Preview of Jul/Aug Coral Magazine

CORAL Magazine Table of Contents Jul/Aug 2014

07 Jul, 2014

Click cover to order this back issue for your CORAL collection.

Click cover to order this back issue for your CORAL collection.

BANNED
VOLUME 11, NUMBER 4

6     Letter From Europe by Daniel Knop
9     Editor’s Page by James M. Lawrence
16     Reef News
28     Rarities CORAL staff report

FEATURE ARTICLES
36     Lion tales – An aquarist’s guide to the genus Pterois and its kin by Scott W. Michael
48     Banned! New rules for Florida as it fights back against the worst marine invasion in state history by Ret Talbot
56     Origins of a biological calamity by Ret Talbot
66     Tracking an unprecedented invasion by Amy Benson
70     Eat Your Enemy — “Save a reef. Eat a lionfish.” by Ret Talbot
74     Bad news moves upstream by Ret Talbot
80     Breeding the West Indian sea egg: Tripneustes Ventricosus by Martin A. Moe, Jr.

AQUARIUM PORTRAIT
97     A reef wall in the living room – “It sounded impossible so I had to try it.” by Dr. Annette Kotzur

DEPARTMENTS
105     Reefkeeping 101: Algae seek an ecological niche by Daniel Knop and the CORAL staff; The Boggess-Peppermint Shrimp by Daniel Knop
111     Species Spotlight: The Copperband Butterflyfish by Daniel Knop
116     CORAL Sources: Outstanding aquarium shops
118     Coralexicon: Technical terms that appear in this issue
120     Advanced Aquatics: An Asian sleeping giant is awakening, and it happens to love aquariums by Michael Tuccinardi
128     Advertiser Index
130     Reef Life: by Denise Nielsen Tackett and Larry P. Tackett


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July 11, 2014 - 7:48 AM No Comments

GIANT FISHES – AMAZONAS Hard-Copy Preview for July/August 2014

05 Jun, 2014

AMAZONAS Magazine, "Giant Fishes" - July/August 2014

AMAZONAS Magazine, “Giant Fishes” – July/August 2014

Another overwhelming issue of AMAZONAS Magazine is hitting mailboxes and retailers shelves – this is your first look, hot off the presses, at what’s inside the next issue of AMAZONAS. This issue is currently ready for digitial subscribers too. If you’re not yet a subscriber (whether digital or print + digital), perhaps after a peek inside you’ll realize it’s time to reconsider…ENJOY!

July/August 2014 Table of Contents

July/August 2014 Table of Contents

Aquatic Notebook for the July/August 2014 Issue of AMAZONAS Magazine starts off with the "First success with hatchetfish farming in Florida: Gasteropelecus maculatus", by AMAZONAS Sr. Editor Stephan M. Tanner, Ph.D.

Aquatic Notebook for the July/August 2014 Issue of AMAZONAS Magazine starts off with the “First success with hatchetfish farming in Florida: Gasteropelecus maculatus”, by AMAZONAS Sr. Editor Stephan M. Tanner, Ph.D.

New Badis, Dario kajal, by Hans-Georg Evers

New Badis, Dario kajal, by Hans-Georg Evers

"Looking for the white phantom: the white Neon Tetra", by Lisa Pfeting

“Looking for the white phantom: the white Neon Tetra”, by Lisa Pfeting

Low-tech "natural" breeding tank, by Thorben Niemann

Low-tech “natural” breeding tank, by Thorben Niemann

Thinking big...or even HUGE - by Rachel O'Leary & the AMAZONAS Staff

Thinking big…or even HUGE – by Rachel O’Leary & the AMAZONAS Staff

When big isn't big enough: The crazy aquarist - by Enrico Richter

When big isn’t big enough: The crazy aquarist – by Enrico Richter

MONSTER FISHES...with matching appetites - by Enrico Richter

MONSTER FISHES…with matching appetites – by Enrico Richter

A 10,000-liter Fantasy - by Andi Hofstetter and Charles König

A 10,000-liter Fantasy – by Andi Hofstetter and Charles König

SWEET! Finding Oranges among the Lemons - 10 years of experience with Hyphessobrycon cf. pulchiripinnis - by Hans-Georg Evers

SWEET! Finding Oranges among the Lemons – 10 years of experience with Hyphessobrycon cf. pulchiripinnis – by Hans-Georg Evers

Socialization in the aquarium: Shell dwellers - by Wilhelm Klaas

Socialization in the aquarium: Shell dwellers – by Wilhelm Klaas

A Nano-Slice of Lake Tanganyika - by Sumer Tiwari

A Nano-Slice of Lake Tanganyika – by Sumer Tiwari

The Outdoor Aquarist - by Rachel O'Leary

The Outdoor Aquarist – by Rachel O’Leary

The endlessly varied Aplocheilus panchax - by Jörg Rückle and Jens Kühne

The endlessly varied Aplocheilus panchax – by Jörg Rückle and Jens Kühne

Corydoras from Boliva - by Daniel Konn-Vetterlein

Corydoras from Boliva – by Daniel Konn-Vetterlein

Aquarium Calendar for July/August 2014 - compiled by Matt Pedersen and Ray Lucas

Aquarium Calendar for July/August 2014 – compiled by Matt Pedersen and Ray Lucas

Looking for hard copies of AMAZONAS Magazine? Try the many fine local fish stores and retailers listed in our sources directory!

Looking for hard copies of AMAZONAS Magazine? Try the many fine local fish stores and retailers listed in our sources directory!

Species SNAPSHOTS for July/August 2014

Species SNAPSHOTS for July/August 2014

Our closing page: the Underwater Eye — by Mo Devlin

Our closing page: the Underwater Eye — by Mo Devlin

About the author

Reef To Rainforest

Reef To Rainforest

Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL and AMAZONAS Magazines and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.

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June 18, 2014 - 11:09 AM No Comments

Steinhart Team Breeds Rare Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse For The First Time

17 Jun, 2014

An adult Bargibant's Pygmy Seahorse, behind the scenes at the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences - image courtesy Richard Ross.

An adult Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse, behind the scenes at the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences – Image courtesy Richard Ross.

Matt Wandell and Richard Ross are two professional aquarists who need no introduction to serious marine aquarium audiences. This dynamic duo of public aquarists has the kind of job most all of us would gladly commit manslaughter to have, working for the Stienhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. Wandell and Ross get to work on the type of aquarium systems most of us can only dream of and certainly will never afford.  As if that wasn’t enough, they get to galavant around the globe on expeditions looking for new and interesting animals and husbandry challenges that many of us will never have the opportunity to tackle - like keeping and breedingHippocampus bargibanti, Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse. Can you smell, can you taste, the envy?

Three of Steinhart's key players behind this project - (left to right) Matt Wandell, Bart Sheperd, and Richard Ross, photographed in Manilla in 2011.

Three of Steinhart’s key players behind this project – (left to right) Matt Wandell, Bart Sheperd, and Richard Ross, photographed in Manilla in 2011.

The news that the Steinhart Aquarium has successfully bred and reared the smallest species of seahorse currently in captivity was released today in an online article by Nick Stockton for Wired Magazine. Stockton’s article tells the three-year back story behind this project (it’s quite humorous, we encourage you to read it), culminating in a world-wide first.

Apparently Wandell and Ross first had to prove their convince the Steinhart’s director, Bart Sheperd, that the ambitious project was feasible: before pushing forward into breeding attempts, they needed to successfully keep the seahorse’s host, a gorgonian species, Muricella paraplectana, that has proven difficult to sustain in captivity.

This sea fan is one of two known hosts for Bargibant’s Seahorse; wild photos and Fishbase records also document Muricella plectana as a host for the species. Interestingly, Fishbase suggests that “two color morphs [of H. bargibanti] are known: (a) pale grey or purple with pink or red tubercles (found on gorgonian coral Muricella plectana) and (b) yellow with orange tubercles (found on gorgonian coral Muricella paraplectana).”

Needless to say, Wandell and Ross succeeded with the gorgonian care and held Sheperd to his promise. During the 2014 Philippines Biodiversity Expedition, Wandell collected a single pair of H. bargibanti, on the night of May 18th, 2014, which arrived at the Steinhart Aquarium only 2 days later on May 20th. When asked why biologists only collected a single male/female pair, Ross replied, “We want to have the least impact on the natural environment as possible, especially for an experiment…We were thrilled just to have them alive in captivity.

Ross has been observing these fish like an annoying, micromanaging boss. Such extreme focus has already allows Ross to document behavior including courtship and mating. Check out this newly released footage of the daily, morning bonding ritual that occurs between the pair.

Female in front, male behind from Richard Ross on Vimeo.

Wandell and Ross’s new charges did a whole lot more than just live in captivity, they have already produced 2 broods of captive-bred offspring, with a third birth expected this weekend. Estimates suggest as many as 70 offspring are produced in each breeding cycle.

A plethora of day-old captive-born Hippocampus bargibanti - image courtesy Richard Ross.

A plethora of day-old captive-born Hippocampus bargibanti – image courtesy Richard Ross.

Details on larval rearing are understandably scarce at this time, but what can be revealed is that copepods provided by Algagen played an integral role in nourishing the pelagic offspring. Baby Brine shrimp, aka. Artemia nauplii, were also shown to be used as a larval feed.

A larval Bargibanti Seahorse, at 6 days post birth, feeding on a copepod.

A larval Bargibanti Seahorse, at 6 days post birth, feeding on a copepod.

Yes, while we might have hoped that this species was similar in reproduction to the “breed-like-rabbits” Dwarf Seahorse, Hippocampus zosterae, there are already some noteworthy differences between the two species. H. zosterae are one of the few seahorses known to feature direct-development of their offspring; in seahorse breeder jargon, they “hitch” immediately upon birth. Wandell and Ross  shared that the offspring of H. bargibanti don’t settle and assume a benthic lifestyle (start hitching) until 18 days post release.

Newly-settled 18 day old Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti - image courtesy Richard Ross

Newly-settled 18 day old Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti – image courtesy Richard Ross

One of the big questions, of course, is whether the color morphs are genetic or caused environmentally (One theory: a seahorse doesn’t know which gorgonian it’s going to settle out onto, so perhaps it changes post-settlement to match its host’s coloration). Perhaps Wandell and Ross will be doing more experimentation that could reveal an answer to this very intriguing question.

For those aquarists who’ve been pining for H. bargibanti, sadly this news doesn’t translate into instant availability for this species within the aquarium trade. We’ve followed up with another article that investigates exactly why you haven’t seen this pygmy seahorse available to date, and why you probably won’t see them anytime soon.

Little else has been written yet about the husbandry methods and breeding protocols for the species at this time. We look forward to this information being made available as this project progresses. CORAL Magazine will be publishing more about this, as the details of the story are revealed by Wandell and Ross. Our hearty congratulations to the team at Steinhart for breaking down yet another captive-breeding barrier.

Image Credits

All images copyright Richard Ross, 2011 / 2014, published with permission.

About the author

Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen is a Sr. Editor and Associate Publisher with Reef2Rainforest Media, LLC, including AMAZONAS & CORAL Magazines. Matt has 32 years as an aquarist, has worked in most facets of the aquarium trade, is an active hobbyist and fish breeder (both marine and freshwater), and was recognized as the 2009 MASNA Aquarist of the Year.

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June 18, 2014 - 11:02 AM No Comments

Chaos in Black & White

05 Apr, 2014

Click to enlarge.

by Haakon Haagensen
Excerpt from AMAZONAS Magazine, May/June 2014

There is no armored catfish more popular among aquarists than the black and whiteHypancistrus from the Rio Xingu in Brazil known as the Zebra Pleco. Many pleco forms are near extinction in their natural habitat; we have the unique opportunity to conserve them in the aquarium, at least on a small scale.

Would-be breeders please take note: People are willing to pay big money for these catfish.

Ever since the late 1980s, when the first pictures of a black and white striped Peckoltia (L46) were published, aquarists all over the world have enjoyed keeping and breeding these little gems in their home aquariums. It did not take long for new and slightly different forms of black and white striped plecos to be discovered and shipped out of Brazil. Although aquarium magazines everywhere provided tantalizing images of the early exports, most of those fancy and shockingly expensive plecos went to wealthy customers in Asia.

In the heyday of the L-numbers, importers clamored to present the latest sensational and exclusive catfish species. The fewer specimens were available, the higher the prices. Both L236 and L250 were supposedly caught in very difficult-to-reach areas in an Indian reservation on the Rio Iriri, a Rio Xingu tributary upstream of Altamira, but later it became clear that L236 is also found in the Rio Xingu, even in the same region as the well-known L333. (Specifying false catch sites is a practice commonly employed to prevent other collectors from visiting the true locales.) There is still controversy as to whether there are any Hypancistrus in the Rio Iriri; experienced collectors and travelers claim that there are none, but others maintain that no one has searched hard enough to find them.

In recent years, new restrictions by the IBAMA (Brazil’s conservation authority, similar to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) have made it harder to find these fishes in the trade. Fortunately, most have already been propagated in the aquarium. Although this has partially satisfied the demands for these fishes, it has also led to a new and complicated issue: hybridization. It turns out that it is anything but easy to distinguish the different but very similar forms from one another, even those found in the same river system.

Click to enlarge.

Species confusion
Given the impending completion of the Belo Monte Dam Complex near Altamira on the lower Xingu, we should all try to learn as much as we can about these great catfishes before they disappear from their natural habitats. About 15 forms of Hypancistrus are known from the lower part of the Xingu River between Altamira and Porto do Moz. Some of them, such as L250, are still shrouded in mystery, but it is likely that they, too, come from this region. Besides the many L-number catfishes, there are others that are difficult to identify. It is unlikely that they are all separate species, since they all come from a single river and are closely related.
While it is not unusual to find several forms of a species in a single habitat, the huge number of forms that occur in the Rio Xingu is confusing. Entirely different standards are needed to categorize these fishes, and it is hardly surprising that some people are so overwhelmed by the sheer variety that they just put their heads in the sand.

There is a huge amount of general information about these catfishes out there. Breeding reports, husbandry experiences, and identification guides are ubiquitous on the Internet; some sources are reliable, others questionable. What is certain is that so far, nobody has a foolproof way to identify the many types and forms.
With all this in mind, I have tried to summarize the available information here. I admit that this article does not give any definitive answers, but I hope it leads to a better understanding of this amazing catfish group.

Chaos In B&W3

Clearwater habitat
The various forms of black and white striped Hypancistrus are usually caught between Altamira and Porto do Moz in water 6–100 feet (2–30 m) deep. They occur in moderate to fast-flowing, soft to slightly acidic warm water. They prefer rock structures and like to hide in cracks and crevices. The water parameters, which are constant almost all year, are: pH 6.0–6.5, very low conductivity, and temperatures of 82–90°F (28–32°C). The distribution of various populations is restricted by the extreme currents and precipitous waterfalls, so they stay in their own territories.

However, one must not underestimate the vastness of the region: the Xingu River basin is larger than most people can imagine. The river is several miles wide in places and contains some islands. Large rocks that create rapids alternate with extensive sandy areas, representing distribution barriers for these littoral-colonizing catfishes.

The best-known Hypancistrus forms of the Rio Xingu
A form that occurs without the presence of another from the same genus is usually referred as a valid or emerging species. It seems that there are four of these base forms in the Rio Xingu:Hypancistrus zebra, L174, L66, and L333. The latter two are larger than the rest (6–6.4 inches/15–16 cm TL). Hopefully, detailed molecular DNA studies will soon reveal more about their genetic relationships, but there is no doubt that the forms are all closely related. A very comprehensive study is currently in progress and should shed some light on the issue.

The four main forms or species
Hypancistrus zebra is remarkably uniform and is very attractively patterned. Occasionally, H. zebra specimens with pattern variations, such as L98, do occur. Through breeding experiments, we know that this variation is not heritable. L250 may also be a H. zebra variant; all known images show specimens with silvery eyes, a feature known only from H. zebra. The blue shimmer in the fins of H. zebra is also present. However, most Hypancistrus from the Rio Xingu have brown to reddish eyes and do not show any trace of blue on the fins. Without further imports, a clarification in this case is difficult. The distribution of H. zebra includes four to six different localities between Altamira and Belo Monte. H. zebra is usually found in deep water. Based on aquarium observations, the species is more active at night. Both factors suggest that the zebra pattern is well suited for low light conditions.

Chaos In B&W4

Hypancistrus sp. L66 is a large and robust form with a black wormline pattern on a gray or yellowish background. While L333 is usually cream-colored, L66 is more commonly white and gray. In mature animals, the pattern is denser and finer, often breaking down into stripes or even spots. However, color and pattern are not reliable differentiation features between the two. Compared to L333, L66 is flatter and the caudal fin is more deeply forked. L66 is one of the most widespread forms in the river; it occurs from Altamira down to the huge lake located at the river’s end. This form is also found in the tributaries.

Hypancistrus sp. L174 is easy to recognize: the most characteristic feature of this deep-water species is its small eyes. There are only a few known locations, which are downstream of Altamira. L174 is, so far, the smallest known member of the genus with a maximum length of 3.2 inches (8 cm). The pattern always consists of dark dots or spots, which led to the nickname “Ocelot Pleco.” Contrary to previous reports, L174 shares no habitats with H. zebra.

Hypancistrus sp. L333 has a high-backed, compact, sturdy shape with a reverse D-shaped caudal fin. The many known variants differ in both pattern and color. Usually, the pattern of wormlines becomes narrower and shows less contrast with age. Some individuals have beautiful wide lines. This rather large species is mostly caught near Porto do Moz, but is also found near Vitoria do Xingu.

Chaos In B&W5

The Rest
The biggest challenge for aquarists is to identify the many other forms that occur in the river, as they are all very similar. They have a bright base color, which can vary from pale yellow to gray and white. The pattern consists of dark wormlines or spots. The eyes are brown and their size varies. Some forms have a short, compact build, while others are rather slim. The caudal fin can have long filaments or be small and non-elongated. The head shape is not uniform; it can be pointed or rounded. Most hobbyists pay way too much attention to the color pattern. This is where there is the most overlap between the various forms, which makes identification impossible. Never rely on the color pattern to identify these forms!

Hypancistrus sp. “Mimic” lives syntopic with L174 near Altamira. In the last few years, it was often mistaken in the trade for L399/L400 or L173. Hypancistrus sp. L174, L399, L400, and “Mimic” share one feature: the dark spot pattern. Hypancistrus sp. L174 and “Mimic” have much smaller eyes than the others. Hypancistrus sp. “Mimic” is larger and has a flatter body and a more pointed head than L174. Young animals are almost impossible to distinguish. Hypancistrus sp. “Mimic” babies have a striped pattern, similar to H. zebra, whereas young L174 always have a spotted pattern.

Hypancistrus sp. “Lower Xingu” is a complex group of similar forms that are very difficult to distinguish. Apparently, this group is in the process of slowly separating into individual new species. They live within a radius of just over 6 miles (10 km) of Belo Monte. Janne Ekström works there every day with these catfishes and says the following: “There are four or five variants in this complex. One of them, known as H. sp. ‘Gurupa,’ is always light gray to white and has smaller eyes relative to the head size. The body shape is compact and the caudal fin has no filaments or extensions. A second variant is black and white, with a flatter body and extended caudal. This variant is very similar to L173; some look exactly like it (not all L173 look like discolored H. zebra). The third variant is also black and white, but shares the compact body and the lack of filaments with H. sp. ‘Gurupa.’ It resembles L333, but has a pattern that varies from spots to broad, irregularly arranged stripes. L399 and L400 are from the same region and possibly also belong to this group.”

Chaos In B&W6

Hypancistrus sp. L287/L399/L400: These are three numbers for one and the same form, in my opinion. It is apparently a highly variable form. Although spotting is the most common pattern, there are specimens that have very broad lines or fine lines with plenty of open space. Intense captive breeding has revealed an enormous number of variations. Characteristics of coveted forms such as L173, L236, and L345 are among them. These L-numbers may be all morphs of the same form. L399 differs from L400 only slightly by a somewhat more delicate physique—L400 appears more robust.

This group consists of smaller catfishes (about 4.8 inches/12 cm) that are more elongated and a little less bulky. They have large, forked caudal fins with the longest filaments in the genus. There are variations in the anatomy. Such immense variability among loricariids is not common and is very noticeable in this case. To complicate matters, the home of these catfishes is in the surroundings of Belo Monte.

During just one dive, different variants can be caught in a single locality. They share their habitat with some of the main species in the river (L66, L333, and H. zebra). Belo Monte seems to be a hotspot for the development of new forms and species. So far, the gene flow between these forms has not been well studied, but a form like L173 suggests that there are regular natural hybridizations among some of them. The question is, to what extent is this happening?

Hypancistrus sp. L173 is a highly sought-after but controversial form from near Belo Monte. The similarity to H. zebra is striking, especially in juveniles. However, there are differences: L173 has brown eyes, a rather off-white base color, a variable wormline pattern, a taller and more compact body, and a longer caudal fin. This form also grows larger than H. zebra. In the hobby, L173 was unfortunately hybridized with H. zebra to produce more of the “L173 type.” Some L173 lines differ so much from the norm that it is hard to believe that they belong to this form. Not all individuals have the typical pattern. Some offspring of L400 show a pattern similar to L173, hence, a close genetic relationship is very likely. It is important to note that L173 is not a morph of H. zebra, as was previously assumed.

The commercially available L173b should be regarded with skepticism. (The “b” was introduced by Aquarium Glaser. Specimens that differ externally from the normal habitus were identified with the letter “b.” Individuals with a typical pattern and color would therefore be “L173a.”)

Hypancistrus sp. L236: The image from the initial introduction of L236 shows a fish with a few wide black wormlines on a pale cream background—an unusual pattern, even within this genus. Nevertheless, such individuals occur in all forms with wormlines, although it is rare. The individual shown shared many characteristics with L66, such as the flat, slender physique and the forked caudal fin. However, there are also examples known that combine the physique of L333 with the pattern of L236. These are L333, which are advertised as L236 because of their pattern. Over time, L236 has become a “brand.” Each Hypancistrus that corresponded to the original pattern, no matter where it came from or what body shape it had, was called L236.

Many catfish friends seem to forget or ignore the fact that all the wormline Hypancistrus are inconsistent in their patterns. Two parents with exactly matching patterns will not guarantee that the same pattern will show up in the offspring. With the exception of H. zebra, there is noHypancistrus form with a consistent pattern that is found in large quantities. Even in Colombian species such as H. debilittera and L340, there are animals with a “negative pattern” (H. sp. “Platinum”). However, this is never the standard pattern of any species.

Starting with an “ideal pair,” we attempted to select out the dark parts of the body pattern. At the beginning, 10 percent of the offspring corresponded to the desired appearance. After 10 years, the yield of fishes with the desired pattern increased to 30 percent per clutch. This shows that a certain color or pattern type can be bred selectively in the aquarium. In addition, it should be noted that at the juvenile stage (1.6–2.4 inches/4–6 cm), all Xingu forms except H. zebra look very similar, so they cannot be identified by the pattern. Therefore, it is important to see the parents in order to assess whether a breeder has properly named the animals or not. The impressive pattern of babies usually becomes denser and darker with age.

Chaos In B&W7Thoughts on the development
of Hypancistrus in the Rio Xingu
Currently, the Rio Xingu is the most species-rich habitat for loricariids. Among them are many forms and species that are still evolving—and not only Hypancistrus. Spectracanthicus, Scobinancistrus (at least six), Ancistrus, Baryancistrus (at least nine), and others are represented by many similar forms that differ by color pattern. This shows that this river, with its natural boundaries, contributes to the rise of new species. This may be the case for Hypancistrus, although they differ much more, not just in the pattern. The large variation is the result of specific adaptations to the environment, such as predation, food, the structure of the riverbed, water depth, flow, and intraspecific communication.

The rapids, waterfalls, and sandbars form natural barriers in the river, so it is not surprising that one finds isolated populations. This physical isolation, and the fact that the catfishes do not move very much and thus rarely overcome these boundaries, allow these populations to evolve into new, slightly different forms as they adapt to the habitat.

It seems that some forms exist very close to each other, even in the same biotope. How they differentiate to find their partners, and whether this is done by looks, smells, sounds, or ecological niches, such as water depth or rock structures, is one of many questions that remain. For example, it is not yet known whether all Hypancistrus can interbreed. Right now it looks like that is the case. The possibility that all forms hybridize is certainly greater in the aquarium than it is in nature. We do not yet know how mixing takes place in the natural habitat or what makes a fish choose a given partner.

Maintaining pure aquarium strains
Tropical fishes occurring in different morphs is nothing new, and these forms can serve as a basis for breeding new lines. One of the best-known examples is the discus (Symphysodon sp.). In this genus, even cross-species hybrids are widely accepted. However, catfish enthusiasts tend to reject that idea, and the results of hybridizations from Eastern Europe are frowned upon by serious hobbyists. In Asia, however, the creation of new lines seems to have been widely accepted. I personally hope that this view will not prevail elsewhere.

Hypancistrus belongs to the undemanding L-catfishes, and this makes the genus popular with beginners, which in turn increases the risk of unintentional hybridizations. It is well described that the various forms cross and produce fertile offspring (a list of known hybrids can be found atwww.L-Welse.com). Take, for example, the hybrid offspring of L66 and L333. Such fry are simply given a number and then passed on, knowingly or not. Thus, we run the risk of creating singular hybrid strains with unknown provenance. This happened long ago with the “Common Bristlenose Pleco” (Ancistrus sp.).

It is important to know the origin of your animals. Are they wild caught, captive-bred from a breeder, or bought as individual animals? There are countless discussions on the Internet about the identity of individual animals. Many Hypancistrus from the Rio Xingu are expensive, and most fish keepers who care for them try to keep them pure, but some people do not want to know what they have in their aquariums if the truth does not agree with their wishful thinking.

Due to IBAMA restrictions in Brazil, for a long time there were no wild-caught animals available commercially. Even today, most fishes offered are tank-raised offspring. Consequently, it is all the more important for breeders to be aware of the identity of their catfishes and not simply pass them on under a name that will bring the greatest profit. While H. zebra is propagated in large numbers worldwide, some species and forms are very rarely kept. These are the species and forms we must multiply and preserve!

The Rio Xingu offers a unique display of evolution, where we can observe the formation of species within a lifetime. If we have an interest in exploring this unique group of fishes, we must act quickly. Time is running out: we all know about the Belo Monte Complex, now under construction. In a few years, the environment could be so severely degraded that many fishes might disappear. The reality is that we are destroying a treasure before we have understood it. However, we do have a breeding foundation for maintaining some black and white Hypancistrus, at least in the aquarium, for a long time to come.

Acknowledgments: This article is the result of years of personal experience and research. Still, I would not be able to present this work without the help of many knowledgeable people in the catfish world. I am grateful for their time, their dedication, their criticism, and their willingness to communicate. I am sure we will all continue to benefit from the great collaboration we have established. My thanks go to my friends Erlend D. Bertelsen, Hans Johan Mengshoel, and Bjørn Iversen (all from Norway), Janne Ekström (Sweden/Brazil), Mikael Håkansson (Sweden), Heriberto Gimênes, Jr. (Brazil), Saul Paredes, Nathan Lujan, Jon Armbruster, and Milton Tan (all from U.S.), Daniel Konn-Vetterlein, Ingo Seidel, Torsten Schwede, and Hans-Georg Evers (all from Germany).
References
Budrovcan, R. 2011. Die L236 Story—Teil 2. BSSW-Report 23 (3): 9–17.
Ekström, J. 2010. Der Belo-Monte-Staudamm am Rio Xingu—ein vorprogrammiertes Desaster. AMAZONAS 31: 8–12.
Evers, H.-G. 2005. Quo vadis, Hypancistrus zebra? AMAZONAS 2 (German): 36–8.
Evers, H.-G. and I. Seidel. 2002. Wels-Atlas, Band 1, Mergus Verlag, Melle, Germany.
Lechner, W., M. Geiger, and A. Werner. 2005. Neues aus der Gattung Hypancistrus—Teil 1. DATZ 58 (11): 6–13.
———. 2005. Neues aus der Gattung Hypancistrus—Teil 2. DATZ 58 (12): 10–17.
Schmidt, E. 2011. Die L236 Story—Teil 3. BSSW-Report 23 (2): 18–21.
Schraml, E. and F. Schäfer. 2004. Aqualog Loricariidae All L-Numbers. Aqualog Verlag A.C.S., Rodgau, Germany.
Seidel, I. 2005a. Besonderes zur Gattung Hypancistrus. AMAZONAS 2 (German): 16–25.
———. 2005b. Die Neuesten Hypancistrus-Arten. AMAZONAS 2 (German): 26–9.
———. 2007. Schon wieder ein neuer Hypancistrus aus dem Unterlauf des Rio Xingu. Aquar Fachmag 193: 30–31.
———. 2008. Back to Nature: Guide to L-Catfishes (Loricariidae). Fohrman Aquaristik AB, Jonsered, Sweden.
———. 2010. Hypancistrus-Fibel—Die schönsten L-Welse im Aquarium. Dähne-Verlag, Ettlingen, Germany.
———. 2011a. Der Rio Xingu in Brasilien—ein Paradies in großer Gefahr. Aquar Fachmag 213: 4–7.
———. 2011b. Rio Xingu—große Artenvielfalt durch verschiedene Lebensräume. Aquar Fachmag 213: 8–19.
———. 2011c. Die vom Aussterben bedrohten L-Welse vom Rio Xingu. Aquar Fachmag 213: 20–27.
———. 2011d. Die L236 Story—Teil 1. BSSW-Report 23 (3): 6–8.
Seidel, I. and H.-G. Evers. 2005. Wels-Atlas, Band 2. Mergus Verlag, Melle, Germany.
Stawikowski, R., I. Seidel, and A. Werner. 2004. DATZ Spezial: L-Numbers. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart, Germany.
Trusch, S. 2005. Bereits gezüchtet: Hypancistrus sp. “Belo Monte.” AMAZONAS 2: 30–35.

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April 8, 2014 - 2:48 PM No Comments

Dragons & Wrasses: New Reef Species Discovered - from the good folks at coral magazine.

18 Nov, 2013

Paracheilinus rennyae, endemic in the waters of Komodo National Park. Image by Mark Erdmann, Conservation International.

Paracheilinus rennyae, endemic in the waters of Komodo National Park. Image by Mark Erdmann, Conservation International.

Although best-known as the home of the world’s largest living lizard, Komodo National Park in the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia is also a noteworthy dive destination that attracts biodiversity researchers doing marine species surveys in the Coral Triangle.

One of those scientists, Dr. Mark Erdmann of Conservation International, has found and described a gloriously pigmented new species of Flasher Wrasse, Paracheilinus rennyae.

The fish, distinguished by its rounded dorsal, anal, and caudal fins, is named in honor of Renny Kurnia Hadiaty from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and in recognition of her scientific contributions to Indonesian fish taxonomy.

Erdmann, Conservation International’s (CI) senior adviser to the Indonesian Marine Program, says that Renny’s Flasher Wrasse is endemic to East Nusa Tenggara, the province in southeastern Indonesia where Komodo Island National Park is located. Conservationists are hopeful that such discoveries will help protect such areas from development.

Northern tip of Komodo Island, home to a living "dragon" and a diversity of  marine life.

Northern tip of Komodo Island, home to a living “dragon” and a diversity of marine life.

“East Nusa Tenggara has more endemic species of flasher wrasses, which will hopefully encourage more tourists to come to Indonesia, since they can only see the endemic species here, including the new flasher wrasse,” Erdmann said on Wednesday.

According to Erdmann, the first picture of a new, unknown wrasse was taken by a diver in Nusa Tenggara Timor (NTT) in 2010.

“When the diver showed us the picture, we assumed it was a new species of flasher wrasse. Scientists from Udayana University [in Bali] later confirmed the species was genetically distinct from other flasher wrasse species,” he said.

Following collaboration between scientists from Udayana University, Papua State University in Manokwari, Diponegoro University in Semarang, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Conservation International Indonesia, a description of the new species by Dr. Gerald Allen, Dr. Erdmann, and Ni Luh Astria Yusmalinda was published in the year-end edition of  aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology.

Popular among reef aquarium keepers and divers alike, flasher wrasses are known for their gaudy mating displays, in which the males flare their fins and “flash” electric-blue colors to attract females and initiate spawning events.

Paracheilinus rennyae is genetically distinct from other known flasher wrasses in the Coral Triangle, with its closest relative being Paracheilinus angulatus from East Kalimantan, Brunei, Sabah and the southern Philippines.

“The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is increasingly aware of the need to generate more revenue from underwater tourism due to the country’s marine biodiversity, rather than solely depending on fishing,” Erdmann said. “But we haven’t yet calculated the value of these endemic flasher wrasse to NTT’s tourism,” he continued.

Sources

Jakarta Post

Image, Northern tip of Komodo Island: Jon Hanson/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Abstract

Gerald R. Allen, Mark V. Erdmann and Ni Luh Astria Yusmalinda: Paracheilinus rennyae, a new species of flasherwrasse (Perciformes: Labridae) from southern Indonesia, aqua,Volume 19, Issue 4 – 25 October 2013, pp. 193-206.

The Indo-Pacific labrid fish Paracheilinus rennyae is described from four male specimens, 52.2-60.4 mm SL, collected in 15-21 m depth off southwestern Flores Island in the Lesser Sunda island chain of Indonesia. It is distinguished from most congeners by the lack of filamentous extensions of the dorsal fin rays in males and a rounded caudal fin margin, a combination of features shared only by P. octotaenia (Red Sea). It differs from the Red Sea species in having 13-14 rakers (vs. 16-18) on the first gill arch and several colour pattern differences. Genetic analysis (CO1) indicates it is closely related to P. angulatus from the Philippines and northern Borneo (Brunei, Sabah, and Kalimantan), but the two species exhibit marked differences in the shape of the median fins.

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November 25, 2013 - 7:41 AM No Comments

The most amazing planted aquariums

AMAZONAS Video: Ultimate Planted Tank Eye Candy

02 Nov, 2013

AMAZONAS FEATURED VIDEO:
Planted Aquarium Aquascaping Greats, 201-2009
Amazonas-Video-Planted-Tanks
A retrospective video of ADA and AGA planted tank “eye candy” from 2001-2009
VIEW NOW

Editor: One of the most-watched aquarium videos in history. Mesmerizing sound and some world-class planted tank aquascaping.

Posted by JayZed | YouTube

Your ultimate eye candies.

Indulge yourself in an epic journey of stunningly beautiful aquariums, planted tanks, underwater gardens/forests/landscapes, or what they are called, aquascapes.

Images sourced from ADA IAPLC 2001-2009 and AGA aquascaping contest 2000-2009. All images shown are copyright their respective holders.

Music: Angels Tending by Asha

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November 4, 2013 - 7:48 AM No Comments

Odontanthias fuscipinnis – Anthias Captive Rearing & Breeding Proof of Concept

14 Oct, 2013

First captive-reared Anthias by Reef Culture Technologies / Frank Baensch.  Photo courtesy Blue Reef Photography / Frank Baensch - used with permission.

First captive-reared anthias by Reef Culture Technologies / Frank Baensch. Photo courtesy Blue Reef Photography / Frank Baensch – used with permission.

By Matt Pedersen & Coral Staff

While spawning reports for various members of the iconic reef fish subfamily Anthiinae have been recorded in marine aquariums over the years, to date these beautiful shoaling species have resisted being raised successfully in captivity.

Now Frank Baensch has produced a rare and coveted deepwater species, Odontanthias fuscipinnis, the Yellow, Fuscipinnis or Hawaiian Deep Anthias, as captive-reared fish. In theory, this could make a hithertofore very expensive species a candidate for aquaculture and within the reach of more reef aquarists.

Pioneering marine fish breeder Frank Baensch of Reef Culture Technologies.

Pioneering marine fish breeder Frank Baensch of Reef Culture Technologies.

Baensch, of Reef Culture Technologies in Honolulu is, to date, best known in the aquarium world for his work producing scores of captive-bred marine angelfishes (Pomacanthidae) and his research rearing the Crosshatch Triggerfish (Xanthichthys mento). This may change with the recent successes from his newest initiative, the Hawaii Larval Fish Project (officially: The Hawaii Larval Fish (Culture + Imaging) Project).Frank-Baensch-300×300web

In late 2012, Baensch announced this change in direction on the RCT website, saying: “In the past, much of our research was conducted on culturing pygmy angelfishes (genus: Centropyge) in small, intensive rearing systems using copepods. We are now applying these rearing techniques to species of other marine fish families to determine their culture feasibility, as well as to learn more about their spawning biology in the wild and their early life history in captivity.

Utilizing eggs or larvae collected in the wild waters of Hawaii, Baensch seeks to apply rearing methodologies to see “what else can we raise.” This approach eliminates the need for maintaining and conditioning broodstock, instead focusing all attention on rearing efforts.

This is not unlike the bread-and-butter of the Rising Tide Conservation Initiative’s work, the main difference being that Rising Tide’s eggs are often sourced from third-party captive populations (such as large public aquariums), while Baensch has turned to the wild for his seed.

“What I’m trying to do is streamline one technique for everything,” says Baensch. “Or rather, figure out what works for the most number of species. The foods that I’m using for this project are the same I used for the Centropyge and the Crosshatch Triggerfish (except for Strombidium).”

CORAL, March/April 2012, with Frank Baensch's cover story on breeding the Crosshatch Triggerfish.

CORAL, March/April 2012, with Frank Baensch’s cover story on breeding the Crosshatch Triggerfish.

Just as is seen with Rising Tide, you never know what you’re going to succeed with, and in October 2013 Baensch revealed a big win with successful larval rearing reported for Odontanthias fuscipinnis, the deepwater Yellow Anthias endemic to Hawaii and Johnston Atoll, and a very expensive fish to obtain ordinarily.

Baensch collected eggs in December 2012, and these were subsequently hatched and reared using copepods in a mixed culture setting with other marine fish species. He reports a roughly 80-day development time from hatch to settlement—on par with many dwarf angelfish, although Baensch speculates that this pelagic phase could be shortened.

Wild Eggs & Wild ‘Pods

Baensch revealed some additional details of this success. “The Yellow Anthias were reared from wild-collected eggs using a mix of wild pods (Parvocalanus,OithonaBestiolina and Apocyclops) and cultured copepods (ParvocalanusBestiolina), but I’m quite sure this species could be reared on cultured pods alone so, yes, it would be a great one for landlocked hobbyists to work on.”

While folks are clamoring to obtain “captive-reared” Fuscipinnis Anthias, it’s not that simple. Baensch’a first collection of eggs in December 2012 produced only three larvae after the first 7 days of life. Only one made it to 130 days post-hatch, at 5 CM of length, at which point it was released as part of a restocking / settlement research project Baensch is involved with.

In a March 2013 run, three more larval Yellow Anthias were identified from wild eggs between 5-10 days post hatch. Two of these made it to 40 days, and were again released.

Ultimately, the only thing that prevents this from being classified by some as a truly captive-bred fish is that the spawning occurred in the wild; arguably, however everything else has been accomplished and Baensch can certainly be credited with pushing us right to the edge of the captive-bred cliff for an anthias species. We’ve had numerous hobbyists and public aquariums document captive spawnings of anthians, and now we have clinching proof of an anthias being reared from egg through settlement (and presumably on to marketable size) using methodologies within the reach of expert aquarists.

Sources
Reef Culture Technologies News
Baensch, Frank. 2009. Trials and Tribulations of Culturing the Crosshatch Triggerfish
.CORAL, March/April 2012, Vol. 9 No.2. pp 40-55. (Back issue orders.)

Image Credits: Frank Baensch / Blue Reef Photography

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October 23, 2013 - 9:21 AM No Comments

World’s Oldest Aquarium Fish Turns 80 - from the good folks at Amazonas Magazine

World’s Oldest Aquarium Fish Turns 80

20 Sep, 2013

Affectionately known as "Grandpa," this Australian Lungfish just marked his 80-th year in residence at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Image: © Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Affectionately known as “Granddad,” this Australian Lungfish just marked his 80th year in residence at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Image: © Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

When the dinosaurs first appeared on earth some 230 million years ago, the ancestors of modern-day lungfishes had already been paddling around for 150 million years. And when the great extinction that took out Tyrannosaurus rex and Company, 66 million years ago, the lungfishes swam right through the global upheaval.

“You can’t kill them,” says one aquarist who keeps lungfishes, and, indeed, the world’s oldest-living aquarium fish recently was toasted for having delighted visitors to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium for the last 80 years.

Australian Consul-General The Honorable Roger Price kept his hat on but saluted Granddad’s many years under the care of Shedd’s aquarists. © Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Australian Consul-General The Honorable Roger Price kept his hat on but saluted Granddad’s many years under the care of Shedd’s aquarists. © Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Affectionately known as “Granddad,” this curiously fossil-like creature is an Australian Lungfish,Neoceratodus forsteri. His keepers at Shedd say they have no idea how old this venerable fish was when he arrived, and members of his species are reported to have lived a full century, reaching 1.5 meters in length and more than 40 kg (5 feet long and almost 90 pounds in weight).

Slow moving and generally sedentary, the Australian Lungfish can breath air and survive for days out of water if kept moist. (African lungfishes are even tougher, being able to endure months of dessication in a cocoon buried in dried mud.)

Birthday cake fit for a lungfish: the Shedd Aquarium's recipe included melt, shrimp, herbivore gel squares, yellow squash, green peas, grated carrot and sweet potato. © Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Birthday cake fit for a lungfish: the Shedd Aquarium’s recipe included smelt, shrimp, herbivore gel squares, yellow squash, green peas, grated carrot and sweet potato. © Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

With obvious physical similarities, lungfishes are related to the ancient-looking coelacanths, also often described as living fossils. Both are classified as sacopterygians, or lobe-finned fishes.

Let Him Eat Cake

“As a special treat,” reported the Shedd Aquarium, ” the old timer received an ice cake with smelt, shrimp, herbivore gel squares, yellow squash, green peas, grated carrot and sweet potato frozen inside. Two tiers are covered with seaweed frosting and garnished with shredded escarole greens, carrots and raspberries.”

Granddad’s comments are unavailable, but in the wild lungfish are primarily carnivores, feeding on small fishes, tadpoles, frogs, worms, snails, and shrimp, along with some plant material.

Australian Lungfish are typically found in quiet pools in slow-moving waters in southeastern Queensland. Although not considered endangered, they are a protected species and may not be caught without a special permit.

Aquarium Lungfish

Jindalee International Pty Limited, in Brisbane, doing business as Ceratodus.com, is CITES-approved and licensed to breed, sell and export lungfish from Australia.

“Australian Lungfish make ideal aquarium fish,” according to company literature. “They are very hardy, almost indestructible and can have a lifespan of 100 years. (You may like to make some provision for them in your will). These fish are easy to care for and undemanding regarding tank conditions and feeding. They are non-aggressive and can be handled and hand-fed.”

To qualify for CITES approval, each fish must be DNA tested and tagged with an implanted microchip.  Exports must be approved by the Australian Department of Environment and Heritage.

Read More
http://australianmuseum.net.au/Australian-Lungfish-Neoceratodus-forsteri-Krefft-1870
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lungfish

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October 8, 2013 - 11:59 AM No Comments

NEW CORAL SEA ANTHIAS - from the good folks at coral magazine

New Anthias Discovered in Coral Sea

03 Oct, 2013

New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias - a new anthias species discovered by divers in Quality Marine's exclusive New Caledonia supply chain.

New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias – a new, still undescribed, species discovered by collectors in Quality Marine’s New Caledonia Short Supply Chain.

Quality Marine Collector Brings Up New Deepwater Anthias

Images by Eli Fleishsauer / Quality Marine

A dazzling new species of anthias has been discovered by aquarium fish collectors working for Quality Marine in remote New Caledonia, and rare fish enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting its arrival in the aquarium trade in North America.

According to Eli Fleishauer of Los Angeles-based Quality Marine (QM), “When we first received these fish, we were unable to conclusively identify them as any of the known Anthias species, and we reached out to several renowned scientists for their opinion. Credit for first spotting the fish goes to legendary marine livestock collector Tony Hahacky. The first specimens were caught by Antoine Teitelbaum, who collects fish exclusively for  QM in New Caledonia, an archipelago of French islands in the Coral Sea, about 750 miles (1,200 km) east of Australia.

New Caledonia, an archipelago of French islands in the eastern Coral Sea. Click to enlarge.

New Caledonia, an archipelago of French islands in the eastern Coral Sea. Click to enlarge.

“Antoine and Tony reached out to a number of ichthyologists, and scientists at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu confirmed our suspicion that this is indeed a new species. It is in the process of being described and named for the scientific community.”

This is a deepwater species, found in large schools, the QM collectors have reported.

“Like other anthias, they are planktivores, primarily eating suspended zooplankton and other meaty foods in the currents,” says Eli. “Early population estimates show that schools are made up of half females and half males.

“Males are generally more brilliantly colored, and have a dorsal spine (3rd spine) that extends far beyond the dorsal fin.  As a new species, which is possibly endemic to that island chain, they have never been seen before in the marine aquarium trade.

“The fish has not yet been assigned a scientific name,” Eli continues. ” However, we have talked with Antoine about a common name, and he is using “New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias.”

“We think it is a fitting name for this gorgeous animal, and we are following suit.”

Headshot of the New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias - awaiting formal scientific description.

Headshot of the New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias – awaiting formal scientific description.

Captive Care

Eli says that the species may do very well in reef aquariums. “We are holding these fish in two large schools, in which we are seeing little to no aggressive behavior outside of the normal bossing that goes on between dominant males and females.  As a species, they seem to be less aggressive than many of the other Anthias this size.

“Because of our success in keeping larger groups, they will likely be held like this in the future, and should be held in at least small groups (pairs, harems, etc) in the store display and home aquariums.”

Quality Marine says that the new anthias  immediately took Nutramar OVA, which is composed of frozen prawn eggs at a diameter of about 1/16th of an inch (1.6 mm) . ”It took them settling in for a day or so before we got them to accept a wider variety of meaty foods,” says Eli.  ”We are feeding them Gamma Mysis, enriched brine, krill, chopped prawn and other finely diced meaty foods.”

Owing to the challenges, expense and risks of deep-water collecting, the New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias is not expected to be widely available and will likely command a premium price as the first imports reach the marketplace.

Another look at the new anthias dubbed "New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias" while it awaits formal description by Jack Randall

Another look at the new anthias dubbed “New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias” while it awaits formal description by Jack Randall

Short Supply Chain

Quality Marine has an ongoing initiative to promote Short Supply Chains (SSC) in the marine livestock trade. “These are something we are very proud of here at Quality Marine,” says Chris Buerner, QM president.  ”Basically it boils down to us supporting the most sustainably harvested and managed collection sites and sourcing animals from collector groups rather than middlemen wherever possible.”  The collector supplying these new Anthias works exclusively under contract for QM.

“This philosophy helps to reduce transit times to a matter of hours or days, rather than weeks,” Buerner explains.  ”Shorter supply chains and fewer middlemen eliminate inconsistent levels of care, reduce stress in animals, increase survivability and decrease pressure on marine habitats.

“In terms of our customers ordering from us, when they see our SSC terminology, they can be assured that the animals they are ordering come to us from our shortest supply chains, reaching the point of export from the point of collection within 24 hours.”

Read more about SSC here: http://www.qualitymarine.com/About/Short-Supply-Chain

Quality Marine
5420 W. 104th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90045

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Telephone:
(310) 645-1107
(800) 565-1942

FB: www.facebook.com/QualityMarine

SOURCE

From materials released by Quality Marine, 10/3/2013. All images by Eli Fleishauer Copyright © 2013 Quality Marine.

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October 7, 2013 - 11:05 AM No Comments

New walking shark discovered - from the good folks at Coral Magazine

New “Walking Shark” Species Discovered

11 Sep, 2013

Hemiscyllium halmahera, a new species of small bamboo shark discovered in eastern Indonesia. Image by Mark Erdmann/Conservation International.

Hemiscyllium halmahera, a new species of small bamboo shark discovered in the Maluku Islands of eastern Indonesia. Image by Mark Erdmann/Conservation International.

Jakarta, Indonesia – A highly charismatic species of walking shark has been discovered in the remote eastern Indonesian island of Halmahera. The epaulette (long tailed carpet) shark, Hemiscyllium halmahera, uses its fins to “walk” across the ocean floor in search of small fish and crustaceans. The discovery comes at a time when Indonesia is significantly ramping up its efforts to protect shark and ray species that are now considered vulnerable to extinction, including whale sharks and manta rays.

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelagic nation with a marine area of over 5.8 million km2 (including a 2.55 million km2 EEZ), and harbors a vast wealth of marine resources. Among these is an amazing diversity of marine life; besides hosting well over 75% of the world’s coral species, Indonesia also is home to at least 218 species of sharks and rays.

“This is the third walking shark species to be described from eastern Indonesia in the past six years, which highlights our tremendous shark and ray biodiversity,” said Fahmi, a shark expert at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. “We now know that six of the nine known walking shark species occur in Indonesian waters, and these animals are diver favorites with excellent potential to help grow our marine tourism industry.”

The shark was described in a recent paper in the Journal aqua, authored by Dr. Gerald R. Allen of Conservation International and colleagues Mark Erdmann and Christine Dudgeon. They report that the species reaches a maximum length of just 70 cm (28 cm). Bamboo sharks are among the few elasmobranchs suited to keeping in home aquariums because of their relative small size and bottom dwelling behaviors.

The new bamboo shark perching on a rock in a remote area of Indonesia in the heart of the Coral Triangle. The bamboo sharks have the curious ability to "walk" along the bottom on their pectoral and ventral fins. Image: Mark Erdmann/Conservation International

The new bamboo shark perching on a rock in a remote area of Indonesia in the heart of the Coral Triangle. The bamboo sharks have the curious ability to “walk” along the bottom on their pectoral and pelvic fins. Image: Mark Erdmann/Conservation International

Mark Erdmann CI’s senior advisor to the Indonesian Marine Program and regional coordinator for the Bird’s Head Seascape Program said, “After nearly three decades as the world’s largest exporter of dried shark fins and other shark and ray products, Indonesia is now focusing on the tremendous economic potential of its sharks and rays as living assets. In the last six months’ alone, two of the country’s top marine tourism destinations, Raja Ampat and West Manggarai (home of the famed Komodo National Park) have declared their waters as fully protected shark and ray sanctuaries. It is great to see our findings supporting the valuation and conservation of this natural capital for the long-term wellbeing of the nation.”

Dr. Mark Erdmann, part of the Conservation International team that discovered and described the new bamboo shark.

Dr. Mark Erdmann, part of the Conservation International team that discovered and described the new bamboo shark.

“This tremendous biodiversity of sharks and rays is a natural heritage that must be conserved for future generations,” said Dr. Sudirman Saad, the Director General of Coasts and Small Islands at the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, who confirmed the government’s commitment to manage these important marine assets in a sustainable manner.

He noted that the Ministry is currently developing regulations and management plans to ensure the conservation and viability of key threatened species of sharks and rays in Indonesian waters. “In addition to securing the long-term sustainability of our national fisheries, we have launched this initiative to prove Indonesia’s commitment to protect our marine biodiversity and ensure the long-term sustainable use of sharks and rays well into the future,” said Saad.

SOURCES

Allen GR et al. 2013. Hemiscyllium halmahera, a new species of Bamboo Shark (Hemiscylliidae) from Indonesia. aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, 19 (3): 123-136

Excerpt from materials released by Conservation International.  Images: Mark Erdmann/Conservation International.

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September 17, 2013 - 2:29 PM No Comments

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