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Skeptical Reefkeeping: Experts and Changing Your Mind

by Richard Ross
In the previous installments we talked about skeptical methodology and how it can be used to sort through the overwhelming amount of reefkeeping information that is now at the virtual fingertips of reef hobbyists. We also discussed how skeptical thinking has impacted the idea of sustainable reefkeeping, scientific terminology, magic products and more. In this installment we’ll take a look how to decide which expert to listen to and the most important tool in the skeptical reefkeepers toolbox.
A brief reminder to set the scene
Skepticism is a method, not a position. Officially, it’s defined as a method of intellectual caution and suspended judgment. A skeptic is not closed minded to new ideas, but is cautious of ideas that are presented without much, or any, supporting evidence. In our hobby there are tons of ideas presented without much, or any, supporting evidence. Being a skeptical reefer essentially boils down to

A Journey in Crinoid Keeping

By Michael Lukaczyn 

About thirty years ago on my birthday, my father gave me a Metaframe aquarium with a pair of seahorses that he had bred. They were beautiful and I would stare at them for hours on end. He made sure I understood the important responsibilities that were required to keep them and some of the guidelines I would need to follow in order for them to thrive in my aquarium. I took these lessons seriously, and they still guide me today as I endeavor to expand the limits of my husbandry skills.
There are so many beautiful creatures available in our hobby today, but nothing takes my breath away more than the feather stars of the crinoid family. Whether they are perched out on a Gorgonian showing off their feathery arms, swimming or walking across the reef, these echinoderms had me star struck at first sight. I started researching information

Partial mortality and the Phoenix Effect in stony corals

by Jake Adams
Corals are fascinating creatures to reef hobbyists for a number of reasons. Sure corals are beautiful, interesting and fun to grow, but they also have some amazing qualities that set them apart from most living things in our daily and reefing lives. For example, corals have the ability to be asexually propagated, they appear to be quasi-immortal and they have the ability to seemingly spring back to life when all that once remained was a bare skeleton. There is no magic under the hood of coral biology, but there are some really neat tricks that aquarists can expect from both healthy and nearly dead corals.
Partial Mortality is an interesting concept that is very common in colonial animals and particularly well studied in reef building corals. Coral reef aquarists are very well aware of this concept even if it is rarely spoken about in such deliberate terms. More often

Genicanthus personatus: the Masked Angelfish

by Jake Adams

The recently collected masked angelfish which was bought and sold by House of Fins, Greenwich CT. Photo by Lluis Turon

The masked angelfish, Genicanthus personatus, is an idolized reef fish which is as beautiful as it is expensive and rarely seen. The stunning marble-white body coloration of the masked angelfish is accentuated by a perimeter of color that gives the masked angelfish a truly angelic appearance. Masked angelfish are endemic to Hawai’i and they are most abundant in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands where most commercial activity including the collection of aquarium fish is strictly prohibited. Where collection of aquarium fish is allowed, the masked angelfish only occurs in extremely deep water at the edge of diving limits. Although the masked angelfish has been bred, it happened only once in captivity and Genicanthus personatus is still one of the most high profile marine aquarium fish in the world.

No other group of reef fish

Keeping the Dwarf Cardinalfish (Apogon parvulus)

by Matt Wandell
Photos by Rich Ross
Keeping fish in appropriate social groups is an important step towards creating a dynamic and interesting aquarium. Fishes kept in groups display interesting social behaviors and some species will even spawn in good conditions. Males of many species will display the really vivid coloration that defines what we call “supermales” if there are numerous females around. Consequently, one of the most frequent questions I hear from hobbyists is “What fish will shoal in my aquarium?”
“School” vs. “Shoal”

First, a bit of semantics to get out of the way— In the wild, any loose grouping of fish, even unrelated fish that tends to hang together can be described as a “shoal”. When a shoal is composed of a single species and moves in coordinated ways as a group, it is further described as a “school”. All schools are shoals, but not vice- versa. Got it? Good. Instead

An LED Primer

by Jake Adams 

One common comment that I frequently receive from prospective buyers of LED reef lights is a fear that the technology is moving so fast that a significant investment today will be quickly eclipsed by new lights and technology in the near future. Although it is true that LED research in the lab is producing new breakthroughs on a regular basis, the manufacturers of light emitting diodes can only move so fast; now they seem to have settled into releasing higher performance LED packages on an annual cycle. LEDs are maturing very quickly, and it won’t be long before the entire aquarium hobby has LEDs on its radar. That being said, the value of LED lighting has been at a great cost-performance ratio for some time now. The manufacturers of LED aquarium lights are all releasing, or have released second and third generation versions of their lights, which address