Saturday, December 26, 2009

Final Post For 2009: Jennifer's Reef Tank

As far as size is concerned, Jennifer's aquarium in Glenbrook, NV is one of the smaller systems I maintain. But for the 70 gallons, it packs a ton of life. The combination of good flow, daily dosing of B-Ionic's Calcium and Alkalinity buffers and the feeding of Reef Nutrition's Arctic Pods, Phyto Feast, Roti Feast and Fuzzy Phytes creates a thriving environment.

The Physogyra Bubble Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral and is also referred to as a Grape Coral, Small Bubble Coral, or Octobubble. Its genus name, Physogyra, comes from the Latin words physa (air bubble) and gyros (wide circle), which describes its retractable, circular, bubble-shaped polyps. Its polyps are white to tan or green and look like a cluster of grapes or balloons with pointed tips when open during the day.

Its behavior is aggressive and will use its long sweeper tentacles to sting corals that are placed in close proximity to it. It can also sting the reef aquarist who tries to handle it while its sweeper tentacles are out, so precautions should be taken when doing maintenance in the tank. The Physogyra Bubble Coral requires moderate lighting combined with low water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.

One of the hardiest corals obtainable, the Green Open Brain Coral can thrive in a wide range of conditions. "Green Metallic" simply refers to brighter colored specimens, not a different species. Acclimates best in mild water flow and low to medium lighting, but can adapt to a wide variety of conditions. These corals can expand tremendously larger than their skeleton once well acclimated. An excellent coral for beginners, and admired by experts. I gave Jennifer this coral as a birthday gift over a year and a half ago and it has probably doubled in size. A pair of Ocellaris Clownfish have taken to it as a host.

Though these corals are mostly photosynthetic, they benefit from the occasional bit of raw table shrimp, frozen mysis shrimp or silversides once a week. The tentacles of the open brain coral are retracted during the day and during this time the mantle will go outside of the skeleton and looks much different than it does at night.

The second type of brain coral that is in Jennifer's aquarium is the Lobophyllia Brain Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral often referred to as a Lobed, Colored, Carpet, Flat, or Open Brain Coral, Meat Coral, Modern Coral, or Large Flower Coral. It has fleshy polyps that hide its calcareous skeleton. It is found in a variety of textures and color forms. Some are smooth, while others are pimply, and look like carpet. Colors vary from bright red, green, orange, gray, tan, or brown.

Green Star Polyps are a favorite coral for beginners and advanced hobbyists alike. The waving polyps flowing in the current add movement and color to the aquarium.

Green Star Polyps are often noted to be good indicators of water quality, and flow. They react quite quickly to changes in water parameters by not opening. It is very important to make sure your pH and Alkalinity are balanced to encourage growth and color of this flashy, easy to keep coral.

The Fungia Plate Coral lives a solitary life atop the sand bed. It requires low to moderate water currents and moderate reef lighting for proper health. It is important that proper calcium and alkalinity levels are maintained. Place the Fungia Plate Coral on the sand bed along the bottom of the aquarium. Be careful when handling it to avoid damaging the delicate tissue on the underside. It does have short tentacles that can sting nearby corals so leave several inches between it and its neighbors. Be aware that it can move across the sand bed slowly.

The Hammer Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral and often referred to as Euphyllia Hammer Coral or Anchor Coral. Its common names are derived from the appearance of its hammer-, or anchor-shaped tentacles. Its polyps are visible throughout the day and night and hide its skeletal base. It may be green, tan, or brown in color, with lime green or yellow tips on the ends of its tentacles that glow under actinic lighting.

Like the GSP's, Jennifer's Xenia Coral has grown rapidly since its introduction, to the point that they need to be manually removed on a monthly basis. Pulsating Xenia has sturdy stalks up to 3" long which are tan in color. The end of the stalk is covered with a crown of feathery polyps, each carried on a stem approximately 1"-2" long. The polyps open and close in an attractive pulsing or pumping motion. Groups of these stalks form colonies that can spread into large mats. Xenia is one of the few corals that actually smells bad when removed from the water.

Jennifer's Yellow Leather Coral has grown quite a bit since its placement at the highest point of the aquariums water level. Leather corals tend to be very hardy corals. They will sometimes withdraw their tentacles and get a waxy look to their surface for periods of time of up to a week or more. This is normal as the animal sloughs off a layer of skin. Very extended periods of withdrawal can indicate that the coral is not happy with its environment. The Skunk Cleaner Shrimps (along with a pair of Peppermint Shrimp) have taken home to the coral and live there full time. Cleaner shrimp are a great natural tool for Ich and other parasites on your fish. These shrimp will actually eat the parasites right off your fish, if the fish is willing to let the shrimp. Most medium to large size fish will allow this to take place and often seek out the shrimp for a little touch up

Zoanthids are an ultra-colorful, vibrant coral species that adds life and vigor to any reef aquarium. Jennifer has at least three different colors of the Zoanthid coral and are multiplying and thriving in her aquarium Zoanthid corals colonize, meaning they reproduce and stick together to form a "colony" of zoanthids. The best thing about them is they are easy to care for, are not very demanding, and are a fun and simple way to spice up a reef aquarium.

All reef aquariums need some Finger Leathers! The term "Finger Leather" encompasses a wide variety of branching and lobed type Sinnularia and Lobphytum leather corals. Colors range from light tan to off white with a variety of "branching" shapes. The real appeal of these corals is their hardiness, fast growth and interesting shapes. Jennifer's coral spent close to a year after its arrival on a side of the aquarium which was receiving the most flow and was not opening its polyps. After the move to the opposite side, the coral has thrived and at least doubled in size. There are also more colorful types of finger leathers available. Most types do best in medium to bright lighting, and strong water movement., but can adapt to a wide variety of conditions. The basic "Finger Leather much more forgiving in terms of water quality, light and water flow than other similar more colorful varieties. They can do thrive in any well maintained reef aquarium

And finally Jennifer's Rose Bubble Tip Anemone. The Rose Anemone is a highly prized, pinkish-reddish color form of the Bubble Anemone Entacmaea quadricolor. This is one the hardiest species of anemones in the aquarium, and generally thrives in any well-maintained reef aquarium. Jennifer's anemone came from a clone that I have had for many years which I received in a trade from a Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento club member. It is photosynthetic and requires good lighting and medium to strong water movement, but usually adapts to a wide variety of situations. Does not require supplemental feeding. Will attach to most any substrate or rocks. Regular (and less expensive) Bubble Anemones are also available. One of most forgiving anemones available.

Jennifer's aquarium also contains three or four different colors of Ricordia Mushrooms from Idaho Aquaculture, Inc, a very nice Bali Green Slimer which has started to see some tremendous growth from the original one inch frag size. Also, a wonderful Hydnophora piece that also has grown well over the years.

And.....I haven't even mentioned her wide variety (and cleverly named) fish!

Remember, click on any photo to see in its full original size.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Coral Magazine: Nov/Dec - Butterflyfish

I just received an email from Coral Magazine's Editor & Publisher James Lawrence previewing the content of the upcoming issue that I thought I would share with my clients and readers.

Look to the November/December 2009 issue of the world's leading reef magazine for must-read articles, glorious underwater photography, and fresh inspiration.

• Like their terrestrial namesakes, the butterflyfishes are strikingly beautiful and elegant with endlessly fascinating behaviors. The next issue of CORAL looks at the natural history of the Chaetodontidae, how to choose the best species for different types of marine aquariums, including SPS reefs, and how to maintain them for optimum health and color.

• Discover the amazing underwater fauna of Vietnam as Dr. Dieter Brockman dives in the South China Sea off Da Nang and finds an array of interesting fishes and vividly colorful corals thriving in unusual reef conditions.

• Take an in-depth look at the genus Montipora with a diversity of growth forms and colors that make them highly desirable subjects for stony coral enthusiasts.

• Dive with legendary Florida sea-life collector Ken Nedimyer, who is leading efforts to restore stony corals to barren South Florida reefs. Visit the home of Stephen Otto in Plauen, Germany, for a look under the hood of his intensely colorful stony coral reef system; check out the latest coral-reef news; and much more.

One thing that I am looking forward to reading is their opinion of the Klein Butterfly Fish in the reef aquarium. I have used this fish for years with great success to eradicate the aiptasia anemones. I consider the Klein a very hardy aquarium fish that accepts pretty much all foods and will behave well toward SPS corals and clams when fed properly.

I receive retail copies of Coral Magazine and its closest competitor Reef Life magazine and supply all my clients with complimentary copies.

Monday, October 19, 2009

MARS 10/09: Bob Fenner; The Pros and Cons of Hitchhikers in The Reef Aquarium

Bob Fenner, author of "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", returned to the Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento, (MARS), to speak on "The Pros and Cons of Hitchhikers in the Reef Aquarium", Friday, October 16th, 2009. With the influx of pizza and beer, Mr. Fenner provided his entertaining and intellectual knowledge on the subject. Photographed with Mr. Fenner (R) is MARS Vice President Kevin Cowan.

Bob has "lived" the science, hobby and business of aquatics in the Philippines, Japan and United States. All phases; collector, wholesale, jobber, retail, design, construction and maintenance. All levels; manager, owner, hatchery worker, retail clerk, and technician. Except for a stint teaching high school sciences for four years, he has worked all his life in the field of ornamental aquatics.

Academic experience includes eleven years of college, a couple of life science degrees and a teaching credential for chemistry, physics and biology. Published works include several studies on aquatic biological and chemical questions, and an extensive publishing and photographic background in the industry and hobby of aquatics. Have taught High School sciences and Marine Sciences and Aquariology courses at the State University, University of California levels. Bob has been an avid aquatic hobbyist since day one and is active in hobbyist and scientific organizations. He has served on numerous Boards, judged shows and given many programs.

Helped form and run (President) of the employee-owned corporation, Nature Etc., Inc. in San Diego, started in 1973; a turn-key operation in the field of ornamental aquatics, designing and building ponds, lakes, fountains and waterfalls (Aquatic Environments), designing, installing custom aquarium systems and maintenance (Aquatic Life Services), and operating retail outlets (Wet Pets).... currently does consulting, content provision to the trade, sciences and hobby of aquaristics.

One of Bob's current endeavors is providing advice to hobbyiests and professionals on his website,

Here is the link to the Podcast. To download, use the VBR ZIP link on the left of the page, to listen simply push the play button below.

Here is Bob's Power-Point presentaion in text format: The Pros & Cons of Hitchhikers in the Reef Aquarium, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

MARS - 08/2009: Matt Wandell - California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium

Matt Wandell, Tropical Marine Fishes and Invertebrates, Aquatic Biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, San Francisco, gave an in depth Power Point presentation to over 60 of the active MARS (Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento) members about the construction, husbandry and maintenance of the Philippine Coral Reef display. At a depth of 25 feet and holding 212,000 gallons of water, the Philippine Coral Reef is one of the deepest exhibits of live corals in the world. It houses a broad range of aquatic life from the coral reefs and mangroves of the Philippines, one of the most diverse reef systems in the world. These animals include delicate soft and hard corals, blacktip reef sharks, stingrays, and more than 2,000 colorful reef fish.

Here is a link to a nice interview with Matt Wandell by Reefs Magazine which includes many photographs: Reef Magazine Article

Here is the link to the Podcast. To download, use the VBR ZIP link on the left of the page, to listen simply push the play button below.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

MARS: 2009 Fall Frag Swap

MARS 2009 Annual Fall Frag Swap

Saturday, September 12, 2009
2719 K Street
Sacramento, Ca. 95816

CHECK IN starts at 10:00 a.m.

FRAG SWAPPING starts at 11:30 a.m.

To participate in swapping you must bring in 3 *qualifying frags.

$12.00 in ADVANCE: includes entrance, meal and frag picking wrist band.

$20.00 AT THE DOOR: includes entrance, meal and frag picking wrist band

$7.00 guests: includes entrance and meal only.

Children 12 and under: FREE with paid adult admission: includes entrance and meal only.

Children 12 and under swapping pay full price: includes entrance, meal and frag picking wrist band.

Please go to the MARS club website to learn more about the frag swap.

The propagation and aquaculture of corals is extremely important to the reef aquarium hobby and frag swaps such as this helps hobbyists receive and reproduce corals at a very fair cost. Not only does this help to preserve and limit what is harvested from natural reefs, but it also helps to create a more consumer friendly market. Propagating and aquaculturing corals is not only easy, but fun. Using a dremel tool, clipping shears, razor blade or a snap with your hands,fragging corals is a simple process. With the use of super glue, fishing line or bridal veil material, attaching a fragment of a coral to a piece of live rock rubble or mounting disk is a cinch. I currently have a few customers that have corals growing so rapidly that I need to cut them up a number of times a year. I pass on these frags to other clients or hobbyists at no charge.

I encourage all hobbyists to attend at least one frag swap a year to help prolong the life of our natural resources and to learn from more experienced collectors.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Advertising From The Archives

I needed to put together a new customer packet yesterday and recalled this old 30 second television commercial that I had done back in 2005. It ran during a NBC home improvement show in Reno called "The Home Show". Pretty funny actually, considering how my business has grown!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hungry Fish?

I found this cool gadget today while surfing Marine Depot's blog. It allows you to add a background image, change the color of fish and the number of fish. You can also feed the fish by clicking on your left mouse button and the fish will swim over and eat the spot. Multiple clicks will add more food and make the fish go crazy after each spot. (Must be Reef Nutrition's Arctic Pods.) Please don't overfeed any display! You can add it as a screen saver on your computer if you'd like to customize it to your preferences HERE.

Kinda silly.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Not Too Happy: Wild Caught Banggai Cardinalfish

I recently had a client ask me to restock his 875 gallon aquarium with some more Banggai Cardinalfish since he had lost a few that I added nearly four years ago. The half a dozen that I added were from Rian & Arlan at UC Davis. See THIS post here that I did about their captive breeding success. Unfortunately the couple no longer breed the specie. I spent good time looking for a new source of the captive reared fish and their are plenty of suppliers out there; Inland Aquatics, ORA, Blue Zoo Aquatics and Branham Aqua Farms to name a few. My clients aquarium hosts many larger species, an Emperor Angel, Niger Trigger and Powder Blue Tang and I have seen them harass smaller new fish. After being unable to secure a tank bred specie of a LARGE size I was forced to go with the wild caught fish. I spent a good time talking with a multitude of salespeople in Los Angeles in an attempt to secure a half a dozen healthy fish. So I purchased 24 fish, twelve from two different suppliers. In less than a week, I had lost all two dozen fish.

There are many articles on the web about boycotting the specie. This one located on the Microcosm™ Aquarium Explorer website sums up the problems with importing the wild caught fish the best. "The mortality rate of wild Banggais is horrible. It is not uncommon to lose entire shipments of wild fish, and the ones that survive long enough to sell seem to last only weeks. The reason is still a bit unclear, but crowding, stress and holding conditions are the primary concerns. Banggai Cardinals are imported in huge batches, and their immune systems are likely overrun by disease, possibly a newly identified virus."

With the latest Coral Magazine featuring the "Mouthbrooder" species, I can imagine that many local fish stores will have an influx of customers looking for the specie. I hope that store owners will look into purchasing the easily bred Banggai. The male holds the fertilized eggs in his mouth through full development, and releases them as juveniles. Banggai Cardinals have a spawn size of anywhere from 12-43 fry, which develop in the male's mouth for 20-24 days. They will spawn every 30 days and it is not uncommon to observe this in the home aquarium. The juveniles emerge ready to take newly hatched brine shrimp. For these reasons, this is a species many home aquarists have bred and reared.

I will be purchasing a dozen of these wonderful fish next week from one of the suppliers listed above and will quarantine the fish until they are large enough to stock. And who knows, maybe I will be lucky enough to have a fry.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Undersea Voyager Project : Study Findings Seminar

Undersea Voyage Project President/CEO Scott Cassell gave a talk to a standing room only crowd of over 300 people (approximately 50 had to be turned away due to fire code regulations)at the Lake Tahoe Community College, South Lake Tahoe, CA, about his six week underwater study of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. His topics included invasive species, earthquake faults, ancient trees, trash, river/lake interfaces.

My daughter's involvement with the project is mentioned in track number 17, "Volunteer - Youth Ambassador Acknowledgments, Will Kohnen". The time spent with the UVP was an excellent way for Madison to get involved with scientists, explorers and mentors of her future. She is not completed with the UVP, Scott Cassell has invited her to accompany the group with their studies of the kelp forests of the Channel Islands in Southern California and then diving with the Giant Humboldt Squid in the Sea of Cortez later this summer. The project will return to Lake Tahoe with a submersible that will bring explorers to the deepest part (over 1.600 feet) of the lake.

To listen to Scott Cassell's talk click the play button below.

To download the talk click HERE and use the links on the left of the page.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

U.V.P. - Last Week Photos

Madi and Scott prepare for their first descent in the SeaMobile, Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe.

Sid drives the sub and deflates the ballasts.

It was "Youth Day" in Emerald Bay last Sunday, 5-17-09. Sid Loomis (L) and Madi Ordway (R) are the Undersea Voyager Projects Youth Ambassadors for the Lake Tahoe expeditions. The youths have learned how to drive and submerge the submarine, care for the vehicle and the use of the life support system with proper communication skills to bottomside.

Madi and Sid listen to Scott Cassell's interview on "Good Day Sacramento" at the Tahoe City Marina.

Mark S. Allen interviews Scott Cassell.

Madi and Sid get their 30 seconds of fame when they get interviewed for the "Good Day Sacramento" segment.

Madi and Sid do some post dive inspection work for a cut-in on "Good Day Sacramento".

Madi and Scott 30 feet deep in the Sea Mobile checking out the wrecks of Emerald Bay.

Madi and Scott in Emerald Bay. In 1969, Emerald Bay was recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the federal Department of the Interior. In 1994, California State Parks included the surrounding water of the bay as a part of the park, making Emerald Bay one of the first underwater parks of its type in the state, protecting the various wrecks and other items on the bay's bottom.

Madi shot this short video with the Flip camera from the inside of the Sea Mobile in Emerald Bay.

Madi, on the far right, scuba diving with the UVP. One thing she wanted to do was to hold on to the sub and let it tow her around.

Madi lowers the Sea Mobile for a dive in Incline Village, NV. (Notice the kid isn't wearing a hood, nor gloves.)

Click on any photo to see larger.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Reef Life: Vol. One, Number One - Now Available !

I recall the way I felt in February 2004 reading then publisher Leng Sy's Coral magazine. Looking at the great photographs in awe and reading each and every article with the purpose of learning. It was a publication that the reef hobby desperately needed. I have every issue of Coral magazine and have enjoyed reading it immensely. Late last year Leng severed ties with the English translation of the German publication Koralle and ventured out with his own project, Reef Life. Today, Coral magazine is being published by James Lawrence and continues to thrive. Reef Life will definitely compete with Coral, but in my business and the way I use these publications as gifts to my clientele, they will compliment each other.

Today I received my clients copies of Reef Life and will start distributing tomorrow. Although I have yet to read a single article, my opinion is that this publication far surpasses the old Coral in photography and content. Leng kept his past editor Kathleen Wood and she has put together a fine list of contributing authors. Roger Steene, Hiroyuki Tanaka M.D., Scott W. Michael, John Hoover, Charles Delbeek, Tristan Lougher, James Fatherree and Jake Adams all have incredible articles in this first edition. If I were to have a single complaint, which really doesn't qualify as a complaint but rather an acknowledgment; Leng needs to find some more advertisers! With this being the first issue, I am sure sellers will be grinding to get their ads in next issue.

Great job to all that are affiliated with this new publication!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

U.V.P. - Tahoe City

The Undersea Voyager Project spent the past two rainy days on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe departing out of the Tahoe City Marina, Tahoe City, CA. Although the weather was poor the outings on "SeaMagine" were excellent. A real test of maneuvering the submarine in rough waters, with a die-hard crew. Unfortunately the submarine needed to stay within the vicinity of the marina due to time constraints and the weather. We were unable to go the distance to the Stateline Wall or the Dollar Point wall, two locations that I thought would be good. Although, Capt. Scott Cassell was very interested in seeing both locations. So hopefully as the weather betters, we'll have the opportunity to dive those sites. We traveled about a half mile off shore, directly in front of the Tahoe Tavern condos and found a nice hole in 65 feet of water that quickly went down to 125 feet. What was found? Well, a baseball cap, lots of crawdads, an old railroad train wheel, a bit of algae and trails of a sand dwelling worm. I'll have to research that worm! These are still preliminary dives and introduction of the vessel to local youth scientists. (The photo below was taken with an iPhone camera.)

The U.V.P. group will be in the Tahoe/Fallen Leaf Lake area for the month of May and now that the introduction of the sub to the Tahoe waters is over, it is now time to get down to work. Today the sub will be in Fallen Leaf Lake working with scientists from Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Tomorrow will be spent a half a day with the Scripps group again on Fallen Leaf Lake and then moving back to the Tahoe Keys and working with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency looking for invasive species.

I dove with my friend Jerry Burawski, High Camp Food & Beverage Manager, Squaw Valley (left) and unfortunately we were a bit too late getting in the water to join the SeaMagine on its descent. By the time we entered the water the submarine was already in 85 feet deep water. Our mistake. We're rookies at diving with submarines. I take that back, Madison and myself had the experience of seeing a tourist submarine come by when we were doing a drift dive on the Barcadera Reef, Aruba. We plan on joining the group again and do the Emerald Bay wreck dives that are located in 20-30 feet of water that will put us within site and swimming distance of the submarine at all times. Remarkably, I was not the least bit cold diving in the 45 degree water surface temperature. And when I got out, I pulled my wetsuit down to my waste and kept my upper body warm with multiple layered clothing.

I purchased a Flip Video Mino 720p HD Camera last week to add video to my blog. This thing is great! Although it only has a 4 GB hard drive which equals one hour of video, it is High Definition quality. No bigger than a standard cell phone, it's a great tool to have in the camera bag and use when I want to document something. The Flip comes with a simple to use software program for editing, making snapshot images and adding music to the video's an ease. It's just a fun camera to use and the quality is acceptable. I am not trying to make an IMAX movie here, that crew will be in the water next week with the UVP group.

(Click on any photo to see larger.)

Friday, May 01, 2009

U.V.P. - Press Conference & Maiden Tahoe Voyage

On Thursday, April 30th, 2009 the Undersea Voyager Project officially got underway with their underwater studies of Lake Tahoe at the Tahoe Keys Marina, South Lake Tahoe, CA. A press conference was held which introduced the members of the UVP and the working team from the Tahoe area. The submersible "SeaMagine" did a short test descent after the introduction.

Listen to the audio of the press conference below, just push PLAY button. (A little windy at times, but very listenable.)

From L-R, Syd Loomis, South Lake Tahoe Student Ambassador, Scott Cassell, President/CEO of Undersea Voyager Project and Tahoe Regency Planning Agency Communications Director Julie Regan. A major portion of the press conference and the studies of which the Undersea Voyager Project are going to partake, include the invasive Quagga and Zebra mussels that have the possibility to invade Lake Tahoe. Quagga mussels were discovered in the US in Lake Mead, Nevada in 2007. The mussels originate from European waters. Quagga mussels have also been found in Lakes Mohave and Havasu in the Colorado River, and in the Colorado River Aqueduct System which serves Southern California. Surveys in August 2008 found Quagga in Lake Dixon and San Vicente Reservoirs in San Diego County. One Quagga Mussel can lay a million eggs and there is no eradication. Chris from the Tahoe Resource Conservation District inspects the SeaMagine. New this year on the lake, all public boat ramps will be manned with an inspector to perform a $35 dollar mussel inspection. In addition, all private boat ramps must have an inspector to check every boat that enters the lake. The fee would be a one time cost to someone who only boats in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe does not have ANY Quagga mussels and strict inspection procedures and the cooperation of the people that use this gem will prevent their introduction.

The Undersea Voyager Project will study other invasive species that currently occupy the lake, the Asian Clam, Eurasian watermilfoil algae, Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Brown Bullhead Catfish and will be on the look out for the Goldfish (Tahoe Tessie too!). From the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit of the US Forest Service; "Please do not dump your goldfish into Lake Tahoe! Native to Asia, goldfish have been introduced worldwide due to their popularity as pond and aquarium fish. Releases, both intentional and unintentional, have meant that this species has formed wild populations in many locations. Goldfish impacts on the aquatic community include increasing turbidity, predation upon native fish, and helping to facilitate algal blooms. Goldfish are among the most destructive non-indigenous species in North America, primarily because of their diet of aquatic vegetation. They strip waters of oxygen-producing plants which increases water temperatures and destroys habitat for native juvenile fish. In addition, the feeding habits of goldfish stir up sediments, which leads to a decrease in water clarity and inhibits plant growth. If goldfish populations get large enough we will see a further decline in the shorezone clarity of Lake Tahoe."

Here is a video from the Arizona Game & Fish that dictates the proper procedure to eradicate the mussels from a boat.

Click this link to see the first part (30 minutes) of a video produced by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission with support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on the "Don't Move A Mussel" campaign.

The children of Lake Tahoe School, Incline Village, NV made the trip over to The Keys to admire the submarine and learn about youth sciences. Scott Cassell has said repeatedly in many of his community talks last week about how important it is to engage children in the Undersea Voyager Project and the study of Sciences. There will be an Undersea Voyager Project Youth Day on May 17th at Obexer's Marina, Homewood,CA and all local children are invited to attend.

Will Kohnen, Owner and Designer/Builder of SeaMagine, Scott Cassell, President/CEO of U.V.P., and Peri Best, Public Relations Officer prepare for the descent.

Scott Cassel releases the air from the ballasts for SeaMagine's descent.

Note from Robert: For those of you that come to my website on a regular basis, I promise that I will get back on track with posts dedicated to my occupation and the aquarium trade. This project that is happening in Lake Tahoe is a very historical event to me and many in my community and I hope that my readers find it interesting. Monday will be our first dive with U.V.P. departing from the Tahoe City Marina and with the rain predicted, water surface temperatures at 45 degrees, I am quite certain that my daughter Madison will attempt to find a way to get into SeaMagine rather than diving. We were asked to come up with the dive location and I will suggest either the Stateline Wall which is composed of giant granite boulders stacked on top of each other, forming a wall. The Stateline Wall is located about 1300 feet west of the CalNeva Lodge in Crystal Bay, NV. The depth drops to over 800 feet with over 80 feet of visibility. Or possibly the wrecks at Emerald Bay which would put us in warmer surface (+2 degrees!) water and shallower diving. I also hope to get the crew over to the Glenbrook area where there is a large amount of construction debris in the lake from the 1800's logging industry that took place in the area.

(For those of you that are viewing this on my FaceBook page, please go to to see all of the links in there entirety.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Undersea Voyager Project: Lake Tahoe

I had the opportunity to listen to Scott Cassel of the Undersea Voyager Project (UVP) talk about his 16 member teams plan to study the depths of Lake Tahoe during the month of May last night at the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences on the Sierra Nevada College campus in Incline Village, NV. His talk mainly consisted about his studies of the Giant Humboldt Squid that now occupies the waters from Alaska to South America devastating many consumable fishes including the Salmon population of Northern California. This would have been a fantastic talk for the members of my reef club MARS in Sacramento to hear.

Here is a video of a different presentation on Exploring Ocean Depths and The Undersea Voyager Project, including his studies on the Giant Squid. (EDIT: For some reason, this YouTube video will only play in the High Quality (HQ) mode. Please click on the "Play" button and then the HQ button to view video.)

The Undersea Voyager Project's mission statement is a non-profit organization established to circumnavigate and study the Earth's oceans (27,000 miles) at depths of 100–1,000 feet utilizing human piloted submersibles. The Project will advance and communicate scientific understanding of the oceans, their interrelationship with climate, and human impact on the marine environment to a global audience.

Their project in Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake will include studying ancient rooted trees at depths of over 150 feet, they will transect Lake Tahoe, evaluate three tsunami-producing fault lines underneath the lake, study animal and plant life, explore historic shipwrecks and perform water quality evaluation. They will also study algae growth and the introduction of invasive bivalves. UVP will use specialized UV lights on the submersible to 'fluoresce' the algae for effective locating and mapping of their presence.

From the UVP website, "Our mission is to learn more about Lake Tahoe's health, so its beauty can be preserved for future generations," said UVP captain and CEO, Scott Cassell. "If we can't save Lake Tahoe, how can we save the world's oceans?"

What's really cool about this project for myself and daughter is that we have volunteered our diving knowledge of the lake and will assist two or three dives a week working with the crew. My daughter Madison, Sierra Saltwater Systems secretary, has applied to be a Student Ambassador for the project working with the UVP's public relations officer, Google Ocean and creating a Powerpoint presentation to report back to student classrooms. She would actually get go in the submersible!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spirograph Scolymia

While at the MAX show a couple of weeks ago I got the chance to spend a little time with Jake Adams of Reef Builders at the Zoanuts Scolymia coral display. The Scolymia Button Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral and also referred to as the Doughnut Coral. It is a somewhat round, solitary coral, usually having a single oral opening present in the center, however, numerous openings have been present in some species. It is not an outwardly aggressive coral, but should be provided with plenty of space between itself and other corals because it can expand twice its size during the day. The Scolymia Button Coral is easy to maintain in the reef aquarium. It makes an excellent choice for both the beginner and advanced reef aquarist. It requires moderate lighting combined with moderate water movement within the reef aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water. Its feeding tentacles appear during the evening and while exposed, will feed on meaty foods such as micro-plankton or brine shrimp.

Well, that's the overview of the specie. But what Zoanuts had on hand at their display was one of the most beautiful and sought after corals of the show, the Spirograph Scolymia. While it was only on display, today was the conclusion of its auction with Aquatic Auction. From the Aquatic Auction description; Spirograph Scolymia aka "The Holy Grail". This Scolymia by far cannot be graded with the current system that we have in place. You just thought the Bleeding Apples were hot...put your eyes around this. Many viewers got a sneak peak at the MAX event in Costa Mesa a few weeks back. Out of the many thousands of Scolymia australis we have viewed only one other that was this quality in coloration. So Bid and Win!! This Ungradable Scolymia measures approximately 3.25 inches by 3 inches when fully inflated!

Now a bit about photography. Although I have a BA degree in photography, my image above doesn't do this spectacular coral justice. The photo was taken on the last day of the three day Expo so the water had started to cloud. And although I believe I have pretty good Nikon digital camera equipment, I had to include a copy of Jake's image from his Reef Builders website in comparison. I did absolutely no image enhancing to my photo and Jake states the same on his website. The difference between my photo and Jake's is that he uses an underwater camera bag for his digital photography allowing him to get closer to his images and omit any reflections from the high intensity lighting.Although I have an underwater camera housing for a Canon digital point and shoot, I rarely use it in an aquarium. Guess I have some image taking to do.

And the Spirograph.....currently going for $1,195 with an hour left in the auction. Quick! Any of my clients want it? With my standard mark up, the piece will be guaranteed for thirty days.

EDIT: Final sell price was $1,205, retail value was listed at $1,399.

Remember, Click on any image on my website to see in its original size.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Marine aquarium Expo, Orange County Fairgrounds April 3-5, 2009

With less than three weeks away, I am really looking forward to attending the Marine Aquarium Expo at the Orange County Fairgrounds, April 3-5. I attended the Expo last year and thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. With over 100 vendor booths in a 30,000 square foot showroom that includes retailers, coral farmers and manufacturers, there is something for everyone that attends. This year I am looking forward to seeing many of my Southern Californian suppliers and friends. Including Randy, Gresham and Jake with Reef Nutrition (Northern California), Leng from Eco Systems, Trevor with Bayside Aquarium Supply (Marine Depot) and Chris with RK2. I am also looking forward to hearing Bob Fenner, Marc Levenson, Eric Borneman, Tulio Dell Aquila, Joe Yaiullo and Adam Blundell's intriguing talks.

I am also looking forward to getting a couple of dives in at Hiesler Park in Laguna Beach.