Signs that Allelopathy Might Be Agitating Your Inverts

Since corals and other sessile invertebrates are more or less stuck in place and can’t chase away competitors or run from predators, many of them—particularly among the soft corals—have evolved the tactic of exuding toxins into the water to prevent other inverts from encroaching and to discourage predation. As you can imagine, this “chemical warfare,” … [Read More]

Please Watch this Important Video on Palytoxin!

Many of us are inspired to keep marine life for its exotic beauty or interesting behavior. But if we’re being perfectly honest, we have to admit there’s also something intriguing about keeping—and displaying to our friends and family—marine organisms that have dangerous or potentially deadly defense mechanisms, such as venomous spines, potent toxins, or razor-sharp … [Read More]

The Yellow Clown Goby: A Practically Perfect Nano Candidate

Nano marine aquarium enthusiasts must be very discerning in their livestock selections to ensure any specimens they choose won’t outgrow their systems. Reaching a maximum size that can best be described as miniscule, the yellow clown goby (Gobiodon okinawae) is a pretty safe bet in this regard. It’s also charming, attractively colored, relatively outgoing and … [Read More]

Can Live Rock Be Added Directly to an Established Marine Aquarium?

“Caribbean Chris” and I are very frequently asked whether it’s okay to add new pieces of live rock directly to an established system. Ever erring on the side of caution, we generally discourage this practice. Instead, we recommend curing them in a separate saltwater-filled tank, vat, tub, bin, or other suitable vessel with heating and … [Read More]

Sarcophyton Leather Corals: Attractive, Toxic, and Tough as Nails

When it comes to hardiness, ease of care, and general adaptability, few corals can compare to those of the genus Sarcophyton—the so-called toadstool, or mushroom, leather corals. Despite their lack of chromatic brilliance, they’re also pretty neat looking to boot. Physical traits As their common name implies, Sarcophyton spp. are typically mushroom- or toadstool-shaped—a solitary … [Read More]

Sea Apples: Hazardous Holothurians Best Left to Advanced Hobbyists

In several posts here at Saltwater Smarts, I’ve mentioned that certain marine organisms routinely offered in the aquarium trade should come with a warning label—especially for novice hobbyists. In these cases, I’m usually referring to animals that are really gorgeous or exotic-looking (hence hard to resist) but either difficult to keep alive or dangerous to … [Read More]

Why We Favor Fishless Cycling with Cured Live Rock

In years past, the most common method for establishing biofiltration in marine aquariums was to introduce some hardy, rugged fish to the system as an ammonia source and wait for the cycle to get established before adding more livestock. The usual go-to fishes for this purpose were damsels. While this cycling method does work, here … [Read More]

Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 1

The use of ozone in home aquaria is far from a new idea. In fact, 20+ years ago, ozone was commonly used by both public aquaria and hobbyists alike. I experimented with the use of ozone on my classroom system a little over a decade ago. However, the system I invested in was of very … [Read More]

Don’t Contaminate Your Saltwater Aquarium!

When we think about toxins in a marine aquarium, the first thing that usually comes to mind is ammonia or a toxic allelopathic chemical released by a coral—in other words, a biologically produced toxin originating in the tank itself. But sometimes hobbyists are unwitting sources of harmful compounds or pathogens from outside the aquarium. As … [Read More]

The Many Faces of Mimicry in Marine Fish

In the fish-eat-fish world of the coral reefs, it can sometimes be beneficial to look like something you’re not. This strategy, known as mimicry, is employed by a wide variety of marine fish and other organisms in order to garner some sort of survival edge. Not only is mimicry exhibited by numerous fish species, but … [Read More]