, expensive, and not yet fully understood, so at this point in our understanding of these animals getting one just because ’its cool’ seems to be a disservice to these incredible creatures. Hopefully, captive bred Flamboyants will be available, but until then enjoy the video.

From Reebfuilders

 

Cuttles cuttles cuttles. You probobly know the drill, but there is some great footage in this KQED Quest piece.

 

 

 

 

 

From Reefbuilders

Most reefers have a ton of tools laying around to manipulate corals, make frags and retrieve lost items from the bottom of the tank. Tweezers, hemostats and clippers have become an important part of reefkeeping. Annoyingly, they are often kept out of reach, or worse, rested on top of the tank where they can rust or worse – bumped into the tank breaking corals on their trip to the sand. A magnetic tool holder is a cheap and easy way to avoid these issues. The can be installed out of the way in the canopy or in the stand, keeping reefing tools secure and out of the way. I put one of these magnetic strips above my tank years ago and its one of the best things I ever did. You can even slap a small metal wire basket to the magnetic strip for storage of odds and ends like superglue and algae scrapers. There are a variety of magnetic tool holders available – click here for the one pictured at right.Keep your metal reef tools handy and out of the way

 

From Reefbuilders

This deep reef tanks rock wall is on the left side of the tank, making it feel like the wall extends upwards and like there is more water space than there actually is

Reef Aquarium ‘Rock walls’ have gotten a bad rap over the past , as Adam Blundell recently pointed out. This reputation is not necessarily undeserved as there are plenty of rock walls that are unappealing, flow stopping, detritus collecting piles of ugh. Quickly stacking rock against the back wall of a tank is not something we advocate or enjoy looking at. However, with a tiny bit of thought and effort, its not all that hard to make unique and interesting looking rock wall reef aquarium. Continue reading to learn more about two creative reef rock walls on display at the California Academy of Sciences.

 

The reef rock walls were constructed the same way in both tanks – a bottom plate and back wall of fiber grate onto which rock is affixed with underwater epoxy and cable ties. The fiber grate armature prevents the rock structure from touching the walls of the aquarium, allowing water to move around and under the wall. Instead of filling up the back wall of the tank, these tanks use the empty space on the back wall to create a feeling of depth and openness. In the case of Matt Wandell’s ‘Deep Reef’ tank pictured above, the rock wall is on the left side of the tank, instead of the back wall. This allows for good, fast vertical flow against the rock wall that not only brings food the non photosynthetic corals, but gets the anthias all swimming in a very natural vertical orientation.

The Rhinopias exhibit is one of mine, and the rock wall is in one of the back corners of the tank. This tank has intermittent high flow to help the SPS thrive, but also has ‘eddy’ spots to allow the display fish spots to hang out. The point is that rock walls are not bad things in and of themselves. If you are willing to spend a little time planning the build instead of just stacking rock, you can make a rock wall, well, rock.

 

This rock wall is in the back left corner of the tank giving a visual focal point.

 

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.

From Reefbuilders

One of the advantages of working at the the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences has is being able to care for, and observe so many different animals that we might not be exposed to anywhere but a public aquarium. For instance, we display not one, but two Rhinopias Scorpion fish. These venomous fish are not overly abundant in the industry or the wild, and they don’t have the best track record in captivity, often living for less than two years and then dying mysteriously. We thought very hard before committing to putting them on display, and decided we would give it a go when two of them, a Rhinopias eschmeyeri and a Rhinopias frondosa (though there is some debate as to their being different species), became available last November. Since going on display they have been eating well, shedding regularly (normal behavior) and challenging guests to spot them among the corals.Even though we have been thrilled at our success with these fish so far, we never expected to find what we found in the tank a week and a half ago – an egg raft. The eggs were hard to spot, being almost completely clear, and they may mimic a comb jelly to prevent predation. Apparently these are the first Rhinopias eggs that have been laid in captivity. We assumed the eggs were infertile, but were surprised to see development on the day after discovery, and even more surprised when they hatched. At the time of writing, we have collected two batches of eggs and larvae are still alive after 8 days. It has been amazing to watch the larvae develop through the microscope, growing fins, a mouth and a gut where none existed before.Raising larval marine fish is tough, so every day they survive we are thrilled, and, though we aren’t done with this batch yet, we hope that we can build on this experience so that if more eggs are produced we have a better chance of getting them through the larval stage. Special thanks to Matt Wandell, Matt Pederson, Frank Marini, Andrew Berry, Gresham Hendee and Reef Nutrition for their support and advice through this ongoing process.

By Ryan Gripp
From Reefbuilders

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!

From Reefbuilders

As it turns out, those pretty spots on the mantle of the octopus Wunderpus photogenicus are unique to each animal and could be used to track these animals in the wild in much the same way that whales are tracked. Currently, there is not much information on this cephalopod in the wild because their crepuscular lifestyle and ‘muck’ habitat make it particularly difficult to track indivduals. Plus, being small and delicate means that they cannot be tagged by any of the conventional means. Hit the read link for the full story.

Since Wunderpus is one of the most sought after underwater photo subjects, professional and amateur photographers alike can contribute to gathering info on wild populations by contributing photos to the Wunderpix website. The paper ‘Individually Unique Body Color Patterns in Octopus (Wunderpus photogenicus) Allow for Phtoidentification” is available online here.

Before everyone runs out to try to get one of these animals for their home it is important to note that they need a species only tank, specialized food, specialized substrate, they are not able to be cultured in captivity, most of the collected animals die within a few weeks, they are incredibly expensive (up to 700 dollars expensive) and they make incredibly boring pets because 99% of the time they do absolutely nothing.

Interestingly, even the sharing of information, photos and video of these animals can be controversial. Some fear that detailed information and attractive photos or video may encourage impulse buys of these animals which is always a bad thing. I believe that the admiration of a species can be of benefit to its preservation in the wild rather than its detriment. Furthermore, it is my hope that the information on the site will empower aquarists to make sound, rational decisions regarding the advisability of keeping these very difficult animals.

If you are interested in keeping cephalopods, there are several species that are easily available, better understood and much more inexpensive than Wunderpus. Please do some reading on www.TONMO.com before purchasing any ceph, and look at things to think about before keeping a cephalopod on www.wunderpus.net.