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Author Archives: Cory Shank

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Cory is one of our Staff Marine Biologists and has been with the company since 1999. He has always had an interest in fish and inverts started soon after his employment began, and laid the path for him to earn his Marine Bio degree From Millersville University just a couple of years ago. Since graduation, Cory has been propagating many different corals including LPS and SPS and maintaining both his own reef aquaria and several at our retail store. His interests besides propagation include snorkeling, environmentalism, travel, and anything relating to reefs and oceans.

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News Flash – Mother Nature has a Lasting Effect on Lives and the Aquarium Hobby

Hi everyone, Cory here.  I’ve blogged before on how the weather can effect fish availablilty , but weather conditions aren’t Mother Nature’s only tools. Sadly, the disaster unfolding in Haiti will effect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people long after the next few weeks as the world gathers to assist the injured and displaced denizens of that beautiful island nation.  Our thoughtss and prayers are with the victims and their families.

As aquarists, you may likely feel some small ripples of the tragedy.  You may see changes in prices and availability of Carribean invertebrates and fish. With a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting the capital city of Port-au-Prince, where a majority of the livestock is housed and shipped, the market may be in for some changes in the next few weeks.  Haiti is an excellent source for Scarlet and Blue leg hermit crabs, Gorgonians, Ricordea, and countless other fish commonly seen in the aquarium trade. With restrictions on collection in Florida, there will no doubt be noticeable change in the coming weeks. There are collection stations through out the Caribbean such as Belize. The problem is shipping and the cost of collecting the organisms, the further away from the US, the more it is going to cost.

The bread and butter invertebrates such as Arrow Crabs, Banded Coral Shrimp, and Peppermint Shrimp will most likely be affected as well. During the summer and fall, hurricanes and tropical storms can lead to 1 or 2 weeks of no collection, which hits the aquarium trade very quickly. No one knows right now what the extent of the damage is in Haiti, but the toll is projected to be devastating. Until we know how much the main infrastructure has been disabled, we may be talking weeks to months of no collection. So keep an eye on the news and if you are interested in something from the Caribbean, you might want to get it now, in case the availability decreases as expected.

On the freshwater side, the frigid temps blanketing Florida may also cause some extended issues with tropical freshwater fish.  The media has been covering the devastating effects of the freezing temperatures on the tropical fish farms based there.  Millions of domestically raised fish, hundreds of species, that are shipped to retailers across the nation have perished during the cold snap.  The toll of this event will be unknown for weeks, even as the temperatures rise again.  Fish not killed by the plummeting water temperatures or devoured by predators as they lay paralyzed from the cold will have to recover from the shock and disease that may have set upon them in their weakened states. From guppies to cichlids, stocks have been impacted. Just a heads up, as you may see some empty tanks in the coming weeks until farmers can replenish stocks and recover from the poor circumstances.

You can read more about the fish farms here.

Cory’s Christmas Fish & Coral Wish List

Cory here.There are so many things that I would love to add to my aquarium, but would never buy for myself. So, I add them to my list for Santa every year.

1. Purple Rhinopias (Rhinopias aphanes):

I’m not really a predator fish person, but this fish is beautiful and expensive. Most likely the only fish I would put in the tank, but would do just fine in a 40 gallon tank.

2. Conspicillatus Angel (Chaetodontoplus conspicillatus):

Another beautiful fish with the price to go along. Typically retailing for around $2000, the Conspicillatus Angel is rarely seen in hobby.

3. Magnificent Shrimp Goby (Flabelligobius spp.):

Excellent choice for a nano aquarium, but hard to find for less than $350 for a 1.5 inch fish!

4. French Polynesian Maxima Clam (Tridacna maxima):

Collected only a couple of times, the colors are one of a kind! The clams start around $280 for a 6 inch clam to as high as $800 for an Ultra variety.

5. Jason Fox My Miami Chalice Coral (Echinophyllia spp.):

Awesome coral for an amazing price of $1500 for one eye. I’m sure this will be on my wish list for quite some time.

With so many fish and corals in the oceans, it was very hard to narrow down my list to just 5, I’m sure the list will change for next year. Merry Christmas!!

Until Next Blog,


Heteropsammia cochlea – Fascinating Walking Dendros Worming their way into Reef Aquariums

Hey all, Cory here.  Ever hear of a coral that walks where it needs to be?  If not, you’re in for a treat as I introduce you to a new arrival, the Walking Dendro.

We just received our first Walking Dendro, Heteropsammia cochlea, last week. At first glance, you may think this was a solitary coral that you would find on the backside of your new Clove Polyp or Mushroom rock. However, upon further inspection, this small coral has a very intricate story.

Walking Dendro Coral is now being imported from Australia for the first time for the aquarium trade. Previously, these corals were imported for research and not so much sale. It may look like a Balanophyllia, but the Walking Dendro is far from a solitary coral.  A symbiotic worm gives it mobility!

Walking DendroThe story begins with a single coral larvae finding a small snail shell on which to attach and begin it’s life. From this point the coral can begin to lay down its structure, quickly overgrowing the shell. For one reason or another a Sipunculid Worm moves into the shell, only to become engulfed and trapped inside the coral. This symbiotic relationship allows for constant movement for the coral and safety for the worm. The coral will have a small hole on the bottom allowing for movement and the uptake of sediment by the worm, preferably a fine sand. The worm is a deposit feeder, taking up sand and consuming nutritious organics found in or on the sand. The coral itself is photosynthetic, but with the presence of tentacles during the day, I would suspect they are also planktonic feeders.

Since there is very little known about this coral, it’s difficulty and hardiness are hard to specify. The coral itself should be easily kept, it is the Sipunculid worm or peanut worm that may be difficult to satisfy.

It is always exciting to see a new coral introduced into the hobby, because it is not only another organism to add to the inventory list, but a learning experience to even the most knowledgeable. As soon as there is any new information regarding the Walking Dendro to report, I will be sure to bring it to you.  Stop in and check them out!

Thanks, Until next time,


Nudibranches – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Cory here. I thought I’d take my next few blogs to go over the “ins and outs” of Nudibranches. Like lots of organisms living in an aquatic system, these interesting creatures bring a host of features to your saltwater tank. And, along with the good, it’s important to point out the bad…and the down right ugly things about nubibranches in your aquarium too.

The Bad:

Nudibranches target Montipora, Zoanthids, and Softies

There are so many coral eating organisms, Butterflies and Angelfish are the obvious ones. However, some of the worst pests are ones that you can barely see. Flatworms and Red bugs are most notorious for destroying Acropora species. However, Montipora species have their own pest: a Nudibranch.

Montipora CapricornisThey are hard to see, especially if you do not know what you are looking for. The largest I have seen was a half centimeter in length, tucked behind a crevice in the coral. They are always near a piece of the coral that is in the process of dying. This particular nudibranch feeds only on Montipora tissues, more commonly the plating varieties such as Montipora capricornis. They lay their eggs in a spiral or cluster, on the underside of the coral. Usually hatching within a few days, depending on water conditions, they immediately begin munching on the coral tissue. A couple adult Nudibranches can easily consume a one inch frag in 24 hours.

There isn’t a simple way to eradicate them. Dipping the corals in a Lugols Iodine or Tropic Marin Pro Coral Cure solution will help to loosen the nudibranches, so they can be extracted. The dip however, will not kill the egg mass. The eggs must be removed immediately using a scraper, toothpick, or a toothbrush. Any portion of the coral that has died or seems to be infected should be cut off just in case there are eggs imbedded in the skeleton.

Nudibranches are also commonly found feasting on Zoanthid polyps. These particular types of Nudibranches are especially hard to find because they look very much like the polyp that they are eating, even matching the color in most cases. Zoanthids commonly close and stay closed for days, eventually polyps begin to disappear. This is usually the first sign of infection. Again, like the Montipora Nudibranches, dips will only remove the adults, leaving the eggs behind. The eggs are usually laid on the underside of the poylps, but can also be found on the rock itself.

Soft corals have many different species of Nudibranches that prey on their tissues. Some are extremely large and colorful, while others camouflage themselves, making detection extremely difficult. Like other corals, removing the adults with coral dips and manually removing the eggs when possible is the only effective way.

There are so many species of Nudibranches in the oceans, many found on the Reef and serving some purpose good or bad. We are learning more each and everyday about Nudibranches, what they eat and where they come from. We are importing corals from around the world, in some cases from areas we have never collected before. With new locations, comes new pests and most likely new Nudibranch species, good and bad.

Check back soon for the next part of this article.

Happy Thanksgiving!