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Gutsy Fish

Gray snapper. Photograph by Jonathan Armstrong.

By David E. Boruchowitz

Aquarists often overfeed their fish, and obesity, liver disease, and other consequences are frequent problems for captive fish. The usual explanation is that fish have poor mechanisms to stop feeding, since in the wild a glut of food rarely occurs.

Recent research indicates that many predatory fishes have much larger gut capacity than they can normally use. This enables them to binge when they encounter a rich food source and pack away energy reserves for times of famine.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915141237.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29

For aquarists this means that the problem is even worse than we thought. The increased gut capacity of predatory fishes permits us to really overfeed them. Not only do they have no switch to end feeding behavior when they have consumed their daily needs, they have enough room to eat way beyond that point. Fish should always be a bit hungry, and it appears that many predatory species should always be fed way under their capacity to stuff food in.

Posted September 19th, 2011.

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The End of Coral Reefs?

A section of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photograph by Reuters.

By David E. Boruchowitz

In a book published today, Our Dying Planet, author Professor Peter Sale of the University of Sydney predicts that all coral reefs will be gone by the end of this century. The idea that there are children already born who will see a world without coral reefs is an alarming one, but one Sale hopes will spur people to save the reefs. He says that this is an attainable goal, but it will require a concerted effort. It is certainly sobering to think that soon the only reefs may be in aquaria!

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/coral-reefs-will-be-gone-by-end-of-the-century-2352742.html

Posted September 12th, 2011.

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Mystery Blobs from Irene

Potato sponges. Photograph by Michael Moore.

By David E. Boruchowitz

Numerous inquiries about floating grey blobs left in hurricane Irene’s wake to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point, Virginia have been answered by Professor Emmett Duffy: they are potato sponges in the genus Craniella. Ripped from the substrate by Irene’s wave action, the floating sponges quickly died, creating the foul stench reported from the blobs.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110910133948.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29

Posted September 12th, 2011.

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Two Against One: Urchins Outnumbered

Wrasses work with starfish to eat urchins. Photograph by Lawson Wood/Corbis.

David E. Boruchowitz

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128284.300-wrasse-and-starfish-gang-up-on-sea-urchins.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

Italian researchers have discovered that the ornate wrasse Thalassoma pavo and the starfish Marthasterias glacialis present a double threat to sea urchins. The abilities of the two predators complement each other. The starfish attacks an urchin, causing it to flip over. The wrasse eats off the urchin’s tube feet, crippling it. Then the starfish can finish off the immobilized urchin. This does not appear to be a case of cooperation, but one of two predators benefitting from each other’s skills.

Posted September 8th, 2011.

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Soft Coral Reef Builders

Professor Yehuda Benayahu on a soft coral reef. Photograph by Tel Aviv University.

By David E. Boruchowitz

Everyone knows that reefs are built by hard corals, whose stony skeletons accumulate into rock, right? Nope!

New research by a joint Israeli and Taiwanese team reveals that soft corals play a significant role in reef building as well. Soft corals have pin-like structures called sclerites in their tissues that provide support to the animals during their life and reef building materials after their death. Some reef rocks thought to be composed of hard coral skeletons turned out to be made up of soft-coral sclerites naturally cemented together over time.

http://www.underwatertimes.com/news.php?article_id=10170248965

Posted September 4th, 2011.

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