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Category Archives: Aquarium Livestock

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Contains articles featuring information, advice or answering questions regarding aquarium fish and other livestock.

Marimo – the Tale of Mysterious “Moss Ball” Colonies

Marimo FormationsA few years ago our plant suppliers introduced new items for sale that were just too fun and interesting to pass up. They were simply called moss balls. If ever there was an aquarium plant with personality, this would be it. They have a certain character, and can almost become like a pet in the aquarium even if they aren’t dazzlingly colored or active like the fish we keep. The vague nomenclature was accurate enough, but the story of where and how these mysterious moss balls come to be is as interesting as they are to look at when you place them in your aquarium.

Marimo, Japanese for “ball seaweed”, were named by a Japanese botanist decades after they were originally described by someone else in Austria around 1820. They originated in shallow areas of a few freshwater lakes in the world including several in Japan, Iceland, Scotland and others. In the trade they are referred to as moss balls or Japanese moss balls, but they also have several other names given by those who encounter them in their native waters. The name seems fitting…each ball has a velvety, thick, fuzzy texture much like a mound of filamented moss. However, moss balls aren’t really moss at all. These unique formations are actually colonies of the filamentous algae Aegagropila. They were previously classified as Cladophora aegagropila, but modern research proved that they actually belong in genus Aegagropila. Don’t let their classification as algae scare you, this is a fun, non-invasive kind! Read More »

Hatching Triops as Pets

Triops longicaudatusEvery generation grew up with their alternative pets – ant farms, Sea Monkeys, pet rocks, Tamagochi’s, Furbies – but there are still others out there that are just waiting to lure in the next generation. One of my favorites of these is one that, in my opinion, doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves; they are MUCH cooler than the brine shrimp known as Sea Monkeys, at the very least! So what are these new little pets you can put under the Christmas tree instead of a pony or a puppy? Try Triops, aka “Sea Monsters”! Read More »

Cyanide Fish Collection

ReefIf you’ve ever had to catch a fish out of your aquarium (or watched the employees at your fish stores catch the fish for you to take home), you can probably appreciate how difficult it can be. These are in relatively small glass or acrylic boxes however; catching a fish from its own home turf is exponentially more difficult! Back when the marine aquarium trade was first gaining popularity in the mid-20th century, collection was usually laid at the feet of local islanders and fishermen, especially in the small Indo-Pacific island communities that may have had little other source of income. They naturally tried to optimize their collection and profits, but unfortunately this often came at the cost of the animals they were retrieving. Techniques like blast fishing (discussed in a May 2010 blog) and the use of cyanide became common. While not as physically destructive as blast fishing and bombs, cyanide collection was just as deadly. It is now illegal and banned in many areas, but enforcement can be spotty in these isolated areas and some of these irresponsible practices still occur. Read More »

Growing Green – Live Mosses for Aquariums

Java MossI love a green aquarium…not green in the algae-covered, pea soup kind of way, but green as in dense with varying colors and textures of aquatic plants. We all know that there are many types of aquarium plants, from slow growing Anubias to massive Echinodorus, but one of the often overlooked groups is the mosses. These colonies of simple, prehistoric plants have a special niche in the aquarium when it comes to aquascaping, and they’re also really useful to many types of fish. Here’s a little primer on common mosses for aquariums and what they can bring to your tank.

About Mosses

Mosses aren’t like other plants. They’re simpler in structure, lacking roots and the thick vascular leaves of true plants. These plants don’t blossom or produce seeds.  Most mosses reproduce with spores, relying on moisture to fertilize and create the next generation. Aquatic mosses simply spread, creating new plants with their existing vegetation, so a small portion can populate a vast area. Simply place or anchor small bits or strands where you want them to grow and, under the right conditions, you’ll have lush mounds in just a few short weeks.  Read More »

Recent Aquatic News – Three-eyed Fish Found and Other Stories

BelugaOver the past few weeks, there have been lots of great news stories about aquariums, fish and the ocean – too many to each get their own blog! Some are funny, some amazing, some sad. Here is a run-down of some of my favorites from the aquatic sphere.

Beluga to Reunite with Mariachi Band

This is one of the older stories, from the ancient history of August, but I am in love with the video that sparked it. A mariachi band was playing for a wedding at the Mystic Aquarium back in July and had a jam session with the aquarium’s resident Beluga, Juno. The aquarium reunited the band with its new fan at a cocktail party. The party is long gone, but that adorable video is still around! Read More »