Ultimate Secrets To Saltwater Fish

Idiot Guide To The Marine Aquarium

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One of the most attractive icons of the marine aquarium hobby is a pair of bright orange clownfish peering out from between the tentacles of a violet or green huecl sea anemone. This relationship has fascinated naturalists, divers, scientists, and aquarists, the latter group having the ability to observe it at home. However, some of the anemones that host clownfish do not adapt well to captivity unless a specific range of requirements are met, and aquarists have been unable to find good information about the anemones' specific needs.

The book, Anemonejishes and Their Host Sea Anemones by Daphne G. Fautin and Gerald R. Allen provides an excellent guide to the identification of those anemone species that typically form symbiotic relationships with clownfish, and describes the type of habitat where the anemones come from. With that information one has the foundation for discovering the proper ways to maintain these anemones. However, the book falls short on the subject of anemone husbandry in captivity. This should be no surprise since Dr. Fautin opposes the collection of host anemones for aquaria. In general, we agree with her.

Recently there have been a number of articles published in the aquarium literature and hobbyist newsletters regarding the success and failure rate with anemonefish host sea anemones. It is apparent from these articles that some anemone species fare well in captivity while others do not usually, though this does not mean that they cannot survive in captivity. What is missing is an understanding of how to duplicate the type of environment that these anemones need to thrive. Our intention in writing this book was not only to provide a means of identifying the common tropical anemone species collected for aquariums, but to also teach aquarists and scientists exactly what anemones require to live in a captive environment. We do not wish to promote the wasteful collection of species that have a poor survival record in captivity. But we also do not want to perpetuate ignorance about these creatures. Our goal is to say something new and, hopefully, promote the captive husbandry of anemones to such an extent that captive propagation becomes the source of anemones for aquarists.

Another goal of our book is to provide a very accurate and easy to use guide for identifying soft corals commonly imported for aquariums. This was a task we knew would be most difficult, since soft coral taxonomy is about as messy as a bag of Xenia that's been in transit too long. Through our association with Norwegian aquarist/authors Alf Nilsen and Svein Fossa and with the invaluable help of Dr. Phil Alderslade of the Museum of the Northern Territory, in Daiwin, Australia, we have managed to learn many new things about soft coral taxonomy. Additionally, soft coral researchers such as Dr. Gaiy Williams at the California Academy of Sciences and Mike Gawel, University of Guam provided literature plus many helpful suggestions and opinions. In the process of our research we have also discovered some new species and helped to further the scientific community's understanding of the relationships of different groups of these fascinating creatures.

We set out to develop a simple method for the casual observer to identify most soft corals to genus, or to family at least, by just looking at and feeling the coral for a sense of its overall morphology. Scientific keys for identifying soft corals concentrate on the minute sand-like skeletal elements known as sclerites, which occur in the tissues. We wanted to develop a good key that could be used without the need to look at sclerites, but discovered early in this endeavor that the soft corals would not be so easily tamed! So we did not develop such a key. However, our descriptions and photos will help the casual observer to sort through most soft coral genera with relative ease. We also include some sclerite information for positive confirmation. Some soft corals are so distinctive that a good photograph can identify them, and we note these instances as well.

Peter Wilkens and Johannes Birkholz initiated the aquaristic community's attempts to identify soft corals and describe their care with the book Niedere Tiere first published in 1986. The book, now published in English under the title Invertebrates, Organ-pipe, Leather corals, and Gorgonians is still a popular reference because of the wealth of information it contains about the care of these creatures, and it had quite an influence on the spread of correct and some incorrect names in the hobby and on overseas exporters' availability lists.

There has been an explosion of creativity in the making of field guides for marinelife lately, in particular for marine invertebrates of the Indo-Pacific region. In the past two years we have seen the following new books: Allen and Steene's Indo-Pacific Coral Reef

Field Guide, Colin and Arneson's Tropical Pacific Invertebrates, and Gosliner, Behrens, and Williams' Coral Reef Animals of the

Indo-Pacific, not to mention our Reef Aquarium Volume One. We recommend the (Caribbean) reef series by Paul Humann, with the volumes Reef Creatures and Reef Corals. Also, a new7 book by Helmut Schuhmacher Niedere Meerestiere Schwämme, Korallen, Krebse7 Schnecken, Seesterne, «wrf andere. Finally, there is the five book series in German, Korallenriff Aquarium by Svein Fossa and Alf Nilsen that we mentioned in volume one. It is being translated now to English in four volumes, with the title The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium (the first volume in English was available in September 1996). We hope that after purchasing all of these books one can still afford to buy this, our second volume in The Reef Aquarium series! We know at least that one cannot afford to be without the information we provide in this volume.

Of course our books are more than just field guides. The original books by Wilkens and Birkholz, our series, and Fossa and Nilsen's also offer information about husbandly techniques. This sets our books apart as belonging to the realm of aquarium science. The science of aquarium keeping has progressed rapidly in the past five years. What was once viewed as a hobby is now considered a serious discipline and a valuable research tool by scientists who study coral reefs. The links betw7een the scientific community and the aquarium hobby have been growing stronger, greatly assisted by the ease of communication provided by e-mail and the opportunity for meeting at formal conferences such as MACNA and the International Coral Reef Symposium. Tying it all together is the enthusiasm of coral reef researchers and "coraloholic" aquarists who have networked and shared their experience. We are happy to be a part of this process, in celebration of the beauty and mystery of coral reef ecosystems.

Julian Sprung March, 1997


Well, this isn't name dropping, but a lot of very important people helped us make this book, directly or indirectly, and so it's only appropriate that we thank them for it here. This book would not have been possible without their kind assistance:

Dr. Phil Alderslade for many fruitful, lengthy and enlightening discussions about soft coral systematics, taxonomy and biology. Thanks for taking the time to teach us, examine our specimens, and answer our questions;

Patrick Baker for his fantastic photographs of the snail Drupella conius;

Dr. Craig Bingman for making sense out of the complex chemistry and offering new insights into physical, chemical, and biological phenomena in our aquaria;

The late Dick Boyd for stimulating Julian's interest in anemones.

Rob and Robin Burr for advice on underwater photography and help with obtaining some of the photographs;

Margaret Campbell for her wonderful illustrations;

Dr. Bruce Carlson for his pioneering work with corals at the Waikiki Aquarium and his successful efforts to integrate the scientific community with the aquarium (reef-keeping) community;

Dr. J.C. den Haitog for taking the time to share his ideas in lengthy e-mail discussions about corallimorpharia, and for providing very helpful reference material;

Dr. Henry Feddern for his photographs of gorgonians and anemones in the natural habitat, and for promoting the marine aquarium hobby by collecting marinelife with the greatest care;

Dr. William Fenical, University of California at San Diego, for information about and photographs of P. elisabetbae and the cosmetic products derived from this gorgonian;

Ann Fielding for organizing the trip to the Solomon Islands on the Spirit of the Solomons live-aboard dive boat. What a great trip we all had! Many of the underwater photographs in this volume were taken there; Thanks also to Paul and Vicki who enthusiastically showed us the fantastic little j details as well as the big picture at all the sites we visited, and to the crew who looked after everyone's needs with uncanny intuition:

Larry "Fireball" Jackson for his photo of the Tubipora sp. that looks like Alveopora, and for his enthusiastic support of the hobby for beginners and experts, plus his Texas-size sense of humor;

Warren Gibbons, New England Aquarium, for samples of the Pontes-eating nudibranch;

Dr. Terry Gosliner, California Academy of Sciences, for nudibranch identification;

Paul Humann for his photographs of Carijoa and Lebrunia;

John Jackson for his friendship, networking skill, and help obtaining some of the photographs;

Jeff Macare for not doing the macarena, but for stimulating a whole lot of enthusiasm for the hobby and sharing his observations, experience, and not-too-shabby photographs;

The cartilaginous Scott W. Michael for once again helping us to obtain those last minute photos and for being such a Husker;

Dr. David Miller, AIMS, for his assistance with obtaining reprints of some recent papers on corallimorphs;

Jon Moore for his kind assistance with the Berghia culture reference and obtaining specimens of Berghia;

Gary Moss, Jack Jewell (Marine World Africa USA) and Dave Sheehy for the last minute rush to get us a photograph of Berghia-,

Ricardo Miozzo for the pictures of his aquarium, photographed by Alvaro Povoa;

Tony Nahacky of Aquarium Fish Fiji for his hospitality, keen observational skills and sincere love of marinelife. Thanks also for the fantastic undescribed PseudocorynactisiCorallimorph us;

Alf Nilsen and Svein Fossa for their superb skill at pulling together the literature, contacting experts in the field, and documenting with photographs, articles and books the complex associations of plants and animals on a coral reef and in a reef aquarium;

Doug Perrine for his photo of Capnea lucida;

Daniel Ramirez for his patience and friendship, for tirelessly trying to instill within us an appreciation for the importance of a deadline, and for once again designing a beautiful book;

Giovanni Recchia for his photo of the photosynthetic hydroid;

Sandra Romano, for sending us information about the evolution and systematic relationships of the Cnidaria;

David Saxby, for rushing out to meet Julian at the London airport after gathering some new soft corals for Julian from his own aquarium and from Tropical And Marine pet shop;

Phil Shane of Quality Marine, Los Angeles, California for his information about anti-viral activity in Macrodactyla;

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The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The word aquarium originates from the ancient Latin language, aqua meaning water and the suffix rium meaning place or building. Aquariums are beautiful and look good anywhere! Home aquariums are becoming more and more popular, it is a hobby that many people are flocking too and fish shops are on the rise. Fish are generally easy to keep although do they need quite a bit of attention. Puppies and kittens were the typical pet but now fish are becoming more and more frequent in house holds. In recent years fish shops have noticed a great increase in the rise of people wanting to purchase aquariums and fish, the boom has been great for local shops as the fish industry hasnt been such a great industry before now.

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