Rich Ross

e pluribus unum

Belonoperca pylei in US, right under our noses

from Reefbuilders.com

945534_10200182547710349_1217138170_n (1)

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

I heart LiveAquaria’s Diver’s Den

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

http://vimeo.com/31743794
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.

Release the kraken?

  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…)

Just a little information TANKED?

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…)

Sepia latimanus are 6 months old and flashing colors like adults

From TONMO and Reefbuilders

http://vimeo.com/26347872

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.

CEPHALOPOD BREEDING