When we first proposed putting together a book of our experiences keeping invertebrates in marine aquaria, we thought that it would be a single volume describing the light-loving invertebrates most people were keeping at that time. However, as the project began to take shape it quickly became apparent that we could not possibly fit everything we knew into a single volume! Hence this second volume was born.
This volume contains the culmination of our efforts in gathering photos, taxonomic information, husbandry ideas and reproductive facts about the myriad soft corals, anemones, zoanthids, and coral-limorpharians available in the aquarium trade today, plus a few not so readily available. In addition, we discuss and offer new7 solutions for coral pests and diseases and other reef aquarium plagues.
In the period of time since volume one was published many new discoveries have been made about maintaining reef aquariums, and a lot of previously difficult to acquire corals have become readily available. New technologies have also appeared, most notably downdraft protein skimmers, calcium reactors and high Kelvin lighting.
During the process of deciding how best to organize the information in this volume we agreed that a description of additional stony coral species not covered in volume one was not something that fit naturally with the rest of this book. Therefore a third (and final!) volume is planned, which will cover these additional stony corals, some more soft corals, additional anemones, plus a few other commonly kept marine invertebrates. At this point the third volume seems like it will be a smaller project than the first two, but these things have a way of growing! We want to assure the
magnifica on a reef slope in the i ^ , , . . , . r tion about the subjects we cover, with an extensive coverage ot the species kept in aquaria. Despite this goal, new ideas are constantly developed and explored by the many creative people involved in our hobby, and each year new creatures are discovered or collected for the aquarium trade for the first time.
In the planning phase of volume two we also thought we might include a section about the aforementioned new techniques as an update of sorts to volume one's information about aquarium systems. As we neared completion of this book it became aparent that this notion conflicted with our plans to write a separate whole book exclusively about techniques, and volume two was already becoming too large. Updates about techniques will therefore be covered in our next book, Techniques For The Reef Aquarium.
We believe our first volume is a very complete text by itself for anyone contemplating the creation of a reef aquarium. Likewise we know that this book, our second volume, provides a complete coverage of the identification and care of soft corals, corallimorphs, zoanthids, and anemones kept in tropical marine aquariums.
Chapters one through four deal with the complex taxonomy and identification of soft corals, zoanthids, corallimorpharians and sea anemones; respectfully. We discuss their classification, polyp and colonial anatomy, nutritional needs, growth, defensive mechanisms, reproductive strategies and habitat.
Chapter five discusses methods for the legal collection, transportation and shipment of the various invertebrates described in the previous four chapters.
Chapter six provides a detailed overview of captive propagation techniques for the various invertebrates discussed in chapters one through four, with numerous practical tips.
Chapter seven discusses virtually all of the various soft corals available in the aquarium trade today, complete with photographs and taxonomic features. With this information aquarists will be better able to identify many of the soft corals using the correct scientific names. Information is also provided on the common names, colouration, distinguishing features, similar species, natural habitat, aquarium care and reproduction for each coral.
Chapter eight introduces many of the zoanthids kept in aquaria. Information is provided for the correct identification of the major genera, as well as the common names, colouration, distinguishing features, similar species, natural habitat, aquarium care and reproduction for each genus.
Chapter nine covers the corallimorpharians. Details are given on the correct scientific and common names (where known), colouration, distinguishing features, similar species, natural habitat, plus aquarium care and reproduction for each genus.
Chapter ten provides detailed descriptions for many of the anemones kept in aquaria. This includes the correct scientific and common names, colouration, distinguishing features, similar species, natural habitat, aquarium care and reproduction for each species.
Chapter eleven describes many new pests and diseases that can affect tridacnid clams, anemones, stony and soft corals in aquaria, with supplemental information about some of the pests we covered in volume one.
Chapter twelve Following what continues to be one of the most talked about features of volume one, we again present reef tanks from around the world. This chapter contains more photos of stunning reef aquaria from both public and private aquarium collections.
Readers may wonder about the impact of our hobby on the natural environment and the populations of the creatures described in this book. We refer the reader to the introduction in volume one for a review of this subject. More about the subject of collection can also be found in chapter five in this book and in chapter eleven in volume one. Most of the creatures described in this book are knowTn to reproduce vegetatively, and they exhibit rapid growth rates. In addition, we demonstrate in this volume vegetative reproduction for species not known to employ it.
We are confident that the level of impact on the natural habitat from collection of soft corals is quite sustainable. They are generally collected with only fragments of shells, gravel, or broken branches of dead coral, so they hardly effect any removal of solid reef substrate. Furthermore, the aquarium industry is setting up numerous mariculture operations, "coral farms," for cultivating these fast-growing species attached to mined upland rocks. Some of these operations are being set up in the island nations where collection from the wild has been practiced, thereby keeping the industry at its source, supporting the livelihood of the native people and giving them incentive to conserve their reefs. The collection of corallimorpharia is usually also a harmless activity to the reef, involving the removal of small dead coral and shell fragments with attached, fast growing vegetatively produced disc anemones. In some cases, however, relatively large chunks of reef weighing several pounds are broken off to obtain the pretty mushroom shaped disc anemones. Collecting by fragmenting pieces larger than a couple of fists has the potential to damage the reef in localized areas, and we do not support such activity. For the most part, large pieces are not collected because they are heavy pieces, which means they are expensive to ship via airfreight. Thus the limits of transportation cost tend to provide a means of controlling the impact on the environment. However, an exception to this was seen in the example of Ricordea florida, a beautiful corallimorph that was being collected along with large pieces of rock until the state of Florida banned its collection with live rock.
Zoanthid anemones are also typically collected attached to rocks, though sometimes they are peeled off the rock in large clumps. Where they occur near the shore in the Indo-Pacific it is common to find them growing on the natural volcanic rock. In some places zoanthids can be found growing on fossil reefs located in the intertidal zone. Removal of rocks from a fossil reef is not removal of a renewable resource. In such locations it makes sense to collect unattached clumps of polyps only. Collecting zoanthids encrusting dead coral branches laying loose on sand flats associated with coral reefs their typical habitat) does not cause significant harm since the dead branches of fast growing species such as Acropora or Porites are products of about one to two years of growth, and the loose branches disintegrate with time as boring organisms perforate them.
The collection of sea anemones is a subject of some controversy now, mostly due to the public awareness of the association between anemone and clownfish. The majority of anemones are not clownfish hosts. Many reproduce vegetatively by longitudinal fission, producing large stands of clones. Still others are prolific spawners with successful recruitment producing extensive beds of anemones. The clownfish host anemones, while common, generally do not occur in large density, though there are exceptions. Entacmaea quadricolor and Heteractis magnified are known to reproduce vegetatively by longitudinal fission, and in some localities one may find large areas covered by them. Sticbodactyla gigantea may also be abundant in some localities too, and although it is not yet reported in the scientific literature, we report in this book (in chapter four) two modes of asexual reproduction for this species. Certainly a managed collection of anemones in areas where they are abundant is a sustainable activity. However, it is not just the collection of the anemones that puts their populations at risk. The collection of the clownfish also affects anemone populations, as we will shortly explain.
We feel there is a potential for over exploiting the resource (i.e. taking too many anemones) from localized areas, though at this time it is our opinion that for most species the level of impact has not (and will not) come close to reaching that point. A possible exception to this may be found in the example of Condylactis gigantea, an anemone that occurs throughout the Caribbean. This anemone is a popular "beginners anemone" because it is hardy, attractive, and inexpensive. In the Florida Keys, marinelife collectors at one time collected hundreds of these anemones per day in seagrass beds where ihey are so loosely attached that they can even be netted from a boat. While the species is still common throughout the Florida Keys, the super-densely populated "anemone beds" have become scarce. Florida has now set daily catch limits for this species in an attempt to reduce the size of the harvest. Worldwide no other species of anemone is collected for the aquarium industry in quantities like Condylactis gigantea. Perhaps a second runner-up is the Rock Anemone from Florida, Epicystis crncifer. It is extremely abundant in the same habitat as Condylactis, but requires a bit more effort to collect, and its coloration is cryptic (unlike the typical bright whitish pink of Condylactis) so its populations are not at all declining. Clownfish host anemones are simply not collected in large numbers like the anemones from Florida, but their resident clownfish are.
The collection of clownfish can affect anemone populations because the clownfish protect the anemone from potential predators such as butterfly fishes (Fautin and Allen, 1992). If the collectors leave some clownfish in the anemones instead of taking all of them, the harvest is sustainable because new clownfish recruits will shortly settle because they will have an anemone to settle in. If all the clownfish are removed, their anemones may be eaten and no more clownfish nor anemones will return.
In recent years the quality of tank-raised clownfish has improved so much with respect to colouration and size that one can no longer complain that tank raised specimens are inferior to wild caught ones. In fact tank raised fish are much safer to purchase since w ild caught clownfish are extremely prone to infections that not only kill them but also may affect other fishes to which they are exposed. While recently we have seen several clownfish hatcheries go out of business due to lack of profitability, other businesses have survived and new ones have come into existence. There is now a greater diversity of tank raised species (including fish and invertebrates) available to the consumer, and this also helps the aquaculture facility by providing more potential sources of income. It seems the consumer demand for tank raised species has also been increasing, which is an encouraging sign. With regard to clownfish, the main problem is that the cost of production makes it difficult to compete with the price of wild-caught specimens. The interesting thing is that the price of wild caught specimens and the cost of wild caught specimens are not at all the same. The invoiced price must have freight added to it plus the ''invisible" cost of mortality. The losses of wild caught clownfish can be quite high, so their actual cost to the importer may be much higher than their perceived cost. Nevertheless there is still demand for wild caught clownfish and the price of tank raised fish has traditionally had to be reduced to market them against the price (not cost) of the wild caught competition. Therefore aquaculture facilities have been operating without making much or any profits. An idea has been proposed to tax wild caught clownfish with the proceeds going to a fund for research in aquaculture. This would in effect elevate the price of wild caught clownfish, allowing the farms to compete and earn the money they deserve, and at the same time provide a source of money to promote more effective aquaculture. It seems like a nice idea, but of course the management of such fund collecting is where the idea becomes problematic.
The establishment of organizations whose plan is to raise not only clownfish but also other fish species and invertebrates is something which has been taking shape the past couple of years. Right now one can already have a marine aquarium with clownfish, other fish species, live rock, anemones, soft and stony corals all farm raised. We believe that in the near future this will be more commonplace as it becomes ever more economically feasible to produce the marinelife on a large scale. With the information we present in this volume our intention is to promote the marine aquarium hobby, sustainable harvest, aquaculture, and coral reef conservation.
Was this article helpful?
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.