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Archive for March, 2010

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

What are you afraid of? Spiders? Snakes? heights? Research published in Behavioral and Brain Function reports the results of a very interesting study addressing fear. The study, held at the University of Hiroshima, Japan, looked into curing fear in goldfish. The goldfish, were classically conditioned to fear a light flash by associating an electric shock with it. Fear in these goldfish was identified by measuring their decreased heart rate. The fish quickly began displaying “fear” in response to the light flash, even after an electric shock was not administered.

Masayuki Yoshida and Ruriko Hirano found that if they first inject the cerebellum of the goldfish with lidocaine, they were unable to “learn” the fear response to the light. These fish showed stable heart rates throughout the experiment. However, as soon as the lidocaine (an anesthetic) wore off, the fish resumed fearful response.

The researchers report that since goldfish and mammal brains share many characteristics, they hope this study might lead into expanded understanding of the chemical and biological processes associated with fear and phobias in humans.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The mysterious Yellow Brotulid, Dinematichthys sp., has been called by many different common and scientific names. It may be called Yellow Dusky Brotulid, Yellow Pygmy Brotulid, or Yellow Eel Goby. It’s been identified as Brotulina fusca and Diancistrus fuscus, but is likely Dinematichthys riukiuensis or Dinematichthys randalli. The Yellow Brotulid has a long body and bullet shaped head with a large mouth and small, close-set eyes. The dorsal and anal fins run nearly the entire length of the body and undulate like ribbons when the fish swims. The caudal and pectoral fins are small and triangular.

The Yellow Brotulid is sometimes mistaken for a goby, but is actually an ovoviviparous fish of the family Bythitidae. Instead of laying eggs, Brotulids give birth to live young in much the same way that guppies do. The newborn fry are highly developed and much larger than the larvae of egg-laying marine fishes and are easily raised on frozen brine shrimp and cyclop-eeze. The gender of adults is easily determined, as the male has a fleshy, crescent shaped pouch which contains rounded claspers and sexual organs.

The Yellow Brotulid is a nocturnal, cryptic fish that will rarely or never been seen by the aquarist during the day. Many hobbyists who have added Brotulids to large aquariums with dense rock work report never seeing the Brotulid again until tearing the tank down years later. Smaller aquariums around 30 gallons with PVC tubing, flowerpots, or easily accessible rock work make an ideal home. Meals of frozen mysis, brine shrimp, and other meaty foods should be target fed directly to the Brotulid daily. There have been reports from hobbyists that some Brotulids will eat small bristleworms. Yellow Brotulids are not particularly sensitive to changes in water quality and can live for many years in captivity.

They are very peaceful and make great tank mates for even the most delicate, peaceful fish. Since the Yellow Brotulid is so cryptic, it won’t be bothered by most fish. Avoid aggressive fish or those large enough to consume the Brotulid. Brotulids are social and enjoy being kept in pairs or groups. Territorial disputes may occur if a new Brotulid is added to a tank with an existing Brotulid, but are usually not serious and only last a short time.

photos by Felicia McCaulley

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

The MR16 LED Lamp will be available at Nanocustoms within the next two months. Initially, the MR16 LEDs will be offered in two colors, “12k” (2 cool white and 1 royal blue) and “20K” (1 cool white and 2 royal blue). Each lamp, will feature Cree XP Series LEDs (XP-G for the whites and XP-E for the royal blue), and will use a 40 degree triple optic. The total power of each MR16 LED Lamp will be about 3W. The new MR16 will use an extremely efficient heatsink design, very similar to Nanocustoms’ PAR38 lamps, and will run on a standard 12v DC or AC power supply. The nice thing about this, is that these lamps will work on any commercial MR16 fixture. Nanocustoms is planning on offering their own fixture in the near future, so check back often for updates.

Price has not yet been set, but will be under $50.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

The New York Times published a story about the potential impact the reefkeeping hobby may have on the Oceans. With an estimated 700,000 saltwater home aquariums in the US alone, a larger draw is being applied to the earth’s marine ecosystems. Some scientists believe that these elevated levels of collection, of corals, fish and invertebrates, are changing the Ocean’s balance. Invertebrates, which we use in our tanks as clean-up crews or for pest-control, serve a similar purpose in nature. Removing them at such high level, some say, can lead to an unstable environment. Marine biologist Andrew Rhyne, of Roger Williams University and the New England Aquarium say that “We may be increasing the catch up to a point where you push something over the edge.”

There are those who disagree with Rhyne and believe that no threat is posed by the hobby. Biologist Jessica McCawley with the Florida fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that “These collectors are a special type of fisherman. They’re very concerned about the environment and the sustainability of the fishery. And they came to us and said, ‘Can you put some regulations on us?'”

[via Johnathan Dooley | New York Times]

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

The Yasha White Ray Shrimp Goby, Stonogobiops yasha, otherwise known as the Yasha Hashe Goby or Yasha Goby, is a unique goby easily identified by its white body and thick, red-orange horizontal lines and blotches, yellow fins, a black mark under the chin, and a very tall dorsal spine. The gender of these fish is easily determined; the males have black or brown tipped pelvic fins.

In the wild Yasha Gobies are found living in pairs and form a mutual symbiotic relationship with Alpheus randalli, the Candy Snapping Shrimp or Red Banded Snapping Shrimp, but may pair with the Tiger Snapping Shrimp, Alpheus bellullus, in captivity. A Yasha Goby does not require a snapping shrimp in captivity, but is never found without one (or a pair) in nature. The snapping shrimp provides shelter for the goby and itself by digging elaborate burrows in the substrate while the goby hovers nearby, watching for predators. The snapping shrimp has poor eyesight and keeps an antennae on the goby at all times, ready to dart into the burrow if the goby signals danger by quickly flicking its tail. Every evening the gobies and snapping shrimps retire to their burrow, and the shrimp seals off the exits. In the morning the gobies will emerge from the burrow and stand guard while the shrimp maintains the burrow; afterward they will forage for food.

The Yasha Goby should be housed in an aquarium of at least 30 gallons with only small, peaceful tank mates. A deep mixed-grade sand bed with plenty of rubble and crushed coral will be needed for the shrimp to build its burrow. The Yasha Goby is very shy and may hide for the first few weeks after being added to the aquarium. Frozen Mysis, brine shrimp, pellets, and most other foods are usually accepted by Yasha Gobies. The Yasha Goby is peaceful and may be kept with other shrimp-goby pairs as long as ample burrowing room is provided for each shrimp-goby pair.

Top photo by Greg Rothschild
Bottom photo by Felicia McCaulley

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Oyster Vision, the the latest video from Mophologic Studios, features the face of a thorny oyster, Spondylus americanus. This impressive oyster, has eyes lining the rim of it’s mantle. These lines are only identifying changes in light intensity that might alert the oyster to the presence of a potential predator. In the case that such a threat is detected, the thorny oyster will use it’s adductor muscles to snap its shell shut. The shape of this oyster resembles that of a scallop, although being a member of the clam family, it remains attached to the rockscape in the home aquarium.

This reef-safe invert should definitely be quarantined first, if it is to be introduced to a tank, in order to prevent any potential protozoan diseases from being introduced. As with most oysters and clams, the thorny oyster is quite sensitive to changes in water parameters, and therefore, an established system will make an ideal home.

[via Morphologic Studios]

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

SKIMZ Aquatics, is a Singapore-based company dedicated to building advanced marine equipment for both professionals and hobbyists. Founded in 2000, SKIMZ has developed protein skimmers, reactors, overflow boxes, pumps, media, additives, lighting, testing equipment and more.

SKIMZ Aquatics’ current line of Monzter Skimmers currently includes the Skimz Monzter SM110, SM150, SM180 and SM200, SM250 and SM300 models, which range from 250 – 1500 liters (aprox 66 – 400 gallons) of heavily stocked reef systems. But through their blog, they have released a teaser for their new SKIMZ Monzter II, which is set to be revealed at Interzoo 2010.

The new SKIMZ Monzter II is said to be Small but Powerful. More details will follow soon.

[via SKIMZ]

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

We recently had a chance to visit Drs. Foster and Smith (DFS) and LiveAquaria in Rhinelander, WI, and decided to share what we saw and learned. We are confident that most of our readers are familiar with the Drs. Foster and Smith, LiveAquaria, and the new Foster and Smith Aquatics websites, but though you would enjoy a behind the scenes look.

First off, we would like to thank Kevin Kohen, Director of LiveAquaria, for taking the time to show us around the DFS facilities, including the coral farm.

This part of the Drs. Foster and Smith visit series, will focus on the Dry Goods warehouse facility. The 300,000 square feet state-of-the-art warehouse, houses any imaginable pet supply items available (and some unimaginable ones too). The sheer number of products DFS stocks is truly staggering. We When an order comes through, a corresponding plastic bin is scanned and the process begins. The bin travels on the “green monster”, a computerized convoy system which travels throughout the massive warehouse.


Controlled by scanners and a set of automated arms, the bin gets redirected to the correct isles. Once the bin arrives at it’s first destination, it pauses, while a series of lights indicate which items should be added to this order. Once the items are added to the bin, it is placed back on the belt, and continues on it’s way to it’s next destination. Once the order is completed, the bin is redirected to the packaging center, where the items are matched against the order before everything is boxed.


With this kind of redundancy and automation, it’s not surprising that DFS is able to fulfill an almost absurd number of orders quickly and accurately. Each box is put together by a special machine, then an employee adds a catalog (of course 🙂 ) and fills the extra space with bio-degradable packing peanuts (which they house is huge holding rooms). This Green approach to packing, is just DFS doing their part in conserving the environment. Once the orders are ready to be shipped, DFS employees load up a slew of FedEx trailers which have their own parking lot at the facility. DFS ships so many orders, that they actually sort the packages for FedEx, based on their destination. Overall, the operation is top-notch, with every detail carefully planned and accounted for.


We hope you enjoyed this article and photos, please heck back soon for part 2 of this series, which will cover the LiveAquaria Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life Facility”.

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Reef Snow by Brightwell Aquatics delivers a combination of carbonate-bound, non-conservative major, minor, and trace elements in aragonite ratios, in addition to marine-derived proteins and lipid in coral tissue ratios. Intended to replicate Marine Snow, Reef Snow includes both organic and inorganic nutrients beneficial to stony corals, zooxanthellate and azooxanthellate soft corals, gorgonians, clams, tube worms, sponges, tunicates, and other suspension-feeding invertebrates for growth of both soft tissue and skeletal material. Brightwell Aquatics recommends using Reef Snow at night, as most corals extend their polyps for feeding purposes.

Reef Snow does not require refrigeration, and should be shaken well before usage. It’s also important to turn off any mechanical filtration, including protein skimmers, for about 10-15 minutes after feeding Reef Snow.

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Digital Aquatics is reported to have increased their warranty period to 2 years in an announcement published with their ad in the latest edition of CORAL magazine. The two year warranty covers new purchases and applies to the head units and modules. This new warranty policy by Digital Aquatics does not cover any probes or accessories. Naturally, an original sales receipt is needed for the warranty to be valid and honored, so make sure to file it away with your next Digital Aquatics purchase.

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