Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reeftopia, Part III


I had been working for a few months in my new position and it was time to move to a new desk. Over the past few months I had collected quite the collection of supplies and product information considering I provide support for the aquarium hobbyist. Desk drawers were full and I had barely enough room for the mouse…considering they had elected me to also be the coffee pot desk.

Needless to say I was thrilled about moving to a larger desk. Until I realized this also meant I had to up and move my recently established Reeftopia. I figured I could remove most of the water and carry the almost empty tank to the new location. I planned on leaving the live rock and coral in the same arrangement. The inhabitants would be exposed no more than 60 seconds until I could refill the aquarium. This would have minimal impact on the inhabitants and I would not have to rearrange the rock and coral.

So I drained the tank into some 5 gallon buckets and asked for a helping hand in carrying the tank…just in case. The trek to the new location did not go as planned. Immediately after picking the tank up from the desk on small rock fell out of place. No big deal I said to myself…just one rock.

The tank was heavier than I thought. Carrying an unbalanced tank was awkward and nerve-racking. We get to the new desk and just as we set it down some of the upper regions of rock tumbled over. I cussed at myself a little and began to remove all of the rock and coral from the tank into the 5 gal buckets.

I filled the tank up about halfway with existing water and returned the rock in a new arrangement. Then I placed the loose pieces of coral that were not attached to rock or plugs back into the tank, filled the rest of the system with new Catalina water and preceded to setup the filtration. Fish were the last things to go back home.

At that point, it was already dark and time to go home. I'm certain I grew some gray hairs that day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Reef-A-Palooza: Event Wrap-Up


Marine Depot: How was the turnout at Reef-A-Palooza this year?

Kevin Adams, President, Southern California Marine Aquarium Society:
I had placed a conservative estimate of 1,500 attendees for Reef-A-Palooza 2007. The actual turnout exceeded 2,000 attendees, not counting ~250 vendors, a dozen or so staff, and another two dozen assistants. I knew precisely how significant the Southern California market was in terms of marine aquarium hobbyists, so I personally expected this number. However, I was compelled to "publicly" advertised an estimate of only 1,500 attendees for the sake of conservatism and credibility, so our actual numbers exceeded this estimate by a significant margin.

MD: What were your goals for this year's event?

KA: My intention was to provide a complete smorgasbord of vendors for our attendees to enjoy. Hobbyists in this particular industry are undeniably as unique and diverse as their own fingerprints. As such, it is nearly impossible to zero in on a particular core concept that will satisfy everyone in attendance. Many come to purchase frags and rare corals, others come to see the latest technology available in marine aquarium equipment, while some would prefer to see an educational presentation. Therefore, I wanted to present a "mixed floor" of booths ranging from the mere hobbyist seller to the largest international corporation. I wanted to broaden the scope of what we provide to the furthest possible extent so that nearly anyone who attends Reef-A-Palooza would find their particular niche to enjoy. I think we provided that service beautifully.

MD: What’d you think of all the frags on display?

KA: "OH MY GOSH I'VE NEVER SEEN SO MANY AWESOME CORALS IN ONE PLACE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!" This was overheard from one particular RAP attendee and apparently represents a reaction shared by many others as it was repeated numerous times in one form or another. I'd have to say we hit the jackpot in livestock displays! One MAJOR issue that I emphasized to my vendors over and over again is to NOT underestimate the sales potential of Reef-A-Palooza. At RAP 2006 (in Marine Depot's parking lot) nearly all the livestock vendors sold out of their stock within the first hour and a half! Those attendees arriving in the afternoon last year were rather disappointed in what was left available when they arrived. I made sure that this did not happen to RAP 2007. Evidently the vendors took my advice to heart because there were more corals, frags, and other livestock than you could shake a stick at! By that I mean, there were not a few here and there....there were tens of thousands! I was extremely impressed with one particular vendor who was promoting the sale of captive-bred tropical marine fish. THIS is the future of our hobby and the cutting-edge practices and technology that I love to see exploited at Reef-A-Palooza!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Daily Planet


From the producers of Discovery Channel's groundbreaking Planet Earth series comes (cue drumroll) ... Blue Planet.

If you missed the show last weekend, let me tell you: it was off the hook! Fortunately, you can catch Blue Planet again this Sunday, August 26 @ 8 PM on Discovery Channel.

At this point in a TV commerical, the announcer would insist you "check local listings," so I feel obligated to do the same. Go online, flip through your TV Guide, program your TiVo ... whatever ya gotta do to make sure you catch the program.

In the meantime, you can preview an assortment of oddball creatures featured in the show by watching a cool slide show on Discovery's website.

My personal favorite? The Predatory Tunicate.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reef-A-Palooza


Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!

Orange County Fair & Exposition Center.

It's ... Reef-A-Palooza '07!

Even if you don’t enjoy cheesy impersonations of monster truck rally announcers, there’s no doubt you’ll have a blast at this year’s Reef-A-Palooza.

Kevin T. Adams, President of the Southern California Marine Aquarium Society, summed up the event perfectly on Reef-A-Palooza's official website, reefapalooza.org.

"The main purpose of Reef-A-Palooza is to provide an enjoyable, positive atmosphere that is conducive to education and trade of both product and knowledge. As such, participating vendors range from large manufacturers, to retailers, to small livestock sellers, and participating hobbyists range from the beginner to the elite, rare-species coral farmer. It is the perfect venue to showcase new products in the marine aquarium industry as well as retail products for sale. We strive to rally a diverse range of participants into the one-day event so as to present the best value and interest to everyone involved. Considering our current bookings and the popularity of previous years, we expect 60+ vendors/exhibitors and well over 1,000 attendees this year!"

Most importantly, don’t forget to stop by the Marine Depot booth. To ensure you don’t get lost, I’ve included a map for your navigating convenience.

See you there!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I've got White Syndrome!


The other day I came home oblivious, to my well off, half dead Tri Color Acropora.

In doing my daily routine of maintenance and strict husbandry, an utterly hideous white blotch, appeared out of the corner of my eye. Behind the rock scape was one of my favorite tri color Acropora’s, which was located in the back corner of my tank, with moderate oscillating flow, and adequate light.

You would figure, that would be prime conditions for this specific coral, well it was for the most part, being that it had thrived there for the past year and half, until this day everything was going good.

As I peered closer to that unsightly and obvious deteriorating bleaching blotch, it appeared as if the tissue had just diminished. As the panic began to sink in, all measures and realizations of my husbandry came into play. “What is that? What did I do wrong? What did my roommate do? What did I forget to do? GOD?”

Well, that last one was a little extreme, but anything is possible in this hobby!

In continuing my routine, and staring at this half-bleached Acropora, I began hunting for ideas for salvation and to preserve this coral, before complete annihilation. My first thought was to go ahead and frag what is left, of this decaying organism, but I was afraid of shocking it even more. I had already come to the conclusion of RTN (Rapid Tissue Necrosis). I have never encountered this wretched and devious disease, which in reality has no real diagnosis or scientific description as why this occurs.

Rapid Tissue Necrosis (RTN) can be best described as a term that is used for the occurrence of tissue sloughing in captive corals (i.e. laboratory and aquarium corals). Neither a cause nor the mechanisms involved in tissue loss has been determined, but two hypotheses have been proposed by Borneman (2002).

“In the first, a pathogenic agent causes RTN. In the second, RTN is solely a response to an external stress, such as physical damage, nutritional deficiencies, or high temperatures, that results in autolysis or a breakdown in the immune system functioning. A third hypothesis should also be considered, in which a potentially pathogenic agent normally present in coral mucus or tissue becomes infectious when a coral’s immune system is weakened by stress.”

I believe that corals can become weak due to lack of supplements; necessary elements that are rapidly consumed in a closed body of water leading to the slow degeneration of a corals immune system. Once at this point, coral mucus, which is commonly acquired in moderate to heavily stocked coral tanks, can become toxic to corals that are weak and deficient in many aspects of health and immunity. Which may lead to what we call “RTN,” or in my case the “white plague.”

The truth is that many reef diseases are still in the shadows of science and marine biology.

The need for knowledge and understanding or reef related diseases and treatment is far greater than one can comprehend. To understand these reef related diseases, implementation of different types of investigation needs to be done. Ecological, microbiological and histological methods of investigation need to be performed in order to understand this disease and many other types of reef “killers”.

Whether intervening with Mother Nature is a good thing or not, understanding and treating it in your aquarium is the main concern here as well as my concern.

I am not saying go out and find the cure for this and treat the infected reefs. I am saying lets find out what is going on to better equip reefers and understand this “white plague” and effectively treat the issue.

That way we can preserve the corals in our aquariums for many “ooh’s and ahhh’s” still to come.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Top 10: Marine Fish

10. CLARKII CLOWN
Jeff:
It is unfair introducing a fish with a built-in fan base into our Top 10. Look, I like clownfish as much as the next guy who’s seen Finding Nemo. But this guy? Eh. First of all, what’s up with the spelling of his name? Seems fishy to me. Imagine Clark Kent as “Clarkii Kent.”
Jeez, talk about blowing your cover. An experienced investigative reporter, Lois Lane would have certainly picked up on Clarkii’s alien vibe.
Royce: I think it's pronounced Clark-key, like the Nintendo Wii. And, of course a clownfish will make the Top 10: it’s a pop culture icon!

9. LAWNMOWER BLENNY
Jeff:
Wow, this is going to be harder than I thought
(eyes welling with tears)
Royce:
Reader, you must excuse Jeff, he is still grieving.

Jeff:
The Lawnmower Blenny was my fi
rst: my first saltwater fish, and (bursting into tears)
Royce:

Jeff:
… my first dead saltwater fish. I do owe Blenny Kravitiz (RIP) a dept of gratitude. He’s the reason I now put the lid on my tank each night before leaving the office.
Royce:
I think the sheer ugliness of the Lawnmower Blenny is what attracted you to him. That is why he made number nine in our Top 10!

8. ROYAL GRAMMA
Royce:
I love the Royal Gramma. I've been secretly jealous ever since you put one in your tank.

Jeff:
I was secretly mad my boss recommended this nocturnal fish. Had I known he was a night owl, I never would have purchased him. But he’s adapted; at first he was a bit coy (not koi, folks) during the day, and would stay hidden behind the live rock. Now he darts in and out of the cave system like nobody’s business. Some Royal Gramma highlights, if you’re interested in getting one: they’re very unique swimmers. I’ve caught ours cruising around the tank upside down, sideways and vertically. He also scares our Domino Damsel by opening his mouth so wide it looks like he’s unhinged his jaw. I liken it to Imhotep in The Mummy movies.

7. MIDAS BLENNY

Royce:
Remember that time I had my hand in your tank and King Midas bit me?

Jeff:
Wait, what were you doing with your hand in my tank?
Royce:
That is beside the point. The Midas Blenny earned my respect the instant he swam off with a piece of my flesh dangling from his mouth.
Jeff:
Serves you right for sticking your hand in my tank.

6. YASHA HASE SHRIMP GOBY

Royce:
Orange eye, long fin, super thin, sand bed, nuff said.

Jeff:
Holla!

5. PISTOL SHRIMP
Royce:
I think readers may disagree with our decision to include an invert in a "Top 10: Marine Fish" list. Even though the Pistol Shrimp is not a fish, it does deserve to be here. Especially since his AWESOME counterpart, the Yasha Hase Shrimp Goby, is here, too. What is Bill without Ted?

Jeff:
That was a most excellent observation, Royce.­­
Royce:
Thank you, Jeff.
Jeff:
Hey, remember that time you got a Pis
tol Shrimp and put it in your tank … and before it even made it to the bottom, your damsel ate it? Ha ha. That sucked, dude ... I’m sorry.
Royce: Yeah. That was totally bogus.

4. PRINCESS PARROT FISH
Jeff:
I don’t own a parrot fish, but I heard you can teach them to talk. Is that true?

Royce:
I’m training mine to talk, but I suspect he may suffer from Polynesia.
Random Noise:
Ba-doom-CHA!


3. PINNATUS BATFISH
Jeff:
Dadadadadadadadadadadadada...Batfish!

Royce:
One fish, two fish, red fish, Batfish.

2. LONGHORN COWFISH
Royce:
When I first laid eyes upon the cowfish, I instantly fell in love. Basically a floating box with a tail. Can it get any better?

Jeff:
It can’t, Royce, it sure can’t. Besides being our sister site’s (MarineDepotLive.
com) official mascot, this guy is cute as a button. Unfortunately you can’t go Longhorn Cowfish tipping, otherwise he’d be higher on the list.

1. WARTSKIN FROGFISH
Royce:
Jeff and I can agree this fish rocks! Show them the picture, Jeff.

Jeff:
Boo-yah! We unofficially named our web designer’s frogfish Kurt Angler. Although, after witnessing it eat his cleaner shrimp, I’d like to propose that we rename him “Whiskers.”