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NASA’s Salt of the Earth

A global map of salinity across the world's oceans. Image by NASA/GSFC/JPL-Caltech.

By David E. Boruchowitz

NASA’s Aquarius instrument has mapped the oceans of the planet from orbit, providing an accurate representation of salinity across the globe. You can read about it here:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110922144206.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29

And you can view or download the map from NASA at:

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA14786

In viewing the map, keep in mind that the entire scale runs only from a salinity of 30 to one of 40, so although the differences depicted are significant, it is still the case that the chemical makeup of seawater is much the same everywhere, in sharp contrast to the chemistry of different freshwater environments.

It is especially fascinating to see the visual representation of the dilution effects well out to sea of large rivers like the Amazon, the Orinoco, and the Ganges, as well as the influence of heavy terrestrial rainfall in the Northern Pacific.

Posted September 23rd, 2011.

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The Smallest Aquarium

 

The world's smallest aquarium (and smallest aquarium net). Photograph by Anatoly Konenko http://www.crookedbrains.net/2011/05/worlds-smallest-aquarium.html

By David E. Boruchowitz

How do you do a water change on an aquarium that holds only 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of water? With a syringe!

That’s how micro-miniature artist Anatoly Konenko of Omsk, Russia fills his inch-long planted tank so as not to disturb the aquascape. This is certainly taking the nano tank craze to its extreme. The tank is so small that the meniscus (the U-shape of the water surface in a vessel caused by the water climbing the sides by capillary action) is clearly visible. The aquarium is populated with recently-free-swimming zebra danio fry, though not on a permanent basis. Here’s a video of the tank:

And if you want to see some similar ideas, check out our article from a couple of years ago:

http://www.tfhdigital.com/tfh/200906/#pg67

 

 

Posted September 23rd, 2011.

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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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