‘Big Fish’ a potential new US invader.

January 11th, 2013

January 11th 2013

Harking back to recent coverage of the public aquarium ‘Big Fish Campaign’ in UltraMarine and on Reef Ramblings, here is a good example of the potential problems caused by fish that grow to a size too large for the average aquarium.

Back in late December spear fisherman, Greg Caterino, caught what was initially a mystery species of fish, off North Key Largo, Florida.

Greg Caterino with the humpback grouper that he speared off North Key Largo. Image: Wayne Grammes / KeysNet.com

Greg Caterino with the humpback grouper that he speared off North Key Largo.
Image: Wayne Grammes / KeysNet.com

This image helps put into perspective the potential size of this species.

On closer examination the 6.8 kilo (15 pound), 0.7 metre (27 inch) long fish was identified as a specimen of Chromileptes altivelis. Common names for this fish include: Humpback Grouper, Panther Grouper, and in Australia the Barramundi Cod.

Juveniles of this species are often found in the UK aquarium trade sold under the name Panther Grouper. As juveniles, at length of around 10 cms, these fish are attractive to inexperienced aquarists owing to their striking colouration of black polka dots on a white background.  Unfortunately they don’t retain their distinctive appearance and, as they grow, so does their appetite with any tank mate that can fit into their mouth becoming a potential meal.

Image: Tim Hayes

Image: Tim Hayes

Example of a ‘cute’ juvenile Panther Grouper.

 

Although not directly relevant to the UK because of our cooler climate, in addition to the ‘Big Fish’ issue, there is the secondary issue of invasive species to consider. This is an Indo-Pacific species, almost certainly released into the sea by an aquarist whose tank it had outgrown. According to Lad Akins, Project Director for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation,  “This is not the first time these have been sighted in Florida, there have been five or six reported as far back as the 1980s, but all from different parts of the state.”

With one Indo-Pacific species, the Lionfish, Pterois volitans, well on the way to being established in the region, the fear in this area of the US is of another foreign invader joining it to the detriment of the local marine ecosystem.

Click here to learn more about the the Big Fish Campaign.

Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

©2013

 

 

 

 

Deep water Acropora discovered for the first time on the Great Barrier Reef.

January 7th, 2013

There’s a remarkable new finding from the Catlin Seaview Survey. As part of their Deep Reef Survey, a community of hermatypic, zooxanthellate corals have been discovered at a depth of 125 metres, the deepest found so far on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

The discovery was made at the Ribbon Reefs off the north of the GBR in an area normally inaccessible owing to its full exposure to big ocean swells. The team were fortunate to encounter unusually calm seas, permitting them to deploy their Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) getting close up coral images and even collecting a specimen from 125 metres.

Image: © Catlin Seaview Survey

Image: © Catlin Seaview Survey
Coral specimen retrieved from 125 metres. ROV in background.

Deep water Acropora

Apart from the discovery of reef building corals at such a great depth was the remarkable sighting of an Acropora species at a depth of 73 metres; to date this is the deepest that this genus has been recorded on the GBR.

Deep-water hermatypic corals

Usually when discussing deep-water corals we are talking coldwater corals, ranging down to a depth of 2000 metres with water temperatures as cold as 4˚C, living in complete darkness. Deep-water coral communities are composed of corals lacking zooxanthellae, the symbiotic algae that help provide food for most shallow-water corals through photosynthesis and are generally comprised of the Orders Scleractinia (stony corals) forming hard, ahermatypic reefs; Antipatharia (black corals); and Alcyonacea (soft corals) mostly gorgonians (sea fans). Having no zooxanthellae, deep-water corals are reliant on capturing detritus and plankton for food, hence their distribution is dependent upon areas of strong current. Click here for more about coldwater corals.

The deep-water corals found by the Catlin team are of noteworthy as they are zooxanthellate, tropical hermatypic (reef building) corals found at a far greater depth than is usual for these species. Depending on source, the lower depth limit for zooxanthellate corals is generally considered to be around 30 – 40 metres, with rare occurrences reported as deep as 60 metres. At a depth of 125 metres these newly discovered corals are still well within the photic zone, that is the uppermost layer of water that daylight can penetrate in sufficient amounts to permit photosynthesis, which depending on local conditions, can be as deep as 200 metres. Light at this kind of depth is restricted to the blue end of the spectrum and at 125 metres is only one to two percent of surface irradiation at best.

Image: © Catlin Seaview Survey

Image: © Catlin Seaview Survey

So how do these corals survive?

One significant clue to their survival may the full exposure of these corals to big ocean swells; it is probable that these swells are bringing with them sufficient nutrition, while their symbiotic algae are ticking over, perhaps supplying enough energy to support respiration.

Additionally the growth form of the deep-water corals is an adaptation to the low level of available light; they are laminar, forming thin flat plates, with upward facing polyps to harness as much light as possible.

For more information about the Catlin Seaview Survey, see:

Reef Ramblings ‘Catlin Seaview Survey launches on the Great Barrier Reef’

Catlin Seaview Survey website

 

 

Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

©2013

 

Olympus BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition 2012

December 29th, 2012

First announced in 2004, the Olympus BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition, sponsored by Olympus America Inc. has become a yearly event honouring the world’s most extraordinary microscope images of life science subjects.

The competition recognizes outstanding images of life science specimens captured through light microscopes, using any magnification, any illumination technique and any brand of equipment.

“Microscope images forge an extraordinary bond between science and art,” said Hidenao Tsuchiya, President, Olympus Corporation of the Americas. “We founded this competition to focus on the fascinating stories coming out of today’s life science research laboratories.” Adding, “We look at BioScapes and these beautiful images as sources of education and inspiration to us and the world.”

2012 competition – aquatic organisms.

Aquatic organisms are often the subjects of competition entries, five out of the ten winners along with 19 out of the 64 honourable mentions featured aquatic subjects. The resultant images represent a meeting of biological science and art; they are often beautiful, sometimes bizarre, but nevertheless interesting, giving us a glimpse into the usually unseen world of the microscopic.

I’ve searched through the winners and honourable mentions from this year’s competition, announced in early December 2012, to bring you the following collection of aquatic images, adding explanatory comments about the organism in question wherever possible.

Winners

1st

Mr. Ralph Grimm

Video of colonial rotifers showing eyespots and corona, magnification 200x – 500x.

To learn more about rotifers in connection to the reef aquarium, see Reef Ramblings.

 



2nd

Dr. Arlene WechezakRed algae Scagelia, showing reproductive tetraspores and golden diatoms.

Dr. Arlene Wechezak
Red algae Scagelia, showing reproductive tetraspores and golden diatoms.

Scagelia is a genus of Rhodophyta or red algae.

 

 



4th

Dr. Christian Sardet and Mr. Sharif MirshakClaw of crustacean amphipod Phronima sp. Muscles and rows of pigment cells (melanocytes) are visible.

Dr. Christian Sardet and Mr. Sharif Mirshak
Claw of crustacean amphipod Phronima sp. Muscles and rows of pigment cells (melanocytes) are visible.

Phronima species are deep-sea amphipods and, according to German wildlife photographer Solvin Zankl, provided the inspiration behind the creature in the Alien movies.




5th

Mr. Rogelio Moreno GillUnicellular green alga Micrasterias from lake sample. 22 stacked images.

Mr. Rogelio Moreno Gill
Unicellular green alga Micrasterias from lake sample. 22 stacked images.

The genus Micrasterias belongs to the Desmidiales an order of green algae found mostly in fresh water and often referred to as Desmids. Around 0.35mm in size, they display an attractive bilateral symmetry, with two mirror-image sections joined by a narrow bridge containing the nucleus.




6th

Mr. James NicholsonLive mushroom coral Fungia sp. Close-up of mouth during expansion.

Mr. James Nicholson
Live mushroom coral Fungia sp. Close-up of mouth during expansion.

A common, free-living reef aquarium coral. To learn more see, ‘The Fungiids – the Plate or Mushroom Corals



Honourable mentions

Ms. Holly Aaron, Dr. Karen Dehnert, Dr. Scott Laughlin, and Dr. Carolyn BertozziFucosylated glycans in a zebrafish embryo.

Ms. Holly Aaron, Dr. Karen Dehnert, Dr. Scott Laughlin, and Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi
Fucosylated glycans in a zebrafish embryo.

The zebrafish, Danio rerio, a tropical freshwater fish, is an important model organism, widely used in scientific and medical research.



Mr. Arturo AgostinoGroup of Vorticella (bell-shaped protozoans).

Mr. Arturo Agostino
Group of Vorticella (bell-shaped protozoans).

Vorticella is a genus of protozoa, mostly freshwater. They are inverted, bell-shaped ciliates, anchored to a substrate by a stalk.



Dr. Gordon BeakesDesmid Micrasterias ovata showing chlorophyll autofluorescence (red) and cell wall.

Dr. Gordon Beakes
Desmid Micrasterias ovata showing chlorophyll autofluorescence (red) and cell wall.

Autofluorescence is natural emission of light; the colouration is not artificially induced.



Mr. Wolfgang BettighoferThe diatom Rhizosolenia setigera shortly after binary fission. The sample was collected in the vicinity of Heligoland, North Sea.

Mr. Wolfgang Bettighofer
The diatom Rhizosolenia setigera shortly after binary fission. The sample was collected in the vicinity of Heligoland, North Sea.

 Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are one of the most common types of phytoplankton. They are characterised by a cell wall made of silica.



Dr. Victor ChepurnovLiving freshwater diatom cells in a drop of water. Two species, are visible: Cyclotella meneghiniana (tablet shaped) and Nitzschia palea (long).

Dr. Victor Chepurnov
Living freshwater diatom cells in a drop of water. Two species, are visible: Cyclotella meneghiniana (tablet shaped) and Nitzschia palea (long).




Mr. Michael CrutchleyDaphnia (water flea) captured using image stacking.

Mr. Michael Crutchley
Daphnia (water flea) captured using image stacking.

A common freshwater planktonic crustacean belonging to the order Cladocera



Dr. John DolanDiatom, Corethron sp., from the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. The central part of the cell from which the spines protrude is about 40 microns wide.

Dr. John Dolan
Diatom, Corethron sp., from the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. The central part of the cell from which the spines protrude is about 40 microns wide.




Dr. Christine Farrar, Dr. Jo-Ann Leong, Dr. Pam Omidyar, and Dr. Ruth GatesPlankton moults, showing autofluorescence - blue, green and red.

Dr. Christine Farrar, Dr. Jo-Ann Leong, Dr. Pam Omidyar, and Dr. Ruth Gates
Plankton moults, showing autofluorescence – blue, green and red.




Dr. Jens Hallfeldt




Volvox aureus colonies moving and turning; a daughter colony leaves a big colony.

Volvox is a genus of freshwater green algae that forms spherical colonies of up to 50,000 cells.



Mr. Edwin LeeBirefringence in pondwater protozoans.

Mr. Edwin Lee
Birefringence in pondwater protozoans.

Birefringence, or double refraction, is the property or capacity of splitting a beam of light into two beams, each refracted at a different angle, and each polarized at a right angle to the other. Certain crystals such as calcite and quartz have this property.






Mr. Marek MisVarious species of Desmids - freshwater green algae). Living specimens arranged as they naturally presented themselves on the slide.

Mr. Marek Mis
Various species of Desmids – freshwater green algae). Living specimens arranged as they naturally presented themselves on the slide.




Mr. Jacek MyslowskiProtozoan Pyxicola.

Mr. Jacek Myslowski
Protozoan Pyxicola.

Species of the genus Pyxicola are sessile, freshwater ciliates with an elongated, vase-shaped appearance. Size around 70-120 microns in height and 25-40 microns in width.



Dr. Igor SiwanowiczMarine amphipod appendage, covered in feather-like setae that serve as a plankton net. The "arm" is around 0.8mm long.

Dr. Igor Siwanowicz
Marine amphipod appendage, covered in feather-like setae that serve as a plankton net. The “arm” is around 0.8mm long.

A typical adaptation in filter feeding species



Mr. Wim van EgmondStentor and diatoms.

Mr. Wim van Egmond
Stentor and diatoms.

Stentor is a genus of freshwater filter feeding, heterotrophic ciliate protists, usually horn-shaped, and reaching lengths of up to two millimetres.



Mr. Wim van EgmondFree-swimming tunicate larva.

Mr. Wim van Egmond
Free-swimming tunicate larva.

To reef keepers the most familiar tunicates are the Ascidiacea, or Sea squirts, that have a sessile lifestyle. Less well known are the free swimming or pelagic classes of tunicates, the Thaliacea (Pyrosomida, Doliolida, and Salpida) and the Appendicularia (Larvacea).



Mr. Wim van EgmondRotifer Stephanoceras.

Mr. Wim van Egmond
Rotifer Stephanoceras.

A genus of sessile, rather than free-swimming, rotifers.



Dr. Arlene WechezakObelia hydroid with attached golden diatoms.

Dr. Arlene Wechezak
Obelia hydroid with attached golden diatoms.

Obelia is a genus of hydrozoan in the phylum Cnidaria, hence related to corals. Hydrozoans differ from corals in having both polyp and medusa stages in their life cycle.






All image copyrights belong to the individual contestants.

2013 competition.

Entry deadline for the 2013 competition is September 30, 2013.

First prize is the winner’s choice of Olympus microscope or camera equipment valued at $5,000. Nine additional winners will also receive prizes, and many more will receive recognition as honourable mentions.

Each entrant can submit up to five movies, images, or image sequences. Entries must include information on the importance or “story” behind the images. Winners are notified in late October and are announced publicly in November or December. Selected winning images also become part of a travelling exhibit tour of museums and academic institutions.

To learn more about the BioScapes competition and to see winning entries from previous years, go to http://www.olympusbioscapes.com

Edited and compiled by Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

©2012

 

41 species of reef fishes in 2012 California Academy of Sciences new species list

December 22nd, 2012

California Academy of Sciences 2012 new species list

Every year the California Academy of Sciences issues a press release detailing species newly described to science by academy scientists during the past 12 months.  The 2012 list comprises of 137 species new to science including 83 arthropods, 41 fishes, seven plants, four sea slugs, one reptile, and one amphibian; described by more than a dozen Academy scientists along with several dozen international collaborators.

“The ongoing discovery of new species is an important function of systematics-based institutions like the California Academy of Sciences,” said Dr. Terry Gosliner, Dean of Science and Research Collections at the Academy. “During these times, when we are facing the planet’s sixth mass extinction, species may be disappearing before we have a chance to find and describe them. How can we know what to protect, if we don’t know that it exists in the first place?”

Marine Highlights

Two of the marine highlights of the year were:

  • A new species of deepwater Catshark from the Galapagos, the Jaguar Catshark, Bythaelurus giddingsi, collected via submersible from depths in the region of 428 –562 metres. The authors chose the common name partly because of its spotted pattern, and partly because it bears a striking resemblance to the fictional “Jaguar Shark” seen cruising the dark depths in the Wes Anderson film, ‘The Life Aquatic’.
Bythaelurus_giddingsi L

Bythaelurus giddingsi – Jaguar Catshark.
Image: California Academy of Sciences

  • The publication in June of, ‘Reef Fishes of the East Indies’, a three volume magnum opus, several decades in the making. Its geographic coverage spans the South China Sea, Andaman Sea, and the Coral Triangle—the region between the Philippines, Borneo, and New Guinea that is regarded as a global centre of biodiversity. Co-authored by Academy research associate Mark Erdmann, this three-volume book set provides descriptions and colour photographs of more than 2,500 reef fishes, including 25 new species.

Marine species

I’ve broken down the 41 species of fishes into their family groupings, 17 in all, and included size where possible, in order to make it easier to appreciate these new discoveries from a reef aquarium perspective.

Many of these new species seem to be small, cryptic, or of limited distribution, perhaps being found only at a single location or at a greater depth – all factors in their being previously undescribed – a reflection on the difficulty of fully exploring the underwater world. It’s likely that there are many more similar species awaiting discovery.

Snake Eels

Myrichthys paleracio, a new species of snake-eel from the Philippines. Image: California Academy of Sciences

Myrichthys paleracio, a new species of snake-eel from the Philippines.
Image: California Academy of Sciences

Anthias

A beautiful fairy basslet known only from a single deep reef off the southern Indonesian island of Lembata.Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

A beautiful fairy basslet known only from a single deep reef off the southern Indonesian island of Lembata.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Coral Breams

A small coral bream with a blazing gold stripe known only from the Komodo islands in Indonesia. Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

A small coral bream with a blazing gold stripe known only from the Komodo islands in Indonesia.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Sandperches

A strikingly coloured, red spotted sand perch known only from southern Indonesia (Sumatra to Komodo) and west to the Andaman islands of India; in shallow depths of 2-8m. Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

A strikingly coloured, red spotted sand perch known only from southern Indonesia (Sumatra to Komodo) and west to the Andaman islands of India; in shallow depths of 2-8m.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Sand-divers

A deep reef species (below 60m depth) discovered in Cendrawasih Bay in West Papua; the name refers to the unusually long pelvic fins which this fish uses to rest on the bottom in tripod-like fashion.Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

A deep reef species (below 60m depth) discovered in Cendrawasih Bay in West Papua; the name refers to the unusually long pelvic fins which this fish uses to rest on the bottom in tripod-like fashion.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Clingfishes

Aspasmichthys alorensis - a tiny clingfish known only from the Alor Strait in SE Indonesia - an area renowned for ferocious currents.Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Aspasmichthys alorensis – a tiny clingfish known only from the Alor Strait in SE Indonesia – an area renowned for ferocious currents.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

 

Lepidichthys akiko - a beautiful candy-striped clingfish known only from deep reefs of Cendrawasih Bay in West Papua. Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Lepidichthys akiko – a beautiful candy-striped clingfish known only from deep reefs of Cendrawasih Bay in West Papua.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Dragonets

Synchiropus tudorjonesi - Tudor Jones' dragonet (male and female). Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Synchiropus tudorjonesi – Tudor Jones’ dragonet (male and female).
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Gobies

As might be expected the most numerous of the new species are Gobies:

Acentrogobius cendrawasih – known only from a single silty gully off the Wandammen Peninsula in Cendrawasih Bay; unusual in that it lives at about 30m depth, other members of this genus are usually found above 10m.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

 

Eviota atriventris Photo by J. E. Randall.

 

Eviota_fallax__GR_Allen L

Eviota fallax
Image Credit: Gerald Allen

 

Grallenia baliensis – a miniscule sand goby found on the slopes of NE Bali during a 2011 survey.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

 

Priolepis nocturna - a highly cryptic and rarely seen reef goby. Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Priolepis nocturna – a highly cryptic and rarely seen reef goby.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

 

Tomiyamichthys gomezi - A beautiful shrimp goby that lives commensally with snapping shrimp. Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Tomiyamichthys gomezi – A beautiful shrimp goby that lives commensally with snapping shrimp.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

 

Tryssogobius sarah - A delicate fairy goby with iridescent blue eyes known from deep (40-70m) reefs around Raja Ampat. Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Tryssogobius sarah – A delicate fairy goby with iridescent blue eyes known from deep (40-70m) reefs around Raja Ampat.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

 Dartfishes

Ptereleotris rubristigma - a beautiful blue dart fish named for the prominent red spot on the gill cover; widespread throughout the East Indies region and found on soft bottoms exposed to currents. Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

Ptereleotris rubristigma – a beautiful blue dart fish named for the prominent red spot on the gill cover; widespread throughout the East Indies region and found on soft bottoms exposed to currents.
Image Credit: Gerald Allen, Conservation International

 

List of Fishes

Family Scientific Name Common Name Location TLCms Ref
Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks Bythaelurus giddingsi Jaguar Catshark Galapagos 45.3 13
Ophichthidae – Snake Eels Myrichthys paleracio Whitenose Snake Eel Philippines 50.0 11
Ophichthus machidai Snake eel Japan 12
Ophichthus obtusus Snake eel Japan 12
Scolecenchelys fuscapenis Worm eel Japan 12
Batrachoididae – Toadfishes Austrobatrachus iselesele Zulu Toadfish South Africa 21.2(SL) 10
Colletteichthys flavipinnis Yellowfin Toadfish Sri Lanka, India 13.2(SL) 9
Scorpaenidae – Scorpionfishes Scorpaenodes bathycolus Deepreef Scorpionfish East Indies 8.0 1
Serranidae – Anthias Pseudanthias mica Mica’s Anthias East Indies 7.8 1
Pseudochromidae – Dottybacks Pseudochromis ammeri Raja Ampat Dottyback Philippines, Indonesia 9.0 4
Pseudochromis eichleri Eichler’s Dottyback Philippines, Indonesia 11.0 4
Pseudochromis oligochrysus Pale-spotted Dottyback Indonesia 6.5 3
Pseudochromis rutilus Orange-spotted Dottyback Indonesia 7.0 3
Pseudochromis tigrinus Tiger Dottyback East Indies 7.0 1
Apogonidae – Cardinalfishes Ostorhinchus tricinctus Threeband Cardinalfish East Indies 6.5 1
Nemipteridae – Coral Breams Pentapodus komodoensis Komodo Whiptail East Indies 13.0 1
Chaetodontidae – Butterflyfishes Forcipiger wanai Cenderawasih Longnose Butterflyfish East Indies 17.0 1
Pomacentridae – Damselfishes Amblyglyphidodon flavopurpureus Cenderawasih Damselfish East Indies 12.0 1
Amblyglyphidodon silolona Silolona Damselfish East Indies 12.5 1
Neoglyphidodon mitratus Eastern Barhead Damselfish East Indies 13.5 1
Labridae – Wrasses Cirrhilabrus humanni Humann’s Fairy-Wrasse East Indies 7.0 1
Iniistius naevus             Blemished Razorfish East Indies 18.0
Pseudocoris petila Slender Wrasse East Indies 14.0 1
Pinguipedidae – Sandperches Parapercis bimacula Redbar Sandperch East Indies 12.5 1
Parapercis sagma Saddled Sandperch East Indies 9.0 1
Trichonotidae – Sand-divers Pteropsaron longipinnis      Midwater Sand-diver East Indies 3.5 1
Gobiesocidae – Clingfishes Aspasmichthys alorensis Alor Clingfish East Indies 0.9 1
Lepadichthys akiko Minute Clingfish East Indies 1.2 1
Callionymidae – Dragonets Synchiropus tudorjonesi Redback Dragonet Indonesia 4.8 2
Gobiidae – Gobies Acentrogobius cendrawasih Cenderawasih Goby East Indies 5.5 1
Eviota atriventris Neon Dwarfgoby Indo-Pacific 2.5 8
Eviota fallax Twin Dwarfgoby Western Pacific Ocean 1.8(SL) 6
Eviota notata Barhead Dwarfgoby Indian Ocean 1.5 (SL) 7
Eviota springeri Springer’s Dwarfgoby Indian Ocean 1.7(SL) 7
Grallenia baliensis            Bali Goby East Indies 2.5 1
Tomiyamichthys gomezi Gomez’ Shrimpgoby East Indies 6.0 1
Tomiyamichthys nudus Scaleless Shrimpgoby East Indies 5.0 1
Tryssogobius sarah Sarah’s Fairygoby East Indies 3.3 1
Vanderhorstia wayag  Wayag Shrimpgoby East Indies 4.5 1
Ptereleotridae – Dartfishes Ptereleotris caeruleomarginata Bluemargin Dartfish East Indies 7.3 1
Ptereleotris rubristigma Redspot Dartfish East Indies 10.5 1

TL – Total length: term used by taxonomists to describe the length of a fish from its most forward part, e.g. its snout, to its rearmost part, e.g. the tip of the tail.

SL – Standard length: term used by taxonomists to describe the length of a fish from its most forward part, e.g. its snout, to the base of the tail. This measurement is used because long-preserved fish often lose the tips of the caudal fin rays through breakage after the desiccation effect of alcohol.

List of Sea Slugs

Family Scientific Name Common Name             Location Reference
Tethydidae Melibe colemani Malaysia 5
Melibe coralophilia Philippines, Malaysia 5
Scyllaeidae Notobryon panamica Central America, Caribbean 14
Notobryon thompsoni South Africa 14

 

Notobryon thompsoni, a nudibranch found in South Africa. Image: California Academy of Sciences

Notobryon thompsoni, a nudibranch found in South Africa.
Image: California Academy of Sciences

Four species of nudibranchs, in two families, were included in this year’s new species list. One species, Melibe coralophilia, is described as being found in association with two species of coral, the Blue Coral, Heliopora coerulea, and Porites species, although the nature of the association is currently unknown.

References

For references, see, ‘CalAcademy 2012 references

Adapted from materials provided by the California Academy of Sciences.

From my favourite new resource, Fishes of the East Indies, by Allen GR and Erdmann MV

Additional materials courtesy of FishBase

 

Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

©2012

 

Mission Blue

December 20th, 2012

Check out this amazing photograph of a diver being dwarfed by a vast school of Jacks.

CaboPulmo_NatGeo2012_OctavioAburto-555x348

The image was taken by scientist Octavio Aburto in the Cabo Pulmo National Park, a marine reserve in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, north of Cabo San Lucas on the tip of Baja California. Cabo Pulmo is a conservation success story that demonstrates what a no-take marine park can achieve.

The photo shows the schooling Jacks exhibiting courtship behaviour has been submitted to the National Geographic Photo Contest 2012 and was featured on Mission Blue, a website created to raise awareness of ocean issues, headed up by oceanographer Sylvia Earle.

Mission Blue

Mission Blue is a global initiative formed in response to Sylvia Earle’s 2009 TED Prize wish where Dr. Earle urged people “to use all means at your disposal – films, expeditions, the web, new submarines – to create a campaign to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas; Hope Spots large enough to save and restore the blue heart of the planet.”

Decades of over fishing, pollution, climate change, acidification and other anthopogenic pressures threaten the health of the ocean and, in turn, the future of humankind. Presently, less than 1 percent of the ocean is fully protected nationally and internationally.

Mission Blue, a product of the non-profit Sylvia Earle Alliance (SEAlliance) and TED, has nearly fifty partners, organisations from around the world, dedicated to ocean conservation, research, exploration, communication, and more. Goals include increasing marine protected areas by 20 percent by 2020, fishery reform, pollution reduction, and to gain support for the ocean through educating the general public about the threats it faces.

Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park

In 2011 a study by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography described Cabo Pulmo as the “most robust marine reserve in the world”, with an unparalleled 463 percent increase in fish biomass observed since its creation as a no-take marine park

In the 1990s the coral reefs of Cabo Pulmo were despoiled and the ecosystem depleted after decades of destructive over fishing.  When the locals realised what had caused the damage they petitioned the government to make the area a national park, and in 1995 a 17,560-acre strip of marine and coastal habitat was established as a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Fishing was banned within the park and the local communities took stewardship of the marine area, shifting their economy away from destructive fishing practices.

In 2005, UNESCO named Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park a World Heritage Site and it became a Ramsar Wetlands Site of International Importance in 2008.

To learn more about Cabo Pulmo see. ‘Photo of the Day: Rush Hour on the Reef

Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

20 December 2012

 

 

Reef aquarium hobby may be helping to preserve coral reefs

December 14th, 2012

The International trade in live corals may help preserve wild  corals and coral reefs.

In the wake of the recent proposal by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to list 66 species of coral under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Sea Shepherd adding the elimination of the aquarium hobby to its aims, it is heartening to see a study published this week showing that the reef aquarium trade may be having a positive influence on coral reefs.

The study, ‘Long-term trends of coral imports into the United States indicate future opportunities for ecosystem and societal benefits’ by Rhyne, Tlusty, and Kaufman, was published in the December issue of the journal Conservation Letters. The team of researchers from Roger Williams University, Boston University, Conservation International, and the New England Aquarium, suggest that the trade in live corals may help to preserve wild corals and coral reef ecosystems.

Whereas trade in corals was once primarily a trade of dried skeletons as curios, it is now concentrated on supplying live corals for the reef aquarium hobby in a trade that is continually evolving, with the introduction of species new to the hobby.

The authors analysed 21 years of US import data, finding that the coral trade had increased over 8% per year between 1990 until the mid-2000s, and has since reduced by 9% annually. The timing of the peak and decline varies between species, and is a result of the rising popularity of the reef aquarium hobby, global financial issues, and an increase in domestic aquaculture production, with the decrease mostly owing to the current economic climate.

The live coral trade is viewed by some critics as a threat to the high biodiversity ecosystems that make up the coral reefs, however, supplying the aquarium trade with locally cultivated corals offers opportunities for reef conservation, provides sustainable economic benefits to coastal communities, along with an incentive to protect the reefs from which the mother colonies are obtained.

Recent changes in the trade of live corals for the reef aquarium hobby are resulting in new opportunities for conservation. “The trade has moved from a wild harvest to mariculture production, a change sparked by long-term efforts to produce a sustainable income to small island countries such as the Solomon Islands and also by the government of Indonesia,” says Andrew Rhyne, lead-author and Roger Williams University assistant professor of marine biology and research scientist at the New England Aquarium. This shift from a wild fishery to a mariculture product poses new opportunities and challenges for conservationists.

The rapid evolution of the trade with new species waxing and waning in value makes effective management difficult. “New species in the live coral trade initially command high prices, but as they become common the price drops with feedback effects to the trade,” said Les Kaufman, Boston University professor of biology and research fellow at Conservation International.

“The live coral trade offers opportunities for coral reef ecosystem conservation and sustainable economic benefits to coastal communities,” says Rhyne. Michael Tlusty of the New England Aquarium, adding that “the realization of these externalities will require effective data tracking.”

Coral reefs are subject to numerous anthropogenic threats including the global threat of warming oceans that are becoming more acidic, and local threats such as improper land use resulting in increased nutrient loading, and over-fishing, which can trigger an ecological cascade resulting in blooms of seaweed that inhibit coral growth.

Trade can be a strong incentive for conservation, but this emerging local conservation tool may be at risk from well-intended restrictions to trade such as ESA listing, and similar prohibitions, intended to protect corals and coral reefs. Restrictions such as these may eliminate the benefits of the trade revealed by the study. These benefits include putting a value on intact coral reefs, and providing a greatly needed income for many in the island nations where hundreds of millions of people rely on the reef for subsistence. A more selective regulatory approach that allows local efforts to sensibly manage reef resources may be preferable.

Editorial comment

It is refreshing to see a study that emphasises the value of the reef aquarium hobby to those living in supply countries who rely on the reefs for their meagre livelihood. Putting greater value on the reefs locally would, hopefully, bring about a reduction in destructive fishing methods such as dynamite fishing and the use of cyanide

In recognising the value of the trade in corals as a positive tool for reef conservation it would seem appropriate if some way could be found for these mostly poor, subsistence fisherman to gain greater benefits from the aquarium trade, acknowledging their role in managing the reef environment.

As an aside, it’s interesting to see that the decline in trade varies species to species and the comments regarding new species, suggesting that species popularity may be subject to fashion and whim rather than an desire to recreate a realistic portrayal of the wild reef in the home aquarium.

Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

©2012

 

Bio-fluorescence on a coral reef at night.

December 10th, 2012

Check out this fascinating, somewhat psychedelic, video of a night dive in the Red Sea shot under ultraviolet (UV) light, showing all manner of reef organisms exhibiting fluorescence. Animals including corals, fishes, echinoderms, and even the shell of a hermit crab show off a wide range of bizarre colouration.

Look out for the Scorpionfish and Pipefishes in particular.

In some of the sequences it’s particularly interesting to see the large quantity of zooplankton zipping around the reef, demonstrating how poorly our reef aquariums replicate the wild reef.

There’s a nice sequence of a family of clownfishes in their host anemone, which also shows large numbers of juvenile Dascyllus trimaculatus, Threespot Dascyllus or Domino damselfishes, sharing the safety of the anemone.

Also watch for the images showing Xenia species, Pulse Corals, happily pulsing away at night.

Fluorescence

Fluorescence is the result of a material absorbing one wavelength of light, re-emitting it as another, usually at a longer wavelength. The visible wavelength of light ranges from around 400 nm, blue light, to around 700 nm, red light. The UV light used in this video is UV-A and is in the range between 315 nm and visible light, probably around 380 nm. This makes the fluorescence produced even more remarkable as the UV light used is invisible to the human eye, yet we end up seeing these higher wavelength, visible colours.

You experience this phenomenon when you observe your aquarium under blue light alone, as most aquarium blue or ‘actinic’ lamps have a spectrum that reaches down to around 380 nm hence emitting UV-A.

UV light in this range is a useful tool for detecting newly settled juvenile corals in the reef aquarium; although newly settled corals are small and difficult to see, the fluorescence that they emit can make the easy to find.

See also, Coral magazine, Vol.5, No. 3, ‘Fluorescence’

Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

©2012-12-05

 

A New Threat to the Reef Aquarium Hobby

December 6th, 2012

The recent appointment of Robert Wintner to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Board of Directors heralds a new threat to the reef aquarium industry and hobby.

Wintner, also known as ‘Snorkel Bob’, has been an outspoken opponent of the collection of fishes for the aquarium trade in Hawaii, campaigning for an outright ban on the collection and exportation of Hawaiian reef fishes. His description of the reef aquarium hobby is full of negative hyperbole and questionable facts, painting an over-the-top picture of the hobby as being tremendously destructive of reef life.

With his appointment to the board of Sea Shepherd he is extending his opposition to the reef aquarium trade to one of worldwide elimination.

Sea Shepherd

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, initially named “Earth Force Society”, was formed in 1977, after its founder, Paul Watson, was expelled from the board of Greenpeace over disagreements about his direct action activism.

Over the years Sea Shepherd has engaged in various campaigns opposing Drift-netting, Seal hunting, Whaling, Shark-finning, and Dolphin hunting, these have often included direct action which has led to some critics describing their actions as piracy or terrorism.

For more about the organisation see: http://www.seashepherd.org/

See also the Wikepedia entry for Sea Shepherd, which details its history along with a record of the organisation’s various campaigns.

Sea Shepherd’s Position on the Aquarium Trade

Since his appointment Wintner has issued a statement on Sea Shepherd’s position on the aquarium trade, entitled, “Wildlife Species are a Public Trust, Not Disposable Trinkets”

“The aquarium trade serves a dark hobby, confining coral reef wildlife and destroying reefs around the world. Stripping reefs for an amusement industry is theoretically no different than capturing cetaceans for commercial shows. 98% of aquarium fish are wild caught. Many people may not reflect on the colorful fish in glass tanks used as furnishings for offices, bistros, waiting rooms, or homes—and some people may assume those fish are bred in captivity. The fact is that 2% of those fish are captive-bred and 98% are taken from the wild. This devastating practice results in severe mortality rates from the point of capture through handling, shipping, and acclimation. Coral damage is well documented and often witnessed with viewers observing anchors, chains, and nets in the coral and collectors breaking coral in pursuit of a few more bucks.

The aquarium trade is covered in verbiage, but trafficking in reef wildlife for the pet trade is not sustainable or “captive-bred whenever possible.” 40 million reef fish and invertebrates supply 1.5 million aquariums around the world, annually. Wildlife species are a public trust, not disposable trinkets. Marine reef systems are intricately balanced, with each species performing a role in reef maintenance and balance. Multiband Butterflyfish do not leave their reef by choice. Once stripped of Multiband Butterflies, the species is lost to that reef indefinitely. The Hawaiian cleaner wrasse is a charismatic, vital species endemic to Hawaii. They set up cleaning stations where many species gather for grooming in a social setting. Hawaiian cleaner wrasses die in thirty days of captivity without 30-40 other fish to clean, yet they ship out daily for retail sale. Many reefs in Hawaii are now vulnerable to parasite loading. Yellow tangs are herbivores, grazing on algae dawn to dusk to prevent reef suffocation, yet they ship out by the millions to enhance aquarium trade profits. Hawaii’s Director of Natural Resources should not be an aquarium collector. Nor should reef species be sacrificed to support any amusement industry, including sales of tanks, stands, lights, tickets, or decorative trinkets. Under pressure worldwide from acidification, climate change, and associated events—like crown of thorns starfish invasions triggered by warmer water—coral reef systems must maintain optimal immune systems with a full balance of species.The staggering death rate of captive reef wildlife occurs mostly in the 30-day span between capture and chemical error in a home aquarium. Many of these species live for decades in the wild, providing reef function and reef balance.

Hawaii is the third largest supplier of reef fish in the U.S. aquarium trade, accounting for empty reefs and vanishing reef species. Florida takes millions of reef individuals annually, even as society scapegoats the invasive lionfish, a voracious predator introduced by the aquarium trade to east coast and Caribbean reefs. Lionfish did not reach the Atlantic on their own.

Aquarium trade trafficking leaves reefs unbalanced, degraded, and depleted. No factor in reef decline can absolve any other factor- acidification, runoff, climate change, or any other negative impact on reef health cannot justify aquarium extraction. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society seeks to stop global trafficking in live fish for hobby or display markets.”

What should the reef aquarium hobby do in response?

The reef aquarium hobby and industry needs to demonstrate that they are not wantonly destroying reef animals. Fishes and corals can, and do, live out their natural lifespan, in reef aquaria, free of the danger of predation. In the case of corals this can be a lifespan stretching into decades during which time many additional colonies may be created through asexual reproduction, which can in turn, be distributed back into the trade, reducing the quantities harvested from the wild.

The aquarium industry is an important source of income for some of the least well off peoples in the world who live in the supply countries. Increasingly corals are being maricultured for the trade in the supply countries, reducing the impact on the wild.

Indeed, as I try and point out whenever I can, the reef aquarium hobby has an important role in educating people about the dangers of climate change. Most people are never going to visit a tropical reef; by bringing a small slice of the reef into the home we can show non hobbyists the marvellous animals that we are in danger of losing to higher water temperature and acidification, helping to bring awareness of the realities of mankind’s affect on the planet

The aquarium hobby is not perfect but neither is it anywhere near as dark as Sea Shepherd would like to make out, if aquarium losses where anywhere near as high as suggested the hobby would have shut down long ago.  Doubtless we can improve the lives of the fishes, coral, and other invertebrates that are central to the hobby and prevent any unnecessary losses through education.

Organisations such as SAIA, the Sustainable Aquarium Industry Association, exist to help educate both the hobby and the trade by offering information on ‘Best Practises’ to ensure high standards of husbandry.

Do your bit for the hobby, show off your reef aquarium to as many non-hobbyists as possible, research potential new acquisitions before purchase, learn as much as possible about the reef animals that you keep to ensure their long-term survival, and support SAIA in its efforts to educate and inform.

Additional references:

Wintner’s statement on Sea Shepherd’s position on the aquarium trade.

Sea Shepard board of directors.

Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

©2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US May Ban 66 Stony Coral Species.

December 4th, 2012

US Proposes Listing 66 Stony Coral Species as Endangered

In response to a 2009 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to list 83 coral species as threatened, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is proposing Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings for 66 stony coral species, 59 from the Pacific and seven from the Caribbean.

Indo-Pacific

In the Pacific seven coral species are listed as endangered:

Indo-Pacific Species – Proposed Endangered
Acropora jacquelineae
Acropora lokani
Acropora rudis
Anacropora spinosa
Euphyllia paradivisa
Millepora foveolata
Pocillopora elegans (E Pacific)

A further 52 species are listed as threatened, including a number of popular reef aquarium corals:

Indo-Pacific Species – Proposed Threatened

Acanthastrea brevis Alveopora fenestrata
Acanthastrea hemprichii Alveopora verrilliana
Acanthastrea ishigakiensis Barabattoia laddi
Acanthastrea regularis Caulastrea echinulata
Acropora aculeus Euphyllia cristata
Acropora acuminata Euphyllia paraancora
Acropora aspera Isopora crateriformis
Acropora dendrum Isopora cuneata
Acropora donei Montipora angulata
Acropora globiceps Montipora australiensis
Acropora horrida Montipora calcarea
Acropora listeria Montipora caliculata
Acropora microclados Montipora dilatata/flabellata/turgescens
Acropora palmerae Montipora lobulata
Acropora paniculata Montipora patula/verrilli
Acropora pharaonis Millepora tuberosa
Acropora polystoma Pachyseris rugosa
Acropora retusa Pavona diffluens
Acropora speciosa Pectinia alcicornis
Acropora striata Physogyra lichtensteini
Acropora tenella Pocillopora danae
Acropora vaughani Pocillopora elegans (Indo-Pacific)
Acropora verweyi Porites horizontalata
Anacropora puertogalerae Porites napopora
Astreopora cucullata Porites nigrescens
Alveopora allingi Seriatopora aculeata

 

Caribbean/Atlantic/Gulf

In the Caribbean/Atlantic/Gulf region, five species are listed as endangered and two as threatened, with two species already listed being reclassified from threatened to endangered.

 

Caribbean/Atlantic/Gulf Species

Proposed Endangered

Proposed Threatened Species

Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) Lamarck’s Sheet Coral (Agaricia lamarcki)
Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) Elliptical Star Coral (Dichocoenia stokesii)
Pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus)
Boulder star coral (Montastraea annularis)
Mountainous star coral (Montastraea faveolata)
Star coral (Montastraea franksi)
Rough Cactus Coral (Mycetophyllia ferox)

 

All of the species proposed for listing are already protected under CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

What does this mean for the hobby?

Being listed as an endangered species prohibits the collection of the species along with the import, export, or any commercial activities dealing in the species. Prohibition is not automatic for species listed as threatened, but can be applied to them as well.

Effectively this will remove all of the species listed under the ESA from the US reef aquarium hobby except for existing captive stock.

It is unclear whether the prohibition would apply to the trade in frags of these species taken from existing captive stock. I would certainly hope not.

Does this ban affect the UK hobby?

The prohibition applies to the USA and its territories not to areas outside of US control so any ban may not directly affect the UK/EU hobby and trade. Indeed, there is the possibility of increased availability of some of these species given the loss of the US as a purchaser.

However, legislation such as this, should it go ahead, may increase the chances of other nations restricting the collection and sale of corals for the reef aquarium hobby.

What happens next?

There will be a 90-day public comment period during which NOAA will hold 18 public meetings on the proposed listing before making a final decision by December 2013.

To find out more about the proposed listing, see the NOAA website.

Further articles in connection with the Centre for Biological Diversity:

Possible ban on collecting clownfishes.

Center for Biological Diversity Seeks Endangered Species Act Protection for the Dwarf Seahorse.

The Beginning of the End for Stony Corals in the Reef Aquarium Hobby.

 

Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

©2012

 

 

The Coral Gobies of the genera Gobiodon and Paragobiodon – a Reappraisal.

November 12th, 2012

Coral Gobies are those Goby species that live in association with stony corals, often branching Acropora species, in a relationship that up until now has been described as commensal.

New research from the Georgia Institute of Technology reveals that the relationship between coral gobies and their coral hosts is more complex than previously believed. Coral gobies are small fishes, around 2.5 centimetres long, that spend their entire life living amongst the branches and crevices of their coral host, protected from predators.

This paper, published in the latest issue of the journal Science, ‘Corals Chemically Cue Mutualistic Fishes to Remove Competing Seaweeds’, seems to demonstrate that the relationship between the fish and the coral is a mutualistic one, benefiting both parties. The researchers found evidence that coral gobies respond to chemical signals from the coral, generated when the coral was under threat from toxic algae, stimulating the fish to remove the invasive seaweed.

The study revolved around Acropora nasuta, as with other Acroporids, an important reef building coral, and 2 species of coral goby, Gobiodon histrio – a popular aquarium species, and Paragobiodon echinocephalus. G. histrio was shown to consume the invasive seaweed whilst P. echinocephalus removed it.

Gobiodon histrio

Coral-dwelling gobies in the genus Gobiodon posses toxic skin secretions believed to act as a chemical defence against predation by larger fishes, this study also showed that the gobies eating the toxic seaweed increased the toxicity of their skin secretions.

Commensalism versus Mutualism

Commensalism is defined as a class of relationship between two organisms where one organism benefits without affecting the other. In view of this new research it would seem that this relationship should be redefined as one of mutualism, a relationship in which both organisms benefit. Given that this relationship has been described for two species of coral goby it seem likely that most, if not all, of the small fishes in this group are engaged in a mutualistic relationship with their coral hosts and hence should be provided with a suitable coral species in captivity.

Which Coral Host?

FishBase lists 20 species under Gobiodon ranging from 2.1 to 6.6 cms total length (TL) and 5 species under Paragobiodon ranging from 3.0 to 3.5 cms TL. I’ve done a quick cross reference between information from FishBase and the book Reef Fishes of the East Indies by Gerald Allen and Mark Erdmann, and come up with a list showing which fish species coexist with which coral.

Scientific name Common name Distribution Size Coral host (GA)
Gobiodon acicularis Needlespine coral goby Western Central Pacific 3.9 SL

4.6 TL (GA)

Echinopora and Hydnophora species
Gobiodon albofasciatus Whitelined coral goby Western Pacific 2.5 SL Pocillopora, Stylophora, and Acropora species
Gobiodon atrangulatus   Western Pacific 3.5 TL Acropora species
Gobiodon axillaris   Western Pacific    
Gobiodon brochus   Western Central Pacific 2.5 SL Acropora loripes and Acropora elseyi
Gobiodon ceramensis Ceram Coralgoby (GA) Western Central Pacific.  

3.5 TL (GA)

Pocilloporidae,

Stylophora pistallata

Gobiodon citrinus Poison goby Indo-West Pacific 6.6 TL Acropora species
Gobiodon erythrospilus (GA) Red-spotted Coralgoby Indonesia 4.8 TL Acropora species

A. tenuis

Gobiodon fulvus   Indo-West Pacific    
Gobiodon heterospilos Head and Tailspotted Coralgoby Western Pacific 6.6 TL Pocillopora, Stylophora, and Pavona species
Gobiodon histrio Broad-barred goby Indo-West Pacific 3.5 TL Acropora species

A. nasuta,

A. valida, and

A. millepora

Gobiodon micropus   Indo-Pacific. 3.5 TL  
Gobiodon multilineatus   Western Pacific 3.5 TL Acropora species
Gobiodon oculolineatus   Northwest Pacific 3.5 TL  
Gobiodon okinawae Okinawa goby Western Pacific 3.5 TL

3.0 TL (GA)

On outer surfaces of tabular Acropora species
Gobiodon prolixus Elongate Coralgoby (GA) Indo-Pacific. 3.2 SL

3.8 TL (GA)

Branching Acropora species
Gobiodon quinquestrigatus Five-lined coral goby Pacific Ocean 4.5 SL

4.6 TL (GA)

Branching Acropora species
Gobiodon reticulatus Reticulate goby Western Indian Ocean 2.1 TL  
Gobiodon rivulatus Rippled Coralgoby

Multilined Coralgoby (GA)

Indo-West Pacific 5 TL

4 TL (GA)

Branching and tabular Acropora species
Gobiodon spilophthalmus White-lined coral goby Eastern Indian Ocean 3.6 TL Pocillopora and Stylophora species and Pavona cactus
Gobiodon unicolor Unicolor Coralgoby (GA) Western Indian Ocean 2.8 SL

4.0 TL (GA)

Branching Acropora species.

A. Millepora and

A. nasuta

Paragobiodon echinocephalus Redhead goby Indo-Pacific 4 TL Pocillopora, Seriatopora, and Stylophora
Paragobiodon lacunicolus Blackfin coral goby Indo-Pacific 3 TL Pocillopora damicornis
Paragobiodon melanosomus Dark coral goby

Black Coralgoby (GA)

Indo-West Pacific 3.5 TL Seriatopora
Paragobiodon modestus Warthead goby Indo-Pacific 3.5 TL Seriatopora and Pocillopora
Paragobiodon xanthosoma Emerald coral goby Indo-Pacific. 4 TL Seriatopora

S. hystrix

In addition to the species listed on FishBase, Gerald Allen includes the following undescribed species

Scientific name Common name Distribution Size Coral host
Gobiodon 1 Bluemaze Coral Goby Brunei, Philippines, Ryukyu Islands 3.5 TL Branching Acropora species.

A. microclados

Gobiodon 2 Twoline Coralgoby Indonesia, Ryukyu Islands 3.0 TL Branching Acropora species. A. nasuta
Gobiodon 3 Blue-lined Coralgoby Indonesia, Philippines, Micronesia, Ryukyu Islands 3.0 TL Branching Acropora species. A. selago
Gobiodon 4 Bluenet Coralgoby Indonesia, Philippines, Micronesia, Ryukyu Islands 3.0 TL Branching Acropora species.

(GA) source = Reef Fishes of the East Indies

 

In the Reef Aquarium

In light of the research revealing coral gobies to be in a mutualistic relationship with their coral host I would propose that, from an aquarium point of view, these coral goby species should be kept with a branching coral host to replicate their natural association. Although it would be next to impossible to define the exact species required for each individual fish imported, the provision of something close to their natural habitat may go a long way to reducing stress levels and improving their quality of life in captivity.

In many ways coral gobies are the perfect fish for the reef aquarium. They have little requirement for swimming room so their small size and sedentary lifestyle puts little load on the filtration system. Fed appropriate foods, these small fishes should be able live in captivity in a manner that mirrors their natural existence, noticing little difference from their life in the wild.

It is interesting to reflect that for very small fish, coral gobies can have an unusually long lifespan, living up to ten years in captivity. By contrast, the slightly smaller gobies in genus Trimma may have a lifespan measured in weeks.

See also, ‘An Introduction to Gobies for the Nano Reef: Genus Gobiodon and Paragobiodon – Coral or Clown Gobies.

 

Tim Hayes

Reef Ramblings

©2012