Blog’s Take on Sustainable Aquarium Keeping
Written by Joni Lawrence

Tropical fish keeping as a hobby can be a wonderful way to appreciate the fascinating creatures that live beneath the waves. But we want to see hobbyists ensure that their reef keeping practices are sustainable. And to do this, we recommend that hobbyists hold their retailers accountable for sustainable and responsible fish trading. recommends that reef keepers insist that their tropical fish retailers:

  • Support retailers with Marine Aquarium Council certification

    To be sold as a MAC Certified organism, the marine organism must pass the unbroken chain of custody from ‘Reef to Retail’; meaning collected from a MAC Certified area by a MAC Certified fisherman or cultured in a MAC Certified facility, then passed to a MAC Certified Exporter, then importer and retailer.
Arachnids and Aquariums
Written by Ava

Christopher Taylor is not your average Australian environmental biology student--in fact, he's currently studying spiders, scorpions, and other arachnids for school.  So why question him about his marine life pastimes? It seems Chris has a great knowledge of the distinct relation of crabs and crustaceans to arachnids, he writes a fun blog on all subjects, and at one time, he was an avid marine aquarist--partaking in a tropical freshwater aquarium and knows a thing or two about how to maintain one.  

Read to learn Chris's interesting views on all things arachnid and aquarist.

What kind of work/studying are you doing now?

I work on a group of animals called Opiliones, also called harvestmen or (particularly in North America) daddy-longlegs (a name that I have serious quibbles with - see here.) My particular family of interest, the Monoscutidae, is restricted to Australia and New Zealand. My research is mostly very traditional desk taxonomy – I look at countless specimens, and compare and contrast. I’m due to finish in a few months, and after that – who knows?

Persian Gulf Coral Preservation Activity
Written by Ava

A Close Encounter with a 15-Foot Shark

In short- an interesting dive with a friend from OLC on the Gulf, which resulted in an encounter with a 15-foot shark. The good news is that we had an encounter with a 15-foot shark in the Persian Gulf. The bad news is that no one was able to document it. Shame on us!

The short yet sweet encounter with the 15-foot shark happened during a dawn diving and cleaning session that we had as part of our coral preservation activity in the Persian Gulf area. The activity started with an overnight camping where the group chatted and downed a few beers.

The plan was to go deep diving in the coral reefs during the earliest part of the day to find trashes and remove objects and items that may damage the reefs. By mid-morning the group will do a coastal clean-up before heading back home.

The plan went well. After a few beers and the bonfire dimming, we set ourselves to bed to prepare for the next day’s activity.

The Arctic Scientist
Written by Ava

Bodil Bluhm, a Research Associate Professor in Biological Oceanography, Marine Biology, and Marine Invertebrates at the University of Alaska Fairbanks calls the school a hub of Arctic research. While Alaska is not for everyone, she warns, she loves taking part in these kinds of studies, so for her, it's home.

Professor Bluhm's research focuses on energy flow patterns with polar benthic systems, meaning she looks for similarities and trends among the energy flow on the sea floor of Arctic regions like Alaska.  

Other projects include research on sea ice algae in the Bering Sea Ecosystem, marine biodiversity research in the Arctic Ocean, and other sea-ice projects.  

Bluhm was kind enough to give us a bit of insight into her daily studies and what it means to research in an Arctic region.  

How did you get involved in your marine and Arctic research?

I studied marine biology in Kiel, Germany, and had the opportunity to participate in many marine field classes that really captured my interest.

The Ocean Hero
Written by Ava

It's all for the birds.

That's what International Bird Rescue Research Center director Jay Holcomb believes about the continued rescue efforts to care and conserve for wildlife caught in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  He is leading IBRRC's current bird rescue efforts in the Gulf.  

These efforts must really be something! After all, he's won Oceana's Ocean Hero award for them. 

So how did his bird rescue efforts also turn into ocean conservation? Well, he told the Oceana organization that he lived in San Francisco and went to the ocean a lot. He began helping many animals who lived in and depended on the ocean and was always drawn to it.   So we're guessing it was there all along and needed to be tapped into. 

Jay told Oceana that it's ironic, but poignant that he won the award in the midst of what is looking to be the greatest oil spill disaster of all time and is polluting the ocean and ecosystems.  .

Oceana's annual Ocean Heroes contest began in March and the public was invited to submit nominations.  Finalists were selected by Oceana experts and the public was invited to select the winners.

We received this great video courtesy of Alexa from the Oceans 4Ever blog.  Alexa is also doing some amazing projects and donating their earnings to the IBRRC.  Amazing! More on that in the next post...

The video is about the efforts of the IBRRC and what might happen to these birds.  It features Jay. 

We'd love to share it with you! 

You can view it by clicking on the link here.


A is For Aquarium
Written by Digital Cuttlefish

We've got some great marine poetry in our midst, from one talented femme who combines aquaria and verse on her blog, The Digital Cuttlefish.  This one's specially made for The Reef Tank, but make sure to check out the rest of her page.

A is for Aquarium, a home for wayward fish;

(A more pleasant alternative than ending up a dish)

Some personal, some public, some immense, some small

So many variations I could never list them all.


Just Published: Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas
Written by Merry Youle

It's no surprise for TRT members to hear that too much algae is bad news for corals. Likewise, you already know all too well those factors that can lead to too much algae in your tank, factors such as not enough grazers and too many nutrients. For decades coral reef scientists had known that too much algae is also not good for coral reefs. Often one finds rampant algae on dying coral reefs, but do the algae kill the corals? Or are they just taking advantage of the real estate offered when corals die from other causes? It was not until the 21st century that the research tools became available to uncover the mysterious connection linking algae to coral death. That link is the microbes. The relationship between corals and microbes during good times and bad is the subject of a newly published book by microbial ecologist Forest Rohwer: Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas.

In this engaging book, Rohwer relates how the coral's microbial partners have made it possible for the corals to not only survive for millennia in nutrient-poor regions of the ocean but to build the epic structures we know as coral reefs. However, since the 1980s the corals have been struggling. Both coral disease and bleaching have become widespread. The reefs in trouble are typically those that have been overfished or fertilized by nutrient-laden runoff from nearby shores or stressed by warmer temperatures. Any of those circumstances can disrupt the fine-tuned balance and lead to more algae. Combine two or more and the results can be disastrous. Photosynthesizing algae release dissolved sugars into the water; more algae release more sugars; more sugars fuel too many microbes—especially too many of the disease-causing sort; more dying corals make room for yet more algae to grow. This vicious cycle leads, in Rohwer's words, to the DDAMnation of coral reefs. 

Brave Blue World
Written by Ava

She's an oceanographer and a blogger wrapped in one.  But more than that the incredible Danielle Luttenberg Meitiv is also an ocean advocate, a marine educator, a conservationist, and an optimist when it comes to the future of the world's oceans.  

Danielle Meitiv received her BS in Biology at the University of Buffalo and her MS in Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island.  She's well-versed in issues of global warming and climate change (where the ocean is concerned) and has done her research, working for organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Defense Fund.

We caught up with Danielle just before she headed over to India to learn all about Indian climate science and policy and we were thrilled to be able to pick her brain about our favorite topics!


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