Myths are a part of life, and occur everywhere. So too in the aquarium hobby, where anecdotal observations and theories sometimes transform into facts, with little evidence to support them. We often make choices based on hearsay or "facts" presented by aquarists, who may dispense their advice with the best intentions. In some cases, unfortunately, we are misleading ourselves. In this article, we discuss some of the myths that still persist in the marine aquarium hobby today, and look at these from a scientific point of view. The take home message is that we should all keep an open mind, but remain critical towards claims that have no factual basis.
Aquarium water yellows over time due to organic decomposition. Dana Riddle analyzes the effects of this phenomenon on light attenuation and demonstrates why aquarists should strive for consistent maintenance practices.
Feature Article: Imitating Natural Light Quality, Intensity, and Dosage in a Reef Aquarium - Do We Really Want To?
When it comes to reef aquariums, Mother Nature has always been the de facto benchmark aquarists aspire towards. Dana investigates in great detail the quality and quantity of light over natural reefs in order to lay the groundwork to answer the age-old question: what is the best light for captive corals?
At present, several factors which influence the growth of scleractinian corals in aquaculture have been identified. These are known as light, water flow, water quality, and nutrition. This article will focus on nutrition, and describe the various ways in which corals feed. It will summarize the latest scientific findings about this topic, and present practical information on how to maximize coral feeding rates in the aquarium. This will promote efficient, sustainable coral aquaculture, and help the aquarist to maintain healthy corals at home.
Dana Riddle previously documented and discussed light intensity of a Hawaiian tidepool versus the home aquarium. Dana continues his light analysis by examining spectral data. What can nature teach us about coral care?
James journeys to Australia's Great Barrier Reef with full camera gear in tow. Join him as he surveys the world's largest living structure and witness its incredible beauty and fragility.
Can we possibly match the amount of natural light in an aquarium?
The mutualistic symbiosis between corals and zooxanthellae is a well-known fact amongst aquarists. To improve our understanding of zooxanthellae biology, scientists isolate these symbionts from the coral host under a variety of environmental conditions. This article will provide an overview of zooxanthellae biology, and how these dinoflagellates are isolated for scientific study. This will give aquarists more insight into, and hopefully appreciation for, the symbiosis between zooxanthellae and the corals they grow in their home aquaria.
Feature Article: Coral growth under Light Emitting Diode and Light Emitting Plasma: a cross-family comparison
With the advent of new technology, aquarists are able to customize light spectra with great flexibility. However, our knowledge of how light spectrum affects aquarium life, including corals, is still limited. Here, we show the effects of two light spectra, emitted by Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Light Emitting Plasma (LEP), on the growth of ten commercially important scleractinian corals. It appears that the effect of spectrum is highly species dependent, and that most efficient coral growth is invariably attained at low irradiance. The results from this study can be used to optimize sustainable coral aquaculture.
As LED lighting moves further into the mainstream, there is new effort being made to provide a fuller spectrum light that can be tuned by the aquarist to satisfy both the demands of the corals as well as the visual pleasure of the aquarist.
Flatworms are well-known in the aquarium hobby and research community. Both in the wild and in captivity, they hide between the tentacles of many corals. Despite their common appearance in aquaria, the nature of the symbiosis between corals and flatworms has long been unclear. New evidence strongly suggests that epizoic acoelomorph flatworms are parasitic. Next to suffocating coral tissue and feeding on coral mucus, flatworms have now been found to impair coral feeding.
Light is one of the main life-supporting resources on our planet. Being photosynthetic, many marine invertebrates require light to live; Their symbiotic zooxanthellae need light for photosynthesis to produce sufficient nourishment both for their own use and for the host coral.
Feature Article: Improved husbandry of marine invertebrates using an innovative filtration technology - part two: results with two 12 cubic meter DyMiCo systems
In part one of this article I discussed the growing incentive to aquaculture marine invertebrates to increase the sustainability of the global aquarium trade, and presented the DyMiCo technology as a possible solution. In part two, I will outline some of the results that have been obtained with the DyMiCo technology recently. More specifically, I will discuss the successful husbandry of invertebrates that depend on a live plankton population for their survival.
Feature Article: Improved husbandry of marine invertebrates using an innovative filtration technology - Part 1: DyMiCo
In part one of this article I will discuss the innovative filtration technology called DyMiCo (Dynamic Mineral Control) that allows aquarists to culture a rich diversity of marine organisms, especially those that rely on live plankton for their survival.
As LED lighting moves further into the mainstream, there a lot of new choices available to the aquarist. Hopefully this data will help the aquarist make an informed choice on what to expect from the individual LED fixtures and how best to utilize them to achieve the desired coverage and light intensity.
The internet is generally a good resource of information but I did find some sites containing DIY tips for building plywood tanks that presented outdated or inaccurate information. This article will attempt to correct that information and detail the trials and tribulations of plywood aquarium construction along with updated information as well as construction time, a cost breakout and lessons learned.
Corals keep mystifying and challenging us, whether we are aquarists, divers or scientists. Our understanding of corals and their symbiotic organisms has been a long road, and knowledge of their biology is ever increasing. Even today, marine biologists are working hard to unravel the complex physiology of these amazing animals. The question however is: how do they do that?
LED lighting for reef tanks is on its way to becoming a reality, and various designs and configurations are making their way into the market.
Hobbyists have seen significant advancements in the range of aquarium circulation pumps available over the past decade. While all manufacturers provide a flow rate for the pumps, it is not clear what methods have been used to arrive at the numbers. Further, different manufacturers may use different methods. We have presented a standard method that we hope can be adopted by the manufacturers thus enabling a more accurate and verifiable approach.
Feature Article: Disturbance-Facilitated Coexistence of Sessile Organisms in Space-Limited Environments: A Review of Works in Ecological Disturbance Theory
It is now widely accepted among theoretical ecologists that periodic, severe, localized environmental disruption can increase biological diversity. However, many of the processes by which this takes place are not yet fully understood. Ongoing research in this area will continue to be of particular benefit to government fisheries resource managers as well as producers of sessile marine fauna.